[Advaita-l] Om in the Vedas

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Thu Jan 12 12:29:52 CST 2012

> In a recent discussion with some elders in a satsanga, I was faced with a
> question about the occurrence of Om in the karma kANDa of the Vedas. The
> argument was that Om was "later on" added to the mantras and it exists no
> where, eg, Rg starts without Om into "agnimile purohitam' etc. Although I
> pointed out its importance from Mundaka, Mandukya, and its presence being
> assumed at the beginning of all mantras quoting Gayatri, Rudra, Purusha
> Sukta as examples, I was asked why it was not explicitly mentioned in karma
> kANDa (in any print)? I know that yajussamhita starts with mention of
> praNava, but not a direct Om. Could any vaidika provide any guidance on
> this front?

taittirIya upanishad 1.8 (om iti brahma ...) indicates that although not 
directly mentioned in the karmakANDa, it was there definitely in the
ritual context. taittirIya prAtiSAskhya also has a few sUtra-s on how
to pronounce omkAra, whether in udAtta or not, how elongated it
should be etc. This also points to its importance in a ritual context.
So if we take the veda not just as a received text, but as a text that
lives and is transmitted in its ritual context, om has a long established
place in the karmakANDa too. It was probably the basis for all the
stobhAskhara-s added during sAmaveda recitation.

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