Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):
Swaminarayan philosophy – Brahm
Brahm, Akshar, or Aksharbrahm: Part III
Two aspects of Brahm The scriptures also describe two aspects of Brahm, namely, sagun and nirgun. The sagun and nirgun aspects of Brahm are the special divine powers or potentials of the original form of Brahm. The original eternal form of Brahm is the manifest visible human form of Brahm. The distinction of sagun and nirgun applies only to Akshar, Brahm, or Aksharbrahm. Purushottam is beyond and transcendental to both of them.
Sagun aspect or form of Brahm is extremely large, vaster than the vastest objects combined in the creation. Compared to the vastness of Brahm, infinite number of brahmands (universes) appears to be like dots or mere atoms (anu) compared to each of his pore or a hair follicle (roma). It is not that those brahmands shrunk in their sizes but because of the extreme vastness of Brahm that multiple brahmands appear to be extremely small.
Nirgun aspect or form of Brahm is extremely subtle, subtler than even subtlest object in the creation. It is subtler than even an atom, subtler than even an ordinary space, because it is cause of them. In his nirgun form, Brahm is pure (shuddha), bright (prakāsheyukta), non-associating (asangi), and non-attaching, non-sticky, or non-interacting (nirlepa) with maya and its effects. These are nirgun qualities of Brahm.
Two forms of Brahm
The scriptures have also described two swarups of Aksharbrahm. Swarups are divine forms of onself. These two forms are: Impersonal and Personal. Swarups are like two physical states or forms of the same entity that differs in several of his properties, like different physical states of matter or different physical forms of carbon. But the ontological element (tattva) of both these forms is the same confusing the philosophers. This is the reason why nirākārvādi philosophers (believers of formless or impersonal Brahm) differ from the sākārvādi philosophers (believers of personal Brahm or God). Both forms have been described in the scriptures, but philosophers and their followers couldn’t believe both opposite and contradictory characteristics in the same entity so they gave them preferential treatment and propone one particular form. Shri Swaminarayan (1781-1830) could easily grasp that reality explained to the world.
Having these two contradictory forms of one entity is rather difficult to understand and perceive meaningfully and intellectually. It is like the wave-particle duality of matter, the most puzzling phenomenon in the universe, in which a particle behaves like a wave and wave behaves like a particle. But, it is the widely accepted and proved fact, which can be explained by the quantum mechanics fathered by Werner Karl Heisenberg (1901-1976) by first publishing his theory of uncertainty in 1927.
The same thing is true about Brahm. Shri Swaminarayan explains that, Brahm is nirakar in the sense that it has no māyik trigunātmik ākār or form; instead it has divine Sachchidanand form. Brahm is never described in the scripture as an abstract entity. Brahm is sakar in the sense that he is like a person or personality but in divine sense. Brahm is not like a person having mayik or worldly characteristics, such as, gender difference, aging, external signs of maturity, internal signs of organ systems, personality characteristics, traits, temperaments, behavioral patterns, mood changes, etc.
Brahm serves Parabrahm Purushottam – the Supreme Being, in a two-fold manner.
In his impersonal (amurta) form, he is like the light (prakāshrup) – limitless, and formless (nirākār). Impersonal form is known as ekarasa (homogenous), chaitanya (consciousness), and chidakash (divine-space as against ordinary space). In this form, he is also known as divya (divine) tejomaya (light-like), and Brahm-mahol (abode), and serves God by being God’s supreme divine abode that supports or sustains countless brahmands, akshar-muktas (liberated souls), and Parabrahm (God).
In his personified (murta) form, Aksharbrahm always remains at the service of Parabrahm (God) as His humble servant and never goes away from His eyesight or vision even for a fraction of a second.
Though Purushottam (God) is present everywhere (omnipresent) in His creation, by His inner guiding (antaryāmi), inspiring (prerak), and controlling (niyantā) power, as much as He is present in His Aksharbrahm, He is not present in Prakruti-Purush, Pradhan-Purush, Mahattattva, Virat Narayan, Brahmā, Marichi-like Prajāpati, Kashyap-like Prajāpati, and devatas like Indra, as well as, in Human Beings, animals, birds, insects, plants, and others, respectively. This is known as tāratamya presence of God in His creation.
Purushottam is the cause of Aksharbrahm and Aksharbrahm is the cause of creation. From tiny portion of space (ansh or amsha) of Aksharbrahm Mahapurush is born, which initiates and activates Mahamaya to create countless pairs of Pradhān and Purush. From each pair of Pradhan and Purush, a Virat-Purush (the essence of brahmand), Mahattattva (primordial matter of brahmand), and the whole brahmand (universe) is created. The whole creation is described in detail in Purans and other scriptures of Hinduism.
This Brahmdham or Akshardham, as the abode of Purushottam, is transcendental and beyond even the space-time. The space-time curvature stops there or folds over itself, so that the time (kāl) or the multidimensional and multidirectional space (desh) doesn’t reach there. Universe is limited by the space-time, so that, the nature (maya), and even deeds or actions (karma) doesn’t reach there. Only the souls (jiv or ātmā) free from their three kinds of worldly bodies reach their after becoming brahm-like (brahmrup). Without developing, cultivating, or attaining Brahm-bhāv, (Brahmanization), that is, without becoming brahm-like (brahmrup) even souls cannot reach there and by developing Brahm-bhav even without dying soul enjoys the same bliss and happiness of Brahm and Parabrahm on this very Earth.