I have been a composer of occasional poems. Recently, while completing my book on Advaita, I happened to extract a few verses from myself in Sanskrit. I use the word ‘extract’ because poetry has not been a natural gift in my case, but with some effort I always produce some poems. Gifted are those to whom poetry comes naturally, but many have to toil to make a verse and not to look worse.
As the verse is in Sanskrit, my apologies to those who are not quite familiar with the language, but I hope the readers of this website would excuse the indulgence of someone who is praising non-duality.
There are verses on Brahman, on consciousness, on guru who is the Brahman and jIva rolled into one (as in the Dakshinamurti stotram), but I did not find any poem on non-duality itself. So the theme is the advaita vision itself.
The summary of the verse is simple for one who knows the lingo of advaita. It reads like this.
Advaita, the king among doctrines, will reign supreme as long as i) ‘intellect’ continues to be the upAdhi, the limiting factor, for understanding of Brahman, ii) as long as the jIva has the status of chidAbhAsa (being a reflection or semblance of the Supreme Consciousness) iii) as long as the internal space is destined to get dissolved in the eternal space and iv) as long as the transitory nature of universe is measured out by Time under the power of mAyA.
For those who can crunch verses, the verse is as follows:
हृद्व्योम्नः प्रविलापनं विनियतं शुद्धे परे व्योमनि।
ताटस्थ्यं जगतश्च कालकलितं यावद्भवेन्मायया
तावन्मूर्ध्निप्रतिष्ठितो विजयते सोऽद्वैतराट् केवलः॥
hRRid-vyomnaH pravilApanaM viniyataM shuddhe pare vyomani.
tATasthyaM jagatashcha kAla-kalitaM yAvad-bhaven-mAyayA
tAvan-mUrdhni-pratiShThito vijayate so.advaita-rAT kevalaH..
Explanation of the terms is, of course, is needed for a newcomer.
Buddhi is the upAdhi, we say. Buddhi, or human intellect, the discerning faculty is the only thing we handle or we think we handle. This is the only tool for understanding its own maker. This understanding is enlightenment. It involves a process of objectifying what all we can objectify and remove it as non-self. For instance the chair on which I sit is not me, as I can perceive it as different from me. I can similarly objectify my hand and also my body which I can distinguish from myself. There is some built in logic in this which enables it to make such distinction. This is the only means to establish any connection with the Supreme Consciousness. This buddhi has to pursue the ultimate so that the ultimate can also bestow its grace and reveal itself, as the kaTha upaniShat says. We have to select and pursue in order to deserve the grace of Brahman.
We call buddhi the upAdhi, the medium through which the Consciousness manifests itself. It is a differentiating factor, as it is called, which makes the individual self as distinct from the Self; it is also a sort of limitation on the Self, the unbound Self appearing as though bound. However it is a temporary distinguishing factor which disappears the moment the seeker realizes that he is not a mere limited self. This arrangement of being limited and later realizing as unlimited will continue till eternity.
The second word is chidAbhAsa. It is a combination (chit+AbhAsa) of chit, the intellect, and AbhAsa, an appearance. Chit is intelligence, the equivalent of j~nAnam. Buddhi, the intellect, as we call it, is inert. It has to be illumined by something else. Why don’t all inert substances get similarly illumined, and why mind only? Mind is called a ‘fine reflecting medium’ in the Vedanta Paribhasha. Of all the inert substances, intellect in man and animals is the only reflecting medium which gets more illumined than other inert substances and so is capable of perceiving the objects. jIva is otherwise called chidAbhAsa, whose illumination is but the illumination of the Supreme Consciousness. This status of being a reflector is bound to continue as long as creation exists.
The next word is hRRid-vyoma or the space in the heart. A modern reader will find it archaic to call the heart as centre of understanding. In Vedanta, or more so, in yoga it is the place for meditation of the Supreme. There is a discussion on this ‘space in the heart’ in the brahma-sUtra (1-3-14to21) in the context of explaining some of the expressions of chAndogya upaniShat (ch 8), where there are references to the dahara(little) AkAsha, which is the same as being discussed now. This ‘space’ in one’s heart is what to be explored and understood, the upaniShat says. Heart is not the lump of flesh in which some vacuum is supposed to exist, or where the Brahman is supposed to exist. Vedanta postulates that every day, the jIva, when he gets into deep sleep, merges into the Brahman, but he is not aware of it (chAndogya 8-3-2). This process of merger is explained as happening through the neural network, the purItati nerve, as it is called, which carries the mind to the hRRidaya AkAsha, its resting place. The heart thus signifies the mind, i.e. consciousness, by implication. So, it is not the elemental sky which is being talked about when we say ‘space in the heart’, but it is the Brahman itself. This space itself is to be meditated as Brahman. Though it is none other than the Brahman, it is not known because of avidyA.
The second line of the poem, thus says about this ‘space’ which is none other than chidAkAsha, the Consciousness or Brahman. pravilApanam, i.e. dissolving the space of the heart with the eternal chidAkAsha is the goal. This is possible through right understanding. Understanding their identity is itself the merger, as there is no physical process of merger. This pravilApanam, merger, is only a realization and this game is eternal.
The third line talks of the transitory nature of the universe in comparison to Brahman. Creation of the universe is a characteristic of Brahman, but it is not the real nature of Brahman. The real nature is existence, knowledge and bliss. Thus there is real characteristic and temporary characteristic. This can be illustrated by a commonplace example. While trying to guide a person to someone’s house, we may say: ‘the house on which the bird is sitting’. This direction surely helps a person to reach the house, but it is not the characteristic of the house to have the bird always, nor is it the characteristic of the bird to be perched during the whole lifetime of the house. This is called a temporary characteristic, taTastha lakShaNa. Similarly, creation of universe is only a temporary characteristic of Brahman, because It (Brahman) would always exist irrespective of the existence or otherwise of the universe. This universe itself, as per Vedanta, is an appearance on Brahman due to mAyA.
I tried to bring out some basic advaitic postulations in the poem which are well known to the students of Vedanta. The poem is only a frame given.