This article is a chapter from the book “Chhandogya Upanishad”.
Sandilya, the great Rishi, had this revelation of the Supreme Being. Vidya is a meditation, an art of thinking on the Supreme goal. This meditation begins with the proclamation of the all-Comprehensiveness of Brahman, “sarvam khalvidam brahma–All this is verily Brahman”. This vidya is contained in section 14 of chapter III of the Upanishad.
1. Sarvam khalvidam brahma, tajjalaniti santa upasita, atha khalu kratumayah puruso yatha-kratur-asmin-loke puruso bhavati, tathetah pretya bhavati, sa kratum kurvita.
This is a very famous passage in the Upanishad. This is how we have to meditate, calmly, quietly and peacefully, We have to meditate that everything comes from That, everything is sustained in That and everything returns to That. That which is the origination, the sustenance and the dissolution of all things is this Brahman. Inasmuch as it is the cause of all things, naturally, every effect in the form of this creation is contained there. We too are effects of creation. So we too are contained in it. There is a great justification in the assertion that everything is the Supreme Being. Logically and naturally, when the effects are all contained in the cause, one should be able to appreciate the all-comprehensiveness of the ultimate cause. This cause only is, inasmuch as no effect can be separated from the cause. There is an undifferentiated relationship between the effect and the cause. There is no gap between the one and the other. We are, therefore, not isolated from the cause. There is no vital cut or gulf between this universe of effect and its cause which is Brahman. This means to say that even now we are vitally connected with the Absolute. We are maintaining even at this moment an organic relationship. The difficult part of this meditation is that we ourselves, as thinkers, are associated vitally and organically with the Supreme Being on whom we have to meditate. We cannot think like this. For, the mind refuses to think. We can think something outside us and we can think of the universe practically, but we cannot think something in which we ourselves are involved. Because, there it is that the mind finds itself incapable of functioning. There is no such thing as mind thinking itself.
Aristotle said that God is thought thinking itself. It is very difficult to understand what it means. How can thought think itself? It always thinks something else. So, Brahman cannot be thought by the mind, and yet this is the injunction of the Upanishad. The highest kind of meditation is sarvam khalvidam brahma. All this manifestation which you see in the form of individuality, whether organic or inorganic, visible or invisible, wherever it be, is That. Nothing but That is.
Again to reiterate, the most difficult thing to swallow here is that we ourselves are a part of That. The meditator is part of that which is meditated on. How is one to even think? It requires a tremendous psychological preparation and an extraordinary type of purity of mind to appreciate what this instruction is. This is not an ordinary type of meditation. It is most extraordinary in the sense that you are contemplating yourself, as it were, and not something or somebody else. That is implied in the statement that everything is included in That, not excluding oneself who meditates.
Thus should you meditate: “sarvam khalvidam brahma,–all this verily is the Supreme Absolute Brahman.” How do you contemplate Brahman? The whole universe–you can imagine what the universe could be–has come from That. It has not come from That as something different from That. The very substance of this creation is the substance of the Absolute. That is one aspect of the matter. The other aspect is that there is no disconneetion between the effect and the cause. So you can imagine how hard it is to entertain this thought. Everything is That because of the effect being non-disassociated from the cause. It is connected with the cause. It is sustained, even now at the time of the apparent creation, in That only and it will go back to That. So there is no place for anything to exist except that. Also there is nothing other to That. Thus, one should meditate.
The word kratuh has several meanings. It means an effort of the will, an action of the mind, a determination of the understanding and a meditation that you practise. All this meaning is comprehended by the word kratuh. The whole of one’s life is nothing but a determination or willing in this manner. Throughout our life we will in some way or other. The individual is an embodiment of action performed through his will. And whatever we will, that we become because of the intensity of the will. As we affirm, so we experience and that we become. Our experiences are nothing but our affirmations through will. We have affirmed something very intensely in our previous lives, and the reward of those affirmations is the present series of experiences we are passing through here. So this is a caution, again administered to us. Inasmuch as whatever we think intensely and continuously, that we are going to become, what should we think throughout our life if we want to become Brahman? We want to become the Absolute itself. What should be the kind of thought that we should entertain? What should be the type of affirmation that we should make? How should our will work? This need not be explained further, because it is obvious. Therefore, my dear readers, spend your time in absorption of your thought in Brahman. This should be your meditation throughout your life. The Upanishad gives some further details as to how we should conduct this meditation in our life.
2. Mano-mayah, prana-sariro bha-rupah satya-samkalpa akasatma sarva-karma sarva-kamah sarva-gandhah sarva-rasah sarvam idam abhyatto’vakyanadarah.
