Posts Tagged ‘sharir’

Darshan (Philosophy) XXXII

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Shad Darshan – Concluding comments:

Conclusion II

In conclusion, all of the above philosophies of Hinduism describe about the fundamental realities, from one, two, three, or five, and their relationships with each other. We can reduce all the realities, before the creation, to just one reality – God. But then we cannot explain all the realities that are in existence after the very first creation. The creation itself is a reality. We have to explain everything based on the minimum possible number of fundamental realities considering all the past, present, and future scenarios of existence. Even scientists have difficulty in reducing everything to just one particle and one force.

All philosophies agree that the Supreme Being is one, unique, incomparable, and unparalleled, who is conceived or understood as the perfect, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, creator, source, and controller of the universe, the cosmos, and everything. He is eternal, without beginning and end, forever stable, and unchanging. He is beyond time, space, deeds, and material world of maya. He is Soul of the souls and God of the gods. In Hinduism, He is known as Paramatma, Parabrahm, Purushottam, or Narayan. “Parabrahm” is so named because it is beyond or transcendental to Brahm (Param Brahm).

Brahm or the Abode of Parabrahm (God) is another reality which is penultimate to Parabrahm. Initially Brahm and Parabrahm were inferred as one reality, but later on it was clearly understood that Parabrahm and Brahm, God and His abode, cannot be just one reality. They are two different realities. Scriptures have described some of the characteristics exclusively for Parabrahm that cannot be applies to Brahm or any other realities. Parabrahm is the Supreme Being – the topmost creator, controller, and the essence of all. Parabrahm is described as the soul (shariri) of Brahm (sharir). Brahm is described as the body (sharir) of Parabrahm. Just as body (sharir) and soul (shariri) seems to be one, Brahm and Parabrahm were also understood to be one reality. But, they are not one and the same entity. Parabrahm can sustain without Brahm, but Brahm cannot sustain without Parabrahm.

In Hinduism, there is description of a super-soul or universal soul called Purush or Ishwar. In Hinduism, there is a crucial distinction between Purush and Purushottam (God). Ishwar or Purush is the super-soul of brahmand (whole universe). Hinduism describes about many brahmands. It is obvious that if there are many brahmands and each brahmand is governed by its own super-soul, then there are possibilities of existence of many super-souls. Existence of many Purushas is described in Sankhya scriptures and other scriptures like Mahabharat and Purans.

In Hinduism, individual soul is understood as ontologically distinct reality from God, Nature (Prakruti), and other realities. There are many individual souls or inner-self called atma or jiv limited to each mundane physical body. Each soul is separate, distinct, and different than its body. Therefore, bodily relations are simply bodily relations and are limited to the current birth only. The past, present, and future bodily relations have nothing to do with the souls. Once the soul is free from its three kinds of body it gets liberation or salvation. Soul has to be brahmanized (brahmrup) to get ultimate salvation called Atyantik Moksh. For that the living being has to take the shelter of God and completely and unconditionally surrender to Him, who resides forever in His abode and also, as His presence on this earth, in Satpurush (God-realized person or sant), in Satshāstra (Holy Scriptures), and in Satkriyā (pious and virtuous actions). No one has seen God as scientists see or observe tiniest particles or farthest galaxies and quasars. Everything what we know about God is from the holy scriptures. Scriptures have described every tiniest detail and the characteristics of God and His true and the choicest devotee or follower. Hinduism believes in worshiping the present form of God on the earth and that also in the form like us with which we can find some resemblance or similarity, develop intimacy, do some communication, and enjoy the same bliss on this earth and in this very life as we would enjoy in His abode. This also makes sure that what we are getting here, we will be getting there in His abode. Anyway, salvation ultimately is in His presence, in His service, and in His close association whether here or in His abode.

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) XVIII

Friday, June 18th, 2010

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 ParvaBook 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).

