COMMENTARIES ON MAHAVAKYAS THROUGH LINGA CREATIONS
Ghandikota V. Subba Rao
Prashaanti Nilayam – July 1999
Bhagavaan Shri Sathya Sai Baba, as the incarnation or embodiment of Aathmik consciousness, is tireless in explaining in stunningly simplest possible terms the highest philosophical or, I should say, metaphysical or transcendental Upanishadhik statements. His casually repeated comments on the Mahaavaakya Chathushtaya, the four greatest declarations of Supreme Reality, are unequalled in the entire literature of Vedhaantha which is replete with elaborate but, I must say, very recondite and polemical commentaries of the various Aachaaryas (preceptors).
Svaami not only uses simple imageries, similes and metaphors, but also most uniquely illustrates these aphoristic TRUTHS by the materialisation of divinised objects representing or symbolising such Truths in the most telling manner. The latest innovation in the young computer World is called Virtual Reality. It is “Reality as it were”; as though it is real. Supreme reality; by itself, transcends the senses: it is above senses; the instruments of knowledge we have in this body are below the senses. Virtual Reality is only a reflection of Reality; at best it is an appearance of Reality like Maaya in Vedhaantha.
Bliss is the Lord’s form
Thaiththireeya Upanishath describes the bliss-filled formof the Divine Self, called PURUSHA, which is also the Omni-self or the supreme personality of the Godhead. This is pictured as a bird in a telling passage of this Upanishath. It says: Love is His head, Thasya Priyam Eva Shirah. Joy is His right side or wing, Modho Dhakshinah Pakshah. Delight is the left side or wing of this bird or Purusha, Pramodhah Uttharah Pakshah. Bliss is its Central truth or heart, Aanandha Aathmaa and Brahman is its tail or support, Brahma Puchcham Prathishthaa.
Again Baba uses another telling imagery in this connection, there is the vast ocean of Bliss in total awareness of the Supreme Reality, Aanandha Samudhra. When the Sun of knowledge, or Jnaana Bhaaskara, rises and its radiance heats up the waters of the Ocean of Bliss, vapours of consciousness rise and envelop the universal sky. Thus, Consciousness pervades the entire universe. This constant integrated awareness is called Prajnaanam and that is the Light that spreads its radiance all over the Cosmos and hence the statement, Prajnaanam Brahma.
“Prajnaanam Brahma” is symbolised by Brahmaanda Linga
Prajnaanam Brahma is the foremost of the great declarations of truth explained in the Thaiththireeya Upanishath in the RigVeda. It declares categorically that Brahman is pure awareness. This is called a Svaruupa Lakshana or a statement, which lays bare the essential nature of Brahman, the Absolute Reality. It is said to be a Svasvaruupa Vaakya expressing the inherent essence of our own self or witnessing Self as being nothing but total awareness or fullest consciousness which pervades the Cosmos. This statement is expressed in the general, third person or impersonal form. Baba explains the import of this primordial nature of Brahman in the most unique manner. He says Amgam or body is the Sangam or meeting place of the Spirit on the one hand, and Matter or Prakrithi on the other. In the Jangam or the moving Spirit or Self; there arises the primordial manifestation of the vision of the LINGAM – from which emerge all micro and macrocosmic entities. In illustration of this unique statement that the all-pervading consciousness is Brahman, Baba materialises the Anda Pinda Brahmaanda LINGAM. This signifies the egg-shaped basic living cell, the egg-shaped human embryo as well as the egg-shaped macrocosmic universe.
He explains that the outer cover of the egg-shaped LINGA is the Anda or Prakrithi, the female principle and the inner Rasa or essence is the Pinda or Purusha or the male principle. These are mutually related and integrated. The outer shell is made up of matter and the inner core is Divinity itself. Thus, the body is a vessel containing Jeevaathma, the apparently individualised Self-effulgent Divinity. All living beings including an Avathaar or God in human form, are expressions of Anda Pinda-Lingam, which is also the shape of the Brahmaanda or cosmos, every particle of which is animated by Divine Consciousness.
Baba says that if one is completely free from anger and jealousy one can experience the vision of Divine Unity in all its Cosmic Diversity. It is the vision of unity in multiplicity that the Mahaa Vaakya: Prajnaanam Brahma evokes in us. In other words, the I, or, the Self in the microcosm, is the same as that in the macrocosm. This is the essence of the Anda-Pinda-Brahmaanda Lingam.
By contemplating on the profound truth, that the consciousness in the living cell (in the living human embryo, in the individual living being and in the innumerable universes or, cosmos as a whole) is nothing but the Self-same divine entity, we expand our individualised, self-limited consciousness into the Universal Divine Consciousness. The air in the bubble is the same as the air in the outside. When the bubble bursts, the air inside merges with the air outside.
