Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

We are as complete as we are!

“Om purna mada purna midam
Purnaat purnam udachyate
Purnasya purnam adaaya
Purnam eva vasishyate
Om shanti shanti shantih

Literally translates into:

“That is the Whole; This is the Whole;
From the Whole, the Whole arises;
Taking away the Whole from the Whole,
The Whole remains.
Om peace peace peace”

This is a hymn from the Upanishads. The reason this hymn caught my attention and made me Google is the multiplicity of interpretations this simple, small hymn has. I have compiled the various meanings I found on the internet. Even though I don’t vouch for the accuracy, I would urge you to find your own meaning by thinking about it. It is worth thinking about.

Interpretation 1:

This hymn is considered the master thought in Indian ancient mathematics for their understanding of the concept of infinity when it was unknown to other civilizations. The concept of Purnam as Infinity (not as Whole as mentioned in the literal translation above) would display the ancient understanding of how infinity as a mathematical figure behaves.

Infinity + x = Infinity; Infinity –x = Infinity;

Interpretation 2:

In a similar mathematical sense, people gave India the credit of ‘knowing’ zero and its behavior as a number. Replace Infinity with zero and the concept is very similar and clear.

Interpretation 3:

This interpretation works on the hypothesis of the equality of infinity with zero based on the mathematical behavior of the two entities.  Very interesting and a simple “Zero equals Infinity” search on Google gives multiple perspectives to this concept. Concepts of Pythagoras and his belief of this entire world as a structured ordering of numbers is very close to this interpretation.

This link here is an interesting read, though it might be a little controversial 😉 But we can discuss more if you are interested. ;

Interpretation 4: (My understanding, my thoughts)

This interpretation is off the scientific and mathematical limits and merges into the human sciences. Replace the meaning of Purnam with ‘Complete’ or ‘Full’ in a sense of not lacking in anything or any front.

That is Full; This is Full; Only from a Full does a Full arise; If you take away Full from Full; Full Remains;

That is also complete and this is also complete: No one or nothing is incomplete or lacking in anything. This assertion urges us to not try to find things lacking in people or features missing in things around us for all of us (living and nonliving) are already ‘complete’ as we exist today.

Only from a complete person can something ‘complete’ come out: Half-hearted efforts and inattentive jobs are bound to be fraught with errors and incompletion.

If you take away a complete object from a complete human being, the object and the being still remain complete: Like an artist who puts his entire being into his creation to make it as complete as himself. When he is done, both the art and the artist are still complete. The artist does not part with a part of himself/herself when the art surges forth from him.

Interpretation 5: (My understanding, my thoughts)

This is the usual spiritual meaning of ‘Aham Brahmasmi’.

That is complete. This is complete: God or whatever you find your source of will is complete. Your existence as yourself is also complete.

From the Whole, the whole arises: From a complete universe a micro-version arises with similar features and feelings of the entire universe. (For instance there is an interesting statistic that ratio of Water to Matter in human body = Ratio of Water to Land on Earth = Approx 66% and some interesting words of Nadis with the meaning of nerves in human body is the same word used to denote Rivers on earth and so on – citation needed!) If that is true, we can control ourselves and control the whole world and vice versa, a series of flooding rivers might denote a deluge of hyper-emotions in humans etc. You can go on and on! Think about it if it interests you!

Taking away the whole from the whole, the whole remains: This is the most interesting part. If you remove ourselves (one whole!) from the universe (another Whole) – the Whole remains. If you trust this assertion, what is the fuss about we as human race disappearing or getting wiped out from the face of earth 😉


Whatever be the meaning and the interpretation of the first three lines, I always like the ending of most of these Vedic hymns. For they end always with wishing for Peace and blessing the world with Peace all the time.