Everything is Brahman
दृष्टिं ज्ञानमयीं कृत्वा पश्येद् ब्रह्ममयं जगत्
[Gaining the vision of Enlightenment, perceive the world as Brahman]
This is a crude translation of the matchless original, the source of which is the tejobindu upanishad (1.29) and quoted by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.
The sole aim of the Vedas and the Smritis is to bestow the realization that there is none other than the Supreme, Brahman, and that this realization alone is the panacea for the pain of bondage. All the Acharyas of all schools of Vedanta, whether they taught the Nirvishesha Brahman or the Personal God as the Ultimate, exhorted their followers to keep the above as the ideal. Let us look at some statements in the Veda and the Smriti that proclaim in unmistakable terms the truth that Brahman is everything.
- In the most familiar Purusha SUktam, there is a sentence:
पुरुष एवेदं सर्वम्…All this is verily the PuruSha. The word ‘PuruSha’ itself, etymologically, means: पूर्णत्वात् पुरुष:, पुरि शयनात् पुरुष:, पूरयति सर्वं इति पुरुष:. This means: He is called Purusha because He is Full, Complete. He is Purusha because He resides in the body-city. He is Purusha because He ‘fills’/permeates everything. In effect, everything is Full of Him.
- In the equally familiar ‘Narayana Suktam’, we have: विश्वं नारायणम् हरिम्, विश्वमेवेदं पुरुष:. ‘The Universe is Narayana, Hari. The Universe is the PuruSha alone.’ This quote also shows that there is nothing other than Narayana, Brahman.
- The famous Chandogya Upanishad 3.14 quote: ’सर्वं खल्विदं ब्रह्म’ (sarvam khalvidam brahma’ teaches that ‘All this is indeed Brahman’.
- The Mundakopanishad ( 2.2.11) puts this idea in a more emphatic manner:
‘ब्रह्मैवेदं अमृतं पुरस्तात् ब्रह्म पश्चात् ब्रह्म दक्षिणत: उत्तरश्च ।
अधश्चोर्ध्वं च प्रसृतं ब्रह्मैवेदं विश्वमिदं वरिष्ठम् ॥
[All this that is in front is but Brahman, the Immortal. Brahman is at the back, as also on the right and the left. It is extended above and below, too. This world is nothing but Brahman, the Highest.]
- Of course the famous Chandogya Upanishad VI chapter is the unmistakable scriptural proof of the Sat, Brahman, being everything. The sentence: ऎतदात्म्यमिदं सर्वं तत् सत्यम् स आत्मा तत् त्वमसि श्वेतकेतो’ repeated nine times teaches that the entire universe made of the material fire, water and earth, is ultimately none other than Brahman, the Supreme Cause of everything. This conclusion of the Upanishad is based on its own reasoning provided in the earlier part of this very chapter by the three illustrations of the clay-clay products, gold-ornaments and iron-iron materials. This seminal concept of non-difference between the material cause and its effects is carried throughout the chapter, applying the rule several times and finally concluding that ‘This Sat, Brahman, is the Atma, Self, of this Universe.’
- इदं सर्वं यदयमात्मा (Idam sarvam yadayamaatmaa) (Brihadaranyaka. 6.5.7) says that ‘All this is but the very Atman’.
- The Kathopanishad 2.4.11 puts the same idea in a different way: नेह नानास्ति किञ्चन (There is no diversity here at all).
- Another Up. Says: आत्मैवेदं सर्वम् All this is verily Atman.
- The Atharva Veda 10.8.27 says: त्वं स्त्री त्वं पुमान् असि त्वं कुमार उत वा कुमारी, त्वं जीर्णोऽसि…(You are the female, the male, the young man, the young lady, you are the old man walking with a stick….) While the above quoted Shruti passages taught that everything in the Universe in general is Brahman alone, this passage teaches that even the people, the sentient beings, are none other than Brahman alone.
10. The Rudra adhyAya of the Yajur veda is full of references to the effect that the whole universe, the sentient and the insentient, is Ishvara. The description is so vivid that one cannot but wonder at the emphatic manner in which the Veda declares that everything is but Ishvara, Brahman. The walker, sitter, runner, sleeper, the robber, the highway terrorist, the forest, the trees, the sun, everything is Ishwara.
