'pranava' se mahavakya--vedera nidana
isvara-svarupa pranava sarva-visva-dhama
pranava—the omkara; se—that; maha-vakya—transcendental sound vibration; vedera—of the Vedas; nidana—basic principle; isvara-svarupa—direct representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; pranava—omkara; sarva-visva—of all universes; dhama—is the reservoir.
"The Vedic sound vibration omkara, the principal word in the Vedic scriptures, is the basis of all Vedic vibrations. Therefore one should accept omkara as the sound representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the reservoir of the cosmic manifestation.
om ity ekaksaram brahma
vyaharan mam anusmaran
yah prayati tyajan deham
sa yati paramam gatim
This verse indicates that omkara, or pranava, is a direct representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore if at the time of death one simply remembers omkara, he remembers the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is therefore immediately transferred to the spiritual world. Omkara is the basic principle of all Vedic mantras, for it is a representation of Lord Krsna, understanding of whom is the ultimate goal of the Vedas, as stated in the Bhagavad-gita (vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah). Mayavadi philosophers cannot understand these simple facts explained in the Bhagavad-gita, and yet they are very proud of being Vedantis. Sometimes, therefore, we refer to the Vedanti philosophers as Vidantis, those who have no teeth (vi means "without," and danti means "possessing teeth"). The statements of the Sankara philosophy, which are the teeth of the Mayavadi philosopher, are always broken by the strong arguments of Vaisnava philosophers such as the great acaryas, especially Ramanujacarya. Sripada Ramanujacarya and Madhvacarya break the teeth of the Mayavadi philosophers, who can therefore be called Vidantis, "toothless."
The transcendental vibration omkara is explained in the Bhagavad-gita, Chapter Eight, verse thirteen:
om ity ekaksaram brahma
vyaharan mam anusmaran
yah prayati tyajan deham
sa yati paramam gatim
If one actually understands that omkara is the sound representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whether he chants omkara or the Hare Krsna mantra, the result is certainly the same.
The transcendental vibration of omkara is further explained in the Bhagavad-gita, Chapter Nine, verse seventeen:
pitaham asya jagato
mata dhata pitamahah
vedyam pavitram omkara
rk sama yajur eva ca
Similarly, the transcendental sound om is further explained in the Bhagavad-gita, Chapter Seventeen, verse twenty-three:
om tat sad iti nirdeso
brahmanas tri-vidhah smrtah
brahmanas tena vedas ca
yajnas ca vihitah pura
Throughout all the Vedic scriptures the glories of omkara are specifically mentioned. Srila Jiva Gosvami, in his thesis Bhagavat-sandarbha, says that in the Vedic literature omkara is considered to be the sound vibration of the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Only this vibration of transcendental sound can deliver a conditioned soul from the clutches of maya. Sometimes omkara is also called the deliverer (tara). Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with the omkara vibration: om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. Therefore omkara has been described by the great commentator Sridhara Svami as tarankura, the seed of deliverance from the material world. Since the Supreme Godhead is absolute, His holy name and His sound vibration omkara are as good as He Himself. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that the holy name, or omkara, the transcendental representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has all the potencies of the Personality of Godhead.
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
All potencies are invested in the holy vibration of the holy name of the Lord. There is no doubt that the holy name of the Lord, or omkara, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. In other words, anyone who chants omkara and the holy name of the Lord, Hare Krsna, immediately meets the Supreme Lord directly in His sound form. In the Narada-pancaratra it is clearly said that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana personally appears before the chanter who engages in chanting the astaksara, or eight-syllable mantra, om namo narayanaya. A similar statement in the Mandukya Upanisad declares that whatever one sees in the spiritual world is all an expansion of the spiritual potency of omkara.
On the basis of all the Upanisads, Srila Jiva Gosvami says that omkara is the Supreme Absolute Truth and is accepted as such by all the acaryas and authorities. Omkara is beginningless, changeless, supreme and free from deterioration and external contamination. Omkara is the origin, middle and end of everything, and any living entity who thus understands omkara attains the perfection of spiritual identity in omkara. Omkara, being situated in everyone's heart, is isvara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (18.61): isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati. Omkara is as good as Visnu because omkara is as all-pervasive as Visnu. One who knows omkara and Lord Visnu to be identical no longer has to lament or hanker. One who chants omkara no longer remains a sudra but immediately comes to the position of a brahmana. Simply by chanting omkara one can understand the whole creation to be one unit, or an expansion of the energy of the Supreme Lord: idam hi visvam bhagavan ivetaro yato jagat-sthana-nirodha-sambhavah. "The Supreme Lord Personality of Godhead is Himself this cosmos, and still He is aloof from it. From Him only this cosmic manifestation has emanated, in Him it rests, and unto Him it enters after annihilation." (Bhag. 1.5.20) Although one who does not understand concludes otherwise, Srimad-Bhagavatam states that the entire cosmic manifestation is but an expansion of the energy of the Supreme Lord. Realization of this is possible simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord, omkara.
