The Concept of Bindu

In the IInd movement of ‘Burnt Norton’ Eliot coagulates space and time into the ‘still point’ of the turning world :

                                    “At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”

Let me cite further from Kalātattvakośa, :-

bindu does not only constitute the thought-element but also serves as the material of all the elements of matter and speech, that is, everything is made of bindu whether it is the physical body or a metaphysical principle. Hence, bindu is the meeting point of spirit and matter.

This is precisely what Eliot is heading towards when he says later in this movement :

                                   “Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time, time is conquered.”

To summarize so far – bindu arises as a unit of consciousness, it is a thought-element. Now, the dimensions of space, time, speech and form unfold from this ‘unit of consciousness’ and by that we mean that both the beginning and the end of all these aspects, these dimensions are glued together in the idea of bindu.

A vedic text the Ratna-Triya-Parīkṣā [shlöka (70-71)] explains :Ratna-Triya-Pariksabindu is ‘universally understood’ – samākhyāto as
(1) ‘essence of speech’ – śabdatattvamghöṣā ( ghösah also means the ‘conchshell’)
(2) ‘word Brahma’ – vāgbrahma
(3) ‘the stable point of the Kundalini ’ – kundalinī dhruvam˙ ( dhruvah is also the name given to the ‘north star’ – the unchanging reference of the night sky )
(4) ‘power of all conscious knowledge’ – vidyā shaktih
(5) ‘the other aspect of all sound – that is – complete silence’ – parā nāda
(6) ‘this great māyā that surrounds us’ – mahāmāyti deśikaih ( deśikaih connotes spatial immediacy )
(7) ‘the unspoilt void’ – vyöman anāhatam˙

You can probably get a feel for the limitation of expression in trying to explain a transcendental concept like bindu . But whatever the level of difficulty the attempt should be made and this is exactly what the shlöka above has done. In the Vth movement of ‘Burnt Norton’ Eliot accomplishes the same feat :

                                                     “Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.”

The reader must note the sentence ‘The stillness, as a Chinese jar still / moves perpetually in its stillness’. The metaphor of the ‘Chinese jar’ is brilliant because this takes us to the external essence of bindu, which is the ensconcing of dimensions.

Again, in the Vth movement of ‘Little Gidding’ Eliot talks of the beginning and end of time, speech :

                                                    “What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,….)”

and beginning and end of space :

                                                  “We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;”

and the last lines of the entire Four Quartets coalesce the form too:

                                                 “All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.”

The Vedic literature too gives some interesting metaphors of the unfolding of dimensions from the bindu :-

(1) Atharva-Veda-1Atharva Veda XIX.30.5

When and what caused the Sea to swell into a thunderous, cloud with lightening and rain ?
Thence arose the Golden [5] binduh and from the same source sprang the kushā (sacred grass) [6], symbolic of the first form of life.

(2) Atharva-Veda-2Atharva Veda IX.1.21

Here, kashā literally means ‘a horse-whip’ – it also refers to ‘a linking rope’.
antarikś is the vacuum region and it could be either inter-galactic or inter-atomic (for here the prefix antar should be understood as inter- or that which is in between)
dyauh is the border of the ‘deducible’ universe – it is the nominative-singular of the noun div ( idva ) which literally means the ‘region of light’ or the heaven. …therefore this shlöka says :-

The Golden binduh cracks the whip of lightening at the ‘edge of the visible universe’, dyauh,[7] and using the inter-space as the womb creates the earth’s sufferance i.e. gives birth to the ātmic life.

(3) Naisadh-CaritaNaiśadh Caritā 1.21

löman is the hair on the body of men and animals, kötibhi is the instrumental-plural of köti or the tip of a point ; here meaning ‘through collecting the tips of the hairs’ roam literally means the ‘soft hair’, kūp means a ‘dark well’; roamkūpö therefore means ‘the skin-pore’ ; miśāh means ‘the blinking of an eye’ and agh is the suffix for impure or sinful ; …therefore this shlöka says :-

How do you cup all the hairs on a person’s body, thereby making their tips form an unbroken line, and then to be able to count this discreteness ?