[Advaita-l] 'Creation' according to Advaita' Part 2 (Concluded)
v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Dec 10 18:37:51 CST 2010
Continued from Part 1
The idea of the 'causehood' of Brahman is of crucial importance to the
understanding of the Vedantic Brahman. With a view to present the Absolute
Truth, the Vedanta employs the method of presenting Brahman, provisionally,
as the Cause of the universe. And later presents the causehood-upAdhi-free
Brahman for the sake of realization.
In the unconditioned Brahman no names and forms can ever exist. Shankara has
clarified that when we say the universe exists during pralaya/ prior to
manifestation in Brahman, it is the conditioned Brahman called avyAkRta that
is meant. Only in the avyAkRta the
names and forms exist prior to creation. One reference where this
explanation can be found is the concluding portions of the Bhashya on the
Mandukya KArikA 1.2. He brings out the problems of mistaking the
nirguNa/nirvisheSha Brahman as the one obtaining in pralaya/prior to
creation. It is here that He distinguishes between the avyAkRta which is
what is the repository of names and forms, from the nirguNa Brahman which is
ever free of names/forms and is the one that is to be realized for moksha.
I quote from p.190 of the (Mandukya) Upanishad tr. by Sw.G. for the kArika
// Objection: In that text (Ch.6.8.2) the word ‘prANa’ means Brahman that
was introduced as Existence, Sat, in the sentence, ‘O good-looking one, in
the beginning this was Existence alone’ (Ch.6.2.1).
Answer: That is no valid objection, for Existence was *assumed there to be
the seed (of creation).* Though in that sentence the Existence
(Sat)-Brahman is denoted by the word Prana, still that Sat Brahman is called
Prana as well as Existence *without ruling out Is being the source* of the
emergence of individual beings. Had the seedless (non-causal) state of
Brahman been meant, the text would have declared, ‘Not this, Not this’
(Br.Up.4.4.22.), ‘From which speech turns back’ (Tai.Up.2.9), ‘That Brahman
is surely different from the known, and, again, It is above the unknown’
(Ke.UP.1.4), and so on, as it is also stated by the Smriti “It is called
neither existence nor non-existence” (BG 13.12). If Brahman in Its seedless
(non-causal) state be meant here, then the individuals that merge in It in
deep sleep and dissolution cannot reasonably re-emerge, and there will be
the possibility of freed souls returning to take birth again, for in either
case, the absence of cause is a common factor.
Besides, in the absence of any seed (of the worldly state) to be burnt by
the knowledge (of Brahman), knowledge itself becomes useless. Hence
Existence is referred to as Prana (in the Ch.Up), and in all the Upanishads.
It is spoken of as the CAUSE in all the Upanishads by assuming It (for the
time being) to be the seed of others. And it is because of this that It is
referred to – by REFUTING ITS CAUSAL STATE- in such Vedic texts as,
‘Superior to the (other) superior imperishable (Maya) (Mun.Up.2.1.2), ‘From
which speech turns back’ (Tai.Up.2.9), ‘Not this, Not this’
(Br.Up.4.4.22.), etc. That supremely real state – FREE FROM CAUSALITY,
RELATION WITH BODY ETC. and modes of waking etc. – of that very entity that
is called PRAAJNA, will be spoken separately in its aspect as the Turiya
The above Shankara bhashya brings to the fore:
· The Brahman that is the material cause of the world, the state where
names and forms exist prior to creation/manifestation, is NOT the Ultimate
· It is only the attributed Brahman. This is called the ‘deliberate
adhyaropa’ by the Shastra for a particular purpose.
· That purpose is to ‘account’ for creation that is seen experienced
· Shankara clearly brings out the distinction between this attributed
Brahman and the Attributeless Brahman, the Turiya.
· This Turiya is what is taught in the seventh mantra as ‘the Self,
which is to be realized’ ….sa Atma, sa vijneyaH’.
· This teaching ‘the Self, which is to be realized’ ….sa Atma, sa
vijneyaH’ is *not* given by the Upanishad in the earlier 6th mantra which is
a description of the ‘All-knowing, *causal* Ishwara’.
· The expression ‘assuming It (for the time being)’ is called
‘abhyupagamaH’ in the original bhashya. This is the word that states that
the ‘causal nature’ of Brahman is only an incidental/attributed/superimposed
one and not natural to Brahman.
· After explicitly stating that it is only an ‘adhyaropa’, a
superimposition (deliberate), Shankara, in this very bhashya states, again
in explicit terms the apavaada too: ‘ by REFUTING ITS CAUSAL STATE’ by the
In the Chandogya Upanishad 8.14.1 bhashya too, Shankara uses the word
'jagadeejabhUtayoH' for the word 'nAmarUpayoH nirvahitA' (manifestor of name
and form) with reference to Brahman in which the Upanishad says the name and
form are 'contained.' This is the adhyAropa. In this very mantra, the
apavAda too is stated as 'tey yadantarA' and the bhashya says: That Brahman
is not touched by name and form, is different from name and form.
