A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 3

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1940 | 232,512 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

Vol. III contains an elaborate account of the principal dualistic and pluralistic systems such as the philosophy of the Pancaratra. Bhaskara, Yamuna, Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Vijnanabhiksu and philosophical speculations of some of the selected Puranas. This is the third of five volumes, that were originally published between 1922 and 1955. In these vol...

Chapter XXIII - Philosophical Speculations of Some of the Selected Purāṇas

The readers who have followed the philosophy of the Vedānta as interpreted by Vijñāna Bhikṣu in his commentary on the Brahma-sūtra and the Īśvara-gītā section of the Kūrma Purāṇa must have noticed that, according to him, the Vedānta was associated with the Sāṃkhya and Yoga, and in support of his view he referred to many of the Purāṇas, some of which are much earlier than Śaṅkara. Vijñāna Bhikṣu, therefore, quotes profusely from the Purāṇas and in the writings of Rāmānuja, Madhva, Vallabha, Jīva GoswamI and Baladeva we find profuse references to the Purāṇas in support of their views of the philosophy of the Vedānta.

It is highly probable that at least one important school of ideas regarding the philosophy of the Upaniṣads and the Brahma-sūtra was preserved in the Purāṇic tradition. Śaṅkara’s interpretation of the Upaniṣads and the Brahma-sūtra seems to have diverged very greatly from the semi-realistic interpretation of them as found in the Purāṇas. It was, probably, for this reason that Śaṅkara seldom refers to the Purāṇas; but since Śaṅkara’s line of interpretation is practically absent in the earlier Purāṇas, and since the extreme monism of some passages of the Upaniṣads is modified and softened by other considerations, it may be believed that the views of the Vedānta, as found in the Purāṇas and the Bhagavad-gītā, present, at least in a general manner, the oldest outlook of the philosophy of the Upaniṣads and the Brahma-sūtra.

It seems, therefore, desirable that the treatment of the philosophy of Rāmānuja and Vijñāna Bhikṣu should be supplemented by a short survey of the philosophy as found in some of the principal Purāṇas. All the Purāṇas are required to have a special section devoted to the treatment of creation and dissolution, and it is in this section that the philosophical speculations are largely found[1]. In the present section I shall make an effort to trace the philosophical speculations as contained in the sarga-pratisarga portions of some of the selected Purāṇas so as to enable readers to compare this Purāṇic philosophy with the philosophy of Bhāskara Rāmānuja, Vijñāna Bhikṣu, and Nimbārka.

The first manifestation of Brahman according to the Viṣṇu Purāṇa is puruṣa] then come the other manifestations as vyaktā-vyakta and kāla. The original cause of pradhāna, puruṣa, vyakta and kāla is regarded as the ultimate state of Viṣṇu. Here then we find Brahma-Viṣṇu[2].

In Viṣṇu Purāṇa, i. 2. 11, it is said that the Ultimate Reality is only pure existence, which can be described only as a position of an eternal existence. It exists everywhere, and it is all (this is Pantheism), and everything is in it (this is Panentheism) and therefore it is called Vāsudeva[3]. It is pure because there is no extraneous entity to be thrown away[4].

It exists in four forms:

  1. vyakta,
  2. avyakta,
  3. puruṣa
  4. and kāla.

Out of His playful activity these four forms have come out[5]. Prakṛti is described here as sadasad-ātmaka[6] and as triguṇa[7]. In the beginning there are these four categories: Brahman, pradhāna, puruṣa and kāla[8], all these being different from the unconditional (Trikālika) Viṣṇu. The function of kāla is to hold together the puruṣa and the pradhāna during the creational period, and to hold them apart at the time of dissolution. As such it (kāla) is the cause of sensibles. Thus there is a reference to the ontological synthetic activity and the ontological analytical activity of kāla[9]. (“Ontological” in the sense that kāla appears here not as instrumental of the epistemological aspect of experience, but as something “being” or “existing,” i.e. ontological.)

As all manifested things had returned to the prakṛti at the time of the last dissolution, the prakṛti is called pratisañcara[10]. Kāla or time is beginningless and so exists even at the time of dissolution, synthesizing prakṛti or puruṣa together and also holding them out as different at the time of creation. At that time God enters by His will into prakṛti and puruṣa and produces a disturbance leading to creation[11]. When God enters into prakṛti and puruṣa His proximity alone is sufficient to produce the disturbance leading to creation; just as an odorous substance produces sensation of odour by its proximity without actually modifying the mind[12]. He (God) is both the disturber (kṣobha) or disturbed (kṣobhya), and that is why, through contradiction and dilation, creation is produced[13]. Here is once again the Pantheistic view of God, its first occurrence being manifested ultimately in four main categories, all of which are, so to speak, participating in the nature of God, all of which are His first manifestations, and also in which it is said that all is God, and so on. Aṇu means jīvā-tman[14]. Viṣṇu or Īśvara exists as the vikāra, i.e. the manifested forms, the puruṣa and also as Brahman[14]. This is clear Pantheism.

