How to know that Brahman

The Supreme Peace

by Jankinath Kaul 'Kamal'

The Upanisad (Kathopanisad) speaks of the secret Brahman:
ya esa suptesu jagarti kamam kamam puruso nirmimanah
Tadeva sukram tadbrahma tadevamrtamucatye
Tasminllokah sritah sarve tadu natyeti kascana Etadvaietad
(Kath II.ii8)
'Purusa, who keeps awake and goes on creating desirable things even when the senses fall asleep, is pure; and He is Brahman, and he is called the Immortal. All the worlds are fixed in Him; none can transcend Him. This is That'.

The knowledge of the unity of the self, though validated by proof and reiterated more than once, does not find a lodging in the hearts of those Brahmins of insincere intellect whose minds are swayed by the intellect of numerous logicians; therefore, the Upanisad, being eager to inculcate it, says again and again:

agniryathaiko bhuvanam pravisto
rupam rupam pratirupo babhuva;
ekastatha sarvabhutantaratma
rupam rupam pratirupo bahisca
(Kath. II.ii.9)
'Just as fire, though one, having entered the world, assumes separate forms in respect of different shapes, similarly, the self inside all beings, though one, assumes a form in respect of each shape; and (yet) it is outside'.

Another mantra follows with another illustration of Air:

vayuryathaiko bhuvanam pravisto rupam rupam pratirupo babhuva
ekastatha sarvabhutantaratma rupam rupam pratirupo bahisca
(Kath. II.ii. 10)
Here the contingency arises - If the one entity is the self of all, the sorrowfulness of the world will belong to the Supreme Brahman itself. The Upanisad answers:
suryoyatha sarvalokasya caksurna lipyate caksusairbahyadosaih
ekastatha sarvabhutantaratma na lipyate lokadukhena bahyah
(Kath. II ii. 11)
'Just as the sun, which is the eye of the whole world, is not tainted by the ocular and external defects; similarly, the self, that is but one in all beings, is not tainted by the sorrows of the world, it being transcendental' .
eko vasl sarvabhutantaratma ekam rupam bahudha yah karoti
tamatamastham ye nupasyanti dhiraste'sam sukham sasvatam netaresam
(Kath. II.ii. 12)
'Eternal peace is for those (and not for others) who are discriminating and who realize in their hearts Him who (being the One, the Inner Controller, and the Inner Self of all) makes a single form multifarious'.
nityo nityanam cetanascetananameko bahunamyo viddhati kaman
tamatamastham ye anupdsyanti dhirastesam santih sas'vafi netaresam
(Kath. II.ii 13)
'Eternal peace is for those (and not for others) who are discriminating and who realize in their hearts Him who (being the eternal among the ephemeral, the consciousness among the conscious) alone dispenses the desired objects to many' .

This was spoken by Yama to Nachiketa, an intelligent and earnest boy, who had approached the former in order to know the Truth, the Supreme Peace. Then Nachiketa, the inquisitive and self-reliant boy, put a question to the teacher Yama:

tadetaditi manyante nirdesyam paramam sukham
katham nu tadvijaniyam kimu bhati vibhati va
(Kath. II. ii. 14)
'How shall I know that supreme, unspeakable Bliss which they realize directly as "This" ? Is it self-effulgent ? Does it shine distinctly ? Or, does it not ?'

Yama answers how it is both self-effulgent and shines distinctly (or multifariously):

nk tatra stiryo bhati na candra tarakam
nema vidyuto bhanti kuto yamagnih
tameva bhantamanubhati sarvam
tasya bhasasarvamidam vibhati
(Kath. II.ii. 15)
There - is Brahman which is one's self- the Sun does not shine (i.e it does not illuminate that Brahman, though it illumines all). Similarly, neither the moon, the stars nor these flashes of lighting shine; how can this fire, that is seen by us, shine ? In short, all, inclusive of these that shine, shine according as He, the supreme Lord shines. Just as hot water, fire-brand etc, owing to their contact with fire, burn according as the fire does, but not independently; similarly, it is verily by His effulgence (tasya bhasa) that all this (sarvamidam) - the sun etc, shines variously (vibhati). This being so, it is that Brahman itself that is effulgent and shines variously. Through the various kinds of effulgence in the effects, it is known that the characteristic of luminosity is intrinsic in that Brahman. For that luminosity which does not exist naturally cannot impart itself to others; for a pot etc. are not seen to illuminate others, whereas luminous things like the sun etc are seen to do so.

Janki Nath Kaul Kamal
Jankinath Kaul Kamal