Mundakopanishad-9

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MUNDAKA UPANISHAD
By U. Ve. , MahAmahOpAdhyaya, Dr. Sriman Srirangam Nallan Chakravarthy Raghunathacharya Swami: Translated into English by Sri Sribhashyam Srinivasacharyulu
We continue with another objection and its answer in the statement that the s’ruthi vAkya Eka vijnAnena sarva vijnAnam suits only the VisishtAdhvaithA.

Another objection:-
The answer given for the 1st objection is not satisfactory simply by speaking about the qualified oneness. That is because, according to VisishtAdhvaithA, the sentient and insentient are the two attributes to the qualified Brahman. The form and characteristics of all the three are different from each other and there is no meeting point amongst them at all. The transformation is only for the merged sentient and insentient, which, before the evolution, are in subtle form, devoid of form and name. After all these are the attributes only to Him. They are transformed into gross form of celestial, human bodies etc. or into the earth, water etc. The transformation is not for the Brahman, the main body. Which matter can be called as material cause? A matter that becomes direct repository for the transformation only can be called as material cause. Such material only can become the upAdAna. So the subtle sentient and insentient, which are direct repositories for the transformed gross forms can become the material cause for them. But not the Brahman, who is indirectly the repository of the gross forms of sentient and insentient, by way of the parking place for them in the subtle form. At the most, Brahman can be only the nimitta kAraNa – the instrumental cause, since His intention for this transformation into the gross forms. Thus by closely examining and concluding, it is clear that He is not the material cause. So from the knowledge of Him, it is not possible for knowing the entire universe. Hence, this eka vijnAna s’ruthi does not get along with the VisishtAdhvaithA postulations.

Answer:-
It is true that the relationship of being the material cause and effect is not there between entirely different entities. However, for the gross changes found in attributes comprising the special unity or the qualified oneness (vis’ishTaikyam) caused by inseparable existence, a qualified substance can be the material cause. We can realise this from the illustration cited in the 8th mantra of this Upanishad itself- ….yathhorNanAbhih srijathe grihNathe chayathA sa thah purushAth kes’a lomAni”. The spider forms the material cause for the threads coming out of it and man becomes the material cause for the hair etc. growing in his body.  The web woven by the spider as also the hair and nails grown by a human being are in common parlance stated as having grown from the body of the spider or the body of the human being, though it is from the insentient matter they have grown. The spider and the man, because of the inseparable union are regarded as the material cause. In the same manner, Brahman who is in inseparable union with sentient and insentient is the cause for the transformation which has resulted in the evolution or creation of the universe. This is told by the s’ruthi vAkya itself. In that mantra -8, which reads “yathA prithhivyAh oshadhaya ssambhavanthi…”   the earth, being the substratum for the growth of herbs etc., is shown as an illustration for this argument. So, an entity which forms the direct substratum for change/transformation, or that qualified entity which cannot exist independently in instances where changes take place in attributes, can be called as material cause according to the scripture itself.

The characteristics of upAdAna kAraNa – the material cause.
An upAdAna kAraNa is defined as follows – “bhAvisthhUlAvasthhAvathah pUrvabhAvi sUkshmAvasthhAyogi yath kAraNam thadupAdAnam”  – meaning that an entity is called upAdAna kAraNa if it exists in a subtle form before getting transformed into a gross form. This is the characteristic requirement for an entity to be material cause.  While getting transformed into the gross form of a pot, the previous state of the clay is in the form of lump- subtle form. In this case, we are calling the lump of clay – the subtle form before the transformation into the gross form of a pot- the kArya – as the upAdAna kAraNa or the material cause. How does this characteristic apply to Brahman? According to the s’ruthi VAkyas, which are accepted as pramANas – the authentic statements, “aithadAthmyamidam sarvam”, “thenedam pUrNam purusheNa sarvam” etc., the Brahman, which permeates the entire sentient and insentient and as inner core controlling them, has these insentient and sentient as its body. Hence it is inseparable from them and is the qualified Entity. So all the changes/ transformations or metamorphosis the insentient and sentient go through are considered to be for the Brahman- the qualified entity. Though the childhood and adolescence etc. are for the body, it is always considered to be of the inner self- the Atma. Similar is the case with the various changes the sentient and the insentient undergo are considered to be of Brahman only. Even the Vedic usage “ashTavarsham brAhmaNam upanayeetha” shows the qualifying status of being eight year old body to the inner soul – the Atma only.  In the same manner it should be understood that Brahman is repository for the gross forms of the sentient and insentient through their bodies; and hence the qualified Brahman – the repository of the gross forms of sentient and insentient subsequent to the transformation, is the kArya – the effect of change.  The characteristic of material cause applies perfectly to the same Brahman, qualified by the sentient and insentient in the subtle state, before their transformation into gross.
In our next posting we shall see how our veteran commentator Sri S’ruthaprakAs’ikAcharya ably justifies this characteristic of Brahman being the material cause. He had justified it very elaborately by anticipating all possible objections to Brahman being the material cause and giving sufficiently strong repudiations of the objections and establishing firmly that the qualified Brahman is the material cause and none other than Him.

Courtesy– Srinivasa Ramanuja DAsan.

..to be continued

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