by Swami Krishnananda
We have, in earlier verses of this chapter, seen how the different Upanishads describe the process of creation in different ways. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says that the world came from God in one way. The Taittiriya Upanishad says something different; and so do the other Upanishads, such as the Mundaka and Chhandogya. Anyway, whatever be the difference in the minor details, whatever be the speciality that can be seen in the wordings of the different Upanishads, the program of creation in its general perspective has been stated to be the same. This whole universe, this manifestation, this creation, is an appearance of God Himself. This is the conclusion.
Kṛtvā rūpāntaraṁ jaivaṁ dehe prāviśad-īśvaraḥ, iti tāḥ śrutayaḥ prāhur jīvatvaṁ prāṇadhāraṇāt (10). Particularly the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says that after having cosmically entered the whole of creation in His immanence, the Supreme Being entered each individual person also. Every little particle, every small creation, every human individual has the element of this Supreme Universality in it, in some modicum, in some degree, in some way.
The only difference is – a tremendous difference indeed which has to be taken note of – when God has entered the cosmos, nothing drastically different has taken place, in the same way as a face reflected in a clean mirror gives a fairly good picture of the original without being distorted in any way. So too in the cosmic setup of things, where everything is universally construed, the reflection of Brahman Consciousness therein also presents a universal appearance, so that Ishvara is Cosmic-conscious. The jiva is not Cosmic-conscious, in spite of the fact that the very same Brahman is manifesting itself as the individual. The very same Brahman is reflected in the cosmic substance and becomes Ishvara. The very same thing enters the jiva, and yet tremendously marks a difference between Ishvara and jiva.
The difference is that rajas and tamas do not dominate in Ishvara. There is no duality, no multiplicity-consciousness because the distracting, dividing factor (rajas) is absent in Ishvara. Nor is it ignorant like the jiva, because tamas is absent in Ishvara. There is only shuddha sattva pradhana, pure sattva of prakriti. So there is transparency in the whole of creation, as far as Ishvara is concerned. But there is a mix-up and muddle in the case of the jiva, because the sattva guna is buried deep down by the action of rajas and tamas in the jiva individual.
Caitanyaṁ yada-dhiṣṭhānaṁ liṅga-dehaś-ca yaḥ punaḥ, cicchāyā liñga-dehasthā tatsaṁgho jīva ucyate (11). What is the jiva, we may ask? How does it differ from Ishvara? The definition of jiva is given here in this Verse 11. Pure Consciousness of Brahman at the back, its reflection through the intellect, and the reflection of the same through the subtle body consisting of the mind and the sense organs, put together constitute what we call individuality.
Individuality is a very intriguing term. It is a mix-up of different elements. The individual – yourself, myself, and everybody – are not simple substances. They are complexes, constituting different elements. Firstly, the individual has to be conscious. That is the distinction between a human being and other inanimate creatures. The consciousness aspect of the human individual comes from the very same Brahman consciousness that illumines Ishvara cosmically. But there is something else in the individual which is not just consciousness. There is a limiting, finitising faculty which is the intellect, a product of rajas and tamas. So the universal consciousness of Brahman passes through a little aperture of the limited intellect, as it were, and we have only a small consciousness of our being an individual totally isolated from others.
The light of the sun in the vast clear sky is an indivisible mass radiating throughout space. But suppose we have a curtain with a hundred little holes. The vast light of the sun which is indivisibly spread in all space will be seen to be peeping through a little hole, and each peek of the streak of light will be different from another, according to the size or even according to the medium that may be there in this little hole. One single universal light of the sun may look like different little streaks of light, different in quantity as well as quality – different in quantity because of the many holes, and in quality because of the difference in the media through which it passes.
So we are different from one another not only in quantity, but also in quality. This great tragedy has befallen the jiva, distinguishing it from the great, grand cosmic Ishvara. This is the definition of individuality or jiva.
Māheśvarītu māyā yā tasyā nimārṇa śaktivat, vidyate mohā śaktiś-ca taṁ jīvaṁ mohayaty-asau (12). As maya cosmically becomes the instrument of universal activity of Ishvara, its distorted individualised form which is avidya becomes the confounding medium in the jiva. Avidya is confounding, while maya is cosmically reflecting universal consciousness. Here is again another aspect of the difference between Ishvara and jiva.
