Evolution of Mysticism – From the Vedic Period to the Vedanta

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CHAPTER FOUR Vedantic Analysis of the Inner Being : Its Implications for Mystical Development

PaiichakoSas: Important Theme ofTaittiriya Upanishad

How does Hinduism view the inner nature of the human person? This ‘inner nature’ is a subject that is vital for the exploration of Hindu mysticism. Of the ancient primary texts of Hinduism it is the Taittinya Upanishad that takes up this subject with an analytical stance. Subsequent commentators like Shankara have added greater meaning and interpretation to these texts. Furthermore, rich insights and innovative ways of explaining these concepts have been given to us  by  Vivekananda,  Aurobindo,  Radhakrisbnan, Dasgupta and others. Authors that have specialised in reconciling scientific insights with religious theories like Fritjof Capra, Ken Wilber, Gary Zukav et al have in some way or the other drawn ideas from this Upanishad. These authors are now being read by an increasing number of South African Hindus. This researcher feels that Ken Wilber’s work The Atman Project -A Transpersonal View ofHuman Development is an excellent modem exposition of a theme similar to the paiichakosa model. This work may be considered a useful supplement that may be used with profit in understanding the paiichakosa model which forms the basis ofthis chapter.
In the Taittinya Upanishad the human being is described as a formulation of five sheaths or the paiichakosas (paiich meaning five and kosas is sheaths). These five sheaths are the body, vital energy, mind, intellect and bliss. This is the stratified realm of the inner being. Most importantly, at the core of these sheaths there lies the iitman, the divine focus present in all beings.
This researcher  has selected this  model of paiichakosas  on account of its  analytical details.
Another model that may be useful but without this range of multi-layered detail is the states of consciousness explained  in the  Mandukya Upanishad.  This  Upanishad  surveys  the  whole of human experience through a study of the three states of waking, dream and dreamless sleep, and reveals the iitman, the  divine  focus  in beings,  as  turfya or the  ‘fourth’  as  it puts it,  as pure consciousness, eternal and non-dual.  This alternate  model, though devoid  of the paiichako§a details, may assist usefully with  secondary interpretations of the present model under consideration.

Upanishadic Concept of Interconnectedness

Hindu concepts of God appear in a graded stage. This formulation may be likened to a triangle where  at  the base there would be the grosser manifestation of divinity. Moving up this hierarchical structure there are subtle and subtler manifestations of divinity. At the apex of the triangle is brahman which is infinitely subtle. The word brahman is derived from the Sanskrit root bhri  – to  grow – and thus suggests an all-pervading  Reality that is the Supreme Consciousness.Though brahman is beyond description,the Upanishads for conceptualiz.ation purposes alone, describes it as ‘unformed, immortal,moving’  (e.g.  Br. Up.  2.3.3). Though it transcends motion, the sense of ‘aliveness’, ‘vibrancy’  and  ‘infinity’are associated with it.
Brahman as the all-pervading divinity is fundamental to the Hindu world-view.
The  entire  phenomenal  existence, with  its  prodigious  diversity  and  its  layers of subtlety,  is viewed as having brahman as  its still core,  ‘formless beyond form’,  pervading all forms  and enlivening all of existence. It pervades the entire existence because it is infinitely subtle. To use an idiom of the V ediinta : Just as light pervades an expanse of water so brahman pervades the worlds (lokas).
While this central core is still, everything on the periphery, that is, beings, objects, etc. work in an  interconnected  and  dynamic  way  (Capra  : 1985 : 141).  Interconnectedness and mutual dependence are intrinsic to Hindu ethos. For Vivekananda, « one atom in the universe cannot move  without dragging the  whole world  along  with  it. » (CWJ : 1979 :269). The  Vedanta emphasizes  this  theme. We cannot  neglect  or overlook this  central  concept  as  it  has  great implications for applied mysticism or what Vivekananda called ‘Practical Vedanta’.
The stupefying multiplicity found  in phenomenal existence, that is, beings, objects, activities, circumstances, etc. cannot be viewed as autonomous elements, self-reliant and unrelated to the whole.   Diversity    is   meant   to be the compulsionthat directs the mind to this unitary consciousness. Sudarshan (1995 : v) uses a typically Indian metaphor to describe this :
« The tail feathers of the peacock, whether fanned out or laid back, attract our eye to the brilliant, iridescent colours and their pattern. But the effect of the pattern is to point the beholder’s eye to their functioning as a whole, to the centre with the spokes. In this manner, the compelling attraction to detail is the very mechanism to redirect our vision to the unity in this diversity. When one sees the peacock, one is seeing the whole without losing any ofthe attraction of the parts. This is to be contrasted to the mundane (or profane) experience of everyday life when details compel us to lose the sense of unity, since it tends to distract. It is to be noted that the centre has none ofthe detailed iridescence of the tail feathers; it is almost bare of details. But when the peacock dances while the tail feathers move, it is the whole that moves.  »
Hindu mystics have never viewed diversity as an impediment to spiritual progress. The larger vision of existence made them celebrate diversity. In the absence of this vision diversity becomes an impediment to mystical growth.

