The Wikipedia states, in respect of the syllable om, as follows:

The syllable Om is first mentioned in the Upanishads, the mystical texts associated with the Vedanta philosophy.

Rig veda 1.164.39 says as follows:

रचो अक्षरे परमे वयोमन यस्मिन देवा अधि विश्वे निषेदुः |
यस्तन न वेद किं रचा करिष्यति य इत तद विदुस्त इमे समासते ||

ṛco akṣare parame vyoman yasmin devā adhi viśve niṣeduḥ |
yastan na veda kiṃ ṛcā kariṣyati ya it tad vidusta ime samāsate ||

The vedas rest in the imperishable syllable in the Supreme ether (of the heart). Those who do not know that, what can they do with the veda? Those who know that are gathered here

Can we infer from the above mantra from Rig Veda, that अक्षरे - imperishable syllable indicates Om?

  • The Rig Vedic mantra is not talking about Om.
    – Rickross
    Aug 12, 2019 at 5:07
  • @Rickross: My doubt is about indirect reference of om - imperishable syllable - akshara Aug 12, 2019 at 5:14
  • No it is not. It is talking about Ricah akashara or Rik mantras being situated in the ether. Because of the translation you've used you are probably getting that feeling. You can see another translation here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/18501
    – Rickross
    Aug 12, 2019 at 5:24
  • @Rickross: I agree that there can be different translations. do you want to say the translation that I quoted is wrong/not dependable? Aug 12, 2019 at 5:27
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    The Upanishads are part and parcel of the vedas. The Wikipedia article you reference makes it appear that the Upanishads are separate from the vedas - they are not! Vyasa partitioned part of the vedas off into the Upanishads, they are not later or separate. Aug 13, 2019 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


ऋचो अक्षरे परमे व्योमन यस्मिन देवा अधि विश्वे निषेदुः |
यस्तन्न वेद किमृचा करिष्यति य इत्तद्विदुस्त इमे समासते || RV .1.164.39 ||

This Rishi of this Mantra is Dirghatamas and is Known as "Asya Vamiya Sukta " . The Mantras 1-41 are dedicated to Vishwadeva.

In this Mantra Dirghatamas is pointing towards those who do not know the Imperishable Brahman.Rishi Dirghatamas Is also saying that what use the Vedas would be to a person who does not know the characteristics of Brahman because Vedas are a in the Brahman, who is like space and never changing. All the gods rest in Brahman. If a person knows nothing about Brahman but only performs rituals and rites what will he gain? On the opposite those who know Brahman, as it were, live like as they are one with Brahman and attain Bliss .

This Sukta is Of type VedaGyana -Prashansa i.e. in praise of Knowledge in the Vedas .The manta 39 of which speaks of the syllable ( akshara ) that exists in the divine. Here in this mantra the word Richas ऋचा is to be taken as all the Vedas.

Let's first of all see what the western as well as Indian translators has translated the mantra.

H.H.Wilson with Commentary of Sayana

All the gods have taken their seats up this supreme heaven , the imperishable (text) of the veda : What will he , who knows not this , do with the veda ? but they who know it , they are perfect.

Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya - AWGP

Indestructible Richa's (vedas) are contained in supreme Vyoma (i.e. Vast Akasha ) , all godly powers resides in that. What Richa's (vedas) do for him who do not know this truth , those who know this truth do make a good use of this Richa's (vedas) .

Rigved Subodh Bhashya by Satavalekar Damodar

The Paramatma is like the Vast space and indestructible like aksharas of vedas. All the gods resides in that Paramatma. Who does not know this Parabrahman ,what they will do with these Veda mantras. Those learned who knows this Param-Tatva , dwells in the higher places

This same Rig -Veda manta is also found in Atharva Veda 9.10.18 and in The Shvetashvatara Upanishad 4.8 We are having a good commentary of Shree Adi Shankaracharya on same mantra in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad . Lets see what he is saying.

ऋचो अक्षरे परमे व्योमन् यस्मिन्देवा अधि विश्वे निषेदु : |
यस्तं न वेद किमृचा कारिष्यति य इत्तद्विदुस्त इमे समासते ||4.8 ||

8 The vedas are established on the imperishable supreme space where all the gods dwell . What will one achieve through the Vedas , who does not know it . thus they who are such , remain self-fulfilled.

Shankara's Commentary - :

Rcah the Vedas ; are established aksare , in the imperishable ; Parame , supreme : Vyoman (i.e. vyomni) , space - comparable to space - , which is known from the three vedas ; and yasmin , where ; visve devah , all the gods ; adhiniseduh , dwell , stay supported . Kim karishyati , what will one achieve ; rca through the vedas ; yah , who ; na veda , does not know ; tam , it? ye , those who ; viduh , khow ; tat ; it , thus ; te they ; are such ; samste , remain self fulfilled.

