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The Divine Power or Shakti (शक्तिः), the will of Ishvara, His power in making the Jagat manifest, as says Smrti, is called Maya (माया). Maya is inseparable from Ishvara. The concept of Maya, explains the answer to the question - "How can Brahman, which is unchanging, become the material cause of the Universe?"
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The Divine Power or Shakti (शक्तिः), the will of Ishvara, His power in manifesting the Jagat (the worlds or universe), as says Smrti, is called Maya (माया). Maya is inseparable from Ishvara. It is the knowledge of the concept of Maya that provides an answer to the question - "How can Brahman, which is unchanging, become the material cause of the Universe?"<ref>''Sanatana Dharma : An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics''. (1903) Benares : The Board of Trustees, Central Hindu College. (Page 53)</ref>
  
=== Maya as Prakrti ===
+
== Causal Nature of Brahman ==
 +
 
 +
=== Questions ===
 +
The question of how Brahman is related to the visible world and whether he is the intelligent cause or material (substratum) cause leads one to explore the Upanishads. Thus we have a few perspectives available for exploring the role of Brahman in relation to the Universe.
 +
# Is Brahman, the nimitta (intelligent) cause for the Universe?
 +
# Is Brahman, the upadana (material) cause for the Universe? Does It undergo any modifications by Parinama (transformation just like milk becoming curd as described by Samkhya siddhanta) or Vivarta (unreal or apparent change)?
 +
# Is Brahman, the adhistanam (substratum) for the Universe?
 +
 
 +
=== Answers ===
 +
Many references in Upanishads advocate that Brahman is not the cause of the perceived universe. For example
 +
* Brhdaranyaka Upanishad (2.5.19) states Brahman is without prior or posterior...
 +
* Kathopanishad (1.2.14) states that It is different from cause and effect.
 +
* Kathopanishad (1.2.18) states that It did not originate from anything nor did anything originate from it. It is neither born nor does it die.
 +
So, Brahman being the intelligent cause (nimitta kaaranam) of the Universe appears illogical. But alongside we have some Upanishads which describe instances where Brahman is said to have
 +
* visualized, thought and desired
 +
 
 +
* deliberated on creation as in Upanishads such as Chandogya (6.2.3), Taittriya (2.6.1), Aitareya (1.1.3, 1.1.4 etc)
 +
* created and perceived the universe as in Chandogya (6.2.3), Aitereya (1.1.2)
 +
Brahman, as per any Vedanta siddhanta, does not undergo any modification. In its nature, it is all-pervading Existence (Sat), which serves as the Adhisthanam (substratum) for the name and form to be superimposed. The actual material cause (parinama upadana karana) is Maya.
 +
 
 +
== Maya as Prakrti ==
 
Mulaprakrti or Prakrti (Shakti) and Maya are often interchanged and thus used synonymously. The Upanishads describe the visible universe, and the human experience, as an interplay of Purusha (the eternal, unchanging principle, consciousness) and Prakrti. Ishvara by his Maya, creates, preserves and destroys the innumerable world systems that form the ocean of Samsara.<ref name=":022" /> As explained in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad<blockquote>छन्दांसि यज्ञाः क्रतवो व्रतानि भूतं भव्यं यच्च वेदा वदन्ति । अस्मान्मायी सृजते विश्वमेतत्तस्मिंश्चान्यो मायया सन्निरुद्धः ॥ ९ ॥</blockquote><blockquote>मायां तु प्रकृतिं विद्यान्मायिनं च महेश्वरम् । तस्यवयवभूतैस्तु व्याप्तं सर्वमिदं जगत् ॥ १० ॥ (Shvet. Upan. 4.9-10)<ref>Shvetasvatara Upanishad ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%B7%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D/%E0%A4%9A%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A5%E0%A4% Adhyaya 4])</ref></blockquote>The Vedas, yajnas, kratus, vratas, the past and future, and all those which the vedas speak of, are from It (अस्मात्), from Brahman, the Immutable under consideration. The Ruler of Maya is Mayi (मायी) projects this world. One should know that Nature is surely Maya (माया) and the Supreme Being (महेश्वरम्) is Mayi (मायी) the ruler of Maya. This whole universe is verily pervaded by what are His limbs.<ref name=":1">Swami Gambhirananda (2009 Fourth Edition) ''Svetasvara Upanishad With the Commentary of Sankaracharya.'' Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama (Pages 150-152)</ref>
 
