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- SUTRA VAHINI
Analytical Aphorisms on (Brahman) Supreme Reality
Sutra (aphorism) expresses in a few words the genus of its meaning. The Brahma Sutras are the Science of Vendanta. They emanate the Sweetness of Sweets when they are chanted.
Today harmony is the need of the hour. The ephemeral world needs spiritual awareness. This is what the Vedantins visualise. Vedic scriptures offer comforting counsel. They throw a kindly light.
Man has the distorted Vision (Ku-darshan); he dotes in real and non-real phenomena. Su-darshan makes him to cognise the universal being in Nature's creations. Realisation of this awareness is Liberation (Moksha). Be all and end all of life of the human being - being the knowing of cosmic consciousness viz., the awareness.
In the Sutra Vahini, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has had lighted the universal lamp of Atma / Brahma Vidya. This is serialised in Sanathana Sarathi. Bhagawan in His infinite Love has shown the sublime treatise on the ESSENCE OF BRAHMA SUTRAS. Bhagawan's words or pun on words is beyond human cognition and perception.
We deem it a rarest of rare privilege showered on us by the Divine Love and affection, to submit at the Divine Lotus Feet of Bhagawan, our Beloved Lord, on the auspicious occasion of His 66th Birthday.
We hope this will transform the common man lingering in avidya maya and that this will transform his consciousness into cosmic consciousness so that the common man could comprehend Bliss. This may be spoken of as the Realisation of Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Man. This will be the New Era.
Stream of Wisdom
All the Sastras derive their value and validity from their source - the Vedas. They lay down modes and norms in consonance with the principles and purposes defined in the Vedas. To discriminate between good and bad, the Sastras have to be resorted to.
The Vedas are A-pourusheya: that is, they have no identifiable human authors. They have emerged from God Himself and they are 'heard' by sages attuned to the Voice of the Divine. They communicated the Word to their pupils and they in turn taught them to their disciples. This process of imparting the Vedas and the Wisdom enshrined in them has continued through generation after generation of gurus and disciples up to our own times.
The Upanishads are the very core of the Vedas, the very essence of their teachings. The Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Githa contain the very essence of the teachings of the Upanishads. These three scriptural texts are, therefore, designated as the Prasthaana Thraya, the Three Source Texts. Since these have been learnt by listening to the Guru, they are, along with the Vedas, named Sruthi, the "Heard".
Acquisition of the Higher knowledge alone can fulfil the main purpose of human life. Such knowledge makes one aware that he is not the inert non-sentient body, etc., but that he is Consciousness itself manifesting as the embodiment of Sath-Chith-Ananda, Existence - Awareness - Bliss. When this Truth dawns and is experienced, man is liberated; he is freed from the fog of ignorance, Ajana, even while life endures till its term ends. He becomes a Jeevan-Muktha.
The Kaivalyopanishad declares:"Na Karmanaa na projayaa dhanena
thyaagena ekena amruthathwamaanasuh"
Not by means of works, not by means of man-power or by means of wealth, by renunciation alone immortality can be attained. The works referred to are rituals like sacrifices, sacred fire rites, vows, charities, donations to holy projects, pilgrimages, ceremonial baths in rivers and the sea. Through such activities, one cannot achieve Moksha or Liberation - that is to say, getting rid of the veil of ignorance. Na prajayaa, (not by means of man-power) means: the acquisition of positions of authority and power, of skill and intelligence, which can manipulate men and things, of fame and supremacy, of personal charm, of full health and happiness, of a large family with many children cannot confer on man Moksha or Liberation.
"Na dhanena" (not by means of wealth) means: The works and activities mentioned above and the acquisition referred to can succeed only when man has wealth at his disposal. If one is not rich, he cannot venture into Karmas or acquire authority, power, etc. But the Upanishad announces that Jnana is not related to riches or dhana. And Jnana alone can lead to liberation. So, liberation cannot be earned by means of wealth. Wealth is not a means to attain Moksha.
Then, what exactly is the means? The answer is, Thyagena ekena amrthathwam aanasuh. Renunciation alone can confer Moksha or Immortality. The Jagath (the objective world) is unreal, non-existent; the misunderstanding that it is real has to be renounced. The understanding that the idea of jagath is a superimposition by our mind on the Reality is the Jnana. Though the jagath appears real, one must be aware that it is deluding us so. And as a result, one has to give up the yearning for deriving pleasure from the objects that appear and attract, both here and hereafter. That is to say, one is liberated as soon as one renounces all attachment and all desires. Sarvam Thyaagam. The Ajnana or false knowledge can be destroyed only when one knows the Atma Principle. When the false knowledge disappears, the sorrow produced by one's involvement in the ups and downs of Samsara or the World of Change, also gets destroyed.
Ajnana and Duhkha (sorrow) cannot be destroyed by rituals and rites (Karma) - this is the lesson the Upanishads teach us. In fact, what is happening now is Man has forgotten his real nature. He believes that he is the body, the senses etc. They crave for objective pleasures and he convinces himself that this is wanted by himself and under this mistaken notion, he seeks to fulfil their cravings. He deludes himself that he can secure Ananda by catering to the body and the senses. However, he cannot earn Ananda through such attempts. Instead, he is rewarded with disillusionment, defeat and even disaster. He reaps sorrow, and not joy.
Involvement in objective pleasure ultimately leads to grief. So, man needs to be directed towards the right means to attain Ananda. Wherefrom can one gain Ananda? It does not inhere in external objects. The pleasure one can obtain from external objects brings along with it grief also.
The Brahma Sutra, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita - the Three Source Texts - clarify the Truth that you are the very embodiment of Ananda. These three sources stand on one to help man attain the highest wisdom.
It is a hard task to grasp the meanings of the aphorisms contained in the Brahma Sutra. Unless one has acquired the necessary qualifications, one cannot unravel them and master them.
What, then, are the qualifications? Four Sadhanas are laid down by the scriptures. When one is equipped with these four, the meanings become as patent as a fruit on the palm. For, these four have to be earned by man as a preliminary for knowing the truth of oneself.
The Brahma Sutra is also known as Saareeraka Sastra and Vedanta Darsana. Sareera means the Body. Saareeraka means all the components of the Embodied - Atma: Ego (Jivi), Senses etc. Sastra implies "examining the nature of all these to the greatest possible degree". That is to say, the Sastra establishes that the Brahman (the Cosmic Self) is the basis on which all else is imposed, that one's Reality is Ananda itself.
Now about the name Vedanta Darsana: Darsana means 'sight'. Darsana promotes the sight or experience of the Truth. The Darsanas are well-known. They have been propounded by vision-blessed sages. Sankhya Darsana was established by Kapila. The Nyaya Darsana was authored by Gautama, the Vaiseshika by Kanaada, the Poorva Mimamsa by Jaimini and the Uttara Mimamsa by Veda Vyasa. Among these, Kapila and Vyasa are believed by the sages to be partial embodiments of Vishnu Himself. The Brahma Sutra of Veda Vyasa is the text that has confirmed and consolidated the Uttara Mimamsa.
The Brahma Sutra adopts the technique of Objection (Purva Paksha) and conclusion (Siddhatha) to expound the Vedantic truth. The aphorisms discuss contrary points of view in order to remove all possible doubts about the validity and meaning of Vedantic or Upanishadic statements. The body is taken to be the encasement (Upadhi) for the 'person', the jivatma, and the Brahma Sutra explains its Reality. Hence, the Sutra is called Vedanta Darsana.
The Sutras in the text number 555; some schools count them as 449. The word Sutra means, "that which, through a few words only, reveals vast meanings". The word Mimamsa, as used in ancient Indian Philosophy, means the conclusion arrived at after inquiry and investigation, the inference adopted as correct after deep consideration of possible doubts and alternatives.
The Vedas deal with two concepts: Dharma and Brahma. The Purva Mimansa deals with Karma, rites and rituals, as the Dharma. The Uttara Mimansa deals with Brahma; its emphasis is on Jnana, Understanding. Purva Mimansa starts with the aphorism, "Athaatho Dharma Jijnasa" (Now, the inquiry on Dharma); the Uttara Mimansa starts with "Athaatho Brahma Jijnaasa" (Now, the inquiry into Brahma).
The awareness of Brahmam cannot be won by the accumulation of wealth or even by the giving away of riches. Nor can it be achieved by reading texts, or rising to power, or acquisition of degrees and diplomas or by the performance of scriptural sacrifices and rituals.
The body is an ant-hill which has inside the cavity, the mind. And the mind has hidden in it the serpent named Ajnana (Nescience). It is not possible to kill the serpent by resorting to satisfaction-orientated works (Kaamya Karma). Jnana is the only weapon that can kill it.
"Sraddhaavaan labhathe jnaanam". That person alone who has sraddha can secure jnana. And Sraddha means steady faith in the statements laid down in scriptual texts (Sastras).
Athaatho Brahma Jijnaasaa
Sutra (aphorism) enshrines, in a few words, vast expanses of meaning, vast depths of fundamental significance. The Brahma Sutras build up the science of Vedantha. They gather multicoloured flowers from all the Upanishads and string them together to form an enchanting garland. Each Sutra can be elaborated and explained in a number of learned ways, according to each one's understanding, faith, preference, experience and pleasure.
The very first Sutra is "Athaatho Brahma Jijnaasaa". The initial Atha has many literal meanings. But, in this Sutra, the most appropriate sense is: "Thereafter". So, "After what?" is the question that arises. It is obvious that it refers to Brahma Jijnaasa, 'the yearning to understand the nature of Brahman'. It means, "After such a yearning has dawned". How can this yearning emerge? It can come into the mind only after one acquires proper qualifications. "Thereafter" means, "after equipping oneself with these qualifications."
Jijnaasa cannot yield fruit if the Vedas are merely studied. The Vedas deal with Dharma. For understanding Brahman, Vedantha has to be studied.
Among the preliminary qualifications for Brahma Jijnaasa, the first is Viveka: Discrimination between the transitory and the eternal. In other words, the discovery that the Atma alone is beyond Time, and that all objects perceivable by the senses of sight, etc., are only transitory. The Atma alone suffers no change. It alone is Nitya Sathya (Timeless Truth). As a result of prolonged investigation, one has to gain this unshakable conviction and be established in it.
The second qualification is: "Ihaa-mutra-phala-bhoga-viraagah" (renunciation of the desire to enjoy here and hereafter, the fruits of one's actions). This is also known as Vairaagya (non-attachment). One must reason and realise the transitoriness of joy and grief, pollutions that affect the mind. One will be convinced then, that all things are caught in a flux; they are all momentary, they yield only grief. The feeling of non-attachment will next dawn in the mind. Vairaagya does not involve giving up of hearth and home, of wife and children and taking refuge in forests. It involves only the awareness of the Jagath (world) as transitory and, as a consequence of this awareness, discarding the feelings, "I" and "Mine".
The third qualification is: "Sama-damaadi Guna Sampath", the Group of six virtues, Sama, Dama and the rest.
There are six virtues in this group - Sama, Dama, Uparathi, Thithiksha, Sraddha and Samaadhaana.
Sama means mind-control. This is very hard to achieve. The mind can cause bondage; it can also confer liberation. It is an amalgam of Rajasic and Thamasic modes, the passionate and dull attitudes. It is easily polluted. It relishes in hiding the real nature of things and casting on them the forms and values which it desires. So, the activities of the mind have to be regulated.
