Great sages, saints and our scriptures have declared that we the modern humanity must ceaselessly strive to focus our attention to this great reality that—this secular earth existence, this physical existence on this earth plane is not the only life you have. You have a higher life. Making a success of your life here is not the only mission with which you have come. There is another attainment to be attained. You have a greater purpose than making a success of your worldly life. If all the success is yours in all its fronts, social front, business front, domestic front, financial front—but you have not done anything to attain this higher goal then your life has gone in vain.
When this is forcefully brought home to you, that there is something more to life than this delusion—then you realize—yes there is something other than this and I must strive for the other goal also. Thus the great seers gave a new meaning and a new purpose for human existence. They admonished all humanity and directed its attention through the upanishadic teachings towards this higher, nobler, spiritual mission in life for the attainment of your divine destiny for your life divine. Attainment of that great reality, that is highest value, that is supreme goal and that alone is capable of imparting deeper meaning and true significance to your life here. Which otherwise will be meaningless coming and going. Unable to take nothing, empty handed you come, empty handed you go. Alone you have come alone you will go. No one has been able to do anything other than this. Therefore, life is an absurdity if you think that accumulation of things and possession of things makes for a successful life, you are in a delusion.
They encouraged us to ask the eternal questions—For what purpose I have been sent here down by? All the scriptures in the world all the prophets and messengers of god have been doing this one thing to explain to humanity for what purpose you are sent down to earth. This has been the central question of philosophy, of theology, of all scriptures, of all religions. True that this intelligence is keen—the question itself has proved it—but not everyone has this ability to understand this subtle philosophy, the ability to grasp and understand these concepts and ideas. How does this ability come in to the thought frames?
The ancient seers and sages in a delicate sensitive way, in a holistic way, in a cryptical way, explained. Let us take this very commonly used term—Hari Om Tat Sat. This combination of few words is a cryptic aphorism. This could well be a quintessential epitomizing of whatever has been declared by any one sent amongst human beings in this world to make them aware why they are here. Ancient, modern, medieval, east, west, that was the very essence of what these prophets and messengers had to say to human being. Hari Om Tat Sat.
Hari is also a name for Lord Vishnu or Lord Narayana. All the different Sanskrit names by which god is referred to they are very very meaningful and very very significant. They convey a specific aspect of the great reality in its personal form. They call this Sakar Saguna Brahman. That transcendental reality as a being endowed with form and with qualities, having certain qualities. Sakar means with form, Saguna means endowed with certain gunas or qualities. Here it doesn’t refer to the three gunas only, but it means other qualities also. Compassion, holiness, radiance, love, peace, wisdom, joy.
Hari also means one who takes away from you all that you are wishing to get rid of—striving all your life but cannot get rid of. We want to get rid of pain, suffering, sorrow, grief, all things which make us sad, but this world is made up only of these ingredients. When you are here caught in the net, you cannot avoid them. But, yes there is one being who can liberate you. He is a remover of all sorrow, bondage, delusion, everything. Sarva hara, dukha hara, shoka hara, dosha hara, bandhan hara.
Therefore while you are here and you are living your life ever ceaselessly, try to be engaged in a necessary effort to attain him. The remover of all sorrow, bestower of all bliss, God. He is symbolized by Om. Om is the symbol of the supreme reality both in its personal aspect with form and endowed with divine qualities—also the symbol of that which is beyond the primal, the pristine everlasting reality transcending all names, forms, qualities, categories—who is Nirakara Nirguna Brahman.
Sakar is endowed with form, Nirakara is formless. Saguna is endowed with divine qualities, Nirguna is absolutely with no qualities. You can say nothing about that being. Anything you say about that being will not be right because it will be conditioning the unconditioned, it is limiting the unlimited, it is trying to confine the infinite, the boundless to some specific aspect or quality or state. Nirakara Nirguna Brahman.