The commentator says that the word “kṣetrajña” in “kṣetrajñā-dhiṣṭhānāt” means puruṣa. But apparently neither the context nor the classical Sāṃkhya justifies it. The context distinctly shows that kṣetrajña means Īśvara ; and the manner of his adhiṣṭh-ātṛtva by entering into prakṛti and by proximity has already been described[15]. From the pradhāna the mahat-tattva emerges and it is then covered by the pradhāna, and being so covered it differentiates itself as the sāttvika, rājasa and tāmasa mahat.

The pradhāna covers the mahat just as a seed is covered by the skin[16]. Being so covered there spring from the threefold mahat the threefold ahaṃkāra called vaikārika, taijasa and bhūtā-di or tāmasa. From this bhūtā-di or tāmasa ahaṃkāra which is covered by the mahat (as the mahat itself was covered by pradhāna) there springs through its spontaneous self-modification the śabda-tanmātra, and by the same process there springs from that śabda-tanmātra the ākāśa —the gross element. Again, the bhūtā-di covers up the śabda-tanmātra and the ākāśa differentiated from it as the gross element. The ākāśa, being thus conditioned, produces spontaneously by self-modification the sparśa-tanmātra, which produces immediately and directly the gross vāyu. The bhūtādi again covers up the ākāśa, śabda-tanmātra, sparśa-tanmātra and the differentiated vāyu which later then produces the rūpa-tanmātra which immediately produces the gross light-heat (jyoti)[17].

The sparśa-tanmātra and the vāyu cover up the rūpa-tanmātra. Being thus conditioned, the differentiated gross jyoti produces the rasa-tanmātra from which again the gross water is produced. In a similar manner the rasa-tanmātra and the rūpa-tanmātra, being covered up, the differentiated gross water produces the gandha-tanmātra, from which again the gross earth is produced.

The tanmātras are the potential conditions of qualities and hence the qualities are not manifested there. They are, therefore, traditionally called aviśeṣa. They do not manifest the threefold qualities of the guṇas as śānta, ghora and mūḍḥa. It is for this reason also that they are called aviśeṣa [18].

From the taijasa-ahaṃkāra the five conative and cognitive senses are produced. From the vaikārika-ahaṃkāra is produced the manas[19]. These elements acting together in harmony and unity, together with the tanmātras, ahaṃkāra and mahat, form the unity of the universe under the supreme control of God. As the universe grows up, they form into an egg which gradually expands from within like a water-bubble; and this is called the materialistic body of Viṣṇu as Brahman. This universe is encircled on the outer side by water, fire, air, the ākāśa and the bhūtā-di and then by the mahat and the avyakta, each of which is ten times as large as the earth. There are thus seven coverings. The universe is like a cocoanut fruit with various shell-coverings. In proper time, again by causing a preponderance of tamas, God eats up the universe in His form as Rudra, and again creates it in His form as Brahmā. He maintains the world in His form as Viṣṇu. Ultimately, however, as God holds the universe within Him, He is both the creator and the created, the protector and the destroyer.

Though the Brahman is qualityless, unknowable and pure, yet it can behave as a creative agent by virtue of its specific powers which are incomprehensible to us. As a matter of fact the relation between the powers or energies and the substance is unthinkable. We can never explain how or why fire is hot[20] .

The earth, in adoring Hari, described Him as follows:

“Whatever is perceived as having visible and tangible forms in this world is but your manifestation. The ordinary people only make a mistake in thinking this to be a naturalistic universe. The whole world is of the nature of knowledge, and the error of errors is to regard it as an object. Those who are wise know' that this world is of the nature of thought and a manifestation of God, who is pure knowledge. Error consists in regarding the world as a mere naturalistic object and not as a manifestation of the structure of knowledge.”[21]

In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, I. 4. 50-52, it is said that God is only the dynamic agent (nimitta-mātram), the material cause being the energies of the objects of the universe which are to be created. These energies require only a dynamic agent to actualize them in the form of the universe. God is here represented to be only a formative agent, whereas the actual material cause of the world is to be found in the energies which constitute the objects of the world, through the influence and presence of God. The commentator notes that the formative agency of God consists merely in his presence (sānnidhya-mātreinai’va)[22].

In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, 1. 4, we find another account of creation. It is said that God in the beginning thought of creation, and an unintelligent creation appeared in the form of tamas, moha, mahā-moha,tāmisra and andha-tāmisra. These were the five kinds of avidyā which sprang from the Lord.

