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56. In the Gita, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna: ‘The world is sustained by a part of Mine’, indicating that the world is sustained by a part of the Lord.
57. The Shruti supports the same view: ‘The supreme spirit, pervading the world on every side, yet extends ten fingers beyond it’. In the Sutras, too, Brahman is declared to transcend the world of differences.
58. Shruti, the well-wisher of the questioner, being asked whether Maya pervades the whole or part of Brahman, speaks of the partless as having parts in order to explain the non-dual nature of Brahman, by giving illustrations.
59. With Brahman as its basis, Maya creates the various objects of the world, just as a variety of pictures are drawn on a wall by the use of different colours.
60. The first modification of Maya is Akasa. Its nature is space i.e., it gives room to things to exist and expand. Akasa derives its existence from Brahman, its substratum.
61. The nature of Brahman is existence only. Brahman is spaceless but Akasa has both space and existence as its nature.
62. Akasa also has the property of (conveying or communicating) sound, which Brahman does not have. Thus Akasa has two properties, sound and existence, whereas Brahman has only one existence.
63. The same Sakti (power) i.e. Maya which has conjured up Akasa in the real entity, Sat or Existence has also produced the difference between them, after having shown their identity.
64. It is Sat which appears as Akasa, but ordinary people, and the logicians say that existence is a property of Akasa. This is only to be expected, for Maya is the conjurer.
65. It is common knowledge that correct understanding makes a thing appear as it is in itself and illusion makes it appear differently.
66. A thing appears to be quite different after a thorough discussion of the Vedic passage (concerned) from what it appeared before such a discussion. So let us now discuss the nature of Akasa.
67. Brahman and Akasa are different entities. Their names are different, and the ideas conveyed by their names too are different. Brahman pervades air and other objects. Such is not the case with Akasa. This is what we know to be the difference.
68. The entity, Sat, being more pervading, is the locus or substance; and Akasa (being less pervading) a content or an attribute. When, by the exercise of reason or intellect, Sat is separated from Akasa, tell me what the nature of Akasa is (i.e., it is reduced to nothing).
69. If you hold that (when existence is abstracted from it) Akasa still remains as space, we reply, it should be ragarded as ‘nothing’. If you say: ‘It is different from Asat as well as from Sat’ you shift your position (for you do not admit anything which is different from both, which we, of course, hold.
70. If you argue that Akasa is evident, then we reply: let it be; it is to the credit of the products of Maya. The appearance of an object which is in fact non-existent is an illusion (mithya) just as that of the elephant seen in a dream.
71. As there is a distinction between a class, and a member of a class, a living man and his body, and the possessor of an attribute and the attribute, so there is a distinction between existence (Brahman) and Akasa. What is there to wonder at ?
72. If you say that granting intellectually that there is a distinction between Akasa and Brahman, yet in practice one does not feel convinced of it, we ask, is such an absurd conclusion due to lack of concentration or tenacious doubt ?
73. If the first, be attentive by fixing the mind through meditation. If the other, then study the matter carefully with the help of reasoning and evidence. Then the conviction of the truth of the distinction between Brahman and Akasa will be firm.
74. By means of profound meditation, evidence and logical reasoning, Brahman and Akasa can be known to be different from one another. The Akasa will not appear as real nor Brahman as having the property of space-giving.
75. To a knower Akasa shows its illusoriness and Brahman also always shines unassociated with its properties.
76. When one’s impressions (about the true natures of Sat and Akasa) are thus quite deepened (by constant reasoning and meditation) one is amazed to see a person attributing reality to Akasa and suffering from ignorance about reality being pure existence (void of all attributes).
77. Thus when the unreality of Akasa and the reality of Brahman are firmly established in the mind, one should follow the same method and differentiate Brahman, whose nature is pure existence, from air and other elements.
78. The real entity (Brahman) is all-pervasive; the range of Maya is limited, that of Akasa is more limited and that of the air yet more so.
79. The following are the properties air is known to possess: ability to absorb moisture, perceptibility to the same of touch, speed and motion. Existence and the properties of Maya and Akasa are also found in air.
80. When we say, air exists, we mean that it does so by virtue of the universal principle, existence. If the idea of existence is abstracted from air what is left is of the nature of Maya i.e. a non-entity. The property of sound that is found in air is of Akasa.