A true understanding of the universe, the Self and the Supreme Brahman is considered the ultimate knowledge. This awareness is known as Brahma Jnana. Svetaketu’s father Uddalaka Aruni initiates the yearning to gain this awareness in his son and patiently makes him realise the subtle essence of the Brahman that is the cause for the existence of the entire universe, said Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal in a discourse.

At the outset, the uniqueness in Brahman’s creation is clarified — how Brahman is integral with the universe, being both the material and the instrumental cause. Being aware of the difficulty in understanding how the world which has name and form arises from Brahman which is pure and subtle and does not have name and form, the father chooses simple examples to illustrate this truth. He explains that since Brahman is the subtle essence of all that exists, this truth cannot be grasped by the senses and can only be realised as an experience.

When the fruit of a tree is broken its seeds are seen. If these are further broken into pieces, there are only tiny bits and no more. But the essence in the seed that we do not see is the cause of the tree. When a piece of salt is placed in water, it gets dissolved. Once dissolved, it is not possible to retrieve the piece of salt. The entire water thereafter become salty. The salt in water is not to be perceived by means of touch or sight, but is identified by means of other senses.

Brahman first created the five elements, ether, air, fire, water and earth and gave them their unique characteristics. All the other objects, beings, species, etc., in their respective forms and functions were formed from these five elements. They began to throb with life only when Brahman pervaded their forms as their subtle essence. The cycle of life thus goes on when the various beings are born, live, decay and die. But the essence in every individual is the Self that continues to exist eternally.

An individual who is able to see the Self within as distinct from the body and that his physical entity exists only because of the Self becomes realised. The Self is indeed the seer.

More In: Faith | Friday Review