[Advaita-l] Advaita vEdAnta - Unit (7)
puttakrishna at verizon.net
Sat Jan 20 10:05:06 CST 2007
Study of jagat
One of Issac Newton's assistants was an atheist. One day, when he walked
into the lab, he noticed a working model of the solar system. He asked
Newton, who made it. Newton replied; "It happened by itself". The assistant
asked again; "Really, who made it Issac? It can't happen by itself". Newton
replied; "If the solar system can happen by itself, why can't a model of it
happen by itself?
The above conversation presents a nice drop back for the study of jagat and
its creation. We will try to understand through some examples from our daily
One day a man was passing by through a village. He noticed a huge mass of
wet clay in front of a house. When, he returned through the same path in the
evening, the clay was not to be seen. There were a bunch of pots, plates,
etc set for drying. He asked a boy there, what happened to the clay? Where
did all these pots and plates come from? The boy said, they were made from
the clay. The man asked who made it. The boy pointed to a middle aged person
and said he made it. Next day, when the man passed through the same path
again, he noticed that most of the pots and plates were dried and set aside,
but a few pots and plates were broken and were tossed into a corner. We
understand a few facts about this situation. A material cause and an
intelligent cause is required in the creation of any object. In this case,
Clay is the material cause of the pots and plates. The Pot Maker is the
intelligent cause of the pots and plates. The pots and plates are the effect
or product. The same clay is present in the pots or plates. The clay retains
its attribute as clay in the product, be it pot, plates or the broken pieces
of the pots or plates.
This quality or characteristic of an object, which retains its unchanging
attribute even as it appears differently, is called the svarUpa of the
object. Similarly gold retains its attribute as it is made in to bangles,
chain or ear ring etc, allowing us to understand the svarUpa of gold.
Now let us take another example. A spider builds a web around itself. What
does it build the web from? It uses its own saliva to build the web. So, in
this case, the spider is the material cause as well as the intelligent cause
of the web.
In the advaita philosophy, the material cause is called the upAdAna kAraNa
and the intelligent cause (this is also referred to as Efficient cause) is
called the nimitta kAraNa. The effect (product) is called kArya (Effect).
Both the upAdAna kAraNa and the nimitta kAraNa are required in the creation
of a kArya or Effect. The upAdAna kAraNa, like clay, is generally
insentient, but the nimitta kAraNa is always sentient, like the pot maker or
the goldsmith. The nimitta kAraNa is the chEtas or chEtana (consciousness)
in the pot maker or the goldsmith. Therefore it can be concluded that only a
sentient entity can be a nimitta kAraNa for any kArya. So it is very clear
that the Intelligent Cause for the creation of jagat is in the chEtana or
Now let us look at the jagat. What is Jagat?
Before we attempt to determine the material and intellectual cause of the
jagat, let us try to understand what jagat is. Krishna describes two aspects
of jagat in gIta - the aparA prakriti (inferior or lower aspect) and parA
prakriti (higher aspect). The verses are 7-4 and 7-5;
" bhUmirApO analO vAyuh kham manO buddhih Eva cha
ahankAra itIyam mE bhinnA prakritih ashTadhA " - Earth, water, fire, air
ether(space), mind, intellect and ego - This eightfold unit is one aspect of
" aparEyam itah tu anyAm prakritim viddhi mE parAm
jIvabhUtam mahAbAhO yayEdam dhAryatE jagat " - Oh Arjuna! this (described in
the previous verse) is my lower or inferior nature. Know my other nature,
the higher (parA prakriti) -is the life element by which the universe is
So everything we see (and don't see) around us, including us, is jagat.
The mind is also classified under insentient, because it is made of the five
insentient elements - Earth, water, fire, air ether. The elements are
insentient, so the modifications of them are also insentient. It is
interesting to note from the spiritual point that since mind is insentient,
it can be controlled like any other insentient object and it can never have
power over the sentient. Knowing the difference between jada (insentient),
and the chit (sentient), we can clearly understand that that the mind can be
trained to what we want it to be.
In the next unit, we will look at the kAraNa for Jagat.
Om shAntih, shAntih, shAntih ( Om peace, peace, peace).
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list