Manifestation of the Material World

(by Sri Atmatattva Das)

The Material Creation:

Material CreationThe material creation in its very first stage is called pradhana – the eternal, subtle, undifferentiated sum total of all material elements, the unmanifested eternal combination of the three modes of material nature.

Pradhana is sometimes also related to as saguna-Brahman, since it is basically Brahman but with the presence of the three modes of material nature. Nevertheless, these modes do not yet clearly manifest causes and effects (SB 3.26.10).

The pradhana contains the following 24 elements in a dormant state:

- 5 subtle elements (sound, touch, form-color, taste) – 5 gross elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth) – 5 knowledge aquiring senses (ears, skin, eyes, tongue, nose) – 5 working senses (tongue-mouth, hands, legs, genital, anus) – 4 internal, subtle senses (mind, intelligence, ego, contaminated consciousness)

Time is considered to be the 25th element; it is the mixing and agitating element. The Supreme Personality of Godhead can be perceived as time (SB 3.26.11-18).

The pradhana or saguna-Brahman becomes then agitated by the time factor which represents the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus and by the influence of the three modes of material nature the creation comes to the level of mahat-tattva, or prakrti, where the elements actually can manifest themselves. The mahat-tattva is the breeding source of all varieties and brings forth all the different material bodies and material objects; it contains all the universes and is the root of all cosmic manifestations. The mahat-tattva is annihilated at the time of the annihilation, the end of Brahma’s life.

Next the Supreme Personality of Godhead impregnates the mahat-tattva with His internal potency which are the living entities. Agitated by the destinations of the contitioned souls the material nature, or mahat-tattva, delivers the cosmic intelligence (Hiranyamaya). The mahat-tattva is thus “lit up” by the sum total of the consciousness of all the conditioned souls (SB 3.26.19-20).

The Caturvyuha expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, namely Sri Vasudeva, Sri Aniruddha, Sri Pradyumna and Sri Sankarshana occur and take charge of various aspects of the material creation.

In the beginning pure goodness, the vasudeva stage of consciousness, prevails within the mahat-tattva. This point of creation is controlled by Sri Vasudeva, the Superknower. Due to the pure goodness the consciousness has the qualities of complete serenity, clarity and freedom from any distraction; one is free from the infringement by material desires. Therefore one can see a reflection of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and if one worships Sri Vasudeva one can come to the platform of pure goodness (suddha-sattva), thus understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead (SB 3.26.21).

Through the desire to enjoy and control seperately from Krishna, the misuse of independence by the living entities which are impregnated into the material nature, material ego or false ego is caused to spring up from the mahat-tattva in pure goodness. This false ego is endowed with active power of three kind – good (serene), passionate (active), ignorant (dull). From the false ego in different modes of material nature mind, senses, elements as well as all the other ingredients and objects of the material nature are produced. Therefore every object within the material creation is seen as identical with false ego since it has the false ego as its source. Sri Sankarshana controls that false ego and in order to become free from it one is adviced to worship Sri Sankarsana. He is worshipped through Lord Siva; the snakes which cover the body of Lord Shiva are representations of Sri Sankarsna, and Lord Shiva is always absorbed in meditation upon Sri Sankarshana (SB 3.26.23-24).

From the false ego in goodness come the controlling demigods as well as the mind. The mind has the quality of not being fixed; due to different kind of desires for sense gratification the mind rejects something as bad and accepts something else as good. The false ego in goodness is controlled by Sri Aniruddha. If one wants to get free from mental disturbances, one has to worship Sri Aniruddha. For this purpose, worship of the moon planet is also recommended in the Vedic literature (SB 3.26.26-27).

From the false ego in passion intelligence, living energy (prana), the five knowledge aquiring sense and the five working senses are created. Intelligence has five qualities: doubt, misapprehension, correct apprehension, memory and sleep. The function of intelligence is to ascertain the nature of an object and thus help the senses to make choices. The intelligence is supposed to control or guide the senses. By intelligence one can understand how things are and if intelligence is properly applied one’s consciousness becomes expanded. This begins with doubt, the first quality of intelligence. One doubts whether ones existence is spiritual or material. Doubt is a very important factor in developping intelligence, eventhough doubting is improper after receiving information from an authoritative source. Through proper analysis one then finds that things are different from what they seemed to be so far; thus misapprehension, the second quality of intelligence, is detected. Next, after eliminating the wrong understanding one can come to the proper conclusion; this is called correct apprehension, the third quality of intelligence. In this way by intelligence one can understands that one is not the body and one’s consciousness becomes expanded; expansion of consciousness culminates in pure Krishna-consciousness. Beyond the intelligence’s three qualities of doubt, misapprehension and correct apprehension there are also the qualities of memory and sleep. In order to keep the intelligence working properly one must sleep. For being fixed in one’s intelligence one has to worship Sri Pradyumna, who is reached through the worship of Lord Brahma.

