PART I: THE FOUNDATIONS OF PHILOSOPHY
Chapter 9: Isvara or the Universal Soul
The Existence of God
The transcendent Brahman does not bear any relation to the universe. The nature of its existence is such that it cannot have distinctions within it or outside it. It is free from the threefold differentiation: Sajatiya, Vijatiya and Svagata. It is beyond the world in every sense of the term, and cannot be discovered in anything that we can hope to know. The perishable does not satisfy our quest for the eternal. Brahman is Nishprapancha, Prapanchopasama, a being which is free from the universe, and in which the universe ceases to be. But without holding allegiance to the existence of Brahman, the world cannot be. The world is dependent on Brahman. In this respect, the names and forms and activities of the world are directed by Brahman; the world automatically receives, in different degrees, inspiration and reality from the existence, consciousness and bliss of Brahman. Brahman envisaged thus by the individuals, as the supreme Cause and the Director of the universe, is Isvara, the Cosmic Being. Isvara is omnipresent, for He supports and animates every speck of creation by His immanence. He is omniscient, for He has a direct intuition of all things, manifest and unmanifest. He is also the Divine Self and the Inner Ruler of the cosmos. The knowledge which Isvara has of the universe is not relational, not brought about by a mental function, and does not labour under the limitations of space and time, but immediate in its essence and spirit. It is not any outside knowledge of an object, but knowledge as the being of the object itself. He is omnipotent, for He has the power to do, undo or transform the universe as a whole, for the universe is His Body. He is called the Creator of the universe, for it is He that initiates the appearance of all things by the activity of His consciousness. This work of Isvara never comes to a cessation until the universe is withdrawn into Him, and this process is felt and continues in different degrees, in every bit of His creation. He is the Preserver of the universe, as the sustenance of all life requires the operation of His Spirit. His existence and activity are felt by us wherever and whenever we think of Him intensely. He is the Destroyer or the final transformer of the universe, into whom the universe is withdrawn in the end, to whom all beings return on the completion of the working out of their deeds in the present cycle. Isvara is the natural and necessary counter-correlative of the world taken as an object of individualistic observation.
The characteristics of Isvara, as enumerated above, are the Tatasthalakshanas or the accidental attributes of Brahman. The appearance of Brahman as Isvara continues as long as there is the experience of the world and the individual. The fact that there is an observer implies that there is an external world. And the fact of the existence of an objective world, again, entails the recognition of a supreme Creator and Director of beings. If there is an individual, there ought to be a world, and if there is a world, there ought to be God. Isvara, Jagat and Jiva—God, the world and the individual—go together, one implying the others, and not being possible without the others. The three principles are the basic contents of all relative experience.
The concept of God involves certain unavoidable presuppositions, if it is to stand the test of reason. We are obliged to hold that God must be one, and not more than one. A perfect God ought to be self-dependent, and a plurality or even a duality of gods would introduce a kind of limitation and dependence. A universe with many gods cannot be governed harmoniously, for there would be conflict of purpose among them. The system and order in Nature demand that the Sovereign of the universe must be one. God ought to be an uncaused reality, and though everything of which God is the cause has to be in space and time, God, who is the causeless Cause, is above space and time. The sequence of effects which proceed from God is more logical than chronological. As the final goal of all beings, God directs all movements towards Himself by an upward pull, as it were, by being the determining destination of the entire creation. He is the fulfilment of all aspirations and needs, and the realisation of Him is the great blessedness of any mortal. God has a direct knowledge of the inner workings of Nature, in their completest detail. Though He transcends all individual values, He is the conservation of all values, and constitutes their eternal home. In Him all values exist in their truest essence. Not only this, God Himself is the highest value and end of universal existence. To realise Him is to rise to the centre of the cosmos and to rule it with unlimited knowledge and suzerainty. Man realises his ideals more and more as and when his consciousness approximates, in greater and greater degree, the being of God. The deeper the realisation, the more inward is the manner in which the values are enjoyed in a condition which tends to advance towards infinitude, in which the remoteness of ideals gets expanded into a boundless Spirit, with neither inside nor outside. God is the be-all and the end-all of creation.
