Posts Tagged ‘Akash’

Darshan (Philosophy) XX

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Brahm

Brahm, Akshar, or Aksharbrahm: Part II

As we have seen previously, in the scriptures, Brahm is described as the overall cause of countless brahmands or multiverse. Purushottam Vāsudev Narayan (God), who in the form of Brahm, is the Final or Ultimate cause of the creation, sustenance, and dissolution of countless brahmands. In this manner, Hinduism is crystal clear about the creation and the cause and the source of the creation. In Hinduism, Brahm and Parabrahm are two separate entities, as mentioned in the following verse of Bhagwad Gita. “Sarva yonishu, Kaunteya, murtayaha sambhavanti yāha | Tāsām Brahm mahad yonir, aham bij-pradaha pitā ||” (Bhagwad Gita: 14.4) Meaning, “Of all the pathways or sources of creation or origin, in which all forms of bodies appear, O, son of Kunti, the major source of creation or origin (mahad yonir) is Brahm in which I am (aham – means Parabrahm Purushottam) the seed-provider father – pitā. (The word “bij-pradaha,” means, by providing akshar-muktas (liberated souls) in the form of Purush or Mahapurush as the seed.)” This also suggests that, just as Brahm is different than Parabrahm Purushottam. Purushottam (God or Bhagwan) is different than Purush or Mahapurush.

The characteristics or qualities of Brahm described in the scriptures are almost similar to the qualities described for Parabrahm confusing the scholars. But if one tries to see minutely there is a big difference between Brahm – the penultimate element and Parabrahm – the ultimate Supreme element. First and foremost, Brahm is mentioned, in the scriptures, as the sharir or body of Parabrahm – the shariri or the essence. Without the essence body cannot function. Thus Parabrahm is the life and soul of Brahm. Brahm is subordinate and dependent to Parabrahm for all his activities. Brahm is mentioned as the overall support and overall cause of the whole creation. In the scriptures Brahm is never mentioned as the support, source, or cause of Parabrahm. Brahm works or functions according to the will of Parabrahm. Parabrahm is independent and supreme in all manners. Parabrahm, if He wishes, can stand and sustain on His own supporting the whole creation and countless muktas (liberated souls) without taking the support of Brahm. Brahm is transcendental to everything else but not to Parabrahm. Parabrahm is the Supreme Being. Parabrahm Purushottam is the master of all – Brahm, ishwar, jiv, maya, and everything that is evolved from maya. One can and should make a union with Brahm to attain Parabrahm but no one can be reached to the level of Parabrahm – physically, spiritually, or potentially. Parabrahm is immune to any comparison, impervious to any realities and unparalleled to any being.

Two qualities of Aksharbrahm

In the scriptures two specific qualities of Aksharbrahm are discussed. They are: Anvay quality and Vyatirek quality. Certain characteristics of Brahm can be explained only by these two qualities. The anvay and vyatirek qualities of Aksharbrahm can be explained by taking the example of Akash (space). Just as an ordinary space is penetrating everything, it is also separate from everything. Space is everywhere, it is as vast as the universe at the same time it is as subtle as to penetrate even an atom. Brahm is subtler than even the ordinary space.

Anvay means close association or relation. This quality is because of the subtleness and all-pervasive (vyāpak) or penetrating power of Aksharbrahm. According to his anvay quality, Brahm seems to be closely associated or mixed with maya and the effects (kārya) of maya, such as, infinite numbers of brahmands.  Brahm is the inspirer (prerak) of Prakruti-Purush and all devatas like Surya, Chandra, etc. for all of their activities and functions including creation, sustenance, and destruction. This can be explained on the base of the anvay quality of Brahm. To be effective or inspirer, two entities have to be related. If both entities are not related to each other, they cannot be effective on each other.

Vyatirek means separate, distinct, or different. Even though Brahm is all-pervasive because of his subtleness and penetrating power, he is separate and distinct from everything else. This vyatirek form Brahm is known as his divine Sachchidanand form. In this divine Sachchidanand form, he is present personally in the service of God as the humble servant. As the abode of God he is holding and supporting the whole multiverse of infinite numbers of brahmands. In his vyatirek form, Brahm is transcendental to everything else, including Maya and Prakruti-Purush and the whole creation evolved from them, except Purushottam Narayan (God).

