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A Dialog on Hindusim - Chapter 5 - Post#6

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Thu May 16 1996 - 06:10:54 PDT

Post 6 of 14
Chapter 5 of 13 of  "A Dialogue on Hinduism,"
Published by Sri Visishtadvaita Research Centre, C/O Sri
Ahobila Mutt, 66, Dr. Rangachari Road, Madras 600 018, 1990

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====Start of Chapter 5 of 13 from Sri Gopala Desikan's book=======

                       Chapter 5
                  Matter and Creation

Q.   What is the meaning of Achetana?

A.   As I mentioned earlier, we have three tattvas or reals.
     Out of these, we have already discussed briefly the
     Chetana.  We will next take up Achetana and then finally

     Achetana means non-sentient.  It means that it does not
     possess any knowledge.  So, the Achetana is not capable
     of thinking, since it has no knowledge.

Q.   What are the categories under this Achit or Achetana?

A.   There are three categories, which are called:
     1.   Matter (prakriti)
     2.   Time (kala)
     3.   Suddha Sattva

Q.   Please explain each category.

A.   Matter is the most fundamental element.  It is called by
     different names like prakriti, mula prakriti, akshara,
     pradhana, avyakta, triguna and primordial matter.

Q.   How is it involved in the process of creation of the

A.   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

Q.   How do you describe this matter?

A.   Matter is made up of three qualities or attributes (gunas).
     This matter is frequently undergoing changes or

Q.   What are the three qualities in matter?

A.   The three qualities are: 1) Sattva 2) Rajas and 3) Tamas.

Q.   What is the meaning of these?

A.   1)   Sattva is the quality of matter that leads to
          harmony and happiness.
     2)   Rajas is the quality of matter that produces restless
     3)   Tamas is the quality of matter that results in
          laziness and inertia.

Q.   You taught me that matter is fundamental (mula prakriti)
     and undergoes frequent changes.  Please tell me the
     further transformations of matter.

A.   Initially matter is subtle in dormant state. It evolves into
     the next stage and the tattva called mahat comes out.
     From mahat we get the tattva ahankara.

     Both the mahat and ahankara are of three kinds.

Q.   What are the three kinds?

A.   They are: sattvika, rajasa and tamasa, based on the

     Sattvika ahankara is called vaikarika; Rajasa ahankara is
     called taijasa; and Tamasa ahankara is called bhutadi.

Q.   How are the senses (indriyas) developed?

A.   From the sattvika ahankara we get all the senses.

     These are five senses or indriyas of knowledge (jnana
     indriyas) and five senses of action or karma (karma
     indriyas) which were described earlier.

Q.   In some places, I have read that indriyas are 11 in
     number.  Are they 10 or 11?

A.   Both are correct.  I have mentioned above the 10
     Indriyas.  Mind (manas) is the 11th indriya.

Q.   What is mind?

A.   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.

     1. Mind is called ahankara, when we falsely think that
     body and soul are the same. 2. Mind is called chitta,
     when we desire something. 3. It is called buddhi 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

Q.   Tell me briefly the process of creation.

A.   I had mentioned the three types of ahankara - viz.,
     sattvika ahankara, rajasa ahankara and tamasa ahankara.
     Now, from the Tamasa Ahankara is born the subtle
     element (tanmatra) of sound (sabda).

Q.   What do you mean by the subtle element?

A.   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)

Q.   What is produced from the subtle element of sound?

A.   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

     Thus, each of the subtle elements (tanmatra) is an
     intermediate state of creation, between two gross elements

     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.

Q.   What is the 25th item?

A.   Having exhausted all the items of Prakriti as 24, as
     described above, we call the Jivatma the 25th item.  All
     these 25 elements are also called as reals or tattvas.

     So, the Jivatma is the 25th tattva.

Q.   Let us take up the five gross elements (pancha bhutas).
     Now what about ether?  Is it also eternal, permanent, like
     the soul, or is ether produced?

A.   Yes, ether is created by Brahman. It is not eternal.

Q.   What about the other four elements, air, fire, water and

A.   These elements are also created by Brahman.  They are
     not eternal.

Q.   I have a doubt.  Is air created by ether; is fire created by
     air and so on; each by the preceding element?  Or are all
     these five elements directly created by Brahman?