Arguments for the Existence of God
St. Thomas Aquinas advances five proofs for the existence of God. The first is the argument from motion, which holds that all motion presupposes the existence of something which is not itself subject to motion. Motion implies a motionless ground. The motion that characterises the world ought to be logically preceded by an unmoved Mover, an ultimate being who is not moved by anything else, who ought to be the basis of the motion of all things. The second is the causal argument that, as every effect has a cause, the causal chain would lead to an endless regress if a final uncaused Cause is not posited. Without the admission of such a Cause, the very concept of causality, which holds sway over the world, would lose its meaning. The final cause has, therefore, no other cause outside itself, it is the final form without matter in it. The third is the cosmological argument which points out that all contingent events necessarily imply an eternal substance which itself is not contingent. The very consciousness of finitude gives rise to the consciousness of the infinite. The fourth is the henological argument, according to which the concept of more and less in the things of this world signifies the existence of a maximum value whose manifestation in various degrees creates in us and in things the idea of more or less of value. The various grades of relative perfection and imperfection in the world indicate that there ought to be an absolute state whose partial revelations here give meaning to these relative expressions. The fifth is the teleological argument or the argument from design and adaptation, which infers the existence of God as the supreme intelligence, on the basis of the purposive adaptation seen in Nature and the ordered design for which it appears to be meant. The purpose that is discovered in Nature cannot be accounted for otherwise than by admitting the presence of a supremely intelligent Creator, a wise Architect of the universe. The different parts of the universe harmoniously fit in with one another’s purposes, and adjust and adapt themselves for an end beyond themselves. All this shows that there ought to be a purposive Agent who has brought about all this adaptation, system and order in creation. God, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is, therefore, One, the unmoved Mover, the causeless Cause, the eternal Substance, the highest Perfection, supreme Intelligence, and the Maximum of being.
In his treatise on divine government, given in his Summa Theologica, St. Thomas says: “I answer that certain ancient philosophers denied the government of the world, saying that all things happened by chance. But such an opinion can be refuted as impossible in two ways. First, by the observation of things themselves. For we observe that in Nature things happen always or nearly always for the best; which would not be the case unless some sort of Providence directed Nature towards good as an end. And this is to govern. Therefore, the unfailing order we observe in things is the sign of their being governed. For instance, if we were to enter a well-ordered house, we would gather from the order manifested in the house the notion of a governor, as Cicero says, quoting Aristotle. Secondly, this is clear from a consideration of the divine goodness which, as we have said above, is the cause of the production of things in being. For, as it belongs to the best to produce the best, it is not fitting that the supreme goodness of God should produce things without giving them their perfection. Now a thing’s ultimate perfection consists in the attainment of its end. Therefore, it belongs to the divine goodness, as it brought things into being, so to lead them to their end. And this is to govern.” “Hence, as the movement of the arrow towards a definite end shows clearly that it is directed by someone with knowledge, so the unvarying course of natural things which are without knowledge shows clearly that the world is governed by some Reason.”
St. Thomas argues that as the beginning of the universe is outside itself, the end of all things in the universe should be a transcendent good which is not to be sought within the universe. The highest good is the highest end of all beings. As the particular end of anything is a particular form of good, so the universal end of all things ought to be the universal good, which can only be one. And this good has to be identified with God, for it is the good of and for itself by virtue of its essence and existence, whereas a particular good is good only by participation. Every form of good that is conceivable in the universe is, according to Aquinas, a good only by sharing in a higher good. The good of the whole world cannot be within itself, but ought to transcend it. Everything under the sun, in the opinion of Aquinas, is generated and corrupted in accordance with the sun’s movement. A certain amount of chance seems to characterise all that is mundane. And the very fact that an element of chance is discovered in things here on earth proves that they are subject to a government of a higher order. For, unless corruptible things were governed by a higher being, there would be no order but only chaos, no definiteness but only indeterminacy everywhere. Things lacking knowledge, naturally, get guided by a being endowed with knowledge. All activity in the universe is intentional and purposive, directed by the supreme decree of God.
