(Addressed to government officers and published in the Yoga Vedanta Forest Weekly of Feb. 2, 1950.) “In the beginning, there was knowledge, but there was no knowledge of another. Then came the knowledge of another, but not the knowledge of the many. Thereafter came the knowledge of the many, but not judgment of the one by the other. Then, finally, came judgment and evaluation of one by the other, and here we are, what we are.” Thus goes an ancient Master’s saying. These gradations of experience may be regarded as the process of what we call creation. In these few sentences, creation is explained. Though it is stated so simply in a few lines, the implications of these processes are so variegated and involved that everything conceivable can be said to be included in every phase of it, in this gradational coming down of that which is, which was, and shall be, into what is seen now at the present moment. The freedom of man, the salvation of the soul, is supposed to be a traversing of the very same path through which God may be said to have descended into the form of man, and all that the world consists of. The return of man to God is the movement in a reverse order, from the direction that creation took when the One deigned to appear as this vast involvement. The word ‘Samsara’ is significant suggesting entanglement and an immense difficulty felt in disentangling oneself from the involvement. It is not an ordinary type of impasse that we are finding ourselves in these days. It is almost an unthinkable and ununderstandable abyss into which we have come down; and, here, in this condition of involvement in the way mentioned, there is not merely a physical or social involvement, but there is the worst of things that has happened, the involvement of what we consider ourselves to be in our essentiality, namely, our own consciousness, our own understanding, our intelligence, and the product of our educational career. In essence, anything that is worthwhile in us, meaningful and significant in our lives, is so involved. There is a submerging of human individuality into this oceanic abyss of involvement and there takes place a tentative awakening of itself by coming to the surface of this ocean occasionally when we seem to know a little bit of the processes of the world. Our understanding of whatever is meaningful in life is conditioned by the dip that consciousness has taken in this ocean of involvement. We have already sunk into a mysterious kind of the waters of Lethe, as they call it in Greek mythology, the waters of death, or the things into which we have dived, and got up into a consciousness of there being a kind of life in this world. Do you know that this world is called the world of death, Mrityuloka? It is never called the world of life. Though we are all alive, it is never called a life of any standing meaning at all. You will be wondering how this world is a world of death. Why do we call it Martyaloka or Mrityuloka? Because even the life we are living is a form of death only. It is not actually life that we are living. It is an unending preparation towards a catabolic activity in which the psycho-physical organism is engaged, and from moment to moment we are dying. In this instance I may cite an occasion that arose many many years back, when emperor Aja lost his queen, and he beat his breast, hit his head on the ground, cried before his great Master, Guru Vasishtha, “I have lost the very meaning of my life; I have lost symphony, rhythm and meaning. I have nothing with me. I have lost everything.” This was the expression of king Aja before Vasishtha, the omniscient seer. And what was the reply of Vasishtha to this cry of the king, that he had lost his dear and near, his only value in life? Kalidasa, in his Raghuvamsa, in his own poetic style, tells us what this reply was: “Maranam prakritih saririnam vikritir jivitam uchyate budhaih.” This was the simple, open answer of Vasishtha to the king who was wailing over the joy he lost and the sorrow that had descended upon his head. What is the meaning of this half-verse? Anything that is embodied is nothing but an embodiment of death only, because anything that is complex has to get decomposed into its original components. As a building is made up of its own ingredients known as building material, anything that is born, – it may be human or anything else, anything that is composed of elements which precede it in the process of creation, has to revert to that out of which it has been made. The building has to return to the condition of bricks one day or the other; it will be only the original that it was. It cannot be the Taj Mahal or anything that attracts your vision of grandeur, because this grandeur of human perception, the beauty of things and the value of life itself, is the tentative presentation before our blinded eyes of a shape or a form taken by causative factors which are precedent to things and to our coming into this world, whatever be our importance in life. Vasishtha held that death, thus, is what is natural to things; it is life that is unnatural! The birth of an individual into this world is actually a birth into the waters of death. No one can escape this possibility. And the meaning behind this drama of coming and going is to be sought in the few sentences I uttered in the very beginning – that in a gradational coming down of the Ultimate Reality into the present condition of life in the world, there is a final involvement. No one can know how one is involved in this world. Whatever be your understanding and knowledge of things, you cannot know how you are involved. We have a poor, schoolboy’s understanding of our involvement here. A person may have debts to pay; he will say, “I have some involvement.” He has a family, and he is in an involvement. He has to work hard in an office; and he will say, “I have an involvement.” These are little involvements of a totally extraneous nature. But there is a real involvement which is the source of our bondage, properly speaking. Working in an office, maintaining a family, or paying a debt, is not so serious an involvement, because you may discharge these obligations in some way. But there are certain obligations in our life with which we are born. “Sahayajnah prajah srishtva purovacha prajapatih, Anena Prasavishyadhvam esha vo’stvishtakamadhuk,” says the Lord in the Bhagavadgita. We are born ‘together with’ an obligation. ‘Sahayajna’ means “togetherness of birth with an obligation in the form of a sacrifice.” The ‘togetherness’ of coming into this world with a sacrifice or a necessity to sacrifice is called ‘Sahayajnatva’. Now, this becomes a necessity on our part, merely because of the fact of our involvement in an ununderstandable, mysterious impasse. We can never