As mentioned earlier, we have three tattvas or reals. We will next take up Achetana and then finally Iswara. Achetana means non-sentient. It means that it does not possess any knowledge. So, theAchetana is not capable of thinking, since it has no knowledge(pramana).
2. What are the categories under this Achit or Achetana?
There are three categories, which are called: 1. Matter (prakriti) 2. Time(kala) 3. SuddhaSattva
3. Please explain each category.
Matter is the most fundamental element. It is called by different names like prakriti, mula prakriti, akshara, pradhana, avyakta, triguna and primordial matter.
4. How is it involved in the process of creation of the world?
At the time of pralaya, matter (prakriti) is in a subtle, undifferentiated state. It is then called Avibhakta. We plant a seed. In course of time, the seed grows, sprouts into a small plant and then into a big tree. Similarly, the undifferentiated Matter is like the seed. It slowly develops and in the next stage, it is called Vibhakta.
5. How do you describe this matter?
Matter is made up of three qualities or attributes (gunas). This matter is frequently undergoing changes or alterations.
6. What are the three qualities in matter?
The three qualities are: 1) Sattva 2) Rajas and 3) Tamas.
7. What is the meaning of these?
1) Sattva is the quality of matter that leads to harmony and happiness.
2) Rajas is the quality of matter that produces restless activity.
3) Tamas is the quality of matter that results in laziness and inertia.
8. Please explain what are the further transformations of matter
Initially matter is subtle in dormant state. It evolves into the next stage and the tattva called mahat comes out. From mahat we get the tattva ahankara. Both the mahat and ahankara are of three kinds.
9. What are the three kinds?
They are: sattvika, rajasa and tamasa, based on the qualities. Sattvika ahankara is called vaikarika; Rajasa ahankara is called taijasa; and Tamasa ahankara is called bhutadi.
10. How are the senses (indriyas) developed?
From the sattvika ahankara we get all the senses. These are five senses or indriyas of knowledge (jnana indriyas) and five senses of action or karma (karma indriyas) which were described earlier.
11. What is mind?
Mind is the inner sense organ. It is the seat of memory and knowledge. Mind functions in three ways, as 1) Ahankara 2) Chitta and 3) Buddhi.
1.Mind is called ahankara, when we falsely think that body and soul are the same.
2. Mind is called chitta, when we desire something. 3. It is called buddi, when it discriminates between good and bad, merit (punya) and sin (papa), true and false. Note: This ahankara is different from the ahankara which evolves out of mahat and which we have described earlier.
12. Explain briefly the process of creation?
I had mentioned the three types of ahankara – viz., sattvika ahankara, rajasa ahankara and tamasa ahankara. Now, from the Tamasa Ahankara is bom the subtle element (tanmatra) of sound (sabda).
13. What do you mean by the subtle element?
The subtle element (tanmatra) is something in between two gross elements (bhuta). Supposing milk is being turned into curd, the intermediate stage of formation of curd, i.e., the stage between milk and curd is called the subtle stage. So from tamasa ahankara is created the subtle element of sound. (sabda)
14. What is produced from the subtle element of sound?
Ether (akasa) is produced from the subtle element of sound. Ether is called the gross element (bhuta). From ether is produced the subtle element of touch (sparsa). From the subtle element of touch is produced the gross element of air (vayu). From the gross element of air is produced the subtle element of sight (rupa). From the subtle element of sight is produced the gross element of light (tejas).
From the gross element of light is produced the subtle element of taste (rasa). From the subtle element of taste is produced the gross element of water.
From the gross element of water is produced the subtle element of smell (gandha). Finally from the subtle element of smell is produced the gross element of earth (prithivi).
Thus, each of the subtle elements (tanmatra) is an intermediate stage of creation, between two gross elements (bhuta).
The process of creation is, therefore, like this: prakriti or matter, mahat, ahankara, sound, ether, touch, air, sight, light, taste, water, smell, earth. Thus, in the process of creation, we have 24 items, i.e., starting from the empirical or fundamental matter, we have No. 2 mahat, No. 3 ahankara and No. 4 to 8 the 5 subtle elements mentioned above: and No. 9 to 13, the 5 gross elements (pancha bhutas) mentioned above; No. 14 is the mind (manas); No. 15 to 19 the 5 senses of knowledge; No. 20 to 24 are the 5 senses of action or karma. Thus we have a total of 24 elements.
15. What is the 25th item?
Having exhausted all the items of Prakriti as 24, as described above, we call the Jivatma the 25th item. All these 25 elements are also called as reals or tattvas. So, the Jivatma is the 25th tattva.
16. What about ether? Is it also eternal, permanent, like the soul, or is ether produced?
Yes, ether is created by Brahman. It is not eternal.
17. What about the other four elements, air, fire, water and earth?
These elements are also created by Brahman. They are not eternal.
18. Is air created by ether; is fire created by air and so on; each by the preceding element? Or are all these five elements directly created by Brahman?
