My blog includes my “landmarks”, which I archive within the creative process. As a western sadhak searching to become more focused, and to plug in to the “dimension”, I am inspired again by Ganapati Muni’s Guru Mantra Bhashyam – it helps to ‘hold my feet on the Path.’
My elder Indian roots go very deep: the light is in the well.
Adapting the Muni’s mantric analysis (translated from sanskrit by K Natesan) to my understanding, was a landmark about 14 years ago. It is rather technical; here is (see previous post) the second of four parts – a few readers (including dancing yetis) may find this curious treasure a-musing to mull over. But if you incline more to neti-neti … then enjoy the pictures!
I am no scholar; but I spent many a lifetime scribing the thoughts of scholars, which I love doing. My heart caught fire and now dances around it. I found this second part difficult to understand, especially at the beginning, but worth persevering with, as it elucidates the living entities in Mantra, and the salutation to God. The footnotes include a precise definition of Maya, and Sanskrit “keys” for meditation to nourish the soul.
For some of the Skanda background mythology, search “Puranas” on this blog.
HOW THE GODHEAD IS OF THE FORM OF BRAHMAN by Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni
The Mantra’s general meaning has been stated. (see Part One). Now we enquire into its specific meanings. If Skanda is a distinct Godhead, how can he be of the form of Brahman? for Brahman is That Supreme which transcends all Gods.
(Scroll down a little way for footnotes )
Well then, if we say Brahman is the all, his form as ascribed to Skanda is no contradiction, and the sense of it clarifies. But this, in worship, is wrong. In worship we should reflect on the object as representing the superior – not confer inferior status onto a superior Subject. That is why Badarayana (7) says “Brahma drstir utkarsat”.
If you worship Guha(*) in the form of Brahman, you will limit, in the all pervading Brahman, your vision of the pervaded Guha. The misrepresentation will be removed if the following meaning is given: vacadbhuve Om namah – “Salutation to Brahman in the form of Guha.” However, it will then be the mantra of Brahman, not of Guha; and this goes against what we set out to establish.
FOOTNOTES - 7- Badarayana is the author of the Brahma Sutras. This Sutra 1V.1.5 says that symbols are to be regarded as Brahman, and not vice versa. An inferior object has to be looked upon as symbolic of the superior.
*- "Guha means literally the cave of the divine, the secret place, Heart cavern. However the Guha mentioned here is in the sense of personal God, another name of Skanda"- K.Natesan
When doubt assails us on both sides, we should clarify the overall meaning as: “Salutation to Guha who in the form of Brahman is Brahmasvarupa”. (i.e. as an image of the immanent and formless Brahman).
Notions of inferior and superior belong to the realm of attributes. In Brahman without attributes or qualities, whence superior or inferior? The notion depends for its existence upon attributes, as also upon differences. If Brahman is the integral Wholeness, then relative to what is His superiority? If He is the all Self, to whom is he superior? His superior state is experienced through His worldly manifestations, and His inferiority through the ignorant jiva’s limitation (8) .
Just as Brahman becomes superior by upadhi (9) , so is he also inferior. In the present context, Guha is worshipped, and the worshipper is the jiva. If there is no upadhi, then both (worshipper and worshipped) are of the form of Brahman: therefore they are one. In this undifferentiated reflection, a doubt may arise in the worship as to whether we picture ourself in Guha or Guha in our Self? It appears logical “to see Guha in our Self”. The chapter on Worship in the Sutra Brahmadrstir utskarsat (**) relates to Saguna, the God with attributes. There is then no conflict.
FOOTNOTES - 8- Jiva - the soul or strand of ego that experiences incarnations as "its own" memory base in vasanas (Karmic tendencies). 9- Upadhi, conditioning. "A superimposed thing or attribute that veils and gives a coloured view of the substance beneath it; Or - a limiting adjunct, instrument, vehicle, body, a technical term used in Vedanta philosophy for any superimposition that gives a limited view of the Absolute and makes it appear as the relative. Jiva's Upadhi is Avidya or ignorance. Isvara's Upadhi is Maya or divine hypnosis." (Definition from Yoga Vedanta Dictionary/Swami Sivananda) **- "Brahmadrstir - the view of Brahman. Utskarsat - on account of superiority, i.e. being exalted, all should be seen as the Supreme Self" - K.Natesan
It is established then, that with and through the Mantra, Guha (as a personal god) in the form of Brahman is worshipped. As Brahman is the universal Self, the Guha image in Brahman emerges.