be happy permanently in this world, whatever be our efforts to be happy, for the simple reason that we cannot diagnose our own illness. May be, there are means of this diagnosis. But one cannot be one’s own doctor; in a similar manner, we cannot know what our problems are, though we attribute our difficulties to events that take place outside. There is no ‘outside’ in this world, The meaning of involvement is the abolition of anything as external or internal. There is no thread in the cloth which can be called external to the other threads, because they are intertwined in such a way that everything is involved in everything else. So, one cannot be called the ‘other’; the ‘otherness’ that we perceive is an error, and the cause of this error in perception in the form of a conviction of there being something outside us is the reason also for the involvement. It was said that there was the perception of the many. But we cannot have merely the knowledge of the many and remain quiet without any dealings with the many, because the very knowledge of the many implies a necessity felt at the same time to relate oneself to the many. I cannot simply know that you are sitting there, I have to feel a sense of relation to that which I see. This is the beginning of involvement. And, the freedom of the soul, our final salvation, we may say, consists in our disentangling ourselves gradually from the network of this involvement, which is a hard task, indeed. Sometimes Samsara is compared to a quagmire. A quagmire is a kind of marshy area where, if you keep your foot, you will go in. And if you try to lift your sunk foot with the help of the other foot planted on it, you will see the other foot goes in. And so both feet go in, and you can be sunk neck deep. And you do not know what will happen to you. This state of affairs is called the quagmire-involvement, and our life is something like that. Often, by ancient masters, life is compared to involvement in a quagmire. When you try to free your foot, you will see that the other foot has gone in; and when you lift the other, this one has gone still deeper, so that you do not know where you are. It is an unthinkable misery, unadulterated sorrow. Where is the salvation, and where is the remedy? The remedy is not in further involvements. Often we try to cure one disease by introducing another disease into the body; this is not a real curative method. You cannot pay your debts by borrowing from some other person, though many a time we do this thing and feel that debts are paid. But we have paid the debt by creating another debt, paying perhaps compound interest and making matters worse. Our search for joy in life is at the same time an accumulation of sorrow from another side. This we forget in our involvements. So, at least from the point of view of man’s present way of involvement and thinking we can say that he cannot attain real freedom. But it is not true that the expectation is absolutely impossible. There is a necessity to go to facts as they are, and not merely opinionate about things and hold judgments on objects in any manner whatsoever, because every judgment is a characterisation of that which you see with your eyes, and, as I mentioned, this characterisation is always infected with a defect caused by your having sunk into the mire of an involvement which is called birth. The withdrawal of conscious operation objectively in terms of what we see with our eyes, judging things from the point of view of the senses, would be the beginning of the development of wisdom in our lives. Then, to speak in the language of Buddhist psychology, we move from what they call Kama-loka to Rupa-loka. The world we are living in is called Kama-loka, because it is the world of involvement by desires, positive as well as negative. A positive desire is the clinging to something, and a negative desire is aversion to something. And we have a twofold attitude towards things in the world. Whatever be that attitude, like or dislike, it is Kama only, and inasmuch as there is nothing visible in this world except these two types of involvement, they consider this world as Kama-loka. You cannot see a person as he or she is in himself or herself. A person, a thing, or an object, whatever it is, is to us what it means to us in terms of an involvement, and minus the involvement, we cannot know what it is. I cannot know what you are except in relation to me. This relation is the undoing of all things. Whenever we understand things or cogitate on any person or thing, we always do this cogitation work in terms of what sort of relation that thing has with us. Independently, we do not consider a person as a tree in the jungle. We do not bother what the tree is about; let it be there! It is not my son, it is not my brother. Whatever happens to it is not my concern. But it is a great concern of mine in relation to that with which I am related. This concern is the bondage of the soul. Why should you be concerned? That is the externalisation of your relationship. This is overcome by what you call detachment in its true spirit, not detachment in the ordinary ritualistic manner. Detachment does not mean moving from Kanyakumari to the Himalayas, or from one country to another. It is the disentanglement from the involvement of consciousness in this act of judging in terms of what it means to ‘me’ positively or negatively. Then you will reach the next world, called Rupa-loka, where the world may be seen by us, as it is. The beauty of the painting will no more be there; you will see only a canvas and ink spread in a particular pattern. To give an example of how you move from Kama-loka to Rupa-loka; from the beauty that is seen in a painting, you move to the substance out of which the painting is made. The arrangement of the ink on the canvas in terms of a spatio-temporal context, again involved in our way of looking at things at a particular distance also – all these factors considered – becomes the cause of our knowing things as beautiful, or otherwise. So, when this Kama is no more there, we begin to see Rupa, or the forms of things as they are. Are you not something independently in yourself other than what you are to others? You know very well you are something to yourself. Whatever be the opinion others may hold about you, minus all these opinions, you are something, and that is the pure principle of existence, sometimes called Isvarasrishti, apart from Jivasrishti. The ideas of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, and the notions of ‘my belonging to somebody’ or ‘something belonging to me’ or ‘not belonging to me’, etc., are known as Jivasrishti, or the involvements mentioned – the abyss, Samsara, this quagmire. But if I can know you as you know yourself, and