Fourth Brahmana: Creation from the Universal Self
Passing on to the Fourth Brāhmaṇa, we actually go to a different subject altogether. As a matter of fact, this Fourth Section is the most important portion in the First Chapter. It is a grand description of the story of creation, right from the beginning down to the lowest level. And, incidentally, a mention is made of the strata of Reality through which the descent takes place and also the degrees of Reality through which the ascent has to take place, reversely. So, in this sense, the Fourth Section, which is called the Puruṣhavidha-Brāhmaṇa, is a quintessential teaching, of which everything else can be said to be a commentary, following it subsequently. The whole saga of creation is a grand dramatic event. This is described in this section. While it is a description of creation, it is a description of everybody – 'you', 'I' and all creatures – because we are all included in creation. It, incidentally, also points out the relationship that obtains among things, the duties which one has to perform in respect of another, and in regard to the Ultimate Truth, and so on – all that is concomitant in the nature of the subject.
In the beginning, what was? This is the point from which the section begins. When creation was not there, what existed then? There was no world, there were no individuals, no persons, no activities, but something was. What was there?
- ātmaivedam agra āsīt puruṣavidhaḥ, so'nuvīkṣya nānyad ātmano'paśyat, so'ham asmīty agre vyāharat; tato'haṁ nāmābhavat, tasmād apy etarhy āmantritaḥ; aham ayam ity evāgra uktvā, athānyan nāma prabrūte yad asya bhavati. sa yat pūrvo'smāt sarvasmāt sarvān pāpmana auṣat, tasmāt puruṣah; oṣati ha vai sa tam, yo'smāt pūrvo bubhūṣati, ya evaṁ veda.
The Supreme Self alone was. Nothing else existed. The ātman alone was, because the ātman was inclusive of all beings. It was the Self, as it is the Self, and it shall be the Self, of everyone, and of everything. It is the Being of all beings, Satyasya Satyam, as the Upaniṣhad will tell us. That alone was, and one cannot conceive of anything else.
Now, Pure Being is inconceivable. When we try to conceive Pure Being, it looks like nothing, and hence we have to adopt a particular mode of thinking in respect of the Being that is supposed to be responsible for creation, because creation implies the manifestation of a cause, and that is the production of an effect. The effect must have a cause. The cause must be related to the effect. The effect must be conversely related to the cause. So, the conception of a cause being inevitable when we assume that there is an effect, the whole story of creation seems to arise on account of our perception of the world.
When we perceive an effect, we have to infer a cause, and the question does not arise as to whether the world is there or not, because our senses tell us that the world is there. We do not ask a question to our own selves, 'Is the world there; does the world exist?' We do not put such a question, because it is taken for granted that the world is, merely on the stand that it is perceived. Inasmuch as we are wholly dependent upon sense-perception, and we regard the conclusion of sense-perception as entirely reliable and real, we are involved in it vitally, organically, completely, and we cannot be convinced of any other truth than our own conviction that the world is; and, so, by the inductive process of reasoning, we may say we are taken to the essence of a cause of the effect that we perceive in the form of this world of manifestation; and the cause should have certain characters which are present in the effect, and the effect has nothing in it which is not in the cause.
Now, causation is a movement in space. It is a condition of creation. Space and time are essential for creation. So, we have to assume, together with the assumption of a cause, the principle of spatiality, temporality and causality. The ultimate cause must have had, potentially present in it, the principles of spatiality, temporality and causality. Space, time, causes – these elements are absolutely necessary for anything to be manifest. And, therefore, that which was prior to the process of creation, prior to the beginning of things, must have had these conditions of space, time and cause in itself.
Inasmuch as the ātman is the Absolute, and we cannot conceive of a relation of the ātman to space, time and cause, the Upaniṣhad uses the word, Puruṣhavidha, i.e., we have to regard this condition of ultimate causality, the ultimate cause as something equivalent to a Person. We regard God as the Supreme Person, because there is no alternative for us. The reason why we regard God as the Supreme Person is that we cannot conceive of a category of life which is superior to humanity. There are stages and degrees of life beyond the human level, of course, but they are only possibilities for us, and not actualities. The conception of a cause should have some connection with the actuality that is in our minds. An infinite expanse of the highest conceivable to the human mind is assumed as the cause of the manifestation of the world, the Supreme Person, Puruṣhavidha.
This Supreme Being, whom we regard as the God of the creation of the world, became conscious of Himself. And what was He conscious of? Of Himself only, as 'I-Am-That-I-Am', as the Great 'I'. Since nothing was outside Him, there could not have been a consciousness of anything else besides Himself. The Supreme Universal Self-Consciousness, which is identified with the concept of the Supreme Person, was conscious of Himself, or Itself, we may say, because it was neither male nor female, and knew nothing outside it, was not aware of anything external to it, because there was nothing outside it. It was Pure, Universal Self-Awareness – ātman.
'I-Am'. This was the Consciousness. He felt, as it were, 'I-Am', not also as 'you are', 'it is', etc. There was no 'you', 'he', 'she', or 'it' there. It was the Primordial 'I', not the ego-ridden bodily individual 'I', but pure, unadulterated Universal 'I'. And this Eternal 'I' is reflected in other empirical 'I's. The Supreme principle, therefore, is the principle of Self, which is designated here as the 'I', so that when reality is reflected in anything, it reflects as the 'I' principle there. The self-appropriating and self-arrogating attitude of the individual is the outcome of this element of 'I' asserting itself in all things, as coming through the grades of manifestation downwards from the eternal 'I', which is all-comprehensive. So, the eternal 'I' is felt even in an atom to assert itself as the 'I', as anyone of us also is capable of asserting himself as the 'I'. Nothing can be more valuable than the 'I' in a person. Nothing can be more dear than that, and nothing is worth the while conceiving except the principle of the 'I'. When the 'I' goes, everything else also goes. So, all the associations which we regard as meaningful in life are auxiliaries to the safety of this 'I'. We guard this 'I' with meticulous care. We love it immensely, and everything is loved because of this 'I'. We love the 'I' so much that everything is reflected there, in fullness. So, the Supreme 'I' asserted itself? – 'I-Am', and nothing else was.
Because it asserted itself as the 'Aham', we call it 'I-AM'. It has no other name. That was the name of God, and that is the name of God. There is no other name, because God is Pure Self-Consciousness. This is the reason why, says the Upaniṣhad, that even today people refer to themselves as 'I'. Who are you? It is 'I'. This is the answer one gives. If you knock at the door of someone's house and call out, "Who is there?" the answer comes, "I". Afterwards one may say, "My name is such-and-such", but in the beginning, "It is me". What is this 'me'? Nobody knows what it is, but that is the 'you', and so you assert yourself as the 'me' or the 'I'. This feature of assertion as the 'I' or the 'me' in all individuals is due to the original assertion of the Absolute as the 'I'. That is felt in every one of us.
