Random Musings- Part 14- Notes on Para-Brahman

Nithin Sridhar

Much of the confusion regarding the nature of Brahman is because the scriptures speak about them differently at different places. Sometimes reference is to Brahman as Hiranyagarba & at others it is to Ishwara & still other place the reference is to Nirguna Brahman. Para-Brahman who is Nirguna in his Paramartika State, itself appear as Saguna Brahman through his Maya. Para-Brahman in this aspect of manifestation associated with Maya i.e. Saguna Brahman is called as Ishwara. Further, it is Saguna Brahman, when he himself is born as an effect from the seed-form is called as Brahmaa/Hiranyagarbha.

Para-Brahman in his unconditioned state is denoted as Nirguna Brahman and in his conditioned/manifested state is denoted as Saguna Brahman. In his manifestation state, Saguna Brahman is called Ishwara when it is associated with Maya/Unmanifested Prakriti i.e. Seed form. In manifestation State,when Saguna Brahman exist as effect i.e. as first born from whom everything else is created is called as Brahmaa. Ishwara is called as Karana Brahman/Akshara Brahman and Brahmaa/Hiranyagarbha is called as Karya Brahman/Kshara Brahman. Hence, Para-Brahman in his Saguna aspect is said to exist as both Karya and Karana Brahman.

Yet, the Para-Brahman in his absolute state/Paramartika Dasha is Nirguna & Shanta. It is this Para-Brahman in his Real/Absolute state that it is described as Satyam, Jnanam and Anantam. Satyam refers to Brahman being Truth which does not ever undergo any change. i.e. Eternal and Unchanging. Jnanam refers to Brahman being the very nature of Knowledge. Hence, devoid of all Ignorance. Anantam refers to Brahman being Infinite i.e. without any limitation of space and form. It also means that Brahman alone exist without a second. Hence, it is Para-Brahman who is Eternal & Birthless who takes birth/manifest as this Universe through his power of Maya.

Like a magic elephant created by magician or as a rope mistaken as snake or as a non existent water as mirage. It is through the power of Maya that Brahman manifests its Lila. Hence, the Universe is called as Mithyam- Falsehood because it has no individual existence apart from Brahman nor is it eternal. That which is temporary and exist only as a result of misapprehension is called as Mithyam. Just as a rope is mistaken as a snake. Similarly,Brahman who is Birthless appear to take birth through his Maya by creating non-apprehension & mis-apprehension of Reality.

By Non-Apprehension Brahman mistakes/assumes himself as a creator, controller and destroyer of Universe.This is the limitation of cause. By Mis-apprehension, Brahman appears as Jiva/Individual and mistakes Jagat/Universe as Brahman. This is the Limitation of Effect. The Karana Brahman/Ishwara is limited only by the limitation of cause. The Karya Brahman/Hiranyagarba/Manifested Universe is limited by both the limitation of cause & effect. In Karya Brahman, limitation of cause/Non apprehension of Reality makes the Jiva to think itself to be separate from Brahman and the limitation of effect/misapprehension of Reality makes the Jiva to mistake World/Jagat as Brahman/God. Hence, Adi Shankara makes the famous declaration- Brahmo Satyam Jagat Mithyam, Jivo Brahmaiva Na Paraha.

Brahman alone is Eternal, Birth-less and Immutable hence is called as Satyam. World/Jagat is Temporary and Mutable that has no separate existence of its own, hence called Mithyam. Jiva is Identical to Brahman only in its Absolute state/Paramartika Dasha/Turiya.But,in the Universe they appear as distinct due to Maya. When it is said, Jiva is same as Brahman, Jiva does not refer to the Body and Mind. Nor does it refer to the Casual state. Jiva as associated with Gross, Subtle & Casual body is indeed distinct from Brahman who appears in Gross, Subtle & Casual State.

Para Brahman in his Gross/Waking state is called as Virat, in Subtle/Dream state as Hiranyagarbha and in Casual-Sleep state as Ishwara. Jiva is distinct from Brahman in all the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep that constitute the whole Manifestation/Samsara (i.e. both un-manifested seed and manifested universe). It is only in the Unconditioned State/Paramartika Dasha/Turiya that Jiva is said to be Identical to Brahman. It is because, Turiya or Paramartika Dasha refers to Para-Brahman in his Absolute/Real Unconditioned State.

Hence,it is very vital while studying the scriptures to have proper understanding about which aspect of Brahman a certain verse refers to.

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