The Upanishads: the Crown of India's Soul
India's soul-offering1India’s soul-offering is the perennial light of the Upanishads. The Upanishads offer to the world at large the Supreme achievement of the awakened and illumined Hindu life.
The Vedas represent the cow. The Upanishads represent milk. We need the cow to give us milk, and we need milk to nourish us.
The Upanishads are also called the Vedanta. The literary meaning of Vedanta is “the end of the Vedas.” But the spiritual meaning of Vedanta is “the cream of the Vedas, the pick of the inner lore, the aim, the goal of the inner life." The Muktikopanishad tells us something quite significant:
Tileshu tailavat vede vedantah supratishthithah.
The Upanishads tell us that there are two types of knowledge: a Higher Knowledge and a lower knowledge. Paravidya is the Higher Knowledge, and aparavidya is the lower knowledge. The Higher Knowledge is the discovery of the soul. The lower knowledge is the fulfilment of the body’s countless demands.
According to our Indian tradition, there were once one thousand one hundred and eighty Upanishads. Each came from one branch, shakha, of the Vedas. Out of these, two hundred Upanishads made their proper appearance, and out of these two hundred, one hundred and eight Upanishads are now traceable. If a seeker wants to get some glimpse of Truth, Light, Peace, and Bliss, then he must assiduously study these one hundred and eight Upanishads. If a real seeker, a genuine seeker, wants to get abundant light from the Upanishads, then he has to study thirteen principal Upanishads. If he studies the principal Upanishads, and at the same time wants to live the Truth that these Upanishads embody, then he will be able to see the face of Divinity and the heart of Reality.
The thirteen principal Upanishads are: Isha, Katha, Kena, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Chandogya, Brhadaranyaka, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Svetasvatara, Kaivalya, and Maitri.
That moves, and That moves not. That is far, and the same is near. That is within all this; That is also without all this."
The Isha Upanishad has this special message for us. To the desiring mind, this message is vapid, nebulous, puzzling, and confusing. To the aspiring heart, this message is inspiring and illumining. To the revealing soul, this message is fulfilling and immortalising. Brahman, God, in His absolute aspect, is immutable; but in His conditioned aspect He is ever-changing, ever-transforming, ever-evolving, ever-revealing, ever-manifesting, and ever-fulfilling.
Again, the Isha Upanishad reconciles work and knowledge, the One and the Many, the impersonal God and the personal God, in a striking manner. Work done detached is real knowledge. When we consciously try to see God in everything and in everybody, we soulfully offer ourselves to dedicated action. This knowledge is action. The One and the Many: we need the One for our self-realisation; we need the Many for our self-manifestation. The impersonal and the personal God: when we live in the impersonal God we see Truth in its illumining Vision; and when we live in the personal God we see Truth in its revealing Reality.
The Son of God declared, “I and my Father are one.” The Chandogya Upanishad makes a bold statement, to some extent more daring, and at the same time more convincing:
That thou art."
What does it mean? It means that you are no other than God. Who else is God, if not you?
A God-lover knocked at God’s Heart-door. God from within, said, “Who is it?”
The God-lover said, “It is I.” The door remained locked. The man knocked and knocked. Finally he went away.
After an hour he came back again. He knocked at God’s Heart-door. God, from within, said, “Who is it?”
The God-lover said, “It is I.” The door remained locked. The man knocked and knocked at the door in vain. Finally he left.
After another hour, again he came back and knocked at God’s Heart-door. From within, God said, “Who is it?”
The God-lover said, “My eternal Beloved, it is Thou.” God immediately opened His Heart-door.
When a seeker feels this kind of intimate and inseparable oneness with God, God opens His Heart-door to him and offers him His very Throne.
The Upanishadic Seers felt no necessity to go to any spiritual centre, no necessity to go to a temple, no necessity to hear a talk or a sermon or even to study books. God was their only outer book, and God was their only inner teacher. God-realisation was their only necessity, and God-manifestation was their only reality.
The great German philosopher, Schopenhauer, voiced forth, “In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life; it will be the solace of my death. They are the products of the highest wisdom. They are destined sooner or later to become the faith of the people.”
The Upanishads offer us three lessons. The first lesson is Brahman. The second lesson is atman. The third lesson is jagat. Brahman is God, atman is the soul, and jagat is the world. When we meditate on Brahman, our life grows into immortalising Bliss. When we meditate on the soul, our life becomes a conscious and speedy evolution. When we do not neglect the world, our life becomes fulfilling manifestation.
If you study the Upanishads, not in a cursory or perfunctory manner, but with the mind’s clarity, then you will see that God and you, you and God, are eternal. And if you study the Upanishads with your heart’s receptivity, you will see that God and you are equal. And finally, if you study the Upanishads with your soul’s light, you will come to realise that there in Heaven you are the realised and esoteric God, and here on earth you are the manifested and exoteric God.
This soul cannot be won by the weakling."
The inner strength dethrones the idol which has been installed by fear and doubt. When your inner strength comes to the fore, the poltroon, the doubter in you, will be transformed into the soul’s effulgent light.
The Upanishads are the obverse of the coin of which the reverse is consciousness. There are three states of ordinary consciousness: jagriti, swapna, and sushupti. Jagriti is the waking state, swapna is the dreaming state, sushupti is the state of deep sleep. There is another state of consciousness which is called turiya, the pure consciousness of the Transcendental Beyond.
The Mandukkyopanishad offers us a most significant gift. It tells us about the Universal Soul. The Universal Soul has two aspects: vaisvanara and virat. The microcosmic aspect is called vaisvanara; the macrocosmic aspect is called virat. Jagriti, the waking state; vaisvanara, the physical condition; and the letter ‘A’ from ‘ AUM,’ the sound symbol of prakriti, the primal energy, form the first part of Reality. Swapna, the dreaming state; taijasa, the brilliant intellectual impressions; and ‘U’ from ‘ AUM ’ form the second part of Reality. Sushupti, the state of deep sleep; prajna, the intuitive knowledge; and ‘M’ from ‘ AUM ’ form the third part of Reality.
But turiya, the fourth state of consciousness, at once embodies and transcends these three states of consciousness. On the one hand, it is one part of the four parts; on the other hand, it is the culminating whole, the end, the Goal itself. Turiya is the Reality eternal, beyond all phenomena. Turiya is the Transcendental Brahman. Turiya is satchidananda — Existence, Consciousness, and Delight. It is here, in turiya, that a highly advanced seeker in the spiritual life or a spiritual Master can actually hear the soundless sound, ‘AUM’, the supreme secret of the Creator.
The supreme wealth of the Upanishads is the Self:
Whence the words, the power of speech, come back with the mind baffled, the goal unattained."
This Self cannot be won by mental brilliance. It can be won only with an aspiring heart and a dedicated life.
This Transcendental Self is covered here in the world of relativity by five distinct sheaths: annamaya kosha, the gross physical sheath; pranamaya kosha, the sheath of the vital force; manomaya kosha, the mental sheath; vijnanamaya kosha, the sheath of the advanced and developed knowledge; and anandamaya kosha, the sheath of Bliss. There are three types of bodies corresponding to these five sheaths. These bodies are called sthula sharira, sukshma sharira, and karana sharira. Sthula means gross physical, and sharira means body. Sukshma means subtle, and karana means causal. The physical body, sthula sharira, comprises annamaya kosha, the material substance. Sukshma sharira, the subtle body, comprises pranamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, and vijnanamaya kosha. Karana sharira, the causal body, comprises anandamaya kosha, the sheath of Bliss.
This is the planet sun. But each of us has an inner sun. This inner sun is infinitely more powerful, more beautiful, more illumining than the planet sun. When this sun dawns and shines, it destroys the darkness of millennia. This sun shines through eternity. This inner sun is called the Self, the Transcendental Self.
UPA 1. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, 22 October 1971↩
The revelation of India's Light1Each Upanishad is the unfoldment of the Supreme Knowledge which, once spiritually attained, is never lost. The entire universe of action, according to the Upanishads, with its ephemeral means and ends, lives in the meshes of ignorance. It is the knowledge of the supreme Self that can destroy the human ignorance of millennia and inundate the earth-consciousness with the Light and Delight of the ever-transcending and ever-manifesting Beyond.
As we have the heart, the mind, the vital, the body and the soul, so also the Upanishads have a heart, a mind, a vital, a body and a soul. The heart of the Upanishads is self-realisation, the mind of the Upanishads is self-revelation, the vital of the Upanishads is self-manifestation, the body of the Upanishads is self-transformation, and the soul of the Upanishads is self-perfection.
What is of paramount importance right now is self-realisation. For self-realisation we need only four things. First we need the help of the scriptures, then a spiritual guide, then yogic disciplines, and finally, the Grace of God. The scriptures tell the seeker, “Awake, arise, it is high time for you to get up. Sleep no more.” The spiritual Master tells the seeker, “My child, run! Run the fastest! I am inspiring you. I have already kindled the flame of aspiration within you. Now you can run the fastest.” Yogic disciplines tell the seeker, “You are practising the spiritual life, and I am giving you the result of your practices. I have made the road clear for you. Now you can run the fastest on a road that is empty of danger.” Then something more is required, and that is God’s Grace. One may run the fastest, but one may not reach the Goal even if there is no obstacle on the way, because human beings very often get tired. Before they reach the Goal they feel that they are totally exhausted. At that time what is required is God’s Grace. Without God’s Grace one cannot complete the journey. God’s Grace tells the seeker, “Lo, the Goal is won.”
To be sure, God’s Grace starts right from the beginning. When we study the scriptures, God’s Grace has already dawned on us. Had there been no Grace from God, we could not have launched into the spiritual path in the first place. And had there been no Grace from God, we could not have found our spiritual Master. It is out of His infinite Bounty that God brings a seeker to the Master. Then the seeker and the Master must play their respective roles. The Master will bring down God’s Compassion, but the seeker has to practise spiritual disciplines. His task is to aspire, and the Master’s task is to bring down Compassion.
