All the studies that we did till now, whether Sharīra Trayam or Avasthā Trayam are all associated with the individual or microcosm. In Sanskrit we use the word Vyashti. Today we are going to the next topic through which we are entering Samashti or macrocosm. The topic is Srushtihi or creation or cosmology.
How does the cosmos or creation come about and what was there exactly before creation came ?
First before understanding the topic of creation, we should clearly know that the very word creation is a misnomer. In fact that very word being a misnomer can create a lot of confusion. Creation creates confusion. Why do we say Creation is a misnomer ? That is because nothing can be created. By the very law of conservation of matter and energy which was accepted long before modern science came. In the Sānkhyā Satkārya Vāda, the Sānkhyā philosophers discussed the law of conservation of matter and evergy. In Māndūkya Kārika, it is beautifully presented that nothing can be created. And extending the same principle, nothing can be destroyed.
Then if at all we use the word Creation, it only refers to the manifestation of something which was potentially un-manifestly existent. So what is un-manifestly, potentially existent in dormant form, that can come to manifestation.
13.1. Manifest Vs Unmanifest
What is meat by the words manifest and unmanifest? The word unmanifest, we mean Pramānam Agocharam. Unmanifest is that which is existent but is not available for perception or transaction like the butter in the milk. Butter is there in the milk, but we cannot see it in the milk. But we know that milk has butter. So what can we say about butter being existent or not ? It is existent technically but for all practically purposes, since it is neither available for perception nor available for transaction, we assume that butter is non-existent. But we know butter is there.
We can extend this to everything in the creation. Nothing in the creation is non-existent. It was existent in potential manner. Later it becomes manifest, which means available for transaction. Our scriptures point out, before the origination of this cosmos, it should have existed because of this simple law of conservation. And if this creation existed before, it should have existed in unmanifest form or potential form or dormant form which we can call as the seed of the creation. In Sanskrit we use the word Bījam for this.
Bījasyāntari Vānkuro JagadidamPrān Nirvikalpam PunahNirvikalpam means un-differentiated and unmanifest in an un-transactable form. And we will use for the word Causal form of matter – matter in its causal form which is the source of all forms of energy and all forms of matter. Scientists are trying to arrive at one basic matter that can explain all the sub-atomic particles, that which can explain the micro and macro. The scientists want to reconcile the General Theory of relativity at Macro level and the Quantum Physics at Micro by a theory of everything.
According to our scriptures that basic stuff that is the source of all forms of energy and all forms of matter which includes all particles and molecules in the creation, we call it as causal matter. The causal matter is called Māyā. This includes Sharīra Trayam also. This means that before the creation originated, one thing was there which is Māyā.
Borrowing the idea from the previous session, we have to include one more thing before creation. In the previous class, we saw, Ātmā is the consciousness principle which is the non-material spirit, which does not come under matter and therefore which does not come within time and space. We also saw that consciousness is beyond time and space which mean consciousness has to be eternal. This means that before the creation, consciousness also existed.
So now we had arrived at two thing that were existing before creation
- Principle 1 : Consciousness which is called Ātmā which is unconditioned by, un-influenced by, un-circumscribed by the time-space principle
- Principle 2 : Whole creation in causal matter form called Māyā
Why then have two names ? The basis of the two names is that one is from Micro angle Ātmā and another is from Macro angle Brahman. And the meaning also almost the same. Ātmā means Āpnoti Sarvam Iti Ātmā – the boundless all pervading one. The word Brahman means infinite derived from the root Bruh – to be big – therefore Brahman means the The Big One, the Absolutely Big One.
Therefore the study cosmology begins with two beginning-less principles knows as Brahman and Māyā – Consciousness or spirit + matter
Tattvabodha starts this way – Brahmāshrayā Sattva Rajas Tamo Gunātmikā Māyā Asti.
13.2. Differences between Māyā and Brahman
And what is the common feature of Brahman and Māyā ? Both are beginning-less. They have no origin. And what are their differences ? Differences are more to be noted
- Brahman is the non-material consciousness whereas Māyā is material principle
- Consciousness is property-less principle. It does not have any physical or chemical properties because it is non-material in nature – Nirguna. Whereas Māyā is matter and hence full of potential properties Saguna.
- Brahman the consciousness being beyond time and space, is never subject to change. Therefore it is changeless. Whereas Māyā the matter principle can never remain the same.
- The consciousness principle is Nirvikalpa not subject to spatial division – here one consciousness, there one consciousness : this can never arise. It is division-less and beyond time and space. Whereas Māyā the material is subject to multiplication and division. Māyā is like an amoeba where it multiples by division. Māyā can multiply into the cosmos by division.
These are the basic difference between Brahman and Māyā and out of this mixture alone is this universe manifests out of the seed which is Māyā. In our scriptures the word Creation is always replaced by the word Manifestation.
Srushtihi Nāma Abhivyaktihi : Abhivyaktihi means coming to manifestation for your recognition like you churn and bring out the butter which is then available tangibly for your transaction.