The mind has two characteristics. The first is: it runs behind the senses; whatever sense the mind follows helplessly, it is inviting disaster. When a pot of water becomes empty, we need not infer that it has leaked away through ten holes; one hole is enough to make it empty. So too, among the senses, even if one is not under control, one will be thrown into bondage. Therefore, every sense has to be mastered.
The second characteristic of the mind is: The potency of the mind can be promoted by good practices like Dhyana, Japa, Bhajana and Puja. With the strength and skill thus reinforced, the mind can help the world or harm it. So, the mental power gained by such Sadhana has to be turned away from wrong paths and controlled by Sama. The senses have to be directed by the principle of intelligence, the Buddhi. They must be released from the hold the mind has on them. Then spiritual progress can be attained.
Manas or Mind is but a bundle of thoughts, a complex of wants and wishes. As soon as a thought, a desire or a wish raises its head from the mind, Buddhi must probe into its value and validity - is it good or bad, will it help or hinder, where will this lead or end. If the mind does not submit to this probe, it will land itself in the path of ruin. If it does and obeys the intelligence, it can move along the right path.
Man has three chief instruments for uplifting himself: Intelligence, Mind and the Senses. When the mind gets enslaved by the senses, man gets entangled and bound. The same mind, when it is regulated by the intellect, can make man aware of his Reality, the Atma. This is why the mind is reputed to cause either bondage or liberation.
Now, for the second of the six virtues: Dama. Dama means keeping the body and the senses under control. This can be achieved only by Sadhana or spiritual exercise and not by any other means. One has to avoid spending precious time in useless pursuits. One has to be ever vigilant. One has to engage the senses of perception and of action and the body in congenial but noble tasks which would keep them busy. There should be no chance for thamas or sloth to creep in. And, every act must also promote the good of others. While confining oneself to activities which reflect one's natural duties (Swadharma), it is possible to sublimate them into Sadhana for the body and the senses.
The third qualification with which one has to be equipped is Uparathi. This implies a state of mind which is above and beyond all dualities such as joy and grief, liking and disliking, good and bad, praise and blame, which agitate and affect the common man. But, these universal experiences can be overcome or negated by means of spiritual exercises or intellectual inquiry. Man can escape from these opposites and dualities and attain balance and stability. Uparathi can be achieved, if one is careful, while engaged in day-to-day living, to avoid entanglement with and bondage to differences and distinctions. One should free oneself from identification with castes like Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra, or clans like Gotras, or conditions like boyhood, youth, adult and old age, or genders like masculine and feminine. When he succeeds in discarding these and is firmly established in the Atmic Reality alone, he has really achieved Uparathi.
Do not look at the world as the world with a worldly eye. Look upon it with the eye of Atma, as the projection of Paramatma. That can make one cross the horizon of dualities into the region of the One. The One is experienced as many, because of the forms and names man has imposed on it. That is the result of the mind playing its game. Uparathi promotes inner exploration, Nivrithi, not outer enquiry and activity, Pravrithi. Along Nivrithi lies the Path of Jnana (Intellectual Inquiry); along Pravathi lies the Path of Karma (Dedicated Activity).
The sacred activities like rituals and sacrifices (Karma) laid down in the Vedas cannot confer liberation from bondage to birth and death, Moksha. They help only to cleanse the Consciousness. It is said that they raise man to Heaven; but Heaven too is but a bond. It does not promise eternal freedom. The freedom which makes one aware of the Truth, of his own Truth, can be gained only through Sravana (Listening to the Guru), Manana (Ruminating over what has been so listened to) and Nididhyasana (Meditating on its validity and significance). Only those who have detached their minds from desire can benefit from the Guru. Others cannot profit from the guidance. Those who expect and look forward to the fruits of their actions can engage in them until their consciousness is cleansed. After that, their actions are of no value. So, one must be ever conscious of the Atma, as pervading and penetrating everything, so that attraction and repulsion, the duality complex, cannot affect him.
The fourth qualification is Thithiksha. This is the attitude of forbearance, which refuses to be affected or pained when afflicted with sorrow and loss, and the ingratitude and wickedness of others. In fact, one is happy and calm, for one knows that these are the results of one's own actions now recoiling on him, and one looks upon those who caused the misery as friends and well-wishers. One does not retaliate nor does he wish ill for them. One bears all the blows patiently, and gladly.
The natural reactions of a person, whoever he may be, when someone injures him is to injure in return, when someone causes harm to do harm and when someone insults him to insult back by some means or other. But, this is the characteristic of the Pravrithi path - the path of objective involvement. Those who seek the inner path of sublimation and purification, the Nivrithi path have to avoid such reaction. Returning injury for injury, harm for harm or insult for insult only adds to the Karmic burden, which has to be endured and eliminated in future lives. This burden is termed Aagaami or lineal. One cannot escape the task of undergoing the consequences of one's thought, word and deed in due course. Paying evil for evil can never lighten the weight of Karma; it will only become heavier. It might confer immediate relief and contentment, but it cannot but make the person suffer later. Thithiksha, therefore, instructs man to do good to the person who injures him.
The fifth among the virtues to be cultivated is Sraddha. Sraddha means unwavering faith in the sacred scriptures or sastras and in the moral codes they contain as well as in the Atma and the Guru. Faith is the sign of Sraddha. Gurus are worth worshipping. They show us the path of fulfilment, the Sreyomarga. The sastras are designed to ensure the peace and prosperity of the world and the spiritual perfection of mankind. They have before them this great aim. They show the way to its realisation. So, one must place faith in such holy sastras, Gurus, and elders. The Gurus, on their part, must instruct people only in the knowledge of the One Atma that is immanent in all Beings, [Sarva jivaat-maikya Jnana]. He who has Sraddha will achieve this Jnana. They must themselves have full faith in it and live according to that faith without the slightest deviation.
The sixth qualification is Samaadhaana. One has to be irrefutably convinced that what the sastras make known and what the Guru teaches are both one and the same. One's intellect must rest upon and draw inspiration from the Atma, at all times and under all circumstances. The aspirant for spiritual progress must be attached only to the unchanging universal Consciousness. All actions of his should have as their goal: the Joy of God. He must place implicit faith in the Sastraic dictum: "All living beings are amsas [facets, fractions] of Iswara [God]." In order to confirm this faith and strengthen it, one must look upon all beings as equal. The above sixth form, termed Sadhana Sampath, is the Treasure of Spiritual Struggle.
Next, we shall consider Mumukshuthwam - the longing for Moksha or Liberation. This longing cannot arise from either riches or from the scholarship that may be won at great expense of money. Nor can it emerge from wealth or progeny, or rites and rituals recommended in the scriptures or acts of charity, for Moksha [liberation from grief and acquisition of bliss] can come only from the conquest of Ajnana [ignorance]. A person might master all the sastras along with all the learned commentaries written on them by experts; he might propitiate all the gods by performing the prescribed modes of worship and ceremonies; but these cannot grant the boon of Liberation. These are all motivated to earn benefits and boons, other than the supreme knowledge [Jnana]. Success in the path of knowledge alone can confer salvation. A person might have every article needed for cooking a meal but, if fire is not available, how can the meal be prepared? So too, if Atma Jnana [Awareness of Atma as the only Reality] is not won, Liberation if it is declared that one can attain Mukti or Liberation if he bathes in the waters of sacred rivers, what shall we say of the fish and other aquatic species that spend all their lives in the rivers! If it is believed that spending years in mountain caves will lead to Liberation, what do mice, what do wild beasts attain? If, by means of ascetic practices like eating roots and tubers and chewing leaves for sustenance of the body, one can attain Liberation, must goats who feed on leaves and pigs that dig out tubers also attain Liberation? When plastering the entire body with ash is hailed as asceticism, can dogs and donkeys which roll on ash heaps claim Liberation? These beliefs and practices are signs of poor understanding. One must concentrate on achieving Atma Jnana, the Awareness of the Eternal Universal Atmic Reality.
The word Atha, with which the very first Sutra begins, means "thereafter" and, after the inquiry into its implications, it has been found that it involves the acquisition of these four attainments - Viveka, Vairagya, the Six Virtues and the Yearning for Liberation.
The next word too is Athah, the tha being soft, instead of being stressed as in the first word. Athah means "for this reason". The inquiry has therefore to be made: for which reason? For the reason that neither the examination of the texts of the Sastras, nor the performance of rites and rituals, nor through the study of material objects, nor by the process of learning from the example of other men, can the awareness of the Supreme, the Brahmam, be secured. Because objects and individuals, rites and activities are transitory. They suffer from decay and destruction. They can at best help the cleansing of the mind, that is all. Karma cannot liberate one from the basic ignorance, or award the awareness of the reality as Brahmam. One has to be conscious of this limitation, in order to win the right of inquiry into the mystery of the Brahmam, the source and core of the Cosmos.
This, the very first Sutra stresses on one lesson: He who devotes his life to earn the knowledge of the Atma that is his self, must possess holy virtues, and they must mould his conduct and contacts sacrosanct. For, no knowledge can be higher than virtuous character. Character is power, really speaking. For the person who has dedicated his years to the acquisition of higher learning, ever-good character is an indispensable qualification. Every religion emphasises the same need, not as a special credal condition, but as the basis of spiritual life and conduct itself. Those who lead lives on these lines can never come to harm. They will be endowed with sacred merit.
Virtues are the most effective means for purifying the inner consciousness of man, at all levels. For, they prompt the person to discover what to do and how to do. Only those who have earned good destiny can claim their excellence in discrimination. And, adherence to this determination is the raft which can take man across the ocean of flux and fear, the Bhava Sagara. The man of virtues has a place in the region of the liberated. Whatever the residual activity a person has perforce to engage himself in, the impact of that activity will not impinge on him, provided he is a man of virtue. He can merge in Brahmam, the embodiment of Supreme Bliss.
A person might have performed a variety of Vedic rites and sacrifices; he might even be expounding the contents of a variety of sacred scriptures he has mastered; he might be a person endowed with prosperity, owning vast wealth and heaps of grain; he might teach the Vedas and their complementary disciplines with due exposition of meanings; but, if such people have no moral character, they have no place where Brahmam is taught or learnt. This is the lesson this Sutra conveys.
For, the stage of equanimity so essential for spiritual progress can be gained only when the intellect is cleansed of the blot of deluding attachments and involvements. Devoid of that serenity, the intellect or Buddhi cannot proceed on the trail of Brahmam. Why? The term Virtue is only another name for the 'intelligence' that follows the promptings of the Atma, the Self which is our Reality. Only he who has such virtue can win the awareness of the Atma, the Truth. And, once that awareness is gained he can not more be caught in delusion or desire; they cannot touch him any longer.
Desire and bondage to the objects desired and the plans to secure them are the attributes of the individualised selves, not of the Self or Atma resident in the body. The sense of me and mine, and the emotions of lust and anger originate in the body-mind complex. Only when this complex is conquered and outgrown can true virtue emanate and manifest.
The sense of 'doer' and 'enjoyer' of 'agentship' might appear to affect the Atma but they are not part of the genuine nature of the Atma. Things get mirrored and produce images but the mirror is not tarnished or even affected thereby. It remains as clear as it was. So, too, the man of virtue might be subjected to some contaminating activities due to back-log of acts in previous lives, but they cannot mar or obstruct his present nature or activities. The Jivi or Individual has as his genuine basic attributes: purity, serenity and joy. He is ebullient with these qualities.
