kaThopaniShad Series Part – 26
In the next mantra too brahman that is being discussed is taught:
अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषो मध्य आत्मनि तिष्ठति ।
ईशानो भूतभव्यस्य न ततो विजुगुप्सते । एतद्वै तत् ॥ १२ ॥
अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः of the size of a thumb पुरुषः is the puruSha मध्ये आत्मनि in the centre of the body तिष्ठति dwells. ईशानः He is the Lord भूतभव्यस्य of the past and the future न ततः upon knowing Him विजुगुप्सते one does not protect oneself एतत् this alone वै indeed तत् is That.
The puruSha, of the size of a thumb, dwells in the body. He is the Lord of the past and the future. After knowing Him, one does not conceal oneself any more. This, verily, is That.
By saying ‘of the size of the thumb’ this is meant: The physical heart has a space inside that is of the size of one’s thumb. This is the location where the mind adjunct is said to be. The puruSha who resides here in the space that is akin to the space within a bamboo, with the mind as adjunct, is the one who fills the entire creation. And this location is in the middle of the body and hence the puruSha of the thumb-size is said to be located there. He is the Lord of the entire creation and realizing Him as non-different from oneself constitutes liberation from the finitude of saMsAra. Such liberation is expressed in terms of ‘not craving to protect oneself from the trammels of saMsAra.’
Further it is taught:
अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषो ज्योतिरिवाधूमकः ।
ईशानो भूतभव्यस्य स एवाद्य स उ श्वः ॥ एतद्वै तत् ॥ १३ ॥
अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः of the size of a thumb पुरुषः is the puruSha ज्योतिः इव like a flame अधूमकः without smoke. ईशानः the Lord भूतभव्यस्य of the past and the future स He एव is the same अद्य today स He उ also श्वः tomorrow. एतत् this वै indeed तत् is That
The puruSha, of the size of a thumb, is like a flame without smoke. The Lord of the past and the future, He is the same today and tomorrow. This, verily, is That.
Here some other facets of the puruSha, brahman, are being brought out. brahman is pure Consciousness. This objectless Consciousness is often compared to light, fire, etc. Just as a bright fire is not enveloped by smoke, letting the brightness be experienced without hindrance, this brahman-consciousness that is ever present in one’s being is experienced by adepts in the methods of perceiving It within their heart. This Consciousness is the immutable brahman which is the Lord of the entire creation, of the past and the future. He is Eternal, immutable and is available in all sentient beings today, now. Since He is the Eternal Consciousness, it goes without saying that He will continue to be in every sentient being tomorrow too. By saying so the mantra conveys that there is none that is equal to Him that will be born in the future to dwell in the sentient beings.
In other words, the unbroken eternality taught in the bRRhadAraNyaka upaniShad (4.3.30) in the passage न हि विज्ञातुर्विज्ञातेः विपरिलोपो विद्यते, अविनाशित्वात् [there is never the lapse of the Knowledge of the knower since It is Imperishable] is taught here too. Whether there is the manifest creation consisting of the knower, knowing and the knowable objects, or not, the Consciousness that is only incidental behind the knowing activity, however, is ever present. That is why It is, in Its absolute nature, never tied down to any objective knowledge. The object-free Knowledge, verily Consciousness, is the Eternal brahman that is the very nature of the knower-aspirant who appears as a bound entity while in the throes of ignorance. It is to bring him back to his true senses, that is, his true Eternal Consciousness-nature, that the upaniShad strives tirelessly.
Reverting to the mantra under discussion, it is to be noted that by saying ‘That is the One that is available today and will be there tomorrow as well’ the upaniShad is refuting the possibility ‘Some say that He does not exist (after death)’ that was raised in the mantra (1.1.20) herein by Nachiketa. Even though such a possibility does not stand on logic, the upaniShad refutes it by its own words. Also, by extension, the theory of momentariness of consciousness too stands annulled.
The upaniShad never tires to denounce difference, of any kind, in the absolute realm. Here the refutation of the erroneous idea of difference with respect to brahman is being done in a very appealing manner:
यथोदकं दुर्गे वृष्टं पर्वतेषु विधावति ।
एवं धर्मान्पृथक्पश्यंस्तानेवानुविधावति ॥ १४ ॥
यथा just as उदकं water दुर्गे on a mountain peak वृष्टं rained पर्वतेषु on the rocks विधावति runs down एवं so too धर्मान् entities different from the Self पृथक् पश्यन् seeing as different तानेव them alone अनुविधावति runs in pursuit.
As rainwater falling on a mountain peak runs down to the abyss in all directions, even so he who sees the attributes as different from brahman verily runs after them in all directions.
The upaniShad spells out the dire consequence of taking as real the multiplicity seen in the state of ignorance. A suitable analogy is employed here to convey the message: When it rains on a mountain peak, the water, finding its natural levels, flows down to the spots that lie at the lower ranges. There is no effort involved in accomplishing this. So too when a person entertains as real the idea of difference, multiplicity, in the world, actually strengthens the erroneously deeply ingrained idea of difference, bheda, thereby ending up perpetuating the saMsAra born of bheda-buddhi, the notion of difference. Primarily, by ‘difference’ is meant the idea of finitude. This is the fundamental error since the upaniShadic fact is that there is absolutely no room for difference in the Impartite brahman. The upaniShad teaches brahman as an Infinite mass of consciousness, giving no room for any object, subtle or gross, as different from brahman. This fact is not known to the ignorance-enveloped person and he goes about imagining a variety of objects, sentient and insentient in a world, also imagined by him. If only the truth of one’s own infinitude be grasped and firmly internalized, there is no occasion for any difference whatsoever. Such an eternal state is liberation, mokSha. One realizes that there is no danger to one’s Being from any quarter, for there is nothing that is not this Being, Sat.
In the sequel the upaniShad, with the help of an analogy, teaches the attainment, nay, realization, of the Oneness of Being:
यथोदकं शुद्धे शुद्धमासिक्तं तादृगेव भवति ।
एवं मुनेर्विजानत आत्मा भवति गौतम ॥ १५ ॥
यथा just as उदकं शुद्धे into pure water शुद्धम् आसिक्तं pure water is poured तादृक् just as it एव alone भवति becomes एवं so also मुनेः विजानतः of the knower-sage आत्मा the Self भवति becomes गौतम O, Gautama.
As pure water poured into pure water becomes one with it, so also, O Gautama, does the Self of the sage who knows.
Just as when pure water is poured into pure water becomes one with the host-water indistinguishable, so too the self of the sage who realizes the Supreme Self becomes no different from It. In other words, the One Only Supreme Atman is realized to be none other than the aspirant’s self, for if it is not so, there cannot be infinitude of the Self. If anything apart from the Infinite, ananta, Atman is admitted, then such an object will limit the Atman and no longer can there be infinitude, anantatvam. Therefore, the erroneous notion of perceiving duality as real that is held by the uninformed logicians and the view of the non-believers, nAstika-s, should never be entertained. On the other hand, he who frees himself from these wrong views and aligns himself with the way of the committed followers of the vedAnta, should seek by all efforts the attainment/realization of the One Atman, the secondless Being. Such a one is assured of the Grace of the veda who is greater than a thousand fathers and mothers, always intent on the aspirant’s supreme welfare. Indeed it is not easy to come to the path of the veda. It takes great courage for one, even if he is born into a family of vedic followers, to really know the true worth of the ultimate teaching of the veda which is advaitam. For, the fear of losing one’s pseudo self takes over an aspirant and prevents him from making progress in the supremely beneficial path.
Here ends the first section of the second part of the kaThopaniShat.