[Advaita-l] creation, Ishwara, cause & effect

Bhaskar YR bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com
Fri Dec 17 06:33:55 CST 2010

Hare Krishna


Strictly speaking, in advaita, from the paramArthika standpoint there is 
no creation nor dissolution...kArika 2-32 says na nirOdho 
nachOtpattihi...But shruti-s do speak about creation in various fashions. 
one shruti says, from Atman was born ether (AtmanaH AkAsho jAtaH - 
taitereeya), another shruti first say this brahman is free from any 
specific features, it is invisible, ungraspable, causeless, attributeless 
etc. and subsequently relates the creation of universe from this very 
imperishable brahman by asserting brahman becomes fat in the tapas and 
from it is born food etc. (mundaka) and concludes all this is verily this 
verily brahman, that which is before us is verily immortal brahman etc. 
yet another shruti says : he created life, from life faith, ether, air, 
light water, earth, senses, mind and food.  From food vigour, tapas, 
mantra-s, religious works, the worlds and in the worlds name etc. created 
(prashna) and chAndOgya says: in the beginning 'being' alone which was one 
without a second, it thought Let me become plenteous, let me be born as 
manifold and then it created light and elsewhere mundaka again says just 
as spider exudes and withdraws the thread just as plants are born out of 
the earth and just as the hairs out of a living person, so comes out all 
this universe from the akshara brahman and krishna says in geeta : 
controlling my prakruti, I create them again and again.    If we carefully 
observe these shruti & smruti statements, it is quite evident that 
creation methods is not systamatically explained in these texts.  Hence, 
we should understand that the method of creation as presented in all the 
shruti & smruti texts is mere variety of the adhyArOpa apavAda.  and in 
this method, the scripture superimposing the universe on brahman for the 
purpose of teaching the unity of Atman and scriptures are not very 
particular about the reality of creation. Shankara clears this in sUtra 
bhAshya : The creation which is taught in various ways by means of 
illustrations like that of clay, metal and sparks is ONLY a device (upAya) 
for the purpose of leading the mind to the truth; there is no diversity on 
any account.  kArika in this regard is very important : Birth is taught as 
a doctrine by the wise ones to those who hold to the doctrine that things 
exist because of their appearance and practical efficiency and who are 
always 'afraid' of that which is unborn'. 

02.  ISHWARA :

Who is Ishwara in advaita vedAnta??  shruti explains him as the greatest 
ruler, as the highest god of all gods, the greatest protector of all 
protectors and he is the ruler of this world (svetaashvatara) and prashna 
shruti says OmkAra is both the higher and lower brahman.  It is clear that 
shruti makes no difference between para brahman and Ishwara to conclude 
that creator is Ishwara (NOT brahman) and Ishwara is not brahman but he is 
abhinna nimittOpadAna kAraNa of the jagat.  BTW, shankara himself 
clarifies in the second sUtra that : the origination etc. of the universe 
with these characteristics cannot be possibly conceived to be effected by 
any cause other than the Ishwara possessing these qualities.  It is clear 
that secondless brahman itself is equated here with Ishwara (the ruler) 
who is sarvajna and sarvashakta to explain to those who believe that there 
is a creation and creation theories are 'real' in shruti-s.  But now the 
question is how the absolute featureless brahman is explained as Ishwara 
who is possessing the qualities of omniscience and omnipotence to do this 
creation ??    Shankara himself clarifies in sUtra bhAshya that : the 
source of all beings, the possessor of qualities like invisibility etc. is 
the HIGHEST lord only and nothing else.  How is this conclusion arrived at 
??  Because, his attributes have been cited.  The clause ' He who is 
all-knowing and all-perceiving' evidently referts to the exclusive 
attribute of the Highest Lord".  Thus brahman conditioned by name and form 
set up by avidyA becomes Ishwara.  And empirically speaking, He (the 
Ishwara) rules over the souls. Thus Lordship of lord, his sarvajnatva, 
sarvashaktitva are only relative to the limitation caused by the 
conditioning of adjuncts of the nature of avidyA. It is clear from the 
above that the ONE and SAME brahman is regarded as Ishwara with specific 
features & explained him as the creator/ruler  in the sphere of avidyA for 
the convenient of jignAsu-s who are believing in the event of creation and 
who are always afraid of that which is unborn (recall the above kArika). 

So, in advaita Ishwara is nothing but parabrahman, coined as sarvashakta, 
sarvajna with upAdhi-s in avidyA vyavahAra.  The existence of Ishwara is 
within vyavahAra where jeeva & jagat holds the equal reality. 


Now, what is the cause (kAraNa) and effect (kArya)...If we see the concept 
of creation above that would explain the method of cause and effect as 
well.  The above all shruti quotes pertaining to creation would explain 
that brahman itself was born as prANa, ether, mind etc. From these 
creation theories, it would be quite clear that cause and effect relation 
is intended to be taught between brahman and the universe.  and finally 
from the apavAda of this very relation of cause and effect, we have to 
conclude that this method has also been devised only for the purpose of 
revealing the non-difference of the effect from the cause.  He is born is 
diverse ways, while he is really never born (ajAyamAno bahudhA vijAyate) 
says that parabrahman itself is both cause and effect and there is no 
mediator between parabrahman and jagat to say Ishwara is abhinna 
nimittOpadAna kAraNa BUT NOT  brahman.  Shankara makes this amply clear in 
sUtra bhAshya :  The effect is the universe comprising the panorama of 
ether etc., and the cause is the highest brahman (parabrahman is the word 
used by shankara here).  Itareya & chAndOgya  shruti-s confirm this beyond 
any doubt : this was indeed Atman alone in the beginning  and NOTHING 
ELSE, sentient or non-sentient (itareya), this was being along in the 
beginning, my boy, ONE WITHOUT A SECOND, it thought let me become 
plenteous..(chAndOgya as quoted above)..and taitereeya :  He wished may I 
become plenteous, may I be born as the manifold......the real became both 
the real and the unreal, whatever there is here...they call it Reality. 
yatO vA emAni bhUtAni jAyante, yena jAtAni jeevanti, 
yatprayantyabhisaMvishanti, tadvijijnAsasva,,,tadbrahmeti... All these 
shruti-s invariably declaring that 'for the creation believers' 
parabrahman indeed is the abhinna nimittOpadAna kAraNa and NOTHING ELSE. 
If the Ishwara is the abhinna kArAna then we have to conclude that shruti 
asking us to do jignAsa on the savishesha brahman :-)) and tattvamasi 
upanishad vAkya ONLY pointing us that we are ONLY ISHWARA but NOT brahman. 
 That is quite absurd...

Due to time constraints I have not given Sanskrit transliteration for most 
of the bhAshya vAkya-s and references.  If anybody wants to know the exact 
reference of the any bhAshya vAkya or shruti vAkya...please let me know. 
But for the heaven's sake dont ever say ONLY ISHWARA is the abhinna 
nimittOpadAna kAraNa BUT NOT THE BRAHMAN...this is siddhAnta hAni, 
prakriya hAni, advaita hAni and bhAshya viruddha as well. 

A final note, this is not a refutation of any theory or observations of 
other advaita bandhu-s, I am just thinking alound with regard to brahman's 
abhinna nimittOpadAna kAraNa.

Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!

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