Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Parabrahman included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Parabrahman

The Supreme Spirit.

General information.

Brahman is the root cause of this universe. From Brahman originated Ākāśa (sky). From sky came air, from air came Agni and from Agni came water and from water was born this earth. (Chapter 377, Agni Purāṇa).

General characteristics.

Brahman is such that he who says he knows it does not know it and he who says he does not know it, knows it. It is beyond the experiences of time and space. The chief attributes of Brahman are Sat, Cit and Ānanda. Sat means existence, the really existent truth. The one and undivided existence. There are pandits who say that it was undivided, Nāstitva (nonexistence) that was at the beginning of the Universe. Since nothing can be born from 'nothing' the world should have started from astitva (existence). There is a saying in Ṛgveda explaining the position thus:—"There was neither Astitva nor Nāstitva (existence or non-existence) at the beginning." It is a matter to ponder how strongly conscious was the Ṛṣi who made the above statement about the Parabrahman’s Nirguṇatva (devoid of attributes) and how clearly he tries to make it understandable to those who have not experienced the idea.

Cit means knowledge, splendour, consciousness. Ānanda means bliss. Paul Deussen writes that the ancient Upaniṣads do not include in the definition of Brahman the term 'ānanda'.

The two forms of Brahman.

Brahman has two forms-Parabrahman and Aparabrahman. Parabrahman is Amūrta (formless, incorporeal) and Aparabrahman is Mūrta (embodied, corporeal). The Amūrta Brahman is known by such names as Parabrahman, Paramātmā and Nirguṇabrahman. The corporeal or material Brahman is Aparabrahman and thus this whole world is Aparabrahman.

The Upaniṣads about Brahman.

"aśabdamasparśamarūpamavyayaṃ tathāsrasaṃ nityamagandhavacca yat / anādyanantaṃ mahataḥ paraṃ dhruvaṃ vicārya tanmṛtyumukhāt pramucyate // (kaṭhopaniṣad)" (With no sound, touch, form, taste or smell, with neither beginning nor end Brahman is imperishable). Na tatra cakṣurgacchati na vāk gacchati no mano Na vidmo na vijānīmo yathaitadanuśiṣyate / Anyadeva tadviditādatho aviditādadhi Iti śuśruma pūrveṣāṃ ye nastadvyācacakṣire. (Muṇḍakopaniṣad) (No eye goes there, no word goes there, no mind, no intelligence—we do not see it, we cannot describe it-you cannot imagine it nor can you understand it—It is distinct from the known and above the unknown. We have heard it spoken thus).

"yasyāmataṃ tasya mataṃ mataṃ yasya na veda saḥ / avijñātaṃ vijānatāṃ vijñātam avijānatām. //" (Kenopaniṣad) (He understands It who comprehends It not; and he understands It not who feels he has understood. It is the unknown to those who have acquired real knowledge while it is the known to those who are ignorant of true knowledge).

"yat cakṣuṣā na paśyati yena cakṣūṃṣi paśyati / tadeva brahma tvaṃ viddhi nedaṃ yadidamupāsate. //" (Kenopaniṣad). (That which is not seen by the eye but that by which the eyes are able to see—That alone is Brahman and not that which people do worship here, do know that). Yato vāco nivartante Aprāpya manasā saha. (Taittirīya Upaniṣad). Avijñātaṃ Vijānatāṃ vijñātam avijānatām. (Kenopaniṣad) (It is unknown to people who think they know but known to those who did not profess to know it). Naiva vācā na manasā prāptuṃ śakyo na cakṣuṣā / Astīti bruvatosnyatra kathaṃ tadupalakṣyate. // (Kaṭhopaniṣad) (It is not possible to reach it by speech, mind or the eyes. How is it to be identified; or described?)-Digdeśaguṇādiphalabhedaśūnyaṃ hi paramārtha-Sat tad advayaṃ Brahma mandabuddhīnām asadiva pratibhāti. (Śaṅkarācārya). The sublime Truth (Brahman) is beyond time, place and attributes. Brahman is one (not two) and it is Sat (existent) but for the dull-witted, ignorant people it is Asat (non-existent). Satyamevopāsate, tadetat tryakṣaraṃ satyamiti; Sa ityekamakṣaram, tya ityeka. makṣaram, prathamottame akṣare satyam madhyato Anṛtaṃ tadetatamṛtamubhayataḥ satyena parigṛhītaṃ satyabhūyameva bhavati. (Bṛhadāraṇyaka). Kohamasmīti satyamiti brūyāt kiṃ tad yat Satyamiti yadanyad devebhyaśca prāṇebhyaśca / Tatsadatha yaddevāśca prāṇāśca tad utadeṬayāpicābhivyāhriyate satyamitye Tadāpatitaṃ sarvamidam (Kauṣītaki Brāhmaṇa).

"idaṃ sarvaṃ khalu brahma iti śānta upāsīta antarhṛdaye eṣa me ātmā manomayaḥ prāṇaśarīraḥ bhārūpaḥ satyasaṅkalpaḥ ākāśātmā sarvakarmā sarvakāmaḥ sarvagandhaḥ sarvamidamabhyatti. (chāndogya)."

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