While there are many mantras that are quite long and complex, people are often looking for short mantras that may be easily sounded together in a group. Let’s examine several such short mantras that may be used effectively. Please note that it does not seem to matter what pitch, frequency or keynote the mantra is chanted with regard to the effect of the mantra.
OM Of all the sacred sounds on this planet, the one that is most often chanted is the OM. Undoubtedly, at any given moment, there is someone, somewhere chanting this sacred mantra. The OM is considered one of the oldest vocal sounds in existence—many speculate that it has been chanted for untold thousands of years. It is considered to be the “first of all mantras,” the original, primordial sound—the mantra of creation.
OM is a mantra from the Hindu tradition, a Sanskrit word said to be the sound from which the universe and all of creation first manifested. While pronounced OM, certain Sanskrit scholars state that it is written as AUM. Many consider the two words to be interchangeable. OM is said to be the sound that contains all sounds—it is the totality of all other sounds. Swami Sivananda Radha says, “The cosmic sound AUM, or its condensed form, OM, is the origin of all other sound. OM is everything. It is the name of God.”
OM is a multi-dimensional sound and as such may be understood a number of different ways. One understanding is that OM (or AUM) represents attributes of the major trinity of Hindu gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The sounding of the A represents the energy of Brahma, the creator and the creational process. The U represents the energy of Vishnu, the preserver, and relates to the maintenance and preservation of what has been created. The final M represents the energy of Shiva, the transformer, and relates to the vital transformational energy to shift and change that which has been created and preserved.
Another understanding of OM/AUM is that the A represents the physical plane, the U the mental and astral planes and the M, all that is beyond the reach of the intellect. AUM or OM is the initial syllable that begins almost all mantras. Thus OM represents the Infinite, the One Mind, the all-embracing Consciousness—that which is the very essence of existence.
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the OM (AUM) represents different aspects of the trinity of the Body, Speech and Mind of the Buddha, or an enlightened being. The A represents the body, the U represents speech, and the M represents the mind. Sounding the AUM in this manner puts one in resonance with these qualities of consciousness.
The OM is a bija (or seed) mantra and may be utilized to resonate the third eye. However, it may also be chanted as a three-syllable word AUM (pronounced AH-OH-MMM) to resonate the heart, the throat and the crown chakras. In fact, the OM can, through our intent, become a multi-purpose mantra with capabilities of resonating and aligning all the chakras—of cleansing imbalanced energies and purifying self. Sung with sincerity and devotion, vocalization of the OM can put the chanter in touch with the source of all creation, providing a bridge between the spiritual and physical dimensions and opening the way for inspirational contact with higher realms and beings.
Many people ask if there is indeed a correct pronunciation for OM. Is it OM or AUM or something else? In reality, there does not seem to be a correct pronunciation. Depending upon the country, language and dialect, the OM can be pronounced AUM, UM, UNG, ANG, ONG and so on. Yet, the resonance and effects of this mantra seem to be very similar despite varied differences in pronunciation. Much depends upon the intention of the person creating the sound—where do they wish the OM to resonate—which chakra and for what purpose.
OM as a sound symbolizes the supreme Source. To many, the sound of OM is synonymous with the energy of peace. OM may be found as the root of many sacred words of different languages including our western Amen and the Hebrew Shalom, which has many meanings including peace. The OM initiates peace and tranquility when it is listened to, and particularly when it is chanted.
AH One of the most powerful mantras on this planet is AH. This is an extremely powerful sound—particularly useful for generating compassion. I know you will agree that compassion is truly a key to transformation of consciousness on this planet.
The AH sound is a sacred seed syllable—a sacred mantra in many Eastern traditions including Tibetan Buddhism. It is also a vowel sound—a divinely inspired sound considered sacred in many different traditions including Hebrew Kabbalah.
The AH sound is found in most of the God and Goddess names on the planet (Tara, Buddha, Krishna, Yah, Yeheshua, Saraswati, Wakantanka, Quan Yin, etc.), as well as many of the sacred words (Amen, Alleluia, AUM). As a seed syllable, the AH is universal and may be utilized differently in different traditions, depending upon its purpose.
Most mystical traditions worldwide that work with the vowel sounds in relationship to the chakras find that AH is the sound of the heart chakra. This chakra, located in the center of the chest, is the energy center associated with love and compassion. Indeed, when many people think about the energy of love, they express it as an AH sound. Many spiritual masters believe that the activation of this chakra is most helpful for achieving higher consciousness and enlightenment. Most agree that the energy of love and the heart is the primary, essential energy of the universe.
