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In the West, it is common practice to loudly chant "OM" (the Pranava) on loudspeaker before Yoga class.

It is said,

There are many reasons why we chant “Om” at the beginning and ending of a yoga class: Om allows us to separate the time of our practice from the rest of our everyday lives, signifying that our practice time is a sacred time in which we care for ourselves while also practicing mindfulness.

Is this permissible according to Dharma?

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    Related or Duplicate of: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/35511/… – Rickross Sep 17 at 5:54
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    Any chanting of the Lord's name is permissible. Sri Chaitanya - 'no times are set, no rites are needful for chanting of Thy name, so vast is Thy mercy.' – Swami Vishwananda Sep 20 at 9:51
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    @SwamiVishwananda, did Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu include the Pranava mantra under the list of Bhagavan's names that can be chanted without restriction ? Krishna, Rama, Govinda are universal and shows His mercy. Anyone, anywhere can chant. But Pranava does not fall under that category. It has to be shown the respect it deserves. Just as Vedas can only be chanted after upanayana of dwijas. – ram Sep 23 at 23:15
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The term Mleccha has different connotations.

a person like the uncultured people, who is not able to pronounce words correctly cf. म्लेच्छा मा भूमेत्यध्येयं व्याकरणम् (mlecchā mā bhūmetyadhyeyaṃ vyākaraṇam)

It also indicates a barbarian.

Manu Smriti 7.149 says

जडमूकान्धबधिरांस्तैर्यग्योनान् वयोऽतिगान् ।

स्त्रीम्लेच्छव्याधितव्यङ्गान् मन्त्रकालेऽपसारयेत् ॥ १४९ ॥

jaḍamūkāndhabadhirāṃstairyagyonān vayo'tigān | strīmleccavyādhitavyaṅgān mantrakāle'pasārayet || 149 ||

At the time of taking counsel, he shall send away the idiot, the dumb and the deaf, animals, very aged persons, women, foreigners, the sick and the maimed.


If Pronunciation of Sanskrit in a proper way is taken as the basis for deciding who a Mleccha is, we have to remember that many Hindus also do not know how to pronounce properly, due to English based education.

If birth in Foreign tribes/races is taken as the basis, another question crops up - is it a hurdle to achieve spiritual realisation, which is the Ultimate knowledge even according to Veda?

Then the answer would be No.

Sister Nivedita, Dr. Paul Brunton, David Frawley, etc, with foregin origin achieved what majority of Hindus could not.


Sri Krishna in his Gita, did say about Varnas, a karma based segregation, but not a birth based segregation of humans.

So coming to the aspect of utterance of "OM" by Mleccha, I don't think it is wrong, as every human is entitled to SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE, as it is divine.

  • we're not talking about the eligibility for moksha - that is the only thing in the world which is simultaneously the least restrictive and the most restrictive eligibility criteria. we're talking about the eligibility to chant Pranva. – ram Sep 23 at 23:12
  • @ram: When Sri Krishna said Gita should be studied by all, he never said it is for a few humans only. Everything in this world is divine, provided we understand and perceive the divinity. Nobody for sure can tell exactly when and why the term Mleccha was coined. Chanting of OM does not guarantee Moksha, but higher level thinking and grace of the Almighty God allows attainment of Moksha. – srimannarayana k v Sep 24 at 1:40
  • lol, Sri Krishna specifically said Gita should NOT be taught to all. – ram Sep 24 at 3:20
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    Gita verses 18.41 and 4.13 prove that Varna is by birth. – Spark Sunshine Sep 24 at 4:08
  • fine, we can categorize people in Bharata who do not follow any Vedic customs as Mleccha (that includes myself if I fit the category). Now, with the definition of Mleccha out of the way, the question is whether Pranava can be chanted by everyone. Pranava is not the only source of spiritual knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is not denied to anybody. But, some paths TO that spiritual knowledge are denied to some folks. Because they can do great harm to themselves AND others with the knowledge gained THROUGH THAT PATH. – ram Sep 24 at 5:39
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Are Mlecchas (Westerners) allowed to say OM before Yoga class?

No, it is a huge sin.

From the Shastras of Vedavyasa, the Brahma Sutras,

The Sûdra is specially forbidden to hear and study the Veda and to perform the things enjoined in it. 'For a Sûdra is like a cemetery, therefore the Veda must not be read in the vicinity of a Sûdra;' 'Therefore the Sûdra is like a beast, unfit for sacrifices.' And he who does not hear the Veda recited cannot learn it so as to understand and perform what the Veda enjoins. The prohibition of hearing thus implies the prohibition of understanding and whatever depends on it.