A bird in flight in the depths of the sky needs two wings; a person moving on the earth below needs two legs to carry him forward; an aspirant eager to attain the Mansion of Moksha, the Abode of Freedom, needs Renunciation and Wisdom, renunciation of worldly desires and wisdom to become aware of the Atma. When a bird has but one wing, it cannot rise up into the sky, can it? In the same manner, if man has only renunciation or wisdom, he cannot attain the Supreme self, Brahmam. The sense of 'mine' is the bond of deluding attachment. How long can one cling to what he fondles as mine? Some day, he has to give up all he has and leave, alone and empty handed. This is the inescapable destiny.
One has to give up such assumed relationships and artificial attachments through rigorous analysis of their nature and give them up as quickly as possible. This is what the world teaches as the lesson of renunciation. Attachment breeds fear and egotism. Only the unwise would yield to such worldly fancies. The wise can never bow to the blandishments of objective desire. All is momentary, momentary. All is transient, transient. So, they seek to identify the everlasting Truth, and adhere to the immortal virtues that the Atma represents. These are the real men of virtue, the candidates worthy to attain Brahmam.
"That from which the birth, etc. of This."
One has to know That as Brahman, the source of the origination, maintenance and disintegration [srishti, sthithi and pralaya] of this perceptible Cosmos. Brahmam is the entity from whom this Jagath [this apparently concrete ever changing product of the tendency of the mind to visualise] has originated. This is maintained as an organisation in spite of the ever-present flux, by Brahmam. This ultimately subsides or merges in Brahmam Itself. Should there not be One who designs and decides on some sort of control and regulation of this Jagath? Underlying the three phases of Jagath mentioned above, one can cognise not only inter-penetrating order and all-comprehensive Wisdom but also basic Ajnana or Mis-understanding. Asya [of this] - of this visible Universe [the composite of the Five Elements, Prapancha], Birth etc. [Janmaadi] - Origination, Maintenance and Disintegration - from whom [yathah], that is Brahmam.
We can know a great deal about the nature of the Cosmos. But the instrument of knowledge we possess is the human eye, is it not? Physical sciences have discovered much, but all that has been discovered by the human mind, is it not? They describe and analyse things as they are. However, how long do they exist as now? They are subject to modification each moment. But, in spite of the inescapable change that affects all things, one is aware of a truth or fact that is not affected in the least. That unchanging principle is the basis on which the three phases are manifested. That Principle is Brahmam, the Eternal Base, the Unmoving, the One, the Sathya, Truth.
One may hesitate to accept this fact and be involved in doubt since the basic brahmam, is not perceived and what are actually perceived are the Forms, with Names attached, which are in perpetual change. Consider what happens when a person sees at night the dry stump of a tree; he is afraid it is a ghost or a bizarre human being. It is neither, though it is perceived as either. The reason for this misperception is 'darkness'. Darkness imposes on something another thing that is not there. In the same manner, on account of the darkness spread through Maya or Incorrect Perception, the Primal Cause, Brahmam, is veiled and rendered unnoticeable and the Cosmos is imposed on It, as a perceptible reality. This deceptive vision is corrected by the awakened consciousness [Jnana] and transmuted into the vision of Universal Love [Prema]. The Cosmos of which the Earth is a part and with which we are embroiled has as its basic cause, as the stump for the ghost, Brahmam Itself.
Some others declare as the cause for the origin of the Cosmos [Prapancha], such factors as Innate Nature [Svabhaava], Order, Accident, Time, etc. But neither any one of these nor all of them together can be the Cause. For, they are not all inert, incapable of will or initiative. Even individual selves are bound by the manacles of joy-grief, growth-decay and birth-death. Each of these alleged origins is dependent and contingent. So, they cannot be accepted as the Cause, or the Origin of Prapancha or Jagath.
This Sutra, "Janmaadyasya Yathah", is intended to lead us to the discovery of the genuine Basis for all that 'is' and 'was' and 'will be'. It announces the Mahath Thatwa, the Supreme Principle which is the Cause for the Being turning into Becoming and the Orderly Behaviour of the Universe. Physics can probe into matter and explain how it is formed; but, it can not probe and discover why it is so formed. Surely, for each effect or happening, there should be a Cause. Neither the atom nor the self nor the absence of these can be reckoned as that Cause. The Sath, the Being, must be beyond both Subject and Object. Cogniser and the Cognised. But, when we have to delineate the Sath or Brahmam, it becomes necessary to use words in current usage, such as Creator, Lord, Providence, God and also as Brahmam.
When the inquiry into cause and effect is made from the point of view of the Cosmos, we reach the conclusion that God is the Cause, and the Cosmos or Jagath is the effect. When the distinction between subject and object is transcended we become aware that it is all Pure Consciousness or Brahmam, and that this is both the primary as well as the subsidiary factor. That is to say, it is the Mayor, or Primordial Nescience. That invokes both Brahmam, Jagath and the mergence in Brahmam. It is Maya that causes the delusion that one originates from the other.
There are others who contend that the two - Maya and Brahmam - are the twin causes of the Cosmos. Still others assert that Maya is solely responsible.
Some others assert that the Universe is a manifestation of Vishnu and that it has its being in Vishnu Himself. They declare that the emergence, subsistence and merging of the Universe are all caused by Vishnu.
Of course, nothing in the Universe can be made without a maker. What, then, must be the nature of the maker of the Cosmos? He must have limitless power, unbounded glory, and perfect omniscience. It is not possible for every one to visualise such a phenomenon, though it is the very fulfillment of the purpose of each one's life! It can, however, be conceived and confirmed by two characteristics: one, called Thatastha, and the other, Swarupa. Thatastha is the temporary time-bound indication. It cannot confer a correct picture or view. It can only reveal signs and glimpses, off and on. Swarupa means the very reality in its fullness. This is the result of the illumination of intuitive wisdom. It reveals the immanent and the transcendent, the limitless source of All.
Every entity, article, or thing in the Universe has five qualities: Asthi, Bhathi, Priyam, Roopam, Naamam. Asthi means 'Is'. So, Is-ness is the feature of all that is. Bhaathi means 'shining', luminescence. The thing that is known to us is capable of being known to us because it shines: It has the power to enter our consciousness. Then, we have the word, Priyam. Everything is capable of being used or benefited from and therefore becomes dear, attractive; fondness is the meaning of Priyam. The two other features, Roopam and Naamam. They do change and can be modified. All things seem to undergo some transformation or other and often assume again the original form. They are apparent alterations of the basic entities, which have the first three features always. Name and Form are superimpositions on the basic reality of 'Is-ness', 'Illumination' and 'Joy'. The Divine is the base, the Divine Will is the superstructure. The beads are many but the inter-connecting, integrating string of the rosary is one. So, too, for the entire world of living beings, God, the permanent, omnipresent, Parabrahma, the Supreme Divine consciousness, is the base. 'Soham', 'He is I', 'I am that', all these axioms indicate that even those which differentiate themselves under names and forms are in fact God Himself. This is the reason why it is proclaimed in the Vedas, 'He who knows Brahmam becomes Brahmam Itself'. This awareness is the awareness of the Reality.
The bubble born of water floats in it and bursts on it to become one with it. All the visible objective worlds are like the bubbles emanating from the vast Ocean of Divinity, Brahmam. They are on the waters and are sustained by water. How else can they arise and exist? Finally, they merge and disappear in water itself. For their origination, subsistence and mergence, they depend on water only. Water is one, bubbles are plentiful. Water is real, bubbles are appearances. Water is the basis: bubbles are delusive forms of the same imposed on it.
One is struck with wonder at this wonderful manifestation. But, in the ancient eras of time and in the far corners of space, from the inert unconscious tangle of Nature, the mystery of life emerged and proliferated into men and god-men. This is a fact known to all and cognisable by all. But, can the low be posited as the cause of the high? The low can only be the cause of the low. We can say that the inert can at best be the cause of the mind, which also is part of the body complex, but only the Divine Will can be the cause of all creation, having the five features already mentioned. How else the complex mind arose and got established no one can describe.
The theory is that all events in the Universe follow certain laws and norms. It is not always self-evident but physics is tending to prove that it is quite feasible. The very first Sutra indicates the Universal Supreme called Brahmam. This second Sutra describes the same Brahmam in another form, through another facet. The first lays down the Truth, Wisdom and Freedom (Satyam, Jnanam and Swatantra). The second Sutra lays down the creative aspect of Brahmam, and declares that the aspect cannot be limited to this particular cosmos.
Each has its own Dharma or innate specialty or individuality or love characteristics. This rule applies equally to blades of grass and the stars. The cosmos is not one continuous flux. It is progressing persistently towards achieving a totality in the qualities and circumstances. Man too can transform himself through self-effort and discrimination from his present status. The moral forces permitting the cosmos will certainly promote our achievement. But, man is too immersed in the all-pervasive delusion to take advantage of these and elevate himself. He is not aware of the path of peace and harmony in the world. He is not able to hold on to the good and avoid the bad. He cannot establish himself in the Dharmic Path.
"That" from which the birth, etc, of This". THAT from which has emanated the manifest Cosmos, with its moving and unmoving entities, "That" which prompts, promotes and fosters their progress, "That" in which, ultimately, they merge - know THAT as Brahmam.
The Taithiriya Upanishad announces: "Yatho vaa imaani bhoothaani jaayanthe, yena jaathaani jeevanthi, yath prayanthyabhi samvisanthi, thad vijijnaasaswa thad Brahmethi". From which they grow and into which they dissolve - that is Brahmam. Among the Adwaithins or Monists who posit Brahmam thus, there are vast differences and deep conflicts of opinion as regards the Causation of the Cosmos. Some hold that Brahmam is the Cause while other assert that it is caused by Maya or the play of delusion. Others ascribe it to the operation of both Brahmam and Maya. A few others declare that it originated from Vishnu, and that it merges in Vishnu. It is protected by Vishnu alone. Some declare that the statement about Brahmam is only indicative, a clue to realise the principle behind the Cosmos, a Thatastha Lakshana, so to say. Brahmam has endless facets and faculties and causing Creation, preserving the Created and subsuming it into itself are clues to glimpse It.
There are others who believe that the Mind is the cause of Creation since matter and all the five elements are mere structures projected by the Mind and that the Mind itself is a transmutation of the inert Prakrti or Nature. The working of the Mind defies explanation. There is a Supreme Consciousness and it has caused this Creation. These are all guesses or theories framed through their intellectual sharpness by various thinkers.
Scientists have investigated in their own ways and reached diverse conclusions. They explain that Time has been the Cause of the origin of the Cosmos and Time sustains and subsumes it through integration and disintegration. So, it is all the effect of Time which controls it. A few ascribe the entire process to the inner nature of things and its urge towards unfolding. Each thing manifested its genuine nature in its own manner, and time. For example, a mango seed when planted results in a mango tree only. From the womb of a tiger, only a tiger cub can emerge, not a baby goat. Thus, we find that from very ancient times, varieties of contending theories have been propounded on the origin of Creation. Nevertheless, every one has failed to define and declare what exactly is the Cause.
The Cosmos is a magnificent wonder, a source of continuous amazement. It cannot but impress one as a supreme marvel, whoever he may be. When an object has to be made, we know, we need one who has the skill and the intelligence, the sakthi, the power. "Without a maker nothing can be made. Therefore how do these objects that are visible to us - the sun, the moon, the stars, the constellations, their brilliance, movements - move and behave as they do without a Designer, a Maker, a Master? Can these yield to any ordinary power? No. Intelligent people can easily infer, observing the objects designed and made having such mighty capabilities, how immeasurable must be the Power of the Maker Himself.