I know me as I am to myself, and each one stands by himself or itself as a pure subject unrelated to the objects, relation is abolished, because, really, there is a basic unity of things where the pure subject which is the universe stands supreme in its integrated completeness, which is the universal perception we are waiting for finally, you may say, the vision of God. And when God knows Himself, not as an object of vision by somebody – That is the origin of things, That which is, the Almighty God Supreme, call Him Narayana, call Him the Father in Heaven, the Unimpeachable, Ununderstandable, Non-Externalisable, Pure Being, All-Being, the Bhuma, the Infinite, the Vaishvanara of the Upainshads, the Viratsvarupa of the Bhagavadgita. That is our Goal. And we can have an iota of satisfaction and joy in this world only to the extent of our approximation to this reverse movement of ours in the direction of Truth. But if you try to be happy here by adding more untruths to the already existing ones, purchasing more illnesses to the existing ones already in the body, and piling up sorrows over sorrows, over those which are already there, then the fate of man is booked, for what it is. May this be a heralding moment to us to find time to brood over these truths of our real state of affairs in this world, what we really are, also what anyone is really in himself or herself, what any thing is in itself, in the eyes of that which alone can see things clearly without the spectacles of likes or dislikes. Such is the mighty Goal before us, into whose facts we are awakened by great masters like Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. Their blessings we seek, and the Grace of the Almighty we invoke upon the whole of humanity at this auspicious hour of mutual communion. May we, then, sing the song of the ancient mystic in a slightly different strain: “In the beginning there was the One, and there was not the many; Then there was the many, but not the consciousness of the many; Then there was the consciousness of the many; but not judgment of ‘the other’; Then there was the judgment of ‘the other’, and, lo, mortal sorrow became the name of all life.” With deep gratitude to Swami Krishnananda of the Divine Life Society
(Spoken on September 15, 1995) Our subject will be what is known as the System of Yoga. As you are all aware, the word ‘yoga’ has been exercising a kind of mesmerising effect on the minds of people; everyone seems to be attracted towards it, whatever their reason may be. There is an unknown enigmatic power exerted by the very word ‘yoga’, due to which everyone wants to know what it is, under the impression that it is apparently going to shower upon them immense blessings of an unknown character. People feel it is something wonderful, and very necessary. This word yoga comes from a Sanskrit root, yug, meaning ‘uniting’ or ‘the union’. Yoga is the attainment of union, and also the process of achieving this union. It is the end, as well as the methodology involved in achieving the end known as union. But union with what? What is to be united with what? This question is, perhaps, not easily answered. There is a nebulous feeling about the nature of this union, and a clear-cut answer will not be easily available from any quarter which seems to be concerned with the teaching of yoga. Hundreds of definitions will be provided, all which look perfectly sensible and logical; yet, you may not feel that you have obtained anything. You will be still searching, moving from one Guru to another Guru, one institution to another institution, and trying every blessed method of practising yoga. The answer to this great question of what this union is will take you deep into the very nature and structure of existence itself. Very profound is this science because it goes deep into the very nature of what is called existence itself. The meaning of the word ‘existence’ will be clear to you all because of the fact that everyone exists, everything exists. Existing is a common denominator, a factor that is at the back of the very meaning of all life. There is no meaning in anything unless it exists. That which does not exist has no value. Inasmuch as existence is a common background of every person and every thing in the world, it has to be considered as covering the whole structure of life. Everywhere is existence, but in our day-to-day life, we seem to be psychologically creating a sort of rift in this otherwise-generalised definition of existence. For instance, everyone feels, “I exist; you also exist.” Here, when you conceive your existence as a ‘myself’, you will automatically distinguish this existence of ‘myself’ from the existence of what you call ‘yourself’. My existence is not actually identical with your existence. If it were identical, there would be no ‘you’. For every ‘myself’ there is a counter-correlative known as ‘yourself’. Now, who is this ‘myself’? Every person in the world is a ‘myself’, because every person refers to oneself as ‘me’. Who is ‘yourself’ or ‘itself’? Anything that is not ‘myself’ is ‘yourself’ or ‘itself’. Please remember this peculiar subtle enigma before you: Anything that is not ‘myself’ is ‘yourself’ or ‘itself’, but this ‘yourself’ is also a ‘myself’ from its own point of view. While I may regard you as ‘yourself’ from my feeling of myself as a subjective existence, you are also in a position to consider yourself as a ‘myself’, and consider me as a ‘yourself’. Is there a distinction between myself and yourself? You will find that here we are in a strange difficulty that eludes ordinary understanding. Who is this ‘myself’, and who is the ‘yourself’? Everyone seems to be ‘myself’, and at the same time everyone is a ‘yourself’, though these two terms are totally contradictory. How can these contradictions seem to be existing in one person simultaneously? I am ‘yourself’ and ‘myself’ at the same time, though the characteristics of the existence of ‘myself’ and ‘yourself’ are two different things altogether. The existence of ‘myself’ cannot get identified with your existence; else, there will be no difference between people. Are you able to recognise the great problem before you? Are you justified in regarding anyone as a ‘yourself’? Why do you call somebody as ‘yourself’, or call something as ‘itself’, when that ‘itself’ also is a ‘myself’ from its own point of view? If you are going to live in the world with this kind of contradiction in your own way of thinking, you should think thrice before saying, thinking or doing anything. It is a tremendous mystery that you are facing in your day-to-day life, and you have taken it for granted, as if it is perfectly clear. Why do you regard another person as a ‘yourself’, if you are able to conceive that person