by Swami Krishnananda
Māyā dhīna ścidābhāsaḥ śrutau māyī maheśvaraḥ, antaryāmi ca sarvajño jaga dyoniḥ sa eva hi (157). Ishvara is the origin of the universe; He is the source of all things. He works through His maya shakti and He is glorified in the scriptures as Maheshvara, the Lord of all beings. He is called Antaryami, the Indweller of all, Knower of everything. Such is Ishvara, as glorified in the Upanishads and all the scriptures.
Sauṣupta mānanda mayaṁ prakra myaivaṁ śrutir jagau, eṣa sarveśvara iti so’yaṁ vedokta īśvaraḥ (158). In the Mandukya Upanishad, the glory of this Great Being is sung in such words as: Eṣa sarveśvara, eṣa sarvajñah, eṣo’ntāryami, eṣa (Mundakya 6). Such are the words of the Mandukya Upanishad. The bliss of the sleep experience is a fraction, as it were, of the bliss of God. There is a tremendous difference between the cosmical causal condition of Ishvara and the individual causal condition of avidya experienced by everyone in the state of deep sleep.
While maya is the medium through which Ishvara manifests Himself as the omniscient and omnipotent ruler, jiva, under the subjection of the rajasic and tamasic qualities predominant in avidya, is subject to avidya. In that state of deep sleep, which is the causal condition of individuality, we know nothing, whereas Ishvara, through maya, which is the causal condition of the universe, knows everything. There is a topsy-turvy experience in the state of jiva, notwithstanding the fact it was in a causal condition; and Ishvara is also in a state of causal condition. The difference is that Ishvara's causal condition is determined by sattva guna – the pure sattva transparency quality or property of prakriti – whereas in the case of the jiva, the individual, it rajas and tamas are the medium. This is the difference between Ishvara and jiva. Ishvara knows everything; jiva knows nothing.
Sarvajñatvādike tasya naiva viprati padyatām, śrautār thasyā vitarkyatvāt māyāyāṁ sarva saṁbhavāt (159). Scripture is the authority for the assuming of the existence of a Great Being like Ishvara. Physically with the eyes, we cannot see such a Being. Even intellectually, it is difficult to ascertain the real character of Ishvara because the intellect, being a medium of individual perception accustomed to reports received through the sense organs, is not competent enough to fathom the depths of that which is super-individual, Universal. The individual intellect cannot think of Universality. Whenever we try to think of the Universal, it looks like an abstract something, whereas the objects of the world look very concrete. But the reverse is the case, in fact. The Universal is the real concrete existence which manifests itself – or rather appears as – the visible objects of the world.
Ayaṁ yat sṛjate viśvaṁ tadanya thayituṁ pumān, na ko’pi śaktas tenāyaṁ sarveśvara itīritaḥ (160). Why is He called sarveshvara? Why is God called omnipotent? Because what He has created, He has created forever, and nobody can change it. We cannot change even a little leaf in a tree; it has to be there in the manner it has been created by God. Even a hair on our body cannot be changed. Our every wink is counted by the Great Being. Whatever He has willed, He has willed forever, and nobody can amend it and change the constitution of God.
In the Ishavasya Upanishad there is a famous statement in this regard. Yāthātathyato'rthān vyadadhāc chāśvatībhyas samābhyah (Isa 8). When God willed this universe, He has willed it in such perfection, going to such extreme details, that for eternity there is no necessity to change the law that He has established. All the future occurrences and events and possibilities are already known to Him prior to the act of creation, so something else cannot suddenly take place tomorrow. The determining will of Ishvara is so powerful that until the end of creation no amendment of its constitution is essential and nobody can interfere in these laws. Therefore, He is called all-knowing and also all-powerful – sarveśvara itīritaḥ.
Aśeṣa prāṇi buddhīnāṁ vāsanā statrā saṁsthītāḥ, tābhiḥ kroḍi krtaṁ sarvaṁ tena sarvajña īritaḥ (161). All knowing He is. Every bit of process that is taking place in the universe is a content of His immediate awareness. The littlest events, the most insignificant occurrences in the world are known to Him directly in immediate perception. The knowledge of Ishvara, or the wisdom of God, is not attained by successive inferences or arguments. It is a process of immediate apprehension. Identity-consciousness is the nature of this perception of Ishvara.
The evolution of the cosmos and the events in history are immediate contents of Ishvara's consciousness. All the impressions of the intellects of people – aśeṣa prāṇi buddhīnāṁ vāsanā – all the impressions, or the vasanas as they are called, the vague potentials of future action in the individuals, deposited in their intellect and in their causal body, are all included in the body of Ishvara. Everybody's intellect is clubbed together into an integrated whole in the supreme intellect of Ishvara Himself. And all the individuals are strung on His body, as the cells of the body are strung in the personality of individuals. As various minute particles of self constitute the body and they cannot stand outside the body of an individual, so nothing in this world can stand outside Him. He is the Saririn, or the Universally-embodied. And everything else is the sarira, or the body of Ishvara.