Darshan (Philosophy) II

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Nyaya and Vaisheshika:


The other two philosophical systems of Hinduism, namely, Nyay (Nyaya) and Vaisheshik (Vaisheshika) are more or less scientific systems developed to understand God and His Creation simply because we cannot fully test or reproduce both of them in our laboratory systems. To understand all that we see, observe, feel, think, and experience with our five senses and four antahkarans (mind) the Vedic Hindu thinkers or philosophers had developed theses two alternative systems in ancient times. Nyay is a system of logic or rules whereas Vaisheshik is system of cosmology or particles (Kan or Kana), though the evolution of universe from Prakruti is elaborately discussed in Sankhya Shashtras. Historians of science have shown unawareness about the contribution of Hindu scriptures in the fields of logic, physics, mathematics, philosophy, language, sociology, psychology, cosmology, etc. or in science in general.


Nyaya or the system of logic was developed by rishi Gautam. According to Nyaya, obtaining the valid knowledge through logic helps to attain liberation. Nyaya philosophy describes 16 systems or points of understanding, called “Padārtha,” to extract “basic meanings” of any entity. These are: 1. Pramāna (evidences), 2. Prameya (theorem or analysis), 3. Samshaya (doubt or questioning), 4. Prayojana (aim, goal, or purpose), 5. Drashtānta (examples), 6. Siddhānta (conclusion or abstract), 7. Avayava (subdivisions, part, or sections), 8. Tarka (logic or hypothetical reasoning), 9. Nirnaya (descision, final verdict, or settlement), 10. Vāda (doctrine, principle, or arguments), 11. Jalpa (debate, hot discussion), 12. Vitanda (quibble or caviling), 13. Hetavābhāsa (gross purpose), 14. Chhala (fallacy or tricking), 15. Jāti (kind or descent), and 16. Nigrahasthāna (point of defeat). All 16 padarthas are further explored. For example, Nyaya school describes four types of reasoning or evidences (pramāna): A. Evidences in favor of validity of the knowledge are: direct perception (pratyaksh pramana), inference or guess work (anumāna pramana), comparative evidence (upamāna pramana), and verbal or testimonial evidence (shabda pramana). B. Evidences in favor of invalidity of the knowledge are: memory (smruti), doubt (samshaya), errors, variability, or vicissitudes (viparyāya), and hypothetical reasoning (tarka). All kinds of the evidences are further explored. For example: direct perception. It can also be of two kinds: laukika or sādhārana (ordinary or sensory), and alaukika or asādhārana (extra ordinary or extra sensory). Both are further explored. For example, ordinary perceptions can be divided into six categories, namely, auditory, tactile, visual, gustatory, olfactory, and mental. Extra ordinary perceptions are further divided into three varieties: sāmanya-lakshana (common sense or intuition), gnān-lakshana (calculated or knowledge based from the previous experience), and yogaja (ESP). Perceptions are also divided into: savikalpa (relative) and nirvikalpa (absolute).

This is just to have its idea. Voluminous information can be found from the Nyaya texts.


Vaisheshik system was developed by rishi Kanād, from whose name the particles got the name “Kan” or “Kana.” His teaching was that liberation can only be achieved or attained by thoroughly understanding the nature and our existence. Vaisheshika accepts the cosmology or the evolution of the Nature or Universe. Prakruti is considered to be the cause of cosmic evolution. Prakruti has three constituent qualities (guna), namely, sattva, rajas, and tamas in equilibrium. That is why it is also known as “trigunātmikā.” According to Vaisheshika, all objects in nature (Prakruti) are made of tiniest, indivisible, invisible, indestructible, and eternal particles that are neither created nor destroyed (meaning they were there at the beginning of the creation and they will be there at the end of dissolution) and are called “paramānu.” They are like elementary particles of modern physics. Paramanus make anu. Two paramanu make one dvyanuka. Two, three, four, and more dvyanuka make one tryanuka, chaturanuka, and so on. These anu possess continuous vibratory motion which can be regarded as the spin or wave function. These paramanus are distinct from the soul. Each atomic substances has individual (vishesha) characteristics which distinguishes them from other non-atomic substances (dravyas), such as time (kāl), three dimensional space (dig, dishā) (directions or dimensions), soul (ātmā or ātman), and mind (manas). Vaisheshika has definitions for, ākāsh, time, and space. They have no lower constituents, meaning they are elementary. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 2.1.27-31) The qualities of akash are: sound, number, dimension, distinctness (individuality or separateness), conjunction, and disjunction. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 7.1.22) Time marks past, present, and future; succession, lateness and earliness. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 2.2.6) Time marks beginning, persistence, and end. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 2.2.9) Space is the cause of directions and dimensions between two objects. Vaisheshika clearly defines and describes the principle of cause (kāran) and effect (kārya).

