SOME hold that the universe was created out of nothing by a feat of God and that it will again lapse into nothing at the period of deluge. This dogma of creation ex-nihilo is not endorsed by the scientists. They say emphatically that what exists now should have existed always and will continue to exist always in some form or other. In Sankhya philosophy also you will find, That which is cannot come out of that which is not. (Sankhya Sutra 78). Gita also states: There can be no existence out of non-existence nor can the existent cease to be. The truth about both has been perceived by seers. (Chap. II-16).
According to the Nebular theory, even solar system was in the beginning a huge mass of gaseous matter in its own axis. As ages rolled on, the gaseous matter attained the igneous stage. The central portion contracted. The mass rotated very rapidly and threw off rings on the outer side which gradually cooled down and formed into planets. These planets were in a molten or liquid condition for a protracted period. Gradually they cooled down and became solid.
You will find in the Brahmananda Valli of Taittiriya Upanishad: From this Atman was born the Akasa; from Akasa, Vayu; from Vayu, fire; from fire, water; from water, earth; from earth, the herbs; from herbs, food; from food, man, and this man is made of the essence of food. (Chap. I-i).
In Brahman there was a Spandan or vibration before the world was projected. This is the Sankalpa of Brahman. He thought or willed: Ekoham bahushyamiI am One, may I become many. This vibration corresponds to the bulging of the seed within the ground when it is soaked in water. Then the whole world was projected.
Srishti or creation is of two kinds, viz., Yugapat Srishti and Krama Srishti. In Yugapat Srishti, the five elements, Mahat, Ahamkara, etc., and other objects of the universe come into being at one time or simultaneously. In Krama Srishti, the elements come out one by one. From Akasa, Vayu is born; from Vayu, fire, etc.; and from Avyakta, Mahat; from Mahat, Ahamkara, etc. There is creation in succession.
Vasishtha tells Rama in Yoga-Vasishtha: At one period, Siva creates all the universe; at another period, Brahma; at another period, Vishnu; then Munis and so on. Sometimes Brahma is born in a lotus; sometimes in water; sometimes in the mundane egg; sometimes in Akasa. In one creation, the powerful trees will alone exist in this universe; in another, the earth alone; in another, stone alone; in another, flesh alone; and in another, gold alone. Thus will it be in diverse ways. During the several creations, the foremost in sometimes Akasa, sometimes Vayu, sometimes Agni, sometimes Apas and sometimes Prithvi. Herein I have but briefly described to you the creation of one Brahma. The order of evolution will not be the same in all Yugas, but will vary with different Yugas. Krita and other Yugas will again and again recur. There is no object in this world which does not again and again cycle round many times.
Maya is Abhinna Shakti of Brahman. Abhinna means inseparable. Maya cannot be separated from Brahman. Just as heat is inseparable from fire, so also Maya is inseparable from Brahman.
Avyakta, Maya, Mulaprakriti, Pradhana (the chief or first), Gunasamya, are synonymous terms. Avyakta is the unmanifested state of Maya. Just as the tree exists in the seed in a subtle state, so also this world exists in a seed-state in Avyakta during Pralaya. Avyakta and Pradhana are terms of the Sankhya philosophy. Mulaprakriti is a compound of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, like a three-stranded rope of white, red and black colours. In the Gunasamya Avastha or state, the three Gunas are in a state of equilibrium. This is the state of Pralaya or Maha-Sushupti. Just as men go everyday into the state of deep sleep, so also the world goes into the Sushupti state during Pralaya. In Pralaya, countless Jivas get absorbed in Mulaprakriti with their Samskaras, like particles of gold that adhere to a ball of wax. The Karmas of the Jivas ripen at the end of Pralaya. Ishvara has to give the fruits of their Karmas. So he again projects this universe by mere willing.
From Avyakta or the unmanifested (Maya), the Mahat Tattva comes out first, just as the sprout shoots out from the seed in the ground. From Mahat proceeds Ahamkara. Then come mind, senses, Prana, Tanmatras. From the quintuplication or mixing of the five Tanmatras, the five gross elements come into being. Then the whole external universe is created out of the five gross elements.
Aham is of two kinds, viz., Samashti Aham or collective egoism and Vyashti Aham or individual egoism. The collective egoism is Ishvara and the individual egoism is the Jiva or the human being. The Jiva develops egoism first and begins to feel 'Aham Jiva - I am Jiva,' and then only he begins to cognise the world and the Ishvara. But for the Vyashti Aham, there cannot be any Samashti Aham or Ishvara and the world.
No Guna can exist by itself. The three Gunas exist in a state of combination. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas cannot be separated like grains from one another. Sometimes, one Guna is in excess. If Sattva Guna is predominant, then it is called Sattva Guna Pradhana.' If Rajas is predominant, it is called 'Rajoguna Pradhana.' If Tamas is predominant, it is called 'Tamoguna Pradhana.'
