Shabd Brahman, Param Brahman- Two Types of Brahman to be Realised

Dr MG Prasad, Proffesor Emiritus, Stephens Institute of Technelogy, Hoboken, New Jersey

“A Shlok of Amritabindu Upanishad describes the two manifestations of Brahman to be realised- one is the shabd(transcendental sound) and other is Param Brahman(light) one who has realised and is well versed in Shabad Brahman will realise Param Brahman.  Lakshman Deshika’s Sharda Tilak states that consciousness ie Chaitanya in all beings is also shabda Brahman” said Dr MG Prasad Professor Emeritus (Specialising in Acoustics), at Stephens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey he was presenting a talk on ‘Science of Sound in Hinduism’  in New Delhi recently, the talk was organised by Srijan Foundation.

He explained how Naad is all pervading “Sir William Byrd in his book ‘The World of Sound’ had pointed out that we live in the world of sound just like the fishes live in the world of water .The Sangita Ratnakar by Sargna Deva states that there is no song or letters without Naad, no dance or movement without Naad hence Naad is all pervading. Yogi Seer Shrirang Sadguru once said that music should become the bridge that takes listeners from sensual level to spiritual level.”

Dr Prasad explained why Om is such a venerated sound “Om chanting is part of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Om is the sound that is closest to the sound of the universe. Om is the word that comes close to depicting the sound of the universe for example if we were to strike the table there would be a sound, we describe that sound as ‘thud’;  thud is not exactly the sound but is the sound that describes that sound, similarly Om is the sound that describes the sound of the universe.  Om is the name and sound of God.  Brahma Upanishad states that Om is heard by a baby in the womb in the 8th month, it is the same sound that is connecting inhalation and exhalation.”

According to Dr Prasad mantra chanting does not merely provide spiritual development but also physical well being “as mind, body and spirit are all connected hence we see that body also adjusts itself for the spiritual practices. There are some mantras which are based on words such as dha, ha etc where the sound is being produced from the Nabhi, here the energy is going upwards from the Nabhi and cleansing the whole system. Not only this even in Ayurveda certain mantras are recommended by Charak Rishi for specific conditions.”

Dr Prasad said that the oral tradition in Hinduism was promoted not because of paucity of writing material but for the efficiency it offers “if you transmit knowledge through writing a lot of things get emitted, there is a difference between live interaction and written records, the Veda mantras have been kept intact for thousands of years through the oral tradition, that is why even today in the Vedpathshalas books are not kept.”

Sound Waves

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