A Selection from The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony, Volume I
The creative principle of the universe is called Brahma in Sanskrit. Brahma, who is depicted as emerging from the navel lotus of Narayana, is a metaphor for all of creation: its laws, its inherent intelligence, and its consciously manifested potencies which operate as sages, saints, rishis, devas, celestials, and divine beings of all kinds of nature, temperament and description. Narayana is the Sanskrit name given in the Upanishads to that which is the sum and substance of all the manifested and unmanifested realms. Narayana is that which is neither created nor destroyed but transcends the creation, life and destruction of the universe. Brahma creates, operates in the form of this universe for trillions of years, then dissolves back into Narayana. Narayana, however, is neither created nor destroyed. Later, another Brahma appears to begin the process again.
Since the term "Brahma" does not appear in the Vedas, its creation stems from the Sanskrit work "Brih" which means "'to grow" or "to expand." In this way, it became synonymous with Hiranyagharba: The Golden Egg of Creation. Growing from the Navel Lotus of Narayana, Brahma is the name for the principle which creates all of the manifest realms. Since the Vedas proclaim in the Purusha Suktam that "three quarters of this universe are in indestructible realms above," then clearly Brahma, with his finite duration, is connected to the realms of the universe which we inhabit which are subject to creation and dissolution.
Brahma was endowed with his "spouse" (Saraswati) and consciousness at the time of creation. Brahma made certain "beings" solely by the power of his mind and thought. These beings are called the mind-born sons of Brahma. The state of their consciousness is summarized by the title Brahma Rishi: Seer with the Understanding of Brahma. Brahma Rishis, in turn, can confer this state of consciousness upon others who prove themselves capable and worthy. For an example of the conferring of the state of Brahma Rishi upon one being by another, see the Story of Vishwamitra in the Chapter on the Gayatri Mantra.
To further understand the concept of Brahma and his relation to the universe as we know it, it is helpful to view the cosmos through the lens of the Vedic descriptions of the life of the universe as interpreted in human years. Here are cycles of time as recorded in the Vedas and Upanishads.
Small Yuga: 2,000 years. The axis of the earth spends 2,000 years in an astrological sign and the moves on to the next sign, going backwards through the signs of the zodiac. Since we are finishing the Pisceaen cycle, we are ready to enter the Aquarian cycle for the next 2,000 years. We commonly refer to entering Aquarius as the "dawning of the age of Aquarius."
Complete Cycle of Small Yugas: 24,000 years. This is the amount of time needed for the earth to spend 2,000 years in each sign of the zodiac.
The Great Cycle
In addition to the earth's axis moving in an arc as it travels through the signs of the zodiac, there is another cycle. This is a cycle which involves the revolution of the entire solar system around the Central Sun of the Galaxy. The orbit is elliptical rather than circular. To make the elliptical movement of the solar system around a great central point more understandable, the analogy of "seasons" is used. This is a useful analogy because changes in overall states of consciousness are represented as "seasons" through which the solar system passes on its journey.
When consciousness is in a high state, it is summer. At this time, 90% of the inhabitants of the earth are enlightened. This is called Satya Yuga, or the Age of Truth. When Fall or Spring are in full swing, the numbers of enlightened beings drops to less than 10%. When Winter comes, far less than 1% of the people on earth are enlightened. However, there are trade offs.
First, it is easier to make progress in the "'winter of consciousness." The analogy is often used that if one tries to row one's boat in air, very little progress will be achieved. But when the oars are placed in water, much more rapid progress can be made. This is because compared to air, the resistance of water is much higher enabling the work of the oars to bear fruit. It is the resistance itself which provides a route to rapid progress. Similarly, in spiritual winter our efforts to achieve spiritual growth produce much faster results than they would in any other age of consciousness because of the great general resistance to things spiritual.
There is no disagreement among all the sages, pundits, gurus and swamis that Kali Yuga, the present spiritual winter, affords an opportunity for more rapid spiritual progress than any other age. Further, the medium for rapid growth is almost universally prescribed by these same classes of spiritual teachers as divine sound through the medium of mantra. Here are the various seasons and ages of the universe as measured in human years.
Winter (Kali Yuga):* 432,000 years
* The year 2012 is 5,104 years from the beginning of Kali Yuga of the long cycle. For the short cycle, winter is ending with the entrance of the planetary axis into Aquarius, which begins the season of Spring for the shorter, 24,000 year cycle.
