Ishwara

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mama yonir mahad brahma, tasmin garbhaḿ dadhāmy aham
sambhavaḥ sarva-bhūtānāḿ, tato bhavati bhārata (Gita 14.3)

The total material substance, called Brahma, is the source of birth, and it is that Brahma that I impregnate, making possible the births of all living beings, O son of Bharata.

The total material substance are the 24 tatwa or principals as given in Sankhya. According to Sankhya, the Atman is Purusa and is the basis of all, though, at the same time detached from everything. In its view Maya which keeps everything going is Prakriti. The cosmos is contained in 24 "tattvas" ["thatnesses" or principles or categories] of which Prakrti is one- Prakrti is indeed the first of these and it has the name of"pradhana". From it arises the second tattva of "mahat" which is the intellect of Prakrti (like the intellect of man). From mahat(the great) is derived the third tattva of "ahamkara", the ego, self-consciousness, the feeling that there is a separate entity called "I".

Ahamkara divides itself into two: first as the sentient and knowing life of a man, his mind, his five jnanendriyas and five karmendriyas. The second is constituted by the five "tanmatras" and the five "mahabhutas " of the insentient cosmos. The jnanendriyas are faculties with which a man gets to know outside objects: the eyes that see objects, the nose that smells, the mouth that tastes, the ear that hears and the skin that feels by touch. With his karmendriyas he performs various actions. The mouth serves as a karmendriya also since it performs the function of speech. The hand, the leg, the anus and the genitals are all karmendriyas. The "asrayas" for jnanendriyas are sound (ear), feeling, sparsa (skin), form (eye), flavour or taste (mouth), smell (nose). These five are tanmatras. The tattvas in their expanded insentient forms are space (sound), air (feeling or touch), water (flavour), earth (smell), fire (form)- these are mahabhutas. Thus Prakrti, mahat, ahamkara, mind, the five jnanendriyas, the five karmendriyas, the five tanmatras, the five mahabhutas- all these make up the 24 tattvas.

These tattvas are accepted by Vedanta also. According to it, it is Isvara who unites Purusa (Knower) with Prakrti or Maya. Sankhya, however, is silent on Isvara. This is the main difference between Vedanta and Buddhism too.

The three qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas, according to the Sankhya philosophy, are accepted by all Vedantic systems, Sattva denotes a high state of goodness, clarity and serenity; rajas is all speed and action and passion; and tamas denotes sleep, inertia, sloth. The Gita has much to say on the subject in its "Gunatraya-vibhaga yoga". The Lord says: "Nistraigunyo Bhavarjuna" (Gita 2.45) (Go beyond all three gunas and dwell in the Atman). Sankhya also believes that all undesirable developments are due to an imbalance of the gunas and that they must be maintained evenly. But, unlike the Gita, Sankhya does not tell us the means to achieve this- like worship of Isvara, surrender to him, Atmic inquiry and so on.

Liberation therefore is not only loss of Ahamkara or ego but gaining of true identity as a Knower (Soul)