[Advaita-l] RE: Advaita vEdAnta - Unit (11)

Krishnamurthy Ramakrishna puttakrishna at verizon.net
Sat Feb 3 11:45:03 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
them. In

this unit, we will continue to revisit the advaita view of cause of jagat to
firmly establish the validity of the advaita view.


Further Review of Brahman as the kAraNa for jagat.


Objection 6 - Brahman is Partial and Cruel

There is wide range of differences in the creation of jagat. There are some
who are very happy. Some of the animals undergo immense hardship and
distress. Some others would have a mix of happiness and sorrow. So is
Brahman partial? In addition, at the time of dissolution, all jIvas
experience extreme distress. So is Brahman very cruel? If so, Brahman cannot
be the kAraNa for jagat!

vEdAntin: The jagat creation with differences in the happiness among jIvas
is organized according to their karma. The variations, in the level of
happiness among jIvas, is a result of their own making. Brahman is not
responsible for this (In business life also, every one is rewarded according
to their contributions!). The cause of dissolution is the aggregate karma of
jIvas. So this objection of Brahman's partiality or cruelty is not accurate.


Objection 7 - awkwardness (Contamination) of Brahman 

(i)                  When the kArya (jagat) is dissolved, it merges in its
upAdAna (Brahman). So at the time of dissolution, all the contamination of
the jagat, merges into Brahman. This destroys the svarUpa of Brahman. So
Brahman cannot be the kAraNa for Jagat.

vEdAntin: When the ornament dissolves into gold, the gold is not
contaminated in any way; Likewise, no kArya will contaminate its upAdAna
(kAranA). In addition, even in sustenance, the upAdAna is not affected.
Little jewel, big jewel, loose jewel, tight jewel will not likewise
translate to gold(little gold or big gold has no meaning). This is the
nature of upAdAna.  So Brahman is not contaminated during dissolution. 

(ii)                Brahman being of the nature of consciousness, though its
intelligent cause (nimitta kAraNa) for the jagat is acceptable, its material
cause cannot be accepted for the jagat which is jada (opposite
characteristic from that of Brahman). The kArya cannot be different in
characteristics from kAraNa. The kAraNa should carry its characteristics
into kArya. But the jagat does not exhibit the characteristics of Brahman.
Therefore Brahman cannot be the cause of jagat. There are possibly three
aspects of this objection; the vEdAntin addresses the three aspects as

vEdAntin: (a) All characteristics of Brahman should be found in the jagat -
If all characteristics of a kAraNa are to be found in a kArya, then there is
no difference between kArya and kArNa and kArya has no opportunity to show
itself. The expectation of all characteristics of kAraNa to be found in
kArya is untenable. If all the characteristics of Brahman follow into jagat,
there is no difference between Brahman and jagat. Then there is no creation.
So this aspect of objection is invalid. 

vEdAntin:(b) At least one characteristic of Brahman should be found in the
jagat; none of the characteristics of Brahman is found in jagat - The
vEdAntin accepts this is a fair objection. If even a single characteristic
of the kAraNa is not found in the kArya, the kAraNa is invalid. An example
would help. Sweet drink is the kArya, water and sugar are the upAdAna kAraNa
(material). The sweet drink is watery; so water is the material cause is
obvious. However, the crystal touch and the white form of sugar are not
obvious in the drink. However, tasting the drink will confirm the sugar as
its material cause. Likewise it is necessary that at least one
characteristic of Brahman follow into the jagat. Which of the
characteristics of Brahman follows into jagat is determined as follows -
Brahman 'is' changeless, jagat 'is' changing; Brahman 'is' consciousness,
jagat 'is' inert. The characteristic 'is' of Brahman is found in the jagat
as 'is' [ brahmaNo api sattA lakshaNah svabhAvah AkAshAdishu anuvartamAnO
drishyate - sattA(is) of Brahman is followed into sky etc, sUtra2.1.6]. So
the objection that even a single characteristic of Brahman is not found in
jagat is not valid. 

vEdAntin:( (c) Brahman's consciousness must be found in jagat to accept
Brahman is the kAraNa for jagat; jagat is jada, so Brahman is not kAraNa for
jagat- What is the basis for this requirement? does the crystalline touch of
sugar follow in to the sweet drink? still the sugar is upAdAna of the drink
is obvious. So this objection is rejected.


Objection 8 - Insentient from Consciousness ?

How can Brahman of the svarUpa of consciousness be the upAdAna of the jagat
which is inert? This question may arise to any one. This is being answered
using a familiar example from contemporary science. According to science,
the material cause of water is the two gases, oxygen and hydrogen. The
hydrogen is a highly combustible gas and oxygen is a supporter of
combustion. The effect (kArya) of these - water - does not have either one
of these characteristics. A flame is put off if dipped in water. In this
example, the liquidity (of water) is not in the cause, but is present in the
effect. The combustibility of cause is not in the effect. So it is no
surprise if characteristics of kArya and kAraNa are different. So the shruti
statement that the consciousness Brahman is the material cause of the inert
jagat is not troublesome.


