by Swami Krishnananda
Now we come to the subjective side, which is adhyatma. This is, for all practical purposes, the human individual: ourselves. I have mentioned to you what the world is made of; now I am telling you what you are made of as adhyatma. The Universal Consciousness, having objectified itself as the universe outside in the manner mentioned, now subjectifies itself in another manner as the perceiver of the universe. As I mentioned, God created a vacuous situation, as it were, an unconsciousness prior to the act of creation; and an unconsciousness also precedes the creation of the individuality. You are divested of your universal connection with the Almighty before you are born as an individual. You cannot be an individual and God at the same time because God-consciousness and individual consciousness cannot stand together, as individual consciousness is localised and God-consciousness is universal. So in order that you may become individual, you have to be cast out of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve quit the Garden of Eden, and you cannot go back. An angel is standing there with a flaming sword lest you try to enter the Garden of Eden again. You have disobeyed the Universal Consciousness by tasting the forbidden fruit, whatever that fruit be. We shall look into it later on.
So the Universal God casts this potential of individuality outside the Kingdom of God, the Garden of Eden, heaven, Universality; but you have to become totally oblivious of your having any connection with Universal Consciousness before you are cast to the Earth, so immediately unconsciousness pervades. This is the sleeping condition which represents that state. Whenever you are asleep or in a mood of unconsciousness or sleepiness, you are actually in the potential of that state into which you were thrown at the time of creation, and you revert to it again and again every day for various reasons, which is a different subject.
Now, as God created the objective universe by a vacuous background, individuality is projected by a subjective vacuous background. Sanskrit would call this condition the Anandamaya Kosha, the causal sheath. As the Universal projects itself objectively through the medium of vacuous background and space and time, the Universal Consciousness manifests itself individually through this individual vacuous condition which is the Anandamaya Kosha, the causal body. And this manifestation is called intellect – the buddhi, as it is called. So even intellect is not a real safe guide, as it is a distorted reflection of the Universal Consciousness through this muddled background which is the vacuous unconsciousness, the Anandamaya Kosha.
Hence, the greatest learning in this world is only a kind of darkness, finally. It is a distorted knowledge. You are seeing things topsy-turvy. This so-called boasted understanding of yours, this intellect, is wrongly telling you that the world is outside and you are separate from it, while actually you have an organic connection because the subject-object-transcendent connecting link are all part and parcel of the one Universal Omnipresence. But what makes you feel that the world is outside you? It is this stupid reflection that has completely distorted itself through passing through this vacuous sleep condition and then peeping through this muddled state through the fivefold sense organs and seeing five things, as it were. You are seeing only five things in this world: that which you can hear, see, touch, taste, and smell. If you had twenty different senses, you would see twenty different things in the universe.
The intellect is, therefore, not a very safe guide for us, and so it is said that God-realisation cannot take place merely by the activity of the intellect. It is helpful as a pointer to the limitation of its own region of action. It can tell you “thus far and no further”; but it cannot take you further, so you should not entirely depend upon intellectual ratiocination. There is another, deeper thing in you, which is the spirit that has to be contacted by another means altogether – by the act of meditation. So, individually, subjectively, as adhyatma, the Universal manifests itself through this condition of sleep as an intellect, and then it becomes a more delimited means of consciousness, called mind.
Universal Consciousness gets reflected through the Anandamaya Kosha, the Vijnanamaya Kosha or intellect, and the Manomaya Kosha or mind. The mind can think in an indistinct manner but cannot come to logical judgments. Judgments are passed only by the intellect, which is the reason. So there are two different functions performed by intellect and mind. Mind is called manas, and intellect is called buddhi. The ratiocinating and logically deciding factor is buddhi, or intellect; the pure indeterminate perception is the cognition of the mind. Suppose you see something at a distance, and you feel something is standing there. The mind indistinctly becomes aware: something is there. “I am cognising that something is there, and am aware of something in front of me.” But what it is, it cannot say. The intellect decides whether it is a human being or a lamppost. The decision as to the fact of the case is taken by the intellect; indistinct perception is the work of the mind.
Now, the intellect and the mind work in terms of the five senses – hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling. Neither the mind nor the intellect can work independently, totally free from the activities of the sense organs, so the world that you perceive, that which you cognise through the mind or understand through the intellect, is a sense world. Again we come to this contradiction and difficulty created by objective idealism and subjective idealism, as I mentioned in the case of Berkeley, Hegel, etc.
