Ph.D., Ph.D. and Desiree Hurtak, MS. Sc.
The ancient syllable OM has long
been used by the indigenous and sacred cultures of the
Far East as a sound device to trigger altered and higher
states of consciousness. This fundamental seed syllable
is elongated over and over again, through minutes and
hours of audible or inaudible meditation. Certain temples
and sacred architecture also seem to resonate to this
and other special vibrations. Even in the ancient Near
East, with its identical vowels (i, e, a, o, u) or nearly
identical sounds occurring in dialects-for example, an
'a' put in place of 'ê' or 'ô'-there are some
interesting sound combinations that correspond to Oriental
The public salutation 'Shalem',
the greeting for peace in modern Arabic, and 'Shalom'
(in Hebrew) both preserve an ancient musical sound that
may originate in Indian-Iranian contact. Both share in
the vibration of Om or Aum. A separate derivation of this
may have been used to constitute the name for the 'City
of Peace' more than three thousand years ago: "Yerushalem"
(Jerusalem), with its different spellings of "Yerushalom"
The use of certain linguistic
expressions in specific vibratory or acoustical environments
such as temples, churches, tombs or hollow megalithic
sites can only be underscored as a prerequisite for higher
states of consciousness. Beyond the profound interest
of finding the chrysanthemum flower and Sanskrit swastika
designs in floors and walls in various parts of ancient
Jerusalem, we can presume the sacred designs within the
structures themselves, such as within the Temple of Solomon
(the claimed 40 cubits x 20 cubits [after the removal
of the Most Holy section]) shares a similar ratio (of
length to width) with the King's Chamber in the Great
Pyramid (~10.5 m x 5.25 m).
These proportions, along with the materials
used in construction, allow for a superior resonance factor
when the right sounds are used. In addition, the vibratory
affinities between the use of OM in Sanskrit and AUM (or
AM) in Old Hebrew-Semitic language prayers (e.g., for
Amen or Aw'maine) overlap in vibrations as major meditative
cues used for public gatherings. These sounds are also
"seed syllables", that is, foundational parts
of sacred expressions found in a large table of linguistic
and liturgical exchange. They were incorporated in high
levels of priestly intoning in sacred environments from
vast areas from Egypt to India, when and where it was
desirable for sounds to be enhanced, especially in voicing
the names of deities. (See also the entry 'Sumerian-Akkadian'
in the Glossary of The Book of Knowledge: The Keys of
Among the most important sacred sounds
and syllables anywhere in the Western world is AM or AUM,
its usage as a vibration of particular qualities reach
back to ancient Egypt. Many of the names of the gods were
prefaced by Amon. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, although
later placed on the walls of tombs, was originally sung
over the deceased for his/her passage into the afterlife.
Throughout Egypt one finds scenes
on temples and tombs showing musicians playing in the
company of many women, who lived in association with the
temples and who had the title 'chantress of Amon'. Although
the Egyptians did not write in musical notes as the Greeks
did, they certainly chose for sacred use frequencies connected
with a special harmonic vibration that operated effectively
within the sacred geometries of their temples.
When verbal sound is generated
near an architectural structure there is a post-verbal
resonance in the structural acoustics. In modern-day buildings
it is no longer clear whether or not the architect or
structural engineer intended this effect of sound alteration.
More unfortunately, in the restoration work performed
at the Pacal Tomb in Palenque, for example, the original
vibrations have been destroyed by the use of substitute
Several remarkable examples of
architectural acoustic memory and design from ancient
times are the focus of much controversy. Did ancient Mayan
and Nahuatl civilizations intend to build a temple and
courtyard as in Chichen Itza, Yucatan, that mimicked the
sound of their sacred bird when a person clapped their
hands at the bottom of the temple staircase? The Mayans
were definitely an innovative and intelligent people.
Their incredible architectural integration only reveals
bits and pieces of their conceptual pattern of musical
design that preceded the architectural structures themselves.
Recently there has been much discussion and field investigation
as to whether the Mayans intended their temples and quadrangles
to echo and amplify sacred sounds at a great distance.
A clapping of the hands at the base of Kukulcan's staircase
generates a curious bird-like echo. The tone seems first
to ascend and then descend, similar to the cry of the
native quetzal bird. According to Mayan researchers, this
has to do with the shape of the pyramid's steps, which
are taller at the bottom and shorter at the top. Most
researchers agree that the site's open setting also allows
for long distance transmission of sound.
