Consort of Lord Shiva is mostly known by her name 'Parvati'. But in Vedas, Upanishads, and Puranas we find the name of 'Uma' being used. Right from the 5th Anuvaka of Sri Rudram which starts with 'नमः सोमाय च' or 'Salutations to Lord who is with Uma', to the Taittariya Aranyaka of the Yajurveda which states:

अम्बिकापतये उमापतये पशुपतये नमो नमः ॥ १॥ [YajurVeda T.A. 10.22.1]
Salutations and Salutations to Ambikapati, Umapati, and Pasupati.

In the Kaivalya Upanishad too we find:

उमासहायं परमेश्वरं प्रभुं त्रिलोचनं नीलकण्ठं प्रशान्तम् ।
Meditating on three-eyed blue-necked Parameshwara who is with Uma

In the Kena Upanishad too she is referred by the name Uma:

उमां हैमवतीं ताँहोवाच (Kena Upanishad 3.12)
Uma, the daughter of the Himalayas spoke

Not only this, In the Valmiki Ramayana also, she is referred by the name Uma:

तस्यां गंगेयमभवज्ज्येष्ठा हिमवतः सुता |
उमा नाम द्वितीयाभूत्कन्या तस्यैव राघव || १-३५-१६

This Ganga has emerged as an elder daughter to Himavan through Mena, oh, Raghava, and that way a girl renowned by the name Uma has become a second daughter to him.

In the Mahabharata too she is mostly referred to by the name Uma. The Shiva Purana itself is divided into several Samhitas and one of which is 'Uma Samhita' (and not Parvati Samhita).

Since the Vedas, Upanishads, Itihasas, and Puranas are calling her by the name Uma, there should be a significant meaning of the name Uma. What is the meaning of Uma? How is this word derived? 'Om' is formed of the letters 'A', 'U', 'M', and Uma is formed of the letters 'U', 'M', 'A'. So, does the name 'Uma' represents the Pranava (Om) itself? Do scriptures mention that 'Uma' name is Pranava swarupa?

  • 1
    well researched questions like this one, only Tezz can ask. Good :)
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


Do scriptures mention that 'Uma' name is Pranava swarupa?

Yes, the Great Goddess herself describes her form as that of the Praṇava,
in the Chapter 49: Manifestation of Uma from the Section 5 - Umā-Saṃhitā of Śhiva Purāṇa


न ब्रह्मा न मुरारातिर्न पुरारातिरीश्वरः ।
मदने गर्वितुं किंचित्का कथान्यसुपर्वणाम् ॥२७॥

Umā said:—

  1. Neither Brahma nor Viṣṇu nor Śiva the slayer of the Tripura demon can bluff before me. What about the other gods?

परं ब्रह्म परं ज्योतिः प्रणवद्वन्द्वरूपिणी
अहमेवास्मि सकलं मदन्यो नास्ति कश्चन ॥२८॥

  1. The great Brahman, the great light in the form of the two Praṇavas, I alone am. I am all. There is none other beside me.

The importance of Two Pranava is explained in the: Chapter 17. from the Section 1 - Vidyeśvara-Saṃhitā of Śhiva Purāṇa

What is the meaning of Uma? Is there any connection between UMA and the Pranava - AUM?

1. From Śiva Sutra 1.13

इच्छा शक्तिरुमा कुमारी ॥

icchā śaktirumā kumārī ॥

Desire, power is Umā, the Virgin.

2. From the Bhāskarāraya's commentary named - "Soubhāgyabhāskara" on the Lalitā Sahasranāmam:

A more detailed etymological discussion of the word is given by Bhaskararaya in his commentary on Lalitā - Sahasranāmam. Umā occurs as the 633rd word in the Sahashranamam

  1. Umā.

  • U, S'iva, Mā, Lakşmi or U. S'iva Mā, limits. Or, Umā = rose colour, also saffron colour, fame, brightness. For it is said (Mārk. Pr.), “ Devi who resides as brightness in all creatures.” The Visva, “ Umā, means china rose, daughter of Himavat Mountain, saffron, fame, and brightness.”

  • Or, U, note of interrogation, Ma, negation: when the Devi was performing penance she was forbidden by her mother. The Kālikā Pr. says, “ Because when she was forbidden to go to the forest to perform penance she was called Umā (not to go).” The same story is repeated in the Brahmā. Pr. and in Puskara Khanda of the Padma Pr.