Darshan (Philosophy) XVII

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Ishwar

Ishwar and Brahmand

2. Ishwar is the essence of brahmand. He is the universal soul – the creator, controller, and the efficient cause of whole universe (brahmand). Brahmand is his body. Brahmand is Ishwar’s field (kshetra) of action. Ishwar is the fielder (kshetragna) of brahmand. Each brahmand is evolved from a pair of Pradhān and Purush. Pradhan is a kind of Prakruti limited to a brahmand and is considered as the insentient or material cause of it and Purush (Pradhan-Purush) is the essence of Pradhan and is considered as the sentient, essential, or efficient cause of a brahmand. Pradhan is the primordial form of Mahattattva. Mahattattva (also mentioned as Hiranyagarbha or fire ball in the scriptures) is the primordial form of brahmand (universe). Purush is its essence.

Virat is an existing or sustaining form of a brahmand (universe). Because Purush is the essence of Virat, he is also known as “Virat-Purush.” In the scriptures, Purush or Virat-Purush is known as Ishwar.  Brahmand is described as Purushavatar.  Just as the soul has three kinds of body, Ishwar or Virat-Purush also has three kinds of body (sharir): Virāt, Sutrātmā, and Avyākrut – equivalent to gross, subtle, and causal bodies, respectively. Similar to the birth, life, and death of a star, Utpatti (birth or creation), Sthiti (life or sustenance), and Pralay (death or dissolution) of brahmand (universe) are the three states (avastha) of Virat-Purush or brahmand.Like jiva, Virat-Purush is also bound to his body called brahmand. Brahmand also undergo a life-cycle of birth, life, and death. Virat-Purush remains bound to his body until he finishes his lifespan. The lifespan of Virat-Purush is two parardhs (each parardh is approximately equal to 155.52 trillion years).  The death of a part of brahmand, called triloki (10 out of 14 loks which include swarg lok, mrutyu lok, and pātāl lok), is known as “nimitta-pralay.” It occurs at the end of everyday of brahmand during its lifetime. When the general dissolution or death of whole brahmand occurs it is called “prakruti-pralay.” When this occurs, the whole brahmand dissolves into Pradhān – its material cause, which in turn dissolves into Mahāmāyā or Mul-Prakruti. Purush gets in direct contact with Mahapurush or Mul-Purush, who is “akshar-purush” or “akshar-mukta.”

According to the scriptures, from the navel of Virat-Purush Brahmā was born. Brahmā, Vishnu, and Mahesh are the three sagun forms of Vāsudev Narayan (Vāsudevnarayan) for the control, operation, and execution of the creation, sustenance, and destruction of the brahmand (universe). When jiv worships these three sagun forms of Vāsudev Narayan, he achieves the three purushārths, namely, dharma, arth, and kām. When jiv worships nirgun forms or the avatars of Vāsudev Narayan he attains moksh. There exist countless universes (brahmands) with their own Brahmā, Vishnu, and Mahesh. Purushottam Narayan known as Vāsudev Narayan, in the form of Purush, enters into and inspires Virāt-Purush to perform his activities of creation, sustenance, and dissolution of Brahmand. Virat-Purush worships Sankarshan, Aniruddha, and Pradyumna (the three sagun forms of Vāsudev Narayan) during the state of dissolution, sustenance, and creation of Brahmand, respectively. As long as Virat-Purush worships sagun forms of Vāsudev Narayan, his association with maya remains intact and when he worships the nirgun form of Vāsudev Narayan he forsakes maya and becomes one with Brahm or brahmrup. Ishwar is the source of all incarnations in brahmand. The scriptures describe that all the avatars in a brahmand are manifestations of Vāsudev Narayan. When Vāsudev Narayan enters and resides in Virat-Purush in the form of Purush he is said to be an avatar. Because of this Virat-Purush is also known as Vairaj-Narayan. Thus, avatars are worshiped in Hinduism because of the presence of Vāsudev Narayan only.

The difference between ishwar and jiv is that ishwar is “sarvagna” (omniscient), whereas, jiv is “alpagna” (little-knowing). Ishwar is limited to brahmand or universe, which is its field (kshetra), whereas, jiv is finite and limited to its body (sharir) only. Another difference is that, Virat-Purush – the ishwar, at the time of dissolution leaves the universe – his body, forsakes maya, and goes directly to the abode of God because he is inherently free from maya but only for the purpose of creation he indulges into maya, whereas, jiv, at the time of death, leaves its body and merges into maya for entering the cycle of births and death, unless and until it becomes free from its bondage with maya.