In the inner world, one thing that everybody must have is aspiration. Here on earth the tree offers us an example of this aspiration. It remains on earth with its roots in the dirt, but its aim is to reach the Highest. We are afraid of staying on earth. We feel that if we stay on earth we cannot reach the Highest. But the tree shows us how absurd this is. Its root is under the ground, but its topmost branch is aspiring towards the Heavens. In the Upanishads we come across a tree called the ashwathva tree. Unlike earthly trees, this tree has its roots above and its branches below. It has two types of branches. One type enters into the meshes of ignorance and then starts struggling, fighting, and trying to come out again into the effulgence of Light. The other type of branch always tries to remain in the Light. Its movement is upward; its aspiration is upward.
Here on earth each human being has capacity. A human being sees ignorance within and without, but he has the capacity to remain beyond the boundaries of ignorance. How? Through aspiration. Why? Because he needs constant satisfaction. And it is aspiration alone that can give us this constant satisfaction. Why do we aspire? We aspire for delight, ananda. Delight is self-creation and self-experience. Delight in the Highest, absolute Highest, is known as ananda purusha. There the Delight is Infinity, Eternity, and Immortality. There is another type of delight which is called ananda atma, when from infinite Delight, Delight takes shape and form. In the earth-bound consciousness, delight is called ananda atma.
When delight gradually descends into the obscure, impure, unlit, imperfect nature of man to transform human nature, it finds constant resistance. Then we see that delight loses its power because of teeming ignorance, and pleasure, short-lived pleasure, looms large. In the Highest, the triple consciousness — satchidananda — Existence, Consciousness, and Delight go together. But when they want to manifest themselves, they have to do it only through Delight.
When Delight descends, the first rung that it steps on is called the supermind. The supermind is not something a little superior to the mind. No. It is infinitely higher than the mind. It is not ‘mind’ at all, although the word is used. It is the consciousness that has already transcended the limitations of the finite. There creation starts. Form begins one rung below. This rung is called the overmind. Here form starts, multiplicity starts in an individual form. The next rung is the intuitive mind. With the intuitive mind we see multiplicity in a creative form. With intuition we see all at a glance. We can see many things at a time; we see collective form. From the intuitive mind, delight enters into the mind proper. This mind sees each object separately. But although it sees everything separately, it does not try to doubt the existence of each object. Next, delight enters into the physical mind — that is, the mind that is governed by the physical. This mind sees each object separately, plus it doubts the existence of each object. Real doubt starts here in the physical mind.
After it has descended through all the levels of the mind, delight enters into the vital. In the vital we see the dynamic force or the aggressive force. The force that we see in the inner, or subtle vital is the dynamic, and the force that we see in the outer vital is the aggressive. From the vital, delight enters into the physical. There are two types of physical: the subtle physical and the physical proper. In the subtle physical, delight is still descending, and we may still be conscious of it. But in the subtle physical we cannot possess or utilise the truth; we can only see it, like a beggar looking at a multimillionaire. Finally, when we come to the gross physical, there is no delight at all.
Delight descends, but we do not see even an iota of it in the gross physical. What can we do then? We can enter into the soul on the strength of our aspiration, and the soul will consciously take us to the highest plane, to satchidananda — Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss plane. At that time our journey can become conscious. We have entered into the triple consciousness, and we can begin descending consciously into the supermind, the overmind, the intuitive mind, the mind proper, the physical mind, the vital, and the physical. When we are successful in the physical, that is to say, when we can bring down Delight from the highest plane and the physical can absorb and utilise this Delight, the life of pleasure ends. At that time we come to realise the difference between the life of pleasure and the life of Delight. The life of pleasure is followed by frustration and destruction. The life of Delight is a continuous growth, continuous fulfilment, continuous achievement, and continuous God-manifestation in God’s own Way.
The Mundaka Upanishad has offered us two birds. One bird is seated on the top of the life-tree, the other on a branch below. The bird seated on the low branch eats both sweet and bitter fruits. Sweet fruits give the bird the feeling that life is pleasure; bitter fruits give the bird the feeling that life is misery. The other bird, seated on the top of the tree, eats neither the sweet fruit nor the bitter fruit. It just sits calm and serene. Its life is flooded with peace, light, and delight. The bird that eats the sweet and bitter fruit on the tree of life is disappointed and disgusted; disappointed because pleasure is impermanent, ephemeral, and fleeting; disgusted because frustration ends in destruction. Unmistakably disappointed and utterly disgusted, this bird flies up and loses itself in the Freedom-Light and Perfection-Delight of the bird at the top of the life-tree. The bird on the top of the tree is the Cosmic and Transcendental Self, and the bird below is the individual self. These two beautiful birds are known as suparna.
In some of the Upanishads we see a continuous rivalry between the gods and the demons. The self-resplendent ones are the gods; and the self-indulgent ones are the demons. The gods and the demons are the descendents of Prajapati, the Creator. When the gods win the victory, the light of the soul reigns supreme. When the demons win the victory, the night of the body reigns supreme. Originally the gods and the demons were the organs of Prajapati. The organs that were energised by the divine Will, illumined by the divine Light and inspired by the divine Action became gods.The organs that were instigated by the lower thoughts and were eager to live in the sense-world and enjoy pleasure-life, and were aiming at lesser and destructive goals, became demons. Needless to say, it is infinitely easier to reach the lesser goals than it is to reach the Goal Supreme. This is precisely why the demons greatly outnumbered the gods. But we, the seekers of the infinite Light and Truth, need the quality of the gods and not the quantity of the demons.
This vital force is called syasya angirasa. It means the essence of the limbs. The vital force was victorious. It was also kind, sympathetic, and generous:
The vital force carried the nose beyond death. The nose then became the air. Having transcended the boundaries of death, the air blows beyond death.
The vital force carried the eyes beyond death. The eyes became the sun. Having transcended the region of death, the sun perpetually shines.
The vital force carried the ears beyond death. They then became the directions. These directions, having transcended death, remained far beyond its domain.
The vital force carried the mind beyond death. The mind then became the moon. The moon, having transcended death, shines beyond its domain."
The Brhadaranyaka, ‘great forest,’ Upanishad, offers to humanity an unparalleled prayer:
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya.
Mrtyor ma amrtam gamaya.
Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality."
The unreal is the frown of death; the Real is the song of Immortality. Darkness is the colossal pride of death; Light is the life of the illumining and perfecting power of Immortality. Death is the message of nothingness. Immortality is the message of humanity’s liberated oneness with divinity’s Transcendental Height.
UPA 2. University of California, Berkeley, CA, 7 November 1971↩
The beauty and duty of India's Soul1This beauty is not tempting.
This beauty is illumining.
This duty is not self-imposed.
This duty is God-ordained.
The Upanishads offer us self-knowledge, world-knowledge, God-Knowledge. Self-knowledge is self-discovery. After self-discovery we have to feel that world-knowledge is within us, and we have to grow into world-knowledge. Then comes a time when we know the Possessor of world-knowledge, and then we have God-Knowledge. We have to enter into God-Knowledge, which is the possessor of the universe.
“Neti, neti” — “Not this, not this,” or “Not this, not that” — is the message of the Upanishads. All of us here are seekers of the infinite Truth. A real seeker is not and cannot be satisfied with his individual life, individual achievements, worldly possessions. No. He can be satisfied only when he has achieved the Absolute. Now what is the Absolute? Brahman is the Absolute.
The Seers of the hoary past offered this sublime knowledge: “Brahman cannot be limited by anything, Brahman cannot be housed by anything, Brahman cannot be defined by anything.” This was their assertion. But we feel that this is the negative way of seeing Brahman. There is a positive way, and this positive way is this: “Brahman is Eternal, Brahman is Infinite, Brahman is Immortal. Brahman is beyond and beyond.” This is the positive way. We, the seekers of the infinite Truth, will follow the positive way. If we follow the positive way in our life of aspiration, we can run the fastest and reach the ultimate Goal sooner.
We have to see Brahman in the finite as we wish to see Brahman in the Infinite. But during our meditation, if we can have the vision of Brahman as the Infinite Self, then it becomes easier for us to enter into the world of relativity where we see everything as finite.
We see the world within us; we see the world without us. In the world within there is a being, and in the world without there is also a being. These two beings are called ‘non-being’ and ‘being.’ From non-being, being came into existence. This very idea baffles our minds. How can non-being create being? Non-being is nothing. From nothing, how can something come into existence? But we have to know that it is the mind which tells us that from non-being being cannot come into existence. We have to know that this ‘nothing’ is actually something beyond the conception of the mind. ‘Nothing’ is the life of the everlasting Beyond. ‘Nothing’ is something that always remains beyond our mental conception. It transcends our limited consciousness. So when we think of the world or of being coming out of non-being, we have to feel that this Truth can be known and realised only on the strength of our inner aspiration, where the mind does not operate at all. It is intuition which grants us this boon of knowing that ‘nothing’ is the Song of the ever-transcending Beyond, and ‘nothing’ is the experience of the ever-fulfilling, ever-transcending, and ever-manifesting existence.
The Upanishads and the essence of prana are inseparable. Prana is a Sanskrit word. It can be translated into English in various ways. It may be called breath or energy, or even ether. But prana is life-energy. This life-energy is not material, it is not physical, but it is something that maintains and sustains the physical body. The Source of prana is the Supreme. In the field of manifestation prana is indispensable. Prana is the soul of the universe.
In India the term prana has a special significance of its own. Prana is not just breath. Daily we breathe in and out thousands of times without paying any attention. But when we use the term prana, we think of the life-energy that is flowing within and without in our breath.
Prana is divided into five parts: prana, apana, samana, vyana, and udana. The life-energy, life-force that is inside the physical eyes, nose, and ears, we call prana. When we see the life-energy in our organs of excretion and generation it is apana. Samana is the life-energy that governs our digestion and assimilation. In the lotus of the heart, where the Self is located, where we see one hundred and one subtle spiritual nerves, and in each nerve one hundred nerve branches, and from each nerve branch seventy-two thousand nerve branches, there the prana that moves is called vyana. Through the centre of the spine, life-energy flows. When it goes upward it reaches the highest, and when it goes downward it reaches the lowest. When a seeker of the infinite Truth leaves the body, his prana rises towards the Highest, and when a sinful person leaves the body, his prana goes downward. This prana which flows through the centre of the spine is called udana.
