THEORY OF CREATION
Lord Krishna said: O Arjuna, this physical body, the miniature universe, may be called the field or creation. One who knows the creation is called the Creator (or the Spirit, Atma, God, Ishvara) by the seers of truth. (13.01)
Whatever is here in the body is also there in the cosmos; whatever is there, the same is here (KaU 4.10). The human body, the microcosm, is a replica of the universe, the macrocosm. The body is called the field of activities for the soul where one reaps what one sows as Karma---good and bad. The body or creation is different from the soul or the Creator. To experience this difference is the metaphysical knowledge.
The two components of the field of our body-mind complex are: The field of righteousness and the field of unrighteousness as mentioned in the first verse of the Gita. Human body, that was given to us to realize our real nature or Dharma as to who we are, may be also called the field of Dharma. This Field of Dharma has been reduced to Kurukshetra, the field of conflict, by the mind or Maya. A constant war (or conflict) of Mahabharata is also going on between good and evil tendencies of human mind. The Kauravas and Pandavas represent the demonic and divine tendencies, respectively, in all human being as discussed in great details by Lord Krishna in Chapter 16.
The purpose of the Bhagavad-Gita is to resolve this conflict by realizing the true nature of all beings as Atma. O Arjuna, know Me to be the Creator of all the creation. I consider the true understanding of both the Creator and the creation to be transcendental knowledge. (13.02)
The body (or creation) and Spirit (or the Creator) are distinct from one another. Yet, the ignorant are not able to distinguish between them. That knowledge is the true knowledge by which one is able to make a clear distinction between body and Spirit. Body is called the field (or the medium) of activities for the Spirit. The human body is the medium by which the individual soul enjoys the material world, gets entangled, and in the end attains liberation. The soul inside the body knows all the activities of its own body; it is, therefore, called the knower of the field of activities. The Supersoul knows all the bodies, whereas the individual soul knows only his own body. When one clearly understands the difference between the body, the individual soul inside the body, and the Supersoul, one is said to have real knowledge.
What creation is, what it is like, what its transformations are, where the source of creation is, who that Creator is, and what His powers are---hear all these from Me in brief. (13.03)
The seers have separately described the creation and the Creator in different ways in the Vedic hymns and also in the conclusive and convincing verses of other scriptures. (13.04)
The Gita also expounds on the truths of other scriptures. All scriptures, as well as saints and sages of all religions, draw the water of truth from the same ocean of Spirit. Their accent varies with the need of the individual and the society at the time.
The five basic elements, ‘I’ consciousness or ego, intellect, unmanifest Nature, ten organs, mind, five sense objects, and desire, hatred, pleasure, pain, the physical body, consciousness, and willpower---thus the entire field has been briefly described with its transformations. (See also 7.04) (13.05-06)
According to Sankhya doctrine (BP 3.26.10-18, 11.22.10-16), Spirit undergoes twenty-four basic transformations in the following manner:
Spiritual Being (Purusha, Chetana, Ishvara) and the following twenty-three transformations of Total Energy (Prakriti, Mahat): Mind, Intellect, and the conception of individuality (ego); the five basic elements, or raw ingredients, in subtle and gross form (earth, water, fire, air and ether or subtle substance); five sense objects (smell, taste, sight, touch and sound) and corresponding five sense organs (nose, tongue, eye, skin and ear); and five organs of action (mouth, hand, leg, anus, and urethra).
The Supreme Intellect (or mind) is known by various names, based on functions performed in the body. It is called mind when it feels and thinks, intellect when it reasons, thought waves (Chitta Vritti) when it does the act of remembering and wandering from one thought to another, and ego when it has the feeling of doership and individuality.
The mind does many other tasks such as: remembrance, imagination, worry, happiness, frustration, lust, anger, greed, pride, attachment, envy, right knowledge, ignorance or wrong knowledge due to delusion, likes and dislikes, boredom, obsessions, bitterness, desire, dream, and deep sleep, etc. The subtle senses consist of all four---mind, intellect, thought waves, and ego.
It is the Karmic footprints that make the final decision by controlling the mind and intellect. When the cosmic power does the functions of the body, it is called the cosmic bioimpulse (Vital life forces, Prana). The main Prana (or energy) and matter were both born of the Atman or Purusha, like the shadow is born of the body. It enters the body by the acts of the mind and engages other five main assistant Pranas (Prana, Apana, Udana, Vyana and Samana) to separate activities in the body (PrU 3.03-04). From Prana the entire creation---ether, air, fire, water, earth, the body, senses, mind, intellect, food, and the world came out (PrU 6.04).
The Supreme Spirit or Consciousness manifests Itself as both energy (Prana) and matter. Matter and energy are nothing but condensed forms of Consciousness. According to Einstein, mind and matter are both energies (Prana). Ramana Maharshi said: The mind is a form of energy. It manifests itself as the world.
