By M. A. Alwar
Sometimes transliterated as: U, U, UU
Formation from the Vowel U
The letter Ū is a long form (dīrgha) of the letter “u”. Shabdakalpadrumah asserts that ū is sixth of the vowels, after considering the long forms too.
Significance of Ū
In Māhēśvara Sūtras
- In this sūtra, Ū is third in order and appears in the very first sūtra: “a-i-u-ṇ”.
- The place of articulation of ū is the “Lips” (oṣṭha).
- The sūtra “upūpadhmānīyānām oṣṭhau” states that the letter ‘ū’ along with the class of Pa and upadhmānīya, is articulated by the lips.
- The time of pronunciation of letter ū in two mātrās is Long (dīrgha) and in case of three mātrās it is very Long (Pluta).
- It can again be treated as three-fold on the basis of udātta (Acute), anudātta (Grave) and svarita (balanced).
- Considering the nasality and non-nasal quality, it is six-fold.
- In total, it can be of 18 forms.
- It is stated in the śikṣā that Svaras (Vowels) and ūṣman consonants are pronounced openly, the ū is pronounced openly but with inward effort.
- It is pronounced openly since there is no touch of the tip of the tongue and teeth.
- It is also declared that the vowels are untouched and the śal consonants are partly touched.
In Kāmadhenu Tantra
- The ū has the form of the bent conch and is curved in shape.
- It is of the form of five prāṇas and represents the five gods.
- It represents the five prāṇas along with yellow lightening.
- It awards happiness.
- It represents the four ends of life namely:
In Vaṅga Language
The ū is written in vaṅga language as: “The line drawn from u below to the left…” The u is already stated.
In varṇoddhāra tantra
- The lines have the presence of Yama, Agni and Varuṇa gods in an order. The line above has the presence of lakṣmī and sarasvatī.
- The names of ū are:
- In the mātṛkānyāsa ritual, chanting of the letters is done by touching upon the parts of one’s body. The ū is uttered while touching both the ears while reciting, “salutations to u and the right ear is touched, salutations to the ū and the left ear is touched.” ū is one of the Anubandhas (tags). Hence, it is the form of words like Asadīt, asaitsīt.
- Ū is formed by “veñ root + Kvip suffix. It is used in the beginning of the sentence. It is an addressing note. It implies protection and compassion.
- Ū as a Masculine form is the one who protects. It is derived as Av + Kip by the Sūtra jvaratvaretyūṭh. It is also a name of māheśvara. Śabdaratnāvalī states that it is a name of Candra. In the sense of protector, it can be used in all the three genders.
- Māhēśvara Sūtras 1
- Pavarga, i.e, Pa, Pha, Ba, Bha, Ma
- Half visarga
- This is stated in the medinī lexicon.
- Sūtra jvaratvaretyūṭh VI.iv.20
- Māheśvara is also referred as Puruṣottama.
- Shabdakalpadrumah by Raja Radhakantdev, Varadaprasada Vasu, Haricarana Vasu