What is brhaman – ब्रह्मन् ?


Brahman – ब्रह्मन् –  is the provider of existence to everything, including ignorance. When you say that a flower ‘is’, that ‘is-ness’ always is. That never goes. That is why you cannot destroy it. If you destroy the flower, the flower is gone, but the petal ‘is’. If that is also destroyed, the destroyed petal ‘is’. Suppose everything disappears and you do not see any form. Then the absence of form ‘is’. The ‘is-ness’ is never negated. That ‘is-ness’ is Brahman. That is the reality of everything. Therefore, knowing that Brahman as oneself without any attribute, everything is as well known.

When the sruti says everything is ब्रह्मन् – Brahman, it is not pantheism. In pantheism the cause has undergone change to become the world. It is not so here. Brahman is विवर्त्त  उपादान vivartta-upadana and also निमित्त कारण nimitta-karna, therefore there is no pantheism here. If at all there is change, it is attributed to maya, which has no reality apart from Brahman. So, maya being there in between Brahman and everything else, it does not become pantheism. When satya and mithya are not understood, it all ends up in confusion.

The words, ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ are only from a point of View. You say that this is the effect and that is the cause. In fact, the effect itself is the cause, being non-separate from the cause. Then again, which is cause and which is effect? When the pot is broken, it becomes clay. That means clay came from pot! This concept of cause and effect is purely a point of View. Our understanding that the cause came first and the effect came later is only a point of View. From the standpoint of Brahman, there is nothing that comes later, because Brahman itself is the effect. If at all the concept of ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ is talked about, it is from the standpoint of the un-manifest and manifest conditions.

The un-manifest becomes manifests-that is called creation. Creation itself is not a proper word for us, because the word ‘creation’ is relevant only when something did not exist before, and later came into being. But it is not like that. That Which is in an un-manifest, undifferentiated form, comes to be differentiated. One is in a subtle form, the other in a gross form. In a differentiated form it is called creation. In an undifferentiated form it is called dissolution. This creation is cyclic. The creation becomes un-manifest because it was manifest before. Unless it was manifest before, it cannot become un-manifest. We cannot talk about any sequence here.

In the Daksinamurti Stotram we have this sentence: “Like the sprout is there within the seed in an un-manifest form, so too, this world is in an un-manifest form before creation”. The un-manifest tree in the seed manifests under conducive situations. What is already there alone comes to manifest. The tree is there in the subtle form, in a programmed form in the seed. That is why only the mango tree comes from the mango seed; no other tree comes. Just as the whole tree is un-manifest in the seed, so also, this entire jagat (universe) is un-manifest before creation. Again it becomes manifest ‘as it was before’. The phrase ‘as it was before’ points to the previous manifest state that was there before the un-manifest condition. So from this it is clear, it is cyclic.

The world has not come into being from total non-existence. If it is already existent it need not come. So, from nonexistence the jagat cannot come, and from existence also, the jagat cannot and need not come because it is already existent. The nonexistent pot can never come into being, and an existent pot does not require coming into being. We cannot say that the pot is both non-existent and existent. There is a self-contradiction in that statement. A thing cannot be both none, existent and existent at the same time. So, it is only the un-manifest pot that manifests, because of the intervention of the pot-maker in the form of his plan, skill and effort. Pot is potentially there in the clay and that is brought into manifestation now. The intervening factor is called the intelligent cause accompanied by secondary or aiding causes like the wheel, the water, the sun, and so on. This jagat was there before in an un-manifest form. From the un-manifest, it is manifest now. So, it need not be called creation.

We do not accept आरंभ वाद arambha-vada – an argument that the jagat comes into being. The Vaisesikas and the theologians are arambha-vadis, those who say the creation begins. All the theologies are similar to the Vaisesikas philosophy dating back to BC. The theologian is definitely talking about God creating a world that was previously non-existent, and bringing it into being out of nothing, or out of infinite power.

Vedanta does not propose a creation. It does not, therefore, have the question: Why this creation? If creation is accepted, then we have to say that God created the world. If God created this world, definitely you can ask him, “Why did you create the world?” This so-called created world itself being God, he does not require to answer such a question. You can ask a little more, “Is this the nature of the Lord?” Then we can discuss the reality of everything and discover what is satya and what is mithya. The word ‘creation’ is, therefore, only a provisional word.

In the beginning was the word, the word was with God, the word was God – such sensible statements are available in the sacred books which are the basis for certain theologies. It is a clean set of statements. In the beginning was the ‘word’. It is singular, not that there were words. There was ‘word’, not ‘a word’. That is also important. A sound is a word when the meaning which the sound or sounds refer to, is the same, not only for you but also for everyone. When I say ‘Water’ you understand, I understand and everybody understands that it is H2O. Then it is ‘word’. Word implies knowledge. There is no word without knowledge. ‘In the beginning’ means before the creation. What was there before creation was word, pure knowledge. Name and form were there in the form of knowledge, but that knowledge had not come out in a visible form, in a differentiated form. In the beginning only knowledge was there. Knowledge can exist only in a conscious being, nowhere else. Therefore, knowledge exists in the all-knowing conscious being, whom people call God. Here we have to add that it exists in the maya-upadhi. When they say, “Word was with God” it is not something like ‘the car was with the man’. The next statement is, “The word was God”. The knowledge was not separate from that God Without that knowledge there is no God, and therefore the knowledge itself is God. That knowledge alone comes to manifestation as the jagat.

The seed-tree example has something special to convey this regard about this jagat. In the clay-pot example, there just a change of form, but in the seed-tree example there is real, intelligent programming involved. The roots, the taproot, secondary roots, trunk and so on must be there in the program. If it is a banyan tree that grows horizontally, it must have the programming for the adventitious roots to come down from the branches. Otherwise, banyan trees cannot afford to have such branches, they will break. To protect the trunk, the bark is necessary. The bark helps to retain, the water. The core trunk is also important. The tree does not need unnecessary water, and also, it has to become stronger and stronger. So, the core does not have water at all. It is like a bonal structure. There must be a programming for that core also. So too, there should be programming for the branches, for the seeds, for the flowers, for the type of flowers, for the type of fruits and so on. For the whole life of the tree there is a programming. This programming is a very intelligent one, enjoying a certain order. So much knowledge is involved even in the programming for a tree. For the entire jagat, for the sentient and insentient forms, the whole programming must be available in the un-manifest as knowledge, which is not separate from Brahman.

Swami Dayananda Saraswati

Excerpts from Mundakopanisad, Vol: 1

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