In the last unit, we determined that Brahman is the material and intelligent causes of jagat.

We also reviewed a couple of other views of the causes of jagat. We will continue with the review of what other philosophies say about the causes of jagat.

The VaishEShika view.

A vaishEShika is an ancient scientist. He posits that the gross universe we see is made of four elements - gross earth characterized by smell, taste, form and touch; subtle water characterized by taste, form and touch; subtle fire characterized by subtle form and touch; and subtle air characterized by touch only. During the time of dissolution, they divide and disintegrate continuously until they are like atoms, beyond which no further division is possible. At the time of the next creation, these atoms integrate to become the four elements described above. So the vaishEShikas say that these atoms are the kAraNa for the jagat; by which they also mean that the atoms are the svarUpa of the jagat. vEdAnta addresses these statements as follows;

(i) The atoms being inert, cannot integrate without the support of intelligence during the time of creation. The vaishEShika believes in an Atma who is the doer and enjoyer and is the nimitta kAraNa for the integration of the atoms. However, the advaitin claims that this Atma needs tools and medium of a body to do so. However, this body has to come out of the integration of the atoms. So there cannot be a medium of a body before creation. Therefore the effort required for the integration cannot be provided by this Atma.

(ii) If one concedes that somehow the Atma has obtained a body, the dissolution has to be initiated by this Atma, who is also the enjoyer according to the vaishEShikas. The jagat is created for his enjoyment only. Then why would he dissolve this universe, forsaking the enjoyment?

(iii) The union of atoms - Two kinds of union is possible (a) Complete integration and (b) partial / localized union - Complete union of two atoms results in the fusion of two atoms and remain the size of an atom. So how can they come together and keep increasing the size to become the gross jagat? partial/ localized union posits that the atoms have parts, which is contrary to the vaishEShika theory.

(iv) The characteristics of the atoms - Touch etc. and the Reality (nitya) of them contradict each other. Our experience suggests that all objects
exhibiting touch etc. are effect (kArya) and not cause (kAraNa). For example, the cloth is the kArya of fiber; the fiber is the kArya of cotton etc. The fiber is more real than the cloth (if the cloth is destroyed, fiber still remains); cotton is more real than the fiber (if fiber is destroyed, cotton still remains). Likewise the atoms exhibiting the characteristic of touch can only be a kArya and cannot be a kAraNa. Being a kArya, they cannot be real.

A point to be noted here is that Shankara has not rejected atoms. What He has discarded is the theory that the atoms are the kAraNa of the jagat and the characteristics of atoms as described by vaishEShikas.

The naiyAyika view.

The followers of the Science of Logic are naiyAyikas. They believe in a God defined by logic and not in the vEdic view of God. They define three entities - purusha (jIva), Iswara (God) and prakriti (nature). According to them all the three are mutually independent and infinite. In addition, the prakriti is inert and Iswara is omniscient. The naiyyAyikas posit that the prakriti is the material cause (upAdAna kAraNa) and Iswara is the intelligent cause (nimitta kAraNa). The purusha is the enjoyer. Though they invoke vEdas in arguments, they will not accept vEda as an independent pramANa. vEdAnta explains the following inconsistencies in the NaiyaAyika view;

( i ) prakriti being inert, cannot by itself be the material cause of the jagat. This can only be possible if Iswara is tasked for the creation of the jagat; If so, Iswara's role violates the independency of prakriti.

( ii) Iswara is omniscient, prakriti, purusha and Iswara are independent.This violates the omnisciency of Iswara, since he has no control over the form of prakriti and puruSha. However, even if it is conceded that Iswara has control over prakriti and puruSha, (a) then the infiniteness of prakriti and puruSha is violated, and (b) If the infiniteness of purusha is violated(ie. the number of puruShas), then a finite number of purushas, when they all get liberated from the cycle of birth and death, where is the need for creation of jagat? Then Iswara looses his role of creation! This violates that Iswara is omniscient. Therefore the naiyAyika view is contradictory (Sutra 2.2.39-41). In here, the logic of naiyAyika is used to show the inconsistency of his view. This is called uShtra laguDa nyAya (Logic of camel and the club) - using the firewood load on the camel as a club to control the straying of the camel.

