Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati: This song (Brahma Jnanavali) is a beautiful song written by the founder of our sannyasa tradition, Adiguru Shankaracharya.
Asango’ham asango’ham asango’ham punah punah
Sachchidanandorupo’ham ahamevaham avyayah.
He talks here about the real existence that Vedantins and tantrics have always believed in. The materialistic outlook believes the world of the senses and sense objects to be real, as it is cognizable.
How ever, the spiritual masters of all religions and traditions have maintained that this world is unreal and the realness is dis covered elsewhere. The reason they give is that the nature of Prakriti is transitory; nothing ever remains the same here, it changes every moment. What changes every moment is not the Truth. What changes every moment is not the Satyam, for Satyam is the essence that does not ever change.
H2O is the formula of water: two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. With that water you can make tea, coffee or sherbet, you can change its taste and use it in any manner that you choose. Despite all the different uses, the essence is always the same: H2O. In the same manner, we all come in different colours and hues, shapes and sizes, backgrounds and traditions, locations and religions. We all represent different cups of coffees, teas, sherbet, Coca Cola, Sprite, champagne, yet we have the same essence, and that is conveyed in the song.
The essence that is always there is the reality of existence, and what changes continuously cannot be the reality. It is only a transitory moment in existence, a moment in the journey. The wheel keeps on rotating, Prakriti keeps on moving and time does not wait for anyone. What is constantly mobile cannot have a permanent identity, therefore the sages and masters of all ages have said that we have to discover that permanent identity, our real identity.
How do we discover it? By seeing what is outside, for the real identity will be the opposite of what is outside. Outside everything is transitory and inside everything is permanent. The state of permanency is known as Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram. The understanding and the knowing of the essence that permeates everything is the Truth, Satyam. Shivam is the correctness and the positive outcome of the correctness. It is the positive outcome of a proper, correct understanding, behaviour and performance in the form auspiciousness, joy, happiness and contentment. Shivam is that which uplifts the human nature, and with the upliftment of human nature you discover that everything is beautiful. That is Sundaram, the awareness of the underlying beauty. This is the reality, according to Vedanta.
In the song, Adiguru Shankaracharya, the founder of our sannyasa tradition, is telling us about the different aspects of the transcendental nature which do not change. Nirakaroham Nirvadyoham Asangoham Shivoham, ‘What I am in reality is not this, I am the opposite of everything that I experience in this life.’
If we are the opposite of everything that we experience in the material life, if our spiritual life is the reverse, then somehow we have to findthe means to rise from the material into the spiritual. A blend has to take place between body and prana, mind and consciousness, materialism and spiritualism. The process of developing the spiritual awareness is that blend. Yoga is that blend.
Yoga is the blend that allows the spiritual dimension to percolate down to the material dimension and enhance the life experience of the material dimension. The sadhanas of tantra vidya and of the vedantic vidyas, which comprise the yoga vidya contain in them the knowledge, the sequence and the understanding that can lead us from A to B, from B to C, from C to D, to keep on growing, progressing, evolving. The wheel keeps on turning and we keep moving with the wheel.
—28 October 2019, Munger Yoga Symposium