called ‘yourself’ to be a ‘myself’ from its own point of view? So, the basic philosophical question is, “Is there an object in the world, apart from the subject?” The ‘yourself’ is an object, the ‘myself’ is a subject. The ‘myself’ observes the ‘yourself’ as an externally independently existing something. Are you justified in coming to this conclusion that there is someone who is not at all a subjective ‘me’ or ‘I’, but totally an object? Can you say that there is anything called an object at all, really speaking, inasmuch as every person and every thing cannot be regarded as an object from their own point of view? But, do you not make this distinction between the subjective perceiving consciousness and the object outside? Put a question to your own self: Why do you make this distinction? In what way can you consider yourself justified in calling yourself a determining factor in foisting a definition on someone else whom you regard as an object? There is something of a secret hidden behind all these things: How do you know that you are existing? What makes you feel that you are really there, in some place? Have you any proof? Do you not ask for proofs, nowadays, for anything to be accepted? Now, bring a syllogistic deduction, a logical argument, to establish that you are existing. You may be wondering, “The question is ridiculous. I am existing; it is very clear, and you want a proof for it?” There is a clarity which is a hundred-percent illumination that confirms the existence of oneself. But, you will not grant this concession that you are, which you give to your own self, to others. For any other thing you want a proof in order that you may establish their existence. You cannot know the nature of even an atom. You want laboratories, equipment, by means of which you can know the nature of the existence of a little thing called a material substance, an atom. If everyone and everything has a substantive characteristic and not an objective characteristic, there would be some fallacy in your asking for instruments to enable you to know the nature, existence, or the structure of something which you call an object. Why do you not apply the same logic to your own self? Why do you not subject yourself to a laboratory test of observation and experimentation to know that you are really existing? You will say, “It is meaningless. You want me to subject myself to an experiment in a laboratory so that I may know that I am existing?” But then, why should you apply this logic to another, which you regard as something different from you, though wrongly? There is a psychological rift between the operation taking place within yourself and the same operation that is taking place in regard to something that you regard as not yourself. The mind of a person divides itself into two segments of activity, knowing in a subjective way on the one side and characterising in an objective way another thing on the other side. You do not deal with another in the same way as you deal with your own self. Is it possible for you to deal with another thing or another person in the same way as you are likely to deal with your own self? Inasmuch as you will not be able to do this, and you would not like to do it also, for your own personal reasons, you are unjustly parading your competency in knowing all things perfectly, while in fact your knowledge of things is imperfect. You have created an unjustifiable dissection of the types of existence attributed to yourself and others. Yoga, as I mentioned, is an act of union. Now I am coming to the point as to what it is that is going to be united. Two realities cannot be united, because a reality is something which is valid by its own existence as a total independence. An independent thing cannot come in contact with another independent thing, because there is a total subjectivity characterizing the independence of a particular person or thing which differs from the same nature that you can attribute to another person or thing. Two ‘reals’ cannot join and become one, because both are ‘real’; if two ‘reals’ can join together and become one, there must be some mistake in the assumption that there are two ‘reals’ at all. In this sense, in the attempt to achieve the union known as yoga, you are dealing with vast existence itself, which stands before you as an object, from which you distinguish yourself as an observer. The world stands before you as something that is observed, and you are standing apart from it as an observing subject. But, do you not know that you are also a similar type of object that can be observed by other substantives, who also have the prerogative of judging you? Have you heard the very famous saying, “Judge not, lest ye be judged?” In the way you are judging another, you will be judged correspondingly. You will receive what you are meting out to another, the reason being that there is an undercurrent of uniformity between the subjective side and the objective side which is missed in ordinary sensory perception. The consciousness that is what makes you feel a ‘myself’ or ‘me’ in regard to your own self cannot be observed as operating in another person. You can experience the consciousness in you, but you cannot experience the consciousness in another person. You only concede the fact of there being consciousness in another person by the behaviour of that person, which indicates the presence of consciousness in that person, also. So, the conceding of the fact of there being a consciousness in another person is a conclusion drawn by inference; but in the case of yourself, it is a direct experience. You cannot know that there is consciousness in another person, because consciousness is pure subjectivity. The nature of consciousness is nothing but the capacity to know. That which knows cannot become what is known. That is to say, consciousness cannot become an object of itself. This is the reason why you are only inferring consciousness in other people by a deductive process of reasoning, while in your case it is a direct experience. If it is possible for you to adopt some method by which you can enter into the consciousness of another person, that person will immediately cease to be an object to you. There will be a commingling of consciousness, which is supposed to be the pure subject in you with the consciousness which also is a pure subject in another person. But practically, this is not possible to achieve. By any amount of effort on your part, you cannot enter into the consciousness of another person. The other person always stands as an object to be dealt with, while you do not want to deal with yourself. Here is a basic fundamental error in the process of perception and experience in which we are daily involved, and no one wants to go deep