Time can flow at different rates for different observers. Time and space are not absolute. Space and time are relative. There exist countless universes with their own Brahmā, Vishnu, and Mahesh. The universal is taken to be timeless and ubiquitous. Whatever can be defines with respect to space and time cannot be a universal. The processes that mark the passage of time on an object would thus be relative. It is only the universals which are true for all time and space are absolute or transcendental. The only such universals are Brahm and Parabrahm. These ideas are elaborated in the Purans, Agama Shashtras, and in the books such as Yoga-Vashishtha.

Substances can be grouped according to their actions or activities, common characteristics, specific characteristics, and their relationships with the cause and effect. According to Vaisheshika, there are six basic categories (padārtha) associated with reality: dravya (substance), guna (quality or characteristic), karma (motion or actions), sāmānya (common or general), vishesha (specific), and samavāya (inherent or comparative).

Dravyas include 9 basic realities, namely, Pruthwi (earth or solid), Jal (water or liquid), Tej (light or fire), Vayu (air or gas), Akash (ether or void), Desh or Dishā (place or the three dimensional space), Kal (time), Mana (mind), and Atma (soul or spirit).

Seventeen kinds of gunas (qualities or characteristics) of objects are originally described. They are: Rupa (appearance or form), Rasa (taste), Gandh (smell), Sparsh (feel or touch), Sankyā (number), Parimāna (dimensions, size, or quantity), Pruthakatva (individuality, separateness, or isolation), Samyoga or sanjog (conjugation), Vibhāga (parts, divisions, or disjunctions), Paratva (remoteness, farness or superiority), Aparatva (nearness or inferiority), Buddhi (intelligence or judgment), Sukha (happiness or pleasure), Dukha (unhappiness or pain), Ichchhā (desire), Dvesha (aversion or animosity), Prayatna (effort –  easy or hard).

Karma means action, activity, motion, or work done. It has four features: Akash (in space or in vacuum), Kāl (time), Dik or Dishā (direction), and Atman (inherent – size, magnitude, etc).

Body in Hinduism XI

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Sharir – Tattvas Part III (contd.):

Prans – in General IV

Also, in Hinduism, it is believed that, “Pindeshu Brahmānde,” meaning, “whatever is found in the universe is found in the body.” The physical processes of the universe are paralleled by the biological process in the human body. Just as there are molecular physiological processes or forces called bodily prans vital for the life of the body, there are also paralleled universal forces called universal prans vital for the sustenance of universe. These universal prans are also needed to be satisfied, meaning, balanced or conserved, for avoiding the problems of environmental imbalance and for maintaining universal peace and harmony. For that, Hinduism has also prescribed oblations or “āhutis” in the scriptures to satisfy universal prans.

Reference: Chhandogya Upanishad describes the above described oblations “āhutis” as follows:

Chhandogya Upanishad: Part V – Panchāgni Vidyā: Chapter (Khand) XIX – XXIII — Performance of the Agnihotra in Oneself – Shloks 1 and 2 in each Khand:

Chapter XIX — the Pran

 “tad yad bhaktaṃ prathamam āgacchet tad dhomīyam |

sa yāṃ prathamām āhutiṃ juhuyāt tāṃ juhuyāt prāṇāya svāheti |

prāṇas tṛpyati || ChUp_5,19.1 ||”

Therefore, the devotee of God (bhakta), should offer the food that comes first as an oblation. The first oblation (prathamām āhuti) that he (i.e. the eater) offers, should offered by saying: “Swaha to the Pran!” (Prāāya svāheti) Then the pran is satisfied (tpyati). (Ch. Up: 5.19.1)

 “prāṇe tṛpyati cakṣus tṛpyati |

cakṣuṣi tṛpyaty ādityas tṛpyati |

āditye tṛpyati dyaus tṛpyati |

divi tṛpyantyāṃ yat kiṃca dyauś cādityaś cādhitiṣṭhatas tat tṛpyati |

tasyānu tṛptiṃ tṛpyati prajayā paśubhir annādyena tejasā brahmavarcaseneti || ChUp_5,19.2 ||”

The pran being satisfied, eye – the sense of vision (cakus) is satisfied. The eye being satisfied, Āditya (the Sun deity) is satisfied. The Sun being satisfied, heaven – the abode of deities (dyaus) is satisfied. When both are being satisfied, whatever is under heaven the sun is satisfied. After they are being satisfied, the eater or sacrificer is satisfied with his offspring, cattle, food, etc. luminescence (tejas) of the body, and ultimately of Brahm is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.19.2)