Microcosm and Macrocosm

The Vedantic mystics saw no sharp demarcation between the external objective world and the internal subjective world of man. For the convenience of analysis it would be necessary to look upon these  aspects  as  two  entities  within an overall life  cycle.Coomaraswamy (quoted  in Wilber : 1989 : 3-4) states that :
« The life or lives of man may be regarded as constituting a curve an arc of time-experience subtended by the duration of the individual Will to Life. The outward movement of this curve … – the Path ofPursuit the Pravritti Marga is characterized by self-assertion. The inward movement – … the Path ofReturn The Nivritti Marga is characterized by increasing Self-realization. The religion of men on the outward path is the Religion of Time; the religion of those who return is the religion ofEternity. 
Swami Vivekananda’s analysis ofthe first questions that arose in the human mind were about the external world. As the questions went deeper and deeper, the external manifestations fuiled to satisfy the human mind, and finally the quest turned inward and the quest was directed to man’s own inner nature. From the macrocosm the question was reflected back to the microcosm; from the external world the question was reflected back to the internal. From analysing the external world man is led to the analysis of the internal world (CW2 : 1976 : 212). In this context the internal world is the microcosm.
In the Vedanta the ‘macro’ concept is called sama$fi and the ‘micro’ is the vya.yfi. Together they constitute the whole. One is incomplete without the other. One of the fundamental arrangements encapsulated in the macrocosm-microcosm relationship is that whatever exists in the macrocosm also  exists in its scaled-down version  in the  microcosm.  Just as  in relation to  the  expansive 91 universe, the underlying Consciousness is brahman, so its microcosmic entity, the iitman, is the foundational reality underlying the conscious powers of the individual, the inward ground of the human soul . The human soul is pluridimensional in nature (pafichakosa).  The iitman  is the super-reality of the individual soul (jTva) (Radhakrishnan: 1990: 73-74). In essence all beings have  as  their divine focus the iitman which  is an inseparable spark  of brahman. In this arrangement the all-pervading brahman touches the core of all beings and may be realized there as the iitman.

The Nature of the Human Soul

It is a well established principle that the iitman is the ground reality or the Consciousness within the soul. In the Vedanta the soul (jlva) has a composite definition. For an analysis and evaluation of the soul this study would consider the definition given in a passage of the Tait. Up. (3.10.S) :
sa ya evam-vit asmiil lokiit pretya, etam annamayam iitmiinam upasamkramya, etam prii1Jamayam iitmiinam upasamkramya, etmh manomayam iitmiinam upasarhkramya, etam vijfiiinamayam iitmiinam upasamkramya, etam iinandamayam iitmiinam upasamkramya, imiin lokiin kiimiinnf kiimarupy anusaficaran, etat siima giiyanntiste 
« He who knows this (brahman), on departing from this world, proceeding unto that self which consists offood, proceeding unto that self which consists of vital energy, proceeding unto that self which consists of mind, proceeding unto that selfwhich consists of understanding, proceeding unto that selfwhich consists of bliss, goes up and down these worlds, eating the food he desires, assuming the form he desires. He sits singing this chant (siiman) : Oh wonderful! Oh wonderful! Oh wonderful! »
Several major translators,  commentators  and mystical essayists like Gambhirananda, Radhakrishnan, Hume and others have rendered the above passage in a similar translation. This frees the translation of unnecessary disputes.
The opening line ofthis passage is a realization emerging from the previous passage (Tait. Up 10.4) which asserts that the seer who  intuitively knows brahman human individual (microcosm)  and  in the  sun (representing  th as existing uniformly in the macrocosm),  such a  seer is identified with the all-knowing brahman. At the level of microcosmic experience the seer also perceives brahman as the iitman pervading his entire being, that is, the multi-layered strata of his soul.This unitary  experience encompasses the  external objective and  the  internal subjective worlds.Some  analysts  refer to this as an ‘omnijective’ experience. This passage ends  in a rapturous chant, Oh Wonderful!, expressing the ecstasy that the mystic experiences on realizing the truth of unitary Consciousness.

