When his son returned home after spending twelve years at a residential school, the father asked him an unusual question, “Did you study ‘that’ by knowing which the unheard becomes heard, the unperceivable becomes perceived and the unknowable becomes known?” The son was shocked. He had gone to the gurukula at the age of twelve and had now returned at the age of twenty-four. The gurukula was a campus where all the students lived in the company of teachers, and not only studied various subjects but also imbibed the culture of holistic living.

Shwetaketu, the son, replied, “How can there be such a teaching, O venerable sir?”

A very interesting dialogue follows. Uddalaka, the father, explains how by knowing the essence of a whole range of things, we could come to know everything in the range.

“Bring a fruit of the banyan tree,” says the teacher, the father.

“Here is one, Sir,” responds the student, the son.

“Break it.”
“I have broken it, Sir.”

“What do you see?”

“Very tiny seeds, Sir.”

“Break one.”

“I have broken it, Sir.”

“Now what do you see?”

“Nothing, Sir.”

“What you do not perceive is the essence, and from that finest essence this mighty banyan tree thus arises. That essence is the soul of all that is. That is the true Reality. That is the Self (Atman), and you are that Self (tat tvam asi).”

[Tha Chandogya Upanishad (chapter 6) uses imagery and parables thus to convey the invisible and yet powerful nature of Brahman.]