18.5 ISHOPANISHAT P.5
Grief about the past, Delusion in the present, Fear of the future
When such illumination of Oneness and Equanimity has arrived, where is the possibility of any grief (shoka) or delusion (moha)? Grief is always about an event in the past. One is unhappy or grieved about something which he once had and which he has now lost. It could be money, possessions, kith and kin, peace, anything. We think we had it; actually it was not ours, it was His. So by this misplaced vision, we grieve about the past. How is the vision misplaced? It is because of the distraction caused by the apparent multiplicity in the manifested universe. If we are convinced about the unity (sarvam khalvidam brahma) in spite of the visible multiplicity, the vikshepa effect, namely the distorted vision, would not be there. On the other hand there is another quality which is not mentioned here, it is fear. Fear is always about something that is yet to happen. What will happen if I lose what I love now? What will happen if nobody comes to my rescue? What will happen if I die? -- all this is fear, fear about the future. In between the past (which creates grief) and the future (which generates fear) there is the present in which we are only deluded by our current ttachments. The delusion caused by attachment is the reason for the dilemmas into which we always land ourselves: whether we take this alternative or that – both being important for us because each is interlinked with something in which we have placed our attachment. We are attached to the present. We do not want the present happiness to become the past. That is delusion, for it cannot be so. Present happiness will pass and become the past. On the other hand, we think sometimes that the present unhappiness will continue in the future; and that is also delusion. So delusion is in the present when the vision is totally blurred. The blurring is because of the veiling (AvaraNa) of the Self, or what is the same thing, Ignorance of the Reality. Whether it is the past, or the present or the future it is the Lord who is the Master of all three because He is bhUta-bhavya-bhavat-prabhuH – one of the names in the Vishnu Sahasranama. BhUta is past, Bhavya is future and Bhavat is present. He is the Prabhu, the Lord of all three, therefore for one who has given himself upto the Lord of the past, present or future, there is no grief, no delusion, no fear. Such a one is a vijAnat, the one who knows, who sees with a distinguished vision, whose conviction is not just at an academic level, but is one of personal experience born out of inner conviction.
Profound commentary on Brahman
Now comes one of the most powerful and famous pronouncements about the Self in all of the Upanishadic literature, in Verse No.8:
Sa paryagAt shukram akAyaM avraNaM
asnAviraM shuddhaM apApavarNaM /
kavir manIshhI paribhUH svayambhUH
yAthAtathyathorthAn vyadadhAt shAshvatIbhyaH samAbhyaH // 8 //
The Self pervades all. Radiant is He, bodiless, without scar of imperfection, without bone or flesh, pure, untouched by evil. The Seer, the thinker, the One who is above all, the Self-Existent – he it is that has established perfect order among objects and beings from beginningless time.
The translation does not do justice to the original. Each word in this verse is a profound commentary on the Ultimate. As every reader of any sahasra-nAma (litany of thousand names of God) knows, all the texts repeatedly emphasize that even the one thousand names do not fully describe God, because His qualities are infinite. So the Upanishads are never tired of their eloquent descriptions of the Self. They declare it with joy; with the ecstasy that overflows from the fullest experience. Here is one such verse. We shall touch upon a few of the words used here.
The first verb used is ‘paryagAt’ which is made up of two words ‘pari’ and ‘agAt’. The first one indicates omnipresence and therefore the transcendence of God. The second word indicates the immanence of God because of the pervasiveness implicit in the verb ‘agAt’. The next epithet ‘shukram’ declares the self-effervascence of God; He does not need any external illuminator to illuminate Him, because He is the Light of all lights. The next epithet ‘akayam’ shows that He has no physical body. The two epithets that follow show He has no subtle body either. Purity implies that He has no causal body even. Thus He is beyond the physical, the subtle and the causal. Purity also indicates that there is no ignorance there – neither the cosmic one of mAyA nor the individualized one of avidyA. His untaintedness from evil or sin says that He has no doership or enjoyership.
The one Seer and Thinker
The word ‘kavi’ which is the next epithet has several connotations. Kavi means ‘poet’. He is the ‘purANa kavi’ – meaning most ancient kavi – as Arjuna praises the Lord in the 11th chapter of the Gita after He gets the cosmic vision of the Lord. Certainly He is the greatest poet and sculptor, as is evident from the beauties of Nature around us. KashyapaH pashyako bhavati, says the Suurya Namaskaara prashna of the Krishna Yajur veda. So He is the One who sees Reality as real and Unreality as unreal. He is the divine supreme knowledge and has the direct intuitive vision of the basic principles as well as the outward forms in their true perspective. Therefore He is the Kavi, the Seer. In fact He is theSeer among the Seers, poet among poets. ‘Kavim kavInAm’ says the Vedic passage, among other things, in a starting invocation which precedes every Vedic recitation. Next, He is the manIshhI, the thinker. He is the Mind among minds. He is the Consciousness which expresses itself both in the actual manifestations as well as in the self-existent Brahman. The former is a descent from Perfection and the latter is the fullness of Perfection. The Consciousness works in the process of descent as well as in the reverse process of ascent. One is evolution from the abstract to the concrete and the other is involution from the concrete to the abstract. The Consciousness is the same whether it is evolution or involution. The One Thinker appears to evolve and appears to involute; this cycle of alternate evolution and involution confuses us as to which is evolution and which is involution!