23 March 2008, 10:03 AM
" OM ! May my speech be based on the mind, may my mind be based on speech. O Self-effulgent One, reveal Thyself to me" !
1. This self is that which has been described as "Not this, not this". It is imperceptible, for It is never perceived; undecaying, for It never decays, unattached, for It is never attached, unfettered, for It never feels pain & never suffers injury.
2. Gargi said, " Yajnyavalkaya, what pervades that Sutra which is above heaven and below the earth, which is heaven and earth as well as what is between them and which -they say - was is and will be ?
Yajnyavalkya said, " That O Gargi, which is above heaven and below the earth as well as what is between them and which - they say - was, is and will be, is pervaded by the unmanifested Akasa."
Gargi : " What pervades akasa" ?
Yajnyavalkya : O Gargi, the knowers of Brahman say, this Immutable (Brahman) is that. It is neither gross nor minute, neither short nor long, neither red colour nor oiliness, neither shadow nor darkness, neither air nor ether, unattached, neither savour nor odour, without eyes or ears, without the vocal organ or mind, non-luminous, without the vital force or mouth, not a measure, and without interior or exterior. It does not eat anything, nor is It eaten by anybody.
Under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gargi, the sun and moon are held in their positions; under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gargi, heaven and earth maintain their positions; under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gargi, moments, Muhurtas, days and nights, fortnights, months, seasons and years are held in their respective places; under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gargi, some rivers flow eastward from the White Mountains, others flowing westward continue in that direction, and still others keep to their respective courses; under the mighty rule of this Immutable, O Gargi, men praise those that give, the gods depend on the sacrificer, and the manes on independent offerings (Darvihoma).
He, O Gargi, who in this world, without knowing this Immutable, offers oblations in the fire, performs sacrifices and undergoes austerities even for many thousand years, finds all such acts but perishable; he, O Gargi, who departs from this world without knowing this Immutable, is miserable. But he, O Gargi, who departs from this world after knowing this Immutable, is a knower of Brahman.
3. He who inhabits all beings , yet is within all beings, whom no beings know, whose body all beings are and who controls all beings from within - He is your SELF, the Inner Controller, the Immortal.
4. That which transcends hunger and thirst, grief, delusion, decay and death. Knowing this very Self the Brahmanas renounce the desire for sons, for wealth and for the worlds, and lead a mendicantís life. That which is the desire for sons is the desire for wealth, and that which is the desire for wealth is the desire for worlds, for both these are but desires. Therefore the knower of Brahman, having known all about scholarship, should try to live upon that strength which comes of knowledge; having known all about this strength and scholarship, he becomes meditative; having known all about both meditativeness and its opposite, he becomes a knower of Brahman.
5. This earth is (like) honey to all beings, and all beings are (like) honey to this earth. (The same with) the shining immortal being who is in this earth, and the shining, immortal, corporeal being in the body. (These four) are but this Self. This (Self-knowledge) is (the means of) immortality; this (underlying unity) is Brahman; this (knowledge of Brahman) is (the means of becoming) all.
----- From Brihdarayanka Upanishad
28 May 2008, 09:30 PM
Contemplating the Verse 'pUrNamadaH'
This article is an attempted paraphrase of what and how I have understood the excellent exposition of the verse by Swami Dayananda Saraswathi. The original article can be downloaded at: http://www.advaitin.net/Discussion%20Topics/purnamadah%2520shanti-patha.pdf)
ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते ।
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेव वशिष्तते ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
aum pUrNamadaH pUrNamidam pUrNAt pUrNamudachyate |
pUrNasya pUrNamAdAya pUrNameva vashiShtate |
aum shAntiH shAntiH shAntiH ||
--shAntipATa (prayer verse) of the IshAvAsya upaniShad
This gem of a verse expresses the Ultimate, Whole, Absolute Truth that the Upanishads speak of. In just two lines, the verse explains Brahman, World, Creation, their causality and relation, and the ultimature nature of the two.
