A View of Santhigiri Ashram

A View of Santhigiri Ashram
Lotus Parnasala and Sahakarana Mandiram , Santhigiri Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Soul's Journey to the Core of Truth

By K.T. Sreekumar, Kottarakara


Man learns to become a self-sacrificing social being; he grounds himself on the foundations of justice, law, culture, community living and develops methods of governance. Incessant actions threading through many lives bring transformation in his thoughts; actions in life purify and refine the soul of man and a stage is set for his flight to the ultimate evolutionary perfection - ‘Anandamaya Kosha’ or the ‘blissful sheath’. Such a soul loses self-identity after passing through the states of annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya and vijnanamaya koshas and finds its eternal rest and fulfillment in the blissful state, which is the core of its being.

A soul’s journey to the core of Truth transcends the point at which Darwin concludes his theory of evolution: it is a pilgrimage to the climax of creational perfection, emerging from an evolutionary process which moves through water and land and culminates in the wholesome creation - man. But, a question remains. While an imperceptible power through its own mutative stirs has reached up to a state of perfection as represented by man - What next? Whither? Herein lies the relevance of a Guru; it is here how a seer becomes a guide.

Darwin’s hypothesis that life appeared first in water had been formulated in India in antiquity. For example, in Manu Smriti, it has been mentioned that in the beginning there was the sky; from the sky emerged air; from the air was produced fire; from the fire came forth water; the waters yielded earth and from the earth were born all living beings.

In the myth associated with the ten incarnations of God, it has been said that the first incarnation took place in water. According to Taitireeya Upanishad, owing to the creational vibrations in the Cosmic Consciousness, first the sound-impregnated sky was manifested. In that aural sky, there appeared water which is tactual - that can be experienced by touch. From the waters emerged the earth which is the abode of all sensory qualities – tactual, visual, aural, gustatory and olfactory as represented by touch, sight, sound, taste and smell respectively. From the earth came forth herbs; and from herbs food was produced; from food is produced essence (soul effulgence); and from that essence man.

For procreation, man and woman are the two fundamental aspects. Not dissimilar is the case with Cosmic Creation, which presupposes the interplay of a Cosmic Mind and a Cosmic Nature (Purusha & Prakriti). Both are reflections of Brahman itself. The binary of Prakriti and Purusha remains dormant in the Supreme Consciousness. At the time of Creation, Purusha and Prakriti become vibrant and manifest themselves. Along with Purusha and Prakriti, there emerges a third principle – Time. Time is a relative phenomenon; it becomes self apparent at the time of creation and disintegrates along with cosmic dissolution. The Indian philosophy avers that creation takes place when Prakriti, Purusha and the third element ‘Time’ converge in a creational axis.

After Vedic time, documentary proof is unavailable to establish that the genesis of man is from Manu, the primordial human ancestor. Modern science could also not formulate any conceptions in this regard. According to Bible, Jehova, the God, created all sentient and insentient beings, except Man, within the five initial days of creation. On the sixth day, God created Man to rule over them. He made the figure of man out of dust and water upon the earth and blew life into its nostrils. The first man born thus was named Adam. Next, taking a side bone out of him, God created a Woman for him - Havva. Let myth be myth; but the underlining concept is that all living beings were created from the elemental world consisting of air, water, earth, fire and space.

The Rigveda explains about the origin of life in a different way. The moon has a synonym – Soma. There is a subtle dust on the lunar surface named as Soma, because of which the synonym soma. This lunar dust, owing to the gravitational pull, falls on the earth; it is further compressed into a life molecule with the blending of powerful cosmic rays from the sun, other planets, stars and constellations. Thus, according to the Rigveda, life originates from the copulation of luminuous lunar light molecules and the vaporous dust on the earth. Time is another element that interlinks the origin of life to the union with cosmic rays.

