Vedas declare that there is only one Ultimate Reality or Supreme Truth which exists eternally, and which is unchanging. It is in the form of a Super Consciousness of cosmic proportions which creates the universe and runs it, while staying on a different plane than that of the universe. Its existence is, therefore, transcendental. It is also referred to as the Universal or the Cosmic Consciousness. Vedas call It the Supreme or Cosmic Soul.
Adjectives ‘Universal’ or ‘Cosmic’, used to describe the Supreme Soul or Supreme Consciousness are in fact only partially correct since Vedas mention that there are countless universes besides ours, and all of them are controlled by this Supreme Consciousness. These adjectives are thus, only symbolic.
Vedas further declare that this Cosmic Consciousness is infinite, all-pervading, all-knowing and is endowed with infinite energy, through which it functions. This Supreme Entity is called Brahman (Pronounced as Brahm). We will depart from the tradition and simply spell It as Brahm to maintain the correctness of the pronunciation. The correct sound of this great Sanskrit word should not be lost in translation of the western scholars.
Let us examine the above Vedic assertion about Brahm using the principles of Science.
Science tells us that the plane in which ours and other universes exist, is bound by time and space, and governed by the law of causation. From the point in time when the universe is created, to the point when it is dissolved, it follows a timeline. Apart from time, the second crucial feature of our universe is space. It is the expanse within which all the universes exist. All the heavenly bodies, whether it is planets, stars or galaxies, are enveloped by it. Any object or event in the universe is located at a given point in space and at a given time. Thus, both time and space together determine its location.
Next let us talk about the Law of causation. It states that behind an effect there is always a cause and that the cause always precedes the effect. In other words, For example, if we shoot an arrow from a bow, it will hit the target. So, shooting of the arrow, or the cause, will happen first on the timeline followed by the arrow hitting the target, which is the effect. The incident of the arrow hitting the target cannot happen before we shoot it. The logic is based on these premises.
Since according to Vedas, Brahm exists on a plane different from that of the universe and so, He is apparently not bound either by the time or space or the law of causation. Since time does not exist in His plane, He is timeless. He has no beginning and no end, i.e., He is living eternally or in other words He is Immortal. As the space also does not exist in His plane, He has no limiting borders and so, is Infinite.
Another thing to be noted here is that since He cannot be located due to the absence of space and time, He is everywhere. That means He is Omnipresent, and exists as a single entity, implying that He is Indivisible. And finally, by virtue of existing in His own non-physical plane, He is Transcendental for humans who live in this universe. Moreover, since the function of logic and enquiry lies only within the realm of time, space and law of causation, and He is beyond that realm, it is difficult for us to understand Him fully only through logic. Vedas declare that He can only be understood by us when our consciousness transcends to His plane from ours through spiritual advancement and we are able to transcend the limits of logic and reasoning.
This provides the scientific approval for all the above Vedic assertion about Brahm or Cosmic Consciousness.
Vedas further declare that Brahm creates the universe out of Himself which means out of the Supreme Consciousness, with the help of His Supreme Power or Shakti. How this is done will be discussed in the next episode on the origin of the universe. The Supreme Consciousness thus, permeates the entire universe including both, the animate and inanimate objects. This has been endorsed by Quantum Mechanics which has shown that even inanimate objects have consciousness at the micro level in the subatomic particles which are the smallest constituents of matter. These elementary particles don’t follow the laws of classical physics, behave randomly and display Quantum Entanglement, which means that the two particles created in a pair seem connected, even when separated from each other. This shows that the consciousness of these tiny particles is interconnected. That is why Vedas declare that Brahm is Omnipresent, which means He is all-pervasive. Since our mind is also permeated by Cosmic Consciousness, Brahm even knows what is going on in our minds and so He is Omniscient, which means knower of everything. And since He is the Bearer of the Supreme Power, He is All-Powerful or Omnipotent.
Brahm runs the universe based on the law of causation. For every effect there is a cause. All phenomena in nature are governed by this law. For example, when we sow a seed in the soil, a plant grows out of it. The plant will not grow, without sowing of the seed. When this law applies to the humans, it is called The Law of Karma. This law implies that a good deed results in a reward and a bad deed entails punishment, either instantly or at a later time in life. For example, if we help a person in need, later in our difficult time suddenly someone may come up unexpectedly to our help. The universe functions according to this law and justice is administered to everyone. So, if bad things happen to us, it is a reaction of our own past bad actions. We reap what we sow. Why would Brham randomly give happiness and miseries to people?
