Sunday, January 22, 2012

3000yrs Old Secret of God Revealed

I am not a religious person. I believe in no ‘devils’ and hence I find no need for ‘god’. Upanishads, the ancient Indian book, tries to answer what god means in a different way, and somehow I happen to like it. Again the poetry of Upanishads is open to interpretation, and each individual can interpret it in the way they like. Religious thoughts did not attract me to the ‘Upanishads’, rather I found it as a window to the mind of our ancestors. I expected mythologies, rituals, 330 million gods. Isn't that what Hinduism is all about? But, what I found was something that I did not expect. Yes there were rituals; yes there were mythologies, but they only acted as spice to a rich underlying philosophy coming out of the brilliant minds of the bygone era. The philosophies have been passed down the generations for centuries orally and would not have survived without the spices. But what is interesting is the amount of research these people have done on the human psychology at that time. Human beings quest to know why we are here, to know who put us here, when it all began.....the ultimate truth, is probably as old as humans themselves. Even Vedas questioned:

RV 10.129
1. THEN was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.
What covered in, and where? And what gave shelter? Was water there, unfathomed depth of water?
2 Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, the day's and night's divider.
That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.
3 Darkness there was: at first concealed in dark, All was indiscriminated chaos.
All that existed then was void and form less: by the great power of Warmth was born that Unit.
4 Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of Spirit.
Sages who searched with their heart's thought discovered the existent's kinship in the non-existent.
5 Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it?
There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder
6 Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this
creation?
The Gods are later than this world's production. Who knows then whence it first came into being?
7 He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it,

Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not.

Gods came later? Does that mean they did not create us?


The vedic texts can broadly be categorized into ‘smriti’ (meaning memory) or histories and ‘shruti’ meaning the revealed knowledge that has been revealed by teachers to students and brought down from generations to generations. ‘Smriti’ includes Mahabharat & Gita, Ramayana and the Puranas while ‘shruti’ includes the Vedas with Upanishads as its appendix [1]. The shrutis are further divided into ‘apara vidya’ or lower knowledge which includes the first part of all four Vedas (mainly rituals), and ‘para vidya’ which is the more philosophical part dealing with the higher aspects and reveals what the texts claim as the ultimate truth [2]. Upanishads are part of the ‘para vidya’ and hence can be considered the most important. Unfortunately most of us are struck with the lower knowledge that is mostly meant to exploit the lower casts by the priests. Small doses of 'fear of god' every day does the trick. Why else would people need priests? No wonder lower casts were not allowed to read the Upanishads, else the secret would be out. 

‘Upanishad’ is derived from ‘upa’ (near), ‘ni’ (down) and ‘sad’ (to sit). Group of people sit down near the teacher to learn from him the secret docrine. Samkara derives the word ‘Upanishad’ as substantive form the root ‘sad’ meaning ‘to destroy’ with ‘upa’ and ‘ni’ as prefix and ‘kvip’ as termination. It means ‘Brahma knowledge’ by which ignorance is destroyed. Some scholars also think it comes from ‘upasana’ meaning worship or reverence [3]. The texts dates back to 800-600BC during the axial age when the philosophies all around the world were changing with the rise of the middle class. In India it is called the gyaan kand or the age of speculationThere were more philosophical schools in India at that time than there ever was in Greek.  The older Vedic ritualistic religion was at its fag-end and the devotional Hindu religion was yet to take its full form. On one extreme was the spiritual Upanisadic philosophy which believed in soul, karma and the cycle of birth and death. On the other extreme was materialistic philosophy like Charvaka which did not believe in soul, death was the end and hence enjoy life. Within that spectrum we had the middle path of Buddhism and Mahavira’s reformed Jainism. It was a philosophical renaissance, the first of India. The Vedas have been perceived even before in the karma kanda or the age of rituals [4]. Post axial age we entered the age of worship, or the upasana kanda [5]. This was the time when the Puranas were written down [6]. Puranas came after a troubled phase in India when the Mayurian Empire fell and Greeks, Sakas and Kushans invaded. Troubled times led to fear of god, and beginning of Bhakti era. People forgot the true philosophy of Hinduism. 