Here another doubt arises. It is said that a portion of Guha’s effulgent form which is of the Gods, and is gracious to devotees, may enter well deserving individual souls who have destroyed their erratic tendencies.
Is this an image of Brahman (the formless) with attributes? Or a perfected Person of divine origin? What distinguishes the two?
The former is the Lord whose body is the entire universe, and who, to favour the devotee, took a divine body by his maya. (10) The latter is an exceptional being who individuated amongst the crores of jivas, and attained a divine body by the excellence of his virtues.
If we say ‘let the Lord himself be Skanda’, we will be faced with the postulate of several other Gods, with nothing to mark out Skanda from among their great and glorious galaxy. And if we say ‘let him be an exceptional being amongst the jivas’, then the problem of inferiority will crop up. Let it then be said: the Lord alone is Skanda – not an exclusive being amongst the crores of jivas. Thus, we do not postulate several Gods. For the sake of the world’s work, Brahman takes forms by maya in the world, and thus conducts the universe. If mere perfected souls have the capacity to take many forms by maya, what can we say about the all powerful God?
FOOTNOTES - 10- MAYA, from ma, to measure, the skill of measuring the immeasurable, therefore an impossible feat, the intrinsic power of the Lord, the marvel. Later in Vedanta, this word came to mean"illusion". From the same root comes the Mother or birthgiver - and also the French word la mer - the ocean.
Click on image and again on ‘view full size’ in gallery
Amongst those forms of God taken by maya for the sake of the world’s work, Skanda’s form pertaining to the Gods is unique. We shall touch on such authoritative forms taken by God through maya.
The votaries of Vishnu claim that “Narayana alone is the form of the Lord pertaining to the Gods”: “the Supreme Shiva alone”, say the Saivites: “none but Ganapati”, proclaim the followers of Ganesh: “Savitr (the sun as creative godhead) is All”, say the worshippers of the sun. Men of Indra say “He alone”; and “Jesus alone”, claim the Christians: Allah is One, say the Mohammadans. Then “he alone is Subrahmanya”, say followers of Skanda.
Furthermore, if one sees the usages in the Veda, like tam i mahe purustutam yahvam pratnabhir utibhih (11) it looks as if another name of Indra is yahva, the Judaeo-Christian Jehovah. Perhaps ahla da (12) – Allah – is another name for the Person in the orb of the moon.
When such dispute arises among the votaries of various religions, what is the truth? On investigation, the Vedas give us no unanimous answer. Here, as we have hitherto said, we must reconcile distinctions in an overall harmony.
FOOTNOTES - 11- "We praise through new hymns, Him (JahveH) Who is hymned by all creatures." 12- Ahlada, delight. Moon is the source of delight.
In this context, here is the Vedic Rik:
“Indram mitram varunam agnim ahur “They call Him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni atho divyah sa suparno garutman. and he is the divinely beautiful plumed Garutman Ekam sadvipra bahudha vadant – One Alone existent; sages speak of it differently. Yagnim yamam matarisvanam ahuh” They call it Agni, Yama and Matarisvan.”
Rig Veda 1.164.46
On enquiry into the meaning of this mantra, some say these are alternative Names for the One God. Others point out that as the forms taken through maya are diverse, different Names are conceived. The latter view is better. Then only will it harmonise with that of other sages. Here even, the view of the followers of Nirukta that there are just three Godheads, is preferable.(13)
FOOTNOTE - 13- Nirukta, the work of Yaska on Vedic etymology. The three Godheads are Agni, Vayu and Aditya
WHO IS AGNI, THE PRODUCER OF SKANDA?