into this difficulty under the impression that everything is clear, and all things are going on well. The process of action and reaction, with which you are well accustomed, arises on account of this bifurcation of your existence as differentiated from another’s existence. There is something which the existence of another resents in your characterisation of its existence. It resents the definition of that existence, because it is not possible to dissect two segments of existence which otherwise is uniformly present in all people. Now, the Yoga System takes up this question in right earnest: How would you be able to solve this psychological malady that has crept into everyone, due to which you cannot truly know what is outside you? Even your knowledge of your own self is a perfunctory psychological appreciation, not a true knowledge. If you cannot have a true knowledge of your own in-depth essence, you cannot know the in-depth essence of anybody else, either. So, all knowledge received through our modern-day education is a make-believe. The characterization, the ‘how’ and the behaviour of a particular person or thing is given, but the ‘why’ of it is not known. You can know how a thing behaves, but you cannot know why it behaves in that manner. With your own self, you know why you are behaving in a particular manner. So, that ‘why’ which you are applying to yourself as something very clear should also be equally applied to the other, which stands on equal footing in the process of perception. The philosophical definition of this subjectivity in oneself standing as opposed to the existence of another is the correlation of the seer and the seen. How do you come to know that something is there in front of you? You will have a very easy answer: “Because, I see that there is something in front of me.” What do you mean by ‘seeing’? The light rays come in contact with the retina of your eyes and cast a reflection of what is in front of you. Opticians tell you that in the beginning it is a topsy-turvy reflection that is cast on the retina; later, it gets rectified into a vertically existing object. Yet, the primary question, how you have come to the conclusion that you know this object, is not answered. Knowledge cannot be identified with rays of light, because no one believes that a light ray is conscious. It is a physical phenomenon. An object which is far away, like a mountain, becomes an object of your knowledge. You are, of course, aware that the mountain cannot enter into your eyes; it is distant, and yet, you come to know that the mountain exists. The knowing process is actually the function of consciousness. Your consciousness establishes the existence of something in front which is called a mountain. It brings about a conscious relationship between the mountain and itself in the perception of this object called a mountain. Do you attribute consciousness to a mountain? Does it think in the manner you think? You say, “The mountain is a material substance.” If you cannot regard matter as having an element of consciousness, then matter stands always as an object of consciousness; and if there is always a difference between consciousness and matter, as well known to everybody, then there is a difference between the consciousness that knows the object known as the mountain, and the mountain itself. If there is such a difference between the material object called the mountain and the consciousness which is supposed to know the existence of that object, how do you come to know that it exists? The only apparent connection between your consciousness and the object which is known as the mountain is light rays, air and space. Neither light rays, nor the air, nor the space intervening between you and the mountain can be regarded as conscious elements. They are all material, one-hundred percent. If that which intervenes between your consciousness and the object outside is material in its nature, this consciousness which knows the object cannot be connected with that object, because the connection is made of material substance. What is the relation between this material connection existing between your consciousness and the object, and the knowing Self itself? No intelligible answer to this question is possible. A material connection cannot bring about a conscious apprehension of the object. We have to conclude that there is some other mysterious element operating between your so-called subjective consciousness and the object outside, because the object, such as the mountain, is material, as is well known; and matter and consciousness cannot come together, as they are of dissimilar characters. Similar things unite; dissimilar things divide. Now, the mountain being dissimilar to the nature of consciousness, it cannot be known under any circumstance that it exists, unless you appreciate that there is something of the nature of consciousness itself interlinking your subjective consciousness with the object outside. What is the conclusion? The conclusion is that your consciousness that knows the object is not connected to the object by any material content; it has to be, by an in-depth analysis of the situation, a conscious link only – which means to say, your mind has to exceed the limit of this bodily frame. The mind cannot go so far as the mountain outside if you believe the mind is inside the body only. Do you not think that the mind is inside you? Do you believe your mind is going outside into the marketplace? If the mind is locked up within the framework of your physical being, there is no way of knowing that there is an object outside – unless, by a logical deduction of the fact, you have to infer that this mind which apparently seems to be locked up within the body is really not so locked up. It has a wider connotation, which permits its existence outside the body, also. There is a larger mind than the individual mind, which is the reason why your so-called subjectivity is able to apprehend the object outside. Your mind is touching the object because of the fact that it is not really confined to the location of your physical body. I will give you an example to illustrate this point. Suppose there is a broadcasting station in Delhi or anywhere, and somebody speaks or sings there. That sound wave is carried through space to the receiving set somewhere far away, and that receiving set plays the voice of the person in the broadcasting station. Does it mean that the sound is travelling through space? But the sound itself does not travel through space; otherwise, we would all be hearing the broadcasted sound even without the receiving set. The audio structure of the speech or the song of the person gets converted into a vibration, an energy, which is ubiquitous, existing everywhere; and