Now as of your enquiry is this अक्षरे - imperishable syllable indicates Om?

From looking at all the translations above ,it is clear that none of them supportive to the notion that this Aksara here is denoting sacred letter "OM". Adi Shankara in his commentary is saying that the Aksharas of vedas are residing in that Parabrahman , who is supreme and vast like the space.

Shree Satavalekar is also explaining that this Akshras of Richas (vedas) are like that of Paramatma who is also indestructible.

And also according to Very well known vedic scholar Shree Siddheshwar Shastri Chitrav , the notion of Akshara is presented as Atma or Parmatma only in his commentary of this mantra which is in Marathi. i am enclosing a screenshot of it below.

The Only exception is Yaskacharya Sanskrit grammarian (4th c. BCE ) whose views are mentioned in this Shodhganga Article (PDF ) -Page 35.

That this Aksara" is "Om" . Of the phrase " rco akshare parame vyoman," found in the above hymn,' Yaska in his Niruktd has an enlightening explanation.According to him "Aksara" is "Om" on which all the gods repose. 'Those who do not know this Supreme Word; what can they do with 'rcah' only, and those who know it are, well placed'- is the advice of the learned.

What is that word - “aksara” ? Yaska says “ It is "Om", in the opinion of Sakapuni”.43 (Sakapuni” was an ancient Grammarian).44 Therefore, here, 'Om' is the Ultimate Reality ('Brahman') on which everything, (including Vak) rests

So here we see the two sides one side is all the available translators and on the other Sanskrit grammarians "Yaska" who is saying this on the opinion of Sakapuni a another ancient Grammarian that Aksara" . is "Om"

In this case coming to any conclusion is tricky part. But in conclusion - Considering central meaning of all the current translations and seeing that none of them is supportive to this notion that word Aksara is denoting "OM" , and mainly taking the help of Adi Shankara's expanaton. The word Aksara here , which are akshara's of Vedas are equated with ParamAtma in this manta , and is pointing towards supreme Brahman . So we can safely say that there is very faint possibility that this अक्षरे - imperishable syllable here indicates Sacred letter "OM".

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    I am coming to conclusion mainly with the support of commentary of Adi Shankara on the same mantra found in Shvetashvatara Upanishad. The difficulty here in explaining in answer is the different translations by different authors. But the core message of all are same. So it is quite possible that the answer might look like much non explanatory. Adi shankara's commentary mostly makes it clear ,and he is not also mentioning OM in that. Aug 12, 2019 at 9:51
  • You have forgotten as to what is there in continuation to the article in the link - Even Upanisads, persued their enquiry on the basis the above propositions, and stated that ‘Om ’tself denotes the Ultimate Reality”. Taittkiya Upanisad declares that “Om is Brahman;Om is this all’(‘Omiti Brahma,Omiti dam sarvam’ Anyways, Thanks once again.@SwiftPushkar. Aug 12, 2019 at 10:12
  • In your answer you had stated that word Richas ऋचा is to be taken as all the Vedas. In Purusha Sukta R.V .- 10.90.9 , apart from Richas, sama and yaju were also mentioned. Can you explain why it was so?@SwiftPushkar Aug 12, 2019 at 10:49
  • Thanks for explaining the issue, duly narrating arguments from both sides :-). If we leave aside modern commentators, we will be left with Sri Sankara and Sri Yaska. However, a Wikipedia article says that Shvetashvatara Upanishad was not authored by Sri Sankara :-)@SwiftPushkar. Aug 12, 2019 at 12:12

Yes. Om is mentioned in the Veda Samhitas. It first occurs in Yajur Veda.

The butter's rapid flow delight his spirit! Brihaspati extend this act of worship. May he restore the sacrifice uninjured. Here let all Gods rejoice. OM! Step thou forward. (Shukla Yajur Veda 2.13).

Pranava is also mentioned in Isha Upanishad, i.e, Shukla Yajur Veda 40:

My breath reach everlasting Air! In ashes let my body end. OM! Mind, remember thou; remember thou my sphere; remember thou my deeds.(15)

The Real's face is hidden by a vessel formed of golden light. The Spirit yonder in the Sun, the Spirit dwelling there am I. OM! Heaven! Brahma!(17)

  • can you post sanskrit text as well for more clarity please?@Spark Sunshine Aug 12, 2019 at 6:32
  • @srimannarayanakv I will add later. Aug 12, 2019 at 15:18

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