An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Calculus of Nirvana

A young man once went to a blind Saint’s hut and knocked. The Saint from inside enquired – “Who is it?”. The young man – who had come looking for a Guru, replied “That is what I have come to know, Sir”. The Guru beckoned him.

That is probably the only question at the root of our existence and the basis of the spiritual quest itself.

Long before Newton and Leibniz discovered Calculus, some had already been using it – as a discipline and as a guide on the path of their spiritual journey.

Notwithstanding the usual – and in my view a facetious – claim that all religions are paths that lead to spiritual nirvana, the final point of “Zero-identity” or Infinite-existence can be approached through two simple frameworks:
– Getting to Zero
– Getting to Infinity

In essence, both are the same thing. If you are zero, then all else is Infinite; and if you are Infinite, all else is zero.

Of course, there are is no real “movement”, as it were, from “here” to “there”, when “there” being zero or infinity. For really speaking in this case, “there” does not “exist” in any spatial dimension that the “here” we are accustomed to! So, our start of the journey is clear. End is not. And therefore, there can be no path. For, in this peculiar journey – “there” is everything, including the “here”!!

Calculus and the frameworks

Calculus had two broad frameworks – Differentiation and Integration. One is a way to reduce the most complete of variables to a constant and then to zero! The other is to add on variability and include everything from “here” to “there” (everything under the “curve”)…. until that curve represents the infinite. Similarly, Vedanta Rishis had approached the final stage of Nirvana.


Vivek – or “discrimination” as some analysts have called it – is the first framework. Unfortunately, Vivek has rarely been interpreted in its proper context. It is often characterized as discriminating between the “good” and the “bad”. For Rishis who clearly saw the infinite and its completeness – this would have been a rather strange characterization.

So, I contend that Vivek is NOT discrimination between “Good” and “Bad” – but differentiation of the Variable/Relative to get to the Constant and then Zero, by asking that same question which the young man asked his to-be Guru – “Who Am I?”.

As Mooji explains very beautifully here, you start by asking the question and trying to see if you can “observe” that phenomenon. If you can, then it is NOT “You”. My thoughts, My body, my pain, my happiness…. I can observe all that. So that is NOT “it”. Keep differentiating.

Somewhere along the journey you come to a stage where there is just the entity asking that question (Who Am I). From here on the question changes – from Who Am I – the question becomes … “Who is asking – Whom Am I?”.

And finally the entity that had been asking and “differentiating” through the variables… to reach to a constant… is also done away with. At this point the questions and the constant vanish. There is complete nothingness. From the approximation of Lt->0 (limit tending towards zero), the entity reaches the state of ZERO.

Rishis have called this stage as Nirvana and the approach as “Neti.. Neti”. When Yajnavalka was asked by his students “What is God?”, he took them through a similar exercise of “differentiation”!


There was another approach that was taken and it was best demonstrated by Krishna in his famous message of Bhagwad Gita. This was the framework of “Integration”.

From looking at “Who Am I”, Krishna took another route of “Who/What Am I NOT?”. He looked at all that fell “under the curve” of this entity called “I”. And continuous as that “function” was, he gave discrete points and markers of the “area under the curve”.

– Among all the bad habits – he was Gambling (the VERY cause of the War)
– Of the Haughty, he was their high ego (or Duryodhana – the VERY entity that Arjuna was fighting “against”)
– of the Strong, he was their strangth (or the very entity that Arjuna was fighting with and through)

So, he was the cause and the effect. He was the complete curve! The Highest form of Ego. He was the Infinite – that which cannot be imagined and where there is NOTHING is “he was NOT”!


Both the frameworks (not paths) lead to the same stage – Zero and Infinity are the same points at their purest.

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