Upanishads even warns of this. The higher knowledge is the knowledge of Brahman, that which is ungraspable, without family, without caste, without  sight or hearing, without hands or feet, eternal, all pervading, omnipresent, exceeding subtle, that is the un-decaying which the wise perceive as source of beings. Mundaka Upanishad goes on to say [1.2.7-1.2.10] that the rituals and 18 sacrificial forms are inferior karma. The deluded, who delight in this as leading to good, fall again and again into old age and death. Abiding in the midst of ignorance, wise in their own esteem, they thinking that they are learned. But they are fools, afflicted with troubles, who go about like blind men led by one who is himself blind. These deluded men, regarding sacrifices and works of merit as most important, do not know any other good. Having enjoyed in the high place of heaven won by good deeds, their atman enter again this world or still lower one. The true knowledge is thus realizing the Brahmana.

According to Svetasvatara Upanishad [4.10] the Pakriti is Maya. The whole world is pervaded by beings that are part of Brahman, the creator of Maya. Maya crudely translates to illusion. However, it does not mean magic, mystic or hallucination. It refers to the illusion of the material world, the world that is our reality. Beyond our material world, the absolute reality is Brahmana. According to Isha Upanishad [4.5-4.6] "Brahmana moves and it moves not, it is far and it is near, it is within all this and outside all this.  Like rivers that flow to sea thinking that they are all individuals, but they all reaches the sea and becomes one". 

In most of the Upanishads one finds common quote:
“Know the atma as lord of the chariot, who sits within and the body is the chariot. Know the intellect as the charioteer and the mind as, verily, the reins. The sense they say, are the horses, and their roads are the sense-objects. The wise call him the enjoyer united with the body, the sense and the mind.”  

When you think of ‘Bhagavat Gita’ the picture that comes to your mind is of Arjun in a chariot with five horses and Krishna as the charioteer. The five horses represent the five senses and Krishna is intellect of Arjun, Arjun being the atma. The entire Bhagavat Gita is symbolic, representing a way of life. Atma is the individual soul, but it is also the universal soul, or Brahmana. Atma is Brahmana, and Brahmana is Atma. If your atma are the ripple in a pond, Brahmana is the pond made of all the drops of water. That is all there is, the rest is Maya. That is the essence of Upanishad.

Upanishad also tells us the way to understand Brahmana. Our ancestors realized that there are different types of people and thus they gave different methods of realizing the same truth. For emotional people, or the men of heart, there is the path of worship and devotion (bhakti yoga); for the intellectual men of head there is the path of knowledge (gyaan yoga); for active men, both head and heart, there is the path of work (karma yoga) and for the mystical men there is the path of mysticism (tantra yoga) [7]. All this yoga's are path that prepares one for the same final realization. 

The ancient texts describe five sheaths of Brahman/consciousness (figure below). The outer most of the sheaths is called virat or the gross body. One who is controlled by his/her gross body is in the state of ‘annamaya’ and is concerned mainly about food and other outer pleasures. This gross body can be brought under control by asana or physical exercise. Inside that is the more subtle body called hiranyagarbha. It is subdivided into the vital air, mental, and intellectual in the order gross to subtle. One who is controlled by the vital air is in the stage called ‘pranamaya’ where he/she tries to stay alive by protecting and defending. It is through pranayam (breathing exercise) that one controls their vital air. One who is in control of his/her mind is in the third stage called manomaya’ when he/she figures out the desires and values of life. The next stage is ‘vijnanamaya’ when one uses his/her intellect and becomes philosophical. It is through yoga or meditation that one controls one mind and intellect. The most subtle is the casual body or iswara (bliss) [7]. This final stage is of spiritual bliss known as the ‘anandamaya’ [1]. This is when you realize that you are Brahmana.