From these there came a creation of the five kinds of plants as

  • vṛksa,
  • gulma,
  • latā,
  • virūt
  • and tṛṇa (to which are to be added the mountains and the hills)

which have no inner or outer consciousness and may be described as having, as it were, closed souls (saṃvṛtā-tman). Not being satisfied with this He created the animals and birds, etc., called tiryak-srota. The animals, etc., are called tiryag, because their circulation is not upwards but runs circularly in all directions. They are full of tathas, and are described as avedinaḥ. The commentator notes that what is meant by the term avedin is that the animals have only appetitive knowledge, but no synthetic knowledge, i.e. cannot synthesise the experience of the past, the present and the future and cannot express what they know, and they have no knowledge about their destinies in this world and in the other, and are devoid of all moral and religious sense. They have no discrimination regarding cleanliness and eating; they are satisfied with their ignorance as true knowledge, i.e. they do not seek the acquirement of certain knowledge. They are associated with the twenty-eight kinds of vādha[23]. They are aware internally of pleasure and pain but they cannot communicate with one another[24]. Then, being dissatisfied with the animal creation, God created “the gods” who are always happy and can know both their inner feelings and ideas, and also the external objects, and communicate with one another. Being dissatisfied with that creation also He created “men,” which creation is called arvāk-srotas as distinguished from the creation of gods which is called ūrddhva-srotas. These men have an abundance of tamas and rajas, and they have therefore a preponderance of suffering. There are thus nine creations.

The first three, called the unintelligent creation (avuddhi-pūrvaka), is the naturalistic creation of

  1. mahat,
  2. the tanmātras,
  3. and the bhūtas, the physiological senses.

The fourth creation, called also the primary creation (mūkhya-varga), is the creation of plants; fifth is the creation of the tiryag-srotas\ sixth the ūrdha-srotas ; seventh the arvāk-srotas or men. The eighth creation seems to be the creation of a new kind. It probably means the distinctive characteristic of destiny of each of the four creations, plants, animals, gods and men. The plants have, for their destiny, ignorance; the animals have mere bodily energy; the gods have pure contentment; and the men have the realization of ends. This is called the anugraha-sarga[25]. Then comes the ninth sarga, called the kaumāra-sarga, which probably refers to the creation of the mental children of God such as Sanatkumāra, etc.

There are four kinds of pralayas : they are called the naimittika or brāhma, the prākṛtika, the ātyantika and the nitya. The naimittika-pralaya takes place when Brahmā sleeps; the prākṛtika occurs when the universe merges in prakṛti ; the ātyantika-pralaya is the result of the knowledge of God, i.e. to say, when Yogins lose themselves in paramā-tman, then occurs the ātyantika-pralaya ; and the fourth, viz. the nitya-pralaya, is the continual destruction that takes place daily.

In the Vāyu Purāṇa we hear of an ultimate principle which is associated with the first causal movement of God. This is regarded as the transcendental cause (kāraṇam aprameyam) and is said to be known by various names, such as

It is said to cover round the second puruṣa. This second puruṣa is probably the loka-pitā-maha. Through the association of time and preponderance of rajas eight different stages of modification are produced which are associated with kṣetrajña[26]. In this connection the Vāyu Purāṇa speaks also of the prākṛtika, the naimittika and the ātyantika-pralaya[27]. It also says that the categories of evolution have been discovered both by the guidance of the śāstras and by rational argument[28], and that prakṛti is devoid of all sensible qualities. She is associated with three guṇas, and is timeless and unknowable in herself. In the original state, in the equilibrium of guṇas, everything was pervaded by her as tamas. At the time of creation, being associated with kṣetrajña, mahat emerges from her. This mahat is due to a preponderance of sattva and manifests only pure existence.

This mahat is called by various names, such as

This mahat-prajñā, being stirred by desire to create, begins the work of creation and produces dharma, adharma and other entities[30]. Since the cause of the gross efforts of all beings exists always as conceived in a subtle state in the mahat, it is called “manas.” It is the first of all categories, and of infinite extent and is thus called mahān. Since it holds within itself all that is finite and measurable and since it conceives all differentiations from out of itself and appears as intelligent puruṣa, by its association with experience it is called mati. It is called brahman since it causes all growth. Further, as all the later categories derive their material from it, it is called pur. Since the puruṣa understands all things as beneficial and desirable and since it is also the stuff through which all understanding is possible, it is called buddhi.

All experience and integration of experience and all suffering and enjoyment depending upon knowledge proceed from it; therefore it is called khyāti. Since it directly knows everything as the great Soul it is called Īśvara. Since all sense-perceptions are produced from it, it is called prajñā. Since all states of knowledge and all kinds of karman and their fruits are collected in it for determining experience, it is called citi. Since it remembers the past, it is called smṛti. Since it is the storehouse of all knowledge, it is called mahā-tman. Since it is the knowledge of all knowledge, and since it exists everywhere and everything exists in it, it is saṃvit. Since it is of the nature of knowledge, it is called jñāna. Since it is the cause of all desideratum of conflicting entities, it is called vipura. Since it is the Lord of all beings in the world, it is called Īśvara. Since it is the knower in both the kṣetra and the kṣetrajña, and is one, it is called ka. Since it stays in the subtle body (puryāṃ śete) it is called puruṣa. It is called svayambhu, because it is uncaused and the beginning of creation.

