Source: Pixabay 
“As a piece of lead thrown into a basin of mercury becomes soon dissolved in it, so an individual soul loses its existence when it falls into the ocean of Brahmand”.

An attempt here in is made to do a comparative study of “ Sunya and Bharattattva” in this dissertation.

In the light of aesthetics of BHARATTAVA and in relation with the Vedic literature, Purana’s, and Upanishads, the dissertation paper will search upon the philosophy of Bharatborsho, the tantras of Bharatborsho, the sakta tantras of Bharatborsho, the temple architecture sculptures, and different art forms of Bharatborsho, music of ancient Bharatborsho. The dissertation will also do a comparative study of “ Shunya” in Indian antiquity.

The dissertation will conclude upon showing, that the concept of NOTHING AND EVERYTHING is the main aesthetic essence of BHARATTATTVA. And the said dichotomy is the only catalyst for this dissertation paper.

The Philosophy Of Bhratborsho in the perspective of Sunya :

The Upanishads, the crest jewel of Vedic wisdom and begin and end with the well-known invocation.

“Om purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udacyate/
Purnasya purnam adaya purnam eva avasisyate //”

“Om, the infinite fullness is that Brahman. The same infinite fullness is this Brahman. The same infinite fullness springs from (is hidden), infinite universe. When this same infinite fullness is taken away from infinite fullness, still what remains is infinite fullness.”

The Vedic seers realised the Ultimate Reality or Brahamn as Infinite knowledge, Existence, and Bliss. Brahamn is real ( brahma satyam). Sankaracharya, the greatest champion of Advaita Vedanta asserted, only, he continued in order to attain that realisation one must realise this transient phenomenal universe as a void, a total emptiness- jagat mithya after realisation, this empty, transient evanescent world of space-time appears, as a manifestation of that One Reality Brahman
(jivo brahma eva na aparah) Nature abhors a vacuum. The realisation of sunyata, void or emptiness of this space-time existence is the essential step to the final bliss of Infinite fullness, the Brahman beyond space-time. The Rg- Vedic poem on Non – Existence Nasadiya Sukta, speaks about this state of void. “Existence was not there, nor nonexistence. The world was not, the sky beyond was neither “. Shri. Ramakrishna once said,

“Divine mother revealed to me that everything is void ”___“ Put 50 zeros after, 1, large sums. Erase 1 and nothing remains. The First one, then many“.

SUNYATA IS THE OTHER SIDE OF PURNATA: The Upanishads: (Emptiness is the other face of fullness)

The Ultimate Reality in the Upanishads is “not this, not this “. The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad describes the Ultimate Reality as “neti neti“. Now is given the final definition of Brahamn – Not this, Not this, No greater definition is there than this one (“athatah adesah neti neti , na hi etasmatiti na iti param asti“) Br.up.2.3.6

Tantras Of Bharatborsho in the perspective of Sunya:

Tantra states sunya as a part less form characterised by the dissolution of all positive entities. Sometimes in Tantras it is described as the fire of the cremation ground. As a phoneme it is ( ha ) preceded by ( sa ). The Sardhakalottara describes it thus: “santam sarvacatam sunyam matradvadasake sthitam“. The Trayodasakalottara calls it akasa . It is void depending on none: “yac chunyam tan niralambam akasam parikirtitam.” The supreme reality known as Siva is anuttara , the beyond which is no other than sunya. In the citation, the term Kham is called sunya, which includes sakti, vyapini, and samana. The Supreme Reality in Saiva doctrine is Siva, who is transcendent, anuttara, that is there is nothing beyond it. It is sometimes called Siva-vyoma. Only from the following description, we may be able to understand the concept. The void called Siva is beyond the grasp of pramana. It is considered to be akasa. It is abhava, negation, the ultimate end. It is the cause of the pulsative stir ( Samvambha) of the blossoming of positivity. It should be known as the void of Siva who is characterised as the base of all.

Sakta Tanra of Bharatborsho in the perspective of Sunya:

From a general survey of Sakta – tantric scriptures and tradition it seems that Sakta thinkers employed the term sunya although not very commonly, to explain certain concepts pertaining to the subtlety of a particular form of Sakti or the Supreme Mother and associated thought and ritual practices. Amongst the available Saktic references connected with sunya , perhaps the one which may broadly be placed to a period after the sixth century the following extract from the Devi Upanishad or the ( Devayatharvastra): “When all the gods approached the Goddess and enquired as to who shhyye is. She spoke (thus ): “ I am the embodiment of Brahman; (and) from me ( alone) the universe with the elements of Prakriti and Purusa has emerged. I am (both ) the void and the non-void and bliss and non- bliss. I am the Supreme Knowledge and the dimension beyond knowledge. I am knowable Brahamn and unknowable Brahman ( non- Brahamn ). I constitute the five elements and also their absence. I represent the entire universe.