Objection 9 - Conflict of Limbs / Organs

The chAndOgya upanishat says of the jagat - " tAvAnasya mahimA atO
jyAyAmscha pUruShah pAdO asya sarvA bhUtAni tripAdasyAmritam divi ": all the
living beings are his one fraction (quarter), the remaining three quarters
are in the outer world (3.12.6). Brahman is thus described as having limbs
or parts in this shruti. There are other shrutis which say Brahman is
niravaya - limbless or organless. These are conflicting statements and
therefore it cannot be accepted that Brahman is the cause of jagat. 

vEdAntin: Again this objection is resolved through an example. Say gold has
taken the form of a ring. Gold is gold weather it is in the form of ring or
not in the form of ring. Either way gold itself, is not impacted. So it is
obvious that "gold is in the ring and is beyond it (gold transcends
ornament)". Similarly what the chAndOgya shruti is saying is Brahman is also
jagat and transcends jagat. It should not be interpreted as Brahman having
parts. He is niravaya. 


Objection 10 - Which is the authority?

The doctrine of vEdAnta is conflicting with sAnkhya, yOga and other smritis.
These smritis are works of great people. So it is difficult to accept
Brahman as the cause of jagat.

vEdAntin: Manu, Apastamba, vyAsa etc. all have reiterated that Brahman is
the cause of jagat. Wherever there is a conflict between smriti and shruti,
shruti is authoritative. Everyone has to also accept those sections of
smritis which are not in conflict with shruti.


In countering the above objections, the thrust of the argument is that "the
kArya is not different from kAraNa, but kAraNa is different from kArya". The
difficulty in understanding this concept is alleviated through the use of a
term "upAdhi". 



Let us consider the ring again. It is a form to identify the gold. The ring
is a name for Gold in that form (vAchArambhaNa). Even though gold is
identified in the form of ring, the form itself will not affect gold; the
gold is completely independent of ring. The knowledge of gold, thus obtained
is not influenced by the ring. That knowledge is one and the same, whether
the knowledge is derived from ring, bracelet or necklace. The ring, - which
is not a part of gold, but used to identify gold - is called the upAdhi of

Now let us take another example, say a crystal. The crystal is not likely
visible in isolation. However, if a red flower is placed behind the flower,
the crystal becomes clearly visible in red color. In association with the
red flower, the crystal appears red, though it is not actually red. In this
case the red flower is the upAdhi for the crystal. In this case the red
flower is not attached to the crystal, like the ring was attached to gold.
If a different color flower, say blue, replaces the red flower, the crystal
now appears blue. So by the crystal appearing as different color, in
association with different colored flowers, we conclude that the crystal is
transparent. Whereas the crystal was not visible by itself, the upAdhi helps
us see the crystal (a safety decal placed on clear glass doors, helps people
avoid bumping into the glass door - the sticker - which helps to see the
glass as a glass door - is the upAdhi for the glass; birds many times bump
into clear glass panes and die). This is the benefit of upAdhi. The
following statement can be made regarding upAdhi;


upAdhi, though attached to object, is not attached; upAdhi though appears to
be in object, is not in object. - Statement 3.


Likewise, the names and forms of jagat are upAdhis for Brahman. Brahman is
able to be identified only through the upAdhi of names and forms. If Brahman
had not created the jagat, we would not have known its svarUpa (we would not
have been here to debate this!). Yet, Brahman is not affected by the
awkwardness of jagat, just as gold is not affected by the ring or the
crystal is not affected by an association with a colored object near it.  

Brahman is jagat and is beyond jagat is equivalent to saying that jagat is
the upAdhi for Brahman. We may recall here the declaration of Krishna in


" ..mat sthAni sarva bhUtAni na cha aham tEshu avasthitah " - all beings are
in Me and I am not placed in them (9-4) [Brahman is jagat and is beyond
jagat]. Clay is in all pots; yet, if the pot is broken, clay is not
impacted; clay is still clay (the name and form is lost, yet the substratum
is not affected). So, the pot is not in clay. The pot is an upAdhi of clay.
Similarly the jagat is an upAdhi of Brahman. A heap of clay is also a form;
one should not consider this as different from a pot or a pan; It is form
resulting from the intelligence that it occupies the smallest floor area vs.
a bed of clay for example. 

If the heap is disturbed the clay remains as clay. Similarly a nugget of
gold is also a form, like an ornament, cast into the form of a nugget using
a mold (think of intelligence in preparing the mold and casting into it!). 

We may review another example to understand upAdhi. I am a son, a father, a
husband, an employee etc. But father, son, husband etc. are not in me. These
are roles only. These roles are the upAdhis that make me appear as a father,
husband etc. 


We have now understood, that Brahman is the " abhinna nimitta upAdAna kAraNa
" (undifferentiated material and intelligent cause) of the jagat. We need to
next look at the mechanics of the jagat coming into being. This is a
difficult task. We need to understand a power of Brahman, called mAyA in
order to understand the jagat coming into being. 


Om shAntih, shAntih, shAntih ( Om peace, peace, peace).


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