Ancient Wisdom about the Universe

The Hindu Sacred Writings

The original Vedas are the oldest sacred writings of the Hindus and are composed of spiritually focused wisdom written in Sanskrit between 2000-1000 B.C. The spiritually inspired thinkers who wrote these early Vedas often imply a oneness with the Divine.  The Vedas are the ancient scriptures or revelation (Shruti) of the Hindu teachings. They manifest the Divine Word in human speech. They reflect into human language the language of the Gods, the Divine powers that have created us and which rule over us. There are four Vedas, each consisting of four parts. The primary portion is the mantra or hymn section (samhita). To this are appended ritualistic teachings (brahmana) and theological sections (aranyaka). Finally philosophical sections (upanishads) are included. The hymn sections are the oldest. The others were added at a later date and each explains some aspect of the hymns or follows one line of interpreting them. The Vedas were compiled around the time of Krishna (c. 3500 B.C.), and even at that time were hardly understood. Hence they are very ancient and only in recent times has their spiritual import, like that of the other mystery teachings of the ancient world, begun to be rediscovered or appreciated even in India. Like the Egyptian teachings they are veiled, symbolic and subtle and require a special vision to understand and use properly.

More recent Vedas are known as the Upanishads – a name implying sitting at the feet of a teacher – and are the Hindu sacred texts next in antiquity dating from circa 600 B.C.  The Upanishads uphold views that maintain that people are capable of a profound interior spirituality.
The Upanishads are one of the most concise expositions of the spiritual experiences that lie at the heart of all the great religions. Although nearly three thousand years old, their teachings are as relevant today as when they were first given by the forest sages of India.

The Universe is profoundly One

“The Universe is profoundly One.” This unity can best be understood by exploring the Hindu concepts of Brahman and Atman. The Upanishads, which form part of the Hindu scripture, speak of Brahman as “Him the eye does not see, nor the tongue express, nor the mind grasp.”  Brahman is not a God, but rather the ultimate, unexplainable principle encompassing all of creation. Because creation preceded language, words cannot grasp the totality of Brahman. Any and every definition falls short. Brahman then becomes a word used to speak of what can be called a “macro” metaphysical principle. But there is also a “micro” metaphysical principle. The subtle presence intuited within, identified as “soul” or “self” by other traditions, is called Atman. Atman, thus, perceives Brahman. But this perception leads to a central meditation discovered by the Hindu rishis, or sages, described in the Chandogya Upanishad:

In the beginning there was Existence alone – One only, without a second. He, the One [Brahman], thought to himself: “Let me be many, let me grow forth.” Thus out of himself he projected the universe, and having projected out of himself the universe, he entered into every being. All that is has its self in him alone. Of all things he is the subtle essence. He is the truth. He is the Self. And that … THAT ART THOU!

When one discovers that Atman, the inner self, and Brahman, the essence of the universe, are indeed one, the experienced result is said to be one of immense peace and harmony, of coming home. The human perception of life is often that of a small, fragile being gazing out into an infinite, unknowable space. Hinduism teaches that the intuitive leap of realizing “that art thou” tells us we belong. We have a place. We are one with the stars and the consciousness that brought them into being.

Sources: Fisher, Mary Pat, and Lee W. Bailey. An Anthology of Living Religions. Prentice Hall, 2000. Vedanta Society of Southern California. The Upanishads.  Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester, trans. New York: Mentor Books, 1957.

In the Upanishads the sages teach that Brahman is infinite Being, infinite Consciousness, and infinite Bliss.
It is said that Brahman cannot be known by empirical means – that is to say, as an object of our consciousness – because Brahman is our very consciousness and being. The whole universe came into existence from Brahman the Seed. Brahman is not only the principle and creator of all there is, but is also the sum totality of the universe and its phenomena.