Each is created by Brahman from the preceding element, which is His body. So, air is not created by ether, but air is created by Brahman, whose body is ether; and so on.
19. Are the five senses of knowledge and five senses of action, eternal or are these created ones?.
The five senses of knowledge and the five senses of action are all created by Brahman, just like the five elements of ether, air, and so on. The 11th sense, i.e., the mind or manas is also created.
20. What is the size of these 11 senses (indriyas)?
These 11 senses are also atomic in size. These senses also depart from the body, when a person dies. Hence they have to be necessarily atomic; since we cannot see these 11 senses, leaving the body, at the time of death.
21. What about the principal vital air (prana)? Is this also created or eternal?
The principal vital air is also created like the senses.
22. You mentioned about the principal vital air. Is it the same as ordinary air or is it different?
It is different from the ordinary air. It has five functions. We give them five different names, depending upon their functions.
23. What are these names?
1) Prana 2) Vyana 3) Apana 4) Samana and 5) Udana.
24. What is the function of each of these types of air?
1) Prana is the most important. It has the principal vital activity, so long as the person lives.
2) Vyana helps in the circulation of air in the body. It has the circulatory activity.
3) Apana helps in excretion of unwanted air from the body.
4) Samana helps in digesting things, eaten by the person. 5) Udana helps in respiration, in the breathing activity of the person.
25. Is the principal vital air also atomic in size?
26. Please explain further, the process of creation.
What is called quintuplication of five-fold division takes place in the process of creation. I have to talk a bit of mathematics. We saw that there are five gross elements that are ether, air, light, water and earth. Now, the process of creation is like this. Each gross element is taken and divided into two halves. One half of this element is again split up into four equal parts and added to the remaining four gross elements. For example, let us take the gross element of ether. This is divided into two halves. One half of it is further divided into four equal portions, namely, 1/8th each and so 1/8th ether is added toeach of the remaining four elements, namely, air, light, water and earth. In the same way, the remaining four gross elements are also divided into halves and each half is again divided into four portions and added to the other gross elements.
27. What is the net result?
Let us take the gross element of ether. After all these transformations or quintuplication, the ele-ment ether will actually consist of the following: Half of ether, l/8th portion of air, l/8th portion of light, l/8th portion of water and l/8th portion of earth. So half plus 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8, will add to one. So after this mixing up, finally we shall have ether consisting of half of ether and l/8th of the remaining four gross elements. So, this method of mixture is called quin-tuplication or five-fold division (panchikarana).
28. Then how are we justified in calling them by their names as ether etc., when each of these is indivi-dually composed of all the five gross elements? –
From the mathematics explained above you will observe that in the composition of each element, the dominant element is 50%. The other elements are only l/8th each making up the other half. Since one element is predominant, the element is named after it.
29. We have heard of trifold division or tripartition (trivrit karana). What is it? How is it different from quintuplication?
The same process which has been explained above is talked of in regard to three gross elements, namely, light, water and earth, instead of all the five gross elements. The principle of mixing up of these three elements is also the same as I have explained earlier in regard to all the five elements. When only three elements as above are involved it is called tripartition. The principle in both the cases is the same. Actually, quintuplication is only an extension of the principle of tripartition.
30. Is there any further extension ot this principle?
Yes. In fact, in Vishnupurana, along with the 5 gross elements as above, the two earlier tattvas of mahat and ahankara are also added. These make up a total of seven. Then the Vishnupurana describes the principle of seven-fold division (saptikarana). So, it is only a further extension of the principle of mixing up of the elements.
31. Then how is the world created?
I have explained to you the quintuplication of the five gross elements. After the five-fold division, as above, of the gross elements, they join up and then the world is created.
32. How many types of creation are there?
There are two types of creation: aggregate creation (samashti srishti) and individual creation (vyashti srishti).
33. What is aggregate creation?
The creation of mahat out of the elementary or fundamental matter; the creation of ahankara and the ten indriyas of knowledge and karma; the creation of the. gross elements and the five subtle elements – all these are called aggregate creation.
34. What is individual creation?
Out of the above process or after the above process, the world is created. The further creation of human beings, devas, animals, trees and plants is called individual creation. I think this much of understanding about matter (prakriti) is enough for the present.
35. How is time sub-divided?
As is common knowledge, time is divided into three portions. These are: 1) past, 2) present 3) future.
36. What are the further sub-divisions?
The further sub-divisions are again as is commonly known, day, month, year, hours, minutes and seconds. This much is enough for the principle of time.
37. What is suddha sattva?
Suddha sattva, as the name indicates, is pure sattva, without any mixture or trace of the other two qualities, namely, rajas and tamas.
38. Where is Suddha Sattva?
Sri Vaikunta or Paramapada is fully suddha, sattva. In this world also, the archa forms of Sriman Narayana and Lakshmi in the temples are suddha sattva.
To be continued…
Source: A Dialog on Hinduism By Sri V.N. Gopala Desikan