Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Brahmavidya Panchakam (Five verses on The Science of the Absolute) by Narayana Guru

(Translated from Sanskrit by disciple Nataraja Guru with notes by John Spiers)

Even through the discrimination of the lasting
from the transient,
Attaining well unto detachment, the well-instructed
Duly well-adorned with the six initial conditions 
Such as calmness, control and so on,
And thus keenly desirous of liberation here on earth;
He then greets with prostrations a superior knower
of the Absolute,
Pleased and favourable by anterior attentions and
Thereafter should he ask of such a Guru:
"O master, this 'I' here, what is it?
Whence this world phenomenal?
O teach me this, great one." - (1)

(Note: The first thing to notice is that the Science of the Absolute is also a discipline; and that it has to do with one's Self and not with some outside object. It is based on inquiry. This first verses is an epitome of Sankara's well-known "Crest-Jewel of Discrimination" (Vivekachudamani), with its specification of the qualities of the seeker. These are four, namely, 1. Continuous determination between what passes away and what remains. 2. Putting away of all other interests and desires and pursuits. 3. Psychological attitude which has six requisites - calmness, control, breaking of other interests, endurance, earnest trust and steadfastness; 4. Lastly but most important, the insatiable yearning for freedom or liberation. Because it is psychological it is necessary to get the advice and help of a true Guru. From such a Guru the seeker expects to get the answer to the basic questions, What is the Self and what is the objective cosmos?)

Thou verily art Brahman (the Absolute Tao),
not senses, not mind, neither intelligence,
consciousness, nor body;
Even life and ego have no reality, being but 
By nescience, superimposed on the prime Self.
Everything phenomenal here, as object of perception,
is gross.
Outside of thine own Self, this world manifested is 
And Selfhood alone shines thus 
Mirage-like in variegated display. - (2)

(Note: As in criminal detection, the way is negative, the elimination of one after another of the characteristics of our psychophysical constitution. This follows the "Not this, not that" (Neti, Neti)
of the Upanishads, even consciousness and the "I' are ultimately thrown out. Similarly in the world of the cosmos, so-called permanent objects like mountains and stars, do not last. So they too are put among the things to be dismissed. What remains is the Absolute, shining as the non-dual Real.)

What all things here, both movable and
immovable, pervades,
As the clay substance does the pot and jug,
Whose inward awareness even Selfhood here
And wherunto resolved what still remains, instill
with reality unborn,
And That which all else do follow-
Know That to be the Real, through clear insight,
As That same which one adores for immortal bliss. - (3)

(Note: Clear insight is needed if the magnum opus is to be achieved. This is intuitional wisdom which sees the universal Absolute as the Numinous behind all the production of time. And note in this "science" that adoration or bhakti is an emergent part of the final discipline.)

Nature having emanated, what thereafter, there-
in entry makes,
What sustains and gives life, both as the enjoyer
of the divided objectivity outside,
As the "I" of the deep subconsciousness of
dreamless sleep,
Whose Selfhood even shines as the "I",
Within the consciousness each of the peoples too-
That same in which well-being stands founded firm
at every step;
Such a plentitude of perfection; hear "That verily
thou art!" - (4)

(Note : The wisdom of India like that of Pagan Europe, adopts the doctrine of emanation, rather than historical becoming, or evolution, or creation. All is flooded by Selfhood. And alli s good and perfect. The world is not to be dismissed after all. Though transient, it is enjoyable and that is why it is there. The Absolute is both the feast and the eater. Narayana Guru expands this truth in other philosophic poems. "That thou art!" - "Tat Tvam Asi" is a well-known axiom of Vedanta.)

"Intelligence Supreme even That I am! That verily
Thou art! That Absolute is the Self here!"
Singing thus full well, and so established in peace of 
And reborn to pure ways in life by the dawn of 
Where could there be for thee the bondage of action?
whether of the past, present, or future?
For everything is but superimposed conditioning on
thy prime Self.
Thou verily art That existing-subsisting One of pure
intelligence, the Lord. - (5)

(Note: The realized man is a singer of the Absolute. It is no arid or austere philosophy. The phrase vipra-charah can refer, either to a twice-born brahmin, or one who moves about singing the praises of the Absolute. utterly simple and delicately scrupulous and clean, Narayana Guru was like the classical Brahmin; at the same time a great Singer of the Absolute.)

Posted on Facebook Group by: Krishna Chaithanya


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