Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Ishvara included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Īśvara

Once Devī told Himavān who, according to the Hindu religion, God is, and how creation takes place from Īśvara (God). The famous discussion about Godhood, called Devīgītā is quoted hereunder.

"(1) ahamevāsa pūrvaṃ tu nānyad kiṃcit nagādhipa / tadātmarūpaṃ cit saṃvit parabrahmaikanāmakam. //" (Before the creation of the universe commenced, I alone was; there was nothing else. Then I was called Parabrahman, Citsvarūpī, Saṃvitsvarūpī and Ātmarūpī).

"(2) apratarkyamanirdeśyamanaupamyamanāmayam / tasya kācit svataḥ siddhā śaktirmāyeti viśrutā //"

(That form is beyond discussion (Apratarkyam); beyond description (Anirdeśyam); incapable of being compared (Anaupamyam); beyond birth, death youth, old age etc. (Anāmayam). In this form of mine resides māyāśakti.

"(3) na satī śā nāsatī sānobhayātmā virodhataḥ / etadvilakṣaṇā kācidvastubhūtāsti sarvadā //"

(That māyāśakti cannot be said to be existing or not existing. Thus it is neither existing nor not existing. The statement existing and not existing is subject to the error, paradox. That great force exists always in me with the pair of aspects.

"(4) pāvakasyoṣṇateveyamuṣṇāṃśoriva dīdhitiḥ / candrasya candrikeveyaṃ mameyaṃ sahajā dhruvā //"

(Fire does not exist without heat, nor Sun without light nor Moon without its rays. Just like this, that māyāśakti is coeval with me. It is permanent.

"(5) tasyāṃ karmāṇi jivānāṃ jīvāḥ kālāśca sañcare / abhedena vilīnāḥ syuḥ suṣuptau vyavahāravat //"

(Just as all actions, feelings and even the sense of time remain latent in deep sleep, even so all the actions and emotions of all living beings lie absorbed in Māyā).

"(6) svaśakteśca samāyogādahaṃ bījātmatāṃ gatā / svādhārāvaraṇāttasyadoṣatvaṃ ca samāgatam //"

(I am myself the source of this Māyā; but it has a strange power called āvaraṇa which hides my real nature).

"(7) caitanyasya samāyogād nimittatvaṃ ca kathyate / prapañcapariṇāmācca samavāyitvamucyate //"

(Being joined to Caitanya (Brahman) Māyā becomes the material as well as the immediate cause of the universe (Prapañca).

"(8) kecittām tapa ityāhustamaḥ kecijjaḍāṃ pare / jñānaṃ māyāṃ pradhānaṃ ca prakṛtiṃ śaktimapyajām //" (This māyā is referred to differently by different people as tapas, tamas, jaḍa, jñāna, māyā, pradhāna, prakṛti and ajā.).

"(9) vimarśa iti tāṃ prāhuḥ śaivaśāstraviśāradāḥ / avidyāmitare prāhurvedatatvārthacintakāḥ //"

(Experts in Śaiva philosophical thought refer to this māyā as vimarśa and Vedic seers call it avidyā).

"(10) evam nānāvidhāni syuḥ nāmāni nigamādiṣu / tasyāḥ jaḍatvaṃ dṛśyatvāt jñānanāśāttato'satī //"

(Thus Vedas refer to māyā by various names. Because of visibility māyā is called jaḍa, and because it is destructive of true knowledge it is called asat).

"(11) caitanyasya na dṛśyatvaṃ dṛśyatve jaḍameva tat / svaprakāśaṃ ca caitanyaṃ na pareṇa prakāśitam //"

(Caitanya (Effulgence) is not visible. What is seen is jaḍa (material expression). Caitanya is self-illuminating; it is not illuminated by something else).