Many people also believe that AH is the primary sound that is created when we are born—the sound being birthed on the inhalation of the first breath. AH is also the last sound we make, riding on the energy of our final exhalation. In Tibetan Buddhism, there is a co-meditation technique using the AH sound. Chanting AH together (or even simply by just breathing together) allows people to attune and resonate with each other. It seems that the heartbeat, respiration and brain waves of two people will entrain with each other through breathing or sounding AH together. This use of the AH sound may be particularly effective for those involved in hospice work to be used as a sound of the heart chakra.
I often recommend AH for people who want to work with short mantras in groups because AH is an extremely transformative sound, and yet most people know of it only as a vowel sound—thus it defies association with any spiritual denomination or description as a mantra. While other sounds such as OM might be rejected by certain audiences because they are recognized as Eastern mantras or coming from other spiritual traditions, the sounding of an AH is acceptable by everyone regardless of their background, culture or religion.
Here is an easy exercise with regard to working with the AH to generate the energy of compassion. All you do is have people sound an AH while they are generating the energy of compassion. Start first with generating compassion for yourself, then for someone you love, then someone you have neutral energy with and finally someone you have difficulty with. It is this last that provides the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth, since it’s easy to send love to someone you love and difficult to do for someone you find difficult.
HU Just as many traditions believe that the OM is the original creative sound, there are traditions that believe this energy may be attributed to another sound—the HU. In the Shabd Yoga traditions, including Master Path and Eckankar, and in the mystical Islamic path of Sufi, the HU is considered to be the highest vibratory mantra that can be sounded. Chanting the HU is said to lead one to transcendence—to God realization and enlightenment.
HU is believed to be the universal name of God, which is present in every existing language. The HU sound has been described as many things from the buzzing of bees to the rushing of wind to the flute of God. It is said to be present in the words we speak, in the sounds of animals, the wind in the trees, the rushing of waters, the roaring of waterfalls, the beat of the sea against a beach—it is everywhere, in every plane.
Like the AH and the OM, the HU may be perceived as a seed syllable. Depending upon its pronunciation, it may also be perceived as a vowel—the U sound. The HU creates extraordinary energy for balance and clearing. Many believe it activates both the heart and the crown chakras. When sounded together in a large group, it is extremely powerful and transformative.
Different spiritual paths seem to have very different ways of pronouncing HU, the sacred name of God. Certain spiritual paths from the Shabd Yoga traditions chant it as one would the word “you”. Other spiritual variants of Shabd Yoga chant it as the word “who” which is said to be good for clearing the crown chakra. In the Sufi Tradition, there is even a way of chanting HU with lips barely touching and being the primary vibrator, so that this HU almost sounds like a motorboat or a buzzing insect. The Sufis perceive this HU as good for resonance of the throat chakra. Regardless of the way it is chanted, continued, elongated sounding of HU, particularly with specific intention, will lead the reciter into an elevated state of consciousness.
OM AH HUM OM, AH and HU are just a few of the one-syllable mantras from different traditions—there are many others. These three have been described because of their recognition and power.
Interestingly, these one-syllable mantras combine quite easily. In fact, if one chants the OM or AUM as a three-syllable sound—AH OH MM—you have one combination that contains at least two of these sounds. When pronounced in this way, the AUM should be sounded on one breath. Project the three syllables as three separate sounds so that the AH resonates the heart center, the OH resonates the throat center and the MM resonates the third eye and crown. This way of sounding the OM is extremely effective in a group for bringing the energy of the people together.
The Tibetan Buddhist Chant of OM AH HUM, the Mantra of Blessing that frequently precedes the recitation of other mantras, also contains these sounds. In this setting the AH embodies the principle of creative sound and pure speech and is used to resonate the throat chakra with the OM resonating the crown chakra and the HUM resonating the heart chakra.
These three mantras of OM, AH and HUM are particularly effective for working with a group in order to create and then project sacred sound for use to assist in planetary healing—using sound to assist the creation of peace and harmony on the earth. As always, the intent of the chanter is of great importance. By themselves, these mantras have their own extraordinary divine resonance. But through skillful means, one can project intention upon these sounds, amplifying and making even more extraordinary the great healing gifts they can bring.