We refer to that transcendental reality as Tat meaning thereby not this which you perceive through your senses. All that is perceived through senses are not real. They pass. They are temporary, transitory, evanescent, changeful, perishable—just a passing appearance, a show. One day it is there, another it is not there and is therefore a temporary appearance only like a line drawn on the surface of water.
When you draw a line for a moment it is there in the water, next moment it is no longer there. A line drawn on the surface of water—as much permanency it has got, that is the permanency, like a flash of lightning of thundercloud. It is all impermanent. Anitya, Asashvata. Not this therefore reality is. Not this because that is characterized by all too evident and patent qualities of evanescence, impermanence, perishability, Therefore not this but that Tat—Reality.
What is real here? God. What is real here? Om. Hari Om. An entire Upanishad is devoted to bringing out the mystical significance of this symbol, of the eternal reality, Om—Mandukya Upnishad. Therefore think of Om. Focus upon that, that is your real nature too. Your real name is Om, not so and so and such and such.
Worshipful Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji used to sing in the song of eighteen ities Mr. so and so is a non-entity, false non-entity. Brahman is the only real entity Mr. so and so is a false non entity towards the end.
And therefore the great reality is that it is God–Hari. Om reclines to the great reality beyond all things perceived here—it is not this passing phenomenon. Hari, Om, Tat, these represent reality. Tat—everything other than these because they are ascending progressive aspects of the one non dual ultimate transcendental reality. Personal god, Om which is a link between both the personal as well as the impersonal. It is no form. Unmanifest but never the less it has got qualities. It is Nirakara but Saguna. It is manifest in a formless way as a sound, as a word. It is manifest as Nada or a Shabda (sound) and it is an indicator of the supreme being. Therefore it is called Nadabrahman or Shabdabrahman. No other than the ultimate reality but in the form of manifest, in the form of a mystical cosmic sound or Nada so you are able to articulate it. It is within the bounds of your experiencing it, your being able to producing it and then concentrating upon the mystical sound that you have produced. Om. Also it is a mystical symbol that is a word but not a word belonging to the alphabet, but the source of all words all alphabets. Therefore you are able to write it this way or that way, everywhere. And it is a very scientific symbol of that which transcends all time tracks, one, two, three, beyond past present and future, relative time. Infinite, timeless, beyond waking, dreaming and deep sleep state, transcending them all, the fourth state of consciousness beyond satwa, rajas and tamas. It is Gunaatitam. Transcending beyond three bodies—gross, subtle and casual body— your real self pure consciousness
In that way it is a significant symbol which accurately brings out its mystical nature. It is beyond all the triads that make up this human world process, this phenomenon process. Beyond creation, preservation and dissolution. These three constitute the different grades, progressive grades of reality beyond our delusion that—This is real. Here is real. What I see is real.
This also is the greatest warning—the greatest problem—the greatest complication. Taking the unreal to be the real. If you take this here and now unreality to be the reality, what more do you require to miss the reality, to deprive yourself from the awareness of this reality. It is a link therefore, between the unmanifest absolute and the manifest relative and the absolute. It is not this it is that.
This formula Hari Om Tat Sat is therefore, one of the most efficacious formula of coming out of this cage of delusion, braking the shackles of illusion and staying put abiding in the self. A formula of lifting yourself up from this forgetfulness into a state of awareness and abiding in that awareness. And therefore sanyasins and vedantiNs are very fond of repeating Hari Om Tat Sat. Hari Om Tat Sat. I am not this outer false appearance of vanishing names and forms but that Om, the eternal symbolizing the eternal. Not this but that reality.
In a wonderful inspiring song written by Swami Vivekananda which is called the song of the sanyasin, each verse ends with this line Say sanyasin bold om tat sat om. It does not say Hari om tat sat. But never the less in essence he says the same thing. Om tat sat. Not this outer false appearance of vanishing names and forms but that, the Om, the eternal symbolizing the eternal. O sanyasin hammer in to your consciousness, hammer in to your mind, hammer in to your awareness, this great fact, this great truth that alone is real. Every thing else besides this is delusion. Arouse that consciousness, awaken that note—SAY SANYASIN BOLD OM TAT SAT OM.
