kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 9 19:38:05 CDT 2006

We continue with discussion on Mantra 1.

In the mantra 1, Eq. 1 is defined indicating what ‘Om!’ stands for. 
Shree Shankara in his commentary discusses the inseparable relation
between the ‘word’ and the object the word stands for.  Here word not
only represents sound but also the quantifiable object that it
designates.  Thus sound becomes a basis for communicating and
transmitting the knowledge of an object that the word stands for.  This
inseparable relation between the word and the object it stands for forms
a basis for ‘shabda’ pramANa or sound as the means of knowledge, where
sound is not a meaningless noise but has a meaning that is established
by convention.  For example, the word ‘cow’ stands for an object cow by
convention.  In this mantra, upaniShad is establishing the convention of
what exactly the sound ‘Om!’ stands.  In trying to equate the word or
sound Om! with an object, we are facing the situation, where there is no
specific object that it can relate to since it includes all this that
can be pointed out and even all that which cannot be pointed.  Exact
relation between Om and the quantity it relates to is not clear since
the quantity that it relates includes everything that is bounded by time
as well as that which is beyond time and therefore cannot be
conceptualized. Thus Eq. 1 provides a relation which cannot be easily
comprehended by the mind, since any comprehension involves
conceptualization of the object the sound stands for.  Yet it does point
out that ‘Om!’ includes ‘all this’ that can be conceptualized plus it
includes ‘all other things’ that cannot be conceptualized. Although Eq.1
provides the extent of meaning for Om by saying that it includes all the
phenomenal world plus something beyond,  we need a further explanation
of what else it includes that does not come under ‘trikAlam’ or three
periods of time, and how exactly we should know without conceptualizing
it.  Upanishad, therefore, promises that it is going to give further
explanation (tasyopa vyAkhyAnam) about Om!.  

What is the use of learning this Eq.1?  There is an interesting story in
puraaNas.  Sage Narada brought a fruit to Lord Shiva to give it to one
of his two sons; Kartikeya and Ganesha.  To decide who gets the fruit,
Shiva gave a test – whoever goes around the world first will get the
fruit.  Kartikeya immediately jumped on mayura jet to go around the
world.  Ganesha being somewhat overweight slowly got up and looking at
his slow moving vehicle, mouse, recognized that he needs to come up with
a short cut to solve this problem quickly, using his high intelligence. 
He just went around his parents Lord Shiva and Parvati and claimed the
fruit declaring that Lord Shiva and Parvati are PuruSha and prakRiti,
the very cause for creation, and going around them is equivalent to
going around the world.  Similarly Eq.1 says Om! is equal to ‘all this’
that can be pointed out – that includes the entire universe that can be
pointed as ‘this’ which is bounded by time and as well as that which is
beyond time.  To start with, analysis of ‘this’ includes therefore all
objective sciences.  

Therefore, we have a choice.  Like Kartikeya one can examine ‘all this’
and learn the truth of all this.  That is what a scientist does; that is
trying to investigate the nature of the truth by analyzing one of ‘this’
or any one of  the sciences.  There have been also many efforts to
discover ‘universal field equations’ that govern all the fields. 
However such investigations still exclude the investigator, the
conscious entity, in the investigations.  Lately there are efforts to
investigate the ‘consciousness.  In principle ‘consciousness’ cannot be
investigated by any objective analysis, since the very objectification
for investigation makes it as a non-conscious or inert entity. In the
name of investigation of ‘consciousness’ what is being investigated is
only how consciousness expresses in the brain as the learning center and
not what consciousness is.  Just as we stated that ‘knowledge’ cannot be
defined other than ‘knowledge of..’, we cannot define ‘consciousness’
other than what we are ‘conscious of..’  There is a difference between
asking ‘what is life?’ vs. ‘how the life manifests?’ as expressions in
the physiological systems.  One has to be conscious of this difference. 
All one is trying to investigate is the physiological changes in the
brain when one is conscious of an object rather than what consciousness
itself is.  

Like Karitikeya, we can learn about ‘everything’ as an objective
scientist by investigating everything.  Interestingly we find that any
investigation of ‘this’ will not lead to any definitive answer.  It is
common experience that in any objective science, the more one
investigates the more the object reveals.  Every scientific paper raises
lot more questions that required to be addressed for complete
understanding, than providing a conclusive answer. One specializes in
narrower and narrower fields than what one has started with in the
beginning.  Thus the more one analyzes any given system more one
realizes that there is lot more to learn before he becomes expert in
that area.  Thus his ignorance increases disproportionately as he
investigates further and further.  This is true for analysis of any
object that can be pointed out.  One can be happy at any level with
relative knowledge gained but that is not the absolute truth of that
object.  As we noted in the introduction that the absolute truth of any
object or truth of ‘all this’ is nothing but Brahman, and Brahman cannot
be known by any objective analysis.  Hence upaniShad lead us to the next
mantra in trying to define what ‘all this’ means.  

