June 8, 2023


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Book Excerpt: Vishwadarshan- A Glimpse Of The Universe by Mahatma Ramratna Thapaliyal (Translated by Rupa Srikumar & A. K. Srikumar)

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An exclusive excerpt from Vishwadarshan- A Glimpse Of The Universe by Mahatma Ramratna Thapaliyal (Translated by Rupa Srikumar & A. K. Srikumar) [Fingerprint!, 2021], an insight into the workings of life and the universe, its inception, creation, and cessation, received as a revelation by Mahatma Thapaliyal as a consequence of his seventeen-year-long penance in the Himalayas.

This boundless universe is composed of an immeasurable number of spheres. This planet Earth that we inhabit is a microcosm of the universe. Innumerable species of living beings exist upon this Earth. The human being also is one such life form. All living beings toil lifelong to fulfill their needs. This is the ‘battle for survival’, so to speak. Eating – drinking, walking – peregrinating, reading – writing, farming – commerce – business, art – proficiency, and theatre—each one of these activities involves a struggle that constitutes this ‘battle for survival’. In this battle for survival, living beings are faced with social and political conflict. Like the personal, social, and political conflicts of human beings, other life forms also must undergo this struggle.

Honey bees toil every day of their lives to fulfill their needs, and for the satisfaction of individual needs, they unite to create a social movement. They also have an organised political setup to carry forward this effort.

Monkeys, too, are socially and politically organised for meeting their requirements. So are grasshoppers and ants. Like humans, many other living beings have their setups, but in fact, humans and other living beings upon earth are so organised for the attainment of bliss.

It is quite another matter that due to ignorance, humans and other beings, instead of achieving joy, end up becoming miserable. But the actual objective of this struggle of life is to achieve bliss.

What is ‘bliss’? What is the real goal worthy of achievement by all life forms? To all intents and purposes, the global human community comprehends happiness in terms of wearing good clothes and flashy jewellery, delectable food and drink, a wife and son to one’s liking, a high standard of living, and a grand house with a courtyard. Likewise, it is evident that happiness for all living beings is dependent upon brightness.

Like human beings, other organisms also are joyful in light. Moths and many insects even get burnt in the luminosity of lamps in their craving for joy. Deer and snakes get charmed by sweet sounds. Likewise, all living beings, it appears, are dependent for their happiness upon brilliance.

So we proceed further, carrying the brightness of all those objects that enthrall us, to that grand lustre before us. What do we gain there?

The centre of this luminescence beckoning to us and all other beings is the sun; its light makes the day, without which there is only night. What do we obtain from sunshine during the day, and what do we get in the darkness of night, in the absence of sunshine?

In the dark of night, humans and many other beings come under the spell of slumber, and become unconscious. In the darkness of night, like on the new moon night in the rainy season, most people are afraid to venture out of their sanctuaries, and not many beings are seen moving around in the darkness. Thus, fear is experienced in darkness, but as soon as day breaks and sunshine scatters, all beings become fearless. That is why brightness is the harbinger of fearlessness. In the inky gloom of night, nothing can actually be perceived. But when it is light all objects, and their shapes and colors, can actually be appreciated in the sunshine. Thus, in daylight, the sunshine makes us naturally conscious, fearless, and perceptive. The dark of night, on the other hand, renders us insensible, fearful, and lacking perception.

Besides sunshine, there is the radiance of the moon, stars, light, fire, and jewels that makes us happy. This proves that there is a light source greater than the sun which provides lustre to the sun, moon, stars, light, fire, and other objects in the world. That supreme light is the source of complete bliss for us. To attain it is the ultimate joy for humans and other beings. It manifests as super-consciousness, fearlessness, and supreme knowledge, which bring absolute bliss.

Likewise, in the expanse of the sky, we see a darkness thicker than the gloom of night. In that absolute void, we realise there is maximum unconsciousness, fear, and ignorance. Fear and ignorance cause acute sorrow.

That is why humans and other beings seeking worldly gratification are caught up in the conflict and struggle to decipher the mysteries of brightness and darkness. It is acuity or the ignorance of intelligence alone that will help unravel these mysteries, or lead to failure. Through knowledge we may achieve supreme bliss, while ignorance will lead to our experiencing extremes of anguish.

All beings are eternally battling to resolve these two mysteries—of attaining bliss and achieving deliverance from sorrow. The primary goal of a living being’s existence is to come to terms with these mysteries, but it is unjust that only human beings have been endowed with an intelligence that is able to comprehend them. So it becomes the prime duty of human intelligence to plumb the mysteries of joy and sorrow in the maze of this world, and impart to human beings the methods of achieving bliss and redemption from sorrow.

