Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 34

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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III - Doubts that arise about Brahman being the cause

The first doubt that arises about Brahman being the cause is because of the dissimilarity between Brahman, which is the cause, and the material world, which is its product. Brahman is consciousness while the world is insentient. The cause and effect should have same nature like the clay and the pot. The answer lies in the nature of the cause. Clay is the pariëämi-upädäna käraëam of pot and changes itself to become the effect; so, the pot has the characteristics of clay. However, in the case of Brahman, it is the vivarta-upädäna-käraëam. Therefore, the change into jagat is not actual but is only apparent (vivarta). So, the effect is not exactly the same as the cause. What is identical between Brahman and the manifestation is the basis of existence (sattä). Even appearances should have a basis that lends existence to it; for example, the basis of the appearance of the snake is the rope. Without the rope, the snake cannot appear. In the case of the entire manifestation, its basis for existence or adhiñöhänam is Brahman. As for the correspondence between the pariëämi-upädäna käraëam and its effect, the components of mäyä, which are sattva, rajas and tamas are present in every manifestation; only, their relative proportions in each vary.


Another objection is that no material would be available for Brahman to create, as nothing exists apart from Brahman. The explanation is that what appears as manifestation is owing to mäyä, which conceals the knowledge of Brahman and projects different forms as manifestation. Brahman provides the adhiñöhänam for mäyä to do so.


Mäyä is in the causal, undifferentiated, potential state and what appears as the jagat is the manifestation of what is already available in the undifferentiated, potential condition in the differentiated subtle and gross forms [239]. What is existent alone comes into being. As what exists potentially is manifested, nothing is produced anew. It means that there is neither any creation or nor any creator. Nothing is also destroyed as what is manifest is only resolved back into its potential state. There is thus only the potential state manifesting and then resolving back into the potential state. Manifestation and resolution keep taking place cyclically exactly like our state of sleep in the night and state of activity during the day. And in all states of manifestation, the adhiñöhänam or supporting basis for existence is Brahman.

IV - The purpose of the manifestation

The entire manifestation is meant for the jéva to experience the fruits of his past actions (karma) as determined by the law of karma. Setting the karmas of all jévas into an interconnected whole at all points of time is an infinitely complex matter requiring the omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Éçvara to bring this about. Éçvara is called in this context the karmaphaladätä or the bestower of the fruit of karma. Since omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence are qualities, Éçvara is sometimes called saguëa Brahman or Brahman with qualities while Brahman is, in this context, called nirguëa Brahman or Brahman without qualities. Despite these terminologies, we must remember that one and the same entity cannot be both with qualities and without qualities and that the Upaniñads categorically deny all forms and characteristics in Brahman through the teaching “Not this”, “Not this” [240] and specific negations [241].  The characteristics that Brahman appears to have is because of the upädhi of mäyä and the upädhi does not change Brahman in anyway like the red flower not changing the colorless crystal in any way. [242]


238.Non-apprehension is agrahaëa; misapprehension is viparéta-grahaëa; and doubt is saàçaya.
239.While the undifferentiated form is called avyäkta or avyäkåta, the differentiated form is called vyakta.
240. Neti, neti.. Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad, 2.3.6.
241. “It is neither gross nor minute, neither short nor long, neither red color nor oiliness, neither shadow nor darkness, neither air nor ether, unattached, neither savour nor odour, without eyes or ears, without the vocal organ or mind, non-lustrous (like that of fire), without the vital force or mouth, not a measure and without interior or exterior” (Translation of extract from Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad, 3.8.8.)
242.Brahman with upädhi is called sopädhika Brahman while Brahman without upädhi is called nirupädhika Brahman. 

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Page last updated: 31-Oct-2016