Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Truth beyond Space and Time

Hare Krishna Friends,

The following is a benedictory discourse delivered by Acharya Sri Abhinava Vidyateertha Mahasvami, in Tamil, at Chennai on 20.11.1986. I have picked the same from the site www.jagadgurus.org.

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Svaanubhootyaika-maanaaya namassaantaaya tejase

Salutation to the tranquil effulgence of the form of eternal consciousness unlimited by spatial direction, time etc., the sole valid means of knowing which is self-experience.

In the Chandogya Upanishad, it is said:

Naalpe sukhamasti

There is no happiness in that which is small.

Yo vai bhooma tat sukham

That which is big is blissful.

What is the meaning of 'big' and 'small' in the present context? The answer is contained in:


Every object in this Universe has a delimitation of the form, "It is found here, but it is not found there". However Brahman, which is Bhooma (big), is devoid of any spatial delimitation. Whatever place you conceive of, it is there. Therefore, there is no area where it is not. It is beyond “Dik” or spatial direction. Strictly speaking, spatial direction cannot be specified in an absolute sense. For a man in Madurai , Madras lies in the northern direction. However, for a man dwelling in Visakhapatnam , Madras lies to the south. If it be asked, "Per se, does Madras lie in the northern direction or in the southern direction?" the answer would be "It is in neither. It exists. That is all." If we proceed to Visakhapatnam , relative to us, Madras is in the south. On the other hand, if we were to go to Madurai or Tirunelveli, the direction of Madras , relative to us, would become north. Therefore, “Dik” or spatial direction is something that is relative. Even in a relative, rather than an absolute sense, Brahman cannot be specified as existing in the northern or southern direction.

The case of time is similar to that of spatial direction. With respect to some specific delimiting factor, we speak of a day. What exactly is a day? It is something we determine with reference to the movement of the sun. We now see the sun rising. The time interval between our current and next sighting of the rising sun constitutes a day. When the rising sun is next seen, the next day begins. If this be the case, what is the position if we do not sight the sun? In other words, what is time, measured in terms of a day, independent of the observed movement of the sun? Time exists but the question, "What time is it?" cannot be answered without reference to something like the movement of the sun. Hence, a measure of time, such as a day, loses its significance without reference to some delimiting factor. A day is thus something relative and not absolute. Thirty days constitute a month and 365 days, a year. As other measures of time, such as a month and a year, are based on a day, they are also not on a firmer footing than a day; they too have meaning only with reference to some delimiting factor.

Time, space and objects are all conjectured by the mind. After all, but for our defining temporal terms, such as day with reference to the apparent movement of the sun in the sky, time would not be discernible as it is now. Similarly, but for our defining directions, as for instance, north with respect to the pole star, spatial direction would lose its value. As far as objects of the Universe are concerned, the answer to the question, "Are they limited by time?" is "Yes"; everything is limited by time. For instance, we make statements, such as, "We were born on this day. One day or the other, we will die. At present, we exist."

If we consider the case of the body or some other object, it is clear that it did not exist prior to its origination at a certain point in time and that on some day, it will perish; thereafter it will cease to be. It is only between its origination and destruction that it appears, to an observer, to exist. That is to say, all objects are delimited by time.

What is consciousness or Brahman like? Before the birth of Rama, there was the Krita Yuga. Now the Kali Yuga is in progress. Brahman is not limited by any such periods of time. It exists and that is all. The question, "When does is exist?" is inapplicable to Brahman, which is beyond time. Whenever point of time you conjecture, Brahman does exist at that time. Did it exist before the Krita Yuga? It did. It was there at the time of Rama, it is there now and it shall be there even tomorrow. So it was said:


Brahman is beyond the limiting influence of spatial direction and time and objects. However, though beyond space and time, it is not a void or an inert entity. It shines in the form of consciousness. If one were to get the direct realization of this entity, one will attain the summum bonum of life. This is what the scriptures say.

Experience too is like that. The more absorbed we become in Brahman, the more does it seem, "So many things take place in the universe. All this is a mere illusory sport." If the world be a mere illusory sport then what object is good and what is bad? For a person who has desire for the objects of the world, any object will seem to be good or bad depending on whether he sees it a source of his joy or sorrow. On the other hand, for one who is devoid of attachment and aversion and whose mind is focused on the Self, the position is, "I am the witness. That is all." If such a person were asked, "Do you get happiness or unhappiness on account of the world?” he would answer, "I see no reason to either laugh or weep over anything. I merely witness what comes before my eyes and do not even make an effort to experience anything."

We aspire for this state. Sankara Bhagavatpada has said that if we obtain a Sadguru, receive his teachings and follow the means prescribed by him, we too can attain it.

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Prostrations to All.



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