Posted by: adbhutam | March 27, 2011

Brahman alone appears as Jiva, Jagat and Ishwara

ShrIgurubhyo namaH
The Vedanta doctrine holds Brahman as the Sole Absolute Reality.  The name Brahman also is only an appendage to the Reality just for purposes of vyavahara.  In the scheme of delineation of the Reality, however, there arises a need to address the topic of Jiva, the individual who is under the impression that he is bound and seeks relief, the Jagat, the world in which the jiva exists and Ishwara the power that manages the world-jiva combine.  The Upanishads have laid out this scheme in such a way that the method of enquiry ultimately culminates in the realization that the One Reality, Brahman, alone manifests as the triad of jiva, jagat and Ishwara.  While every Upanishad has this scheme inlaid, yet, it is the MAnDUkya Upanishad that lends itself to a most patent manner of discerning this scheme.  In the sequel this is presented.

This presentation has for its aim the delineation of the important Advaitic doctrine: The jiva-jagat-Ishwara triad is Brahman alone appearing as such.  We shall be taking up the following points specifically for discussion:

  • The Mandukya Upanishad declares at the beginning that everything, the jiva included, is Brahman.
  • With this declaration it presents the Brahman as four-quartered.
  • The three quarters of Brahman are presented as consisting of the individual, the world and the Lord in the three modes of experiences namely the waking, dream and sleep.
  • However, in the seventh mantra, after the above delineation, all the properties of the jiva/world/Ishwara attributed to Brahman, the four-quartered, are negated and the fourth quarter of Brahman, TurIya, is presented as bereft of/free of the three quarters and their properties.
  • This method proves that according to the Upanishad everything, including the jiva and Ishwara is Brahman alone appearing in their variegated forms only in samsara, relativity and not in the absolute sense.
  • By this method the Upanishad teaches that the jiva-jagat-Ishwara triad is only a vivarta of Brahman just as a snake, garland, a slit on the ground, etc. are only mistaken perceptions of one substratum, a rope.
  • Certain other Upanishadic passages also prove that it is Brahman alone that appears as the jiva and jagat.
  • The Gita too teaches this.

This essay is not deliberating the adhyAropa-apavAda (deliberate superimposition and subsequent negation) method of the Vedanta.  Although this method is involved in the current discussion, the focus is on the vivarta-vAda, transfiguration, of Advaita.  That is the reason why one can find the ‘adhyAropa-apavAda’ method not discussed in detail here but only referred to in the passing.

The mAnDUkya Upanishad opens with the declaration in the second mantra:

सर्वं ह्येतद्ब्रह्म अयमात्मा ब्रह्म सोऽयमात्मा चतुष्पात्
//All this is, indeed, Brahman. This Atman is Brahman. This same Atman has four quarters.//

The essence of the Upanishad is stated here:

  1. All this, that is the known/unknown universe, that is, the manifest and the unmanifest, is none other than Brahman.  Thus, it is Brahman that is appearing as the world, jagat.
  2. By hearing ‘all this is Brahman’ one might end up by knowing Brahman as something ‘outside’ of oneself, situated yonder, there, parokSham. To remove such a misconception, the Upanishad says ‘This Atman is Brahman.’ By saying so, the individual who hears this teaching can relate himself, as oneself, pratyagaatmaa, with Brahman. Thus, the teaching here is: It is Brahman that is appearing as the jiva.
  3. This Atman that is Brahman is taught as having four ‘quarters’ or parts.

This positing of ‘parts’ in the partless Brahman is by way of helping understand the nature of Brahman as to how It is none other than the manifest universe and the jiva.  In the subsequent mantras the Upanishad teaches the nature of jiva, as available in the three states.  Now, the ‘states’ are none other than the modes, the ways, in which the individual experiences the world.  For, apart from the world, there is nothing else the individual can experience.  He is the experiencer and the world is the experienced.  And the world is provided for him for experiencing by the superior entity called Ishwara.  For, the world that the jiva experiences is not just his own making but the making of the collective karma of all the jiva-s.  In order to manage the collective karma and provide the platform for experiencing the karma for all jivas, there is required an entity called Ishwara who has the capacity to create, sustain and dissolve the world at the appropriate times.

The Upanishad is presenting the nature of the jiva and Ishwara together in each of the modes of the waking, dream and sleep.  For, in each of these states the jiva experiences the world, in its gross, subtle and causal forms.  Even though in the sleep state the world is only in its causal form and no experiencing of objects is possible, yet, there undergoes a transformation of all the jiva’s specific knowledge into a mass of knowledge and the jiva is endowed with this mass.  Also, there is the rest, the peace, arising out of his withdrawing from the experiencing of objects with the senses and the mind, and this peace is also experienced as bliss.

