Pursuit of knowledge implies learning many subjects pertaining to the universe and the world, and it confers benefits for worldly living. But the knowledge leading to awareness of the Supreme Brahman is deemed the highest since this alone is most beneficial and is also the final destination for all, pointed out Dr. Sudha Seshaiyan in a discourse. The Upanishads guide us in this journey and attempt to inculcate this truth. They adopt different strategies to reach out to the wide range of seekers.

The cardinal truth about Brahman is that it is the essence of experience which is beyond the scope of thought, word or human imagination. Though its inscrutability makes it ineffable and indescribable, the Upanishads continue to explore the Brahman to disprove theories that it is a pointless pursuit and show that the search itself is an enriching experience.

The Kenopanishad features a dialogue between a sishya and his preceptor. The sishya asks: “What is it that motivates the mind to attach itself to objects and stirs the desires in human beings. The eye is able to see, the ear to hear etc. By which force is it possible to generate so much speech among people?” These questions reveal the disciple’s mind that desires to probe the human functions. The preceptor says: “It is the Atma that is responsible for the workings of the senses but that it remains unseen. It enables the eye to see and the mind to think and experience. A wise person understands this inherent irony and the atma’s distinctive nature that is different from the senses that it activates.”

Every seeker internalising this truth finds joy and pride in this subtle connection. It confers equanimity and humbleness. Any claim to awareness of Brahman thus becomes incomplete since none can define Brahman. At best, it is only the understanding of the inscrutability of Brahman which is the solid knowledge and awareness gained. The epic Ramayana is a source of inspiration to many who have recreated it in many forms, languages and ways. In Kamban’s view, Rama is the Supreme Brahman incarnate, and his version transmits this experience, evoking varied echoes in those who read and enjoy his work.

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