Look at the marvelous variety in Creation. No one thing is the same as another; no one person resembles another. This can only be the lila or sport of the Phenomenon with limitless glory; God. Anyone can understand that no lesser power could be the source. On the basis of the mystery that inheres in Creation one can easily infer the Almighty Power that has created it. Those who are incapable of unravelling the mystery of the Created can never unravel the nature of the Creator.
Creation or the Cosmos is the manifestation of the Will latent in Brahmam. All this is God's sankalpa, Will or Plan. The theorists who frame and propagate the other explanations mentioned above are only wasting their time; arguments and counter-arguments are mere barren exercises. Or they can be pronounced as exhibitions of the scholarship of pundits, or as intellectual gymnastics of the learned. They cannot satisfy the yearnings of those whose minds are pure and whose consciousness is clarified. Everything is caused by the Divine Will - this is the firm belief of theists. Each one decides this problem from his own level of awareness; the Sutras mention these varied points of view and consider the validity. Birds that fly reach heights proportionate to the power with which they can use their wings. So too, these thinkers gave their explanations on the Creation, continuance and collapse of the Cosmos on the basis of the faith and the intelligence they had.
But, all that any one can depend upon as evidence or proof in this inquiry is, at best, only indicative characteristics or thatasttha lakshanas. These characteristics cannot take us far. The genuine characteristics, Swarupa Lakshanas, alone can reveal the Truth. They are Sathyam, Jnanam, Anantham, Truth, Wisdom, Unlimitedness. The genuine nature of Brahmam is Truth, the Eternal IS. It is the Universal Consciousness, Jnanam. It is Everlasting, beyond Time and Space. And, these are immanent in every entity, living or non-living, in the Universe.
Indicative proofs are temporary signs by which one can identify some other thing or person one desires to know. For example, when the moon is just a little arc in the sky and one desires to see it, a person indicates it with his finger pointed towards it. Or, when one desires to look at a particular star, a person says, "there, just above that branch of this tree." The moon is far away, and the star is much farther. At the moment when one expresses his yearning, it could be seen just above the branch, but that is only a temporary location. Soon, the location changes. The finger can no longer be correct, for the star or moon moves across the sky.
The genuine characteristics, the Swarupa Lakshana, never undergoes change. It abides in all. The form may suffer change; the name may change. Times may change; the space occupied might alter. But the core of Truth, the Swarupa Lakshana, will not change. That core is denoted as Asthi, Bhaathi and Priyam in Vedanta Texts. The thing is, Asthi. It exists. Existence is the unchanging truth. It may change its form and name, in time and space but the isness is genuine. It makes itself known as existing, through the native characteristic of Prakasa or luminosity or capacity to attract our awareness and confer knowledge - Bhaathi. We can know it, because it has bhaathi; all things we know have this innate characteristic. Each thing has the characteristic of Priyam also - likeability, capacity to invoke attachment and love, as a result of usability.
The above three are together the nature of God. On these three as the basis, forms are constructed by the mind and names for the forms follow. But, the forms and names undergo modification. They are therefore designated as Maya - relative realities, temporary superimpositions on the basic Truth. Paramatma, the One Omniself is the basis on which everything with form and name is imposed. The appearance of name and form on the Real is due to the operation of the Maya principle.
Name and Form which are structures raised by the mind on the basis of Brahmam are to be considered as indicative proofs for the Truth on which they arise and disappear. Brahmam can be known only when the basic characteristics are known Swarupa Jnanam. Once Brahman is known, the awareness makes the person, who is aware, Brahman itself. "Brahmavid Brahmaiva Bhavathi". This is the assurance given by Sruthi, the Vedas. In truth, the basis as well as the entities resting on it, the appearance and the Real are both Divine, caused by Brahmam. So, if this is established in one's knowledge by inquiry, Brahmaji jnaasa, life fulfils itself.
Sathyam, Jnaanam, Anantham - this is the tripod on which Brahmam rests. Awareness of Brahmam is awareness of Truth; knowledge of Brahmam is the knowledge; it is unlimited, endless. From Brahma emanated Akasa (space; the sky); from Akasa emanated Vayu (Air); from vayu, Agni (Fire); from Agni, Jalam (Water); from jalam, Prithvi (Earth). From the earth grew life - giving plants (Oushadha); from Oushadha, Anna (Food) and from anna, Purusha (persons, Humans). The process of Projection is happening in this series. Brahma, the first, Purusha, the last. So, the Purusha and Brahma are closely related.
'Saastra Yonithwaath': "Brahmam is the source of the scriptures and therefore is All-knowing". The scriptures are expressions of the truth acquired by sages while delving into the Reality. The words have emanated from the inhalations and exhalations of the Divine Breath. They were heard from no embodied entity, nor did they arise out of the imagination of any one. Hence, they are described as 'impersonal' (A-paurusheya) and 'eternal' (Saaswatha). From whom did they originate? The answer is, from Brahmam alone.
Veda means knowledge; it always 'is'. It has no beginning, nor end. It is referred to as 'an-antha', without end, for it is sound, sacred, sustaining, salutary sound. It is experienceable only; it cannot be limited or communicated. So, it is a marvel, an unprecedented phase of personal experience for each one. Since Brahmam is the source of such knowledge, it is extolled as All-knowing, All-mighty and All-pervading.
"Saastra Yonithwaath". This aphorism conveys the meaning that the Vedic scriptures have to be resorted to in order to know Brahmam, that only they can reveal Brahmam, and that all Vedas lead man to the same knowledge. Besides, the scriptures derive their validity through Brahmam and their value, too, from Brahmam, for Brahmam is the very source of the illumination they contain and confer. Only the Omniscient One can be the source of the Vedas. The scriptures alone can liberate man through that illumination, named knowledge. They regulate man's life and foster it, guarding it from grief. The Vedas offer comforting counsel; they deal with man affectionately and lead him forward, for they are received through venerable personages who have attained the Highest Knowledge, Brahmam.
Brahmam cannot be comprehended by means of proofs or arguments. It is beyond reason and calculation. So, it is A-prameya. It cannot be measured. It is indefinable. It cannot be pronounced as being such or so, for this reason or that. It is immeasurable by time and space, the scriptures are the proof. The usual proofs for truth are direct perception (Pratyaksha) and inferential perception (Anumaana). But Brahmam cannot be cognised by these two means. The sages have experienced it and expressed it in the scriptures. That word (Sabda) is the firmest proof. 'Saastra' means that which brings to memory what has been forgotten. Brahmam is the very self-ness of every man. The Saastras (Directives of Counselors) direct and counsel every one. But man yields to delusion and becomes one with the darkness caused by false values and attachment to the unreal, the 'me' and 'mine'. But, scripture is the mother; she does not give up. She persists and pursues; she reminds man of the goal in order to ensure that he is saved.
Hence, the above aphorism, "Saastra Yonithwaath" declares that the Saastras or scriptures are to be considered as the cause of the awareness of the incomprehensible, immeasurable, inexpressible Brahmam. They are numberless, but, lifetime is too short. Aspirants are plenty; doubts and hesitations are numerous; steadfastness is meagre. As a result, no one can claim full mastery.
Of course, one has no need to drink the entire ocean to know its taste. One can discover the taste by placing one drop on the tongue. Similarly, it is impossible to understand all the contents of the scriptures. It is enough if one grasps the important lesson that is elaborated and puts that lesson into practice.
This lesson is: constant thought of God, as Prahlada told Hiranyakasipu, his father, when his father drew him near and fondly asked the boy to repeat what he had learned from his teacher, and make him happy. Prahlada replied, "I have learnt the secret essence of all learning." The father was glad. He asked him again, "Tell me that essential thing which you have mastered." Prahlada said, "Father! He who illumines everything, He who finally absorbs everything with Himself, is the ONE, the Narayana. Having Him always in mind and experiencing the Bliss thereof awards fulfilment to all." The boy uttered the name Narayana, which the father abhorred! He did not stop with that. He said, "Father! You have conquered the entire world, but you have failed to conquer your senses. How then can you receive grace from Narayana? These material skills and worldly achievements are hollow possessions. Brahma Vidya, the knowledge and the experience of the ONE, that alone is to be pursued."
It is an arduous process for man to become aware of the ONE which is his core. The person is of the essence of food (Anna). The gross body is the product of the food consumed. But in man, there is a subtler force, an inner vibration, named Prana or Vital Air. The mind (manas) within is subtler still, and deeper than the manas and subtler, is the intellect (vignana). Beyond the intellect, we have in us the subtlest sheath of Ananda or Bliss. When man delves into this Ananda region of himself, he can experience the Reality, the Brahmam, the ONE. That awareness is indeed the most desirable.
In the Taithiriya Upanishad, the Bhrgu Valli, which comes after the Brahmananda Valli, has the story of Bhrgu, son of Varuna. While teaching the son the Brahmam phenomenon, he says: "Son! Bhrgu! Brahmam cannot be seen through the eyes. Know that Brahmam is that which enables the eyes to see and the ears to hear. He can be known only through Tapas (extreme yearning in a cleansed mind and concentrated thought). No other means can help." He added, "Dear Bhrgu! Know that everything in the Universe originates from Brahmam, exists in Brahmam and unfolds through Brahmam, and merges in Brahmam alone. Discover it yourself through Tapas," The father gave him only these indications, before directing him to enter upon spiritual exercises which will ultimately reveal the Truth.
With full faith in the words of his father Bhrgu was engaged in Tapas. The process of self-control and self-inquiry raised his consciousness and he believed what he understood at that stage as Brahmam and decided that food (Anna) was Brahmam! When he declared what he has come to know, his father, Varuna, told him that his answer was not right. So, he continued the tapas and found out that Prana (vital air) was Brahmam, since without Prana, other things are vain. Prana causes life, promotes life and puts an end to life. But the father pronounced this inference too wrong and sent him again for further Tapas. In this manner, Bhrgu has a third period of austerity when he came upon manas as Brahmam and later, a fourth when he revised that conclusion and believed that it was Vijnana. At last, after undergoing a fifth course of tapas, he became aware that Ananda was Brahmam. He stayed in the Bliss of that Awareness and never more proceeded to his father. The father sought him out and approached him. He congratulated Bhrgu, who had cast the world away from his memory. He said, "Son! You have now visualised Brahmam; you have merged in that Vision."
Man starts life as a creature of Anna (food), but he has to march on to the goal of an embodiment of Ananda. Not man alone, but every living being starts on food and yearns to reach the peak of Ananda. All efforts, all undertakings are directed to the acquisition of Ananda. All are born in Ananda, will live for Ananda, all die in order to attain Ananda. The Taithiriya Upanishad elucidates that Ananda is the urge for birth, growth, decay and death.
However, how can Brahmam be Ananda? It is said: "OM ithyekaaksharam Brahma", the Pranava sound OM, the one imperishable letter, is Brahmam, the Cosmos is composed fully of the Pranava. It is also said, "Ayam atma Brahma", "This Atma is Brahmam". Therefore, Atma, Brahma and Pranava - all are indistinguishably the same. Brahma Vidya teaches that the Self in each living being, the Atma, is Brahmam itself, no less.
The Sutras reveal that the outer universe (which has Brahmam as the base) and the inner universe (the Antar-jagath) are identical and cannot be differentiated.
