Atma Bodha thus far, up to Vs.57, has been a great Journey from Ignorance to Wisdom. We have examined the nature of the Gross, Subtle and Causal bodies, the external universe, their functions, how we perceive them in our Avidya (usual state) and what significant changes are needed in understanding them.
Sath (the never changing and ever the same Existence)
Chith (all pervading consciousness) and
Aananda (the eternal supreme bliss).
Jnana Yoga is explained in depth in Vedanta, which mainly consists of all Upanishads.
In V.53, we saw that Jnani becomes indistinguishable from Brahman – just as water poured into a river becomes indistinguishable from other river water or like light of one source placed near a bigger source becomes indistinguishable from other light, or like the space earlier occupied by a broken pot becoming indistinguishable from the rest of space.
In.v.55, we saw that, Brahman is that – by attaining which there is nothing more to be attained and knowing which there is nothing more to be known and beyond which there is no other bliss.
In V.56, we saw that Brahman is all pervading, one without a second, the infinite Aananda.
But, how do we all perceive Aananda in our normal life? Let us examine in following verses.
The Aananda reflected in us is either more or less – depending on how pure is our mind and intellect. The purer the mind / Buddhi is, the greater the reflected Aananda is.
Even the great Brahma, the creator, also experiences a small part of the Akhanda Aananda only and not its totality. No one experiences the totality of the Akhanda Aananda – which is not available for experience. All experienced Aananda is a reflection only.
But, there are differences between what the Brahma, the creator, experiences, what a sage experiences and what you and I experience.
If the mind is purer and steadier – the reflected Aananda is much better, longer lasting and steady. If mind is of Sathva Guna – it is purer and steadier. Rajo Guna makes it unsteady and Thamo Guna makes it impure.
These Gunas affect the quality of the reflected Aananda that we experience.
The experiential Aananda is subject to arrival and departure. It is temporary.
The Atma Jnani is always in Atmananda, which is changeless and permanent. He can also enjoy the experiential Aananda as long as he is in his Sareera thrayam.
One does not experience Original Aananda. One becomes that.
Therefore, all living beings experience a part of the Akhanda Aananda. The greatest of beings like the Creator Brahma (Not to be confused with Brahman / Atma), the other angels like Indra, Varuna, Agni and so on all experience a very small part of the akhandananda. The Atma Jnani also experiences a small part of the akhandananda likewise. But, in his original state of Atma, he is himself Aananda Swaroopa. The same holds true for the creator Brahma, the great sages of the past and so on.
Some Upanishads give descriptions and comparisons of the experiential Aananda. If what a normal, healthy, strong, well balanced human being gets as his Aananda is one unit, the best among them become Manushya Gandharvas and get one hundred times more joy than that one unit. One hundred times more of that is what Deva Gandharvas get. It goes on multiplying like that (for Devas like Indra, Prajapathi etc) and at the top of the list come the likes of the great creator Brahma. Even this Aananda is a small, reflected portion of the akhandananda, the Brahman.
Very clearly – this gradation of reflected Aananda in each case is a subjective factor. This is mainly illustrative of the power of Sathvic mind in enhancing the reflected happiness in us and the power of Rajo Guna in reducing it drastically and the power of Thamo Guna in destroying our happiness and in creating misery. It indirectly urges us that we must cultivate Sathva Guna for enhancing our level of worldly happiness on the one side, and also for enhancing our fitness for the permanent Aananda (Self knowledge) on the other side. The seeker of self knowledge is therefore not one who is getting lesser happiness in the external world. He gains maximum happiness on both sides.
The presence of Brahman in the universe is similar. Brahman’s presence can be found within and outside us in the universe through special processes like Nidhidhyasanam. Without such special processes, we cannot detect the presence of Brahman in the whole Universe. People who deny Brahman need to remember this.
If some one is unwilling to go through Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhidhyasanam, there is no Brahman for him.
Our eyes, nose, tongue, skin, ears and mind are not otherwise endowed with capabilities of detecting even butter in Milk – leave alone the task of detecting Brahman in the universe.
How is Brahman present in us and other objects?
Every object in the universe, including you and me, has 5 components.
Thus, Atma and Anaatma coexist in a way in these five properties. Atma exists in the entire Anaatma. When we perceive any object, our perception extends to all five characteristics mentioned above – which means, we perceive both Anaatma and Atma in some way.
Brahman exists in every thing as Asthi, Bhathi and Priyam. There is nothing in the universe in which Brahman is not present. There is no action, transaction or change in which Brahman is not present.
Suppose there is just one thing of a kind in the whole universe! There is no other thing and no other kind.
How can we say – whether this unique thing is long or short, gross or subtle, what its colour is, what its characteristics are etc. If there is one thing which is white and another that is Black – a comparison and contrast arises. If one thing is longer than another, comparison and contrast arises. If one thing is stouter than another, a comparison and contrast arises. If one is darker or lighter than another, a comparison and contrast arises. But, when no comparable thing exists – what relativity exists?