13.3. Stages of Manifestation
In the scriptures the evolution or manifestation of the cosmos is presented in two stages. Like a seed becoming a plant in the middle stage, and the plant becoming a full fledged tree in the final stages.
Therefore Māyā is a seed and then there is an intermediary stage called Sūkshma Prapancha Abhivyaktihi – the causal matter comes to the level of subtle matter. In other words, the causal universe comes to the level of subtle universe comparable to that of a plant. And then the subtle universe then again evolves or again manifests to become the gross universe fully available for all forms of transaction.
If you have to understand the difference between the subtle and gross creation you can compare your body and mind. Mind is also a creation or manifestation. Body is also a manifestation. But mind is a subtle manifestation not available for all. My mind is available only for me hence subtle and not tangible. But Body is gross.
Therefore causal universe to subtle universe to Gross universe. This is the creation. Of these, the causal universe is beginning-less, but the subtle and gross have a beginning.
Once it has become fully gross and moved about for some time, what happens to the whole creation ? Again it collapses, condenses or contracts, evolution will later end up in involution or dissolution. The gross become subtle and subtle again becomes gross. Thus unmanifest to manifest and manifest to Unmanifest the universe has been there always. Universe will be there always. The difference is there in the Avasthā Bhedhaha Na Tu Vastu Bhedhaha. There is no increase or decrease in matter but there is only change in its condition or state – manifest condition to unmanifest condition and unmanifest to manifest.
Avyaktādīni Bhūtāni Vyaktamadhyāni BhārataAvyakta Nidhanānyeva Tatra Kā ParidevanāKrishna tell in the Bhagavad Gītā – why are you talking about death? Death is nothing but body going out of shape. Nothing is lost, Arjuna, but for whom are you crying.
The problem is that we have got attached to shape and lost sight of the substance. This is the layout of the cosmology. Let us now get into a little bit more of details.
We will go into the second stage. Causal universe is called Māyā which has to manifest into the subtle universe. The scriptures point out that first, out of the causal universe five subtle elements are born. These are the Pancha Bhūtāni. These are
- Ākāshaha or space
- Vāyu or air
- Agni or fire
- Jalam or water
- Bhūmihi or Pruthvi : the earth
In scientific form, Pruthvi does not refer to the earth itself but refers to the solid form of matter. And Jalam does not water alone, but refers to the liquid form of matter. Then the third is the vapour or gaseous form. The fourth state is the plasma state. In science we have only four. But in Shāstram, we have the fifth stage – Ākāshaha even beyond the plasma stage.
Now the scriptures point out that these five elements have evolved from Māyā and therefore whatever be the features of Māyā must be inherent in the elements. In other words, whatever are the features of Māyā , these must have been in the cosmos or universe and whatever must be in the universe must be in Māyā. Because the law is that the features of the cause inhere the effect – Kārana Gunāhā Kārye Anuvartante.
13.4. Three Features of Stages of Manifestation
And when we study the entire universe, we can see three common features which are widely present in the cosmos.
13.4.1. Jnāna Shaktihi
The first feature is Jnāna Shaktihi or Knowing faculty or sentiency faculty. This is especially found in living being through which they are able to sense or experience the world. If all the creation has been inert, there will be nobody to do any transaction.
13.4.2. Kriyā Shaktihi
Another feature we see is Kriyā Shaktihi – dynamism. This is the capacity to be active.
13.4.3. Dravya Shaktihi
In this feature, both Jnāna Shaktihi and Kriyā Shaktihi are absent or stultified. This is the inertia feature. Inertia means the absence of knowing faculty and absence of acting faculty. Neither can it act nor can it know. This is called Dravya Shaktihi.
Technically these three faculties are known as
- Sattva Gunaha for Jnāna Shaktihi
- Rajo Gunaha for Kriyā Shaktihi
- Tamo Gunaha for Dravya Shaktihi
These three Gunāhā are inherent in Māyā. Therefore Māyā is defined as Tri Gunātmikā Māyā endowed with threefold features which are seen in the universe.
E.g. during a class, only the Dravya Shakti is being used – just grasping. Then based on this knowledge, acting is called Kriyā Shaktihi. Then during sleep neither you know things nor do things – this time Dravya Shakti is being used. If these features are seen in the cosmos, they must be there in Māyā. Therefore Māyā has three Gunāhā and these three Gunāhā inhere the five elements also.
Here interestingly, Guna should not be translated as property. They are to be translated as the components of Māyā. Three Gunāhā are like the three strands of a plaited string. Hence one of the meanings of Guna is String. These three features or Gunāhā are in unmanifest in the five elements also. Thus we have got Sāttvika component of space, Rājasik a component of space and Tāmasik component of space. Similarly we have Sāttvika component or air, Rājasik component of air and Tāmasik component of air. Same applies for Fire, Water and Earth
SāttvikaHence we have fifteen items.
