by Swami Krishnananda
What was called the ‘Bliss of Yoga’ previously is the same as the ‘Bliss of the Self’ referred to recently. Because the Bliss of Brahman is directly experienced in Yoga meditation, it is called Yogananda. The essential Bliss unconditioned by anything else is called Nijananda, or essential Bliss, and because this very same Bliss is realised as something different from the Gauna Atman and the Mithya Atman, it is called Atmananda, or Bliss of the Primary Self. Now it may appear that inasmuch as it is told that the Bliss of the Atman is different from such other things as the Gauna Atman and the Mithya Atman, it is perhaps conditioned by these, or limited by their existence. This is precisely not the case, because the Bliss of Brahman is Brahman itself and not some quality attached to it from outside, and the whole world beginning from Space (Akasa) down to the grossest object like the body, is nothing apart from the Bliss of Brahman, as it will be seen from the Brahmananda-Valli Section of the Taittiriya Upanishad. This Upanishad says that everything has come from the Atman, the Omnipresent Self. Hence, the world is not different from Brahman. Brahman is non-dual. The Taittiriya Upanishad says, again, that if all this world is born from Ananda (Bliss), exists in Ananda, and is finally dissolved in Ananda, how can there be then a world different from the Ananda of Brahman? The whole Universe is the manifestation of Ananda. We all live on account of it, and we can never rest satisfied until we fully realise it. Let it not be thought that the world is an effect different from the power of this Ananda, as an earthen pot is different from its cause, the potter. The Ananda is not merely an instrumental cause (Nimitta-karana), as the potter is in relation to the pot; but it is also the material cause (Upadana-karana), as clay is in relation to the pot. The existence and dissolution of the pot do not depend upon the existence of the potter, but they are dependent on the clay out of which the pot is made. For, clay is the substance out of which the pot is made, it is the material cause. Likewise, the existence and the dissolution of the world are dependent on the Supreme Being as Ananda, as it is the Material Cause of the world.
Material cause is, again, of three kinds: (1) Arambha, (2) Parinama, and (3) Vivarta. Arambha-Upadana is that material cause which is distinguishable from its effect, as cloth is distinguished from its threads in some respects, though the latter are the material cause of the former. Parinama-Upadana is that kind of material cause which actually renounces its nature as the effect, by undergoing a transformation within itself and remains in another form altogether, as milk becomes curd. Vivarta-Upadana is that kind of material cause which appears as an effect without actually undergoing any change in itself, and yet appearing as something different, as, for example, a rope appearing as a snake. Here, the cause has not become the effect, but merely appears as the effect. This may happen even in the case of partless or shapeless objects, because we see that a thing like Space, which has no shape at all, appears to be blue in colour, inverted like a dome, touching the horizon, etc., and it also appears to be affected by the qualities of the earth on account of which we attribute to it clearness as well as its opposite. In a similar manner, it may be said that this world is a Vivarta (appearance) of Brahman, of the Divine Ananda, and this appearance is made possible due to a power, or Sakti, called Maya, indescribably present, as a special kind of power is seen in a magician. This power is actually not different from the substance in which it inheres, nor is it totally identical with it. We find, in ordinary life, that the burning capacity which is the power of fire cannot be said to be either identical with fire or different from it. When the effect of burning in fire is not seen actually, even when it is flaming forth, we infer that the absence of its burning power is due perhaps to the application of some Mantras, or incantations, on fire. If heat is the same as fire, fire itself ought to have ceased to exist when its heat is suppressed; nor is it possible for us to say that there is no such thing as fire apart from mere heat. The Divine Power of Brahman, called Maya, is likewise inscrutable (Anirvachaniya) and its relation to Brahman is difficult to ascertain, or understand.
