Gayatri Upasana and Yoga, part 1
GAYATRI UPASANA AND YOGA
Article from "Four Essays in Suddha Raja Yoga" - Published by Sri Janardana, The Third initiatory Authority of Suddha Dharma Mandalam
Any Student of Religion, whether higher or lower, should have known what Gáyatri is. If he does not it may be definitely stated, that he has missed the one proper basis of spiritual life, and with it; correct knowledge. It is not too much to conceive, that whatever knowledge one might, have acquired in religion otherwise, without knowing Gáyatri, is just a waste. To say so should not be considered dogmatic, because, the exposition on Gayatri herein would disclose what it is to miss it. In this land of Aryavarta, only a privileged few may be said to have, heard or known anything about it. , And even they, cannot, be held to have grasped and understood its significance fully, Added to it .a good deal of unnecessary secrecy tis maintained by those that are said to know it so as to make it inaccessible, which precludes the honest seeker to a correct approach thereof. As such, what the Great Masters of Suddha Dharma Mandalam teach us about it should be illuminating and uplifting, not only for our every-day life but also to Yoga which attracts one and all now. Let us try to understand what They teach us, in all humility.
Swalpamapyasa dharmasya - Even a fraction of this divine knowledge
in its, correctness should be enough to disabuse the mind from
the prevailing grotesque misconceptions and to browbeat the
aggressive claims made by certain Schools of thought, that to
pursue the path of Yoga, Gayatri is unnecessary. A statement
of the kind merely betrays that, those that indulge in them
know neither Gáyatri nor Yoga, which they sponsor, in
Gayatri itself has been declared from the long ago as Yoga vidya - Yogavidyeti Gayatri Yogibihi parikatyate. It is also known as Tatwa vidya that leads to the knowledge of Brahm in its manifold manifestations - Tatwavidya cha Gayatri Brahmeti cha hi shruyate. So that, the hollowness of the claims adumbrated should be thus patent. A re-understanding therefore, of this imperative, unique, powerful, and unexceptionable requisite, not only to the day-to-day life of the individual to get inspiration but also to those engaged in pursuing the path of Yoga is well warranted as a guide to one and all.
In the sacred teachings- Shrutis - Gáyatri is described thus, - Gayatri Va Idam Sarvam; All this is Gayatri, otherwise the epithet sarvam – all – in the dictum is Completely comprehensive of no exception whatsoever. However, the qualifying word idam –this - obviously restricts the scope of this all ness to that, which could be defined, by location as “this”, whether it may be in the sphere of thought word or deed or higher than these three, that, is to say, all that falls within the ambit of expressed knowledge is Gayatri. Knowledge in its seed-state and different from its being expressed may be stated to be a concept rather than a whole concept with a confluence of many concepts - the several nuclei as it were for the various, kinds of knowledge formations in the thought region known as Mahat; best understood by that mysterious and cryptic monosyllable OM; In other words the seed-state which symbolize All Consciousness though by itself is unitary, assumes various states as, concepts in itself , so as to constitute the several bases for the operations of different and manifold other transformations that also emanate from it, Now these formations of OM in itself into several concepts of the abstract category are technically termed Mahavakyas, whereas the transformations thereof into concretes such as the various planes of knowledge activity, and the laws pertaining thereto go by the name of Gayatri.
That is to say Gayatri is the dynamic, aspect of that which, metamorphoses the potential seed -condition OM, the symbol for Brahm and projects it as the manifested Jagat; the Mahavakyas on the other hand, perpetually furnish the necessary seeds, or concepts of OM to maintain the eternal condition, of Jagat. In the interplay of these two we-find, the secret source of all knowledge whatever it is. So it is said, Gayatri is the mother and Mahavakya is the father, from whom, not merely knowledge; but also the entirety of the cosmological compositions has its origin. In fact the two are identical except for the aspectual differences mentioned, and hence the epithet “Va”- otherwise, in the anagoges, is appended to suggest that "Sarvam idam” declared as Gayatri, is already known in the Mahavakya which postulates, - 'Sarvam Tad Kalvidam Brahm’ All this verily is Tad Brahm
From this it should be clear that what is known as Tad -Brahm in the Mahavakya and that which is known as Gayatri are nomenclatures given to one of the same principle, to aid us in distinguishing the nature of its various formations and transformations we find in the Jagat. So that in any scheme of explanation Mahavakya and Gayatri can hardly be separated although the explanation is always in terms of Gayatri. And hence, before understanding the scope of Gayatri as such, it will prove very helpful to know within a short compass what Tad-Brahm stated in the Mahavakya stands for.