Swami Sivananda, accepting the famous arguments for the existence of God,—the ontological, the cosmological and the theological,—would endorse the theological proofs of St. Thomas Aquinas. The feeling of the ‘I’, according to him, is rooted in an existence which cannot be doubted. The existence of the Self is existence in general, and is enjoyed by everyone. The Self of everyone bears testimony to the existence of the Self which comprehends the entire universe. This universal Self is God. Though one is encased in this finite body, one can think and feel: ‘I am infinite’, through an irresistible urge which tends to direct all thought towards the achievement of such being. Such an urge from within cannot possibly be, unless there is a reality to which it points. “You always feel: ‘I exist.’ You can never deny your existence. Existence is Brahman, your own inner immortal Self.” “Though I am encased in this finite body, though I am imperfect and mortal on account of egoism, I can think of the infinite, the perfect, the immortal being. This idea of the infinite can arise only from an infinite being” (Wisdom Nectar, p. 188).
Swami Sivananda observes that the concept of the finite posits the infinite. “Everything is changing in this world. There must be a substratum that is unchanging. We cannot think of a changing thing without thinking of something which is unchanging. Forms are finite. You cannot think of a finite object without thinking of something beyond.” This has similarity to the argument for the existence of the infinite from the contingent nature of things. Further he adds: “There is beauty, intelligence, luminosity, law, order, harmony, in spite of apparent disorder and disharmony. There must be an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent being who governs and controls this vast universe” (Ibid. pp. 188-89). The world has the character of an effect, which is observable from the vicissitudes it constantly undergoes, and the effect always attempts to find rest in its cause. The human mind feels itself constrained to carry the causal argument to its logical limits and posit at one end of the series a cause of all things in the world of time, though it is itself outside all temporal events. Every visible cause has another higher cause which is more pervasive and enduring. God is the name we give to the highest cause. “In this world of phenomena, there is a cause for everything. The law of cause and effect operates. There is the cause, the father, for the effect which is the child. There is the cause, the seed, for the effect which is the tree. There is the cause, the potter, for the effect which is the pot.” “You see this world. There must be a cause for this world, which is an effect. That causeless cause is God or the creator” (Ibid. p. 189).
Udayana, the great Naiyayika, offers the following orthodox proofs for the existence of God:
- The world of perception is of the nature of an effect, and every effect must have a cause. We have to infer the cause of the world, as the world has a tendency to reduce itself to its elements. The composite parts get disintegrated and return to their causes, and the ultimate cause of all composite substances should be one that is above all effected things. And this cause must have a direct knowledge of the material causes of the world. Such an intelligent being must be God.
- The conjunction of the causal elements into effects requires an intelligent operator. The combination of atoms into groups at the time of creation cannot but be the work of a purposive conscious being. The atoms do not combine pell-mell or at random. There is to be seen the hand of a wise organiser behind the systematic grouping of the ultimate atoms into dyads and molecules. That final organiser is God.
- We observe that the things of the universe are well-supported; its parts, like the planets etc., are held together, so that they do not collapse. The holder of such different parts in balance, to constitute a system, must be God Himself, for nothing that is in the universe can support the universe.
- The world is observed to dissolve itself into subtler causes. The dissolution of the effect into its cause means that there is a source into which the effect returns. The ultimate source of the universe, then, should be beyond the universe, and it is God.
- No knowledge can come to us of the different things here, unless there is a source of this knowledge. The origin of all knowledge should be omniscient, and, consequently, omnipotent. Such a being is not to be seen in this universe, and so it must be outside it. This being is God.
- The Vedas are held to be valid and authoritative from time immemorial. Such authoritativeness of the Vedas as true and valid knowledge cannot be without an author behind them, who ought to be an all-knower. This all-knower is God.
- The Vedas cannot have any human author, because they deal with truths which no human being knows. Hence the author of the Vedas ought to be a superhuman being, and this being is God.
- A sentence, as it is known to us in the world, has a composer who joins the words together and frames it. In like manner, the sentences of the Vedas consisting of words should have a composer, and he cannot be anyone else than God.
