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.
Then they meditated on the udgītha (Om) as the ear, but the Asuras pierced it with evil. Therefore we hear both what should be heard and what should not be heard. For the car is pierced by evil.
Then they meditated on the udgītha (Om) as the mind, but the Asuras pierced it with evil. Therefore we conceive both what should be conceived and what should not be conceived. For the mind is pierced by evil.
Then comes this breath (of life) in the mouth. They meditated on the udgītha (Om) as that breath. When the Asuras came to it, they were scattered, as (a ball of earth) would be scattered when hitting a solid stone.
Thus, as a ball of earth is scattered when hitting on a solid stone, will he be scattered who wishes evil to one who knows this, or who persecutes him; for he is a solid stone.
By it (the breath in the mouth) he distinguishes neither what is good nor what is bad-smelling, for that breath is free from evil. What we eat and drink with it supports the other vital breaths (i. e. the senses, such as smell, &c.) When at the time of death he does not find that breath (in the mouth, through which he eats and drinks and lives), then he departs. He opens the mouth at the time of death (as if wishing to eat).
Aṅgiras meditated on the udgītha (Om) as that breath, and people hold it to be Aṅgiras, i. e. the essence of the members (angānāṃ rasaḥ);
Therefore Bṛhaspati meditated on udgītha (Om) as that breath, and people hold it to be Bṛhaspati, for speech is bṛhatī, and he (that breath) is the lord (pati) of speech;
Therefore Ayāsya meditated on the udgītha (Om) as that breath, and people hold it to be Ayāsya, because it comes (ayati) from the mouth (āsya);
Therefore Vaka Dālbhya knew it. He was the Udgātṛ (singer) of the Naimishīya-sacrificers, and by singing he obtained for them their wishes.
He who knows this, and meditates on the syllable Om (the imperishable udgītha) as the breath of life in the mouth, he obtains all wishes by singing. So much for the udgītha (Om) as meditated on with reference to the body.
Now follows the meditation on the udgītha with reference to the gods. Let a man meditate on the udgītha (Om) as he who sends warmth (the sun in the sky). When the sun rises it sings as Udgātṛ for the sake of all creatures. When it rises it destroys the fear of darkness. He who knows this, is able to destroy the fear of darkness (ignorance).
This (the breath in the mouth) and that (the sun) are the same. This is hot and that is hot. This they call svara (sound), and that they call pratyāsvara (reflected sound). Therefore let a man meditate on the udgītha (Om) as this and that (as breath and as sun).
Then let a man meditate on the udgītha (Om) as vyāna indeed. If we breathe up, that is prāṇa, the up-breathing. If we breathe down, that is apāna, the down-breathing. The combination of prāṇa and apāna is vyāna, back-breathing or holding in of the breath. This vyāna is speech. Therefore when we utter speech, we neither breathe up nor down.
Speech is Ṛc, and therefore when a man utters a Ṛc verse he neither breathes up nor down.
Ṛc is Sāman, and therefore when a man utters a Sāman verse he neither breathes up nor down.
Sāman is udgītha, and therefore when a man sings (the udgītha, Om) he neither breathes up nor down.
And other works also which require strength, such as the production of fire by rubbing, running a race, stringing a strong bow, are performed without breathing up or down. Therefore let a man meditate on the udgītha (Om) as vyāna.
Let a man meditate on the syllables of the udgītha, i. e. of the word udgītha. Ut is breath (prāṇa), for by means of breath a man rises (uttishṭhati). Gī is speech, for speeches are called giraḥ. Tha is food, for by means of food all subsists (sthita).
Ut is heaven, gī the sky, tha the earth. Ut is the sun, gī the air, tha the fire. Ut is the Sāma-veda,, gī the Yajur-veda, tha the Rig-veda. Speech yields the milk, which is the milk of speech itself, to him who thus knowing meditates on those syllables of the name of udgītha, he becomes rich in food and able to eat food.
Next follows the fulfilment of prayers. Let a man thus meditate on the Upasaraṇas, i. e. the objects which have to be approached by meditation: Let him (the Udgātṛ) quickly reflect on the Sāman with which he is going to praise;
Let him quickly reflect on the Ṛc in which that Sāman occurs; on the Ṛshi (poet) by whom it was seen or composed; on the Devatā (object) which he is going to praise;
On the metre in which he is going to praise; on the tune with which he is going to sing for himself;
On the quarter of the world which he is going to praise. Lastly, having approached himself (his name, family, &c.) by meditation, let him sing the hymn of praise, reflecting on his desire, and avoiding all mistakes in pronunciation, &c. Quickly will the desire be then fulfilled to him, for the sake of which he may have offered his hymn of praise, yea, for which he may have offered his hymn of praise.
Let a man meditate on the syllable Om, for the udgītha is sung beginning with Om. And this is the full account of the syllable Om—
The Devas, being afraid of death, entered upon (the performance of the sacrifice prescribed in) the threefold knowledge (the three Vedas). They covered themselves with the metrical hymns. Because they covered (chad) themselves with the hymns, therefore the hymns are called chandas.
Then, as a fisherman might observe a fish in the water, Death observed the Devas in the Ṛc, Yajus, and Sāman-(sacrifices). And the Devas seeing this, rose from the Ṛc, Yajus, and Sāman-sacrifices, and entered the Svara, i.e. the Om (they meditated on the Om).
When a man has mastered the Rig-veda, he says quite loud Om; the same, when he has mastered the Sāman and the Yajus. This Svara is the imperishable (syllable), the immortal, free from fear. Because the Devas entered it, therefore they became immortal, and free from fear.
He who knowing this loudly pronounces (praṇauti)- that syllable, enters the same (imperishable) syllable, the Svara, the immortal, free from fear, and having entered it, becomes immortal, as the Devas are immortal.
The udgītha is the praṇava, the praṇava is the udgītha. And as the udgītha is the sun, So is the praṇava, for he (the sun) goes sounding Om.
‘Him I sang praises to, therefore art thou my only one,’ thus said Kaushītaki to his son. ‘Do thou revolve his rays, then thou wilt have many sons.’ So much in reference to the Devas.
Now with reference to the body. Let a man meditate on the udgītha as the breath (in the mouth), for he goes sounding Om.
‘Him I sang praises to, therefore art thou my only son,’ thus said Kaushītaki to his son. ‘Do thou therefore sing praises to the breath as manifold, if thou wishest to have many sons.’
He who knows that the udgītha is the praṇava, and the praṇava the udgītha, rectifies from the seat of the Hotṛ priest any mistake committed by the Udgātṛ priest in performing the udgītha, yea, in performing the udgītha.