Directly related to intelligence in their function are the knowledge acquiring senses which are: Ears, skin, eyes, nose and the tongue.

With the working senses action are performed; there are five working senses as well: Tongue (mouth, speaking), hands, legs, genitals and the anus.

Both, the knowledge acquiring senses and the working senses are depending on the living energy (vital energy, prana), which is also created from the false ego in the mode of passion. The more a person is influenced by the mode of passion the more he can accomplish and acquire. The Vedic scriptures recommend that if one wants to encourage a person in acquiring material possessions, one should also encourage him in sex life. Thus one can see that those who are addicted to sex life are also materially advanced. Sex life or passionate life is the impetus for the material advancement of civilization (SB 3.26.29).

From the false ego in ignorance the five subtle and gross elements, from whom all (perceivable) objects within the material world are made, become manifested; it is presided over by Sri Sankarsana. Therefore persons who are very dull and very much absorbed in the gross material world worship Lord Shiva who is connected with Sri Sankarsana, in order to obtain gross material sense objects. When the false ego in ignorance is agitated by the sex energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, first the subtle element sound is manifested. The original and very first sound within the creation is the omkara, “OM”, being the sound representation of the Supreme Personality’s Brahman aspect. From sound comes the gross element ether as well as the sense of hearing. Sound has the quality of conveying the idea of an object; therefore it is considered to be the subtle form of an object. Further sound indicates the presence of a speaker, eventually screened form our view, and it also constitutes the subtle form of ether (SB 3.26.32-33).

Ether has the qualities of accommodating the room for external and internal existences of all living entities, the field of activity of the vital air, the senses and the mind.

Ether means room or space, and it evolves from sound vibration. Thus form the original sound vibration “om” the room was created within which the manifestation of the gross elements like air, fire, water and earth (the universe) can take place. In general the ether or sky gives accommodation to the room which the various material bodies of the living entities need for their external and internal existence. The internal existence of a living entity in the material world comprises of vital air (prana), senses and the mind. These ingredients require for their functioning subtle forms which are invisible and rest within ether. In this way ehter accommodates the internal existence of the living entities within the material world. With external existence everything is meant that stands in relation with material objects which are external to the material body. By means of sound vibration, talking about a particular object, the subtle form of that object, which sound carries, is created within the mind. These subtle and invisible forms of material objects are given a room within the ether and this is called the external activity of ether. That within ether subtle, invisible forms of material sense objects can exist has been proven by modern science by transmission of television where forms as pictures are transmitted from one place to another by wireless means (SB 3.26.34). Thus it is seen that mental activities or psychological action in terms of thinking, feeling and willing are activities on the ethereal platform. This is very important in relation to the moment of death. On the basis of its reflections (which are influenced by sound vibrations) the mind generates desires for obtaining various sense objects. In fact these desires are unlimited and they all create subtle forms within ether. An of course, they all result in various bodies in order to enjoy these desired situations (desiring a sense object indirectly means desiring all the tools to enjoy it) which are accommodated in their subtle form within ether as well. In this way one can, and in fact by every minute’s desires one actually does create an unlimited number of bodies within the ether, all well equipped to become manifested on the gross level. At the moment when one particular body perishes the opportunity for one of all the subtle forms kept within ether arises to become manifested on the gross plane. This happens according to the level of contamination or desire which was most prominent within the mind at the moment of death. All this is described by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (8.5-8).

From the above it becomes clear that the evolution of various material elements is not something that takes place only once, at the moment of creation. The description of the primary creation is rather a general scheme by which matter is manifested in general, at the moment when creation starts as well as at any stage of the existence of the material manifestation. The difference is, however, that at the beginning of creation the sum total of each element was taken from a dormant state, the pradhana, and made available by the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whereas later, when the living entities “create” while pursuing various desires they simply receive supplies from that sum total of the material elements.

From ethereal existence, under the influence of time, the subtle element touch and thence air and the sense of touch become manifested.

After creating subtle forms in the mind which are accommodated in the ether, time separates us from the manifestation of gross forms which we can touch. By the influence of the mode of passion, which is related to air (movement), we endeavor to manifest the form on the gross level. Our sense of proprietorship over action (passion) is due to the activity of air within the material body. Consequently, we will “get in touch” with the gross form of what now is a wishful thought in the mind in due course of time.