Mantra 2:  sarvam hyetad brahma| ayamAtmA brahma| soyamAtmA catuShpAt||

“All this that has been specified before is Brahman.  This Atma is
Brahman.  This Atma has four aspects.”

padam actually means legs; but here it means four quarters. We define as
four aspects since each aspect is defined from a reference or relative
to a given reference.  We have discussed that all the knowledge that we
know of is only relative knowledge. Here, as will be explained in the
following mantras, the references are with respect to waking, dream and
deep sleep states and that which runs through all these three states.  

Two more equations are specified in this mantra.  Combining with Eq. 1
we have 
        Om! = ‘All this’ that includes everything within and that beyond
.. (1)
        ‘All this’ that was noted above  = Braham    

. (2)
	Brahman = This self or Atma.  

.. (3)

Thus we have three equations specified by the UpaniShad; A=B; B=C; and
C=D, where A stands for Om, B stands for All this; C stands for Brahman
and D stands for the Self that I am. An outline of the first equation is
provided in mantra 1.  To understand mantra 1, we need to unravel mantra
2, since it provides what exactly ‘All this’ means, by equating ‘All
this’ to Brahman. 

We have provided an exhaustive discussion regarding Brahman in the
introduction.  We need to recall this for understanding Eq. 2.  First,
Brahman is infinite and therefore cannot be defined, since any
definition is only for a finite object to distinguish that object from
the other objects in the universe.  Therefore Brahman being infinite
cannot be related to anything since any relation involves two things
that can be related.  Hence the above equation has to be understood not
as relating two entities of each side of equation but as an identity
relation or a relationless relation (in mathematics identity relation is
specified by three parallel lines ( ≡ ), rather than two.). Hence
Eq. 2 has to be understood as an identity relation.  

The problem arises in understanding this identity relation, since the
left side of this equation refers to ‘all this’, where ‘this’ stands for
everything that can be pointed out in the past, present and future, and
also everything that cannot be pointed or that which is beyond the three
periods of time.  And the right side of the equation is Brahman, the
infiniteness.  Being infinite, Brahman cannot be pointed, since for
something to be pointed it has to be different from the one who is
pointing. On the other hand, ‘all this’ can be pointed.  In addition, we
have established that the creation is infinite – that is there are
infinite idams or infinite finites (although it appears to be a
contradiction in terms).  However, a major problem arises in the
identity equation, since it equates on one side that which is jadam or
inert and the other side that which is a conscious entity.  They cannot
be identical.  Since scripture is providing the identity, it is a
pramANa or means of knowledge, if we have faith in the scriptural

The validity of the equation is established in the introduction when we
analyzed that 1) existence of an object presupposes the knowledge of its
existence, (2) existence of an object ‘this’ cannot be established
independent of the conscious entity, (3) in the perception of the
object, what is perceived is not really substantive of the object but
only the attributes of the object.  Cognition of an object or knowledge
of ‘this’ or idam involves perception of only the attributes of an
object by the senses which are integrated by the mind with an image of
an object in the mind. Thus object ‘out there’ ultimately is a ‘thought
of an object in the mind with ‘knower thought’ as I know this and known
thought as ‘this is known’. Both are in my consciousness and therefore
both the object and the subject are within the consciousness that I am. 
This much we gathered by analyzing the mechanics of the perceptual
process.  Current theories of quantum mechanics also are coming to the
same conclusion that it is the interference of a conscious entity that
localizes the object at a given place and time.  Otherwise we are only
left with mathematical probabilities of the existence of the object at
that given place and time.  

Thus, consciousness pervades both aham, I thought, and idam, this
thought, for me to be conscious of subject and the object. Then what
exactly is the substantive of an object if we can never perceive it by
any means of knowledge. In order to establish that we need to relay on
the scriptural statement which categorically states that substantive or
material cause for the universe is nothing but Brahman.  ‘yatova imaani
bhUtAni jAyante, ena jAtAni jIvanti, yat prayam tyabhiSham vishanti, tat
vijnAnasva, tat brahmeti|’ The universe (of objects) arise from and
sustained by and goes back into Brahman, which is nothing but infinite
consciousness.  Therefore everything that I see as this cannot be
different from Brahman as the scripture declares that ‘all this indeed
is Brahman, sarvam khalu idam brahma’.  Therefore Eq.2 is justified by
scriptural statement in agreement with our finding that one cannot
perceive substantive of any object.  Thus the second identity equation
categorically states that there is no real jadam anywhere since all that
can be is only Brahman, which is infinite consciousness.  If we see and
conclude that there is an inert entity ‘idam’ that we can point out,
then it is our brahma and not pramaa.  Brahma or error in perception
arises when we can not see the substantive of an object and conclude
based on sense input that there is an object of out there with such and
such attributes.

