Misuse of the 'Aum' Mantra
(Aumkara Ka Japa)

Transcript of a talk by His Divinity Swami Brahmananda Saraswati,
Jagadguru, Shankaracharya Jytoir Math

[From Shri Shankaracharya Upadesh Amrita, kaNa 73 of 108, 
translated by Paul Mason]

Many people have not done the work of consulting the shastras [vedic 
scriptures] in order to determine what is authorized and what is not, 
they look here and there and from this they understand what they should 
do to engage in worship.  Some people set great measure by the mag-
nificence of the japa [repetition] of 'aum'.  In Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavan 
[Lord Krishna] certainly said that "I am the pranava [the primal mantra - 
aum]".  But if the purpose is to attain Bhagavan's special form, then why 
not use the method of grasping the lion as well, since he is also that too?
Bhagavan Shri Krishna Chandra said that: "mrganam ca mrgendro 'ham" 
[Bhagavad Gita, chapter 10, verse 30], "Amongst beasts I am the lion".

What actually happens to those who proclaim the greatness of using only 
aumkara ka japa, our experience up until recently we are informing, listen: 
two, four, ten, twenty times constantly repeating 'aum' then no particular 
effect there will be.  But if two, four-thousand unceasing repetitions then 
in a short time [the connection with] the worldly surrounding will become 
weak.  Arsenic is a destroyer, but taking a little then the effects will not be 
very rapid.  If some excessive dose is taken then it actually kills.  Those 
who use the method alone of aumkara ka japa, taking it to be the special 
form, find that their worldly discipline certainly weakens; working and re-
gular meals go into decline; wife and son etc. become unhealthy and also 

Five, six years ago, we had gone to Lucknow for the occasion of Laksha 
Chandi Yagya.  On that occasion one old woman came to us and two, 
four people came along also.  These people did say that Mataji was a 
great devotee, all day long she would remain in prayer and worship, but 
only very recently her two sons who were in the prime of life had died.

To this we asked; "Were you practicing aumkara ka japa?"

She answered to Maharaj: "The very same is our portion, all day long I 
did do ['aum'] japa."

We said that: "Well done that for your samsara (worldly life) you have 
dropped ['aum'] japa; at this moment do not renounce [the world]."  

However, by adherence to the practice, something very excellent she will 
destroy; right here is the effect of aumkara ka japa.

This then is done somewhere without love and if love's work is being 
done then the meaning and the object of love will be be annihilated by 
the influence of aumkara ka japa.

For this [reason] grihastham [householders] are not authorized to do aum-
kara ka japa alone. Shastra with a view to grant good fortune do not give 
authority.  If there was any benefit to be derived by grihastham by using 
aumkara japa there would be no reason for the shastra to prohibit.

Mantras [sometimes] contain a mixture [of sounds including] 'aum' that are 
given for auspicious purposes.  Another thing is this: that women are pro-
hibited from practicing japa with a aumkara-yukta mantra (a mantra con-
joined with 'aum').  Wherever at the beginning there is the purusha [male] 
mantra 'aum', then instead women should apply the sound 'shri'.

Bhagavan Shankara [Lord Shiva] giving instruction to Parvati on japa ex-
plained that for women aumkara-sahita mantra ka japa ['aum'-connected 
mantra] can be like poison and for happiness they should only do japa 
without aumkara.  Due consideration should be given that Shankar-ji gave 
this information to his own wife.  If aumkara is beneficial for a woman to 
do, why would he [Lord Shiva himself] instruct his own wife against the 

Jai Guru Dev


Dr. Michael Dean Goodman

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