Chapter XX — the Vyan

“atha yāṃ dvitīyāṃ juhuyāt tāṃ juhuyād vyānāya svāheti |

vyānas tṛpyati || ChUp_5,20.1 ||”

The second oblation that he offers should be offered saying: “Swaha to the Vyan!” (Vyānāya svāheti) Then the Vyan is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.20.1)

“vyāne tṛpyati śrotraṃ tṛpyati |

śrotre tṛpyati candramās tṛpyati |

candramasi tṛpyati diśas tṛpyanti |

dikṣu tṛpyantīṣu yat kiṃca diśaś candramāś cādhitiṣṭhanti tat tṛpyati |

tasyānu tṛptiṃ tṛpyati prajayā paśubhir annādyena tejasā brahmavarcaseneti || ChUp_5,20.2 ||”

The Vyan being satisfied, ear – the sense of hearing (śrotra) is satisfied. The ear being satisfied, the Chandramā (the Moon deity) is satisfied. The moon being satisfied, the astronomical or terrestrial regions or or geographical orientation on earth (diśas – cardinal directions) are satisfied. The directions being satisfied, whatever is in that directions and under the moon is satisfied. They being satisfied, the eater or sacrificer is satisfied with his offspring, cattle, food, etc. luminescence (tejas) of the body, and ultimately of Brahm is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.20.2)

Chapter XX — the Apan

“atha yāṃ tṛtīyāṃ juhuyāt tāṃ juhuyād apānāya svāheti |

apānas tṛpyati || ChUp_5,21.1 ||”

The third oblation that he offers should be offered saying: “Swaha to the Apan!” (Apānāya svāheti) Then the Apan is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.21.1)

“apāne tṛpyati vāk tṛpyati |

vāci tṛpyantyām agnis tṛpyati |

agnau tṛpyati pṛthivī tṛpyati |

pṛthivyāṃ tṛpyantyāṃ yat kiṃ ca pṛthivī cāgniś cādhitiṣṭhatas tat tṛpyati |

tasyānutṛptiṃ tṛpyati prajayā paśubhir annādyena tejasā brahmavarcaseneti || ChUp_5,21.2 ||”

The Apan being satisfied, tongue – the sense of speech (vāk) is satisfied. Speech being satisfied, Agni (the fire deity) is satisfied. Fire being satisfied, the earth (Pthivī – Pruthwi tattva) is satisfied. The earth being satisfied, what is under the earth and under fire is satisfied. They being satisfied, the eater or sacrificer is satisfied with his offspring, cattle, food, etc. luminescence (tejas) of the body, and ultimately of Brahm is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.21.2)

Chapter XXII — the Saman

“atha yāṃ caturthīṃ juhuyāt tāṃ juhuyāt samānāya svāheti |

samānas tṛpyati || ChUp_5,22.1 ||”

The fourth oblation that he offers should be offered saying: “Swaha to the Saman!” (Samānāya svāheti) Then the Saman is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.22.1)

“samāne tṛpyati manas tṛpyati |

manasi tṛpyati parjanyas tṛpyati |

parjanye tṛpyati vidyut tṛpyati |

vidyuti tṛpyantyāṃ yat kiṃ ca vidyuc ca parjanyaś cādhitiṣṭhatas tat tṛpyati |

tasyānu tṛptiṃ tṛpyati prajayā paśubhir annādyena tejasā brahmavarcaseneti || ChUp_5,22.2 ||”

The Saman being satisfied, mind – the psyche (manas, that is, antahkarans) is satisfied. The mind being satisfied, Parjanya (the rain deity) is satisfied. The rain deity being satisfied, the lightning (vidyut – Tej tattva) is satisfied. The lightning being satisfied, what is under the lightning and under the rain deity is satisfied. They being satisfied, the eater or sacrificer is satisfied with his offspring, cattle, food, etc. luminescence (tejas) of the body, and ultimately of Brahm is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.22.2)

Chapter XXIII — the Udan

“atha yām pañcamīṃ juhuyāt tāṃ juhuyāt udānāya svāheti |

udānas tṛpyati || ChUp_5,23.1 ||”

The fifth oblation that he offers should be offered saying: “Swaha to the Udan!” (Udānāya svāheti) Then the Udan is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.23.1)

“udāne tṛpyati tvak tṛpyati tvaci tṛpyantyāṃ vāyus tṛpyati |

vāyau tṛpyaty ākāśas tṛpyati |

ākāśe tṛpyati yat kiṃca vāyuś cākāśaś cādhitiṣṭhatas tat tṛpyati |

tasyānu tṛptiṃ tṛpyati prajayā paśubhir annādyena tejasā brahmavarcaseneti || ChUp_5,23.2 ||”