First let us have a verbatim translation of the verse:
That is whole; this is whole;
From that whole this whole came;
From that whole, this whole removed,
What remains is whole.
This explanation raises several questions:
• What is That, (adaH)?
• What is this, (idam)?
• What is meant by their being 'whole' and how they are so?
• If 'That' is Brahman, it is whole, alright, but how can 'this' as the world, be 'whole'?
• If this came from That, That would normally remain without 'this', so how can it still be 'whole'?
• Where are That and this and how are they related?
Just one noun (pUrNam), two pronouns (adaH, idam), three verbs (udachyate, AdAya, vashiShtate) and a particle (eva) for emphasis. And yet they convey an elaborate, profound, enlightening message. What is this message?
Let us take the noun, pUrNam first. This is a beautiful Samskrita word which means 'completely filled, wholeness itself (in its Vedic scriptural sense), absolute fullness lacking nothing whatsoever.'
adaH means 'that' and idam means 'this'.
Thus the first quarter of the verse says:
pUrNam adaH -- completeness is that,
pUrNam idam -- completeness is this.
adaH is always used to indicate something remote in time, space or understanding. Because it is remote, this something is not available now, for direct understanding. Therefore, it is a jneya vastu, a thing to be known, possibly known when the remoteness is destroyed.
idam refers to something not remote, but present, here and now, immediately available for perception, something directly known or knowable.
The meaning of idam is traditionally extended to include everything that can be objectified, all dRShya, all known or seen things, and thus this entire universe. In this sense, a 'that', adaH, becomes 'this', idam, when it becomes known by virtue of its remoteness being destroyed.
The first verse of IshAvAsyOpaniShad confirms this sense of the word idam:
idam sarvam yat kincha jagatyAm jagat
all this, whatsoever, changing in this changing world...
In this sense, idam includes all 'that's' which are subject to becoming 'this' by their capability of being known as objects.
So when the verse says pUrNam idam, "completeness is this", what is being said is that all that one knows or can know is pUrNam through idam.
How can 'this' be pUrNam, when pUrNam is total fullness that leaves nothing out, whereas idam surely leaves something out? What does 'this' leave out? Subject.
Thus idam leaves out aham, I, the subject. When one says 'this', the subject I is always left out. The world I see--'this'--does not include 'I' the subject. If I am not included, then pUrNam is not wholeness, so the statement pUrNam idam appears to be untenable, since it leaves out I.
What does the pronoun adaH mean in context? Does 'that' have a tenable relationship with pUrNam?
Since idam is used to refer to all objects, here and now in this world, presently known or unknown, the only meaning left for 'that' to indicate is the subject, which is not available for objectification. Therefore, the real meaning of adaH as used here in contrast to idam, is aham, I.
But then adaH is a jneya vastu, a thing to be known, since it is remote in time, place or in terms of knowledge. Does that mean that aham, I is remote? How can it be so? I am certainly not remote in place or time, because I am always here right now. But wait, perhaps I may be remote in terms of knowledge, because I really don't know who I am or what the I in me is.
Because only through the revelation of shRuti that I can gain knowledge of my true nature, it can be said that the truth of the aham is remote in terms of knowledge--something yet to be known.
The aham or I indicated by 'that' stands for what is meant when I say "I am", without any qualification whatsoever. 'That' so used as 'I' in this way means AtmA, which is a jneya-vastu, a to-be-known, in terms of knowledge.
When that knowledge is gained, I will recognize that I, AtmA, am identical with limitless Brahman--all pervasive, formless and considered the cause of the world of formful objects.
So far, then, the first two lines of the verse read:
pUrNam adaH - completeness is I, the subject AtmA, whose truth is Brahman, formless, limitlessness, considered creation’s cause;
pUrNam idam - completeness is all objects, all things known or knowable, all formful effects, comprising creation.
Both the statements, "Completeness is I, the subject" and "Completeness is all objects" seem to suffer from some kind of defect, the same kind of defect in fact: the statements seem to lack conviction. Each statement looks defective because it fails to include the other; actually it seems that each cannot include the other (because they look totally at variance); but pUrNam, completeness, brooks no exclusion whatsoever.
