Potency of Sound
His Divine Grace A.C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The Founder Acharya
The Beginning, Middle and End of Spiritual Life
Vedic Conception of Sound
The Healing Power of Sound
The Physics of Sound and Music
The Holy Name - Chanting the Holy Name
Meditation - Prayer
Vedas - Vedic Authority
It appears from
this verse that all the objects of our sense gratification are the
products of egoism in ignorance. It is understood from this verse that
by agitation of the element of egoism in ignorance, the first thing
produced was sound, which is the subtle form of ether. It is stated
also in the Vedanta-sutra that sound is the origin of all
objects of material possession and that by sound one can also dissolve
this material existence. Anavrittih shabdat means
"liberation by sound." The entire material manifestation began from
sound, and sound can also end material entanglement, if it has a
particular potency. The particular sound capable of doing this is the
transcendental vibration Hare Krishna. Our entanglement in material
affairs has begun from material sound. Now we must purify that sound in
spiritual understanding. There is sound in the spiritual world also. If
we approach that sound, then our spiritual life begins, and the other
requirements for spiritual advancement can be supplied. We have to
understand very clearly that sound is the beginning of the creation of
all material objects for our sense gratification. Similarly, if sound
is purified, our spiritual necessities also are produced from sound.
Here it is said that from sound the ether became manifested and that the air became manifested from ether. How the ethereal sky comes from sound, how the air comes from sky and how fire comes from air will be explained later on. Sound is the cause of the sky, and sky is the cause of shrotram, the ear. The ear is the first sense for receiving knowledge. One must give aural reception to any knowledge one wants to receive, either material or spiritual. Therefore shrotram is very important. The Vedic knowledge is called shruti; knowledge has to be received by hearing. By hearing only can we have access to either material or spiritual enjoyment.
In the material world, we manufacture many things for our material comfort simply by hearing. They are already there, but just by hearing, one can transform them. If we want to build a very high skyscraper, this does not mean that we have to create it. The materials for the skyscraper—wood, metal, earth, etc.—are already there, but we make our intimate relationship with those already created material elements by hearing how to utilize them. Modern economic advancement for creation is also a product of hearing, and similarly one can create a favorable field of spiritual activities by hearing from the right source. Arjuna was a gross materialist in the bodily conception of life and was suffering from the bodily concept very acutely. But simply by hearing, Arjuna became a spiritualized, Krishna conscious person. Hearing is very important, and that hearing is produced from the sky. By hearing only can we make proper use of that which already exists. The principle of hearing to properly utilize preconceived materials is applicable to spiritual paraphernalia as well. We must hear from the proper spiritual source.
Text 33: Persons who are learned and who have true knowledge define sound as that which conveys the idea of an object, indicates the presence of a speaker screened from our view and constitutes the subtle form of ether.
It is very clear
herein that as soon as we speak of hearing, there must be a speaker;
without a speaker there is no question of hearing. Therefore the Vedic
knowledge, which is known as shruti, or that which is received
by hearing, is also called apaurusha. Apaurusha means
"not spoken by any person materially created." It is stated in the
beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam, tene brahma hrida.
The sound of Brahman, or Veda, was first impregnated
into the heart of Brahma, the original learned man (adi-kavaye).
How did he become learned? Whenever there is learning, there must be a
speaker and the process of hearing. But Brahma was the first created
being. Who spoke to him? Since no one was there, who was the spiritual
master to give knowledge? He was the only living creature; therefore
the Vedic knowledge was imparted within his heart by the Supreme
Personality of Godhead, who is seated within everyone as Paramatma.
Vedic knowledge is understood to be spoken by the Supreme Lord, and
therefore it is free from the defects of material understanding.
Material understanding is defective. If we hear something from a
conditioned soul, it is full of defects. All material and mundane
information is tainted by illusion, error, cheating and imperfection of
the senses. Because Vedic knowledge was imparted by the Supreme Lord,
who is transcendental to material creation, it is perfect. If we
receive that Vedic knowledge from Brahma in disciplic succession, then
we receive perfect knowledge.
Every word we hear has a meaning behind it. As soon as we hear the word "water," there is a substance—water—behind the word. Similarly, as soon as we hear the word "God," there is a meaning to it. If we receive that meaning and explanation of "God" from God Himself, then it is perfect. But if we speculate about the meaning of "God," it is imperfect. Bhagavad-gita, which is the science of God, is spoken by the Personality of Godhead Himself. This is perfect knowledge. Mental speculators or so-called philosophers who are researching what is actually God will never understand the nature of God. The science of God has to be understood in disciplic succession from Brahma, who was first instructed about knowledge of God by God Himself. We can understand the knowledge of God by hearing Bhagavad-gita from a person authorized in the disciplic succession.
When we speak of seeing, there must be form. By our sense perception, the beginning experience is the sky. Sky is the beginning of form. And from the sky, other forms emanate. The objects of knowledge and sense perception begin, therefore, from the sky.
TEXT 34: The activities and characteristics of the ethereal element can be observed as accommodation for the room for the external and internal existences of all living entities, namely the field of activities of the vital air, the senses and the mind.
The mind, the senses and the vital force, or living entity, have forms, although they are not visible to the naked eye. Form rests in subtle existence in the sky, and internally it is perceived as the veins within the body and the circulation of the vital air. Externally there are invisible forms of sense objects. The production of the invisible sense objects is the external activity of the ethereal element, and the circulation of vital air and blood is its internal activity. That subtle forms exist in the ether has been proven by modern science by transmission of television, by which forms or photographs of one place are transmitted to another place by the action of the ethereal element. That is very nicely explained here. This verse is the potential basis of great scientific research work, for it explains how subtle forms are generated from the ethereal element, what their characteristics and actions are, and how the tangible elements, namely air, fire, water and earth, are manifested from the subtle form. Mental activities, or psychological actions of thinking, feeling and willing, are also activities on the platform of ethereal existence. The statement in Bhagavad-gita that the mental situation at the time of death is the basis of the next birth is also corroborated in this verse. Mental existence transforms into tangible form as soon as there is an opportunity due to contamination or development of the gross elements from subtle form.
TEXT 35: From ethereal existence, which evolves from sound, the next transformation takes place under the impulse of time, and thus the subtle element touch and thence the air and sense of touch become prominent.
In the course of time, when the subtle forms are transformed into gross forms, they become the objects of touch. The objects of touch and the tactile sense also develop after this evolution in time. Sound is the first sense object to exhibit material existence, and from the perception of sound, touch perception evolves and from touch perception the perception of sight. That is the way of the gradual evolution of our perceptive objects.