Friday, November 17, 2006

ParaBrahman - The ultimate reality


Salutations to all.

In the previous posting, we saw the nature of the individual Self which is of the nature of Consciousness & blissful in nature. Now we will try to analyze on the nature of the ultimate reality of Brahman - that which Upanishads proclaim as Para Brahman.

Sankara in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya defines Brahman as two - Para Brahman and Apara Brahman. Para Brahman is that which is beyond all limitations whereas Apara Brahman is that which is associated with names and forms (naama roopa). This differentiation is only from the empirical view & not the ultimate view. Naama roopa or names/forms never have any reality but they are mere illusions in the reality. The name of chain and form of chain is only an illusion in the reality of gold. Similarly the various names and forms (which is totally termed as the world) is only an illusion in Brahman. This is what Chandogya Upanishad explains through the examples of mud, gold and iron.

Brahman is defined in various ways in the upanishads. The characteristics of an entity is called LAKSHANA. Brahman can be defined using three lakshanas depending on the level from which we see it. The three lakshanas are:

1. Vyavritta lakshana - distinguishing characteristic - Brahman is defined as different from the various bodies of gross, subtle and causal. Brahman is also defined as the Subject which is not objectified. These are ways of distinguishing Brahman from all other objects. When we remove all objects, what will remain behind is the Subject who does the removal process. This is termed in the Upanishads as the process of neti, neti or not-this, not-this wherein everything apart from Brahman is negated. Anything that is objectified as "this" is not Brahman. Thus negating, we will end up with the negator who cannot be negated which is Brahman.

2. Thatastha lakshana - this is relative characteristic definition. A person was once searching for a particular house in a lane. He didn't know which house and hence asked a passer-by. The passer-by replied that the house on which a crow is now sitting is the house searched by him. This is thatastha lakshana of the house - this definition is a relative one but not real as it depends on the relative medium. The characteristic for the house as that upon which crow is sitting is not real or eternal because the crow is not eternal & will go away from the house after some time. Brahman is defined as the creator-protector-destroyer of the world. The world is not real and hence this definition is also not real. Brahman is as well defined as avastha traya saakshi or the witness to the three states of waking, dreaming and dreamless-deep sleep.

3. Svaroopa lakshana - unlike the other two definitions which are relative, this is the very nature of an entity. Fire is that which burns things. Burning is the very nature of fire & ever present in fire - thus this is the svaroopa lakshana of fire. Brahman is explained in the scriptures as of the nature of Sat, Chit, Ananda and Anantha (Existence, Consciousness, Bliss and infinite respectively). This is the very nature of Brahman.

We will see in the next posting as to how Brahman is of the nature of Sat Chit Ananda Anantha.

Salutations to all.


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