Mahān being stirred up by the creative desire manifests itself in creation through two of its movements, conception (saṃkalpd) and determination (adhyavasāya). It consists of three guṇas, sattva, rajas, and tamas. With the preponderance of rajas, ahaṃkāra emerged from mahat. With the preponderance of tamas there also emerges from mahat, bhūtā-di, from which the bhūtas and tanmātras are produced. From this comes the ākāśa as vacuity which is associated with sound. From the modification of the bhūtā-di the sound-potential (śabda-tanmātra) has been produced. When the bhūtādi covers up the sound-potential, then the touch-potential was produced. When the ākāśa covers up the sound-potential and the touch-potential, the vāyu is produced. Similarly the other bhūtas and qualities are produced. The tanmātras are also called aviśeṣas. From the vaikārika or sāttvika-ahaṃkāra are produced the five cognitive and the five conative senses and the manas[31].

These guṇas work in mutual co-operation, and thereby produce the cosmic egg like a water-bubble. From this cosmic egg, the kṣetrajña called Brahmā —also called Hiranyagarbha (the four-faced God)—is produced. This god loses His body at the time of each pralaya and gains a new body at the time of a new creation[32]. The cosmic egg is covered by water, light, heat, air, ākāśa, bhūtādi, mahat, and avyakta. The eight prakṛtis are also spoken of, and probably the cosmic egg is the eighth cover[33].

In Chapter viii it is said that rajas remains as the dynamic principle inherent in sattva and tamas, just as oil remains in seas amum. It is further said that Maheśvara entered the pradhāna and puruṣa, and with the help of the dynamic principle of rajas produced a disturbance in the equilibrium of the prakṛti[34]. By the disturbance of the guṇas three gods are produced, from rajas Brahmā, from tamas Agni, and from sattva Viṣṇu. The Agni is also identified with kāla or Time.

The Vāyu Purāṇa also describes the nature of māheśvara-yoga[35]. This is said to be constituted of five elements or dharmas, such as

  1. prāṇāyāma,
  2. dhyāna,
  3. pratyāhāra,
  4. dhāraṇā,
  5. and smaraṇa.

Prāṇāyāma is of three kinds,

  1. manda,
  2. madhyama,
  3. and uttama.

Manda is of twelve mātrās,
of twenty-four,
and uttama of thirty-six.

When the vāyu is once controlled by gradual practice, then all sins are burnt and all bodily imperfections are removed. By dhyāna one should contemplate the qualities of God.

Then prāṇāyāma is said to bring about four kinds of results:

  1. śānti,
  2. praśānti,
  3. dīpti,
  4. and prasāda.

Śānti means the washing away of sins derived from impurities from parents and from the association of one’s relations. Praśānti means the destruction of personal sins, as greed, egotism, etc. Dlpti means the rise of a mystical vision by which one can see past, present and future and come in contact with the wise sages of the past and become like Buddha. Prasāda means the contentment and pacification of the senses, sense-objects, mind, and the five vāyus.

The process of prāṇāyāma beginning with āsana is also described. Pratyāhāra is regarded as the control of one’s desires and dharma is regarded as the fixing of the mind on the tip of the nose, or the middle of the eyebrows, or at a point slightly higher than that. Through pratyāhāra the influence of external objects is negated. By dhyāna one perceives oneself like the sun or the moon, i.e. there is an unobstructed illumination. The various miraculous powers that the yogī attains are called the upasargas and it is urged that one should always try to keep oneself free from the callings of these miraculous powers. The various objects of dhyāna are regarded as being the elements originating from the earth, manas and buddhi. The Yogin has to take these objects one by one, and then to leave them off, so that he may not be attached to any one of them. When he does so and becomes unattached to any one of these seven and concentrates on Maheśvara associated with omniscience, contentment, beginningless knowledge, absolute freedom (svātantrya), unobstructed power, and infinite power, he attains Brahman. So the ultimate object of Yoga realization is[36] the attainment of Brahmahood as Maheśvara which is also called apavarga[37].

In the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, yoga is described as a cessation of ajñāna through knowledge, which is, on the one hand, emancipation and unity with Brahman, and, on the other, dissociation from the guṇas of prakṛti[38]. All sorrows are due to attachment. With the cessation of attachment there is also the cessation of the feeling of identifying all things with oneself (mamatva); and this leads to happiness. True knowledge is that which leads to emancipation, all else is ajñāna. By experiencing the fruits of virtues and vices through the performance of duties and other actions, through the accumulation of fruits of past karman (apūrva), and through the exhaustion of certain others, there is the bondage of karma. The emancipation from karma, therefore, can only result from an opposite procedure. The prāṇāyāma is supposed to destroy sins[39]. In the ultimate stage the yogī becomes one with Brahman, just as water thrown in water becomes one with it[40]. There is no reference here to chitta-vṛtti-nirodha as yoga.

