by Swami Krishnananda
Sadvastu nyeka deśasthā māyā tatraika deśagam, viyat tatrāpyeka deśa gato vāyuḥ prakalpitaḥ (78). The whole of Brahman is not occupied by maya; that is what was stated earlier. Only certain conditioned aspects of Brahman are affected by maya. And space does not occupy the whole of maya. A fraction of Brahman is the location of maya, a fraction of maya is the location of space, and a fraction of space is the location of air. It does not mean that air is everywhere in space; it is only in certain locations.
Existence is everywhere. That is Pure Being, Brahman the Absolute. An aspect of it is covered by maya. An aspect of maya is covered by space; an aspect of space contains air. Vāyuḥ prakalpitaḥ: So vayu occupies a very little space in comparison with Existence, maya, and space. The quality of air is described in the next verse.
Śoṣa sparśau gatir vegaḥ vāyu dharmā ime matāḥ, trayaḥ svabhāvāḥ sanmāyā vyomnāṁ ye te’pi vāyugāh (79). The character of absorbing moisture, drying of things, is one quality of air. Tangibility, touch or the tactile sense is another quality of air. Speed and motion – these are the qualities. Drying, touching, speed and motion are the attributes of air, which occupies some fraction of the area of space. It has the quality of Existence because we feel that air exists; but independently, it does not exist. Therefore, it is only a manifestation of maya. It produces sound and, therefore, it also has a quality of space. Existing (as it does), it is characterised by the reality of Brahman; as a vacuum by itself, independent of Brahman, it has a character of maya; and as something that produces sound, it is an effect of space.
Vāyu rastīti sadbhāvaḥ sato vāyau pṛthak kṛte, nistatva rūpatā māyā svbhāvo vyomago dhvaniḥ (80). We say, “Air exists.” By a transferring of values from one to the other, Existence (which is the substantive) is here wrongly considered as a predicate when we say, “Air exists.” The Existence of air is a mix-up of values which is created by a wrong perception through the sense organs because Existence actually is an attribute of the Absolute Brahman. By identifying the Existence of Brahman with air, we say, “Air exists.” If we separate airness from Existence as such, we will find that air is non-existence. By itself, it is not existing. It is a vacuum. It is the quality of maya presenting a form and a name and a picturisation, while actually there is no background for it. It is a phantasm that is created by maya. And the sound that the air makes when it moves is borrowed from space, which is the cause of the reverberation of sound. The Existence aspect is pervading all things. Wherever we go, we will find something is existing; non-existent things we cannot conceive.
Sato’nuvṛttiḥ sarvatra vyomno neti pure ritam, vyomānu vṛtti radhunā kathaṁ na vyāhataṁ vacaḥ (81). It was said earlier that space does not follow the other evolutes like air, fire, etc. That is, the dimension which space has is not to be found in the case of other elements. Space is spread out in all directions; but vayu, air, fire, etc., are not spread out in that manner. So it was said earlier in some other verse that space does not get associated with any of the further evolutes. It stands by itself, while Existence is associated with every evolute. When it is said like this, what is intended is that, extension, which is the character of space, is not to be found in other subsequent evolutes like earth, etc.; but the other aspect of space, which is reverberation of sound, can be seen in other evolutes also.
Vyomānu vṛtti radhunā kathaṁ na vyāhataṁ vacaḥ. A question is raised here: “Once you said that space does not follow the evolutes. Now you say it follows.” The idea is that one aspect of space does not follow; the other aspect of space follows. The aspect of extension does not follow the other elements, but the aspect of sound production follows every other subsequent element.
Chidrā nuvṛttir netīti pūrvokti radhunā tviyam, śabdānu vṛtti revoktā vacaso vyāhatiḥ kutaḥ (82). We have already mentioned that the association of space with anything is twofold: either as an extended something, or as a property which produces sound. So when we say that the other elements have the character of space, we have to take only one quality – namely, sound production – and we should not take the extension aspect of space.
Nanu sadvastu pārthakyāt asattvaṁ cettadā katham, avyakta māyā vaiṣamyāt amāyā maya tā’pi no (83). Don't you think that Existence dissociated from space or air reduces space and air to non-existence? Some objector raises the question: “Can you not conceive air as real by dissociating it from maya – because only when you associate it with maya, a kind of vacuous presentation, it appears to be unreal. Can you not say that air exists independently by itself?”
We have already mentioned that air independently cannot be regarded as real because it has no independent existence except as motion, which is one of its properties borrowed from space, and sound also borrowed from space, and the independence aspect, is false – because nothing in this world is totally independent. If we consider something as independent, such as air, it is finite. And if it is finite, it is perishable; therefore, it cannot be regarded as an eternal substance. It is not real.
