The Sūtasamhitā – Part 5
Thus, on a very strong basis of Śruti (verbal authority) and yukti (reasoning) it has been established that since in the ultimate analysis there is no way ‘bheda’, difference, can be established, the only way out for us is to turn to the Śruti in matters of the absolute truth. And the teaching we get is that unlike what is witnessed in the world, there is no need for an efficient and a material cause distinct from each other in the case of the Ultimate Cause of the world.
The Upaniṣadic Brahman is devoid of any action, avikriyam, free of any connection/attachment, asaṅgam, and of the nature of pure Existence, sadrūpam. How indeed such a Brahman can become the cause that has been described in the foregoing? If it is replied that it can happen due to Māyā, then the resultant duality, dvaitam, is inevitable. This is answered in the following:
प्रतीत्या केवलं शक्तिरचिद्रूपा तमोमयी ।
सर्वप्रकारैर्विद्वद्भिरनिरूप्याऽस्ति शांकरी ॥ ३३॥
प्रतीत्या केवलं for the mere perception शक्तिः power अचिद्रूपा inert तमोमयी verily tamas सर्वप्रकारैः by all means विद्वद्भिः for knowers अनिरूप्या beyond proof अस्ति exists शांकरी of Śankara, Śiva
This power called Māyā is no way beyond merely being perceived. Its very ‘form’ is just being available for experience. It is called ‘tamomayī’ since it envelops Brahman that is pure Self-effulgent Consciousness. Even experts who are endowed with the capacity to determine things fail to define this power in terms of ‘it is existence’, ‘it is non-existence’, etc. There is this famous verse of the Vivekachūḍāmaṇi (109):
It (Māyā) is neither existent nor non-existent, nor both; neither same as Brahman nor different nor both; neither made up of parts nor whole nor both. Most wonderful it is and beyond description in words.
तया दुर्घटकारिण्या तादात्म्येनैव संगतम् ।
कारणं सकलस्रष्टृ सर्वसंहर्तृ चास्तिकाः ॥ ३४॥
तया by that दुर्घटकारिण्या who makes the impossible possible तादात्म्येन by identification एव alone संगतम् associated कारणं the Cause सकलस्रष्टृ is the creator of all सर्वसंहर्तृ the destroyer of everything च and आस्तिकाः O, gods.
Māyā is of the nature of making possible what is impossible. Brahman, Existence, the completely unattached entity, for the very reason that there is nothing other than Itself, is somehow made to associate Itself with māyā by māyā itself. Since Māyā is superimposed on Brahman, the three guṇas of the former appear to be present, associated, with the latter. Even though Brahman is Immutable, yet by the erroneous association with the three guṇas, sattva, etc. comes to be seen as the creator, (sustainer) and destroyer of the universe. It cannot be said that since māyā is admitted, Brahman’s ‘one alone without a second of any kind’ will be violated. That which is superimposed can never be counted as a distinct second entity . A snake seen in error in the locus rope cannot be counted as a second to the rope.
पालकं च सदा सच्च चिद्रूपत्वात्सुरोत्तमाः ।
चिद्रूपस्य तु सत्यत्वं युक्तमेवास्तिकाः सदा ॥ ३५॥
पालकं that which sustains च too सदा always सत् Existence च and चिद्रूपत्वात् since it is Consciousness सुरोत्तमाः O Gods चिद्रूपस्य of Consciousness तु however सत्यत्वं Reality युक्तम् एव quite reasonable आस्तिकाः O Believers सदा always
Having established the Secondless nature of Brahman, the Existence nature of Brahman is also being established. On the strength of the Vedic passage ‘vijñānam ānandam brahma’ (Bṛ. Up. 3.9.28) [‘Brahman is Consciousness Bliss’], we understand that Brahman, the Universal Cause, is Pure Consciousness. The reasoning is: Brahman is Existence. Since It is of the nature of Consciousness. That which is distinct from Existence is not of the nature of Consciousness, just as the erroneous snake seen in a rope. Now, the eternally existent nature of Brahman is being established. When the right knowledge arises and the reality of the experience of the inert world is negated, the witness of this negation is Consciousness, Brahman. Hence, being ever existent, both before the rise of right knowledge and after that, Consciousness, Brahman the substratum of that unreal world is quite reasonably to be understood as eternally subsisting.
Why not we admit the unreality of the Consciousness too?
