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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Abstract Perception

by T.N. Dhar 'Kundan'

Perception and experience are the main sources of knowledge. These are called ‘Pratyaksha’ or the visible source of knowledge and need no ‘Pramana’ or proof to establish what has been perceived or experienced. Perception is an abstract feeling. When someone pricks us with a pin and we get pain, we can see the pin but the pain experienced can only be perceived but not seen and, therefore, cannot be explained. When someone offers us a fragrant flower and we get joy, we can see the flower but cannot see the joy experienced and, therefore, cannot explain it. A simile often given for such occurrences is that of a candy given to a dumb person. He can see the candy; he can feel the sweet taste of the candy but cannot describe the sweetness.

Perception of the Divine also is an abstract feeling, which can be experienced but not explained. Logic, reason and description are in the realm of mundane and physical life of the human beings. Perception of the Divine, on the other hand, is in the realm of their spiritual life. It is, therefore, illogical and unreasonable to measure the spiritual experiences with the physical and mundane yardsticks. This dichotomy leads to people becoming atheists and non-believers in the existence of God.

In the Bhagavad Gita, there is both an audio and video description of the Divine in his majestic splendour. Although the entire discourse of the Gita emanates from the refusal of Arjuna to fight, which was his bounden duty, yet the Lord in his magnanimity dwells on multifarious subjects including the secret of His existence, His immanence, his omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence. No wonder Bhagavaan Gopi Nath has made a very important statement that ‘any one shloka of the seven hundred and odd shlokas from the Gita can be the preceptor for a person’. Incidentally the controversy about who his preceptor was, is, in my view, absolutely uncalled for. In this connection I am reminded of an old incident. Way back in 1970, when I was in England, a couple of gentlemen called on me and asked me whether the Indian Christians also believed that Christ was the son of God and whether they observed Sabbath on Sunday or Saturday. While I told them that being a Hindu it was difficult for me to answer their query, I posed a counter question and asked them whether the message of the Christ was important or his parentage and whether worship was important or the day when it is performed. They admitted that they had realized the folly of asking such irrelevant questions. We should also refrain from asking unnecessary questions about Bhagavaan Ji and concentrate on his message and teachings.

A very interesting feature of the Gita is that the Lord has described Himself in great detail. He has stated and illustrated that He is the seed of the creation ‘Beejam mam sarvabhutanam viddhi Partha Sanatanam- VII.10’. He has made it clear that He is the Creator, the Sustainer and the One in whom the whole creation subsumes. He has also explained that He pervades the entire universe and that everything whether animate or inanimate, is His manifestation only. Later He also demonstrated His glory and Splendour by appearing before His beloved Arjuna first in His gigantic form and then in His benign human form. The gigantic form of Shri Krishna made Arjuna awe stricken and spellbound. The benign form of His mesmerized Him with the result that he was on his knees and could do nothing but surrender before the Lord. How many of us can be lucky to see the Lord in His human form? Shri Ramakrishna could converse with the Divine in His Mother form. Our Bab Bhagavaan was the one who could see and make other fortunate ones see the Divine in the form of a small girl. Not only was he able to see her but he was also in a position to feed her and the Mother Goddess in Her grace accepted these offerings from him. There have been many more people of a very high spiritual stature who have seen Him in the form of Shiva, Shri Krishna, Shri Rama or any other shape. Since we are not that exalted spiritually and since we are mere mortals, our perception of the Divine has to be abstract. The Bhagavad Gita can come to our help in this perception. It explains the existence of God in different terms, which are abstract no doubt but perceivable all the same. For example in Chapter X it says that of the different senses the Divine is the mind. It has to be noted here that the mind is the subtlest of the perceiving senses and the most vital centre of perception. And it hastens to add that in the living beings He is the Consciousness. ‘Indriyanam manashchasmi bhutanam-asmi chetana - Of the senses I am the mind and among living beings I am consciousness’. Again the consciousness is a subtle aspect of the living beings and the universal consciousness binds them all. That is why the Lord says, ‘Mayi sarvam-idam protam sutre manigana iva - All this is strung on Me as rows of gems on a string. VII.7’.

