[Advaita-l] What is 'aprAkRta' ?

Shyam shyam_md at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 26 08:25:39 CDT 2011

Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 26, 2011, at 7:25 AM, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com> wrote:

> श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः
> Whenever a reference is made to the body/attributes of
> Brahman/Ishwara/avatAra it is said to be 'aprAkRta'.  It would be beneficial
> to know exactly what this term means.  The dictionary gives these: 1. not
> vulgar 2.Not original 3. Not ordinary, extraordinary 4. special.
> Of these the first two are out of our context.  The latter two may be
> considered.  However, it is often sought to be made out that this 'aprAkRta'
> is something that is not a product of prakRti.  To be specific, something
> that is not a product of the three guNas, the five elements.  In other words
> it is 'apAnchabhautikam'.  Now a question arises as to what exactly this
> means.  What is this 'substance' ?  In the scripture we have two things that
> are talked about: 1. Brahman/Atman, also called Chit, PuruSha, etc. and
> translated/translatable as 'spirit'. 2. prakRti or triguNAtmikA mAyA, also
> called jaDa tattva, matter.  A third entity is not there spoken of anywhere.
> So, if something is 'aprAkRta' does it mean that it is non-matter or
> non-material?  Going by the 'only' two tattvas as above, that which is
> 'apraakRta' has to be Chit or spirit.  If it is not matter/material, it has
> to be spirit.  If it is not either, then what is the 'substance' with which
> the body of Brahman/Ishwara/Vishnu made? We better take it as
> 'chinmayarUpam' if we want to ward off praakRta/pAnchabhautika rUpa and its
> consequences.  It is a vivarta of Brahman.
> Then, is the body of Brahman only spirit/Chit?  Now, we have the scripture
> itself declaring that the spirit is 'avikArI'/'avikAryaH'.  If the Chit is
> of such a nature, how is it that the shape/form of a ' body' is taken on by
> Chit?  How is this possible when the Chit is avikAri? Also, whenever we talk
> of a form, it is paricchinna, finite.  How can the 'shareera', aprAkRta,
> though, still be aparicchinna/sarvavyApaka?  In the शेषशयन ViShNu's case, we
> can see that VishNu is reclining on the snake-bed which is itself placed in
> the ksheera sAgara.  Now, the body of VishNu is certainly not pervading the
> snake-bed or the milk-ocean.  It is finite.  If it is said that Vishnu is
> infinite then we have to take that the snake-bed, the ocean, Lakshmi, etc.
> are all VishNu alone appearing in those names-forms.  This will be no
> different from saying that He is vishvarUpa, akin to the vishvarUpa darshana
> of the Bh.Gita. सहस्त्रशीर्ष-सहस्रपात्-सहस्राक्षः will all be meaningful
> only if we look at the situation as: all the heads, feet, hands, eyes, etc.
> that are there in the world are His/He alone.  Otherwise we will be
> imagining a multi-headed hydra or a centipede or millipede-kind of creature
> of ViShNu.
> Shankaracharya has used this word in the Gitabhashya 4.9 thus:
> जन्म मायारूपम्, कर्म च साधुपरित्राणादि, मे मम दिव्यम् = *अप्राकृतम्* -
> ऐश्वरं एवं यथोक्तं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः ...
> Interestingly Shankara has commented for the preceding verse thus:
> तां प्रकृतिं स्वाम् अधिष्ठाय वशीकृत्य संभवामि देहवानिव भवामि जात इव
> आत्ममायया आत्मनः मायया, न परमार्थतो लोकवत्।
> And Bhagavan Himself has said that this prakRti/mAyA is His:  मम माया
> दुरत्यया.
> Here we get the hint that it is only 'controlled prakRti' that is called
> 'aprAkRtam'.  In other words, when prakRiti is handled in such a way that it
> does not bind a person, it is aprAkRtam.  It is the shuddha
> sattva/rajas/tamas guNas that are involved as against the malina sattva,
> etc. that characterize the jiva's samsara/samsaritva.
> I have also heard that 'aprAkrtam' janma/karma means that it is not the way
> a jiva comes to take birth: owing to ajnana, through past karma, to reap the
> effects thereof and work for creating new janma-s.  That alone is the
> difference between the janma/karma of a bound-jiva and Brahman taking a
> birth/body.  It also admits of reason that a difference is made between the
> avatAra body and its growth, old-age, etc. and final disappearance AND the