When we are in a position to enter into the Cosmos with the help of our life-force, we feel that the Beyond is not in our imagination. It is not a chimerous mist; it is a reality that is growing within us and for us. God was One. He wanted to be Many. Why? He felt the necessity of enjoying Himself divinely and supremely in infinite forms. “Ekam bahusam” — “one desiring to be many,” was His inner feeling. When the Supreme projected His Life-Energy, He saw two creatures immediately. One was male, the other female. Prana, the life-force, is the male, and the female is rayi. Prana is the sun. Rayi is the moon. From prana and rayi we all came into existence. Again, prana is spirit and rayi is matter. Spirit and matter must go together. Spirit needs matter for its self-manifestation, and matter needs spirit for its self-realisation.
Very often the Vedic and Upanishadic Seers used two words: nama and rupa. Nama is name; rupa is form. In our outer world we deal with name and form. In the inner world we deal with the nameless and the formless. The name and the nameless are not rivals. The form and the formless are not rivals. The name embodies the capacity of the outer body. The nameless reveals the immortality of the soul. In form the cosmic Consciousness manifests itself by circumscribing itself. In the formless the cosmic Consciousness transcends itself by expanding and enlarging itself.
In the spiritual life the term sacrifice is often used. The Vedic Seers spoke elaborately on sacrifice. According to them, the horse sacrifice, asvamedha sacrifice, was most important. The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad starts with the sacrificial horse:
Usa va asvasya medhyasya sirah . .
Why did the Upanishadic Seers, the Vedic Seers, speak of the horse and not any other animal as the symbol of sacrifice? They realised the speed of the horse, the dynamism of the horse, the faithful and devoted qualities of the horse. Speed is necessary, dynamism is necessary, faithfulness and devotedness are necessary to realise and reveal the Absolute. That is why they chose the horse for the religious rites and for help in their inner awakening.
Just by sacrificing a horse we cannot gain any divine merit. Far from it. We must meditate on the horse, on the qualities of the horse, and invoke these divine qualities to enter into us from above. The Vedic and Upanishadic Seers did this. They succeeded in getting the divine qualities from the horse, and the result was that they entered into brahmaloka, the highest Heaven.
But even in the highest Heaven, the Delight we get is not everlasting. For everlasting Delight we have to enter into the Brahman on the strength of our inner cry. When we have the inner cry we can eventually enter into the Brahman and there get everlasting Delight.
To come back to the horse, one has not to make a horse sacrifice in this age. But one has to see the qualities of the horse and inwardly meditate on the divinely fulfilling qualities of the horse. It is from one’s own concentration and meditation that one will get the qualities which the horse offers or represents. Very often people misunderstand the idea of sacrifice, especially Westerners. They cannot understand how they can gain any divine merit just by killing a horse. They think it is absurd. But sacrifice is not merely killing. Sacrifice is in becoming one with the consciousness of the horse. When we do this, only then can we get the divine wealth from above. We need not, we must not kill the horse at all.
To be sure, there can be no sacrifice without aspiration. At every moment aspiration is necessary. But this aspiration has to be genuine and has to come from the very depth of the heart. It cannot give us realisation if it is not genuine. Aspiration does not know how to pull or push. Restlessness and aspiration can never go together. Very often beginners think that if they aspire they have to be very dynamic. This is true. But we do not see dynamism in their aspiration. What we see is restlessness. They want to realise God overnight. If we take this restlessness as determination or dynamism, then we are totally mistaken.
May I repeat an oft-quoted story? A seeker went to a spiritual Master. He was properly initiated, and in a few days’ time this seeker said to the Master, “Master, now that you have initiated me, please give me God-realisation.” The Master said, “You have to practise meditation for a long time.” After a few days the disciple again said, “Master, Master, give me realisation, please give me realisation.” He bothered the Master for a long time. One day the Master asked him to follow him. The Master went to the Ganges for a dip and invited the disciple also to enter the water. When the disciple was neck-deep in water, the Master pushed his head underwater and held it there. When the Master finally let the struggling disciple come up, he asked him, “What did you feel while you were underwater?” The disciple replied, “O Master, I felt that I would die if I did not get a breath of air.” The Master said, “You will realise God on the day you feel that you will die if He does not come and give you life. If you sincerely feel that you will die without God, if you can cry for Him in that way, then you are bound to realise Him.”
The Master offered this truth to the disciple. Unfortunately we very often see that when a Master offers the truth, the disciples misunderstand. They understand it according to their limited light, or they feel that the message the Master has given is totally wrong. Now if the truth that is offered by the Master is not properly understood and used, then in the field of manifestation the disciple, the seeker, will never be fulfilled. The highest Truth will always remain a far cry for him.
In the Upanishads, Indra and Virochana went to Prajapati for the highest Knowledge. Indra represented the gods, and Virochana represented the demons. When Prajapati offered them the knowledge of Brahman, Indra went back again and again to verify the knowledge he had received, and he finally did realise the highest Knowledge. But Virochana understood the truth in his own way and did not feel the necessity of going back again and again to realise the highest Truth.
There are quite a few spiritual Masters on earth who are offering their light to the seekers, but the seekers unfortunately do not understand the message of Truth which they offer. How can they understand the message, the meaning, the significance of the Truth which the Master offers? They can do it only on the strength of their devotion — devotion to the cause, and devotion to the Master. If they have the devoted feeling towards their Master and towards the cause of Self-realisation, then the Truth can be realised in the way the Truth has to be realised and the message that the Master offers to chase away ignorance not only can be properly understood, but also can be established in the earth atmosphere. When Truth is permanently established here on earth, man will receive the garland of eternal Victory.
UPA 3. New York University, New York, NY, 17 November 1971↩
Glimpses from the Vedas and the Upanishads1
In the finite there is no happiness.
The Infinite alone is happiness."
Anything that is finite cannot embody happiness, not to speak of lasting Delight. The finite embodies pleasure, which is not true happiness. The Infinite embodies true divine happiness in infinite measure, and, at the same time, it reveals and offers to the world at large its own Truth, its own Wealth.
The Infinite expresses itself in infinite forms and infinite shapes here in the world of multiplicity; and again this Infinite enjoys itself in a divine and supreme manner in the highest Transcendental Plane of its own consciousness. The Infinite here in the world of multiplicity expresses itself in three major forms. Creation is the first aspect of the Infinite. The second aspect is preservation. The third aspect is dissolution or destruction.
These terms, creation, preservation, and destruction, are philosophical and religious terms. From the spiritual point of view, creation existed, does exist, and is being preserved. When we use the term destruction, we have to be very careful. There is no such thing as destruction in the Supreme’s inner Vision — it is nothing but transformation. When we lose our desires, we feel that they have been destroyed. But they have not been destroyed — they have only been transformed into a larger vision which is aspiration. We started our journey with desire, but when we launched into the spiritual path desire gave way to aspiration. The unlit consciousness which we see in the form of desire can be transformed and will be transformed by the aspiration within us. What, with our limited knowledge and vision, we call destruction, from the spiritual point of view is the transformation of our unlit, impure, obscure nature.
Only the One, without a second."
From this One we came into existence, and at the end of our journey’s close we have to return to the Absolute One. This is the soul’s journey. If we take it as an outer journey, then we are mistaken. In our outer journey we have a starting point and a final destination. It may take a few years or many years for us to reach our destined goal, but the starting point is at one place and the destination is somewhere else. But the inner journey is not a journey as such, with the origin here and the goal elsewhere. In our inner journey we go deep within and discover our own Reality, our own forgotten Self.
How do we discover our forgotten Self? We do it through meditation. There are various types of meditation: simple meditation, which everybody knows; deep meditation, which the spiritual seeker knows; and higher or highest meditation, which is the meditation of the soul, in the soul, with the soul, for the entire being. When an ordinary seeker meditates, he meditates in the mind. If he is a little advanced, he meditates in the heart. If he is far advanced in the spiritual life, he can meditate in the soul and with the help of the soul for the manifestation of Divinity in humanity.
Spiritual Masters meditate in the physical, in the vital, in the mind, in the heart, and in the souls of their disciples. These Masters also meditate all at once on the Infinite, Eternal, and Immortal. These are not vague terms to the real spiritual Masters. They are dynamic realities, for in their inner consciousness real spiritual Masters swim in the sea of Infinity, Eternity and Immortality. They can easily concentrate, meditate, and contemplate on these three divine Realities which represent the Absolute.
The Upanishads have come into existence from four Vedas: the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda, and the Atharva Veda. Each Veda has something unique to offer to mankind. The first and most famous Veda is the Rig Veda. It starts with a cosmic God, Agni, the Fire God. Fire means aspiration. Aspiration and the message of the Vedas are inseparable. This fire is the fire of inner awakening and inner mounting flame. It has no smoke in it. This fire does not burn anything; it only illumines and elevates our consciousness. The Fire God is the only cosmic God who is a Brahmin. Agni, fire, expresses itself in seven forms and it has seven significant inner names: Kali, the black; Karali, the terrible, Manojava, thought-swift; Sulohita, blood-red; Sudhumravarna, smoke-hued; Sphulingi, scattering sparks; Vishvaruchi, the all-beautiful.
Kali, the black, is not actually black. Kali is the divine force or fire within us which fights against undivine hostile forces. The Mother Kali fights against demons in the battlefield of life. In the vital plane we see her as a dark, tenebrous Goddess, but in the highest plane of consciousness she is golden. We see her terrible form when she fights against hostile forces, but she is the Mother of Compassion. We misunderstand her dynamic qualities — we take them as aggressive qualities. Mother Kali has compassion in boundless measure, but at the same time, she will not tolerate any sloth, imperfection, ignorance, or lethargy in the seeker. Finally, Mother Kali is beauty unparalleled. This beauty is not physical beauty. This beauty is inner beauty, which elevates human consciousness to the highest plane of Delight.
The Sama Veda offers us God’s music, the soul’s music. In addition, it offers India’s religion, India’s philosophy, and India’s politics. All these striking achievements of India have come from the Sama Veda. Music is of paramount importance in the Sama Veda. It is not at all like modern music; it is the real soul-stirring music. The greatest sage of the past, Yagnavalka, said, “The abode of music is Heaven.” It is the Sama Veda which holds this heavenly music — the soul-stirring, life-energising music.
