Saturday, 22 July 2017

Vision of God

(based on Swami Paramarthananda’s Guru Purnima lecture 2017)

Lord Krishna classifies bhakthas into four categories In Gita (Ch.7 verse 15). They are Aartha, Artharthi, Jijnasu and Jnani bhakthas.  Aartha bhakthas are the devotees in distress who worship God seeking freedom from their problems.  Artharthi bhakthas are the devotees who worship God seeking success in their various material pursuits. Both see God as a means for achieving their material goals and their prayer is aimed at getting things they want or getting rid of things they don’t want.  To this end they choose any means of worship to any form of God and they don’t mind shrine shopping and temple hopping with no interest in enquiring about the nature of God and the underlying philosophy about His/Her form.  For these bhakthas God is different from them and also distant from them having His/Her abode in heavens.

Jijnasu bhakthas are those who want to understand the nature of God they worship and also seek the vision of God.  To this end they seek guidance from spiritual books and spiritual Gurus.  Most of them speak of the path of meditation and mystic experiences.  Those who follow it expect the vision of God to bless them in meditation or in dreams or God to appear in guise as is depicted in various stories.  But there are a few who seek guidance from a traditional Guru who has himself undergone training and studied the scriptures under a Guru of Vaidhika parampara  and also lives according to it.  This blog only deals with such Jijnasu bhakthas.

Scriptures teach that God is not only intelligent cause but also the material cause for this Universe.  That means that God not only created the Universe but also pervades the Universe as gold pervades all golden ornaments. The ornaments are only gold with different names and forms.  Same way everything in the Universe is only God with various forms and names. When once this idea is imbibed, jijnasu bhaktha’s attitude to the world undergoes a change.  Now he understands that vision of God as per the scriptures involves only a change of attitude towards the objects of the world and not a vision of God in any particular form.   In short, he understands that the vision of God only involves Iswara bhavana  replacing  prapancha bhavana i.e.God perception displacing world perception.  
Isavasya Upanishad opens with the line which echoes this idea.
ईशा वास्यमिदँ सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत् (Ishaavaasyam idam sarvam,Yad kincha jagatyaam jagat.)
Whatever moves here in this world, everything is pervaded or covered by God.
Everything in this world is pervaded by God. Whatever we see is manifestation of God alone. God here means the Supreme Brahman who is of the nature of pure Consciousness.  So whatever a person sees is only pure Consciousness with a name and form. 
A verse in Thirumandhiram, tamil work of saint Tirumoolar illustrates it beautifully.
மரத்தை மறைத்தது மாமதயானை (Maraththai maraithathu maamadha yaanai)
மரத்தில் மறைந்தது மாமதயானை  (maraththil marainthathu maamadha yaanai)
பரத்தை மறைத்தது பார்முதல் பூதம் (paraththai maraithathu paarmudhal bhootham)
பரத்தில் மறைந்தது பார்முதல் பூதம் (paraththil marainthathu paarmudhal bhootham)
The elephant (toy) hides the wood (with toy vision).  The elephant (toy) disappears in wood (with wood vision).  Pancha bhuthas hide the supreme (with world perception).  Pancha bhuthas disappear in the Supreme (with God perception)
Thirumular gives the example of toy elephant made of wood here.  A child is given a toy elephant made of wood.  The child only sees the elephant and not the wood and enjoys playing with it as elephant. But a carpenter who comes there sees only the wood and comments on the quality of wood and he has no eye for the elephant.  In the same way when you have the world vision you see only play of Pancha bhuthas and not the Supreme pervading it, while with God vision you see only the Supreme pervading the world and not the pancha bhuthas that make up the world. So if one replaces prapancha bhavana with Iswara bhavana, world vision is replaced by God vision.  Then that Jijnasu bhaktha sees God in every object of creation itself.
As the Jijnasu bhaktha blossoms into Jnani bhaktha with the study, doubt-free understanding and absorption of import of Mahavakhyas, he realises that for his vision of God he does not look elsewhere apart from himself  as his true Self is God, and  it is His prescence as Athma that makes him sentient as revealed in Kenopanishad (mantra 1-2)
श्रोत्रस्य श्रोत्रं मनसो मनो यद्वाचो वाच्ँस प्राणस्य प्राणः । चक्षुषश्चक्षुः----  (strotrasya strotram manaso mano yad vacho ha vacham sa u pranasya pranaha I Chakhusas chakshuhuh--)
He (God) is the Ear of the ear, the Mind of the mind, the Speech of speech, the Prana of prana, and the Eye of the eye.
As Athma, God i.e Brahman animates all senses. For the indriyas, prana and mind which are made up of pancha bhuthas are material only as the pancha bhuthas themselves are material only. Kenopanishad goes on to point out in 2-4, प्रतिबोधविधितं मतं (pratibodhaviditaṃ matam)  meaning It (Brahman) is realised in every state of mindThat means knowledge of Brahman is the knowledge of the factor which is common to all experiences which again means knowledge of the pure Consciousness that is present in all three states of Jagrat, Swapna and Sushupthi.  So a Jnani knows that wherever he is and whatever he is doing he is always experiencing God.  In other words all his actions, physical and mental constitute Brahmanubhava only.  So with this understanding and realisation “இருப்பதெல்லாம் இறைவனே.” (iruppathellam Iraivanae) i.e. whatever is there is God only, he now realises that God as Nirguna Brahman cannot be seen, as one cannot see one’s own eyes except as a reflection, while God as Saguna Brahman can be seen in every object of creation.

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