The Pinnacle of Praise on the Absolute


We shall now give the hymn spoken out by the five-year old Dhruva right in the presence of Lord Vishnu who not only appeared before him in recognition of his severe penance but also sparked him on to speak by touching his right cheek with His divine Conch, the Conch which  overflows with Vedic wisdom. This is an extraordinary  piece of 12 verses occurring in the 4th skanda of Bhagavatam. Though  the Bhagavatam contains many such hymns in praise of the Lord,  this one has a unique place , because it was given out by the blessed little boy  who first dared not speak a word but was immediately prompted from within by the Absolute Itself. In this sense this hymn is the pinnacle of praise. It may be supposed to be the authentic voice of the Lord Himself on Himself. Naturally it contains the cream of all vedic and vedantic teaching.  Usually  exponents  of Bhagavatam do not find the time to go into this fully.  They concentrate only on the first verse. We shall go through all of them  verse by verse. Each verse is given in original, followed by a translation and a commentary.

Verse No.1

y'ontaH praviSya mama vAcaM imAm prasuptAM 
sanjIvayaty-akhila-Sakti-dharas svadhAmnA /
anyAMSca hasta caraNa-SravaNa-tvagAdhIn 
prANAn-namo bhagavate purushAya tubhyaM //

My Lord, I make my prostrations to You. You are the One who has entered into me as my inner soul  making me speak. My speech has been dormant all along. You are the One who makes my ears hear, my hands work, my feet walk, my tactile senses to feel, my life to vibrate - all by your Glory, my Lord,  who wields Infinite Power.

The very first verse, hits right on the dot, at the central core of Hindu philosophy, namely, the Immanence of the Absolute. This principle  is such a distinguishing feature of Hinduism that it can be said to be the essence of the whole religion. The words 'antaH praviSya' (= entered into) go back to the vedic source:

'Having created the world,  He entered it; Having entered it, 
He became the Truth as well as the opposite of it
tat sRshtvA / tad-evAnu-prAviSat /
tad-anu-praviSya / saccatyaccA-bhavat 

Here the 'entering' has to be understood carefully. It is not as if the world was separate from Him and then He entered it. He is the world and so there is no question of 'entering' it. The 'entering' is an understatement due to paucity of words. This is where words fail, even for the Upanishads, to describe Him and His glories. The commentators emphasize the prefix 'anu' in the word 'anu-praviSya' in the Upanishad and say that this is an indication of the characteristic of Immanence (= antar-vyApti) of the Lord; it is not a physical 'entering' or a 'becoming' but it is a case of 'being'. The Lord is within us ever from Creation.

Incidentally this is the reason why, in Hinduism, 
man is not basically a sinner but is essentially divine; 
the sinner in him is his acquired mind. 
And this is also the reason why, every one is redeemable 
if only he tunes himself with the Spirit within. 
And this is also the spiritual and religious reason why,
even in secular life we should respect the dignity of Man 
and give him his due. 

This whole universe has Him as its Life-spirit, says the Lord in the Gita (VII - 5):

jIva-bhUtAm mahA-bAho yayedam dhAryate jagat .

There are two facets of the Spiritual Energy, the Energy of the Lord. One is called the Supreme (parA-) and the other is not-so-supreme (aparA-). The former is the one which gives life to all beings. And the latter is what makes matter what it is. This latter is made up of the five elements plus Mind plus Intellect plus Ego - these constitute the eight-fold  aparAprakRti as it is technically called. prakRti, is simply the  Cosmic Energy of the Lord. The parA-prakRti is what makes our life tick. The infinitesimal fragment of this parA-prakRti is the  life in us. It is what makes this material body and mind have life, it is what rejuvenates our senses, it is what enlivens them, in short, without it there is no life. So Dhruva says: You are the One who are making me speak, you are the one who is making my eyes see and so on. Otherwise; I did not know how and what to talk. You are the one who has given life (sanjIvayati) to my speech and made me give out this poem of praise. All this you are doing by your dhAma, i.e., your own Glory, Your Majesty and Your Will. To such a life-giving principle as you are, I make my prostrations.
And he uses the word 
namaH as anybody would do in this context. The word namaH in Sanskrit has an esoteric connotation. In simple terms it means 'prostration'. But that is only in the translation, which is convenient, but not faithful. The combination of the syllables na and ma in the word has been interpreted by scholars to denote the self-negating expressionna-ma-ma, which means, 'not mine'.  In fact it is even declared that there is a significance in the syllable 'napreceding the syllable 'ma';  Man is so so feeble-minded  and so possessive that if he says 'ma' first, which signifies 'mine' he may not have the heart to say 'na' (signifying negation) later!
This expression of humility before the Lord has to be repeated infinite number of times so that it may get into our system and serve as a 
vAsanA, even in our next lives. 