Mohād-anīśatāṁ prāpya magno vapuṣi śocati, īśa-sṛṣṭam-idaṁ dvaitaṁ sarvam-uktaṁ samāsataḥ (13). Due to delusion, immersion in this distorting medium of avidya, the individual weeps in sorrow, helplessly lodged in this body, finite in every way, and with no strength of its own to change this world on account of the predomination of rajas and tamas and the absence of sattva guna. Human beings that we are, we rarely think in clear terms. There is always confused thinking. There is no proper consideration of the pros and cons of issues. We suddenly jump to conclusions on account of the action of rajas and tamas. Pure impersonal judgment is rarely made by people on account of the fact that the sattva guna very rarely manifests itself.
Up to this time, whatever we have said is the description of God’s creation. There is another creation called individual creation. God’s creation does not cause trouble to anybody. God is not a troublemaker, because Universality does not create problems. Problems arise on account of individual consciousness. So whatever we have said up to this time is the work of Universal Ishvara, down to His entry into every little individuality. Īśa-sṛṣṭam-idaṁ dvaitaṁ sarvam-uktaṁ samāsataḥ: The author says, “Up to this time I have briefly told you how God has created the world and in what way He has entered every little particle.”
Now comes the other story – namely, the story of the jiva, or the individual, which also creates a world of its own. There is a world under every hat, as people generally say. Everybody has his own view of the world. No two persons will completely think alike, on account of the difference in the structure of the mind itself. Various karmas are the causes behind it.
The same thing evokes different emotions in different persons – the same thing, which will be described in the further verses. Different reactions are produced from the mind of different people in respect of one single object only, on account of the varieties of the structural pattern of their emotions and their intellects.
Saptānna brāhmaṇe dvaitaṁ jīvasṛṣṭaṁ prapañc itam, annāni sapta jñānena karmaṇā’janayat pita (14). In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, a statement has been made that there are seven kinds of diet, called saptanna. Anna is a food. Ishvara does not require food, but jivas require food. The limitation, the finitude of individuality cries for the means to make good this lacuna that is felt by its finite individuality. We cannot rest with finitude even for a moment. We struggle hard from moment to moment to overcome the barrier of this finitude in various ways.
The ways that we adopt are generally contacts with certain things in the world, which act like plastering the falling citadel of this finitude of personality, as we try to support an old wall by plastering it again and again. So every day we have to plaster this body by diet of some kind or other; otherwise, it will croak and fall down. Now, what are the diets?
God has created seven kinds of diet, says the Upanishad. Martyānna mekaṁ devānne dve paśvannaṁ caturthakam, anyat tritayam ātmārtham-annānāṁ viniyojanam (15). Martyānna mekaṁ: For the mortals, there is one food. Devānne dve: For the gods, there are two kinds of food. Paśvannaṁ caturthakam: There is another food for animals. Anyat tritayam ātmārtham: There are three other kinds of food intended for the jiva’s sustenance. Annānāṁ viniyojanam: These are the seven classified forms of food for mortals, generally speaking – for gods, for animals, and for the jiva consciousness.
Vrīhy-ādikaṁ darśa-pūrṇa māsau kṣīraṁ tathā manaḥ, vāk prāṇāśceti spatatvam annānām avagamyatām (16). Vrīhy-ādikaṁ: The ordinary mortal food is grain – corn, etc. Rice, wheat, pulses are the usual mortal food necessary for this frail mortal body. Darśa-pūrṇa māsau: The offerings made in the sacrifices called darsha and purna-masau – that is, special worships and sacrifices conducted on the new moon and full moon – are supposed to be the diet of the gods. This is a very difficult subject, which cannot be entered into now – how our offerings reach the gods, and how it is necessary for us to repay our debts to the divinities that sustain even our sense organs. If this kind of obligation is not extended by us to the various divinities that are supporting us, we would be thieves, according to the Bhagavad Gita. So these offerings made during the sacrifices of darsha and purna-masau, the new moon and the full moon, become the diet or the food of the gods in heaven. Milk is the food of animals – cattle, actually. Here, by ‘animal’ he means cattle. Cattle live on their own milk.
Then the jiva has another threefold food; mind, speech and prana are the sustaining factors of the individual. Actually, ‘food’ means anything that sustains, without which we cannot survive. We cannot live merely on grains or milk. There is something else necessary for us to survive – namely, more important than grains, etc., is the breathing process. If we have all the grains in the world but we cannot breathe, what will happen to us? We can drink milk, but our mind is not working and our speech has stopped.
By the operation of speech, we come in contact with things outside, especially human beings. By prana, we sustain this body. And the mind is a link that consciously establishes a contact between us and things in the world outside. If these media are absent, there would be no chance of the survival of individuality in this world. So mainly, here we are concerned not with grains and milk, etc., which are a different matter altogether, but with the way in which mind, speech and prana act upon us and control us in such a manner that without them we would not be able to even exist.