Tat Pada Vicāra – 3 Upādāna Kāraṇa

material causeIn the process of trying to understand īśvara (God) comprehensively, we discussed sṛṣṭi (creation), and established that this jagat (universe) is indeed a creation. We also saw that since it is so purposefully put together, there has to be an intelligent cause (nimitta kāraṇa) behind the creation; the, śruti (scriptures) reveals this person as īśvara.

The potter creates a pot out of mud, so the next question that comes abegging is out of what did īśvara create the jagat. What was the material from which he created the jagat?

The śruti makes a paradigm shift in its revelations here, and tells us that īśvara created this world out of himself. Before you ask how in the heavens is this possible, the śruti hastens to give us an anology, that will help us comprehend this seemingly immpossible proposition. It says “yathā ūrṇanābhiḥ sṛjate grṇhate ca” (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad–1.07) – “Just as a spider creates and withdraws (the threads)”. The spider is both the intelligent cause of the web and the material cause of the web, that it so beautifully and purposefully weaves. So also, in the case of the jagat, īśvara is both its intelligent and the material cause.

This is an amazing paradigm that the śruti reveals, a problem which other theologies/philosophies struggle to explain; and it is very much within reason. If we were to consider any other material cause other than īśvara, the question that would remain is who created that material? This would lead us into infinite regression.

Now let us see the practical implications of this revelation that īśvara is indeed the material cause of the universe.  We already saw the maxim “kāryam, sakartṛkam kāryatvāt ghaṭavat”, meaning the effect is always with its cause, because it is an effect, like a pot. Wherever the pot is, its material cause mud also is. So also, wherever creation is, īśvara also is.

The śruti says “tasmādvā etasmāt ātmanaḥ ākāśaḥ saṁbhūtaḥ….”; it shows that space was created, and so also all the other elements, and everything else. Based on the maxim quoted earlier, “cause is wherever the effect is”; īśvara is there wherever space is, air is, fire is, water is, earth is, and wherever any permutation or combination of these 5 elements are. In simpler terms it means  īśvara is all-pervasive, sarvavyāpi.

Please do this experiment now. Let us assume you are sitting in your room, in your house, in your city. When I say touch your room, you will bend down and touch the floor of your room. Remember this spot. Now I say touch your house; did you to touch a place different from where you touched earlier? I now say touch your locality, touch your city, your state, your country, your continent, the planet, solar system, the galaxy, the milky way, the whole universe –did you touch any place other than the same spot you touched when I said touch your room?

Let us now make a paradigm shift in our experiment. Now I say touch īśvara. Where did you touch? Did you look around confused? Or did you get up and go to your pūja (prayer) room to touch the vigraha (image of God)? Or did you bend down to touch the same spot? Or did you just touch yourself? Did you even have to touch, for who is the ‘toucher’ apart from īśvara?

Whatever be your experience, whichever be the sense organ that is in operation, whenever and wherever it be, who are you experiencing? It is īśvara and īśvara alone. We did an experiment with the sense of touch. Now let us try the same thing with the sense of sight. When you see the chair, a desk, a pencil, a book, your father, mother, your wife, your children, your friends, your enemies (!!!), whom do you see? When you hear anything, smell anything, taste anything, whom are you experiencing? It is īśvara you are experiencing, whether you realize it or not.

The Bhagavad-gītā goes a step further and says, all kāraka-s (agents) are indeed īśvara. The writer, the written about, the written with, the written for, the written of, the written on, everything indeed is īśvara.

brahmārpaṇam brahmahaviḥ brahmāgnau brahmaṇāhutam|

brahmaiva tena gantavyaṁ brahmakarmasamādhinā|| 4.24.

(The means of offering is Brahman. The oblation is Brahman, offered by Brahman into the fire, which is Brahman. Brahman indeed is to be reached by him who sees everything as Brahman).

What a vision!!! Just to help you assimilate this vision, I give you an exercise as a homework – try and think of something that is outside of īśvara, or something inside of which īśvara is not there.

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About Śuka

Śuka, 48, has been a student of Vedanta since 1980 and has learnt traditional Vedānta from Arsha Vidya Gurukula Teachers. As a Certified Public Accountant, he worked in India, Africa and the Middle East. Later he pursued a successful business career in Software and BPO industries. He has since retired from active business, and back to studying Vedānta full time. Having completed Masters in Sanskrit, he is currently pursuing a research programme in Advaita Vedānta...