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Brahman, Brahma, BrahmA

Brahman, Brahma, BrahmA

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Published by Swami Ajatananda

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Published by: Swami Ajatananda on Jun 18, 2012
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12/04/2013

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Brahman, Brahma, BrahmA
The word 'brahman' is a noun in Sanskrit, in the neuter gender, not to be confused with the masculinenoun 'brahmA' (brahmaa) which is the name of the first of the triad of personal Gods: brahmA, viShNuand shiva. Nor to be confused with
'bhrama' 
, meaning complexity, error or mistake. 'brahman'originates from the root verb 'bRRih', to grow or enlarge.Nothing that exists is without a name and a form. But all that exists has a common factor that subsistsas a substratum in all. Just as all gold ornaments have gold as their commonality of content, just as allclay toys, though distinguishable by their name and form, are not distinguishable as clay, just as themovie screen is the base for all the drama that is superimposed on it while the screen itself is unsulliedby any of the turmoil that 'takes place' 'on' it - so also a substratum, subtler than space, permeateseverything in the universe and everything 'takes place' 'in' it, without itself being affected. That, beingthe common content of all that have name and form, has no name or form for itself. The Vedas speakof it as 'That' or also as 'brahman'. This is the supreme ultimate Reality, the reality that never changes.(To emphasize the supremeness, it is also called 'para-brahman', 'para' meaning 'supreme'). All our knowledge of brahman comes from the scriptures and so is indirect (Sanskrit: 'parokSha'). It ishowever known, as direct (Sanskrit: 'aparokSha') knowledge by realisation and insight, onceeverything that is transient is transcended. It is not known otherwise; it is that which makes knownwhat is known. By itself it is not an object of knowledge to be known. It is the very Consciousness(Sanskrit: 'cit', also 'caitanyaM') that cognises knowledge. There is no higher Reality outside that.Knowledge of absence of Consciousness implies the existence of Consciousness. While everything ispresented to Consciousness, the nature of Consciousness is to be its own light. A lighted lamp needsno other light to illumine it.brahman is only one of its kind. Also, It is 'one only' and so is bereft of parts. There is 'no second' tobrahman; it is non-dual. Any presence or awareness of duality makes the awareness finite. It does notpossess any quality. For, to differentiate between brahman as a bearer of a quality and the qualitywhich is attributed to it, is to introduce a difference in the absoluteness of non-duality. Hence it isimpersonal (Sanskrit: nirguNa). It cannot be classified by category or species, action or function,quality or relation. It cannot be indicated as this or that. When the epithets 'Supreme Person' (Sanskrit:puruShottama) or 'Supreme Self' (Sanskrit: paramAtmA) are used for brahman, the supremeness onlyindicates that everything is transcended, like time, space, causation and personification. It cannot beconceived of even by the intellect which functions only in the duality of subject and object and so itcannot be described as either. If human intellect has however to contend with one such, it can only doso with what then should be renamed, 'brahman with attributes' (Sanskrit: saguNa brahman). One thendescends from Absolute Consciousness to consciousness of the Absolute. For meditation, the silencethat follows the three syllables in the pronunciation of the word 'aum' (OM) has been uniquelyrecommended as representing brahman with or without attributes.The only thing that can be predicated about brahman is that It exists. The Vedas choose only todeclare this existence and call it, Existing Entity(Sanskrit: 'sat'). It is therefore the being of every being. The conclusion of advaita is that the universeof plurality is not a manifestation of brahman, but only its appearance. Plurality is a matter of wordsonly; it has no existence independent of brahman. If plurality were absolutely real, then theenlightened, whose experience of unity is deliverance from the 'cycle of births and deaths' (Sanskrit:saMsAra), would have had a beginning of that deliverance which then must inevitably have also anend!Nothing that the human mind can think of can be affirmed of brahman. It transcends all that can bedescribed in finite terms and words. Its essential incomprehensibility forces us to either use allsuperlatives as in 'Most revered Light of lights'; 'Truth of truths'; 'It is smaller than the smallest, bigger than the biggest'; 'It is that which is supreme, than which there is nothing higher, nothing more minute,nothing more comprehensive'; or to use all negations, like 'Neither gross, nor minute, neither short, nor 
 