The whole mental world is permeated by this Being. The light of the mind, the light of understanding, the light of intelligence is the light of Brahman. It appears to be embodied through these pranas and the body. They are a vehicle, an embodiment to particularise this infinite consciousness. And as I have mentioned already, even these as effects are not different from consciousness, the cause. So, this mental body or vital body of ours is not to be regarded as distinct from the Absolute. They are only occasions for the meditation on Brahman. From the particular we have to go to the universal. Though the particular is limited in comparison with the expanse of the universal, qualitatively it cannot be different from the universal. Just as from a drop you can know the ocean, from the particular we can reach the universal. Thus is the meditation. It is effulgence in its nature and light is its character. It is the glory of consciousness that is effulgence.
Whatever is willed through this consciousness is materialised at once–satya-samkalpah. This is what we studied in the last chapter of this Upanishad.
The Self of this Being is as vast as space. It is not a limited individual self. The whole space itself is the Self–akasatma. As vast as space is, so wide is this Self which is Brahman. It is, therefore, all-comprehensive.
All actions are its actions–sarvakarma. It performs everything. Whatever I do, whatever you do, whatever anyone does, whatever happens anywhere in all the levels of creation–all these are activities of that Being. It is the fingers of God working through all these phenomena of nature. All the ways in which the mind thinks are the ways He thinks.
Sarvakamah–all the wishes in your mind, all the desires are the desires of the Self ultimately in someway or other. Every kind of desire, whatever the nature of the desire be, is nothing but a movement of consciousness towards universality in someway or other. This subject is discussed in some detail in the Brihadarahyaka Upanishad which describes how every desire is universal desire ultimately. Anything that you smell through the nose is again an activity of That Being only–sarva-gandhah. This again has been mentioned earlier, in the last chapter of the Upanishad. The objects as well as the means of cognition are both Itself only appearing objectively on one side in one aspect and subjectively in another. All the tastes, anything that you contact through the organ of taste is nothing but Its activity–sarva-rasah.
Everything is enveloped by That–sarvam-idam-abhyattah. What further can we speak of It? It is enveloping all–isavasyam idam sarvam as the Isavasya Upanishad puts it. Inside and outside it is there as the Antaryamin. It does not speak, but it can convey its message and It is free from agitation and eagerness–avaki anadarah. It has no desires in the ordinary sense. It is not eager to grasp things, grab things and have things. Because It is all things. This is not merely a teaching giving some information, but it is instruction about meditation, the way in which a mind has to be organised in daily meditation so that it may not wander from place to place and may not think of many things. The many things do not exist. What will the mind think when it knows this truth!
3. Esa ma atmantar-hrdaye’niyan vriher-va, yavad-va, sar-sapad-va, syamakad-va, syamaka-tandulad-va, esa ma atmantar-hrdaye jyayan prthivyah, jyayan antarikasaj-jayan divah, jyayan ebhyo lokebhyah.
This great Being, the Supreme Brahman is in one’s own heart as fine and subtle as one can conceive of. It is the subtlest. It is most subtle even among those that we regard as very subtle in this world. Subtler than a grain of rice or paddy, subtler than a grain of millet, subtler than the kernel of this grain, so small, subtler than a mustard seed is this great Being who is seated in one’s heart. But does it mean, it is as small as a mustard seed? No, it is at the same time as vast as the whole of creation. So, objectively also it has to be contemplated, in the same way as we contemplate it subjectively as our own deepest Self inseparable from the whole cosmos. This little thing referred to as one’s own Self here is bigger than this vast earth. It is not merely as fine as a millet seed, but also vaster than this whole earth, and this entire atmosphere. It is vaster than all the worlds, not merely this one atmosphere. It is larger than even the sky and the heavens. It is vaster than all the fourteen worlds of creation which cannot comprehend its magnitude. So vast is its objectivity and magnitude, being infinite in its expanse, and yet it is in me, in you, and in every one of us, as if it is so little like a small flame of light.
This symbology is given only for the purpose of contemplation, because it has to be taught to us, that it is not merely an infinite expanse outside us, unconnected with us as a transcendent something, but is identical with our own Being also. The Upanishads are never tired of hammering this idea into us that the Supreme Being is both objectively infinite and subjectively the Self of every one. This is the principal meditation of almost every part of any Upanishad. It is the vast infinitude, incomprehensible to the mind, and yet nothing can be so near to us as That. It is so distant as the distant horizons themselves because of its infinitude and vastness, and yet so near as to be well nigh inseparable from us because it is the Atman itself.
4. Sarva-karma sarva-kamah sarva-gandhah, sarva-rasah, sarvam idam abhyatto’vakyanadarah, easa ma atmantar-hrdaye etad-brahma, etam itah pretyabhisambhavitasmi iti yasya syat addha na vicikitsasti iti ha smaha sandilyah, sandilyah.