The senses, therefore, are five, as mentioned. They are conjoined with the mental sheath as well as the intellectual sheath. Below these two intellectual and mental sheaths that go together with the five senses, there is the vital sheath, which is the Pranamaya Kosha. The vital breath, the breathing process, the energy that you feel in your system, is due to the prana that is operating. As there are five sensations, there are also five functions of the prana. The prana operates when you breathe out. The apana operates when you breathe in. When you take a breath inside, it is pulled down. That downward pull is caused by apana. When you breathe out, there is an expulsion taking place; the breath is thrown out. This is done by the prana. So you have two functions, prana and apana, the upward and the downward breath. There is a third, called vyana, which circulates throughout the body and causes blood circulation, etc. It is pervasive in its action. Udana is in the throat. It works as the deglutition process when you eat food and drink water. The food that you eat cannot go inside unless that udana is operating; otherwise, it will stick in your throat. Udana performs three functions: firstly, it causes the deglutition of food, the swallowing of your diet; secondly, it takes you to the state of deep sleep every day; thirdly, it takes you to the other world when you cast off this body. It is udana that will take you up to the other realm. So we have prana, apana, vyana, udana. The fifth function is samana, which works in the gastric region, the naval spot, and causes the digestion of food. Prana, apana, vyana, udana, samana – these are the five functions of the vital energy, which constitute another sheath altogether, the Pranamaya Kosha, the vital sheath.
Last is the physical sheath. This is made up of the five elements earth, water, fire, air and sky. This bone, flesh, marrow, tendon and the weight that you feel in yourself are the sum and substance of the physical elements. So here you have the description of the subjective universe of human individuality. There are five koshas. Anandamaya Kosha is the causal sheath, Vijnanamaya Kosha is the intellectual sheath, Manomaya Kosha is the mental sheath, Pranamaya Kosha is the vital sheath, and Annamaya Kosha, the physical sheath. Anna means food. This body is sustained by the food and drink that you take. Therefore, it is called Annamaya Kosha. It is a purely material conglomeration.
So what are we as human individuals? We are the physical body charged with energy by the vital body, together with the thinking process of the mind, the understanding of the intellect, and confusion at the back of it. We are guided by confusion in the beginning, and all our life in this world is a big mass of blunder, as you will realise later on, because whatever be the appurtenances that you have, they are finally projections of this vacuous muddle, about which the less said the better. You are seeing everything upside-down, the inside as the outside, the outside as the inside, as you see your face in a mirror – right looks like left and left looks like right; or as you stand on the bank of the river, the head, which is the highest, looks lowest, and the feet, which are the lowest, look uppermost. This is what is happening to you in your attempt at perception. All human perception is, therefore, defective perception. You never see a real world. You are seeing an unreal world in front of you. This is a great consolation for you that you are seeing finally an unreal world, and you yourself are an unreal individual. The reality is the cosmic existence, in the Purusha, Prakriti, Mahat and Ahamkara Tattva, Ishvara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat. Only when you touch this Universal Being are you safe; and until that time, you are in a fool’s paradise. You are in a very great, interesting Disneyland. This is this wonderful world!
Now I have told you everything about creation. This is Sankhya knowledge. Arjuna knows nothing about it. “You are a foolish man. You are only seeing Kurus in front of you, army generals and Kurukshetra. This is such a limited view, like a man thinking only in terms of his family – his wife and children, and his business. He does not know anything else in the world. Whatever is happening is within his room, in his house, and that is the whole world for him. Arjuna, are you like that? There is a vaster vision before you: Sankhya. You do not know Sankhya; therefore, you also do not know the implementation of this knowledge with this world, which is Yoga.”
The whole of the Second Chapter of the Bhagavadgita is confined to this discussion of Sankhya and Yoga. Actually, the Bhagavadgita, in its original verses, does not go into detail of all these things mentioned just now. Something about it will be told in later chapters, but not in such categorisation, which is knowledge that I have provided to you from other sources.
This is the process of jnana, of Sankhya, of knowledge of the whole universe. Now you know where you are standing. Are you in Rishikesh? Where are you sitting now? Your head will start reeling. But if your head reels with this knowledge, it is a blessing to you. Let it reel; no harm. It is reeling because of the giddiness caused by the stupendous knowledge that has taken place within.