This stage is called Saalokya, living in the realm of Spiritual Consciousness, expressed in the corresponding statement. “I am in the Light”. It signifies the expansion of the “I” consciousness into the “He” Consciousness and finally culminating in the unifying “We” consciousness. Baba says that all knowledge related concepts of Ajnaana, Jnaana, Vunaana, Sujnaana (negative, positive, specialized or spiritual types of knowledge) are only modifications of one and the same principle of PRAJNAANA. Prajnaana is immanent in the Anthahkarana as the inner principle, which absorbs and interprets the messages received through the senses. All the sense organs are Jada or insentient by themselves. It is Prajnaana that animates and activates the inertsenses and makes them instruments of inner consciousness. Prajnaana is the master who presides over the physical, mental, intellectual, emotional and ego oriented expressions of our Mind. Therefore, it is not correct to equate Prajnaana with mere intellect, knowledge or wisdom. These inner, sense-oriented entities are transient or impermanent.
All the senses function because of the divine, all-pervasive consciousness that operates in every being. All the great elements are pervaded by Prajnaana or divinity. For example, in water the Divine is present as Prajna. That is why, when a person becomes unconscious, water is sprinkled over him in order to restore his latent power of consciousness. The universe consists of innumerable objects in all of which, the one unchanging eternal principle is the Aathma, that is Prajnaana, and that is Brahman. There is no difference between Prajnaana and Brahman. Constant integrated awareness or Prajnaana is Brahman itself!
Prajnaanam Brahma expresses the truth of universal consciousness as Supreme Divinity. This is expressed in the indirect third person or a generalised, unparticularised declaration of the highest truth-wisdom. It is called Svaruupa Lakshana Vaakya or the statement defining the very nature or essence of Brahman - the Light Supreme. The dawn of this wisdom signifies living in Saalokyam - in the all-embracing spiritual consciousness. Sah + lokya: The one who is to be fully comprehended and its realisation is expressed as “I am in the light of supreme consciousness”. The light enveloping the individual and every other entity in the cosmos is Prajnaanam - the illumination of total awareness.
In terms of Sai Consciousness, the spirit of Mahaavaakya PRAJNAANAM BRAHMA, corresponds to the Sai Suurya Gaayathree:
OM Bhaaskaraaya Vidhmahe<
This Manthra links the devotee with the Cosmic Divine Body visualised as Sai Suurya (Sai as effulgent Sun God).
“Ayam Aathma Brahma” corresponds to Sadhaashiva Linga
The second great declaration is Ayam Aathmaa Brahma; this individual living Self is nothing but the Omni-self. This is termed as an Anubhava Vaakya. This statement is in the nature of an experiential statement flowing out of the glimpse of Divinity. This declaration is from the Atharva Vedha (Maanduukyopanishath). The light of Supreme All Pervasive consciousness is experienced in the inmost self. This statement internalizes the external light of Divinity. This corresponds to the feeling that, the Supreme Light of Divinity, is very much in the apparently individualised self.
The body is the moving temple of God and the deity inside is Jeevaathma, the embodied self imbued with the Eternal Life principle or the Shiva Thathva. If there is no Shiva principle in the body it only becomes a Shava or mere corpse. Shiva is the Light of Life and, as such, this statement corresponds to the mark or Linga of the eternal life principle. This Sadhaa Shiva Linga symbolises the Person who is ever of the form of Shiva. Here and everywhere, night and day, in joy and grief; he is Shivam i.e. happy, auspicious and graceful. Bliss or Aanandham is his breath, his motive force, his demeanour, and His inner and outer expression.
Baba materialises and then instructs us to install, the Sadaashiva Linga in our Consciousness and all things will he revealed to us by the grace of the Divine Indweller. Ayam Aathma Brahma brings us close to Divinity. It is thus comparable to Saameepya Mukthi, which is the state where we are freed from worldly thoughts and when all thoughts dwell only on the Divinity Supreme. This declaration revolves around the meditation on Thejas as the illuminating Shiva Consciousness. “That Light is in Myself’- is the ineffable experience of a spiritual practice called, Jyothir Dhyaana; internalising the vision of the radiant Sadhaa-Shiva-Principle or Linga installed within oneself.
In terms of Sai Consciousness, the Spirit of the Mahaavaakya, AYAM AATHMA BRAHMA, corresponds to the Sai Hiranyagarbha Gaayathree:
OM Premaathmanaaya Vidhmahe
This Manthra links the devotee with the Cosmic Divine Mind visualised as Sai Hiranyagarbha (Sai as the Golden Wombed God).