When aham, subject and idam, object are different from each other, how can they be pUrNam, completeness, which excludes nothing; then the opening lines make no sense?
To find sense in the lines, look at things from the standpoint of pUrNam, not from the standpoint of aham or idam! Now, what happens? The nature of pUrNam being a 'non-exclusive completeness' it must include 'this' and 'that' (or I). So 'That pUrNam' includes 'this pUrNam', or in other words, both are included in the pUrNam.
Therefore, when the verse says that 'I am completeness and this is completeness' what it actually says is that there is only 'pUrNam'.
aham, I and idam, this, are the only two categories to which everything in this world fits. If both are pUrNam then they must include each other--I includes this world and this world includes me, the seeming difference being swallowed up by pUrNam.
If everything is pUrNam, why bother to explain it with 'that' and 'this'? Why not simply say 'Everything is Brahman'? Such direct approach would not work; it would only add to the confusion.
Simple statements can be true descriptions of the ultimate truth, but to communicate it effectively, they need to take into account something more: the experience of the listener or reader.
In my everyday experience, I cannot find that aham, I and idam, jagat, this world, are both Brahman, who is pUrNam, the limitless fullness. For example, if I hold a rose in my hand and try to understand that we both are Brahman, all I find is only that we are both incomplete--limited by time and space, and each limiting the other. And in time, both of us pass away!
If I try to convince me that the rose and I are both Brahman because the Shruti says so, I might satisfy my intellect but that does not alter my experience in any way. So where is the problem?
Formless and Formed
pUrNam, completeness, as absolute fullness must necessarily be formless, because it includes everything. If it has a form then it would need to have a limiting boundary and that would mean something left out outside the boundary.
Shastra (scripture) reveals that what is limitless and formless is Brahman, the cause of creation, the content of aham, I. Therefore, Brahman and pUrNam are identical because there can be only one limitlessness and that One is the formless fullness, pUrNam, Brahman.
Though the verse is telling me that everything is pUrNam or the limitless, formless Brahman, I cannot still see how this world, full of objects, can be formless and limitless. Objectification requires some kind of form that can be known or perceived through the senses.
Whereas it is easy for me to see that adaH, that, which refers to aham is pUrNam, has no form. With some inquiry I can understand that the nature of adaH, which stands for the ultimate I, the subject, has to be formlessness.
The subject, I, needs to be formless because it is that which objectifies the idam, this. If the subject has a form, then it would require another subject to 'see' it, that would require another subject and so on, leading to a state of anavastA (non-apprehension). adaH does not stand for a state of anavastA, only for an ultimate being. Shastra reveals and inquiry confirms that the essential nature of the ultimate subject, I, is self-luminous; "I" is the self-proving formless being.
Duality is False
At this juncture, I have problems in realizing the formlessness and oneness of 'That' or I, and 'this': Shruti says both are formless and limitless fullness, I can understand the formlessness of 'That' or I, though I do not understand its fullness; and in the case of 'this', I find it to be neither formless nor fullness but only limited in every way! Though I can convince myself logically the truth of what the Shruti says, I cannot experience it in any manner whatsoever.
All that I experience is only difference: I am parichchinna, limited, and also parichcheda, limiting things around me. But one thing I am sure: I do not inwardly like to be a parichchinna, being limited or parichchedaka, limiting other things around me. I want to free of limitations and grow into fullness. That is the mission of my life. So what do I do?
When I turn to the Upanishads for an answer to my problem of limitation, I find that the Shruti tells me that I am the limitless, formless being of fullness that I inwardly crave to be. Shruti also acknowledges duality with the words adaH, That or I, and idam, this, and thus recognizes my experience of duality with the formful, limited things around me. When I probe how Shruti accounts for this contradiction, I find that Shruti accounts for it by negating duality. Shruti does not negate the duality or my experiences by sayting that they are non-existent, only says they are unreal, just appearances.
