Where is Aum positioned in the Devnagari alphabet? I had assumed that its position was before the vowels and consonants to signify its significance as a sacred syllable.

Secondly, Panini, as far as I know was the first systemiser of Sansktit grammar how did he account for Aum? I mean, unlike the Roman alphabet, Devnagari is is systematic in its layout, and I'm assuming that this is either due to him or his influence indirectly.

  • 2
    Aum is not an alphabet. It is the primordial sound source of everything. It is the combination of a, oo, ma. It does not feature in the alphabet.
    – user1195
    Jul 26, 2015 at 17:31
  • @moonstar2001: Sure, that description is in the Chandogya Upanishad. Jul 26, 2015 at 20:49
  • 1
    @MosiburUllah, what moonstar has said is correct and the description of Aum is given in Shiva Purana.
    – Aby
    Jul 27, 2015 at 3:00

2 Answers 2


1) The following link from Encyclopedia Britannica shows the Devanagari alphabet. Pleae note that OM = AUM is a syllable, not a single letter. Hence OM is not part of the Devanagari alphabet.


2) Panini was a grammarian not a literature scholar. The meaning of OM is unknown. I have never heard that Panini gave an explanation of the meaning of OM.

My personal conjecture derived from the beginning of the Chandogya Upanishad: OM is a vocalise.

  • I'm not contending that Aum is part of the alphabet; as the article mentions at the very end it's status is as a sacred symbol/syllable; I'm curious about its historical development - I recall reading somewhere that Indian philosophy, in one aspect, was situated on language - hence the question. Jul 26, 2015 at 20:56
  • What do you mean "Indian philosophy, in one aspect, was situated on language"?
    – Jo Wehler
    Jul 26, 2015 at 21:05
  • @wehler: I mean like the 'linguistic turn' in contemporary philosophy; except of course it will have been different then; as I said its something that I only recall vaguely; but it seems to be consonant with what I've read elsewhere. Jul 26, 2015 at 22:53

Om or Aum was a constructed word in the later scripture and made sacred to indicate the first meaningful sound human being produced in the process of development of language and the place where it evolved.

Most ancient form of Aryan language is available to us as Sumerian language and Rig Vedic language; a simple observation would reveal that both are captivated by the use of 'U'/'Oo' in word formation. However, Rig Veda representing the earlier stage of language development, uses 'U' a single letter as a word like many other 's', 't' etc. Here 'U' means 'that one' whose name was not evolved yet, if the sound of 'U' is short 'that one' is nearby and if the sound is long 'that one' is at far distant place.

Ancient Indian sages knowing this phenomenon and refraining from giving any particular name for 'that one' who is behind the all creation, used this letter/word and they believed that human life began from water or 'am', so 'U'/'Oo' + 'am' = Om/Aum. In Rig Veda 'am' is earlier term for water than 'ap'.

  • This isn't answering my question. It really is a simple question. Aug 29, 2018 at 14:27

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