Beach 3: Focus on Three Qualities of God
Wave 1: TIP of the Iceberg – Transcendence, Immanence and Perfection
How to describe God? Words cannot express Him. The eyes cannot see Him. The ears cannot hear Him. He cannot be indicated as this or that. He cannot be related to something as subject and object. He is taller than the tallest. He is shorter than the shortest. There is nothing greater; nothing smaller. He cannot be predicated as the doer of some action, because the undoing of that action is also His. He cannot be attributed as the possessor of something because He possesses also the opposite of that something. He cannot be thought of by the mind, because He is not the object of any thought-process. He cannot be gender-specified, therefore to call Him as a ‘He’ itself is a failure of words. For all you know ‘He’ can be a ‘She’! So the Upanishads also refer to Him as IT. It is incomprehensible, unfettered, uncontaminated, unattached. It has no before, no after, no middle, no inner, no outer. It cannot be classified by category or by action or by quality or by relation. Because He thus transcends everything and also includes everything, He is called Vishnu which means He who overlaps everything that can be conceived. He is beyond everything. He is beyond time, beyond space, beyond causation. He is the grandest, ever. He is the supreme-most. He is thereforepurushottama -- which literally means the SUPREME PERSON . But here, ‘person’ does not simply mean a person in the ordinary sense of the word. The supremeness indicates that any personification is itself transcended. It indicates complete transcendence of everything. Our finite expressions can never do justice to the grandeur that is God. He is the Colossus, as it were, spanning everything. This is the TRANSCENDENCE aspect of God
He is immanent in everything. There is nothing in which He is not there. Whatever we see, whatever we hear. whatever we smell, whatever we touch, whatever we feel, is all full of that Divinity, that is He. The universe that is visible and can be also mentally visualised is the concrete expression of that self-luminous spirit that is He. He is thereforeviSvaM, the Universe itself. Without Him there is nothing that exists. He is the substratum behind everything that is inanimate. He is the soul of everything that is animate. While He is infinitely higher than ourselves, He is also infinitely near to us. He is nearer to us than our hands and feet and mind. He is the soul of our souls. He is the Ultimate Reality behind everything that is tangible either to the senses or the mind. He is the Cause of every effect and so He is the Cause of all Causes. Not only does the Universe spring from Him but ultimately it dissolves in Him. So He is both the effective cause and the material cause.The nearest expression in ‘name’ and ‘form’ for this Immanent Absolute is the Siva-linga which represents the Ultimate when the entire universe has merged into it. He is the One that survives in us from childhood to adulthood and through old age from birth, as the I that we talk of when we refer to ourselves. He dwells in us as the only permanent resident. He is the real, the inner ‘I" . This ‘I’ never changes. If we write out all that might be called ‘mine’, including one’s physical possessions, one’s relatives, one’s own body and limbs, mind, mental opinions, all that can be classified as ‘my...’ and throw out all this, then what remains is "I". This ‘I’ is the self of the upanishads. It is that which we see beyond right and wrong, beyond effect and cause, beyond past and future. He is the soul of our very understanding though we may not understand Him. He is Consciousness itself. He controls our very intellect from within.. He is the inner controller. He is the antar-AtmA of everything. This is the IMMANENCE aspect of God.
He is perfect. He is so perfect that we may not be able to visualise the perfection. This perfection, both in action and in peace, is symbolised by theSiva-naTarAja icon in its famous dancing form. But God descends from this pedestal of perfection and assumes an imperfection in terms of a name and form so that we mortals may be guided from our extremities of imperfection onto the path towards perfection. This descent of the Divine from its divine pedestal is called an Avatara. The complete such Avatara is supposed to be Krishna. But in this Avatara God’s mystic powers of tirodhAna (= illusion, deception) have been so much interwoven with His other functions that, for us, it is difficult to understand the perfection in Him. Maybe that is why the Avatara as Rama has been extolled as the model of perfection for us humans to follow and emulate. He is an AdarSa-purusha (Model for Emulation). In fact he is called a suvrata -- one who has the best vows, the best character, the best behaviour. The word vrata, in Sanskrit, indicates a fundamental way of life from which one does not swerve. That His vrata is great, good, unexcelled, is what suvrata says. Rama’s vrata was five-fold: To give protection to all those who sought his refuge; To abide strictly by the promised words of the father and mother; to be responsible, as a king, to the people of his kingdom even at the cost of his own personal comfort; to be totally unperturbed in the most adverse of circumstances; and never to flaunt his real (divine) stature which was always hidden behind his human exterior. This five-fold vrata was so excellently and so exemplarily pursued by him throughout his life that even after several millenia, his very name itself is Divinity personified in the entire Hindu world. This is the PERFECTION aspect of God.
Transcendence, Immanence and Perfection constitute only the TIP of the iceberg, that is God! Here are just a few sample quotes from the Scriptures to this effect:
yo vijnAne tishTan, vijnAnAd antaraH, yam vijnAnam na veda, yasya vijnAnam SarIraM, yo vijnAnam antaro yamayati esha AtmA antaryAmy-amritaH.
-- Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad.III-7-22
He who dwells in the understanding, yet is within the understanding, whom the understanding does not know, but whose body the understanding is, who controls the understanding from within, He is your self, the Inner Ruler, the Immortal.
AaN allan; peN allan; alla aliyum allan;
KANalum allan; uLan allan; illai allan;
PENungal, pENum uru Ahum; allanum Am;
kOnai peridu udaittu em pemmanaik kurudalE
--- Tiru-vai-mozhi (Tamil)
Neither male, nor female, nor sexless;
Nor visible to the senses; neither being, nor non-being;
He has that form you desire; He is also formless;
Impossible it is to describe our Lord.
paRRudal anRi undo adaikkalam pakarkinRAnai.
--- Kamba-Ramayanam, Yuddha Kandam:410
He who has come to me as refuge,how can I do anything other than taking him ?
adaindavarkku aruLAn Ayin aRam en Am ANmai en Am.
--- Kamba-Ramayanam, Yuddha Kandam:413
If we do not give refuge to those who seek refuge, what to speak of Dharma, what of manliness ?
Mama paN SaraNAgat bhayahAri.
--- Ramcharitmanas: Sundarkand: 4 (Hindi)
My vow is to take away the fear out of those who take refuge in me.
sakRd-eva prapannAya tava asmi iti cha yAchate;
abhayam sarva-bhutebyo dadAmyetad-vratam mama
Whatever being comes to me even for once and says he is mine, I give him protection and this is my vrata for life.
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