by Swami Krishnananda
Jāḍyāṁśa prakṛte rūpaṁ vikāri triguṇaṁ cat tat, cito bhogāpa vargārthaṁ prakṛtiḥ sā pravartate (99). There is a doctrine of the Samkhya which posits two realities, purusha and prakriti – purusha being universally conscious, and prakriti being objectively active. Purusha is inactive consciousness, and prakriti is unconscious activity.
The inert character of experience, the unconsciousness that we sometimes experience in our life, is due to the interference of the gunas of prakriti, which are three in number – sattva, rajas and tamas. For the purpose of bringing about experience in consciousness or the purusha, prakriti acts through its three gunas.
Asaṁgāyāḥ citer bandha mokṣau bhedā grahān matau, bandha muktī vyavasthārthaṁ pūrveṣā miva cid bhidā (100). Unattached is purusha-consciousness – asanga. It appears to be bound on account of its association with prakriti. Consciousness and matter cannot get united, being of dissimilar character. When it is difficult for the experiencing consciousness to distinguish between its own experience and that which causes the experience, bondage is caused. Bondage is caused by not distinguishing between purusha and prakriti. That is the cause of bondage and liberation. Bondage is the association of purusha with prakriti; liberation is the dissociation of purusha with prakriti. Both are eternal, both are universal, the difference being one is conscious and the other is unconscious.
Mahataḥ paraṁ avyaktam iti prakṛti rucyate, śrutā vasaṅgatā tad vad asaṅgo hītyataḥ sphuṭā (101). The Samkhyas quote the Kathopanishad to prove that there is such a thing called prakriti because the Kathopanishad says that beyond mahat-tattva, the cosmic intelligence, there is another reality called avyakta (unmanifest), and avyakta is identified with prakriti-tattva, whose existence is thus proved in the light of these passages of the Upanishad itself.
The the Upanishad establishes the existence of both purusha and prakriti when it says that there is an avyakta-tattva – an unmanifest reality beyond the mahat-tattva – as we have it in the Kathopanishad. It is proved that prakriti is there. And when the other Upanishad says that consciousness is unattached, asanga, the existence of purusha is proved.
Cit sannidhau pravṛttāyāḥ prakṛter hi niyāmakaṁ, īśvaraṁ bruvate yogāḥ sa jīve bhyaḥ paraḥ śrutaḥ (102). There is no concept of Ishvara in the Samkhya philosophy. They have only two realities – consciousness and matter. With the manipulation of these two principles, everything is explained. But the Yoga System of Patanjali brings in Ishvara because it became difficult to find out how justice can be dispensed to the individuals or jivas in regard to their good deeds and bad deeds. Who will do it? Purusha itself cannot do that because it is the doer of the deeds; and prakriti cannot do it because it has no consciousness. There is, therefore, a necessity of a third dispensing judicious principle, which was established to be Ishvara by the Yoga System. And this Ishvara is superior to the jiva. The Upanishad also establishes this statement in some other way.
Pradhāna kṣetrajña patiḥ guṇeśa iti hi śrutiḥ, āraṇyake’saṁbhrameṇa hyantar yāmyu papā ditaḥ (103). In the Svetasvatara Upanishad it is mentioned that God is above pradhana and chetanya. Ishvara is superior to both prakriti and the experiencing consciousness. Chetanya is the experiencing consciousness, and pradhana is the prakriti. Beyond both and superior to both is Ishvara; thus the Upanishad says. And in the Antaryami Brahmana of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the glory of Ishvara is described as the indwelling principle in all things.
Atrāpi kalahāyante vādinaḥ svasva yukti bhiḥ, vākyā nyapi yathā prajñaṁ dārḍhyā yodā haranti hi (104). While the existence of Ishvara is found to be unavoidable, and it is necessary to accept the existence of Ishvara for reasons which are obvious, the definition of Ishvara varies from one school to another school.
The definition of Ishvara according to the Yoga System of Patanjali is: kleśa karma vipākai stad āśayai rapya saṁyutaḥ, puṁ viśeṣo bhavedīśo jīva vatso’pya saṅga cit (105). Patanjali’s sutra is that Ishvara is a special state of consciousness which is uncontaminated by actions or their residues. No action will touch Ishvara, and also the consequences of action will not have any impact upon Him. There is no residual impression of karma to be experienced as in the case of the jiva for Ishvara. Totally independent and unconcerned is Ishvara; that is the definition of the Yoga System.
