Kupa manduka is a Sanskrit phrase for the frog in the well that imagines the well, its home, to be the whole world and universe and it becomes pompous and arrogant. It is a pejorative for the intellectually complacent or one who believes their world is the only world who thinks he knows everything there is to know. Our well has culture, time, space, words, and more as its boundaries.
The time we live from birth to death is the only real history we experience. What we hear of what happened before (history) and of what can happen later (future) are just imagery of mind and opinion (subjectivity) as well as prediction and is all based upon our perspective, our own little well, specially if there is no authentic spiritual vidya, higher knowledge. The only space we experience is the environment we live, work, and travel to. What we hear of other lands is other people’s imagination. Our knowledge of the world is restricted to the words we know and our experience. It is the lens we look thru and the only lens we can look thru. The more words we know the bigger is our world, and our well. Thanks to the information explosion of the internet and public media, we can see more places and know more words, but our lens still fetters us. We remain frogs in the well.
How can we get out of our well? Learn a new language is one solution. Learn about different cultures. Maybe even learn of different religions. Learn history of the world very deeply from different cultures views. In a way you can say that someone that is always seeking the highest truth or self realization is the one that is most likely to get out of their well.
The phrase kupa manduka illustrates a frog residing in the atmosphere and boundary of a well the cannot imagine the length and breadth of the gigantic ocean. Such a frog, when informed of the gigantic length and breadth of the ocean, first of all does not believe that there is such an ocean, and if someone assures him that factually there is such a thing, the frog then begins to measure it by imagination by means of pumping its belly as far as possible, with the result that the tiny abdomen of the frog bursts and the poor frog dies without any experience of the actual ocean.
Its is more than interaction with difference that needs to be explored to get out of the well. A whole new way of experiencing needs to happen. More than just learning a language, an understanding that there is different ways to look at the world, there is much more out there than one knows, specially if they are restricted to an material – empirical evidence based world such as the Western world.
Similarly, the material scientists also want to challenge the immaterial by measuring with their frog like brains and their scientific achievements, but in the end they simply die unsuccessfully like the frog. Their research findings fail and are doomed to constantly change.
Where do we get our information from and of what level is it? What do we believe and what is our well?
Superstition is a great enemy of man, but bigotry is worse.
Science is nothing but the finding of unity. As soon as science would reach perfect unity, it would stop from further progress, because it would reach the goal. Chemistry could not progress farther when it would discover one element out of which all others could be made. Physics would stop when it would be able to fulfil its services in discovering one energy of which all the others are of manifestations. and the science of religion becomes perfect when it would discover Him who is the one life in a universe of death, Him who is the constant basis of an ever changing world. One who is the only Soul of which all souls are but delusive manifestations. Thus is it, through multiplicity and duality, that the ultimate unity is reached. Religion can go no farther. This is the goal of all science.
– Swami Vivekananda
Conceptions of the material world such as good and bad, lower and upper, important and insignificant, are estimations of the material energy by the mind, and of the mind. What is transcendental to all such conceptions?
How deep is your well and do you have a passport?