Para Tattva

Para Tattva is a Sanskrit phrase meaning “Supreme Truth,” as studied, realized, worshipped and revealed by the saints of India's Vedic tradition. The root "tat" is equivalent to the English word “that,” while the suffix "-tva" is used like our suffix “-ness,” giving a sense of “that-ness,” commonly understood as truth or principle. "Para" is simply “supreme,” “transcendental” or “absolute,” in this context describing the principles of truth in a wholesome context.

Two very common conceptions in this day and age amongst students of the Vedas (which includes the core scriptures Rg, Sama, Yajur and Atharva, and may also extend into the vast body of associated peripheral works) are the Hindu tattvas of Brahman and Paramatman, which may be understood respectively as the witness-consciousness (Self as knower) and the Supersoul (supercontrolling Godhead). The mainstream Hindu social class in traditional Vedic culture is the functionary priesthood, and includes teachers and scribes as well as medical practitioners. Those Brahmanas who tend to be theonomous in nature but who relate to Deity more as the absolute Self in its wise or gnostic capacity may be called Brahma-vadis, meaning practitioners of Brahma-vada, the endorsement of Brahma-tattva.

Brahmanas and Yogis (deeply meditative saints) who are more progressively theolatrous, whether exoterically or esoterically, may be called Paramatma-vadis. Their relationship with the Deity advances beyond theoretical knowledge of Self into the dynamics of what may be called absolute civilization. Their practice of cosmic consciousness comprehends ontological relationships between the Witness which is the relatively inferior Self and the supercontrolling Godhead, attunement with Whom is the prime requirement for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Vaishnava school of Vedic theology emphasizes a third significant phase of Para Tattva beyond Brahman and Paramatma. Positioning themselves (the Vaishnavas) as authoritatively superior both socially and spiritually to a non-Vaishnavite Brahmin class, they claim that the real goal of a theistic saint is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, known as Bhagavan. Where Brahma-tattva tends to be perception oriented and Paramatma-tattva concerned with absolute functionality, the tattva of Bhagavan expands into explorations of quality, including and especially the superlative quality of glory which is the feature that reveals the Kingdom of Heaven, known to the Vaishnavas as Vaikuntha.

Once Bhagavan is recognized, reality may be comprehended sixfold, according to six essential qualities of divine personality. Where Vishnu is the Supreme Father, Lord of Vaikuntha, He actually has a qualitatively superlative aspect, where He is known as Lord Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead as personification of the highest quality of glory, Whose mood is actually more intimate and friendly. On the other hand, where Vishnu's absolute fatherhood leans more toward the relatively impersonal functionality of Paramatma, He becomes represented as Shiva, Who may be compared to the Holy Ghost. This phase is recognized by the Vaishnavas in terms of the quality of strength.

Backing down the qualitative ladder from Bhagavan Lord Rama's superlative glory, through the strength represented by Paramatma Shiva, our study returns to the quality of wisdom or knowledge personified by Brahma, who is the first created Son of Father Vishnu, and may therefore be compared to the Christ. Understanding this much, then, gives us half the picture of Para Tattva, and is the framework of what may be called the right-handed path. Lord Rama (the original Vishnu) as Bhagavan is all-glorious, Shiva as Paramatma is all-powerful, and Brahma who is Brahma-tattva is all wise. Three qualities, however, remain to be examined.

The Vedic tradition initially portrays reality as fourfold, and this qualitative framework may gradually be comprehended in a broader context once the left-handed path is added to the relatively simplistic design which begins beneath Brahma's position and extends upwardly beyond Lord Rama's kingdom. The fourth aspect of Deity Whom we find beyond the glorious Rama is described by the Veda as the all-beautiful Krishna, Whose alluring pastimes are lovingly worshipped by many devotees all over the world. At the other extreme end of fourfold reality is a fifth entity known as Sudarshana, the original Chakra who is Lord Vishnu's weapon of absolute destruction and therefore represents the fifth quality of Bhagavan which is detachment.

Thus far we have covered five of six qualities of Bhagavan, which outline the traditional fourfold path: beauty (Krishna), glory (Rama), strength (Shiva), knowledge (Brahma) and detachment (Sudarshana). Now one last principle can be observed as connecting the two ends of our envisioned framework of reality, this being the quality of possession, which is personified by a lesser-known aspect of Bhagavan whose name is Chaitanya. Chaitanya is connected negatively through possessiveness to Sudarshana's detachment through his exhibition of renunciation, and positively through possessiveness to Krishna's beauty through loving devotion. In this way, Bhagavan realization advances our initial studies of Para Tattva into a full-circle comprehension of quality.

External links

* [http://www.harekrsna.com/philosophy/truth/para-tattva.htm Para-tattva: Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan]
* [http://vedabase.net/sb/1/2/11/en Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 1, Chapter 2, Verse 11]


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