Wednesday, December 5, 2007

'Aum' - The Eye of Essential Knowledge

An emancipated man gets detached from the mundane non-essentials and concentrates on the essential knowledge that connects this world to the world transcending this world. This essential knowledge is required to orient oneself in the flux of changes. Every change modifies the universe to some extend. To visualize the modifications one should have a transcendental model that is not affected by the changes. Having given up the attachments to worldly things Nachiketas now seeks this transcendental model.

Anyatra dharmadanyatra adharmad
Anyatrasmat krutakrutat
Anyatra bhootachcha bhavyachcha
Yat tat pashyasitadvada

Confronting death Nachiketas asks: “All dualities are products of time. Dharma and adharma; what has been done and what remains to be done; past and future…all these have meaning only in a domain affected by the passage of time. Tell me about the subtle model that transcends the time domain.”

Sarve veda yatpadamamananti
Tapamsi sarvani yadvadanti
Yadichchanto brahmacharyam charanti
Tatte padam samgrahena braveemyomityetat

The answer to the question booms at the core of Nachiketas. “That subtle principle, which the Vedas attaempt to elaborate, which is brought forth with greater and greater clarity by austerities, which is being pursued by seekers by following the path of brahmacharya, is represented by the word ‘aum’

Etat hi aksharam brahma
Etat hi aksharam param
Etat hi aksharam jnatva
Yo yadichchanti tasyatat

This word ‘aum’ signifies the immutable Brahman, the essence of the universe. It symbolizes the unchanging model that transcends the laws of this world. Knowing this principle one spontaneously attains all the objects of his desire.

Etat alambanam shreshtham
Etat alambanam param
Etat alambanam jnatva
Brahmaloke maheeyate

This is the noblest of all supports. This is the support that transcends all supports. By knowing this as the true support one draws inspirations from the domain of Brahman.

Any worldly support has a limiting effect. The indebtedness created while drawing the support makes it difficult to surpass the source of support. So, one drawing support from worldly sources is bound to the domain of this world.

Na jayate mriyate va vipashchit
Na ayam kutashchinna babhoova kashchit
Ajo nitya shashvato/yam purano
Na hanyate hanyamane shareere

As this principle ‘aum’ transcends the time domain it has neither birth nor death, as these are the functions of time. It just is imminent and did not come from anywhere. This principle, which was never born, is permanent and ancient. Bodies are only vehicles for its expression. Nothing happens to it even when a body gets destroyed.

Hanta chet manyate hantum
Hatashche manyate hatam
Ubhou tou na vijaneete
Nayam hanti na hanyate

In any transaction in this universe we affect each other. Every movement one makes spells the end of something and the beginning of something else. The agent of change thinks that he is the perpetrator of the change. The subject of the change thinks that ‘I am being changed’. Neither the agent of change nor the subject of the change realizes that the transcendental principle behind all phenomena is not affected by any change. It is not affected by any event in this world.

Anoraneeyan mahato maheeyan
Atma/srujantor nihitoguhayam
Tamakratuh pashyati veetashoko
Dhatuprasadan mahimanamatmanah

This subtle principle is subtler than the subtlest concept that can be conceived by the intellect. At the same time, in its manifestation, it is also more comprehensive than the most extensive thing. It remains in the deepest recesses at the core of all beings. It is a passive witness that does not do anything and is unaffected by the sorrows of this world. Its glory becomes perceptible by the effervescence of its excitement in beings.

Aseeno dooram vrajati
Shayano yati sarvatah
Kastam madamadam devam
Madanyo jnyatumarhati

It wanders far even while remaining anchored in one point. It enters everything in this universe without affecting its own absolute poise. This ideal where both excitement and tranquility gets reconciled is the most sublime ideal worthy of pursuit.

Ashareeran shareereshu
Mahantam vibhumatmanam
Matva dheero na shochati

It resides in all bodies but is unaffected by the bodies. So, in effect it does not have any body of its own. It transcends the three states – the state of wakefulness, the state of dreams and the state of dormancy – through which all mortal beings transit. It is the ultimate goal of all ambitions and hence is the governor of the inner self in all beings. Knowing it the intelligent ones overcomes all sorrows.

Nayamatma pravachanena labhyo
Na medhayana bahuna shrutena
Yamevaisha vrunute tena labhya
Stasyaisha atma vrunute tantram svam

One can not capture this principle by the normal faculties of knowing. None is able to convey its nature properly and it is futile to listen to lecturing by others. It can not be grasped even by intently listening to the whisperings of the phenomena happening around and analyzing them by rational thinking. Its visitations are spontaneous and it descends on those it courts as a vehicle for expressing itself. Intense longing with the attitude to give oneself as an instrument of divinity alone can attract this essence of divinity to one’s being.

Na virato dushcharitan
Nashanto nasamahitah
Nasantamanaso vapi
Prajnane nainamapnuyat

It will not descend on those who dissipate themselves in futile pursuits. It will not come to those who have not found peace through integrity. It will not visit the minds turbulent with anxieties and apprehensions. It can not be attained through empirical studies.

Yasya brahma cha kshatrancha
Ubhe bhavata odanah
Ka ittha veda yatra sah

The attitudes of Brahmin and Kshatriya are behind all processes of creation and preservation. The subtle principle of Brahman is nourished by these processes. Death for it is only the process of consummation that should accompany this nourishment. Who can adequately comprehend such a subtle entity?