To correspond to the jiva’s three modes of experiencing as vishva, taijasa and prAjna, the entity called Ishwara too is presented in three modes: virAT, Hiranyagarbha and Ishwara.

In all the mantras, upto the sixth, where this presentation is made, the Upanishad nowhere says or shows either the jiva or the world or the Ishwara as in any way different or other than Brahman.  It would be crucial to recall and remember the initial declaration of the Upanishad: so ayamaatmaa chatuShpAt: this Atman/Brahman is of four quarters.  And the three ‘quarters’ of this Brahman alone is what we have seen above up to the sixth mantra.  So, it is Brahman presented as the three modes: where the jiva experiences the jagat managed by Ishwara.  In fact the jagat is none other than Ishwara, the vishvarUpa.  Thus, there is no way one can point out any difference between this triad of jiva-jagat-Ishwara and Brahman.

The seventh mantra:

// Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, [Taijasa/Hiranyagarbha] nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, [vishva/virAT] nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness [prAjna/Ishwara]. It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three states, It is the cessation of all phenomena [prapanchopashamam, i.e. the Turiya is not in any way related to the entire universe consisting of the three states] ; It is all peace, all bliss and non—dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman and this has to be realized. //

If we recall the declaration made by the Upanishad at the beginning: so’yamAtmA chatuShpAt = This Atman/Brahman is of four quarters, we find that this very Brahman was presented by the Upanishad, in its three quarters, as the 1.jiva 2. jagat and 3.Ishwara in their three states of gross, subtle and causal manifestations.  When the Upanishad comes to present the fourth quarter, we see that it is negating all the three earlier quarters, in toto, in the fourth.  And what is more, it holds the ‘fourth’ alone, which it itself has stated ‘not waking, not dream, not sleep’, not the prapancha, as Atma, the one to be realized (for mokSha).  Thus, the message is it that this completely jiva-jagat-Ishwara triad-free TurIya is the Absolute Reality that is to be realized.

It would be interesting to note some parallels to some of the words/concepts found in this Upanishad.  For example, in the Purusha sUktam we have this:  पादोऽस्य विश्वा भूतानि, त्रिपादस्यामृतं दिवि [His one quarter constitutes the entire universe of beings and three quarters remain free of this universe.] Here, we find that the ‘other three quarters’ [akin to the Fourth quarter in the Mandukya] is spoken of as in amRtam, in the Divine firmament.  This is the Purusha sukta equivalent of ‘prapanchopashamam’ of the Mandukya.

Then there is the expression: पुरुष एवेदं सर्वम् यद्भूतं यच्च भव्यम् [all this indeed is the PuruSha, that which has been in the past and that which will come to be in the future].  This is parallel to the Mandukya opening sentence:

सर्वं ह्येतद्ब्रह्म, ओमित्येतदक्षरं इदं सर्वम् …भूतं भवद्भविष्यदिति सर्वमोंकार एव । यच्च अन्यत् त्रिकालातीतं तदप्योंकार एव । १.

//Harih Aum! AUM, the word, is all this, the whole universe. A clear explanation of it is as follows: All that is past, present and future is, indeed, AUM. And whatever else there is, beyond the threefold division of time—that also is truly AUM. //

In the Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 we have this declaration:

स य एषोऽणिमा ऐतदात्म्यमिदं सर्वं तत् सत्यं स आत्मा तत् त्वमसि श्वेतकेतो

‘That which is this subtle essence all this has got That as the Self.  That is Truth. That is the Self. Thou art That, O Shvetaketu.’

Here again, the Upanishad teaches the ‘all this’, the universe, that includes all matter, including the body-mind apparatus of all sentient beings, including that of Shvetaketu, has Brahman for its Self.  That means that it is Brahman alone that appears as all this.  It is the vivarta of Brahman that appears as the universe, the elements and the elementals.  In the earlier portion, the Upanishad, in the mantras 6.1.4,5 and 6 had taught with the help of three analogies, clay, gold and iron, that all modifications are merely based on words and the substantial thing there is only the material cause of these modifications.  On the same analogy, in the mantra 6.8.7 we saw above, the Upanishad teaches that all modifications, which is what the universe is, is merely so many words and substantially they are none but their material cause, Brahman, the Sat. Thus, the jiva, jagat and Ishwara who is none other than Brahman with Maya as upAdhi, are none other than Brahman alone appearing as this triad.
We have this pair of verses in the Bhagavadgita:
matsthAni sarvabhUtAni 9.4  [All beings are in Me]
na cha matsthAni sarvabhUtAni 9.5 [Nor are the beings in Me]
In the first statement the Lord specifies that the beings, connoted by the jiva-jagat is resting in Him.  This is the parallel to the Mandukya delineation of the first three pAda-s.  In the next statement the Lord denies the presence of beings in Him. This is akin to the Mandukya denying, negating, all that was spoken of in the first three pAda-s, in the fourth pAda.  Virtually, the Lord here is declaring that He is prapanchopashamam, where there is no prapancha.

