Aravindan Neelakandan's series on the Sri Lalitha Sahasranama has a new title, 'Sahasra'. This Navratri, we bring to you one article each from this series, each day.
All existence is a tree. All levels of existence are trees.
Tree is an archetype that forms a basic reality for the movement of life.
The branches are different. Yet they share an organismic unity. Each branch is suited to receive optimum sunlight and face the wind movements to effect maximum benefit. Only for an outsider there are higher and lower branches. All the branches are optimal.
This is true for all life forms that evolve in a phylogenetic tree. This is true for all the universes that branch out as theoretical physicists tell us.
Ancient civilizations always envisioned reality as a tree. Even the cosmic pillar or Anima Mundi is envisioned as a tree. The pillar of fire puts forth branches and is in reality a tree.
Cosmic trees and trees of life are part and parcel of pagan civilizations throughout the planet.
The tree is visible. Its branches are full of life with leaves receiving light and flowers bursting out with beauty and fruits and seeds disseminating life further.
But unseen, the root exists. The primal root that exists underground, nourishes the tree. Roots absorb nutrients and water. That is the visible material part. There is another dimension to the root. They are the cognitive components of the plants.
It was Charles Darwin who first proposed the root brain hypothesis that the root tips might share similarities with neurons of the animal kingdom. Today, modern science sees the root as creating a field of cognition under the surface. The root tips exude ionic cognition into the soil. It forms a fluid network of communication through chemicals and cat-ion exchange. So the flowers or the reproductive organs of the trees are above and the cognitive components of the trees are below.
A tree by its very nature is inverted compared to humans and other animals. In Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna speaks of the tree of all existence as the inverted tree with the roots above and the branches below:
ūrdhva-mūlam adhaḥ-śhākham aśhvatthaṁ prāhur avyayam
chhandānsi yasya parṇāni yas taṁ veda sa veda-vit
This unchanging, eternal tree has for its leaves the Vedic hymns. The root of the tree is then the root of all existence. It nourishes. It sustains life. It's cognition. It exudes intelligence. It networks and connects in the unseen realm.
And it is in this context we need to see what is the 325th Name - Jagati-kanda. She is the root of the ever-dynamic Universe.
Jagati means that which is in movement. The physical existence is in ceaseless movement. While the tree is eternal, that is not static eternality. It is alive. The branches are changing. Old branches fall into non-existence. New branches come into existence. There is a dynamic wholeness that permeates the entire existence. That is Jagati.
It is what the physicist David Bohm calls the Holomovement. Later, neuroscientist Karl Pribram extended this framework, which Bohm originally formulated in the realm of theoretical physics, to the study of brain and constructed what is called ‘holonomic’ model.
In his later works, Pribram was influenced by Indian computational scientist and Vedantist Subhash Kak. In this reformulation, consciousness is the root from which space, time and matter emerge. The movement itself is the consciousness.
Naturally She is the root of all existence, all movement and all experience of the movement. Just as how root nourishes and cognises in a tree, the same way She nourishes and cognises the cosmic tree. Being the root She is also the nourishment and She spreads materially into the entire physical universe. Being the cognitive apparatus that generates cognition, She permeates as the psychic essence of the universe. ‘īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvaṁ yat kiṁ ca jagatyāṁ jagat’ declares Sri Isopanishad. The Divine permeates the entire existence.
She is both the material and psychic dimensions of the Universe resolving the question whether consciousness is the emergent property of matter or matter arises from consciousness. She is both and She is the source of both as the root.
The imagery of the inverted cosmic tree with the Vedic hymns as its leaves when related to the Name Jagati-Kanda also complements another beautiful image that Hindu body of knowledge has given – that She stands on the head of Veda Mata (Sruti-Simanta Sinduri krta- Padabja Dhulika: Name 289).
The sacred textual heritage becomes the platform on which the Divine Consciousness, the Goddess stands. As the inverted tree-root, She stands above the branches which has Vedic hymns as its leaves.
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