OM PURNAMADH, PUNAMIDAM ......
Ų p=U[=*m=d/ p=U[=*im=d] p=U[==*t=<
Om purnam-adah purnam-idam
The literal translation:
That is infinite, this is
From That infinite this
From That infinite, this
infinite removed or added;
Infinite remains infinite.
A simple translation:
Brahman is limitless,
of universes come out
and go into the infinite
Brahman remains unchanged.
[Also read a detailed explanation of Brahman and MahaVakyas,
The Great Sayings (of the Upanishads)]
Explanation by: Ramananda Prasad
The dictionary meanings of the most important word "Purna"
in this verse are:
full, whole, complete, boundless, accomplished, powerful. The word Anant (limitless) has
also been used to describe Brahman in Upanishads and Ramayana. Therefore we have chosen the word limitless
or infinite. Mathematically, the word "limitless" fits better than "complete" or any other word to describe the
indescribable Brahman in our opinion. Taittreeya Upanishad (verse 2.1.1) defines Brahman as Satyam (existence),
Jnanam (consciousness, Chitta), Anantam (boundless) Brahma. This Upanishad also states Brahman is that from which
everything comes from, is sustained, and into which everything enters into in the end (verse 3.1.1).
Brahman desired let Me be many (verse 2.6.1).
Looking at the literal translation, a new student or any first time
reader of Vedanta can get confused. But, as we will see, this verse is very
profound. It is so profound that some one said: Let all the Upanishads and
Vedic literatures disappear from the face of the earth, I donít mind so long as
this one verse survives and remains engraved in the mind of even a single
individual. This is not an ordinary verse. It contains the Vedic vision, the
universal Truth of oneself. It answers the fundamental question: Who am I and
how should I live in the world?
Everything is limitless, infinite Brahman.
The first part of this great
mantra says that everything, known objects of the world or unknown spirit (Atma),
is nothing but the limitless Brahman. Gita also says in verse 7.24: Everything
is Krishna or ParaBrahma Paramatma. There is nothing that is not Brahman. There
is Brahman only and nothing else in the universe and that Brahman is limitless,
infinite, one of a kind, and the source and sink of the entire cosmos.
Our experience indicates
that all the objects that we see seem to be limited in space, time, and in many
other ways. Then how can everything in the universe and the world be unlimited?
Atma or spirit is considered limitless, but how can visible objects, such the
world and our bodies, be called infinite? Can we call everything as infinite?
The ocean can be called limitless, but not the waves. Some waves are quite
large, some are small, but all are limited in time and space. The waves appear
limited as long as we look at the waves and ocean as separate or
"dual" entities. If we consider the wave as part and parcel of ocean
or consider both as water only, then the wave is limitless like the ocean. From
a non-dualistic viewpoint if ocean is limitless, so is the wave, because both
the ocean and the wave are a single, non-dual entity. Thus from a dualistic
view point, the wave "appears" incomplete, and limited, but is really
infinite as the ocean itself. Thus, if there is only a single entity, then the
question of one being infinite or complete and the other limited or finite does
not arise at all. If we consider we are not the body, but the infinite spirit
residing in the bodies, then, we are limitless and infinite.
apparent, not real.
The negation of duality
means negation of the reality of duality, but not the negation of the
experience of duality. The experience of duality that we see in real life is
apparent or relative, called† unreal in
Vedanta. From a dualistic viewpoint, a small wave is afraid of being swallowed
by the large wave and prays to the ocean for protection from large waves. This
is what prayers and worship are. From a non-dualistic point of view, there is
no such fear. Everything in the world is an interaction, a play, a cosmic
drama, only. Vedanta acknowledges duality as apparent -- not real -- experience
of difference between various objects. The Unity appears diversified. The
experience of non-duality brings joy, bliss. Even a temporary escape from
duality and the experience of non-duality during Samadhi (or superconscious
state of mind) brings bliss and peace. The literal elimination of duality in
Samadhi is temporary and beyond easy reach of everybody. A complete and full negation
of the reality of duality has a permanent, wonderful, blissful, effect on our
The experience of duality
does not create problem as long as we fully understand that duality is apparent
and not real. And I am not different or separate from the world, and the world
is not different from me. Everything is Brahman only. The limitless, infinite
or non-dual Brahman also means that no entity other than Brahman exists in the
cosmos. Brahman is both the creator and the creation. In other words, Brahman
is both the material and efficient or instrumental cause of the creation, the
cosmos. There is no other cause or existence, except Brahman.
Brahman is both
the material and efficient cause.
Vedanta cites two beautiful
examples of how one and the same entity can be both the material and
instrumental cause of creation. One example is that of the spider who creates
its web from the material within itself. The spider is both the creator and
creation, the web. The entire creation, both visible and invisible, comes out
during the creative cycle and gets dissolved or sucked into Brahman during
great dissolution (Gita 9.07). Brahman brings the material from within, weaves
the beautiful and wonderful tapestry called the cosmos, and takes it all within
again and again, just as the spider does.