THE FOURFOLD NOBLE TRUTH AS MEANS OF NIRVANA
Humility, modesty, nonviolence, forgiveness, honesty, service to guru, purity of thought, word, and deed, steadfastness, self-control, aversion for sense objects, absence of ego, constant reflection on pain and suffering inherent in birth, old age, disease, and death. (13.07-08)
Verse 13.08 of the Gita formed the foundation of Buddhism. Contemplation of suffering inherent in birth, old age, disease, and death are called the understanding of the Fourfold Noble Truth in Buddhism. The fear of disease and death etc. is due to body consciousness or ego and is removed when one becomes God conscious by Self-knowledge that I am not this body, but Atma. A Self-realized (or God conscious) person is not bothered by any adversity. A disgust and discontent for the meaninglessness and unreality of the world and its objects become a necessary prelude to the spiritual journey. As birds seek the shelter of a tree when tired, similarly human beings seek the divine shelter after discovering the frustrations and joylessness of material existence.
Detachment with family members, home, etc.; unfailing equanimity upon attainment of the desirable and the undesirable and unswerving devotion to Me through single-minded contemplation; taste for solitude; distaste for social gatherings and gossips; steadfastness in acquiring the knowledge of the Self; and seeing the omnipresent Supreme Being everywhere ---this is said to be (the means of) Self-knowledge. That which is contrary to this is ignorance. (13.09-11)
Cultivating the virtues described in verses 13.07-11 will enable one to perceive the body as different from the Self. Thus, one will attain Self-knowledge. Therefore, these virtues are called knowledge. Those who do not possess these virtues cannot get the true knowledge of the Self and will remain in the darkness of body-consciousness or ignorance.
When one becomes firmly convinced that God alone is everything---father, mother, brother, friend, enemy, sustainer, destroyer, and refuge---and there is nothing higher than Him to attain, and one has no thought of any other object, one is said to have developed unswerving devotion to the Lord through single-minded contemplation. In this state of mind, the seeker and the sought-after become qualitatively one and the same.
THE SUPREME CAN BE DESCRIBED ONLY BY PARABLES
I shall fully describe the Supreme Being---the object of knowledge. By knowing this one attains immortality. The beginningless Supreme Being is said to be neither eternal nor temporal. (See also 9.19, 11.37, and 15.18) (13.12)
In the beginning there was neither Eternal Being (Sat, Brahma) nor temporal (Asat, Divine Beings, Devas)---no sky, no air, neither day nor night. There was nothing whatsoever other than the Absolute Supreme Being (RV 10.129.01, AiU 1.01). The Absolute is beyond both Divine Beings (celestial controllers, Devas) and the Eternal Being (Spirit) (Gita 15.18). Therefore, He is neither temporal nor eternal. The Supreme Being or the Absolute is also both temporal and eternal (Gita 9.19) and beyond both temporal and eternal (Gita 11.37 and 15.18) because He is everywhere, in everything, and also beyond everything. Therefore, the Absolute is all three---neither temporal nor eternal, beyond both temporal and eternal, as well as both temporal and eternal---at the same time.
The Supreme Being has His hands, feet, eyes, head, mouth, and ears everywhere because He is all-pervading and omnipresent. (13.13)
He is the perceiver of all sense objects without the physical sense organs; unattached, and yet the sustainer of all; devoid of the three modes of material Nature, and yet the enjoyer of the modes of material Nature by becoming the living entity. (13.14)
The Supreme Being walks without legs, hears without ears, performs many actions without hands, smells without a nose, sees without eyes, speaks without a mouth, and enjoys all tastes without a tongue. All His actions are so marvelous that one finds His greatness utterly beyond description (TR 1.117.03-04). The Supreme Being may be described only by parables and paradoxes and in no other way. (See also ShU 3.19). Self expands Himself as the living entity to enjoy three modes of material Nature.
God does not possess a body like an ordinary being. All His senses are transcendental, or out of this world. His potencies are multifarious. Any one of His senses can perform the action of any other sense. All His deeds are automatically performed as a natural consequence.
He is inside as well as outside all beings, animate and inanimate. He is incomprehensible because of His subtlety. And because of His omnipresence, He is very near---residing in our inner psyche---as well as far away in the Supreme Abode. (13.15)
He is undivided, yet appears to exist as if divided in living beings. He is the object of knowledge and appears as the Creator (Brahma), Sustainer (Vishnu), and Destroyer (Mahesha) of all beings. (See also 11.13, and 18.20) (13.16)
One planet earth appears divided into so many countries; one country appears divided into several states; one state appears divided into counties, and so on; similarly one Reality appears as many. These are apparent divisions because they have the same order of reality. The term God is used for the Generator, Operator, and Destroyer aspects of Self.
