Jivatmas are infinite in number. The fact that they are countless, has been made clear in the Vedas,as Well as in the Bhagavad Gita.
2. Then, is there any difference between one Jivatma and another, and if so, what is the difference?
There is absolutely no difference between one Jivatma and another. The difference that we see is only in the bodies, like that of a man, a woman or animal, or bird. Thus the souls or Jivatmas are all identical in nature, and they are atomic in size.
3. Does that mean that Jivatmas and matter are not created by Brahman?
Jivatmas and Matter are not created by Brahman. They are self-existent. They are eternal. What iscreated is the world. From Matter, Brahman creates the subtle elements, the gross elements and then the world
4. I have heard that Brahman exists in three forms. What are they?
1) Brahman exists as the soul of the Jivatma Of soul (Chetana).
2) Brahman exists as the soul of non-sentient beings, i.e., achetana.
3) Brahman exists also in His essential nature, as the abode of all auspicious qualities and free from all evil. He has a beautiful form, with four hands, sankha, chakra, and so on.
These are three forms of Brahman. These are useful for meditation.
5. How do you say that the Lord is infinitely merciful, when human beings undergo so much suffering, in this world?
He is loving; thousand times more loving than the mother.
The Lord gives Jivatma, the power of intelligence, and the capacity to take action. The Lord has also taught the Vedas to Brahma and through him, to others. Apart from the Vedas, we have smritis, puranas, Itihasas, and agamas.
All these prescribe the code of conduct; how we should perform rituals; what we should do in day- to-day life, and so on. Only out of mercy of the Lord these benefits have been conferred on us. The Jivatma must pursue them.
6. Does the soul have power to act and How?
Yes, the soul (Jivatma) is also the doer of actions.
7. How do you say this?
The Vedas give instructions to do good things like yagas; not to do anything wrong, i.e., not to tell lies and so on. So, since these Vedic instructions have to be followed, the soul has to be the doer of things. He is to be capable of performing a yaga, of performing good acts, as enjoined in the Vedas. So, the soul is also the doer of actions.
Also, as you know, a person does something, he also enjoys the fruit of his action. Hence, this is another reason to show that the soul is capable of action. He is the performer.
8. Does this mean that the soul has full powers to do what he wants? Is he completely independent of Brahman?
No. Although the soul is the doer, his action is dependent on Brahman.
9. This is not clear to me.
Brahman only gives the soul, the power of doership. The Vedas state clearly that the Brahman controls the soul; and guided by the Brahman, the soul does actions. So, although the soul has the power to act, it is controlled by Brahman.
10. You say that the Jivatma’s action is controlled by Brahman. If that is so, how can the Jivatma perform activities as stated in the Vedas? How can he do yagas and other such acts if his action is controlled by Brahman?
Here one has to understand carefully, What is meant is this. The Brahman or the Lord is the common cause of all actions. The souls or the Jivatmas are particular causes for the action.
For example, for the plant to grow, we require the land, water and the seed of the particular plant. Now, the land and water are common for all types of plants. Only the seed has to be the particular seed of the particular plant.
So, just like the land and water, which are common for all plants, the Lord is common for all actions of the souls or the Jivatmas. The Jivatma himself is the particular cause for the action, like the particular seed for the plant.
So, the soul has also got the independence to take a particular course of action. Hence, although the Jivatma’s action is controlled by Brahman, he has also got the independence to do a particular course of action.
11. Can this be explained with an analogy?
You’re right. We have got safe deposit lockers in Banks. A particular locker is owned by a customer. He cannot open the locker by himself, with his own key. As you are aware, each locker has got two keys. One key is kept by the bank and the other key by the customer. So, only when both the keys are operated, the locker can be opened. But still, the one who has hired the locker, is the owner of the contents of the locker.
In the same way, all actions of the Jivatmas are controlled by Brahman, just like the Master key for all lockers is kept by the Bank. The particular Jivatma has also got the independence to do a particular course of action. This is like the customer having his key for operating the locker.
