by Swami Krishnananda
Though truth is unitary and Brahman is absolute, the realisation of it is possible only by stages and by a gradual rise of consciousness from its Jivahood in various degrees of reality which it experiences in the different stages of its evolution. God, world and soul, in their distinctive features, appear to have a reality in the beginning, and this being the fundamental stage, the Sadhana of the Jiva should begin from this level. The creation of the world, which is being taken for granted by the Jiva, is to be first analysed. It is to be shown now that the creation of the world as it is, and as projected by the will of Isvara, is not the difficulty of the Jiva. Towards this end, the two types of creation are being studied here. The Upanishads speak of Isvara’s creation in various ways. Prakriti which also goes, sometimes, by the name of Maya, is the material cause, and the Supreme Lord or the Mayin, the instrumental cause of creation: so says the Svetasvatara Upanishad.
The Atman alone was in the beginning, and it willed to create the many by a cosmic ideation; so says the Aitareya Upanishad.
Brahman was truth, knowledge and infinity, and from it arose ether, air, fire, water, earth, the different bodies, and so on, and the variety of creation was effected by the primeval contemplation of the Divine Being to appear as the many: so says the Taittiriya Upanishad.
In the beginning it was only pure Existence, and in it arose the idea to become manifold, and it created the luminous medium of fire, from which water and earth and other bodies came out as effects: so says the Chhandogya Upanishad.
As sparks emanate from fire, all the variety consisting of conscious and unconscious beings came out from the one Imperishable: so says the Mundaka Upanishad.
In the beginning it was all unmanifested, and by the will of the unmanifested Absolute the latent became patent, and the one became the many names and forms, down to the gross universe which is animated by the Virat. By subsidiary evolution, after the manifestation of Virat, the celestials, human beings, and animals, etc., even up to the ants, became the variegated expressions of the Universal Purusha: so says the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
Isvara entered in the form of the life-principle in all the apparently divided aspects of Himself, and made them appear as Jivas with their own subjective ideations.
The substratum of consciousness called the Kutastha, the subtle body called Linga-Sarira, and the reflection of this consciousness through the subtle body, together constitute the Jiva, one being impossible without the other. The Sakti of Isvara which is responsible for the creation of the universe, also acts as a deluding factor when it enters into the constitution of the Jiva as Avidya or ignorance. The Jiva and Isvara are compared to two birds perching on the tree of the body or the universe, of which Jiva, by eating the fruits of the tree, experiences sorrow, while Isvara remains an unattached spectator and enters into no relations whatsoever. The eating of the fruits of the tree is the establishing of relations with the manifested world, positively as likes and negatively as dislikes, due to the fact that the Jiva is incapable of having a totality of experience as Isvara has, and is limited to particularised experiences of separated objects with which it has varying relations in the different stages of its evolution. The objects, with which the Jiva thus maintains relations, are, in their own capacity, creations of Isvara, but to the observations of the Jiva they bear differing values at different times so that the Jiva has no permanent and definite information of anything in the world, since, as it evolves, its ideas of things also evolve.
In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad we are told of the creation of the seven kinds of food or objects which constitute the support of Jivahood, both on earth and in heaven. Food such as rice and wheat, are considered as the general food. Oblations offered in the new moon and full-moon sacrifices are regarded as foods of the celestials by which they sustain themselves as individuals in a higher plane. Milk is supposed to be the food of animals, which supports the animal nature in others also. The mind, speech and Prana are the internal foods of the Jiva, by which it retains the network of relations in the world, and without which it cannot exist. Though, in essence, all these are the creations of Isvara, they are converted by the Jiva into its foods, for sustaining itself, through its psychological and sensory functions. The psychic activity of the Jiva referred to here is the Vishayachintana or the idea of objects and its sensory activity is the effort it exercises towards reaching the objects either with the idea of possessing them or avoiding them. So far as pure relationship is concerned, it is immaterial whether it is in the form of likes or dislikes, because both are after all, relations by which the Jiva gets bound in the process of Samsara. As one and the same person may be looked at from different points of view due to purely private relations – a woman, for instance, is daughter to her father and wife to her husband – the world is considered by the Jiva in different ways according to its own predilections and idea of things. Maya acts as the means in the creation of the universe by Isvara, and the mind becomes the means in the experience of the world by the Jiva. Though the mind of the Jiva does not create the world in itself, it can create its own world and reduce the former to instruments of personal satisfaction; and it is only with this latter that it is concerned – not with the world of Isvara, in its practical dealings.