Brahmands are countless or infinite in numbers (anant koti), each with fourteen realms (loks or lokas) located within it and the eight layers or shields (ashtavaran) covering from the outside of it, as is described in detail in the scriptures. In the whole creation there are groups or strata of brahmands. They are all of their original sizes and dimensions but because of the vastness of the creation they all look merely like atoms wondering around. As there are many brahmands, there are many pairs of Pradhan (kshetra) and Purush (kshetragna). Thus, Kapil rishi in the Sankhya scriptures acknowledges the plurality of Purushas. Mahabharat: Book 12: Shanti Parva, Part 2-3: Mokshadharma Parva: Section: CCCLI-II also mentions the same.

Darshan (Philosophy) V

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Vishishtadvaita philosophy

Vishishtadvaita philosophy and almost all of the “Vaishnav” philosophies of Hinduism are based on Panchratra scriptures – one of the four kinds of Vaishnav Agams (Vaishnava Agamas). Agamas are a separate class of authoritative Hindu scriptures than Nigams (Nigamas) or Vedas. Panchratra scriptures are divided into seven groups, namely, Brahma, Shaiva, Kaumara, Vashishtha, Kapila, Gautamiya, and Naradiya. The Naradiya Panchratra is in the Shanti Parva section of the Mahabharat and is considered as the earliest source of Panchratra philosophy. The followers of the Vaishnav tradition regard Panchratra scriptures, especially of Naradiya origin, as the most authoritative, in which Vishnu is mentioned as the Supreme Lord.

Panchratra scriptures:

As against Vedanta understanding of Brahm, there is a major philosophy of Parabrahm Narayan (God) described in the “Panchrātra” shastras (scriptures). Vaishnav Panchratra shastras glorify God as Vishnu. According to Panchratra Shastras, there is one Supreme God (suggesting the monotheistic nature of Hinduism) known as Purushottam Narayan who assumes or reveals Himself in five different ways: 1. Para – the original form in His abode, 2. VyuhChatur Vyuh (four nirgun forms) in brahmand for the worship, 3. Vibhuti Avatar – an incarnation on the earth, 4. Antaryāmi – inner controller or indweller, and 5. Archā (murti or pratimā) – an image or object for the worship. He manifests or emanates in brahmand as four forms (chatur vyuh) of Vāsudev, Sankarshan, Aniruddha, and Pradyumna. Sankarshan, Aniruddha, and Pradyumna forms of Vāsudev are the major controlling forms during the destructive, sustaining, and the creative phases of brahmand (universe), respectively. It is he who assumes, manifests, or reveals himself as an avatar on this earth. Murtis are described of eight kinds. The ninth kind is chal murti generally known a Brahmanized or God-realized Sant in whom God resides fully. According to Panchratra, one, who offers nine kinds of devotion (bhakti) to him, attains the liberation (mukti or moksha).

Vishishta Advait philosophy of Ramanujacharya:

As against Shankaracharya’s Advait philosophy or non-dualism of Nature (Prakruti) and Brahm or the soul and the Brahm, there is also another major philosophy called Vishishta Advait or qualified non-dualism of Ramanujacharya (c. 1017-1137). It is based on the spiritual and physical experience and realization of God by offering utmost devotion (bhakti) to God, instead of just knowing the nature of self and God (brahmgnan). The same illusory world of Maya of Advait philosophy of Shankaracharya is used for offering the devotion or bhakti towards personified (sakar) God. According to this philosophy, the soul and God are both qualitatively or characteristically similar but ontologically quite distinct entities and not the one and same or part and parcel. This dual or paradoxical understanding of both the realities makes it special or “Vishishta” and separates it from the Shankaracharya’s Advait philosophy. Secondly, it clarifies the distinction between the Creation (Prakruti or Nature) and the Creator (Ishwar or God). Ishwar is transcendental to both jiv (soul) and jagat (Nature). The philosophy still falls short of clarifying the ontological distinction between the jiv (soul) and jagat (Nature) even though characteristically both are opposite of each other.  One is chit, chaitanya, essence, sentient, indestructible, indivisible, unchangeable, and non-decayable while the other is achit, achetan, jad, insentient, destructible, divisible, changeable, and decayable. It considers jiv (soul) and jagat (nature) are two modes of one reality called Brahm. According to this philosophy, the soul is “Chit-Brahm” meaning chaitanya or sentient being and the jagat (Prakruti or Nature) is “Achit-Brahm” meaning achetan, jad or insentient being. According to this philosophy, soul and nature, both as Brahm, are the body (sharir) of God (Parabrahm). In this way Brahm (sharir) and Parabrahm (shariri) make the two, respectively, penultimate and the ultimate, dependent and independent, transcendental eternal realities. Thus, according to this philosophy, there are mainly three fundamental realities, called “Tattva”, namely, Chit or Jiv (soul), Achit or Jagat (universe), and Ishwar (God). The triad of jiv, jagat, and jagadishwar (jagat + ishwar = jagadishwar, meaning, ishwar or lord of the jagat) is generally known as Brahm – the one and only. Thus, it does not differ much from the Advait philosophy of Shankaracharya. The apparently minute or subtle (sukshma) but the philosophically major difference between the two philosophies is that, Ishwar is considered different than Brahm in the Vishishtadvaita philosophy, whereas, there is no difference between Ishwar (God) and Brahm in Advait philosophy. Vishishtadvaita philosophy considers Ishwar as an essence or substantive part of Brahm, whereas, jiv and jagat are considered the two modes of Brahm. Ishwar is transcendental to both jiv and jagat. Ishwar (God) has dual characteristics: he resides or is present as a principle, universal spirit, and as an inner controller inside all beings, at the same time, all beings reside within him. Vishishtadvaita philosophy is generally known as the Path of devotion or bhakti (Bhakti Mārg) because it stresses more on devotion to God rather than to Brahmgnan or mere knowledge of Brahm. The devotion to God exceeds simple union of the individual soul with Brahm without any devotion to God. Shankaracharya’s “Gnan Marg” does not involve much of the devotion or worship of God instead it stresses more on the knowledge and the union of the soul with the Brahm – the Supreme authority. Just as the Advaita philosophy of Shankaracharya has become synonymous with Vedanta, the Vishishtadvaita philosophy of Ramanujacharya has become synonymous with Vaishnavism (Vaishnav theology). The word “Vaishnav” has come from worshiping Vishnu as God or the Supreme Being.

If one tries to understand God only by studying Panchratra shastras (scriptures), God is realized as purely human being like us, simply because common people or non-devotees cannot see or find any divinity in His worldly routine activities. Secondly the personal form of God gets all the limitations and becomes localized in one place at one time and not as the forever universal inner controller (sarva-antaryami) form and all-perfect (paripurna) form.

Darshan (Philosophy) I

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Shad Darshan – Sankhya and Yoga:


Since Hinduism has its base in Vedas and Vedas are considered words of God directly revealed to the great Rishis, Hinduism is not considered as a philosophy. Hinduism is the Vedic way of describing the Absolute Truth. Vedas are considered eternal (without any origin), authorless (apaurusheya – means not the work of mankind or beyond human imagination), and infallible (never wrong). The directly revealed words of God are considered as the form of God. “mada vāni, mada rupam”, meaning, “My words are my form.” It is considered as one of the ways of understanding or claiming the Truth, just like any other religious philosophies. It will be surprising to know that almost all religious philosophies agree to believe that the “Truth” or “Absolute” is one, but it is equally surprising that the claimants or claimers are many! Because, Hinduism is not considered as a philosophy but is considered as the first hand or direct information about the truth, the philosophies developed on the bases of the Vedas – the words of God, are called “Darshans.” Darshans are philosophies – philosophical interpretations about the Truth by the great scholars. Darshans literarily means the views, visions, or philosophies and are also known as “Tattvagnān” (also spelled as “Tattvagyan” or “Tattvajnan”). Hinduism is not the “Darshan” or “Tattvagnān.” “Shad” means six and “Darshan” means philosophy. The six major philosophies of Hinduism developed from Vedas and Upanishads are: Sānkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaisheshika, Purva Mimānsā (Mimamsa), and Uttara Mimānsā (also known as Vedanta.”) All these philosophies were basically developed before the Common Era except the few major philosophies based on Vedanta.