The Udan being satisfied, skin – the sense of touch (tvak) is satisfied. The skin being satisfied, Vayu (the wind deity) is satisfied. The wind being satisfied, the space or void (Akash tattva) is satisfied. Akash being satisfied, what is under the wind and under the Akash is satisfied. They being satisfied, the eater or sacrificer is satisfied with his offspring, cattle, food, etc. luminescence (tejas) of the body, and ultimately of Brahm is satisfied. (Ch. Up: 5.23.2)

Body in Hinduism V

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Sharir – Tattvas Part II:

Panch-bhuts and Panch-tanmatras

Panch-Bhuts:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     “Panch” means five. Panch-bhuts are five gross physical elements or tattvas, namely, Pruthvi, Jal, Tej, Vāyu, and Ākāsh. These elements are mentioned in Hinduism at different places with different meanings in different contexts using the same names. At places they are simply meant to be as natural substances, for example, earth, water, fire, air, and space or sky. At places, they are also meant to be, in esoteric context, five states-of-matter, namely, solid, liquid, radiation (or matter in the form of rays or waves, such as, in alpha, beta, and gamma irradiation), gas, and the fifth one vacuum state. At places they are also meant to be fundamental forces of nature, with the same names as mentioned above, of which we know four of them. They are gravitational force, weak force, electromagnetic force, strong force, and not yet known or defined, the fifth force.

Hinduism describes that, all of these five physical elements are ontologically evolved from each other as well as subtler than each other. Pruthvi is evolved from Jal, Jal is evolved from Tej, Tej is evolved from Vāyu, and Vāyu is evolved from Ākāsh. Jal is subtler than Pruthvi as well as cause of Pruthvi, Tej is subtler than as well as cause of Jal, Vāyu is cause of Jal as well as subtler than Jal, and Ākāsh is the most subtler as well as cause of Vāyu and all four elements. Hinduism also describes that all of these five physical elements as matter are successively 10 times more abundant than each other and as forces are successively 10 times stronger than each other. Akash as a force is ten times stronger and as an element ten times more abundant than Vayu, Vayu is ten times stronger and ten times more abundant than Tej, Tej as the electromagnetic force is ten times stronger and more abundant than Jal and Jal is ten times stronger and abundant than Pruthvi as the gravitational force. According to science, gravitational force or gravity is the weakest force of nature.

Panch-Vishays and Panch-Tanmātrās:

Panch-vishays or Panch Tanmatras are five subtle elements, namely, Shabda, Sparsh, Rup (Roop), Ras (Rasa), and Gandh. In English, they are translated as sound, touch, light or sight, taste, and smell. In the scriptures, both are used synonymously using the same names. As a type of sensation it is called “Vishay” and as a carrier of vishay in the form of tiny portion, measure, or unit it is called “Tanmātrā”. Five vishays are five types of sensations or vibrations that can be perceived or experienced pleasurably or painfully by five types of sensory organ systems. Five tanmatras are five kinds of disturbances, waves, objects of perceptions. Five tanmatras are five kinds of carriers of panch-vishays, just like kinds of force carriers of science, which can be propagated through the five types of gross elements and can be perceived by five types of sensory organs causing five kinds of pleasurable or painful sensations.

Just like five kinds of force carriers of the science, according to the philosophy of Hinduism, tanmatras carry panch-vishays. Sound is carried in space but not in vacuum. Sound or shabda is the tanmatra (tiny measure or unit) of akash (ether or space) and is perceived by the ears. Touch is carried by vayu. Touch or sparsh is the tanmatra of vayu element and is perceived by the skin. Sight is carried by light. One cannot see in darkness or in the absence of light. Sight or rup is the tanmatra of tej and is perceived by the eyes. Taste is carried by jal element. Taste or rasa is the tanmatra of jal and is perceived by the tongue. Smell is carried by pruthwi element. Smell or gandh is the tanmatra of pruthvi and is perceived by the nose.

In the scriptures, at places, five bhut, namely, pruthwi, jal, tej, vayu, and akash, are also mentioned as the forces of nature. If panch-bhuts (five gross elements) are mentioned in the scriptures as natural forces, then five tanmatras can be considered as force carriers. Tanmatra of Pruthvi (as the gravitational force or gravity) turns out to be Graviton, tanmatra of Jal (as the weak force) becomes W and Z particles, tanmatra of Tej (as the electromagnetic force) becomes Photon, tanmatra of Vayu (as the strong force) becomes Gluon, and tanmatra of Akash (as the unknown fifth force) becomes Ether (Aether).