The example is like this:
1. Brahman – Master key, kept by Bank, for opening lockers.
2. Jivatma – Individual key of locker, kept by customer.
3. Doership of action – Opening the locker, with both keys.
To sum up again, the Lord or Brahman is the common cause for all actions. The individual soul or Jivatma has still got the independence or liberty to take a particular course of action.
12. How does the Jivatma perform the various types of action?
There are several stages in an action.
1) First, we have to think about doing something.
2) Then the mind (manas) gives command to the concerned limbs of the body, for the necessary action.
3) Then the action is actually done. The Jivatma is given the necessary-knowledge and it is for him to make good use of the same.
13. What is the role of the Lord in the actions of the Jivatma?
This is explained in two alternative ways:
We can say that the Lord has three distinct roles, in the actions of the Jivatma:
1. Be indifferent or neutral.
2. Permit the Jivatma to, continue to do the action.
3. Positively inspire the Jivatma to do extremely good or extremely bad things.
14. Please explain this further.
When the Jivatma performs any action, Brahman has three ways of controlling it.
1. The first way is to remain neutral or indifferent. God remains neutral or indifferent, for the first stage of action,undertaken by the Jivatma.
2. The second way is for the God to consent or assent to the course of action, undertaken by the Jivatma.
3. The third way is for the God to induce Jivatma in the particular course of action.
In regard to the initial effort of the Jivatma for an action, Brahman remains neutral or indifferent.
In regard to the subsequent efforts of the Jivatma, God gives his consent or assent. This consent of the Lord is both for the good action and the bad action of the Jivatma. .
15. When does the third form of inspiring the Jivatma to do a particular course of action arise?
This arises when the person undertakes an action, which is exceedingly good or exceedingly bad. When the person proceeds to do something, which is exceedingly good; which is exceedingly favourable, in accordance with the Vedas and Puranas; then the Lord is pleased with his act. The Lord Himself induces him further to do the exceedingly good things.
Similarly, when a person begins to do something exceedingly bad, which is contrary to Vedic injunctions; then the Lord gets annoyed and He induces him further to do the exceedingly bad things and thereby leading to hell.
16. What is the authority for this last type, i.e. when a person does extremely good or bad things?
The authority is available both in the Upanishads and in the Bhagavad Gita. In the Gita, Krishna says:
“To those people, who worship me with loving devotion, I give the mental power to realise me, so that they can attain me.
Those people, who, because of their cruel nature, show hatred towards me; I put them into repeated cycles of births and deaths and that also in wicked forms of life.”
17. What is the another interpretation of this principle?
The other interpretation is that the Lord is not indifferent, even in the initial stage or the first stage. In this interpretation, there are only two types of roles He plays (instead of three types of roles, mentioned earlier).
1) The first one is that the Lord permits or allows the Jivatma to do a course of action.
2) The second one is that the Lord induces or inspires further, when a person does extremely good deed or extremely bad deed.
In other words, in the three forms in the first interpretation mentioned earlier, the first form of indifference or being neutral is not here. In this second interpretation, only the 2nd and 3rd types are there, namely, 1) allowing the Jivatma to do a course of action and 2) inspiring him to do an extremely good or bad deed.
18. It follows that in this method of interpretation, even in the initial stage, the Lord permits the Jivatma to do a thing?
Yes, one can take the example of growth of a plant. Just as soil and water are common for all plants, the Lord is the common cause for all actions. This means that even from the first or initial stage, the Lord permits Jivatma to do what he wants.
However, there is only a very minor difference between the two interpretations. The difference is more academic in nature.
19. Why is this supreme deity called Brahman?
Brihat in Sanskrit means greatness. So, Brahman is one, who is great in an respects.
20. How is Brahman defined actually?
Brahman is defined as One from whom the creation of the world etc. takes place.
21. What is the basis for this definition?
The Vedas declare that from Brahman all these beings are created. Because of Brahman, all the beings, which are created, exist in the world. The beings are also destroyed by Brahman.