This Supreme Person is called the Puruṣha. Why is He called the Puruṣha? What is the meaning of the word? Puruṣha, here, says the Upaniṣhad, means someone who has burnt up the evil of external contact. That Consciousness burnt up all evil, and we are told here that the evil referred to is the evil of externality. There was no externality then, and there is no evil except externality. Everything is a part of that; everything is a manifestation of that. Whatever we call evil and undesirable in this world is the child of externality. When externality is not there, evil also cannot be there. And there was no externality in the One Puruṣha. The evil of contact with externality does not arise when everything was the Self alone. Inasmuch as it burnt up the externality and was conscious of Itself alone, to the exclusion of everything else, therefore it is called the Puruṣha. And so is the case with anyone who knows this – ya evaṁ veda. Anyone can become like that, says the Upaniṣhad, assuring us that we can also be like this Puruṣha, and destroy all evil. The evil of contact can cease when the desire for contact ceases. Desire for contact arises on account of belief in the reality of externals, and so it is an injunction to meditation on the Supreme Puruṣha, simultaneously.
Nobody can stand before that person who has this knowledge. As it was mentioned earlier, in another context, no one can compete with this person who has this knowledge of non-external Being. One who is established in this non-external Universality cannot be faced by any other person in the world. He becomes an indomitable power; He becomes a Supreme Master; he becomes an authority; and he becomes a source of fear to others. He becomes energy incarnate. And this is purely because of the fact that this energy is not depleted through external contact. So, he is all-powerful. And no one can stand before him; no one can compete with him; no one can vie with him in any way. Such a person is fit for the ascent to the state of the Puruṣha whose manifestations, whose glories, whose effects are described in the subsequent narrations.
This section of the Upaniṣhad deals with the story of creation, and touches almost every point in the spiritual evolution of the individual. There are several stages of thought described, commencing from the highest Reality which is Brahman, Puruṣha, the Absolute 'I'. The first concept that is presented is that there was One alone without a second, and this One became the Universal Cause of everything that is the effect in the form of this creation. This single, unitary, undivided 'I', split itself into two and became the cause of further divisions, down to the lowest level of descent, even to the minimum level of inanimate matter. One finds this impulse for division and unification everywhere, as commanded or initiated by the Primary Will, or Urge of the Supreme Being. Then follows the proclamation that, in spite of all this multiplicity and duality and split, down to the lowest level of matter, there is an organic unity among things, which has not been lost, notwithstanding this duality. It does not mean that the creation of multiplicity is the loss of the fundamental unity of things. It is a multiplicity without losing the unity that is present. This is a miraculous type of creation where the cause does not destroy itself in order to become the effect. It remains as it was, in spite of the fact that it has become, apparently, what is 'other' than itself. Then we are told that the two which are the aspects of the One, may be conceived as a threefold reality, to which reference has been made earlier also in our studies, that there is the aspect of the objective, the subjective and the transcendental types which are usually known as the Adhibhautika, the Adhyātmika and the Adhidaivika features, mentioned before.
Every aspect of this Cosmic Being is a deity, a god by himself, or itself. But no god is complete; every deity is incomplete. No single aspect of the Puruṣha can be regarded as complete, inasmuch as every deity thus conceived is a limb of the Cosmic Being. All that is manifest objectively, also, is really another form of the Supreme Being. It does not mean that creation is something different from the cause thereof, either in quality or internal structure. The concept of the Supreme Unity cannot be arrived at by the analysis of any part. Every part is only an indication of there being something above it, or transcending it. The parts are finite forms, even as deities; they can only be pointers to higher forms, but in themselves not complete forms. So, there is a difference between the satisfaction that comes by contemplation on the Universal Reality and that derived from any type of finite contemplation.
It is not possible to 'possess' anything in this world. This is another great advice that is given to us, further on, in the course of the description. It is not possible to possess anything, because everything that is possessed is 'outside'. And the philosophy is that nothing that is outside oneself can be possessed, and therefore bereavement, loss or separation is unavoidable in the world. What cannot be lost is the Self alone, and everything else is subject to destruction. If anyone clings to things which are other than the Self, those things shall depart from that person, one day or other. And, so, it is wisdom on the part of people to adore the Selfhood of things rather than the forms of things. In this manner, the Universal Completeness should be conceived in meditation.
Then the Upaniṣhad, in this section, goes on to describe the classification of the groups of individuals, both in the superior realm of the gods in heaven and the lesser realm of human beings, the classification being of what we usually call the social groups, namely, the spiritual, the political, the economic and the working forces. They are sometimes wrongly translated as castes. But the origin of these arrangements is described in the Upaniṣhad as a device towards the unification of diverse individualities for a purpose which is beyond themselves. The blend of these diversities is possible only by a principle which is harmony and unification itself in its character and make. No diversified principle can be a unifying principle. No individual can be a unifying power in this world, because every individual is different from every other individual. So, any kind of unity, whether it is social, personal or otherwise, can be achieved only if there is a transcendent force which brings these diversities together. That force is called Dharma, which is the way in which the Absolute is manifest in the world of diversity, and a concept of it is brought forward in this section of the Upaniṣhad.
It is further pointed out that every action is finally useless and futile, if it is bereft of the consciousness of the ātman. All achievements in this world are going to be dust and ashes. They will bring no result. Every effort will end in failure if it is not connected with the awareness of the Universal Principle, the ātman. Where such knowledge is absent, all effort will end in failure. This is another point that is driven into our minds in the course of the study.
Then it is pointed out that the desires, which are the ruling forces in the individual natures, are really the urges of the Cosmic which try to plant themselves in some form or other in the individuals and summon them back to their Origin, so that no desire can be regarded as wholly bad or wholly good. Desire is bad in the sense that it becomes a binding element if it is disconnected from its intent, motive or purpose. But it is good in the sense that it is an indication of the limitations of individuality which, again, are indications of the presence of the Infinite, towards which every individual is moving. So, the section concludes with a gospel that we should live a complete life, and any kind of incompleteness is going to be a source of sorrow. This is the outline of the whole section, of which the commencement was made with the declaration that, originally, the ātman alone was, and outside it, nothing was. And inasmuch as nothing else was outside it, there was no externality or the principle of contact with objects there; and since as it is the principle of the destruction of the evil of the urge for contact, it is called Puruṣha, or Puruṣhottama sometimes.
- so'bibhet, tasmād ekākī bibheti, sa hāyam īkṣāṁ cakre, yan mad anyan nāsti, kaṣmān nu bibhemīti, tata evāsya bhayaṁ vīyāy vīyāya kasmād hy abheṣyat, dvitīyād vai bhayaṁ bhavati.
That Being, the Original Universal Aloneness, began to contemplate Itself in a peculiar manner. This Self-contemplation of the Universal Oneness is the beginning of the Will to create. It felt that It was alone, and willed to be other than Itself. It was dissatisfied with Its aloneness, as it were. This inscrutable dissatisfaction, which we have to read in the Supreme Aloneness of Īshvara, is the cause of the dissatisfaction felt by individuals when they are alone. People, when they are left to themselves, feel dissatisfied. They want somebody else outside them. This is a reflection of the dissatisfaction of the Aloneness of the Universal in the Origin of things. All this is highly symbolic and we cannot understand what actually is the true nature of this dissatisfaction. It is only a point that the Upaniṣhad urges forward to bring to light the cause of creation. We cannot actually understand what it finally means, because, as the Ṛg-Veda puts it, nobody was there sitting to see what was happening. We never saw what He was thinking; what He was feeling; what actually was the condition which became the precedent for the creation of things. Even the gods came afterwards. Who can know what happened, says the Veda. So, we have to reverentially accept and feel, in a super-physical manner, the meaning behind this declaration of the Upaniṣhad, that the Universal Aloneness became a sort of source for a Universal Dissatisfaction which is the cause for the creation of the universe. It is as if the child wanted to play. Why is the child dissatisfied when it does not play? The child alone knows. There is a dissatisfaction when the child is alone, and, perhaps, on the analogy of the play of the child, scriptures like the Brahma-Sūtra tell us that if at all we have to give a reason for the creation of the world, we have to say that it is a play of God, not that there is a desire in God. Play is not a desire; it is something more spontaneous.
