Now the light which shines above this heaven, above all, above everything, in the highest worlds beyond which there are no higher, verily, that is the same as the light which is here within the person.
The Chāndogya Upaniṣad (c. 700 BCE)
Ganesha - the friendly elephant god that removes problems - conducts us beyond those thoughts of ours which create Dragons, and beyond perception where we encounter wild cats to that which we do not encounter. For some people Ganesha, like a dragon, is a creation of the human imagination. For others he is an avatar, an incarnation, offering us a conduit, channelling us beyond normal experience. Ganesha, along with fellow gods, points us on towards Brahman, which for many Hindus is identical with everything that is, and so is also ourselves. Repeating the point made on the page on the Ineffable it is striking how similar this idea is to that of Kant’s noumenon: we can say nothing about what is being pointed to, and yet, at the same time, ‘it’ is everything that exists.
This Ganesha is in the Champa Museum of Đà Nẵng, central Vietnam. The quoted passage (III.13.7) is from Radhakrishnan’s translation in his book The Principle Upanishads. Published by HarperCollins India (1994). As is naturally with a document of this age it is open to many translations, the literal words in English according to Swami Swahananda in his The Chāndogya Upaniṣad (Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras) are: ‘Again, this heaven above everything, above all, above in the incomparable good and the highest worlds the light (of Brahman) that shines that is this light, this which is within the body of man.’ These translations may say that Brahman is a spirit within us, rather than being the totality of the human, however many commentators opt for that latter identification.
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