  • Or, U, Superior, Mā, a certain mental modification, The Sū. Sain..(4-1-20), says, “I adore the supreme experience which destroys the noose of earthly existence, which purifies even Sadāsiva, called Umā, which produces the bright mental state and manifests in many kinds of worlds."

  • Or Umā: U, Mā and A which forms Praņava meaning respectively, Brahmā, Rudra and Vişnu; and many other meanings of Pranava also are to be taken here. Therefore those who know the secret call this (Umā) Devī Praṇava. In Linga Puranaλ Siva says to Devī, “In my Praṇava there are A-U-Mā, and U-Mā-and A are in the order in your Pranava, with the three notes (Mātrās) and with the highest pluta.” The Mahāvāsiştha (Yoga Vasiştha)φ says, “Umā is so called because it contains the essence of the Pranava ";

  • again “Umā is the Indukalā which ever inspires the hearts of all beings in the three worlds asleep and awake.” In the commentary it is explained thus: “In the heart of all beings, whether asleep or awake there is a cavity whence arises the sound being produced without contrast which is S'abdabrahman, the Praņava, without the letters A, etc. The cavity is Siva, and in his head there is an Indukalā, which is in the form of Bindu.” The Vāgavīya Samn. also, “Om is the monosyllabled Brahman ... in the head of Linga is to be heard the sound that has half-an-accent.”. The Hamsa. Up. (verse 8) describing the different things situated in: the petals of the lotus of the heart, says, “ In the Linga sleep (arises); when the lotus is left the Turiya state (arises); and when the Hamsa (Jiva) is absorbed in the Nāda which is at the head of Linga, the state beyond the fourth arises."'!

  • According to the Siva-Sūtra, (I, 13) Umā means the Icchā-S'akti of Yogins. “The young Umā is called the Icchā-Sakti.” The commentator, Krañadāsa explains thus: “The energy of the Yogin who grasps the Parabhairava, as described above, which is the eternal energy of desire, which we wise call Umā.”

  • According to Pādma Pr. Umā is the deity worshipped at the Vināyaka and at the Sindhuvana.
    Or, according to Dhaumya, a girl of six years of age is called Umā.


Direct Scriptural reference to Bhāskarāraya's commentary is as follows:

अकारोकारमकारा मदीये प्रणवे स्थिताः।। उकारं च मकारं च अकारं च क्रमेण वै।। ८५.४५ ।।

त्वदीयं प्रणवं विद्धि त्रिमात्रं प्लुतमुत्तमम्।। ओंकारस्य स्वरोदात्त ऋषिर्ब्रह्म सितं वपुः।। ८५.४६ ।।

[Verse 45 & 46]: Śiva said - "O Goddess! The letter 'a', 'u', 'm' are present in my Praṇava, and, the letters 'u', 'm', 'ā' constitute (in that order) in your Praṇava, which has three matrās and the 'Pluta' tone (prolated vowel). The Svara (note) of the Oṁkara is Udātta (high), the sage is Brahmā and the body is white."

English Translation by Professor J.L. Shastri

  • φ: From Yoga Vasiştha (also known as MahāRamāyaṇa)
    Book VII - Nirvaṇa Prakaraṇa (Part 2): Chapter 84

प्रोक्ता पराजिता वीर्याद्दुर्गा दुर्ग्रहरूपतः । ओंकारसारशक्तित्वादुमेति परिकीर्तिता ॥ ११ ॥

[Verse 11]: Vasiştha replies to Rāma:— "She is also designated as Aparajita or invincible, virya the mighty and Durga—the inaccessible, and is like wise renowned as uma, for her being composed of the powers of the three letters of the mystic syllable Oṁ."

English Translation by Vihari-Lala Mitra

Further, the translator also makes the following remark: "(In the birth of Uma, the subject of the first canto of Kumara Sambhaba, Kalidasa says, "Tapasa nibrita je umeti namna prakirtita," she was termed Uma for prevention of austerities. The glossarists have all explained the passage in the sense of the mythic personification of Uma, and nobody has ever known its mystic interpretation of sacred syllable Oṁ itself, whose utterance precludes the necessity of all formal devotions: i.e. to say, UMA-is-OṀ, the divine mantra itself)."