And,

Smriti also declares this prohibition of hearing, and so on. 'The ears of him who hears the Veda are to be filled with molten lead and lac; if he pronounces it his tongue is to be slit; if he preserves it his body is to be cut through.'

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    whatever u hv mentioned is applicable in other yugas... in Shambhuka's story of Ramayana, this made clear that in Kaliyuga all has such rights including Sudras... – YDS Sep 17 at 1:40
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    you can read it here and few examples here... – YDS Sep 17 at 1:49
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    what shastra is this? You give a link, but it does not say what shastra it is or who the translator is. – Swami Vishwananda Sep 20 at 9:53
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    @SwamiVishwananda Brahma Sutras – Ikshvaku Sep 20 at 10:32
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    give the translator and the recension of the Brahma Sutra. A link is not an answer. I am unfamiliar with a recension that has this verse. – Swami Vishwananda Sep 23 at 13:05
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Sruti, the Chandogya Upanishad I.i.10 says (Swami Nikhilananda translator):

[It may be contended] that he knows this [true meaning of the sylable Om] and he who does not, perform the same sacrifice [and therefore must reap the same fruit]. But [this is not so]. [The results of] knowledge and ignorance are different. Work that is done with knowledge, faith, and the Upanishad (i.e. meditation on the dieties) produces the more powerful fruit.

This is, verily, the [detailed] explanation of the syllable Om.

And his summary of Sankara's commentary:

MUST REAP ETC.: Because the same action is performed in both cases. "He who knows the quality of the haritaki fruit and he who does not, are purged alike of they take it" (Sankaracharya.)

KNOWLEDGE....DIFFERENT: Rituals without meditation produce quite different results from rituals performed with meditation. If a jeweler and a mere fool each sells a precious stone, the knowledge of the former bears better fruit than the ignorance of the latter.

He who simply pronounces the syllable Om as a part of his recitation at a sacrifice, and he who knows the real meaning of that syllable, both may perform the same sacrifice; but the sacrifice performed by the latter is the more powerful, because knowledge is better than ignorance. One must perform rituals with knowledge arising from meditation on the diety, and not mechanically.

A person who recites Om will receive some benefit (not sin), but he who recites it with the knowledge of its meaning receives greater benefit.

  • This doesn't answer the question of eligibility of chanting Pranava. It talks about the results of chanting with/without understanding. A person qualified to chant, if he chants with understanding, gets better results. It doesn't say that everyone is qualified to chant it. It's like a saying - This is a Spanish movie. If you understand Spanish dialogue, you'll enjoy the movie better. But not mentioning the fact that the movie is Rated for adults, hence children (whether they understand Spanish or not) should not be watching it. – ram Sep 24 at 6:21
  • @ram Your simile is not an equal comparison. Om is pure sattawa. Certain priests may try to control access by denying the eligibiity of certain peoples, but Om only brings sattwa. Krishna says in Gita 6.40 "...no evil, My son, befalls a man who does good." and in Gita 9.30 "Even the most sinful man, if he worships Me with unswerving devotion, must be regarded as righteous; for he has formed the right resolution." There is no sin in anyone chanting Om; Om is pure sattwa. The Lord and no one else determines 'eligibility'. – Swami Vishwananda Sep 24 at 9:39
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    Exactly, it is the Lord who determines eligibility. And the Lord does not speak directly. So, the question boils down to who is his representative here on earth. All major Vedanta acharyas say that Pranava (and Vedas and Gayatri) are NOT to chanted without upanayana samskara. Brahma Sutra linked by @Ikshvaku above clearly gives pramana. People who say that 'everyone is eligible' are not the Lord, and they are going against Pramana. – ram Sep 25 at 2:07
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Anyone who accepts him/herself as a HINDU can chant the pranava sound of Om, with the right context. Chanting with the right context or "sankalpa" decides whether you are right in doing it or not.

A Mleccha is NOT defined by ethnicity or geographic origin but by how dharmic you are. Those who were ADHARMIC, did not want to follow the dharma shaastras of Vedas & Agamas, were referred to as Mlecchas, not people belonging to any "Caste" or ethnicity.

Yoga is a Hindu enlightenment science and anyone who practices yoga as a Hindu enlightenment science, for the purpose of enlightenment, can chant all mantras, including Om.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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