Strictly speaking everything in the universe is a manifestation of Brahman only.  Innumerable are his forms and manifestation, but He is One and Alone, without a beginning and without an end. He pervades everything, is hidden in everything and enveloped by all that is here and elsewhere. In the Upanishads we come across many verses on Brahman extolling his universal dimensions and infinity. However at the primal level of classification, we can say that the scriptures speak of mainly two aspects of Brahman. On the one hand we have the unmanifest Brahman and on the other we have the manifest Brahman. The former is the pure state of Brahman without qualities and the latter is the manifest state of Brahman with qualities. In the manifest state we believe there are  several planes of consciousness, dimensions, time frames, worlds or planes of existence and realities. There is the material universe that is known to the senses and the transcendental universe known only to the gods and beings of the highest planes. Brahman is remote and mysterious, known only to few. No  one truly knows why and how of his manifestations, but attribute his actions and movements to some kind of absorbed and blissful ideation. In each world he manifests himself according to the need and the plan he works out.

In Vedanta, the word “Satyam” (Reality) is very clearly defined and it has a specific significance. It means, “that which exists in all the three periods of time (past, present and future) without undergoing any change; and also in all the three states of consciousness (waking state, dream state and deep-sleep state).” This is therefore the absolute Reality — birthless, deathless and changeless — referred to in the Upanishads as “Brahman.”


The Cosmic Cycle as various aspects of One Supreme Being

Just as a single force in space can be mathematically conceived as having various spatial components, the Supreme Being or God, the personal form of the Ultimate Reality, is conceived by Hindus as having various aspects. A Hindu deity (god or goddess; note small g) represents a particular aspect of the Supreme Being. For example, Saraswati represents the learning and knowledge aspect of the Supreme Being.  Just as sunlight cannot have a separate and independent existence from the sun itself, a Hindu deity does not have a separate and independent existence from the Supreme Being. Thus, Hindu worship of deities is monotheistic polytheism and not simple polytheism.

Hindus declare that there is only one Supreme Being and He is the God of all religions. There is no “other God.” Thus the Biblical Commandment “Thou shalt have no other God before me,” really means, “Thou shalt not deny the Ultimate Reality or worship any power other than the Ultimate Reality.”

Hindus view cosmic activity of the Supreme Being as comprised of three tasks: creation, preservation, and dissolution and recreation. Hindus associate these three cosmic tasks with the three deities, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

Lord Brahma brings forth the creation and represents the creative principle of the Supreme Being.

Lord Vishnu maintains the universe and represents the eternal principle of preservation.

Lord Shiva represents the principle of dissolution and recreation. These three deities together form the Hindu Trinity.


The Great Trinity of Hindu

One must clearly understand that Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are not three independent deities. They represent the same power (the Supreme Being), but in three different aspects. Just as a man may be called a doctor, father or husband based upon the tasks he performs, the Supreme Being is called Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva when conceived as performing the three different cosmic tasks of creation, preservation, and dissolution/recreation. “The oneness of the three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is brought out by the mystic symbol AUM where ‘A’ represents Vishnu, ‘U’ Shiva and ‘M’ Brahma.”

The three major Hindu deities include Brahma (Creator), Shiva (Destroyer), and Vishnu (Preserver), which constitutes the Great Trinity.

Lord Brahma sculpture,Temple in  Carambolim, Goa  [ Source ]

Lord Brahma [ Source ]


Lord Vishnu

The Vishnu dreams the world while he sleeps.
He is usually thought of as benevolent and mild, granting salvation to his followers for their devotion.


Shiva as the Lord of Dance

Shiva (or Siva) is often presented in his form as the cosmic dancer. He is believed to be the source of all movement within the cosmos, and so his dancing is what makes the world go round.  The dance is said to be performed in a sacred place called ‘Chidabaram’, the center of the universe, which is in reality within the human heart. The many hands form gestures called “mudras”, each intending to represent a different aspect of the god.