Vāsudeva is described here as the ultimate Brahman, who by His creative desire has created everything through the power of time. Through this power He separated the two entities of pradhāna and puruṣa from within Himself and connected them both. The first entity that emerged from prakṛti in this creative process was mahat, from which emerged ahaṃkāra, and from which again emerged sattva, rajas and tamas. From tamas came the five tanmātras and the five bhūtas ; from rajas came the ten senses and the buddhi. From sattva came the presiding gods of the senses and the manas[41]. It is further said that Vāsudeva exists in the prakṛti and the puruṣas and all the effects, both as pervading through them and also separate from them, that is, He is both immanent and transcendent. Even when He exists as pervading through them, He is not in any way touched by their limitations and impurities. True knowledge is that which takes account of the nature of all those which have emanated from Vāsudeva in their specific forms as prakṛti, puruṣa, etc., and also of Vāsudeva in His pure and transcendent form[42].

It should be noted that in the Padma Purāṇa there is a mention of hrahma-hhakti, which is either kāyika, vācika and mānasika or laukikī, vaidikī and ādhyātmikī. This ādhyātmikī-bhakti is further subdivided into the sāṃkhya-bhakti and yoga-bhakti[43]. The knowledge of twenty-four principles and of their distinction from the ultimate principle called puruṣa, as also of the relation among puruṣa and prakṛti and the individual soul, is known as sāṃkhya-bhakti[44]. Practice of prāṇayāma and meditation upon the Lord Brahma constitute the yoga-bhakti[45]. The term bhakti is here used in a very special sense.

In Nāradlya Purāṇa Nārāyaṇa is said to be the Ultimate Reality, that is, if seen in theological perspective it may be said to create from itself Brahmā the creator, Viṣṇu the protector and preserver, and Rudra the destroyer[46]. This Ultimate Reality has also been called Mahā-viṣṇu[47]. It is through his characteristic power that the universe is created. This śakti or power is said to be both of the type of existence and non-existence, both vidyā and avidyā[48]. When the universe is seen as dissociated from Mahā-viṣṇu, the vision is clearly due to avidyā ingrained in us; when, on the other hand, the consciousness of the distinction between the knower and the known disappears and only the consciousness of unity pervades, it is due to vidyā (it is vidyā itself)[49]. And just as Hari permeates or pervades through the universe, so also does His śakti[50].

Just as the quality of heat exists by pervading, i.e. as in and through Agni its support, even so the śakti of Hari can never be dissociated from Him[51]. This śakti exists in the form of vyaktā-vyakta, pervading the whole universe, prakṛti, puruṣa and kāla are her first manifestations[52]. As this śakti is not separate from Mahā-viṣṇu, it is said that at the time of first or original creation Mahā-viṣṇu, being desirous of creating the universe, becomes, i.e. takes the forms of prakṛti, puruṣa and kāla. From prakṛti, disturbed by the presence of the puruṣa, comes out mahat, and from mahat comes into existence buddhi, and from buddhi, ahaṃkāra[53].

This Ultimate Principle has also been called Vāsudeva, who is said to be the ultimate knowledge and the ultimate goal[54].

Sorrow or misery of three kinds is necessarily experienced by all beings born in the universe—and the only remedy that sets them free from misery is the final obtaining of the Lord (or God)[55]. The ways to find God are two, the way of knowledge (jñāna) and that of action (karma). This jñāna springs up either from the learning of scriptural texts or from viveka (discriminative knowledge)[56].

yoga is also defined in the next chapter. It is described as Brahma-laya. The manas is the cause of bondage and emancipation. Bondage means association with sense-objects, and emancipation means dissociation from them. When, like a magnet, the self draws the mind inside and directs its activities in an inward direction and ultimately unites with Brahman, that is called yoga[57].

Viṣṇu is described as having three kinds of śakti (power): parā or ultimate, the aparā (which is identical with individual efforts), and a third power which is called vidyā and karma[58]. All energies belong to Viṣṇu, and it is through His energies that all living beings are moved into activity[59].

The word bhakti has also been used in another chapter in the sense of śraddhā, and is held to be essential for all the various actions of life[60].

[61] (somewhere in below paragraph)

According to the Kūrma Purāṇa it seems that God exists firstly as the unmanifested, infinite, unknowable and ultimate director. But He is also called the unmanifested, eternal, cosmic cause which is both being and non-being and is identified with prakṛti. In this aspect He is regarded as para-brahman, the equilibrium of the three guṇas. In this state the puruṣa exists within Himself as it were, and this is also called the state of prākṛta-pralaya. From this state of unmanifestedness God begins to assert Himself as God and enters into prakṛti and puruṣa by His own inner intimate contact.

This existence of God may be compared with the sex-impulse in man or woman which exists within them and manifests itself only as a creative impulse although remaining one and the same with them all the while. It is for this reason that God is regarded as both passive (kṣobhya) and dynamic (kṣobhaka). It is therefore said that God behaves as prakṛti by self-contraction and dilatation.

From the disturbed prakṛti and the puruṣa sprang up the seed of mahat, which is of the nature of both pradhāna and puruṣa (pradhāna puruṣāt-makam).

