Upanishads said, ‘bramhavida:pno:thi param’, – One who knows Bramha will attain Param.
- What does ‘Bramha’ mean ?
- What does it mean to ‘know Bramha’ ?
- What does it mean to ‘attain’ in this context ?
- What does ‘param’ mean ?
For the first question – What does ‘Bramha’ mean, Upanishads began to explain Bramha as, ‘Satyam gna:nam anantham brahma…’ [Bramha here does not refer to Chaturmukha Bramha, refers to the ultimate supreme power, God]
It means one who does NOT CHANGE. Souls do not go through change in their swaru:pam (gna:na aakaram) but their swabha:vam changes (knowledge level goes up and down) due to the impact of their karma, actions. Prakruthi, nature also keeps changing as a result of 3 guna:s (sattva, raajasa, thaamasa).
One whose gna:nam does not shine because of another source. His gna:nam is self-effulgent. It is not restricted in any manner and is therefore boundless. Souls (we) are categorized into three based on their state, baddhulu (who are in the cycle of births and deaths caused due to karmic bondage), mukthulu (who have once been in the cycle of births and deaths caused by karma but are now in the state of eternal bliss) and nityulu (who have never been separated from God and are always in the state of eternal bliss with God). Amongst these three, mukthas and nityas have illimitable knowledge similar to God. But mukthas have once been in karmic bondage, they had once been ignorant. Now, how is Bramha different from nityas who have never been attached to karma?
With no limitations by place or time, his divine qualities such as sowseelyam, sowlabhyam, daya, etc spread throughout, inside and out and are countless. Nityas are anu:ru:pam. Their Jna:nam is illimitable, however they are not all-pervasive, E:shaha anu:ra:thma che:thasa: ve:dithavyaha.
HE is therefore one who is different from and superior to prakruthi, baddhulu, mukthulu, and nityulu. This is only one aspect of who Bramha is and the Upanishads have also taken a back seat as it could not nearly complete all the aspects and angles of Bramha thatvam.
For the second question – What does it mean to ‘know Bramha’, Upanishads began to explain as
Yo: ve:da nihitham guha:ya:m parame: vyo:man. HE resides in the param vyo:man, What is parama vyo:ma? This is where HE resides with a form. This abode has names such as parma aakasam, vaikuntam, parama padam, devatha: rajyam, ayodhya etc. Great poet Pothana refers to this as: ‘Ala vaikunta purambu lo, nagari lo aa mu:la sowdham lo..’. HE resides here for all nityas and mukthas.
Parama Vyo:ma also refers to a spot within us. The body that we are in has about 72,000 gna:na na:dis. All of these meet at a na:di named ‘Sushumna’. The tip of Sushumna is called dahara aakasam, it is of the size of the first part of your thumb. Where exactly is this spot? Athya distath dasa angulam – It is said that this divine spot is at about a distance of 10 swangushtas from your navel. This is where HE resides along with you and keeps you alive. When it is time for you to leave the body, HE lights up the direction through which the soul should leave the body, because the soul can only traverse in the path shown through HIM. Depending on the kind of karma the soul has to experience further, HE lights up either the lower, sideways or the upper path through the gna:na nadis. Thus, HE exists within us.
HE also exists secretly in the Vedic literature to be experienced by sages and rushis. It is not practical to read through the entire Vedic literature. Bharadwaja is one such sage who spent about 300 years trying to get to the bottom of the Vedic literature. But, it only ended up to be equal to that of about 3 small fistfuls in 3 big mountains. So, Praja:pathi recommended Bharadwaja maharshi to practice what has been learnt and understood so far.
Bharadwaja maharshi then said the following: A:radha:na:nam sarve:sha:m vishno:ra:ra:dhanam param, to pray Vishnu, who is the all-pervading and all powerful with wonderful divine qualities is the most pious act than serving any other devathas (demi-gods).
He added on to say, thasma:th paratharam pro:ktham thadi:ya:radhanam param – to serve the devotees of Lord Vishnu is even more superior and pious act than serving Lord himself.
Now, coming to the third question. What does it mean to ‘attain…’
To attain is to experience, what and how?
So:o: snuthe: sarva:n ka:ma:a:n saha karmana: vipaschitha:
Vipaschith means Vividham pasyathi chittham yasya vipaschith, one who knows everything through a mere thought. Along with this Vipaschith, i.e. Bramha – HE experiences. What does he experience?
Sarva:n ka:ma:n, meaning all that is worth experiencing. What is worth experiencing? It says, all the divine qualities of God are the only ones that are worth experiencing.
What does it mean to experience the qualities of God? There are many a divine abilities that HE alone possesses. ‘Sowlabhyam, Vatsalyam, Parathvami, Sowseelyam… – limitless such divine qualities.’ Na:natham guna:na:m gacchathi (countless qualities) – ‘Vidheya:thma – one who makes his devotees abide by HIM, Vijitha:thma – one who abides by HIS devotees and makes them feel that they won over HIM’, Depending on what he exhibits with each of the souls, HE gets a divine name. To experience his qualities means to experience the joy in possessing these abilities together with him for the purpose of other and every soul around.
Now, are we experiencing God or HIS divine qualities? We are experiencing both equally. An example to understand this – We experience sweetness that is with the fruit. Sweetness does NOT exist without the fruit. The fruit does NOT exist without the taste, sweetness. Therefore, we experience the fruit that is filled with sweetness in equality. These qualities of God are not separable from HIM. When we attain this state, both God and we experience each other with unexplainable ultimate power of contentment and bliss.
Finally 4th question , what does ‘param‘ mean…
Param is the state of eternal bliss where: the soul and the God together experience these countless divine qualities with utmost endless joy. In this state, the soul serves God and God serves the soul back. LOVE at its peak sees no barrier, and therefore the servitude exists from both sides. Oneness with God where it seems like there is only one entity, but it is the LOVE between them that hides the dual-ness.
This state of bliss is what our Goda Devi explains through the most beautiful song in Thiruppavai (27th song). She talks about this state, the Vedic secret using an example – a delicious dessert named rice pudding. She talks about how red shaded rice grains (love filled souls) are washed twice (one wash to remove sthoola sareeram – zeroed in off karmas, and another to remove sookshma sareeram – by the holy dip in the divine river, viraja) lightly pan fried (further purified soul) and cooked with milk (the divine qualities of God). The rice grains are cooked in the milk where they split up and absorb the sweetness of milk and jaggery in each little part of the grain and is cooked so thoroughly and slowly that they appear as one. Milk gets thicker with the presence of the rice grains. The ghee (LOVE that binds the grains and milk together strongly) is present all over and occupies the entire top layer. Ghee is what is seen, Milk appears underneath Ghee – rice grains are seen but not seen separable, the whole dish is filled with sweetness and nicely garnished with nuts.
The experience of tasting this dessert satisfies the tongue, the bodies feel togetherness, and the hearts feel the calmness. Such is the state of Bramha:nandam.
This is only a very brief explanation of the vastly detailed explanation revealed by our great acharyas. With all the gratitude towards Vedam, may all the Vedic literature have the glory, may all the beings live in peace, harmony and happiness. May all of us take the path of eternal bliss through the support of the great acharyas whose kindness and compassion is way beyond our perception.