- There is a very significant verse in the Gita 13th chapter that brings out in one go the teaching that everything, the moving and the non-moving, is Brahman:
बहिरन्तश्च भूतानां अचरं चरमेव च ।
सूक्ष्मत्वात् तदविज्ञेयं दूरस्थं चान्तिके च तत् ॥ 15 ||
[It is without and within (all) beings; the unmoving as also the moving. Because It is subtle, It is incomprehensible; and near and far away is It.]
Shankaracharya comments: //
What lies outside the body which is inclusive of the skin and which is regarded through ignorance as one’s own self. And ‘within’ refers to the Inner Self, PratyagAtman, lying inside the body. The statement that It is ‘without and within’ may imply Its absence in the middle (in the body which intervenes between the PratyagAtman and external objects). To prevent this implication, the Lord says that It is ‘the unmoving as also the moving.’ It is Brahman, the Knowable, that appears as the bodies, moving and unmoving, just as a rope appears as a snake.//
- In this very chapter the verse 18 says:
इति क्षेत्रं तथा ज्ञानं ज्ञेयं चोक्तं समासत: ।
मद्भक्त एदद्विज्ञाय मद्भावायोपपद्यते ॥
[Thus the Kshetra (the inert material world), as well as knowledge (the means of knowing Brahman) and the Knowable (Brahman, the Goal), have been briefly set forth. My devotee, on knowing this, becomes fit to attain My state.]
Shankaracharya comments: //Who is fit to attain this right knowledge?
He who is devoted to Me, who regards Me, Vasudeva, the Supreme Lord, the Omniscient, the Supreme Guru, as the Self, the Soul, the Essence, of everything, i.e., he who is possessed, as it were, with the idea that all that he sees or hears or touches is nothing but the Lord, Vasudeva. Thus devoted to Me, and having attained the right knowledge described above, he is fit to attain to My state, i.e. he attains Moksha.//
- The verses in the 9th Chapter, 15 to 19 all describe that Brahman is everything, sentient and insentient.
- Of course, the famous verse ‘ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्महविः …’ 4.28 is supremely illustrative of the idea that ‘Everything is Brahman alone’. The Lord, instead of taking a worldly activity of commerce or peasantry, takes up a vedic ritual consisting of several distinct entities, to teach this idea that everything is indeed Brahman.
ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्महवि: ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् ।
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ॥
[Brahman is the offering, Brahman the oblation, the one offering the oblation is Brahman, the fire in which the oblation is made is Brahman, the act of offering is Brahman and the result, the goal to be reached by such an offering is Brahman.]
To the one who has realized his pAramArthic/ asAmsAric/true nature of Brahmanhood, every act, mental, verbal and bodily, is saturated with/in Brahman. He sees nothing other than Brahman. The pancha-bhedAtmaka prapancha is now for him one Brahma-prajnAna-ghana, Impartite Brahman. All the bheda-s stand negated in this state thus:
The Offeror (yajamaana-jiva)-offering (dravya-jaDa) difference is gone.
The jaDa-jaDa difference is gone when the offering and the agni into which it is offered are both realized as Brahman.
The offeror-jiva and goal-Ishwara difference is gone when the offering jiva realizes himself to be no different from Ishwara, the Sarva-yajna-bhokta.
The jaDa-dravya/agni and Ishwara difference is also gone for the reason stated above.
The jiva-jiva bheda too is not there as the offeror and the other members in the sacrifice namely the yajna-patni and other Rtviks are all realized to be Brahman alone. (The ‘other jiva-s’ are not explicitly mentioned in the above Gita verse; they are implicit.)
Thus the ‘prapancha’ consisting of the five bheda-s is now transformed into Brahman for the Jnani/mukta. There are several Gita verses where the Lord teaches this Sarvatra Brahma darshanam for the Jnani.