Mulaprakrti or Prakrti (Shakti) and Maya are often interchanged and thus used synonymously. The Upanishads describe the visible universe, and the human experience, as an interplay of Purusha (the eternal, unchanging principle, consciousness) and Prakrti. Ishvara by his Maya, creates, preserves and destroys the innumerable world systems that form the ocean of Samsara.<ref name=":022" /> As explained in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad<blockquote>छन्दांसि यज्ञाः क्रतवो व्रतानि भूतं भव्यं यच्च वेदा वदन्ति । अस्मान्मायी सृजते विश्वमेतत्तस्मिंश्चान्यो मायया सन्निरुद्धः ॥ ९ ॥</blockquote><blockquote>मायां तु प्रकृतिं विद्यान्मायिनं च महेश्वरम् । तस्यवयवभूतैस्तु व्याप्तं सर्वमिदं जगत् ॥ १० ॥ (Shvet. Upan. 4.9-10)<ref>Shvetasvatara Upanishad ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%B7%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D/%E0%A4%9A%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A5%E0%A4% Adhyaya 4])</ref></blockquote>The Vedas, yajnas, kratus, vratas, the past and future, and all those which the vedas speak of, are from It (अस्मात्), from Brahman, the Immutable under consideration. The Ruler of Maya is Mayi (मायी) projects this world. One should know that Nature is surely Maya (माया) and the Supreme Being (महेश्वरम्) is Mayi (मायी) the ruler of Maya. This whole universe is verily pervaded by what are His limbs.<ref name=":1">Swami Gambhirananda (2009 Fourth Edition) ''Svetasvara Upanishad With the Commentary of Sankaracharya.'' Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama (Pages 150-152)</ref>
  
 
Prakrti or Nature, presented earlier as the material cause of the universe, is surely Maya.  
 
Prakrti or Nature, presented earlier as the material cause of the universe, is surely Maya.  
  
Devi Bhagavata describes the matter side of Nature which is regarded as Maya.  
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Devi Bhagavata describes the matter side of Nature which is regarded as Maya. Shakteya sampradayins describe Maya as - A feminine principle Maya is inseparable from Ishvara (Conditioned Brahman).<ref name=":022">''Sanatana Dharma : An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics''. (1903) Benares : The Board of Trustees, Central Hindu College</ref> <blockquote>परात्मनस्तथा शक्तेस्तयोरैक्यं सदैव हि । अभिन्नं तद्वपुर्ज्ञात्वा मुच्यते सर्वदोषतः ॥ ४९ ॥ (Devi. Bhag. 6.15.49)<ref>Devi Bhagavatam ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%97%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A3%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D/%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%83_%E0%A5%A6%E0%A5%AC/%E0%A4%85%E0%A4%A7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%83_%E0%A5%A7%E0%A5%AB Skanda 6 Adhyaya15])</ref></blockquote>Just like Paramatma (the Self) is the Parashakti (Supreme Force) and both are always in perfect Oneness (united); their Forms are not different. When such a knowledge arises, then the Jivas can be free from all sins and faults and blemishes. Their unity is like that of the moon and the moonlight or that of the fire and its power to burn, says Nilakantha, commenting on this sloka.<ref name=":022" /><blockquote>तस्य चेच्छास्म्यहं दैत्य सृजामि सकलं जगत् । स मां पश्यति विश्वात्मा तस्याहं प्रकृतिः शिवा ॥ ३६ ॥ (Devi. Bhag. 5.16.36)<ref>Devi Bhagavatam ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%97%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A3%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D/%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%83_%E0%A5%A6%E0%A5%AB/%E0%A4%85%E0%A4%A7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%83_%E0%A5%A7%E0%A5%AC Skanda 5 Adhyaya 16])</ref></blockquote>I am the Iccha (will) of Him (Purusha), O Daitya, I created the whole universe. He, the Universal Self beholds me and I am His auspicious Nature (Prakrti).
 