Tathāpi puṁ viśeṣatvāt ghaṭate’sya niyantṛtā, avyavasthau bandha mokṣāu āpatetā mihānyathā (106). It is impossible to get on without the concept of an Ishvara. We see differences, varieties, and unconnected things in the world, and these differences have to be harmonised in a state of symmetrical action; otherwise, the universe will become a chaos in one minute. Even our body is ruled by some central principle; otherwise, the limbs of the body will not function harmoniously. The whole universe will be in a state of confusion in one second if there is no system and method of working and anything can happen at any time, in any manner whatsoever. That is not the case with the universe. And because of the observation of method, symmetry and precision in the working, and reliability in the function of nature, we have to infer that there is some power that is operating behind the natural functions.
Bhīṣā’smādi tyeva mādau asaṅgasya parātmanaḥ, śrutaṁ tadyukta mapyasya kleśa karmādya saṅgamāt (107). The Kathopanishad also says that by fear of that Being, everything is automatically working. Oceans do not overstep their limits, the sun does not fall on our heads, and everything happens in a methodical way. We can know, to some extent, what will be the nature of things tomorrow; otherwise, the moment of death will be uncertain. This determining factor of past, present and future in the state of harmony and equilibrium is Ishvara.
Jīvānā mapya saṅgatvāt kleśādir na hyathāpi ca, vivekā grahataḥ kleśa karmādi prāgu dī ritam (108). The individuals also are basically, essentially, consciousness. They are asanga, unattached; but because of the karmas in which they are involved, good and bad deeds, their intellect gets muddled. Their discrimination fails, and they cannot distinguish between the consciousness of purusha and the materiality of prakriti. Thus, they get bound.
Nitya jñāna prayatnecchā guṇā nīśasya manvate, asaṅgasya niyantṛtvam ayukta miti tārkikāh (109). Naiyayikas, Vaiseshikas, etc., are called tarkikas or logicians. They say God has eternal knowledge and He is engaged in eternal effort in maintaining this cosmos. He has an eternal desire to see that everything goes on in perfect order, and He has the eternal quality of being fit to manage this universe. Such is God. Though He is unattached and not connected to anything, He is the controller of all beings. Without these qualities, God would not be God.
A totally detached God, unconcerned with things as Patanjali’s Yoga System would say (verse 105), would have no arm to reach the world. An extra-cosmic God cannot have cosmic relations. Therefore, a God who is only an instrumental cause with no material relationship to creation will not be a proper restrainer of things. The concept of Ishvara as totally detached, as propounded by Patanjali, cannot be regarded as a final definition because total detachment of God from all that is in the form of the creation would make Him unfit to govern the universe. So the Naiyayikas, or the logicians, say that He has a connection, and total detachment should not be attributed to Him.
Puṁ viśeṣa tvama pyasya guṇai reva na cānyathā, satya kāmaḥ satya saṅkalpa ityādi śrutir jagau (110). Satya-kamah and satya-sankalpa are the attributes of God, as we have it in the Chhandogya Upanishad. On account of the qualities of prakriti associating itself in a particular manner, Ishvara is called purusha not because He is a male or a person like us, but a pure person, pure individual; and the definition of this pure individual, Absolute individual we may say, is in terms of the three gunas.
He is satya-kamah. His wishes are unobstructed. If He thinks and wills, it must happen immediately. That is called satya-kamah. Satya-sankalpa is the will, volition, which also has its immediate effect. If He wishes something, it immediately happens. If He wills something, it materialises itself all at once. Thus, the sruti (the Upanishad) says.
Nitya jñānā dimatve’sya sṛṣṭi reva sadā bhavet, hiraṇyagarbha īśo’to liṅga dehena saṁuktaḥ (111). There are other people who say Ishvara, in the sense of the definition that we have given of Him, cannot be regarded as the creator of the world because Ishvara is the latency of all future possibilities. Nothing is manifest there in Ishvara. And hence, if that condition of the unmanifest state of all things is to be regarded as the cause of the world, there would be a sudden emergence of every kind of thing in the form of creation, while creation is not such an emergence.
A select particular variety from the total ocean of potentials in Ishvara becomes the cause of this particular universe. It does not mean that God can create only this kind of universe and not any other kind. There are potentials for an infinite number of varieties of universes in Ishvara’s bosom. So if Ishvara suddenly, from out of Himself, becomes the creator of the cosmos, we do not know what kind of thing will come out.
So certain thinkers feel that Ishvara should not be considered as the creator of the universe, and that Hiranyagarbha should be considered as the creator of the universe. Hiranyagarbha is the specified outline – the determined portion of the large sea of potentials in Ishvara, and therefore only a particular universe can be manifest, and not anything and everything. So Hiranyagarbha worshippers conclude that Ishvara by Himself in His essential universal potential nature should not be regarded as the direct creator. Hiranyagarbha as a specified director of the universe should be regarded as creator. Hiraṇyagarbha īśo’to liṅga dehena saṁuktaḥ: Cosmic linga-deha, or subtle body, is called Hiranyagarbha.