by Swami Krishnananda
The first manifestation of maya is space. Ādyo vikāra ākāśaḥ so’va kāśa svarū pavān, ākāśo’stīti sattattvam ākāśe’pyanu gacchati (60). He says, “Space exists, ether exists,” by wrongly attributing to Existence the character of a quality of ether. Instead of saying, “Ether exists,” it would be better to say, “Existence ethers.” That is a better way: ”Existence ethers,” not “Ether exists.”
Eka svabhāvaṁ sattattvam ākāśo dvi svathāvakaḥ, nāva kāśaḥ sati vyomni sa caiṣo’pi dadvayaṁ sthitam (61). There is only one quality in Existence, and that is existence only. There is nothing in Existence except existence. But space has the quality of existence plus spatiality. There is dimension. There is no dimension in Pure Existence. Dimension is a quality of space. So while Existence has only one character, space has two characters – that is to say, existence and dimension. Nāva kāśaḥ sati: There is no spatiality in Existence. Vyomni sa caiṣo’pi dadvayaṁ sthitam: Both these characters of existence and spatiality can be seen in sky, ether.
Yadvā prati dhvanir vyomno guṇo nāsau satī kṣyate, vyomni dvau sad dhvanī tena sadekaṁ dviguṇaṁ viyat (62). Apart from dimension, which is a quality of space, there is also the quality of reverberation of sound, which we can hear in space; but reverberation of sound is not a quality of Pure Existence. So, three qualities can be seen in space – existence, dimension and reverberation of sound – whereas in Pure Existence, there is no dimension and no sound. Sadekaṁ: Existence is one only. Dviguṇaṁ viyat: Double-characterised is space.
Yā śaktiḥ kalpayed vyoma sā sadvyomnora bhinnataṁ, āpādya dharma dhamitvaṁ vyatya yenāva kalpayet (63). We have studied this verse previously. Maya as a shakti of Ishvara, having created this dimension called space and having identified space with Existence, and making us feel that space exists, also creates an additional erroneous notion in our mind – namely, the attribution of quality to Existence and the substantive nature to space. We consider space as a substantive or a noun and Existence as a predicate or a quality. This happens when we utter a sentence like, “Space exists.” We should not say, “Space exists.” It is an error, philosophically speaking, in the very construing of the sentence, because Existence is not a predicate of space. It is prior to space. Maya distorts facts.
Sato vyomatva māpannaṁ vyomnaḥ sattāṁ tu laukikāḥ, tārkikā ścāva gacchanti māyāyā ucitaṁ hi tat (64). Great is the wonder in which maya distorts facts. Now logicians like the Naiyayikas and Vaishesikas consider space as an eternal reality, considering that it is an existence by itself. They regard space as Existence independently by itself by committing the same mistake that is made in a common sense by people when Existence is predicated to space, whereas, space is the subsequent evolute of Existence. We cannot give precedence to the effect and posterior importance to the cause. This is what happens by the working of maya.
Yadyathā vartate tasya tathātvaṁ bhāti mānataḥ, anyathātvaṁ bhrameṇeti nyāyo’yaṁ sārva laukikaḥ (65). Right perception is possible only by intuition, independent of sensory and mental cognition. Whatever is there should be known to be there as it is really there, not as it is not there. This is called right knowledge. Yadyathā vartate tasya tathātvaṁ bhāti: We must know a thing in the state in which it is. It is necessary to know anything from the point of view of its own existence and not from the point of view of our mental activity. This is not possible in this world of sense perception, inasmuch as we have no other faculty of knowledge except the senses. We cannot enter into the substance of things independently by themselves, and knowledge of Reality is not possible as long as we think in terms of mind and sense organs. We are befooled by the distortion contrived by the sense organs.
Anyathātvaṁ bhrameṇeti nyāyo’yaṁ sārva laukikaḥ: An illusion is presented before our eyes by the sense organs which tell us firstly that things are outside us, and secondly that Existence is a quality of name and form. We have to bestow deep thought on the nature of this involvement of Existence in name and form and carefully distinguish Existence also from the involvement in all the five elements: ether air, fire, water, earth.
Evaṁ śruti vicārāt prāg yathā yadvastu bhāsate, vicāreṇa viparyeti tatas taccintyatāṁ viyat (66). Please bestow deep thought on the nature of space with the help of scriptural statements like the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras, and by exercising your own reason. The nature of this analysis by which we distinguish between Existence and its involvement in the five elements is the subject of the following verses.
