Upanishads as Restated by Narayana Guru

“The meaning of life is this: that it has no meaning to say that life has no meaning — Niels Bohr”

When Niels Bohr accepted the motto “Contraria sunt Complementa” (contradicting realities are in essence complementary), he was completing one full oscillation of the pendulum of Western Philosophy. Material reality was revealed before the seeing eye of the scientist as a system of complexities too subtle for human intelligence to sort out.

Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle touched on metaphysical reality as the basis of physical reality. A sub-atomic particle could, as it were, hide its velocity while revealing its position to the measuring apparatus, or hide its position while indicating its velocity. Is it after all a spark of the mind-stuff that we recognize as a particle of the atom?

In Paris, in 1982, Alain Aspect experimentally proved that two photons could exchange messages by signaling each other, thus undermining not only Einsteinian relativity, but even the very structure of the material world. Narayana Guru says in his Atmopadesha Shatakam (100 verse of Self-instruction):

“Particles there are innumerable in the earth and this earth does not exist apart from particles. Matter similarly abides in mind and mind in matter. When cogitated on, they are simply one” — Verse 47

In the language of the rishis, duality is the word for such a pass as the present one. The finite intellect can never solve the riddle because what we call intellect is but a product of duality. But where we can’t break through or cross a barrier, we can attempt to transcend it. There is no other way. Na anyah pantha vidyate ayanaya. To transcend it we have to press into service all those inner faculties at the disposal of our human personality, because we are born to be ever on the move and because on the move we do not know how to waver and step back.

We require guidance, a firm hand that can pick us up and initiate us into the process of self-discovery. Truth contains ample mystery in itself. When all is known, perhaps one feels that there is very little to be known, in fact! To experience what lies deep in our knowledge is the crux of our inquiry; what is called “imperiential empathy” is the one thing needful.

“Listen, ponder intensely, and live what you realize.” The words of an Upanishadic teacher must echo in the heart of a true wisdom-seeker. The actual exhortation which the teacher made was to go deep into what we heard. The term for it is manana. Manana is not going out of oneself, but going deep into the core of one’s Self. Therefore, we used the term imperiential empathy. The English word ‘experience’ is inadequate and inappropriate to bring out the true meaning of manana. Ex means outside, but we are instructed to gather together into one’s center.

Upanishad is meant to be a context. A context to imbibe the hidden truth of the Absolute all-permeating God. Upanishad means that which keeps you close to the revealer of Truth and shows you intimate secrets of Truth. Truth means a universally established reality. What establishes the reality of a thing is a sound knowledge of the feasibility of a system which reveals its coordinated structure which reasonably explains its function. Thus, reality has an innate integrity. It can be seen in the inherence of an operational force with which a minute particle preserves its nature and identity. The intrinsic identity of a thing’s uniqueness is its dharma. This law of dharma or uniqueness holds good for everything in this world, because the innate principle of manifestation has in it a homogeneity. This homogeneous operational principle which governs everything is Isa, the Upanishadic concept of God.

Isa or Isvara is conceived both as an immanent principle as well as the principle of supreme transcendence. It is the dynamic process of creation. Sitting in a pollen dust He is smaller than the pollen dust. It is the same Isvara or God whom we meet as one of the immeasurable dimensions in the processing of galactical extravagance. Thus, we should have a pulsating interest which can centralise itself in the subtlest nucleus of the tiniest in the finite and has an expanding girth that can include the universes, known and unknown. As the interior structure of the inconceivable supreme and our consciousness with all its ability to cognize and judge, God reverberates between the core and the periphery of cosmic pulsation. Isvara is both the substance and its mass. To pulsate in unison with the cosmic throb is our commitment when we opt for God realisation. It is simple if you do not have a meddling ego, and it is complicated if we want to have separate frames of reference for every notion that we forge in our individuated mind.

Narayana Guru expresses this idea in his translation of the Isa Upanishad:

ഈശൻ ജഗത്തിലെലാം അവശിക്കെ ചരിക്കു നീ മുക്തനായി. ആശിക്കരുത് ആരുടെയും ധനം.

Eeshan Jagathilelam avasike, charikku nee mukthanaayi, aashikaruth arudeyum dhanam”

Isa (God) permeates the whole, go about freely as you wish. Never desire anyone’s wealth.

This is a beautiful world. When you admire the rising sun or moon, should you say, “This is my sun, or my moon?” Even without that bogus identity the sun shines in perfect beauty, the sheen of the moon is poetic and admirable. Even without establishing your personal ownership anything can reveal its true beauty.

All the rishis says is to forgo your ego. Give up your false claims of identification. Even then the world will continue as it is with all its richness and all its agreement to be Isvara. So, the rishi says, “tena tyaktena”, forgo your ego, “bhunjitha”, enjoy this world. With this realisation the strange becomes familiar, the alien becomes one’s own. There is no more any reason to grab. The rishi continues to say, “ma grdhah”, do not grab. “Kasya sviddhanam?” whose is this wealth? Who’s else can it be but yours? Such is the beautiful invitation to the path or realisation when a rishi like Narayana Guru says “charikku nee mukthanayi” (be free and move about happily). So be happy forever and in every way. Such is our blessedness.

अहं ब्रह्म निर्भयं