Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 32

VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem
D. Venugopal

D. Venugopal is a student of Swami Paramarthananda and a direct disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda. He has successfully completed the long-term residential course in Vedanta and Sanskrit conducted from May 2002 to July 2005 at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Anaikatti.




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IV - Änanda with reference to the body-mind-sense-complex

The position of änanda with reference to the body-mind-complex and the objects is the same as it is for cit and sat and is set out below:

Änanda or ananta, which is ätmä, is not a part, property or product of the mind or of any object;

• Since limitless (ananta) is happiness, the body-mind-sense-complex and objects, which are limited are not its source. The source of the happiness, which is experienced by the mind, is änanda, which is ätmä;

• The manifesting medium, which is the mind, does not limit the presence of änanda to itself; it is present both in it and outside of it in the unmanifest condition;

Änanda, which is present always and everywhere, is not experienced as happiness wherever the manifesting medium, which is the mind, obstructs its manifestation; in the case of atma-jïané, he himself is änanda, since he has recognized through atma-jïäna that his true nature is ätmä. This is why the word, änanda, is attached to his name.



I - Brahman is the intelligent and the material cause

Çruti reveals the incidental nature [217] of Brahman as the cause of everything that is manifest [218].  It dramatically does so by posing the question: “What is it by knowing which everything is known?” [219]. Taittiréya Upaniñad answers it comprehensively: “Know Brahman as that from which all beings come into existence, that by which all-born beings exist and that towards which they move and into which they merge”. [220]


The question that immediately arises is as to why Brahman’s status as the cause should be called incidental. While this will become fully clear later, briefly, it is because Brahman, as the cause, does not undergo actual change to become the effect and as it has no direct relationship with the effect.


We may now look into this incidental nature of Brahman. Every cause consists of two parts. If we take the case of pot, it is made of clay. This is the material cause or upädäna käraëam. But, mere presence of clay does not produce a pot. It requires a potter to make a pot out of clay. This is the intelligent or efficient cause or nimitta käraëam. The pot is the total effect or kärya of both the material and intelligent causes.


Normally, the material cause and the intelligent cause are different. For example, in the case of the pot, the material cause is clay and the intelligent cause is the pot maker. In the present case, the Upanisadic statement “that from which everything comes into being, by whom they are sustained and unto whom they go back” does not mention any cause other than Brahman. It also quotes: “This (universe) was indeed the unmanifest (Brahman) in the beginning. From that alone the manifest (universe) was born. That (Brahman) created itself by itself. Therefore, it is said to be the self-creator.” [221] There is also another statement to the effect, “It thought, may I be many, may I grow forth” [222]. From this we understand that Brahman is both the maker and the material or abhinna-nimitta-upädäna käraëam. Muëdaka Upaniñad illustrates this dual role through the example of spider: “Just as the spider creates and withdraws (its web), just as trees originate on the earth, just as hairs on the head and body (grow) from a living person, in the same manner, the universe is born here out of Brahman. [223] Another everyday example is the mind, which provides the material for the dream out of the impressions stored in it and creates the dream out of them.


In the case of Brahman, however, the question arises as to how that which is without a second can become many, and how that which is without any limitation of qualities (nirguëa) can become limited through qualities. Also, production involves action for bringing about the necessary change on the parts of the cause and it is inconceivable as to how Brahman can produce anything when it is partless, actionless and changeless.


The explanation lies in the cause being of two different kinds. One is what we are very familiar with, namely the cause that transforms itself to produce the effect. It is called the pariëämi-upädäna-käraëam. Here, the material cause changes itself to become the effect [224] like the milk converting itself into the curd. The other type of cause becomes the effect without changing itself and without giving up any of its own nature [225]. It undergoes only apparent change to produce the effect. This is known as the vivarta-upädäna-käraëam. For example, the rope in semi-darkness appears to be a real snake without the rope changing itself in any way; the colorless crystal appears as a red crystal when the red flower is placed near it without the crystal actually changing its color. We had seen that the apparent change is brought about by the limiting adjunct or upädhi. The crystal in the upädhi of red flower appears as red. In the case of Brahman, the upädhi of mäyä is the cause of the appearance of the manifestation [226]


217.Taöastha lakñaëa, is that which is distinct from the nature of the thing and yet by which it is known. It is like the crow sitting on the roof of a house, which helps to identify that house.
218. This is called mülakäraëam.
219. Muëḍaka Upaniñad, 1.1.3. and Chändogya Upaniñad, 6.1.3.
220. Yato vä imäni bhutäni jäyante| Yena jätäni jévanti| Yatprayantyabhisaàviçanti| Tat vijiñäsasva| Tat brahmeti|Taittiréya Upaniñad, 3.1.1..
221. Asadvä idamagra asét|Tato tadätmänaggssvayamakuruta|Tasmättatsukåtamucyata iti| Yadvai tat sukåtam|Taittiréya Upaniñad, 2.7.1.
222. Tadaikñata bahu syäm prjäyeyeti.. Chändogya Upaniñad, 6.2.3.
223. Yathorëanäbhiù såjate gåhëate ca, yathä påthivyämoñadhayaù saàbhavanti| Yathä sataù puruñät keçalomäni, tatha’kñarät saàbhavatéha viçvam|| Muëdaka Upaniñad, 1.1.7.
224. Svasvarüpa parityägena rüpäntaräpattiù.
225. Svasvarüpa aparityägena rüpäntaräpattiù.
226. Mäyäà tu prakåtià vidyänmäyinaà ca maheçvaram| Tasyävayavabhütaistu vyäptaà sarvamidam jagat|| Know then that primal source is mäyä and that maheçvara (Brahman) is the lord of Mäyä. The whole world is filled with beings who form his parts. Çvetäçvatara Upaniñad, 4.10.

Go to Part 33


Page last updated: 06-Sep-2016