Bhinne viyatatī śabda bhedād buddheśca bhedataḥ, vāyvādi ṣvanuvṛttaṁ sat na tu vyometi bhedadhīḥ (67). Existence and space are two different things. They are different from each other on account of the reasons already mentioned. Firstly, there is the special definition of space as extension, or spatiality, and the cause of the reverberation of sound, which quality we cannot see in Existence. For this reason at least, we must distinguish between space and Pure Existence.
Buddheśca bhedataḥ: Our intelligence also says that extension cannot be the quality of Pure Being because divisibility is inseparable from extension. You can divide space into little parts. We measure our land, for instance, into so many hectares, so many acres, and we say so many kilometres long, etc. This kind of measurement is a division that we introduce into space, but we cannot do this kind of dividing of parts in Pure Existence. Anything that is divisible is perishable because it is cut into parts and, therefore, it ceases to be an indivisible whole by itself. Anything that is not indivisible is destructible; hence space, which is measurable in terms of distance, is to be considered as a finite object and it is not infinite indivisible Existence.
The same is the case with the other elements, such as air. Vāyvādi ṣvanuvṛttaṁ sat na tu vyometi bhedadhīḥ: For instance, space is not in air, but Existence is in air. We will not find the quality of extension and the production of sound by reverberation, in the element of space which occupies a lesser space than space proper. But Existence is there in air also; air exists, as space exists. So Existence is an invariable concomitant of all the elements like space and air, but space and air by themselves have independent qualities. On account of having independent qualities, they differ from each other. But Existence, being invariably present in both, does not differ between itself. It is uniformly present in all the elements like space and air. Vāyvādi ṣvanuvṛttaṁ sat na tu vyometi bhedadhīḥ: The extension that we see in space cannot be seen in air. But the Existence that is in space can be seen in air. By this method of anvaya and vyatireka we can conclude that Existence is permanently present behind all things, whereas the special characteristics of elements are independent only for themselves.
Sadvas tvadhika vṛttitvāt dharma vyomnastu dharmatā, dhiyā sataḥ pṛthakkāre brūhi vyoma kimātakaṁ (68). Inasmuch as Existence is uniformly present behind everything, it should be considered as something prior to the manifestation of all other things. It is the dharmi or the substance, and not the quality or dharma.
Vyomnastu dharmatā: Space and other elements should be considered as dharma, or a quality of Existence – that is, particular forms or manifestations of Existence. They are posterior, subsequent to Existence. Therefore, we should consider space and other elements as attributes. The Primary Existence is prior to the manifestation of space and name and form.
Sadvas tvadhika vṛttitvāt dharma vyomnastu dharmatā, dhiyā sataḥ pṛthakkāre: When we distinguish by penetrating understanding between Existence and space (that is, Existence and spatiality), we will find there is no Existence in spatiality. If we separate Existence from spatiality (which is the quality of space), there would be no existence of spatiality. The so-called existence of space is an illusion introduced into our mind by the wrong association of emptiness (which is the quality of space) with Pure Existence. But by intellectual analysis, if we can separate the element of Pure Existence from spatiality, we will find that spatiality is a non-entity. The space itself does not exist. The Existence is something different from what appears to be there in front of us. Dhiyā sataḥ pṛthakkāre: What is space? Please tell me. If it is divested of Existence, it is non-existence.
Avakāśā tmakaṁ tat cet asattaditi cintyatām, bhinnaṁ sato’sacca neti vakṣi ced vyāhati stava (69). We may say space exists as a dimension. It cannot exist; that is what I am saying. Even dimension cannot exist without its association with Pure Being. If Pure Being is separated from the spatiality of space, then the dimension of space also falls down. It does not exist any more.
Asattaditi cintyatām: Consider space as asat, non-existence, unreal when it is divested of Pure Being. Bhinnaṁ sato’sacca: We cannot say that space is separate from Existence and is existing by itself. These are contradictory statements. Either it is associated with Existence, or it is not. If it is associated with Existence, it is a wrong association, because space which is particularly characterised by qualities which are not of Existence cannot be associated with Existence; but if we say that it need not be so associated, it becomes unreal. So either way, space does not exist independently by itself.
Bhinnaṁ sato’sacca: We may say, “Space is visible to my eyes. How can I deny it?” Visibility is not the test of reality. We can see a phantasmagoria. We can see castles in the clouds. We can see a snake in the rope. We can see water in the mirage. It does not mean that because we see something, it is there. So we shouldn’t bring the argument that because I am seeing space, it must exist. If we apply our understanding, we will come to the conclusion that our seeing is defective. Our understanding will rectify our erroneous perception of the so-called existence of space, and will conclude that it does not exist at all.