Traversing Imitation World
Srimad Bhagavatam 10.87.19 - Traversing Imitation World (download mp3)
by Dwarkadhish Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
sva-krta-vicitra-yonisu visann iva hetutaya
taratamatas cakassy anala-vat sva-krtanukrtih
atha vitathasv amusv avitatham tava dhama samam
viraja-dhiyo ’nuyanty abhivipanyava eka-rasam
Apparently entering among the variegated species of living beings You have created, You inspire them to act, manifesting Yourself according to their higher and lower positions, just as fire manifests differently according to the shape of what it burns. Therefore those of spotless intelligence, who are altogether free from material attachments, realize Your undifferentiated, unchanging Self to be the permanent reality among all these impermanent life forms.
Hearing these prayers of the personified Vedas, in which the srutis describe the Supersoul as entering countless varieties of material bodies, a critic may question how the Supreme can do this without becoming limited. Indeed, proponents of Advaita philosophy see no essential distinction between the Supreme Soul and His creation. In the impersonalists’ conception, the Absolute has inexplicably gotten itself entrapped by illusion and has thus become first a personal God and then the demigods, humans, animals, plants and finally matter. Sankaracarya and his followers take great pains to cite Vedic evidence to support this theory of how illusion is imposed on the Absolute. But speaking for themselves, the Vedas here answer this objection and refuse to lend their authority to Mayavada impersonalism.
The process of creation is technically called srsti, “sending forth.” The Supreme Lord sends forth His variegated energies, and these partake of His nature while remaining distinct from Him. This fact is expressed in the true Vedic philosophy of acintya-bhedabheda, the inconceivable, simultaneous oneness and difference of the Supreme Lord and His energies. Thus although each of the multitude of individual souls is a distinct entity, all souls consist of the same spiritual substance as the Supreme. Since they partake of the Supreme Lord’s spiritual essence, the jivas are unborn and eternal, just as He is. Lord Krsna, speaking to Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, confirms this:
na tv evaham jatu nasam
na tvam neme janadhipah
na caiva na bhavisyamah
sarve vayam atah param
“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Bg. 2.12) Material creation is a special arrangement for those jivas who choose to separate themselves from the Supreme Lord’s service, and thus the creation involves producing an imitation world where they can try to be independent.
After creating the many species of material life, the Supreme Lord expands into His own creation as the Supersoul in order to provide the intelligence and inspiration every living being needs for his day-to-day existence. As stated in the Taittiriya Upanisad (2.6.2), tat srstva tad evanupravisat: “After creating this world, He then entered within it.” The Lord enters the material world, however, without forming any binding connection to it; this the srutis here declare by the phrase visann iva, “only seeming to enter.” Taratamatas cakassi means that the Paramatma enters the body of every living being, from the great demigod Brahma down to the insignificant germ, and exhibits differing degrees of His potency according to each soul’s capacity for enlightenment. Analavat sva-krtanukrtih: Just as fire ignited in several objects burns according to the different forms of those objects, so the Supreme Soul, entering the bodies of all living creatures, illuminates the consciousness of each conditioned soul according to his individual capacity.
Even in the midst of material creation and destruction, the Lord of all creatures remains eternally unchanged, as expressed here by the word eka-rasam. In other words, the Lord eternally maintains His personal form of immeasurable, unalloyed spiritual pleasure. The rare living beings who completely (abhitas) disengage themselves from material dealings, or pana (thereby becoming abhivipanyavah), come to know the Supreme Lord as He is. Every intelligent person should follow the example of these great souls and beg from them the chance to also be engaged in the Supreme Lord’s devotional service.
This prayer is recited by srutis whose mood is similar to that expressed in the following mantra of the Svetasvatara Upanisad (6.11):
eko devah sarva-bhutesu gudhah
saksi ceta kevalo nirgunas ca
“The one Supreme Lord lives hidden inside all created things. He pervades all matter and sits within the hearts of all living beings. As the indwelling Supersoul, He supervises their material activities. Thus, while having no material qualities Himself, He is the unique witness and giver of consciousness.”
Srila Sridhara Svami submits his own prayer:
“Let us worship the Supreme Lord, who enters the products of His own creation yet remains aloof from their superior and inferior material gradations. He is the pure, undifferentiated existence pervading everything.”