Body in Hinduism III

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Sharir – Sthul, Sukshma, and Karan

Hinduism describes that the non-liberated soul are born (jiv) in “Mrutyu Lok” – the realm of the universe where life exists. They born, live, and die in this realm (lok), so, it is called Mrutyu (death) lok. Scientists have found that life can sustain even in the most extreme or harsh conditions. This is because of the superb structural and functional engineering of the body. Thus, body is an important unit of living being. In Hinduism, body is known as sharir, deh, tanu, or tan (ta´n). The Sanskrit word “tan (ta´n)” rhymes with man (ma´n means mind) and dhan (dha´n means money or wealth). Middle Persian language (3rd to 7th century BCE) also used to have word tan (ta´n) for the body. Hinduism describes all living beings have three kinds of body, namely, Sthul (gross), Sukshma (subtle or psychological), and Karan (causal). This body of living beings is consisting of 24 physical entities, called tattvas.

1. Sthul sharir: It is a gross physical body of the soul or jiv. Sthul body is made of different parts and organ systems called “Ang” and “Upāng” in Sanskrit. For the lower animals and microbes, their gross body is microscopic and they have tiny angs and upangs. Out of 24 elements, the sthul body of living beings consists of five gross elements known as Panch-bhuts. They are: Pruthvi, Jal, Tej, Vayu, and Akash. These five bhuts are created from Tāmas Ahamkār, which in turn is created, along with Rājas and Sātvik Ahamkārs, from Mahattattva. Mahattattva, which is equivalent to Chitt, is the primordial element of the body. Sthul sharir is perceptible by our five senses. According to Hinduism, an important function or the main purpose of Sthul sharir is to gain the ultimate knowledge of the Truth, to enjoy the bliss of God and God related spiritual pleasure in this very life, and to transcend to the abode of God after the death. But because of its nature of experiencing happiness and sorrow of panchvishays it has become an object or vehicle for Bhog-vilās (worldly pleasures) causing more attachments to them, instead of achieving moksh, detaching from worldly pleasures, or achieving the highest spiritually enlightened state.

2. Sukshma sharir: It is subtle, psychological or functional body. For higher animals it is psyche or mental body for the soul. It is not perceptible by our senses or sensory organs but its existence can be inferred and experienced in our day to day life. For the lower animals and plants sukshma sharir is functional and can be understood by their intelligence and activities related to survival and feeling of pleasure and pain, such as, food gathering, cell division and multiplication, mating, hibernation, running away from danger and developing bodily resistance against harsh environment, experiencing shock, sadness, crying, etc. Sukshma sharir carries with it the basic instincts for the protection and survival of a living organism, such as āhār (to eat food), nindrā (to sleep), bhay (to fear), maithun (to procreate), sukh (to feel pleasure), and dukh (to feel plain). In the modern time of luxuries we still feel unhappiness in our life. In the modern time of comfort we still feel that our world’s peace is at stake. This is because we are still harboring, in our sukshma sharir, the vices, such as, lust (kām), avarice (vāsanā), anger (krodh), greed (lobh), egotism (mad), infatuation (moh), jealousy (irshā), enviousness (matsar), hope (āshā), deep and intense desire or crave (ishnā, trishnā or trushnā), grudge or animosity (ver), etc. We create our own mental body around us. For example, I am such and such person of such and such race, with such and such name, with such and such nationality, with such and such skin color, with such and such qualifications, with such and such social and monetary status, and such and such creed. I am doctor, engineer, actor, or businessmen, etc. I am rich or poor. I am brother or sister, father or mother, uncle or aunt, etc. Even animals, tiny creatures, and microscopic organisms also create their own such mental (sukshma) body around their soul and that is why they recognize their kind and also stay, mingle, and mate with their kinds. When we call an animal by its name it will look at us and respond, because, the animal has created a mental body around its soul. Our sexual orientation, irrespective of our chromosomal, hormonal, or physical orientation is the result of our mental (sukshma) body. A common person may think of himself as a king and a king may think of himself as a common person and behave accordingly because of his sukshma body. Sukshma sharir consists of rest of the 19 elements, namely, five Prāns, Vishays, or Tanmatras; ten Indriyas, four Antahkarans, namely, Man, Buddhi, Chitt, and Ahamkar.

Panch-prān-mano-buddhihi dashendriya-samanvitam, a-panchikrut-bhutotham sukshma-angam bhog-sādhanam.