अचिद्रूपाहिरज्ज्वादेर्मृषात्वं संमतं खलु ।
अतस्तत्कारणं देवाः सदेवैकं च शाश्वतम् ॥ ३६॥
अचिद्रूपाहिरज्ज्वादेः of the inert rope-snake, etc. मृषात्वं unreality संमतं admitted खलु indeed अतः hence तत्कारणं that Cause देवाःO, Gods सदेव Existence alone एकं One च too शाश्वतम् eternal
Unreality is always a characteristic of the inert. That unreality distinguished from the Consciousness that is the Univerrsal Cause distinguishes and negates unreality that is pervaded by, witnessed by, Consciousness, as well. That which is unreal has been shown in the preceding verse to be witnessed by Consciousness. Since unreality is a witnessed (and not the Witnessing Consciousness), the status of being unreal is always a characteristic of the inert. It (unreality, mithyātvam) can never touch Consciousness that is ever the witness of the inert unreality. Thus, the Universal Cause, Brahman, Sat, Existence, One only without any second, alone exists prior to creation. The experienced world, prior to manifesting, was none other than Sat alone. Sat, Brahman, alone is eternal; the unreal, non-existent, inert world is never existent. Even while it is perceived it has no existence of its own. The perceived world has for its being the reality of the existence and consciousness of the perceiver. The sentient perceiver alone forever perceives the world, both prior to its being negated due to right knowledge and after such negation too.
इदं सर्वं जगत्पूर्वं सदेवाऽसीत्सुरर्षभाः ।
असदासीदिति भ्रान्ता वदन्ति सुरपुंगवाः ॥ ३७॥
इदं this सर्वं entire जगत् universe पूर्वं before सत् existence एव alone आसीत् was सुरर्षभाः O foremost of gods असत् non-existence आसीत् was इति thus भ्रान्ताः deluded वदन्ति say सुरपुंगवाः excellent gods!
It is established in the foregoing that the Universal Cause Brahman is secondless and Pure Existence. Hence this universe that is experienced characterized by names and forms, which is an effect, before creation, was Sat, Existence alone. The world is available to us as endowed with the existence that is its cause and not as name-form. In this manner, having initiated the ‘satkāraṇavāda’ the doctrine of ‘the cause is Existence’, with a view to establish it firmly, the Veda alludes to the ‘asatkāraṇavāda’, the doctrine of ‘non-existence as the cause (of the world)’ which is admissible to and propounded by the śunyavādin, the nihilist and refutes it. The relevant passages are covered in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad:
From तद्धैक आहुरसदेवेदमग्र आसीदेकमेवाद्वितीयं तस्मादसतः सज्जायत [‘Some say that in the beginning this was non-existence (asat) alone, one only without a second; and from that non-existence, existence was born.” (6.2.1) up to कुतस्तु खलु सोम्यैवं स्यादिति होवाच कथमसतः सज्जायेतेति ‘”But how, indeed, could it be thus, my dear? How could Being be born from non-existence?’ (6.2.2)]. They base their stand on the logic that without destroying the cause the effect does not arise. We do encounter in the world that only from the destroyed seed, etc. the sprout, etc. emerge. Therefore non-existence alone is the cause. Extending this to the world scenario, the fundamental cause of the universe is such a non-existence alone. So say the nihilists, deluded as they are. What is the delusion in their stand? A person who is dead is incapable of siring an offspring. In the same way the cause that is destroyed cannot bring forth an effect. In the case of the emergence of effects such as a sprout, the constituents of the seed, in a particular combination and their parts do continue to exist and hence it is illogical that non-existence is the cause (of the effects). This is the delusion in their stand.
This alone is explained further:
असन्न कारणं युक्तं वस्तुतत्त्वनिरूपणे ।
वन्ध्यापुत्रोऽपि सर्वेषां कारणं स्यात्स्वयं खलु ॥ ३८॥
असत् non-existence न not कारणं cause युक्तं reasonable वस्तुतत्त्वनिरूपणे in determining the nature of things वन्ध्यापुत्रः son-of-barren-woman अपि too सर्वेषां of all कारणं cause स्यात् could become स्वयं himself खलु is it not?
Asat, non-existence, cannot be admitted to be the cause. By no means can asat be explained in the manner ‘it is such and such.’ The necessary characteristic of a cause is that it is an existent entity. Such a feature is absent in ‘asat.’ In case one admits that the asat does become a cause then even a barren-woman’s son, being non-different from the ‘asat’, can himself become the cause of everything. A woman who is incapable of producing an offspring is called ‘vandhyā’. Surely a reference to a vandhyā’s son is nothing but a statement of non-existence. Just as such a non-existent entity cannot be the cause of anything, asat, too, cannot be admitted to be the cause of the world.
स्वशक्त्याऽसच्च सर्वेषां कारणं भवतीति चेत् ।
शक्तिरप्यसतो नास्ति सतो बीजस्य दर्शनात् ॥ ३९॥
स्वशक्त्या by its inherent power असत् non-existent च also सर्वेषां of all कारणं cause भवति becomes इति thus चेत् if said शक्तिः power अपि too असतः of non-existent न not अस्ति exist सतः existent बीजस्य seed दर्शनात् being observed
If one were to retort ‘even non-existence can be the cause of everything by virtue of its inherent power’, it is to be known that even that power is non-existent in non-existence. We observe power only in the existent seed and not in anything non-existent.