Temple Architecture & Sculptures Of Bharatborsho in the perspective of Sunya :

The concepts of philosophy and religion find concrete and visible from in the architectural and sculpture imagery of the temple. The temple is itself considered to be an image of the cosmos and also conceived of as a Purusa , the personified image of the Universal Being. It is a repository and synthesis of many symbols and metaphors. In the temple, we see a continuum of philosophy, religion, and art.

The nucleus of the garbhagrha (sanctum) in a temple is the zero point, the potential All- point. It is the metaphysical and physical centre of the temple. The garbhagrha is a crucial area of the temple. It is the hollow chamber which is a cave, guha. It enshrines an emblem or the image of the divinity. Expansion proceeds from the central point of the garbhagrha in horizontal and all directions of space. It is a single principle from which everything issues and to which everything is connected.

The final, the highest point of the Sikhara (superstructure) lies exactly above the centre of garbhagrha. The high point, the final is also conceived of as the visual equivalent of bindu. The points – the centre of the Brahmasthana on the ground level and the final in the akasa., (space, sky )- are connected by a vertical axis. As Stella Kramrisch says, it is an invisible axis which traverses the sanctum like a hollow reed ( sunya madhya). It is the Cosmic Axis which connects the heaven and earth.

Music Of Bharatborsho in the perspective of Sunya :

Sunya figure indirectly in nihsabda kriya ( lit. unsounded action ) or silent units in the ancient tala system and as a sign for druta or half matra in the medieval notation system. In Contemporary Hindustani music, Khali (lit vacant or empty ) is an important component of almost all talas. In notation, it is represented by a zero. This current parlance has a long history. According to Bhrata’s Natyasastra ( XXXI,30 31), kriya or action tala is twofold, viz saabda (sounded) and nishsabda (Unsounded); each one of the two is again fourfold viz. dvapa, niskrama , viksepa, and pravesa are the four varieties of unsounded beats and samya , tala , dhruva, and sannipata are the four types of sounded beats. Since tala is a repetitive pattern and repetition operates in a cycle, the preceding unsounded extension of the first sounded beat could as well as be taken as the succeeding extension of the last sounded beat. Coming back to the Vedic concept of sat (the existant) having come out of asat ( non-existent), there are passages stating that sat was the first manifestation. (Chandogya – Upanishad (VI . 21 )

“Shunya” in Indian antiquity :

Source: Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

In various perspectives, the Sanskrit term sunya does not only convey the sense of void or mere nothingness, but also reveals that of the perfect fullness (i.e., purn .a), a divine infinititude (i.e., ananta) through its association with the metaphysical idea of ‘ether’, the vast expanse of limitless space (found in a wide variety of terms like kha, gagana, ¯ak¯a´sa, ambara, vyoma, antariks ), and sometimes a receptive vacuum, ‘the unformed and the essence of all that is uncreated’, like what happens after the destruction of the universe (i.e.,pralaya) by ´Siva—the eternal destroyer, a vacuum pregnant with the immensity of creation of a new infinite universe (i.e.,sr.s.t .i), created out of the ´s¯unya by ´Siva—the eternal creator. ‘The vacuum is truly a living void, pulsating in endless rhythms of destruction and creation, the duality between the minutest of the minute and the greatest of the great, the Brahman, perceived as an or an˙¯ıy¯an mahato mah¯ıy¯an.

Is the presence of nothing i.e., ´s¯unya (reflecting non-existence), different from the absence (akin to voidness ) of something or anything (reflecting non-availability)? The Sanskrit word ´s¯unya is probably derived from ´s¯un¯a, [as ´s¯un¯a +yat], which is the past participle of √´svi, which means “to swell” or,“ to grow”, and therefrom by semantic extension, “hollow”. In R . gveda, one may find another meaning: “the sense of lack or deficiency”19. ‘It is possible that the two different words were fused to give ´s¯unya a single sense of absence or emptiness with the potential for growth [28], a womb-like hollow, ready to swell. Its conceptual derivative, ´s¯unyat¯a, the state of void, is described in the N¯asad¯ıya S¯ukta of R . gveda20. According to the teaching of the Tantra, both ¯atman and ´Siva is to be conceived as voids, ‘undifferentiated formless entity’21, in the first one (¯atman) the divine qualities of ´ Siva have not flourished yet and the objective of ‘this void’

