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. We established that Brahman is the one and only (undifferentiated) material and intelligent cause of the jagat.
In this Unit, we will begin to understand the mechanics of creation, that brings us to understand mAyA.
The Play of mAyA.
We reviewed in the previous units, that Brahman is the " abhinna nimitta upAdAna kAraNa " (non-differentiated or [one and the same] material and intelligent cause) of the jagat. In this section, we will try to understand the mechanics of how the jagat came into being. This is a difficult task, since the humans, conditioned by space and time, are experiencing jagat posterior to jagat coming in to being. So the only recourse to understand this mechanics is the upanishads. However, the upanishadic point of view seems to be different in different upanishads. But there can only be one mechanism of this jagat coming into being; so which of the upanishads describe the correct mechanics? Why such seemingly different views among upanishads?
Before we try to understand these various upanishadic views, it is instructive to understand why vEdAnta even discusses the creation of jagat. After all jagat is jaDa; there is no value in understanding the creation of jagat other than the inquisitiveness of the jIva. From a vEdAntin's perspective, as such there is nothing to be gained by understanding the mechanics of the jagat coming into being. The goal of vEdAntin is to present Brahman, whose understanding is necessary in the realization of Brahman. However, Brahman cannot be presented without the presentation of jagat, because the invisible Brahman has to be understood only through the visible jagat. So it is inevitable for vEdAnta and the vEdAntin to understand the creation of jagat.
A fact of creation of an object has a definite mechanism of creation. Its description also will be consistent. Advaita's view is that this jagat was not created in the traditional sense. Then what to talk about the mechanics of its creation? However, it is the general belief of jIvas that this jagat was created. vEdAnta follows this track of jIva's understanding in initially supporting this concept of creation of jagat; As the understanding becomes firm, vEdAnta presents how the jagat actually came into being . This is the method of teaching of vEdAnta.
The upanishats have presented several mechanics of creation, as deemed necessary, consistent with seeker's experience of jagat. As the seeker's knowledge and ability in judgment and reasoning intensifies, it helps him to understand that the jagat we see is the play of mAyA. This is the method of vEdAnta. This method and the fact that the jagat is not created are consistent with the nature of Brahman.
What is mAyA?
Now let us look at the following mantra from the taittirIya upanishat -
"agnih pUrva rUpam, Aditya uttara rUpam, Apah sandhih, vaidyutah sandhAnam (1.3)
- Fire is the first form, Sun is the second form, union of these two is water and the force or power that causes the union is the lightening (electric potential). We know a similar phenomena in Science. Hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water with the application of electricity. Hydrogen is a gas and combustible (characteristic of agni). Oxygen is a gas and supporter of combustion (characteristic of Sun - caused by temperature differences resulting in wind currents, supporting combustion). Water is the resulting union, caused by Electricity (vaidyutah) - the medium or power that helps in the union to form water.
Water is a liquid and puts out fire. The two gases - Hydrogen and Oxygen - are combustible and supporter of combustion respectively. How did water, which puts out fire result from two gases which are combustible and supporter of combustion? That is the power in electricity. Science tells us here that it is the power of electricity, by which the kArya (water) is of a totally opposing characteristic from the kAraNa (Oxygen and Hydrogen - upAdAna). vEdAnta also presents that such a power exists - a power in Brahman. Brahman is of the nature of consciousness and limitless in space and time, and actionless, is the kAraNa for the jagat, which is of the nature of inert and limited in time and space. Such power of Brahman, which hides its characteristics of consciousness and limitlessness and presents itself as the inert limited jagat is mAyA.
Sri Shankara, in Prashna upanishat (1.16) comments as follows;
"bahiranyathA AtmAnam prakashya anyathaiva kAryam karOti sA mAyA"
- mAyA is that power of Brahman that enables an outward presentation different from the internal characteristics.
Following the taittirIya mantra, Brahman is the first form (pUrva rUpa), Iswara is the second form (uttara rUpa), jagat is the sandhi and mAyA is the power causing the sandhi.
We will focus on understanding what this mAyA is, the play of this mAyA and how it helps in nderstanding the jagat coming into being. However, it should be noted that mAyA is not invented by advaita to explain some aspect of jagat. The shrutis and smritis extol this mAyA in several contexts like;
indrO mAyAbhih pururUpa IyatE
- indra (Brahman) appears to be of many forms due to mAyA ( brihadAraNyaka upanishat - 2.5.19)
mAyAm tu prakritm vidyAt, mAyinAm tu mahEshvaram
- The prakriti should be understood to be mAyA and the Iswara as mAyAvi (swEtAsvatara upanishat - 4.10)
daivI hi EshA guNamayi mama mAyA duratyayA
- This divine mAyA of mine, caused by the guNas is difficult to crossover (gIta - 7.14).
In the next unit, we will review some of the statements of scriptures regarding the creation of jagat.
Om shAntih, shAntih, shAntih ( Om peace, peace, peace).