Most of you have read the Bhagavad Gita, the Song Celestial of Lord Krishna. There Lord Krishna says, “I am the Sama Veda.” He does not say that he is the Rig Veda or the Yajur Veda or the Atharva Veda. No, he says that he is the Sama Veda. Why? Because in the Sama Veda Krishna found the soul’s music, which is his very own. A great Indian philosopher-saint, Patanjali, begins his philosophy with the Sama Veda precisely because of its inner music. If music is taken away from God’s creation, then it will be an empty creation. God the Creator is the Supreme Musician, and His creation is His only Delight. It is in His music that God feels Delight, and it is through music that He offers Himself to His aspiring and unaspiring children.
From the Sama Veda we get the most significant Upanishad, the Chandogya Upanishad. This Upanishad is equal to the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad. It is by far the largest in size, and, according to many, it is not only the largest but also the best. Again, there are those who are of the opinion that the Isha Upanishad, which is tiny, very tiny, is the best — not because of its size, but because of its depth. Some will say the Svetasvatara or Katha or Kena Upanishad is the best. Each one has to express his sincere feeling about the essence of a particular Upanishad. The Chandogya Upanishad, which derives from the Sama Veda, says something most significant to the sincere seekers. One question which spiritual teachers are very often asked is, “Why do we need a teacher? Can we not realise God by ourselves?” In the Chandogya Upanishad there is a specific way of convincing the doubters and the unaspiring human beings who argue for the sake of argument.
The Chandogya Upanishad says: Think of yourself as a traveller. You have lost your way, and a robber attacks you. He takes away all your wealth, and binds your eyes. Then he takes you to a faraway place and leaves you there. Originally you had vision, and you were able to move around, but now your fate is deplorable. You cannot see, you cannot walk, you are crying like a helpless child, but there is no rescue. Now suppose someone comes and unties your eyes and goes away. You will then be able to see the paths all around you, but you will not know which one is the right one for you, and even if you did, you would not be able to walk on it because your legs and arms are still bound. This is the condition of the seeker who wants to realise God by himself. But suppose someone comes, unties you completely, and shows you which path will take you home. This person has really done you a favour. If you have faith in him and confidence in yourself, then you will reach your destination swiftly and surely. If you have faith in him, but do not have confidence in your own capacity to reach the goal, then he will go along to help you. The same teacher who freed you from blindness and showed you the path will go with you, inside you, to inspire you. He will act as your own aspiration to lead you towards your destined Goal.
If you get this kind of help from a spiritual Master, then your life can be of significance, your life can bear fruit, and you can run the fastest towards the Goal. Otherwise, you will walk today on this path, tomorrow on that path, and the following day on some other path. You may have the capacity to walk, but you will come back again and again to your starting point, frustrated and disappointed. Along with capacity, if you know the right path and have a true Master to help you, who can prevent you from reaching your destined Goal? Once you reach your destined Goal, you reach God’s Heights and start manifesting God’s Light here on earth. You are fulfilled — fulfilled multiplicity in Unity’s embrace.
UPA 4. Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey, 30 November 1971↩
The Crown of India's Soul1In the silent recesses of the Upanishadic heart we see and feel a splendid combination of the soul’s spirituality and life’s practicality. In the world of imagination, in the world of aspiration, in the world of realisation, in the world of revelation, and in the world of manifestation, the soul of the Upanishads has the divine effrontery to assume the sovereign leadership, because that is its natural role. Its understanding embraces all the foibles of weak humanity. Its universal love is the song of self-offering.
The Upanishads are at once the heart’s aspiration-cry and the soul’s experience-smile. They have the vision of Unity in multiplicity. They are the manifestation of multiplicity in Unity.
The message of the Upanishads is the life divine, the life of transformed humanity, and the life of an illumined earth-consciousness. The Upanishads tell us that the renunciation of desire-life is the fulfilling enjoyment of world-existence. This renunciation is neither self-denial nor self-rejection. This renunciation demands the transcendence of ego to breathe in freely the life-energy of the soul and yet to live a dynamic and active life in the world where one can achieve Infinity’s Height, Eternity’s Delight, and Immortality’s Light.
Each major Upanishad is a pathfinder in the forest of experience that comprises human life. Each major Upanishad offers us the intuitive knowledge and the inner courage to find our way through the labyrinth of curves and dead ends, doubts and subterfuges. We come to realise that life is a glorious adventure of the aspiring heart, searching mind, struggling vital, and unsleeping body. We explore the hidden places of illumining individuality and fulfilling personality. Gone is our mind’s obscurity. Gone is our heart’s poverty. Gone is our vital’s impurity. Gone is our body’s insincerity. The train of Light has arrived. The plane of Delight is come.
The Upanishads teach the seeker that Delight is the manifestation of divine Love, Consciousness is the manifestation of the soul-force, and Existence is the manifestation of Being. In Delight Brahman is Reality. In Love Brahman is Divinity. In Consciousness Brahman contemplates on the Vision of perfect Perfection. In the soul-force Brahman becomes the achievement of perfect Perfection. In Existence Brahman is the Eternal Lover. In Being Brahman is the Eternal Beloved.
For God-realisation we need a Guru. The Katha Upanishad says, “A seeker cannot find his way to God unless he is told of God by another.” The Mundaka Upanishad says, “A seeker must approach a Self-knower for his inner Illumination.” The Prasna Upanishad says, “O Father, you have carried us over to the Golden Shores.” The Katha Upanishad says, “Arise, awake! Listen to and follow the great ones.” The Mundaka Upanishad says, “A guru is he whose outer knowledge is the Veda and whose inner knowledge is the contemplation of Brahman.”
A seeker who studies the Upanishads and leads a life of self-enquiry and self-discipline is not and cannot be a mere player on the stage of life, but is rather a spiritual art director and a real divine producer. Further, he has two broad shoulders and does not mind the burdens of the world. He feels that it is his obligation to assuage the bleeding heart of humanity. His life is the independence of thought and spirit. His heart’s dedicated service receives rich rewards from above. He has mastered his own philosophy of life, which is to please Divinity in humanity.
May we, for a hundred autumns, see that lustrous Eye, God-ordained, arise before us ..."
To live a hundred years is not just to drag out our existence here on earth. One has to fight against ignorance. Desultory efforts cannot carry us to God. It takes time to realise God. It takes more time to reveal God. It takes even more time to manifest God. That is why the Seers of the Vedas prayed for sound health, long life, a life beyond a hundred autumns. They also warned us that anything that is deleterious to our health has to be avoided.
Uru ksayaya naskrdhi
Uru no yandhi jivase"
Give freedom for our bodies.
Give freedom for our dwelling.
Give freedom for our life.
Vivekananda, the great Vedantin of indomitable courage, voiced forth, “Freedom — physical freedom, mental freedom, and spiritual freedom — is the watchword of the Upanishads.”
In order to achieve freedom, we need energy, power, and spirit. And for that, here is the mightiest prayer:
Tejo joh si tejo mayi dhehi…
Thy manly vigour I invoke.
Thy power and energy I invoke.
Thy battle fury I invoke.
Thy conquering mind I invoke."
The Upanishads always hold the intrepid view of life. Progress, constant progress, is the characteristic of the Vedic and Upanishadic age.
Go forward, fear not, fight."
Fight against what? Bondage, ignorance, and death. Life is ours. Victory must needs be ours too. Anything that stands in the seeker’s way has to be thrown aside without hesitation. His is the life that knows no compromise.
The main longing of the Upanishads is for the Ultimate Truth. This Truth can be achieved by a genuine seeker who has many divine qualities, and whose love of God preponderates over every other love. The seeker needs three things: vrate, self-dedication; kripa, grace; and sraddha, faith. These three qualities embodied, satya, truth, is unmistakably attained.
Who wants to remain alone? No one, not even the highest, the first-born, Viraj. There came a time when He felt the need of projecting the cosmic Gods. He projected the Fire God, Agni, the only brahmin God, from His mouth. Indra, Varuna, Yama, Ishana and others were projected from His arms. These are the kshatriya Gods. Then He projected the Vasus, the Rudras, the Maruts. and others from His thighs. These are the vaishya Gods. He projected Pushan from His feet. Pushan is the sudra God.
A brahmin embodies knowledge. A kshatriya embodies strength. A vaishya embodies prosperity. A sudra embodies the secret of self-dedication. These four brothers are the limbs of the cosmic Being. Although they are outwardly distinguishable by their quality and capacity, in spirit they are inseparably one.
Brahman, or the Supreme Self, is the greatest discovery of the Upanishads. No human soul knows or will ever know when ignorance entered into us, for earth-bound time itself is the creation of ignorance. Still, a man swimming in the sea of ignorance need not drown. The Seers of the hoary past, the knowers of the Brahman, in unmistakable terms tell us that all human beings can and must come out of the shackles of ignorance. The knowers of the Transcendental Truth also tell us that the individual soul is in reality identical with the Supreme Self. The only problem is that the individual does not remember its true Transcendental Nature. Finally they tell us that “to know the Self is to become the Self.” On the strength of his direct realisation, a knower of the Brahman declares, “ aham brahmasmi,” “I am Brahman.”
In concluding this talk on the Upanishads, “The Crown of India’s Soul,” my realisation declares that the mind-power, the heart-power, and the soul-power of the Upanishadic consciousness are boundless. In the realm of philosophy, Shankara embodies the mind-power; in the realm of dynamic spirituality, Maharshi Ramana, the great sage of Arunachala, embodies the mind-power. The Christ, the Buddha, and Sri Chaitanya of Nadia, Bengal, embody the heart-power. Sri Krishna and Sri Ramakrishna embody the soul-power. In Sri Aurobindo the vision of the mind-power reached its zenith, and the realisation of the soul-power found its fulfilling manifestation on earth. These spiritual giants and others are steering the life-boat of humanity towards the Transcendental Abode of the Supreme.
UPA 5. Harvard University, Boston, MA, 3 December 1971↩
The Brahman of the Upanishads1The heart of the Upanishads is most meaningful and most fruitful because it embodies the Life of the Brahman. Brahman is Reality in existence; Brahman is Reality’s existence. The eternal Truth of the Brahman is in the finite, beyond the finite, in the Infinite, and beyond the ever-transcending Infinite.
In the domain of realisation, Brahman is the Sovereign Absolute. In the domain of revelation, Brahman is the Omnipresent Reality. And in the field of manifestation, Brahman is the immortalising Perfection.