The objects created in the world of Isvara have differing values to the Jivas. Take, for example, a precious stone. It creates pleasure in the mind of one who desired it and has possessed it. It generates displeasure and anger in another who desired it but who could not possess it. It creates an attitude of indifference in a third who is dispassionate and is neither happy nor grieved on its perception. The three types of values, pleasure, unhappiness and impersonal non-attachment are not intrinsic values of the precious stone, which is a creation in the world of Isvara, and which, in itself, has a uniform value at all times, i.e., the value of being an integral part of Isvara’s creation. It exists as any other object does, and this is really its ultimate value. But that it means something to someone is not its essential nature. Objects set up emotions in the Jiva by acting as correlatives of its own internal feelings of a kind of incompleteness within itself. This is the reason why all do not desire the same thing, and even the same person does not desire one thing alone, at all times. Values differ when ideas differ, though objects do not change their nature even when they are looked at by various observers. They are capable of evoking different thoughts and feelings in the Jivas.
In perception, there is a twofold process. The mind which is inert, and is very subtle, projects itself as a force towards an object, envelops the form of that object, as light would cover a substance which it illumines, and takes the shape of that object. Simultaneously with this enveloping process, which is called Vrittivyapti, there is a lighting up of this process by the Chidabhasa within, which is called Phalavyapti, and by which knowledge the form of the object is given to the observing Jiva. When this knowledge is received by the Buddhi, it gives orders, immediately, to the whole system of the Jiva, in accordance with the meaning that it reads in the object perceived. The activity of the Jiva in relation to the object is dependent on the meaning that it finds in the object and is not caused by merely the existence of the object, as such. The bondage of the Jiva, therefore, lies in this, that the world means something to it, merely because it considers the world to be outside it, and sets up a series of reactions in regard to it, throughout its life. The liberation of the Jiva consists, therefore, in the withdrawal of this process of reading meaning in things, and acting accordingly; in regarding all things as parts of Isvara’s creation, and seeing no other meaning than that their existence is Isvara’s existence.
In the perception of an object, such as an earthen pot, there is a twofold activity of the mind going on: (1) The perception of the object, and (2) the conception of it. Perception is brought about by a projection of the mind towards the objects outside, while a concept can arise in the mind even without there being a physical object, really. There is, thus, a physical earthen vessel, and also a mental one, by which the manner in which the vessel is related to the seer is determined. By Anvaya and Vyatireka it can be known that the cause of bondage is Jiva’s creation. When there is Jivasrishti, there is bondage. This is Anvaya. When there is no Jivasrishti, there is no bondage. This is Vyatireka. And this is a matter of experience by everyone. When we are not concerned with anything , we have a peculiar kind of freedom, and a feeling of happiness, which we do not experience when our thoughts get entangled in what we term the business of life. We concern ourselves with things, and hence it is we that have a variety of feelings. The mind of the Jiva acts only in regard to external objects. When no objects are presented before it, it cannot have any definite psychological reaction. Now, these internal reactions can be possible, even if there is no real physical perception; for example, in dream we have various experiences even when there is no actual contact with objects: and on the other hand, in Samadhi, sleep and swoon there is no perception of objects even when they are really present. A person may be grieved on receiving the news of the death of a dear relative, though the news may be false, but he remains happy, even if the dear one is really dead, if only the news would not reach him. The bondage of the Jiva is caused by its own mentations.
It is the operation of the Jiva’s mental functions that is the cause of the same person being designated as father, brother, husband, nephew, friend, enemy, and the like. These appellations have their counterparts in the minds of the Jivas. As a molten metal cast in the mould assumes the form of the mould, or as the light of the sun covers the objects it illumines, the mind which envelops forms assumes their respective shapes. There is first the rise of a mental modification in the subject, then the movement of this modification towards the object, and then the transformation of the modification into the shape of the object. The physical object is perceived by the senses, but the imagined form is visualised by the Sakshin or the Witness-consciousness directly.
There is a difference between Vijnanavada and Vedanta in that while the former denies the physical world altogether, independent of the individual’s thinking, the latter accepts the world of Isvara, without which even thinking would not be possible. The objects in the world exist whether or not they are perceived by the Jivas, and their existence does not depend upon the test of utility that may be imposed on them. Utility is not the test of truth. We may not know things as they really are, on account of the psychological cloggings in which we are involved, but it is not difficult to see that there cannot be a perception unless there is something to be perceived, no matter whether its nature can be determined by us or not.
The liberation of the Jiva from this self-entanglement is brought about by Brahma-Jnana or realisation of the Absolute, and not merely by a suppression of the activities of the mind negatively, as it is done by several immature minds believing that mere absence of the sensation of pain would do, and that there is nothing higher. The truth is far from it, which is positive realisation of Brahman, wherein one is possessed, as it were, by a feeling of immortality and universal existence.
It does not matter if the duality of the world of Isvara is apparently perceived. What is necessary is an insight into the fundamental unity of all things and the realisation that all things in the world of Isvara are divine in nature, being manifestations of Isvara Himself. When this truth is known, the apparent duality does not in any way affect the Jiva. On the other hand, mere absence of the perception of duality does not in any way help one in spiritual evolution, as, for example, in the state of Pralaya. Nothing is seen as a manifested world in the state of final dissolution, but Jivasrishti does not come to an end there. The Jivas rise once again to a world of duality and multiplicity, subsequently, and the state of dissolution does not help them. Thus there is no purpose in merely closing one’s eyes to the duality of the world. What is necessary is the wisdom of truth and realisation of oneness behind the apparent duality.
