satyam j~nAnam anantam brahma (Part 3)

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Till now we have seen that Brahman is anantam satyam…limitless existence. Now let us consider the word, j~nAnam Even this word has a regular meaning and an implied meaning. The regular meaning would be ‘knowledge of something; Computer knowledge, book knowledge, pencil knowledge etc mean the knowledge of a computer, the knowledge ‘of ’ a pencil. I perceive an object, then it enters my mind, as it were, and a corresponding thought modification takes place in the mind. This thought (vRRiti) itself is cognition.

When a thought modification does not take place in the mind, meaning, when a thought is not generated, then cognition does not take place; for e.g., I might be sitting in front of the television, but might be thinking about my child. In spite of the movie running on the screen and the familiar music in the background, I am blissfully unaware of it all because the mind is generating another thought, the child thought. I can ‘know’ the movie and music only when the mind entertains the respective thoughts. Hence, knowledge of an object is its thought in the mind.

This being so, any knowledge is limited in nature, since it is limited to that particular object. Pencil knowledge is limited to pencil. Knowing a pencil does not amount to knowing a computer. If we take the meaning of jn~Anam as knowledge of an object, we will be deriving the meaning in a limited sense, which would be a contradiction to the earlier statement declared by theUpanishad. Knowledge ‘of ’ an object limits the knowledge to the object. Looking at it differently; the knowledge is generated in the mind hence it is limited to the thought in the mind. We are now compelled to take the implied meaning of the word j~nAnam since the regular meaning contradicts limitlessness. Let us take a look at the implied meaning.

Any knowledge, cognition, has three parts, as it were, name (nAma), form (rUpa) and awareness (chit). To arrive at the correct meaning of j~nAnam we have to remove the ‘name and form’ parts and appreciate only the awareness. j~nAnam is the awareness which is without names and forms. This awareness principle is limitless. The pencil cognition is there, awareness is there; the pencil cognition is not there, but awareness is there. This limitless awareness is the cause for all objective knowledge to take place. The Upanishad declares brahman as anantam satyam and anantam j~nAnam, limitless existence and limitless knowledge. This is the meaning of the statement satyam j~nAnam anantam brahma.

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