Matter and Creation
Frequently Asked Questions
At the time of pralaya, matter (prakriti) is in a subtle, undifferentiated state. It is then called Avibhakta. We plant a seed. In course of time, the seed grows, sprouts into a small plant and then into a big tree. Similarly, the undifferentiated Matter is like the seed. It slowly develops and in the next stage, it is called Vibhakta.
Mind is the inner sense organ. It is the seat of memory and knowledge. Mind functions in three ways, as 1) Ahankara 2) Chitta and 3) Buddhi.
- Mind is called ahankara, when we falsely think that body and soul are the same.
- Mind is called chitta, when we desire something.
- It is called buddi, when it discriminates between good and bad, merit (punya) and sin (papa), true and false.
Note: This ahankara is different from the ahankara which evolves out of mahat and which we have described earlier.
The subtle element (tanmatra) is something in between two gross elements (bhuta). Supposing milk is being turned into curd, the intermediate stage of formation of curd, i.e., the stage between milk and curd is called the subtle stage. So from tamasa ahankara is created the subtle element of sound. (sabda)
Ether (akasa) is produced from the subtle element of sound. Ether is called the gross element (bhuta). From ether is produced the subtle element of touch (sparsa). From the subtle element of touch is produced the gross element of air (vayu). From the gross element of air is produced the subtle element of sight (rupa). From the subtle element of sight is produced the gross element of light (tejas). From the gross element of light is produced the subtle element of taste (rasa). From the subtle element of taste is produced the gross element of water. From the gross element of water is produced the subtle element of smell (gandha). Finally from the subtle element of smell is produced the gross element of earth (prithivi). Thus, each of the subtle elements (tanmatra) is an intermediate stage of creation, between two gross elements (bhuta). The process of creation is, therefore, like this: prakriti or matter, mahat, ahankara, sound, ether, touch, air, sight, light, taste, water, smell, earth. Thus, in the process of creation, we have 24 items, i.e., starting from the empirical or fundamental matter, we have No. 2 mahat, No. 3 ahankara and No. 4 to 8 the 5 subtle elements mentioned above: and No. 9 to 13, the 5 gross elements (pancha bhutas) mentioned above; No. 14 is the mind (manas); No. 15 to 19 the 5 senses of knowledge; No. 20 to 24 are the 5 senses of action or karma. Thus we have a total of 24 elements.
- Prana is the most important. It has the principal vital activity, so long as the person lives.
- Vyana helps in the circulation of air in the body. It has the circulatory activity.
- Apana helps in excretion of unwanted air from the body.
- Samana helps in digesting things, eaten by the person.
- Udana helps in respiration, in the breathing activity of the person.
What is called quintuplication of five-fold division takes place in the process of creation. I have to talk a bit of mathematics. We saw that there are five gross elements that are ether, air, light, water and earth. Now, the process of creation is like this. Each gross element is taken and divided into two halves. One half of this element is again split up into four equal parts and added to the remaining four gross elements. For example, let us take the gross element of ether. This is divided into two halves. One half of it is further divided into four equal portions, namely, 1/8th each and so 1/8th ether is added toeach of the remaining four elements, namely, air, light, water and earth. In the same way, the remaining four gross elements are also divided into halves and each half is again divided into four portions and added to the other gross elements.
Let us take the gross element of ether. After all these transformations or quintuplication, the ele-ment ether will actually consist of the following: Half of ether, l/8th portion of air, l/8th portion of light, l/8th portion of water and l/8th portion of earth. So half plus 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/8, will add to one. So after this mixing up, finally we shall have ether consisting of half of ether and l/8th of the remaining four gross elements. So, this method of mixture is called quin-tuplication or five-fold division (panchikarana).
The same process which has been explained above is talked of in regard to three gross elements, namely, light, water and earth, instead of all the five gross elements. The principle of mixing up of these three elements is also the same as I have explained earlier in regard to all the five elements. When only three elements as above are involved it is called tripartition. The principle in both the cases is the same. Actually, quintuplication is only an extension of the principle of tripartition.
Yes. In fact, in Vishnupurana, along with the 5 gross elements as above, the two earlier tattvas of mahat and ahankara are also added. These make up a total of seven. Then the Vishnupurana describes the principle of seven-fold division (saptikarana). So, it is only a further extension of the principle of mixing up of the elements.
Other frequently asked questions
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