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Omkar Upasana In Hinduism - Importance

Omkar Upasana is om worship and meditation. The three methods of reaching the ultimate as given in the Vedic tradition are karma marga (performance of rites), upasana or bhakti marga (meditation and worship) and jnana marga (knowledge). Of these jnana marga is for the qualified self. Karma marga takes away the attention of the being from worldly activities and turns him inward.

The teaching of the absolute requires focused attention of the mind (ekagrata), which is developed by upasana. There are different kinds of upasanas each prescribed for a specific purpose. But omkara upasana has been ordained as the supreme of all upasanas.

Omkara is both a pratika (symbol) as well as non-different from Brahman (the absolute Brahma). Thus omkara is both identical and the nearest symbol of Brahman.

Prasanna Upanishad states that omkara is both para and apara. By meditating on omkara itself, one attains the absolute by shaking of all sins, like a snake coming out of its slough.
All Upanishads invariably prescribe omkara upasana.

Chandogya Upanishad states that omkara should be worshiped as udgita (sung in high pitch melody, which is the ultimate essence of all essences (I/1/1-3).

The gods performed omkara upasana for victory over demons (Chandogya Upanishad (I/2/1-7).

Worshipped as Aditya (Sun), udgita (om) removes fear and darkness (Chandogya Upanishad (I/3/1).

Who knows and worships this pranava attains immortality (Chandogya Upanishad (I/4/5). (Chandogya Upanishad (I/5/1).

Even while starting and ending the recitation of Vedas, omkara is chanted without fail.
All Sannyasis are expected to perform omkara upasana.

Mandukya Upanishad deals totally with the knowledge of the absolute through omkara and omkara upasana.

Source - Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VII page 536



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