Isha Upanishad: the Methods of Realisation, Part 1, the Role of Surya

After indicating the way to reconcile seemingly opposing concepts about existence, the Isha Upanishad in the 4th Movement starting in verses 15 and 16 begins setting forth the steps and methodology of accomplishing the needed transformations in consciousness to live the truths that have been revealed.

Verses 15 and 16 call upon the god Surya.  It should be noted that the gods in the Vedic world represented powers of consciousness at work in the individual and in the world.

“The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid; that do thou remove, O Fosterer, for the law of the Truth, for sight.  O Fosterer, O sole Seer, O Ordainer, O illumining Sun, O power of the Father of creatures, marshal thy rays, draw together thy light;; the Lustre which is thy most blessed form of all, that in Thee I behold.  The Purusha there and there, He am I.”

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “In the inner sense of the Veda Surya, the Sun-God, represents the divine Illumination of the Kavi which exceeds mind and forms the pure self-luminous Truth of things.  His principal power is self-revelatory knowledge, termed in the Veda ‘Sight’.  His realm is described as the Truth, the Law, the Vast.  He is the Fosterer or Increaser, for he enlarges and opens man’s dark and limited being into a luminous and infinite consciousness.  He is the sole Seer, Seer of Oneness and Knower of the Self, and leads him to the highest Sight.  He is Yama, Controller or Ordainer, for he governs man’s action and manifested being by the direct Law of the Truth … and therefore by the right principle of our nature, … a luminous power proceeding from the Father of all existence, he reveals in himself the divine Purusha of whom all beings are the manifestations.  His rays are the thoughts that proceed luminously from the Truth, the Vast, but become deflected and distorted, broken up and disordered in the reflecting and dividing principle, Mind.  They form there the golden lid which covers the face of the Truth.  The Seer prays to Surya to cast them into right order and relation and then draw them together into the unity of revealed truth.  The result of this inner process is the perception of the oneness of all beings in the divine Soul of the Universe.”

“The face of this Truth is covered as with a brilliant shield, as with a golden lid; covered, that is to say, from the view of our human consciousness.  For we are mental beings and our highest ordinary mental sight is composed of the concepts and percepts of the mind, which are indeed a means of knowledge, rays of the Truth, but not in their nature truth of existence, only truth of form.  By them we arrange our knowledge of the appearances of things and try to infer the truth behind.  The true knowledge is truth of existence, satyam, not mere truth of form or appearance.  We can only arrive at the true Truth, if Surya works in us to remove this brilliant formation of concepts and percepts and replaces them by the self-vision and all-vision.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Isha Upanishad and analysis, pg. 23, 28 & 74-83

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