Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Tanmaatras - Elemental

Hari OM

Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.

[You are reminded that reviewing the previous week's posts will become essential as the meanings of the Sanskrit terms may not be repeated. There may come additional or alternative meanings, but all should be noted. As study progresses, the technical terms must necessarily become 'second nature' to the student. When the Sanskrit is used, the translation will fall easily into place - or likewise, if the English is used, the Sanskrit term must easily come forwards.]

Please revisit THIS post and chant the mangala-charana. Please use the TattvabodaH label to access all posts relevant to this text.

Brahman associated with Maya is Iishvara. Brahman is pure and untainted and remains ever the same. Thus, in Vedanta, we do not use Brahman nomencalture when referring specifically to 'creation'; that is when we use Iisvara name. As we progress in our philosophical understanding, just as in chemistry or any science, the technical 'names' are indications of specific conditions so it is important to be reminded at this stage that TattvabodaH is about this exactly. Naming and classifying. Therefore, be clear, Iisvara is the closest representation of that which most people refer to as "God". What is more, Iisvara is itself a 'creation' as a result of Brahman being superimposed by Maya. We saw that Maya is considered to be of the nature of the trigunas. These subtle substances, concepts, of pure, muddied and rotten, are the substratum of Maya from which arise the 'substances' of creation. In this way, understand that Maya is thus recognised as the causative factor and the world is the effect. Nothing of Maya is sentient. Important point. Everything of Maya is insentient, inert; pure matter.  The dynamism which is found in 'life' is Brahman working through matter. In doing this, Brahman becomes Iisvara.

The awareness, the knowledge principle from which everything arises, is the sattva guna; the active principle which stirs and agitates to bring about matter is the rajo-guna; the matter which results is inert and therefore is represented by the tamo-guna.

The 'creation process' is now given. (Note that two suutras are being given today, as explanation is combined.)

Evolution of the Five Elements.

तत आकाशः संभूतः। आकाशाद् बायुः।
वायोस्तेजः। तेजस आपः। अद्भ्यः पृथिवी।
tata aakaashaH saMbhuutaH. aakaashaad baayuaH.
vaayostejaH. tejasa aapaH. adbhyaH pR^ithivii.

"From that (maayaa), space was born. From space, air. From air, fire. From fire, water. From water, earth."

एतेषां पञ्चतत्त्वानां मध्ये आकाशस्य
सात्त्विकांशात् श्रोत्रेन्द्रियं।
वायोः सात्त्विकाशात् त्वगिन्द्रियं संभूतम्।
अग्नेः सात्त्विकाशात्चक्षुरिन्द्रियं संभूतम्।
जलस्य सात्त्विकाशात् रसनेन्द्रियं संभूतम्।
पृथिव्याः सात्त्विकाशात् घ्राणेन्द्रियं संभूतम्।
saattvikaaMshaat shrotrendriyaM.
vaayoH saattvikaashaat tvagindriyaM saMbhuutam.
agneH saattvikaashaatchaxurindriayaM saMbhuutam.
jalasya saattvikaashaat rasanendriyaM saMbhuutam.
pR^ithivyaaH saattvikaashaat ghraaNendriyaM saMbhuutam.

"Amont these five great elements, out of the sattvic aspect of space the organ of hearing, ear, evolved. From the sattvic aspect of air the organ of touch, skin, evolved. From the sattvic aspect of fire the organ of sight, eye, evolved. From the attvic aspect of water the organ of taste, tongue, evolved. From the sattvic aspect of earth the organ of smell, nose, evolved."

The process of creation is from subtlest to most gross. We measure subtlety by the ability of a thing to pervade something else. The more pervasive an object, the more subtle it is said to be. The lesser the number of qualities, the subtler it is. Truth (Brahman) is the most subtle of all things and beyond the measurement of any available instrumentation… [CERN's LHC is doing its best! However, even that is only able, by design, to measure matter. Brahman + Maya = Iisvara remain beyond the realm of matter, according to Vedantic understanding.]

Equally, these 'substances' arising from the trigunas are, at this stage, nothing more than concept. They are not yet manifest ( /avyakta) and therefore are what may be referred to as nascent elements, or in Sanskrit, तन्मात्राः /tanmaatraaH.

Within each also lies the nascent property with which they are associated. Ether (space) is the subtlest of all, having the fewest qualities and is associated with शब्द /shabda - sound. Next we have air, having a few more qualities; it is able to contain sound, which belongs to its 'senior' but, additionally, is associated with स्पर्ष /sparsha - touch. We can both hear and feel air. Next is fire. Here it is called tejas, which is actually a reference to flame. Another term which will arise and be used interchangeably is अग्निः /agni. Agni of course has the quality of sound and touch, but also is associated with रूप /ruupa - form (hence the reference to flame in the suutra). Water, aapaH, is still less pervasive and has all the preceding qualities but now we can add रसः /rasaH - taste - to our list. Some may think that water is tasteless… if you drink from anywhere else in you country or the world, you will find that water absolutely can taste different! What is more, only through water/moisture are we able to taste - it why we have saliva. Finally we have earth, the grossest element and having all four preceding qualities plus its own, which is गन्ध /gandha - smell. This chart displays this idea more readily than text.

The upadaana karana is never different from that which it creates, thus all the qualities which are Maya pervade all the five elements; that is to say, all these tanmaatra are with sattva, rajas and tamas also - in the same way that every one of holds the qualities of our forbears (genetics). In this way, we can understand that the nimitta karana must also be present, for without 'the potter' this 'pot' would not have been made. Truth, therefore, is associated and pervades absolutely everything that we perceive.

The five elements, having arisen within Iisvara albeit only in concept form... What are they? First we find that the sattva guna at work, in the most subtle range, upon the tanmaatras. Before awareness kicks in, there is the precursor to awareness, the essence of something with which, and of what, to become aware. We require equipment with which to process the awareness at all its levels. Thus, the sattvic aspect of the tanmaatras manifesting is the antaH karana; the four-part mind 'tool'. This we shall see next week.

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