 

The whole Universe is Brahma

“This whole universe in Brahman. Let a man in all tranquillity meditate on this visible world as beginning, ending, and breathing in the brahman. Now a man is possessed of will. According to what he wills in this world, so will he be when he has departed from this life. Let him therefore exercise this will. The intelligent, whose body is spirit, whose form is light, whose thoughts are true, whose self is like space (all pervading and invisible), from whom all works, all desires, all odours, all tastes proceed, he encompasses this whole world. He is without speech and without concern. He is my self within the heart, smaller than a grain of rice, smaller than a corn of barley, smaller than a mustard seed, smaller than a canary seed or the germ in a canary seed. He also is my self within the heart, greater than the earth, greater than the sky, greater than heaven, greater than all these worlds. He from whom all works, all desires, all odours, and all tastes proceed, who encompasses all this world, who is without speech and without concern, he, my self within the heart, is that brahman. When I shall have departed from hence, I shall obtain that self. He who has faith has no doubt; thus Shandilya, yea, thus he said” [Chandogya Upanishad 3.14. 1-4].

“They say: ‘If men think that by knowledge of Brahman they will become everything, what then did that Brahman know, from whence he became everything?’ Verily in the beginning all this was Brahman. That Brahman knew Self only, saying, ‘I am Brahman’. From it all this came. Whichever deva became aware of this, he indeed became all this (Brahman); and so also some rishis and men. The rishi Vamadeva saw and understood it, singing, ‘I was the moon, I was the sun’. It is so also now. He who knows that he is Brahman, becomes all this, and even the devas cannot prevent it, for he himself is their Self” [Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Chapter 3; 4.10].

 

The Hindu “Brahmav?ivarta Pur??a” contains a story that reveals a post Vedic view of the ancient king of the gods, Indra.
Here are (below) a few gems from this story.

“O King of Gods, I have known the dreadful dissolution of the universe.  I have seen all perish, again and again, at the end of every cycle.  At that terrible time, every single atom dissolves into the primal, pure waters of eternity, whence originally all arose.  Everything then goes back into the fathomless, wild infinity of the ocean, which is covered with utter darkness and is empty of every sign of animate being.  Ah, who will count the Universes that have passed away, or the creations that have risen afresh, again and again, from the formless abyss of the vast waters?  Who will number the passing ages of the world, as they follow each other endlessly?  And who will search through the wide infinities of space to count the universes side by side, each containing its Brahm?, its Vishnu, and its Shiva?  Who will count the Indras in them all — those Indras side by side, who reign at once in all the innumerable worlds; those others who passed away before them; or even the Indras who succeed each other in any given line, ascending to godly kingship, one by one, and, one by one, passing away?  King of Gods, there are among your servants certain who maintain that it may be possible to number the grains of sand on earth and the drops of rain that fall from the sky, but no one will ever number all those Indras.  This is what the Knowers know.

“The life and kingship of an Indra endure seventy-one eons, and when twenty-eight Indras have expired, one Day and Night of Brahm? has elapsed.  But the existence of one Brahm?, measured in such Brahm? Days and Nights, is only one hundred and eight years.  Brahm? follows Brahm?; one sinks, the next arises; the endless series cannot be told.  There is no end to the number of those Brahm?s — to say nothing of Indras.

“But the universes side by side at any given moment, each harboring a Brahm? and an Indra: who will estimate the number of these?  Beyond the farthest vision, crowding outer space, the universes come and go, an innumerable host.  Like delicate boats they float on the fathomless, pure waters that form the body of Vishnu.  Out of every hair-pore of that body a universe bubbles and breaks.  Will you presume to count them?  Will you number the gods in all those worlds — the worlds present and the worlds past?”

This wisdom is the ferry to beatitude across the ocean of hell.

“Life in the cycle of the countless rebirths is like a vision in a dream.  The gods on high, the mute trees and the stones, are alike apparitions in this phantasy.  But Death administers the law of time.  Ordained by time, Death is the master of all.  Perishable as bubbles are the good and the evil of the beings of the dream.  In unending cycles the good and evil alternate.  Hence, the wise are attached to neither, neither the evil nor the good.  The wise are not attached to anything at all.”

[Parade of Ants from “Brahmav?ivarta Pur??a”,  Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization Heinrich Robert Zimmer (Author), Joseph Campbell (Editor) ]

Comments

  1. says

    Recently I read a book by Dan Brown “The Lost Symbol”. It was very interesting and I came to know many things about ancient mysteries. This article has thrown more light on ancient mysteries. Thanks for an interesting article!!