Sages endowed with intuition recognise in meditation that the Divine Power, or Sakti, is hidden by its own properties, that the Supreme Power inherent in Brahman manifests itself in various ways, especially as knowledge (Jnana), action (Kriya), and will or desire (Ichha). There are those who think that there is no cause at all for the world and that it just exists by its own nature. Others think that the world has come out of nothing (Sunya), or void. Some think that the world is a conglomeration of invisible atoms which combine themselves in a peculiar way to form this world. The astronomers and the astrologers opine that it is all Time factor that is operating everywhere and there cannot be any other cause of the world than the movement of Time in various ways creating different conditions and situations. The materialists are of the opinion that matter is everything and there is no such thing as Consciousness, and even if the latter is conceded, it is only an exudation of matter. The Mimamsakas, or ritualists, think that the potency of Karma, called Adrishta, is the real cause of the world-manifestation, and nothing can exist other than Karma, as the operative cause. The Samkhyas hold that the cause of the world is Prakriti in conjunction with Purusha, and the diversity of the world is only the evolution of Prakriti. The Yoga school posits an Isvara in addition to Prakriti and the many Purushas of the Samkhya, because it is impossible to conceive of the dispensation of justice and the proper allocation of the fruits of the Karmas of Jivas if there is no such Being who is independent of Prakriti and the Purushas. The Vedanta school of dualism (Dvaita) accepts the supremacy of God above all things, making the Goal within the aspirations of the Jivas, unlike Samkhya and the Yoga, but never thinks that there is any intrinsic relation among God, the world and the souls. According to them, the relation is only extrinsic. The Visishta-Advaita school of Vedanta accepts the intrinsic relationship existing among God, the world and the souls, making the latter two integral parts of Isvara, in the manner of qualifications, or Viseshanas, of Isvara, who is the Substance. The Advaita-Vedanta does not accept any relationship at all, because it never feels that there are three things as God, world and soul. For it, the Truth is one and whatever appears in this world is only the way of the revelation of this one Truth.
Thus, the scripture affirms the existence of a Divine Sakti in Brahman and this is also corroborated in such other texts like the Yogavasishtha, where it is said that Brahman is Omnipotent, full with all powers, eternal, complete and non-dual. As is the revelation of Brahman at a particular time, so is the way in which the Sakti expresses itself as manifestations. All these bodies and objects that we see in all the planes of existence are the manifestations of this Sakti of Brahman. Movement in air, hardness in stone, liquidity in water, heat in fire, emptiness in space, transience in things – all these are expressions of this Sakti. The world is hidden in the Supreme Being in the same manner as a snake is hidden in an egg, or a huge tree is hidden in a seed, though the tree may have an extended form with trunk, branches, leaves etc., which are bigger than the seed itself. The Saktis of Brahman do not manifest themselves at all times, but only some of them are revealed at certain places and times as the occasions may demand, even as seeds germinate only as conditioned by space, time, circumstance etc., and not always and under all circumstances. This Omnipresent Brahman, the Self-luminous Being, when it reveals itself, becomes the many, and then there is the origin of mentation, or mind, in a cosmic sense. In the beginning, there is the Primeval Will of the Eternal Being, and then commence the individualist notions of the Jivas attended with the feelings of bondage and freedom, and then comes the grossened consciousness of the world outside, which, somehow, assumes reality in the minds of the Jivas by their constant wrong thinking and an inability to discriminate between truth and falsehood, just as a fable may look real when we do not deeply think over its meaning.
The Sage Vasishtha continues that this world has assumed a reality in the same manner as a story may assume reality in the mind of a child. For the delight of the child a fable is narrated from one’s imagination, though for the mature mind it is no reality. Take, for example, the following story: There lived three princes, somewhere, in a delightful manner, enjoying themselves, of which two were not born and one never entered the womb of the mother. They lived in a very righteous manner in a city at a non-existent place, and from this void-city they went out hunting through space, and on the way they found in the skies trees filled with fruits, flowers, etc., and these princes even today live in this picturesque city which is yet to be. This fable sounds nice to the mind of a child because his mind has not yet reached maturity and so takes in only the literal meaning of the words. This world, says Vasishtha, has the hardness of reality due to non-discriminatory thinking as in the case of the child, and consequently this Samsara sits tight in the mind of the Jiva due to lack of sufficient knowledge. Like this, and in many other ways, the world-manifestation has been described in detail both in the Sruti (revelation) and Smriti (tradition), which we intend to describe here concisely.