It is established that Guha’s form, pertaining to the Gods, is specific, amongst the forms taken through maya by Brahman with attributes.
Now in the mantra, the father of Skanda, Agni, is mentioned as vacadbhuh. Who is this? We shall enquire. There are five energies in the world – solar, lunar, electricity, physical fire, and the sound. Sound is not a quality but an energized substance, with the action of movement and the attribute of resonance.
A quality by itself is without action or attribute. The sound caught in a recording instrument is understood as a substance. When sound is transmitted through an instrument to a great distance, it appears first as energy and then manifests as sound. This illustrates that sound is a vibration, or energized substance. Many Vedic Riks support this view. We shall cite only two mantras as example:
“Ima abhiprano numo vipamagresu dhitayah
Agney socir na didyutah.”
“Here we put forth loudly the words,
in front of illuminations luminous like the blaze of fire.”
(Rig Veda VIII.6.7.) (14)
Here dhitayah are said to be luminous like Agni’s flame. Dhitayah are the words.
FOOTNOTE - 14- Alternative translation by Sri K.Natesan for this Mantra: "We bow to the syllables, effulgent as Agni, foremost among those who protect themselves, and others."
“Tam tva marutvati paribhuvadvani sayavari
Naksumana saha dyubhih.”
“Sound, the divine Omnipresence
is One in Name with the Divine splendours”
(Rig Veda VII.31.8)
Here vani – the word – is said to have a Name (naksamana)through dyubhih, energies.
This vibration of pervasive sound is also named as Sabda Brahman; the form pertaining to the physicality of the supreme Siva. Its Vedic name is Rudra. Yaska gives the etymology as one who cries, Rudra. This same sound vibration known as Rudra is mentioned as vacat in the Mantra. When the sense of speech is spiritualised it becomes the manifestation of Sabda Brahman. Thus there is no difference between this vocalisation and Sabda Brahman.
In this manner, Kumara the young one is born from Agni. Here Agni pertains to sound and not to physical matter. The Mantra does not say agnibhuve but precisely, vacadbhuve in order to clearly indicate the truth. Though the word Agni is used in connection with physical fire, it also denotes any form of subtle energy.
Therefore, in the Name, the ordinary meaning flashes. The word vacadbhuva … flashes forth specifically the meaning of energised sound or Agni.
THE MEANING OF SALUTATION Now we shall touch on the salutation itself, and what it signifies in the course of the japa.
There is a doubt here. Should we when repeating the Mantra imagine some divine form of Guha, to contemplate as our prayer? or is the meaning of the salutation a simple notion that: “you are superior, I am inferior”? Neither are proper. In both methods, we would with each repetition of the Mantra, resort to the idea that we are different, and imagine some form which is false and of little glory to the Godhead. The nature of our Self would be lost.
There is however, another, third meaning: the salutation is not to the gross body, but to the subtle body. The subtle body is the mind, its place the head. It bows.
Bhagavan the Master has said:
“Kirtyate hrdayam pinde The Heart is said to be in the microcosm
yathande bhanumandalam as the orb of the Sun in the macrocosm.
Mavah sahasraragatam bimbam Like Moon’s disk is mind
candramasam Yatha” in the thousand petalled Centre.
Ramana Gita Chapter V.verse 13
When the mind bows down to seek the form of Self placed in the Heart, or to plunge itself into the effulgence of its own form placed in the Heart, this is bowing down, salutation. In both cases, we should not forget to see Skanda as the Self.
The japa of the Mantra thus performed, will seek our own realised Truth. It will not be polluted by any diversity.
Maharshi revealed the whole truth of these two forms of worship in a foot of this verse: “Hrdi visa manasa svam
cinvata majjata va”
“Enter into the Heart by the mind which seeks Self
or which wants to take a plunge.”
Ramana Gita, Chapter II verse 2
Thus is revealed the meaning of the Mantra:
Om Vacadbhuve Namah
“I enter or plunge into Bhagavan the Master,
who is the descent of Skanda,
as the true form of my Self”.
Thus ends the First Chapter.
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom. This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.
All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/