Sankhya” is the oldest classical philosophical system of Hinduism founded by rishi Kapil. According to Sankhya, there are basically two realities: Prakruti and Purush. Prakruti means the Nature which consists of 24 elements (tattvas). Purush means the essence or the controller of Prakruti. It is ontologically and characteristically distinct from Prakruti and is considered as the 25th element that is transcendental to all other elements. The responsibility of exploring or knowing in detail and further describing the Nature or Prakruti has been taken up by the Science, The responsibility of knowing and describing God or Purush has been taken up by the Religion.

The objective of Sankhya is to obtain discriminative knowledge of the manifest (vyakta) nature (prakruti), the unmanifest (avyakta) nature (prakruti), and the knower (purush). “Tadviparitaha shreyān vyakta-avykta-gna-vignānāt ||” (Sāmkhya Kārikā: 2) According to Sankhya, Vyakta prakruti includes Mahattattva, Buddhi, Ahamkar, five Tanmatra, ten Indriya, and five Mahabhut. Avyakta prakruti is Pradhān. The knower (gnaha) is known as Purush.

Sankhya philosophy maintains multiplicity of Purush. “janana-marana-karanānām pratiniyamādugapatpravruteshcha | Purushabahutvam siddhim traigunyaviparyayāshchaiva ||” (Sāmkhya Kārikā: 18) “Everybody does not born at the same time, does not die at the same time, everybody does not do same activity (karma) at the same time, everybody does activities (pravrutti) according to their psychological state of mind (gunas), such as some do virtuous activities (dharma), some do wicked activities (adharma);  some do cultivate detachment from the worldly object (vairagya) some not; some gain knowledge (gyān), some not. These diversities themselves show the plurality of purushas.”

Sankhya does not separate jiv or soul from sharir or the body. It considers jiv or soul as a part of 24 elements of Nature (also called Pradhān Prakruti) because jiv is intermingled or blended with them so closely that it cannot be separately identified. The 24 elements along with jiv are considered as the field called “Kshetra” and Purush is considered as the fielder called “Kshetragna.” They have controlee and controller relationships, respectively. This can be compared to the Dualism. But, the dualism of body and its life force (soul, atma or jivatma) or the dualism of cosmos (Prakruti) and its super-soul (Purush) and not the dualism of body and mind (According to Hinduism mind or antahkaran is part of the body – ontologically same element or reality) as against Monism. In Sankhya, the intellect or conscious is called “mahat” (mahattattva). Sankhya describes three kinds of proofs or evidences called “Pramānas,” namely, “Pratyaksha pramana” meaning direct perception, “Anumāna pramana” meaning logical inference, and “Sabda pramana” means verbal testimony.

Sānkhya is the eyes (ānkhya) to visualize the Truth. The message of Sankhya is to utilized this material world for improving one’s understanding about the Truth, at the same time developing the detachment from it, and hence to uplift the soul considering that this material world is not that important, permanent, or giver of the happiness or the bliss. It can just give comfort at the most. It is called the Nature or Prakruti – the jad (lifeless), aparā (non-transcendental) Prakruti which is “nāshvant” meaning destructible. The real essence is its life force, motivating force, its cause, its controller called Purush, Ishwar, or God. One should cultivate the attachment with the Truth. Sankhya generally believes in unrestricted use of nature or the worldly products of the nature and then either to forget it or to rationalize it to remain permanently detached from it so that one always remains in the state of bliss and avoid pain and sufferings.

In Sankhya, the question of salvation remains open. If Purush is God and Prakruti is His creation then salvation of Purush is out of question. If Brahmand is Prakruti (Pradhān) and its chief controller is Purush and if there is only one brahmand then the separation of Purush from its brahmand happens at the dissolution. But it doesn’t explain multiplicity of Purushas. If there are many brahmands, and hence many Pradhāns then it explains existence of many Purushas. But then it does not explain the supremacy of one God. One needs to add or explain the existence of the supreme reality. If Prakruti is body and Purush is its essence, called Jiv or soul, then it explains many bodies and many souls – a separate soul for each living being. But then the soul becomes the 25th element and what about God? What about salvation? Who gets salvation and who gives salvation? If souls get salvation, then who gives them salvation? The above ontological questions or flaws in Sankhya philosophy creates the necessity of at least one more reality, either soul or God, which is explained by the next philosophy.