In the 1970s naturalist and museum
archivist George Feirer studied the musical tonality of
the 'speaking stones' of Chichen Itza, and discovered
the presence of a distinct musical scale at this site
that was repeated in the acoustical architecture of surrounding
Beyond the West, Eastern mystics
understood the relationship of sound (nada) within their
temples as well. The Nellaiyappar temple in Tirunelveli,
about 150 km south of Madurai, a principal city in ancient
times, is a shrine to Shiva, the god associated with change
(birth and death), and dates from at least the 7th century
While columns are quite common
as the central pillars of most temples, in Tirunelveli
there are ten basic stone pillars within a total of 48
columns, all of which are part of a single piece of rock.
Tapping the columns produces the important basic intervals
(shrutis) of Indian music. Known as Shruti pillars these
columns are said to produce a series of hymns and formulas
connected with cosmic sounds of truth. Each pillar has
clustered within it numerous smaller pillars for a total
of over 160 columns, all of which produce sounds and beats
much like a natural stone pipe organ. Many other temples
in Southern India also have special musical pillars (e.g,
Azhavar Thirunagari, Kalakaadu, Kuttralam, Madurai, Shenbagarama
Nallur, Suseendaram, Tenkasi and Thiruvananthapuram).
Sounds generated from some of
these musical structures can, in conjunction with beat
tones, sound inharmonious as they form discordant intervals
among the primary, secondary and tertiary harmonics generated.
Yet what prevails is in accord with a singer or cantor's
ability to entrain consciousness into an altered and/or
higher state by the use of sacred seed syllables and mantric
patterns - like Om or Aum, or proper sacred names, e.g.
'Abiha' (my father is Yah), 'Abiyahu' (my father is Yah
himself), 'Adaya' (he has clothed himself with Yah), 'Adoniya'
(my lord is Yah), 'Adoniyahu' (my lord is Yah himself),
etc. In both the Hebrew-Aramaic and Mayan language systems,
these same frequencies operate as phonetic-patterns or
'phonograms' when the acoustic resonances are sufficiently
built up and maintained by singers.
Sanskrit, itself, is considered
by some to be the musical "language of the gods"
and part of the cosmic vibration of the universe taking
The sages say that when you speak
the ancient languages or intone chants, you are making
a direct connection to the higher realms. This, of course,
is not only to be said of Sanskrit, as there are many
other sacred languages that use the same sounds or "seed
syllables" that all people from East to West can
use to tap into the greater reality of what lies beyond.
Indeed, it can be demonstrated that Hinduism and Buddhism
rest on the science of mantra 'seed syllable breathing'
founded upon the treasury of ancient sutra texts.
Historically, sacred ritual in
acoustically sensitive areas was also enhanced by special
instruments: sacred flutes, singing bowls, horns and drums.
Perhaps the oldest evidence of music can be traced back
7,000 to 9,000 years at Jiahu, China, where several flutes
made of bone were discovered, dating back to the Neolithic
In all, six flutes were found amidst
the rubble of perhaps many more. The flutes have from
5 to 8 holes and vary in length. The discovery of complete,
playable multi-note flutes provided a unique opportunity
to hear and analyze actual musical sounds as they were
produced nine millennia ago. The Chinese team who studied
the sounds found that they did not conform to the modern
standard of A4 = 440 Hz, but had their own unique tuning,
where hole 1 = A6, hole 2 = F#6, and hole 5 = 'C6' (C6
+ 20 Hz).
In our brief examination of sacred temples
throughout the world, we see that sacred vibrations of
sound are found in the social architecture of ancient
cultures. We discover that the plethora of derived harmonics
constitutes the real nature of why sacred priests throughout
the ages have used certain holy prayers and expressions
to help "tune" our being into a higher consciousness.
It does not have to stop with the past; today the same
sacred music and vibrations, based on ancient seed syllables,
allow us to experience the Divine resonance which has
been engineered also into the 'Human' Temple.
1. Feirer, George (2002) Private correspondence
and musical recordings of the sacred tones of Chichen
2. Zhang, J., G. Harbottle, et al. (1999) "Oldest
playable musical instruments found at Jiahu early neolithic
site in China." Nature. 401 (Sept. 23) p. 366.