There is excess of pure Sattva in Maya. The reflection of Para Brahman in Maya is Ishvara. Maya is the Upadhi of Ishvara. It is the causal body of Ishvara. Ishvara has Maya under his control. Ishvara is also called by the names, Avyakrita and Antaryamin. Ishvara is the instrumental cause of the universe (Nimitta Karana). He becomes the material cause by commingling himself with the Tamas, just as the spider produces the web out of itself. Avidya is impure Sattva. More Rajas is mixed with Sattva. So it is impure Sattva. This is the casual body of the Jiva. It is the Anandamaya Kosha. Jiva and Ishvara experience the Sushupti or deep-sleep state through this Karana Sarira or causal body. This is the causal evolution.
Now I shall proceed to describe the evolution of the subtle world. Ishvara willed and the Tamoguna became divided into Avarana Shakti (veiling power) and Vikshepa Shakti (projecting power). On account of this veiling power, man is not able to realise his original Sat-Chit-Ananda nature. He is not able to know that he is distinct from the three bodies and five Koshas. The projecting power has projected this universe. From Vikshepa Shakti, the subtle Akasa was born; from Akasa, Vayu; from Vayu, fire; from fire, water; from water, earth. These five subtle elements which are unquintuplicated are called the Tanmatras or the root elements. These root elements contain the three Guans, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. From the Sattvic portion of Akasa, the ear, the organ of hearing is formed; from Vayu, the organ of touch the skin; from fire, the eye; from water, the tongue; and from the earth, the nose. The Antahkarana is formed from the sum total of Sattva of these five Tanmatras. The Antahkarana is fourfold, viz., mind, intellect, Chitta and Ahamkara. Chitta can be classed under mind and Ahamkara under intellect.
From the Rajasic portion of the Tanmatras are formed the organs of action or Karma Indriyas; form the Rajasic portion of Akasa, organ of speech is formed; from Vayu, hands; from the fire, legs; from the water, genitals; from the earth, anus. From the sum-total of Rajas of these five Tanmatras are formed the five Pranas or vital airs, viz., Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana. The subtle body or Linga Sarira is formed out of the seventeen principles, viz., the five organs of knowledge, the five organs of action, the five Pranas, Manas and Buddhi. This body is the instrument for enjoyment. It is the body that functions during dream. Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha and Vijnanamaya Kosha belong to this subtle body.
Now I will describe the evolution of the gross world. The five Tanmatras are divided into equal parts. With a half of one element is mixed one-eight of each of the outer elements. A fivefold combination takes place. The five gross elements are formed now. This is the progress of Panchikarana or quintuplication. When the Tanmatras are in the original state without being mixed with one another, they are called Apanchikrita or non-quintuplicated. The subtle body is formed out of the non-quintuplicated five elements. The whole world, the four kinds of gross bodies of four kinds of beings, viz., Udbija or seed-born. Svetaja or born of sweat, oviparous or born of egg, and viviparous or born of placenta and all objects of enjoyment are formed out of the five gross quintuplicated elements. The physical body of human beings is called Annamaya Kosha. The Jiva experiences the waking state with this body.
Microcosm is Pinda; Microcosm is Brahmanda. Samashti means sum-total. Vyashti means individual. A tree is Vyashti, while a grove is Samashti. A single match is Vyashti; a match box is Samasthi. He who identifies with the macrocosmic causal-body or the sum-total of all causal bodies of Jiva is Ishvara. He who identifies with the microcosmic or individual causal body is Prajna. He who identifies with the macrocosmic subtle body is Hiranyagarbha or Sutratman and with the microcosmic or individual subtle body is Taijasa. He who identifies with the macrocosmic or collective gross body is Virat or Vaishvanara and with microcosmic or individual gross body is Visva. Ishvara himself assumes the forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra through Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, and becomes the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer of the universe. Brahma is included in Virat, Vishnu in Hiranyagarbha and Rudra in Ishvara.
Avarana Shakti conceals the Atman and veils the Jiva. Through the force of this Shakti, man is not able to separate the Self from the five sheaths. This Avarana Shakti is divided into Asat Avarana and Abhana Avarana. The former is the cause for the notion that there is no Bahman. People say: 'If there is Brahman, will It not shine?' This idea is generated by Abhana Avarana. Asat Avarana is removed by indirect knowledge of Brahman (Paroksha Jnana) obtained through Sravana or hearing of Srutis. Abhana Avarana is destroyed by direct knowledge of Brahman through Meditation (Aparoksha Jnana).
This world is mere super-imposition on Brahman (Adhyaropa) like snake in the rope or silver in the mother-of-pearl. Through Apavada Yukti, this superimposed world must be eliminated. Apavada is the abandoning of the notion that this universe is not really in Brahman, like that of the wrong notion of silver in mother-of-pearl, or of water in the mirage, and then being firmly convinced of the reality of the cause and not of the effects. There is no effect which is distinct from the cause. The pot is not separate and distinct from clay, the cloth is not separate and distinct from thread, the golden ornaments are not separate and distinct from the gold. Even so this universe is not distinct and separate from Brahman.
That sage who has realised that there is no other reality in the universe than Brahman, that he is Brahman himself and that everything is Brahman, is freed from the rounds of births and deaths. He has attained freedom perfection and immortality. He is a Jivanmukta, i.e., one who has attained liberation while living.