 
A feminine principle Maya is inseparable from Ishvara (Conditioned Brahman).<ref name=":022">''Sanatana Dharma : An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics''. (1903) Benares : The Board of Trustees, Central Hindu College</ref><blockquote>परात्मनस्तथा शक्तेस्तयोरैक्यं सदैव हि । अभिन्नं तद्वपुर्ज्ञात्वा मुच्यते सर्वदोषतः ॥ ४९ ॥ (Devi. Bhag. 6.15.49)<ref>Devi Bhagavatam ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%97%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A3%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D/%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%83_%E0%A5%A6%E0%A5%AC/%E0%A4%85%E0%A4%A7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%83_%E0%A5%A7%E0%A5%AB Skanda 6 Adhyaya15])</ref></blockquote>Just like Paramatma (the Self) is the Parashakti (Supreme Force) and both are always in perfect Oneness (united); their Forms are not different. When such a knowledge arises, then the Jivas can be free from all sins and faults and blemishes. Their unity is like that of the moon and the moonlight or that of the fire and its power to burn, says Nilakantha, commenting on this sloka.<ref name=":022" /><blockquote>तस्य चेच्छास्म्यहं दैत्य सृजामि सकलं जगत् । स मां पश्यति विश्वात्मा तस्याहं प्रकृतिः शिवा ॥ ३६ ॥ (Devi. Bhag. 5.16.36)<ref>Devi Bhagavatam ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%97%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A3%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D/%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%83_%E0%A5%A6%E0%A5%AB/%E0%A4%85%E0%A4%A7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%83_%E0%A5%A7%E0%A5%AC Skanda 5 Adhyaya 16])</ref></blockquote>I am the Iccha (will) of Him (Purusha), O Daitya, I created the whole universe. He, the Universal Self beholds me and I am His auspicious Nature (Prakrti).
 
  
 
In Adhyatma Ramayana She is described as having two forms.<blockquote>राम माया द्विधा भाति विद्याऽविद्येति ते सदा । (Adhy. Rama. 3.3.32).</blockquote>O Rama! Maya manifests in dual forms, these ever are [[Vidya (विद्या)|Vidya]] and Avidya.
 
In Adhyatma Ramayana She is described as having two forms.<blockquote>राम माया द्विधा भाति विद्याऽविद्येति ते सदा । (Adhy. Rama. 3.3.32).</blockquote>O Rama! Maya manifests in dual forms, these ever are [[Vidya (विद्या)|Vidya]] and Avidya.

Revision as of 18:04, 10 August 2019

The Divine Power or Shakti (शक्तिः), the will of Ishvara, His power in manifesting the Jagat (the worlds or universe), as says Smrti, is called Maya (माया). Maya is inseparable from Ishvara. It is the knowledge of the concept of Maya that provides an answer to the question - "How can Brahman, which is unchanging, become the material cause of the Universe?"[1]

Causal Nature of Brahman

Questions

The question of how Brahman is related to the visible world and whether he is the intelligent cause or material (substratum) cause leads one to explore the Upanishads. Thus we have a few perspectives available for exploring the role of Brahman in relation to the Universe.

  1. Is Brahman, the nimitta (intelligent) cause for the Universe?
  2. Is Brahman, the upadana (material) cause for the Universe? Does It undergo any modifications by Parinama (transformation just like milk becoming curd as described by Samkhya siddhanta) or Vivarta (unreal or apparent change)?
  3. Is Brahman, the adhistanam (substratum) for the Universe?

Answers

Many references in Upanishads advocate that Brahman is not the cause of the perceived universe. For example

  • Brhdaranyaka Upanishad (2.5.19) states Brahman is without prior or posterior...
  • Kathopanishad (1.2.14) states that It is different from cause and effect.
  • Kathopanishad (1.2.18) states that It did not originate from anything nor did anything originate from it. It is neither born nor does it die.

So, Brahman being the intelligent cause (nimitta kaaranam) of the Universe appears illogical. But alongside we have some Upanishads which describe instances where Brahman is said to have

  • visualized, thought and desired
  • deliberated on creation as in Upanishads such as Chandogya (6.2.3), Taittriya (2.6.1), Aitareya (1.1.3, 1.1.4 etc)
  • created and perceived the universe as in Chandogya (6.2.3), Aitereya (1.1.2)

Brahman, as per any Vedanta siddhanta, does not undergo any modification. In its nature, it is all-pervading Existence (Sat), which serves as the Adhisthanam (substratum) for the name and form to be superimposed. The actual material cause (parinama upadana karana) is Maya.

