Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Can we ‘see’ God?

‘Can we ‘see’ God?’-

This must have been a question asked for the highest number of times,

by both believers and non-believers.

Arjuna and sanjaya were able to see God as God (in virat rupa)

thanks to the ‘divine eye’ given by God and Ved Vayasa.

But is it possible to ‘see’ God without such divine eye?

This question has been handled by Ramanujacharya

in his book Vedartha sangraha

which is a concise book on his commentary on Brahma sutras.

He has written about how to see God

and what it means to see God, by drawing inputs from Vedas and Vyasa.

In verse 252 of VedArtha Sangraha we find the explanation like this.:-

“He (Bhagavan Krishna DvaipAyana – original name for Ved Vyasa) says,

‘His form does not fall within the range of perception.

No one sees Him with his eyes.

He, whose mind has been brought to the

state of samAdhi by determined effort,

sees him who is of the nature of knowledge, through bhakti.’

The meaning is that one who by determined effort

fixes his whole mind on the Supreme Purusha,

sees him through bhakti.

Here ‘seeing’ means direct perception and

‘direct perception’ means attainment.

It is thus the passage would be one in meaning

with the Lord’s declaration.,

“I am attainable only through undivided

bhakti (Gita XI 54)”.

Bhakti, therefore is only a form of knowledge.

Thus the explanation is complete and satisfactory.”

(My Note:- To know what ‘perception’, ‘knowledge’ and

‘bhakti’ spoken in the above verse are all about,

One has to sail through the import of the verses

245, 246, 247, 250 & 251 of Vedartha Sangraha.)

From these verses it is known that

servitude (seshatwa) in the form of bhakti

is spoken as knowledge by texts.

“It has already been elucidated

(in the verses from 245 to 247)

that it is this service of the form of bhakti

that is spoken of as knowledge.” (251).

What is this service and servitude?

(Taking cue from verse 245,

swami AdidevAnanda has

this to say in the Foreword to the translated version

of VedArtha Sangraha by Sri S.S. Raghavachar.)

“Sri Ramanuja enunciates a principle

‘that what an individual pursues as a desirable end

depends upon what he conceives of himself to be.’ (245)

Different people pursue different and

mutually conflicting values.

Hence the notion that independence is happiness

proceeds from the mis conception

that one is identical with the body, mind etc.

This attachment to the body is a sort of dependence itself.

Instead of dependence on God,

it is dependence on matter.

The metaphysical fact is that he is not the body and

consequently there must be something else

with which his self is related.

There can not be relation of the

principal entity and the subsidiary (sEshin and sEsha)

between any finite objects.

The only object with which

such a relation can exist is God.

Hence dependence on anything other than God is painful

and subservience to God is joy and freedom.

Similarly bondage is indeed a dog’s life (Manu says)

when one serves those who are

unworthy of service.

The only entity which is worthy

of love, adoration and service is God.

Sri Ramanuja clinches the issue by quoting the text,

‘He is to be served by all.’ (150)

The emancipation consists in

service of God, and true bondage is

independence of God and service of body.”

To continue the logic, let us go into verse 250,

“..the only one that ought to be served by all who are

enlightened about the fundamental nature of the self,

is the Highest Purusha.

‘He is to be served by people in all stages of life.

He alone is to be served by all.’

The lord says, “he who serves me, following the

path of undivided bhakti,

transcends these qualities (of prakriti) and

will attain self-realisation.’

(Gita XIV 26)

In verse 251 Sri Ramanuja speaks of this service as

bhakti which is spoken as ‘knowledge’ by texts.

“Only knowledge that is of the nature of supreme bhakti

is the means of attaining Bhagavan.”

This ‘attainment’ is ‘direct perception’

which is equated to ‘seeing’ is what the last verse (252)

of VedArtah sangraha is all about –

which I quoted in the beginning of this post.

To quote Ved Vyasa in Moksha dharma (Maha Bharatha)

which is a commentary on the whole of Upanishads,

“His form does not fall within the range of perception.

No one sees Him with His eyes.

He, whose mind has been brought to the state of samAdhi

by determined effort,

sees Him who is of the nature of knowledge, through bhakti.”


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