A Study of Upanishads



Mantras 1 to 3

The realisation of Brahman does not take the form of personal experience. One cannot say or tell that one has known one’s Self well, because everything that is known becomes an object. The Self is the knower of all, and is not known by anything. To say that one has known it is to limit it, and to say that one has not known it is, again, to limit it. The knower does not know anything other than the knower, which cannot be called the knowledge of the knower. Knowledge works on a dualistic basis. But the Self is non-dual. There is no knower other than the Self. It alone appears as the one and the many, as the experiencer, and also the experienced. The question of the knower, the knowledge and the known does not arise regarding the pure Self. In all processes of knowledge neither the subject is well known nor the object. Human knowledge is partial knowledge. Every experience of the human being is limited. The glory and the greatness of the world of experience is a distorted shadow of the Supreme Being. No manifested knowledge can be complete, because every knowledge is either of the subject or of the object, and neither the subject nor the object is really known through any form of knowledge, because the knowledge of the object is the expression of a subjective imperfection, and the knowledge of the subject, also, is thereby concealed, for objective consciousness prevents subjective awareness. Individual knowledge always hangs midway between the knower and the known, and it is capable of knowing neither, in truth. Therefore, knowledge of Brahman cannot be expressed.

It is not possible to have a little knowledge of Brahman, as Brahman cannot be divided. Either there is full knowledge of it or no knowledge of it. Limited experiences are not in any way even a little of brahma-chaitanya. Different kinds of experience, lower and higher in degree, are the results of the degrees in the manifestation of the mind. All our experiences are mental. We cannot pierce through the mind as long as we exist. Man is the same as mind, and mind is the same as desires. Even as cloth is nothing but threads knit together, man is nothing but a bundle of desires. Differences in experience are because of the differences in desires. The lesser the desires, the better and more lasting is the experience. The state of the least desires means the experience of the greatest reflection of Truth. Higher experiences are nearer to Brahman, because a greater and truer reflection of Brahman is experienced in those states, as higher experiences are the conditions of thinner needs of the mind. But, anyhow, even the highest objective experience is mental, though very near to Truth, and is not the same as Brahman-realisation. Even the nearest is not the same as that to which it is nearest. Hence, there is no such thing as a little realisation of Brahman. As long as there is even a tinge of a single desire, Brahman is not known in truth. A finger can obstruct the vision of a huge sun. A single desire can bar us from the experience of Brahman. When it is said that everything is Brahman, it is not meant that any form of our experiences is in any way Brahman. It only means that forms have no value except on the basis of Brahman. Whatever is truth in forms is a limited and reflected aspect of Brahman. But none can expect to taste even a drop of the ocean of the absolute as long as he wishes to exist, i. e., wishes to think. Every thought is a denial of Brahman, and, therefore, thought and realisation cannot exist together. Where the one is, the other is not. Experience of Brahman has no concessions to thinking. Self-realisation, therefore, is existence as the Impersonal Absolute.

The definition of Brahman as consciousness should not be mistaken to be an attempt to bring down the nature of Brahman to the level of our understanding. We say Brahman is consciousness because nothing of this world is conscious. It is just to differentiate reality from appearance that we term Brahman consciousness. It is to exalt it and not lower it. Even when we accept that Brahman is sat or chit we do not confuse it with anything that we know. It is beyond the sat and the chit which we know of. We reject everything which we know and refuse to be satisfied with anything that comes to us as an experience. We may have the highest possession of experience, but we have to abandon it. Whatever experience one may have, grand and glorious, one should not be under the impression that one’s achievement is over. It is an infinite rejection of things and states that we have to practice. There is no end for our denials. One cannot suspect whether one is in the state of Brahman or in a state of Brahman or in a state to be denied. It will be clear when one experiences it. Dissatisfaction and the awareness of ‘I’-ness will be the indicators of the imperfection of a particular state of experience. Brahman is doubtless existence and we can experience Brahman only after self-effacement. It is not easy to know it.

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