(¯atman) is to attain the ‘other void’ known as ´Siva. In this context, one may also refer to the M¯adhyamika school of the Mah¯ay¯ana Buddhist’s doctrine of devoidness, (´s¯unyav¯ada i.e., nihilism, of the philosopher N¯ag¯arjuna) who argued in favour of the spiritual practice of emptying the mind of all impressions. According to this doctrine, the highest form of knowledge, prajn˜¯ ap¯aramit¯a, is the perception of everything phenomenal as ´s¯unya, the pure void. Complete ´s¯unyat¯a is the same as nirv¯ana, which ‘encompasses the end and the beginning’. But how to attain this state of ´s¯unya? According to N¯agasena, a philosopher of the same school, it is to be done by stepwise negating (subtracting or taking away) all the parts of a thing. It soon paved the path for the corresponding mathematical development of thought, particularly among the Buddhist school— “just as the emptiness of space is a necessary condition for the appearance of any object, the number zero being no number at all, is the condition for the existence of all numbers”.

In an article titled “ Zero’’ in Mathematical System of India by R. C. Gupta segregated the technology of using zero in India. A study of the evolution of various concepts behind zero in India will involve investigations in several disciplines which are literary, speculative, as well as scientific. For the convenience of description and discussion, the technology of using zero in India may be treated under the following

Six broad categories:

  1. Literary.
  2. Speculative.
  3. Referential.
  4. Place Value Numeration.
  5. Computable Number.
  6. Non – Scalar or higher mathematical entity.

The literal meaning of sunya as void is reflected in Pali word sunnagara (sunyagara in Sanskrit) or ‘ empty room ‘. And metaphorically in Canaky’s saying: avidam jivam sunyam or, life is void without learning. Speculative category here includes use in philosophy, mysticism, grammar, and linguistics, etc. The Buddhist philosophy of Sunyavada (Zeroism) springs from the doctrine of the nonexistence of any spirit either Supreme or human. The saying Buddhist Nagarjuna ( about A.D.150). One of the names of Brahma is sunya. Panini’s grammatical or linguistic zero is called ‘Lopa’ ( Astadhyayi, 1.1.60) and is used as a maker of empty non-occupied space.

The referential use of zero is reflected in phrases like ‘ zero hours’ which is scheduled time for specific action or operation. The mean sea-level mark indicates both the zero height and zero depth. ‘ Brahmanda’ may be considered the Potential Zero point from which the present creation emerges. (i.e. Big – Bang).

In the place value systems of numeration ( to any base ),the sunya as zero denotes the absence of denominational term. The role of such zero-symbol may be medial or internal ( as in 205 or 2005), final or terminal ( as in 250 or 200), or initial ( as in 025 or 0025).

The fifth category treats zero as a number used as a computable entity for carrying out calculations and computations. It obeys the laws of mathematical operations. The mathematical or computable zero in the above categories may be confined to the system of real numbers.

The Sixth category may treat the zero in complex and hypercomplex systems (including quaternions) and also the non – scalar or higher mathematical systems or structures. Examples are zero vector, zero tensors, zero matrix , zero-dimensional commutative rings, etc.

The word sunya ( in some sense ) is found in Atharva – Veda ( XIV,2.19) and the word ksudra found in the same is found in the same work

( kanda XIX, suktas 22 and 23 ) is taken to refer to zero by some scholars. We also know that many words, such as kham and purna, which were used on as technical terms for zero, are found in the Vedas and Vedic literature. It is claimed that the grammatical system of Panini (about 500B.C.) had contributed to the evolution of the concept of zero in the mathematical sense, that is involving positional analysis, operation of subtraction, and process of going from maximum to minimum. Similarly, another Vedanga author namely Pingala ( about 200B.C. or earlier) is said to have used some symbol for zero. This is inferred from his sutra rupe sunyam (Chandah – Sastra VIII, 29) which asks us to place a zero symbol in certain operations while computing 2n.

Simple arithmetical operations involving zero were known and carried out in India earlier than the time of Brahmagupta ( A.D. 7Th.century). For instance, the Pancasiddhantiki, IV, 8 of Varahamihira implies the addition .30 +0 as trimsat yuktambara (thirty-plus zero), But Brahmagupta seems to be the first in the world to give a formal exposition of the sunya–ganita (mathematics of zero ) in his Brahmasphuta –siddhanta ( A.D. 628), chapter XVIII ( on Kuttaka). For addition involving positive, negative, and zero numbers he states (BSS. XVIII, 30)

