Swami Chinmayananda explains the first part of the first shloka in the Aiteraya Upanishad saying, “Constant change can be maintained only upon a changeless substratum.” The first time I read this sentence, it was an experience, like switching on a light. It has since stayed with me and the more I think about it, I find myself watching the ‘change’ that is ‘constant’ in my ‘changeless’ life. It’s such a wonderful play of words, almost like the vyahritis, the pranava which are suggestive of the 3 states, 3 gunas, 3 doshas etc. Everytime I read the books, I marvel at how beautifully the rishis expressed thought and experience.
The period of my mini-retreat is over and there is a changed routine which will change further once school reopens. The seasons roll on and summer will soon morph into the monsoon and the mangoes will go out of season. The dry summer heat is already fading in the evenings hinting at the rains to come, just like our human lives. It’s interesting how we use space to define time which is the indicative in the second part of the first shloka. All these insights into the nature of existence was known through a purely subjective experience!
ऊँ आत्मा वा इदमेक एवाग्र आसीत् ।
नान्यत्-किञ्चन मिषत् ।
स ईक्षत लोकान्नु सृजा इति ।। १ ।।
In the beginning, verily, Atman (Self) alone was this (the universe)… nothing else was active whatsoever… He thought I shall indeed create the worlds.
The word ‘miṣat’ at the end of the second line caught my fancy. Swami Chinmayananda explains the word as ‘winking’ and it is very thought provoking. As I contemplate the word, it suggests twinkling which leads to stars, the Sun and the Gayatri mantra and I come back to the heart, the changeless substratum. Just a word to roam the universe and come back to myself. I like to think of the heart as the abode of that Self, at one with the cosmic beating of the universe. The grandeur of just the seen universe is awe inspiring even as life, as I know it, goes on with traffic, chores and the sundry activities of everyday life. We take the many celestial movements for granted without stopping to think of the intelligence behind them that animates our existence. The predawn contemplation hours are magical and sacred and I cradle them within.
Once I enter in to the day’s work, I am caught in the flow of moments. Again, time and space. That same keen awareness is lost but there is a sharpness, a clarity in the thinking which allows me to be more productive. I suppose the abhyasa is to bring that awareness moment by moment into each and every space of my being.
May I be a worthy student to the teachers, mortal and eternal.
Image and Study material: Aitareya Upanishad- Commentary by Swami Chinmayanada