Thursday, May 21, 2009

‘Poornamadah Poornamidam’ – the message of the Perfect!

Mr Cho Ramaswamy touched upon the famous prayer of the upanishads, "Poornamadah Poornamidam", in 'EngE Brahmanan' telecast yesterday.

I felt that he could have spoken more on this verse. He briefly harped on maya- tattwa and did not seem to convey what he wanted to say. This maya- tattwa, as an explanation for the nature of 'poorNam' of Brahman is something not heard. Perhaps Shankara bhashya explains the Pooranm verse from Maya-angle. I am not sure.

I just thought of giving some insights from what I have heard.

The verse is this:

Poornamadah Poornamidam
Poornaath Poornam Udachyathe
Poornasya Poornamaadaaya
Poornameva Vasishyathe.

Meaning: God is perfect (infinite). This Universe is also perfect (infinite). If perfection(infinity) is taken from anything perfect (infifinite) what remains is still perfect (infinite).

The PoorNam is explained by Mr Cho as 'muzhumai' in Tamil.

It is generally understood as Perfect and / or Infinity.

In explaining the concept of Infinity in Bheeja ganitha, the mathematician - astrologer, Bhaskara II, handles this PoorNam nature of Brahman as an example for Infinity.

Explaining the Infinite (khahara) he says that if we deduct or add Bhuta-gaNas, there is no change in the form of Achyutha who is Omnipresent. Likewise if we add or deduct to Khahara (Infinite) there is no change to it.

That is the nature PoorNam, the Full, the Perfect and the Infinite.

You add or deduct any amount from it, it does not change.

It remains as It is.

What is deducted is Poornam.

What is added is poornam.

What remains after any deduction or addition is Poornam.

And Poornam does not undergo any change!

What you take form Infinity is Infinity only. What remains also is Infinity.

This is the import.

This is best understood by comparing this analogy to akasha, the ether.

The aksha is Infinite. Any addition or deduction to it is infinite and what remains is infinite.

One may wonder - can we deduct or add akasha?


Acharyas have given the example of 'Ghataakasha' versus 'Mahaakasha'.

'Ghataakasha' is the ether in a pot!

Mahaakasha' is the ether outside.

The ether in the pot, if deducted from or added to Mahaakasha, no change happens to Mahaakaasha.

What is there in the pot is ether and what remains outside also is ether.

Now if we apply the ether example to Poornam verse, we will know how Poornam it is!

This poornam verse is the way to answer one of the doubts on avataras.

Of the 10 avatars of Vishnu, those of Rama and Krishna are said to be Perfect.

That is, the Lord (Brahman) Himself is manifest in them completely.

The question then arises –

does it mean that Vaikuntham was empty / bereft of Bhagawan during the course of those avatars?

When Bhagawan was born as Rama or Krishna, does it mean Vaikuntham was without Him for the duration of avatars?

No, not at all – if we understand this Poornam verse.

Since He is Infinite or Poornam, wherever He was sighted, that was PoorNam only.

The PoorNam in the Vaikuntham and the Poornam as Rama on the earth do not make one of them get deducted from the other!

The PoorNam tattwa makes Him remain Poornam in the Vaikuntham or Paramapadam or Paar-kadal and also as Rama on the earth.

The logical extension of this explanation on PoorNam is that the idol or any form that is worshiped as Him will have Himself personified as Poornam in them

That means, as azhwars and nayanmaaras have said, He can be experienced as Infinite or PoorNam in our hearts if we choose to see Him that way. That is the spiritual import.

There is another question connected to this verse, if Poornam is translated as Perfection.

From Him, sprang the worlds.

If He is perfect, are the worlds also perfect?

The worlds have come from Him.

But they are not perfect.

How can we say that the worlds are perfect, when we see lots of imperfection everywhere, particularly evil having spread everywhere?

This anomaly can be understood by a simple act that we do many times a day.

We eat food that is delicious, good, looks good, smells good and tastes good. We never take food that has some bad component even in a small measure.