"(12) anavasthādoṣasatvānna svenāpi prakāśitam / karmakartṛvirodhaḥ syāttasmāttaddīpavat svayam // (13) prakāśamānamanyeṣāṃ bhāsakaṃ viddhi parvata / ata eva ca nityatvaṃ siddhaṃ samvittanormama //"

(If caitanya is not self-illuminating then it is subject to the drawback of Anavasthādoṣa (Absence of finality). If Caitanya does not possess the quality of light and illumination there should necessarily be something else, which illuminates it, and there should again be something to illuminate that which illuminates Caitanya. And, it continues ad infinitum. This state of no conclusion is called anavasthā doṣa. Also one thing cannot be, at the same time, the subject (actor) and the object of action, and that invites the draw-back of paradox. Therefore, O King of mountains! understand that Caitanya is self-illuminating and it illuminates other things by its own illumination. And this, therefore, proves that my Caitanya is eternal).

"(14) jāgratsvapnasuṣuptyādau dṛśyasya vyabhicārataḥ / saṃvido vyabhicāraśca nānubhūtosti karhicit //"

(All visible things go on changing in the three states of awaking, dream and deep sleep. But, like visible things Caitanya is not subject to change, and does not experience the three states).

"(15) yadi tasyāpyanubhāvastarhyayaṃ yena sākṣiṇā / anubhūtaḥ sa evātra śiṣṭaḥ saṃvidvapuḥ purā //"

(If it is argued that it (Caitanya) experiences the three states then there must be something else as 'witness' for the experience. But, since it is established as self-illuminating there cannot be something else as 'witness'.

"(16) ata eva ca nityatvaṃ proktaṃ sacchāstrakovidaiḥ / ānandarūpatā cāsyāḥ parapremāspadatvataḥ //"

(Because of the above reasons experts in the science of philosophy hold that this Caitanya is eternal, and that, since it is the basis of bhakti which assumes the form of absolute love, it is ānandarūpa).

"(17) mā na bhūvaṃ hi bhūyāsamiti premātmani sthitaṃ / sarvasyānyasya mithyātvādasaṃgatvaṃ sphuṭaṃ mama //"

(No living souls think 'I am not'. Every body cherishes always his self-importance, the 'I'. It is present there in every living soul in the form of love. This fact itself proves that I am different from all material objects).

"(18) aparicchinnatāpyevamata eva matā mama / tacca jñānaṃ nātmadharmo dharmatve jaḍatātmanaḥ //" (That I am indivisible is quite definite. Knowledge is not an attribute of the soul (ātman) but is the very form of the soul itself. If knowledge were only an attribute of the soul it (soul) should have been material (jaḍa) and it is quite a certitude that the soul is not material, because knowledge is the very nature of the soul).

"(19) jñānasya jaḍaśeṣatvaṃ na dṛṣṭam na ca saṃbhavi / ciddharmatvaṃ tathā nāsti ciraścid nahi bhidyate //"

(The soul is pure knowledge without any touch of the jaḍa. It is also pure existence. It is one and indivisible).

"(20) tasmādātmā jñānarūpaḥ sukharūpaśca sarvadā / satyaḥ pūrṇopyasaṃgaśca dvaitajālavivarjitaḥ //"

(The ātman (soul) is therefore jñānarūpa (of the nature of pure knowledge), Sukharūpa (of the nature of pure joy) and satyarūpa (of the nature of absolute truth). It is unattached to anything and free from duality).

"(21) sa punaḥ kāmakarmādiyuktayā svīyamāyayā / pūrvānubhūtasaṃskārāt kālakarmavipākataḥ // (22) avivekācca tattvasya sisṛkṣāvān prajāyate / abuddhipūrvaḥ sargo'yaṃ kathitaste nagādhipa // (23) etaddhi yanmayā proktaṃ mama rūpamalaukikam / avyākṛtaṃ tadavyaktaṃ māyāśabalamityapi // (24) procyate sarvaśāstreṣu sarvakāraṇakāraṇam tattvānāmādibhūtaṃ ca saccidānandavigraham // (25) sarvakarmaghanībhūtamicchājñānakriyāśrayam / hrīṃkāramantravācyaṃ tadādi tatvaṃ taducyate //"

(Impelled by the Vāsanās of previous actions the Māyāśakti proceeds to create the world, beginning with the 24 tattvas. My form which is immaterial and unmanifested is praised by all śāstras to be the cause of all causes and the basis of all tattvas. It is also the basis of all knowledge, action and volition and realizable only through the hrīṃkāra mantra).