The All-Being was dissatisfied, as it were, and yet, immediately, there was a counteracting consciousness which removed that dissatisfaction. "How can I be dissatisfied when I am the All," was the counterforce that arose in His own Consciousness. "Why should I be afraid of anything, and why should I be dissatisfied? The question of fear or sorrow does not arise when nothing external to Me is." Therefore, He was supremely happy. Here we have a double statement of the Upaniṣhad in a single passage, where it is said that it was Universal Oneness, and an Aloneness which felt dissatisfied on account of Its being alone without an 'other', and yet It became supremely satisfied on account of the counteracting consciousness which arose in Itself simultaneously that It was the All, and, therefore, there cannot be dissatisfaction. Why is there dissatisfaction? Because there is an 'other'. That is all.
"Where there is duality, there is fear." We have fear when there is another next to us. If there is no 'anotherness', there is no fear. We are always afraid of someone in front of us, behind us, etc. If there is no one, and we are alone, why should we be afraid of anything? Fear comes from someone other than us. How can we be afraid of our own selves? So, if someone other than us does not exist, how can there be fear? There is fear only where there is duality. Where duality was not, there was no dissatisfaction or fear. Therefore, it was Supreme Satisfaction. That was the Universal 'I'.
Now, the Upaniṣhad proceeds:
- sa vai naiva reme; tasmād ekākī na ramate; sa dvitīyam aicchat; sa haitāvān āsa yathā strī-pumāṁsau sampariṣvaktau; sa imam evātmānaṁ dvedhāpātayat, tataḥ patiś ca patnī cābhavatām; tasmāt idam ardha-bṛgalam iva svaḥ, iti ha smāha yājñavalkyaḥ; tasmād ayam ākāśaḥ striyā pūryata eva. tāṁ samabhavat, tato manuṣyā ajāyanta.
Here, again, a highly symbolic truth is stated to explain the state of affairs after creation was effected. The split which is the cause of creation is a split within the Whole; and it is a split without losing the Wholeness of the Whole. When milk becomes curd, the milk is completely destroyed, and there is no milk afterwards. Not so is the way in which God became the world, because if the milk has already become curd wholly, we cannot ask for the same milk again, because it has already become another thing.
If God has already become the world, we cannot ask for God. He is no more there; He is finished. But He is really not finished; He is intact even now; and the milk is wholly present, in spite of its having become a so-called curd. It is not a Pariṇāma, or a complete internal transformation of the Substance of the All that is called creation, but only an apparent manifestation. This appearance of manifestation is described. It was the cause of creation in the manner mentioned, namely, a kind of desire or will or wish, an urge to become manifold, the reason for which nothing that is manifold can understand. We are all manifested beings included in the diversity of creation, and, therefore, none can know the reason behind the manifestation of this creation. But the Upaniṣhad is an authority, and it tells us that It did not wish to be alone. "Let me be many and see Myself as the variety of things." In order to become the many, It became two, first. Then, perhaps, the two became four, four became eight, eight became sixteen, and thirty-two and millions and millions; an infinite variety, uncountable, innumerable in quantity and quality. How did He become two in the beginning? He became two with a severe impulse which is the subject of the chant in famous hymn of the Ṛg-Veda known as the Nāsadīya-Sūkta, the hymn of creation.
There was an indescribable stir in the whole cosmos, and this command was felt everywhere, just as, when a parliament passes an act, it is felt in every nook and corner of the country. Something like that, an Act was passed, as it were, by the Supreme Will of the Divine Being, and every minute part of the entire Body of the Virāt began to throb with this Will. And what was that urge? It is a very difficult thing to explain – what that Primal Wish is. It is an outrush that we feel when we have a strong desire, for instance. We cannot understand, actually, what a desire is. Though we think we understand it, we cannot know it fully, because if we understand it, it will not trouble us. It troubles us because it cannot be understood. It cannot be understood because it is a contradiction. A desire is a contradiction, psychologically; therefore it is impossible to understand its meaning. We cannot desire an object unless it is outside us. This is very clear; if it is one with us, we will not desire it. And we cannot desire an object which is really outside us. This is also a very important point to remember. If it is, in fact, outside us, it would have nothing to do with us. For, where is the point in desiring it? We have already proclaimed, psychologically, that it is outside us, and, so, we are not connected with it in any way. If we are not connected with it, we are not going to get it. If we are not going to get it, there is no use desiring it. This is one aspect of the contradiction. But we cannot desire an object unless it is other than ourselves. Look at the contradiction. Here is a miracle of contradiction, par excellence. And, such is the desire operating in our individual cases, available in a very minute form, harassing us from birth to death. No one can understand what it is and how it works. Only a superhuman, divine being may master it. But, the Upaniṣhad tell us that the contradiction was, perhaps, already in the Cosmic Origin of things; otherwise, how could its presence be felt in individuals who are the effects?
The contradiction of desire is of such a character. It may be ostensibly seen in individuals of the male and female species in creation. That is what the Upaniṣhad makes out here. The desire can be seen in the various aspects of psychological manifestation, and, primarily, it can be seen where the species of a particular variety intends to maintain itself by an interaction of its male and female characters. That kind of urge which is available in individuals is, perhaps, a faint indication of what could have happened at the beginning of things, though that must have been very different in nature from what we see in individuals. Yet, in its general form, it was present there; in its particular form, we see it only in individuals. It splits Itself in this manner into the positive and the negative elements – the Cosmic Positive and the Cosmic Negative, we may say. And, that was the origin of desire. Nevertheless, it remains an indescribable something; we do not know what it is, why it arose and how it could be explained. It had to be split, else, there could be no will or wish. There was a simultaneous urge to become two, and also to become one. Here is the enigma of desire.
The desire is actually a desire to fulfil a desire; and the fulfilment of a desire means the completion of the intention behind the mind or the consciousness to come in union with the object of desire in an indivisibility of 'being'. For that, the indivisibility is first accepted for the purpose of manifesting the desire. So, there was a double urge of rushing outward into the counterpart which is the split 'other', and a simultaneous urge to become one with that part, which is called the satisfaction felt in the fulfilment of a desire. So, there is pain and pleasure simultaneously in every moment of desire. If it is entirely pain nobody would desire. But if it is only satisfaction, there would be no frustration of desire. Thus, there is an inscrutable peculiar character in this form of urge.
The Origin of Cosmic manifestation necessitates the acceptance of an original split which caused a self-contradictory feeling of separation and unity simultaneously, as is there between a husband and wife, for instance. As Yājñavalkya, the sage, says, every individual is only a half; nobody is complete. And inasmuch as every individual is a half, no one is happy. The half wants to be complete by fulfilling itself in contact with the other half, which it has lost.
