Vedānta Series 28

Māyā projects Īśvara out of Brahman. Īśvara is the samaṣṭi or collectiveness of all the individual souls or jīva-s. An individual soul is also under the control of māyā. This is the significant difference in māyā, when it operates in an individual soul and collectiveness of all the individual souls. Both Iśvara and jīva are not the manifestations of the Brahman, but of māyā (which is real and unreal, i.e. neither inside the Brahman nor outside Him). The relationship between jīva and Iśvara is that of a worshipper and the worshipped. Both Prakṛuti and māyā are technically the same. The effects of māyā, the powers of veiling and projection, can be unfolded only in the medium of Prakṛuti. If māyā is the cooked rice, the plate in which the rice is served for eating is the Prakṛuti. Since māyā is the creative power of Iśvara (Śiva), māyā is projected as the feminie gender and is revered as Śaktī, the Divine Mother. Thus, if Iśvara or Śiva is the creator, then Śaktī is his creative power. Unless the Śaktī is fully understood in order to transcend Her, Brahman cannot be realized. Māyā alone can show the Brahman and He cannot be attained directly. It is worth recalling at this point that Iśvara is the saguṇa Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate and is known as nirguṇa Brahman. The Self within (an individual soul) is the nirguṇa Brahman and is surrounded by māyā, which at this state is also known as ajñāna. Ajñāna can be removed only by knowledge. It is like light dispelling darkness.

After having discussed about the māyā, Tattvabodha now proceeds to the evolution of basic elements and their interaction with the three types of guṇas causing the creation. Tattvabodha says, “tataḥ ākāśaḥ saṁbhūtaḥ| ākāśād vāyuḥ| vāyostejaḥ| tejasa āpaḥ | adbhyaḥ pṛthivī| ततः आकाशः संभूतः। आकाशाद् वायुः। वायोस्तेजः। तेजस आपः। अद्भ्यः पृथिवी।” This means from māyā originated ākāśa or the space (quintessence) and from space air originated; from air, fire originated; from fire, water originated and from water, earth originated. The principle of evolution is declared here. All the elements did not originate at the same time, but through the process of evolution, which is in confirmation of Darwin’s theory. The origin of other elements is from the subtlest of the five elements, the space. The space originated from māyā, the subtlest of all. Then comes the subtler space, the subtler space creates air; the subtler air creates the subtle fire; the subtle fire gives rise to gross water and the gross water creates the grosser earth, the domicile of all the grossest matters (humans, animals, plants, mountains, oceans, etc.). The creation always begins from the subtlest and proceeds towards the gross. In the case of an individual, the grossest is the soul, which is ensheathed by māyā, the causal body. From the causal body comes the subtle body and from the subtle body comes the gross body. This has already been discussed elaborately in the previous chapters.  

Every creation always contains the traces of its original and subsequent sources. This can be compared to DNA. For example, water though consists of mainly water, also consists of other four elements. Similar is the case with other elements. Similarly, each of these elements has all the five tanmātras viz. sound, touch, sight, taste and smell. The subtlest forms of gross or basic elements such as space, air, fire, water and earth are tanmātras. Tanmātras as such cannot be realised through our sense organs because of their subtle nature and hence they manifest into grosser forms. This is also known as the principle of cause and effect.

Further Readings:

Vedanta - Bliss

Vedanta - Knowing the Self

Vedanta - Introduction To The Process of Creation