The Tamil TV serial "Ramanujar" is about the life story of Ramanujacharya, the most famous Acharya of the Sri Vaishnava sect (of which I'm a member). (You can watch past episodes here; it's a great show.) In one recent episode, Ramanujacharya as a boy is learning the Vedas from his father when his father mentions that the Vedas begin with the Pranava, i.e. the word Om, which is made of the letters A, U, and M. Ramanunacharya responds that the first three lines of Nammalwar's Thiruvaimozhi also begin with the letters A, U, and M.

For those who don't know, the Alwars are a group of 12 ancient Vaishnava saints who lived in Tamil Nadu and are famous for their poetry in praise of Vishnu. The Alwars are crucially important figures in the history of Vaishnavism, it is the beliefs and principles embodied in the Alwars' poems that gave his rise to the Sri Vaishnava sect.

Now as I discuss in this answer, one of the most famous Alwars was Nammalwar, who spent his life under a banyan tree. The collection of his poems, the Thiruvaimozhi, is often called the "Dravida Veda", or South Indian Veda. Here's the first verse of the Thiruvaimozhi:

Uyarvu aRa uyar nalam udaiyavan yavan avan

Mayarvu aRa madhi nalam aruLinan yavan avan

Ayarvu aRum amarargaL athipathi yavan avan

thuyaraRu sudar adi thozhuthezhu enmananE!

Higher than the highest good - it's posessor - who He

Remover of ignorance, giver of true knowledge, and grace - who He

Remebering always -the liberated souls- their Supreme Lord - who He

The Dispeller of sadness, with luminous feet: prostrate before them and get uplifted - Oh my mind

As you can see, the first letters of the first three lines can be rearranged to spell out AUM.

So my question is, does the first verse of Nammalwar's Thriuvaimozhi intentionally spell out AUM as the TV serial suggests, or is it just a coincidence?

This web page contains information from a lot of different commentaries on the Thiruvaimozhi, but it doesn't mention this fact. Are there any other commentaries or works by Sri Vaishnava Acharyas which say that the verse spells out AUM?

  • 2
    I don't see how Uma can be rearranged to form Om; Anagrams are not usually used in Indian scriptures.
    – Surya
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 5:55

2 Answers 2


the fact it needs to be rearranged makes it seem unlikely. one interesting hymn is Sri Gayatri Ramayanam which is composed of verbatim excerpts from Valmiki Ramayana arranged in a way where the first sound of each line adds up to the famous Gayatri Mantra to Savitr. if it has to be rearranged it has no power.


I very much doubt that this was intentional.

Here are the original Tamil verses:

யர்வு அற உயர் நலம் உடையவன் எவன்? அவன்
யர்வு அற மதி நலம் அருளினன் எவன்? அவன்
யர்வு அறும் அமரர்கள் அதிபதி எவன்? அவன்

உ → ū
ம → ma
அ → ā

If we put them together in the 'correct' order, we'd see அஉம, which makes no sense at all in Tamil.

  • It breaks a rule: In Tamil, as with most languages that use abugida scripts, you can't have two initial-vowel characters appearing together. Here, the அ and உ at the beginning is the culprit. To do this would be akin to writing आऊम in Hindi- you can't have both the and the at the beginning.

  • In Tamil, stands for ma, not simply m.

In other words, அஉம, which is what we get from combining the initial letters, would roughly have been pronounced as the trisyllabic 'ā-ū-ma', or 'aah-ooh-muh', which is a far cry from the simple, flat, 'om' that an intentional anagram would have had.

That it works in the English translation is merely a happy coincidence.

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