Beyond Awareness of Name and Form

Sri Aurobindo translates Mundaka Upanishad, Chapter 3, Section 2, Verse 8:  “As rivers in their flowing reach their home (Or, ‘come to their end’) in the ocean and cast off their names and forms, even so one who knows is delivered from name and form and reaches the Supreme beyond the Most High, even the Divine Person.”

This verse describes the spiritual state of the individual who has gone beyond to the Absolute Immutable, the pervading Presence, that is beyond the manifestation entirely.  There is the Kshara Purusha, the consciousness that is involved in and aware of the manifestation and then there is the Akshara Purusha, the consciousness that is unmoving, immutable and uninvolved in the movement and action of the cosmos.  In that state of consciousness, the individual has no relationship with the world of names, forms and circumstance.

In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes different forms of Samadhi, and there is one called Nirvikalpa Samadhi, which is a state of separation from the world “without seed” and this could be considered to place the awareness in the undifferentiated unmoving Absolute.  The “mind stuff” in this status has no movement or waves so that the awareness is the pure awareness of Existence.

As the Bhagavad Gita explains clearly, there is yet another status of consciousness beyond both the Kshara Purusha and the Akshara Purusha that encompasses both the moving and the unmoving, which the Gita calls the Purushottama, or the Supreme Consciousness.  It is the Purushottama that creates the possibility of someone who can live and act in the world while simultaneously maintaining the awareness of the unmoving, pervading basis of all that has been manifesting.


Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Mundaka Upanishad, pp. 193-210