In Vedas Brahm is also called Purush or Cosmic Male and His Shakti is also referred to as Mula Prakriti or Nature in subtle energy form, the Cosmic Female. Purush or Brahm and Prakriti or Shakti, are symbolically considered as husband and wife, as Supreme Consciousness and Supreme Creative Energy paired together. That is why when they together create the universe, He is called the Comic Father of the universe who gives His part to create it, then sustains and runs it like a father, and She is the Cosmic Mother who creates it, figuratively, gives birth to it, supports it and nurtures it by manifesting as the Physical Nature and providing air to breath, water and food to survive. That is why the Physical Nature is also referred as the mother nature.
Here please keep in mind that Brahm and His Shakti are formless entities and have no gender. They are not even separate, which means that they together represent the same transcendental entity. It is only for the sake of making Brahm more comprehensible to human beings that Vedas have visualized It as two separate Entities and humanized Them as male and female, since that is how humans are classified. For the same reason they are portrayed as husband and wife, who together produce the universe and thus, become the father and mother of the universe.
Vedas also mention that Brahm eventually destroys the entire creation with the help of His Shakti when the universe becomes dysfunctional. Everything dissolves and goes back into Him. He then recreates the universe and the cycle of creation thus, goes on incessantly.
Vedas inform us that Brahm uses only one fourth of His existence for creating the universe or the multiverses. This part of Him is called the Golden Egg or Hiranyagarbha. In the remaining three fourth parts He exists unchanged as an infinite ocean of bright light since His actual form of Supreme Consciousness is invisible. He is self-illuminated by His infinite energy. He also produces the transcendental sound vibrations of OM with the help of His energy.
The Supreme Consciousness exists basically as a Living, super-intelligent energy configuration of infinite knowledge, awareness, thoughts and ideas. It is uniform everywhere and infinite in extent. Brahm is bestowed with the Supreme Will Power to translate His thoughts into action with the help of His infinite energy. Apart from his infinite power, He is also endowed with all the unimaginable opulence and grandeur, in subtle energy form.
Here one thing is worth mentioning. Vedas declare that the light of Brahm is not static like normal light of the physical universe. Those advanced spiritual practitioners who had visions of His Bright Illumination, inform that It appears Dazzling, Dynamic, Vibrant, Mystical and Transcendental in nature.
Vedas further tell us that three words define Brahm completely. The first of these words is Sata or the Absolute Truth. Since He is without a beginning or an end, He is the only entity which always exists, rest everything in this world has only temporary existence. He, therefore, is the only real truth. The second word is Chitta meaning the Consciousness, which is His real character, since He is essentially Consciousness which is perfect in all respects and infinite in extent. The third word is Ananda or the perfect Bliss. Let us try to figure out why Brahm is bliss. Remember that the concept of worry, pain, suffering, fear, etc., belong to the universal plane where things are constantly changing for better or worse, the law of causation is working, delivering good and bad results of previous good or bad actions. Brahm, however, resides in a different plane where these things are totally absent. That is why He is endowed with perfect and permanent bliss. This bliss is infused with everlasting peace since there is nothing to disturb Him in His plane. Secondly, since He exists in the ultimate desirable state, which is the final destination of every soul, He is pure, meaning without any flaws. So, His bliss has purity. Thirdly, since everyone is created by Him, He loves everybody and has kindness for all. Therefore, unconditioned love and kindness are other attributes of His Bliss.
In simple language, it is the most desirable, out of this world bliss which lasts forever and is infused with purity, peace, love and kindness. It is this bliss which people experience when their consciousness eventually reaches the level of the Supreme Consciousness through the spiritual progress.
Vedas combine these words Sata, Chitta and Ananda, which results in a new word Sachchidananda, which is another of Brahm’s many names.
You might be wondering as to how can Brahm, a formless entity, do things that require physical organs? How can He see without eyes, listen without ears, talk without mouth, work without hands and walk without legs?
For understanding this you need to keep in mind that all the sensory signals that we receive are recognized by us only when they reach our consciousness through the sensory organs of eyes, ears and nose. To illustrate it consider a scenario in which a man is unconscious, and so, his sensory organs are disconnected from his consciousness. In this situation he cannot hear or smell anything, even though the ears and the nose are open, since the incoming signals are not reaching his consciousness. Similarly, the mechanism of conveying his thoughts to the outside world through the speech from his mouth is not working due to this disconnection.