  2. RogerscottQ says

    I was just contemplating that line by
    Lennon: “Come together, right now,
    over me!”

    Interesting choice of words that. I am
    practically certain he did that as a
    distinction from its psychological
    obverse inherant in ideas of persono-adoration
    rather than adoration of common principles
    inherant in everyone.

    ‘Over me’, rather than ‘under me’.

    The iconoclastic principle. Typical
    Lennon writing, even though his
    behavior wasn’t without contradictions.
    Who doesn’t have such? Still, who hasn’t
    thought that if a Jesus came back, he
    would be a John Lennon?

    If all have the common source Cook
    wrote so elegantly above, wouldn’t
    a Christ have to also play anti-Christ
    to spell the message out completely?

    In other words: any one playing that
    role of ‘savior’, for the message to
    convey what Cook contended, would have
    to dispense with his own essentiality
    to do the same thing: that is getting
    full possession of ones own particle of
    the original consciousness.

    Or what? We have to accede to interpreters
    of what our own consciousness of consciousness
    ultimately is or means?

    We either get along together and live
    or all perish separately fighting one
    another?

    I think there is a lot of fog attendent,
    nevertheless, with received ideas regarding
    the Upanishads, quantumism.

    Physics, scientific method, paranormal
    investigations, poetry, the cultural
    revolutions and ways of regarding
    money and life and hospitals, doctorism,
    authority: all has been turned topsy-turvy
    by such a vast gamut of voices.

    I find a popular sentiment towards
    Hinduism and guruism inherant in the
    popular perception of it a new kind of
    hurdle.

    Seems ‘open minded’, but there is still
    this hint of dogma inherant in it all.

    I would take issue with the assertion
    about light as being utterly invisible
    without something to reflect upon.

    There is inherant to that sentiment
    that there can’t be two radiating
    centers at once.

    If one sees light, it isn’t necessarily
    reflected back to you so as to imply
    you are the only light!

    We like the theory that the ‘beginning’
    was ‘ONE’ and that it became ‘many’.

    Why ‘one’?

    Why not ‘two’?

    And if two, why should we conceive one
    was ‘good’ and the other ‘evil’?

    Why not two good, but different?

    What is common experience?

    Male and female.

    Which of these two is good, which evil?

    I take a Thurburian point of view about
    this.

    Either one, by themselves, might be
    not so good, maybe even evil.

    One dominating the other: not necessarily
    a good thing.

    The eternal inigma maybe.

    Yin and Yang. Why should we conceive
    the primalmost is either?

    Maybe some struggle is inherant in
    what can become a dance and then: love.

    Art.

    I’ll leave it to someone else to decide
    how to designate some ‘trinity’ from
    this: but maybe our math is retarded.

    The first number might really be
    zero, but so far as consciousness is
    concerned: two comes first. Where
    cooperation happens to come about:
    two become one and that might be
    called the ‘big bang’ (that’s YER
    dirty mind fellows, not mine! . . . or
    maybe it is, too.)

    Well, then: maybe the third part of
    this will be mutual intelligence about
    the ever mysterious ‘other’.

    That’s life!

    Neat!

    I’ll keep my body, thank you, no thanks
    to any fellow named ‘Abe’ (Braham)
    or ‘Eve’ (Vac or vacuum).

    Logical. Memory is a good thing.
    Keeps me from repeating my mistakes.

    Body is a better memory storage device
    than books poorly writ, transcribed,
    mistranslated, errors repleat.

    Good idea, this immortality thing.

  3. Jason says

    Yep it is kinda cool floating around this domain of the vedas wisdom praises here, iam sure it is beneficial to ones own experiece in this reality that we experience here on planet earth.

  4. Ab Asaff says

    Concerning Brahma, John Lennon in one line of a song simpley and concisely coined it well

    I am he, as you are he, as you are me, and we are all together.

  5. jason says

    Yet agian a good summary of the deities,they seem to represent the highest achievments of the physical-nonphysical realms,this earth must truely be a special place for them and us humans,and hopefully more people should show the same quality,god knows we need it at the present moment.

