Om or Aum is of paramount importance in Hinduism. This symbol (as seen in the image on the right) is a sacred syllable representing Brahman
, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism — omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence. Brahman, in itself, is incomprehensible; so a symbol becomes mandatory to help us realize the Unknowable. Om, therefore, represents both the unmanifest (nirguna
) and manifest (saguna
) aspects of God. That is why it is called pranava
, to mean that it pervades life and runs through our prana or breath.