On the basis of this Vedic text in Taittiriya Upanishad, the above definition of Brahman is given in the Brahma Sutra.
22. What is the source of knowledge about Brahman?.
The Sastras are the only source of knowledge about Brahman.
23. I do not understand why logic should not be used to discuss about Brahman.
The idea is this. Logic will be useful, when we discuss about known things, so that, with authority. we can make use of our logic and argument. But logic cannot be of use, in discussing about unknown things, unseen things like Brahman. Here we have to accept the authority of the Vedas.
24. Does this mean that logic cannot be used at all for studying or understanding Brahman?
No, it is not that. The primary authority is the Vedas and these can be supplemented by logic, without deviating from the authority of the Vedas.
The main purpose or perhaps the sole purpose of the Vedas and Upanishads is to teach about Brahman. Hence, they are the only source for us to understand the Brahman.
25. Why not we say that matter itself evolves into the world?
Matter cannot by itself evolve into the world. Matter (achetana) is not an intelligent being.
We have mud. The mud, by itself, cannot evolve into a mud pot. It requires the potter to mould the mud and to make a pot, out of the mud. So, here also, the matter by itself cannot evolve into the world.
It requires an intelligent being to create the world from matter, and that intelligent being is Brahman.
There are many arguments to show that matter cannot evolve into the world,of its own accord. But what I have mentioned above is the main reason.
For the mud pot, we have the mud as material cause and the potter as the instrumental cause. But, for the world. God is both the material cause and the instrumental cause.
26. If matter by itself cannot evolve into the world and requires an intelligent being; can the Jivatma evolve from world, out of matter?
I agree that Jivatma is an intelligent being, but his powers are limited. He is imperfect and he is himself revolving in this samsara, in this world. So, obviously, he does not have the power or capacity to create the world, out of matter.
27. How many ways of meditation or worship of Brahman are there?
There are three kinds of meditation of Brahman:
1) The first one is, worship of Brahman in His own essential nature, namely, as Himself.
2) The second way is worshipping Brahman, having the Jivatmas as His body; that is, worshipping Brahman, as the soul or atma of the Jivatma.
3) The third way is worshipping Brahman, as having achetana as His body; i.e., worshipping Brahman, as the soul or atma of achetana.
28. How do you explain Indra, Sage Vamadeva, Prahlada and others saying that “I am the Brahman”?
It only means that Indra, Vamadeva or Prahlada are referring to themselves as the body of Brahman; that is, indicating the truth that Brahman is their soul. Only if we interpret this way, there will be no contradiction.
29. What is meant by the pralaya?
There are actually three types of pralaya:
1) The first one is the continuing pralaya. We have every day, people dying, trees and plants withering, the animals dying. This is alled daily pralaya or continuing pralaya.
2) As you know, the lifetime, the day and night, etc. of the Devas are different from that of human beings. One day for Brahma is called a Kalpa. At the end of the Kalpa, namely, at the end of the day of Brahma, we have second type of pralaya.
We learn from our puranas that there are evenn worlds, starting from our world here. This world of our is called 1) Bhu loka. After bhuloka, we have above us 2) Bhuvar loka, 3) Suvar loka, 4) Mahar loka, 5) Janaloka, 6) Tapaloka and finally 7) Satya loka.
During this second type of pralaya, the first three worlds, namely, Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka and Suvarloka, get destroyed.
The 4th world, which is Maharloka, is partly destroyed and partly not destroyed. The people there shift to the next higher world, which is Janoloka. The last three worlds namely, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka are not destroyed during this pralaya.
During this second type of pralaya, after destroying the first three worlds mentioned above, the Lord takes the form of a young child, Balakrishna, and lies on the leaf of a peepul tree.
3) Next we have the third type of pralaya. This happens at the end of the life of Brahma. At that time, all beings, chetanas, achetanas, all rest in the Lord in a very subtle (sukshma) form. The Lord alone remains, with Jivatmas and matter, lying in Him, in subtle form, undifferentiated.