The five sheaths



The ultimate truth of the Upanishad can be summarized in the following four lines [2]:
  • -       “Ayam atma Brahman” (Mandukya Upanisad): This atma/soul is Brahman
  • -       “Prajnanam Brahman” (Aitareya Upanisad): Consciousness is Brahman.
  • -       “Tat tvam asi” (Chhandogya Upanisad): That which is the subtlest of all is the self of all this.
  • -       "Aham Brahmasmi" (Brihadaranyaka Upanisad): I am consciousness.


Brahmana is everything, everything was created from him. He who knows that he is Brahmana becomes so. Brhad-aranyaka Upanishad [1.4] declares that a god who knows that becomes that, a man who knows that becomes that. It even goes on to say that god does not like man to know this truth. A man who does not know the truth serves god as animals serve men. Upanisads makes god redundant. That is the strength of Hindu philosophy, which tells that god is nothing separate from you. God is the ultimate truth, of which you are a part. There is no need of a god separate and more powerful than you. There is no need of a creator or destroyer. There is no need of devil or a ‘god’ who slays the devil.

“When all the desires that dwell in heart are destroyed, then the mortals becomes immortal, and he attains Brahman even here." (Kathopanishad 6.14)



One might agree or disagree with the philosophy, but one can’t deny an evolved thought process that proclaims that self is the ultimate truth and not a separate god. True happiness lies within in understanding one’s true self. It is an irony that 3000yrs later we are fighting in the name of illusive ’god’ and religion. It is a shame that we still think that placing a statue of god in a particular direction will bring us happiness; we still believe that bribing a statue will help us pass exam. Breaking a mosque and building a temple is not a solution. The solution lies within. Wonder why some radical groups of so called Hindus, I call them pseudo-Hindus, making so much noise. Have they ever read the Upanishads, let alone understand it. Let’s start thinking again.


Ref#
  1. The Secret Teachings of the Vedas – Stephen Knapp
  2.  Know the Upanishads - Ramanuj Prasad
  3. The Principal Upanishads – S Radhakrishnan
  4. Myth=Mithy, Devdutt Pattanaik
  5. A History of God - Armstrong Karen
  6. Know the Puranas - Ramanuj Prasad
  7. Kathopanishad – Swami Chinmayananda
  8.  Pics from google image

You React:

35 comments:

  1. True Sub! I have just scraped through some of these ancient reads and I agree that these are treasure troves! We unfortunately do not find time for more meaningful pursuits to enrich our lives! Thanks for your initiative in this direction!

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  2. Great post Sub! But, one comment, how do you know that placing a statue in a particular direction doesn't help? How can you say that praying to god just before exam doesn't help? Maybe it's another of spiritual mystery yet to be unravelled. :)
    Man believes he has understood everything but if I've understood anything from our scriptures and rich heritage, then it is that there's too much study and knowledge there to finish in one lifetime. Man believed there are 104 elements in earth, vedas said there are 114. Now we know that science has found more elements and are trying to find the rest to reach the number, 114. Science said there are 3 parts to an atom, proton, electron and neutron. Vedas said something like infinite (am not sure about the number there). Science has found more parts to an atom now :) 
    So, one can never be read enough to ridicule what has been preached by Hindu ancestors. We just need to be patient to mature enough to understand the reasoning behind it. 
    Keep reading, keep sharing. Great post, yet again :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Swati...
      Well, my believe is biased by my experience. i never needed to pray to god to get good marks, nor did i required to place a statue n a particular direction to have good luck (so far)...so they are definitely not prerequisite...
      moreover i always try to do things that is supposed to bring me bad luck to test them...if they were true i would have been dead by now...:)

      but yes 'believe' in anything works...our mind is very powerful, we often underestimate it...

