The youthful Rama asks – as everyone does at one time or another in their life – “Why is the sky blue?” The sage responds that the akash (the ether, the space, the void) has no shape, form, nor colour. It is a form of ignorance to say the sky is blue. Those who have wisdom know that the sky is a glamour of atma and ideation.
shunya Hin., San. adj. var, sunya void, empty m. null, void, nothingness, emptiness, non-existence; solitude.
akash: San. m., n. (ambara) sky, space, an expanse; the element of ether, the subtlest form of matter. Space gives things form and keeps them discrete. Its quality is sound. ‘It is through space that sounds are transmitted and heard. Love and play are products of akasha and seeds sprout on account of akasha.’ ‘Akasha pervades the cosmos but remains unstained.’ (bg XIII.32)
avidya San. f. ignorance, especially in a spiritual sense arising from the illusion of maya, the veil of separateness. The darkness of ignorance veils our perception, so that we see a snake in a rope and are deluded by our senses into believing the world is real; we are unaware of the true Reality that underlies and sustains it.
vidyā Hin., San. f. learning, study; education; science; knowledge, especially of the vedas; wisdom, understanding. Vidyā is moksha, avidyā is samsāra. ‘The end of education is character.’
chitta: individual consciousness
Chandala: someone who deals with disposal of corpses, of lower caste; Outcast, untouchable especially : the son of a Sudra by a Brahman woman.
Question 123: Sir, what is the cause of the blue seen in akash ? Is it all darkness?
Answer: Ramji, akash (space, ether) is the void where there is neither darkness nor a shadow. It is like shunya (void). The experiential cosmos is a glamour of Atma that is self-effulgent; how can there be darkness in that? This proves that akash is seen as blue because it is void; in fact, there is no colour in akash. People with limited knowledge perceive blue colour, but those with vast intelligence do not perceive it. Likewise, the ignorant conceive of ignorance as real. When ignorance is removed, only Brahman is realised. To forget Atma and conceive of other things is called ignorance.
Wisdom or knowledge is attained only through spiritual endeavour. When the mind is free from ideation, the world ceases to exist. Just as courtiers and servants perform their duties in the presence of the king, so do the senses perform the job of experiencing phenomena before the mind. When you renounce the physical objects, realising them as unreal, and firmly direct your consciousness in spiritual endeavour, and maintain your faith in Atma, then you will be free from all sufferings and attain to the supreme blissful state. Ramji, an individual experiences joys and sorrows due to ignorance. When you abandon the ideas of joy and sorrow from your mind and undertake spiritual endeavour, you will realise both these (joy and sorrow) as unreal. To forget Atma and to concentrate on the unreal body is the cause of joy and sorrow.
Ignorance (the lack of wisdom) is the cause of great calamity; the individual experiences innumerable illusions. Just as sorrows and pleasures are experienced in a dream owing to the ideation in the mind, so the illusion of the world is experienced owing to vasana in the consciousness. The phenomena experienced in a dream or on waking up are, in fact, non-existent. The experiences of both the states are due to ignorance. Just as King Lavan had the experience of being a chandala (an outcast) while sitting on his throne, so the ignorant have, on account of the ideation in the mind, the illusion of the vast universe in space or ether that is a void. All these vanish when wisdom is attained, and then Atma only is realised. Ramji, don’t feel joy or sorrow in doing what naturally appears before you. Do not have the ego of a doer in your mind; act without the subtle ego. This is the supreme way.
23-25. “There are two paths for the individual soul : to freedom from death-rebirth, or to bondage. The former is allegorically the ‘Northern’ path, which here indicates the way of light and brightness of day, symbolically a cloudless sky. This leads selfless souls (those who are free of ignorance and egoism) to the supreme Godhead. The other is the ‘Southern’ path, here meaning the way of darkness or the path of smoke or fog. This leads selfish souls (the ignorant, egoistic ones) to the lesser light of the moon and chains them to the darkness of rebirth and death.
26. “These two ways, the light (Northern) and the dark (Southern), have existed since the beginning. Following the light way (which refers not to a period of time but a state of mind) leads you to spiritual success and freedom; taking the dark way leads you to further pain and misery.
27. “Once you know these two paths you can never be deluded or misled again. Therefore, beloved friend, gain this great knowledge! Be a yogi at all times.
28. “The wise know that living by scriptural injunctions (good deeds, sacrifice, and so forth) will help you reach heaven. But the true yogi knows that even heaven is part of nature and thus is eventually perishable. This yogi therefore transcends all of nature to reach Me, Brahman, the Imperishable Godhead, the Divine Love who lives in your heart.” (BG 8:23-28)
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat
“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”