These are the three types of pralayas.
30. You said that the Brahman has matter and Jivatmas as His body and the Brahman resides in them. All the imperfections, and impurities, which are in the human beings or in this world: Will they not taint the Brahman?
No. Although He is in all these, these do not taint him. We have water on lotus leaf. The water is on the leaf, but still doesn’t get tainted by the impurities on the lotus leaf. Similarly, the Lord doesn’t get tainted by His association with the chetanas and achetanas.
31. I have a doubt. The Jivatma is the soul in our body. The Jivatma experiences the pains and pleasures, because it is associated with this body. In the same way, if Brahman is also associated with Jivatmas and matter as body, would not the Brahman also suffer the pains and pleasures, just as the Jivatma does?
No, because of the inherent difference between the Jivatma and the Paramatma. What applies to Jivatma need not necessarily apply to Brahman also.
In the Vedas, Brahman is described as having two characteristics. The first one is that He is free from all defects and impurities. The second characteristic is that He possesses all auspicious qualities.
In view of this categorical statement in the Vedas, we have to understand that Brahman does not get tainted by His association with the chetanas and achetanas.
32. You’re saying that He (the Lord) is residing within the small heart of human beings. How can the Lord, who is present everywhere,also reside within the small heart?
It is for the purpose of worshiping, that the Lord is identified as being within small heart. He is also big – bigger than everything else; and He is also small – smaller than everything else. That is His attribute.
33. You say that He resides within the hearts of the human beings. When we experience pain or pleasure does the Lord inside our heart also experience them?
No, as I have already stated, the impurities and imperfections do not taint the Lord. Similarly, He is beyond all pains and pleasures, which we experience.
34. Do the Vedas say so?
Yes. The Mundaka Upanishad very clearly mentions as follows:
“There are two birds, of beautiful feathers, residing in the same tree. The birds are friends and closely attached to each other. One bird eats the fruit of the tree. The other bird shines, without eating.”
Here, the tree is the body. The two birds are the Jivatma and Paramatma. The Jivatma eats the fruit of his karma. This means, the Jivatma undergoes the pains and pleasures, due to his past karma. Paramatma, although in the same body, shines without eating, i.e. He is not tainted by the pains and pleasure of the Jivatma.
This shows clearly that Paramatma, although residing in the body, is not tainted by impurities and past karma, of Jivatma.
The same passage occurs again in Svetasvatara Upanishad.
35. You mentioned that the sankhya system of philosophy was propounded by Sage Kapila. Why is this system not acceptable to Vishistadvaitins, though this has been propounded by a venerable sage, Kapila?
This system does not accept that the Brahman is the material cause of the world. This system stats that the elementary matter is the material cause for the world and not Brahman. I have mentioned that the Upanishads state clearly that Brahman is the material cause and also the instrumental cause. The sankya system talks against this and says that only matter is the maerial cause, out of which world evolves. So this is contrary to the teachings of Upanishads and other sages like Manu. Hence it is not acceptable to us.
We have timber or wood. We require a carpenter to make furniture, out of timber. We require a potter to make a pot out of mud. Similarly, we also require an intelligent being to create this world, out of matter. This is possible only by the most intelligent being the Brahman. Since this is not accepted by Sankhya, the system is faulty.
36. You said that the yoga system of philosophy has been propounded by Brahma himself. If so, why cannot this be accepted?
In the yoga system of philosophy, propunded by Brahma, he accepts the existance of Brahman. He also accepts that Brahman is the instumental cause. Howevere, the yoga system also stats, like the sankya system, that matter is material cause for this world; and that the world evolves out of matter. Hence this system is also not acceptable.
37. Why is Buddhism rejected by us?
The Buddhist philosophy says that the atom joins together and evolve into this world. In other words, the world and other materials are all caused by atoms joining together. They also say that the body and the senses are in turn produced by earth and other elements.
These are directly against the Upanishadic teachings that Brahman is the material cause of the world; and Brahman is also the instrumental cause. Hence we do not accept Buddhism.
