In the last unit, we studied the concepts of material and intelligent causes; in this unit, we will review the causes of jagat.

Brahman is the nimitta kAraNa for jagat.

BhagavAn Shankara comments in the sUtra bhAshya (1.1.10) -

" samAnam Eva hi sarvEshu vEdAntEshu chEtana kAraNavagatih "

- All upanishats declare with a single voice that chaitanya (Brahman or Pure Consciousness) is the kAraNa for the creation of the jagat.

Let us review some of these statements from the upanishats.

MunDaka upanishat - 1.1.8 and 9

" tapasA chIyatE brahma tatO annam abhijAyatE
annAt prANO manah satyam lOkAh karmasu cha amritam "

- Brahman expands by tapas, which creates food, consumption of which causes prANa and creation of mind; Then follows the five great elements (satyam); the seven lOkas (universe). The living beings, karma and the fruits of karma follow in succession.

" yah sarvajnyah sarva vidyasya jnyAnamayam tapah
tasmAt Etad brahma nAmarUpam, annam cha jAyatE "

- One who is omniscient and of the nature of knowledge, by Him, this brahma, names, forms and food chain is created.

AitarEya upanishat - 1.1.1

" Om AtmA vA idamEka EvAgra AsIt nAnyat kinchana miShat | sa IkShata lOkAnnu srijA iti "

- Om - this was only Atma in the beginning (without any name and form); there was nothing else; It contemplated to create the jagat (an entity consisting of names and forms).

TaittirIya upanishat - 2-6

"sO-kAmayata | bahu syAm prajAyEyEti | sa tapO atpyata "

- He desired to become many; to be born. (I will show myself in many forms, I will be born in many forms); So He did tapas.

The above statements of shruti declare that this chEtana is the nimitta kAraNa for the jagat. This chEtana must be there prior (between the kalpas) to the creation. Therefore Brahman is the nimitta kAraNa of this jagat. Here a question may arise as to why Brahman even wanted to create the jagat of names and forms associated with all pains and sorrows. We will study later that the jagat is created for the benefit of jIvas-for them to enjoy the fruits of their karma.

Brahman is the upAdAna kAraNa of jagat

We concluded above that Brahman is the nimitta kAraNa of this jagat. But this does not help us understand the svarUpa of jagat. We saw in the examples in the last unit that we will understand the svarUpa of pot or ornament, only when we know the clay or gold; that is when we know the upAdAna kArana of the pot or ornament. Likewise we will understand the svarUpa of jagat only when we understand the upAdAna kAraNa of jagat- that is when we understand the material out of which the jagat is made. Once again we turn to shruti for an understanding of the upAdAna kArANa.

" shounakO ha vai mahAshAlO angirasam vidhivadupasannah papriccha kasminnu bhagavO vijnyAtE sarvamidam vijnyAtam bhavatIti "

- Shounaka, in a tone of humility, asks angIras; Oh! bhagavan, knowing which, all this (jagat) is understood? - munDaka upanishat (1-1-3)

angIras replies;

"yathOrNanAbhih srijatE grihNatE cha yathA prithivyAm Oshadhayah sambhavanti yathA satah purushAt kEshalOmAni tatha akSharAt sambhavtIha viswam "

- Just as the spider creates and retracts the web, just as the trees and plants grow in the world, just as man grows small and large hair, so does all this comes out of akShara - that which does not die - a synonym for Brahman. - munDaka upanishat 1-1-7.

In ChAndOgya upanishat (6-1-3), AruNi asks his son shvEtakEtu (this conversation is reported to have taken place when the son had returned from gurukula; the father asks him what he learnt there. The son discussed all the transactional knowledge he had learnt, which was all he had learnt);

"tam AdEsham aprAkshyO yEna shrutagam shrutam bhavatyamatam matam avijnyAtam vijnyAta-miti katam nu bhagavah sa AdEshO bhavatIti"

- That which is understood, which was not understood before, that which was not discussed becomes discussed, that which was unknown becomes known, do you know "That" ?

AruNi continues to answer the question himself (6-1-4);

" yathA sOmyaikEna mritpinDENa sarvam mrinmayam vijnyAtam syAd-vAchArambhaNam vikArO nAmadhEyam mrittikEtyEva satyam, "

- Oh! sOmya, just as by knowing a lump of clay, all products made out of clay are known; the various products are name sake only (vAchArambhaNa) and the clay is the Real thing,

" sadEva sOmyEdamagra AsIdEkamEvAdvitIyam "

- this (jagat) was earlier the 'One and the Real' Brahman (6.2.1).