The perception of an object, when it is driven by a strong desire, is really a perception of a counterpart of that desire. This is why there is such an urge in the mind towards that object. What one lacks in oneself, one sees in that object; otherwise, the mind will not move towards the object. The lack felt in one's own self is supposed to be completed by the character of the object which is outside, and, so, no one can love everything in the world, and no one can hate also everything. There are only certain sections of objects which can attract and repel, on account of the peculiarity of the psychological structures of individuals. Yājñavalkya proclaims that every individual, whether it is human, subhuman or superhuman, whatever it is, every individual is only fifty percent. The other fifty percent is the object thereof. And, therefore, every individual is forced to go towards the object, to complete itself by communion with that object which is its exact counterpart, which it will find instinctively without any logical examination.
Everyone is like an empty hole inside, like a space without content. Therefore, one feels unhappy. Whatever be given to that person, he is not satisfied. There is some want, a kind of emptiness, vacuum, felt in each individual, because it cannot be fulfilled by anything other than that which it lacks, which is the content of that whole. So, satisfaction cannot come to any individual unless the exact counterpart of that lack is provided. Any other attempt is not going to satisfy the subject. There is this rationality behind creation, cosmically as well as individually. Thus are all beings born due to the Primary Impulse. Men were born, and everything else was born – manuṣyā ajāyanta.
- sā heyam īkṣāṁ cakre, kathaṁ nu mātmāna eva janayitvā sambhavati, hania tiro'sānīti; sā gaur abhavat, ṛṣabha itaras tāṁ sam evābhavat, tato gāvo' jāyanta; vaḍavetarābhavat, aśva-vṛṣa itaraḥ, gardhabhītarā gardabha itaraḥ, tāṁ sam evābhavat, tata eka-śapham ajāyata; ajetarābhavat, vasta itaraḥ, avir itarā, meṣa itaraḥ, tāṁ sam evābhavat, tato'jāvayo' jāyanta; evam eva yad idaṁ kiṁ ca mithunam, ā-pipīlikābhyaḥ tat sarvam asṛjata.
Here, again, we have a fine analogy which tells us that the split part, the other of the 'Being' which became two, was in a very unenviable condition. It did not know what to do. The object does not know what to do at all when it has come from the Supreme Subject Itself. What is this object? It is nothing but the 'other' of the True Subject. They are correlatives of each other. They are brother and sister, come from the same parent. So, the blood of the original parent is found in these two aspects, and they are unable to understand the relationship between themselves. 'A' and 'B', which may be supposed to be the two aspects of the Supreme Being, the split parts, are in a very delicate position. So, 'A' is trying to grab 'B' which is the object of 'A'. 'B' is feeling very disconsolate. "How is it possible that I be grabbed by 'A' when I am only the counterpart born of the same parent?" The object is afraid of the empirical subject. "Why should I be possessed like this? Why should I be hunted? Why should I be eaten, swallowed? I come from the same origin from which 'A' has come, and, therefore, I enjoy the same status, as 'A'." It is really indecent on the part of a subject to run after the object, as if the object has no status of its own. But this is what happens.
The object, the other side of the split part, felt delicate in itself and wanted to escape the notice of 'A'. But this 'A' would not leave it like that. It did not keep quiet. It assumed the form which was taken by 'B' for the sake of escaping the notice of 'A'. What is meant by escaping the notice? A taking of another shape. One goes from one place to another place, or changes one's features. But, 'A' put on the same features as the features of 'B', which was assumed by the latter for the purpose of extricating itself from 'A'. And whatever feature, form or structure was assumed by 'B', 'A' also assumed. Thus, there was a communion between 'A' and 'B', the subject and the object, in all the species of creation, right from the highest celestials to the lowest creatures as ant.
Now, the Upaniṣhad in this section tells us that all things – animal, human, superhuman, subhuman – everyone became the effect of this Cosmic Will for creation on account of the irresistible nature of this Urge. It is impossible to resist its force because it is cosmically present and propelling. No desire is capable of being resisted until it is intelligently fulfilled in the way in which the Upaniṣhad will describe further on.
Everything was created by this one Being, down to the lowest of created beings, and all these are the dramatic appearance of that one Being; That becoming the subject; That becoming the object; That becoming the process of the urge called desire – a real drama, indeed. Then what did It feel after having completed this creation? 'I am satisfied.' The director of the drama is very pleased that the enactment has been well done – beautiful! 'I have wonderfully worked this creation.' 'I am all this creation.' There was a Desire, Wish, Urge, to become the All in the multiplicity of forms; and having beheld all these forms as identical with Itself, It was deeply satisfied with the conviction that, after all, 'all this that I have created is Me, and none else'. 'I am seeing Myself; and even the process of seeing is I alone. It is not that some other instrument is there which becomes the procession of Me as another, in the form of the objects outside. I am the All.' Creation is an inscrutable play which is beyond reason and intellectuality, because reason is the art of splitting things and then uniting things, which is a function that has come about after the process of creation, after the assumption of space, time and causality.
- so'vet, ahaṁ vāva sṛṣṭir asmi, ahaṁ hīdaṁ sarvam asṛkṣīti; tataḥ sṛṣṭir abhavat, sṛṣṭyāṁ hāsyaitasyām bhavati ya evaṁ veda.
So, what did God know? He knew only Himself as all this creation. The, Absolute knew Itself; and that was all. 'I have become this All, and I am the All. I see Myself as the All, and the Supreme satisfaction is Me only, My own Being.' His Being was His satisfaction. One who knows this truth, becomes highly satisfied as the Supreme Being Himself was in creation. How can we be satisfied, as the Supreme Being Himself was? Provided we can think also as the Supreme Being thought. If we can contemplate, assume the status as the Supreme Being assumed at the origin of things, identifying Itself with all creation, feeling Itself in all forms, if this contemplation could be affected, we also can be so happy as the Supreme Being Himself was at the beginning of things; and we shall have all that It had, and all the powers that It wielded. Everything that It was, we shall also be.
The process of creation is complicated. The Upaniṣhad, and scriptures like the Śrimad Bhāgavata Māhapurāṇa, throw some sidelight on the pattern of creation. It is said that God willed to be the many, and suddenly He became the many. That is one theory. "Let there be light, and there was light." He simply willed, and there was everything, all at once. This is a sudden creation of all multiplicity at one stroke, not gradually, stage by stage, one after another. But there is also a doctrine which holds that creation is a graduated manifestation from causes to effects, until it became the lowest of manifestations. There are others who think that there is no contradiction between these two doctrines. Both are true. That is, there was a fiat of God, Īshvara; He Willed to be many; suddenly He became the All. But this act of suddenly becoming the All was conditioned by certain factors. What was the type of the All that He became? The variety varies from creation to creation, according to certain theories. The particular shape which the universe takes in a particular cycle (Kalpa) of creation, depends upon the potencies of individuals who are left unliberated at the time of the previous cycle. So it does not mean that every creation is identical with the prior one in every detail. Though the process of creation, the mould of Primal Impulsion may be the same, the pattern, the shape, the contour and the mode of operation of individualities are not the same.
