Monday, June 29, 2009

Prameya Three-The world is real

Brahman being real, the visible world must be real

Different philosophical schools follow one out of two main threads regarding the theory of the constitution of the manifested material world. Some accept the concept of sat-karya-vada, according to which the effect exists in its cause before its manifestation, and is therefore as real as its cause. The Sankhya system, for example, supports the theory of sat-karya-vada with the following arguments:

asad akaranad upadanagrahanat sarvasambhavabhavat
saktasya saktyakaranat karanabhavac ca sat karyam

“The effect is ever existent, 1) because what is nonexistent can by no means be brought into existence; 2) because effects take adequate material causes; 3)because all effects are not producible from all causes; 4) because en efficient cause can produce only that for which it is efficient; 5)because the effect is of the same essence as the cause.” (Sankhya-karika, text 9)

Gaudiya vaisnavism also accepts the theory of parinama sat-karya-vada, for the Supreme Lord’s existence being true, naturally everything that emanates from him is also true. There is plenty of evidence that God wished to create the material world and manifested it through the agency of His energies. The energies of the Lord are also as real as He Himself, therefore the emanations manifested by them are also real. To give a few examples:

ya eko'varno bahudha-sakti-yogad
varnan anekan nihitartho dadhati

The Svetasvatara Upanisad (4.1) explains: "The Absolute Truth, who is one without a second, and who possesses no material attributes, desired to manifest the material world, and created the different classes of human beings, animals and demigods by the agency of His multifarious energies."

ekadesa-sthitastagner jyotsna vistarini yatha
parasya brahmanah saktis tathedam akhilam jagat

The Visnu Purana explains:

"Whatever we see in this world is simply an expansion of different energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is exactly like a fire which spreads illumination for a long distance, although it is situated in one place."

brahma satyam tapah satyam satyam caiva prajapatih
satyad bhutani jatani satyam bhutam ayam jagat

The Mahabharata explains: "The Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose form eternal, full of knowledge and bliss, is real. Austerities are real, and Lord Brahma is also real. Because the living entities and the material world have taken birth from the supreme reality, they are also real."

Some may argue that the scriptures say that there is nothing besides atma, so to think that there is a material world besides the spirit would be just like mistaking a rope to be a snake. The answer to this is that indeed ultimately there is only spirit, but as we saw above, the Supreme Spirit can manifest anything from Himself through His potencies and still remain aloof. This is thus corroborated:

maya tatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina
mat-sthani sarva-bhutani na caham tesv avasthitah

“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.”

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bg 9.4

The philosophy proposed here is diversity in unity, thus the material world is not a superimposition as in the given analogy, but it can be better comprehended by the analogy of the green bird that entered a tree, for they are both existent, distinct beings, although sharing the same place, and only an inattentive observer would not perceive them to be so. In other words, the material and spiritual worlds are two parallel realities that are eternal and concomitant.

It may also be objected that the scriptures often affirm that this universe is ‘asat’. Here ‘asat’ does not mean that it is nonexistent, but that the material world is a temporary manifestation and it is so made to lead the jivas to develop detachment. By analysing the temporary nature of everything that exists in this world, one may eventually realize the transient constitution of all material objects and situations and thus give up attachment for them. Otherwise, if we take the word ‘asat’ to mean that the material world does not exist at all, the scriptures would be meaningless, since they are full of statements that particularly deal with material situations such as social organisation, politics, etc., and therefore would be self-contradictory, for if the world does not exist, it would not be possible for the jivas to live in it, so what to speak of the need of any scripture to guide them! Moreover, a fundament established by Madhva Acarya is that the scriptures should be understood on the light of the other pramanas too. In other words, the sabda-pramana should also be corroborated by pratyaksa as far as possible, even because pratyksa is the primary medium for sabda, for unless one uses his ears, there is no question of hearing anything. In the present context, the perception of the external world and its existence is common to all sentient beings, be they conditioned or liberated. This view also matches with the Cartesian pattern of thought , according to which one who thinks must definitely exist. Thus Baladeva’s conclusion that the phenomenal world is temporary, but not unreal is thoroughly backed up.

No comments:

Post a Comment