"(26) tasmādākāśa utpannaḥ śabdatanmātrarūpakaḥ / bhavet sparśātmako vāyustejorūpātmakaṃ punaḥ // (27) jalaṃ rasātmakaṃ paścāt-tato gandhātmikā dharā / śabdaikaguṇa ākāśo vāyussparśaravānvitaḥ (28) śabdasparśarūpaguṇaṃ teja ityucyate budhaiḥ / śabdasparśarūparasairāpo vedaguṇāḥ smṛtāḥ // (29) śabdasparśarūparasagandhaiḥ pañcaguṇā dharā / tebhyobhavan mahatsūtraṃ yalliṃgaṃ paricakṣate // (30) sarvātmakaṃ tat saṃproktaṃ sūkṣmadeho'yamātmanaḥ / avyaktaṃ kāraṇo dehaḥ sa coktaḥ pūrvameva hi //"

(From this primordial principle the five elements (pañcabhūtas) were born. The first of these is ether which is the element of sound because sound travels through ether (śabda-tanmātra-rūpa). Then air (vāyu) gave rise to the sense of touch and so air is called sparśarūpa. This vāyu again gave rise to Agni (Vāyoragniḥ). Then came water which corresponds to the sense of taste (rasarūpa). From water came earth which is gandharūpa (the source of smell) (Udakādbhūmiḥ). Ākāśa (ether) has only one guṇa, namely sound. Vāyu (air) has two guṇasSabda and Sparśa (Sound and touch). Agni has three guṇas:—rūpa, śabda and sparśa. Jalaṃ (water) has four guṇas—śabda, sparśa, rūpa, and rasa. The last element—earth—has five guṇas—śabda, sparśa, rūpa, rasa and gandha. From these five tanmātrās is born the liṅga-śarīra or sūkṣma-śarīra).

"(31) yasmin jagadbījarūpaṃ sthitaṃ liṅgodbhavo yataḥ / tataḥ sthūlāni bhūtāni pañcīkaraṇamārgataḥ // (32) pañcasaṃkhyāni jāyante tatprakārastvathocyate / pūrvoktāni ca bhūtāni pratyekaṃ vibhajeddvidhā //"

(The jagat (universe) remained in embryo form (bījarūpa) in these pañcatanmātrās. Then by the process of Pañcīkaraṇa all the gross material objects were created. These pañcabhūtas were first divided into two (each was divided into two). Then by a process of the combination of these ten parts different substances were born as detailed in the following stanzas.

"(33) ekaikaṃ bhāgamekasya caturdhā vibhajed gire / svasvetaradvitīyāṃśe yojanāt pañca pañca te //"

(Each half of each of these five bhūtas is again subdivided into four parts. These 1/8 parts are joined to the other halves and by combining them in other fractions the material bodies (sthūlaśarīras) of all beings are made).

"(34) tatkāryaṃ ca virāṭ dehaḥ sthūladeho yamātmanaḥ / pañcabhūtasthasatvāṃśaiḥ śrotrādīnāṃ samudbhavaḥ //"

Virāṭdeha (Cosmic body) is the sum total of these individual material bodies. The inner conscience and bodily organs like ear etc. originate from the gentle and pure aspects of the five elements.