      Cheers

      Delete
  3. knowledgeable like always :)

    Weakest Link

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  4. Thank you for this knowledge Sub. I had heard about all this from my mom, who reads them in original text, but never got to know so much. The knowledge that can be gained and shared from or about respectively, of these is unlimited I believe. Thank you again for opening these doors to at least one person hopefully.

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  5. wow now thats some research you have done .. 

    although i do feel that in those days things were also more in relevance of the era now things have changed so a bit of change is good tooo 

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. but it is still significant...we hav to keep modifying it...

      Delete
  6. I am sure that must have set many minds into motion. True,our texts don't propogate a religion. They, i believe pan out a way of life before us. They are a philosophy.

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  7. I like your interpretation. It is very much what it was intended but got corrupted these years. I do believe in God but more than that I believe in doing Good.

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    Replies
    1. doing good is much more important...thanks so much

      Delete
  8. Once upon a time, normal man doesn't have knowledge of scriptures which was in Sanskrit. Now technology improved which helped them to translate and refer any scriptures they want. Upanishad & Vedas give clear picture of God. The following verses says
    " He is One only without a second. " [Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]
    " Of Him there are neither parents nor lord. " [Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]
    " There is no likeness of Him. " [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]
    " His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye. " [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]

    " Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures. " [ Bhagavad Gita 7:20]

    "There is no image of Him." [Yajurveda 32:3]
    "He is bodyless and pure." [Yajurveda 40:8]
    "They enter darkness, those who worship the natural elements" (Air, Water, Fire, etc.). "They sink deeper in darkness, those who worship sambhuti." [Yajurveda 40:9]
    "Sages (learned Priests) call one God by many names." [Rigveda 1:164:46]
    "O friends, do not worship anybody but Him, the Divine One. Praise Him alone." [Rigveda 8:1:1]
    "Verily, great is the glory of the Divine Creator." [Rigveda 5:1:81
    The Brahma Sutra of Hinduism is:
    "There is only one God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit."
    But today people follows their own ideas to give shape to God. This is whose mistake?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. can't say who...god to me isn't a separate identity...it is all of our fault...changing ideas isn't bad, it is the change in the wrong direction that is :)

      thanks so much...

      Cheers!

      Delete
  9. Very good one, Sub. True, the philosophies would not have survived without the spices. But, the spices have become more important for some people, which is what became the problem for the religion. For some reason, more than 90% of our population doesn't know anything about these stuff. The first task is to take these messages to everyone irrespective caste, creed and all other such nonsense. Your post is a bit towards that. Good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea, that is the unfortunate bit...let us take it forward :)

      thanks

      Delete
  10. Very well explained. You have given a tough subject in an easy to understand form. The freedom that Hinduism gives to an individual to pursue a path of his choice to realise Brahman is un-comparable. I doubt whether any other religion allows this kind of freedom.

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    Replies
    1. thanks a lot...
      about other religions...i guess they does till some human in power stops them for personal benefit :)

      Delete
  11. like the lines
    no demon no need god

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  12. I have read all of this in a different version but it never got registered in my mind. There was always the confusion. But I finally got them sorted when I met a woman in my colony yesterday who is very well read about the hindu philosophy. I immediately penned it down in order to re-read every time I again get my thoughts in knots. :) I would like to share it with you.
    http://multiplepersona.blogspot.in/2012/02/i-follow-all-no-religion.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks or sharing...will go through it :)

      Delete
  13. "window to the mind of our ancestors" ... exactly my thoughts on religion and all the holy books and scriptures. Symbolism is abound in the books and yet there are people who take them literally, fight in their name, shed blood and do injustice to the way our ancestors used to think of the universe around them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. true...it's sad in a way...but that's being human :)

      Delete
  14. You have done a good research. I wonder if you could take time and read the 12 posts in my blog under the label "The Thomases'(skeptics) road to realisation"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for sharing...i will sure read them Jerly...

      Delete
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