LET a man meditate on the syllable Om, called the udgītha; for the udgītha (a portion of the Sāma-veda) is sung, beginning with Om.
The full account, however, of Om is this:—
The essence of all beings is the earth, the essence of the earth is water, the essence of water the plants, the essence of plants man, the essence of man speech, the essence of speech the Rig-veda, the essence of the Rig-veda the Sāma-veda, the essence of the Sāma-veda the udgītha (which is Om).
That udgītha (Om) is the best of all essences, the highest, deserving the highest place, the eighth.
What then is the Ṛc? What is the Sāman? What is the udgītha? ‘This is the question.
The Ṛc indeed is speech, Sāman is breath, the udgītha is the syllable Om. Now speech and breath, or Ṛc and Sāman, form one couple.
And that couple is joined together in the syllable Om. When two people come together, they fulfil each other’s desire.
Thus he who knowing this, meditates on the syllable (Om), the udgītha, becomes indeed a fulfiller of desires.
That syllable is a syllable of permission, for whenever we permit anything, we say Om, yes. Now permission is gratification. He who knowing this meditates on the syllable (Om), the udgītha, becomes indeed a gratifier of desires.
By that syllable does the threefold knowledge (the sacrifice, more particularly the Soma-sacrifice, as founded on the three Vedas) proceed. When the Adhvaryu priest gives an order, he says Om. When the Hotṛ priest recites, he says Om. When the Udgātṛ priest sings, he says Om, —all for the glory of that syllable. The threefold knowledge (the sacrifice) proceeds by the greatness of that syllable (the vital breaths), and by its essence (the oblations).
Now therefore it would seem to follow, that both he who knows this (the true meaning of the syllable Om), and he who does not, perform the same sacrifice. But this is not so, for knowledge and ignorance are different. The sacrifice which a man performs with knowledge, faith, and the Upanishad is more powerful. This is the full account of the syllable Om.
When the Devas and Asuras struggled together, both of the race of Prajāpati, the Devas took the udgītha (Om), thinking they would vanquish the Asuras with it.
They meditated on the udgītha (Om) as the breath (scent) in the nose, but the Asuras pierced it (the breath) with evil. Therefore we smell by the breath in the nose both what is good-smelling and what is bad-smelling. For the breath was pierced by evil.
Then they meditated on the udgītha (Om) as speech, but the Asuras pierced it with evil. Therefore we speak both truth and falsehood. For speech is pierced by evil.
Then they meditated on the udgītha (Om) as the eye, but the Asuras pierced it with evil. Therefore we see both what is sightly and unsightly. For the eye is pierced by evil.