The Upaniṣhad, here, mentions that creation began in a particular fashion, in an ordered form. The celestials were created first, simultaneously with human beings; then came the creation of plants, and the five elements – ether, air, fire, water, earth. This tallies with the creation theory of certain other Upaniṣhads, also. Agnī, Indra, Vasu and Pūśhan – these are supposed to be the celestials who were created first, representing the presiding principles over the social group that is mentioned afterwards, namely, the spiritual group, the political group, the economic group and the working group. These classifications seem to be in the heavenly region also, and they are supposed to be wherever individuals are. The creation of human beings is, perhaps, simultaneous with the creation of the gods in heaven, as we would be told in other scriptures.
The Purāṇas go into greater detail and tell us that the One became two in a peculiar way, a detail which we cannot find in the Upaniṣhad here. A little indication of it is given in first chapter of the Manusmṛiti, also. The One Being produced an image which is called the Brahmānda, or the Cosmic Egg. Here was a complete totality of things. We conceive it as a kind of egg, cosmically – as Hiraṇyagarbhanda, as Brahmānda. And, this Cosmic Egg split itself into two, which did not affect the unity of the One; these split parts are called, in the Purāṇas, Manu and Śatārūpa, the First Man and the First Woman, the Adam and the Eve of creation, one may say. Thus, in the creation, various species were formed. And the species are not confined merely to animate beings, but extend also to inanimate structures or organisms, for there is no such thing as the inanimate, ultimately. All things are a condition of Being which withdraws in different degrees the conscious element in it into Itself, so that there is in matter existence only, minus consciousness, as consciousness has been absorbed into It. In inanimate matter like stone, there is only the existence-aspect of God, not the consciousness-aspect or the bliss-aspect. But in individuals like human beings, there is the existence-aspect and also the intelligence-aspect revealed, but the bliss-aspect is withdrawn, and so men are not adequately happy in spite of their having intelligence, because, here Rajas and Tamas cover the activity of Sattva, which last is necessary for the manifestation of happiness. Thus is this beautiful creation, whose description goes on to a further detail in the Upaniṣhad.
The stages of creation are described further in continuation of those that have been mentioned already. The Cosmic Being, who has been designated as Puruṣha-vidha, is now said to be the Origin of the Principle of Fire (Agnī-tattva) which comes out of the mouth of the Supreme Being. And how it comes into existence is mentioned in the following passages.
- athety abhyamanthat, sa mukhāc ca yoner hastābhyāṁ cāgnim asṛjata, tasmād etad ubhayam alomakam antarataḥ, alomakā hi yonir antarataḥ, tad yad idam āḥur amuṁ yaja, amuṁ yajety ekaikaṁ devam, etasyaiva sā visṛṣṭiḥ, eṣa u hy eva sarve devāḥ. atha yat kiṁ cedam ārdram, tad retaso asṛjata, tad u somaḥ. etāvad vā idaṁ sarvam annaṁ caivānnādaś ca, soma evānnam, agnir annādaḥ. saiṣā brahmaṇo'tisṛṣṭiḥ, yac chreyaso devān asṛjata: atha yan martyaḥ saṅn amṛtān asṛjata, tasmād atisṛṣtiḥ. atisṛṣṭyaṁ hāsyaitasyāṁ bhavati ya evaṁ veda.
By His operation of the hand and the mouth, they came in contact with each other, and produced Heat; or striking the palm on the mouth, He produced Fire. By rubbing the mouth with the hands, He created Fire. In our tradition, and in stories of creation, we have ever been told that there is a great connection between speech and fire; and speech is located in the mouth, in the vocal organ, and so the Cosmic Fire Principle is supposed to be affected by the aspiration of the Cosmic Word Principle, whose location is said to be in the mouth of the Cosmic Being. And so, in its own symbology, the Upaniṣhad tells us: neither inside the mouth, nor on the palm of the hand have we hair, due to the principle of fire there operating intensely. There is something peculiar in the mouth and the palm of the hand. Energy seems to have special centres of action in the human organism, of which the palm and the mouth are two pre-eminently important centres. Even when we conduct the Prāṇa or energy, for the purpose of transmitting it upon others, we use the palm. And, of course, the power of speech is well known. It need not be explained because nothing can be more forceful than the word that one speaks. So is also the conducting element of the energy of the body, namely, the palm of the hand. Both these are powerful centres of energy, and so they are identified with the location of the Fire Principle.
Thus summing up, as it were, the Upaniṣhad says that every deity has been projected from one or the other limb of the Virāt Puruṣha. Whenever people say, 'worship this deity, worship that deity, adore this god, adore that god, pray to this, pray to that', what do they actually mean? They mean nothing but one thing only, that all these adorations of the different deities are the adorations of the One Being. Why? Because, all these gods that we worship in religion are nothing but the projections of the One God. We do not have many gods, really. Though we have many limbs of the body, the body is not manifold. So is the religious pantheon not multiple, as it outwardly appears. They are various facets of the crystal of religious adoration, and so no religion has many gods. All these 'many gods' of the 'many religions' of the world are the many ways of approach to the One God who is adored in a manifold manner, through the manifold mentalities of individuals. And it is, therefore, the minds of people that are many, not the gods of religion, because all these gods are the aspects of the One God. Verily, all these gods are this God only. It is this God whom we are addressing when we address any other god in any language, in any manner whatsoever. Whatever be our language with which we supplicate, whatever be the feeling with which we call for the Power that is above, whatever be the method of our invocation of any deity, it is this Supreme Being that we are invoking in one way or the other. We know it or do not know it; that is a different matter. Verily, this God is all the gods.
All these forms of life, called food and the eaters of food, as the Upaniṣhad puts it in its own language, are this God only. The matter that consciousness grasps, and the consciousness which is aware of these forms of matter – both these are the One Being only. The object that is conceived or perceived, and that which cognises the presence of this object – Anna and Annāda – both these are this Principle which appears as the Anna, or the food, or matter, or object, on the one side, and consciousness, the eater of food, the subject, awareness, on the other side. He is the director of the drama and also the dramatis personae, at one and the same time. He is also the audience of this drama. Very interesting, indeed. So, He created all these manifest forms, whether they are materially visible outside in the form of objects, or whether they are the subjects that are aware of these objects who wish to come in contact with them. Aham annam annam adantam admi, says the Taittirīya Upaniṣhad: 'I am the food, and I am the eater of food. I, who am food, eat the eater of food.' What does one mean by this enigmatic statement of the Taittirīya Upaniṣhad? All these are the majestic formations of this magnificent Being, whom we call Parameśvara, the Supreme Being.
Anna (food) and Annāda (eater of food) – both these are He. Here, Agnī – Soma, a combination of two principal concepts of deity in the Vedic pantheon, are regarded as representing the subjective side as well as the objective side. Both these are regarded as parts of the Supreme Being. This is the grand creation of God, as has been described up to this time in all these earlier passages. Grand is this creation, indeed, because nothing can be grander than this. It is perfect in every way, and it is well-conceived. Sukṛatam (well done), says the Taittirīya Upaniṣhad. It is said that God created the world and wanted to make an assessment of how he had created it, like an engineer who projects a huge building and wishes to look at it. "How is it? Beautiful." The engineer himself says that it is beautiful, because he has built it, and he is identical with it! He is so elevated in joy. And, so, this is a grand creation, indeed. It is grand because it is inscrutable to the human senses of 'I' and 'mine'. Its structure cannot be understood. How is it supported? Nobody knows. How did it come? No one can understand. Why has it come? None can say. Everything is a mystery. He who projected it, He knows it, or does He also not know, says the Veda, in the concluding portion of its Nāsadīya Sūkta. Such is the miraculous, mysterious, character of this creation of God that, in an ecstatic mood, the Veda says perhaps He also does not know the mystery of this creation, and who are we to talk about it? So, my dear friend, says the Upaniṣhad, here you have the great glory of God in the form of this creation, and if you know it, you have known Him.
