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

7 thoughts on “The Supreme Word: Vibratory Patterns That Create the Universal Manifestation, Part 1

  1. In Vedic theory, the WORD, of course may also mean non-physical WORD. What is the approach to understand the concept of “vibration” when no matter is present. Eg: Say a mental word (like pasyanti vaak or Madhyama Vaak). Where is this vibration occuring?

    • The Vedic Rishis have an entire cosmology of the creation of the universe and the consciousness that has undertaken that creation within itself out of its own “substance”. This may not be physical matter as you or i would recognize it, but that does not imply that there is nothing there to “vibrate”. The term “ether” is sometimes used to describe the “non physical” matter of the universe. “Dark matter” is a term used in Western science to describe the “matter” that is not observable as physical matter.

      • Indeed. Then, why does the sense of vibration still lingers in physical sense? Vibration that we see in physical matter has a sense of perception for us. The etherial substance or Aakasha as rishi’s call, may have different properties right? For example, Purusha Sukta says three fourth of creation is immutable and Amrita while one fourth is physical manifestation. In that case, how can etherial substance vibrate? Vibrate implies a change in mode of existence and a change implies “Mrita” than “Amrita”. May be that a vibration occur in a way not similar to sense of vibration??

        Sorry, but these are deep questions and I hope you don’t find them digressing from topic of blog. Thanks for kind explanation earlier.

      • light energy is vibration in the electro-magnetic spectrum. science has considered space to be a vacuum (empty). yet the light of stars traverses this “empty” space across vast distances to become visible to us. this proves that vibration can move through what we consider to be “empty” space without physical substance. perhaps it is our limited ability to perceive the substance rather than the absence of substance itself. subtle or etheric matter that scientists today are calling “dark matter” as a way to describe the existence of electro-magnetic vibration across what they perceive to be “void”.

      • Hmm… interesting take. I will think on it. In the mean time I want to update you on one aspect – science now does not consider the space as empty, but filled with “Quantum Fluctuation”. So, even that is a vibration. But, light, energy, etc that we perceive is “Physical”. I am speaking of non physical domains. Hence I require to think more on what you said. Of you have some ready ref of Auribindo’s exposition on vibrations of non physical domains ( like bhuvaha or suvaha planes) I will be happy to go through.
        Cheers.

      • thanks for your comments. i agree that there are some scientists moving toward a more inclusive view of the universe, while many still hold to ideas of either “empty space” or “dark matter” as possible explanations. All of this is however just an attempt to bring into human language an aspect that cannot be fully understood, explained nor adequately proven one way or the other using human tools of perception, technology or logic. Currently the study is focused on the Upanishads, and at this moment, in particular on the Kena Upanishad. For more in depth review of the various worlds, the planes of existence, the nature of them you may want to go to The Life Divine. you can search on subjects of interest to you on this blog page as the entire set of Readings from The Life Divine are archived here. Essentially all existence is a continuum from the most subtle levels to the gross physical levels, so the conversion and transmission of vibration from the more subtle to the less subtle is a matter of potentially slowing down the vibratory rate, something on the order of a “step down transformer” that moves high powered electricity from the generating source to an individual application in a home… The fact that we cannot perceive extremely subtle forms of “universal substance” (regardless of what we call it) does not mean it does not exist. The fact that we cannot “see” electricity also does not mean it does not exist. Lots to ponder….

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