Hari Om Tat Sat, sums up this great truth, this ultimate experience, this great declaration, this great admonition into us to move towards that great reality of the Upanishads. Hari Om Tat Sat is this brief and almost aphoristic epitomizing of that final experience of the absolute which they declare for our guidance to live by. Hari Om Tat Sat. When you raise your consciousness to this awareness, when you raise your life to this plane of striving upon the spiritual level, ceaselessly to become established in this consciousness symbolized by this utterance Hari Om Tat Sat. That is your central duty, that is the great sadhana, that is what has to be done.
The Song of the Sannyasin Wake up the note! the song that had its birth Far off, where worldly taint could never reach In mountain caves and glades of forest deep, Whose calm no sigh for lust or wealth or fame Could ever dare to break; where rolled the stream Of knowledge, truth, and bliss that follows both. Sing high that note, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ Strike off thy fetters! Bonds that bind thee down, Of shining gold or darker, baser ore; Love, hate; good, bad; and all the dual throng, Know, slave is slave, caressed or whipped, not free For fetters, though of gold, are not less strong to bind; Then off with them, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ Let darkness go! the will-o’-the-wisp that leads With blinking light to pile more gloom on gloom. This thirst for life, for ever quench; it drags From birth to death, and death to birth, the soul He conquers all who conquers self. Know this And never yield, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ ‘Who sows must reap,’ they say, ‘and cause must bring The sure effect; good, good; bad, bad; and none Escape the law. But whoso wears a form Must wear the chain.’ Too true; but far beyond Both name and form is Atman, ever free. Know thou art That, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ They know not truth who dream such vacant dreams As father, mother, children, wife and friend. The sexless Self! whose father He? whose child? Whose friend, whose foe is He who is but One? The Self is all in all, none else exists; And thou art That, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ There is but One – The Free, The Knower – Self! Without a name, without a form or stain. In him is Maya, dreaming all this dream. The Witness, He appears as nature, soul. Know thou art That, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ Where seekest thou? That freedom, friend, this world Nor that can give. In books and temples vain Thy search. Thine only is that hand that holds The rope that drags thee on. Then cease lament, Let go thy hold, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ Say, ‘Peace to all: From me no danger be To aught that lives. In those that dwell on high, In those that lowly creep, I am the Self in all. All life both here and there, do I renounce, All heavens and earths and hells, all hopes and fears.’ Thus cut thy bonds, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ Heed then no more how body lives or goes, Its task is done. Let Karma float it down; Let one put garlands on, another kick This frame; say naught. No praise or blame can be Where praiser praised, and blamer blamed are one. Thus be thou calm, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ Truth never comes where lust and fame and greed Of gain reside. No man who thinks of woman As his wife can ever perfect be; Nor he who owns the least of things, nor he Whom anger chains, can ever pass thro’ Maya’s gates. So give these up, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’
Have thou no home. What home can hold thee, friend? The sky thy roof, the grass thy bed; and food What chance may bring, well cooked or ill, judge not. No food or drink can taint that noble Self Which knows itself. Like rolling river free Thou ever be, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ Few only know the truth. The rest will hate And laugh at thee, great one; but pay no heed. Go thou, the free, from place to place, and help Them out of darkness, Maya’s veil. Without The fear of pain or search for pleasure, go Beyond them both, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’ Thus, day by day, till Karma’s powers spent, Release the soul for ever. No more is birth, Nor I, nor thou, nor God, nor man. The ‘I’ Has All become, the All is ‘I’ and Bliss. Know thou art That, Sannyasin bold! Say – ‘Om tat sat, Om!’
— Swami VivekanandaCompiled from the teachings of Worshipful Gurudev Swami Chidanandaji