God becomes mortal, as it were, for the purpose of the playing of this drama. For a moment, the genius of a dramatic director can become the fool that he plays in the theatre, for the purpose of fulfilling a part. He becomes all things; He becomes not only all things, but becomes the visualiser of the things that He has become. "Whatever variety we see, it is Your Form, and You deceive us by the shape that You take," as the actor in a drama masquerades in a form which is other than he is. Thus, when we look at the world, we are not looking at the world. And, I am reminded here of an interesting remark made by Thomas Hill Green in his great book, 'Prolegomena to Ethics': "Why do people cry every day that they do not see God? What is it that you are seeing before your eyes but God?" If you cannot recognise the one that you see, whose mistake is it? Such is the glory of the manifestation which had the seed implanted within it of a recognition of the Maker thereof. God has hidden Himself in this vast creation of forms, and yet He has given indications through these forms as to where He is present. The Upaniṣhad tells us that every form in this world is an indication of the presence of God, so that through any form we can reach up to Cosmic Existence. And the manifestations are of name and form. Every effect is isolated from every other. But in every form there is the Cosmic Reality hidden. Invisible is its real nature; yet, by probing into the depths of any form, the presence of this mystery can be discovered, so that God's presence can be located in any form whatsoever, whichever be the place we are seated in.
This universe, which is the grand manifestation of God, which is the miraculous manifestation of Him, was once upon a time unmanifest; and He was withdrawing all these forms into Himself before creation took place. After the creation, He has be come the colours and the sounds and the pageantry of creation. But before that, there was no such visualisation of forms, even as the beautiful painting of an artist can exist only as an idea of the artist before it is cast into the screen for perception by other people.
- taddhedaṁ tarhy avyākṛtam āsīt, tan nāma-rūpābhyām eva vyākriyata, asau nāma, ayam idaṁ rūpa iti, tad idam apy etarhi nāma-rūpābhyām eva vyākriyate, asau nāma, ayam idaṁ rūpa iti. sa eṣa iha praviṣṭa ānakhāgrebhyaḥ yathā, kṣuraḥ kṣuradhāne' vahitaḥ syāt, viśvam-bharo vā viśvam-bhara-kulāye, taṁ na paśyanti. a-kṛtsno hi saḥ, prāṇann eva prāṇo nāma bhavati, vadan vāk, paśyaṁś cakṣuḥ, śṛṇvan śrotram, manvāno manaḥ, tāny asyaitāni karma-nāmāny eva. sa yo'ta ekaikam upāste, na sa veda, akṛtsno hy eṣo'ta ekaikena bhavati, ātmety evopāsīta, atra hi ete sarva ekam bhavanti. tad etat padanīyam asya sarvasya yad ayam ātmā, anena hy etat sarvaṁ veda, yathā ha vai padenānuvindet. evaṁ kīrtiṁ ślokaṁ vindate ya evaṁ veda.
It was Avyākṛita-unrevealed, unmanifest, undiversified before creation took effect in its fullness. And what is all this creation, in all its variety? It is nothing but name and form. There are only two things in creation, wherever we go – a designation and a formation. There was nothing hidden in this unmanifest condition, and there is nothing visualised by our eyes except these two things. We pinpoint any object, or any form, or anything that is created in this world, we will find that there is a structural pattern, a formation of that object or individual, and there is a name that is given to it, an appel. What else is there? There is a shape given to some material call brick, and then we call it a house. The house is a name that we give to a form that bricks have taken. So, the house is a name. And, name of what? Of a shape. And the shape is of a thing that has already existed. It is brick, or mud, or some substance. So, the substance remains there, unmodified. The brick has never become something else. The brick is in the house; the brick is in the bathroom; the brick is in the temple; it is in the church; everywhere the same brick is there. But, the shape that it has taken is different, and the name that we give to it also is different. Yet, the same thing is present everywhere. Whether it is in the genius or a fool, the same thing is present, but the arrangement is different, and the name that we give is different.
We say, 'this person', 'this thing', 'this object', 'this so-and-so', 'this such-and-such', by designating it, giving it a name-because it has some peculiar differentia-isolating it from the shape of other objects. This is all. So, ultimately, this grand manifestation of God can be reduced to a minimum of variety which is twofold-Nāma-Rūpa-name and form.
Even now when we speak of a thing, designate a thing, describe a thing, or define a thing, what do we do? We merely give a linguistic description or nomenclature of the structure of an object. That is all that we mean by designating or defining. We say, "He is such a person"; "His name is Rama, Krishna, Gopala, John" etc. And why do we give such names? Because we want to distinguish this form from other forms, since we see a variety of forms.
Now, the Upaniṣhad tells us, taking us back to its principal doctrine, "Friend, do not be misled by these forms; do not be carried away by the name that you give to this variety of forms, because that eternal Being has entered into the deepest essence of every form, even down to the fingertips; everything is immanent with this stupendous Being. As a razor is kept in its case, as fire is hidden in every object such a wood – you will find that fire is present in every part of wood, it is not in one place, in one corner only of the wood – likewise, is the Reality of this creative Being present in every form, whether it is animate or inanimate from your point of view."
"Nobody can visualise Him; none recognises Him." When you behold a form, you are seeing the eternal Absolute. You have nothing else before you. But, you do not recognise Him. You call Him so-and-so. "He is my brother; she is my sister." And you have your own ways of relating yourself to that form according to your circumstances in society, which is an unfortunate involvement of individuals in other individuals. Samsāra (worldly involvement) is not actually taking of birth in a body, but is not recognising of the meaning in taking birth, and the state of not being able to locate the connection of a form with the Reality that is hidden in it. It is said that Samsāra, or bondage, is not the perception of the world but the non-perception of God. There is no harm in perceiving the world, but there is great harm in not perceiving God. But, we are not perceiving God while we are perceiving the world. The world that we see is nothing but the form of God, and it is He that is fully present in every form. Whenever we touch any object, we are coming in contact with that Being only. If this awareness could be awakened in a person, at that very moment there could be liberation – here and now.
In every form, the whole of Him is not recognised. This is the reason why we exclude one form from another form. He is present in every form, no doubt; yes, in every form – the word 'every' is to be underlined – not merely in one form, or two forms, or a group of forms. Hence, to evaluate a particular form, or a group of forms, in contradistinction from other forms, would be to miscalculate the presence of the eternal Whole which is entirely present in every form. Every form is equal to every other form. And so, the worship of the whole means worship of all forms; and, hence, sometimes we call it Vishvadeva, Cosmic Being.
