[Advaita-l] Advaita vEdAnta - Unit (14)

Krishnamurthy Ramakrishna puttakrishna at verizon.net
Mon Feb 12 16:46:28 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. We

established that Brahman is the one and only (undifferentiated) material and

cause of the jagat. We understood what mAYA is and its two powers - the
power of 

covering the reality and the vikShEpa shakti - the power of superimposition.
In the last unit, 

we reviewed some of the statements of scriptures regarding the creation of

We will continue with mAyA and conclude the section on jagat in this unit.


The Process of Creation.

brahmA (chaturmukha or four headed) is the designated vehicle (deity having
the pre-requisites) for overseeing the creation. brahmA is an appointed
position in each creation. He represents the most evolved jIva of the
previous creation and is the aggregate intellect of all the jIvas. Of course
he does not have a body and organs as humans have. Brahman with the upAdi of
mAyA is brahmA (covering Brahman - AvaraNa shakti) . The five subtle
elements - space, wind, fire, water and earth - form the body of brahmA; in
other words, these five elements are the superimposition on Brahman due to
mAyA. The TaittirIya Upanishat describes the process - Atmana AkAshah
sambhUtah, AkashAt vAyuh, vAyOragnih, agnErapah, adbyah prithivI.. - The
vikshEpa shakti, predominantly tamas, superimposes the five elements -
space, wind, fire, water and earth. These elements are predominantly tamas,
though they have small amounts of satva and rajas. Among them space exhibits
the highest satva and lowest tamas while the earth exhibits the lowest satva
and highest tamas. The five elements in subtle form combine to become gross
elements through the process of panchIkaraNa (five fold composition). During
the time of dissolution, the process is reversed, in exactly the opposite

The Atman is akartru and asanga - non-doer and detached. The upAdhi of
ajnyAna (mAyA) not only covers the Atman, but also superimposes a jagat by
the powers of AvaraNa and vikshEpa.

The consciousness (Brahman) having the upAdhi of ajnyana composed of the two
powers - AvaraNa and vikshEpa - becomes the nimitta kAraNa (of jagat) when
considered the principal; when the upAdhi is considered the principal,
becomes the upAdAna kAraNa (of jagat).


jagat is of the gross form. mAyA is of the seed form and is the power of
Brahman. The jagat is an outward expression of names and forms, emotions of
happiness and sorrow and attachment - all resulting from mAyA. mAyA is
triguNAtmika - triad of three guNas ( satva, rajas and tamas). Krishna
describes this mAyA as two kinds - parA prakriti and aparA prakriti (gIta
7-4,5). aparA is of the lower form and parA is of the higher form; aparA
prakriti is kAraNa for the jagat and parA prakriti is the kAraNa for the
jIvas. Brahman is therefore the kAraNa for the creation, sustenance and
dissolution of jagat. Brahman associated with the upAdi of mAyA is called by
several names like Iswara, aparabrahma and hiraNyagarbha.

With the upAdi of bhaga, Brahman is also called bhagavAn. bhaga is a
combination fo six qualities, which are jnyAna (Omniscience), bala
(omnipotence), aishvarya (lordship), shakti (creative power), vIrya
(immutability) and tEjas (splendour). Iswara, bhagavAn are synanimous terms
- bhaga as an upAdhi is not generally used in the advaita context (it is
folded in mAyA).

So mAyA is a supporting kAraNa for jagat, in addition to Brahman; however,
their roles are different. Brahman is like father and mAyA is like mother.
Brahman provides the seed (hiraNyagarbha) and places in mAyA (not a physical
placing, but a sankalpa ) - gIta 14-3. This verse explains the union of
kshEtra and kshEtrajnya (gIta 13- 26 or 27).