Thath Thu Samanvayaath
Thath thu Samanvayaath: It is clearly demonstrable that all Vedantic axioms posit only Brahmam. The statements in the Sruthis, when studied in a spirit of reconciliation reveal the Brahmam and made known its Reality. Besides, there is the question whether the Scriptures hold forth the supremacy of works or of wisdom. Though the profound mystery of Brahmam is incommunicable to others, it has to be denoted by some categories of knowledge however unsatisfactory they are. Or else, it may remain beyond perception.
There is a school of thought which believes that the Vedas lay down Karma (Works) as means of liberation and that the Vedanta (the Upanishads) does not. But, the Scriptures or Sastras are concerned with guidance and counsel and not with exclusive adherence to some system or other. Advocacy of Karma or works is not the chief goal of the scriptures. When one is active through Karma, one has to do many merit-yielding works and these promote purity of mind. Since Karma cleanses the consciousness, many argue that the Sastras teach only this as the sole path, ignoring the fact that Karma (works) is only the means to the end.
In this connection, we have to pay attention to another fact. The desires of man, his wants, longings, resolutions and wishes, these are multiplied and prompted by Karma (works). And, the initial impulse for desire is Ajnana or Unawareness of the Reality. The doubt arises, naturally, how can the consciousness that is unaware transform itself into the consciousness that is aware (Jnana)? Darkness can never remove darkness, can it? So too, Anjnana can never destroy Ajnana. It can be accomplished only by Jnana, Awareness of the Truth. This is the dictum promulgated by Sankara. The world needs harmony very much. It needs Awareness too, to an equal extent, however difficult it may be to convey the knowledge of Brahmam to others.
It has been said that there is vast difference between the impact of Brahma Vidya (Knowledge of Brahmam) and the impact of Karma. Merit and demerit, happiness and misery, are the consequences of Karma. The happiness attainable by man through Karma ranges from the Manushya Loka level (the region of humans) up to the highest stage of Brahma Loka (the region of the Divine). So, too, below the level of the human region, there are regions where misery becomes deeper and deeper, more and more agonising. They are relatively unreal and not absolutely real. The Awareness and the Bliss therefore is innate, existing in its own right. It is externally present. It is the one unchanging, unaffected Truth. It cannot be acquired by practising prescriptions and exercises. The state of Liberation (Moksha) transcends the body-mind-ego complex. Therefore, the transcendence is beyond one's physical, mental or intellectual effort. When Awareness dawns, the darkness of Ajnana disappears. When the lamp is lit darkness is no more.
There are some who argue that it is not quite fair to declare that Knowledge of Brahmam as the only Truth cannot be gained by personal effort. Sankara reconciles this point of view with his main thesis mentioned already. The Jnana that one is actually Brahmam and nothing else is latent in the consciousness of every one but one cannot recognise it and establish oneself firmly in it by means of Karma or activity or even by Vichara or scholastic inquiry. Karma can only bind one further, for it deals with diversity as if it is real; it cannot loosen bonds and liberate him. It can at best purify the passions and emotions. Vichara can at best clarify the intellect and indicate the criteria of Jnana. Brahma Vidya alone can liberate man from bondage. Hence one is warned not to develop too much attachment to Karma.
However, we find the Sastras dwelling, once in a while, on the value of Karma. The Sastras are as affectionate to us as the mother. They teach lessons as the mother to her children, in conformity with the level of intelligence, and according to the needs of time and circumstance. A mother with two children gives the one who is quite strong and healthy every item of food he clamors for, but takes great care that the other child who is unwell is not overfed and is given only such items that can restore it soon to health. Can we, on that account, accuse her of being partial to one child and prejudiced against the other, in conferring love? The Sastras too draw the attention of those who know the secret of Karma to the value of Karma. For, Karma or Work can improve life and set its ideals aright. Every one has to be instructed on how to transform work into beneficial activity. Yet, Karma is not all.
Human life lasts but a moment, it is a bubble on the waters. Upon this ephemerable bubble of life, man builds for himself a structure of desires and attachments. Wisdom warns him that it might collapse or crumble any moment. The supreme Atma, the Paramatma, that is unattached and free from embodiment, has taken up a body and become man. Viewed in gross terms, the body is a material encasement formed out of the food consumed, the Annamaya Kosa. Within this sheath, there lies the subtle sheaths of vital airs or Prana, the mental sheath, the sheath of the intellect and the innermost sheath of all - the sheath of Bliss, the Anandamaya Kosa.
This aphorism of sutra (thath thu Samanvayaaath) makes known that spiritual inquiry or Vicharana involves the journey from the Annamaya sheath as the basis to the Anandamaya stage and nature. However, the gross has two aspects - the dependent structure and the independent base.
In the current spiritual beliefs of mankind, one cannot discern anywhere a harmonising factor, a samanvaya. The principles of co-ordination and reconciliation have to be expanded and expounded. Though there are religions with separate names, and the doctrines are distinct from each other, considered as human all are men. The Sutra endeavours to emphasise the common core. Unfortunately, the apparent differences among the religions have subverted the amity of all men and the feeling of international brotherhood. The experience and wisdom of great seers who have unveiled the mystery of the Cosmos and their feelings of universal love are not appreciated, accepted and respected by men today. All religious dogmas except a few, can easily be harmonised and reconciled. The same God is being extolled and adored under various names through varied ceremonial rituals, in the many religions of man. In every age, for every race or community of peoples, God has sent prophets to establish peace and goodwill. Since, at the present time, many religions have spread worldwide, they have lost fraternal feelings and have suffered in validity thereby. There is an urgent need for harmony. All great men are images of God. They form one single caste in the realm of God; they belong to one nation, the Divine Fellowship. Each must interest himself in understanding the practices and beliefs of the others. Then only can every one, with cleansed mind and loving heart, attain the Divine Presence with others. The principle of harmonising or Samanvaya is the very heart of all religions and faiths.
Eekshather Naa Sabdam
The Vedas assert that Brahmam is the Primal Cause of Jagath (Cosmos). They do not posit any non-conscious entity (achetana) as the Cause. The Sabdam, or the Voice of God or Veda, does not support the view of the non-conscious as being the origin of Creation. On the other hand, the Being (Sath) is asserted to have resolved upon Becoming, to have entertained a Sankalpa (decision). Resolution, decision, design - these are acts of Consciousness; non-conscious entities are incapable of such exercises of will. Brahmam, which is All-conscious, has therefore to be accepted as the Primal Cause.
The non-conscious or achetana is called the Pradhaana. The Vedas do not speak about it. This is what this Sutra reveals very clearly. Pradhaana is the designation by which the Name-Form-Flux, namely, the Jagath or Cosmos, is denoted by some schools of thought. Other schools refer to it as Atom-composed or Prakrithi (the Made). Others say, in terms of praise, "You are the Omniwill, the Absolute Self, the Paramatma. Because of You, all this diversity is projected." Others argue that the three gunas or qualities are the fundamental constituents, which, through the preponderance of one or the other, cause the diversity in Nature.
These views are not supported by the Vedic authority. The Vedas maintain that Brahman willed and Creation emerged. That Will is the prologue, the preliminary act. The Sankhya school posits the Pradhaana and bases Creation on the Gunas. When the three Gunas (Sathwa - Serenity; Rajas - Activity; and Tamas - Passivity) are well balanced and in equipoise, no conscious decision can arise, the Sankhyas said. That state has to receive the impact of a Purusha who is the Witness and who is Awareness or Consciousness, in other words, the impact of God's Will. That makes the Pradhaana knowing and knowable.
Considering each of these theories, the most correct conclusion is that Brahman is the Prime Cause. Of course, the highest accessible Truth is not the Attributeless, Qualityless, Intangible, Inexplicable Brahman. It is the Saguna Brahman, the Brahman cognizable through the Qualities which It has imposed on Itself. This Cosmos, which is composed of Consciousness and non-consciousness, is the Body It has assumed.
The Individual has to be endowed with Consciousness (Chaithanya) so that he can either commit or omit, do or desist from, actions which he feels he should carry out. What has to be done today or put off till tomorrow, which crops have to be grown in the coming year - such thoughts, plans and projects arise only in the field of Consciousness and not in non-conscious stone and wood, hill and dale. Willing is the sign of Consciousness; that which has it not, cannot will at all.
When the Will emerged, Brahman became Iswara, God. And by that Will alone, God created the Cosmos or Jagath. From the superficial view (Sthoola Drishti), God and Jagath strike one as distinct. But when examined with subtle insight (Sookshma Drishti), one finds that there is not fundamental distinction between the material (padaarth) and the Maker (Param-aartha), the Living unit (Praani) and the Life Principle (Praana). The Life principle imposes a body on Itself and appears as Praani; and then from Praani, Praana emerges.
The Vedic scriptures deal with the Brahman Principle and Its manifestations. They give man the treasure of wisdom and intuitive experience of that wealth (Jnana and Vijnana). But with the passage of time, the hymns, verses and sacred formulae (Mantras) were interpreted ritualistically. They were extolled and expounded as useful for attaining worldly and other-worldly objectives. Rites performed with the recital of these were considered as beneficial Karmas. In fact, there is nothing in Cosmos apart from or distinct from Brahman. All of it emanated from Brahman, all of it is absorbed (laya) in Brahman, and all of it moves and has its being in Brahman only.
This truth is made clear by the Sutra, Thajjallaath: Thath (from That) ..Ja (born) ..La (absorbed) ..Aath (grows). These are the four feet on which the proposition stands and is established. Birth, growth and death form a Yajna or Sacrifice of the Purusha, the Person.
The Cosmos (Prapancha - the five-element Composite) has emanated from the Omniself, the Paramatma, Brahman. There is no spot anywhere where Its manifestation is not. The Jagath is ever in movement; the Lord of the Cosmos (Jagadiswara) is the mover. Worldly love is not genuine love; the love of the Atma is the source of all such love. The Upanishad announces that this was the teaching that Yaajnavalkya imparted to Maitreyi. "Aatmanastu Kaamaaya sarvam priyam bhavati". (It is for one's Atma that all is dear). Love for the Self is primary; love for other objects is secondary. If one loves another, that cannot be termed as love. The self craves for Ananda, and loves because of the Ananda derivable therefrom. Anuraaga or affection or love flows from self towards self. So, when the Atmic Reality is understood as the Source, we can know that all that happens through the Supreme Consciousness, Brahma Chaithanya.
Chara and Achara (the apparently moving and unmoving, active and inert) are both willed by the Divine (Daiva sankalpa). That Will is Chetthana, a Conscious Act; it is not A-chethana, a form of inertia. This is the truth revealed by this Sutra - Eekshather naa Sabdam.
Whatever arguments and counter-arguments are advanced by any person, the truth that Daiva Sankalpa is the root of everything stands unshakable. Those persons are either deluded by appearances or are only trying to bolster up their pet fancies avoiding deeper probes.
The human body is a support, a receptacle (aalam-banam) for the Atma. Elements like water and wind are intimately bound up with the body. Therefore, the Atma Principle, the Brahma Principles, which is the core, is not cognized. Man has lost the awareness of this Principle or Thatva which is his Truth. It is in the body, but not of it. It is the A-sareera Thatva, the Principle that does not belong to the body though active in it. That is the Atma.
The capacity of the eyes to see and the capacity of the ears to hear are given by the Atma. How, then, can the eyes see the Atma or the ears hear It? The eyes and ears are (Aadheya) sustained; the Omni-Consciousness (Sarva Chaithanya), the Brahman Principle, the Atma, is the Aadhaara, the Sustainer. That is the real "You", the Will, the Sankalpa.
