Are God, Man and Matter different?
Philosophical quest has centered its discussions on the triad of God, Man and Matter. In Sanskrit these can be called ईश्वर:, जीव:, जगत्/प्रकृति: (Ishwara, jIva and jagat/prakRti). In Vedanta we have a fine analysis of the triad concluding in declaring the truth that Man and Matter are not different indeed from God. The Chandogya Upanishad VI Chapter contains a beautiful discussion between Sage Uddaalaka, the father-teacher and Shvetaketu, the son-disciple. Uddalaka commences the dialogue by declaring that ‘by knowing one there will result the knowing of everything else.’ He provides three examples, of clay-clay products, gold-ornaments, and iron-iron products. By knowing the material cause of a class, all effects, products, of that class becomes known; one need not seek to examine and know each and every object of that class. When gold is known as the material cause of all gold ornaments, there is no need to examine and know each and every ornament in the world.
With this analogy as the basis, Uddalaka proceeds with the instruction. He considers the created elements that make up this world: fire, water and earth and concludes that these are non-different from their cause, Brahman. Thus, the entire material world is non-different from the matter that goes into its making. And matter itself is non-different from the Sat, Brahman, its cause.
Then Uddalaka takes up the human being. We can see the human being as made of two personalities: the gross and the subtle. The former is the gross body and the latter includes the prana, the mind, ego, etc. Since both these personalities are made of matter, fire, water and earth (food), in their gross and subtle aspects, what we consider as ‘man’ is nothing but matter, which in turn is none other than Sat, Brahman.
The Conclusion of the Quest:
Uddalaka concludes the discussion by pointing out to Shvetaketu that ‘You are none other than That Infinite Which is the essence, Self, Atman, of this entire universe.’ Thus, the material universe (matter) is non-different from its cause, Brahman and man is non-different from his cause, Brahman.
Matter (world) and Man (jiva) are generally held, without enquiry, to be dependent on God, the Independent Principle. But Uddalaka’s enquiry, as taught by the Chandogya Upanishad, concludes that Matter and Man are non-different from God; they both share the same substratum that is God. In other words, God alone appears to the uninitiated as the world and jiva and those who are initiated into the Vedic Wisdom gain the knowledge that God alone is the Sole Reality, Advaitam.
Om Tat Sat