Death says: After restraining his senses from pursuing their respective objects and stabilizing his Mind like God, a Yogi knows God as follows:
- He is ‘seen’ only after one has undergone austere practices – Dur-darsha;
- He is ‘hidden’ from the physical organs, i.e. He cannot be seen, heard, smelt, tasted and touched by the active senses – Goodha;
- He has ‘entered’ into, and pervades, our Soul – Anu-pravishta;
- He is ‘set’ in the Cave of the Intellect – Guhaa’hita;
- He is present even in the most inaccessible places – Gahware’stha;
- He is Eternal, without a beginning, and ever new – Puraana;
- He illumines the Sun and other luminous bodies – Deva.
Realizing God described above, the wise person renounces joy and sorrow; no longer does he exult because of material gains, no longer does he sulk because of material losses.
God is difficult to see or know by the active and cognitive senses, even by the Mind filled with scientific reasoning, simply because He is extremely subtle, subtle enough to enter into the Individual Soul and to reach those places in the Cosmos where the finite Soul cannot arrive – where even Light hasn’t yet arrived even though it travels at a speed of five trillion miles per year. God, however, is certainly known by philosophical reasoning, through awakened consciousness [see Kena Upanishad 2:4]. He is ever present in every act of knowledge, perception, and judgment. The fact that He is so deeply hidden from the physical senses explains the difficulty involved in spiritual practices like study and meditation. God can be compared to a beautiful flower growing at the top of a steep mountain filled with dangerously sharp rocks. Lovers of beauty crave to pluck and own that flower, but, alas, the path to that flower is difficult and extremely risky. The high price to be paid for that flower drives away all those who are timid and faint-hearted, but those who are courageous and who have no risk, not even death, can hold back, would respond to the challenge and scale the rocky mountain with joy. Such is the lure of God for all heroic lovers of God.
There is a technique that this Upanishad suggests whereby we can discover God. Called Adhyaatma-Yoga, this technique requires us to first restrain the senses from pursuing their respective objects, and then stabilize the Mind like God. This technique is Meditation – a quiet, solitary, sustained effort to apprehend Truth. While practicing this discipline, the mind gradually overcomes its preoccupation with small things and begins to recognize and appreciate the existence of bigger concepts – like Knowledge, Karma, the Universe, Soul, and God. In being connected with, and stabilized in, bigger things, the person, now wise, renounces joy and sorrow, and their causes, because they are seen to be too trivial. When we live by and for the senses, we drift with the Tide of the World-Ocean and we are left to the mercy of Event-Waves. Our joys and sorrows have their cause in the outside world. A little praise here and a little blame there, a little success today and the thought of a little failure tomorrow impact us in big ways – they create huge Waves of Joy and Sorrow. This points to the animal level in us because we respond only to instinctive urges of hunger, thirst, sleep, and sex. Without fully realizing it, we get sunk in sin and weakness, pettiness and meanness, fear and grief, and finitude and death. But there comes a time when we rise from this animal level, through the human level, to the divine level. We then cast off the chains of circumstances that bind, press, and torture us. No longer does such a divinely inspired person exult because of material gains, no longer does he sulk because of material losses.
Note: Swami Shankaracharya and other Teachers of Adwaita Monism posit that God is Nirguna, indeterminate, and so, He cannot be defined and cannot be labeled with adjectives because adjectives limit Him. This current verse, however, tells us differently. It defines God in at least seven different ways. And since the Knowledge of the Upanishads is uniform, this Katha verse finds support from Eesha Upanishad Mantra 8 which says: God encircles everything of the Universe. He is Radiant. He is without body, without flaw, and sinews. He is ever Pure, unpierced by evil, far-sighted, Wise, All-surpassing, (and) Self-existent. Appropriately, He has assigned meanings to words, and purposes to objects, for (the benefit of all) His Children living through the Ages. Rishi Dayananda Saraswati concurs by saying in the 2nd Principle of the Arya Samaj: God is existent, intelligent, and blissful. He is formless, omnipotent, just, kind, unborn, endless, unchangeable, beginningless, unequaled, the support of all, the lord of all, omnipresent, immanent, unaging, immortal, fearless, eternal, holy, and the Creator of the universe. He alone should be communed with.
DR SATISH PRAKASH