Brahman the Creator is the Consciousness-Light; Brahman the Fulfiller is the Consciousness-Delight. Brahman is the inner Soul of all and the only Goal in all.
When we look within, Brahman is Consciousness-Force. When we look without, Brahman is Self-Manifestation. When we think of Brahman with the mind, earth-bound mind, limited mind, sophisticated mind, unaspiring mind, our life becomes sheer frustration. But when we meditate on Brahman in the heart, in the silent recesses of the heart, our life becomes pure illumination.
To a non-seeker, Brahman is unknowable. To a beginner-seeker, Brahman is unknown. To a master-seeker, Brahman is knowable, Brahman is known. Further, he himself grows into the Consciousness of Brahman.
Indeed, all is Brahman."
The Eternal is existence within. The Eternal is existence without.
There is no abiding happiness in the finite. It is only in the Infinite that we can hear the message of eternal Delight: anandam brahma and anantam brahma. These are the two major aspects of Brahman. Anandam brahma is the life of the all-illumining Delight and the all-fulfilling Delight. Anantam brahma is the Life of Infinity.
Here on earth the Life of Infinity constantly grows for the fulfilment of the Absolute Brahman. That is why the Upanishadic Seers sing from the depths of their hearts about the transcendental Delight of the Brahman:
Anandena jatani jivanti,
Anandam prayantyabhisam visanti."
From the transcendental Delight we came into existence; in Delight we grow and play our respective roles; and at the end of our journey’s close we enter into the Supreme Delight.
Again, when the Seers saw Infinity in Brahman, they sang:
Purnam adah, purnam idam, purnat purnam udacyate.
Purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate."
Infinity is that.
Infinity is this.
From Infinity, Infinity has come into existence.
From Infinity, when Infinity is taken away, Infinity remains.
Brahman is active. Brahman is inactive. The active Brahman inwardly does and outwardly becomes. Also, the active Brahman outwardly does and inwardly becomes. But the inactive Brahman is the total Freedom of inaction and complete Freedom in inaction.
Brahman is at once the eternal unborn and the eternal birth and growth of existence. Brahman is ignorance-night. Brahman is knowledge-light. Brahman the ignorance-night needs total transformation. Brahman the knowledge-light needs complete manifestation.
The whole universe came into existence from Brahman the Seed. When Brahman wanted to project Himself, He first projected Himself through four significant worlds: ambhas, the highest world; marichi, the sky; mara, the mortal world, the earth; and apa, the world beneath earth. Then Brahman sent forth the guardians of these worlds. Next, He sent forth food for them. Then Brahman came to realise that He Himself had to take part in His Cosmic Game, so He entered into the Cosmic lila (Game) through His own Yogic power. First He entered into the human body through the skull. The door by which Brahman entered is called the Door of Delight. This door is the highest centre of consciousness. This is known as sahasrara, the thousand-petaled lotus. It is situated in the centre of the brain. The realisation of the Yogi enters there and becomes one with the Consciousness of the Brahman.
Brahman has many names, but His secret name is AUM.
AUM is the bow and atma, the Self, is the arrow; Brahman is the target."
Through repeated practice the arrow is fixed into the target, the Brahmic Consciousness. That is to say, through regular concentration, meditation, and contemplation, the seeker enters into the Absolute Consciousness of the Brahman.
Creation is the supreme sacrifice of the Brahman. Creation is by no means a mechanical construction. Creation is a spiritual act, supremely revealing, manifesting, and fulfilling the divine splendour of the Brahman. The divine Architect is beyond creation, and at the same time manifests Himself in and through creation.
Brahman created out of His Being priests, warriors, tradesmen, and servants. Then He created the Law. Nothing can be higher than this Law. This Law is Truth. When a man speaks the Truth, he declares the Law. When he declares the Law, he speaks the Truth. The Truth and the Law are one, inseparable.
Indian mythology has divided Time — not earthbound time but eternal Time — into four divisions: satya yuga, treta yuga, dwapara yuga, and kali yuga. According to many we are now in the kali yuga. Brahman in the kali yuga is fast asleep. He is in inconscience-ignorance-mire. In the dwapara yuga He awakes and He looks around. In the treta yuga He stands up, about to move forward. In the satya yuga, the Golden age, He moves fast, faster, fastest, towards His Goal. The message of the Vedas, the eternal message of the Aryan culture and civilisation, the realisation of the Indian Sages and Seers, is movement, inner progress, the life’s march towards the destined Goal.
Move on, move on."
UPA 6. Yale University, New Haven, CT, 8 December 1971↩
The Gayatri Mantra1
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yo nah pracodayat."
We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth, inside the life of the sky, and inside the soul of the heaven. May He stimulate and illumine our minds.
The Gayatri Mantra is the most hallowed mantra of the Vedas. It is the mother of all the mantras. Mantra means incantation. A mantra can be a one-syllable word or a few words, a sentence or a few sentences. The Gayatri Mantra can offer to the sincere seeker the Light of the Infinite, the Delight of the Eternal, and the Life of the Immortal.
The Gayatri Mantra has four feet. The first foot consists of the earth, sky, and heaven. The second foot consists of the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, and the Sama Veda. The third foot consists of prana, apana, and vyana. The fourth foot consists of the Sun, the solar being.
A seeker of the infinite Truth must meditate on the Gayatri Mantra. The result that he will get is incalculable.
Bhumir, earth; antariksam, sky; and dys, heaven, make up the first foot of the Gayatri. Whoever realises the significance of the first foot wins everything that is in those three worlds.
Rcah, yajumsi, samani, make up the second foot of the Gayatri. Whoever realises the second foot of the Gayatri wins the knowledge-sea of the three Vedas.
Prana, apana, and vyana, the three forms of the vital force, make up the third foot of the Gayatri. The knower of this foot wins all the living creatures that exist in the universe.
Turiyam, the quaternary, the Solar Being Transcendental who alone shines, is the fourth foot. He who realises this fourth foot shines with infinite magnificence.
Subtle is the path to moksha, liberation. Hard is the path to liberation. But a genuine seeker can reach the Goal solely by meditating on the Gayatri Mantra. When one is freed from the fetters of ignorance, one grows into the supernal glory of the Transcendental Self. Liberation can be achieved, must be achieved, while the seeker’s soul is in the body. To fail to realise God on earth is to swim in the sea of ignorance with two more swimmers: ignorant birth and shameless death. Liberation attained, the bonds of grief destroyed. Before liberation, like the Buddha we have to proclaim, “This fleeting world is the abode of sorrow.”
The teeming desire-night that has occupied the heart of the seeker must needs be driven out by the glowing aspiration-light. This done, the seeker attains to the Brahman. An Immortal he becomes. The Light Eternal is his new name. Today the seeker feels that the Gayatri is his mind’s inspiration. Tomorrow he will feel that the Gayatri is his soul’s realisation.
With inspiration a seeker sees the Truth.
With aspiration a seeker realises the Truth.
With realisation a seeker becomes the Truth.
Inspiration is might.
Aspiration is light.
Realisation is life.
Inspiration is the Smile of God.
Aspiration is the Cry of God.
Realisation is the Love of God.
The Gayatri is eternal knowledge divine. When this knowledge dawns in the seeker’s aspiring heart, he need no longer seek for anything, either on earth or in heaven. He reveals what he achieves. He manifests what he reveals.
In the Vedas there are two most significant words: satyam and ritam. Satyam is Truth in its pure existence. Ritam is Truth in its dynamic movement. There is another word, brihat, which means vastness in form. What we call creation is the manifestation of the Unmanifest, asat. According to our scriptures, the manifestation took place with the anahata dhvani, the soundless sound, AUM.
The Gayatri is dedicated to Savita, the Creator. The root of the word Savita is su, to create or to loose forth. This mantra is known also as Savitri Mantra, for Savitri is the Shakti of Savita. This mantra was envisioned by Vishwamitra, the great Rishi. Savita is regarded as Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Brahma, the Creator, with Brahmani as his Shakti; Vishnu, the Preserver, with his Shakti, Vaishnavi; and Siva or Rudra, the Destroyer, with his Shakti, Rudrani, regularly visit the Brahman. The Eagle is the vehicle-bird of Vishnu. The Swan is the vehicle-bird of Brahma. The Bull is the vehicle-beast of Siva.
The Gayatri Mantra is the divine magnetic needle. The magnetic needle points to the north, hence the ship does not lose its direction. The Gayatri Mantra always points to the transcendental Height of the Supreme, hence the seeker does not miss his Goal: Existence, Consciousness, Bliss.
UPA 7. Columbia University, New York, NY, 10 December 1971↩
The journey's start, the journey's close1AUM
The journey’s start and the journey’s close. Human aspiration is the journey’s start. Divine manifestation is the journey’s close. Birthless is the journey’s birth, and endless is the journey’s end.
We came; we shall return. We came from the Supreme Being. To the Supreme Being we shall return. We embody the earth-consciousness and the Heaven-consciousness. The earth-consciousness inspires us to meditate on the transcendental Truth and realise the transcendental Truth in the soul of Heaven. The Heaven-consciousness inspires us to meditate on love and manifest love in the heart of earth.
We know, we grow, and we become. We know in Heaven. We grow here on earth. We become the transcendental Truth. What we know is Reality. What we grow into is Immortality. What we eventually become is divinity’s Perfection. Reality embodies Immortality and Divinity. Immortality and Divinity manifest Reality.
The Upanishads teach us the significant truth that each individual seeker must have inner peace and outer freedom. It is in inner peace that we can have true outer freedom. From the Upanishads we learn how to discover God, the inner man, and see man, the revealed God. The Upanishads tell us that the dedicated human beings, the surrendered human souls are God’s necessity, and each realised human being is given God’s unreserved infinite capacity.
Here is the secret of the Upanishads: love, serve, and become. Love God’s Life in man, serve God’s Light in man, and become God’s perfect Perfection here on earth.
In two words we can sum up the message of all the Upanishads: aspiration and manifestation. Aspiration is the way, and manifestation is the Goal. Aspiration is the song of the infinite eternal Consciousness abiding within us. Manifestation is the dance of unity’s multiplicity within and without us. Aspiration is the height of our Delight, and manifestation is the light of all-nourishing and all-fulfilling Delight.
