One of the legendary vocalists of India, Pt. Kumar Gandharva would often say something about Ragas in Indian Classical Music which holds equally true for the absolute truth. As he would say, if you just know trunk of an elephant, you have not known the elephant fully. Knowing elephant fully means being able to recognise it from any angle and perspective. Kumar Ji would often present well known Ragas in perspectives unimaginable to not only listeners but also fellow musicians.
As he would often say, if you just identify an elephant with one of its organs, you are far away from knowing what an elephant is. Once you know what a Raga has to tell, you can go beyond the conventional ‘bookish’ definition of that Raga and unshackle it from the rules. The new perspective might not be as per the definition of that Raga but it will still say what the Raga essentially has to say.
Of course, an artist can take this kind of liberty only after complete understanding of the Raga.
Same holds true for truth and its expression. Roses in a bunch are bound to have different size and shape. The fragrance is essentially the same. When we look at works of different saint or masters, their statements or expression differ but they essentially carry the fragrance of the same truth.
I have been reading Kabir as a little boy and was introduced to Jiddu Krishnamurti during my engineering. Nisargadatta Maharaj, another realised being came into my life much later, in 2016.
Kabir was a 15th century saint who had training in Advaita as well as Nath Panth. Jiddu Krishnamurti was raised under the Theosophical teachings but unlearned and emerged anew. Whereas Nisargadatta Maharaj was a common man with uncommon intelligence who as he would say, sincerely followed what his Guru told him to do.
If we go through teachings of these three saints, we realise that in spite of their different backgrounds and different ways of expression, they were essentially sharing the same fragrance.
For instance, look at these three statements by these three masters :
A Doha (couplet) of Kabir :
कबीर खड़ा बज़ार में लिए लुकाठी हाथ |
जो जारे घर अपना चलो हमारे साथ ||
(Kabir stands in the market with a burning stick in his hand. The one who can burn his house, can join me on my way)
Here is a quote from Jiddu Krishnamurti :
Have you not noticed that love is silence? It may be while holding the hand of another, or looking lovingly at a child, or taking in the beauty of an evening. Love has no past or future, and so it is with this extraordinary state of silence.
Here is a statement by Nisargadatta Maharaj :
You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.
If we relook at the Doha of Kabir above, he says only the one who burns his house can join Kabir on his path (the path of truth). By burning house, Kabir is talking about burning our accumulations; not the physical ones but the accumulations in our mind. Our mind is a storehouse of memories, fears, hopes, and what not. Our first step on the path of truth is burning this junk in our mind; Kabir calls it burning one’s house.
If we read the quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti again, he talks about silence. What is the silence he is talking about? This silence is what follows when one realises that ‘I’ is a fabricated entity. He says love has no past and future. Past and future are products of mind; in present, there is no mind.
Nisargadatta Maharaj says it even more crisply – The death of the mind is the birth of the wisdom. Death of body does not necessarily mean death of mind and death of mind happens without death of the body.
In short, these three masters, in their own words are communicating the same fragrance – our falsely created sense of ‘I’ hinders the direct realisation of the truth. We often debate whether tail of the elephant is really the elephant or the legs! Once we focus ourselves on ‘elephant’, trunk as well as legs are parts of the same elephant. In same way, once we realise that the truth that all masters pointed out is one, the expression no more matters or bothers!