Saturday, July 18, 2009

Prameya Four- The difference between God and the souls is real

Even the most powerful entity in the material world, Lord Brahma, has to bow down before the Supreme Lord

The ontological difference between the living entities and God is clearly mentioned in several passages from the sruti and smrti:

dva suparna sayuja sakhaya samanam vrksam parisasvajate
tayor anyah pippalam svadv atty anasnann anyo 'bhicakasiti

The Svetasvatara Upanisad (4.6-7) explains: "Two birds reside in the metaphorical banyan tree of the material body. One of them is engaged in eating the material happiness and distress which is the fruit of that tree, while the other does not eat, but only witnesses the actions of his friend. The witness is the Supreme Lord Visnu, and the fruit-eater is the living entity.”

yada pasyah pasyate rukma-varnam kartaram isam purusam brahma-yonim
tada vidvan punya-pape vidhuya niranjanah paramam samyam upaiti

The Mundaka Upanisad (3.1.3) explains: "One who sees that golden-colored Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Lord, the supreme actor, who is the source of the Supreme Brahman, becomes free from the reactions to past pious and sinful deeds, and becomes liberated, attaining the same transcendental platform as the Lord."
This dismisses the idea that the jiva and God are one and the same, for it is not possible for an object to become something it already is by nature. For example, water can become ice or vapour, but to say that water becomes water is illogical. Similarly, the soul is by nature an infinitesimal part of God, therefore sharing with Him the spiritual quality, but due to his fragmentary dimension, the soul gets covered by the material qualities and can only be reinstituted into his original position by the mercy of the Lord. Now, if one says that the souls are originally one with God, but are temporarily materially engrossed, and once liberated they will again be one with God, we say that in this case, there being no difference between God and the living entities, God would also be subjected to conditional life and thus unable to give liberation to anyone. In the Bhagavad Gita it is said:

idam jnanam upasritya mama sadharmyam agatah
sarge 'pi nopajayante pralaye na vyathanti ca

“By becoming fixed in this knowledge, one can attain to the transcendental nature like My own. Thus established, one is not born at the time of creation or disturbed at the time of dissolution.”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bg 14.2

This proves that even after liberation the living entities remain as individual beings, otherwise there would be no need to use the plural or to mention the possibility of being born again. Therefore we have to understand that eternal spiritual identity is part of the ontological constitution of the jivas. The sruti is very clear in this matter:

nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman
tam atmastham ye 'nupasyanti dhiras tesam santih sasvati netaresam

The Katha Upanisad (2.2.13) explains: "Of all eternals, there is one who is the chief eternal. Of all conscious living entities, there is one who is the chief conscious entity. That supreme living entity, the Personality of Godhead, maintains the others, and fulfils their desires according to their merits. Only saintly persons, who can see, within and without, the same Supreme Lord, can actually attain to perfect and eternal peace."

The word ‘brahman’ in the scriptures is used to refer to different things in different contexts, and not always to indicate that any existent object is simply one and the same undivided tattva as the advaitavadis presume. Baladeva explains that when the sruti makes statements like ‘sarvam khalv idam brahma’ this does not mean that the universe itself is the supreme, but that it is built up and sustained by Brahman, just as when we speak of the vital force present in the senses, we mean that the latter are maintained by the former and dependent on it, but it is not a fact that the senses themselves are the vital force. Another way to explain how the universe is Brahman is by the conception that Lord Visnu pervades every atom, but even in this case we understand that His position remains unaffected as the Supreme Lord and controller of the jivas and prakrti, thus different from both.

Some say that the jivas are just like a reflex of Brahman manifested in the false designations of the material world. This, however, violates the principles enunciated in the sastra: Brahman being the supreme undivided one cannot be fragmented , and being beyond the reach of the senses cannot become a reflex. If one says that actually Brahman was not divided, but that due to the illusory designations the jivas think to be so divided, the reply is that this cannot justify the fact that every living entity has a different consciousness and karma. If all the jivas were one and the same, there should be no variety of thought and action, since the soul, and not the body, is their cause. If it be said that all mental and bodily activities are just a by-product of maya, like in a movie, then there is no point in following a sadhana to achieve liberation as prescribed in the sastra, for that too would be an illusory activity and by illusion one cannot possibly come to reality. Then again, if the jivas are already one and the same with the supreme Brahman, there would be no meaning in doing anything at all for attaining liberation. At last, the advaitavadis contradict themselves as well as the scriptures, for if they mean to say that there is no difference between the jivas and Brahman, they would violate statements like ‘nityo nityanam’, and if they mean that they are different, they would deny the meaning of ‘sarvam khalv idam brahma’. To avoid all this confusion, the conclusion is that the jivas are transcendentally different from the Lord in quantity, that the whole spiritual variety possesses transcendental differences, and that the sastras refer to Brahman as nirguna due to its being beyond all mundane means of perception, and not to mean that Brahman is totally undistinguished and does not possess any attribute at all.

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