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CHAPTER ONE The South African Hindu Community : Limitations and Opportunities
1.1 Authoritative Texts and Established Norms.
1.2 Setting of the Problem.
1.3 Methodology.
1.4 Considerations leading to the Definition of Mysticism for South African Hindus.
1.5 Definition of Mysticism.
1.6 Difficulties in Studying Mysticism.
1. 7 The Context for Genuine Mystical Realiz.ations.
CHAPTER TWO Literary Works: Ancient, Medieval and Modern
2.1 Primary Approach to the Texts.
2.2 Hinduism – Early History and the emergence of the Sacred Texts.
2.3 Archaeological Roots of early Mysticism in Harappa.
2.4 The Aryans.
2.5 Vedic Literature – A Survey of its Complexity.
2.6 The Early Collection of Vedic Texts (samhitiis).
2.7 The Rg Veda (Rg V).
2.8 The Atharva Veda (AV).
2.9 The Sama Veda (SV).
2.10 The Yajur Veda (YV).
2.11 The Briihmru;ias.
2.12 The Arru;iyakas.
2.13 The Upanishads – A Definition.
2.14 The Upanishads in the Context of Vedic Literature.
2.15 A Brief Survey of Some Principal Ups.
2.16 The Incoherent Characteristics of the Ups.
2.17 The Brahma Siitras (Br S).
2.18 The Bhagavad Gita (BG).
2.19 Sanskrit : A Vehicle for the Transmission of Religious and Mystical Concepts.
2.20 Problems with Oral Transmission.
2.21 Some difficulties with Sanskrit Etymology.
2.22 The Relevance of Shankara.
2.23 Modem Interpreters and Translators.
2.24 Ramakrishna – Vivekananda and the Development of Neo-Vedanta.
2.25 Aurobindo and Neo-Vedanta.
2.26 Radhakrishnan’s Role in Neo-Vedanta.
2.27 Some Modem Translators and Commentators within the Context ofNeo-Vedanta.
CHAPTER THREE Evolution of Mysticism – From the Vedic Period to the Vedanta
3.1 General Growth of Mysticism.
3.2 Sacrificial Mysticism
3.3 The Development of the Ritual.
3.4 Some noted Features of Sacrifice.
3.5 The Nature of the Vedic Gods.
3.6 The Three Planes ofExistence and the Three Classes of Gods.
3.7 The Journey from Polytheism to Monism.
3.8 The Hindu Experience of Sacrificial Mysticism in South Africa
CHAPTER FOUR Vedantic Analysis of the Inner Being: Its Implications for Mystical Development
4.1 Paiichakosas : Important Theme ofTaittirlya Upanishad.
4.2 Upanishadic Concept of Interconnectedness
4.3 Microcosm and Macrocosm.
4.4 The Nature of the Human Soul.
4.5 TheKosas.
4.6 Arrangement of the Ko§as.
4.7 Paiichako§a Symbolism in the Tait. Up.
4.8 The Annamayako§a.
4.9 Location of the Atman in the Annamayakosa.
4.10 Annamayako§a – the Anatomical and Physiological Basis for Molcya.
4.11 Annamayakosa – an Ephemeral Object.
4.12 The Prii.lμlmayakosa
4.13 The Infilling of the Prai:iamayakosa
4.14 The Five Divisions of the Prai:iamayakosa
4.15 The Udiina Prai:ia -its Mystical Significance
4.16 The Prii.lμl and NiU,lfs : Their Mystical Significance
4.17 Prai:ia in Alternate States of Consciousness
4.18 Reason for Studying the Prii.lμlmayakosa
4.19 The Manomayako§a
4.20 The Manomayako§a and Imagination
4.21 The Vijfianamayakoia
4.22 The Anandamayako§a.
4.23 The Paiichakosas, Karma and Reincarnation
4.24 Maya and the Pafichakosas
CHAPTER FIVE Teehniques, Practices and Experiences in Hindu Sacred Psychology
5.1 Two-fold Nature of Sacred Psychology.
5.2 Evolutionary Need for a Sacred Psychology.
5.3 The Laboratory for Sacred Psychology and Mystical Pursuits.
5.4 Spiritual interpretation of the Mind.
5.5 Lifestyle for the Transformation of the Mind.
5.6 Repression versus Sublimation.
5.7 The Role of Celibacy in Awakening Higher States of Consciousness.
5.8 Techniques for Raising the levels of Consciousness.
5 .9 Alternate States of Consciousness, Trances and Miraculous Manifestations.
5.10 Religious Counselling for Raising the Levels of Consciousness from Gross Mysticism to Higher Mysticism
5.11 The Attainment of Ultimate Liberation.
5.12 The Pafichako§as in the Pre-intuitive State.
5.13 Divine Grace and Revelation.
5.14 The Identity of the Atman with Brahman.
5.15 Retrieving the Paiichakosas after Nirvikalpa Samiidhi.
5.16 Unitary Consciousness – its Implications for the Modem Context.
CHAPTER SIX Conclusion

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