Each soul needs involution and evolution. When the soul descends, it is the soul’s involution. When the soul ascends, it is the soul’s evolution. The soul enters into the lowest abyss of inconscience. The soul evolves again into satchidananda — Existence, Consciousness, Bliss — the triple Consciousness.
The soul enters into inconscience. For millions of years it remains there, fast asleep. All of a sudden one day a spark of consciousness from the ever-transcending Beyond opens its eye and then the hour strikes for self-enquiry. “Who am I?” it asks. The answer is tat twam asi, “That thou art.” The soul is thrilled. Then again it falls asleep. Again it enters into self-oblivion. More questions arise after some time: Whose am I? I am of That. Where have I come from? From That. To Whom am I returning? To That. For Whom am I here on earth? For That.
Then the soul is satisfied. The soul now is fully prepared for its journey upward — high, higher, highest. At this moment the soul sees the Self, an exact prototype of the Supreme Being here on earth, and the evolution of the soul starts properly. The soul, from the mineral life enters into the plant life, from the plant to the animal life, from the animal life to the human, and from the human into the divine life. While in the human, the soul brings down Peace, Light, and Bliss from above. First it offers these divine qualities to the heart, then to the mind, then to the vital, then to the gross physical. When illumination takes place, we see it in the heart, we see it in the physical mind, in the vital, and in the gross physical body.
The Upanishads are also called Vedanta. Vedanta means the end of the Vedas, the cream of the Vedas, the essence of the Vedas. It is said that Vedanta is the end of all difference — the point where there can be no difference between the lowest and the highest, between the finite and the Infinite.
Our journey starts with aspiration. What is aspiration? It is the inner cry, inner hunger for the infinite vast. Aspiration has a most sincere friend — concentration. How do we concentrate; where do we concentrate? We concentrate on an object, on a being, on a form, or on the formless. When we concentrate with the help of the mind, we feel that eventually we shall see the vastness of the Truth. When we concentrate with the help of the heart, we feel that one day we shall feel the intimacy with the universal consciousness and God the eternal Beloved. When we concentrate with the help of our soul’s Light, we feel that man is God in His preparation, and God is man in his culmination.
The unaspiring mind is our real problem. The human mind is necessary to some extent. Without it we would remain in the animal domain. But we have to know that the human mind is very limited. The human mind is insufficient. In the human mind there cannot be any abiding Light, Life, or Delight. The human mind tells us that the finite is the finite, the Infinite is the Infinite. There is a yawning gulf between the two. They are like the North Pole and the South Pole. Whatever is Infinite can never be finite, and vice-versa. Infinity, the human mind feels, is unattainable. When something is finite, it is simply impossible for the human mind to feel that that, too, is God. Also, this mind quite often feels that because of His greatness God is aloof and indifferent.
When we meditate in the heart we come to realise that God is infinite and God is omnipotent. If He is infinite, on the strength of His omnipotence He can also be finite. He exists in our multifarious activities; He is everywhere. He includes everything; He excludes nothing. This is what our inner meditation can offer us. Our heart’s meditation also tells us that God is dearer than the dearest and that He is our only Beloved.
Inspiration, aspiration, and realisation — these are the three rungs of the spiritual ladder. When we want to climb from the finite to the Infinite with God’s boundless Bounty, the first rung is inspiration, the second rung is aspiration, and the third rung is realisation, our destined Goal.
To achieve the Highest, we become inspiration, aspiration, and realisation; and to manifest the Highest here on earth, we become Compassion, Concern, and Love. This is how we start our journey; this is how we end our journey. Again, when we become one with the Inner Pilot, inseparably one with the Inner Pilot, there is no beginning, there is no end. His cosmic lila, divine Game, is birthless and endless.
In human realisation, God within us is aspiration and realisation bound by earth-consciousness, bound by earthly time. But in divine Realisation, God is the Beyond, the ever-transcending Beyond. He plays the Game of the ever-transcending Beyond. He Himself is the aspiration of the ever-transcending Beyond, and He Himself is the manifestation of the ever-transcending Beyond. When we consciously know Him, realise Him, become inseparably one with Him, we too play His divine Game, the Game of Infinity, Eternity, and Immortality.
AUM. AUM. AUM.
UPA 8. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 26 January 1972↩
Life and death, Atman and Paramatman1The Upanishads come from the Vedas. They contain the records of eternal Truths. These Truths were discovered by various seers at different times, and handed down to humanity.
Life is a problem. Even so is death. The aspiring Aryans of the hoary past wanted to solve these two problems. Soon they came to realise that their senses could be of almost no help to them in solving these two major problems. They also came to realise that it is the knowledge of the ultimate Reality alone that can solve, once and for all, the problems of life and death.
All of a sudden two divine soldiers came in. Nobody knows where they came from. These two soldiers were Inspiration and Aspiration. The first soldier, Inspiration, commanded them: “Give up the study of the body.” They immediately did so. The second soldier, Aspiration, commanded them: “Take up the study of the soul.” They immediately did so. Lo, the King and the Queen from the Golden Shore of the Beyond garlanded them, the seekers, the seers, and the knowers of Light and Truth.
What do the Upanishads actually mean? If you ask a Western seeker, he will immediately say, “Very simple. Sit at the feet of the Master and learn.” If you ask an Eastern seeker the same question, he will quietly say, “Very difficult. Transform human darkness into divine Light.” Both the Western and the Eastern seeker are perfectly right. No Master, no discovery of the transcendental Reality. No transformation of darkness, no manifestation of Divinity on earth.
Who needs the Truth? A seeker. When does he achieve the Truth? He achieves the Truth when he becomes the surrendered and divine lover.
His first achievement is God the Creator.
His second achievement is God the Preserver.
His third achievement is God the Transformer.
His fourth achievement is: Thou art That.
His fifth achievement is: I am That.
His sixth achievement is: He and I are one.
His seventh achievement is: He am I.
In the Creator he sees.
In the Preserver he feels.
In the Transformer he becomes.
The heart of the Upanishads is the purusha. The life of the purusha is the message of the Upanishads. Who is the purusha? The purusha is the real dweller in the body of the universe. The purusha is three-fold: the outer atman, the inner atman, and the paramatman.
The outer atman is the gross physical body. The outer atman is that which grows in the body, with the body, and for the body. The outer atman is the identification of one’s body with the gross aspect of life. Here we live, we are hurt, we hurt others, we enjoy pleasure from others, we offer pleasure to others. This atman exists, changes, develops, and finally decays.
The inner atman is the discriminating Self. The inner atman identifies itself with the aspiring earth-consciousness. It identifies itself with air, ether, fire, water, and earth. The inner atman is the thinker, the doer, and the direct messenger of God. The inner atman manifests its inner realisation through outer experience.
The paramatman reveals itself through the process of Yoga. Neither is it born, nor does it die. It is beyond all qualities. It is all-pervading, unimaginable, and indescribable. It is Eternity’s Reality, and Reality’s Divinity.
Each Upanishad is a mighty drop from the fountain of eternal Life. This drop can easily cure the teeming ills of human life. The infinite Power of this drop can free us from the endless rotation of human birth and death.
The mind, assisted by the body, creates bondage. The heart, assisted by the soul, offers liberation. The unaspiring mind thinks useless thoughts and down it sinks. It thinks too much and sinks too fast. The blind body is constantly digging its own grave. The heart wants to love and be loved. God gives the heart the life of oneness. The soul wants to reveal God. God fulfils the soul, and by doing so, He brings down the Message of Perfection in the Divinity of manifested Reality.
UPA 6. Brown University, Providence, RI, 9 February 1972↩
Existence, non-existence, and the source1Sat and asat are two terms in Indian philosophy which one very often comes across. Sat means existence, and asat means non-existence. Existence is something that becomes, that grows, and that fulfils. Non-existence is something that negates its own reality and its own divinity. Existence is everywhere, but existence has its value or its meaning only when divinity is visible in it. If divinity does not loom large in existence, then that existence is useless. Divinity is the life-breath of existence. Divinity fulfils our aspiring consciousness and reveals our own immortality here on earth only when we see divinity as something infinite and eternal.
Existence is cherished by the aspiring consciousness and by God’s own highest Reality. Reality and existence have to go together. Reality without existence is an impossibility, and existence without reality is an absurdity. Divine Reality and Divine Existence always go together.
Existence expresses itself only through Truth. This Truth conquers everything that is untruth. India’s motto, 'satyam eva jayate,' means ‘Truth alone conquers.’ What is this Truth? This Truth is at once the Depth of God’s Heart and the Height of God’s Head.
Truth is our inner promise. Our inner promise, soul’s promise, is that in this incarnation we will realise God, not by hook or by crook, but under the able guidance of our spiritual Master, because we feel that this is what the Supreme within us wants. What for? So that we can serve Him in His own Way.
The highest way of feeling this Truth is to feel this: “If He does not want me to realise Him in this incarnation, but in some future incarnation, I am fully prepared to abide by His decision.” But the seeker must have a dynamic feeling. If he just says, “Oh, let me play my role. Let me be nice, sincere, truthful, obedient, and when the time comes, He will do it all,” then relaxation comes. Very often when we say, “Let me play my role, and God will take care of my realisation,” God does take care of our realisation. But if we feel that if we can become fully realised as soon as possible, then we can be of real help to God, then we are bound to get our realisation faster.
If we have Peace, Light, Bliss, only then can we be of real service to mankind. The idea of God-realisation at God’s choice Hour must come from the very depth of our heart, and not from our mental knowledge. Unfortunately, it usually does not come from the heart, it comes only from the clever mind which says, “I have read in books and I have heard from the Master that if I do not want anything from God, then God will give me everything.” It is better to pray to God to give you peace of mind so that you can see the Truth in totality. To ask God for peace of mind is not a crime. If you do not have peace of mind, wherever you are, whether in the subway, or in the country, or in Times Square, there will be no God there for you. God has given us some intelligence. In the morning if you say, “God, it is up to You whether I eat or not. I will just stay here in bed,” God is not going to put food into your mouth. No, God has given you the necessary intelligence to know that you have to put forth some effort. You have to leave the bed and take a shower and eat by your own effort.