The elements (space, wind, fire, water and earth) that constitute the Cosmos operate only as prompted by the Supreme Wisdom (Prajnana). The gods (Devathas) or the Shining Ones are luminous only through that Wisdom that energises them. The entire world of living beings (Praana Koti) is sustained by that same Prajna. The fixed and the moving (the Sthaavara and the Jangama) are both firmly based on Prajna. The Supreme Wisdom is Atma; the Supreme Wisdom is Brahman. The Supreme Wisdom is the Loka, the Visible, the objective world. The Cosmos is Prajna, through and through; the Prajna is the Chaithanya that fills the Cosmos (Prapancha).
The Vedas assert that Brahman is the Cause of the Cosmos (Jagath) by using the word "Sath" to denote it. Sath is the "Ever-Conscious Is". The Vedas do not speak of anything that is "not-conscious" or A-chethana. All is Chethana, all Is, all is Brahman.
"Atma sabdaath": Since the sabda or word, Atma, is used, the "eekshathe" (mentioned in the previous sutra) or projection has to be the function of the Atma. Fire or water is the product, the effect of the Will. The words 'projection' or 'manifestation' cannot be interpreted in a secondary or figurative sense (gaunah). The Atma alone is indicated as the Primal Entity in the Sruthi or Veda. The urge or resolution is a happening in the Atma itself, not in any other entity. The entire cognisable Cosmos was just Sath or Is. Whatever form It has assumed in the process of Time and in the perimeter of Space, all of it is in reality Sath only, that is to say, Atma! This is the lesson the Veda holds.
Nothing is inert, inactive, jada. For, we find the word Atma being applied, once in a while, to denote even Pradhana, or Primordial Matter, Moola Prakrithi. The Pradhana is the instrument that fulfills the will of the Sovereign Consciousness or the Purusha, the Overself. Being operated by Purusha, who is the Cause, Prakrithi or Pradhana too has consciousness ascribed to It.
The Individual or the Jivi, believing that it is divided from the whole, the Universal, is subject to desire and despair, love and hate, grief and joy. He is attracted by the world of Name and Form. Such a person is characterised as 'bound', as baddha. Hence his need for liberation is urgent. And, to be liberated he must give up his dependence on and attachment to Prakrithi. The blind cannot be saved by the blind. The destitute cannot be helped out by the destitute. How can a man, himself destitute and helpless, remove the poverty, the suffering and the pain of another? The poor must approach the affluent, the wealthy. The blind must seek the guidance of a person who can see. Those who are bound and blinded by the dualities of Prakrithi have to take refuge in the inexhaustible treasure of Compassion, Power and Wisdom, namely, the Divine Atma. Then one can get rid of the destitution of grief, and revel in the wealth of Ananda; one can attain the Goal of Human Existence.
This consummation is reached, the Atmic awareness is won through the grace of Brahman. Wherein is the Atma to be sought? Where does the Atma reside? How can one know the Atman? Adoring the apparently consciousness-less things too as manifestations of the Sovereign Consciousness or Atma helps the process. The Atma Principle can be genuinely understood only by seekers who are grounded in the formless, attributeless Brahman. But, even the Saguna embodiment has the Atmic Reality in full measure. There are many examples to illustrate this Truth. Brahma Vidya is another name for understanding and experiencing the Atma as the Brahman, the Individual as the Universal.
Every one has the right to Brahma Vidya. And, every man passes through four stages in this search, every day of his life. They are, according to the Veda the waking stage, the dream stage, the deep sleep stage and the Thuriya or the fourth. These are demarcated as stages or even steps. In the first stage, one is awake to the objective world and is oriented outwards. Objects in the Universe are seen by the eye; sounds are heard; the senses are able to smell and taste and touch. Life is lived to the fullest in contact with society.
The five sense organs of perception, the five organs of action, the five pranas or vital airs. The four internal instruments are:
- The Mind
- The buddhi or faculty of discrimination.
- The level of Consciousness, and
- The ego-sense.
These nineteen means of contact and impact provide man during the waking stage the experience of grief and joy, gain and loss, success and failures in their gross forms. Since one is identified with the gross body complex at this stage, the experiences too are gross.
The region of dream is different. There the self is in-faced, Antharmukha. Reactions, responses and experiences are all self-contained. They do not belong to the area outside of oneself. There may be ten others sleeping in the same room; still, each one has his own dream. One's dream experience has no relation to that of anyone else. Each is disturbed or delighted by his own dream only. The dreamer is unaffected by outer circumstances. In fact, the external world is beyond one's consciousness. During the dream stage, one creates a world out of one's mind and dwells in the experiences it provides. Though the objects perceived are imaginary, the feelings and emotions like joy and grief, love and fear are as real as in the waking stage. The nineteen instruments of contact and impact are present even during the dream. They do not act materially or physically; they operate only through the mind, for the mind has a luminosity that produces the pictures. This is the reason why it is designated as Taijasa (from Tejas, enables one to formulate etc.,). The Tejas enables one to formulate and design any form, the sound, the taste etc., it decides upon. The dream state is the second step or stage in the acquisition by the self of its own awareness.
Next, Deep Sleep or Sushupti. This stage is free from even dreams. One is lost in undisturbed sleep. The person will not be conscious of his limbs, or of the sounds, the smells, the forms, the tastes and the sensations of touch. All activity is subsumed by the mind and is latent in it. All experience is absorbed into the higher levels of consciousness, Prajnana. There is no feeling of either separation, or identity, the particular or the universal, the part or the whole. There is no experiencer or experience. There is only the Atma in which he has temporarily merged.
Then, the Thuriya or the Fourth Step. Here, the Vyakthi or Individual is no more so. It has attained the Basic Truth of life and of Creation - The All-pervading, All-inclusive Atma, the Peace and Power of the one and only Atmic Empire. Those who have reached this step have no concern any longer with the individual self. One cannot assert either that these persons possess knowledge or that they do not have it. For, they are ever immersed in the highest Bliss.
The Atma in which they have merged is invisible to the eye. It cannot be grasped or held by hand. One can only know that It exists and that It is Goodness and nothing else. All urges that draw one towards the objective world have to be exterminated, before faith in the Atma can take root.
The four steps of Atmic awareness are very much akin to the four steps in the recital of OM. The A.U.M and the ultimate Matra are on a par with the waking, dreaming, sleeping and merging steps already dwelt upon. The Atma is evident in the mind; in deep sleep, it reposes in the heart; in the fourth stage it is all of oneself.
To sum up, it can be laid down that in all stages of daily life, in all circumstances and conditions, and in all activities and experiences, the Atma exists in all beings. All is Atma, Atma is All - the Cosmos is manifested as One by the One, This is what the Sutra reveals. Without the awareness of this unity, there cannot be joy and peace. Without joy and peace, Truth is an empty concept. Therefore, one should know the Cosmos as full, Poorna. It is not a void or vacuum. It is Atma Itself.
When the cause is known, one can know all consequences. The entire Universe, that is to say, the moving and the unmoving, everything formed from the five primordial elements and hence named Prapancha, has been projected by the Divine Will. It is a consequence of Bhagavath Sankalpa, the Will of God, which is the Cause. No consequence can happen without a precedent Cause. The Cause has, however, two aspects, the material cause (Upaadaana Kaarana) and the efficient cause (Nimitta Kaarana).
The material cause is primary; earlier than the product. It is the entire, the total basis on which the product rests. Consider a silver cup, for example. The cup has no existence apart from silver. When the silver, which can be shaped into a cup, is absent, the product too is absent. Silver is the material cause. In other words, before the Form (the Rupa) 'becomes', the 'Being' is and has to be. The cup is the form imposed on silver by the efficient cause, the Nimitta Kaarana. It is the consequence of art, artificial. Silver is the pre-existent Cause, the Upaadaana kaarana. A silversmith prepares the cup. Once the cup is ready, the smith has no affinity with it. But, the cup and silver have close affinity forever.
God is the material Cause of Creation, of the Cosmos, the Universe. He is the substance, the basis, the Upaadaana Kaarana. He is the efficient cause, too, the Nimitta Kaarana. He is both transcendental and phenomenal, both Being and Becoming. As silver in the cup, the Cosmos is all God. He has been manifesting Himself as all this. He has willed to Become all this. In every thing (Padaartha), He, the Paraatha, the Highest Truth, is immanent. In the absence of this Highest Truth, no Padaartha can exist. Each one is sustained by the all-comprehensive Reality. This wondrous mystery is beyond man's grasp. His intelligence cannot unravel it. With his distorted vision (Ku-darsan), he sees only the Name-Form, the Appearance. He is deluded into confusion. He is tossed by likes and dislikes, pleasure and pain, elation and depression. He is aware only of the unreal many, parading diverse names and forms.
Correct vision (Sad-darsan) makes him see the One in the Many. It reveals Unity in Diversity, and confers supreme delight, for, he becomes aware of the One Immanent in the multiplicity, the Supreme Truth, the Parathathwa. Liberation (Moksha) is the realisation of this Awareness, this achievement of Brahma-hood. Each and every living being has to attain this consummation, this goal, the Brahmam. That is its true destination. Some day or other, the urge to win release from the shackles of grief and joy and the bonds of "I" and "Mine", will awaken and emerge. The path that is taken then inevitably leads to Moksha. Seeking that path is the sign of the intelligent person.
Instead of this search, when man considers the objective world as all-important, and feels drawn towards its charm, his life is barren and of no consequence. Nature is the embodiment of matter (Padaartha Swaroopa). One must be drawn to the Person who designed the Principle that underlies Nature, the embodying process. What benefit can a destitute gain if he seeks another destitute? How can a bound person be released from bonds by another who is also bound? When the person who is bound relies on the one who is not bound, he can get rid of his bonds and move about freely. The person who is deep in grief must seek refuge in one who is floating on Ananda, filled with joy. Bondage plunges one in sorrow all the while; the Lord is total Bliss personified. Therefore, one can be completely cured of grief only by resorting to the inexhaustible spring of Delight, the Lord. And what exactly is Moksha? Moksha is release from grief, absence of grief (Duhkha Vimukthi; Duhkha Nivritti), and attainment of Ananda (Ananda Praapti). Paramatma, the Supreme Self, the Sovereign Lord, is the Embodiment of Indivisible Sweetness (Rasa), the Treasure house of Bliss (Ananda Nilaya). Hence, those who seek and secure His grace gain Eternity Itself.
The Eternity thus gained has no place for the sense perceptions of sound, touch, form, taste and smell. It has neither beginning nor end. Man must gradually and steadily endeavour to acquire that victory. He must proceed progressively from the gross to the subtle, from the subtle to the causal, and from the causal level he must finally merge in the Prime Cause. That is to say, the spiritual journey has to be from Sthula to Sukshma, from Sukshma to the Kaarana and from the Kaarana level, one must merge in the Mahaa-Kaarana. This is the regular route.
However, ordinary humans struggle to win material happiness and exterior pleasures. They do not seek the Ananda that the Atma, their inner Reality, can grant. They lose the great opportunity of experiencing it, nor do they take any steps appropriate for the purpose. All the time, their attention is directed towards the external world only. It does not turn inwards. "Pasyathi ithi pasuh" Pasu (animal) is named so, since it 'pasyathi' (looks outward). Looking outward is the characteristic of animals, not of man. The important organs of sense perception in the human body - the eye, the nose, the tongue etc., are all opening outwards, in order to contact external objects; so, one has to conclude that the physical urge, the body's vision (the dehadrshti) is all external.