From this came into existence mahat, also called

  • ātman,
  • mati,
  • brahmā,
  • prabuddhi,
  • khyāti,
  • Īśvara,
  • prajñā,
  • dhṛti,
  • smṛti,
  • samvit.

From this mahat came out the threefold

  1. ahaṃkāra-vaikārika,
  2. taijasa
  3. and bhūtādi (also called tāmasa ahaṃkāra).

This ahaṃkāra is also called

for all our efforts spring from this.

It is said that there is a sort of cosmic mind called manas which springs directly from the avyakta and is regarded as the first product which superintends the evolution of the tāmasa ahaṃkāra into its products[62]. This manas is to be distinguished from the manas or the sense which is the product of both the taijasa and vaikārika ahaṃkāra.

Two kinds of views regarding the evolution, the tanmātras and the bhūtas, are given here in succession, which shows that the Kūrma Purāṇa must have been revised; and the second view, which is not compatible with the first, was incorporated at a later stage. These two views are as follows:

(1) Bhūtādi has, in its development, created the śabda-mātra, from which sprang into existence the ākāśa, which has sound as its quality. The sparśa-mātra was created from the ākāśa, developing itself; and from the sparśa-tanmātra came out vāyu, which, consequently has sparśa as its quality. Vāyu, in the state of development, created the rūpa-mātra from which came into existence jyoti (light-heat), which has colour (rūpa) as its quality. From this jyoti, in the condition of development, sprang up rasa-mātra (taste-potential), which created water, which has taste for its quality. The water, in the state of development, created the smell-potential (gandha-mātra), from which came into existence the conglomeration, which has smell as its quality.

(2) Ākāśa as the sound-potential covered up the touch-potential, and from this sprang up vāyu, which has therefore two qualities—the sound and touch. Both the qualities, śabda and sparśa, entered the colour-potential, whence sprang up the vahni (fire), with three qualities—the śabda, the sparśa, and the rūpa.

These qualities, viz. śabda, sparśa and rūpa, entered the taste-potential, whence came into existence water having four qualities

  1. śabda,
  2. sparśa,
  3. rūpa
  4. and rasa.

These four qualities entered smell-potential, from which sprang into existence gross bhūmi (the earth), which has all the five qualities of

  1. śabda,
  2. sparśa,
  3. rūpa,
  4. rasa,
  5. and gandha.

Mahat, ahaṃkāra and the five tanmātras are in themselves unable to produce the orderly universe, which is effected through the superintendence of the puruṣa (puruṣā-dhiṣṭhitatvāc ca) and by the help of avyakta (avyaktā-nugraheṇa). The universe thus created has seven coverings. The production of the universe, and its maintenance and ultimate dissolution, are all effected through the playful activity (sva-līlayā) of God for the benefit of his devotees[63].

Footnotes and references:


sargaś ca pratisargaś ca vaṃśo manv-antarāṇi ca |
vaṃśā-nucaritaṅ cai’va purāṇaṃ pañca-lakṣaṇaṃ. ||
     Kūrma Purāṇa, i. 12.


Brahman is also regarded as sraṣṭā, Hari as pātā (Protector), and Maheśvara as saṃḥartā.

āpo nārā iti proktā, āpo vai nara-sūnavaḥ
ayanaṃ tasya tāh pūrvaṃ tena nārāyaṇaḥ smṛtah.

     Manu. I. 10.


sarvatrā'sau samastaṃ ca vasaty atreti vai yataḥ.
tataḥ sa vāsudeveti vidvadbḥiḥ paripaṭhyute.
     Viṣṇu Purāṇa
, I. 2. 12.


Heyā-bhāvāc-ca nirmalam. Ibid. 1. 2. 13.


vyaktaṃ viṣṇus tathā’vyaktaṃ puruṣaḥ kāla eva ca I. (?) krīḍato bālakasye’va ceṣṭāṃ tasya niśāmaya.
I. 2. 18.


Ibid. I. 2. 19.


Ibid. I. 2. 21.


Viṣṇu Purāṇa, I. 2. 23.


Viṣṇoḥ svarūpāt parato hi tetiye rūpe pradhānaṃ puruṣaśca vipra
tasyai’va tenyena dhṛte viyukte rūpā-di yat tad dvija kāla-saṃjñām.
1. 2. 24.


Ibid. 1. 2. 25.


Viṣṇu Purāṇa, I. 2. 29.


Ibid. 1. 2. 30.


Ibid. I. 2. 31.


Ibid. 1. 2. 32.


guṇa-sāmyāt tatas tasmāt hṣetrajñā-dhiṣṭliitan mune
guṇa-vyañjana-satnbhūtiḥ sarga-kāle dvijo-ttama.
     Ibid. 1.
2. 33.


pradhānci-tattvena samaṃ tvacā bījam ivā’vrtam.
1. 2. 34.


