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Saturday, July 9, 2022

Time, Space and Naadabrahmam


Time and Space are two fundamental units of nature. They are deeply interconnected. They existed long before human beings appeared on this earth and will last forever. We came on the scene and separated them in our minds for better understanding of nature. Albert Einstein brought them together in recent times. But Vedic rishis knew that by intuition and wrote about them.

The Vedic philosophers called time Kaala. That which is not bound by time (kaala) was called nithyam and limited time was anithyam.

Space was called aakaasam. That which is restricted by space has a form which was called a roopa and that which was not restricted by space was called poornam.

Anything created has a roopa and if something has a roopa, we gave it a name or naama. Anything with a form and a name is by nature impermanent or anithyam.

That which is beyond both kaala and aakasa was called vibhu (eternal, existing everywhere).

Now comes an interesting insight in the Samkhya philosophy.

The never-ending, never ceasing poornam and nithyam take the form of naada (sound, not any sound, which is called sabda produced by some action but the background inherent waves whose disturbance causes the sound). In other words, naada is the form for unrestricted eternal time or kaala and also becomes the representation of poornam, unrestricted space.

I can now see how the sound OM, became the symbol of Vibhu, the one beyond both space and time. I can also see how the sounds of mantra became sacred in the Vedas. I can also understand why master musicians worship naadabrahman.

It is very interesting also to learn that sound is significant in the Western Abrahamic traditions also. But their emphasis is on the words, “the word of God” and not on the basic sound itself.

(My understanding came out of trying to understand the meaning of the words used by Saint Thyagaraja in his composition “Naada tanum anisham shankaram”  which means नाद (basic note) तनुं (body) अनिशं (never ending).  Saint Thyagaraja says, “I bow in my mind and with my body to Lord Shankara, the embodiment of the eternal (nithya)  and all-encompassing (poorna) in the form of basic musical note”. Please correct me if I have not understood any of these concepts correctly. Thank you.)

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