Further, Buddhists say that everything is momentary, i.e., everything exists only for a moment and then it gets destroyed. So, this also is not acceptable.
38. I heared that there are different schools of Buddhism. What are they?
Yes, there are four schools of Buddhism, holding different views. The four schools of Buddhism are:
Vaibhashika, Sautrantika, Yogachara and Madhyamika.
We need not go into the different principles held by these schools, in our present elementary treatise.
39. What about Jainism?
We do not accept Jainism also. Jainism states that it is possible for an object, to be both existent and non-existent, at the same time. This is something contrary to fact.
Further, Jainism states that, for every animal or human being, the soul is of the same size as the body. If this is so, how can the soul enter into a body like that of an ant or mosquito, when earlier the soul was in an elephant? This is a major defect in Jainism.
If we accept that the soul is of the same size as the body, then the soul also will have to go on changing depending upon the size of the body it takes, in different births. Obviously, this is not possible, since the soul is defined in the Vedas as not subject to change”. Hence, this system is not acceptable.
40. What about the other systems of philosophy, like Vaiseshika system founded by Kanada; and Nyaya system founded by Akshapada?
Thse system also argue that Brahman is is not the material cause of the world.
So, in the same way as the argument advanced against the Sankhya system of philosophy, these systems are also not acceptable. Because they teach contrary to the Upanishads. The Upanishads declare that only Brahman is the material cause of the world.
41. What about the Pasupata religion?
It is also not acceptable. It states that only Lord Pasupati or Siva is the instrumental cause of the world. It does not accept Brahman as the material cause also. Since this is opposed to Vedic texts, this philosophic system is not acceptable. Further, as mentioned earlier, the Vedas declare everywhere that Narayana is the supreme Brahman, Narayana is the supreme truth, Narayana is the supreme atma (paramatma). So, the philosophy of Pasupata that Siva is the ultimate God, cannot be accepted, as this is contrary to Vedas.
42. What are Sankara’s views in this regard?
Sankara also, in his commentary, agrees that the system of Pasupata is not acceptable.
There are other reasons also, as to why this system is not acceptable. We may pass over these, being high philosophy, in thie elementary treatise.
43. You mentioned that Adi Sankara propounded the Advaita philosophy. He has mentioned about: 1) Para Brahman, which is nirguna and without form, which is real; 2) Apara Brahman, who is saguna (with auspicious qualities) and beautiful form. This is Vyavaharika. Which deity does Adi Sankara consider as Saguna Brahman?
There are innumerable passages in Sankara’s works, which show that he considers Narayana, as saguna Brahman. I will give you few quotations from his works:
(1) His commentary on Gita (10-8) – Krishna’s words – “I, Vasudeva, am Para Brahman. All the worlds come out of me. Existence, destruction, etc. of the world also evolve from me.”
(2) Commentary on Gita (9-22) – “Those who worship the supreme deity, Narayana, are the people, who know the truth”.
(3) Commentary on Gita (7-23) – “The Lord expresses pity that although the efforts are the same, people do not worship Narayana for eternal results (but worship other deities). This is very regrettable.”
(4) Commentary on Brahma Sutra (2-2-42) – “What is mentioned here, that Narayana is the Paramatma and that He is the soul of all, is accepted.”
(5) Introduction to commentary on Gita: “Bhagavan Narayana created this world, and for its sustenance, created Marichi, etc. The supreme deity, Narayana or Vishnu, took Avatara as Krishna.”
(6) Commentary on Gita (9-11) Krishna’s words: “Fools disregard me….without understanding that I am the Supreme Brahman, Paramatma.” (In this sloka, the word “Maheswara” occurs. Sankara has interpreted the word “Maheswara” as Narayana).
(7) Commentary on Gita (4-6) – Krishna’s words: “I am not born, because of karma. I am the Lord of all beings – capable of governing all beings, from Brahma to a blade of grass”.
