Essays in Life and Eternity
by Swami Krishnananda


Chapter 3: The Cosmological Descent

As we have in the field of modern astronomy and physics the theories of the "Big Bang" and related descriptions of the cause of the universe, the scriptures delineate the process in which one can consider the universe as having evolved from the state of an original ubiquitous continuum, into greater and greater diversified forms and more and more externalised shapes. The affirmation mostly centres round the enunciation that the Supreme Being was engaged in Tapas, which is the original concentration of the Universal Consciousness in a cosmic act of willing and deciding to be something logically differentiated from its own pure being. Unless there is space to create, there cannot be creation, and unless there is time to create, there would not be creation even then. The beginning of creation implies, therefore, the projection of space and time in a blend of instantaneous, co-eval and co-eternal mutual participation. Space-time is the fundamental base, the matrix of creation. The Will of the Absolute becomes an intensely powerful vibration into which the space-time complex reduces itself, that is to say, what is known as space-time is itself an unending sea of omnipresent vibration. This pressure leads to motion and there is then an incipient tendency created towards the manifestation of what are usually known as primary qualities arising out of the basic potential of a three-dimensional pattern given rise to by the otherwise non dimensional infinite force. The fact of motion causing this fundamental primary quality of distance and duration working as the three-dimensional presentation, manages to further diversify the three-dimensional spatio-temporal manifestation into the governing principles of what are externally known to us as sound, touch, colour, taste and smell. The created universe at present only in a state of vibration, concretises itself into a fivefold categorisation, dividing the cosmos into a fivefold perceptible object. In Sanskrit traditional terminology, the five sense-data mentioned are known as Sabda, Sparsa, Rupa, Rasa and Gandha. These are the potentials which concretise themselves further into the grosser visible universe of gases, liquids and solids, of Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The entire universe has these potentials and forms as its original building bricks, of which it is made and from which it is inseparable.

This physical cosmos undergoes, again, an intense activity of gyration due to which it arranges itself into the logical order of both ascent and descent, known as the fourteen realms of being, or fourteen worlds, so to say, the seven upper realms commencing from the earth constituting a more and more liberating tendency and expansion of dimension, and the seven below the level of the earth constituting a sequential order of descent into greater and greater negativity of perception grossness of characterisation and more and more distant from the centre of the universe. Common sense theology and very often scriptural pronouncements make out that the upper seven realms are degrees towards the Highest Heaven, and the lower seven, forming the opposite counterpart, are the regions of hell, the netherworlds of darkness, passion and activity. Thank God, we are here on earth at this moment.

The further sub-division of the universe of the total fourteen realms is its tripartite division into the perceiver, the perceived and an intermediary link relating the perceiver and the perceived. The perceived remains as the external world of earth, water, fire, air and sky, that is, the obvious material universe, just matter, nothing more, and nothing leas. Those who are able to see only this externalised form of the universe go by the name of the classical materialists metaphysically, and realists epistemologically. But, such a conclusion would defeat the very meaning of the perception of a world of matter, because matter, being the perceived, cannot be the perceiver of itself. There has to be a perceiver other than the perceived, and the perceiver has to be endowed with a consciousness of something being there, without which there would be no perception, nay, there would be none to know that the world exists at all. Even to say that the world can exist though there may not be any perceiver of it is just another way of admitting a consciousness of it being possible for the world to exist independently by itself without a perceiver.

The threefold division into which creation now casts itself includes the independent perceiver, the individual being encountering the world outside as an object of perception. Yet, the individual is not a totally isolated perceiver of the world, because there is a necessity for there being a connecting link between the perceiver and the perceived. This link cannot be a part of the material world, since matter cannot evoke a consciousness of perception. It cannot also belong entirely to the individual perceiver, for, otherwise, it would be limited to the location of the individual and there would be no connection between the perceiver and the perceived. This link, therefore, has to be transcendent both to the perceiver and the perceived, clubbing together both the perceiver and the perceived, and yet ranging above them as belonging to neither of them, though immanently present in each of them. This invisible link is known as Adhidaiva, while the perceiver is called Adhyatma, and the perceived, the Adhibhuta.