The inner world is not as easily accessible to man as the outer world is. Perhaps, only one among many, one in a million, does contact and win this inner Atmic Reality through the inward vision. He is the Wise Man (the Jnani). The person born with a sense of the true Mission of human life has to gain the goal, the Goal of ananda, the fundamental eternal Ananda. That is the supreme attainment that renders life valid, meaningful and worthwhile.
In fact, the external world and the inner world are not distinct and distant. They are indissolubly knit together (Avinaa-Bhaava Sambandha). The belief of the common man is that the body is the medium through which he sees and hears, experiences and delights. No, there is another force, which rules and regulates the senses, the mind and the intellect. That force is the Atma. The Sutra directs man to be aware of this and with that awareness constant in him, to contact the world through the sense, the mind and the intellect.
The rain falling on the mountain range slides down the sides into many valleys and flows as turbid streams. The same rain falling on fresh water lakes or limpid rivers remains pure and clear. The sages who are cognisant of their Atmic Reality are transformed into the purity, equanimity and charity represents. They are ever in the full awareness of the Atma, their inner core. In the purified consciousness of these persons, there is the experience of identification. Likes and dislikes, sense of I and mine, anxiety and clamness, elation when praised and depression when blamed - these cannot contaminate or agitate a person who has attained that state. These opposites become balanced and are accepted with equanimity as waves on the Atmic Consciousness. This is the authentic Atma Attitude, the Brahman inlook, the Unitary Vision.
"Swa" means 'in oneself', that is to say, 'in Brahman'. 'Apyayaath' means 'since it merges'. The two words convey this meaning. They tell us, "since it is said that the individual Jivi merges in Brahman", what happens to the Jivi during deep dreamless sleep is its resumption of its real nature, Sath or Being. Since the self attains the Self which is itself, it is then the Atma and nothing else. The Atma which appeared as if enclosed in name and form discards the name and form and merges in the Universal Atma. The wave has merged in the ocean. It had Become; now it is just Being, Sath.
The core of all Vedantic texts and teachings is this truth:
- Brahman is both the efficient and material cause of the Jagath, the Cosmos, which merges and emerges (Ja and Ga) and
- Brahman is one and one only and so, there is nothing in the Cosmos apart from Brahman, without consciousness. There is nothing jada or inert and inactive. Brahman is, according to the scriptures (Sruthi) and the Vedanta texts, not only Sath but also Chith, Consciousness awareness.
Sleep is very necessary for every living being. Without sleep, man as well as other beings cannot live. Of all the joys that the world provides, sleep is the most rewarding. All the rest are arid and dry, trivial and wasteful. When a living being sleeps, the five vital airs - Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, Samana - do function along with the five fires in the body conferring warmth. The inhalation and exhalation of the breath proceed serenely, as the Samana in a serene Vedic series. The 'Prana' vital air acts like aahavaneeya fire (consecrated fire perpetually burning in the household) of the Vedic rite. It energises us in the same steady manner. Vyana is as the Dakshinagni lit on the southern side of the altar in the Vedic rite. Udana helps the mind to "reach the Brahma-loka which the person has earned by his Karma to attain." In other words, it enables the person to experience the taste of mergence with the Supreme. For, that which rests in sleep, is happy during sleep, is refreshed by sleep and derives Bliss while sleeping is the Jivi, the embodied Atma. The Jivi is the deity enshrined in the body, its temple. The Jivi experiences all that is seen, heard and contacted by the mind in the outer world, as well as the impact of all that it could not see, hear or contact by the mind. Besides these, the Jivi might construct and experience in dreams and witness such experiences undergone during previous lives. It depends on the activities stamped on the mind of each one. Or, it might happen sometimes, the person gives up at one stroke the association with the body and the senses and gets immersed and lost in his basic principle - the Param-Atma, the Omniself. The Bliss that fills the Jivi is the authenticity of the Param-Atma.
During dreamless sleep, the Jivi enters and revels in the Anandaloka, the region of Bliss, led thereto by the splendour of the Udana prana, the vital air that elevates. That region is known also as Brahma Loka, the Ananda Loka. This is the splendid chance that man gets effortlessly during sleep, the chance to enjoy the proximity of the Param-Atma which is the prime source and substance of the five Basic Elements, the five senses and the Inner Instrument of Awareness - the Five Bhutas, the Five Indriyas and the Antahkarana.
But this experience doesn't last; it is quite temporary. The person who has gained the Awareness through the purification of the mind and the clarification of Buddhi (Intellect) will have the unchanging Bliss of Mergence in Param-Atma. He alone can become omniscient, who is ever in the region of Akshaya (undecaying), merged in the Akshara (imperishable) Parabrahma (the Supreme Vastness), the Param-Atma. When he is aware that all is He, that there is nothing without him or outside Him, he becomes all or Brahman.
In deep sleep, the Jivi is in the thamo guna or dull ignorance. To the realised person, however, even dreams will award as much bliss as the consciousness does while awake. Even when awake, this person gets rid of the impact of the body-sense-reason complex and is saturated with the bliss of his authentic Reality. The particularised self shares the chaithanya or Consciousness of the Universal and it can merge only in that Param-Atma, the Supreme Chaithanya. Therefore, this Sutra emphasises for us the truth that the 'Sath' or 'Is-ness' (which 'becomes' and 'subsumes' all creation) refers only to Para-Brahman, the Supreme Consciousness and not to any entity derived from it and dependent on it.
Since the All-knowing Brahman is declared by the Vedas to be the cause of the Cosmos, description and understanding of this sublime phenomenon has been made. The very expression, Brahman, conveys the meaning that It has the power of willing, etc. The Vedas which speak of Brahman as unconditioned and devoid of attributes also declare that It has, as its very nature, total beneficence. For, from the standpoint of the Cosmos, Brahman is without qualifications.
The Upanishad texts which form a section of Sruthi or Vedic scripture, do not convey any distinction between Brahman or Easwara, the Absolute and the Almighty. What has to be understood from all these texts of Vedanta is that the Cosmos is the manifestation or projection of supreme Consciousness. On the contrary, when the Cosmos is considered inert and devoid of consciousness, some may ask, how can it be so invitingly attractive? It cannot be irresponsive and dull for if it were so, It will be ever the same. No. This view is incorrect. God is the efficient cause as well as the material cause of the Cosmos. He has become Himself all this. He is the inner and the outer Truth. Hence, the Light that illumines and reveals, that draws and discloses.
"Pishtaadi Guda Samparkaath", it is said. 'Pishta' means 'flour'; any flour, rice or wheat or pulse. The flour is rendered sweet by "guda samparkaath", getting mixed with 'guda', jaggery or sugar. By itself, flour is not welcomed by the tongue; sugar makes it tasty. Similarly, wherever charm, attraction or splendour is manifest in the Cosmos, it is the cosmic Soul, Param-Atman, that is evident and nothing else. The Sruthi makes this very clear. The Param Atma, as the Sruthi texts assert, creates, fondles, fosters and sustains the Cosmos (jagath) and finally, it is He who induces It to merge in Him. Param Atma is the sole Creator, the sole Enjoyer, and the sole Protector and Master. This is the proclamation contained in the Sruthis.
The Sruthis declare that Brahman is Ananda-swaroop, of the Nature of Ananda or Supreme Bliss. Elaborating on the Atma, they mention the sheaths which treasure it - the Food sheath (Annamaya), the Vital Air sheath (Pranamaya kosa), the Mental sheath (Manomaya kosa), the Intellectual sheath (Vijnanamaya kosa), in that series. After these four, the innermost sheath is the Bliss sheath (Ananda maya kosa). All these are in Brahman and so, it is proper to conclude that Brahman is inherently Ananda. Each of these kosas is subtler (sukshma) than the other, the subtlest being the fifth, the Anandamaya. The Pranamaya is subtler than the Annamaya, the Manomaya subtler than the Pranamaya, the Vijnanamaya subtler than Manomaya and the Anandamaya subtler than the Vijnana maya. Therefore, all these can be taken to be the 'body' or 'upadhi' of Brahman.
The Food sheath or the Food Coat is a gross covering, which protects the coating that is less gross, namely, the Vital Air one. The Vital airs re nurtured and directed by the less gross Mental sheath. The Manomaya kosa controls the Pranas, which regulate and operate the physical and sensory instruments. So, it is much more powerful than the Breath or Prana. Subtler than this sheath is Vijnanamaya. It is ever engaged in discriminating between the temporary and the permanent, the Anithya and the Nithya. It is very close to the experience of Ananda. In fact, it helps to evoke that experience, which is the awareness of Brahman itself.
In order to guard the body against disease we wear different varieties of clothes - first a banian, then a shirt, after that a coat, and over the coat, a shawl. When we have to observe the heart, the shawl has to be laid aside. Then, the coat must be taken off. The shirt also has to be removed. It is only when the banian too is pulled out that the heart can be examined. Similarly, one has to eliminate the Annamaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya and Vijnanamaya sheaths or upadhis in order to be intimately aware of the Supreme Atma or Brahman which is Ananda itself. The journey known as 'life' is but a pilgrimage from the Annamaya (the food plane of matter) to the Anandamaya (the blissful spiritual plane). This is the goal, the end. The Sutra conveys to us this truth. Param Atma, the Supreme Soul, is essentially of Ananda nature.
There are some who do not agree with this conclusion. They posit the jivatma or the individualised soul, not as Ananda, but, as Vijnana, the discriminating faculty of the Intellect. That is to say, Brahman is effulgence, in Its own right; it needs no external source of light. It is established in Its own splendour. Others declare that Para-sakthi (Supreme Energy) is the entity known as Anandamaya or Param-Atma and this Entity is also designated as Para-aakaasa, Supreme Space. However, these are theories arising out of different thought processes of people in different planes.
Brahman encompasses all and awareness of any entity is awareness of Brahman Itself. It cannot be differentiated or divided. Ananda is all; Brahman, the Anandamaya, is the jivatma too, appearing as individualised. The quality cannot be identified and considered apart from the thing possessing it. The Atma is Ananda, whether universalised as Param-Atma or particularised as jivatma. Ananda cannot be measured out as less or more. Anandamaya (full of Ananda) means Ananda itself, not something having Ananda. So, jivatma is not less or Param-Atma is not more of Ananda. They are both the same Ananda.
In the ordinary worldly sense, too, Ananda is the characteristic of each living being. As a consequence, every human being seeks to express and develop it. Living beings are found renouncing various desires and lines of conduct in order to attain Ananda. But, belief that ananda can be secured from external objects is a sign of ignorance. "Sarvam paravasam duhkham" (From all outside you, grief); "Sarvam Atmavasam sukham" (From all within you, you). According to this axiom, when man feels that his Ananda is dependent on external objects, he is moving beyond himself and courting grief. He plunges into needless grief by the enslavement to objects which, according to his fancy, can make him happy. He becomes the target for anxiety and worry. The attempt to derive Ananda through external objects and external activities is, therefore, not commendable at all. Those who long for genuine Ananda have to turn their attempts inward, bound to the Atma. When Ananda is sought from external objects, one has to suffer much, just as a person afflicted with thirst runs towards a mirage. He gets nothing to quench his thirst and he has a miserable end.