> 'eternal' body of VishNu such as seen reclining on the anantha. In the
> former case, all the prAkRta functions are seen even though great miraculous
> displays of power do manifest.  Even these have to be seen as within the
> vast, infinite, scope of maayA, prakRti.  In the case of bound jiva-s the
> manifestation of only limited powers of prakRti is seen whereas in the
> avatAra's case the extraordinary powers of prakRti come to the fore.
> The shruti says: *अशरीरं शरीरेषु* अनवस्थेषु अवस्थितम्. महान्तं विभुमात्मानं
> मत्वा धीरो न शोचति ( Kathopanishat 1.2.22)
> *न संदृशे*  तिष्ठति रूपमस्य न चक्षुषा पश्यति कश्चनैनम् । हृदा मनीषा
> मनसाऽभिक्लृप्तो य एतद्विदुरमृतास्ते भवन्ति ॥ 2.3.9 ॥
> In the above we find that the Upanishad is categorical about Brahman not
> having a form.  None can 'see' Brahman with the physical eye.  One can
> however 'know' that it is Brahman that appears as the vishvarUpa.  Again,
> one can know through the disciplined mind that Brahman which is without any
> form whatsoever.
> However, as Shankara says in the BSB, Brahman/Ishwara can and does take on a
> form, any including the ones spoken of above, to bless/help an aspirant in
> his sadhana.:
> *स्यात्परमेश्वरस्यापि* इच्छावशात् मायामयं रूपं साधकानुग्रहार्थम् ।
> (1.1.vii.20) (Ishwara, out of compassion, takes on, by His Maya, a form to
> grace the spiritual aspirant.)
> The case of हिरण्यश्मश्रुः is about a form, of golden hue, described by the
> Upanishad for upAsana purpose.  It says such a One's finger-joints are the
> Rg.Veda, etc.  We cannot say that this kind of a form of Brahman is 'niyata'
> because we know that Rg.veda etc. have come out of Brahman as Its Breath:
> यस्य निश्शवसितमेतदृग्वेदो यजुर्वेदो....  (Also do we not see VishNu
> picturised as clean-shaven!!) The 'hands' are described in the Purusha sUkta
> as representing the kShatriya.  Such varied descriptions of Brahman's form
> and the various parts only show that these cannot be the niyata rUpa of
> Brahman. The above quoted Katha shruti and the Mundaka: *दिव्यो ह्यमूर्तः
> पुरुषः* सबाह्याभ्यन्तरो ह्यजः. अप्राणो ह्यमनाः शोभ्रो ह्यक्षरात् परतः परः ॥
> (2,1,2) teach in unequivocal terms that there is no form/body/mind, sense
> organs for Brahman.  There is nothing in these mantras to suggest that ONLY
> the prAkRta body, etc. are negated here.  There are no statements to say
> that Brahman has a specific, natural body, with parts, mind, etc. that are
> 'aprAkRta' either.  The body/forms of Brahman described in purANa-s and
> painted by artists following such descriptions only serve as an aid to
> sadhakas to concentrate their mind upon them, by withdrawing from the forms
> that the world of senses provide.
> It is only because we, as humans, have an adhyAsa-based attachment to our
> body/senses, relationships, tastes, behaviours, etc. that the scripture, on
> the nyAya of यक्षानुरुपो बलिः depicts Brahman variously as with a human-type
> body शिरःपाण्यादिमान् देह्ः, with a female consort, a family, an abode, etc.
> There are ways to 'satiate' Brahman's hunger through a variety of
> neivedyams, a lot of services, upachAra-s, nRtya, geetha, ashvArohaNa,
> gajArohaNa, etc. ..everything meant to sublimate our own slavery to these
> tastes, behaviours, requirements, etc.
> To conclude, 'aprAkRtam' means only 'controlled prAkRtam' and 'mAyAmayam'.
> It can take the name of 'IshvarEcchA' too.  In any case it does not
> constitute the true, absolute nature of Brahman as taught in the Upanishads,
> some of which we have seen above. Not getting aged/diseased, etc. of a
> divine form is also within the infinite, unimaginable powers of Maya:
> अघटितघटनापटीयसी माया.  Sri Krishna too says in the Gita that there is no
> limit to His vibhUti-s.
> In all such discourses we have to remember that everything, the divine form,
> vibhUti pradarshanam, etc. is never without the jiva-jagat (paratantra) in
> mind.  It is by default परतन्त्रसापेक्षक. Anything that is dependent on the
> paratantra for its manifestation/display/existence cannot be deemed to be
> the स्वरूपभूतस्वभाव of the स्वतन्त्रब्रह्मन्. It is 'for the sake' of the
> jiva/jagat that Brahman, as Ishwara, takes on  form/s.  If this 'sake' is
> not there, there is no need for Brahman to assume such form/s.
> Om Tat Sat
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