Atharvaśikhā Upaniṣad

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By Swami Harshananda

This is a small Upaniṣad belonging to the Atharvaveda. It is divided into three sections containing twenty mantras.

History of Atharvaśikhā Upaniṣad[edit]

Three sages - Pippalāda, Aṅgiras and Sanatkumāra approached the venerable Atharvaa to seek instructions from him on meditation. Atharvaṇa taught them meditation on Om or Praṇava. Meditation on this Praṇava leads to liberation from rebirth. It is the best symbol for Brahman both in its higher and lower aspects. His this explanation forms Atharvaśikhā Upaniṣad.

Parts of 'OM'[edit]

The word 'OM' can be bifurcated into four parts when we break the word. These parts represent various aspects and levels of creation. The parts of Om are:

  1. A
  2. U
  3. M
  4. The last unseen part

Significance of word A in OM[edit]

A represents the following parameters :

  1. Earth
  2. Rigveda
  3. Brahmā
  4. Vasus (deities)
  5. Gāyatrī meter
  6. Gārhapatya fire

Significance of U in OM[edit]

U stands for the following parameters :

  1. Intervening space between the earth and heaven
  2. Yajurveda
  3. Rudra
  4. Rudras (Subsidiary Deities)
  5. Triṣṭubh meter
  6. Dakṣiṇa fire

Significance of M in OM[edit]

M indicates the following parameters :

  1. Heaven
  2. Sāmaveda
  3. Viṣṇu
  4. Ādityas (deities)
  5. Jagatī meter
  6. Āhavanīya fire

Significance of the last unseen part in OM[edit]

The last unseen half-syllable (‘ardhamātrā’) stands for the following parameters :

  1. Atharvaveda
  2. Samvartaka[1]
  3. Maruts (deities)


  1. Fire that destroys creation at the end of the cycle
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore