THIS great Self is Immutable, Eternal and One- without- a- second. The glory of the Self is never away from us. It is always present in us, illumining both the inner pulsations o
f the mind and the outer presence of objects. Even though this Consciousness is always present in us, it is not readily available for our cognition because of the veiling over it created by Tamas. How does this great Consciousness come to be covered by Tamas? How can ignorance cover knowledge? Sankara answers this doubt by an illustrative example from nature – just as the sun alt39 coveredalt39 by Rahu during the solar eclipse.
The phenomenon of the solar eclipse is explained with characteristic poetic expression in Hindu mythology. It is said that Rahu, a demon swallows the sun during the eclipse but Rahu is a demon having only a head and no trunk.
So when he swallows the sun by the mouth, it emerges out from his neck.
Here is science wedded to poetry! When the moon comes between the sun and the observer ( on the earth), the phenomenon is termed as the solar eclipse.
In fact, the moon only alt39 coversalt39 the sun from the vision of the observer. How can the moon really cover the sun? The moon is comparatively smaller than the sun. The moon does not and cannot cover the sun.
Since the sun is so far and the moon is nearer, and the observer on the earth is so very much smaller than both, it appears as though the moon has alt39 coveredalt39 the sun. All the same, the moon has obstructed the observers vision of the sun. From his stand- point, the sun is completely covered.
If we could move away even a little from the shadow of the moon we will see that the sun is not covered at all. For those who could rise above the moon there would be no solar eclipse at all. If there were inhabitants on the sun they would not even be conscious of the eclipse.
In Hindu mythology, the moon is the presiding deity of the mind. The sun, the illuminating factor, is equated with the Atman, the Self. Applying the above example subjectively, as long as there is this mind between me and my Self, the glory of the Self is veiled from me. Mind is the manifestation of avidya, the nonapprehension of Reality caused by Tamas. Transcend the mind and there is no pluralistic perception. Realise the Self and all suffering will end.