In the inner life, if you want purity, humility, peace of mind, and other divine qualities, then you have to make an effort to get them. It is true that if you don’t pray to God for anything then He will give you everything, but this truth has to be understood in its highest way. If you don’t pray to God, or aspire for God-realisation, or even think of God, then how do you expect God to give you everything? He will give you everything on the strength of your absolute faith in Him combined with your sincere inner cry.
The Upanishads come from the Vedas. Now what is the difference between the gifts which we get from the Vedas and the gifts which we get from the Upanishads? The Vedas are like a storehouse — everything is there, but it is not kept in proper order. Also, in it there are quite a few things which are unimportant for the modern world, for present-day life, for evolved human beings, for the intelligent or developed mind. The Upanishads come to our rescue. They take the inspiration and aspiration from the Vedas, but they have their own originality. All that is good in the Vedas the Upanishads gladly take and offer in a special manner.
Without the Vedas, the Upanishads do not exist. The Vedas are the source. But the wealth of the Vedas can be offered properly to the generality of mankind only through the Upanishads. The Upanishads have the capacity to enter into the source, and the capacity to offer the illumining, fulfilling wealth of the source in a way that can be accepted and understood by humanity at large. They are the end or cream of the Vedas; they are called Vedanta. On the mental plane, on the spiritual plane, on the psychic plane, on the moral plane, all of India’s achievements come from the polished, developed, aspiring, and illumining consciousness of the Upanishads.
Buddhism is a form of Vedanta philosophy. But Buddha’s philosophy emphasises a special aspect of Vedanta. We speak of Buddha as the Lord of Compassion. We speak of Buddha’s moral ethics. Where did all this come from? From Vedanta. But while expressing the Vedantic or Upanishadic truth, Buddha offered his own inner light in a specific way. That is why ordinary human beings find it difficult to believe that Vedanta was the original source of Buddha’s teachings.
In the Western world we have Pythagoras and Plato, two great philosophers. You can see that the philosophy of both of them, and especially of Plato, has been greatly inspired by Upanishadic thought. Unfortunately, people believe that the Western world did not accept anything from an Eastern source, but it is not true. Sufism, this emotional or psychic mysticism of the West — where does it come from? Again, from the Upanishads, the same source.
The world has received many significant things from the Upanishads, but unfortunately the world does not want to offer credit to the source. No harm. A child takes money from his parents and tells his friends that it is his money. Friends of his age believe that it is his, but adults will say, “He does not work. Where can he get money?” They know that he has got it from his parents. Millions of people have been inspired by the Upanishadic lore, consciously or unconsciously. In India and in the West there are many paths, many religions, which have taken abundant light from the Upanishads. But they find it hard to give credit to the source.
The Upanishadic Seers abide within us. They do not need any appreciation or recognition. What do they want? What do they expect? From the genuine seekers and followers of Truth, what they want and expect is the application of the Truth which has been offered. If the Truth is applied in our daily lives, no matter where it came from, divinity will loom large in us, and divinity will offer appreciation, admiration and glorification to the source. Even God does not expect or demand anything more from us as long as we apply the Truth in our own lives consciously, constantly, devotedly, soulfully, and unconditionally.
UPA 10. University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, 11 February 1972↩
Flame Waves from the Upanishad-Sea, part IUPA:11-24. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, 18 February 1972.
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yo nah pracodayat."
We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth, inside the life of the sky, and inside the soul of the heaven. May He stimulate and illumine our minds.
Illumination needed; here is the answer. Transcendental illumination transforms the animal in us, liberates the human in us, and manifests the Divine in us.
Purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate."
Infinity is that.
Infinity is this.
From Infinity, Infinity has come into existence.
From Infinity, when Infinity is taken away, Infinity remains.
Infinity is the concealed Breath of the Pilot Supreme.
Infinity is the revealed Life of the Supreme’s Boat.
Infinity is the fulfilled Body of the Goal Supreme.
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrtyor ma amrtam gamaya."
Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.
The unreal in us desires the pleasure-life of the finite. The Real in us aspires for the God-Life of the Infinite.
Darkness is the discoverer of the doubting and frustrated mind. Light is the discoverer of the aspiring and dedicated heart.
Death — where is the cat? Miaowing nowhere. Immortality — where is the lion? Roaring all-where.
Anor aniyam mahato mahiyan
Atmasya jantor nihito guhayam.
Smaller than the smallest life, larger than the infinite Vast,
The soul breathes in the secret heart of man.
The soul is God’s eternal child and man’s great-grandfather.
As God’s eternal child the soul unceasingly plays.
As man’s eternal grandfather the soul perpetually enjoys rest.
Aditya-varnam tamasah parastat."
I have known this Great Being, effulgent as the sun beyond the boundaries of tenebrous gloom.
Before our realisation this Great Being quenched our heart’s thirst.
After our realisation we feed the soul’s hunger of this Great Being.
Satyam eva jayate.
Truth alone triumphs.
Truth is God’s Crown offered to God by God Himself.
Truth realised, God is forever caught.
Prajayai kam amrtam navrnita."
For the sake of the gods, he (Brihaspati) chose death.
He chose not Immortality for the sake of man.
Brihaspati houses the flowing life of the gods and treasures the glowing love of man.
Uru ksayaya naskrdhi
Uru no yandhi jivase"
For our body give us freedom.
For our dwelling give us freedom.
For our life give us freedom.
God’s Compassion is the freedom of our body. God’s Concern is the freedom of our dwelling. God’s Love is the freedom of our life.
Indro jyotir jyotir Indrah
Surye jyotir jyotih Suryah."
Agni is Light and the Light is Agni.
Indra is Light and the Light is Indra.
Surya is Light and the Light is Surya.
Light is Love revealed.
Light is Life manifested.
Light is God fulfilled.
Anandadd hy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante Anandena jatani jivanti Anandam prayantyabhisam visanti
From Delight we came into existence.
In Delight we grow.
At the end of our journey’s close, into Delight we retire.
God has written an open letter to His human children. His letter runs: “My sweetest children, you are the only delight of My universal Existence.”
Tat tvam, pusan, apavrnu, satya-dharmaya drstaye."
The Face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden orb. Remove it, O Sun, so that I who am devoted to the Truth may behold the Truth.
The Face of Truth awakens us.
The Eye of Truth feeds us.
The Heart of Truth builds us.
Saha viryam karavavahai."
May He protect us together.
May He own us together.
May He make unto us vigour and virility.
God, Guru, and disciple:
God is Compassion and Protection;
Guru is Concern;
The disciple is dedication.
When these three work together, perfect Perfection shines, and it will shine through eternity.
Kim aham tena kuryam"
What shall I do with the things that cannot make me immortal?
God is eternally proud of man because he embodies God’s Immortality.
Madhuman me parayanam Madhumat punarayanam.
Sweet be my departure from home.
Sweet be my return.
My sweet departure from my eternal home has made me feel how brave I am.
My sweet return to my eternal home shall make me feel how fortunate I am.
Flame Waves from the Upanishad-Sea, Part IIUPA 25-34. Fordham University, Bronx, NY, 28 February 1972
Visvani, deva, vayunani vidvan;
Yuyodhyasmaj juharanam eno
Bhuyistham te nama-uktim vidhema."
O Agni, O Fire God, lead us along the right path so that we can enjoy the fruits of our divine actions.
You know, O God, all our deeds.
O God, take away from us all our unaspiring and binding sins and destroy them.
To You we offer our teeming, soulful salutations and prayers.
Heart’s aspiration is the right path.
God’s Compassion is the genuine guidance.
The fruits of our divine actions are Peace, Light, and Bliss.
Sin is the smile of self-limiting bondage.
In our prayers and salutations abides God the illumining Saviour.
Ksurasya dhara nisita duratyaya;
Durgam pathas tat kavayo vadanti."
Arise, awake, realise and achieve the Highest with the help of the illumining, guiding, and fulfilling Masters.
The path is as sharp as the edge of a razor, difficult to cross, hard to tread — so declare the wise sages.
“Arise, you need God.
Awake, God needs you.”
Who brings this message? The Master.
The road may be long, but not endless. The goal is not only an endless life, but an ever energising immortal breath.
A wise sage is he whose outer life is the manifestation of the Truth’s inner life.
Nalpe sukham asti
The Infinite is the satisfying happiness.
In the finite no happiness can ever breathe.
The Infinite alone is the fulfilling happiness.
The Life Infinite is the Delight Infinite.
The finite is a stranger to the infinite Happiness.
Infinity without Delight means the creation without a Creator. Indeed, this is absurd.
Delight without Infinity means the Creator without the creation. Indeed, this is equally absurd.
Nema vidyuto bhanti;
Kuto ‘yam agnih:
Tam eva bhantam anubhati sarvam
Tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhati."
There the sun shines not, nor the moon and the stars, nor the lightning, let alone this earthly fire.
Only when illumining Light shines, everything else shines; the self-revealing Light illumines the entire universe.
The outer sun asks us to see, and when we look around we see all darkness.
The inner sun makes us see what we eternally are: the Light Infinite.
Nayam atma bala-hinena labhyo.
This soul cannot be won by the weakling.
True, a weak aspirant cannot realise his soul. Again, who can really be strong before he has realised his soul?
A weak aspirant is God in His perfecting aspiration.
A strong aspirant is God in His manifesting realisation.
Ya osadhisu yo vanaspatisu tasmai devaya namo namah."
We offer our supreme salutations to this divine Being who is in fire, in water, in the plants, in the trees, and who has entered and pervaded the whole universe.
Fire is aspiration.
Water is consciousness.
A plant is a climbing hope.
A tree is an assuring confidence.
The divine Being is the concealed Breath and revealed of the universe.
Avidyaya mrtyum tirtva vidyayamrtam asnute."
He who knows and understands knowledge and ignorance as one, through ignorance passes beyond the domain of death, through knowledge attains to an eternal Life and drinks deep the Light of Immortality.
Ignorance is the knowledge of the physical mind.
Knowledge is the secret of the soul.
When the physical mind surrenders its existence to the illumination of the soul, death dies; Immortality dawns.
Bhadram pasyemaksabhir yajatrah;
Sthirair angais tustuvamsas tanubhih
Vyaséma deva-hitam yad ayuh."
O Cosmic Gods, may we hear with our human ears all that is auspicious.