Modern science hypothesizes the ‘big bang’ theory of creation. This theory is based on pivotal scientific principles such as the Theory of Relativity; the gravitational pulls between atomic particles; the simulations and permutations that create certain fundamental matter-molecules and gaseous energies; all these lead us to the theory that the origin of life is from the interplay of cosmic substances and energies diversely inherent in the astral world – the sun, moon, earth, stars and constellations. The soul of man inescapably pulsates in synchronization with the cosmic rays percolating down the solar system, 27 stars (nakshatram) and 12 zodiacs in the track of which spins everything. It is verily the manifest and unmanifest universe in the form of God; one with attributes (Saguna Brahman) and another attributeless (Nirguna Brahman).

The northern and southern transits of the sun cause uttarayanam, dakshinayanam and vishuvat. Likewise, the lunar swings cause alternate periods of light and darkness and also changes in the moods of nature. The moon represents the creative energy in living beings. The swings and tides due to the embrace of light-molecules of the earth and moon produce vibrations or currents of biological and physical propensities and emotional fermentations in the soul of man. In what state were we before birth and what do we become after death? An enquiry in this direction can begin only when we realize that man is an inseparable part of the cosmos.
What is the outer most crust or sheath of the Jeeva (soul)? It is the ‘Annamaya Kosha’ – the solidified soul energy or ‘food sheath’. This may be taken as the first insentient physical manifestation of the jeeva unencumbered with thoughts and emotions, as represented in the physicality of a sedentary plant kingdom entrenched in the earth with the help of roots and stumps. Certain microbial life cells in water also belong to this category.

The second evolutionary stage of the Jeeva developing from the Annamaya kosha is the ‘Pranamaya Kosha’ or the ‘energy sheath’. In this state, the Jeeva develops distinct qualities and shapes different from the plant kingdom. It develops into a creature with a head and starts breathing. It tries to move with the help of tails and wings, first in water, and then on land. The Jeeva has outlived its state of immobility rooted to the earth or confined to water.

By and by all sensory perceptions are accentuated – touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. Now begins the evolution of the Jeeva to the ‘Manomaya Kosha’ or the ‘mind sheath’ from the state of creatures and animals. Now the Pranamaya kosha is filled with the Manomaya kosha. The animal kingdom, as against the plant kingdom, has freedom in its course of evolution and procreation; and due to biological and sensory pulls and pushes, variations take place in the process of multiplication of species. In this state, collective living of species with identical characterstics begins; for example the human family. In the humans, the soul, from the limitations of sensory existence, is raised to experience knowledge or existential awareness. This is the evolution of the soul to the ‘Jnanamaya Kosha’ or the ‘Knowledge sheath’. The soul becomes self conscious. From this self awareness, the thoughs of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ are born. Man begins to think about his existence and security. Herein is the genesis of human thoughts. Thoughts haunt man and ultimately he fumbles upon existential questions; who am I? What am I?

Man learns to become a self-sacrificing social being; he grounds himself on the foundations of justice, law, culture, community living and develops methods of governance. Incessant actions threading through many lives bring transformation in his thoughts; actions in life purify and refine the soul of man and a stage is set for his flight to the ultimate evolutionary perfection - ‘Anandamaya Kosha’ or the ‘blissful sheath’. Such a soul loses self-identity after passing through the states of annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya and vijnanamaya koshas and finds its eternal rest and fulfillment in the blissful state, which is the core of its being.

While annamaya kosha is the gross physical body, the other sheaths consisting of prana, mana, vijnana and ananda (with all karmic appurtenances) constitute the subtle body of a person. What is physically perceptible is the annamaya kosha which, after separation from the soul, goes back to the five fundamental elements from which it was formed.

Our pilgrimage thus goes beyond Darwinism to the evolution of the invisible soul through the five elements and five life-sheaths to its core to behold the Supreme Truth, the Brahman, and to merge with it. It is this effort through the five elements, five senses and five life-sheaths that Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru draw our attention to.

(Translated from the original Malayalam by Mukundan P.R.)
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