Reflections on Nature for Blog(2)

My experience with Nature leads me to the Upanishad course

I enrolled for CIF’s Upanishad course in 2022 and completed it in November. I must say going through the course was a stimulating and highly thought-provoking experience that provided me with a rare understanding of the nature of Brahman.

The course is very well-designed, and the presentation is rich and scholarly, with extensive quotes of slokas and passages from several Upanisads. In 24 brief lessons, it offers a sweeping vision of the profound philosophy of the Upanisads. I never felt handicapped by not being proficient in Sanskrit, as the English translations of the passages were clear and very helpful.

The deep erudition and penetrating insights into the Upanisads of Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda ji, the author of this course, come through beautifully in the course content. The video presentation of each lesson, by Brahmachari Ved Chaitanya, provides a fine overview of each lesson before the student delves into the text. His talks were simple and effective with fine examples drawn from real-life situations. Laced with an undercurrent of humour, the presentations are a treat. My sincere appreciation for the efforts that have gone into the design and creation of the course material. The course will be an eye-opener for anyone sincerely interested in getting exposure to the wisdom of the Upanisads.

What drew me to Upanisads was what had happened several years ago. I was sitting on the lawn of my house. Outside the compound wall were a few trees that we had planted when we built the house. They had all become big now. In winter, a couple of these trees shed their leaves completely while other trees wouldn’t become so bare. I loved sitting on the lawn early in the mornings, to enjoy the serenity and calm, with my mind at peace.

It was early spring. I was facing a tree with naked branches. Suddenly something caught my eye. A teeny-weeny, glistening leaf was quivering in the breeze as if trying to put its neck out from the tip of a branch. I was amazed and wondered what force created that leaf on the branch that appeared lifeless a day earlier. Over the next few days, I observed with great delight the tiny leaf steadily growing, soon to be joined by more baby leaves on many other branches; and in a week’s time, there was a profusion of tiny fluttering leaves, tender and translucent in the sun rays, covering most of the branches of the tree. This burst of creation was astonishing. The skeletal branches were replaced by healthy, glowing foliage, swaying in the morning breeze like a youthful maiden. As I reckoned, if I had plucked all the leaves of the tree and gathered them, they would have occupied scores of cubic metres of space. How did this matter get created—apparently from nowhere—within weeks? The wood of the tree itself would have been weighing a couple of tonnes, which too was created over a few years. This was indeed astounding. What forces of nature were at play? I could clearly see that there was a hidden hand at work.

When I pondered over it, I realised that all the matter in the world—flora and fauna— would have come about in a similar manner, as a transformation of some potential energy hidden in nature. To us, it appears as if they have been created from nothing. We humans too get our physical bulk from a single fertilized cell, not visible to the naked eye. The genetic code preserved in that cell enables the growth of a person and bestows him/her with all the physical and behavioural traits.

To me, it appeared that the hidden hand was some kind of energy—a ‘life force’ to say—in the environment, for the creation of all sentient life on earth, and its sustenance thereafter. This life force had to be an imperceptible substratum that permeated everything and supported all life forms. Since flora and fauna were spread all over the earth, this life force had to be present everywhere, sustaining life on the planet.

Extending this line of thought, I realised that the same substratum of energy was needed even for the formation of the earth from an earlier gaseous state, and the evolution of all its minerals, mountains, and seas. If this was true for planet earth, it had to be true for all other planets and entire cosmic phenomena as well. Thus, this substratum of energy and life force was something that had to be infinitely vast and prevalent throughout the universe.

After that experience, I tried to express my amazement at creation in a poem. The first six lines wonder at the emergence of attributes in objects, almost from nothingness, that we perceive through our five physical senses—jnanendriyas—and the mind. I had perceived God in that life-giving, unseen force.

The hidden hand

Hugeness of banyan the seed encapsules,
In the bud is flower’s pleasing scent encased,
Endowed with honey’s sweetness nectar rejoices,
In touch-me-not is nature’s shyness enwrapped,
Engrained in the reed is music rapturous,
As woman’s mystique in genes is enshrined.

It’s the gentle, magical touch of Yours
That unleashes the essence of life hidden,
Where is the need, my Lord,
To conjure you in any other vision?

Creation as per Vedanta

This experience led me to my interest in Upanisads to understand the true nature of creation. CIF’s Upanishad course gave me insights into the nature of Brahman and Atman, Creation, Brahmatmaikya, the vision of oneness, meditation, Self-realisation, and several other related concepts.

On creation, Mundaka Upanisad asserts that the entire creation has evolved from Brahman and provides details on the variety that has sprung forth from Brahman. From Him are born pranas, mind, all the organs, space, fire, air, water, and the earth that supports all. Rsi Angiras explains to his disciple Saunaka that if one knows the cause from which the world of objects has arisen then all the effects become known, as effects are merely various names and forms of the one cause. He quotes the following sloka to explain the svarupa lakshana of Brahman:

दिव्यो ह्यमूर्तः पुरुषः स बाह्याभ्यन्तर ह्यजः |
अप्राणो ह्यमनः शुभ्रो ह्यक्षरात परतः परः ||

Divyo hyamurtah purusha sa bahyabhyantara hyajah,
Aprano hyamanah subhro hyaksarat parata parah.

“Self-resplendent, formless, unoriginated and pure, that all-pervading Being is both within and without. Anterior both to life and mind, He transcends even the transcendent, unmanifested, causal state of the universe.”

It says Brahman is within all things and beings, and outside too. This is what I had perceived, sitting on my lawn, as the life-force that pervades all things, supporting their creation and sustaining them. CIF course material explains that inside and outside are only applicable with respect to conditioning (upadhi), as Brahman is infinite, where is the question of inside and outside in Him? Caitanya svarupa exists wherever there is conditioning and even where there is no conditioning. This is illustrated by the well- known example of pot and space. While there is space inside the pot, it is outside as well, where there is no pot.


Upanisads teach us that Brahman being pure Consciousness, can never undergo any modifications. And being formless and infinite, creation cannot arise from Him. If Brahman is not creating the world, then who does? Vedanta says that while creation cannot happen from Brahman, yet due to Maya, a unique power that is not different or independent from Brahman, the world appears to be created. Only when Brahman is associated with Maya-sakti (and referred to as Isvara) does He become the cause of the world. Svetasvara-Upanisad too mentions that with this Maya—also known as prakrti— the Lord, the wielder of Maya, brings about the entire creation.

This blog content is provided by Sri G. Surya Prakash Rao, a student of the HSC Upanishad Course.

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