This Sakti, or Power, is the cause of what we call causal relation or the connection between the cause and the effect, but it is itself different from the effect which is the world and its cause which is Brahman. For example, the burning capacity of fire is different from itself and its effect. It is felt by us through sensation. Taking a more complete example: an earthen pot with a particular size and shape is an effect, and its cause is clay with the characteristics of sound, touch, form, taste and smell. The power inherent in clay by which it gets fashioned into a pot is itself not identical with either the effect or the cause. It is precisely on account of this reason that we call it indescribable, as no words can denote it or indicate its precise nature. Before the production of the effect the power was inherent in the cause, as clay. It has taken a modified shape after it is interfered with by the potter with his instruments. People without the endowment of proper discrimination confuse between the mere shape of the pot and the characteristics of the clay, viz., sound, touch, etc., and thus remark that there is a pot. The substance and the space-and-time factor by a mutual dependence on each other produce a peculiar effect to which we give a specific name on account of the sensory observation of a particular form empirically. Prior to the time the potter touched the clay, it was not called a pot. Later it was called so because of the subsequent sensation of certain characteristics which we are unable to identify with the cause, viz., clay. Though the substance is in the effect, yet we generally make a practical distinction between the two and then say that there is an effect independent of the cause. It is individualistic perception or spatio-temporal sensation that is responsible for the notion that there is an independent effect different from the cause, while the truth is otherwise.
The pot is really non-different from the clay, because it is seen that when it is separated from the clay it ceases to be; equally can it be said that the two are not absolutely identical with each other because of the fact that the pot was not seen when there was only a lump of clay prior to the manufacture of the pot. Hence, this manifestation that we call pot is really an indescribable something as a Sakti, or power, inherent in the clay. It is called Sakti when it is unmanifest and it is called a pot when it is manifest. When a magician conjures up a phenomenon with the power that he possesses the observers begin to see the same, say, the marching of an army, etc., but it is not difficult to understand that there is no such phenomenon as an army, etc., really speaking, and it is only the manifestation of the power of the magician. As the unmanifested it was inherent in the magician, as a Sakti, and in the manifested state it becomes observed as a coloured phenomenon. Thus, the unreality of the mere fact of modification and the reality of the basis or the substance behind the modification appears.
The Chhandogya Upanishad says that all modification is only a matter of words, a name, the truth being the basic substance alone, as, for example, clay. The name mentioned here is not indicative of anything substantial. The name is just an abstract notion denoting a modification which is conceptual and nothing real. Here, in this instance cited, only the clay possesses the qualities like sound, touch, etc., and not the pot. In the series of the basal substance, the unmanifested power and the manifested effect, the latter two are different only temporarily and, truly speaking, they are synonymous, meaning one and the same, but differing on account of the succession or the distinction of priority and posteriority, one thing existing before and another appearing afterwards. In the movement of time the base, namely clay, is, however, permanent, and persists in the different stages of the modification that we call the effects. The effect is unsubstantial, though it appears there. It has a beginning and an end, and when it comes into being as an effect, it is indicated by a name expressed by word of mouth. The name persists in an abstract manner even after the destruction of the effect, and here, in this condition, the name does not indicate anything existent, but is just a sound connoting nothing. It is contentless and has no existence apart from being only in name, and such effect is called by the Sruti as simply a matter of words, nothing more. It is not real like clay, because of its unsubstantiality, transiency, and because of its being merely a name in the form of a sound, not really existent. As distinguished from this, however, the clay persists at the time of the appearance of the effect, prior to its appearance, and also after its disappearance, in one and the same form without undergoing any change. Hence, it is substantial , real, undestructive. Because of its permanency in the three periods of time, it is called real.