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Re: A question
Date: Sun Jan 02 2000 - 13:47:26 PST

I attempt a response to your questions below:

<< Subj:     A question
 Date:  12/31/99 6:27:05 PM Pacific Standard Time
 From: (L Kumar)
 L. Kumar: I have a question regarding the all pervasiveness of Lord 
 upanishads declare that Brahman(Narayana) is infinite(satyam jnanam
 anantham brahma-Taittriya upanishad). And the objects of the world are
 said to be real. So if brahman is infinite, is it not limited by the
 objects of the world?(as it cannot occupy the volume or space occupied
 by the objects). 
VA: Sri Vishnu still remains infinite because he pervades all these objects 
as their Antaratma, just as water pervades a wet sponge. The space occuppied 
by objects cannot exclude Sriman Vishnu because he is not 'physical' in 
nature, but is eternally all pervasive and Sukshma.

L. Kumar: It is said that Vishnu is the greater than the greatest
 (mahato mahiyan).But in the scriptures we see that during the pralaya
 vishnu takes the prakriti in its very subtle form inside him and lets it
 out during the creation. 
VA: During Mahapralaya, Prakriti resides in Sri Vishnu as salt resides in 
ocean (in the analogy, water might be compared to Sri Vishnu and salt to 
Mulaprakriti). When the process of creation commences, this Prakriti 
agglomerates into a more sthoola (gross) form, as if the dissolved salt were 
to precipitate out into lumps on its own. The Samkhya texts also state that 
Prakriti is also all pervading (although Paramatman is more subtle that 
MulaPrakrtit and is the Antaratman of the Mulaprakriti as well) because its 
effect is seen everywhere ('sarvatra karyadarshanat'). In modern science, the 
Universe has a size because of 'limits of observation', but this does not 
preclude the presence of the Universe beyond these observable limits.

L. Kumar: Also it is said that Lord Brahma was born from
 the lotus flower emanating from the navel of Lord Vishnu.This implies
 that the created world  and Lord Brahma exists outside vishnu's
 transcedental body. Does it not apparently contradict the all
 pervasiveness of Vishnu and the fact that he is infinite?(because the
 term 'infinite' implies that everything should exist within it and
 nothing exists outside it.
VA: The transcedental body of Mahavishnu is in addition to the other body 
viz. the inanimate and the animate creation. This transcedental body of Sri 
Vishnu is composed of Suddha Sattva and survives Mahapralaya as well. 
According to Sri Vaishnavas, this transcedental body exists for the 
convenience of easier contemplate of Bhaktas. After all, Narayana is full of 
compassion for his devotees. See the relevant sections of

The imagery of Brahma deva emerging from the navel etc. should be understood 
as follows: When a child is born, it is attached to its mother by the 
umbilical cord. This cord is attached to the child's navel. In this case, the 
analogy is reversed. The Creator Brahmadeva emerges from Sri Vishnu's navel 
(the lotus stem emerging from Sri Vishnu's navel representing the the 
umbilical cored so to speak). Also, Mahadeva is said to emerge from the 
forehead of Brahmaji. Now, the forehead is considered one of the most 
'sacred' spots of the human body and so Mahadeva is also Holy. The idea of 
the entire analogy is that the three are One and are manifestations of 
Parabrahman alone (who is worshipped as Narayana by Sri Vaishnavas).

L. Kumar: Also saying a thing infinite means it is not
 conditioned by time,space or objects). But here we see that vishnu is
 resting in space and space is greater than him(as it contains,Lord
 vishnu, Lord Brahma and the material creation).
VA: As above.

 L. Kumar: I read one of Madhva's
 work regarding the all- pervasiveness of Hari. There he explains by
 saying that  the space available is unlimited (as per the vedas) and
 Vishnu contracts himself  within the available space though he is
 capable of extending himself beyond the space by his power. But it is
 not very appealing to me as no scriptural evidences are given for this
 point in that work. 
VA: While I am not aware of Sri Madhvacharya's works, I know that Yatindra 
quotes Dramidacharya and Vakyakara in the Vedarthasamgraha to support his 
thesis of the transcedental body of Sriman Narayana.

L. Kumar: The advaitins explain this point by saying that the
 Nirguna Brahman is the only reality and as it is infinite it cannot
 accomodate the existence of many finite individual beings and a real
 world both within itself and outside it.So they say that jivas and the
 world are illusory.But this is totally contradicting the scriptures.
VA: The doctrine of Mayavada is unacceptable to the Brahmasutras themselves. 
For instance: "Na svapadivat, vaidharymat cha" (Chapter ii, pada ii)

 L. Kumar: Would you please give the visishtadvaitic perspective of this 
 please explain me how the Lord is all pervading inspite of being a
VA: It is possible for Lord to be a personal being in addition to being an 
Impersonal, all pervading entity because he is much more than we can imagine, 
and is the most exalted one. As the Brahmasutra  says: "Adhikam tu...." 
Gita 13.16 also says:" Avibhaktam ca bhuteshu vibhaktam iva cha sthitam" 
i.e., 'Undivided in beings It abides, seeming divided."

May Mahavishnu shower his grace on us