The sAnkhya view.

The sAnkhyAs also use logic as their basis; that is, they use anumAna pramANa, though they invoke vEda in arguing with vEdAntins. There is no Ishwara in this view. They posit that there are two entities - jaDa (inert) and chEtana (consciousness). They claim they don't see jaDa being the cause of chEtana or chEtana being the cause of jaDa. They therefore conclude that the material cause of jagat should be jaDA. The jagat appears to be a composite of satva, rajas and tamas ( We will take up the review of guNas later in the study. At this point, we can understand that satva is divine quality, rajas is characterized by activity and tamas is laziness or lethargic). Therefore the material cause of jagat should also be composite of satva, rajas and tamas. They call this composite of guNas (triguNAtmika or triad) as pradhAna or prakriti. The other is the consciousness or puruSha, (a proxy for jIva). They posit that in each living being, there is a separate puruSha. This puruSha is only a witness, non-engaging, remains detached and does not have any attributes. The pradhAna, by itself automatically transforms to jagat for the enjoyment of puruSha. The three guNas of pradhAna, when they are out of balance, creation happens; when they are in balance, it is dissolution. There are three objections to this theory;

(i) How does pradhAna, being jaDa, transform by itself to jagat? They respond that it is like water flowing by itself? Water can flow on a downward slope, which must have been created by an intelligent force. Or need external agency like a pump to make it flow. So the flow of water is the result of intelligence behind it!

(ii) The purusha, being inactive, cannot be the cause behind the transformation of pradhAna to jagat, like the potter transforming the clay to a pot.

(iii) pradhAna, being jada, obviously has no benefit in transforming itself to jagat. Even if so, the puruSha also has no benefit, since he is unattached and has no enjoyment; since he is unattached, even the benefit of self realization over time is absurd (the purusha, being detached, no desire to live or even attain self realization, what is the purpose of his existence?).

These arguments make the sAnkhya view flawed and unsustainable.

Contemporary Scientific View.

The contemporary scientific view, like the sAnkhya view, believes that the cause of this jagat is jada. They cite the example that the atoms in a gas are continually in a state of motion and are responsible for the enjoyment of puruSha! Or the atoms explode by themselves. If this were true, then the atoms must always be moving in a uniform path or speed. However, it has been a scientific observation that the temperature changes cause the atoms to move faster or slower. In fact it is thus controlling the movement of the atoms that the puruSha uses it for his enjoyment. So the movement is controlled by heat and heat is controlled by an external agency or chEtana; so chEtana should be the cause of the movement of atoms.

Again, the movement of the atoms cannot be stopped at all, even by controlling temperature, for at some low temperature, the movement of atoms attains a certain state, beyond which any further decrease of temperature does not change the movement of atoms. The scientist counters then, that this is its natural behavior (jaDa undergoing no change even with application of heat - external force or chEtana). The vEdAntin argues that the chEtana of the scientist is overpowered by a higher chEtana in subduing further change in movement. Similar logic applies to the explosion of atoms also.

The scientist is contradicting himself when he says that an inert body needs an external force to change its state of rest or of uniform motion and at the same time saying that the inert atoms move by its own.

In summarizing these views, the following observations can be made. As much as the jagat is visible, the cause of the jagat is invisible. Therefore none of the visible pramANas can be applied to determine the cause of the jagat. Inference and arthApatti (Inference by removing inconsistency) are also helpless, since there are no telltale signs for the jagat; since jagat being unique, even a simile fails to describe jagat. Therefore its cause has to be determined by shruti statements only, as has been proposed by advaita vEdAnta, that we studied earlier.

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

This site is maintained by webmaster at