Isvarasrishti is not only non-obstructive to all Jivas in their evolution, but is a positive help, and is instrumental in the rise of true knowledge in the Jiva. The world-experience is an educative process, and we learn lessons in every condition of our existence. The world is the great Guru to the Jiva, and Isvara Himself imparts lessons through His various manifestations, whether the Jiva knows this or not. Hence there should be no cause for complaint on the part of anyone against the world. (Verses 1-42)
The duality created by the Jiva is twofold: scripturally ordained and scripturally prohibited. The ordained one is to be accepted because it is good and necessary for the spiritual evolution of the Jiva. The ordained duality consists in such things as study, self-analysis, investigation of truth and spiritual contemplation. Even these have to be given up when Brahman is realised. The scriptures say that we should abandon the craze for study when insight dawns within. The Upanishad exhorts that, having known Him, the wise one should resort to the superior Understanding, rejecting verbal controversy and argument which are just weariness of speech; and that the energy of the senses should be conserved in the mind, the mind should be fixed in the intellect, the intellect in the cosmic intellect, Hiranyagarbha, and the latter in Isvara, by the process of meditation.
The prohibited kind of duality is, again, twofold: the intense and the mild. The intense one consists of such inner forces as passion, anger, etc. The mild one is such useless mental activity as building castles in the air. Both these should be given up early, for the sake of the rise of knowledge, by practice of self-restraint at all times. It is not necessary to reiterate that these are objectionable traits even after the rise of the knowledge. In a Jivanmukta there will not be any trace of these; and by this let it not be thought that only Videhamukti could better be aspired for, for fear that in Jivanmukti desires have to be abandoned. Spiritual insight and desire are contradictions, and there cannot be even an inclination to maintain desire when insight dawns. Desire is the greatest evil, and it is good that one carefully abandons it.
The state of Jivanmukti is one in which desires cannot have any place because the Jivanmukta is in a definite condition, wherein established, he practises spontaneously the law of the Absolute. All desire in the world is selfish, because it is always connected with something that is expected to bring personal satisfaction, even if others are to be deprived of their desires in this attempt. Moreover, desire is directed to something, to the exclusion of something else. Hence desire is not universal. But a Jivanmukta is a universal person, inasmuch as his consciousness is attuned to Brahman. For him the law of the world is the law of God., and so it is impossible for him to act wrongly, or cherish personal desires. Goodness, virtue, etc., which are qualities that a seeker aspires to possess by an effort on his part, become spontaneous expressions of a liberated soul, for the simple fact that his soul is the Soul of all beings.
Objects of desire have to be relinquished by the perception of the defects that always accompany them. Life is short, and time is fleeting; death does not come with any previous intimation. Youth fades, and the strength of the body diminishes even without one’s being aware of it. All accumulated stuff shall depart one day. Every rise has a fall. All union ends in separation, some time or other. Life must end in death. The meeting of things in this world is as unstable as the meeting of logs of wood in an ocean. Nothing in life is under the control of man. Thus, and along such lines, the defective nature of things has to be analysesd in the mind, by gradually withdrawing oneself from the tantalising things of phenomenal existence.
The mild obstacle referred to as building castles in the air (Manorajya) is as bad as such Vrittis as lust, anger, and the like. The contemplation of an objective desire leads to contact with it, and then desire for it arises in the mind; desire begets anger; anger deludes the mind; delusion brings about loss of understanding eventually, and ends in the destruction of all good in man. Manorajya can be conquered by Nirvikalpa-Samadhi, through the practice of Savikalpa-Samadhi as detailed in the Yogasastras. Even if this elaborate technique of Yoga is difficult for many, it is possible for one to bring the mind under control by living in seclusion, by a sincere effort to free the mind from desires, by constantly remembering the transient nature of all things, and by protracted practice of the correct chanting of OM, until the mind becomes tranquil, and by freedom from Rajas which allows the reflection of the Atman in its placid nature. When the mind is taught the lesson that the universe is the appearance of the Absolute, it shall not think of objects. This itself is the highest attainment. If sometimes the mind gets distracted due to the operation of Prarabhda Karma, it is to be brought back to the source again, by force of effort, as restive horses are controlled by reins. He who has no distraction of mind, and whose mind does not contemplate objects, is not merely a knower of Brahman, but Brahman itself. Abandoning all attraction to objects, he who stands firm in his own nature, is, verily, Brahman. That, by the relinquishment of the creation of the Jiva (Jivasrishti), Jivamukti is attained in its full glory, is the opinion of the seers and the knowers of the Vedanta scriptures. (Verses 43-69)