[Advaita-l] Advaita vEdAnta - Unit (13)
puttakrishna at verizon.net
Fri Feb 9 16:00:05 CST 2007
So far we have understood that Brahman is the material and intelligent
causes of jagat.
We reviewed causes of jagat as posited by other philosophies and countered
established that Brahman is the one and only (undifferentiated) material and
cause of the jagat. In the last unit, we understood what mAYA is.
In this Unit, we will review some of the statements of scriptures regarding
the creation of jagat.
MAnDUkya upanishat (3-20, 24).
Some argue that the jagat was born by Brahman, who is of the nature of
unborn and undying. A jagat born out of an undying entity (Brahman)
indicates that the Brahman has to be of the nature of dying (when the jagat
ends). How can Brahman of undying nature be dying? Should an undying Brahman
transform into a dying jagat, then the initial statement of undying Brahman
is violated. Brahman is the only unborn and undying entity. Therefore the
creation of jagat is to be understood as the manifestation of Brahman
(appearance of creation) caused by the power of mAyA. Otherwise it leads to
the absurdity of an entity to be dying and undying. How can fire be of the
nature of hot and cold?
MAnDUkya upanishat (4-3, 5).
Among the philosophies that believe in the actual creation, there are two
groups; one group says the existent jagat is created, while the other group
claims that the non-existent jagat is created. In the philosophical plane,
an existent entity is always existent - past, present and future and a
non-existent entity is always non-existent - past, present and future. The
vEdAntic Reality is, an existing entity is never non-existing and a
non-existing entity is never existing.
"nAsatO vidyatE bhAvO nAbhAvO vidyatE satah
ubhayOrapi drishTo antah tvanayOh tatva darshibhih " - The unreal has no
existence and the real has no non-existence. The final truth of these two,
have been experienced by the knower of the truth (gIta 2-16).
Therefore the jagat must be of the nature of existence or non-existence. If
it is of the nature of existence, then there can not be a state of
non-existence; if it is of the nature of non-existence, it can not have a
state of existence. That is, it cannot be created. So how should we
understand this jagat coming into being? One group of philosophers claim
creation of an existing jagat. This is contradictory in the fact that how
can an existing jagat be created? On the other hand, another group claims a
non-existent jagat has been created. This is objected to by the former
group, saying it is like horn on a rabbit; the non-existent cannot be
created. The advaitins differs from these two groups in postulating that the
creation is a manifestation of Brahman, facilitated by the power of mAyA.
Krishna says in gIta (9-10)
" maya adhyakshENa prakritih sUyatE sacharAcharam
hEtuna anEna kauntEya jagat viparivartate" - O Arjuna! With me as the
supervisor or presiding officer, this prakriti (nature) brings forth moving
and unmoving (entities or objects - jagat); by this cause (by my
supervision), the jagat revolves.
This verse is key to understanding mAyA, in that it highlights the
non-doership (akartru) of Brahman. prakriti is jada or insentient. paramAtma
is of the nature of consciousness. By the presence (or supervision of Iswara
or Brahman), prakriti (prakriti is synonymous with mAyA) causes this jagat.
The word "adhyakshENa" indicates the non-attachment or indifference
(udAsIna) of Brahman. Just as iron particles move and arrange into a pattern
in the presence of a magnet, in the presence of the Lord, the prakriti
(mAyA) brings forth jagat. The magnet itself has no role, but its presence
causes the movement of the iron particles. The Lord is always present,
adhyakshENa indicates a volition in the creation (an assembly comes to life
only when the Speaker or President takes the chair); likewise prakriti is
animated by the volition of the Lord, which then brings forth the jagat.
The prakriti, a power composed of the three guNas - satva, rajas and tamas
is nothing other than the mAyA. mAyA is also referred to as bIja (seed).
mAyA is jaDa and by itself cannot be the creating power of the jagat.
However, it can do wonders through the support of the Brahman that is always
existent. Our experiences in the jagat are a reflection of the witness of
Brahman in our intellect. Similarly the witness of Brahman in mAyA enables
the creation of jagat.
