What does the Aum Symbol Mean?

The Aum symbol, or also written as Om is a big piece of a puzzle in my family, mainly between my mother and myself.


Well, seeing as my mother is a very spiritual woman, the result was that most of my childhood and upbringing have been surrounded by the philosophy of spirituality. In addition, a vast majority of family and childhood friends where from India. So the Aum symbol was constantly being thrown around. It was on the walls as decoration to the parties we went too, it was on the doors and fridge magnets of the home’s we went too. It was everywhere.


There is a story along with this. When I was seventeen my dear friend Suban Ta and I decided to go on an all-American College Road Trip (in Canada, I know… it was a bit ironic, but regardless that’s how we referred to it). While we were in freezing cold Ottawa we had an extra day to spare, and energy that need not go to waste. The conversation literally went as such:

S: So, you want to go get a tattoo?

E: When?

S: Right now…

*a moment of contemplation, where logic should have set in but never came*

E: why not.

I wish I was joking, but half hour later we were walking into a tattoo studio. Suban had already figured it out, knowing exactly what he wanted and where he wanted it. It was a lovely Koi Fish on his lower back. Me, on the other hand had no idea what I wanted! First I wanted a word, but that seemed to obvious, (the parentals at this point where still a big issue). So then I had settled on getting a mini Crown behind my left ear, which I was quickly talked out of because it came of as too pretentious. That’s when I saw it. Up on the wall was a perfect little Aum symbol. At this point, my mother was in India for almost 5 months and the sentimental value of getting this symbol seemed to link me directly to her even when she was so far away.

An hour later I walked out with my very first tattoo done completely on impulse behind my left ear. Today, I still don’t regret it. It remains my favorite tattoo and still has the most value to me.


Good question! The Aum symbol derives from the Hindu religion meaning the absolute. In other words the source of all manifest in existence. The symbol is used in daily life very commonly, may it be displayed openly in shrines, or worn on a pendent, it is even visible on letter headings, or examination sheets. It is a sign of spiritual perfection within oneself. Aum more of a sound than a word, often chanted in a mantra of prayer. This sound is meant to bring peace and harmony together.


When I went to Fiji this past summer, I met a Fijian woman who came up to me directly asking me what meaning the tattoo had to me. I explained to her in not so many words exactly why I got. The woman smiled, and lifted up her sleeve revealing to me that she had the same symbol tattooed on her forearm. As a mini shock, I smiled back and asked her what it meant to her.

In Fiji, it is traditional that husband and wife once married get the symbol tattooed on their arms or hands symbolizing eternal love for one another. It is believed in their culture that in the after life, the symbol will help them find one another so they can be reincarnated together. Talk about a whole new meaning to everlasting love?

This new meaning, not only made my tattoo so much more valuable to me, but it really showed me the strength and importance of this symbol within various cultures. Even though Fiji has a wide mixture of Hindu’s living there, the symbol was able evolve grasping a new meaning and creating another cultural tradition.

6 responses to “What does the Aum Symbol Mean?

  1. This is a very touchy story mainly because you thought of me when you decided to have the tatoo done but also because it is a very powerful and meaningful symbol.

    It is correct what Sriram is saying that the AUM is supposed to be the first sound where all creation started and when I first went to India in 2001 I went to visit the blessed mounten where the sound of AUM was heard from one of the indian Saints and Sadguru, Dada Bagwad of Pune during his spiritual quest that lasted 40 years.

    I love you and I’m very proud of you,

  2. I had experienced the power of its sound….It is the basis of many breathing excercises in yoga. It opens up the mind and energises the brain.

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