- The size of a dyad or a molecule depends on the number of the atoms that go to constitute it. This requisite number of the atoms that go to form a particular compound could not have been originally the object of the perception of any human being; so its contemplator must be God. The Naiyayikas also add that the fruit of an individual’s actions does not always lie within the reach of the individual who is the agent. There ought to be, therefore, a dispenser of the fruits of actions, and this supreme dispenser is God.
The Yoga system of Patanjali considers God as the unsurpassed seed of omniscience. The possibility of the omniscience and the necessity to admit a source for it leads to the positing of a supreme Being who is unaffected by the changes characterised by affliction, action, fruition and the tendencies in keeping with such fruition. The knowledge which the different individuals are endowed with in this world is not of the same degree; there are grades in the manifestation of knowledge. There is an ascending degree of knowledge, power and happiness in accordance with the extent of the inclusiveness of the contents of knowledge. The greater the extent of the contents, the wider is the knowledge. The various degrees of knowledge in the world suggest a maximum ideal of knowledge, a state of omniscience which ought to be identified with eternal existence. Now this state of omniscience that is compatible with eternity cannot be found in any limited individual, for none here is seen to be all-wise. An omniscient being cannot be any individual, and he can be no other than God. God enjoys the highest perfection, being endowed with the greatest magnitude of knowledge and power. He alone can be omnipotent and be the Universal King.
The Nasadiya-Sukta of the Rig-Veda proclaims that at the beginning of things there was Tamas, darkness pervading everywhere, and in the midst of this universal darkness the Light of the One shone, all by itself. This glorious Intelligence is to be identified with the Self-born, Svayambhu, having no cause outside it. This Self-born emerged from the primordial Tamas, by means of its Tapas of untarnished knowledge, and projected this variegated world of individuals. “Darkness there was; in the beginning all this was a sea without light; the germ that lay covered by the husk, that One was born by the power of Tapas” (Rig-Veda, X. 129). The Rig-Veda extols the Hiranyagarbha as the first God of beings. “Hiranyagarbha was present in the beginning; when born, he was the sole lord of created beings; he upheld this earth and heaven,—to which God we offer worship with oblation. (To Him) who is the giver of soul-force, the giver of strength, who is contemplated by everything, whom even the gods obey, whose shadow is immortality as well as death,—to which God we offer worship with oblation” (X. 121). “With eyes everywhere, with faces everywhere, with hands everywhere, with feet everywhere, He traverses with His arms and with His swift-moving (feet), and exists as the One God, generating heaven and earth” (X. 81). “He who is our parent, the creator, the ordainer, who knows our abodes and all beings, who is the name-giver to the gods,—He is One; Him other beings come to inquire” (X. 82). The Purusha-Sukta refers to the great Lord as encompassing everything. “Thousand-headed was the Purusha, thousand-eyed and thousand-legged. He, covering the earth on all sides, stretched Himself beyond it by ten fingers’ length. All this is the Purusha alone, whatever was and whatever shall be… One-fourth of Him all beings are, three-fourth of Him is immortal in the heaven” (X. 90). The Absolute itself appears as Isvara. “From Him Virat was born, and from Virat, again, Purusha.” Isvara is the body as well as the soul of the world.
Following this great theme of the Veda, Manu, at the commencement of his code of law, states: “In the beginning all this was covered over by darkness, unknowable, indefinable, unarguable, indeterminable; the universe appeared to be in a state of sleep, as it were. Then, the Self-originated Divine Being, Himself unmanifested, manifested this universe with its great elements etc., by tearing the veil of this darkness and revealing the forms of His creative energy. He, who is not to be beheld by the senses, who is subtle, the unmanifest, the everlasting, the unthinkable, the very embodiment of all beings,—He, of Himself, rose above this primordial darkness” (Manu-Smriti, I. 5-7). The Srimad Bhagavata records the spirit of this doctrine in the words of the Lord Himself: “I alone was in the beginning of things, the one beyond the manifest as well as the unmanifest, and there was nothing else. And I alone shall be at the end of things. I alone am all this that is manifest; and whatever remains other than this, that also is I Myself alone” (II. ix. 32). The Lord speaks in the Bhagavad Gita: “I am the Vedic rite, I the sacrifice, I the food offered to the manes, I am the herbs and the medicines, I am the sacred formula and the hymn; I am the clarified butter (offered in sacrifices); I am the consecrated fire, I the oblation. I am the Father of this world, the Mother, Supporter, the Grandfather; I am the object to be known, I the purifier (of all things), the syllable OM, and also the sacred lore of the Rik, the Sama and the Yajus; the Goal, the Sustainer, the Lord, the Witness, the Abode, the Refuge, the Friend, the Origin, the Dissolution, the Basis, the Storehouse, the Imperishable Seed. I give heat, I sent forth rain, and also withhold it; I am immortality and also death; I am being and also non-being, O Arjuna!” (IX. 16-19). Isvara is described in the Gita as having manifested Himself here as the all-destroying Time.