In the Gita it may be remembered, Arjuna, enquires of the Lord what this Tad-Brahm is – “Kim Tad Brahm”. In reply the Lord states - 'Aksharam Brahma Paramam’ - Aksharam is Para-Brahm. That is to say what is known as Para-Brahm is Tad- Brahm, the epithet “ad" obviously, setting a limit to the scope of conception even at its highest. That which is beyond he conceptual state is termed “Net Neti” Not this, not this – as Brahataranyaka Upanishad states, which seems to be an eternal impenetrable secret never known surpassing all – “Sarvateetam”. The question whether such a state is possible is answered by the fact of the existence of the limitless expanse - Jagat and of which we are parts the terminal limit thereof being Aksharam referred to, above The term Aksharam is literally said to mean -indestructible; it also means letter or word; so that, the sound constituent in the latter, furnishes the clue to the whole meaning - indestructible-sound-form. This indestructible sound form is OM, which symbolizes Brahm in completeness- "Om iti ekaksharam Brahm" - Brahm is the single letter OM, and in this sound form, the potential state is just a concept; and thus soundless; and therefore transcendent, the nature of which does not yield to its being realized in terms of explanation, and is said to be known by every one for himself through the study of "Samashti Omkara Vidya" Synthetic Study of OM. The all-surpassing Neti Neti should not be confused with this aspect of Akshara since that is never known.
To help us to determine the nature of this highest concept Aksharam which is Suddha Dharma or Para Brahm or Tad Brahm or OM, the Lord proceed to explain later on thus "Om Tat Sat iti nirdeso Brahmana trivida smritaha" Brahm has to be determined three-fold in terms of Om Tat Sat. In the sacred scriptures, the Supreme Brahm has been described in manifold ways by the various Mahavakyas, all of them, however, having reference only to the central idea embedded in this profoundly cryptic dictum OM: Tat: Sat: Of those very many Mahavakyas "Satyam, Gnanam Anantam Brahm” , respectively brings forth the significance of Tat: Sat: Om.
Tat is Satyam - truth, the brilliant light thereof dispels the ever-present darkness overcoming the human mind and is said to be Suddha 'Suddha tejas Swaroopa - form of pure light, Sat is Gnanam-wisdom, the dynamic power thereof constitutes the casual and controlling force of the Cosmos, and is known as Nirguna - Karana Swaroopa - causal form; Om is Anantam-manyness, the sublime infinity of the creational grandeur gives a stunning blow to the human arrogance of I-ness compelling man’s utter submission to the All-Will and this is declared to be Saguna Amritaswaroopa - the amritatwa or blissfulness consisting in the elimination of the idea of separativeness in the manyness. Tat Sat OM which thus represents the three-fold aspect of Brahm is declared to be Kala – Time, as understood in terms of Past, Present, and Future. (The Lord declares himself to be Kala in the Gita, Kalosmi -lokashayakrit pravrittaha I am time manifest, having this world as my abode). The monosyllable OM which is thus said to represent the manyness and the multiplicities therein, and as such known as Vyashti-para, is however, by itself a single sound concept as was already stated - Samashti-para - OM, in its potential seed state of soundlessness, hidden in sound "sware leenam", and is said therefore, to unfold the three states of Time simultaneously - Sarva-Kala. Thus Samashti-para and Vyashti-para of OM, known as Pranava, respectively pointing out to the conceptual state hidden in sound and the knowledge state expressed in terms of sound, form in order the subject matter of study of Mahavakyas and Gayatri.
In the dictum "Sware leenam" stated above, the English term sound does not properly give out the significance of "swara" The correct Sanskrit word for sound is ' "sabda", which is the lowest of a three-fold, sound-state viz. "Nada, Swara, Sabda" and these in English may be rendered as sound-wave, sound-note; and sound respectively Tat: Sat: Om: in the lower level represent these three. Of these, 'Swara', which, in yogic parlance, is known as Bindu, a loka (world) in itself, is the creational center - the center that is everywhere; 'Nada', is the loka ' known as -Sat-Chit- Ananda, the seat of Trimoorties and is higher than Bindu-loka; while the ' Sabdha loka’ lower than Bindu is known as' Kalaa-loka. Sabdha or sound is the quality of Akasha (Ether), the subtlest of the five elements of which the visible world in which we live is formed, this three-fold state of Nada-Swara-Sabdha or Nada-Bindu-Kalaa goes by the technical name of Sabdha-Brahm. Gayatri whose essential nature is declared to be Sabdha –Sabdhamooti dharasyetat swaroopam – is otherwise stated to be Sabdha-Brahm itself.
