mANDUkya upaniShad Part 7

Mantra 6

*** Read Part 6 ***

एष सर्वेश्वरः एष सर्वज्ञ एषोऽन्तर्याम्येष योनिः सर्वस्य
प्रभवाप्ययौ हि भूतानाम् ॥ ६ ॥

eSha sarveshvaraH eSha sarvaj~na eSho.antaryAmyeSha yoniH sarvasya
prabhavApyayau hi bhUtAnAm || 6 ||

eSha – This (i.e. the universal deep-sleep state)
sarva Ishvara – (is) the Lord of everything;
eSha – This
sarvaj~na – (is) omniscient,
antaryAmin – the ‘inner controller’.
eSha – This
yoniH sarvasya – (is) the source of everything;
hi – (is) assuredly
prabhava apayayau – the place of the arising and dissolution 
bhUtAnAm – of all beings.

The macrocosmic deep-sleep state is the Lord of everything, omniscient; Ishvara, the source of everything; indeed the source and final resting place of all beings.

In describing the gross and subtle states – waking and dream – the Upanishad does not clearly differentiate the micro and macrocosmic forms. The difference between me, the knower (waker or dreamer), and the objective universe (gross or subtle) are clear. In deep sleep, there is no knower-known differentiation, since all is in unmanifest form. Accordingly, a little more explanation is needed!

Mantra 5 dealt with the individual, or vyaShti, aspect of the deep-sleep state: I, the deep-sleeper. This mantra is concerned with the objective, deep-sleep universe; the saMaShTi. Here, everything is held in potential form, ready for manifesting the waking or dream universes. It is the ‘causal form’ of everything.

There are two aspects to a ’cause’ in the sense of creation. If you imagine the mundane example of creating a painting, for example, there is the painter and there is the paint. The paint itself is the material cause – the physical stuff which is put onto the canvas. But, although anyone may squeeze a tube of oil paint, it requires much more to produce a work of art. It requires knowledge, of such things as color theory and perspective. And it requires skill, in the form of sketching, figure drawing and maybe even building the frame or mixing the pigment.

Obviously, manifesting the universe requires much more of these qualities! Since everything has to be manifested (in both the gross world and the subtle), there must be knowledge of everything – sarvaj~na. And there have to be all necessary skills – sarveshvara. These represent the efficient or intelligent cause for creation – nimitta kAraNa.

Ishvara is both the efficient and material cause of all creation. Everything is name and form of brahman; Ishvara is brahman (as if) wielding the force of mAyA. In this sense, He is all-knowing and lord of all; the source of everything. And Ishvara ‘allocates’ bodies for rebirth according to that karma designated as coming to fruition for a given being in the next life. He is ‘responsible for’ the laws which govern the universe and those that live in it, and for the laws which determine the ending of one universe and the beginning of the next; i.e. the birth and death of everyone and everything. Indeed, those laws, in a sense, are Ishvara.

If I ask you how a child is made, of course you will be familiar with the mechanism! Clearly, in simplistic terms, the ‘instructions’ are contained in the DNA that results from combination of the man’s sperm and the woman’s egg. The material for the baby in the womb comes from the food eaten and processed by the mother. So one could accurately say that mankind himself is the material cause for the creation of a human being. But, equally clearly, the mother does not control the correct positioning of organs in the body and connecting of neurons in the brain. There are immutable physical laws governing all of this – this is Ishvara as the efficient cause.

Though all-knowing and all-powerful, Ishvara also exercises restraint and control in His creation so that the result is ordered rather than chaotic. antaryAmin literally means the ‘indwelling’ (antaH meaning ‘inside’) ‘restrainer’ (yam means ‘to restrain’). Moreover, since everything arises out of Ishvara and dissolves back into Him, it follows that everything at the level of empirical reality (including ‘me’) is effectively Ishvara, not just before and after but also during creation. The feeling of separate existence is a mistake, resulting from ignorance. Ultimately, even mAyA is mithyA and, from the perspective of absolute reality, there is only brahman.

The ‘lord of all’ (sarveshvara) reference is from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV.4.22). There, the Self is described as the authority or controller of all, the ruler of all, the lord of all, ruler and protector of all beings, i.e. Ishvara. And it is noted that ‘the seekers of brahman seek to realize it through study of the Vedas.’ (Ref. 48) The ‘inner controller’ antaryAmin comes from Brihadaranyaka II.7.1 – the ‘inner controller who controls this world, the other world and all beings’. ‘He who knows that inner controller, he knows brahman, he knows the worlds, he knows the shining ones, he knows the Vedas, he knows the beings, he knows the Self; he knows everything.’ (Ref. 48)

The ‘omniscient’ reference (sarvaj~na) is from Mundaka Upanishad (I.1.9), as is the ‘womb’ (yoni)as the ‘source of all beings (bhUtayonim) (I.1.6). By referring to ‘this’ (Ishvara) as the ‘source of everything’ (yoniH sarvasya), as well as that into which the world resolves on dissolution, the Mandukya Upanishad is pointing out that Ishvara is the material cause as well as the efficient cause for creation.

Mundaka I.1.9 says that Ishvara is the knower of everything and uses two words – sarvaj~na and sarvavit. The former is in the sense that Ishvara’s knowledge is the world, in the same way that the dreams that we have at night are our knowledge. It is not possible for us to dream about something of which we are ignorant, because the information about those things is not present in our mind in order for us to construct them in the dream. The dream is made up out of stuff that we already know, or can imagine based upon that stuff. But Ishvara also has the knowledge to manifest everything in creation, which we do not; hence the term sarvavit.

One becomes a sarvaj~na by realizing that ‘everything is brahman’ and all seemingly separate things are mithyA. But we cannot become a sarvavit with respect to the universe.

Mundaka Upanishad I.1.6 is an extremely important mantra in the scriptures, explaining how Ishvara, which itself is without attributes and beyond perception, brings about the manifestation of everything (vibhU) yet without undergoing any change. It doesn’t ‘become’ the world, as that would involve changing into something different. Nor is the world a ‘part’ of Ishvara.  In fact, ‘everything is brahman’, as is said in the Chandogya Upanishad (III.14.1).

In addition to being causal, ‘holding’ the unmanifest state of everything, gross or subtle, in potential form, it is also that into which everything is resolved. At the microcosmic level, the individual mind and senses are resolved when we go into deep sleep or lAya; at the macrocosmic level, all is resolved at pralAya or dissolution.

It is said that the deep-sleep state is the ‘corridor’ between waking and dream (chetomukhaH in the previous mantra). We cannot go directly from waking to dream, or vice versa. In the waking state, we are identified with the body and mind – a ‘waker’ ego. In the dream, we are identified with a different, dream body and mind. We have to disidentify with one before we can put on the ‘mask’ of the other. It is in deep-sleep that we take off our mask and identify with nothing.

This third state is the ‘causal state’ in the sense that a seed is the cause for a tree. All the ‘knowledge’ to produce the tree is contained in the seed. All of the knowledge for manifesting the universe is ‘contained’ within Ishvara. But note the choice of word here. Gaudapada points out that there is no actual ‘creation’; all of the universe already exists in causal or unmanifest form to begin with. And he later uses this mantra as a launching point for a discussion of some of the theories of creation and refutation of these.

*** Go to Part 8 ***