“Thath Thvam Asi (Thou art That) ” Symbolised by Jnaana Linga
The third great Upanishadik declaration is Thath Thvam Asi - Thou art that. This statement is from the Chaandhogya Upanishath of the Saama Vedha. The great preceptor Uddhaalaka Aaruni instructed his son Shvethakethu in the secret of Brahma Vidhyaa – the Science of understanding of the Supreme Reality. This great instruction is repeated nine times to drive home the point that the Jeevathma, the individual Self should be realised as nothing but Paramaathma, the Supreme Omni-Self. Thathvamasi Swethaketho!is the final instruction of Uddhaalaka Maharishi. This is therefore called Brahmopadhesha Vaakya, the instructional declaration.
The spiritual aspirant for liberation or Mumukshu is directly addressed in the second person singular case and told, in no uncertain terms, that, he and the Divinity are one and the same. It corresponds to the realisation that, the Light of Supreme Divinity and the Light of Consciousness within are identical: “I and the Light are the same”. Thath Thvam Asi is symbolised by the Jnaana Lingam, the high water mark of realising the supreme knowledge or Brahma Vidhya. It is repeated nine times – nine being the representation of Parabrahma so that one is established firmly in the conviction that he is not the body, not the senses, not the mind, not the bundle of Vaasanas or the ego-self He is nothing but Divinity, The Supreme Self
This statement evokes the state of Saaruupyam-attaining the same form or characteristics of Divinity – being free of all other qualities. It corresponds to the principle of the eternal life breath – Vaayu Thathva, which permeates all beings. The particular spiritual exercise to reveal this state is called Sathyavathi, the incessant search into one’s own truth. The search of Koham, who am I, results in the knowledge of Brahman. This statement is represented by Jnaana Linga - the mark of supreme knowledge, as created by Baba.
In terms of Sai Consciousness, the spirit of Mahaavaakya, THATH THVAM ASI, corresponds to the Sai (Eeshvara) Gaayathree:
OM Saayeeshvaraaya Vidhmahe
This Manthra links the devotee with the Cosmic Divine Life visualised as Sai Eeshvara (Sai as the Supreme God).
Aathma Linga signifies “Aham Brahma Asmi” – I am Brahman
The fourth great declaration is “Aham Brahmaasmi”. This is from the Brihadhaaranya Upanishath of the Yajurvedha. It is in the first person singular case, expressing first hand knowledge with experience. This is called Anusandhaana Vaakya. The true import of’ this statement signifies the complete alignment of oneself with the Supreme Cosmic Self defined as Sathyam, Jnaanam, Anantham, Aanandham, Brahma. Truth, Omniscience, Infinity and Bliss characterise the Parabrahman.
This statement is represented by the infinite space principle Aakaasha Thathva. The fruit of the realisation of this great declaration is Saayujya itself i.e., uniting with Supreme Divinity. Its vision is symbolised by the creation by Baba of Aathma Linga: the Aathmik consciousness is united with Braahmik consciousness. The Brihadhaaranya prefaces this great statement with an introductory declaration. Brahma Vaa Idham Agra Aaseeth, “Verily, in the beginning, this was all Brahman”. It is then stated that Brahman knew Itself as “I am Brahman” “Aham Brahmaasmi”. When It knew Itself as Brahman, It became the Supreme All in All “Thasmaath Thath Sarvamaabhavath”. Then, the Upanishath declares that the one who realizes the import of this great truth becomes himself the All-in-All. It is so even now with respect to the demi-Gods, Rishis and humans. Even the demi-Gods cannot prevent the human from becoming this All-in-All, for the human Self has become their own Self! In terms of the analogy of Light of Consciousness, the meaning of this great statement is “I am the Supreme Light”. Therefore, the truth of this statement is represented by Baba’s creation of the Aathma Linga emerging out of his stomach and mouth on Mahaashiva Raathri night. The Aathma Linga is the ultimate experience of Braahmik consciousness. As Baba states: “The Aathma Linga is like the pot containing sea water, immersed in the self same sea”. “It is just like sugar only; which can be made into dolls of various shapes and forms”. “Just as water freezes into ice, Aathma freezes into the individual”. It remains the self-same water.
In terms of Sai Consciousness, the spirit of the Mahaavaakya AHAM BRAHMA ASMI corresponds to the Non-dual Sai Panchaakshari (five-lettered) formula:
This Manthra exemplifies the identity of devotee with Sai-Shiva (the Modern as well as the ancient Primordial Absolute Divinity).
