So far we have understood that Brahman is the material and intelligent causes of jagat.

We reviewed causes of jagat as posited by other philosophies and countered them. In this unit, we will continue to revisit the advaita view of cause of jagat to firmly establish the validity of the advaita view.

Further Review of Brahman as the kAraNa for jagat.

Objection 6 - Brahman is Partial and Cruel

There is wide range of differences in the creation of jagat. There are some who are very happy. Some of the animals undergo immense hardship and distress. Some others would have a mix of happiness and sorrow. So is Brahman partial? In addition, at the time of dissolution, all jIvas experience extreme distress. So is Brahman very cruel? If so, Brahman cannot be the kAraNa for jagat!

vEdAntin: The jagat creation with differences in the happiness among jIvas is organized according to their karma. The variations, in the level of happiness among jIvas, is a result of their own making. Brahman is not responsible for this (In business life also, every one is rewarded according to their contributions!). The cause of dissolution is the aggregate karma of jIvas. So this objection of Brahman's partiality or cruelty is not accurate.

Objection 7 - awkwardness (Contamination) of Brahman

(i) When the kArya (jagat) is dissolved, it merges in its upAdAna (Brahman). So at the time of dissolution, all the contamination of the jagat, merges into Brahman. This destroys the svarUpa of Brahman. So Brahman cannot be the kAraNa for Jagat.

vEdAntin: When the ornament dissolves into gold, the gold is not contaminated in any way; Likewise, no kArya will contaminate its upAdAna (kAranA). In addition, even in sustenance, the upAdAna is not affected. Little jewel, big jewel, loose jewel, tight jewel will not likewise translate to gold(little gold or big gold has no meaning). This is the nature of upAdAna. So Brahman is not contaminated during dissolution.

(ii) Brahman being of the nature of consciousness, though its intelligent cause (nimitta kAraNa) for the jagat is acceptable, its material cause cannot be accepted for the jagat which is jada (opposite characteristic from that of Brahman). The kArya cannot be different in characteristics from kAraNa. The kAraNa should carry its characteristics into kArya. But the jagat does not exhibit the characteristics of Brahman. Therefore Brahman cannot be the cause of jagat. There are possibly three aspects of this objection; the vEdAntin addresses the three aspects as follows;

vEdAntin: (a) All characteristics of Brahman should be found in the jagat - If all characteristics of a kAraNa are to be found in a kArya, then there is no difference between kArya and kArNa and kArya has no opportunity to show itself. The expectation of all characteristics of kAraNa to be found in kArya is untenable. If all the characteristics of Brahman follow into jagat, there is no difference between Brahman and jagat. Then there is no creation. So this aspect of objection is invalid.

vEdAntin:(b) At least one characteristic of Brahman should be found in the jagat; none of the characteristics of Brahman is found in jagat - The vEdAntin accepts this is a fair objection. If even a single characteristic of the kAraNa is not found in the kArya, the kAraNa is invalid. An example would help. Sweet drink is the kArya, water and sugar are the upAdAna kAraNa (material). The sweet drink is watery; so water is the material cause is obvious. However, the crystal touch and the white form of sugar are not obvious in the drink. However, tasting the drink will confirm the sugar as its material cause. Likewise it is necessary that at least one characteristic of Brahman follow into the jagat. Which of the characteristics of Brahman follows into jagat is determined as follows - Brahman 'is' changeless, jagat 'is' changing; Brahman 'is' consciousness, jagat 'is' inert. The characteristic 'is' of Brahman is found in the jagat as 'is' [ brahmaNo api sattA lakshaNah svabhAvah AkAshAdishu anuvartamAnO drishyate - sattA(is) of Brahman is followed into sky etc, sUtra 2.1.6]. So the objection that even a single characteristic of Brahman is not found in jagat is not valid.

vEdAntin:( © Brahman's consciousness must be found in jagat to accept Brahman is the kAraNa for jagat; jagat is jada, so Brahman is not kAraNa for jagat- What is the basis for this requirement? does the crystalline touch of sugar follow in to the sweet drink? still the sugar is upAdAna of the drink is obvious. So this objection is rejected.

Objection 8 - Insentient from Consciousness ?

How can Brahman of the svarUpa of consciousness be the upAdAna of the jagat which is inert? This question may arise to any one. This is being answered using a familiar example from contemporary science. According to science, the material cause of water is the two gases, oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen is a highly combustible gas and oxygen is a supporter of combustion. The effect (kArya) of these - water - does not have either one of these characteristics. A flame is put off if dipped in water. In this example, the liquidity (of water) is not in the cause, but is present in the effect. The combustibility of cause is not in the effect. So it is no surprise if characteristics of kArya and kAraNa are different. So the shruti statement that the consciousness Brahman is the material cause of the inert jagat is not troublesome.

