Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):
Swaminarayan philosophy – Maya
Maya or Prakruti
Maya means matter, in modern terms. It is the material cause of the creation. Maya is described to be trigunātmikā. Just as particles have three inherent properties of mass, charge, and spin; maya also has three inherent qualities called gunas, namely, Satva, Raja, and Tama. These gunas or properties are described in the Moksha-dharma section of Shanti Parva – Book 12 of Mahabharat. Maya is full of darkness and ignorance. It causes illusion. It does not have intelligence. It is lifeless (achetan), insentient, and dead. Scriptures called it jad-chidātmak (analogous to matter and energy or particle and wave form). It is also called the Shakti or power of Purushottam (God). It is the root cause of ignorance (avidya) and attachment of the soul with its body and bodily relatives. It creates the feeling of aham (I-ness) for the body and mamatva (My-ness) for the bodily objects and bodily relatives. It causes attractions for the two objects. It causes bondage or attachment of the soul with the world and worldly things.
Maya in its primordial form is also known as Prakruti. The primordial form of universe is called Pradhān and the primordial form of multiverse or multiple brahmands is called Mahāmāyā or Mul-Prakruti.
3. Pradhan and Purush
Pradhān is a kind of Prakruti. Sometimes, it is also known as Pradhan-Prakruti to differentiate it from the Mul-Prakruti. Pradhan-Prakrutis are infinite in numbers. They are all evolved from Mul-Prakruti. Pradhan is described in the scriptures as the material cause of brahmand. Its essence is known as Purush, called Pradhan-Purush to differentiate him from Mul-Purush. From Pradhan, Mahattattva – the primordial form of brahmand (universe) is evolved. From Mahattattva, three types of Ahamkar are evolved and from them 24 kinds of elements (tattvas) are evolved. From these 24 elements all of the non-living and living beings of the universe are evolved. Pradhan-Purush or Ishwar is the essence of Pradhan and the efficient cause of universe. Virāt form of brahmand, also known as Virat-Purush, is evolved from Pradhan-Purush. All avatars manifest from Virat-Purush. Vāsudev Narayan enters into and resides in avatars through Purush. His presence qualifies the avatar. It is not possible for an avatar to manifest through Virat-Purush without the presence of Vāsudev Narayan (God).
4. Mul-Prakruti and Mul-Purush
Mul-Prakruti (also known as Mahamaya) is mentioned in the scriptures as the root cause or the basic material cause of infinite numbers of universes (ananta koti brahmands). (Mahabharat: Book 12: Shanti Parva, Part 2-3: Mokshdharma Parva: Section: CCCLII) Scriptures describe that from a pair of Mul-Prakruti (also known as Mahamaya) and Mul-Purush (also known as Prakruti-Purush or Mahāpurush) infinite number of pairs of Pradhan and Purush are evolved. From each pair of Pradhan and Purush, each brahmand is evolved. Mul-Prakruti or Mahamaya is the final material cause of countless brahmands or multiverse. Prakruti-Purush or Mahapurush is the final efficient cause of countless brahmands or multiverse.
Mahamaya, Maya in general, is originated from a tiny portion of the luminescence (tej) of Brahm, which sustains in it all of the brahmands. “Vishtabhya aham idam kritsnam ekāmshena sthito jagat” (Bhagwad Gita: 10.42). Meaning, “I support (vishtabhya) this entire (kritsnam) cosmos (jagat) that is being existed (sthito) in a tiny portion or fraction (ekāmshena) of me (my body).” In the scriptures, Aksharbrahm is considered as the sharir (body) of Purushottam (Parabrahm) and Purushottam is considered Aksharbrahm’s shariri (essence or controller). “Yasyāksharam shariram…” (Subāla Upanishad: Khand-7) Meaning, “He, Narayan (God), whose body (sharir) is Akshar.”
Prakruti-Purush, Mahapurush, or Mul-Purush, as he is known by these names, is basically an aksharpurush or akshar-mukta, one of many akshar-like or akshar-rup purushas. This aksharpurush or Prakruti-Purush is desireless (niranna), already liberated (mukta), brahmanized, brahm-like, or has become one with Brahm (brahmrup), and is the cause or source of maya. He is fully contented, happy, and fulfilled (paripurna) with the bliss and happiness of Brahm, who is free from any desire to indulge in worldly or mayik pleasures. Even though he stays within maya he ever remains unaffected by maya. There are many such akshar-like, brahmrup Purushas who worship Purushottam Vāsudev Narayan (God). Mahapurush is born or arise (upajayate) from Aksharbrahm at the wish or will of Purushottam. Mahapurush is the cause of Mahamaya. Mahamaya, as such, is anādi (unborn) or eternal (without birth and death). But at the final dissolution (Ātyantik pralay) it becomes dormant, shrinks or dissolves in a tiny portion of Aksharbrahm, and remains embedded there until the next creation. It is the same Mahamaya that is reactivated or born from the tej or luminescence of Aksharbrahm by Mahapurush. Through Mahamaya, Mahapurush causes the rest of the creation of multiple brahmands. Thus, finally it is Purushottam Vāsudev who, in the form of Brahm, is both – the material as well as efficient cause of creation, sustenance, and dissolution of countless or infinite numbers of brahmands. Taittiriya Upanishad says, “Vignānam cha avignānam abhavat |” (Taittiriya Upanishad: Brahmānanda Valli, Anuvāka: 6) Meaning, “Brahm became the intelligence (sentient being) as well as the non-intelligence (insentient being) of the universe.”
Just as there is a difference between the jiv (an individual soul) and Purush (Virat-Purush or a universal soul and Prakruti-Purush or a multiversal soul), who is an ishwar, there is difference between ishwar and Brahm.
Aksharbrahm, the abode of Purushottam, is the penultimate reality – the one and only. Purushottam is the Ultimate Reality. Aksharbrahm is the most sought for reality, for the yogis and the devotees of God who seek for the final resting place or the final liberation. The scriptures say that when the whole creation undergoes dissolution, there remains or exists nothing but God, His abode, and the liberated souls. This is the reason why it is called final liberation (Atyantik Kalyan or Moksh).