One point at this juncture: When it is said that Rama made Bhima a wealthy person or that Rama made Bhima a well-informed person, does it not follow that at the beginning Rama was wealthier or more knowledgeable than Bhima? If Rama was indigent and ignorant, how could he transform Bhima into a wealthy or knowledgeable person? Obviously, it would not be possible. Brahman is ananda-swaroop-Ananda itself. So, every living thing receives Ananda from Brahman. He is All-knowledge. So, He awards, arouses and advances knowledge in all. God is the grantor, the promoter of Ananda. This is confirmed in the Sutra "Aanandamayobhyaasaath" ("The Blissful One is the Supreme Self, since the statement is repeated many times.")
Manthra Varnikam eva cha:
("Sathyajnaanamanantham Brahma"). This manthra or sacred axiomatic formula also refers to the same Anandaswaroop Brahman. Brahman is Ananda; Brahman is Truth, Sathya; Brahman is knowledge, Jnana; Brahma is Infinity; Anantham. Sathyam or Truth is a synonym for Ananda, Bliss. It does not mean anything else.
Sathya implies indivisible, immeasurable Ananda. It cannot be affected by limitations of space or the passage of time or the varying moods of the experiencers. Ananda will itself purify time, space and the individual. These three are subdued by Ananda; Ananda is not subservient to these three; it is not bound to time, space or the individual recipient. Therefore, God who is designated and described by the manthra can be only partially known through the Manthra; He does not limit the Manthra, the Manthra may limit Him. Ananda is the bond which binds both.
The word Jyothi (Light) does not connote the physical light of the material world. When material limits or qualifications like charana or feet are ascribed to light, how can the immanent, all-pervasive Entity be indicated? Such a limited or qualified phenomenon cannot become the object of adoration and meditation. When this word Jyothi is understood to mean the light embodied and having certain natural characteristics, it cannot signify Brahman, the Universal Absolute.
The Purusha Suktha, the Hymn in praise of the Cosmic Person, declares: "Paadoasya viswa bhoothaani": "The entire Cosmos with all Its Component Elements is but one quarter of His Glory." Therefore, It is beyond bounds, measures or degrees. The Jyothi illumines Heaven and beyond, It reveals even Brahman. That which makes known, by its splendour, the era preceding the origin of living beings, and the regions beyond even the farthest and the highest, "That" is indicated by the word Jyothi. It shines in that supremest among supreme Loka (region).
Note also that the same Jyothi shines everywhere, at all times, in all beings. It comprises Asthi (Sath; Existence), Bhaathi (Chith; Illumination; Knowledge), and Priya (Ananda; Joy; Bliss). All things seen in the Universe have the unseen as its base. All things that move have the unmoving as its base. So, too, for every living being, why, for the very Cosmos itself, the invisible Brahman, the Supra-Truth, Para-Brahman is the Basis. It is this Para-Brahman, the Omni-Self, that causes the Cosmos to shine. Jyothi is the word appropriate only for this Light and not the limited, inferior, physical light. Jyothi has neither beginning, nor end. It is the Param Jyothi (Supreme Light), the Adwaitha Jyothi (the Jyothi without a second), the Akhanda Jyothi (the Eternal Light). In other words, It is the Para-Brahman Itself, for all this is revealed only in and through It. The Jyothi referred to here cannot be interpreted otherwise. The Upanishads do speak of Brahman as having 'feet' but that does not restrict or reduce Its vastness in any way.
"Jyothi" therefore, conveys, "Brahman" as its meaning. When Brahman is imagined as having four 'feet', or quarters, all that is projected from Brahman comprises but one quarter. The Upanishads assert that the other three are "amritham", ("undying, undiminishable, changeless") in 'divi' (Divine Light).
A point to be remembered is that such amritham cannot be equated with the common light we deal with. The Upanishadic Jyothi is said to 'deepyathi' (illumine). How can this process be limited and tied down to the effect of ordinary worldly light? Jyothi is embodied in Brahman; it operates in and through Brahman only. Brahman is immanent in all and so, Jyothi reveals all and shines in all.
The base, the root, the cover of the ever-vibrating, ever-moving Cosmos is Brahman, the stable, the fixed, the immovable, the ever-steady Jyothi. When Brahman too starts vibrating, changing and moving, what happens is total mergence, submergence, Pralaya. For example, when the train moves, if the rails on which it moves, also move along, what about the fate of the passengers? When we walk, the road is stationary. So we are able to proceed safely along.
The light that shines individually is called the flame in the lamp; the light that illumines and reveals all is called Jyothi. This Jyothi brings to light the fire that pervades the regions, that warms the body and resides in the stomach, the gleam in the eye. The moon is lit by the sun and thereby made bright. All these activities are prompted and promoted by Brahman, which is Jyothi itself. Jyothi is the principle, the phenomenon of Illumination in all its aspects.
(Praana is Brahman, because it is comprehended as such.)
Praana meaning the vital breath or air, refers not to the ordinary sense of the word, but to Brahman only. That word is also often taken to mean the deities presiding over the Breath and Vital Airs, like Indra, Rudra, Vaayu etc. Even that meaning is inapplicable.
On one occasion, a seeker named Pratardana approached Indra, the Lord of the abode of Gods, and prayed to be instructed about what can endow man with that which is most beneficial to him. Indra directed him to know Him as life and meditate on Him as "Praana".
Defining Praana and elaborating on its Glory, Indra told him: "This Praana is identified with consciousness" (Sa Esha Praana Prajnaatma). "It is Bliss, Ageless, Deathless" (Anando-Ajaro-Amrithah). That is to say Praana is the very embodiment of Bliss (Anandaswaroop), it has no decline or diminution (A-Jara), it is immortal (A-Mrita). That is the teaching. These characteristics belong to Brahman alone, not to Praana as commonly understood. "Praana" is only a symbol to bring Brahman to mind and not any other entity.
The question was about the most beneficial, the most essential entity, which man has to know and possess. Brahman alone is the source, substance and sustenance. So, "Praana", the word used by Indra, can mean only Brahman and nothing else. The gross meaning of the word has to be discarded and the subtle meaning accepted. Men, generally speaking, consider wealth, power and fame as most essential and pursue these goals through every possible means. In this struggle man is wasting invaluable human qualities with which he is endowed. Besides this waste of allotted years of life, he plunges deeper and deeper into the darkness of ignorance (Ajnaana). He ignores and loses the awareness of his real nature (Swa-Swaroopa).
On another occasion Indra instructs, "Know Me alone", (Maam Eva Vijaaneehi), that is to say, "Understand Me well; be aware of Me in full." The Indra referred to here cannot be a particular deity having a body with limbs. We cannot infer that the word "Praana" indicated the speaker Indra himself. One may argue that the entity who has to be meditated upon is either "Praana" or Indra, for Indra is Praana and Praana is Indra: it cannot be Brahman. This inference is not correct. Praana means Brahman and nothing else. Some interpret the statement "Know me alone" as a direction to the listener to "Know the Brahman that is My Reality, My Truth, My Core" - so Brahman alone is denoted by the word used by Indra while instructing Pratardana.
In common usage, in worldly parlance, Praana and Indra are associated with each other. In the vocabulary of spiritual enquiry, the Vast (Bhoomaa) is descriptive of Brahman which also means "The limitless, beyond even the Cosmos." Commentators have investigated the superficial and deeper meanings of these expressions and attempted to reconcile them as denoting one principle. Praana and Brahman, they laid down, are two faces of one coin; they are inextricably interpenetrative (Avinaabhaava Sambandha). What has therefore to be meditated upon is Brahman and nothing else.
"Saastra drshtyaa thu upadesha Vaamadevavathu": (The instruction is in consonance with the point of view of the scripture as in the case of Vaamadeva).
The sage Vaamadeva adhered to the teachings of the scriptures - I am Brahman (Aham Brahmaasmi), That thou art (Tathwam Asi); Brahman is the highest wisdom (Prajnaanam Brahma); This self is Brahman (Ayam Aatmaa Brahma) - which he listened to and thereby attained direct awareness of Brahman. (Aparoksha Brahma Jnaana). He meditated on the Truth "I am Brahman" (Aham Brahmaasmi). So too when Indra instructs, "Know Me alone" - the real Me - Brahman is meant not the vital force Praana. Before the awareness dawned on him, Vaamadeva too could well have understood by Praana, the deity Indra. His announcement after realization was, "I was Manu" (Aham Manurabhavam), "I am All" (Sarvaatmakam). In the same manner since the deity Indra possessed total wisdom, he could declare Brahman as equivalent to the Praana or the vital force in all. There is no inconsistency in this.
In fact Brahman can be indicated as any entity. All is Brahman. (Sarvam Brahmam). Truth, Wisdom, Eternity is Brahmam (Satyam-Jnaanam-Anantham-Brahma). In accordance with these expressions of intuitional experience, each and every thing can symbolise and denote Brahman. All things have emanated from Brahman, all things are projections of Brahman. Gold does not lose its nature, however many names and forms it may assume as jewellery. No one should be misled by the multiplicity of name and form in the objective world, the variety of sights and sounds. When the truth behind the diverse is identified, one is aware of Brahman as the Prime Cause, the Basis, the Goal. Indra the deity is none of these.
The Sutra with which the enquiry started "Janmaadi Yasya Yathaha" (That from which is derived the birth of the universe) - laid down that Brahman is the cause of the entire cosmos, space and all the vital forces. So the word Praana applies to Brahman Itself.
"Everywhere, the well-known Entity is the one that is taught." In all statements contained in the Vedantic Texts, the Upanishads, the familiar and easily recognisable expression, Brahman, is the one that is mentioned and elaborated. In the direction, "One should meditate by becoming calm", the object of meditation is therefore the entity indicated by "All this is verily Brahman" and not the individualised Self. Commentators too upheld this interpretation.
"All this is verily Brahman" (Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma) is the axiom with which the Upanishadic exhortation to meditate starts. The Sruthi or Vedic revelation is that the Cosmos or Creation is Brahman; for it originates in, is sustained by and merges into Brahman. It is not distinct or separable from Brahman.
When viewed without the twin distortions of like and dislike, love and hate, all forms, all effects, all causes are experienced as Brahman only. But, when the vision is affected by love or hate, each form, each effect and cause, appears different from the rest. Hence the advice to meditate after attaining calm. When feelings are calm and balanced, the many are experienced as the one. An agitated mind can never have a single vision. It runs along contrary lines. So, it experiences the world, nature and the Cosmos as separate from Brahman. Such vision creates division. Calm vision reveals unity. As the vision, so the impression, the view of the world.
The head of the family is one person only. But he is viewed by each member of the family from a different point of view. So he is addressed differently, as 'father' by the son, 'husband' by the wife, 'father-in-law' by the daughter-in-law, 'grandfather' by the grandson, 'elder brother' by his younger; the One is thought of in many forms, because of the variety of relationships assumed.
So, too seekers and thinkers who are in various levels of awareness and attainment express and experience the One in different forms and ways. Besides, the attitudes of approach and adoration also cause differences in the experience of the One. Some identify and posit the individualised Atma or the Jivi; some adore the active all-knowing Almighty Isvara, God; some concretise the All-pervasive Energy, Sakthi, and others have as the goal they see, the Cosmic Person, the Purusha. But, the Jivi cannot claim omniscience and omnipotence. So long as it is bound by its self-imposed ignorance and egoism, the Jivi cannot know and experience the all-pervasive, all-comprehensive Brahman.
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