Objection 9 - Conflict of Limbs / Organs

The chAndOgya upanishat says of the jagat -

" tAvAnasya mahimA atO jyAyAmscha pUruShah pAdO asya sarvA bhUtAni tripAdasyAmritam divi ":

all the living beings are his one fraction (quarter), the remaining three quarters are in the outer world (3.12.6). Brahman is thus described as having limbs or parts in this shruti. There are other shrutis which say Brahman is niravaya - limbless or organless. These are conflicting statements and therefore it cannot be accepted that Brahman is the cause of jagat.

vEdAntin: Again this objection is resolved through an example. Say gold has taken the form of a ring. Gold is gold weather it is in the form of ring or not in the form of ring. Either way gold itself, is not impacted. So it is obvious that "gold is in the ring and is beyond it (gold transcends ornament)". Similarly what the chAndOgya shruti is saying is Brahman is also jagat and transcends jagat. It should not be interpreted as Brahman having parts. He is niravaya.

Objection 10 - Which is the authority?

The doctrine of vEdAnta is conflicting with sAnkhya, yOga and other smritis. These smritis are works of great people. So it is difficult to accept Brahman as the cause of jagat.

vEdAntin: Manu, Apastamba, vyAsa etc. all have reiterated that Brahman is the cause of jagat. Wherever there is a conflict between smriti and shruti, shruti is authoritative. Everyone has to also accept those sections of smritis which are not in conflict with shruti.

In countering the above objections, the thrust of the argument is that "the kArya is not different from kAraNa, but kAraNa is different from kArya". The difficulty in understanding this concept is alleviated through the use of a term "upAdhi".


Let us consider the ring again. It is a form to identify the gold. The ring is a name for Gold in that form (vAchArambhaNa). Even though gold is identified in the form of ring, the form itself will not affect gold; the gold is completely independent of ring. The knowledge of gold, thus obtained is not influenced by the ring. That knowledge is one and the same, whether the knowledge is derived from ring, bracelet or necklace. The ring, - which is not a part of gold, but used to identify gold - is called the upAdhi of gold.

Now let us take another example, say a crystal. The crystal is not likely visible in isolation. However, if a red flower is placed behind the flower, the crystal becomes clearly visible in red color. In association with the red flower, the crystal appears red, though it is not actually red. In this case the red flower is the upAdhi for the crystal. In this case the red flower is not attached to the crystal, like the ring was attached to gold. If a different color flower, say blue, replaces the red flower, the crystal now appears blue. So by the crystal appearing as different color, in association with different colored flowers, we conclude that the crystal is transparent. Whereas the crystal was not visible by itself, the upAdhi helps us see the crystal (a safety decal placed on clear glass doors, helps people avoid bumping into the glass door - the sticker - which helps to see the glass as a glass door - is the upAdhi for the glass; birds many times bump into clear glass panes and die). This is the benefit of upAdhi. The following statement can be made regarding upAdhi;

upAdhi, though attached to object, is not attached; upAdhi though appears to be in object, is not in object. - Statement 3.

Likewise, the names and forms of jagat are upAdhis for Brahman. Brahman is able to be identified only through the upAdhi of names and forms. If Brahman had not created the jagat, we would not have known its svarUpa (we would not have been here to debate this!). Yet, Brahman is not affected by the awkwardness of jagat, just as gold is not affected by the ring or the crystal is not affected by an association with a colored object near it.

Brahman is jagat and is beyond jagat is equivalent to saying that jagat is the upAdhi for Brahman. We may recall here the declaration of Krishna in gIta

"mat sthAni sarva bhUtAni na cha aham tEshu avasthitah"

- all beings are in Me and I am not placed in them (9-4) [Brahman is jagat and is beyond jagat]. Clay is in all pots; yet, if the pot is broken, clay is not impacted; clay is still clay (the name and form is lost, yet the substratum is not affected). So, the pot is not in clay. The pot is an upAdhi of clay. Similarly the jagat is an upAdhi of Brahman. A heap of clay is also a form; one should not consider this as different from a pot or a pan; It is form resulting from the intelligence that it occupies the smallest floor area vs. a bed of clay for example.

If the heap is disturbed the clay remains as clay. Similarly a nugget of gold is also a form, like an ornament, cast into the form of a nugget using a mold (think of intelligence in preparing the mold and casting into it!).

We may review another example to understand upAdhi. I am a son, a father, a husband, an employee etc. But father, son, husband etc. are not in me. These are roles only. These roles are the upAdhis that make me appear as a father, husband etc.

We have now understood, that Brahman is the "abhinna nimitta upAdAna kAraNa" (undifferentiated material and intelligent cause) of the jagat. We need to next look at the mechanics of the jagat coming into being. This is a difficult task. We need to understand a power of Brahman, called mAyA in order to understand the jagat coming into being.

Om shAntih, shAntih, shAntih ( Om peace, peace, peace).

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