Re: [INDOLOGY] OM in the Purāṇas and Hindu Tantra

Finnian M.M. Gerety finnian_moore-gerety at
Fri Feb 14 02:42:43 UTC 2020

Thanks to all of those who responded to my OM query off-list. I continue to be amazed by the fine work and generosity of the scholars in the Indology community.

A few words of reply to those who responded in the public forum…


Yes, Nityānanda Miśra’s “The OM Mala” is a treasure trove of references. I have a copy and am consulting it.


I appreciate the reminder about the Muktabodha Library’s online resources and your advice about how to search effectively. A cursory look shows that I have my work cut out for me. I look forward to digging into this material.


First off, let me say that I always appreciate some good OM puns... ;)

You raise several crucial points about my overall project. I’ve looked into OM in Buddhist and Jain texts, relying on the work of Ron Davidson, Gergely Hidas, and Ellen Gough, among others. I may not be able to address these traditions in detail in my monograph, but it’s certainly something I’d like to pursue further.

As you mention, I survey the various theories of OM’s origins (including proposed etymologies) in Chapter Four of my dissertation <>.  I agree that it would be interesting to learn more about OM in Tamil texts, although this is beyond my expertise. Perhaps the Tamilists on the list could weigh in?

At any rate, I’ve chosen to focus on the cultural construction of OM as a sacred syllable in Brahmanical texts in Sanskrit, where OM has had the earliest and most sustained impact. I hope that once I’ve managed to assemble and analyze this great mass of material in the monograph, other scholars will build on it (or contest it!) with materials from other Indian languages and traditions.


Finnian M.M. Gerety
Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
[Affiliated] Faculty of Contemplative Studies and Center for Contemporary South Asia
Brown University <>

> On Feb 12, 2020, at 5:48 PM, Harry Spier <vasishtha.spier at> wrote:
> Dear Finnian,
> You might want to do a search in the Muktabodha digital library for occurrences of oṁkāra oṅkāra aumkāra and auṅkāra.  
> That can be done by going to the searchable library of etexts 
> <>
> and in the search field entering <oMkAr>|<oGkAr>|<auMkAr>|<auGkAr>
> Its important to enter that exactly.  The angle brackets tell the search engine you are using Harvard-Kyoto transliteration. The vertical bars mean "or" and tell it to search for those different variations.  The "a" is left off the end of the search string so you don't lose any occurrences through sandhi changes.
> Harry Spier
> On Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 9:37 AM Finnian M.M. Gerety via INDOLOGY <indology at <mailto:indology at>> wrote:
> Dear Colleagues—
> (Apologies for cross-posting). As some of you may know, I’ve been working for the last few years on a monograph on the history of OM in early India. The scope of this project, covering some 2000 years from Veda through Tantra, has compelled me to work on texts and materials far afield from my training in Vedic studies. Along the way, I’ve greatly benefited from the expertise of colleagues working in other domains, including many members of this list. I’m grateful to those who have shared their research and ideas with me so far…
> Now I’d like to reach out with another query. Having completed my basic research on OM in the Vedas, Dharma texts, Yoga texts, and Epics, I’m now delving into the Purāṇas and Hindu Tantra. I hope that some of you can help me hone in on key material in these massive textual corpora. While recommendations on secondary literature would be useful, my priority is to collect passages from primary texts. My aim is not to be comprehensive, but rather to choose excerpts and case studies that give insights into how OM is used and interpreted in these traditions. So passages that either exemplify broad trends or represent notable exceptions are especially welcome. 
> Please send any info to me off-list at finnian_moore-gerety at <mailto:finnian_moore-gerety at>. Thanks in advance!
> Yours,
> Finnian M.M. Gerety
> Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
> [Affiliated] Faculty of Contemplative Studies and Center for Contemporary South Asia
> Brown University
> <>
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