One day, Bhrigu, the son of sage Varu approached his father and asked: “Father! Will you enlighten me about Brahman?”
“Son, none can enlighten anyone on Brahman. One has to experience through meditation. Go and meditate and carry out self-enquiry. My blessings are with you.”
Bhrigu went into a forest to meditate. He began active self-enquiry, contemplating on several questions related to the spiritual realm. One day, he thought — ‘What is the most essential thing necessary for the existence of all living beings in general, and man in particular?’
After some reflection, he decided it must be food. ‘Man lives, grows and works only because of food. The most essential thing for life is food, so food is Brahman’ — he thought. Running to his father, he blurted out: “Father, I know what is Brahman. It is food!”
Sage Varu replied with a smile: “No, my son, food is not Brahman. Go and meditate.”
Bhrigu continued his tapas. One day the thought struck him, ‘Food may be essential, but unless there is energy, how can food be digested? And what is that energy? It must be pra, the vital principle that courses through our being.’
Bhrigu went to his father and said: “Father, I now know that pra is Brahman.” But sage Varu merely shook his head.
Bhrigu kept on meditating. Then one day he thought — ‘Food is essential, pra is essential, but what is more essential? Unless one has desire to live and to eat, of what use is food and pra? The seat of desire is the mind. So mas is Brahman’, he decided. But when he reported his discovery to his father, sage Varu told him to go back and carry on his quest.
One day Bhrigu thought — ‘Food is essential, pra is essential, mas is also essential, but what is still more essential? Unless one is able to discrimite between good and evil, of what use is this life? What is the seat of this discrimiting faculty? It is vijn, the intellect. So vijn is Brahman’. But again sage Varu told him to search anew for Brahman.
Bhrigu now began concentrated meditation. His cogitation grew intense. ‘Food gives strength, pra energizes, mas creates desires, and vijn endows man with viveka to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil. But, I have to find out what is the ultimate goal of man’s life. I must experience it’ — he resolved.
In the midst of deep meditation one day, Bhrigu experienced an ineffable joy and sat utterly unconscious of the outside world. That day, sage Varu came to the forest in search of his son and saw him in samadhi. From the divine light which shone on Bhrigu’s face, sage Varu knew that his son’s quest had ended.
Bhrigu had realized that supreme bliss is Brahman. And it was his saintly father, a realized soul himself, who had set him on his journey of self-enquiry. The young seeker was encouraged to ask questions at every turn, until he got it right. The answer then revealed itself.
It was inevitable. For sage Varu knew, as did wise parents and preceptors in the upanishadic age, that experience is the best teacher.