The Limitations of Reason
The true nature of God and His creation cannot be intellectually comprehended, for logic is a proud child of the dualist prejudice. If God alone is all this world, the relation between Him and the world no mortal can hope to know. Man’s idea of God is highly defective, for God, as man understands Him, is relative to the appearance of the world. God is a pure subject opposed to a world of creation set before Him as an object cannot be absolute; and if He is not thus opposed, He ceases to have any external relation to the world. If God is a universal consciousness having the universe as His object, He cannot be connected with it except by a spatio-temporal knowledge. Such a knowing process, however, is inadmissible in the case of God, for He is said to be untouched by the vitiating divisions of space and time. But without this division, God cannot be distinguished from the Absolute which will not brook any objectivation of itself. The gulf between the infinite Purusha of the Sankhya and the Prakriti which vies with the former in almost every respect is an instance of the defeat which the human intellect has to suffer when it attempts to visualise a reality which is non-mediately related to the universe and yet is not the same as the universe. The God who is in man’s mind cannot be freed from the difficulty of having to melt down to undifferentiated being when His relation to the world is closely examined. Isvara’s existence happens to be relative to the demands of His self-manifesting work. He is, as long as the universe is.
Further, we cannot say that God created the world at any period of time. If the creative act is not in time, it being the condition even of time, there would be no creation of a temporal world. Creation is a process, and all process is in time. There is no process that can be dovetailed with eternity. To cause anything, God may have to descend into time, and a descent into time is a descent into finitude, change and a veritable self-destruction. If God is to bear any relation to phenomena, He has to shed His eternal nature first. But somehow He creates and sustains the world without losing His eternality. This the human intellect cannot understand. The Absolute sports in the relative. The individuals of the world arise as appearances participating in a relative interdependence of existence and nature. If there is no child, there is no parent, too. Isvara becomes an object of the notion of the Jiva, and a subject with the world as a predicate attached to it.
The logical character of truth and reality attributed to Isvara does not look consistent with our ascribing to Him the ethical character of goodness, the aesthetic character of beauty and the religious character of grace, all which carry an individualistic purport. If Isvara is the all, such values turn to be different from what they mean to us here in this world. And why has Isvara created the world? It cannot be for His satisfaction, for He has no wish or desire to fulfil. It cannot be with a view to dispensing justice or showing mercy to others, for there are no others, as all beings are subsequent to the creative act. It cannot be a play of Isvara, for play is normally supposed to be the result of a need felt within to direct outside the excess of energy in the psycho-physical organism, to overcome fatigue or boredom, or to replenish the system with fresh energy after an exhausting work. Isvara can have no such needs, for He is not an individual organism. If Isvara is only a witness of the sports of Prakriti which moves and acts at the inspiration received from His mere existence, He would have a determining element outside Him, which would prevent Him from being an absolute monarch. Isvara is Brahman envisaged by our experiential conditions in relation to a world of change. The question of creation is restricted to the world of the senses and the intellect, and the answer to it cannot but be empirically bound. There cannot be a correct answer to an erroneous question. That the world is, is a belief of ours, and the whole problem of creation hinges on how we react to our environment as dismembered bodies in a cosmic society.