the medium of that energy which is everywhere is contacted by the process of the conversion of the sound into that very energy which communicates that vibrating force to the receiving set, which re-transforms that energy into the sound that you are hearing. So, between the sound in the broadcasting station and the sound that you are hearing through the receiving set, there is something that is not seen at all by any person and which cannot be contacted, but without which the connection between that sound and this sound is unintelligible. In a similar manner is this question of the perception of an object. There has to be a super-mind, a wider mind, a more comprehensive mind, you can call it the Universal Mind, which operates in an impersonal manner between your individualized mind, which is apparently locked up in your body, and the so-called object, which is apparently external to you. Now, here again a question arises: What is it that this extra-physical mind is doing when this individual mind vibrates in a manner contactable with this Universal Mind? What actually takes place? The mental faculty which is superior to the individual mental faculty, the wider mind, comes in contact with the object which is called the mountain. You can see even the stars, which are several light years away. How do you see them, when they are not entering your eyes? The same process takes place. There is a larger, wider, universalized mind through which the individual mind comes in contact, without knowing that there is this transparent intermediary operation taking place between the knowing mind and the object that is known. Another question automatically follows from this conclusion. The fact that the mountain is a material substance cannot be overlooked. Even the Universal Mind, which knows itself, which reflects consciousness, cannot identify itself with something which is totally material in its nature. Mind cannot contact matter, unless the matter also has some characteristics similar to the mind. If you cannot concede this fact, the reason why you are able to know an object outside cannot be explained. The conclusion, therefore, philosophically arrived at, is that there is some Over Mind operating everywhere, even inside the structural pattern of an object called matter, such as a mountain. There is a universal operative mind that is hiddenly present even in a so-called material object called the mountain, and it reacts in a conscious manner in respect of the conscious mind which is seeing the object outside, and a commingling of two centres of mind takes place. There has to be something of a similar character between the medium that broadcasts the sound in the station, and the receiving set. If they are totally dissimilar, they cannot come in contact with each other; there would be no hearing the sound at all. There is, therefore, for all practical purposes, a hidden content as a mysterious existence which operates universally and ubiquitously everywhere, which being unknown as an existing factor to the individual mind, creates the so-called bifurcation between the subject and the object. What does yoga do, then? It is a very subtle and adroit method adopted in the disciplining of the individual mind, by which it can directly come in contact with that Universal Mind intervening between itself and the so-called object outside. That is to say, you will directly come in contact with that object. The objectiveness, the ‘yourself-ness’ of the object ceases. It becomes a ‘myself’ in a different sense, and this ‘myself’ which is the observing factor unites with the ‘myself’ of that object. There is a larger ‘me’, a large ‘I’, which transcends the individual ‘I’, an experience which will include whatever you know about yourself and whatever you seem to be knowing about another. There is, therefore, an enhancement of perceptive capacity in this process, and when the attainment of this kind of union becomes an actual experience, you will find yourself in a flood of experience which inundates your total personality, and you will feel that what is outside you is not really outside you. The problems of life arise on account of the existence of ‘yourself’ contradicting ‘my existence’. That contradiction has to be resolved by adopting such subtle means of self-discipline by which the otherness of an object gets melted down to the true ‘myself’ aspect of what that object is. That is to say, yoga is a union of the true subject with the true subjectivity of another thing, which you erroneously and wrongly call the object. So, what is the union in yoga? It is the union of the subject with the object. But, in another sense, it looks that the two cannot be united at all, so I have to explain why, in one sense, the subject and the object stand apart and they cannot be united, and in what sense they can be united. You will find the Yoga System of Patanjali practically mentioning that the problem of life arises in the contradiction between the subjectivity and the objectivity of a thing, and the separation of the objective character in an object from the subjectivity in it – in its technical language, the prakriti aspect being separated from the purusha aspect in the perceiving consciousness. In that sense, there is a separation, but in a deeper sense, there is a union, as I have indicated to you briefly in this introduction to this great subject, to which we have to revert later on in greater detail. Our gratitude to Swami Krishnananda of Divine Life Society
If you travel from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin – Kanyakumari – and ask all the Hindus, “Tell me what is Hinduism,” they cannot tell you. They will say, “We are Hindus.” “But tell me what is Hinduism?” That they cannot answer because they are floating on the surface of outer religious performance and ritual, and the in-depth significance of it has not gone into their minds. You will find this problem everywhere. You will find it perhaps in every religion. He is a Muslim; he is a Christian; he is a Hindu; he is a Buddhist. If you ask him, “What essentially is the essence of your religion?” he will scratch his head twenty times, and he will not answer anything. He cannot give a reply. They will never be able to answer that question because they have not given time to think properly. Ask a man who is a Hindu, “How do you know that you’re a Hindu? Prove it.” Let him prove that he is a Hindu. He will look up and say, “What is the matter?” It is very difficult to prove. What proof have you got that you are a Hindu? You cannot answer this question by any amount of scratching the head. He will say, “I know that I am a Hindu.” “But how do you know? You have not put a label on your face that you are a Hindu.” If you say, “I believe