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Commentary on the Panchadasi

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Discourse 17 (Continued)

Chapter 4: Dvaita Viveka – Discrimination of Duality
Verses 1-9

The fourth chapter is called Dvaita Viveka, the discrimination between the nature of the world as created by Ishvara, or God, and the world of bondage that is deliberately created by the individual – that is to say, the objective world and the subjective world. Realistic and idealistic, metaphysical and psychological are the distinctions we may make, if we wish to.

The world of Ishvara is a metaphysical existence in the sense that it is really there even if we do not think of it. But there is a world which we are creating by our mental reaction in regard to the world of Ishvara. That is our bondage, called ‘jiva srishti’. Ishvara srishti is Gods creation; jiva srishti is mans creation. The distinction between these two is drawn in this chapter, the fourth, known as Dvaita Viveka: Duality of Creation. Ishvaras creation and jiva’s creation – this duality is distinguishable, and its nature is studied.

Īśvareṇ-āpi jīvena sṛṣṭaṁ dvaitaṁ vivicyate, viveke sati jīvena heyo bandhaḥ sphuṭī-bhavet (1). There seems to be a distinction between mans creation and Gods creation. We must now study what this distinction is. How does mans creation differ from Gods creation? If this distinction can become clear to our consciousness, we may perhaps be able to free ourselves from the bondage of life.  

The muddle that we have created in our own minds by confusing between our creation and Gods creation is the source of sorrow. Let us distinguish between the two and see if we can be free from the sorrow of life.

Māyāṁ tu prakṛtiṁ vidyāt-māyinaṁ tu maheśvaram, sa māyī sṛjatī-tyāhuḥ śvetāśvatara-śākhinaḥ (2). The Svetasvatara Upanishad says, “God creates the world like a magician; and prakriti – the so-called prakriti about which we have hearing so much through the Sankhya and other philosophies – is the medium of the expression of that magical power of God. The Vedanta doctrine considers prakriti as a magical power of God, and not a totally independent existence as the Sankhya classical doctrine would hold. Therefore, the Svetasvatara Upanishad says, “Prakriti is maya; maya is prakriti.” Maya is another name for prakriti . Maya is another name that Vedanta uses for the very substance that is called prakriti of three gunas. Maya has three gunas, and prakriti has three gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas.

Māyinaṁ tu maheśvaram: The magic of maya is wielded by the magician, Ishvara. Ishvara is the magician. Sa māyī sṛjatī-tyāhuḥ śvetāśvatara-śākhinaḥ: The Svetasvatara doctrines tell us that God, the magician, performed this magical trick of creation, and He can withdraw it if He wants, just as a magician can withdraw his tricks anytime.

The various doctrines and stories of creation adumbrated in the various Upanishads are now mentioned briefly in the following verses. How is this world created? Different Upanishads say different things. What do they say? These views held by the different Upanishads regarding creation are stated here.

Ātmā vā idam agre’bhūt sa īkṣata sṛjā iti, saṁkalpenā sṛjallokān sa etāniti bahvṛcāḥ (3). The Aitareya Upanishad says that the universal Atman alone was there. It willed, “Let me create this world.” In the beginning of creation, there was nothing except the Atman. It willed, as it were, “Let me become many.” It willed. That is important to note. And by the way of mere will, it manifested all these worlds of five elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether. This is briefly the statement made by the Aitareya Upanishad of the Rig Veda.

Khaṁ-vāyvagni-jalorvyoṣadhi-annadehāḥ kramādamī, saṁbhūtā brahmaṇas-tasmād-etasmādātmano’khilāḥ (4). Bahusyāham-evātaḥ prajāyey-eti kāmataḥ, tapas-taptvā’sṛjat-sarvaṁ jagad-ity-āha tittiriḥ (5). The Taittiriya Upanishad has another doctrine altogether. It says satyaṁ jñānam anantam brahma (Tait 2.1.1): Truth, knowledge, infinity is the Absolute. It was alone there. Suddenly it willed; it became space. It became emptiness, the repository of further creation. Space became air, air became fire, fire became water, water became earth. Earth produced all the vegetables, plants, trees, etc. – the articles of diet for living beings; and the food that we eat becomes the substance of this physical body, which is verily constituted of the very food that we eat. This is the kind of creation that the Taittiriya Upanishad describes gradually.