I have also heard that for a Vedantin, negation of duality is not a literal dismissal of the experience, only the reality of it. I can also understand that fullness and formlessness pervade the limited and formful, so all I need to do is to understand the falsity of duality and gradually try to realize the truth, in order to fulfil my mission of life. In addition, I know that yogis enter into nirvikalpa-samAdhi, a state of joy obtained by merging with the Absolute Truth, a state where the subject-object, seer-seen, knower-known and such other formalities of dualities are completely eliminated. Thus I understand that it is my normal experience that grants reality to the duality and that I need to transcend it by a greater, more and more unifying experiences of joy.
Shruti does not negate the experience of duality; it negates only the reality of the duality and the well-entrenched conclusion of duality that an aham, I suffer(s) from.
Is this negation of the conclusion of duality by Shruti to be taken as a matter of belief? No. Statements by Shruti in the Upanishads, negating this conclusion, are a pramANa (proof of valid knowledge). We should perhaps take it in the same way that we accept the statements of scientists about their discoveries, subject to the fact that the scientists' statements change over time when new discoveries are made, whereas the Truth discovered by the Upanishads is the Absolute Truth about the nature of God, world and myself, and therefore their statements are ever real and valid.
If the statements of the Upanishads are pramANa and I don't understand them right away, it only means that I need a qualified teacher to unfold their truth of non-duality for my direct knowledge and experience.
A teacher would unfold the meaning of the vAkya, "pUrNam is that; pUrNam is this" by relating it to other statements of Shruti and by using reasoning and experience to corroborate Shruti.
Shruti defines pUrNam as brahman elsewere:
satyam jnAnam anantam brahma
existent, conscious, boundless is Brahman -- TaittirIya Upanishad, II.1.1
It describes Brahman as the material cause, the upAdAna-kAraNa here:
yato vA imAni bhUtAni jAyante; yena jAtAni jIvanti, yatprayantyabhisamvishanti | .. tadbrahmeti |
"Wherefrom indeed these beings are born; whereby, having been born, they live; that toward which going forth (upon death), they enter;.. That is Brahman."
-- TaittirIya Upanishad, III.1.1.
But no Shruti statement directly names Brahman as the efficient cause, the nimitta-kAranNa; however, the implication here
sokAmayata bahu sham prajAyeyeti
'He (Brahman) desired, "Many let me be; let me be born (as many)."'
-- TaittiriIya Upanishad, II.6
is clear and logic requires that limitless Brahman, which is the material cause of creation, also must be efficient cause. A limitless material cause does not allow any other to be the efficient cause--the existence of an 'other' would contradict the limitlessness of Brahman.
Material and Efficient Cause
In the light of the above statements, what this verse says becomes clear, thus: adaH, that is, aham, and idam, both are pUrNam, and this requires that, while appearing different, they be identical. Brahman is the complete cause of aham, I, and idam, this; conversely, aham and idam are effects of Brahman, Shruti’s statements here and elsewhere are logically consistent.
I can understand the common material cause of different formful objects by the pot-potter example: the flower-pot on my window sill and the pot I use to store water or for cooking are made of the same material, clay; but here, the potter, and his apparatus, the efficient cause, seem to be outside and different.
Is there an experience where I can find the unity of the material and efficient cause of the created things? Yes, in a dream. My everynight dream is a good example: of a single cause, I, as the creator, who is both material and efficient; of effects, whose differences dissolve in the common cause; of both the substance and the creator abiding in aham, I.
Yet, when I am in the dream, I find the same situation as with the world in my waking condition: there is the same bheda, difference, of aham, I, idam and the duality of a subject-object relationship. Once I come out of the dream, I realize that the entire dream--the experience and its substance--are unreal.
As is the dream, so is the world. Therefore the first quarter of the verse says that it is only pUrNam, Brahman that is behind the duality of adaH or aham, and idam, they are only effects of Brahman who is the material and efficient cause of them, and that the duality is swallowed up by the pUrNam where they abide.