Thus, whatever we do is actually done by our consciousness. We, however, need sensory organs to receive and send the incoming and outgoing signals, since our consciousness is attached to our physical body. The Consciousness of Brahm is free from any bondage and so He can receive and send any signal directly from his Consciousness without needing any intervening instrument. For sending a signal, however, He converts his thoughts into action with the help of His immense will power.
Suppose He wants to say something to you, He will convert His thoughts into words of whatever language you speak, into whatever voice He chooses, through His will power. All the worldly knowledge is stored in His Consciousness with the help of which He creates this entire universe, so speaking whatever language you speak is not a problem for Him. As regards to the work which requires the use of hands, say lifting a water bottle, He does by executing the thought through His immense Will Power and water bottle gets lifted through the invisible force behind His thought. Now for the work which requires the use of feet, like moving from one place to another, He has no difficulty, since He is everywhere.
Thus, Brahm or the Cosmic Consciousness can do anything without having a physical body.
Here another thing is worth noticing. Since He is infinitely resourceful and so is capable of doing whatever He wants. If He decides to appear in a physical body, He can do that by acquiring a human body through His Will Power, wearing whatever He decides. He can then disappear at will whenever He wants.
He might create a huge kingdom in His realm and be the King there along with a supporting hierarchy of transcendental beings! For Him literally nothing is impossible.
Subtle Journey – Article 2 ‘Vedas - The Wisdom of the Ancient Indian Civilization’
I believe it makes more sense to present you with the credentials of the Ancient Indian Civilization before discussing its rare treasure of Vedic knowledge.
Let me begin by telling you about the various eras through which human race has passed starting from the early stone age to the present times.
There have been four major eras so far.
The first one is the Ancient era which ranges from 7500 B.C. till 650 A.D. It is considered a great era since it marked the progress from hunting and tribal culture to great civilizations and eventually to great empires. Various branches of knowledge like language, literature art, music, science, statecraft, architecture religion and philosophy came into being and prospered. That is why it is also called the Classical Era.
Next came the Medieval or Barbaric Era from 650 A.D. till about 1500 A.D. This era was marked by the social and political decline due to the collapse of the classical empires, especially since the collapse was mostly caused by the barbaric rulers. Only empires at that time were Islamic Empires in the middle east. Brutality can be seen as engrained in the behavior and culture of this period. Religious injunctions ran the state and controlled the society. Art, music, literature and architecture were infused with religion. It was more an era of faith than an era of reason.
The Modern Era followed the Medieval era. It started around 1500 A.D. and lasted till 1970 A.D. It was mostly centered around Europe and was marked by several major developments, like the advent of Renaissance which marked the revival of the literature, art and architecture, a tradition started by the Classical Era, but lost during the Medieval Era. The second development was the advent of the age of Science and scientific discoveries which led to the rise of the industrialized society. The ideology of the modern era was marked by the criticism of the religion and growing interest in the secular side of life. Barbaric brutality of the Medieval Era was rejected and discarded. Civilized behavior was held in high esteem. Liberal democracy was the preferred form of Government. The Era emphasized the primacy of reason and logic which caused a major shift Religion got relegated to the background, while science, logic, material culture, humanism and liberal democracy were celebrated.
The Postmodern Era or the Contemporary Modern Era, in which we are presently living followed the Modern Era by the end of the Twentieth Century. This era is marked by the realization that logic and reason are not enough to explain life completely. The basic assumptions of the traditional Science, viz., the accuracy of measurements and exact reproducibility of those measurements, are no longer valid with the advent of the Quantum Physics describing the unpredictable behavior of subatomic elementary particles. There is an acceptance of ambiguity where things cannot be explained. Philosophical speculations are being made for making sense of situations where science is helpless, like origin of the universe, weird behavior of Elementary Particles, and so on. So, in keeping with the spirit of the times, it may not be out of place to take the help of the ancient philosophy of the Vedas for explaining the puzzling situations that we are unable to decipher.