The avowed purpose of the Upanishads/Gita is to enable this transformation. It is with this in view that the prapancha is first described (adhyAropa) and the Brahma driShTi is later described (apavAda). Another way of looking at this is: prapancha is the field of aparA vidyaa and Brahman is the transcendental realm of parA vidyaa.
- As in the Shrutis that we saw earlier, even in the Gita we have distinct mention of the idea that Brahman is verily the sentient jiva-s, their soul, as well as the inert matter which is in truth Consciousness alone. The popular verse 5.18:
विद्याविनयसंपन्ने ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि ।
शुनि चैव श्वपाके च पण्डिता: समदर्शिनः ॥
[In a Brahmana endued with wisdom and humility, in a cow, in an elephant, as also in a dog and in a dog-eater, the wise see the same, samam.]
The word ‘samam’ itself denotes Brahman, the spotless, says the very next verse 5.19. Thus, while this verse teaches that the truth, essence, the soul, in each of the members listed is Brahman, the other verse quoted above (13.15) even the bodies made of matter, is realized to be none other than Brahman, the Consciousness. How can matter be Consciousness? This question is replied thus: What is initially perceived as matter, prakriti, is only dependently existing (paratantra/vyavaharika) on Brahman, the Consciousness the Swatantra/Paramarthika. While Brahman exists independently, the prakriti cannot do so; its status is akin to the illusory snake seen on the existing rope.
- The famous statement in the Gita 7.19: वासुदेवः सर्वम् [Vasudeva, Brahman, is Everything] teaches that such is the realization of the Jnani. The Lord calls such a Jnani a ‘Mahatma’. For him there is nothing that is not Brahman. This is the Gita-version of the ‘सर्वं खल्विदं ब्रह्म’ [’sarvam khalvidam brahma’] of the Chandogya Upanishad.
- 13.28 again says the man of Realization perceives the ‘samam’ everywhere and never indulges in killing the Self.
- Prakriti, the inert energy principle, is said to be constituted of the three gunas, sattva, rajas and tamas. In 7.12 the Lord says that even these evolutes of prakriti are indeed none other than He Himself; insofar as they are inhering, dependent upon, in other words, superimposed in Him.
- The verse 2.16, again a very famous one, teaches that the ‘asat’ has no existence at all and the ‘sat’ can never go out of existence. This itself is the proof coming from the Blessed Lord Himself that apart from Sat, Brahman (Chandogya VI), nothing else exists in truth.
The Vishnu Purana:
//These are, in fact, the brief replies to Maitreya’s six questions (p. 3), or, How was the world created? By Vishńu. How will it be? At the periods of dissolution it will be in Vishńu. Whence proceeded animate and inanimate things? From Vishńu. Of what is the substance of the world? Vishńu. Into what has it been, and will it again he, resolved? Vishńu. He is therefore both the instrumental and material cause of the universe. ‘The answer to the “whence” replies to the query as to the instrumental cause: “He is the world” replies to the inquiry as to the material cause.’ ‘And by this explanation of the agency of the materiality, &c. of Vishńu, as regards the universe, (it follows that) all will be produced from, and all will repose in him.’//
In the Vishnupuranam, after describing the variety in creation like heaven, hell, worlds, mountains, rivers, trees, etc., Sage Parasara declares that ‘Everything is Vishnu, the hell, the heavens, worlds, mountains, etc.’ A verse ’भूतानि विष्णु:. भुवनानि विष्णु:…’ is understood to be contained in this Puranam. (Heard in a discourse)
This shows that the variety is only names and forms and the substance is Vishnu in everything; the name and form being insubstantial as per the Vacharambhana Shruti of the Chandogya Upanishad VI. It is precisely because of the insubstantiality of the world the Scripture holds the Supreme, Brahman, as the sole goal of human endeavour.
The above cited passages bring us to the firm conclusion that there is nothing other than Brahman, the Truth, the Swatantra aka Paramarthika. Thus the jagat, prakriti, inert matter, which has a dependent existence (paratantra, aka vyavaharika) and the jiva, the conscious entity encased in inert material body-mind complex, are none other than Brahman, upon enquiry based on the teaching of the Shruti and Smriti and the Compassionate Guru.