Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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The Word

Hari OM

Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!

We are now undertaking basic technical discourse on Vedanta. The text forming the basis of these posts is 'Kindle Life'. Please do reread previous posts using the labels 'Workings-days' or 'Kindle Life'.

Ch. 28 गायत्री मन्त्र /gaayatrii maantra (cont'd).

Here are words with which the world is familiar: प्रजपतिर्वै  इदं अग्रे आसीत्  /Prajapathi vai idam agre aasiit' - In the beginning was Prajapati, the Brahman: तस्य वाक्  द्वित्यासीत् /Tasya vaak dvitiya asit - With whom was the Word:  वाग्वै परमं ब्रहम /Vaag vai Paraman Brahma - And the Word was verily the Supreme Brahman. {Krishna Yajurveda Kathaka Samhita 12.5 27.1.}

Image result for krishna yajurveda kathaka samhita 12.5 27.1To say that this is one of the most hotly debated phrases in the religious world would not be an overstatement. Sadly, there are many of the Christian faiths, particularly Catholicism, which are still under the perception (and in which it is actively taught) that the philosophy of Hinduism is pagan and false. Yet all the truly great thinkers of that tradition have, at some point, come into contact with Vedanta, albeit they know not the name, and are influenced by it.

Image result for john 1: 1-3This is said, not to stir up factionalism, merely to point out the obvious. The fact of the matter is that these words were written in the Vedas many centuries prior to them appearing in the Bible. When great and open spirits ponder the Great Truths of existence, they will arrive at the same conclusions. How they chose to name and classify those conclusions will vary, but the one, underlying and undeniable fact will always prevail. Thus, when John 1:1 builds on these very words, we ought not to be surprised, but glad that there is one thing upon which we all ought to be able to agree. All came from that one birth-sound. In Hinduism the sound is given as OM and this OM is a universal mantra.

The very central theme of the Mandukya Upanishad is the syllable OM through which the mystery of Brahman is gathered to a point. The text of this Upanishad first treats OM in terms of the Upanishadic doctrine of the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep, but then passes on to the 'fourth' (turiiya), thus transporting us beyond the typical Upanishadic sphere into that of the later 'classic Advaita Vedanta'. Speaking of OM, the Taittiriiya Upanishad says: "Thou art the sheath of Brahman.'' That is, OM is the container for the Supreme and, therefore, invoking OM is invoking the Supreme.

In every piece of music there are three aspects, namely (1) the meaning of the song, (2) the laws of music  and (3) the sound of the song. Similarly, on OM there are three aspects. The first is the mere sound, the mere mantra as pronounced by the mouth; the second is the meaning of the syllable, which is to be realized through feeling; and the third is the application of OM to your character, singing it in your acts and thus through your life. OM represents the Self which is the Supreme Non-dual Reality. The Self is known in four states, namely, the waking state, the dream state, the deep­ sleep state and the fourth state called the turiiya.   All these states are represented in the three sounds of OM (i.e., A, U, M) and the silence that follows and surrounds the syllable. [AV note; do read the AUMday posts for full exploration of this one-syllable mantra, but here is Gurudev's precis of it.]

The sound A represents the waking state; the sound U represents the dream state and the sound M represents the deep sleep state. The waking state is superimposed on the A sound because it is the first of the three states of consciousness, so the sound A the very first of the letters of the alphabet – in all languages. The dream is but a view within the mind of the impressions that had reflected on the surface of the mental lake during the waking state. Besides, the dream state occurs between the waking and the deep­ sleep state and comes second among the three states of consciousness.  U, being next to A in order of sounds and also since it is between A and M, is treated as representing the dream state. On the M sound of OM is superimposed the deep­ sleep state. The comparison between the last sound of the OM and sleep lies in that it is the closing sound of the syllable, just as deep sleep is the final stage of the mind in rest. A short pregnant silence is inevitable between two successive OMs. On this silence is superimposed the idea of the fourth state, known as turiiya. This is the state of Perfect Bliss when the individual Self recognises the identity with the Supreme. In OM, the sounds A, U, and M are called मात्राः /maatras or forms; there is also in AUM the common principle called the अमात्र /amaatra­ OM, that which signifies the things­ in­ itself, running through and pervading the threefold phenomena of waking, dream, and deep sleep. 

The law of memory is that the rememberer and the experiencer must be one and the same individual, or else memory is impossible. So, as we can remember all our experiences in all three planes, there must necessarily be a single common factor which was a witness of all the happenings in all the three planes. There must be some entity within ourselves who is present in the waking world, who moves and illuminates the dream, who is a distant observer in the deep sleep world, yet who is not conditioned by any of these three realms.

This entity, conceived as the fourth state (turiiya), is the Real, the Changeless, the Intelligent Principle.


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