The commentator notes that when the ākāśa is said to produce sparśa-tanmātra, it is not the ākāśa that does so but the bhūtā-di manifesting itself as ākāśa, i.e. it is through some accretion from bhūtā-di that the ākāśa can produce the sparśa-tanmātra.

Akāśaḥ ākāśamayo bhūtā-diḥ sparśa-tanmātraṃ sasarja.


See the commentary to śloka. Viṣṇu Purāṇa, I. 2. 44.


  The commentator notes that the word manas here means antaḥkaraṇa, including its four functions as manas, buddhi, citta and ahaṃkāra.


Viṣṇu Purāṇa, 1. 3. 1-2.


yad etad dṛśyate mūrtam, etad jñānā-tmanas tava.
bhrānti-jñānena paśyanti jagad-rūpam aynginaḥ.
I. 4. 39.

jñāna-svarūpam akhihiṃ jagad etad abuddhayaḥ
artha-svarūpaṃ paśyanto bhrāmyante moha-saṃplave.
1. 4. 40.


nimitta-mātram evā’sīt sṛjyānāṃ sarga-karmaṇi
pradhāna-kāraṇī-bhūtā yato vai sṛjya-śaktayaḥ.
I. 4. 51.

nimitta-mātraṃ muktvai’kaṃ nā'nyat kiñcid arekṣyate
nīyate tapatāṃ śreṣṭha sva-śaktyā rastu vastutām.
I. 4. 52.

sisṛkṣuḥ śakti-yukto'sau sṛjya-śakti-pracoditaḥ.
I. 5. 65.

In this passage it is hinted that the will of God and His power to create is helped by the energies of the objects to be created.


In the Sāṃkhya-kārikā, 49, we hear of twenty-eight vādhās. The reference to vādhās here is clearly a reference to the technical vādhās of the Sārnkhya philosophy, where it also seems certain that at the time of Viṣṇu Purāṇa the technical name of the Sāṃkhya vādhās must have been a very familiar thing. It also shows that the Viṣṇu Purāṇa was closely associated with the Sārnkhya circles of thought, so that the mere allusion to the term vādhā was sufficient to refer to the Sāṃkhya vādhās.

The Viṣṇu Purāṇa was probably a work of the third century A.D.; and the Kārikā of Īśvara Kṛṣṇa was composed more or less at’the same time. In the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa (Yeṅkateśvara edition, ch. 44, v. 20) we have the reading Aṣṭāviṃśad-vidhātmikā. In the B. 1. edition of Mārkaṇḍeya by K. M. Banerji we have also in ch. 47, v. 20, the same reading.

The reading vādhānvitā occurs neither in the Mārkaṇḍeya nor in the Padma Purāṇa 13, 65. The supposition, therefore, is that the twenty -eight kinds in Mārkaṇḍeya were changed into twenty-eight kinds of vādhā through the Sāṃkhya influence in the third century. The Mārkaṇḍeya is supposed to have been written in the first half of the second century B.C. It is not easy to guess what twenty-eight kinds of animal creation were intended by Mārkaṇḍeya. But the identification of them with the twenty-eight kinds ot Sārnkhya vādhā seems to be quite inappropriate.


antaḥ prakāśās te sarva āvṛtās tu paras-param.
     Viṣṇu Purāṇa,
1. 5. 10.


The Vāyu Purāṇa, vi. 68, describes it as follows:

sthāvareṣu viparyāsas tiryag-yoniṣu śaktitā
siddhā-tmāno manuṣyās tu tuṣṭir deveṣu kṛtsnaśaḥ.

The sixth sarga is there described as being of the ghosts.

bhūtā-dikānāṃ sattvānāṃ ṣaṣṭhaḥ sargaḥ sa ucyate.
vi. 58-59.

te parigrahiṇaḥ sarve saṃvibhāga-ratāḥ punaḥ.
khādanāś copy aśīlāś ca jñeyā bhūtā-dikāś ca te.
vi. 30.

In the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, anugraha-sarga is described as the fifth sarga.

In the Kūrma Purāṇa, 7. 11, these bhūtas are regarded as being the fifth sarga. The Kūrma Purāṇa describes the first creation as the mahat-sarga, the second as bhuta-sarga, the third as Vaikārike’-ndriya-sarga, the fourth as the mukhya-sarga, and the fifth as tiryak-sarga. There is thus a contradiction, as the fifth sarga was described in the eleventh verse in the same chapter as the creation of ghosts. This implies the fact that probably two hands were at work at different times, at least in the seventh chapter of the Kūrma Purāṇa.


Vāyu Purāṇa, 3. 11, and compare the Pañcarātra doctrine as elaborated in Ahirbudhnya.


Vāyu Purāṇa, 3. 23.


tac-chāstra-yuktyā sva-mati-prayatnāt samastam āviṣkṛta-dhī-dhṛtibhyaḥ. Ibid. 3. 24.

It speaks of five pramāṇas. Ibid. 4. 16.


Ibid. 4. 25.


Ibid. 4. 24.


This is different from other accounts. No function is ascribed to the rājasa ahaṃkāra, from which the conative senses are generally derived.