Let us for a moment revisit the Classical or Ancient Era, the golden age of humanity, to which the Vedas belong. This era saw the rise of Indian, Mesopotamian and Chinese Civilizations in Asia; Greek and Roman Civilizations in Europe, and Incas and Mayan Civilizations in Latin America. During this period, Hinduism in India, Buddhism in east Asia, and Christianity in Europe flourished, along with some other religions like Judaism, etc.
With a recent archaeological discovery of the ruins of a very ancient city of Dwarka in India, belonging to the 7,500 B.C., it now becomes clearly established that the Indian Civilization preceded the hitherto believed most ancient Mesopotamian Civilization, which existed in 3500 B.C., by 4000 years! This mean that the honor of being called the cradle of civilization clearly goes to the Ancient Indian Civilization and the title of Mother of all knowledge goes to its ancient wisdom contained in the Vedas, from which Hinduism, the oldest religion known to mankind has emerged.
The discovery of Dwarka Civilization, which forms a part of the Aryan culture, also gives a conclusive proof that Aryans were Indians and falsifies the hypothesis that Aryans had migrated to India from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, since there was no sign of any advanced civilization anywhere in the world in 7,500 BC! It is time that the world historians took note of this epoch-making archaeological discovery and rewrote the world history.
You may wonder that if such an enormous body of knowledge in the form of the Vedas existed, how come the world hardly knows about it? The answer is that with the fall of ancient Indian empires and with the subsequent rule of Islamic plunderers from the Middle East and later of British monarchy in India, this knowledge relegated to the background. When Britishers discovered it, they were amazed by its shear grandeur. Unfortunately, their pride did not permit them to accept that their colony had such a glorious social and cultural heritage. So, they underplayed its greatness and on top of that propounded the false theory that Aryans had come to India from Europe and central Asia, and the great Indian civilization was not actually Indian!
However, things have changed now. Eventually, India’s incredible cultural and philosophical heritage is getting world recognition. That way, even without knowing about Vedas, the world has already embraced wholeheartedly the life enhancing techniques of Yoga and Meditation which have their roots in Vedas.
With this introduction of the Ancient Indian Civilization, let me now tell you about the Vedas.
Vedic Knowledge is referred to as the revealed knowledge since it is said to have been revealed by the Cosmic Consciousness to the saints of ancient India, called Rishis, when their consciousness was connected to the Cosmic Consciousness in deep meditation. It is, therefore, not created by any human being. This knowledge was passed on from generation to generation through recitation and later in around 5000 B.C. they were organized and written in the form books known as Vedas.
There are four books of Vedas known as Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. Historians have dated the Vedic books, but we should remember that the Vedic knowledge itself has existed for a very long time prior to this dating. And from that point of view it can rightfully be given the credit of being the oldest knowledge, available to mankind.
Vedas contain a huge body of knowledge pertaining to almost every essential aspect of human life. That includes the first fully developed language known to the mankind, called Sanskrit, literature, poetry, music, culture, society, religious rituals, a detailed account of a healthy lifestyle, an herbal system of medicine known as Ayurveda, agricultural practices, trade and commerce, cities, lifestyles of kings, description of kingdoms and their politics, art of warfare and weaponry, archaeology, astronomy, mathematics and science, etc.
Apart from the knowledge pertaining to the Physical aspect of the human existence described above, Vedas also offer the knowledge about the non-physical or transcendental aspect of life, for which they are mainly known. They contain a huge body of robust philosophy about the transcendental or spiritual realm. The philosophical and spiritual part of Vedic knowledge is contained in the last chapters of each Veda which are called Upanishads.
Apart from Vedas and Upanishads, there are a few more important works which constitute the part of the ancient Indian philosophy. The most profound among them is known as the Bhagavad Gita, which summarizes all the Vedic and Upanishadic knowledge and puts it in perspective. All these texts together constitute what is known as the Vedic literature which encompasses the core of Vedic Philosophy.
There are seven concepts central to the Vedic Philosophy. These concepts are: Cosmic Consciousness, Individual Consciousness, Mother Nature, Our Visible and Invisible Bodies, Law of Karma, our Chakras, which are the energy centers in our Invisible Energy Body, and finally, the Yoga and Meditation, which is the methodology for expanding the individual consciousness till it reaches the level of the Cosmic Consciousness. I will take these up one by one in my future presentations.
Narsingh Saxena is a Scientist, turned Management Consultant, who is now a Scholar of the Philosophy of Vedas and a practitioner of Vedic Meditation.