Four Negations Used For Understanding God

[Krishna's lotus feet]“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)

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Is faith the only way? Inherit from the parents, follow blindly, and hope for some magical event to occur after death, a period of time from which we have no personal testimony that can be verified through other sources?

Or is science the only way? Observation and experiment. Start with a limited amount of information and gradually add to the knowledgebase. Trust must be extended to a pretty large degree, as most of the population is not expert in the various fields. Those observations must be without flaws, and the people investigating must be honest and trustworthy. Still, there is no way to verify what happened millions of years ago, as there is no recorded testimony to consult; at least not from the scientific community.

Vedic teachings incorporate parts of both options. There must be an element of faith, as man can’t do anything in this world without trusting others. At the same time, use the intellect. The human being has the higher potential for intelligence for a reason. Ask every question. Bring every doubt to the table.

One way to understand topics of higher importance is to study the nature around us. What properties do we notice? What patterns emerge? The Vedas say to then apply negations to get a proper understanding of the Almighty.

1. Anadi

This Sanskrit word is a negation of the word meaning “origin” or “beginning.” We have yet to come across something that doesn’t have an origin. A tree may stand tall for thousands of years, but at some time it was merely a seed in the ground. This is deduced from common sense and experience.

The Almighty is anadi because He is the one person without an origin. This is beyond the comprehending power of the material brain, so at the same time we know that God is not material. He is the origin of everyone, but He is simultaneously without anything before Him.

2. Ananta

Anadi deals with time in the reverse direction and ananta is for moving forward. Just as there is birth, there is death. A beginning and then an end. The end is not fixed for every person or even species, but eventually the departure from the material body takes place.

[Markandeya with Narayana]When everything is said and done, when there are no more living beings manifest in the world, God is still around. From the Vedas there is the testimony of Markandeya Rishi, who once had the opportunity to stay in his human form until the end of a particular cycle of creation. He saw that only a small child was still around. That child was without worry or anxiety, and from Him sprung the next cycle of creation. That child was Narayana, which is one personal form of God.

3. Advaita

This means “non-dual.” I can pick up a rock on the ground, hold it in my hand, take it home, and then study it for hours and hours. I may decide to worship it, mistakenly identifying it as Divine. It is God for me.

Though the Supreme Lord is not separate from His creation, He is still distinct from it. That is to say the rocks, the trees, the planets, the stars, and so forth are components to what defines Him, but He is not a component in what defines anyone or anything else. The rock is not God, but it is part and parcel of Him, as are all sparks of spirit, who are otherwise known as living beings.

4. Achyuta

There is the saying, “To err is human.” Man makes mistakes. It’s just the way of life. Some mistakes are costlier than others. Some are more egregious and worthy of punishment from the state. Regardless the degree, mistakes there are.

This is an indication of fallibility, which is a contributing factor to death. No matter how much I secure a particular area, people are always vulnerable. The material world is a dangerous place. The infamous king named Hiranyakashipu had ninety-nine percent immunity from death, but that one percent was enough to bring him down.

One Sanskrit word to describe God is Achyuta. He never falls down. There are no mistakes, as He is not fallible. If He apparently does something wrong during His manifest lila, there is a higher purpose to fulfill that may not be evident immediately.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Since He is so many negations and more, God is the ideal person to worship. He is all-attractive and hence known as Krishna, among many other names. The same Krishna presents the spotless wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita, which helps to further meld the two paths of faith and empirical knowledge, ideally leading to the point of full surrender, which brings fearlessness.

In Closing:

Space, sky, clouds and the ground,

Get understanding of nature around.

From the various principles to take,

With negation a higher study to make.

Of Almighty’s higher position how,

Around before, in future and now.

As Achyuta to fall down never,

As Advaita here and wherever.

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