Reflections on Nature for Blog(1)

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

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
—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:

व्यो ह्य मूर्तः पुरुषः स बाह्याभ्यन्तर ह्य जः |
अप्राणो ह्य मनः शुभ्रो ह्य क्ष रार् परर्ः 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.


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