The ignorance enveloping human consciousness is beginningless and is the seed of all evil. The Upanishads display a love for the human beings that far surpasses the love of a mother when they motivate the Jivatma to surmount this ignorance and try to reach out to the spiritual realm which is absolutely subtle and hence difficult to comprehend, pointed out Sri N. Veezhinathan in a discourse. To fight ignorance with knowledge is a difficult task and requires tremendous effort and diligence.
The quality of subtleness is understood as that which transcends grossness. This world comprises the principles of sound, touch, colour, taste and smell which are perceptible to the human sense organs such as the ear, eye, nose, etc. The objects of the world become perceptible and recognisable to us because these have an element of grossness in them. The earth is possessed of five qualities — smell, taste, colour, touch and sound. Water consists of four qualities beginning from taste, fire of the next three, air of the next two, and space of the last one. Scriptures explain Akasa as space for want of a better definition. Akasa provides space and has sound as its quality.
“The Self that is subtler than the subtle and greater than the great is lodged in the heart of every creature. The knower of this glory within is free from sorrow,” says the Katopanishad. The atma that is to be known is far subtler than all these, and there is no trace of these attributes beginning with smell and ending with sound that are the cause of grossness.
The truth can be learned only by approaching the enlightened ones. It can be done by the fine intellect which is as tricky as the edge of a razor. ‘Arise, awake and learn the truth,’ is the watchword in this Upanishad.