Brahma Sūtras II.i.10

What are all the objections raised against Advaita are equally applicable to other philosophies as well. Sāṁkhya argued that creation happened through prakṛti, who also does not have a shape or form or any other attributes. Therefore, in other philosophies also, cause is different from effect. It is a natural phenomenon that effect need not be the same as the cause. For example, a tiny seed is the cause of a huge tree (explained in Brahma Sūtra II.i.17). When this theory is applied to the universe, Brahman is always the cause, who alone existed in the beginning. If it is argued that Brahman is subtle and the effect of the universe, which is gross, is not maintainable, as cause and effect need not be the same always. Therefore, Brahman, as the cause of the universe cannot be refuted.

Brahma Sūtras II.i.11

These types of disagreements and contradictions arise only due to different interpretations without establishing rationality. It is not the intelligence that counts, but it is the proof of authority that matters. Advaita philosophy derives its strength from Vedas, Cosmic revelations made to sages and saints of those days. Essence of Vedas are extracted and declared to the world through Upaniṣad-s. It is also said that there are bound to be certain illogicality while defining Brahman and creation, as they are far ahead of normal human intellect and comprehension. They are the most subtle affairs that need to be learnt from a Guru who is already Self-realized. This is authoritatively said in Kaṭha Upaniṣhad (I.ii.9). “You have a fine insight into the Self, but you have not arrived at this through reasoning. You have attained this from instructions you received from someone who did not depend upon reasoning, but studied the Scriptures and then realized the Self. Naciketā, you have truly understood the nature of the Self.” Therefore, the role of a Teacher is extremely important in the path of Self-realization. In fact, the role of spiritual Guru is much more important than the one, initiating only mantras.

(Self realisation is completely different from mantra and tantra śāstra-s. The Self can be realized, only if one moves away from external practices to inner cogitation when spiritual queries will arise in the mind as the aspirant will not be able to connect with Brahman initially. These doubts can be clarified only be a Self-realized person (Guru or Teacher or Spiritual Preceptor), as he will speak not only from the Scriptures, but more importantly and authoritatively from his experience.)

Brahma Sūtras II.i.12

Such learned men accept only Advaita philosophy, not only because it reveals the truth, but also because of their personal experience during meditation. Such learned men do not accept any doctrine that is contrary to reality, which is clearly elucidated in Advaita. The other doctrines have several contractions and defy all meaningful logics. Further, they are not spoken out of experience but out of logics without reasoning. Hence all other doctrines need to be rejected.

Brahma Sūtras II.i.13

It can also be argued that there exists difference between the experiencer and the experienced. For example, when we meditate on Brahman, we do not transform as Brahman or do not become Brahman. We only realize Brahman. Thus this subtle difference always exists between the one who experiences and the object that is experienced. This unification can happen only in the mind and not physically. A Self-realized person cannot say that He is in the form of Brahman. He can only say that He is Brahman in terms of (no) qualities and attributes and not in form, as Brahman is subtle than the subtlest and formless. The difference between the experiencer and the experienced is also Brahman, simply because He is omnipresent. Hence, it is always said that one can realize his self as Brahman, but such a realized person cannot become Brahman Himself. This is the difference between the Macrocosm and microcosm, which perpetually exists. This difference is like the difference between the raw gold and gold ornament.

Brahma Sūtras II.i.14

Non-difference between the cause and the effect is explained in Upaniṣhads. By knowing gold ornaments, we know gold. How do we know electricity? We know from the electric and electronic gadgets, how powerful and useful electricity is. This is explained in Chāndogya Upaniṣhad (VI.iv.4). “By knowing a single lamp of earth, you know all objects of earth. All changes are mere words and in name only. But earth is the ultimate reality.” For example, pot is one of the names of earth; lamp is another name of earth, etc. Similarly, man, animals, plants, etc are merely the words that express different manifestaions of Brahman. Underlying reality is only Brahman. Is not Brahman omnipresent on this ground? Of course, He is omnipresent as all that exists are nothing but different shapes and forms of Brahman. Though cause and effect are the same, effects are projected differently in different shapes and forms. Chāndogya Upaniṣhad (VI.viii.7), “That which is the subtlest of all is the Self of all this.” Because the Self is subtlest of all, He pervades everywhere, a point to prove His omnipresence. Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (II.ii.11) also says, “Brahman is all pervasive. The world itself is Brahman.”

The most significant statement is made in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (IV.iv.22). It says, “....This self is That which has been described as ‘not this, not this’ (neti, neti). It (It refers to Brahman. This Upaniṣad is so authoritative, it does not even use a gender while referring to Brahman). This is imperceptible, for It is never perceived; un-decaying, for It never decays.....The sage is never overtaken by these two thoughts, ‘I did an evil act for this’ and ‘I did a good act for this.’ He conquers both of them. Things done or not done, do not trouble him.”

Brahma Sūtras II.i.15

Effect is perceived only when there is a cause. If there is no gold, gold ornaments cannot exist, where gold is the cause and ornaments are the effect. When there is a cause, there has to be an effect, but the effect cannot be different from the cause. For gold ornaments, only gold can be the cause and not clay. For a clay pot, gold cannot be the cause and the cause has to be only clay. Therefore, cause and effect are directly related.

One may argue that world had different types of existences. How can there be so many varieties of existences, when Brahman is the same? This is the uniqueness of Brahman and hence He is not only omnipresent, but also omnipotent and omniscient.

Brahma Sūtras II.i.16

Cause is present much before the effect. Unless raw gold is available, ornaments cannot be made. This is explained in Chāndogya Upaniṣhad (VI.ii.1). “Before this world was manifest, there was only existence, one without a second. On this subject some say that before this world was manifest, there was only non-existence and out of this non-existence, existence emerged.”

Brahma Sūtras II.i.17

It is said that before creation, only Brahman existed. In other words, effect (universe) did not exist when cause (Brahman) is present. Chāndogya Upaniṣhad (III.xix.1) says, “This universe was at first non-existent, being without names and forms. Slowly it manifested itself like a shoot coming out of a seed.” Darwin’s theory of evolution had already been declared through Upaniṣhads several thousands of years ago. Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.vii) endorses the views of Chāndogya. “At first there was no world. There was only Brahman. The world was then Brahman, who was un-manifested. The world with all its names and forms then manifested itself. It was as if Brahman created Himself this way. Because Brahman created Himself this way, He came to be known as Sukṛta (meritorious and auspicious act, well done). A tiny seed of a huge banyan tree is cited as an example. Seed is the cause and the tree is the effect. Is the seed and the tree are the same? No, they are not the same. Then how do we call the banyan tree as the effect of the seed? The quality of the seed is present in the banyan tree. A seed of a banyan tree can produce only a banyan tree and not a mango tree. When the banyan tree is fully grown, it produces fruits and seeds. The seeds are again used to re-create the banyan tree after its life is over. Thus the creation and destruction alternates to keep the universe well balanced. Certain seeds will not sprout and similarly, certain souls are not born again.

Similarly, when Brahman alone was present before creation, the whole universe existed within Him, like a huge banyan tree existed in the tiny seed. Therefore, it cannot be argued that existence was not present when Brahman alone was present before creation.

Further Readings:

Brahma Sutra - II.i.1 - 4

Brahma Sutra II.i.5 - 9

Brahma Sutra II.i.18 - 22