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long, in short, neither this, nor that'. All such statements of brahman have to be combined and still thedescription would not be complete.The statement that brahman rises above thought and word does not mean that it is empty and/or non-existent. The negation of predicates affects only the 'whatness' of the judgement and leaves the'thatness' untouched. It only means that finite expressions can do no justice to the infinite that isbrahman. And since it is infinite, it is Bliss (Sanskrit: 'Ananda') itself; because absence of bliss wouldimply imperfection and incompleteness. It is actionless, because action is intended to fulfill a desire;but brahman is a homogeneous whole and so has no deficiency. And, the most important fact, according to advaita, is that this transcendental reality, brahman, and thereality immanent as the innermost core of all the living, the Atman, are both the same! In other words, Atman is the Self as the immanent principle and brahman is the same Self as the transcendent. Thatis why the existence of brahman the Self, from which everything emanates, can never be questioned,though that of a super-Designer can be. The Consciousness 'I am' cannot be denied. This essentialidentity is the apex message of advaita.[Abstract of Definition: Immanence. Consciousness. Impersonal Absolute. Existence. Transcendence.Bliss. Apex message]*****************************Sources of some scriptural statements imbedded inthe definition 'Brahman' (Post #34699)PARAGRAPH 1:By knowing a lump of gold all the things made of gold become known.*ekena loha-maNinA sarvaM lohamayaM vijnAtaM syAt* Ch.U. VI-1-5By knowing a lump of earth, all things made of earth become known.*ekena mRtpiNDena sarvaM mRNmayaM vijnAtaM syAt* Ch.U. VI - 1 - 4 Attachmentless, it does not stick to anything.*asango na hi sajyate* Br.U. 3-9-26It is not tainted by the sorrows of the world, it being transcendental.*na lipyate loka-dukhena bAhyaH* Katha U. 5-11This is spoken of as the changeless:*avikAryo'yam ucyate* B.G. II -25PARAGRAPH 2:Know brahman by practice ('tapas').*tapasA brahma vijijnAsasva* Tait.U. 3-2.By its luminiscence, all this is illumined.*tasya bhAsA sarvam-idaM vibhAti* Katha U. 5-15; Svet. U. 6-14Mun.U.2-2-10 Ch. U.VI-2-1To present the Self as one would a jar, etc. is impossible. Owing to thevery nature of the thing, namely it being the witness of vision, etc.*yat uktaM taM AtmAnaM ghaTAdivat viShayI-kuru iti, tadashakyatvAt nakriyate / vastu-svAbhAvyAt / dRShTyAdi draShTRtvaM* Br. U. Shankara Bhashya3-4-2Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known.*yenedaM sarvaM vijAnAti taM kena vijAnIyAt* Br. U. 2-4-14We can never imagine the absence of consciousness.*na hi vijnAtuH vijnAteH viparilopo vidyate. Br.U. 4 -3-30.Consciousness is Brahman.*prajnAnaM brahma* Ai. U. 5-3This one is unchangingly permanent in an absolute sense, all-pervasive likespace, devoid of all modifications, ever content, partless and self-effulgent by nature.
 
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*idaM tu pAramArthikaM, kUTastha-nityaM, vyomavat sarvavyApi,sarva-vikriyArahitaM, nitya-tRptaM, niravayavaM, svayamjyotis-svabhAvaM* Br. S. Shankara BhashyaI - 1 - 4.PARAGRAPH 3:One, one only, without a second*ekam eva advitIyaM * Ch. U. VI-2-2Where one sees something else, hears something else and understandssomething else, that is finite.*yatra anyat pashyati, anyat shRNoti, anyad-vijAnAti, tad-alpaM* Ch. U. VII- 24 - 1.Time, Space and Causation are presented to our imagination by mAyA.*mAyA-kalpita-desha-kAla-kalanA vaichitrya-chitrI-kRtaM* Shankara'sDakshinamurti ashtakam. Verse no.2You cannot know that which is the knower of knowledge.*na vijnAter vijnAtAraM vijAnIyAH* Br. U. 3-4-2PARAGRAPH 4: All transformation has speech as its basis and it is name only.*vAcArambhaNaM vikAro nAmadheyaM* Ch.U. VI-1-4.There is no separateness or diversity in It.*neha nAnAsti kimcana* Br. U.4-4-19PARAGRAPH 5:Most revered Light*vareNyaM bhargaH* from the Gayatri mantra.Light of Lights*jyotiShAm api tajjyotiH* B.G. XIII - 15Truth of Truths.*satyasya satyaM* Br.U. II-1-20Smaller than the smallest, bigger than the biggest.*aNoraNIyAn mahato mahIyAn* Mahanarayanopanishad. Sec.12That which is supreme, than which there is nothing higher, nothing moreminute, nothing more comprehensive*yasmAt paraM nAparamasti kimcit yasmAn-nANIyo na jyAyo'sti kimcit *Mahanarayanopanishad. Sec.12neither gross, nor minute, neither short, nor long:*asthUlam anaNu ahrasvaM adIrghaM * Br. U. 3-8-8not thus, not thus.*neti neti* Br.U 2-3-6 All such statements have to be combined: Bliss and other characteristicsof Brahman are to be combined.*AnandAdayaH pradhAnasya* Br. Su. III-3-11.PARAGRAPH 6: And That is beyond the intellect.*yo buddheH paratastu saH* B.G. III-43That which indeed is the Infinite, that is joy.*yo vai bhUmA tat sukhaM* Ch.U.VII-23-1PARAGRAPH 7From Which everything emanates.*yato vA imAni bhUtAni jAyante* Tait. U. 3-1I am Brahman*ahaM brahma asmi* Br.U. 1-4-10 .

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