by Swami Sivananda
The process of dissolution of the elements is in the reverse order from that of creation.
Viparyayena tu kramo'tah upapadyate cha II.3.14 (230)
The order (in which the elements are indeed withdrawn into Brahman during Pralaya or dissolution) is the reverse of that (i.e., the order in which they are created) and this is reasonable.
Viparyayena: in the reverse order; Tu: indeed, but; Kramah: order, the process of dissolution; Atah: from that (the order of creation); Cha: and; Upapadyate: is reasonable.
The process of dissolution of the element is described in this Sutra.
The word 'tu' (but) has the force of 'only' here. The question here is whether at the time of cosmic dissolution or Pralaya the elements are withdrawn into Brahman in an indefinite order, or in the order of creation or in the reverse order.
In creation the order is from above and in dissolution the order is from below. The order of involution is in the inverse of the order of evolution. It alone is quite appropriate and reasonable. Because we see in ordinary life that a man who has ascended a stair has in descending to take the steps in the reverse order.
Further, we observe that things made of clay such as jars, dishes, etc., on being destroyed pass back into clay and that things which have originated from water such as snow and hail-stones again dissolve into water, the cause.
The gross becomes resolved into the subtle, the subtle into the subtler and so on till the whole manifestation attains its final First Cause, viz., Brahman. Each element is withdrawn into its immediate cause, in the reverse order till Akasa is reached, which in turn gets merged in Brahman.
Smriti also declares "O Divine Rishi; the earth, the basis of the universe is dissolved into water, water into fire, fire into air."
Those which are produced first in creation are more powerful. Consequently they have longer existence. Therefore, it follows logically that the latest in creation, being of feeble essence, should first become absorbed in those of higher powers. The higher powers should later on take their turn. Vamana Purana declares: "The earlier a thing happens to be in creation, the more it becomes the receptacle of the Lord's glory. Consequently those that are earlier in creation are more powerful and are withdrawn only later. And for the same reason undoubtedly their pervasion is also greater."