Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Tattvabodha - Part 17

Notes on Tattvabodha
Dr. Vishnu Bapat

Dr. Bapat (72) was the co-founder of an Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Industry and served as its Managing Director for 26 years until retirement. He is associated with several professional and spiritual bodies. He is now fully engaged in the study and practice of Vedanta.




Not available in printed form.


----- Unpublished -----

Where to Buy


Go to Part 16

3. Analysis of the totality of creation

Or macrocosm

3. जीव-जगत्-ईश्वर विचार, स्रष्टि विचार

37. Twentyfour cosmic principles


अथ चतुर्विंशतितत्वोत्पत्तिप्रकारं वक्ष्यामः ।।

अथ – now चतुर्विंशति-तत्व-उत्पत्ति-प्रकारम् – evolution of twenty-four factors. प्रकारम् - means method of origination. वक्ष्यामः – we shall explain

We shall now explain the evolution of twenty-four factors

अथ – now, indicates a change of topic.

चतुर्विंशति-तत्व-उत्पत्ति-प्रकारम् – evolution of twenty-four factors. The word तत्व normally means reality. The word also means essence or factors. Twenty four factors responsible for evolution of universe are now going to be explained. प्रकारम् - means method of origination. The author is going to discuss the method of creation or origination of cosmos. The 24-factors that constitute the world are: five great elements (पञ्महाभूत), five organs of perception (पंचज्ञानॆन्द्रियाणि), five organs of action (पंचकर्मेन्द्रियाणि), five pranas (पंच प्राणाः), and the four thought modifications (मनस्, बुद्धि, चित्त, and अहंकार). Earlier, the subtle body was explained as constituted of seventeen factors or सप्तदशाकलाभिः सह यत् तिष्ठति तत् सूक्ष्मशरीरम्. Now seven more factors are added which go into making of the universe. These are: five great elements (पञ्महाभूत), memory and ego (चित्त, and अहंकार).


38. Maya

. माया

ब्रह्माश्रया सत्वरजस्तमोगुणात्मिका माया अस्ति ।।

ब्रह्माश्रया – dependent on Brahman सत्व-रज- तमोगुणात्मिका – which is of the nature of the qualities of sattva, rajas, and tamas माया – maya अस्ति – exists

Maya which is of the nature of the three qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas exists by the support of Brahman.

ब्रह्माश्रया – That which has Brahman as support. Maya cannot exist without support of Brahman. The truth is called Brahman. That which is ‘big’ is Brahman (ब्रहत्तमत्वात् ब्रह्म). ‘Big’ is an adjective that generally qualifies a noun. The adjective is limited by the noun it qualifies. Suppose we say a big elephant, the bigness is limited by the size of the elephant. When we say Brahman is big, there is no restricting factor. The ‘bigness’ has no limit. It is infinite.


माया अस्ति – Maya exists. Maya is of the nature of ignorance. Brahman with maya is called Ishwara. In Hindu tradition Ishwara is worshipped as Shakti or divine mother. Maya is also called prakrati. It is the seed of entire creation of the individual and cosmos. It contains karana Sharira of all bodes and universe.


अनिर्वाच्य अनादि अविद्यारुपम् - inexplicable, beginingless, and in the form of ignorance. Maya shares with Brahman first two qualities. Brahman is the nature of truth and consciousness whereas Maya is the nature of avidya or ignorance. The words अविद्या and मिथ्या are synonyms of ignorance. Furniture is mithya but the wood is Satya. Wave is mithya and water is Satya. That which does not have independent existence is called Mithya. Satya has independent existence and available to us unchanged in all periods of time. Brahman is satya all other things are mithya.


Maya or ignorance has two qualities; it veils and projects. Maya is of the nature of ignorance and veils the truth. The veiling power is called आवरण शक्ति. It is the nature of ignorance. The projecting power is called विक्षेप शक्ति. This is the creative power that projects the entire world of names and forms.


From the stand point of truth there is no world. Yet we experience it. It is maya. From the stand point of the world, truth alone is its cause of creation. This is due to maya. In Darkness a rope is mistaken for a snake. The rope cannot create the snake, yet we experience the snake. As far as the rope is concerned, there, there was never a snake, and there can never be a snake on it.


सत्व-रज- तमः गुणात्मिका - Maya is of the nature of the qualities of sattva, rajas, and tamas. These qualities are of the nature of knowledge, activity and inertia. These three qualities pervade the entire creation. By their permutation and combination, an infinite variety of names and forms are created. While Brahman and Maya or Prakrati are both beginingless they have some differences too:






Non-material consciousness

Material principle


Nirguna or without attributes or property

Saguna, being matter has all its properties


Beyond time and space

Within the ambit of time and space


Nirvikalpa. Consciousness is one and universal. Not subject to division

Savikalpa. Subject to division or modifications.



Dependent on Brahman



39. Five fundamental Elements

पञ्चभूत अभिव्यक्तिः

ततः आकाश: सम्भूतः । आकाशाद्वायुः । वायोस्तेजः ।

तेजस् आपः । अद्भ्यः प्रथिवी ।।

ततः – from that आकाश: - space सम्भूतः – was born आकाशात् – from the space वायुः – air was born वायोः – from air तेजः – fire was born तेजसः – from the fire आपः – water was born अद्भ्यः – from water प्रथिवी – the earth came forth.

From that (Maya) springs space; from space comes air, from air comes fire; from fire emerges water; and from water comes forth the earth.

Out of 24 elements of evolution, five fundamental elements are discussed in this paragraph. These are technically called Tanmatras (तन्मात्र). The five elements of space, air, fire and water, that we can perceive are gross elements. The tanmatras mentioned here are the precursors of the five gross elements technically called Apanchikrata or non-grossified elements.


In this chapter, the author discusses the subject of creation (स्रष्टि). It has been debated extensively whether the cosmos can indeed be created. Our scriptures point out that nothing can be created or destroyed in the universe. Only its form can be changed. This principle confirms to the modern law of conservation of matter. Then how the universe comes about? To explain this, Swami Paramarthananda says that we must know three basic principles of vedantic cosmology:


Contact Dr. Bapat at if you have any comments or questions.

Existing comments may be seen here.

Go to Part 18


Page last updated: 02-Sep-2016