Om-kaar, Brahman and Ganesh


We all know, hear
and recite the sound Om, the sound known as Pranav or the primordial sound of the universe. Today, we review some of the
authorities on Om, its elements and what they represent.

first authority we discuss is the famous Mandukya-UpaNiSad which belongs
to the Atharva-Ved.  This UpaNiSad identifies the Supreme Brahman with
Om. There are commentaries on this UpaNiSad attributed to Gaudapada, a
teacher of Adi-Sankar-Acharya.                                                           

                                                              (Sri Gaudapad-Acharya – src wikipedia)

Verses 4-5 of the 12 extant verses of Mandukya-UpaNiSad describe the nature of the Supreme Brahman. 

  • Verse 4 – He is the Lord of all (एष सर्व-ईश्वर); He is omniscient (एष-सर्व्द्न्य); He is the inner controller and source of all; He is the creation and end of all beings (प्रभव अपि भुतानां व्य: हि भुतानां).
  • Verse 5 – … beyond visibility, beyond description, beyond [our] grasp or understanding, beyond attributes, beyond [our] thinking, beyond [our]
    nomenclature, the essence of all realization/knowledge, into which all
    phenomena become resolved, tranquil, blissful, non-dual –  what they
    consider to be the 4th (element). He is Atman (स आत्मा). He is to be known [thus].

If the Brahman or Atman is the 4th element, then what are the first three? Verse 6 explains:

  • This Atman is the word Om-kaar with its elementsa-kaar, oo-kaar, ma-kaar. (सः अयं आत्मा अक्षर ओंकार अभिमात्रं  अकार ऊकार मकार इति)

What do these elements represent?

  1. The “a” element or a-kaar (अ-कार) represents the first or waking state, from the root ap (to obtain) or because it is adi (beginning).
  2. The oo-kaar (ऊ-कार) represents the second or dream state.
  3. The ma-kaar (म-कार)  represents the third or Pradnya whose place is in the su-shupta state or the state of deep sleep, so deep that there is no desire, no dream, the state of bliss.

The three elements together form Om-kaar (ओंकार) which Verse 12 describes as Shiva or blissful (शिव), A-dvaita or non-dual and,

  • Thus Om-kaar is Atman Itself (एवं ओंकार आत्मा एव).

Ganesh & Om-kaar

above is the approach of Nir-Gun, Nir-Aakaar doctrine of Eternal Dharma. As you can see, it is rather hard to grasp, hard to retain and very hard to use in Bhakti or Devotional
Surrender to the Supreme.

This is why Rushi or Sages of Eternal
Dharma developed the doctrine of Sa-Gun, Sa-Aakaar which later evolved
into the concept of Personal God with attributes that Bhakt or devotees
could love, worship and surrender to. The non-duality of these two doctrines is the central tenet of Eternal Dharma.

So what is a Sa-Gun,
Sa-Aakaar representation of Om-kaar? The revered and loved
Ganesh of course. How? Listen to the words of the great Sant
Dnyaneshvar, the Sant who began Bhagvat-Dharma in Maharashtra by
translating the Bhagvat-Geeta into exquisite Marathi. The voice of Lata
Mangeshkar adds a special magic to the immortal words.


The invocation begins with Om-kaar. The Sant describes Ganesh as Adya or the original Atma-Roop (आत्म रूप), the Roop that is established by the Ved. Then, as a Bhakt, the Sant does namas-kaar to Ganeshu as Sakal-Mati-Prakashu (सकल मति प्रकाशु) , the One who illuminates the Buddhi of all. (The Ganeshu, Prakashu nomenclature is of Karnatak origin).

Next, the Sant provides the Sa-Gun, Sa-Aakaar representation of the elements of Om-kaar:

  1. a-kaar (अ-कार) as the two feet of Ganesh,
  2. oo-kaar (ऊ-कार)   as the immense stomach of Ganesh, and 
  3. ma-kaar (म-कार)  as the great Mandal on the head of Ganesh.

Then he integrates:

  • Where these three elements integrate, there arises Shabdha-Brahma (शब्द-ब्रह्म) , or Brahman as a Word. That (आदि बीज) Adi-Beej (Original Seed) I worship via the grace of my Guru [who gave me this wisdom]

when you welcome Sri Ganesh in your hearts and homes next week,
remember the above teachings of both Nir-Gun, Nir-Aakaar
Mandukya-UpaNiSad and Sa-Gun, Sa-Aakaar Bhakti of Bhagvat-Dharma. And
understand that you are not just praying to one revered and love Roop
but to Shabda-Brahman, Om-kaar, the Adi-Beej in the form of Ganesh.

                                                                     स्वस्ति अस्तु भवतु

                                                                     Let Svasti be With You


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