This physical body of our individuality is constituted of the stuff of the diet that we take, which is mainly that which is drawn from the vegetable and plant kingdom which grow on the earth – which is the condensed form of water, which is the condensed form of fire, which is the friction created by air, which is the movement in space, which is the will of God. This is the series, the linkage of the creational process.

Thus, the Atman has become all these things. “May I become the many.” The Atman willed in this manner. But the Taittiriya Upanishad describes it in a different manner. It willed, and that will is called tapas. The universal concentration of Brahman consciousness is the original tapas, whose heat manifested this world of five elements; thus the Taittiriya Upanishad tells us.

Idam-agre sad-evāsīd-bahutvāya tad-aikṣata, tejo’bannāṇḍa jādīni sasarjeti ca sāmagāh (6). The Chhandogya Upanishad has another story altogether. “Pure Being alone was,” the Upanishad says. Pure Being agitated, as it were. It set up a vibration within itself, and the vibration condensed itself into the formative principles called sabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa and gandha, which concretised into the five gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether. This is briefly what a section of the Sama Veda – namely, the Chhandogya Upanishad – tells us about creation.

Visphuliṅgā yathā vahner jāyante’kṣaratastathā, vividhāścijjaḍā bhāvā ityāthar vaṇikī śrutiḥ (7). The Mundaka Upanishad, which is a part of the Atharva Veda, says: “Creation is something like sparks emanating from a large conflagration of fire. For instance, millions and millions of sparks jet forth when there is a huge forest fire. In a similar manner, the cosmic fire of Gods will ejects millions of sparks – scintillating, having in their essence the same quality of God, but individually scattered in different directions as parts of a whole. As sparks emanate from fire, individuals emanate from God. This is the Mundaka Upanishad doctrine.

Even the inanimate objects are manifestations of consciousness only. The Upanishad here reconciles the so-called contradictory doctrines of materialism and idealism, realism and idealism, pragmatism and philosophy, etc. The so-called unconscious things in the world are not really bereft of consciousness. Consciousness is said to sleep in unconscious matter such as stone. It is sleeping; but it is still there. This very consciousness which is sleeping in inanimate things like stone breathes in plants and vegetables. It starts dreaming in animals. It starts thinking clearly in the human individual. The same consciousness is there in everything, whether it is animate or inanimate.

Jagad-avyākṛtaṁ pūrvam-āsīḍ-vyākriyatādhunā, dṛśyābhyām nāma-rūpābhyāṁ virāḍādiṣu te sphuṭe (8). Virāṇ-manur-naro gāvaḥ kharā-śvā jāvayas tathā, pipīlikā vadhi dvandvam iti vājasa neyinaḥ (9). The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad tells us that creation took place in this manner. Originally, it was an undifferentiated mass. Scientists call it nebular dust. Nebular dust has no shape; it is a pervasive potential. It is disturbed. Nobody can say why it is disturbed. The sattva-rajas doctrine is not known to scientists. There is something taking place. The heat of all the galaxies, the stars, the sun, and the black holes or the white holes, as they say, are all condensation of this original nebular dust. Such a condition is unmanifest.

The Manu Smriti tells us: In the beginning, what was there? Darkness only prevailed. No light was there, because light is condensation of energy. Unless there is a disturbance in the distribution of heat, there will be no energy available for action. This is the entropy theory of modern physics. If there is equal distribution of heat, the whole universe will become cold in one instant. There is concentration of heat in some places, and that becomes the stars, that becomes the sun, that becomes fire. But if we distribute the entire available heat in the whole cosmos equally, it will be cold, and there will be the end of creation.

Similarly, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad tells us about the creation of the universe as having been totally unmanifest, once upon a time. Then it became manifest by gradual condensation into name and form, specification into individuality, visible or even invisible. This Cosmic Unmanifest becomes the well-known principles of Ishvara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat, whose natures we will be studying in the sixth chapter of the Panchadasi, which will come later.

Such is the way in which this original Unmanifest gets revealed in detail, that not only does it become Ishvara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat cosmically, it becomes the denizens in heaven. It becomes the angels and the fairies and the gods in the higher regions. It becomes the demons and devils or evil persons, as we think. It becomes human beings. It becomes plants and animals. It becomes even the ants that are crawling. The consciousness of Brahman goes even to that level in creation. This is what the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad tells us. There are varieties of theories of creation.