Creation is mithyA
After saying "pUrNam is that; pUrNam is this", and implying that pUrNam swallows up the duality of that and this, the verse proceeds to deal with the illusory reality of creation.
pUrNAt pUrNam udachyate
from completeness, completeness comes forth.
That is, from the adaH pUrNAt, idam pUrNam udachyate--from That completeness, this completeness comes forth.
By grammatical construction, Shruti indicates that the relationship between the two is one of material cause and effect. As the ablative case, pUrNAt shows that (aham) pUrNam is prakriti. As the nominative case, idam pUrNam, the subject of the verb udachyate (to be born), makes idam the effect of whatever is indicated by the ablative case, which is the aham pUrNam. Thus, Shruti grammatically sets up a causal relationship of material cause and effect between formless 'I' - pUrNam and formful 'this' - pUrNam.
If this pUrNam, the material world of formful objects, "comes forth" from that pUrNam, which is formless, it should mean one of two things: either that there are two pUrNams or that pUrNam has undergone some change in this effect coming out of that cause, so it cannot be pUrNam.
Shruti confirms again and again, that Brahman, the content of aham, I is formless:
ashabdam asparsham arUpam avyayam tatha arasam nityam agandhavacca yat?
"Soundles, touchless, colourless, immutable and also tasteless, time-free, odourless is that (which is Brahman).."--Katha Upanishad I.3.15.
Shruti also recognizes the formfulness and the duality of the world, though it negates them as unreal. So what happens?
We should understand that aham pUrNam is both the material and the efficient cause of the idam pUrNam. In cause-effect relationship, the efficient cause does not undergo a material change, but for the material cause, some kind of change constitutes the very production of the effect.
The only kind of change that the formless limitless can accommodate to produce 'formful' limitness is the kind of change that gold undergoes to become a chain: svarNAt svarNam--from gold, gold form. And the gold remains, as the substratum, of all the gold forms, so nothing has been added or removed to the pUrNam gold. In what appears as chain or ring or bracelet, the only reality is the gold and the forms are only unreal apperances that look real, and perhaps is real within their own limits of time and space.
Other examples of unreal forms are the cotton-thread-cloth, the ocean-wave-froth and the famous rope-snake.
pUrNam Alone Is
The verse cliches the issue in its last two quarters by saying:
pUrNasya pUrNam AdAya -- taking away pUrNam from pUrNam, adding pUrNam to pUrNam
pUrNam eva avashiShyate -- pUrNam alone remains
The contextual meaning here is: whether you take away (idam) pUrNam (formful object pUrNam) from (adah) pUrNam (formless I, Brahman pUrNam) or whether you add (idam) pUrNam to (adah) pUrNam, all that is there all that ever remains, is pUrNam alone.
What the Shruti actually means by 'adding to' and 'taking away from' is that the forms created by such 'processes' are only appearances--place and time markers--since nothing can really be added or taken away from the formless, limitless fullness, pUrNam. Just as the gold appears as the chain, the ocean appears as waves and froth, cotton appears as thread and cloth, Brahman appears as the world of forms.
I am pUrNam
The whole purpose of the verse is to motivate me towards the realization that I am pUrNam, Brahman, who is the Absolute Reality immanent in myself. The 'seer' in me and the 'seen' outside me are only projections of that Brahman through me; in this reality, I as the seer is no more real than the stone that is seen by me--we both are only appearances. When I see this projection, and gradually train myself through inquiry and knowledge under a qualified teacher to 'unconnect' myself from the seen-seer relationship, I understand that I can realize that I am the One unchanging, non-negatable formless reality--pUrNam--into which all appearances resolve.
One last question: what is the real nature of that pUrNam? What is it filled with to make it pUrNam (fullness) and not shUnyam (void)?
Elsewhere, Shruti gives the answer: Reality-Consciousness-Bliss, sat-chit[Ananda.
aum shAntiH shAntiH shAntiH
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