Yoga was developed by rishi Pātanjali for creation of the spiritual bonding or union of a soul with the God. But now it has taken a 360 degree turn to help built physical health globally. The principals of Yoga are mentioned in his text of “Yoga Sutra.” Patanjali’s yoga system accepts the principles and concepts of Sankhya about the 24 kinds of physical elements. Patanjali’s Yoga texts (Yoga Shāshtras) go one step further. According to yoga, soul or jiv is ontologically different than the 24 kinds of physical, material, or worldly elements. So soul or jiv can be considered as the 25th element and God automatically becomes the 26th element. God is still maintained superior to all that makes up the topmost transcendental element or fundamental entity constituting the creation. God in Yoga is personified, Supreme, and of the nature of soul, that is, purely spiritual. He facilitates the attainment of liberation of the souls of His devotees. He remains non-doer or “akrtā.” Meaning, He doesn’t do anything directly by Himself and remain detached from its creation. He is called “Ishwar.” In Yoga, Ishwar is described as one, “in whom there is the seed (bij) or source of unsurpassed (nirātishayam) quality of all-knowing (omniscience),” “Tatra niratishayam sarvagnatva-bijam” Meaning Ishwar is omniscient or all-knower (sarvagna) (Yoga Sutra: 1.25) and “Sa purveshām-api guruhu kālenānavachchhedāt” (Yoga Sutra: 1.26) Meaning, “who is Guru (mentor or the ideal) of also ancient ones (primary creators, such as Brahmā and others), for, He is unbounded (pierced) by time (for He has no beginning and end, meaning eternal, whereas others have beginning and end).” Ishwar is “Purush-vishesha” (Godhead) untouched, unaffected, and free from the “klesha” (afflictions), “karma” (deeds or actions), “vipāka” (fruits of the deeds or actions), and “āshaya” (intentions or desires). “Klesha karma vipākāshayair aparāmrushtaha purusha-vishesha ishwaraha” (Yoga Sutra: 1.24). Souls are pure, eternal, immutable, and are countless in number. They remain attached to the world and worldly things. Souls assume innumerable embodied forms in the cycle of birth and death. In Yoga, the intellect or conscious is called “chittva” (chitt). Unlike the unrestricted use of nature in the Sankhya system, Yoga believes in the restricted use of the nature or in the well controlled and willing (not the forceful and against one’s will) suppression (nirodh) of the thoughts (vruttis) of the conscious (chitt). To understand the elements let us take only one kind of element, say the “Pruthwi” element. It consists of particulate form of more than 112-118 elements of the periodic table. Yoga also describes perceptions, but only of two kinds: “Savikalpa” meaning relative and “Nirvikalpa” meaning absolute perception.

In Yoga, Ashtang Yoga or meditation (dhyān) is used as the means of communion with the Divinity or God. Divinity or self is the object of meditation. Yoga recommends considering the soul, jiv or atma as the distinct (chaitanya) entity from the physical or worldly (lifeless) objects or entities and to develop “Atmabhāv” or “Atma-realization”; and then to worship Paramatma (God) who has definite form (sākār). If we have a physical form, then God has to have, physical but divine (divya sakar), form otherwise the union cannot be strong and fruitful. This is called “sajātiya” union, meaning the union “of a kind” or “of the same kind,” because, Soul and God both are believed to share ontologically common traits. The message of Yoga, as compared to Sankhya, is not to utilize this material world at all or at the minimum necessary level to keep one’s body, mind, and soul healthy and long-lasting keeping in mind that it is just the vehicle in developing the union with the Truth called God or Narayan and attaining the liberation.

Thus, Yoga emphasizes for spiritually leveling or uplifting the “Atma to God” or “Jiv to Shiv (God)” or “one eternal to another eternal” (shāswat) objects, rather than downgrading oneself with the worldly, material, destructible (nāshvant) objects by thinking or being as a part of a physical elements. If a person thinks him or herself as a part of the material world and worships God then his or her union or bonding with the God does not become complete, strong, and permanent. There always remains a flaw or hanging sward over that union and ultimately it breaks with even a trivial reason.

Yoga philosophy explains three basic or fundamental realities and salvation of souls, but it creates one more issue. If one understands Ishwar from Yoga only, being defined as Purush form, God as a person gets many limitations in understanding. One cannot get it how personified God can be all-knower or omniscient (sarvagna), all-controller, inner-guide of all (sarva antaryāmi), all-pervasive (sarva vyāpak), present everywhere at the same time (omnipresent) and absolutely perfect (paripurna).