The futility of the logical methods in determining the nature of Isvara does not imply, however, that there is no Intelligence underlying the world and influencing it throughout. For a denial of such a being would entail a denial of the world, and, consequently, our own selves as individuals. Certain inherent defects in our faculties of knowing prevent us from comprehending transcendent truths in a proper manner. It does not follow that the invisible is always non-existent. If we are, the world is; and if the world is, Isvara also is. If Isvara is not, the world also is not; and we as individuals, too, cannot be. There is reciprocal dependence of the existence of these three principles always. Our concepts are relative; the absolutely real is only Brahman. But as long as we accept our own existence as diversified elements in a world, a sovereign being giving meaning to life cannot be doubted. Our own conscious powers within us urge us to accept that Isvara must be. The scriptures corroborate our inner spiritual aspirations and extol an Isvara who is the creator of this world. Swami Sivananda countenances the Lila theory of creation, not with a view to offering it as any final explanation of the world, but to bringing out the idea that the creative act of Isvara is free from any taint of selfishness or ulterior motive, and to suggest that it is beyond the purview of the human mind. It is the nature of Isvara to create, to manifest and unfold the world; there is no other reason for it that is humanly conceivable. To show that Isvara has no personal interest whatsoever, it is also added that He only helps creation, which is really a manifestation or expression of the dormant potencies of the individuals who, not being liberated at the end of the previous cycle, existed in a latent form during the dissolution of the universe after that cycle. Rain may help the growth of a plant, but the nature of the plant depends on the seed from which it grows. The sun may help the activities of the world, but he remains unaffected by the results of such activities.
The theory of the creation of the world by Isvara is not to be taken as any statement of ultimate fact, but is meant to serve as a working hypothesis introduced to bring out the idea of the non-difference of the world from Brahman. Srishti or creation, and Pravesa or the entrance of Isvara into the world in His immanence, are Arthavadas or eulogical concepts intended to bring home to the mind of man the fact of the secondlessness of Brahman and the total dependence of the world on Brahman. No explanation of the why or the how of creation, and no concept of Isvara as the supreme Ruler of the world, can be finally satisfactory, for such statements and concepts are based on a false faith in the individuality of the self and the variety of the world of experience. But they are serviceable as a modus operandi in directing the individual from his ignorant prejudices of a bodily existence to the splendour of the Absolute. Isvara is sometimes said to be supreme Self-consciousness. But the Self-conscious Brahman would require something as an other-than-itself, at least space, to make such a condition possible. Brahman does not stand in need of knowing itself either as a subject or an object. But it has somehow to be related to the world. The result is Isvara. How such a relation is possible, the intellect is not fortunate enough to know. It calls this mystery ‘Maya’.
The Inner Ruler and Controller
The nature of Isvara as portrayed by Swami Sivananda in his Philosophy and Teachings (pp. 107-12) can be presented as follows: If we look at reality from the practical point of view or Vyavaharika-Drishti, Isvara may be regarded as the cause, the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the world, and therefore as an omnipotent and omniscient being. Reality here appears to be possessed of all qualities, is conceived to be Saguna, and in this aspect it is called Isvara. Swami Sivananda does not appear to make in his writings the usual technical distinction between Saguna-Brahman and Isvara, as emphasised in certain texts of the Vedanta. Isvara becomes the object of the adoration of pious devotees. He is endowed with all the good and glorious attributes that one can think of as raised to the degree of infinity. The Saguna-Brahman and the Nirguna-Brahman are not two Brahmans, but one and the same reality looked at from two different standpoints, the lower or the Vyavaharika and the higher or the Paramarthika. Isvara is Sarvajna or all-knowing, and is the source of all powers. He is the Soul of all Nature, the animating breath of all beings. He is the cause from which appears the origin, the sustenance and the dissolution of the world. Brahman conceived as Cause is Isvara. He is above all evils and is the immanent Spirit or the Antaryamin pervading, maintaining and vibrating the whole universe as its very Self.