Maya as Prakrti

Mulaprakrti or Prakrti (Shakti) and Maya are often interchanged and thus used synonymously. The Upanishads describe the visible universe, and the human experience, as an interplay of Purusha (the eternal, unchanging principle, consciousness) and Prakrti. Ishvara by his Maya, creates, preserves and destroys the innumerable world systems that form the ocean of Samsara.[2] As explained in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad

छन्दांसि यज्ञाः क्रतवो व्रतानि भूतं भव्यं यच्च वेदा वदन्ति । अस्मान्मायी सृजते विश्वमेतत्तस्मिंश्चान्यो मायया सन्निरुद्धः ॥ ९ ॥

मायां तु प्रकृतिं विद्यान्मायिनं च महेश्वरम् । तस्यवयवभूतैस्तु व्याप्तं सर्वमिदं जगत् ॥ १० ॥ (Shvet. Upan. 4.9-10)[3]

The Vedas, yajnas, kratus, vratas, the past and future, and all those which the vedas speak of, are from It (अस्मात्), from Brahman, the Immutable under consideration. The Ruler of Maya is Mayi (मायी) projects this world. One should know that Nature is surely Maya (माया) and the Supreme Being (महेश्वरम्) is Mayi (मायी) the ruler of Maya. This whole universe is verily pervaded by what are His limbs.[4]

Prakrti or Nature, presented earlier as the material cause of the universe, is surely Maya.

Devi Bhagavata describes the matter side of Nature which is regarded as Maya. Shakteya sampradayins describe Maya as - A feminine principle Maya is inseparable from Ishvara (Conditioned Brahman).[2]

परात्मनस्तथा शक्तेस्तयोरैक्यं सदैव हि । अभिन्नं तद्वपुर्ज्ञात्वा मुच्यते सर्वदोषतः ॥ ४९ ॥ (Devi. Bhag. 6.15.49)[5]

Just like Paramatma (the Self) is the Parashakti (Supreme Force) and both are always in perfect Oneness (united); their Forms are not different. When such a knowledge arises, then the Jivas can be free from all sins and faults and blemishes. Their unity is like that of the moon and the moonlight or that of the fire and its power to burn, says Nilakantha, commenting on this sloka.[2]

तस्य चेच्छास्म्यहं दैत्य सृजामि सकलं जगत् । स मां पश्यति विश्वात्मा तस्याहं प्रकृतिः शिवा ॥ ३६ ॥ (Devi. Bhag. 5.16.36)[6]

I am the Iccha (will) of Him (Purusha), O Daitya, I created the whole universe. He, the Universal Self beholds me and I am His auspicious Nature (Prakrti). In Adhyatma Ramayana She is described as having two forms.

राम माया द्विधा भाति विद्याऽविद्येति ते सदा । (Adhy. Rama. 3.3.32).

O Rama! Maya manifests in dual forms, these ever are Vidya and Avidya.

Though inseparable from the Paramatma, when turned towards Him, she is called Vidya or Mahavidya, the Supreme Knowledge which leads a Jiva to Him (moksha). When turned away from Him, towards worldly aspects, she is called Avidya or Mahamaya, the Great Illusion (the lack of true knowledge) which permeates in the Mulaprakrti and remains inseparable from it.[2]

References

  1. Sanatana Dharma : An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics. (1903) Benares : The Board of Trustees, Central Hindu College. (Page 53)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Sanatana Dharma : An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics. (1903) Benares : The Board of Trustees, Central Hindu College
  3. Shvetasvatara Upanishad (Adhyaya 4)
  4. Swami Gambhirananda (2009 Fourth Edition) Svetasvara Upanishad With the Commentary of Sankaracharya. Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama (Pages 150-152)
  5. Devi Bhagavatam (Skanda 6 Adhyaya15)
  6. Devi Bhagavatam (Skanda 5 Adhyaya 16)