In the first phase, both in the Mandukya as well as in the Gita, the world of beings was shown to be ‘in’ Brahman.  This is because the world will have to have a support, a substratum, for it to be as it is inert and cannot have its own existence.  For it to be validated as ‘it is’ there is required a sentient being, a dRk.  It is dRshyam, jaDam and hence dependent on an entity other than itself.  However when the Truth, Brahman, TurIya, is to be taught the way It Is truly, the scripture goes into ‘denial mode’: this world of beings does not have an existence in Brahman.  Stating first of its existence and denying it later is none other than the method of adhyAropa and apavAda.  It is like the illusory snake superimposed in the rope.  The snake has no existence unless through that of its substratum, the rope.  However, in truth, the rope in no way supports the snake.  The illusory snake does not really lie upon the rope.  There are never ‘two’ things there.  When the snake is perceived the rope is not taken into account.  When the rope is discerned and seen the snake is not to be seen.  This is what is called ‘the snake is nothing but the rope appearing so’.  The world, the jivas and Ishwara included is nothing but Brahman appearing so.

The scripture, while teaching the Truth, informs us that the world lies ‘in’ Brahman.  However since this is not the whole truth, it proceeds to present Brahman as completely unconnected, untouched, untainted by the world.  ‘Remaining in’ and ‘not being in’ Brahman is nothing but the total non-existence of the world, in all periods of time.  Even when it is
perceived, the world has no existence of its own. It is only Brahman that is being seen, experienced as the world of jivas and objects.  When the substratum is known, then too, it has no existence whatsoever.

Then, the only conclusion is, just as in the case of the rope-snake, it is the rope that appeared as the snake, it is Brahman that appeared/appears as the world. This is called the ‘vivarta vAda’.  The Gita teaching of this vAda is explicitly discernible in the verses seen above.  The Mandukya teaching of this vAda is quite obvious.
There is a word, ‘agrAhyam’ [ungraspable] in the Mandukya mantra 7 regarding the Turiya. This word specifically teaches that the TurIya is without parts.  For, if there were parts, It could have been grasped by the motor organ, the hand.  And parts can be grasped by the sense organs too.  Since the Upanishad denies any parts in TurIya, it becomes very clear that the Upanishadic opening declaration ‘so’yamAtmA chatuShpAt’ [This Atman/Brahman is ‘four-quartered’] is only an adhyAropa the apavAda, denial/negation of which is found in the word ‘agraahyam’ of the seventh mantra.  Surely, if the Upanishad had really meant to say that Brahman is ‘four-quartered’, it would not be saying later in the seventh mantra –

//It is unperceived, unrelated, beyond the grasp of the organs of action, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable.//  Something that is endowed with parts/quarters cannot be described as  unperceived/unrelated, etc. Thus, it is beyond dispute that the Upanishad portrays Brahman Itself as appearing as the jiva, jagat and Ishwara.

Here is another UpaniShadic testimony for the fact of Brahman alone appearing as the jiva:

त्वं स्त्री पुमानसि त्वं कुमार उत वा कुमारी ।
त्वं जीर्णो दण्डेन वञ्चसि त्वं जातो भवसि विश्वतोमुखः ॥३॥

tvam strI pumanasi tvam kumAra uta vA kumArI ।
tvam jIrNo danDena vanchasi tvam jAto bhavasi visvatomukhaH (Shvetashvataropanishad 4.3)
//Thou art woman, Thou art man; Thou art youth and maiden too. Thou as an old man totterest along on a staff; it is Thou alone who, when born, assumest diverse forms. //

The Mundakopanishat 2.2.11declares that it is Brahman alone that is appearing as the entire universe:

ब्रह्मैवेदं अमृतं पुरस्तात् ब्रह्म पश्चात् ब्रह्म दक्षिणतश्चोत्तरेण।
अधश्चोर्ध्वं च प्रसृतं ब्रह्मैवेदं विश्वमिदं वरिष्ठम् ॥

[All this that is in front is but Brahman, the Immortal. Brahman is at the back, as also on the right and the left. It is extended above and below, too. This world is nothing but Brahman, the Highest.]