The Nirguna-Brahman is not the antithesis of Saguna-Brahman, but is the essence of the latter. Saguna-Brahman or Isvara is the material cause as well as the efficient cause of all things, associated differently with Tamas and Sattva. Brahman does not change itself into the universe, but the latter emerges from Isvara and exists in Him. Isvara becomes the Cause through His inscrutable power of self-expression. It is the principle of cosmic appearance that hides the real and manifests the unreal. By means of it Isvaratva is falsely superimposed on Brahman. But this superimposition is real to the Jivas, and so Isvara also is real to them. As the Jiva understands Him, Isvara is unproduced, has no cause, and is no effect. He Himself is the first Cause without any other origin. The Nirguna-Brahman becomes a personal God when it is viewed from the point of view of the universe. Isvara is consciousness defined by Maya (Maya-Visishtha-Chaitanya). Referring to the Antaryami-Brahmana of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Swami Sivananda writes: “The Internal Ruler must be Brahman or the Supreme Self. Why so? Because His qualities are mentioned in the passage under discussion. Brahman is the cause of all created things. Universal Rulership is an appropriate attribute of the Supreme Self only. Omnipotence, Selfhood, immortality, etc. can be ascribed only to Brahman. The passage, ‘He whom the earth does not know’, etc., shows that the Inner Ruler is not known by the earth-deity. Therefore, it is obvious that the Inner Ruler is different from that deity. The attributes ‘unseen,’ ‘unheard,’ etc., also, refer to the Supreme Self only, which is destitute of shape and other sensible qualities. He is also described in the section as being all-pervading, as He is inside and is the Ruler within of everything, viz., the earth, the sun, water, fire, sky, ether, the senses, etc. This also can be true only of the highest Self or Brahman. For all the reasons, the Inner Ruler is no other than the Supreme Self or Brahman” (Brahmasutras, Vol. I, p. 110). Here the Supreme Self or Brahman refers to the Absolute regarded as the Lord of the universe,—Isvara.
“God is Truth. God is Love. God is the Light of lights. God is Knowledge. God is the embodiment of Bliss. God is Eternity. God is Immortality. God is Infinity.” “That secondless Supreme Being; who resides in the chambers of your heart as the Inner Ruler or Controller, who has no beginning, middle or end, is God or Atman, or Brahman or Purusha or Chaitanya or Bhagavan or Purushottama.” “Nitya-Sukha (eternal bliss), Parama-Santi (supreme peace), Nitya-Tripti (eternal satisfaction), Akhanda-Sukha (unbroken joy), and infinite happiness can be had only in God.” “Srishti (creation), Sthiti (preservation), Samhara (destruction), Tirodhana (veiling) and Anugraha (blessing) are the five kinds of action (Pancha-kriya) of God.” “Bhagavan is a term synonymous with God. He who has the six attributes of Jnana (wisdom), Vairagya (dispassion), Yasas (fame), Aisvarya (divine powers), Sri (wealth) and Dharma (righteousness) in their fullest measure, is Bhagavan.” “Sarvajnatva (omniscience), Sarvesvaratva (supreme rulership), Sarvantaryamitva (inner control over all), Sarvakaranatva (causality in the creation, preservation and destruction of everything), Sarvaniyantritva (ability to bring restraint over all), Sarvakartritva (makership of all things), Sarvasaktimattva (omnipotence), Svatantratva (absolute independence) are the seven attributes of God” (Mind and Its Mysteries, pp. 163-64). Isvara does not occupy any region of space, for there is no Loka or world for Isvara. Siva has Kailasaloka, Brahma has Brahmaloka and Vishnu has Vaikunthaloka. But Isvara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat, as manifestations of Brahman, transcend all planes of existence, while including everything within them.
The apparent differences that we observe in the world among the ways in which the individuals are made to experience pleasure and pain are not to be attributed to Isvara as their Inner Ruler but to the Karmas of the individuals themselves. Injustice and cruelty cannot at any time be imputed to the universal Lord, who is the same to all beings. God, in the process of the dispensation of justice, takes into consideration the nature of the actions done by the different individuals in their previous births. The circumstances in which God places individuals are suited to the nature of their desires. God is not, strictly speaking, any arbitrary creator of the world but the primary principle responsible and necessary for the expression of an environment fitted to the manner in which the Karmas of the individuals have to fructify themselves in various ways. The life of an individual is determined, therefore, not by any caprice on the part of Isvara, but by its past deeds,—good, bad or mixed. The question of a first creation of the world by Isvara, where no individuals could have existed to account for the nature of the world to be manifested, cannot arise, for there is no such thing as first creation. The factor of time cannot be set prior to creation. Creation is just an appearance, and when objectively viewed, it can have neither a beginning nor an end. Creation, when it is correctly understood, is not a temporal act or a fiat of the will of any person, but an interrelated appearance in which the observer or the questioner has no right to consider all things except himself as an object to be known and himself as a subject of knowledge. This is the defect of all scientific methods of approach. Empirically viewed, every form of existence has a previous existence, so that manifestation is beginningless. Such an infinite regress is inevitable when the temporal intellect attempts to comprehend Eternity. How appearance is related to reality, the logical intellect cannot know; and when it tries to know that, it is landed in fallacies and absurdities.
