All is ONE
Over a cup of tea, Dr Aditya Rattan’s father gracefully reveals the Vedantic concept of completeness which is all-pervading and which can never ever be incomplete
The kids were playing, one warm summer evening, when their grandfather finished his evening puja (ritual worship) and started reciting his favourite shloka (Sanskrit verse):
Om Puurnnam-Adah Puurnnam-Idam Puurnnaat-Purnnam-Udacyate
Puurnnasya Puurnnam-Aadaaya Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih
Aum! that is infinite and this universe is infinite.
The infinite proceeds from the infinite taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe)
It remains as the infinite alone.
Aum! Peace! Peace! Peace
The kids, a group of four cousins aged 8-15 years, liked his shloka rendition. They gathered around him to ring the bells, symbolic of the end of the prayer. It was a daily ritual they enjoyed. As he finished his rituals, the youngest of the lot, Veer, suddenly asked out of curiosity, “Grandpa, what does it mean?”
Looking at me, my father smiled. He took a chair and seated himself. His audience was too young to grasp the essence of the Shanti mantra of the Upanishads, but he did not want to let this opportunity go without impacting the young minds.
He looked at them and asked, “Okay, kids, here is an interesting puzzle for you. What is that number out of which everything is taken and still it remains the same?”
While the younger kids scratched their heads wondering at the validity of the question, fifteen-year-old Arushi shot back, “Infinity?”
Anmol and Srishti had another explanation, and they did not want to be left behind. They shouted in unison, “It must be zero.” The kids started to argue and prove their point. Their grandfather, Prof. Sethi, acknowledged their answers and appreciated each of them for their participation. He then picked up a book from the coffee table and showed the title page to the kids.
“Let us do another interesting activity now. Each of you has to memorise the title of the book and write it separately on a piece of paper,” he said and watched them as they ran to get a few pages and pens from inside. When they were done, he collected all the papers and resumed, “See, the complete title of the book remains on the book. Each one of you has taken out the complete title first in your mind and then on these papers. The title on the book is now projected on these papers but has not become incomplete in any way.”
I am not sure the kids understood that, but they nodded smilingly and thanked him. They returned to resume their play, as Suruchi, my wife, brought the tea and joined the discussion. She pulled out a chair to join us as she found the topic engrossing. She leaned closer and said, “It seems you two are having an interesting discussion. Please include me too.”
He resumed, “Sure, let us see the meaning of the shloka first. It is interpreted in different ways. The way I pray it is “That (source of creation) is complete, This (self) is complete. From the completeness, this completeness is derived and still what remains is completeness.”
A pause followed to help us grasp the meaning.
“How is it so?” I asked, as confused as the kids were a few minutes back.
My father cited an example: “Consider the reflection of the Sun. It appears in all water bodies as a complete, whole form. A complete reflection does not affect the completeness of the Sun in the Universe. It stands complete even after being reflected in millions of such forms.”
“That is interesting. If we are complete, why don’t we feel it?” Suruchi asked in a surprised tone. The curiosity building up inside her could be felt.
“We do not feel it because we are not aware of it. We are ignorant of our existence, our source, our power. Our gurus and the scriptures reiterate it to wake us up and find our true identity,” he explained.
“Still, I wonder, how is it that each small entity is complete in itself? I mean, how is it possible?” I could not hide being wonderstruck by his statement.
My father took a sip from his cup. He was in no hurry and wanted us to absorb the meaning. He asked, “How is it that each of the thousands of tiny seeds borne by the fruits of a tree has a complete genetic print of the entire tree? It has no information missing. That imprint is everywhere. You may call it Brahm. Realise Tat tvam Asi, Thou art That. You are that Absolute.”
“Is it? Won’t it fill me with pride?” Something in me was fearful to believe that.
Being aware of the ‘I’
He tried to clarify the doubts arising in me. “Not only you, dear son. Each and everything around you is complete. All is one. When All is one, who will you have a prejudice or a bias for? That one, present as the whole in you, is present in everyone as an absolute. There is nothing for comparison, judgement, analysis. The source is absolute. Each of its creations has that completeness.”
“Okay, if I am infinite and complete, won’t I feel lazy to commit to any action?” I questioned further.
“How will you realise your potential then? How will you lift that veil of ignorance? You are in a field of activities, and there is no escape from karma, your duties. Our scriptures explain this karma as a path to Self-realisation. All efforts done selflessly with firm determination and enthusiasm, remaining unattached to the results, is a way to discover that oneness. To know the Self, to know the whole. Be aware of who that ‘I’ is which you are referring to.”
“For that, I need to seek?” I asked, unsure of the answer.
“Seek we must. But it is important that we seek awareness. It is important that we seek within. We should know seeking outside is not the journey. It is going into the field of activities, as explained in the Bhagavad Gita, and the field is always limited, incomplete,” he commented and took a sip again.
“What is this field of activities, Papa,” Suruchi asked curiously.
Be the knower
“In chapter thirteen, Shri Krishna explains this field of activities, Kshetra, as our physical bodies, senses, sense organs, desires, mind, intelligence, and ego. Self-identification with any of these will reflect incompleteness. But you are not either of them. You are complete. Absolute. Limitless. Arising from the absolute,” he said with poise.
Still confused, I asked, “I am still not sure if I got it. If I am not my physical body, my senses, my mind, my thoughts, my intelligence, my ego, then who am I?”
“You are the knower of the field, my son. Kshetrajna, as Shri Krishna tells us. You are that which is changeless, that which is unlimited, infinite, and absolute. Seek that inside you, your true Self, Sat Chit Ananda, as Vedanta describes it—absolute existence, absolute knowledge, absolute bliss,” he explained.
The value of Dharma
“It was a great discussion, Papa. We are blessed to receive these words of wisdom. Please give us some last words for today’s discussion,” said Suruchi, expressing her gratitude.
“Remember, the true Self is complete. All these feelings of inadequacy and incompleteness are perceived in our field, which is not us. There is no escape from karma. We have to continue performing our karma as dictated by our true dharma. Dharma is defined by our duty, regulated by time, place, and our role. We should continue doing selfless work, surrendering to the Supreme, and receive the results of our actions with gratitude.”
“Ishwar Arpan prasad buddhi,” Suruchi remarked, reiterating the last statement.
“I found it, I found it.” We heard the distant voice of kids shouting in unison, running in the playground with their ball as we concluded our conversation—a completely blissful one indeed.
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