Question that remains to be addressed is why we all see the object with
the same attributes when we see, for example, a chair out there.  Since
we are all seeing the same attributes, the sense input is not subjective
and therefore we all conclude that object out there is real.  While the
individual mind is needed to observe and establish the existence of the
object out there, the existence of the object is still independent of
the individual mind and senses. World thus appears to exist independent
of the local mind although the world cannot be established independent
the mind of an individual.  Since the minds of all those seeing the
chair ‘out there’ are involved in establishing the existence of the
chair, the creation of the chair ‘out there’ is due to collective minds
of all beings who are experiencing the chair ‘out there’.  Consciousness
identified with the total mind is called Iswara and the object out there
is then Iswara shruShTi or God’s creation.  Just as we all see a chair
out there, similar perception occurs in our dream where many subjects or
conscious entities can see an objective chair out there. But there chair
out there in the dream world is the projection of not the individual
minds in the dream but collective mind of all the individual or Iswara
of the dream world – which is nothing but the waker’s mind.  Just as the
dream chair is no more real even if we all in the dream see the same
chair out there, the chair or any object in the waking world is not real
and is the projection of total mind, which is nothing but Iswara. 

Thus ‘all this; is nothing but Brahman, the creation ‘out there’ is only
projection of the total mind due to samaShTi vAsanas or total vAsanas of
all the beings. For this Mandukya provides a means of knowledge by the
statement via Eq. 2.  The validity of the equation is supported several
other scriptural statements – ‘all this is Brahman’, ‘everything arises
from, sustained by and goes back into Brahman’, ‘there is nothing other
than Brahman’, ‘consciousness is Brahman’ ‘existence is brahman’, ‘pure
knowledge is brahman’ ‘brahman is infiniteness’ ‘brahman is
attributeless’ ‘infiniteness is bliss’, etc. This aspect of reality of
the world out there will be further examined when we analyze the dream
state.  We recognize therefore that the validity of Eq. 2 is therefore
established on the basis of scriptural statements.  To appreciate the
correct meaning of the above scriptural statements, therefore, require a
proper teacher to weed out the misinterpretations.  One is led to a
proper teacher only by the grace of God. 

Once we appreciate the equations 1 and 2, the second mantra takes us
next to the third equation, which is the essence of this upaniShad.  It
says that Brahman which is identically equal to ‘all this’ is nothing
but ‘this self’ – ‘ayam AtmA’.  Here by using the word ‘ayam, this’
pointing to the self, it is indicating that which is directly close to
oneself.  Thus the equation is indicating that the self that ‘I am’ is
nothing but Brahman that correspond the all this – which includes by
Eq.1 all this that was in the past, that is in the present and that will
come into existence in the future plus that which is beyond all the
three periods of time.   

Equation 3 is considered as one of the four mahAvAkyas or four
aphorisms. These four are ‘prajnAnam brahma’ that is ‘consciousness is
Brahman’ coming from aitheraya Upanishad, ‘tat tvam asi’ ‘you are that’
coming from ChanDogya Upanishad, ‘ayam 
Atma brahma, this self is Brahman’, from this ManDukya UpaniShad, and
‘aham brahmAsmi’ ‘I am Brahman’ coming from bRihadAranyaka upaniShad. 
The four MahavAkayas or aphorisms, one from each Veda,  are those that
provide the identity of the self that I am with Brahman.  We have
already established that by use of converse statement that consciousness
is Brahman, the scripture is declaring that it is a necessary and
sufficient condition that wherever there is consciousness that is
Brahman, since consciousness is singular and infinite.  Since I am a
conscious entity, I have to be brahman by the sufficient condition. 
Equation 3, essentially confirms that it is indeed so. 

Mantras 1 and 2 relate four entities using three equations: A = B; B =
C; C = D and as discussed above these are identity equations.  In
discussing these relations we noted that ‘all this’ includes ‘all this’
that we can point out in the three periods of time and also that which
is not bounded by time. That which can be pointed out is all this
universe of inert things ‘idam vastu’ and that which cannot be pointed
out as this is ‘aham’ or I am, the subject.  Thus eq. 1 noted that there
are two entities that which is bound by time and that which is not bound
by time.  Eq. 3 says that the self that ‘I am’ itself is Brahman. 
Essentially we are dropping ‘all this’ that we are pointing out (i.e the
world of objects) which do not come under the category of ‘I am’ the
subject, since the subject is different from objects.  Since Brahman
being infiniteness cannot exclude anything, and by way Eq. 3, scripture
is declaring the subject I, the self cannot exclude anything either. 
Hence the existence-consciousness that I am should include even the
objective world too.  This is possible only if both the subject and the
world of objects are included in the self that I am.  In the
introduction, we discussed some aspects of how both the subject thought
(pramaata) and object thought (prameya) are supported by the
consciousness that I am.  , Mind which is nothing but thought flow,
supported by the consciousness, as though splits into two – the subject,
‘aham vRitti or I thought’ and the object, ‘idam vRitti or this
thought’.  The Upanishad will be expounding this aspect in the following

Thus scripture promises two inquires, first on Om! and the next on ‘ayam
AtmA this self’, indicating that both are nothing but Brahman.  Since
there cannot be two Brahmans, in establishing the identities, scripture
discusses first the second identity specified by Eq. 3 and then wraps up
the analysis by equating Om! and ‘ayam AtmA or this self’.  This
analysis starts from Mantra 2 with the statement, ‘soyam AtmA
catuShpAt’, this self that I am has four aspects. From mantra 3 to 7,
upaniShad is going to discuss these four aspect of aatma, the self that
I am.  
Hari Om!

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list