Brahma Sūtras II.i.23
All the stones originated from the earth. There are several varieties of stones in different shapes, size, quality (like precious gems), etc. All of them are excavated from the earth. Thus, origin is the same, but their quality, shape and size are different. In our day to day life this can be experienced. For the same parents, children with different qualities are born. There are many such examples to prove the point that cause is always the same and effect could be in different shapes and qualities. Chāndogya Upaniṣhad (VI.iv.1) says, “All changes are mere words in name only.” This means that only Brahman is known by different names. The inherent nature of Brahman is not lost.
Brahma Sūtras II.i.24
Now, analogy of milk is taken up for discussion. For production of an object, different materials are procured and therefore, cause cannot be the same for the end product. Let us take the example of a TV. It needs picture tube, circuit board, etc and unless all these components are assembled in a proper way, the end product TV cannot be obtained. Therefore, it is argued that cause is not one but more than one. But according to Chāndogya Upaniṣhad (VI.ii.1), “Before this world was manifest, there was only existence, one without a second and out of that non-existence, existence emerged.” This means that only from Brahman the entire universe originated and therefore, cause is only Brahman, the one without a second.
It is also argued that in order to get curd from the milk, milk needs heat. Though curd originates from milk, still it needs extraneous factors like heat to get milk converted into curd. This concept is overruled by saying that milk if left alone will turn into curd on its own and it does not need heat. Heat is only for the purpose of hastening transformation of milk into curd.
Let us take another example. A human being grows and growth is inherent as soon as he is born. Food, etc are only catalysts to make the transformation faster and healthier. Thus, there can be no doubt that the cause of entire creation is Brahman only and creation is inherent in Brahman (Creation is one of the attributes of Brahman).
Brahma Sūtras II.i.25
Similarly, Brahman does not need extraneous help to create, like the milk does not take any help to get converted into curd. It is said that gods and others need extra help to do their activities. But these gods are only created by Brahman and therefore, they always need the help from Brahman. This comparison is given only for the purpose of understanding. In reality, as discussed earlier, there is no second to Brahman in creation, etc.
What will happen if a person is Self-realized? Self realization comprises of two aspects. One is to realize that he is Brahman and another aspect is to consider that the universe is not something different form him. This is true Self-realization and the rest of affirmations are only deceptive in nature. The one who truly realizes the Self within becomes Brahman Himself and he can also create, sustain, etc. This conveyance is cited as an example to the text. It is not enough to say, “I am Brahman” but it is important to posses all the qualities of Brahman.
Is there any difference between Brahman and His creations? To put it differently, is there any difference between cause and effect? Brahman creates a man and having created a man, Brahman remains within, only as a witness and hence the man under reference cannot have the powers of Brahman. Though cause and effect are the same, there are certain differences exist. For example, Brahman creates a potter. Here Brahman is the cause and the potter is the effect. Brahman created the potter without any assistance, but the potter cannot create a pot without assistance. The potter needs clay, water, potter’s wheel, etc. This is the difference between God and man. This difference would be lost when man realizes that he is God (Self-realization). Unless this realization happens, the man cannot attain the powers of Brahman (God). This is explained further.
Brahma Sūtras II.i.26
Now the doubt arises whether Brahman Himself transforms as the universe or transforms only his miniscule part as the universe. In both these instances, there is reference about transformation of Brahman. This is the objection raised by certain philosophical schools. This is answered in the next aphorism.
Brahma Sūtras II.i.27
For this argument, only Upaniṣhad texts alone can be considered. Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣhad (VI.19) says, “He is above reproach and has no blemish.” Muṇḍaka Upaniṣhad (II.i.2) says, “He has no form.” Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣhad (III.viii.8) says, “He is immutable.” Going by the sayings of these Upaniṣhad-s, it is clear that Brahman does not undergo any modifications while creating. He remains the same and that is why He is called eternal, unchanging principle, etc. This is also confirmed in Chāndogya Upaniṣhad (VI.iii.2), “as the individual self, I shall manifest myself in many names and forms.”
Brahma Sūtras II.i.28
Brahman’s creations are diverse in nature such as man, animals, insects, etc. All His creations have different aspects, different shapes and different characters, etc. But this difference also exists in a man. A person dreams without undergoing any change in his essential nature. Such dreams are explained in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣhad (IV.iii.10) which says, “There are no chariots, nor animals to be yoked to them, no roads; yet he creates chariots, animals and roads....” In dream state, a person dreams about many things and during dream state, the essential nature of a man has not undergone any change. Similar is the case with Brahman. He creates, but his essential nature does not undergo any change.
Further reading: Vivekachūḍāmaṇi (verses 223 and 224) says, “The realization of one’s identity with Brahman is the cause of liberation from the bonds of saṁsāra, by means of which the wise attains Brahman, the one without a second, the Bliss Absolute. Once having realized Brahman, he no longer returns to the realm of transmigration. Therefore, one must fully realize one’s identity with Brahman.”