The Supreme Being is the source of all lights. He is said to be beyond darkness of ignorance. He is Self-knowledge, the object of Self-knowledge, and seated in the inner psyche as consciousness (or Ishvara in verse 18.61) of all beings, He is to be realized by Self-knowledge. (13.17)
One who knows the Almighty as much more radiant than the Sun and beyond the darkness of material reality, transcends death. There is no other way (YV 31.18, SV 3.08). The Supreme is beyond the reach of senses and mind. It cannot be described or defined by words.
Thus, I have briefly described creation, as well as Self-knowledge and the object of Self-knowledge. Understanding this, My devotee attains My Supreme Abode. (13.18)
SUPREME SPIRIT, SPIRIT, MATERIAL NATURE, AND INDIVIDUAL SOULS
Know that both the material Nature and the Spiritual Being are beginningless. All manifestations and three dispositions of mind and matter, called modes or Gunas, are born of material Nature. Material Nature is said to be the cause of production of the physical body and organs of perception and action. Spirit (or Consciousness) in the individual soul is said to be the cause of experiencing pleasure and pain. (13.19-20).
Spiritual Being (by becoming jiva) enjoys three modes of material Nature by associating with the material Nature. Attachment to the three modes of material Nature (due to ignorance) is the cause of birth of the living entity in good and evil wombs. (13.21)
Spirit is unaffected by material Nature just as the sun’s reflection in water is unaffected by the properties of water. Spirit, because of His nature, associates with the six sensory faculties and ego of material Nature and becomes attached, forgets His real nature, performs good and evil deeds, loses independence, and transmigrates as a living entity (individual soul, Jeeva) (BP 3.27.01-03). The living entity does not know the divine illusory energy (Maya), as well as the supreme controller and its own real nature. The individual soul is a reflection of the sun of Spirit in the water pot of human body.
The One and the same Spirit in the body is called the witness, the guide, the supporter, the enjoyer (Jiva), the great Lord and also the Supreme Self. (13.22)
Two main aspects of Reality---the divine spark (Lord, Ishvara) and the living entity (individual soul, Jiva)---make their nest and reside on the same tree of the body as a part of the cosmic drama. Virtue and vice are the flowers of this tree; pains and pleasures of sense gratification are its sweet and sour fruits. The living entity, due to ignorance, becomes captivated by the fruits of the tree and gets attached to material Nature; eats these fruits and becomes subject to bondage and liberation; whereas the Lord sits on the tree, observes and guides the living entity. The Lord, being unattached to material Nature, remains free as a mere witness of the cosmic play (BP 11.11.06, See also RV 1.164.20, AV 9.09.20, MuU 3.01.01, ShU 4.06). The Lord remains unaffected and unattached to the modes of material Nature just as a lotus leaf remains unaffected by water.
Spirit is sentient, and material Nature is insentient. Material Nature, with the help of Spirit, produces five bioimpulses (Life forces, Prana) and the three modes. Spirit, residing as the great Lord in the physical body that is a house with nine gates and made of twenty-four elements of material Nature, enjoys sense objects by associating with the modes of material Nature. Spirit forgets its real nature under the influence of divine illusory energy (Maya), feels pain and pleasure, does good and evil deeds, incurs the bondage of works done by free will due to ignorance, and seeks salvation. When the living entity renounces sense objects and rises above the modes of material Nature, it attains salvation.
The mind, endowed with infinite power, creates a body to reside in and fulfill its latent desires.The living entity becomes willingly entangled---and suffers like a silkworm entangled in its own cocoon---and it cannot get out. The living entity becomes bound by its own Karma and transmigrates. All actions, good or bad, produce bondage if performed with ego. Good actions are the golden shackles, and bad ones are the iron shackles. Both are fetters. The golden shackle is not a bracelet.
The living entity is like a farmer who has been given a plot of land that is the body. The farmer should take the weeds of lust, anger, and greed out of the land, cultivate it with the plow of intense desire for the love of God, and fertilize it with the firm faith in the power and omnipresence of God. Depending on the intensity of the desire and the degree of faith, the seedling of devotion will come out in due course of time. This seedling must be consistently and continually irrigated with the water of meditation on the chosen form of one’s personal God. The forgetfulness of living entity’s real nature disappears with the blooming of the flowers of Self-knowledge and detachment.The flowers bear the fruits of Self-realization and vision of God, leading to the freedom from transmigration of Jeeva, the individual soul, by the grace of Ishvara, the Supreme Lord.
One who knows Spirit and material Nature with its three modes is not born again, regardless of their way of life. (13.23)
Some perceive the Supersoul in their inner psyche with the help of intellect through meditation, others through metaphysical knowledge and others through selfless service. (13.24)
FAITH AND DEVOTION CAN ALSO LEAD TO NIRVANA
Others who are unable to follow any one the above mentioned paths can also transcend death by performing any other spiritual practice---prescribed by a bona fide master or scriptures---with conviction. (13.25)
Those who have not understood God, yet have belief in Him are very fortunate. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask from God. It is not necessary to completely understand God to obtain His grace, to love Him, and to attain Him. Any spiritual practice done without faith is an exercise in futility. Our intellect stands in the way as an obstruction to faith.
