Sharir – Tattvas Part I:
Mahattattva and Ahamkar
Hinduism describes three types of body of jiv. On liberation jiv leaves its three types of body and goes to the abode of God called Brahmdhām. For souls those are not liberated remain attached to their Kāran Sharir (causal body) and is absorbed within Māyā. This kāran sharir is of a form of avidyā and carries accumulated deeds (sanchit karmas) of the jiv. The jiv and its kāran sharir have eternal relationship. On creation, those jivs that are not liberated from the cycle of birth and death and have resided in Māyā along with their kāran sharir get various types of bodies of organisms or creatures including plants and animals, according to their individual karmas, by God’s will. Just as the judge decides the final outcome of the case and sets the reward for the defendant and the punishment to be inflicted on a convicted person after consideration or liberation, God decides which jiv gets which kind of body depending on its deed or karma. This is the reason why, in Hinduism, God is also described as “karma-fal-pradātā”, meaning giver of the fruits of karmas. Both, the Sukshma and Sthul bodies are intimately associated and remained within Kāran body, just as a tree is remained within its seed.
Hinduism also describes that the body of a jiv consists of 24 different elements as enumerated in previous part. These 24 elements are not eternal because they are derived from three types of Ahamkārs, which in turn are derived from Mahattattva. Mahattattva is also not eternal. It is derived from Pradhān-Prakruti, which in turn is derived from Mul-prakruti or Mahāmāyā. According to Hinduism, this Māyā is eternal. Now, let us discuss some of the elements of the body in further detail.
Mahattattva is the primordial form of universe (brahmand). The entire world inherently resides in a subtle form within mahattattva, just as a whole tree resides in a seed or an entire human body resides in an embryo. Mahattattva is like the matter in the fireball from which the whole Brahmānd (Universe) is evolved. It is very bright or luminous (prakāshmān), crystal clear (swachha), without any deformities (nirvikār), without any kind of disturbances or activities meaning quiet (shānt), and is extremely neutral in qualities or gunas (shuddha sattvamaya). It is created from Pradhān–prakruti and is a source of 51 elements, namely, three kinds of ahamkars (the source of all other elements), fourteen deities of indriyas and antahkarans, four antahkarans, ten indriyas, ten prans, panch-bhuts and panch-tanmatras. From Mahattattva three types of Ahamkār are evolved and from Ahamkars the 24 elements, the constituents of whole Brahmānd (Universe), are evolved. Mahattattva and chitt are indifferent (abhed). Just as Mahattattva is the primordial form of universe, Chitt is the primordial form of body (sharir). Just as the universe is evolved from Mahattattva, whole body of living organism is evolved from Chitt.
Ahamkar is evolved from Mahattattva. It is of 3 types. Ahamkār is equivalent to the primordial matter in three forms from which the remaining elements of the universe (Brahmānd) are evolved. Ahamkar is “trigunātmak” meaning, it carries the three intrinsic or inherent properties, qualities, or attributes of Māyā, namely, Sattvagun, Rajogun, and Tamogun. By nature ahamkar is quiet (without any internal activities) or passive (shānt), dense (ghor), and totally ignorant or without any physical or cognitive activity (vimudh). Ahamkār is the cause of gross and subtle physical elements (bhuts); indriyas, antahkarans, and their deities; and prāns.
A. Sāttvik Ahamkār:
The main characteristic of sāttvik-gun (sattvagun) is purity, awareness, wakefulness, goodness, neutrality or indistinctiveness, balance, tranquility, wisdom, knowledge, etc. From Sattvik ahamkar the man and the presiding deities (also called Pratyādhi or Devatās) of the indriyas, divine or higher elements, are evolved.
B. Rājas Ahamkār:
The main characteristic of rājas-gun (rajogun) is passion, incoherence, cloudiness, lack of clarity, lacking harmony, lacking connection, impurity, unintelligibility, etc. From Rajas ahamkar ten indriyas, Buddhi, and prāns, basic functional elements, are evolved.
C. Tāmas Ahamkār:
The main characteristic of tāmas-gun (tamogun) is darkness, unconsciousness, passiveness, emptiness, ignorance, etc. From Tamas ahamkar five bhuts (gross elements), and five tanmātrās (subtle elements), basic structural elements, are evolved.