That Brahman alone is appearing as Ishwara is specifically taught in the Mandukya Upanishad mantra 6:

एष सर्वेश्वर एष सर्वज्ञ एषोऽन्तर्याम्येष योनिः सर्वस्य प्रभवाप्ययौ हि भूतानाम् । ६

[This one is the Lord of all; this one is Omniscient, this one is the inner Director (of all); this one is the Source of all; this one is verily the place of origin and dissolution of all beings.]

Shankaracharya comments:  // This one when in his natural state, is surely the Lord of all, of all diversity inclusive of the heavenly world; //  Anandagiri clarifies: स्वरूपावस्थत्वम् उपाधिप्राधान्यमवधूय चैतन्यप्राधान्यम् [Being established in the self means ‘shedding the predominance of the upAdhi (adjuncts) and remaining as mere Consciousmess..’]

Thus, It is this One Consciousness that appears as the delimiting adjunct-endowed Ishwara.

We restate the objectives of this essay, set forth at the beginning, by way of a synopsis.  This gives us in a nutshell what we have studied in the foregoing:

  • The Mandukya Upanishad declares at the beginning that everything, the jiva included, is Brahman.
  • With this declaration it presents the Brahman as four-quartered.
  • The three quarters of Brahman are presented as consisting of the individual, the world and the Lord in the three modes of experiences namely the waking, dream and sleep.
  • However, in the seventh mantra, after the above delineation, all the properties of the jiva/world/Ishwara attributed to Brahman, the four-quartered, are negated and the fourth quarter of Brahman, TurIya, is presented as bereft of/free of the three quarters and their properties.
  • This method proves that according to the Upanishad everything, including the jiva and Ishwara is Brahman alone appearing in their variegated forms only in samsara, relativity and not in the absolute sense.
  • By this method the Upanishad teaches that the jiva-jagat-Ishwara triad is only a vivarta of Brahman just as a snake, garland, a slit on the ground, etc. are only mistaken perceptions of one substratum, a rope.
  • Certain other Upanishadic passages also prove that it is Brahman alone that appears as the jiva and jagat.
  • The Gita too teaches this.

श्रीसद्गुरुचरणारविन्दार्पणमस्तु


Responses

  1. किं ज्योतिस्त वदस्वाहनि रविरिह मे चन्द्रदीपादिरत्रॊ
    स्यादेवं भानुदीपादिकपरिकलने किं तव ज्योतिरस्ति ।
    चक्षुस्तन्मीलने किं भवति च सुतरां धीर्धियः किं प्रकाशे
    तत्रैवाहं ततस्त्वं तदसि परमकं ज्योतिरस्मि प्रभोऽहम्॥

    (This is in the form of a dialogue between the guru and his disciple).
    Guru–tell me what is the light for you in this world?
    Disciple–During day time it is the light of sun. At night it is the light of moon and lamps.
    Guru–What enable you to see the sun, moon, lamps, etc.?
    Disciple–it is the eye.
    Guru–When your eye is closed, what is the light for you?
    Disciple–It is the intellect, which is very bright and capable of knowing everything.
    Guru–What illumines the intellect (and gives it the capacity to know )?
    Disciple– I myself.
    Guru–Therefore you are that Self who illumines all.
    Disciple–O Guru, I myself am that supreme light (Brahman).

    • Thanks Jeevothama for the ekashloki verse. It is a new reading that I have never seen before.

      Regards,
      adbhutam

      • (This is the 95th verse of shataslokee)
        This verse is based on Br. Up. 4.3.2 to 4.3.6. It was pointed out in verse 89 that all the organs function only because of the Self. In the verse 90 it was said that the he sun ,moon ect, shine only because of presence of Brahman. In the present verse the same truths are brought out step by step. Even when the sun,moon,or lamp is present, it is only the light of the Self that illumines everything, but this is not realized. The sun, moon, eye and the intellect are able to illumine all things only because of the self. Ultimately, the only light is the Self or Brahman. The Jiva is in reality this Brahma.

  2. How Brahman appear as jagat?

    • The Taittiriya Upanishad says: ‘bahu syAm prajAyeya iti’ Brahman deliberated ‘I shall become many and therefore shall be born abundantly’ And also ‘tasmAt tat sarvam abhavat’ ‘Therefore It (Brahman) became everything.’ These are some vedic passages that show that the world is only an appearance of brahman.


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