  6. says

    How powerful is the act of “seeing?” Few of us ever stop to think of this awesome operation of perceiving the manifest universe via on board sensory systems built into our very being. Seeing is equated with beliefs, but total sensory contact with reality goes beyond just the traditional five sensory experiences that has enlightened our philosophers and scientists to the point of seeking the ultimate answers to our precise existence.

    Mankind’s oldest records say that ancient man was in awe at the sight of light (light is invisible, its effect is seen), and its energizing amplification of experiential processes. Man spent much time writing and meditating upon the complexities of the visual flame. To perceive the world beyond simple, yet empiric-measuring terms was his contribution to us. But did he know what we are only just now coming to understand through quantum physics? Add the new breakthrough technologies like holography, fractal geometry, virtual reality, bio-tech, nanotechnology, and others — then, you are speaking of powerful concepts worthy of worship.

    If perception is the “quantifier” of the world of reality, could this world also be an illusion created by the process of the essence — the greatest of all virtual realities? Men of old thought that this world we live in was the projected playground of God. That he lived through each localization or being-of-atomic-makeup (all parts of the universe) in a many faceted dance of the elements — matter. His Essence was the Universe of Megalight, which includes every pixel, or every particle composed of matter — light — DNA; and, light indicates prior knowledge, before events.

    The Sumerians, Egyptians, and Indus Valley people were the intellects of the mysteries handed down in myth. Some of their most ancient traditions, reflected within the living Hindu religion, seeped through to us from the past in the form of Vedas or songs-of-life, which were recorded in archaic Sanskrit. The secrets of a powerful past lie hidden in what these ancients quantified from their perceptions.

    The old texts of the Hindu indicate that reality was a love-act of “seeing” the gods (Devas) or “bright ones,” and to be mirrored by that power with an observation or feedback. The process of “seeing” the deity was the sacred part of life called “Dar-san.” The believer was consecrated by just the act of Dar-san and thus became all knowing, or worthy of being. Seeing was a form of touching or quantifying (measuring for value). The eye that comprehended the All was the third eye, which went beyond five-sensory perception into the realm of intuition and hyperphysics. The world of the ancient Hindu was many faceted and many godded — what some would term “Holospirited.”

    The act of worship for one god was termed “kathenotheism.” In this process the devotee’s Dar-san activated and energized the god focused upon. The god became a reality in the life of the beholder, and was no longer a wave, but a particle or part of god, once observed. This many faceted holomovement of “be-ness or being-ness” came to be a part of the religion of Hinduism, the oldest surviving religion of modern man. The very purpose of living to a Hindu is to get out of the feedback loop, and to get off the wheel of existence — to escape the cycle of manifestation. The goal is to merge into the ultimate and absolute ONCE once again — to return to the dream or creative element that is timeless. When outside the mega-holographic field of the universe, the being returns to the realm we visit when we release consciousness from the quantifiable form.

    Quantum Physics is today’s great measuring devise for all mathematics that make up this, the greatest of all virtual realities. We live in, on and through the greatest assemblage computer of all in a broadcast. It is in an overwhelming movement of quantum reality seeming to comprehend itself through constant feedback-looping to calculate and recalculate at blinding speed, its very becoming known prior.

    It is an electromagnetic broadcast that is both waves and particles, interacting with gravity and the weak/strong nuclear force (the three facets of Godhead). Each quality is fundamental and is the very dual personality of manifestation. Neither state of being is complete unto itself, but both states are necessary to give us a complete holo-field of reality. We can never know both states at once, thus never knowing the particulate or wave at one time. As an illusive wave, reality smears out over space where it seems to be everywhere at once, gathering quantum information about the probability of some potential state. Amplify this process to interconnect and influence everything else in space, as it is moving, and you have what we discern as reality within Sequential Time.

    This reality is the opposite of the Big Bang…rather, the universe is the Big Broadcast of the Quantinuum, which gets its power from an unseen state of dreams or creative potential — what some call God. This unseen state exists in timelessness and is thus not able to be quantified. Some see this great broadcast of quantum potential as the ultimate virtual reality, which communicates within and without inner, connected matter. This reality issues from a dream potential background or field into the illusive material state of being and becoming.