The origin of mAyA cannot be determined. It is as old as Brahman. The jagat
is the playground for the jIvas to enjoy the fruits of action. So every
kalpa is created for the fulfillment of karma of the jivas of the previous
kalpa. The previous kalpa was created for the fulfillment of karma of the
jIvas during the kalpa previous to it. Similarly the next kalpa will be
created for the fulfillment of the karma of jIvas in this kalpa. Even though
if one or a few jIvas are liberated from the cycle of birth and death in a
kalpa, there are other jIvas whose karma need to be fulfilled. So the jagat
creation and dissolution is a continuous process with no beginning (anAdi)
and no end (ananta). Accordingly mAyA is ever present to facilitate creation
and is undying. The mAyA presents itself as jagat during creation and
becomes unmanifested during dissolution. So mAyA is pariNAmi nitya (ever
present in a resultant form), where as Brahman is kUTasta nitya (ever
present and changeless). Though the mAyA is timeless, it is certainly
possible to transcend it at the individual level (It is here; there is no
value in trying to find its origin. What is of value is to understand how to
transcend it). While the jIvas are under the influence of mAyA, mAyA is
under the control of Brahman.

mAyA is anirvachanIya - It cannot be precisely defined. We said earlier that
mAyA is the power of Brahman and also it is the upAdi which presents the
nirguNa Brahman as Iswara; that is, mAyA is the marker that helps jIvas
identify Brahman, without producing any change in It. This begs a question -
Does mAyA belong to Brahman or is it outside Brahman ? The madhya maNi nyAya
(logic of the middle bead) is applicable here; the middle bead can be
associated with either side of the necklace. Similarly mAyA can be
associated either with the kAraNa (Brahman) or kArya (jagat). As an example,
consider a glass plate, on one side of which is applied a mercury paste
resulting in a mirror. The glass is kAraNa, mirror is the kArya and the
mercury paste is the relating compound. Does the paste belong to the glass
or to the mirror? The answer is either way. By belonging to glass, it
facilitates a mirror. As a part of mirror, it makes the mirror a mirror.
Still, the paste is an upAdhi for glass. The paste helps identify the glass
(as a form). The paste in no way adds or takes away the value in the glass.
Now let us come to the context on hand. The glass is Brahman, the mirror is
jagat and the paste is mAyA. When mAyA is associated with jagat, it is
unreal, has organs, limited and inert. When mAyA is associated with Brahman,
it is Real, has no organs, of the nature of consciousness, unlimited etc.
Therefore mAyA is anirvachanIya. BhagavAn Shankara very poetically describes
mAYA in vivEka chUdAmaNi as follows;



sAngApya nangApyubhayAtmikAno

mahAdbhutA! anirvachanIya rUpam ( Verse 109)

[ (This mAyA) sat na = not real (If mAyA is real, then jnyAna cannot destroy
it) api=and asat na =not unreal (if it is unreal, then it cannot produce any
kArya) api = and ubhayAtmikA nO = neither of these two (same entity cannot
have opposing characteristics); bhinna api abhinna api ubhayAtmikAnO = not
different from Brahman, not same as Brahman, neither of these two (if it is
different from Brahman, it violates non-duality, it is not same as Brahman,
because for example, fire and its burning power cannot be the same); sAngA
api anangA api ubhayAtmikAnO = Not with limbs, not without limbs, neither of
these two (anything that has limbs should have a birth; not without limbs,
because it is triguNAtmika - is of the nature of three guNas); mahAdbhutA =
very wonderful, anirvachanIya rUpA = unable to determine its svarUpa (It is
indeterminate, because any of its characteristics or lakShaNa can be


We will conclude the study of jagat with a verse (85) from DVG's manku
timmana kagga:

"nabhada bayaloLa-nanta manada guheyoLa-natha

vubhayadA naDuve sAdyanta jIva kathe

vibhuvobbanI gALi-buDDegaLanUduvanu

habe guLLeyO sriShTi  - manku timma "   -----       translated as


The sky's vacuity is infinite, mind's cavern is endless

Between the two is the whole gamut of life affair

Only the Lord fills these balloons with His breath

A vaporous bubble is this creation.


There is no limit to the outer space as well as the depth of the mind. The
jIva's life is experienced between the two (jaga). This creation is like a
steam balloon; its existence is true while the balloon lasts and is at the
whim of the Lord.


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



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