Another example is the dream
world where the dreamer is both the material and instrumental cause of his
dream world. The cosmos is created as the cosmic mindís dream creation. When we
dream, both the subject (or the creator) and the objects, the dream world (or
the creation), happen to be the dreamer himself. The dreamerís mind is both the
material and creative cause of the dream. When we fight a dream-war in a
dream-battlefield, the warriors on both sides--- the bombs, bullets, rocky
terrain, the land mines, nurses, ambulance and medical supplies --- are all
none other than the dreamer himself.
Thus, the first half of this
great Upanishadic verse beautifully tells in a nutshell that the limitless
Brahman is both the material and efficient causes of creation. The creation
comes from the creator, and both the creation and the creator are infinite and
the same. There is no entity in the cosmos other than the creator. He has
become all, and He is all, and He is in all. Om purnamadah purnamidam
undergoes no change to become world.
Now, what happens to the
infinite when infinite creations come out of it during creation and goes into
it during dissolution is explained in the second half of the verse that states:
purnasya purnamaadaaya, purnam-eva-avashishyate. After taking away the
infinite creation from the infinite Brahman during the creative cycle or adding
infinite universes to the infinite Brahman during the great dissolution, the
infinite Brahman alone remains in His infinite Universal form. This can be
mathematically expressed as infinity, plus or minus infinity, equals infinity.
This infinite Universal form of Krishna, the Brahman, was revealed to Arjuna
and is described in the
of the Bhagavad-Gita in great detail.
The limitless Brahman
remains unchanged even after countless universes come out of it. What kind of
change does the limitless transcendental form have to undergo to produce
limitless visible and invisible worlds? Actually, there is no real change
during the process of this transformation because nothing is created or
destroyed in the universe. It just changes form, and a name-change goes with
the new form. According to the law of conservation of energy, energy or matter
can never be created or destroyed, but only can be transformed from one form to
another; from the invisible form to the visible form. Much later, Einstein came
up with the same conclusion when he proposed his famous equation: E= mc2.
Thus Brahman does not undergo any intrinsic change when infinite, visible
cosmos come out of it. Lord Krishna says in the Gita that the visible infinite
world is just a tiny fraction of His energy (Gita 10.41-42).
examples can be given of such a change. The dreamer does not undergo any change
when the objects of the dream-world come out of him. Cotton appears as cloth
without undergoing a real change. The cloth is nothing but cotton in a
different form. The gold chain comes out of gold without any real change in
gold itself. Similarly, clay appears as pot. Clay remains clay before the
creation of the pot, during the creation of the pot, and after the pot is
destroyed. There was no pot ever; it was clay all the time. Clay appeared as
pot; water appears as ocean, waves and bubbles; gold became a chain; dreamer
became dream objects without undergoing any real change. Similarly, the rope
appears as snake in the darkness of night, and the non-dual Brahman appears as
dual world due to our mental conditioning created by the darkness of ignorance.
The visible world and all its objects are nothing but the invisible--- but not
formless--- Brahman only. This verse leads us to discover that I am not this
body, but the limitless spirit which I longed to be.
the creation, an effect, is not different from its material and instrumental
cause, the imperishable Brahman (see Gita Chapters 13 and 15). The objects of
the world do not have to be eliminated, given up, or even completely negated as
the dream-objects to see Brahman everywhere and in everything (Gita 6.30). The
chain need not be melted to see the gold in it. Similarly, one need not leave
the world to see or find God. In a piece of cloth, the weaver is not hidden
inside the cotton or the yarn, but in the creation; the creator is not only the
material and the efficient cause, but He is present in every atom of the
creation. This is the difference between human engineering and the cosmic
engineer. The cosmic mind manifests Himself in different forms. This is the
knowledge of transcendental science, so simple and beautiful.
The entire creation is His
body, a divine manifestation that one must learn to love, respect and revere.
There is no sin or sinner, just different masks of the supreme. The sinner is
the one who is unripe mango, very sour and bitter while a true saint is the
juicy, sweet, flavorful, ripe mango.
This understanding of spirituality will bring a fresh outlook, a
refreshing breeze of fresh air of understanding persons of other faiths,
cultures, and countries. It will enrich our individual lives, if not change the
world overnight. It can be concluded that an understanding of non-duality is
spirituality and duality is the partial knowledge and understanding of any
religion. This partial knowledge of so called religions has created the
conflicts and religious wars that can only be eliminated with the Vedic science
of non-dual transcendental or metaphysical knowledge so beautifully explained
in the Vedic scriptures such as the Gita and the Upanishads. This single
Upanishadic verse has the essence of spirituality and the true religion. It can
bring peace, understanding, and harmony in the world and in our personal lives.
One does not have to change oneís religion to become spiritual.
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