    The edges of our distant memory about being within this realm are smooth, with few, if any perturbations in the conscious state. Beyond this world lies the potential and its continuum of mindscape or dreamscape. In this world, everything is known at once. Some say we are in touch with the frontiers of a mental hyper-fractal feedback loop that interconnects both beginning and end in an infinite process full of change. Many have equated the mind with the universe. Perhaps we all share this mind on some other level as it seeks to experience existence via ultra-sophistication built beyond the particulate level, on toward the gestalt collection of the One with no second.

    There is a pathway to awakening to the one-ness of reality…Future Time, bites the tale of Ancient past and When an act like we are currently seeing in Japan takes place, Ancient Past floods back to awaken the depths of our old knowledge base…After all, information is all we are in this physical realm.

  7. NB says

    The unknown becomes the known. Within the womb lies the egg. The time of birth is upon us and so the veil is lifted. All is One.
    NB

  8. RogerscottQ says

    P.S.: I might add that one interpretation
    of ‘prana’ is: ‘not mine’

    That can be read so many different ways,
    but can indicate a great generosity.

    Thus in prana is also tolerance, that
    fits the facts of both kindnesses we
    see in the world and the enormous evils
    we see in the world.

    Where one mighit find a form facile and
    utile to observation of existence and
    consciousness in all it’s variety, it
    follows that means to keep that must be
    part and parcel to preservation of memory
    and thus continuity of a learning and doing
    center.

    That is probably what is meant by ‘siddha’
    or so-called ‘perfected beingness.

    Not that they are ‘finished’ or beyond
    growth. Just ‘mature’ and keeping goods
    acquired through experience.

    r

  9. RogerscottQ says

    I like those old writings, especially the
    Upanishads.

    The Upanishads have an element of healthy
    iconoclasticism and tend to exalt recognition
    of ‘vitality’ or ‘prana’.

    Where Cook uses ‘self’ as the crux of our
    problem I’ve seen ‘consciousness’ as the
    crux of a ‘cosmic problem’.

    It seems likely that the term ‘self’ deals
    with particulars of individual experience
    and probably does predate that discovery
    of ‘generalization’, which is full of
    problems of it’s own.

    It’s a fine balance.

    One of my favorite lines from amongst the
    Upanishads is the phrase: “Perhaps only
    the Gods know . . . and perhaps even they
    don’t know.”

    That puts a very poignant human element in
    all speculative reasoning about ‘ultimates’.

    The majority of ‘extraction of essence’ or
    core ‘principles’ from the Upanishad
    diaries seems to land on the recognition
    that both personal consciousness and
    the trends of any form of life whatever
    is a stuff that provides for all of it
    but is utterly unconcerned about whatever
    intellect or systems of belief might be
    built up around it. Then the talk of
    ‘fire-rites’, Udghitha, and returning
    everything to a primal fact.

    Recurrent ‘cosmic dissolutions’ as some
    generalization would seem to indicate
    memory or some form of record survives
    such ‘cataclysms.’

    Information builds up, but original impulse
    isn’t satisfied and starts over from so-called
    ‘scratch’.

    Any ‘all’ that tends towards being a
    ‘many’, perhaps, doesn’t like where any
    trend of particulars of expression merely
    reduces everything through any single
    individual or some selected hierarchy.

    A general recogntion seems to tend to
    iconoclasticism and honor of priors
    at one and the same time. Taking either
    respect too far: recipe for a problem
    above and beyond dealing with consciousness
    itself. Hence: dissolutions.

    Prana is most gentle, but can be viscious
    in remaining ever free.

  10. says

    Would that humanity could awaken to the reality of its ultimate coherency. Self is our problem, in that we tend to look at ourselves as our own God. Indeed we are close to that, but there is the Other that amplifies and expands our experience. The Other feeds us as our means of garnering data to know the total expanse of our potential. Without this knowledge and wisdom, we would not exist on this level of being and becoming. Not that one is, but that whereby Is, is.

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