The Self-Negating Expression: ‘Nameless’ is articulated in many ways, in numerous layers, depending on the listener. It can go from the abstract language of the Upanishads to folk renderings routinely held at every street corner in India, before ignorance and luxury real-estate wiped them out.
Yājñavalkya talked of his Ātman as: ‘an endless infinite reality’ and simultaneously ‘an inner controller’; a ‘mass of intelligence’ which is also ‘the unattached and the undecaying’. An expressive circling around ‘That’.
He then went on to elaborate it in what would later be called Coincidentia Oppositorum, a notion extensively developed in later Mystical traditions, both Jewish and Islamic, but is best known from the Docta Ignoranta of the German scholar Nicholas of Cusa [1440 CE].
[For those who believe our best scientists are the new philosophers, Neils Bohr [Nobel, Physics, ’22] chose Contraria Sunt Complementa as the motto on his ‘Coat of Arms’.]
Yājñavalkya’s was abstract language as used in the millennia before the Buddha, itself descended from an earlier oral tradition that was now being documented in script.
Over the centuries, as this language becomes molded to the more concrete sensibilities of the interested listener, it makes an anthropomorphic bent [‘man-made’ and in the likeness of ‘Man’] accommodating the deeply cherished socio-cultural inheritances of the listener. We call this the magical reality, the necessary medium of Murthy [Consecrated Icon] and Myth.
This happens in every religious tradition and I have given illustrative extracts in the posts. [None of this is unique to the religious front. See the sections on Logic and Mathematics for its different avatars.]
I wrote this piece below on Shivam many years ago and display it here to show how this parallel is recast from the abstract to the tangible.
Shivam is the ideal deity, widely popular yet complex and sophisticated in its mythological and iconic construction. No other God in the Hindu Pantheon is clad in such a mix of seeming contradictions.
Shivam is the struggle to make a God as distant from the image of Man, and yet be recognizable by men. I own an ancient Shiva Bronze, the prized centerpiece of my small Art collection.