Vedānta Series 29

Tattvabodha now proceeds to discuss about the evolution of the organs of perception. This evolution happens due to the permutation and combination of the five elements with the three guṇas. For example, space has all the three guṇas -space and sattva guṇa, space and rajo guṇa and space and tamo guṇa. In the same way every element combines with the three guṇas and thus we have fifteen types of combinations of elements and guṇa-s.

At the time of creation, the subtlest form of elements viz. the tanmātra-s in conjunction with the guṇa-s form the organs of perception, organs of action and action faculties. Let us take a typical example. Space and sattva guṇa is the cause for sound, one of the tanmātra-s. Space and rajo guṇa creates speech, an evolute of sound. Space and tamo guṇa gives rise to the grosser form of space and this process is called pañcīkaraṇaṁ. This will be discussed subsequently. These different permutation and combinations are the cause for the formation of casual and gross bodies. The inner most body, the causal body is the cause for these two bodies. The causal body cannot be formed without the Soul.

Sattva guṇa and space gives rise to ear (sound); sattva guṇa and air gives rise to skin (touch); sattva guṇa and fire gives rise to eyes (sight); sattva guṇa and water gives rise to tongue (taste); and sattva guṇa and earth gives rise to nose (smell). This can also be interpreted that sattva aspect of space is touch, sattva aspect of fire is sight, etc. The following chart will further explain the combinations.

Sattva guṇa Inner physic organs

Sattva guṇa in combination with the collective existence of these five elements gives rise to the most potent inner psychic organs also known as anthaḥkaraṇa, which comprises of mind, intellect, consciousness and ego. Tattvabodha explains this by saying, “eteṣāṁ pañcatatvānāṁ samaṣṭi sāttvikāṁśāt mano buddhyahaṁkāra-citta antaḥkaraṇāni saṁbhūtāni | एतेषां पञ्चतत्वानां समष्टि सात्त्विकांशात् मनो बुद्ध्यहंकार-चित्त अन्तःकरणानि संभूतानि।” After having said this, the Scripture describes the nature of the four components of anthaḥkaraṇa and assigns a presiding deity to each of these four components.

Further Readings:

Vedanta - Evolution

Vedanta - Knowing the Self

Vedanta - Five Sheaths