· In Advaita, the ‘all-knowingness’ (of Brahman) is another attribute
that co-exists with the attribute of being the material cause. These two
are specifically stated in the sixth mantra:
‘yeSha sarveshvaraH, yeSha sarvajnaH, yeSho’ntaryAmi, yeSha yoniH, sarvasya
prabhavApyayau hi bhUtAnAm.’
//He is the Lord of all. He is the knower of all. He is the inner
controller. He is the source of all; for from him all beings originate and
in him they finally disappear.//
This mantra teaches very explicitly that the saguNa-brahman, Ishwara, is the
nimittakAraNam as well as the upAdAna kAraNam of the world. The source from
which the world emerges is the same where it resolves too in pralaya. In
the upAdAna kAraNam alone the laya too takes place. The words 'sarvajnaH'
denotes that this Brahman is also the nimitta kAraNam. Thus in Advaita,
Ishwara (saguNa Brahman) is the abhinna-nimtta-upAdAna kAraNam of the world.
Shankara has very clearly established this in the Brahmasutra bhashya for
the 'prakRtyadhikaranam' (1.4.23 to 27): His one sentence here is:
prakRtishcha = upAdAnakAraNam cha brahma abhyupagantavyam nimittakAraNam
cha. There is a sUtra here: yonishcha hi geeyate (1.4.27) where also
Shankara establishes that the Source, Creator, Brahma is the yoni, womb, the
upAdAna kAraNam. This word 'yoni' is found in the Mandukya upanishad mantra
6 (yeSha sarveshvaraH...yoniH...) quoted above.
· This apara-Brahman, saguNa, savishesha, sopaadhika, Brahman in
which name and form exist during pralaya, is in the sphere of the not-Self,
anAtma as per Advaita Vedanta.
· This is negated by the seventh mantra where the Para Brahman, the
nirguna, nirvishesha, nirupaadhika Brahman is taught as completely
unrelated, unrelatable with anything whatsoever with the world.
· In order to be a ‘knower / revealer of all’ Brahman has to be
related, in whatever manner, with the ‘all’.
· The Ultimate Brahman has no ‘all’ at all. That is the Advaita
· Realization of this Turiya, Ultimate, unrelated/unrelatable
Brahman is alone the means for MOksha.
· The Jnani in Advaita is equted/identified with this Turiya alone
and not with the savishesha brahman in which name and form exist.
· Shankara has said in that bhashya quoted above that the seventh
mantra teaches the Brahman/Turiya ONLY after refuting/divesting Brahman of
its causal state. This means, along with the refutation of the causal
attribute, the all-knowing / all-revealing attribute of Brahman that was
only attributed earlier, also stands refuted.
· The seventh mantra has a crucial word: avyavahAryam – that which
cannot be brought into the realm of vyavahara.
· This word is not found in the sixth mantra because the attributes
found there like ‘sarvajna’, etc. are all within vyavahara.
· In other words, the Ishwara, saguNa Brahman, is vyvahArya. Nirguna
Brahman, the Turiya, is avyavahArya.
Thus, the unconditioned Brahman is left untouched by names and forms and
for ever pUrNa, sarva. In the 'sarvam khalvidam Brahma', the Brahman is
on this basis: 'sarvam' itself is the created universe. This 'sarvam' is
negated, bAdhita, and then only Brahman is understood to be sarvam. This is
called 'bAdhAyAm sAmAnAdhikaraNyam'. What is wrongly understood as snake is
other than the rope. What is seen as 'sarvam' is none other than the
Brahman. Shankara has explicitly stated this in the Bh.Gita 4.24
brahma haviH, ...) bhashyam:
//The knower of Brahman perceives the nstrument with which he offers
oblation in the fire as Brahman Itself. He perceives it as not existing
separately from the Self, as one sees the non-existence of silver in nacre.
In this sense it is
that Brahman Itself is the ladle-just as what appears as silver is only
By this rule, the non-existence of names and forms in Brahman is indeed the
BrahmadRShTi of Vedanta.
Brahman is established as Sat, Existence, and therefore its being rendered
shUnya is never a possibility. 'na abhAvao vidyate sataH' [The Real can
never go out of existence] says the Bh.Gita 2.16. Brahman's being the
substratum is also only relative to the superimposed nAma rUpa prapancha.
The Mandukya Upanishad mantra 7 presents Brahman as 'prapanchopashamam' free
of any relation whatsoever with the prapancha. And goes on to show
Brahman/Turiya as 'shAntam, shivam, advaitam' and specifies it as the Atman
to be realized. Freeing Brahman
from prapancha sambandha will never render it shUnya.
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