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Importance of Om in Hinduism – explained by Swami Ranganathananda

Swami Ranganathananda (December 15, 1908 – April 25, 2005) of Ramakrishna Mission – 13th president of Ramakrishna Mission – explains the importance of Om in Hinduism.

Harih Om - Salutations to the supreme Lord, Hari, the Self in the heart of all beings—that is the meaning of ‘Hari’.
Omityetadaksharamidam sarvam - All this universe is nothing but the syllable ‘Om’. Om is all this.
Bhutam bhavadbhavishyaditi sarvamomkara - All that is past, all that is present, all that is future is verily Om. All time is comprehended: present, past, and future. That which is beyond the triple conception of time also is Om. Om is time; Om is eternity. What belongs to the past, present, and future; what belongs to the transcendental—beyond time and space.

That is why when you write ‘Om’, you write ‘Om’ and put a dot on the top. The dot represents the transcendental, the bindu, the dot. The A, U and M represent past, present, and future respectively.

Om: Shankara’s commentary says in the beginning itself. ‘As all diversified objects that we see around us, indicated by names, are not different from their (corresponding) names, and further as the different names are not different from Aum, therefore all these are verily Aum’. The first sound is Om.

As a thing is known through its name so the highest Brahman is known through Aum alone. Therefore, the highest Brahman is verily Aum. Brahman in manifestation and Brahman transcendent. Om represents Brahman in manifestation and Brahman that is transcendent.

Source - Mandukya Upanishad Swami Ranganathananda – Taken from the February 2016 edition of the Prabuddha Bharata