Spring: (Treta Yuga): 1,296,000 years
Summer (Satya or Krita Yuga): 1,728,000 years
Autumn (Dwapara Yuga): 864,000 years
Total Time for One Cycle or Manvantara: 4,320,000,000 years
This is called "A Day of Brahma" and is followed by a night of equal length.
One complete day and night of Brahma: 8,640,000,000 years
360 of these days is called "One Year of Brahma": 3,110,400,000,000 years.
100 of these years constitute the life of Brahma called a Maha Kalpa: 311,040,000,000,000 years.
At the end of a "Maha. Kalpa" or cycle of creation, Shiva manifests his destructive influence and the universe is dissolved. [Actually the entire universe becomes spiritualized, see the chapter on Shiva for discussion of this point.] The ancient texts call this the cosmic dissolution. All the levels of the manifest universe disappear. After a great cosmic rest cycle, another creative cycle begins as a new Brahma emerges out of the navel of Narayana and the universe is created anew.
Another item of importance is that one who has achieved the highest level of conscious realization is said to realize and become one with Brahman. At this point, all individuality as we know it disappears. The individual Jiva, Soul or Atman retums to its source from which it will not return of its own volition. However, for reasons known only to itself, certain souls may return for reasons understood only by Narayana.
Story About Brahma and Ego
There is a story in which Brahma and Vishnu were touring the Universe one day and found a pillar of light which extended farther than they could perceive in two directions. They were curious and decided to split up to see if one of them could find an end. Vishnu went in one direction and Brahma the other, After some time, they returned to their staring place. Vishnu said that he was unable to find the beginning, no matter how far he traveled. Brahma said that he found a beginning. He lied. Thereupon, the Pillar of light immediately changed into a form of Shiva who called Brahma a liar and sentenced him to be little observed in the divine ceremonies. This is why you will not find many pujas to him.
The lesson of the story is that the ego always wishes to perpetuate itself. And the act of creation (Brahma is the Great Creator) takes ego... even divine ego... to accomplish things. There is a mantra to achieve understanding of the mysteries of the form of this creation. The secrets of the universe become unraveled. Many traditional gurus give this mantra to their advanced students.
Sat Chid Ekam Brahma
Sat = Truth
Chid = Spiritual mind stuff
Ekam = one, without a second
Brahma = This entire cosmos, with all of its contents
Brahma Mantra with Bijas
Here is a longer version of the "Sat Chid Ekam Brahma" mantra:
Om Eim Hrim Shrim Klim Sauh Sat Chid Ekam Brahma
Om is a prefix to many mantras. It represents the energy at the Ajna chakra at the brow center, where the feminine and masculine currents become joined and consciousness becomes unitary and wholistic.
Eim (aim) is a seed sound for the feminine principle known as Saraswati. This principle governs spiritual knowledge as well as the material pursuits of education, science, art, music, and spiritual discipline.
Hrim is a seed sound for "mahamaya" or the veil of creation. It is said that meditation on this seed sound will result in the meditator ultimately being shown the universe "as it is" and not as we see it currently. That is because reality as we see it is really an "agreement" among all of us which is passed on from generation to generation. Babies, if they could talk, would speak of the universe in quite a different way. They ultimately learn what humanity's "agreement" is and start to function in the world. For more about the Hrim bija, see the chapter on Narayana.
Shrim is the seed sound for the principle of abundance. This covers the abundance of food, friends, family, health and a myriad other things. Prosperity is, of course, included.
Klim is a seed with several meanings. In the present context, it is the principle of attraction. In this mantra, it is attracting the fruit of the other principles to speed the process of mantra meditation.
Sauh is a couple of things. It is a spiritual principle which operates through one of the petals in the Ajna chakra. It is also a shakti activating sound.
Chid: Spiritual mind stuff
Ekam: One, without a second
Brahma: This entire cosmos, with all of its contents, sometimes also called Brahman, the state of conscious existence which is one with everything.
Longer Brahma Mantra
Om Namo Rajo Jushae Sristau
Sthithou Sattwa Mayaya'cha
Tamo Mayaya Sam'harinae
Vishwa Rupaya Vedhasae
Om Brahmanyae Namaha
"Om is the name of He who created this cosmos with its three gunas (qualities of nature: positive, negative and quiescent) who brought all things to form and who is universal. He is Brahma, whom I salute."
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