The work of creation by Isvara is to be considered His supreme Yoga. His acts receive their significance not through any outward implement but by the self-manifestation of Himself by the immense powers that He possesses. Isvara does not need any instrument to project this universe, for it is in Himself. His Tapas or creative contemplation consists in the concentration of His omniscience, and His power is identical with His knowing and being. Though the limitations of the intellect compel us to conceive of Isvara as a personal God, he should not be compared to the human personality in any way. It is because one cannot say that Isvara creates the world by any outward compulsion or necessity that most philosophers are obliged to view creation as a Lila or sport. Even the Karmas of individuals cannot be any compelling factor forcing Isvara to create the world. His existence is a wonder, His ways are a mystery. Isvara has no desires, but without His primal wish the world cannot be explained. This wish, again, is not directed to the achievement of any purpose that is expected to bring Him personal satisfaction, for a cosmic being can have no motive, whatsoever. No sense of incompleteness on the part of Isvara can be said to be the cause of the rise of His Will to create. Creation is His nature. God Himself is the universe.
Isvara possesses an innate intuition which grasps all things at once. He can have no prejudices, no presuppositions, no attachments and no aversions, for He has nothing outside Himself. Isvara, in the beginning, sends forth His humanly indeterminable Will to create, in order to provide a field for the working out of the unfructified Karmas of unliberated individuals, who, during the previous dissolution of the universe, were withdrawn into the primordial condition of Prakriti. The Will of Isvara to manifest phenomena sets the whole existence in vibration, and the unfulfilled potencies of the Karmas of individuals are set in motion, and these activated potencies attract towards their centres particles of matter that gravitate to form bodies in the manner required by each group of potencies. These bodies are the Bhogayatanas, receptacles for the enjoyment of pleasure and pain. One’s body, senses, vital energy, mind, intellect, pleasure, pain, etc., are all determined by these forces of Karma. Isvara is the cosmic Director of this whole scheme; without His energy and will, no motion whatsoever is possible. Primary creation is the work of Isvara, and it begins with the rise of His Will and ends with the act of His entering into the bodies of all beings and animating their minds and intellects. There is also a secondary creation which is carried on by the individual, after the work of Isvara becomes complete, and this consists in the activity of experiencing the diverse conditions determining the states of waking, dream, sleep and the attainment of final liberation. In Isvara’s creation there is freedom, while bondage is always implied in the projection of the individual.
In his Jnana-Yoga, Swami Sivananda confirms the following view: The primitive principle of appearance, which is essentially one, is called Maya when we take into account the predominance of its projecting power, and is called Avidya when we take into consideration the predominance of its enveloping power. Thus the objective principle, of which the projecting power is superior to the concealing power, is the limiting condition of Isvara; and the same principle with its concealing power predominant is the limiting condition of the Jiva (the individual). The Avidya which forms the limiting adjunct of the Jiva is otherwise called Ajnana. That the projecting power is predominant in Isvara follows from His being the creator of this great universe. He is always conscious of His free state, and hence is untouched by the concealing power. The Jiva, on the contrary, labours under the ignorance of its true nature, owing to the predominance of the concealing power and the absence of the projecting power, and feels incompetent to create the universe, as Isvara does (p. 98). Here the projecting power referred to is the cosmic power of Isvara and not the individualistic force of distraction which makes one perceive diversity of things. When the Jiva sheds its cramping individuality, it finds itself in an experience of the majestic Unity of beings.