(8 ) Commentary on Gita (9-22) – Krishna’s words: “Those persons, who understand that I, Narayana, am the supreme deity and I am their soul, worship Me.”
(9) Commentary on Gita (7-15) – Krishna’s words: “Fools do not take refuge in Me, although I am the supreme deity, Narayana.”
(10) Commentary on Gita (9-25) – Krishna^ words: “Those who worship Me, the Vaishnavas, attain me.”
(11) Commentary on Gita (7-7) – Krishna’s words: “There is no other cause, other than Myself, the supreme Lord, Parameswara.”
(12) Commentary on Gita (10-2) – Krishna^s words: “I am the source of all the devas and the great rishis”,
(13) Commentary on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad – (3-7-3) “Iswara, who is Narayana, is the Atma of you, myself and all beings.” Here the Upanishad has not mentioned the name, Narayana. But Sankara specifically clarifies that Iswara, who is the soul of all beings, is Narayana only and not any other deity.
(14) Chandogya Upanishad: “Brahman alone was existent. Then, Indra, Varuna, etc., were created”. Here, Sankara’s commentary: Rudra, the Lord of Pasus, i.e., Pasupati (was also created).
(15) Commentary on Gita (6-47) – Krishna’s words: “one who worships Me is more steadfast than those who worship Siva, etc.”
(16) Commentary on Gita (8-16) – Krishna’s words: “All the worlds, including that of Brahma, are perishable. So, only those people, who attain me, get salvation and are not born again.”
(17) Mundaka Upanishad (2-4): Upanishad says “Brahman is the inner soul of all beings” . Sankara’s commentary onn this: The Deva, Vishnu is the first to have a body. He has all the three worlds as His body. He is the inner soul of all beings
18 ) Commentary on Mandukya Upanishad – first karika ” Iswara whose name is Narayana”
19) Commentary on Gita (3-30) – Krishnas words ” I am the supreme Iswara. I know everything and all things . I, vasudeva, am the atma of all.
20) Commentary on Gita(13-18) – Krishna’s words:”I Vasudeva,am the supreme Iswara,I know all things.I am the supreme teacher.”
21) Commentary on Gita(11-43) – Arjunas words to Krishna ” There is nobody equal to you. There cannot be even two Iswaras. So, there is no question of many Iswaras. There is nobody equal to you. So how can there be anybody, who is greater than you? ”
22)Commentary on Gita(17-7) ” Nobody else is seen (other than Krishna), who is fit to be worshipped”.
23) Commentary onGita(13-10): “there is nobody else,who is greater than Vasudeva.So,He is the only refuge.So ,devotion is only to Him and not to anybody else”.
24) Commentary on Katopanishad (3-9) : ” Paramapada is the exalted place of Brahman, Paramatma whose name is Vasudeva”
25) Commentary on Vishnusahasranama – meaning of Kesava. Here Sankara refers to Siva’s words in Harivamsa; ” Brahma is named as Ka and I am Isa. Both of us were born from your limbs and so you are named Kesava”. This shows that Rudra was born from the limbs of Narayana.
26) Commentary on Vishnusahasranama – meaning of Arka: ” one who is fit to be worshipped, starting from Brahma and by all”.
27) Commentary on Vishnusahasranama – meaning of word “Amitasana” . At the time of destruction, Narayana eats the whole world”. So this includes all the deities and devas.
28 ) Desika wrote as follows in his Commentary: ” Tatparya Chandrika” on Ramanuja’s commentary on Gita:-
” It has been accepted as follows: ” I do not know any tattva greater than Krishna”.
29) Madhusudana Sarasvati,who has written commentary on Sankara’s commentary on Gita,states as follows:
“I do not know any tattva greater than Krishna”.
30) Narayana Bhattar , who has written the famous “Narayaneeyam” on Guruvayurappan, has written as follows :
” Adi Sankara worships you (Krishna) only. He is impartial. Hence , he has written commentary on Vishnusahasranama. He was only worshipping you (Krishna) and attained Salvation”.