One should not, however, foolishly conclude that because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is omnipotent, we have manufactured a combination of letters-a, u and m-to represent Him. Factually the transcendental sound omkara, although a combination of the three letters a, u and m, has transcendental potency, and one who chants omkara will very soon realize omkara and Lord Visnu to be nondifferent. Krsna declares, pranavah sarva-vedesu: "I am the syllable om in the Vedic mantras." (Bg. 7.8) One should therefore conclude that among the many incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, omkara is the sound incarnation. All the Vedas accept this thesis. One should always remember that the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself are always identical (abhinnatvan nama-naminoh). Since omkara is the basic principle of all Vedic knowledge, it is uttered before one begins to chant any Vedic hymn. Without omkara, no Vedic mantra is successful. The Gosvamis therefore declare that pranava (omkara) is the complete representation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and they have analyzed omkara in terms of its alphabetical constituents as follows:
Omkara is a combination of the letters a, u and m. A-karenocyate krsnah: the letter a (a-kara) refers to Krsna, who is sarva-lokaika-nayakah, the master of all living entities and planets, material and spiritual. Nayaka means "leader." He is the supreme leader (nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam). The letter u (u-kara) indicates Srimati Radharani, the pleasure potency of Krsna, and m (ma-kara) indicates the living entities (jivas). Thus om is the complete combination of Krsna, His potency and His eternal servitors. In other words, omkara represents Krsna, His name, fame, pastimes, entourage, expansions, devotees, potencies and everything else pertaining to Him. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu states in the present verse of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, sarva-visva-dhama: omkara is the resting place of everything, just as Krsna is the resting place of everything (brahmano hi pratisthaham).
The Mayavadi philosophers consider many Vedic mantras to be the maha-vakya, or principal Vedic mantra, such as tat tvam asi (Chandogya Upanisad 6.8.7), idam sarvam yad ayam atma and brahmedam sarvam (Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad 2.5.1), atmaivedam sarvam (Chandogya Upanisad 7.25.2) and neha nanasti kincana (Katha Upanisad 2.1.11). That is a great mistake. Only omkara is the maha-vakya. All these other mantras that the Mayavadis accept as the maha-vakya are only incidental. They cannot be taken as the maha-vakya, or maha-mantra. The mantra tat tvam asi indicates only a partial understanding of the Vedas, unlike omkara, which represents the full understanding of the Vedas. Therefore the transcendental sound that includes all Vedic knowledge is omkara (pranava).
Aside from omkara, none of the words uttered by the followers of Sankaracarya can be considered the maha-vakya. They are merely passing remarks. Sankaracarya, however, has never stressed chanting of the maha-vakya omkara; he has accepted only tat tvam asi as the maha-vakya. Imagining the living entity to be God, he has misrepresented all the mantras of the Vedanta-sutra with the motive of proving that there is no separate existence of the living entities and the Supreme Absolute Truth. This is similar to the politician's attempt to prove nonviolence from the Bhagavad-gita. Krsna is violent to demons, and to attempt to prove that Krsna is not violent is ultimately to deny Krsna. As such explanations of the Bhagavad-gita are absurd, so also is Sankaracarya's explanation of the Vedanta-sutra, and no sane and reasonable man will accept it. At present, however, the Vedanta-sutra is misrepresented not only by the so-called Vedantis but also by other unscrupulous persons who are so degraded that they even recommend that sannyasis eat meat, fish and eggs. In this way Sankara's so-called followers, the impersonalist Mayavadis, are sinking lower and lower. How can these degraded men explain the Vedanta-sutra, which is the essence of all Vedic literature?
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has declared, mayavadi-bhasya sunile haya sarva-nasa: "Anyone who hears commentary on the Vedanta-sutra from the Mayavada school is completely doomed." As explained in the Bhagavad-gita (15.15), vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: all Vedic literature aims to understand Krsna. Mayavada philosophy, however, has deviated everyone from Krsna. Therefore there is a great need for the Krsna consciousness movement all over the world to save the world from degradation. Every intelligent and sane man must abandon the philosophical explanation of the Mayavadis and accept the explanation of Vaisnava acaryas. One should read Bhagavad-gita As It Is to try to understand the real purpose of the Vedas.
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