What is God?
Sunday, January 15, 2006 21:34 IST
Aeons ago, in a hermitage lived a rishi. His own son was the foremost among his disciples. One day, the boy asked him, “What is God?” The master replied, “Food is God.” It meant that the boy must study food and all things corporeal to understand the true nature of matter. Years passed as his observation deepened, and he concluded that there was more to God than matter.
Once more he approached his father, “What is Brahman?” The sage replied, “Prana (the life force) is Brahman.” So this time he plunged into an intense study of prana and pranayama. Years later his old query got the response, “Mind is Brahman.” This time he explored mind and consciousness through meditation. “Intelligence is Brahman” was the next message. Time to plumb the depths of intuitive perception and self-knowledge.
Finally, the master zeroed in on “Bliss is Brahman.” When the ripened seeker delved into the experience of bliss, he dissolved in it. The ecstasy of divine realisation became his very being, and he was enlightened.
This Upanishdic story underlines the basic premise of Hinduism, the realisation of the Self and of the unity of all creation through knowledge, discipline, intuition, experience and devotion. In our culture, a student is encouraged to trust his own experience and sharpen his intuitive perception.
Through the ages, the self-realised souls have sung out in bliss and danced in ecstasy, showering love all around. The icing on this cake has been their focus on social reconstruction; from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda to Sri Aurobindo, the sages have embodied selfless service and love, and sought to mould generations of young minds through their message.
The gurus sought to inspire their disciples by giving them not just ideals but a genuine experience of their true nature. These beacons of humanity shine bright as ever today, and hold out a ray of hope for a generation that is constantly starved of idols and ideals.