Dharma Series 3: Aum and the theory of Sanskrit alphabets

Updated: Mar 14

Sanskrit language is a fascinating one, the only language in which you can score a 100%, and is considered as precise as mathematics. According to NASA, Sanskrit language is apt for creating their computer programming for their Artificial Intelligence program. Sounds cool, right?

The mantras in Sanskrit have been life changing to many in the world, including myself, and it assures me of their divine potency.

Most mantras in Sanskrit begin with “Aum” or "ॐ ".

“Aum” or "ॐ " is often referred to as the sound of the universe, the sound of the Big Bang.

Interestingly, Kashmiri Shaivism in its Matricachakra - the theory of alphabet, gives a description of origin and significance of each alphabet of the Sanskrit language.

Writing about the whole string of Sanksrit alphabets will take chapters, so let me start with the origin of “Aum” or "ॐ ".

In Kashmiri Shaivism, Shiva is considered to be the pure consciousness and bliss, and the universe is considered to be the reflection of Shiva. Shiva, is said to have been in a shape of a concave mirror, and the universe is the reflection of this concave mirror. As science works, universe is the inverted reflection of Shiva.

Coming to the origin of the universe. Shiva is considered to be full of five energies:

1. Chit Shakti - The energy of pure consciousness. It is represented by the letter अ (a) of Sanskrit.

2. Anand Shakti - The energy of pure bliss. It is represented by the letter आ(aa).

Chit and Anand shaktis are inseparable. Shiva in his pure state resides in chit-anand spectrum. He is pure consciousness, he is pure bliss (चिदानंद रूपम)

3. Iccha Shakti - The energy of will of Shiva. Please note that it is the will and not the desire. It is the state where the will to create the universe resides.

 Iccha shakti of Shiva resides in two states:   a) Non-agitated state is the iccha shakti in its peaceful form and the process of creation hasn’t started. It is represented by the letter इ(i)

b) Agitated state is the state where Lord Shiva’s will is agitated, and is represented by the letter ई (e). Although agitated, it is still not separate from his own nature.It still remains in Chidanand state (चिदानंद).

However, at this point there’s an apprehension in Lord Shiva’s consciousness, that if he goes forward and creates the universe, he may lose his own nature. And this apprehension takes place in jnana shakti.

4. Jnana Shakti - The energy of knowledge of Lord Shiva. It is represented by letters उ(u) and ऊ(oo).

a) is called unmesha. It indicates that the universal existence is about to begin, but hasn’t started.

b) is called unata. It is when Lord Shiva starts creating the universe. However, he becomes apprehensive. He feels that his chit and anand shakti might lessen if he starts the process of universe creation. 

He therefore discards the universe and remains in the stand still state. This is represented by letters ऋ(ri), री(ree), लि(li), and ली(lee). These letters are known as amrit beeja - A state where Shiva only resides in his bliss and stops the process of creation.

However, the chit and anand shakti recognise these apprehensions but are at ease, as they understand that creating the universe is only a glory to Shiva's own nature. So they begin to create this universe. Here's how:

They create contact with iccha shakti, and create the letter

ए(ae) by connecting with agitated (अ/आ+इ) or non-agitated(अ/आ+ई) states of iccha shakti.

When अ(a) and आ(aa) come in contact with इ(i) or ई(ee) simultaneously, (अ+आ+इ) or (अ+आ+ई) letter (aye) is created.

Similarly, they also connect with jnana shakti, they create the letter ओ(O)(अ/आ + उ) or

(अ/आ + ऊ) and when they simultaneously come in contact in jnana shakti, they create the letter औ(Au) - (अ +आ+ उ+ऊ) or (अ + आ+ उ+ऊ) .

5. Kriya Shakti - The energy of action of Lord Shiva.

The letters ए(ae), ऐ (aye), ओ(O) and औ(Au) represent the four states of kriya shakti,

andऔ(Au) is the most vivid energy of action, and represents Shiva's true nature. In simple words - this is state when the universe is created!

Now, the fact that the universe has been created and the nature of Shiva has not been lessened, and he’s residing in his own point, is represented by the letter म(m) and is called anuswara. Thus, औ and म together make ओम् or ॐ and represent that the universe has been created as a reflection of Shiva, while he still remains in his pure consciousness and blissful state.

That’s why ओम् or ॐ (Aum) represents the sound of the universe.

How beautiful and deep!

Reference : Interviews of Swami Lakshman Joo on Kashmiri Shaivism. May his blessings be upon us.