Therefore, on account of His being an inclusive factor of all the events taking place even in the brains and the intellects of people, there is nothing that He does not know. Not only does He know what we are thinking, He also knows what we are going to think tomorrow. Even the future is known to Him in immediate presence. All the future for us is an immediate presence for Him. There is no future or past for God; it is an eternal present. That is the difference between ordinary individuals, jivas, and Ishvara, the all-knowing Being.
Vāsanānāṁ parokṣatvāt sarvajñatvaṁ na hī kṣyate, sarva buddhiṣu tad dṛṣṭvā vāsanā svanu mīyatām (162). We may be under the impression that the impressions created by the actions of jivas and deposited in their intellects have their potency for future action only, and that presently their futurity cannot be known. That may be the case with people like us. We cannot know what are the impressions imbedded in our own intellects, and perhaps many of us cannot know what we are going to think tomorrow. Suddenly thoughts will arise on account of occurrences of events in the world, and so on. But not so is the case of Ishvara.
There is no futurity and there is no potentiality; it is an actuality for everything. For Ishvara, everything is an actuality, and nothing is latent or potential in His case. For us it may be a potential for future action; for Him it is a direct experience of what is taking place just now, because what is going to take place even millions of years afterwards is an act of knowledge to Him just now. For Him, millions of years afterwards are like just now. The future also becomes the present in the case of Ishvara. That is why He is called All-knower.
Vijñāna maya mukhyeṣu kośeṣva nyatra caiva hi, antasti ṣṭhan yamayati tenān taryā mitāṁ vrajet (163). In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad there is a marvellous description of Antaryami, or the indwelling spirit. We can read it by heart, as a mantra japa – so purifying, so ennobling and touching is the description of God's immanency in this great section of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad called Antaryami Brahmana.
Within everything is God – not only within the objects of the world, but within even the sheaths of the body. Within the physical body, vital body, mental body, intellectual body, causal body, within our mind, within our intellect, within our ego, He is present as an immanent controller. He regulates the operation of even the intellects of people. And we cannot think in any manner which is opposed to or contrary to the Will that He has exercised at the beginning of creation. Therefore, He is called the immanent principle, not only controlling the world from outside as the creator, but also restraining us from inside even in the act of our thinking and reasoning. Nothing outside Him can be; and nobody can interfere with His action and His will.
Buddhau tiṣṭha nnāntaro’syā dhiyā nīkṣyaśca dhī vapuḥ, dhiya mantar yamayatīti evaṁ vedena ghoṣitam (164). Vedahere represents the Upanishad, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad particularly. Inside the buddhi, or the intellect, God is sitting as the intelligence in the intellect. The intellect is different from the intelligence that is inside it. Intellect is the sheath or the body of psychic function through which intelligence is manifest. That intelligence belongs to Ishvara Himself, God Himself. It manifests itself through the peculiar structure of human individuality, which is the intellect, and within the intellect He seats Himself. Seated inside the intellect of all beings, He controls their movements. But the intellect cannot know Him. The intellect can function only in the light of the reflection of that intelligence through it, but it cannot go back to its cause.
We are intelligent, but we cannot know why we are intelligent. Intelligence is a principle that is prior to the act of intelligent understanding. As the effect cannot know the cause, we as individuals working only through the intellect cannot know from where we get the intelligence because we cannot see our own backs. Ishvara is seated in the intellect and the reason of all people, unknown to the intellect and reason. The reason also must be reasonable. Why should it be reasonable?
We say, "This does not stand to reason." But why should anything stand to reason? That also must have a reason behind it. Why should rationality be respected? Because there is reason behind the respect that we have to give to rationality. What is the reason? What is the reason behind the goodness of reason and the applicability of reason? That is beyond us, because the impelling force which compels us to accept reason is something beyond reason itself. That is the Universal consciousness operating, into which we cannot probe properly for the same reason that the effect cannot know the cause. He is the reason behind the rationality of things.
Tantuḥ paṭe sthito yadvad upādāna tayā tathā, sarvo pādāna rūpatvāt sarvatrā yama vasthitaḥ (165). Ishvara is also the material cause of creation. His very substance is the substance of this world. As threads are the very substance of the cloth, Ishvara's existence is the very substance of everything in creation. He is the material of the very manifestation of this world, as threads are the material of this cloth. As threads are immanent in the cloth – they pervade the whole cloth and the cloth is not outside the threads, the thread itself is the cloth – so is the case with Ishvara. He permeates the world. He does not stand outside the world. He is the material cause of the world. Verily, He Himself is the world.