[Advaita-l] Advaita vEdAnta - Unit (9)

Krishnamurthy Ramakrishna puttakrishna at verizon.net
Fri Jan 26 11:27:48 CST 2007

In the last unit, we determined that Brahman is the material and intelligent
causes of jagat.

We also reviewed a couple of other views of the causes of jagat. We will
continue with the review of

what other philosophies say about the causes of jagat.


The VaishEShika view.


A vaishEShika is an ancient scientist. He posits that the gross universe we
see is made of four elements - gross earth characterized by smell, taste,
form and touch; subtle water characterized by taste, form and touch; subtle
fire characterized by subtle form and touch; and subtle air characterized by
touch only. During the time of dissolution, they divide and disintegrate
continuously until they are like atoms, beyond which no further division is
possible. At the time of the next creation, these atoms integrate to become
the four elements described above. So the vaishEShikas say that these atoms
are the kAraNa for the jagat; by which they also mean that the atoms are the
svarUpa of the jagat. vEdAnta addresses these statements as follows;


(i) The atoms being inert, cannot integrate without the support of
intelligence during the time of creation. The vaishEShika believes in an
Atma who is the doer and enjoyer and is the nimitta kAraNa for the
integration of the atoms. However, the advaitin claims that this Atma needs
tools and medium of a body to do so. However, this body has to come out of
the integration of the atoms. So there cannot be a medium of a body before
creation. Therefore the effort required for the integration cannot be
provided by this Atma.

(ii) If one concedes that somehow the Atma has obtained a body, the
dissolution has to be initiated by this Atma, who is also the enjoyer
according to the vaishEShikas. The jagat is created for his enjoyment only.
Then why would he dissolve this universe, forsaking the enjoyment?

(iii) The union of atoms - Two kinds of union is possible (a) Complete
integration and (b) partial / localized union - Complete union of two atoms
results in the fusion of two atoms and remain the size of an atom. So how
can they come together and keep increasing the size to become the gross
jagat? partial/ localized union posits that the atoms have parts, which is
contrary to the vaishEShika theory.

(iv) The characteristics of the atoms - Touch etc. and the Reality (nitya)
of them contradict each other. Our experience suggests that all objects
exhibiting touch etc. are effect (kArya) and not cause (kAraNa). For
example, the cloth is the kArya of fiber; the fiber is the kArya of cotton
etc. The fiber is more real than the cloth (if the cloth is destroyed, fiber
still remains); cotton is more real than the fiber (if fiber is destroyed,
cotton still remains). Likewise the atoms exhibiting the characteristic of
touch can only be a kArya and cannot be a kAraNa. Being a kArya, they cannot
be real. 

A point to be noted here is that Shankara has not rejected atoms. What He
has discarded is the theory that the atoms are the kAraNa of the jagat and
the characteristics of atoms as described by vaishEShikas.


The naiyAyika view.


The followers of the Science of Logic are naiyAyikas. They believe in a God
defined by logic and not in the vEdic view of God. They define three
entities - purusha (jIva), Iswara (God) and prakriti (nature). According to
them all the three are mutually independent and infinite. In addition, the
prikriti is inert and Iswara is omniscient. The naiyyAyikas posit that the
prikriti is the material cause (upAdAna kAraNa) and Iswara is the
intelligent cause (nimitta kAraNa). The purusha is the enjoyer. Though they
invoke vEdas in arguments, they will not accept vEda as an independent
pramANa. vEdAnta explains the following inconsistencies in the NaiyaAyika

( i ) prikriti being inert, cannot by itself be the material cause of the
jagat. This can only be possible if Iswara is tasked for the creation of the
jagat; If so, Iswara's role violates the independency of prikriti.

( ii) Iswara is omniscient, prikriti, purusha and Iswara are independent.
This violates the omnisciency of Iswara, since he has no control over the
form of prikriti and puruSha. However, even if it is conceded that Iswara
has control over prikriti and puruSha, (a) then the infiniteness of prikriti
and puruSha is violated, and (b) If the infiniteness of purusha is violated
(ie. the number of puruShas), then a finite number of purushas, when they
all get liberated from the cycle of birth and death, where is the need for
creation of jagat? Then Iswara looses his role of creation! This violates
that Iswara is omniscient. Therefore the  naiyAyika view is contradictory
(Sutra 2.2.39-41). In here, the logic of naiyAyika is used to show the
inconsistency of his view. This is called uShtra laguDa nyAya (Logic of
camel and the club) - using the firewood load on the camel as a club to
control the straying of the camel.


