Commentary on the Panchadasi
by Swami Krishnananda

Discourse 31

Chapter 6: Chitradipa – Light on the Analogy of a Painted Picture
Verses 175-186

Antaryamayatī tyuktyā’yame vārthaḥ śrutau śrutaḥ, pṛthivyā diṣu sarvatra nyāyo’yaṁ yojyatām dhiyā (175). The Internal Ruler is Ishvara, known as Antaryami. Internal to all things is His seat. He is seated within the intellect of people and regulates even the understanding of all jivas, individuals. This is what was mentioned in the earlier verse.

Now it is said, in light of the Antaryami Brahmana description of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, that internal to everything is Ishvarainternal to all things conceivable, not merely the intellect of peopleantaryamayatī. Yaḥ pṛthivīm antaro yamayati (B.U. 3.7.3) says the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: He who is within this earth and regulates the movement of the earth, who the earth does not know, but who regulates the earth and is the soul of the very earththat is the Antaryamin.

Similar is the statement in respect of many other things also. He who is in the sun, but who the sun does not know, who being within the sun, regulates the sun, He is the Antaryamin, the Inner Controller of all beings. He who is within wind, He who is within fire, He who is within water, He who is within space, He who is within time, but whom no one knows, that is the Inner Controller of all, the Antaryamin, the Inner Regulator and the Restrainer of all beings. This is from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

Jānāmi dharaṁ na ca me pravṛttiḥ jānāmya dharmaṁ na ca me nivṛttiḥ, kenāpi devena hṛdi sthitena yathā niyukto’smi tathā karomi (176). This verse is apparently quoted from the Mahabharata and is generally attributed to Duryodhana. Duryodhana said, it seems, “I know what is right, but I shall not pursue it; and I know what is not right, but I pursue it. Something inside me propels me to act in this particular manner. That is why I behave in this way.”

This something that propels a person to act in a particular manner is the Antaryamin. Now, the propulsion of the Antaryamin, or Ishvara, is neither in a good direction nor in a bad direction. The engine of a car has no direction to move; it is the wheels that determine which direction the car is to take. The engine is something like the Inner Controller and regulates the movement of the vehicle, but the direction in which it has to move depends upon the structure of the wheels. In a similar manner, the Inner Controller, Ishvara, works in an impersonal, regulative, orderly manner, but the goodness or the badness of it, the direction in which the movement takes place, depends upon the medium through which the Lord operates.

The medium may be an individual human being, it may be a saint or it may be a god, and according to the individuality, the structure of the personality, the makeup of the thing concerned, the action will manifest itself. Electricity is like the inner controller of certain activities. It can burn, it can move, and it can freeze. In a refrigerator, electricity freezes. In a stove, electricity burns. In a railway train, electricity moves. Now, electricity itself does not perform any such operation of freezing, etc. The inner force that is necessary for these functions to take place is provided by the electrical current, but the manner in which the effect is produced depends upon the medium through which it passes. So God may work through Duryodhana or Arjuna, or it may be through anybody else. The matter is entirely dependent upon the medium of expression.

Nārthaḥ puruṣa kāreṇeti eva mā śaṅkyatāṁ yataḥ, īśaḥ puruṣa kārasya rūpeṇāpi vivartate (177). Does it mean then that human beings have no free will? All this that has been said up to this time in so many verses appears to drive us to a conclusion that everything is done by Ishvara and we have no free will. Is it so?

We should not say that there is no free will, because it is the will of Ishvara that works as free will in individuals. When the universal will of Ishvara passes through the human individuality, through the medium of the intellect of the individual, it becomes effort. The manner in which Ishvara’s will works through you or me is called effort. So there is effort, and yet that effort is propelled by Ishvara’s will. Unless He wills, even effort is not possible.

So effort is there, and yet it is not there. In two different ways we can conceive this proposition. The consciousness of agency in action is called effort, and this agency is attributable to the intellect of human beings. Egoism is associated with intellect. Wherever there is intellect there is also ego, and when the cover of understanding, intelligence, which is really Ishvara’s nature, passes through this intellect, it assumes agency by itself. The work of Ishvara is appropriated to itself by the ego and it begins to feel that it is doing the action. Action is done by Ishvara, but the ego feels that it is doing it. That feeling of the ego is the reason for there being such a thing called effort. Now, whether there is effort or not, it is up to anyone to decide. Ishvara Himself appears as human effort.

Īdṛg bodhe neśvarasya pravṛttir maiva vāryatām, tathāpī śasya bodhena svātmā saṅgatva dhījaniḥ (178). The effort of human individuals does not in any way limit the omnipotence of Ishvara. It does not mean that we have free will and we can do whatever we like, contradicting the original will of Ishvara. That is not possible. The original will is the final determining factor, and our free will is a concession given only to the extent of the ability exercised by our reason; beyond that, the free will also is absent. It is a limited freedom.

