Illustrating the facts I have spoken about, a beautiful story comes at the end of the Keno Upanishad. It goes like this: One day, the supreme Brahman presents himself somewhere to see if the great powers, the great gods–the god of fire, Agni; the god of wind, Vayu and so on–could recognise him for who he is.
So, first goes the fire god, Agni, the most important god–the combustion, heat, energy that is responsible for moving the universe. Agni says, “Let me find out who is this unknown being before us”. So, Agni goes to this unknown being who asks Agni, “Who are you?” Agni answers, “I am Jata-vedas. I am Agni and I can burn down the whole earth. One spark from me can destroy anything and turn it to ashes.” “Is that so?” says this unknown being. Then, it plucks a blade of grass from the ground and holds it in front of Agni and says, “Burn this!” Agni tries his best to burn it. No, he can’t! He is dumbfounded and returns saying to his friends, “I don’t know who this great being is; I could not burn the blade of grass that he held before me.”
So, next goes Vayu, the god of wind. Vayu hurries full speed to the unknown being. The being asks Vayu, “Who are you?” The wind god says, “I am Vayu, the god of winds. I am the cyclone that you see. I am the wind that human beings breathe for life. I can blow off anything on the face of the earth, if I so desire”. “Alright”, says the being. Plucking a blade of grass and holding it before him, he says, “Blow this away.” The wind blows and blows with all its might, creates a cyclone, but cannot move the blade of grass held before him. So, he also comes back totally confounded and says, “I don’t know who this is, this unknown being. I could not blow away the little blade of grass that he held before me.”
That, being which you saw today, who confronted you, is none other than that source of supreme energy from which you derive your strengths.
Then, next goes Indra, the king of the gods, also the king of the senses–the sense of sight, the sense of hearing, the sense of touch and so on. He says, “Let me go and find out. I am the king of the gods. Perhaps I might be able to know who this being is.” When Indra, the lord of the senses, reaches there, he cannot even find the being. The being seems to have disappeared or at least is not visible to him. Perplexed, he comes back saying, “This is too much. He just can’t be found. At least, you saw him, I couldn’t.”
This is so because the senses cannot find ‘that’ which is beyond the senses.
Whilst they are discussing this mystifying matter, there comes along a beautiful young maiden, the daughter of the Himalayas who is called Uma.
She sees them discussing, approaches them and says, “Fools, how foolish are you! That, being which you saw today, who confronted you, is none other than that source of supreme energy from which you derive your strengths.
You could not come to terms with him or see him or experience him or recognise him because you were swollen up with pride–that you have the power to do this, to do that–when all the powers that you have come actually from him. They are dependent entirely on him. This is the lesson given by Uma, the daughter of Himavan.
You know, since ancient times, great rishis are supposed to reside in the snow-clad Himalayas. Uma is considered a representative coming from there to teach even the gods the secret of their existence. And what is the secret of that? The secret is there is a supreme reality, which is the source of all the power and energy that you have.