There is no theory of relativity applicable to Brahman. It is the one and only unique entity which words cannot adequately explain – all words being relative in sense. Brahman is neither long nor short, neither white nor black nor of any other colour, neither Sathvic, nor Rajasic nor Thamasic in Guna, neither older nor younger in age. Brahman is beyond the seeing, hearing, touch, smelling and tasting power of our organs.
It is even beyond the conceptual power of the mind, which is just a bundle of all such COMPARATIVE THOUGHTS. Yet, words are the only vehicle available to us. So, we use words as the available, best possible, yet imperfect, medium to understand Brahman. Words describe names and forms in a relative sense and the universe is based on names and forms.
So, words can describe Universe.
Brahman is beyond all names and forms. You can call Brahman as - Vishnu, Siva, Brahma, or by any name you please. It doesn’t matter at all. Atma Bodha has emphatically driven into our minds this solid truth. That is the reason why – Sankaracharya has been describing Brahman in various, varieties of ways – so that the reflected thought power in us can catch a glimpse of Brahman from these descriptions and proceed from it through Nidhidhyasanam process to realize the Brahman.
Is this so?
The ingredients in the earth and Sun are the same. There is absolutely nothing special about the sun or other stars and their contents compared to planets like earth. Then, how come one is self illuminating and the other is not?
In reality, all objects, whether it is the Sun, or other stars or the earth, are all inert (Jadam) and have no light of their own. The word light here is used to indicate all sources of power like fire, light, intelligence, motion power etc.
But, Sun and all other entities derive their light from the inherent Brahman, the Chaitanya Sakthi pervading the whole Universe. Do we not prepare light and fire on earth from every object on earth? Do we depend for all of our light on Sun alone? No.
Though Sun is our major source of natural light and heat, we do know that every object on earth is also inherently possessing the capability for fire and light within itself. We do prepare light and heat from every object on earth. This power comes from the inherent Brahman in it.
While Sun, stars and every particle in the universe derive this power of light from the inherent Brahman, none of them can impart any such light to Brahman. We need to clearly understand that Brahman is the only one which is the light and the enlightening source of all that we see and experience in the universe.
There is also a huge mistaken impression that we, human beings, only have the power of reasoning, while the earth, which has given birth to us, grows us and takes us back into itself, has no such thought power!
There is no such inherent power either in human beings or in the earth. All such power is the reflected power of the Brahman. The earth, the Sun, the Vayu etc are all recognized as the celestial powers responsible for controlling each source of power that we know of. The eye has no power to see. It is the power of Agni (or sun at a more specific level) that is bestowed on the eye that makes the eyes see – but only in presence of Agni (sun, light etc).
Without light, eyes cannot see. Light or fire in the entire universe is the consolidated celestial power which bestows, enhances, or withdraws this seeing power of each of our eyes. Eyes get the power of seeing from light, but, light in turn gets its power from Brahman. The hearing power of the ears, the smelling power of the nose, the tasting power of the tongue, the touch sensation power in the skin, the digestive power of the internal organs are all controlled each by a separate consolidated universal power, which in turn gets its power from Brahman. Can we experience this Brahman? More specifically, can we experience this Brahman as our own SELF?
The universe by its nature is inert or Jadam. It has no intelligence of its own. It has no capability for action on its own.
The Brahman is all pervading in the interior and exterior of all objects and entities in the universe. There is not an atom in the universe within which and outside which Brahman cannot be found. It is the all pervading consciousness or knowledge. Brahman too is action-less and changeless. It is not Jadam at all but is Chaitanyam. Even being Chaitanyam in itself, it is still action-less. It does not participate in any actions or transactions that occur in the world. This is a truth that we need to understand very clearly. Chaithanyam but action-less and changeless!!
So how does it affect the Universe?
It is the cause of all changes, transactions, actions and intelligence that happen in each particle of the universe – by its mere presence. Without the presence of Brahman, nothing can move in the universe. But, Brahman by itself, even being Chaitanyam in itself, does not participate in any of these actions and transactions and remains a motivating witness by its mere presence.
The universe becomes intelligent, through the reflected intelligence and reflected consciousness coming from the Brahman. It goes into multifarious actions and transactions and changes. Time, space, names, forms and the five great elements of the universe all act and can act only in presence of Brahman.
The presence of Brahman is much like the presence of fire in an iron ball – which has been on fire for a long duration. Having been on fire for long duration, the iron ball now has a lot of heat (and light) inside every particle of itself and can itself act as a source of heat, light and fire now.
Can you become and remain such an action-less, motivating presence?
It is said – that every thing in the Universe happens due to the Sankalpa Sakthi (thought or decision power bestowed by Brahman) on the creator (Brahma)– protector (Vishnu)-destroyer (Siva) trinity. While the names are merely indicative of a function happening in the Universe, Sankaracharya has emphatically used all these names (even in Atma Bodha treatise itself) to indicate the same Brahman.
Let us see a few more illustrations on the all pervading nature of Brahman in the following verses!!