The moment we realise the dependence of even human effort on Ishvara’s will, we find ourselves detached completely from every kind of thing in the world. Our attachment arises on account of assuming a wholesale agency of action on our behalf and minding not there being anything that is universally operative everywhere. Once it is realised that even our agency, the spirit of agency or the sense of agency in action (or kartritva bhavana, as it is called) is only an appropriation by the ego of the personality of what actually is done by Ishvara Himself, detachment takes place immediately. When we know that whatever we are doing is actually done by Ishvara Himself, our egoism ceases, and attachment also goes with it.

The knowledge of this truth is itself the freedom and liberation of the jiva. Liberation takes place the moment we realise that God does everything and there is no one doing anything else. No one at all exists except as participants in the cosmic body of Ishvara. The knowledge of this fact is the liberation of the individual.

Tāvatā mukti rityāhuḥ śrutayaḥ smṛtaya stathā, sruti smṛtī mamai vājñe ityapi śvara bhāṣitam (179). Srutis and Smritis, Vedas, Upanishads, and Dharma Shastras such as the Manu Smriti, Yajnavalkya Smriti, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bhagavata all say that Ishvara is All-in-All; and God has Himself stated that the word of the scripture is actually His word.

Ājñāyā bhīti hetutvaṁ bhīṣā’smā diti hi śrutam, sarve śvaratva metat syāt antaryāmitvataḥ pṛthak (180). The Taittiriya Upanishad and the Kathopanishad have said that by the fear of this Universal Regulator, everything is functioning in a systematic manner. There is no confusion in the world. The work of nature is precise, mathematically perfect. It is so because of the regulating order that is issued from the internal substance of creation itself. Thus is the conclusion that He is Sarveshvara, All-in-all.

God is both internally and externally controlling everybody. Externally, He controls the whole creation as its Creator; internally, He controls everything as its Self. The maker of all things appears to be operating, as it were, from outside the created object. But here, the maker of the object, being also the very material and substance of the object, is also the soul and the very self of the object. So the control of Ishvara is both from inside as well as from outside. It is a total control He is exercising on all things.

Etasya vā akṣarasya praśāsana iti śrutiḥ, antaḥ praviṣṭaḥ śāstā’yaṁ janānā miti ca śrutiḥ (181). In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Sage Yajnavalkya proclaims, “By the command of this great Being, rivers flow in given directions. By the command of this great Being, winds blow, the sun shines, and all nature performs its function in an appropriate manner. If this supreme order were not to be obeyed by nature as a whole, the whole world would crumble in one second.”

Ishvara’s order is not issued through any assistant or peon, or some official. There is no second to Ishvara. He does not issue orders by any kind of external medium. His very thought is enough to act directly upon every little thing in the world, and it immediately, personally, without any assistance from outside, determines the required functions. Outside, He is the regulator, the controller of all the cosmos. Inside, He is the determining will of our intellect, our mind, our very breath itself.

Jagadyonir bhave deṣa prabha vāpyaya kṛttvataḥ, āvirbhāva tirobhāvau utpatti pralayau matau (182). Ishvara is the source, the very womb of all creation. This is what the Mandukya Upanishad tells us. He is the source from which the universe has proceeded and He is the end of all things, into which the universe will one day return and merge.

The creation of the world and the dissolution of the world are the work of Ishvara, and they correspond to the manifestation or the withdrawal of the form of any particular thing. Creation means the manifestation of what was already there. What was potentially there is made to reveal as objects of perception; that is creation. When the whole thing is rolled up as if a mat and nothing is visible, we call it involution, and that is the dissolution of the universe.

Āvir bhāvayati svasmin vilīnaṁ sakalaṁ jagat, prāṇi karma vaśādeṣa paṭo yad vat prasāritaḥ (183). When the pralaya or the cosmic dissolution takes place, everybody is dissolved, as when a flood takes place everything is thrown hither and thither by the violent waters, and seeds of different plants and trees are also thrown in various ways. When the waters subside, the things that were earlier disturbed by the moving waters settle in some place or the other, and gradually they emerge from the earth as little tendrils, plants, vegetables, etc., according to the nature of the seed. This earth provides the field for the action of the seeds. The earth itself does not produce vegetables. The seeds are the causes, but the propulsion, the power, the vitality, the energy, the sustenance that is necessary for the manifestation of the seed into a plant, etc., is provided by the earth. In a similar manner, when the cosmic dissolution takes place, which is like a flood of the universe, everything is dissolved into these cosmic waters. Then what happens? All the seeds, or the potentials for future action of the jivas, or individuals, also get submerged.

