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follow-up on "bandhus & jantus"

From: sudarshan (
Date: Thu Jul 16 1998 - 11:03:55 PDT

Dear friends,
Here's the answer to the 2nd question raised by a member on the discussions
held for 6 weeks on the theme of "bandhu-s" and "jantu-s" and as it appears
in Swami Desikan's "kAmAsikAshtakam.

The question was :

"What is exactly is meant by the phrase "transcending the limitations of
Time and Space" in the verse from the Gita you translate as:

(Ch.6.44): purvAbyAsEna tEnaiva hiyathE hyavashO-api sa-ha I
           jijnyA-surapi yOgasya shabda-brahmAti-varta thE II
(By the power of his earlier efforts, he is carried forward relentlessly,
and even against his own will, until he reaches a state where he transcends
"sabda-brahmhan" ( "prakriti" or Matter with all its concomitant
limitations of Time and Space)  ?


The idea of "transcending limitations of Time and Space which "prakriti"
imposes on individual consciousness" ("jantu") is a trifle more difficult
to explain than to perhaps even experience it oneself!!

I haven't come across a better explanation for it than those offered by
Advaitins who I personally believe are generally possessed of an uncanny
and natural knack for shedding light on the most abstruse of matters

The great "AdvaitAcharya", Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, the Saint of
Kanchi, explained the "upanishadic" experience of "transcending Time and
Space" in the following manner:

Pick up a newspaper and carefully watch your own reactions as you browse
through the columns.

You may first chance to read some news item about some war or conflict in
Bosnia between Serbs and Croats or between Tutsi and Hutus in Rwanda.

If a conflict appears between say, India and Pakistan (over Kashmir), ie.
nearer home, you may forget the Bosnian or Rwandan crisis and turn your
attention immediately to the news report on the tiff between India and

Suppose there is another report about a conflict even nearer home … say,
between Muslims and Hindus in Coimbatore what happens?You forget quickly
about Bosnia, Kashmir and turn your attention immediately to Coimbatore!!

Suppose someone comes up to you as your are at your newspaper and tells you
that a bloody brawl is taking place next street between your neighbour
Sriman XYZ  and the other one, Srimathi ABC, over respective rights to
parking space in their common garage…. Well, what happens? You may want to
drop the newspaper, the Bosnian crisis, the Kashmir imbroglio, the
Coimbatore carnage and may well rush next street to catch a ring-side view
of the final set in the slanging match beween Sri.XYZ and Srimathi. ABC,
isn't it?!

Now suppose while you are enjoying the tie-breaker duel between Sri. XYZ
and Srimathi.ABC your son comes running up to you and tells you war has
broken out in your own home between your wife and your mother …. What will
you do ?

You will drop everything ---- newspaper,Bosnia, Kashmir, Coimbatore, your
neighbours XYZ & Co. --- get agitated and rush home at once to quell an
imminet riot, won't you ?

Now, in an international perpective, the Bosnian, Rwandan or Kashmir
problem is surely indeed of very great importance. But you quickly pass
from such great issues to other disputes of lesser importance and
consequence. Your interest in each however is in inverse proportion to the
real importance of the issue, isn't it?


The reason is because Rwanda is FAR AWAY IN SPACE !!

Our individual consciousness is more concerned about what happens in our
own backyards than what is occurring in the distance!

When conflict, trouble, dispute, unhappiness, pain are FAR AWAY IN SPACE we
tend to look on them with cool, almost studied disinterest….as when reading
about distant bloodshed in Rwanda in a newspaper column! When the same
turmoil happens nearer home we become instantly and greatly distressed and

Our state of consciousness or mind-state is thus greatly limited by SPACE
which is a cardinal dimension of this world, this "prakriti"!!

Now look at the other dimension TIME.

Assume that a near and dear one --- a "bandhu" --- like a father or sister
passes away. One is extremely distressed at the bereavement. Now after 10
or 15 years the same distress is no longer felt by us with the same
intensity of pain, isn't it?

If we think deeply about it – why we are not now affected by our father's
death as we were 10 years ago-- we will surely realize that we are less and
less affected by past events as those of the recent past or those of the
present. It is therefore easier to remain detached about a past event than
about one that is unfurling now in time right before our eyes!

Why ?

It is because of TIME!

This then is the truth of the "upanishads" and the above mentioned verse of
the Gita :

It is possible for us to attain quietude/tranquility of consciousness if we
learn to look upon the ceaseless conflict near-at-hand within ourselves
(and the pain it ceaselessly causes us every moment of the present time)
with the same studied detachment we reserve for conflicts and pain of
events in the remote DISTANCE of SPACE and TIME!

This is the meaning of the term "trancending limitations of Time and Space
imposed by "prakriti".
When we trancend it we are said to achieve "sabda-brahman" the state where
we can also experience
"bonding" with the "akhilasya-bandhu" -- the Lord KamasikA-hari!

To quote the "advaitAchAryA " : Upanishadic longing is the burning desire
to be free from time and space. It would be in proportion to the extent to
which we burn within in our endeavour to be free from the spatio-temporal
limitations of this worldly existence….".

I hope I have answered my good friend's question adequetely.