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Onkar or Oankaar is represented in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture as ; that is as Ura, the first Gurmukhi character with an extended "tail". Onkar means God or Transcendental being. This word is the second part of the first word in the holy Sikh scripture. The first word that appears in this granth is Ek Onkar ie: which can be translated as "God is One" or "There is only one God."
The word 'O-ankaar' denotes that God manifests Himself ceaselessly throughout His Creation in diverse forms, features and colours, and in this way God becomes knowable to man. But, in spite of manifesting Himself diversly, God remains One; He remains Immanent in His Creation, while at the same time remaining Transcendent. This God is at once One and Many implying Unity in Diversity. Kapur Singh suggests Oan = Transcedent, -kar = Immanent. The Mandukopanishad defines the word as: "That which was, is, will be, is all Onkar. And that which triple transcends is Onkar too."
Gurmat Interpretation of Oankar
ਰਾਮਕਲੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ਦਖਣੀ ਓਅੰਕਾਰ
ੴ ਸਤਿਗਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਬਰਹਮਾ ਉਤਪਤਿ ॥
ਓਅੰਕਾਰ ਕੀਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਚਿਤਿ ॥
ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਸੈਲ ਜਗ ਭਝ ॥
ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਬੇਦ ਨਿਰਮਝ ॥
ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਉਧਰੇ ॥
ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਗਰਮਖਿ ਤਰੇ ॥
ਓਨਮ ਅਖਰ ਸਣਹ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥
ਓਨਮ ਅਖਰ ਤਰਿਭਵਣ ਸਾਰ ॥੧॥
ਸਣਿ ਪਾਡੇ ਕਿਆ ਲਿਖਹ ਜੰਜਾਲਾ ॥
ਲਿਖ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਗਰਮਖਿ ਗੋਪਾਲਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Oan is the Hukmee and Kaar is the Hukam, Which means a Hukmee made the world on Hukam. Oan is like an Iron and Kaar is like sword of that iron. When Iron is given shape then the sword emerges. Sly Hukmee i.e God makes everything with his Hukam. On Kar of Oan Brahma is created and Vedas are made.
Oankar means the Jyoti which have some Aakar which means which is doing some activity. Oan is God and Kaar is activity of God. YOu can say the still water is like God and the tide is like Akar, Created from god and will submerge in god. So Oan is God and Kaar is Hukam or Shabad Guru.
ਓਅੰ ਗਰਮਖਿ ਕੀਓ ਅਕਾਰਾ ॥(ਪੰਨਾ 250, ਸਤਰ 12)
God is Nirankar, When it take Akar it's Hukam and when only Gurmukh can interprets his hukam. So Gurmukh is also Nirankar, and can only hear voice of that God, he never speaks of itself but god lets him speak.
So Oankar is the Jot which have Body in form of Shabad and that Jot is 1.
Oankar is not Omkar
"Om" - is referred to 3 deities only - Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu. These have 3 qualities "Rajo" (Rajaas-Fame), "Tamo" (tamas-Lust) and "Sato" (saantak - Peace from other two), Respectively. God is No where in this description.
It is said that rajo and tamo qualities are not good as sato but GurMukh should be above all these three. No Pain in misery and no smile in happiness. Above all qualities. Above all Vices.
That's why Akal Purakh ji gave Guru Nanak Dev(Gurmukh) "Ek Oankaar" - a Seed.
"ik" means only one, "oan" Above 3 primal deities(i.e God), "kaar" means which never ends. one cannot know it's end i.e Tan ke Ant na paye jaye.
So Oankar should not confuse with Omkar. Even While discourse with Pundit Guru Nanak Sahib wrote Om as ਓਨਮ (Onam or Om) and Oankar as ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ.