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Old June 24th, 2011, 05:14 PM
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Lightbulb Golden womb - Upanishadic thought

Golden womb
Pranav Khullar | Jun 21, 2011, 12.00am IST
At the heart of all Upanishadic thought lies the intense call of ancient teachers to awaken to a new paradigm of inner space and time, which is not only beyond form and content but thought as well.

The concept of the Self developed through a detailed analysis of human consciousness, is like a timeless reckoner laid out by seer scientists to trigger the enquiry into the origins of Creation and oneself.

Root of creation
The Prasna Upanishad sets the tenor of this enquiry with a set of six fundamental questions asked by six pupils of the Sage Pippalada. The first of these is directed at the root of Creation itself. From where are people born? Pippalada first talks about the matter-energy matrix as principal sources of Creation, quite like a modern-day scientist. The mixing of rayi or matter, and prana or energy, has manifested all species in the universe. Pippalada then details the bioplasmic origin of life. Rayi also stands for food, from which semen is formed, from which in turn humans are born. It is an expression of the same matter-energy matrix.

The second question goes into the relationship of the senses with the life force. Pippalada defines prana as the essential life-force which sustains all the sensory organs, much like a queen bee, which is followed by all other bees. Pippalada explicitly defines the mind too, along with the other sense-motor organs as dependant on, and originating from this life force, thus encouraging seekers to examine the origin of thought . 'Who is the I who asks the question?' as Ramana Maharishi would often say.

Cosmic womb
To answer the third question which is on the origin of prana, the sage delves into the core of Vedantic thought. He explains that prana emanates from atman, and energy is 'born' out of the Hiranyagarbha or the cosmic womb. It covers the Being like a shadow spreads over a body and has no separate existence other than the Brahmn-atman. However, it can mysteriously draw a veil over the real nature of the latter, by hypnotising the mind with the external dazzle of forms.

The fourth question takes the aspirant into an analysis of the three states of human consciousness, especially the dream-state and dreamless deep sleep. The question the disciples pose is: Which part of the human being sleeps? Who sees and remembers the dream? Pippalada sees the dream state as being viewed by the mind. When all other senses are withdrawn, the mind is the perceiver and the perceived in this dream state, as it recreates the impressions of the waking state. It is finally in the dreamless sleep that the mind too gets absorbed back into the atman, and each being fleetingly goes back to the cosmic womb.

Meditate on Aum
The fifth question draws the seeker into the meditative world of the Shabda Brahmn, wherein the mystic syllable Aum, Pranava, controller and life-giver of prana, being the primordial sound created at the time of Creation is to be meditated upon. Meditation on the Pranava as the bija mantra of the cosmos outlined by Pippalada here, and in the Mandukya Upanishad, was later developed into an entire philosophy of Shabda Tattwa, a language by Patanjali and Bhartihari.

To the sixth and final question, 'Where is Purusha, the Unmanifested Source?' Pippalada points out to the physical sarira or body, again. The spiritual dimension is also within us, only waiting to be activated, beyond the socially and culturally conditioned mind. In that instant will arise awareness of the Source, Brahmn, not only as transcending everything, but as underlying everything.

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