24) etat-tad-ity-anirdeSyA  We cannot pinpoint Her as this or that. This is the literal meaning of this name. But its meaning goes deeper. The word 'etat' meaning 'this' signifies the visible universe, which is perceptible to the senses. The word 'tat'  signifies 'that' and points to that Cosmic Absolute Truth which is transcendent and imminent and further is never perceptible tothe senses. It is 'aSabdam', not describable by sound sense, 'asparSam', not indicatable by the sense of touch, 'avyayam' immutable, 'nirguNam' with no attributes, 'nishkalam' with no marks or specifications.  Then how can it be at all described? The scriptures say it is not that which is described by speech but it is that which makes speech possible; it is not what is seen by the eyes, but it is that which makes the eyes see. So how can you decide whether it is this or that ? Is it the cause which is invisible or the effect which is visible? You cannot exclusively point to one of them and say it is only that and not this. It is not just this individual soul, nor is it just that Absolute, without reference to the individual soul. The individual soul has certain qualities like ignorance which do not belong to it absolutely, and the Absolute has certain facets like the capability to create, which is only a temporal phenomenon and not a definitive facet. So in this sense it is not possible to say it is this or that exclusively. 

(53) ISAdhi-devatA:  She is the goddess-divine who is 'above' the ISa (ISa + adhi) where ISa stands for both the Almighty and the individual jIva - in the sense that She is the substratum that remains after one discards the adjuncts of the ISvara (almighty) and of the jIva (individual soul). The adjunct of ISvara is mAyA and the adjunct of the individual soul is avidyA, that is, ignorance. She is above (= 'adhi') both.  

(64) lAkinIlam akam asya asti iti lAkinI.  'kam' means the Absolute brahman. 'akam' means what appears as not-brahman, namely, the universe. Where this universe merges into (= obtains 'layam', dissolution)  is lam. By association of ideas, 'layam' is taken to include also 'creation' and 'sustenance'. So lAkinI signifies that which is the fundamental source from which all creation happens, all is sustained and into which all merge, that which shines as the base of all this universe of names and forms. 

(72) lakshaNAgamyA:  that which is unobtainable (agamyA)  by definitions, called lakshaNas. There are three kinds of lakshaNas. jahal-lakshaNa is exemplified by 


'the tea-shop on the Ganges'.


How can a tea-shop be 'on' the Ganges?. Here the word 'Ganges' is not to be taken as the river Ganges. By context, the word 'Ganges' here only indicates 'the bank of the Ganges'. Thus the word 'tea-shop on the Ganges' simply means 'the tea-shop on the banks of the Ganges'. So the river-meaning of the word Ganges is to be discarded. 'jahat'means 'discarded. So this is an example of a definition which indicates by discarding. The second kind of lakshaNa is exemplified by the statement 


'white is coming first' 


in the context of a race of horses, say, where the white horse is coming first. Here the whiteness in the definition is not discarded in the derivation of the meaning. This is called 'ajahal-lakshaNa', the definition which does not discard. But when we try to understand the relationship between the individual soul (= tvam, meaning you) and the brahman (= tat, meaning that Absolute) we cannot have either of these two kinds of definitions; because, the discarding technique of the definition will discard the 'spiritual essence' present in both and the 'non-discarding' definition will take the ignorance of the soul, which is not in brahman and will also take the creative 'mAyA' aspect of brahman, which is not in the individual soul. So we have to go to the third kind of lakshaNa, called jahad-ajahal-lakshaNa -- meaning the definition which discards and also not discards! This means we discard the facets which are not in both and do not discard the factors which are present in both. This is what we do whenever we say 'That person is the same as the one I saw a few years ago in the mental hospital'. We identify the commonalities of the 'two' persons we are talking about and we also discard the obvious incongruences in the two cases we are talking about.  So also when we say that 'Thou art That' we discard the Ignorance aspect of 'thou' and the 'creative' aspect of 'That', but we take into consideration the spiritual content of both and assert that the spiritual content is the same. But even this definition does not describe who 'That' or 'Thou' is. The definition helps only so far as the discarding and non-discarding aspect goes and only in identifying 'Thou' with 'That'. Thus none of  the three kinds of definitions  'define' what the Absolute Truth is. Therefore She is unobtainable by definitions!

(86) hrImkAra-lakshaNA: The One which has hrIm as its (indicative, tatastha-) lakshaNa. There are four letters in the one syllable hrIm. The 'ha' stands for Siva as well as Space. Just as Space is uncontaminated or untouched by anything that happens 'in' space, because of its subtlety, cf. bhagavad-gItA 13-32:

yathA sarvgatam saukshmyAd-AkASam nopalipyate /
sarvatrA-vasthito dehe tathAtmA  nopalipyate //

so also the Absolute which is embedded everywhere in the body  is not touched by anything that happens to the body. So the 'ha' stands for the Absolute. The next letter is 'ra'. This by fiat of Sanskrit grammar always indicates the fiery aspect of the divine which causes an effect, that which creates. So the ha and ra together signify the causatively predicated Consciousness Absolute. The 'I' stands for the 'sustenance' aspect of VishNu. The anusvara  - 'm' - indicates the merging. Thus hrIm stands for the creative, sustaining and dissolving aspects for all of which together the source is the Transcendental Absolute Consciousness. The three aspects however singly or together do not define the Absolute; but they indicate, point the direction to, the Absolute. Such a defining characteristic is called 'taTastha-lakshaNa'. meaning, a 'tentative definition' or 'just an indicative definition'. It is not the final ever-valid definition.  Thus the hrIm syllable is the taTastha-lakshaNa  for the Absolute. 


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© 2017 by V. Krishnamurthy