In the above illustrations, the objective is to describe Brahman; but what is described is jagat. This can only be possible if the Brahman is the upAdAna kAraNa (material cause) of jagat. Because by knowing the material cause (gold) all its effects (ornaments) are known.

So Brahman is the abhinna-nimitta-upAdAna kAraNa (undifferentiated or one and only material and intelligent cause) of this jagat.

The Relation between kArya (effect) and kAraNa (cause).

If gold(cause) can be removed from the ornament(effect), there is no cause (gold) any more. However, if the ornament (effect) is melted away, the gold(cause) is unaffected. Therefore it can be concluded that the kArya (effect) is not different from kAraNa (cause), but kAraNa is different from kArya. Similarly, jagat is not different from Brahman, but Brahman is different from jagat - Statement 1.

We will review the views of other philosophies regarding the existence of jagat and its kArana and vEdAnta's interpretation of those views. Most of these interpretations are offered by no other than bhagavAn Shankara in His commentaries on brahmasUta. Shankara's commentaries have been summarized in some of the vEdAnta texts; the following is a brief version of those summaries.

The Buddhist View.

There are two groups in Buddhism - shUnyavAda and vijnyAnavAda. We will not discuss the shUnyavAda here. The vijnyAnavAda argues that there is no jagat outside of our experiences, just like we experience an outside world in dream though there is no world outside of the dream. They therefore argue that there is no need to find a kAraNa for this jagat. There is an inconsistency in the Buddhist statement itself. The affirmation of an appearance of an outside world in the dream amounts to accepting an outside world in the waking state (the logic here seems to be that, if there is no outside world in the waking state, where is the need to even talk about it in the dream context? so by talking about it in the dream state, they are implicitly accepting the existence of an outside jagat). In addition, the existence of an outside world is accepted by everyone, since they transact business with the outside world. For example, humans and animals alike search for food outside in order to quench the hunger inside. No one goes after food, where it does not exist. Denying the existence in the waking state by comparing to a dream state is inconsistent logic. After all, the dream is a reflection of experiences in the waking state.

Following the dream, in the waking state, the difference (between dream and waking) is obvious - for example, seeing a friend or relative in the dream does not negate the existence of that friend or relative in the waking state, though that friend or relative does not exist outside of the dream during the dream. vEdAnta, therefore rejects the Buddhist view that the jagat does not exist.

The mImAmsa view.

A mImAmsaka is a follower of vEda. He believes only in the karma kAnda - sections of vEda dealing with karma only - and do not believe in jnyAna kAnda. A mImAmsaka argues that the jagat is not created; it has existed (in steady state) like this for ever from beginning-less time and so there is no need to go after a kAraNa for the creation of jagat. Since they are believers in vEda, shruti pramANa is invoked to counter the inconsistency in their logic and reject their view. For example, the shruti clearly says there is an unseen kAraNa for the jagat in the following shruti statements;

"sadEva sOmya idam agra Asit Ekam Eva advitIyam"

- In the beginning, this (jagat) was the non-dual Reality (chAndOgya upanishat,6.2.1)

" AtmA vA idam Eka Eva agra AsIt "

- In the beginning, This (jagat) was only Atman - ( ItarEya upanishat, 1.1.1).

Other shruti statements even describe that this jagat is subject to creation, sustenance and dissolution, as describe below.

" anEna jIvEnAtma nAnu pravishya nAma rUpE vyAkaravANi"

- I enter as this jIVa form of Atma and classify the names and forms (of this jagat) (chAndOgya 6-3-2). Here, in saying "this jIva", the jIva must be existent even before the name and form. If jIva exists, then a jagat must exist to support jIva.

" yatO vA imAni bhUtAni jAyantE yEna jATAni jIvanti yat prayant-yabhi-sam-vishanti "

- These living entities (bhUta), by which they are born, by which they are sustained and into which they merge, describe Brahman (taittirIya 3.1.3).

"sUryA-chandra-masou dhAtA yathA-pUrvamakalpayat divam cha prithivIm cha-antariksham-athO suvah "

- Ishwara created the Sun and the Moon, dyulOka, earth, space and heaven as usual (rigvEda samhita 10-190-3). Here "as usual" points to the cycle of creation and dissolution.

These shruti statements negate the mImAmsa view; the jagat has an intelligent and material kAraNa for its existence.

We will continue with the remaining views in the next unit.

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

This site is maintained by webmaster at