Dhanayor dhanam rnam rnayor dhanarna yorantaram samaikyam kham

Rnam aikyam ca dhanam rnadhanasunyayoh sunyayoh sunyam // 30//

The Main Asthetic Essence of

“Normally, the Now is considered to be present or just what is not any longer when it is. Now is usually considered as part of the time, by physicists as well as by philosophers, for the former it is no more than the subjective characterization of a particular instant of time; and for the latter, the function of the word ‘ now’ is reduced to the instant which is simultaneous to the utterance of the corresponding word. This is another way of saying that it is part of the time. Clearly, the Now is self-elusive: as soon as it is defined, characterized, localised, or merely taken as an object of awareness, it is likely to be no more really Now. This is the paradoxical feature of Now, an entity which both plays a role in temporal relations and does not belong to any time series. The ‘actual now’ supports the argument against the ‘ reality’ of time and Now is involved in many self-referential situations. Such an in involvement is the key point which enables one to go beyond the traditional viewpoints in physics about time, and the temporal predicates used in ordinary language: Is present, past, or future; and has been, is, or will be. S.C. Malik also adds upon and states that a brief background of physics and philosophy, is that experientially the mind in its wholeness is the Now, No- thingness. It is a spaceless, timeless dimensionless point that has only contact with seriality at right angles to it, It is not a fleeting moment, it is the noumenon through which everything is potentially present, projected, and intuited. It is the sole line of communication between our enveloping totality and our apparent existence as separate individual creatures.

Now alone informs us that we are in an apparent world in which we are not a phenomenon only. We are nothing but the Now, neither existing nor not existing. The Now is the dimensionless point that throbs moment to moment, each moment being totality. It is not apprehended by a system that reasons dualistically and is limited to three-dimension areas. It is apprehended WITHIN, whereby the concepts of time, space, itself. a NO- MIND ( SUNYA) state, beyond knowing and not knowing, absence and presence. IT IS.

The void is not of the nature of a black abyss or a bottomless pit. Rather it is nature is vast and expansive like space itself. It is apprehended as serene, marvelous and pure brilliant, and inclusive. Above all does it partake of the nature of light and is not anything. For void is Mind itself and Mind Itself is Void; that is the answer. ( A Chinese saying).

Once Mathematician G. B. Halsted said,

”The importance of the creation of the zero mark can never be exaggerated . This giving to airy nothing , not merely a local habitation and a name , a picture , a symbol, but also a helpful power , is the characteristic of the HINDU race whence it sprang. It is like coining the Nirvana into dynamos. So single mathematical creation has been more potent for general on- go of Intelligence and power”.

The point to be noted is the remark (is the characteristic of the HINDU race).

What characteristic?

The answer is the dichotomy of Nothing and Everything / Zero and infinity. The conceptual belief of zero and infinity. This is been termed or titled as TATTAVA of entire BHARATBORSHO, the philosophy of ancient INDIA. The main characteristic of the Hindu race is believing in infinity and zero. So it has been clearly revealed in the philosophy of Bharatborsho, the tantras of Bharatborsho, the sakta tantras of Bharatborsho, the temple architecture sculptures, and different art forms of Bharatborsho, and in the music of ancient Bharatborsho. 

.    .    .

Special Thanks to:

Prof. Dr. AMARTYA KUMAR DUTTA. (Mathematician) (Indian Statistical Institute). (Who ignited the fire within to choose such a topic).

Dedicated to:

Mr. Ashoke Ray. (Who taught me, limit delta tends to zero but not equal to zero in the year 1985).


  • Vivekananda in Contemporary Indian News (1893-1902)
  • CONCEPT OF ´ S¯ UNYA IN INDIAN ANTIQUITY - Dr. Parthassarathi Mukhopadhyay Reader, Department of Mathematics Ramakrishna Mission Residential College.
  • SWAMI JITAMANANDA. (Sunyata Its meaning in philosophy and science.)
  • H. N. CHAKRABORTY. (The Concept Of Sunya in Tantra And Agma).
  • M.C. Joshi. (The Concept of Sunya in Sakta Tantras).
  • DEVANGANA DESAI. (Sunya in the Context of Temple Art).
  • PREM LATA SHARMA. (Sunya in Indian Tala System).


  • Rig Veda.
  • Atharva Veda.
  • Brahmasphuta –siddhanta
  • Pancasiddhantiki, IV, 8 of Varahamihira
  • Chandah – Sastra VIII , 29
  • Panini’s Astadhyayi, 1.1.60
  • Bhrata’s Natyasastra.
  • Devi Upanishad or the ( Devayatharvastra)
  • Sardhakalottara.
  • Trayodasakalottara.
  • Brhadaranyaka Upanishad.
  • Sankaracharya Bhasya .