When creation starts after a long, long time, Ishvara becomes the cause of the manifestation of a universe which is of such a nature that it will be just fitted for providing a field of experience for the jivas who were unliberated at the time of the dissolution of the universe and were lying as seeds in that condition. Now that they are to germinate into action, a set of jivas, or individualsa particular category of individualsis grouped together for the purpose of the necessary experience in that given field; and so the kind of world in which we live is fitted exactly to the kind of karmas that we are supposed to work out in this world. It is a very, very necessary world for people like us. It is necessary for the kind of people that we are. If we were different types of people, this world would not have been suitable for us. We would have been born in some other worldsome other realm of being, higher or lower.

Thus, Ishvara’s creation is not actually a direct manifestation of non-existent things. The existent potentials of the jivas existing unliberated at the time of the previous dissolution have to be given a chance to express their karmas, and creation is nothing but the providing of the field for the working out of the karmas of the individuals. Therefore, we may say Ishvara creates the world, or we may say these seeds of individuals create the world, as the case may be. The earth is the cause of the plant, or the seed of the plant is the cause. Either way, we may say this or that is the cause.

Punas tirobhāvayati svātmanye vākhilaṁ jagat, prāṇi karma kṣaya vaśāt saṅkocita paṭo yathā (184). After the drama of creation is over, after many, many millions of years, He withdraws the whole thing into Himself, though here also the withdrawing is not done by Ishvara’s whim and fancy. As creation is not a whim because it is determined by the potential karmas of jivas who have to find a field for the expression of their karmas, in a similar manner, dissolution does not take place suddenly. It takes place only when the karmas of all the jivas living in a particular world are over and they cannot any more find a suitable atmosphere for the fructification of their other karmas. They want to have another world altogether when this world is unsuitable. Just as the body is cast off when the karmas cannot be worked out through the body, the world is also cast off, withdrawn completely into the original source, and again dissolution takes place.

Hence, this is a cycle of creation and destruction eternally going on, as it were; neither has it a beginning nor has it an end. Such is the drama of endlessness in beginning and endlessness in dissolution. From eternity to eternity is this drama of creation and destruction.

Rātri ghasrau supti bodhau unmīlana nimīlane tūṣṇīṁ bhāva manorājye iva sṛṣṭi layā vimau (185). As are night and day, as are sleep and waking, as are closing the eyelids and opening the eyelids, as are keeping quiet and then thinking erratically, so are creation and dissolution. Creation is the light of things; dissolution is the darkness of things. Creation is the waking of things; dissolution is the sleeping of things. Creation is the opening of the eyes of all things; dissolution is the closing of the eyes. Creation is the activity of all things; dissolution is the stillness of all things. With every winking of the eye of Ishvara, millions of Brahmandas or universes are created, they say. Millions of Brahmandas or cosmoses are created and destroyed in the time Ishvara blinks His eyes.

Āvirbhāva tirobhāva śakti matvena hetunā, ārambha pariṇāmādi codyānāṁ nātra saṁbhavaḥ (186). Naiyayikas, or logicians, say that creation is an absolutely new coming of something which is not already in the cause. They say cloth is not just a bundle of threads. They have a peculiar view of the causal relation of thread and cloth. We cannot say that cloth is only just threads. Threads do not directly manifest themselves as cloth. The character of cloth cannot be seen in threads. This is the peculiar notion of the Naiyayikas. We know the difference between threads and cloth. The function that threads perform and the function that the cloth performs are different. We can wear a cloth but we cannot wear threads, so the effect is totally different from the cause. This is the Naiyayikas’ argument.

The Samkhyas say the effect is not a new beginning. It is the manifestation of something which was already existing in the cause. That which is not existing in the cause cannot manifest itself at all. Otherwise, anybody would reap any fruit if the effect has no connection with the cause. We may do some action, and somebody else will reap the fruit of it. This should not happen. Everyone will have to bear the fruit or the desert of one’s own actions. Therefore, the argument that effects are totally new and unconnected with the cause is untenable.

The modification of the cause into the nature of the effect, as the Samkhya holds, is also not correct because when Ishvara creates the universe, neither does He manifest something that is totally new and non-existent earlier, nor does He modify Himself into the worldas milk turns into curd, for instance. Ishvara does not become converted into the world. Otherwise, there would be death of Ishvara. Milk dies when curd is manufactured; curd cannot become milk once again. But the effect can go back into the cause. Else, salvation would not be possible. We cannot have God-realisation if God is no more there, if He has already become the world. This does not happen. Actually, God has become the world as the rope has become the snake. So the rope is still there, and it is not affected in any way by the manifestation of the snake of this world. Doctrines do not apply here.