The Imagery of Ganga Merging in the Ocean
First, there is the ocean of Aathmik bliss. Aanandha is the very form of Aathma. We are all waves of the ocean of Bliss, in terms of Aadhi Shankaraachaarya’s immortal poetic work of devotion called Aanandha Lahari. When the Sun of Braahmik consciousness shines and spreads its divine rays on the Ocean of Bliss, the waters evaporate creating vapours of (Bliss) Consciousness which rise and envelope the entire space. Thus consciousness pervades the Cosmos with all its microscopic life forms as well as the macroscopic Worlds. This phenomenon corresponds to the import of the first great Vedhaanthik declaration, Prajnaanam Brahma: Total Awareness is the very nature of the Cosmic Self. In order to illustrate the all inclusive concept of Braahmik consciousness, Baba speaks about and materialises from his stomach-womb as it were, the Anda Pinda Brahmaanda Linga which was emitted through his mouth on Mahaa Shiva Raathri days. The Linga is the egg-shaped total Cosmos in which exists the Andas, the egg-shaped living cells, the Pindas, the egg-shaped human embryos as well as the egg-shaped innumerable universes, Brahmaanda. This Linga symbolises the statement Prajnaanam Brahma.
To continue the metaphor of the ocean waters vapourising and spreading everywhere, the second phase begins when these vapours cumulate as rain-bearing clouds. These clouds, when they rise and touch the snowy abode of Shiva in the Himaalayas, precipitate as individual raindrops. This stage corresponds to the second Upanishadhik Mahaavaakya, Ayam Aathma Brahma:
This Aathma, embodied as Jeevathmas, is nothing but liquefied vapours of all-embracing consciousness. The formation of these raindrops of consciousness in an individualised form; is symbolised by Bhagavaan Baba’s creation and emission of Sadhaa Shiva Linga. Jeeva is none other than Shiva and without Shiva or vital Praanik force, the Jeeva will turn into Shava or a corpse only. Dheho Dhevaalayah Prokthah Jeevo Shivah-Sanaathanah, which means that the body is a temple of God and the Jeeva, the embodied soul, is none other than the most ancient and yet the ever fresh eternal Shiva.
Baba’s stunning, symbolic creation of Sadhaa Shiva Lingais the most appropriate reminder and homage to the eternal Shiva principle in the Jeeva, the embodied Aathma or Self.
Now, the third stage: The individual raindrops combine together and form into the life supportive waters of the Ganga which gurgles down the Himaalayan mountain slopes and enters the vast plain of Aaryaavartha. In its journey down the hills, and plains, it keeps rushing forward to its destination at Ganga-Saagar - the meeting point of Ganga with the ocean. After all, the Jeevathma cannot live in separation of the Paramaathma and the inexorable law of divine gravity helps it reach the Ocean of Divine Bliss Consciousness.
The rushing, down-flowing river is propelled by the instruction, Thath Thvam Asi, the third great Upanishaahik declaration: “Thou art That”. That stands for Paramaathma and Thou stands for Jeevaathma. This stage corresponds to the statement “I and the Light are the same”. Baba wonderfully manifests a Linga, which is called Jnaanalinga to symbolise the essential import of this Maha Vaakya! It represents the light of Supreme Knowledge of the essential unity of Jeevaathma and Paramaathma.
The Jeevaathmas in the form of the river of life,. Ganga, keeps yearning to reach and unite with the ocean of Paramaathma. But then, the Jeeva, which has acquired on its Journey the dirt and dust and all types of selfish trash is to be purified, before it can unite with the ocean. The ocean therefore, keeps pushing the river till such time that its purifying salinity penetrates more and more into the rushing dirty river water. This is the high-tide time when the ocean of Bliss overflows into the backwaters, which are drained of their dirt in the process.
When the river of life is finally received by the waters of the ocean of bliss, the merging River of Life experiences the import of the fourth great Upanishadhik declaration, Aham Brahma Asmi; “I am the Brahman; I am the Supreme Light and Supreme Love and the Supreme Truth”. Having tasted the nectarine divine essence, the merging river is filled with bliss: Raso Vai Sah; Rasagguhyevaayam Labdhvaa Aanandhee Bhavathi:
This is the most profound statement exemplifying the fullest alignment of the Jeevaathma, the embodied individual self, with the Paramaathma, the Supreme Omniself. Baba symbolises the import of this great statement, Aham Brahma Asmi by the creation and emission of the Aathma Linga, symbolizing complete Self-Realisation and Identity with Brahman.
The above four great declarations are the highest quintessence of Vedhaanthik wisdom. Baba is the most modern divine commentator who illumines the Mahaavaakyas as themselves by concretizing their import through the Creation of various types of Lingas. In effect, Baba’s Linga creations reveal the essential unity of the Jeevaathma with Paramaathma.