Hence the first form of creation is Sūkshma Bhūta Srushtihi – the creation or manifestation of the subtle elements.
13.5. Stages of Creation
13.5.1. Stage 1 – Sattva Guna as generator
Then the scriptures point out that out of the subtle elements alone, all the subtle bodies of the individual are manifested. Let us understand this better.
We have got five organs of knowledge – Pancha Jnāna Indriyāni. The faculty associated with this is, naturally, the Knowing faculty. They are born out of five elements. Five elements generate the five organs of action. Five subtle elements generate five subtle organs.
And when we say five subtle elements, which component must be responsible? The SattvaGuna which stand for Jnāna Shakti. The SattvaGuna component of the five elements are responsible for the generation of the five sense organs of knowledge.
What is the order of generation ?
- The Sattva Guna component of Space is responsible for ears
- The Sattva Guna component of Air is the generator of skin
- The Sattva Guna component of Fire is the generator of Eye
- The Sattva Guna component of Water is the generator of Tongue
- The Sattva Guna component of Earth is the generator of Nose
Hence Ears, Skin, Eye, Tongue and Nose, the five subtle organs or knowing features or sensory faculties are born out of the five elements.
The fourfold mind or inner organ which coordinates or controls the five sense organs is born out of the Sāttvika component of all the five elements. The reason is that the mind has to control all the sense organs. In fact a sense organ functions only when the mind is behind it. Therefore the mind has to be behind the eye Ears, Skin, Eye, Tongue and Nose. Therefore it requires the Sattva Guna of all the five. The inner organ (mind) is born out of Sāttvika components of all the five elements.
13.5.2. Stage 2 – Rajas Guna as generator
Extending the same principle we have the Pancha Karma Indriyāni. Five sense organs of action are also generated out of five subtle elements. But the component is the Kriyā Shakti component called Rajas component.
In what order are these born ?
- The Rājasik component of Space is responsible for Organ of Speech - Vāk
- The Rājasik component of Air is the generator of Organ of Hands – Pāni
- The Rājasik component of Fire is the generator of Organ of Legs – Pāda
- The Rājasik component of Water is the generator of Organ of Anus – Pāyuhu
- The Rājasik component of Earth is the generator of Organ of Genitals - Upastha
The entire Sūkshma Sharīram is born out of Sattva Guna and Rajo Guna of the five subtle elements. Therefore we have seen Sūkshma Bhūta Srushti and Sūkshma Sharīram Srushti – in short the entire subtle universe. If there are any other subtle worlds or creation, they are all born out of the combination of subtle elements only
13.5.3. Stage 3 –Tamo Guna as generator
We then come to the third and final stage of creation – the gross visible and tangible universe. The scriptures explain how it comes about. We have utilised the Sattva components of the five components of the five elements. We have also utilised the Rajas components of the five components of the five elements. We have not yet used the Tamas component of the five elements.
The scriptures point out that the Tamas component of the five elements alone get grossified to become the five gross elements – Pancha Sthūla Bhūtāni. The five gross elements are born out of or manifest from the Tamo Gunaha of the five subtle elements.
Eteshām Pancha Sūkshma Bhūtānām Tamo Amshāt Pancha Sthūla BhūtāniThe scriptures point out is, until grossification, each element was isolated and pure. One element was not adulterated or mixed with others. But when grossification takes place, the Tamo Guna of these five elements get intermixed. This is just like eating a salad. Sūkshma Prapancha is like eating grapes separately, bananas separately etc. Grossification means eating all together. Once we come to five grossified elements, each element has got a mixture of all the five. So Earth has got five elements, space has got five elements. Same way for Air, Fire and Water.
Now the question arises if each element is a mixture of five, how will you name the elements ? The scriptures say that the naming is done based on the predominance of the elements. Therefore scriptures point out, Gross Space has got all the give elements in the following proportion.
- 50 % is Space part
- The other four elements will be only in one eighth proportion i.e. 12.5%
This process of “salad making” is called Panchī Karanam or Grossification. The same applies for the other gross elements as well. Gross air has 50% air etc.
Once the five gross elements are born, out of that the entire cosmos including all our physical bodies are created. This is called Sthūla Srushtihi or Sthūla Abhivyaktihi.
Thus Māyā is causal universe. And out of that comes subtle universe called Sūkshma Abhivyaktihi. And out of that comes gross universe which is called Sthūla Abhivyaktihi. Thus the entire creation comes out.
It will last for some time and again collapse to Māyā. What will be Brahman doing? Consciousness remains. When appropriate condition comes it manifests in the form of life. When the manifesting conditions are not there (cells are not formed), consciousness remains unmanifest. This is Vedic Cosmology
Space ( Ear )Air ( Skin )Fire ( Eye )Water ( Tongue )Earth ( Nose )
Space ( Speech )Air ( Hands )Fire ( Legs )Water ( Anus )Earth ( Genitals )
Space ( Mixture )Air ( Mixture )Fire ( Mixture )Water ( Mixture )Earth ( Mixture )