Knowledge is simple when the number of things we need to know is reduced. The Amrita Bindu Upanishad says that we need to know only two things—one is the sound that indicates the all-pervasive reality called Brahman. That word is Om. The other thing we need to know is the truth, which is Brahman itself.
The knowledge of Om is the essence of quite an expansive field of study called Apara Vidya. This can include all that we study in school, college, university and through any other means of private studies of subjects such as music, gardening, astrology, astronomy, mathematics, science, sports or numismatics.
The more consolidated knowledge of Apara Vidya includes the six parts of the Vedas called the Vedangas, which include phonetics, rituals, grammar, etymology, metre and literature and jyotisha.
Then there is the knowledge of the four Vedas—Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. The
essence of all these subjects can be reduced to one mantra—Om. Beyond this letter too is the knowledge of the self—Para Vidya.
Why should one study many aspects of the knowledge of the world, if what we need to know is the self alone? Well practice of knowledge in any field purifies the mind.
A person who has been rigorously practising music since childhood will be free from any other attachments in the world relating to desires, anger, hatred, jealousy, delusion or greed. With such a pure mind, it is easy to divert it within and meditate upon the truth of the self.
At the end of a vain search for knowledge if one is chanting ‘Om’ understanding its meaning as a sound that symbolises creation, sustenance and destruction—the mind becomes quiet and ready to realise the truth as it is.
Om is like a vacuum-cleaner that exhaustively removes the mental tendencies accumulated over many lifetimes.
Seat yourself in a quiet corner. Let the body settle down comfortably. Let the hands remain with ease on the lap. Let stillness envelop the whole body. Watching the breath for a couple of minutes makes the breath still too. Then bring the attention to the flow of thoughts and emotions in the mind.
As you watch the thoughts come and go, they become still. In this stillness, take a deep breath and exhale with the sound of Om… as if the sound is emerging from the navel, travelling through the heart, the throat, the tongue and the nose to merge outside.
Long and continuous practice of Om makes the mind subtle and quiet. It becomes a fit instrument to grasp the truth.
This verse simplifies our understanding about life, the knowledge we gather to help us be happy and it teaches to drop everything else that is inessential. To know the self, chant Om and be with the silence that follows.