The Supreme Word: Vibratory Patterns That Create the Universal Manifestation, Part 1

Verses 4 through 8 of the Kena Upanishad all follow a similar pattern, while focusing on different aspects of the powers of manifestation of our life in the world.  They take up the question of what stands behind the overt forces of mind and life.  With their logical organisation, Sri Aurobindo finds significance in the fact that the “word” was the first issue chosen in the series, as we normally would consider the word, or speech, to be a secondary effect of our mental-vital activity.  This significance, however, goes to the root of the way the universe develops, the various vibratory patterns, also seen in the concept of the mantra, which therefore precedes rather than follows the action of mind and life.  It is also interesting to note that the New Testament of the Christian Bible starts with a similar sentiment:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

Verse 4:  “That which is unexpressed by the word, that by which the word is expressed, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.”

Sri Aurobindo elaborates:  “We must recollect that in the Vedic system the Word was the creatrix; by the Word Brahma creates the forms of the universe. … Brahman expresses by the Word a form or presentation of himself in the objects of sense and consciousness which constitute the universe, just as human word expresses a mental image of those objects.  That Word is creative in a deeper and more original sense than human speech and with a power of which the utmost creativeness of human speech can be only a far-off and feeble analogy.  The word used here for utterance means literally a raising up to confront the mind.  Brahman, says the Upanishad, is that which cannot be so raised up before the mind by speech.  Human speech, as we see, raises up only the presentation of a presentation, the mental figure of an object which is itself only a figure of the sole Reality, Brahman.”

“We know that vibration of sound has the power to create — and to destroy — forms; this is a commonplace of modern Science.  Let us suppose that behind all forms there has been a creative vibration of sound.  Next, let us examine the relation of human speech to sound in general.  We see at once that speech is only a particular application of the principle of sound, a vibration made by pressure of the breath in its passage through the throat and mouth.  …  in fact, speech is creative.  It creates forms of emotion, mental images and impulses of action.  The ancient Vedic theory and practice extended this creative action of speech by the use of the Mantra.  The theory of the Mantra is that it is a word of power born out of the secret depths of our being where it has been brooded upon by a deeper consciousness than the mental, framed in the heart and not originally constructed by the intellect, held in the mind, again concentrated on by the waking mental consciousness and then thrown out silently or vocally … precisely for the work of creation.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Kena Upanishad and analysis, pp. 101-102, 124-128