Whatever is born---animate or inanimate---know them to be born from the union of Spirit and matter, O Arjuna. (See also 7.06) (13.26)
One who sees the one and the same imperishable Supreme Lord dwelling equally within all perishable beings, truly sees. (13.27)
When one beholds One and the same Lord existing equally in every being, one does not harm anybody because one considers everything as one’s own self, and thereupon attains the Supreme Abode. (13.28)
One who perceives that all works are done by the powers of material Nature, truly understands and does not consider oneself as the doer. (See also 3.27, 5.09, and 14.19) (13.29)
When one sees the diverse variety of beings as rooted in One and spreading out from That alone, one attains the Supreme Being. (13.30)
ATTRIBUTES OF THE SPIRIT (BRAHMA)
Because of being beginningless and unaffectable by the three modes of material Nature, the eternal Supersoul---even though dwelling in the body as a living entity---neither does anything nor becomes tainted by Karma, O Arjuna. (13.31)
The eternal Supersoul is called attributeless because He does not have the three attributes of material Nature. The word ‘attributeless’ has been commonly misunderstood as formless. Attributeless refers only to the absence of material form and attributes known to the human mind. The Lord has an incomparable personality and transcendental qualities.
Just as the all-pervading space is not tainted because of its subtlety, similarly the Spirit abiding in all bodies is not tainted. (13.32)
Spirit is present everywhere. It is present inside the body, outside the body, as well as all over the body. Actually, Spirit is inside and outside of everything that exists in creation.
Just as one Sun illuminates the entire world, similarly Spirit gives life to the entire creation, O Arjuna. (13.33)
According to Shankara, one sees the creation but not the Creator behind the creation due to ignorance, just as a person in the darkness of night sees the snake and not the rope that sustains the false notion of a snake. If any object other than Spirit appears to exist, it is unreal like a mirage, a dream, or the existence of a snake in the rope. The absolute monism that negates all manifestation as a dream world is not the whole truth. According to the Vedas, God is both transcendent and immanent in one. The illustration of the world as a dream is a metaphor meant only to illustrate certain points and should not be stretched too far or taken literally. Vedanta does not dismiss the perception of duality, but dismisses the reality of duality only. If the world is a dream, it is a very beautiful dream, indeed, of the cosmic dreamer who must also be extraordinarily beautiful.
They attain the Supreme, who know---with the eye of Self-knowledge---the difference between creation (or the body) and the Creator (or the Spirit) as well as the techniques of liberation (See verses 13.24-13.25) of the living entity from the trap of divine illusory energy, Maya. (13.34)
Spirit emits its power (Maya) as the sun emits light, fire emits heat, and the moon gives cooling rays (DB 7.32.05). Maya is the inexplicable divine power of Spirit that does not exist apart from Spirit, the possessor of power. Maya has the power of creation. Maya also deludes the living entity by making it identify with a body, enjoy three modes of material Nature, and forget its real nature as Spirit, the basis of the entire visible and invisible universe. We must always remember that we are not this body or the cage, but the bird or the soul inside the cage. Creation is just a partial revelation of the power of Spirit and is called unreal like a dream world because it is subject to change and destruction.The clay is real, but the pot (made of clay) is unreal because the clay exists before the pot is created, while the pot exists, and after the pot is destroyed. The creation (or the pot) may be appropriately considered a dependent reality and not a mere illusion or a mirage.
Creation is a natural effortless projection of the powers of Spirit and is therefore purposeless (MuU 1.01.07). The creative activity of the Lord is a mere pastime of the divine power (Maya) without any purpose or motive (BS 2.01.33). It is nothing but an apparent natural modification of His infinite limitless energy (E) into matter (m) and vice versa (E=mc2 of Einstein) done as a mere pastime. Creation, an effect, is related to the Creator, the cause, as a piece of cloth is related to cotton. In the case of the cloth, however, the weaver is not sitting in every thread of the cloth, but in creation the efficient and material causes are one and the same, a divine mystery indeed! Everything in the universe is connected with everything else. Creation is not a mechanical or engineering construction. It is the supreme, spiritual phenomena revealing divine splendor. Creation is made by the Lord, of the Lord, and for the Lord.
Appendix: Different terms for creation and the creator used in the Gita are: field and knower of field; matter (or mind, Prakriti, Jagat, Maya) and Spirit (or Purusha, energy); body and Atma; changeable (or Asat) and unchangeable (or Sat); Maya and the Lord of Maya; Mother and Father.
OM TAT SAT