Man (Mana) and Buddhi are part of sukshma or subtle body. Sometimes Ahamkar and Chitt are not included as part of sukshma sharir, which makes the total of 17 elements for sukshma sharir. The reason may be, Hinduism also describes that both Chitt and Mahattattva has indifference (abhedpunu). Because, just as Mahattattva is the primordial form and cause of three kinds of celestial body of Ishwar, namely, Virāt, Sutrātmā, and Avyākrut; Chitt also is the primordial form and cause of three kinds of terrestrial body of  Jiv, namely, Sthul, Sukshma, and Kāran. If this is the case, then chitt obviously, as a cause of other bodily elements, could possibly the part of kāran sharir. From chitt, three types of Ahamkār are evolved and from ahamkārs rest of the 24 elements are evolved. Thus, ahamkar would also become the part of kāran sharir. Probably, because of this reason both Ahamkār and Chitt might not have been included, by some, in sukshma or subtle body, instead they may be included as a part of kāran or causal body. In short, Antahkarans – man, buddhi, ahamkar, and chitt (mind or psych as a whole) is the cause of attachment and detachment with the worldly objects and their relatives. “Man eva manushyam kāranam bandh mokshayoho.”

3. Kāran sharir: Hinduism has described Kāran sharir around our soul. It seems to be, the karan sharir of the soul has not been described before by any other religion except Hinduism. Kāran sharir is a causal body which is the sole cause for the gross and subtle bodies in the next birth of the soul that is not liberated or detached from the causal body. Causal body carries the information or knowledge acquired during the previous births. The infatuation and intense or deep desires for the worldly objects and pleasures, called vāsanā, goes along with it. Soul is firmly attached to this causal body or kāran sharir. Kāran sharir consists elementally of Māyā, so it has all the characteristics of Māyā. It is described to have attributes like, anādi (without the beginning and end), avidyā (ignorant in nature), and anirvāchya (indescribable or inexplicable). On death the sthul and sukshma bodies become “dust unto dust” or parts of natural physical elements. But the causal body or kāran sharir, after death, goes with the non-liberated soul (māyānvit meaning covered with maya) wherever the soul goes, unless, the soul is completely detached or freed from it. Once the soul is completely detached from its causal body made of Māyā, it goes to the abode of God called Brahmdhām.  This liberation of the soul is known, in Hinduism, as final redemption or “Ātyantik moksh”. Thus, final redemption in Hinduism is the detachment of soul from its three bodies consisting of maya and its attributes. It also means liberation forever from the cycle of birth and death, also known as Samsār chakra, because the soul has never have to come back to world again except for the God’s wish.

Body in Hinduism II

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Sharir – 24 Elements (Tattvas)

As we have seen previously that Hinduism believes in the field-fielder (KshetraKshetragna) theory. Prakruti is the field and Purush is its fielder. Similarly, body is a field (kshetra) and the soul is its fielder (kshetragna). According to Sānkhya scriptures, Prakruti or the nature consists of 24 physical entities or elements (tattvas), whereas, Purush, also known as Ishwar, is a quite distinct eternal entity or ontological element (tattva). Similarly, body, being the part of nature, also consists of 24 elements, whereas, soul or jiv is ontologically quite distinct eternal entity from the body. Both, Prakruti or body and Purush or jiv, are characteristically quite different from each other. One is mortal (nāshvant), decayable, destructible, “trigunātmak” (having three gunas or properties of maya), full of ignorance, etc. The other is imperishable or non-aging (ajar), immortal (amar), indestructible (achhedya), indivisible and impenetrable (abhedya), full of knowledge or knowledgeable (gnātā), subtle (sukshma), etc. When jiv behaves as united or intermingled with its body and Purush is intermingled with Prakruti, it is their combined or inseparable form (anvay swarup). When jiv is behaves as quite distinct from its three kinds of body (sthul, sukshma, and kāran) and Purush or Ishwar remain quite distinct from its three kinds of body (virāt, sutrātmā, and avyākrut) body, it is their distinct eternal form (vyatirek swarup).

These 24 elements are as follows:

1. Five gross elements (called Panch-bhuts): Pruthvi, Jal, Tej, Vayu, and Akash. They are explained and translated in English as Earth, Water, Fire or Light, Air or Gas, and Space or Sky, respectively. But this translation is misleading. Rather, they should be translated as they are.

Five Bhuts (pronounced as Bhoots) are five basic structural elements. They are derived from Tāmas Ahamkār – one of the three types of Ahamkārs. The three Ahamkars, namely, Sātvik Ahamkār, Rājas Ahamkār, and Tāmas Ahamkār are created from Mahattattva which is in turn created from Pradhan-Prakruti.