But after sometime, that food comes out of the body as excreta.

Where was this excreta when we ate the food?

We ate only that was good in all respects.

But from where this undesirable component arise is the question.

It arose from the same good food, when it underwent further simplification!

At every level of simplification of the food component, some undesirable part was formed and left out.

In the same way, when Brahman is One and Only (Ekam Sat), it is Sat.

It is Sattwa.

It is Shuddha sattwa.

There was no imperfection in it like the delicious food we take.

But as it proceeds to further simplification, in the process of Creation,

the unwanted elements are formed.

Like in the churning of the Milky ocean, or in the churning of the core of earth as explained in the previous post, components are broken down as a process of simplification and with that comes degeneration.

So, the All Perfect Brahman has nothing imperfect in it.

But down the line, when simplification happens, the evil and imperfectness are generated in the process.

At this level of Creation, the Brahman is known as Purusha having two sides.

The day and night,

The light and darkness are like two sides of the coin.

Light has existence – whereas darkness owes its existence to absence of light.

Darkness has no existence of its own.

When light is not seen, then it is darkness!

Similarly Perfection ONLY has existence.

Imperfection owes its existence to Perfection.

Without Perfection, there can be no Imperfection.

But Perfection can exist without Imperfection.

When perfection is not perceived, imperfection is seen.

So there can not be anything imperfect with perfection.

This is said in a verse in Taittriya Upanishad which says that Brahman is perceived even in the excreta!

There is nothing un-Brahman in this world of all Brahman!

From Brahman, we get Brahman, add Brahman and deduct Brahman.

What remains in Brahman and what is taken out is Brahman.

When one gets this Knowledge, he is a Brahma gyanai, fit for attaining Moksha – Liberation!


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Semblance S Orchestra said...

A very fine analysis, I have also thought in similar lines. If the lerd is in heavens then is he absent on earth? This single question took me to vedanata and advaita and Im so blessed to see your site. Thank you.

jayasree said...

My humble namaskaar is my reply to your comment. Om NamO BhagavatE VasudevAya!

In search of utopia said...

Excellent explanation and analysis.

jayasree said...


nimi said...

Thanks for the analysis - you have put this in such simple terms.


jayasree said...

Thanks Ms Nimi

S V Prasad said...

Dear Sir, Nice presentation!! As you said both good and bad, perfection and imperfection are all the Bramham only. Bhagavatham says, Krishna has started fleeing when kaalayavana, a demon king attacked him. Of course, he was made to kill by Kapala mahamuni later by Lord Krishna's Plan. But here we have to note is 'where is the Lord fleeing??? He is pervading every where and nothing is different from him . If so, then HE is every where ?
If we absorb this principle firmly in our minds, then there will be no hatred in this world and peace will prevail. let's pray to HIM to give this sense of POORNAM to all, so that every one should tyr to be apart of it. Once again thank you for your precious article.
(SV Prasad)

Anonymous said...

Relate this to The law of conservation of energy which states that "in a closed system, the total amount of energy always remains constant, because it can neither be created nor be destroyed."
In this case, Universe (God) is perfect and infinite and hence similar to Energy stated in the law above. Obviously it is the energy that generates life, ordinates life and when less or no energy destroys life (death). Then is Energy called God in our Vedas, which Einstein coined as Energy?
If so, then it is not recent western scientists who developed laws of energy, but our ancestors who have put them together Long before, and hats off to our ancestory....
Then comes question of further realization on God and our beliefs....


The definition is poorNam and perfect. Namovakam. Ekam sat vipra... bahutha vadanthi.

Rajendran Karunagath Raman said...

Punyatman, Thank you very much for your lucid and valuable commentary to the deep subject. Brahmam/ perfect/ Totality/ Akhilam/ Poornam is infinitive.We can observe it in 'Sookshmsm' and 'Stthoolam'. That is why in modern science, an atom is compared to the solar system.
Example for Stthoolam is Sagaram. Sagaram can compared to Sagaram only.
May I submit my pranamam to the respected exponent.