For a fuller explanation of vAsanAsand other basic notions
of Hinduism go back to 
 The Animal Passions of Man

So even when we ordinarily say namaH to someone, the polite greeting implied in the prostration is only an outer decoration, whereas the real significance of the usage of the word namaH is to say that we are making prostration to the divinity which is resident in the other person as much as it is resident in us. 'Prostration to you' (the ordinary usage of namaste, which is nothing but namaH + te) actually signifies 'Prostration to the Divinity in you'. It must be said to the credit of Hinduism  that this fact of Divinity being immanent in every living being has been inconspicuously but inextricably interwoven with a daily habit of greeting each other. More so, when one offers worship to the Almighty the word namaH gets added significance because it constantly reminds us that what we possess is not ours, it is all His. Very compassionately therefore, the Upanishad says: 

If one worships Him with namaH, at his feet do desires prostrate.
taM nama ity-upAsIta / namyante'smai kAmAH //

- meaning, desires obey him who worships God with the wordnamaH. Usually it is the desires that control us and make us their slaves. If only we can find a way of desires listening to us and our discretion, half the battle is won. This is exactly where the Upanishads become most relevant to daily life.  Worship Him with namaH, says the Upanishad -- then you will not have to worry about your desires. Strategically, then, this is the Way!

Verse No.2

ekas-tvameva bhagavan-nidam Atma-SaktyA
mAyAkhyayoru-guNayA mahad-AdyaSeshaM /
sRshTvA-nuviSya purushas-tadasad-guNeshu
nAneva dArushu vibhAvasuvad-vibhAsi //

You are just  one, O Lord, but by your own Power called mAyA Sakti consisting of the three guNas, you have caused the mahatprinciple and all its successor phenomena. Having thus created and entered all the diverse forms (as their inner Light) you appear as many, even as fire appears as diverse in different logs of burning wood.

mAyA the projecting Power,  is the first sprouting  from the Lord. In the scientific world we think it is the big bang that was the first event in the cosmic evolution of things. You are not supposed to ask what went on before the big bang. In Vedanta mAyA is the origin of everything including the explicit manifestation of Time (= kAla).  It is that which projects this universe and hides the Reality. The Reality is called sat.  What we see or experience in the form of the universe is (relatively) unreal  and so is called asat. The three constituents of mAyA, namely, the three guNas (satva, rajas, and tamas), make up the universe.  So the substratum of these unreal objects is the Reality of the Absolute. The Lord through his mAyA has projected the universe and has 'entered' it. It is significant that  the vedic word 'anu-viSya'  itself  is used here  signifying  the immanence of the Absolute . That is why the entire teaching of the philosophy boils down to the formula: What you see as the universe  is, in reality, brahman, not the universe.  Put in a more simplistic way this says: It is God that is everywhere. All religions say that God is everywhere. But the immanence theory of Hinduism says much more, namely,  there is nothing but God anywhere. Even when we see the Sun shining, it is not the Sun that is the Agent for the shining, but it is the Almighty that is shining through the physical object called the Sun;  (Gita 15 - 12):

yadAditya gataM tejo jagad-bhAsayate'khilam /
yac-candramasi yaccAgnau tatejo viddhi mAmakaM

That Light which is residing in the Sun and which illumines 
the whole world, and that which is in the moon and in the fire-
know that Light to be Mine

One of the standard mantras that is repeated when we wave the lighted Arti before the Lord at the end of ritual worship, says: (SvetASvatara-Upanishad: 6-14)

tameva bhAntam anubhAti sarvaM
tasya bhAsA sarvam-idam vibhAti

Everything owes its existence to His Existence; 
all that shines shines because of His Light.

The same idea is expressed in the thought that the Self is the Light within and it is because of that Light we see what we see and we feel what we feel. The illuminating  analogy for this is a lamp placed within a covered basket (or  pot) with several holes in it. The light from within the enclosure of the pot passes through the holes and lights up the outside. We are told by the scriptures that the physical universe that we see is the manifestation of the Light within us, namely the Self. For more on this thought process, go to the Hymn to the Guru, particularly the fourth verse in that hymn.
The Ultimate Supreme is the only one that gives the sanction for the expression of anything in the world, whether animate or inanimate. By itself the Supreme has no name or form. But since it is immanent in everything, it appears as the diverse objects of the universe. Fire shows itself in various forms, depending on the size and shape of the object which burns . So also the Lord appears now as this and now as that depending on what object we are looking at. cf. 
katha-Upanishad: (II - ii - 9):

agnir-yathaiko bhuvanaM pratishTo 
rUpaM rUpaM prati-rUpo babhUva /
ekastathA sarva-bhUtAntarAtmA 
rUpam rUpaM prati-rUpo bahiSca 
Just as fire, though one, having entered the world, 
assumes separate forms in respect of different shapes, 
similarly, the Self, inside all beings, though one, 
assumes a form in respect of each shape; and (yet) it is outside.

The Upanishads do not tire in giving analogies.  For more analogies on how this Universe has 
brahman immanent in it, without brahman undergoing  any changes by itself or in itself, go to Absolute As It is.

Continued in Dhruva-stuti page 2.


© Copyright V.Krishnamurthy January 2000