O Gods who are truly worthy of worship, may we see with our human eyes all that is auspicious.
May we enjoy our life given by You, offering constant praises with our sound body and earthly existence to You.
To hear an auspicious thing is to invoke God the Inspiration and God the Aspiration.
To see an auspicious thing is to feel God the Light and God the Delight.
Thirteen talks on the UpanishadsI had decided to give thirteen talks on the Upanishads. Today I will be giving my thirteenth talk on the Upanishads. That means that today we are at the end of the race, the divine race. We are nearing the goal. When we reach the goal we shall offer our most devoted gratitude to the Inner Pilot. Also, I offer my blessingful gratitude to all my disciples who have made arrangements for me to talk at various distinguished universities. It is they who are helping me in offering the little Light I have to the world at large.
The philosophy, the religion, the spirituality, and the Yoga of the Upanishads1The philosophy of the Upanishads.
The religion of the Upanishads.
The spirituality of the Upanishads.
The Yoga of the Upanishads.
When we think of the Upanishads, immediately our minds enter into these particular subjects — philosophy, religion, spirituality, and Yoga.
The philosophy of the Upanishads is the vastness of the mind.
The religion of the Upanishads is the oneness of the heart.
The spirituality of the Upanishads is the immortality of the soul.
The Yoga of the Upanishads is the total manifestation of God here on earth.
The vastness of the mind needs God the infinite Consciousness.
The oneness of the heart needs God the supreme and eternal Beloved.
The immortality of the soul needs God the ever-transcending Beyond.
The total manifestation of God needs man’s constant inner hunger.
God is Purity in the vastness of the mind.
God is Beauty in the oneness of the heart.
God is Life in the immortality of the soul.
The philosophy of the Upanishads tells me, “See the Truth.”
The religion of the Upanishads tells me, “Feel the Truth.”
The spirituality of the Upanishads tells me, “Grow into the Truth.”
The Yoga of the Upanishads tells me, “Become the Truth.”
God tells me, “You are the Truth.”
When I see the Truth, I know what God’s Compassion is.
When I feel the Truth, I know what God’s Love is.
When I grow into the Truth, I know what God’s Concern is.
When I become the Truth, I know what God’s Selfless Life is, and what His unconditional Duty is.
When I realise that I am the Truth, the full manifestation of Divinity’s Light begins.
The Upanishads offer to each aspiring heart countless messages. There are quite a few messages which are at once most significant and most fulfilling. Here is a stupendous message about life and death. Before death and after death, what happens? This is the message of the Upanishads:
Before death, life is a seeker.
After death, the same life becomes a dreamer.
Before death, life struggles and strives for Perfection.
After death, the same life rests and enjoys the divine Bliss with the soul.
Before death, life is God’s Promise.
After death, life is God’s inner Assurance. This Assurance of God’s we notice while we fulfil God in our future incarnation.
Life for each individual is an act of inspiration and revelation. Life is an experience; even so is death. Our human life is God’s sacred flame mounting towards the highest Source. Human death, the so-called death, is a secret play of God’s Will.
When we study the Upanishads we start with the concentration of the mind. This concentration of the mind is the most difficult thing that we can ever think of. We know what the mind is, we know what concentration is, but when it is a matter of concentration of the mind, it is extremely difficult to do.
Once some spiritual aspirants went to their Master and said, “Master, we have been meditating for so many years — for ten long years. How is it that we cannot control our minds?” The Master said, “My children, God-realisation is not so easy. Had it been easy, you would have by this time controlled your minds. God-realisation is extremely difficult — here is the proof. We consider the mind to be our best instrument. We consider it to be the highest, the most developed part in our human life. But look at its helplessness.” Then he went on to say, “You are all standing before me. Now if somebody stands up right on the shoulders of one of your spiritual brothers, what will happen? Immediately your brother will be irritated, he will feel disturbed. His prestige will be hurt. He is also a human being. How does someone dare to stand on his shoulders? The same thing happens to the mind. When the mind is agitated by our thoughts — low, undivine, uncomely thoughts — it does not allow us to become calm, quiet, and serene enough to meditate on God.”
The origin of the mind is divine; the mind itself is divine. But unfortunately the mind that we are using right now is the physical mind, which cannot help us at all in our upward journey. This mind has consciously or unconsciously accepted three undivine friends: fear, doubt and jealousy. I said in the beginning of this talk that the vastness of the mind is the philosophy of the Upanishads. Now, when vastness wants to appear before the physical mind, the physical mind is horror-struck. It is afraid of the vastness. Further, it looks at its own insufficiency, its own limited capacity, and says, “How is it possible? I am so weak; I am so impotent; I am so insignificant. How can the vastness accept me as its very own?” First it is afraid of vastness, then it doubts. It doubts the very existence of vastness. Then, by God’s infinite Grace, fear leaves the mind and doubt leaves the mind. Alas, now jealousy comes in. The mind looks around and sees that there is some fulfilment in the vastness, whereas in its own existence there is no fulfilment, there is no joy. Jealousy starts. Fear, doubt, and jealousy — these three undivine forces — attack the mind and make it meaningless, helpless and hopeless in our upward journey. When the mind is attacked by fear, doubt and jealousy, something else consciously and deliberately enters and feeds the mind, and that is our ego. With ego starts the beginning of our spiritual end.
We have to go beyond the domain of the physical mind with the help of philosophy, religion, spirituality, and Yoga. The seeking mind operates in philosophy. The crying heart operates in religion. The illumining soul operates in spirituality. The fulfilling Goal operates in Yoga.
There are two approaches to the Goal. One approach is through the mind, the other is through the heart. The approach of the mind is not safe; it is not secure. But one eventually can reach the Goal. It is not that if you approach God through the mind you will not realise God. You will realise God, but the road is arduous. You may doubt your aspiration, you may doubt God’s Compassion for you. Hence it may take you hundreds, thousands of years to reach the Goal. But the approach through the heart is safe and sure. We can do one of two things: either we can identify ourselves with the subject or the object — with the Supreme Pilot, the Eternal Beloved — or we can surrender our existence at every second to the Inner Pilot. Either we have to become totally one with the Will of the Inner Pilot, or we have to surrender totally, unconditionally to the Inner Pilot. When we approach God in either of these ways, His Infinity, Eternity, Divinity, Immortality we feel immediately as our very own.
If we follow the messages of the Upanishads step by step, if we start first with philosophy, then with religion, then with spirituality, and finally with Yoga, then God-realisation need not and cannot remain a far cry. God-discovery is our birthright. If we really want to discover God, then we can start right from the beginning: philosophy, religion, spirituality, and Yoga. When we fulfil the demands of philosophy, religion, spirituality, and Yoga, God fulfils all our demands. Their demands are very simple: aspiration and self-control. Our demands are God’s gifts: Peace, Light, Bliss and Power.
Do we really care for God’s gifts? If we really care for God’s gifts, then God will offer us the capacity to receive His infinite wealth. In our ordinary life when we want something from somebody else, that person won’t give us the capacity to receive it. He will demand our own capacity. If we have the capacity, if we work for one day, then the boss will give us the salary. But in the spiritual life, God wants to know whether we really want the salary — Peace, Light, and Bliss. If we want them, then He Himself will energise us and be our aspiration and self-control. He will work in and through us. He will work as the seeker within us, and at the same time He will work as the Pilot for us. He Himself will be both Employer and Employee. If we really want God, God will play at once both the roles. He will be the Employer and the Employee. He will be the Seeker and the Fulfiller.
UPA 34. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, 1 March 1972↩
PrefaceWhat has India to offer to the world — this dynamic world of ours, which hungers at once for money, power, fame, peace, love, satisfaction? To this crying world, India offers her inexhaustible treasure, her all-loving power, her perennial glory, her unfathomable Peace, ineffable Delight, and eternal Fulfilment. India offers the Upanishads, "India's Soul-Offering".
Do you want money? The Upanishads will teach you how to get it. Do you care for power, honour, name and fame? The Upanishads will show you how to acquire them. Or do you prefer the higher realities — inner Peace, Light, and Bliss? These too — especially these — the Upanishads will teach you how to achieve. Whether you care for the temporal or the eternal, the Upanishads embody the path which will lead you to your goal.
Upanishad means "Brahma-Knowledge" or "the Knowledge of God". This knowledge illumines earthly darkness and transforms human ignorance. At the end of our spiritual journey we see darkness growing into Light, and ignorance into inner Wisdom.
In this book, The Upanishads: The Crown of India's Soul, Sri Chinmoy, renowned philosopher and spiritual Master from India, offers his illumining light on the principal Upanishads to all seekers of the Truth. From the vast sea of wisdom offered in the Upanishads, Sri Chinmoy isolates and expands the most inspiring and illumining truths. From his thirteen talks on the Upanishads the aspiring reader can derive tremendous assistance in understanding the secrets recorded by India's ancient sages.
Brahman, the Self, the nature of man's life-force, the essence of sacrifice, being and non-being, the evolution of the soul, the Gayatri Mantra, life and death — these are just a few of the subjects with which Sri Chinmoy deals. His penetrating intuitive vision shows him the very heart of the Upanishadic wisdom, and in his sublime and soul-elevating language he clarifies philosophical problems which may puzzle even great scholars and advanced seekers.
In Sri Chinmoy his disciples, followers, and admirers find the most sincere concern. His inner Wisdom and divine Light love, serve, and guide the searching human mind and the aspiring human heart. It usually happens that one experiences the Truth, and another, without experiencing the Truth, explains the Truth. The Indian sages of the hoary past experienced the Truth. Later, very few Indian spiritual masters had the experience of that same highest Truth. But many Indian scholars and writers have become exponents of the Vedic and Upanishadic lores without having had an iota of inner experience of the Ultimate Truth. This is not at all true of Sri Chinmoy, for he has experienced this Ultimate Truth. His understanding of the Upanishads comes not from mere intellectual application, but from direct personal experience of these inner truths.
In Sri Chinmoy sincere seekers see not only the embodiment of the eternal Truth in its purest life and soul, but also its spontaneous revelation and soul-stirring manifestation.
The Upanishadic seers are proud of Sri Chinmoy because he is. Sri Chinmoy is proud of them because in his inner existence he is always with them in the glowing Dream of the Supreme which is becoming the manifesting Reality of the Supreme.