44. What about the Panharatra system, which mentions about worshipping?. Are these Agamas authoritative?
Yes, this system has also been discussed in the Brahma Sutra. Pancharatra Agamas are accepted as authorities.
45. What is the objection of others, to accepting the Pancharatra system?
In the Pancharatra Agamas, it is stated that from Vasudeva is bom the jiva, by name Sankarshana.From Sankarshana, Pradyumna, the manas or mind is produced.
Others object that this is contrary to Vedic teachings, that the Jivatma or the soul is eternal and has no birth. It is argued by them that, since Pancharatra Agamas state that the jiva. Sankarshana. is born from Vasudeva, this system is not authoritative.
46. What is our (Vishistadvaitin) reply to this argument?
Our reply is this. The Pancharathra system does not really say that the Jivatma or soul is born from Vasudeva.This refers actually to the four vyuhas, of Lord Narayana.
We have already discussed about the Vyuha forms of the Lord. From Vasudeva comes Sankarshana. Sankarshana is the Lord of the Jivatma. So, what is mentioned is, that Sankarshana, who lords over the Jivatma, arises out of Vasudeva. So, this does not really state that the Jivatma is born. Hence the argument of the opponent is not correct.
47. Still, this is not quite clear.
From Vyuha Vasudeva, Vyuha Sankarshana arises. Sankarshana is the Lord of jivatmas. So, it is figuratively stated that the jiva, Sankarshana,is born from Vasudeva. This has to be understood as a figurative statement.
Just as the individual soul or the Jivatma is presided over by Sankarshana, the manas or mind is presided over by Pradyumna. This is what is stated in the Pancharatra Agamas and this is how it has to be properly interpreted.
Further in many places in the Pancharatra Agamas, it is clearly stated that the Jivatma is eternal, that he is not created. Hence it is clear that the Pancharatra Agamas are acceptable as authority.
48. You were saying that Brahman is the material cause of the world. In other words. Brahman evolves into the world. But Brahman has all the auspicious qualities and has no impurities. If He evolves into this world, how can the world consist of all impurities, defects and imperfections?
When the pot is made of the mud, the pot has got the same qualities as that of the mud. Similarly, the world also should have the same good qualities as that of Brahman, if the world comes out of Brahman.
The logic here is not correct. Actually, at the time of the final deluge (pralaya), all the Jivatmas and matter merge m Brahman, in a very subtle (sukshma) state. So, Brahman, at the time of the final deluge, has everything as His body, in a very subtle state.
After the deluge, these Jivatmas and matter, which merged in Brahman in a subtle state, come out in their normal (sthula) state. Then the process of creation starts. I have explained already n great detail, the process of creation. So, in view of this, the comparison of the mud and mud pot with the world and the Lord is not correct. This can be explained with a relevant example.
The Jivatma is in the body. The Jivatma does not undergo any change. But still, the body undergoes changes. The body is first that of a child, then becomes that of a young man, and then an old man.
Similarly, Brahman has all auspicious qualities and does-not undergo any change. But still, the world. His body, undergoes changes; consists of impurities and defects..
49. I think this example is not quite correct.Brahman evolves into the world;but similarly,the Jivatma does not evolve into his body.
You are right. The example given is limited in character.However,the Vedas clearly mention this point and so, we accept it as the truth.
50. What is the purpose behind the creation of this world, by Brahman?
The Brahman is full in all respects and there is nothing to be achieved by Him. So, the creation, sustenance and destruction of the world, etc., are only mere sport for Brahman.
In this world also, the king, who has the entire kingdom under his control, plays with balls, just as a form of sport. In the same way, the creation of the world and destruction of the world, are also only-forms of sport to Brahman. ”
51. Why should He create this world, full of misery and inequalities? Is this not a cruel sport?
No. He cannot be called merciless or partial; because, creation of this world is also dependent on the karmas of the individual souls. In fact, Brahman is only the general cause for this world. The karmas of the souls are particular cause for their coming into this world.