"(35) jnānendriyāṇām rājendra! pratyekaṃ militaistu taiḥ / antaḥkaraṇamekaṃ syād vṛttibhedāccaturvidham // (36) yadā tu saṃkalpavikalpakṛtyaṃ tadābhavettanmana ityabhikhyam / syād buddhisaṃjñaṃ ca yadā pravetti suniścitaṃ saṃśayahīnarūpam // (37) anusandhānarūpaṃ taccittaṃ ca parikīrtitam / ahaṃ kṛtyātmavṛttyā tu tadahaṃkāratāṃ gatam "

(Antaḥkaraṇa, due to differences in state assumes four forms. When once conception and doubt arise in a subject, then it is called mind. When there is no doubt, but there is assuredness it is called understanding (buddhi). The function of examining a subject again and over again belongs to citta. To think of 'I' is egoism or ahaṃkāra).

"(38) teṣāṃ rajoṃśairjātāni kramāt karmendriyāṇi ca / pratyekaṃ militaistaistu prāṇo bhavati pañcadhā // (39) hṛdi prāṇo gude'pāno nābhisthastu samānakaḥ / kaṇṭhadeśepyudānassyādvyānaḥ sarvaśarīragaḥ //"

(From the coarse (rājasic) aspects of the five senseorgans originate the five organs of action like word, foot, hand, excretory and the genital organ, and also the five prāṇas (breaths) called prāṇa, apāna, samāna, udāna and vyāṇa. Prāṇa is located in the heart, apāna in the anus, samāna in the nābhi (navel) udāna in the throat and vyāna all over the body).

"(40) jñānendriyāṇi pañcaiva pañcakarmendriyāṇi ca / prāṇādi pañcakaṃ caiva dhiyā ca sahitam manaḥ // (41) etat sūkṣmaśarīraṃ syān mama liṅgaṃ yaducyate / tatra yā prakrtiḥ proktā sā rājan dvividhā smṛtā //"

(Organs of knowlege 5, of actions 5, and prāṇas 5, and buddhi 1, mind 1, the body is composed of these 17 factors). This forms the Sūkṣmaśarīra whose prakṛti is two-fold (as mentioned below).

"(42) satvātmikā tu māyā syādavidyā guṇamiśritā / svāśrayaṃ yā tu saṃrakṣet sā māyeti nigadyate //"

One is pure māyā and the other is avidyā possessing properties).

"(43) tasyāṃ yat pratibiṃbaṃsyādbimbabhūtasya ceśituḥ sa īśvaraḥ samākhyātaḥ svāśrayajñānavān paraḥ // (44) sarvajñaḥ sarvakartā ca sarvānugrahakārakaḥ / avidyāyāṃ tu yat kiṃcit pratibiṃbaṃ nagādhipa // "

(Brahmacaitanya reflected in this māyā is Īśvara (God). That Īśvara is the same as the ātman (soul), brahman absolute, creator of everything, omniscient, and the cause of all blessings. The soul reflects to a small extent in avidyā also).

"(45) tadeva jīvasaṃjñaṃ syāt sarvaduḥkhāśrayaṃ punaḥ / dvayorapīha saṃproktaṃ dehatrayamavidyayā //"

(This jīva is the receptacle of all sorrows. Due to vidyā and avidyā both get three kinds of bodies).

"(46) dehatrayābhimānāccāpyabhūnnāmatrayaṃ punaḥ / prājñastu kāraṇātmā syāt sūkṣmadehī tu taijasaḥ // (47) sthūladehī tu viśvākhyastrividhaḥ parikīrtitaḥ / evamīśopi samprokto jīvasūtravirāṭpadaiḥ // (48) prathamo vyaṣṭirūpaśtu samaṣṭyātmā paraḥ smṛtaḥ / sa hi sarveśvaraḥ sākṣāt jīvānugrahakāmyayā // (49) karoti vividhaṃ viśvaṃ nānābhogāśrayaṃ punaḥ / macchaktiprerito nityaṃ mayi rājan prakalpitaḥ. //"

He who is attached and is proud about the material body is called Viśva; he who attaches importance to the subtle body is called Taijasa, and he who is aware of the causal body is called Prājña. The jīva is Vyaṣṭisvarūpa (has individuality) but Īśvara is Samaṣṭyātmaka (embraces all the jīvas). Īśvara works impelled by my power).

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