In order to attain this objective, it is necessary to have knowledge of the world. An understanding of the world is required first for being blissful and free of sorrow. With so much diversity evident in the world, it becomes quite impossible to accurately perceive the mysteries of joy and grief. So much so that at times an ordinary intelligence may mistake joy for sadness or sorrow for happiness.

To be able to achieve comfort and joy, therefore, human beings must first aim at understanding temporal issues.

The entire universe was constituted originally of two great elements. The first is a whole great element, while the other is an incomplete one. The whole element is the support, constant, and radiance incarnate, whereas the incomplete element is dependent, inconstant, and darkness incarnate.

The original essence of worldly creation and the birth of living beings can be termed sukra (semen) and raj (menses). The creation of all living beings is through ‘sukra’ and ‘raj’. ‘Sukra’ has stability, steadfastness, and brightness. But ‘raj’ is fluid, inconsistent, and murky.

The entire universe is structured in this way, using Maha-sukra and Maha-raj components. The ‘Maha-sukra’ is considered to be purush (the Supreme Being) while the ‘Maha-raj’ is prakriti, (the primal, natural state). ‘Purush’ is whole, free, grounded, and with brightness, but ‘prakriti’ is incomplete, subjugated, inconsistent, and shrouded in darkness. The entire universe is a product of the union of these fundamental whole and incomplete elements.

An exclusive excerpt from Vishwadarshan- A Glimpse Of The Universe by Mahatma Ramratna Thapaliyal (Translated the Original Hindi by Rupa Srikumar & A. K. Srikumar) [Fingerprint!, 2021].

About the Book

Vishwadarshan is an insight into the workings of life and the universe, its inception, creation, and cessation, received as a revelation by Mahatma Thapaliyal as a consequence of his seventeen-year-long penance in the Himalayas. From the tiny ant living on Earth to intuitive revelations about the solar and lunar systems, This work touches various universal aspects.

The seer brings a fresh perspective to how the ever-constant Supreme consciousness and Prakriti together conceive the universe, in the form of Brahma and Saraswati, how sustenance of the universe is taken care of by Maha Vishnu and Maha Laxmi, and its ultimate destruction by Shiva and Maharani. Mahatma thapaliyal’s work comes highly recommended by the likes of Sri Aurobindo, Gurudev Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, and Madan Mohan Malaviya. They, and others, considered this Smriti to be unique in the annals of philosophy and spirituality. Rupa and A.K. Srikumar’s lucid English translation makes this seminal work a must-read, particularly in this harrowing time when mankind is searching for its moorings.

About the Author

Rupa Srikumar is a poet, translator and novelist. She has also written for radio and the stage. With her husband A.K. Srikumar, she translated Yasmin Khalid Rafi’s Mohammad Rafi: My Abba – A Memoir (Westland) from Hindi to English. Her radio plays have been broadcast by AIR. Her adaptation of Jai Shankar Prasad’s Hindi play Ajatasatru was staged in Delhi University some years ago. Rupa’s first novel Mahaveer (jointly authored with A K Srikumar) was published by Rupa publications in 2019.

A.K. Srikumar is a novelist, translator, poet and playwright. Srikumar also writes fiction for children. Most of his nine children’s books won first or second prizes in the Children’s Book Trust’s annual competition. Operation Polo (1997) was adjudged the ‘Best Children’s Book of the Year’.

Some of Srikumar’s poetry has been published by the Times of India. His play Bhishma was staged in Ahmedabad (1984). His short stories have been featured in Femina, Children’s World, etc. Srikumar’s novels The Wonderful World of Nilayam Swamy (1981) and Conversations with a Motor‑cycle (1984) were published by Writers’ Workshop, Kolkata. His historical novel The Begum’s Secret (Penguin, 2010) was long‑listed for the Vodafone‑Crossword Literary Prize. Srikumar’s English translation of T.V. Varkey’s Malayalam classic Maanju Pokunna Thalamurakal (The Vanishing Generations) was published in September 2017 and shortlisted for several awards.

He has since also translated T.V. Varkey’s novels Sooryante Maranam and Chhaaya into English. Srikumar’s novel Mahaveer (jointly authored with Rupa) was published in 2019. A.K. Srikumar and Rupa live in Mumbai. Their son S. Shankar is a filmmaker and screenwriter, and daughter Rohini a Hindustani vocalist and social scientist.

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