Glimpses of Vedic Literature - Vedic Concept of the Ultimate Reality

Vedic Concept of the Ultimate Reality

Vedic Concept of the Ultimate Reality

IN these introductory notes, we have seen briefly the universality of the Veda and its emphasis on Goodwill. We shall now consider here the real basis of this universality and the importance it attaches to Goodwill. The real basis is the Vedic vision of Oneness and unity of existence. This vision is the opposite of our normal perception of division and surpassing unconnectedness despite discontinuous connections and relations. The vision of oneness and unity is termed by the Veda as Knowledge, vidya; our normal experience of division is termed Ignorance, avidya. The aim of the Veda is to lead us to Knowledge as also to lifting of the mystery of Ignorance by a wonderful consciousness of One Reality which reconciles the One and the Many.

There is one very famous statement of the Rigveda, which affirms the Oneness of Reality in the following words:

एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति। I.164.46

"There is One, which the wise call by many names."

Vedic Concept of the Ultimate Reality

Vedic Concept of the Ultimate Reality

These words appear in the very first Mandala of the Rigveda. In the last Mandala (Tenth Mandala) also, the Veda repeats the same idea in somewhat different words:

सुपर्णे विप्राः कपयोः वचोभिरेकं सन्तु बहुधा कल्पयन्ति। (10.114.5)

"The sages imagine and describe the One Being variously."

In the first Mandala (1.170), there is a very illuminating dialogue between Indra and Agastya. In the dialogue, Indra reveals to Agastya the nature of the One Reality. Indra declares:

न नूनमस्ति नो श्वः कस्तद् वेद यददभुदम्।
अन्यस्य चित्तमभि संचरेण्यमुताधीतं वि नश्यति। 1.70.1

"It is not now, nor is It tomorrow; who knoweth that which is Supreme and wonderful? It has motion and action in the consciousness of another, but when It is approached by the thought, It vanishes."

This verse brings out the following important characteristics of the One Reality:

1. It is not now, nor is It tomorrow. It is, in other words, beyond Time and Space. It is eternal;

2. It cannot be known by that which is in Space and Time. Our thinking which is moving within the bounds of Space and Time cannot have access to It'

3. If we try to reach It by thought, we shall fail to seize It. We have, therefore, to go beyond thought; we should take the help of Indra, who symbolises a consciousness above our thought; with that help we can approach It.

In the Katha Upanishad, Yama reveals to Nachiketas the nature of the One Reality and the means of knowing It in

Vedic Concept of the Ultimate Reality

Vedic Concept of the Ultimate Reality

the following words:

"The objects of senses are higher than senses (ears, eyes, etc.); and Mind is higher than the objects of senses; and the faculty of knowledge is higher than the Mind; and the great Self is higher than the faculty of knowledge."

"And higher than the great Self is the Unmanifest and high- er than the Unmanifest is the Purusha; none is higher than the Purusha:

He is the culmination. He is the highest goal of the journey." (III. 10-11)

This Upanishad throws light on how that Purusha can be known:

"Not with the mind has man the power to get Him, no, nor through speech, nor by the eyes . . ." (12)

"The Self is not to be won by eloquent teaching, nor by brain power, nor by much learning; but only he whom this Being chooses can win Him; for to him this self bares his body." (11.23)

"When every desire that finds lodging in the heart of man, has been loosened from its moorings, then this mortal puts on immortality; even he tastes that Reality, in this human body." (VI. 14)

That there is One Reality behind this universe and that It can be known by transcending our ignorant Mind are described in still profounder manner in the Isha Upanishad, which is the last chapter of the Yajurveda. We shall take only a few verses:

All this is for habitation by the Lord, whatsoever there is movement in the universal motion. By that renounced thou shouldst enjoy; lust not after any man's possession." (1)

Vedic Concept of the Ultimate Reality

Vedic Concept of the Ultimate Reality

"Into a blind darkness they enter who follow after the Ignorance, they as if into a greater darkness who devote them- selves to the Knowledge alone."(9)

"He who knows That as both in one, the Knowledge and the Ignorance, by the Ignorance crosses beyond death and by the Knowledge enjoys Immortality."(11)

It is the Knowledge of the One, and therefore the Knowledge of oneself in all and of all in oneself that provides the Vedic foundation for universality and goodwill for every one and everything. As the Isha Upanishad declares:

"But he who sees everywhere the Self in all existences and all existences in the Self, shrinks not thereafter from aught. He in whom it is the Self-Being that has become all existences that are Becomings, for he has the perfect knowledge, how shall he be deluded; whence shall he have grief who sees everywhere oneness?"(6, 7)

These immortal words require no comments. They only spur us to the needed effort for realisation.

Vedic Concept of the Ultimate Reality

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