What we call the vital principle, Prāṇa, is He only operating as the Prāṇa. When He functions as the vital energy, we call Him Prāṇa. When He articulates in a particular language, we call Him speech. When He visualises a form, we call Him the eye. We give a name to the function, but the same Being is performing all the functions. The same individual can be a judge, the same individual a collector; one can be any official and perform different functions. But the 'person' does not change; only the functions change. When we hear, we call Him the ear. When we think, we call Him mind. All these are the names of the functions of that Being. Even our psychological functions are the activities of that Being, and the several objects that we see are the forms of that Being.
So, anyone who clings to one god in contradistinction to the other gods, does not know the truth about God. Anyone who regards one form, one deity, or one finite concept as everything, as distinct from similar other finite forms, does not know the whole truth. When we make a comparison or contrast of one with the other, we do not understand the point. No comparison is allowed; no contrast is possible, because everything is related to everything else in a harmonious manner; therefore, judgments are odious.
When we worship God, and if we want to worship the real God, we must worship God as the Self of forms, and not as a form. God is not a form, not even all the forms. If we regard forms as different from the consciousness that conceives or perceives the forms, we err, because He is the Self of the forms. In stating that God is everything, the Upaniṣhad makes out that the Supreme Being is not merely all the forms but also the consciousness of the very existence of all the forms. Therefore, we should not make the mistake of objectifying God as a transcendent, extra-cosmic Creator, outside us, whom we cannot easily reach. To remove this mistaken notion in us, it is said that He is also immanent, i.e., indwells everything. In order to permanently wipe out all wrong notions about the presence of God, the Upaniṣhad says that we should worship Him as the Self of beings – ātmetyevopāsīta. It is a little hard for the mind to conceive what this is, because one can never conceive the Selfhood of a being. We cannot think of the Selfhood of our own selves, too. How, then, is anyone to think of the Selfhood of other people? It is much worse. But, there is no alternative, if religion is to become vital, meaningful, helpful and real. The real religion is, thus, the religion of the Self, and not the religion of a form or a shape. And, any religion which clings to forms shall vanish in the process of history. It shall be superseded by other forms, but the religion of the Self cannot so fade, because it is the Self of even that which is superseded, and of that which supersedes.
Why should one regard the Self as God, or God as the Self of beings? Because, in the Self, everything is centred. While one form may exclude another form, and thus a form may be finite, even many forms can be finite, the Self cannot be finite, because the Self is the principle, the non-objective or non-objectifiable essence in every form, which is uniform. While the forms differ in their structural patterns, one from the other, the Self of forms cannot change. What we call the Self of forms is the Being, the General Existence of the forms. Existence is the uniform presence everywhere. The Existence of a cot is the same as the Existence of a pot, though the cot and the pot are two different objects. But the Being of them is identical. The Upaniṣhad says that one should adore the Beingness of objects, the Selfhood of things – ātmatva – of the variety of forms. That would be the real adoration, and that, perhaps, is what may be called the eternal religion. And here, in this Self, every form is included. When we summon or invoke the Selfhood of a being, we have summoned everything that exists anywhere. There is no need to supplicate or approach different forms at different times for different purposes. We have summoned everything, at one stroke, by the summoning of the Selfhood of beings, for all things are here – Atra hi ete sarva ekam bhavanti.
Every individual is an indication of everything. This is an ancient declaration of a modern discovery that every atom reflects a cosmic situation, so that every particle of sand on the shore of the sea can become an object for the visualisation of an immense mystery. Every individual can reflect, and does reflect the whole Cosmic Truth. The footprint, as it were, of the eternal is the individual, temporal form. This individual self is the indicative symbol of the Cosmic Self. We can reach 'That' through 'this'. We can know all things through any form. Through any god, we can approach the All-God. And, through the All-God, we can have contact with all the gods.
Through the footprints of a person one can know the whereabouts of the person. By the footprints of an animal we can know the presence of the animal. From this footprint of the Absolute, which is the individual form, we can know the character of the Absolute – where It is, what It is, how It is. One becomes glorious, as this Supreme Being is, by this knowledge. One becomes supremely renowned and applauded everywhere, as God Himself is great.
Now, it is said that this great God who is the Self of all beings is the dearest object of all beings. We all love Him the most, and we love nobody else.
- tad etat preyaḥ putrāt, preyo vittāt, preyo'nyasmāt sarvasmāt, antarataram, yad ayam ātmā. sa yo'nyam ātmanaḥ priyam bruvāṇam brūyāt, priyaṁ rotsyatīti, īśvaro ha tathaiva syāt. ātmānam eva priyam upāsīta, sa ya ātmānam eva priyam upāste na hāsya priyam pramāyukam bhavati.
This Self, about whom we have been speaking just now, this Self is dearer than children whom people hug so affectionately. This Self is dearer than all the wealth that one can possess anywhere. Why? Because it is nearer to one than anything else. Children are not so near as this Self; wealth is not so near as this Self. It is not possible that children and wealth can be so dear as this Self. When we love children, wealth, etc., we are reflecting the character of our Selfhood on these objects which are instrumental in the invocation of the love of the Self, which is Supreme, and yet not known. It always escapes our notice. In every form of affection, the Self is involved, but is not recognised. It is the nearest and the dearest, and it is the innermost principle. It is inner to the body, inner to the Prāṇa, inner to the senses and the mind, inner to the intellect, inner to the highest causative principle within us. It is the deepest Being, the deepest Essence, the profoundest Reality, and thus it is the Ultimate Subjectivity in us.
If anyone clings to something which is not the Self, as an object of endearment, and if someone says that this object shall be lost one day, it shall be so. Any object to which one clings, other than the Self, shall be the object of sorrow, one day or the other. That which is not the Self is also that which can be lost, and, therefore, to pin one's faith in things which are not the Self is to court sorrow in this world. No one can be free from sorrow as long as affections are pinned on things that are transient and perishable. Anything that is outside the Self is an object that can be lost. There is only one thing that we cannot lose, and that is the Self; and, so, there is only one thing which cannot cause sorrow – that is the Self. There is only one thing that we can really love, and is our dear friend – that is the Self; no one else. Nothing else is dependable or reliable in this world. If anyone foolishly, wrongly, unknowingly, indiscreetly clings to things which are externalised in space and time, as objects of the senses, not knowing the Selfhood of beings, verily, those objects shall be lost; there will be bereavement. And, on account of clinging to forms, rebirth can take place, because rebirth is the effect of the desire to cling to forms, and the inability to possess the forms in spite of the desire for them. Hence, the Upaniṣhad again hammers the same idea on our minds – ātmanam eva priyam upasīta: adore the Self alone as dear. Do not regard anything else as dear. No one can save you except the Self. No one can protect you except the Self, and no one is your friend except the Self. And this Self is, again to mention, not yourself, or myself, this particular self, or that particular self, because it has already been said that all these so-called individualities are inadequate to the purpose. That alone is the Self we are speaking of, which is equally present in all, inconceivable to mortal minds.
The object of possession will never be lost, and we shall not be bereft of it, and we shall not be in sorrow, we shall not lose the object of our desire, if that object of desire is this Self. But, if the object of desire is the non-Self, we would lose that object. If we are to be eternally possessed of the object of our desire, may that object be the same as our Self. "May you love the Universal Being; love not anything else, because all these objects of affection are included in the Universal Self."
