Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda

Meaning of Aum (Om)

Among all letters, I am the letter A; of all compounds, I am the dvandva (connective element). I am Immutable Time; and I am the Omnipresent Creator (the all-pervading Dispenser of Destiny) whose face is turned on all sides.
— The Bhagavad Gita X:33

Letters are divided into vowels and consonants; no consonant can be pronounced without the aid of a vowel. The letter A, in nearly all languages, is the first among vowels; in Sanskrit it is also the component of every consonant, which allows for the intonation of that letter: ka, ta, ha, and so forth. A is the first letter of the primordial syllable Aum, whose cosmic sound is the mother of all sounds, and therefore of all languages.

aumAum is the conglomerate sound of the creative, preservative, and dissolving vibrations of Nature, represented, respectively, by its letters a (akara), u (ukara), m (makara). It is thus the Word of God that was with Him from the beginning, His symbol in creation. The Lord in this Gita verse declares Himself preeminently in the letter A (creation), for He is the origin, the infinite source of being, the power that sends forth the modes of Nature. [John 1:1-2] "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty."[ Revelation 1:8.] The Hindu scriptures deal at length with the importance of chanting this sacred Word, Aum, and of listening in deep meditation to the actual sound of this holy vibration declaring God's presence in creation.

[audio Listen to Aum chanted by Paramahansa Yogananda]

In Sanskrit grammar, dvandva refers to compounds of words (aggregate compounds) in which the words, though conjoined, do not change their character in construction or meaning. The concomitant analogy of God's manifestation as the dvandva is that His consciousness is the copulative element that holds together in intelligent play and interplay all beings and objects. Cosmic delusion in the ordinary man suppresses his perception of the ubiquitous Infinite; he sees only the cosmic dream without the presence of the Cosmic Dreamer. The yogi, however, beholds the Cosmic Dreamer and His cosmic dream as one. By rising above the mortal state, he sees God as the conjoining power (dvandva) among all compounds (samasa) in the cosmic dream. He perceives God's subjective consciousness and His objective dreams as held together by His conjoining cognitive dream-consciousness. As a man requires self-awareness to be conscious of himself and of his dreams, so God cognizes His cosmic dreams through His ever conscious Self-awareness—the essential faculty by which His Dreamless Being and His cosmic dreams exist together, in complete harmony As one twig may support two flowers, so the stem of Self-awareness—the unifying dvandva, or God's cognitive power—holds together the blossom of His Absolute nature and the blossom of His diversified cosmic dream.

God is Immutable Time, the Eternal Consciousness. In the Atharva Veda, God is personified as Time and hailed as the "father" (creator) of all the worlds, and also as their "son" (their existence). Time (kola) is the idea of change in the Eternal Immutable, a gossamer illusion in which all illusions dance. Stanza 30 of this chapter referred to man's conception of time, imposed on him by Nature as one of its illusory "measurers." This present verse refers to God's everlasting consciousness, the Sole Time, which is the eternal receptacle of all His ever-changing illusory dreams of creation.

A subtle principle is cited in the esoteric description of God as the Omnipresent Creator, the Dispenser (or Bestower) of Destiny (dhata) who faces in all directions (visvatomukha). A dreamer is the creator and sustainer of the destiny—both good and bad— of the images in his dream. Similarly, in the cosmic dream, the Divine Dreamer is the Creator and Sustainer of all beings, and the Dispenser of their destiny through their good and bad karma. In this sense, God predetermines to a great extent the happenings in His cosmic dream and the parts to be played therein by His dream actors. This doesn't mean, however, that man's fate is wholly predestined by an authoritarian Deity. God is the Maker of des-tiny, but He has given man the power to react upon destiny. Each human being receives from God the gift of free choice by which he can make changes in himself and his world environment. This very power of free will is an expression of the image of God in man, the image in which man is made—the soul or individualized consciousness of God. Therefore, all happenings are determined by a conjunctive effort between God the macrocosmic Creator, and God the microcosmic creator through individualized expression in man. No individual is spared his share of the responsibility for any evils or seeming injustices. If one disdains his lot, he may exercise the God-power within him to operate those laws of Nature that can change those circumstances. If he tires of the alternating entertainments and harassments of dualities, he can exert his God-power to awaken himself from this cosmic dreaming. The nonuse or misuse of free will is man's own choice to remain in the dream and be subjected to the laws that rule the realm of manifestation.

Visvato-mukha, "omnipresent, facing all sides," has also a further meaning: "an omnipresent aperture or opening." God's eternal presence, His all-encompassing consciousness, is the "doorway" through which His created beings go back and forth between the physical plane and the astral world as His consciousness enacts on them the illusory changes called birth and death. Through good and bad karma (the fruits of man's actions dispensed by God according to His just law of compensation), the recurrent cycles of birth, existence, and death of all beings are continuously occurring in the consciousness of God. Thus is He the Sustainer and Bestower of all happenings. (God Talks with Arjuna p.799)