Vāyu Purāṇa, 4. 68.


The passage is obscure, as it is difficult to find out exactly what these eight prakṛtis are. Ibid. 4. 77-78.


It has been noted before that the creation of the material world proceeded from the tāmasa ahaṃkāra, and that of the cognitive and conative senses from the sāttvika ahaṃkāra. The rājasa ahaṃkāra was not regarded as producing anything, but merely as a moment leading to disturbance of equilibrium. See also Vāyu Purāṇa, 5. 9.


Ibid. chap. 11—15.


There is no reference in the chapters on yoga of the Vāyu Purāṇa to vṛtti-nirodha and kaivalya.


There is a chapter both in the Vāyu Purāṇa and in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa on ariṣṭa, similar to what is found in the Jayākhya-saṃhitā where signs are described by which the yogin is to know the time of his death, though the description of his death is entirely different from that given in the other two works.


jñāna-pūrvo viyogo yo’jtīānena saha yoginaḥ |
sā muktir brahmaṇā cai’kyam anaikyaṃ prākṛtair guṇaiḥ. ||
Mīārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, 39. 1.


The method of prāṇāyama and other processes of yoga is more or less the same as that found in the Vāyu Purāṇa.


Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, 40. 41.

The Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, in this connection, says that the yogin should know the approac h of his death by the signs described in ch. 40, so that he may anticipate it and may not get dispirited.


Skanda Purāṇa, n. 9. 24, verses 1-10.


Ibid. verses 65-74.


Padma Purāṇa, 1. 15, verses 164-177.


Ibid. verses 177-186.


Ibid. verses 187-190.


Nāradīya Purāṇa, I. 3. 4.


Ibid. verse 9.


Ibid. verse 7.


Nāradīya Purāṇa, I. 3, verses 7-9.


Ibid. verse 12.

It should be distinctly noted here that the creation of the universe has been attributed to Hari through the upādhi avidyā, which is His own śakti. The whole account sounds the note of the Vedānta philosophy.

The follow ing line should be particularly noted:

avidyo-pādhi-yogena tathe’dam akhilaṃ jagat.
3. 12.

And this line should be read with the previous verse—

viṣṇu-śakti-samudbhūtam etat sarvaṃ carā-caṛam
yasmād bhinnam idam sarvaṃ yacce’gaṃ yacca teṅgati
upādhibhir yathā’kāśo bhinnatvena pratīyate.
verses 10-11.


Ibid. verse 13.


Ibid. verse 17.


Ibid. verses 28, 31.


Ibid. verse 80.


For the concept of antaryāmin see verse 26 of Adhyāya 3 and also verse 48 of Adhyāya 33.


Nāradīya Purāṇa, verses 4, 5.

utpattiṃ pralayaṃ cai'va bhiitānām agatiṃ gatiṃ
vetti vidyām avidyāṃ ca sa vācyo bhagavān iti
jñāna-śakti-balai-śvarya-vīrya-tejāṃsy aśeṣataḥ
bhagavac-śabda-vācyo’yaṃ vinā heyair guṇā-dibhiḥ
sarvaṃ hi tatra bhīitāni vasanti paramā-tmani
bhuteṣu vasate sāntar vāsudevas tataḥ smṛtaḥ.
bhūteṣu vasate sāntar vasanty atra ca tāni yat
dhātā vidhātā jagatāṃ vāsudevas tatas smṛtaḥ.
Ibid. 1. 46, verses 21-24.

The attributes of Vāsudeva are described in following four verses. It should also be noted that Bhagavān means Vāsudeva. (Ibid. verse 19.)


ātma-prayatna-sāpekṣā viśiṣṭā yā mano-gatiḥ
tasyā brahmaṇi saṃyogo yoga ity abhidhīyate.
     Nāradīya Purāṇa,
47. 7.

There is also a description of prāṇāyāma, yama, and niyama, etc., from v. 8 to v. 20.


 Ibid. 1. 47, verses 36-38.


Ibid. verses 47—49.


Ibid. 1, verse 4.


Kūrma Purāṇa contains the following verse:

maheśvaraḥ paro’vyaktaś catur-vyūhaḥ sanātanah
anantaś cā’prameyaś ca niyantā sarvato-mukhaḥ.

     (4. 5.)

Two points should be noted here. Firstly, that the Ultimate Reality has been called Maheśvara and not Viṣṇu. Secondly, catur-vyūha is one of the adjectives mentioned in this verse to explain the nature of that Ultimate Reality.


manas tv avyakta-jaṃ pro’ktaṃ vikārciḥ prathamaḥ smṛtaḥ
yenā’sau jāyate kartā bhīitā-diṃś ca’nupaśyati.
     Kūrma Purāṇa
, 4. 21.


The God is called Nārāyaṇa, because He is the ultimate support of all human beings:

narāṇāmayanamyasmāt tena nārāyaṇas smṛtaḥ.
     Kūrma Purāṇa,
iv. 62.

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