So, as asked in the question: 'OṀ' is formed of the letters 'A', 'U', 'M', and UMA is formed of the letters 'U', 'M', 'A'." therefore, Bhāgavatī UMĀ is indeed a representation of the Praṇava OM,
i.e., AUM = UMA, as explained above.

  • 1
    Thank you for your answer! But the quote isn't clear what those two forms of Pranava are: it might be Om and Uma... but it could be also some other beeja like Om and Hrim... as Hrim is also called as Shakta Pranava in many places! So, although the quote is referrring to her we can't be sure that it is definitely referring to her name 'Uma' as pranava!...
    – Tezz
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 10:43
  • Oh Thanks for your addition of Lalita Sahasranama Bhasya.. It gives all meaning from gross 'Do not do' to brightness to Pranava swarupa... It would be more better if we find that Linga Purana shloka which Bhaskaraya is quoting.. The answer explains many thing though... I'll accept it after sometime.. maybe someone will find more references...
    – Tezz
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 11:12
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    It would be more better if we find that Linga Purana shloka which Bhaskaraya is quoting Added @Tezz , both for Linga Purana and Yoga Vasistha.
    – Vivikta
    Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 9:56
  • Very comprehensive answer! I didn't know about the Svaras of Pranava and Uma. I also heard in a discourse that the reason the order is U,m,ā is because ā denotes creation, u denotes sustenance and m denotes dissolution - since Goddess Uma is the mother of the universe, she gives priority to "U", and then to "m" and "ā". Don't know whether this has scriptural basis though.
    – Surya
    Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 18:31
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    @Surya thanks. Now you say that, Idk why, but It seem I have read it in one of the puranas or some tantra literature, what you heard in the discourse. But, can't place it where exactly. Maybe that can be a good question to ask!
    – Vivikta
    Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 12:59

Chapter 7 - The childhood sports of Pārvatī of Rudra-saṃhitā : Pārvatī-khaṇḍa of Shiva Purana provides the following meaning:

  1. Afterwards when Kālī wanted to perform a penance she was forbidden by her mother who said—“O, no (Umā). Hence O sage, the sweetfaced lady came to be called Umā in the world.

umeti mātrā tapase niṣiddhā kālikā ca sā |

paścādumākhyāṃ sumukhī jagāma bhuvane mune || 17 ||

It is well known that mā means No as seen in marud (don't cry) which is origin of the name Marudaganas ( Linguistic connection between Rudra and Marudgaṇa ).

The Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary also provides the same meaning:

the name is said to be derived from u mā, 'O child, do not practise austerities' the exclamation addressed to Pārvatī by her mother) Hariv. 946 ŚivaP. Kum. i, 26 R. Ragh. &c

"Hariv. 946 ŚivaP. Kum. i, 26 R. Ragh. &c" looks like some references related to Harivamsa Purana, Shiva Purana, Kumarsambhava, Raghuvansham etc but couldn't decode the exact chapter from it.

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    Thank you for your answer! It is a partial answer though! Relation between Uma and Pranava isn't addressed! Also that 'O no' meaning is pretty gross. It's like saying for the name 'Kali' Parvati became Kali due to her black color, obviously there is much more in Kali! Another thing is Valmiki Ramayana talks as if her name was Uma from her birth and says Uma did tapasya, it doesn't mention what her previous name was if any. valmikiramayan.pcriot.com/utf8/baala/sarga35/bala_35_frame.htm
    – Tezz
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 10:49
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    Yet another thing is the form of Samba SadaShiva, Amba is also referred to as Uma,.. like in the nyasam where SadaShiva is invoked in the dhyan mantras also we find shlokas like 'Uma Dehardha dharinam' so it is clear Adi Shakti is also referred as Uma... but this 'not do penance' meaning won't work there. So, there should be some different meaning.. I think.. Let's wait for other answers!...Or you might also update if you find more...
    – Tezz
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 10:51
  • For an example, Ravana was not birth name but still we see that ravana did tapasya and all such mentions...that means we may find any famous name in stories that happened before that name story too..
    – YDS
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 12:59
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    yes, I agree with you in this,.. so I had used the term 'as if' above also... D;
    – Tezz
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 13:08
  • excellent answer, does Somay means Som + Umaay? Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 10:30

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