I will remind you of the growth of a plant. For a plant to come up, we require both water and seed of the particular plant. Water is general and is common to all plants. But, for a particular plant to come up, we require the particular seed of the plant. Similarly, just like water is the general cause for the growth of the plant. Brahman is the general cause for creation. Just as the particular seed is required for the growth of a particular plant, the individual karma of the soul is the particular cause, for the soul coming into this samsara.
So, although creation, etc., of the world is sport to the Lord, He cannot be called merciless or partial.
Because, a person’s enjoying happiness or pain in this world, is dependent on his past karma. So. the past karmas of the person are the special or particular cause for his pain or pleasure in this world.
52. How does the Lord help the Jivatmas to do good things and avoid evil?
The Lord loves the Jivatma thousand times more than a mother. He has revealed the Vedas and propounded the sastras. These clearly teach us what to do and what not to do.
He has given us knowledge, to know what is good and what is bad. He also remains neutral; or permits us to do, in the first stage of our action (refer earlier). So, it is for us, to make use of all the knowledge given to us.
53. But, before creation, i.e., after the deluge, there was no karma and there was no soul. Is it not?
You’re not correct. The soul or Jivatma is eternal. It has no beginning. Similarly, his karma is also eternal. It has no beginning.
54. Then, what do you mean by creation of the world?
At the time of deluge, the souls and matter – all merge in a very subtle (sukshma) form in Brahman. They are indistinguishable. They are not distinct from one another.
So, after the deluge, Brahman separates them and makes them attain their usual (sthula) form. Then He gives them names and forms. So, what is meant by creation, is actually the manifestation of these chetanas and matter in their normal form; as against the subtle form in which they merged in the Lord. So, the souls are all eternal, they have no beginning and, therefore, their karmas are also eternal. The karmas also have no beginning.
55. If the soul-(Jivatma).ls atomic in size, how can the soul-experience the pains and pleasures all over the body? If the soul is atomic, how can it realise the pain in any part of the body, say, in the leg or hand?
This is indeed possible. Which can be explained with a simple example.
We apply sandal paste on our chest or hands. But the smell and pleasing sensation extend to the entire body. Similarly, the soul, although atomic in size experiences the pain and pleasure all over the body.
The Jivatma resides in the heart of a person. So, from there, he experiences pain and pleasure, all over the body.
A gem or a diamond is kept at a particular place, but because of its light, the surrounding space is brightened up. Again, the sun’s rays travel far and wide, and light up the whole world.
Similarly, the soul is in the heart but it experiences the pain and pleasure all over the body. This is possible, because the soul also possesses knowledge: and by this knowledge, it experiences the pain or pleasure all over the body..
56. If the soul (Jivatma) possesses knowledge, then what happens to this knowledge, when a person is in deep sleep?
In deep sleep also, the knowledge is in the person, but it does not show itself.
57. You mentioned that all the chetanas and achetanas constitute the body of Brahman. So does this mean that the chetana or the Jivatma is a part of Brahman?
Yes, naturally. Since the Jivatma constitutes the body of Brahman, he is a pan of Brahman. This has been clearly stated in the Vedas and also in the Smritis.
58. How do you say that the individual soul is a part of the Brahman?
There is light coming out from fire, or sun. The light which comes out from a shining fire or from the sun is also a part of the shining fire or the sun, as the case may be, Similarly, the Jivatma is a part of the Brahman.
59. So, how do you explain the relationship between the Jivatma and Paramatma?
As explained earlier, the Jivatma is the body of Paramatma: Paramatma is the soul of the Jivatma.The relationship between the Jivatma and Paramatma is similar to the relationship between the light and the source of light, namely, fire or sun. In one way, the light is a part of the fire or sun. But again the fight is distinct and different from the fire or sun. In other words, they are the same and yet they are different.
That is the same way between the Jivatma and Paramatma; one constitutes the body of the other and still by the same reasoning, they are different.
To be continued…
Source: A Dialog on Hinduism By Sri V.N. Gopala Desikan