There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase 'to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy'. The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economical well-being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and to be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution” jose Stephen R. Covey quote More at

Aum (aka, Om)
Hindu Mantra
--cambridge university hindu cultural society
AUM is the most sacred symbol, mantra and sound in all Hindu traditions. Hindu creation myths hold that it is the primordial sound from which all other sounds emerged; it is the mantra which comprises all other mantras. A full description of its significance would run into volumes, so here is a (comparatively brief!) extract from 'The Concise Light on Yoga' by B. K. S. Iyengar (Unwin Paperbacks, 1980):

The symbol AUM is composed of three syllables, namely the letters A, U, M, and when written has a crescent and dot on its top. A few instances of the various interpretations given to it may be mentioned here to convey its meaning.

The letter A symbolises the conscious or waking state (jagratha-avastha), the letter U the dream state (svapna-avstha) and the letter M the dreamless sleep state (susupta-avastha) of the mind and spirit. The entire symbol, together with the crescent and the dot, stands for the fourth state (turiya-avastha), which combines all these states and transcends them. This is the state of samadhi (1).

The letters A, U and M symbolise respectively speech (vak), the mind (manas) and the breath of life (prana), while the entire symbol stands for the living spirit, which is but a portion of the divine spirit.

The three letters also represent the dimensions of length, breadth and depth, while the entire symbol stands for the perfect man (a sthita-prajna), one whose wisdom is firmly established in the divine.

They represent the three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter, while the entire symbol stands for the Creator, who transcends the limitations of time.

They stand for the three gunas or qualities of sattva (goodness), rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance or darkness), while the whole symbol represents a gunatita, one who has transcended and gone beyond the pull of the gunas.

The letters correspond to the three tenses - past, present and future - while the entire symbol stands for the Creator, who transcends the limitations of time.

They also stand for the teaching imparted by the mother, the father and the Guru respectively. The entire symbol represents Brahma Vidya, the knowledge of the Self, the teaching which is imperishable.

The A, U and M depict the three stages of yogic discipline, namely, asana (2), pranayama (3) and pratyahara (4). The entire symbol represents samadhi (1), the goal for which the three stages are the steps.

They represent the triad of Divinity, namely, Brahma - the creator, Visnu - the Maintainer, and Siva - the Destroyer of the universe. The whole symbol is said to represent Brahman from which the universe emanates, has its growth and fruition and into which it merges in the end. It does not grow or change. Many change and pass, but Brahman is the One that ever remains unchanged.

The letters A, U and M also stand for the mantra 'Tat Twam Asi' ('That Thou Art'), the realisation of man's divinity within himself. The entire symbol stands for this realisation, which liberates the human spirit from the confines of his body, mind, intellect and ego.

After realising the importance of AUM, the yogi focusses his attention on his beloved Deity adding AUM to the name of the Lord. The word AUM being too vast and too abstract, he unifies his senses, will, intellect, mind and reason by focussing on the name of the Lord and adding the word AUM with one pointed devotion and so experiences the feeling and meaning of the mantra.

The yogi recalls the verses of the Mundakopanisad:

"Taking as a bow the great weapon of the Upanisad, one should put upon it an arrow sharpened by meditation. Stretching it with a thought directed to the essence of That, penetrate the Imperishable as the mark, my friend. The mystic syllable AUM is the bow. The arrow is the Self (Atma). Brahman is the target. By the undistracted man is It penetrated. One should come to be in It, as the arrow in the mark."

Definitions used here: (1) samadhi - a state of super-consciousness brought about by profound meditation, in which the individual aspirant (sadhaka) becomes one with the object of his meditation - Paramatma or the Universal Spirit.
(2) asana - posture
(3) pranayama - rhythmic control of the breath
(4) pratyahara - withdrawal and emancipation of the mind from the domination of the senses and exterior objects ............................................. Hindu Mantra
Mantras were originally conceived in the great Hindu scriptures known as the Vedas. Within practically all Hindu scriptures, the writing is formed in painstakingly crafted two line "shlokas" (Shloka is a verse, phrase, proverb or hymn of praise)and most mantras follow this pattern, although mantras are often found in single line or even single word combinations. Aum(Aum (also Om) is the most sacred syllable in Hinduism, in which Vedic tradition it originated. The syllable is sometimes referred to as the "Udgitha" or "pranava mantra" (primordial mantra); not only because it is considered to be the primal sound, but also because most mantras begin with it.

< The most basic hindu mantra is Aum, which in Hinduism is known as the "pranava mantra," the source of all mantras. The philosophy behind this is the Hindu idea of nama-rupa (name-form), which supposes that all things, ideas or entities in existence, within the phenomenological cosmos, have name and form of some sort. The most basic name and form is the primordial vibration of Aum, as it is the first manifested nama-rupa of Brahman, the unmanifest reality/unreality. Essentially, before existence and beyond existence is only One reality, Brahman, and the first manifestation of Brahman in existence is Aum.

For this reason, Aum is considered to be the most fundamental and powerful mantra, and thus is prefixed and suffixed to all Hindu prayers. While some mantras may invoke individual Gods or principles, the most fundamental mantras, like 'Aum,' the 'Shanti Mantra,' the 'Gayatri Mantra' and others all ultimately focus on the One reality.

In the Hindu tantras the universe is sound. The supreme (para) brings forth existence through the Word (Shabda). Creation consists of vibrations at various frequencies and amplitudes giving rise to the phenomena of the world. The purest vibrations are the, the imperishable letters which are revealed to us, imperfectly as the audible sounds and visible forms.

Var.nas are the atoms of sound. A complex symbolic association was built up between letters and the elements, gods, signs of the zodiac, parts of the body -- letters became rich in these associations. For example in the Aitrareya-aranya-Upanishad we find:

"The mute consonants represent the earth, the sibilants the sky, the vowels heaven. The mute consonants represent fire, the sibilants air, the vowels the sun? The mute consonants represent the eye, the sibilants the ear, the vowels the mind"

In effect each letter became a mantra and the language of the Vedas, Sanskrit, corresponds profoundly to the nature of things. Thus the Vedas come to represent reality itself. The seed syllable Om represents the underlying unity of reality, which is Brahman.