Elsewhere in gIta (13-26), Krishna says -
"yAvat sanjAyatE kinchit satvam stAvara jangamam
kshEtra kshEtrajnya samyOgAt tat viddhi bharatarshabha" - O Arjuna, in this
world, whatever being - moving or unmoving - is born, know that to be
created from the union of kshEtra (field) and kshEtrajnya(knower of the
At the individual level (vyashTi), kshEtra is the body and the kshEtrajnya
is the jIvAtma; At the aggregate level (samashTi), kshEtra is the prakriti
and kshEtrajnya is the purusha or Brahman. The characteristics of kshEtra
and kshEtrajnya are different. The kshEtra is visible and inert; the
kshEtrajnya is invisible and of the nature of consciousness. What does the
union of two distinctly different objects mean? It is not like the union of
a pot with a rope, for the Atman(kshEtrajyna) is without limbs or organs. Is
it like the union of a cloth and yarn? It can't be so! the cloth is made out
of the yarn; so there is a natural union between the two. But the body and
the knower of the body have no such natural union. Bhagavan Shankara
pronounces in the gIta bhAshya that this union is the wrong identification
of the jIva (kshEtrajnya) that it is the body(kshEtra). Are then the jIvas
responsible for the jagat? If the jIva is the kAraNa for the creation of the
jagat (since the jagat exists for the experience of the jIvas), how can such
a jagat be existent, caused by the ignorance of the jIvas? Therefore it
stands to reason that the jagat is not created at all and it is a
manifestation of Brahman.
If an object is created, it is necessary to understand what preceded it. An
object that is born, cannot be born by itself; it is also absurd to think it
is created by another inert object - a pot is not created by itself; one
cannot be born by another inert body as cloth is not born out of cloth. In
the empirical experience, it is said that the pot is born of clay or a son
is born of father. However, when examined carefully, the pot, son are only a
form. So it is very clear that nothing is born in the jagat. So where is the
question of jagat itself being born.
If jagat were to be born, how, why, where and when are obvious follow-up
questions. How can these questions be answered of a really unborn entity?
MAyA is the power that helps explain these questions. We need to understand
how the mAyA causes Brahman to appear as jagat.
There are two powers associated with mAyA - AvaraNa shakti and vikshEpa
shakti. That power which covers the nature of paramAtman- Real,
consciousness and blissful -is the AvaraNa shakti; that power which projects
or superimposes the jagat over the Atman is vikshEpa shakti ( 'vikshipati'
is to throw ). These two powers are the two faces of ajnyAna.
AvaraNa shakti: As an example, a small or finite patch of cloud appears to
cover the entire Sun from the sight of the seer. Similarly the ajnyAna,
though limited, has the power to cover the infinite Atman by covering the
intellect of the seer. AjnyAna is limited, inert and tamas. Atman is
infinite, consciousness and full. How can such an ajnyAna cover the
conscious Atman? The answer is in the example of the cloud above. The cloud
does not have any effect on the Sun itself; the sun continues to shine. The
cloud does not cover the sun, but the sight of the seer. Similarly, though
the Atman is ever consciousness, the AvaraNa caused by ajnyAna, by covering
the intellect prevents the jIva from the experience of the Atman. It is an
apparent cover, impacting the seer and not the Atman. The jIva thus
experiences doership, enjoyement, pain and pleasure etc.
vikshEpa shakti: In the example of the rope and snake, the rope itself is
the kArya of ajnyAna (rope itself is a superimposition due to ajnyAna). So
in reality, the ajnyAna cannot cover the rope. What it is covering is the
jnyAna of the seer. In the darkness, it not only covers the svarUpa of the
rope (Brahman), but also superimposes a snake in the rope. This is the
vikshEpa shakti. vikshEpa is that power by which the ajnyAna not only covers
Brahman, the Reality, but also superimposes the jagat.
In the next unit, we will continue with further discussion of mAya.
Om shAntih, shAntih, shAntih ( Om peace, peace, peace).
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