in the Vedas,” does it mean that whoever believes in the Vedas is a Hindu? There are great German scholars who believe in the value of the Vedas. Do you call them Hindus? So, that definition is not good. “I pray to Narayana.” Then, whoever prays to Narayana becomes a Hindu? There are Muslim saints who worship Lord Krishna, and yet they are not Hindus, so that definition is also not good. You will find it is such a comprehensive interrelated complex that any straitjacketed answer will not be sufficient. It is called a straitjacket answer – stereotyped. It is not possible to answer like that. It is a highly involved thing. In Hinduism you will find the essentials of every other religion also, in some measure and at some level. There are levels of Hinduism; it is not one compact thing. At one level, you will find the idea of Christianity is correct. At another level, you will find even Islam is correct. At another level, you will say Zoroastrianism is correct. At another level, you will find Judaism is correct. At another level, Taoism is correct. It all depends upon the layers of religion; and all these levels, Hinduism accepts. The only thing is, it will not consider any level as final. This is why it is a very comprehensive religion and, therefore, you cannot even call it by the name Hinduism. It has no name at all. They call it Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana Dharma means eternal religion. Hinduism is only a post-European concept. Europeans have given that name. We do not call ourselves by that name. ‘Hindu’ comes from the word ‘Sindhu’. When Greeks and Persians came to India some years before Christ – Alexander and Jerious, and other Persian kings and Greek invaders came – they crossed the Sindhu, and they wanted to know who these people staying in this country are. They did not know their name. They said that river is called Sindhu, and all those people who are on the other side are Sindhus. In Persian, ‘s’ is pronounced as ‘h’, so ‘Sindh’ becomes ‘Hind’, so they pronounce it as ‘Hindu’; and in Greek it has become ‘Ind’. The word ‘India’ has come from the word ‘Sindhu’ only. ‘Sindh’ becomes ‘Hind’, ‘Hind’ becomes ‘Ind’. So the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘India’ have both been created by these historical conditions, historical circumstances. Really, this is Bharatvarsh. We call it Bharatvarsh. Even now they say ‘Bharat’. It is not India. ‘India’ is a historical exigency. Similarly, the word ‘Hinduism’ – there is no such thing as that. It is Sanatana Dharma – eternal religion. It is eternal religion because it accepts every level of religious thought. It does not reject any level, but it does not consider any level as final. That is the whole point. With deep gratitude to Swami Krishnananda of the Divine Life Society
The Significance of the Purusha Sukta The Purusha Sukta of the Vedas is not only a powerful hymn of the insight of the great Seer, Rishi Narayana, on the Cosmic Divine Being as envisaged through the multitudinous variety of creation, but also a shortcut provided to the seeker of Reality for entering into the state of Superconsciousness. The Sukta is charged with a fivefold force potent enough to rouse God-experience in the seeker. Firstly, the Seer (Rishi) of the Sukta is Narayana, the greatest of sages ever known, who is rightly proclaimed in the Bhagavata as the only person whose mind cannot be disturbed by desire and, as the Mahabharata says, whose power not even all the gods can ever imagine. Such is the Rishi to whom the Sukta was revealed and who gave expression to it as the hymn on the Supreme Purusha. Secondly, the mantras of the Sukta are composed in a particular metre (chandas) which makes its own contribution by the generating of a special spiritual force during the recitation of the hymn. Thirdly, the intonation (svara) with which the mantras are recited adds to the production of the correct meaning intended to be conveyed through the mantras, and any error in the intonation may produce a different effect altogether. Fourthly, the Deity (devata) addressed in the hymn is not any externalized or projected form as a content in space and time, but is the Universal Being which transcends space and time and is the indivisible supra-essential essence of experience. Fifthly, the Sukta suggests, apart from the universalized concept of the Purusha, an inwardness of this experience, thus distinguishing it from perception of any object. The Sukta begins with the affirmation that all the heads, all the eyes, and all the feet in creation are of the Purusha. Herein is implied the astonishing truth that we do not see many things, bodies, objects, persons, forms, or colors, or hear sounds, but rather only the limbs of the One Purusha. And, just as when we behold the hand, leg, ear or nose of a person as various parts we do not think that we are seeing many things but only a single person in front of us, and we develop no separate attitude whatsoever in regard to the various parts of the person’s body —because here our attitude is one of a single whole of consciousness beholding one complete person irrespective of the limbs or the parts of which the person may be the composite — in the same manner, we are to behold creation not as a conglomeration of discrete persons and things with which we have to develop a different attitude or conduct, but as a single Universal Person who gloriously shines before us and gazes at us through all the eyes, nods before us through all the heads, smiles through all the lips and speaks through all the tongues. This is the Purusha of the Purusha Sukta. This is the God sung in the hymn by Rishi Narayana. This is not the god of any religion, and this is not one among many gods. This is the only God who can possibly be anywhere, at any time. Our thought, when it is extended and trained in the manner required to see the universe before us, receives a stirring shock, because this very thought lays the axe at the root of all desires, for no desire is possible when all creation is but one Purusha. This illusion and this ignorance in which the human mind is moving when it desires anything in the world — whether it is a physical object or a mental condition, or a social situation — is immediately dispelled by the simple but most revolutionary idea which the Sukta deals to the mind with one stroke. We behold the One Being (ekam sat) before us, not a manifoldness or a variety to be desired or avoided. But a greater shock is yet to be, for the Sukta implies to any intelligent thinker that he himself is one of the heads or limbs of the Purusha. This condition where even to think would be to think as the Purusha thinks — for no other way of thinking is even possible, and it would be to think