I told you that this Ahamkara-tattva has divided itself into a threefold function. There is adhibhuta prapancha, the world of objective perception, and adhyatma. But the magical trick of the juggler also requires that you must see this jugglery. It is not enough if the jugglery goes on and nobody sees it, because then the drama is not complete. So a third action is instituted by this wondrous juggler. He himself stands midway. The juggler is standing between the jugglery and yourself, the audience, and he performs his trick. That is the transcendent element. You cannot see the juggler. He suddenly vanishes. When the jugglery is performed, you see only what is performed. The man is absent. You do not know where he has gone.
God absents Himself for the sake of making you feel that He is present in the objective world. The juggler vanishes for the time being so that you may be befooled into the perception of there being something outside the juggler. Here is the world in front of you, and you cannot see the juggler in the middle. Thus, this transcendent consciousness between the subjective side and objective side cannot be seen. I am seeing you, you are seeing me, but you cannot know how you are seeing me and I am seeing you. There is something between us which is more important than you and the world that you see, and unless you touch this transcendent element that is between us, you will be completely confined to a wrong notion of your being somewhere and the world being somewhere else. These two categories of the subjective side and the objective side are linked together by the adhideva, which is the transcendent principle. Thus the world goes. This is the creation of God, or whoever it is.
On the basis of this knowledge, you have to live in this world. The whole point of the Bhagavadgita is that you have a duty in this world. Where comes the duty? You may ask me, “Why should I have any duty at all? It is all done by God, as you already told me. Let Him do whatever He likes.” Here is something very interesting for you to know. God has done everything; He has created this peculiar universe in the manner He has done. This may be true, but you also have some part to play in it as an individual. God has not suddenly created you unnecessarily. He is not an unjust ruler. This so-called potential of the Universal Consciousness to become individualised is the reason for the action of what is called karma. Karma is the action potential projected by the desire of the individual to be localised in one place: “I shall be only this. Let me be this much.”
You once desired that you should be John, James, Krishna, Rama, Janaki, Radha, etc. This wish of yours is concretised, cast into a mould of a particular shape into which what is called birth takes place. Birth is the congealment of this desire into a form. Your body, this personality, this whole adhyatma that I described is the concrete congealed form of your wish to become only this, and nothing else. And you have assumed the role of a relative individuality in relation to other individuals who are also caught in that relativity. Because you are relative and not absolute, you are restless always. The finitude of your individuality, which is the relative – this relativity of individuality into which the consciousness has entered – can be sustained only by its relative relation to other relations. I can exist only because you are there, and you can exist because I am there. There is a mutual give-and-take policy of cooperation in this cosmos. Totally individually, nobody can exist. You will find you are miserable if you are alone in this universe. You want a comrade. You want some relationship with something. A related thing can survive only with another related thing. A finite cannot be finite always. It has to assume the role of an imagined non-finite by adding to its finitude accretions of other finites. I become your friend, I have a talk with you, I take assistance from you and you take assistance from me.
I wrongly appear to be expanding my finitude because, actually, the finitude has not expanded merely because I have other friends. Each friend is a finite by himself, and many finites do not make the infinite. So there is another mistake you are committing every day, a double mistake of imagining that an increase in the quantum of relationship will make you a little non-finite. Nothing of the kind – you are finite only. As you came, so you go. You came as a miserable individual, and as a miserable individual you go. But you do not want to be conscious of your miserableness always, so you try to obliterate that thrust of consciousness of finitude by imagining that you are infinite. “I have a lot of land. I have a lot of money. I have friends. I have family. What is wrong with me?” What is wrong with you will be told at the time of your passing from this world. Until that time, you will not know that. Then you will know, my dear friend, what kind of life you have been living.
So this relativity consciousness, which is unable to survive even for a moment unless it is connected to other relativity, lives again in a world of tomfoolery, I should say, and thus we leave this world with restlessness, with anxiety, with no hope of any kind of respite anywhere. But we think and are made to believe that everything is fine in this world by accretions of gold, silver, money, property, friends, family – all which vanish like dust and ashes when this body is cast off by the mind.
This is the reason why individuality is created, which process is called birth. With these words, I have given you the total picture of creation.