1.27 The Sound of God
Updated: Aug 28, 2021
YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI | CHAPTER 1 - SAMADHI PADA | VERSE 27 | COMMENTARY
Tasya Vachakah Pranavah.
तस्य वाचकः प्रणवः ॥१.२७॥
Tasya va̅cakaḥ praṇavaḥ ||1.27||
The sound form of God is Pranav.
Every religion has given a sacred sound: Hinduism has Aum, Islam has Ameen, Christianity and Judaism has Amen, and Sikhism has Ik-Omkar. It is no coincidence that all these sounds are so similar to each other even though they originated thousands of miles and millennia away from each other. The realized saints and Gurus of all times experienced sacred eternal sound within, the energy that is life giving and all encompassing, and gave it to the world in a form to eradicate suffering and help the masses transcend the mundane.
Modern Research has also studied the effect of sound on body. The more healing the sound is, the more symmetrical are the water crystals that form. Since the human body is more than 60% water, sound directly impacts the body-mind complex.
Pranav simply means a sacred sound. The rustling of the leaves in a gentle breeze, the waves lapping at the shore, a rivulet chiming as it moves through the woods, the cracking of fire on a cold winter day - the sound of breath and life itself: the entire cosmos is just vibrations and sacred sound is equated to Om (Aum) in the Upanishads and other Vedic texts. Pranav is now commonly used as a substitute of AUM. The syllable AUM is said to have a fourth part also – the most sacred part of all – Silence. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that the purpose of all words and sounds is to bring a contented Silence in the mind – words and sounds that create disturbance are to be dropped. AUM is the journey from Sound to Silence. There is a beautiful guided meditation that you can do to experience this journey.
AUM is made up of three syllables and represents the three energies of the universe – Creative (Generation), Maintenance (Operation), and Transformative (Destruction) – GOD. This cycle of the universe is perpetual. Every day the Sun rises (Generation), gives energy and life to all (Maintenance) and then sets (Destruction) to regenerate the next day. It also represents the three states of mind – Awakened, Sleeping, and Dreaming. It represents the Trigunas – Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. The fourth part of AUM is Silence which represents the state beyond the three states. God encompasses all the energies, and is beyond it. All the states of the mind are in the realm of Brahman, but Brahman is also beyond- it cannot be grasped by the intellect or the ego – it is the transcendental state. The one who rises above the influence of the Trigunas experiences Brahman. This is represented by AUM.
The qualities of God have been explained in the previous sutras. One wonders how does one meditate on this God that is formless. Maharishi Patanjali gives the solution as soon as it arises. He gives the primordial sound that is God. Chanting AUM with devotion, like a calling to the loved one, to our soul, will, without fail, take us to the goal of Yoga.