2. Five subtle elements (called Panch-Tanmātrās, PanchVishays, or Panch Prāns): Five subtle or microscopic elements are physical elements at the subatomic level, for example, tanmatras, and physiological elements at the bimolecular level, for example, prans.

Five subtle physical elements are: sound (Shabda), touch (Sparsh), sight/light (Roop), taste (Ras), and smell (Gandh). Each subtle element is a part or meter (mātrā) of each gross element. For example, sound (Shabda) is part (matra) of Ākāsh/Vyom and its main receiving organ is ear, touch (Sparsh) is part (matra) of Vayu/Marut/air and its main receiving organ is skin, sight/light (Roop) is part (matra) of Tej/light and its main receiving organ is eye, taste (Ras) is part (matra) of Aapa/Jal/water/liquid and its main receiving organ is tongue, and smell (Gandh) is part (matra) of Kshiti/Pruthvi/solid and its main receiving organ is nose. Similarly, each vishay is carried by each tanmātrā. Thus, tanmatras are akin to carrier particles of science.

Hinduism has also described five functional or physiological processes at the biomolecular level as five subtle elements, which are collectively known as prāns. Five prāns are: Prān (also spelled as Prāna), Apān (also spelled as Apāna), Vyān also spelled as Vyāna), Samān (also spelled as Samāna) and Udān (also spelled as Udāna). Prans as vital processes are as such not physical elements but as life sustaining entities or forms of energies they are also considered as elements. Along with five prāns, five upa-prāns (pronounced as oopa-praans) are also described in Hinduism. Five upa-prans are: Nāg (also spelled as Naga), Kurm (also spelled as Koorma), Krikara, Devdatt (also spelled as Devadatta) and Dhananjay (also spelled as Dhananjaya)

Five Tanmātrās are five basic carrier elements of vishays to their respective senses. Just as panch-bhuts, panch-tanmatras are also derived from Tāmas Ahamkar, but Prāns are derived from Rājas Ahamkar.

3. Five motor or executive organ systems (called Karmendriyas – (Karma-Indriyas): speech organ (Vāk, Vāni, or Mukh), hands or working organs (Pāni or Hasta), legs or locomotors organ (Pād), excretory organ (Pāyu), and reproductory organ (Upastha).

4. Five sensory organ systems (called Gnanendriyas – (Gnan Indriyas): organ for sound (ear – Karna-Indriya), organ for touch (skin – Tvak or Sparsh-Indriya), organ for seeing (Eyes – Chakshu-Indriya), organ for taste (Tongue – Jihvā or Swad-Indriya), and organ for smell (Nose – Nāsikā or Ghran-Indriya).

Ten Indriyas (five types of motor organs and five types of sensory organs) are derived from Rājas Ahamkar.

5. Four intellectual systems or functional operating units (collectively called Antahkaranantah + karana: inner operative or executive instruments): They are: Man or Mana, Buddhi, Ahamkār, and Chitt. Chitt is equivalent to Mahattattva of the universe. Just as Mahattattva is primordial form of universe, Chitt is primordial form of body. Chitt is first to appear or develop in the body. Ahamkar is derived from Chitt. Ahamkar is of three kinds: Satvik, Rajasik, and Tamasik. Mana is derived from Sātvik Ahamkar. Buddhi is derived from Rājas Ahamkar.

Thus, five bhuts, five tanmatras, ten prans (five prans and five upa-prans), ten indriyas, four antahkarans, and fourteen presiding deities (devatās) of indriyas (namely, Dis, Vāta, Surya, Varun, Ashvins are for gnanendriyas; Vahni, Indra, Upendra, Mrityu, and Prajapati are for karmendriyas; and Chandra, Prajapati, Rudra, Kshetragna are for antahkarans) are all derived from three Ahamkars which in turn are derived from Mahattattva. Thus, Mahattattva is the primordial form of universe. It is like the matter in the fireball from which the whole Brahmānd (Universe) is evolved. This could be the reason why Vedas and Upanishads describe Mahattattva as Hiranyagarbha or the Golden Embryo.

All of the above physical elements that constitute body and universe, according to Hinduism, are part of Maya – one of the five fundamental eternal philosophical elements. The soul or jiv itself makes an ontologically quite distinct fundamental eternal philosophical element. According to Hinduism, all of the above physical elements are considered incapable of doing anything without soul or jiv. And soul or jiv is considered incapable of doing anything without God. God resides in the soul.