Aum may be referred as Om or Pranava.

What is Aum?

It is not possible for anyone to fully cognize or even describe the integral form of the sacred word Aum. It is an integral word that stands for the Divine.

Aum is a Name of God which can find universal acceptance. The Christians say Amen in their prayers every day. It is only a different form of Aum. Aum has universal relevance and applicability. It cuts across all barriers of time, place, religion and culture, and can be uttered by all men.

Summer Showers, 1979

Om or Pranava is the merging together of three sounds, A, U, and M.

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 06/Ch. 42, Nov. 23, 1966.

Om is the origin of Creation; it is the source, the sustenance and the strength. It is the life of every being. Just as air forced through the reeds of a harmonium produces the seven musical notes, Sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-dha-ni, so the one Om is at the root of all the sounds in all the worlds. Know its significance and practice its recitation.

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 06/Ch. 42, Nov. 23, 1966.

Who can chant Aum?

From time to time, people are making inquiries as to who can chant this primordial sacred chant (Pranava Manthra) and who cannot. The ancient scriptures (Vedas) however have made no such distinction. Since this sound of Pranava or Aum has been recognized as universal and is the life force in all the  ancient scriptures (Vedas), it has been accepted that anyone can utter it at all times.

Summer Showers, 1974

Where is the sound of Aum?

The entire universe is vibrant with the sound of Aum. It is erroneous to imagine that sound does not exist just because we cannot listen to it. Sound is a concomitant of all vibrations. Our hearing may not be sensitive enough to register the subtle sounds produced by subtle vibrations. All movements are accompanied by vibrations and vibrations are accompanied by sound. Even the winking of an eye causes subtle vibrations which produce subtle sounds.

Summer Showers, 1979

How does chanting Aum help during difficult times?

It is extolled as quenching all grief…One who ruminates on the Aum, ever aware of its significance, can steadily move on to an awareness of the Real behind all this unreal appearance, of the Supreme Atmic Principle Itself.

Upanishad Vahini, Ch. 5

Why Aum?

Om is the designation of the Universal Consciousness. Constant repetition of Om and intense meditation on its meaning are recommended for aspirants who seek cognition of the Indwelling Divine.

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 10/Ch. 10, May 21, 1970.

What is the proper way to chant Aum?

Several people do not chant Omkara with correct intonation as they do it in a most mechanical way. The chanting of this mantra is done with three syllables, namely, ‘A’, ‘U’ and ‘M’. ‘A’ comes from the throat, ‘U’ from the tongue, and ‘M’ from the lips. The combined form of these three syllables, namely, AUM emerges from the navel. Several people when asked to chant AUM they give us the spelling. This is not what is required. All the three syllables must be chanted simultaneously in unison. The chanting of Omkara can be compared to the taking off, soaring in the sky, and finally landing of the airplane. It is only when a mantra is chanted in the proper manner that you get good feelings.

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 35/Ch. 37, Oct. 12, 2002.

Aum must be recited slowly and with deliberation. The sound must be like an aircraft, first approaching from a distance to the spot where you are and then flying away again into the distance (soft at first, but gradually becoming louder and louder and then slowly relapsing into silence, this silence after the experience being as significant as the Pranava). ‘U’ is the zenith, the abode of God (Kailash), reached by the sound in its adoration. ‘A’ is the initial nadir, and ‘M,’ the final.

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 14/Ch. 03, Jun. 06, 1978.

Why is Aum chanted 21 times?

It is laid down at Prasanthi Nilayam that the early dawn recital of Aum should be done twenty-one times. This number is not arbitrarily fixed; it has a significance of its own. We have the five senses of action (speech, hands, feet, two excretory organs) and the five senses of perception (eye, ear, nose, tongue, and skin); we have also the five vital energies or airs (prana [located in lungs], apana [flatus which moves through rectum], vyana [diffused throughout the whole body], samana [navel, essential to digestion], and udana [rises through throat to head]) to sustain us. Then we have the five sheaths, enclosing the Divine Spark that is the Reality. These total up to twenty. Hence the recitation of Aum twenty-one times purifies and clarifies all these twenty components and makes man the twenty-first entity, ready for the final merger with Reality. The life-principle merges with the Supreme Reality. The life-principle may be pictured as a rider on the twenty-headed horse.

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 14/Ch. 03, Jun. 06, 1978.

How should the 21 Aum chant be ended?

You end the AUM (Pranava) recital with the recital of peace chant (‘shanthi’) three times. That completes the process of clarification and purification. The first call for peace chant(shanthi) is for the purity of the body part of the Self. The second call is for the purity of the mind. The third is for the purification of the spirit. This AUM (Pranava) recital will tone you up, calm all agitations in the mind and quicken the downpour of Grace.

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 14/Ch. 03, Jun. 06, 1978.