through all persons and things in creation simultaneously — would indeed not be human thinking or living. Just as we do not think merely with one cell of our brain but think with the entire brain, any single thinker forming but a part of the Purusha’s Universal Thinking Centre, ‘a Centre which is everywhere with circumference nowhere’, cannot afford to think as is usually attempted by what are called jivas, or individual fictitious centres of thinking. There is no other way — na anyah pantha vidyate. This is Supramental thinking. This is Divine Meditation. This is the yajna which, as the Sukta says, the Devas performed in the beginning of time. The Purusha-Sukta is not merely this much. It is something more to the seeker. The above description should not lead us to the erroneous notion that God can be seen with the eyes — as we see a cow, for instance — though it is true that all things are the Purusha. It is to be remembered that the Purusha is not the ‘seen’ but the ‘seer’. The point is simple to understand. When everything is the Purusha, where can there be an object to be seen? The apparently ‘seen’ objects are also the heads of the ‘seeing’ Purusha. There is, thus, only the seer seeing himself without a seen. Here, again, the seer’s seeing of himself is not to be taken in the sense of a perception in space and time, for that would again be creating an object where it is not. It is the seer seeing himself not through eyes, but in Consciousness. It is the absorption of all objectification in a Universal Being-ness. With deep gratitude to Swami Krishnananda of the Divine Life Society Purusha Sukta, the Hymn सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात् । स भूमिं विश्वतो वृत्वात्यतिष्ठद्दशाङुलम् ॥1॥ पुरुष एवेदं सर्वं यद्भूतं यच्च भव्यम् । उतामृतत्वस्येशानो यदन्नेनातिरोहति ॥2॥ एतावानस्य महिमातो ज्यायाँश्च पूरुषः । पादोऽस्य विश्वा भूतानि त्रिपादस्यामृतं दिवि ॥3॥ त्रिपादूर्ध्व उदैत्पूरुषः पादोऽस्येहाभवत्पुनः । ततो विष्वङ् व्यक्रामत्साशनानशने अभि ॥4॥ तस्माद्विराळजायत विराजो अधि पूरुषः । स जातो अत्यरिच्यत पश्चाद्भूमिमथो पुरः ॥5॥ यत्पुरुषेण हविषा देवा यज्ञमतन्वत । वसन्तो अस्यासीदाज्यं ग्रीष्म इध्मः शरद्धविः ॥6॥ तं यज्ञं बर्हिषि प्रौक्षन्पुरुषं जातमग्रतः । तेन देवा अयजन्त साध्या ऋषयश्च ये ॥7॥ तस्माद्यज्ञात्सर्वहुतः सम्भृतं पृषदाज्यम् । पशून्ताँश्चक्रे वायव्यानारण्यान् ग्राम्याश्च ये ॥8॥ तस्माद्यज्ञात्सर्वहुत ऋचः सामानि जज्ञिरे । छन्दांसि जज्ञिरे तस्माद्यजुस्तस्मादजायत ॥9॥ तस्मादश्वा अजायन्त ये के चोभयादतः । गावोः ह जज्ञिरे तस्मात् तस्माज्जाता अजावयः ॥10॥ यत्पुरुषं व्यदधुः कतिधा व्यकल्पयन् । मुखं किमस्य कौ बाहू का ऊरू पादा उच्येते ॥11॥ ब्राह्मणोऽस्य मुखमासीद् बाहू राजन्यः कृतः । ऊरू तदस्य यद्वैश्यः पद्भ्यां शूद्रो अजायत ॥12॥ चन्द्रमा मनसो जातश्चक्षोः सूर्यो अजायत । मुखादिन्द्रश्चाग्निश्च प्राणाद्वायुरजायत ॥13॥ नाभ्या आसीदन्तरिक्षं शीर्ष्णो द्यौः समवर्तत । पद्भ्यां भूमिर्दिशः श्रोत्रात्तथा लोकाँ अकल्पयन् ॥14॥ सप्तास्यासन् परिधयस्त्रिः सप्त समिधः कृताः । देवा यद्यज्ञं तन्वाना अबध्नन्पुरुषं पशुम् ॥15॥ यज्ञेन यज्ञमयजन्त देवास्तानि धर्माणि प्रथमान्यासन् । ते ह नाकं महिमानः सचन्त यत्र पूर्वे साध्याः सन्ति देवाः ॥16॥ For transliteration and meaning An Interpretation of Selected Verses [We offer a preliminary and somewhat tentative interpretation of a selection of the verses (1 to 7 & 16) from the Sukta here. The reader should follow this up with a more detailed study if interested. There are multiple interpretations of this hymn from multiple sources — Ed.] सहस्रशीर्षा पुरुषः सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात् ।स भूमिं विश्वतो वृत्वात्यतिष्ठद्दशाङुलम् ॥1॥ The Purusha of a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet (Sahasra, or thousand, is not a literal figure here but symbol of many, numerable, countless; all heads and eyes and feet, all beings, are Purusha only) who pervades all this universe and extends infinitely into the ten directions (symbolized by the ten fingers) and still exceeds all measure. पुरुष एवेदं सर्वं यद्भूतं यच्च भव्यम् ।उतामृतत्वस्येशानो यदन्नेनातिरोहति ॥2॥ Purusha is all this that is, all that has existed and all that shall ever exist; Purusha is also the God of Immortality (amrit signifies immortality and liberation from birth and death) and thus, when utterly consumed (as food is consumed) by this Purusha, one attains to immortality. एतावानस्य महिमातो ज्यायाँश्च पूरुषः ।पादोऽस्य विश्वा भूतानि त्रिपादस्यामृतं दिवि ॥३॥ Whatever is seen and known here is the glory and greatness of Purusha; and beyond the known and seen is also Purusha. Whatever is manifest in this universe is but one fourth portion of Purusha, three fourths of Purusha remains unmanifest in its changeless, immortal transcendence. त्रिपादूर्ध्व उदैत्पूरुषः पादोऽस्येहाभवत्पुनः ।ततो विष्वङ् व्यक्रामत्साशनानशने अभि ॥4॥ Three fourth of Purusha (or tripad, three feet) remains ever in transcendence, raised high above all manifestation and the one fourth portion (one pada, feet) of Purusha manifests (out of Purusha) recurrently as the universe. तस्माद्विराळजायत विराजो अधि पूरुषः ।स जातो अत्यरिच्यत पश्चाद्भूमिमथो पुरः ॥5॥ From that original, primal Purusha arose this whole universe and in that primal Purusha rests all this. This Purusha is the support of all that is manifest, the Purusha is the substratum. From this Resplendent Purusha arose the godhead that then created this earth (bhumi, that which bears) and thenceforth, all other forms. यत्पुरुषेण हविषा देवा यज्ञमतन्वत ।वसन्तो अस्यासीदाज्यं ग्रीष्म इध्मः शरद्धविः ॥6॥ With the Purusha as the Sacrificial Fire, the Deva, the Resplendent One, as the Sacrificer, this vast Sacrifice (yajna) of Creation continues. The seasons arose out of that Sacrifice: Spring arose as ghee (clarified butter), summer as fuel and autumn as the offerings for the sacrifice. तं यज्ञं बर्हिषि प्रौक्षन्पुरुषं जातमग्रतः ।तेन देवा अयजन्त साध्या ऋषयश्च ये ॥7॥ The First Divine Men were created as the Holy Water sprinkled with the Kusa (used in ritual sacrifices) Grass in that Yajna, the Sacrifice symbolic of Creation. The First Divine Men were the Sadhya Devas (perfected beings) and the Rishis (the illumined seers), who were created by the great Resplendent One, the Vast (Virat) who performed the Yajna. (The Rishis, like the Saptarshis or the seven illumined seers, were manifested directly out of Purusha). — यज्ञेन यज्ञमयजन्त देवास्तानि धर्माणि प्रथमान्यासन् ।ते ह नाकं महिमानः सचन्त यत्र पूर्वे साध्याः सन्ति देवाः ॥16 ॥ The Devas performed the outer Yajna by meditating on the real Yajna within, by contemplating the Purusha shining behind all existence; and thus they first obtained the Dharma directly from the oneness of the Purusha. By meditating on Chidakasha (the Blissful Spiritual Space behind all beings, which, in essence, is the Purusha), during those earlier times, the Spiritual Aspirants themselves became the Radiant One, Purusha.