A.   Each is created by Brahman from the preceding element,
     which is His body.  So, air is not created by ether, but air
     is created by Brahman, whose body is ether; and so on.

Q.   Let us next take the senses.

     You mentioned there are five senses of knowledge and
     five senses of action.  Are these also eternal or are these
     created ones?

A.   The five senses of knowledge and the five senses of
     action are all created by Brahman, just like the five
     elements of ether, air, and so on.  The 11th sense, i.e.,
     the mind or manas is also created.

Q.   What is the size of these 11 senses (indriyas)?

A.   These 11 senses are also atomic in size.  These senses
     also depart from the body, when a person dies.  Hence
     they have to be necessarily atomic; since we cannot see
     these 11 senses, leaving the body, at the time of death.

Q.   What about the principal vital air (prana)?  Is this also
     created or eternal?

A.   The principal vital air is also created like the senses.

Q.   You mentioned about the principal vital air.  Is it the
     same as ordinary air or is it different?

A.   It is different from the ordinary air.  It has five functions.
     We give them five different names, depending upon their

Q.   What are these names?

A.   l) Prana 2) Vyana 3) Apana 4) Samana and 5) Udana.

Q.   What is the function of each of these types of air?

A.   1) Prana is the most important.  It has the principal vital
     activity, so long as the person lives. 2) Vyana helps in the
     circulation of air in the body.  It has the circulatory
     activity. 3) Apana helps in excretion of unwanted air
     from the body.  4) Samana helps in digesting things,
     eaten by the person. 5) Udana helps in respiration, in the
     breathing activity of the person.

Q.   Is the principal vital air also atomic in size?

A.   Yes.

Q.   Please explain further, the process of creation.

A.   What is called quintuplication of five-fold division takes
     place in the process of creation.  I have to talk a bit of

     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 to each 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.

     What is the net result?

A.   Let us take the gross element of ether.  After all these
     transformations or quintuplication, the element ether will
     actually consist of the following:

     Half of ether, 1/8th portion of air, 1/8th portion of light,
     1/8th portion of water and 1/8th portion of earth.  So half
     plus l/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 1/8th of the remaining four gross elements.

     So, this method of mixture is called quintuplication or
     five-fold division (panchikarana).

Q.   Then how are we justified in calling them by their names
     as ether etc., when each of these is individually composed
     of all the five gross elements?

A.   From the mathematics explained above you will observe
     that in the composition of each element, the dominant
     element is 50%.  The other elements are only 1/8th each
     making up the other half.  Since one element is
     predominant, the element is named after it.

Q.   I have heard of trifold division or tripartition (trivrit
     karana).  What is it?  How is it different from

A.   The same process which I have 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.

Q.   Is there any further extension of this principle?

A.   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.

Q.   Then how is the world created?

A.   I have explained to you the quintuplication of the five
     gross elements.  After the five-fold division, as above, of
     the gross elements, they join up and then the world is

Q.   How many types of creation are there?

A.   There are two types of creation: aggregate creation
     (samashti srishti) and individual creation (vyashti srishti).

Q.   What is aggregate creation?

A.   The creation of mahat out of the elementary or
     fundamental matter; the creation of ahankara and the ten
     indriyas of knowledge and karma; the creation of the.
     gross elements and the five subtle elements - all these are
     called aggregate creation.

Q.   What is individual creation?

A.   Out of the above process or after the above process, the
     world is created.  The further creation of human beings,
     devas, animals, trees and plants is called individual
     creation.  I think this much of understanding about matter
     (prakriti) is enough for the present.

Q. How is time sub-divided?

A.   As is common knowledge, time is divided into three
     portions.  These are: 1) past, 2) present, 3) future.

Q.   What are the further sub-divisions?

A.   The further sub-divisions are again as is commonly
     known, day, month, year, hours, minutes and seconds.
     This much is enough for the principle of time.

Q.   What is suddha sattva?

A.   Suddha sattva, as the name indicates, is pure sattva,
     without any mixture or trace of the other two qualities,
     namely, rajas and tamas.

Q.   Where is Suddha Sattva?

A.   Sri Vaikunta or Paramapada is fully suddha sattva.  In
     this world also, the archa forms of Sriman Narayana and
     Lakshmi in the temples are suddha, sattva.