Yoga was meant for the union of the atma (self or soul) with Paramatma (God) and the object of meditation was self or God. But in modern period of times, the object of meditation is changed from the divinity to diversity and yoga has just remain one of the means of attaining or maintaining well being of the body only, not even of mind and the soul.

Body in Hinduism XII

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Sharir – Tattvas Part III (contd.):

Prans – in General V

To understand the pran, let’s first understand the body. What is body? How does it function? According to Hinduism, body is the God given vehicle to attain salvation for the soul. The soul is firmly attached to the three kinds of body, just as the germ of the seed is attached to the three kinds of layers of the fruit. As long as it has this attachment, soul cannot go to the abode of God, because body cannot go there and so the soul firmly attached to it.

The purpose of the life, according to Hinduism, is not to be born, live for hundred years, and die, again and again, during which we gain something and lose something, we enjoy little and suffer more, and at the end we leave everything here on this earth and cannot take anything with us. This is not we were meant for. God gave us this life to help others, to enjoy the bliss of God and to let others enjoy the same, to attain freedom and liberation from the cycle of births and deaths by offering devotion to God and by serving to His devotees. So, let’s try to understand the body first to understand the pran.

Body can be compared with the factory producing energy in the form of carrier molecules. It has three major divisions. First, the resources division or “In” division: The raw materials are air and food. Air has oxygen in it and food has necessary nutrients and water in it. They are the key elements for survival of body factory. They are gathered and concentrated or breakdown in tiny pieces by two main systems: the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, governed by Pran and Udan, respectively. Second, the transportation and distribution division or the central transverse division: After gathering resources are then transported and distributed for processing by circulatory system governed by Saman. Third, the waste management division or “Out” section: After processing the resources, waste management is done by excretory system and the expansion or growth is done, if needed, by reproductive system both of which are governed by Apan. Finally, the end products are produced and utilized for specific purposes, such as, growth, movements, mobility, routine maintenance, repair, pleasure, cognition, etc. Since body cannot store the energy, the production and utilization of the end products are done instantaneously and side-by-side. The excess or surplus of raw material gathered or created are stored in different parts of the body for emergency uses. The whole production and utilization process is governed by Vyan. This summarizes, in short, the functions of prans in the body.

The most important vital elements, oxygen and nutrients, gathered and processed by the respiratory system and by the gastrointestinal system are governed by Pran and Udan, respectively, on one side. Pran controls respiration and Udan controls digestion grossly. Both together ultimately produce the most important energy in the form of chemical energy (ATPs) necessary for the growth and maintenance and in the form of chemical free energy (heat). The processes are known as cellular respiration and catabolism. The energy released is utilized instantaneously for growth and differentiation of cells and synthesis of complex molecules by anabolic pathways and the most toxic elements, carbon dioxide and waste products, such as lactic acid, acetic acid, ammonia, and urea, are removed from the body by the excretory system. Both are governed by Vyan and Apan, respectively, on the other side. Vyan controls overall metabolism and Apan controls overall excretion. Pran (also known as inward process) and Apan (outward process) functions oppositely from each other. Pran means inhaled breathing and Apan means exhaled breathing. Similarly, Udan (in Hinduism, known as upward process) and Vyan (in Hinduism, known as transverse process, in Greek catabolism means downward process – kata means downward and ballein means to throw and anabolism means upward process – ana means upward and ballein means to throw, both combined becomes the transverse process) also function oppositely from each other.

In the middle (known in Hinduism as Navel or central region) is Saman. Both sets of opposite processes or functions, for example, “in” and “out” of the resources and waste products, energy production and energy utilization, catabolism and anabolism, and growth and destruction of cells are balanced by Saman.

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Prāns provide all the energy or vitality to our body. Prans control all the functions of our body. “All that exists here is under the control of pran.” “Pranasyedam vashe sarvam trideve yatpratishitam |” (Prashna Upanishad Prashna-II.13) Therefore, it is said in the Upanishads that, pran moves our hands and feet. Pran moves our eyes and tongue. Pran moves our lungs and the heart. Pran is responsible for all the actions in our body. Without pran the body cannot function.