Nistattva rūpatai vātra māyātvasya prayojikā, sā śakti kāryayo stulyā vyaktā vyaktatva bhedinoḥ (84). The non-entity aspect of anything is the essential feature of maya. The final non-entity character is the quality of maya, whatever be that object in this world. And this unreality of the product of maya is similar, both in the case of its immediate effects or subsequent effects. The immediate effect is space; subsequent effects are air, etc. So the unreality which is the nature of maya is to be found not only in the cause which precedes the effect, but also in the effects that follow the cause. Here the word shakti is used. Shakti means maya.
The character of cause, which is the maya aspect of things, is to be found in all the effects that it produces. There is finally, therefore, the character of non-entity in all its products, right from space onwards up to the earth. Whether they are manifest or unmanifest, it makes no difference, because a thing that is not real may be either manifest or unmanifest – as the water seen in a mirage. We may perceive it or we may not perceive it; nevertheless, it does not exist there, finally.
The character of water in a mirage in the desert is something that is not to be associated with Existence. It is so even if we perceive it, and it is so even if we don't perceive it. It will be the same thing. The water will be shining there even if we don't perceive it. So perception and non-perception do not make a difference to objects which are ultimately not real.
Sadasatva vivekasya prastu tatvāt sa cintya tām, asato’vāntara bheda āstāṁ tat cinta yātra kim (85). Anyhow, here we are not concerned with the products of maya. We are concerned with the way in which it actually acts and creates an illusion of externality of things, substantiality of things, and independence of things. Maya has three qualities. Firstly, it externalises everything, while the Ultimate Reality is universal. Secondly, it solidifies the non-entity into objects of perception and causes them to be felt by the perceiver as independent by themselves. Independence, externality, and objectivity – these are the characters finally foisted upon a non-entity by a peculiar action of the power of God, which we call maya.
Sadvastu brahma śiṣṭoṁśo vāyur mithyā yathā viyat, vāsayitvā ciraṁ vāyor mithyātvaṁ marutaṁ tyajet (86). We have discussed enough about space. And we have also understood something about the character of air. What is it that we have understood? Existence is Brahman – sad-vastu brahma. Everything else that follows from it, like space, air, etc., is not real. Having driven into our mind the conviction that properties which are outside Pure Existence cannot be regarded as real, we have to finally reject the reality of space and air.
Mithyātvaṁ marutaṁ tyajet: Abandon the concept of the reality of air, as well as the reality of space. In the same way, we have to consider fire as well. It also does not exist independantly. We say, “Fire exists.” Unless Existence is there, fire itself has no meaning. Minus Existence, there is no fire. And Existence, which is the fire, is borrowed from the Pure Existence of Brahman.
Cintayet vahni mapyevaṁ maruto nyūna vartinam, brahmāṇḍā varaṇe ṣveṣā nyūnā dhika vicāraṇā (87). One tenth of the area occupied by maya is said to be the area occupied by space. One tenth of the area occupied by space is occupied by air. One tenth of the space occupied by air is occupied by fire. Air can be seen moving about everywhere, but we cannot see fire moving about. So it is very fractional in comparison with its precedents.
Brahmāṇḍā varaṇe ṣveṣā nyūnā dhika vicāraṇā. In the structure of this Brahmanda, or cosmos, this is the arrangement made among the elements: each succeeding one is less by one tenth in comparison with the one preceding. One tenth of the area of Brahman is perhaps occupied by maya. Though we cannot actually measure Brahman, logically we can conceive a fractional aspect of Brahman. So is the case with everything. One tenth of Brahman is maya. One tenth of maya is space. One tenth of space is air. One tenth of air is fire. One tenth of fire is water. One tenth of water is earth. And this earth which is so much reduced from the original cause is the source of all the fourteen worlds. So we can imagine how small this universe is in comparison with the Pure Existence which is Brahman.
Vāyor daśāṁ śato nyūno vahnir vāyau prakalpitaḥ, purāṇoktaṁ tāratamyaṁ daśāṁ śair bhūta pañcake (88). One tenth of vayu (air) is fire. Friction, motion in air can create heat, and that becomes fire. The Puranas are full of descriptions of the difference that is there among the five elements. In the Srimad Bhagavata Purana especially, it is mentioned that the elements that follow are only one tenth of the preceding ones.
Daśāṁ śair bhūta pancake. We must read the third book of the Bhagavata Purana to understand the details of these things where we have a great, grand detail of the process of creation.