MANAGER Redefined - Part 2: Sri Sathya Sai Paradigm

(A) – Awareness of Atman

Awareness is Atman and Atman is awareness. But you have to describe it as the awareness of the Atman. In awareness, there are various levels. When one says that there is a snake, it means that he has said it with full awareness. If you doubt whether it is a snake or a rope [Baba is referring here to the popular misapprehension ‘Rajju-Sarpa Bhraanti’ in Vedantic literature known to all in modern psychological literature (an individual misconceives a rope as a snake in darkness and realises that it is a rope and not a snake in light)], it is not full awareness. Awareness is total knowledge. For example, when you see a handkerchief completely, you call it a hankie. If you fold and stuff it into your fist and then question others, “What do you see?”; they might normally respond that, it is a piece of cloth. Partial knowledge cannot be termed as awareness. Understanding everything in a holistic manner and knowing comprehensively from all possible angles would amount to awareness. Therefore, awareness of Atman means realising the nature and potential of Atman completely. It is the realisation that ‘Man is essentially a soul, which has a body’. What does Atman mean? The nature and implication of Atman can be appreciated with the help of the following sequence. 
The Panch Bhootas - Five Elements
From sky comes the wind, from wind comes fire, from fire comes water and from water comes earth (This explanation flows from a hymn that originates from the Taittiriya Upanishad: Akashaat Vaayuhu, Vayor Agnihi, Agner Aapaha, Adyah Pruthvihi) However, it should be understood that there must be some basis for this sky, and that very basis is the Atman. Atman is the basis of the five elements (ether, earth, water, fire and wind) which together manifest as the world. There is no place without these five elements and as such there is no place in this phenomenal world wherein Atman is absent. Then the next question that bothers everyone is, ‘What is the reason for the origin of various objects in the phenomenal world?’ Here, what does sky mean? When you think of the sky, you look upwards. We have to enquire into the quality of the sky. Sound represents the quality of the sky. Where is the sky? Sky is present in the entire open space and wherever there is open space. Any particular sound signifies the sky. How has the sound emerged? Sound has emerged from movement. When you keep two fingers like this (without movement), sound does not come. Sound is only generated when there are vibrations and movement. When there is movement, there is vibration. Wind emerges from sound, which has come from movement. The fan has three blades that are rotating. The breeze emerges because of their movement. If they do not move, there is no breeze. Without wind, you cannot generate fire. If there is fire in a place without wind, it will be extinguished eventually. If there is breeze, then the fire will grow further. Thus, wind helps in promoting fire. Water materializes from fire. Here is a small example. A person suffering from fever may have temperature up to 103 degree Fahrenheit. When fever subsides and the temperature comes down to normal, some water comes out from the body in the form of sweat. When we physically exert ourselves outdoors, we would be possibly exposed to the sun. Physical work thus involves bodily actions. Sweat is generated due to both the heat and the bodily exertion because of physical movements. Body heat is responsible for perspiration. Therefore, water has come out of heat. When this water solidifies, it becomes earth. The basis for earth is water and basis of water is fire. The cause for fire is wind. Sky is responsible for wind. And, Atman is the basis for the sky. 

That is why the five elements are called Naras. Nara means Atman. As everyone possesses Atman (within the human body), he is called Nara. In the word Nara, there are two syllables Na + Ra, Na means cannot be; Raha means destroy/perish. Naraha means that which cannot be destroyed or that which is immortal. The body may perish, but the Atman is imperishable and eternal. Take for example a container like a tumbler, which contains water. When you take this tumbler containing water outside into the open space, you can see the reflection of the sky. But if you empty the container by taking the water out, you cannot see the sky any longer. Does it mean that the sky ceases to exist as it is no longer visible in the tumbler? Sky continues to exist as before. Since there is no water, the reflection of the sky is no longer visible. Similarly, Atman continues to be there as long as the physical body exists and ever after the physical body perishes. However, Atman cannot be seen or noticed indirectly through the actions when the body ceases to exist. Physical bodies may perish, but the Atman does not perish. Therefore, awareness is recognising the all-pervasive Atman in the entire manifest creation as the very essence and the driving force behind the entire phenomenal world.

Continued in Part 3

Source: The Manager and Values-Based Management: Significance and Salient Features, Chapter 9, Man Management: A Values-Based Management Perspective

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