In my last article, I wrote that the definition of God depends on the mind that defines it. The definition changes with the attainment of knowledge. The gunas (nature) and attributes coin the name for that divine form.
In this article, I would like to share with you the definition of God according to Advaita Vedanta. The primitive form of bhakti makes us to believe that God is a person in the heaven, who is the dispenser of our karmic results, and he will be pleased if we worship him and punish us if we disobey him. Well, this type of bhakti will help our mind to get purified; however, our knowledge of the divine principle must mature beyond this initial stage.
Advaita Vedanta is a very sophisticated philosophy. According to Advaita Vedanta the name given for that universal, infinite divine principle is Brahman. Let me take the support of the Taittriya Upanishad, second chapter (Brahmananda valli) first para to explain this concept. It says, “The knower of Brahman becomes Brahman itself. He who realizes Brahman attains the supreme”. In the same verse it says, “Satyam, jnanam, anantham Brahman”, meaning Brahman is existence, knowledge and bliss. Brahman means vast, infinite, unlimited. Here vast, infinite, unlimited are not used as adjectives. It is Brahman itself. Vastness means without any limit. Brahman has no limit that is why it is said as infinite and unlimited. In sanskrit it said as anantha.
First we will analyze that how Brahman is said as anantha. In the worldly life (samsara), any object is limited by three factors. It is limited by space (desa), time (kala), object (vastu). For example, take this computer in which I am typing this article. It is limited by space, time and object. This computer occupies a certain space; in that way it is limited by space. Whereas, Brahman is all pervading. It has no limits. There is no place without Brahman.
This computer has a manufacturing date and an expiring date. It works well only during that period of time. After that period, it automatically gets destroyed. It exists between creation and destruction. In that sense it is limited by time. Whereas, Brahman is eternal, omnipresent; it always exists. It existed before this creation and it will always exist. The universe emerged from Brahman, it is existing in Brahman, after dissolution only Brahman will exist.
This computer has a form and a name. No other object is known by this name; in that sense it is limited by object. Any object is known by itself and not by any other object. The name gives an identity for this form; whereas, Brahman pervades all forms. Nothing in this universe is apart from Brahman. Therefore, Brahman is not limited by object (vastu).
Therefore, Brahman is not limited by space, time and object and hence it is said as ananda, infinite and non-dual. There cannot be two infinites and hence Brahman is non -dual. Brahman is sarva vyapi (all pervading), nitya (eternal) and ananda (infinite).
Next, we will analyse that how Brahman is said as satyam (Reality). Brahamn is existence itself. Every object exists in the existence and no object exists apart from existence. If I deny this existence, then it implies that I do not exist. It is one continuous base of existence where there is no part or division. Therefore Brahman is satya; Reality itself.
Next, we will analyze that how Brahman is said as jnana (knowledge). Any object in this world is limited by space (desa), time (kala) and object (vastu), which means that the knowledge about that object, is also limited. Every object exists in Brahman. Without intelligence we cannot have knowledge about an object. That intelligence, which is pure consciousness, is Brahman itself. If we realize Brahman then all the objects are known. Therefore, knowledge is Brahman.
Brahman is pure consciousness, devoid of the mind. We come across this state many times in a day like the gap between two thoughts, when our mind goes to an exalted state or in deep misery etc, for a moment we come across this state; but it goes unnoticed.
Pure Consciousness is underlying in all the experiences in life. Only thing is we have to own this fact. Brahman is satyam, janana, ananda. It is existence itself. We are existing in that existence.