Before aiming to reach the level of Para-Brahm, one has to, as a matter of necessity, to become fully conversant with the states of Sabdha-Brahm – Sabdha Brahmani nishnataha Parebrahmani gacchati, as the Shrutis unequivocally declares. Hence the importance of Gayatri Upasana can in no way be minimized under any condition whatsoever.
In passing, it may be stated, that Sabdha Brahm should not have been so very ludicrously rendered as "talkative man” as is seen in a recent so-called "classical" translation of the Gita, nor does it mean., "written- truths"' as is explained in one of the recent expositions of the Integral Yoga School as though to feed oneself with ideas that suggest themselves to the imagination, “when one learns to live in his own soul" is transcending Sabdha-Brahm, Subdhabrahmativartate. The functional features of Sabdha-Brahm, which commence to operate only within, unless, disciplined by Gayatri-Upasana, are liable to take wild momentum.
It is only through Satsiksha (correct knowledge.) of written truths, not of the fanciful type but of the right sort that could generate the necessary discipline ordained by Gayatri. The importance of such written truths can never be set aside. The various states of Sabdha-Brahm have to be also passed through before transcending it. The travel by the consciousness through these various states is inevitably associated with the acquisition of certain phenomenal powers inherent in those lokas passed through, and they are acquired as a matter of course by the sadhaka and brought down to render aid to the suffering humanity. An absence of these powers certainly means that the consciousness has not reached those levels in a working order. Truly liberated souls are so endowed with these powers as a result or worshipping Sabdha-Brahm, which is Gayatri-Upasana and not by the forced practices of Hatha Yoga and the like, are actively engaged in the work of helping those who would follow their directions. So that, to indict them as selfishly pursuing the path of their own individual Ananda and salvation is unfair, not so much to them as it is to ourselves. To aim at the acquisition of these powers is one of the cardinal principles of Suddha practice.
Being the one source of all ‘expressed knowledge’ and their conditions, the definition of Gayatri, by Sri Hamsa Yogi is very significant. He states: "Tyajyopadeyartam tatwagnanena vijanantam yatascheyam traiti, sarvam tat kalvidam Brahm Sarvam brahmaswabahvajam, Sarvam avasyakamityartopadesena rakshati tatascheyam gayatreetuchyate” Gayatri is that which rescues by generating discriminative knowledge through tatwagnana (knowledge of the Tatwas) and protects by inculcating the truth that: everything is verily Brahm, everything is of the nature of Brahm, and that everything is necessity. In his definition we learn not only the sublime role of Gayatri but also its protective power. It is because of this supreme power to protect and rescue one and all from all perils incident to life that Gayatri is hailed as Mother, and reverentially invoked by every earnest devotee. In the Shrutis, She is eulogized thus: "Mantranam Matrika devi sabdhanam gnanaroopini" - Oh Devi, thou art the source of all mantras and the embodiment of knowledge in all sounds – a prayer which accords with the definition given by Hamsa Yogi. She is thus a distinctive power. The transforming aspect of the power that converts Brahm into that, which appears different from itself -Jagat, always hiding its (Brahm) true state is termed Maya or Maha-Maya, or Yoga-Maya - "Yogamaya samavritaha” The retransforming power which rescues the Jagat to its intrinsic Brahmic state is the protective power - Gayatri Maya and Gayatri, therefore, are the different roles of the same Power of transformation - Brahm-Shakti - Consequently She is the virtual Dictator of the Cosmos and not Brahm, and as such, the Dispenser of weal or woe to mankind in accordance with its behest. So that to free oneself from the dazzling and upsetting influence of Maya, one has to approach her in the role of Gayatri
Bhagavan Narada also defines Gayatri thus: "Vyakyatree vyavasayanam chatmano deha mandale, ya cha vidyaasti sa prokta gayatri iti Maharshibihi" - It is said by the Maharshis that Gayatri is that Vidya which explains the nature of the various functioning of the Life Principle in the body (it has assumed).