- tad āhuḥ, yad brahma-vidyayā sarvam bhaviṣyanto manuṣyā manyante, kiṁ u tad brahmāvet, yasmāt tat sarvam abhavad iti.
It is said that people who acquired Brahma-Vidyā as their endowment, who were well-versed in the knowledge of Brahman, the science of the Self, possessed everything. We have been told that the knowledge of the Absolute is, veritably, possession of the Absolute. It is said that people in ancient times had this knowledge, and through this knowledge they became the All, possessed the All, and were immensely happy. And, they possessed everything as the Supreme Being Himself possessed all things. But what was that knowledge with which they were endowed? What was that endowment which enabled them to know the All, become the All, be the All? What is the superiority of this knowledge? What do we mean by Brahma-Vidyā? What is the science of the Self, or ātma-Vidyā? The Upaniṣhad again iterates the same truth in another way for the purpose of recapitulation.
- brahma vā idam agra āsīt, tad ātmānam evāvet, aham brahmāsmīti: tasmāt tat sarvam abhavat, tad yo yo devānām pratyabubhyata, sa eva tad abhavat, tathā ṛṣīṇām, tathā manuṣyāṇām. taddhaitat paśyan ṛṣir vāma-devaḥ pratipede, aham manur abhavaṁ sūryaś ceti, tad idam api etarhi ya evaṁ veda, aham brahmāsmīti sa idaṁ sarvam bhavati; tasya ha na devāś ca nābhūtyā īśate, ātmā hy eṣāṁ sa bhavati. atha yo anyāṁ devatām upāste, anyo'sau anyo' ham asmīti, na sa veda; yathā paśur, evam sa devānām; yathā ha vai bahavaḥ paśavo manuṣyam bhuñjyuḥ, evam ekaikaḥ puruṣo devān bhunakti; ekasminn eva paśāv ādīyamāne'priyam bhavati, kiṁ u bahuṣu? tasmād eṣām tan na priyam yad etan manuṣyā vidyuḥ.
Brahman, the Absolute, alone was; nothing else was, there was no object. And, It knew Itself alone. That knowledge of the Absolute, when It alone was, is the object of Brahma-Vidyā. God knowing Himself is the final aim Brahma-Vidyā. in one sense. When God knows Himself, what does He know? That is the Goal of ātma-Vidyā. What God knows would be the knowledge which can save all, and enable one to become powerful like God. What was it that God knew? We know many things. We are efficient in the various branches of learning. We are experts in the sciences and the arts of the world. We have much knowledge, as we say. What was the knowledge which God had? What was the science which He knew, and what was the branch of learning in which He was specialised, or proficient in? What did God know? Can you tell us? To this question, which the Upaniṣhad raises, it itself gives the answer.
God knew only Himself; nothing else. Not anything other than He was there, and, therefore, no chance of knowing anything other than He could be there. Brahma-Vidyā. is the knowledge of God, the science of Brahman, the Absolute. But it is not knowledge of something. The word 'of' is to be eliminated in this sentence. Our language is inadequate to the purpose. We cannot express this knowledge in language, because our sentences are split into the subject and the predicate. There is a subject connected by the verb to its predicate. There is no such possibility here of describing this knowledge by the subject-object connection through a verb. There is no verb in the sentence if we are to use a sentence for describing what God knew. When we say, God knew Himself, it is not that God as the subject knew Himself as the object; hence a sentence is not apt for the purpose of describing what the state of affairs was then. It was not someone knowing something, or something knowing something else. It was not the state where one can use a sentence with a transitive verb. There was no object for the verb in the sentence, 'It knew Itself'. It was a union of the knower and the known. It was Awareness of Being. It was Being which became aware that It was. The Being that was, became aware that it was. It was Being-Consciousness, or the Awareness of Being Itself may be said to be God-Consciousness. That is Absolute-Consciousness; and this is the meaning of 'God knew Himself', 'It knew Itself', 'tad ātmānam evāvet'. It knew Itself only, and if we, too, can know only the Self in the way It knew Itself, that would be the greatest knowledge that we can have. But, we must know ourselves in the same way as 'It knew Itself', not as we think that we are, in the present state of individuality, because that is a knowledge of the Subject of knowledge, which included within Its Existence every object that It has to know, so that the usual process of knowledge does not exist in this act of knowing the object. There is no process of knowing between the Pramātā (knower) and the Prameya (known). As they say, there is no Pramāṇā (knowing) linking the two together. It is at once, a simultaneous Being-Consciousness. This is what the Vedānta terminology often designates as Satchidānanda, i.e., Pure Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.
He knew, 'I Am the All, the Absolute'; and whoever knows thus, becomes the All. This is the essence of Brahma-Vidyā, the highest wisdom of life.
Here is the intention of the Upaniṣhad in making a distinction between Divine Knowledge and ordinary knowledge. It is Divine Knowledge that liberates, while the knowledge of objects is binding. What is the characteristic of Divine Knowledge as distinguished from ordinary knowledge? This was the point of discussion in our earlier study, and the whole section deals with this subject.
The knowledge of God does not mean someone's knowledge of the existence or character of God. It means, rather, the knowledge that God possesses, not the knowledge which someone else possesses regarding God. It is the knowledge which is the endowment of God Himself. That is Divine Knowledge, and it is this knowledge that is liberating, as nothing else can liberate the soul. We have been told that ādhyātma-Vidyā, or Brahma-Vidyā is the science of liberation. It liberates by the very fact of its presence, and not by any other process that takes place in the rise of that knowledge than just its existence. It is something like the luminosity of the sun. The mere presence of the sun is every kind of activity of the sun. Likewise is this knowledge which is Divine Knowledge. Inasmuch as we are not accustomed to this type of thinking which is called for in the assessment of the real meaning of Divine Knowledge, we are likely to commit the mistake of introducing human logic into the structure of Divine Realisation.
It has to be pointed out that Divine Knowledge is not logical acumen. It is not a conclusion drawn by means of induction or deduction. It is not a product of argument, or any kind of rational process. It is also not dependent upon an object outside it, which is a very important factor that distinguishes Divine Knowledge from ordinary learning. While the knowledge that we have can have no significance if there is no object or content outside it, Divine Knowledge does not require any other content. It is itself its content. The object of knowledge is not necessarily an external factor that determines the value or the depth of that Knowledge, but the very nature of that Knowledge is such that it does not stand in need of an object outside it. This is a peculiarity in it with which the human mind is not accustomed, and therefore, the methodology of human psychology cannot be applied here, and even the farthest stretch of our imagination cannot comprehend the nature of Divine Knowledge. All the philosophers, whether of the East or of the West, have been racking their brains in trying to understand the nature of Knowledge, the nature of Truth. The character of Truth is an important subject in any philosophical enquiry, and we can, to a large extent, assess the value of a philosophical system from the definition of Truth that it furnishes. Each school of philosophy has its own definition of Truth, and from that definition we often gather the extent of the depth of that philosophy. We give logical definitions, and we have no other way of defining things. We give a characteristic of knowledge which is acceptable to the logical idiosyncrasies of the human mind, which need not be true, ultimately. This is so, because it is subject to sublation. Human understanding is a process of knowing which will change its nature in accordance with the nature of its object. It is not eternal knowledge. We may call it secular or temporal knowledge. Not all this knowledge of ours is going to free us from bondage.