The sAnkhya view.


The sAnkhyAs also use logic as their basis; that is, they use anumAna
pramANa, though they invoke vEda in arguing with vEdAntins. There is no
Ishwara in this view. They posit that there are two entities - jaDa (inert)
and chEtana (consciousness). They claim they don't see jaDa being the cause
of chEtana or chEtana being the cause of jaDa. They therefore conclude that
the material cause of jagat should be jaDA. The jagat appears to be a
composite of satva, rajas and tamas ( We will take up the review of guNas
later in the study. At this point, we can understand that satva is divine
quality, rajas is characterized by activity and tamas is laziness or
lethargic). Therefore the material cause of jagat should also be composite
of satva, rajas and tamas. They call this composite of guNas (triguNAtmika
or triad) as pradhAna or prikriti. The other is the consciousness or
puruSha, (a proxy for jIva). They posit that in each living being, there is
a separate puruSha. This puruSha is only a witness, non-engaging, remains
detached and does not have any attributes. The pradhAna, by itself
automatically transforms to jagat for the enjoyment of puruSha. The three
guNas of pradhAna, when they are out of balance, creation happens; when they
are in balance, it is dissolution. There are three objections to this

(i)                  How does pradhAna, being jaDa, transform by itself to
jagat? They respond that it is like water flowing by itself? Water can flow
on a downward slope, which must have been created by an intelligent force.
Or need external agency like a pump to make it flow. So the flow of water is
the result of intelligence behind it!

(ii)                The purusha, being inactive, cannot be the cause behind
the transformation of pradhAna to jagat, like the potter transforming the
clay to a pot.

(iii)               pradhAna, being jada, obviously has no benefit in
transforming itself to jagat. Even if so, the puruSha also has no benefit,
since he is unattached and has no enjoyment; since he is unattached, even
the benefit of self realization over time is absurd (the purusha, being
detached, no desire to live or even attain self realization, what is the
purpose of his existence?).

These arguments make the sAnkhya view flawed and unsustainable.


Contemporary Scientific View

The contemporary scientific view, like the sAnkhya view, believes that the
cause of this jagat is jada. They cite the example that the atoms in a gas
are continually in a state of motion and are responsible for the enjoyment
of puruSha! Or the atoms explode by themselves. If this were true, then the
atoms must always be moving in a uniform path or speed. However, it has been
a scientific observation that the temperature changes cause the atoms to
move faster or slower. In fact it is thus controlling the movement of the
atoms that the puruSha uses it for his enjoyment. So the movement is
controlled by heat and heat is controlled by an external agency or chEtana;
so chEtana should be the cause of the movement of atoms.

Again, the movement of the atoms cannot be stopped at all, even by
controlling temperature, for at some low temperature, the movement of atoms
attains a certain state, beyond which any further decrease of temperature
does not change the movement of atoms. The scientist counters then, that
this is its natural behavior (jaDa undergoing no change even with
application of heat - external force or chEtana). The vEdAntin argues that
the chEtana of the scientist is overpowered by a higher chEtana in subduing
further change in movement. Similar logic applies to the explosion of atoms

The scientist is contradicting himself when he says that an inert body needs
an external force to change its state of rest or of uniform motion and at
the same time saying that the inert atoms move by its own.


In summarizing these views, the following observations can be made. As much
as the jagat is visible, the cause of the jagat is invisible. Therefore none
of the visible pramANas can be applied to determine the cause of the jagat.
Inference and arthApatti (Inference by removing inconsistency) are also
helpless, since there are no telltale signs for the jagat; since jagat being
unique, even a simile fails to describe jagat. Therefore its cause has to be
determined by shruti statements only, as has been proposed by advaita
vEdAnta, that we studied earlier.


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


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