     We all know that there are five elements, earth, water, fire, air and ether. The Lord has explained in Chapter VII His existence in these elements in the following way. ‘I am fragrance in earth, sapidity in water, brilliance in fire and the sound in sky – ‘Punyo gandhah prithivyam, raso-aham-apsu, tejashchasmi vibhavasau,shabdah khe’. It will be observed that all these things are abstract concepts. One can see neither fragrance nor sapidity nor brilliance nor the sound. In the fifteenth chapter the Lord says that a part of His takes the form of an individual being in this world, ‘Mamaivansho jeevaloke jeevabhutah’. This does not mean that the Lord is fragmented in millions of parts in order to be born in the form of different beings. What it implies is that a part of His unlimited powers and unrestricted functions is assigned to the beings to ensure smooth functioning of the cosmic set up. But in order to perceive Him in the beings He says that He is the very soul and the life of all beings. ‘Jeevanam sarva bhuteshu - I am the life in all beings. VII.9’. ‘Aham-aatma Gudakesha sarvabhuta-ashayasthitah - I am the soul seated in the hearts of all beings. X.20’.

There are a number of other statements wherein the Divine has been described in subtlest possible ways with the result the perception becomes all the more undefined and subtle. He is the valour in men, penance of the ascetics, wisdom of the wise and radiance of the splendid, strength of the strong but devoid of lust and passion, desire in the righteous and the reason of the debators. ‘paurusham nrishu, tapah tapasvishu, buddhirbuddhimatam, tejas-tejaswinam, balam balavatam kama-raga-vivarjitam, dharma-aviruddho bhuteshu kamo’smi – VII. 10-11’. ‘Vadah pravadatam – X.32’. Shri Krishna tells us to perceive Him as the eternal time, purifying wind, Science of self, silence as the great secret, the first letter ‘Aa’, as also the sacred syllable OM, which is indestructible. All this constitutes abstract perception as opposed to considering the Divine as the Sun, the ocean, the Himalaya, the Moon, the thunderbolt, the Ganges et al, all of which are visible, perceivable and identifiable. But the beauty lies in the abstract perception, which gives a feel of divinity of the Divine and strengthens the belief in His existence. ‘Kalah kalayatam, pavanah pavatam, adhyatma-vidya vidyanam, maunam chaivasmi guhyanam, aksharanam-akaro’smi, giram-asmi-ekam-aksharam-X.25,30, 31,32,33,38’. All this description gives us a lead whereby we can perceive the Divine in all that which is abstract, indefinable, indescribable, immeasurable, and that which cannot be quantified. We have to perceive Him in our breathing, in our feelings, in our heartbeat, in the recesses of our innermost selves and derive eternal joy, which itself is the Divine Himself identified as ‘Aanandah’. This is the message of the Gita, which the Lord Himself has narrated and demonstrated to the world through the medium of Arjuna. Lord is the guide and Arjuna represents a well meaning, intellectually conscious and alert human being who is ever eager to know and, therefore, questions, argues and debates constantly with cogent reasoning and logical analysis. So far as the common man is concerned, he is like a Gopi, full of faith, devotion and dedication. He need not argue or harbour any doubts. He sees and perceives his Lord all the time in the miracles that happen in his life and in the mysteries that he encounters. I as a common mortal human being perceive Him in many forms every day. When I gaze at the vastness of the blue sky above and the lofty mountain peaks kissing it at the fringe, I see Him. When I stroll along the sea-beach and look across where the waters and the skyline meet each other and think of the depth of the ocean I see Him. When I see a multi-hued rainbow scanning the entire span of the grey sky, I see Him. When I walk through a beautiful flower garden and observe the artwork on the flower petals, the variety of colours and the colour scheme, the scent and fragrance, different in different flowers and the singing bees and dancing butterflies, I see Him. When I go into the minutest details of the fruits, the arrangement like that in a pomegranate or in an orange, the pattern like that of the grapes, the making of the interior and the exterior like that of a coconut, an almond or a walnut, I visualize the artist behind all this creation and see Him. I am fascinated by the order, the arrangement and the harmony in the nature. I wonder at my own body in which I dwell, as the wonder of wonders, the functioning of its internal organs and external limbs and see Him with a sense of awe, bewilderment and surprise. This perhaps is the perception best suited to a common man, however abstract and obscure it might be. This abstract perception gives meaning to our lives and direction to us to reach our cherished destination.  

Source: Milchar

T. N. Dhar Kundan's Articles


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