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From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Tue Sep 01 1998 - 09:29:21 PDT
Sri Sadagopan wrote: > A member of Bhakthi group had asked me to > comment on a central doctrine of > Sri VisishtAdvaitham. > Response to Question 2 (By AdiyEn): > > Question: BhagavAn's Body as Suddha sathvam and > therefore how can it be part of Universe , which is > not Suddha Sathvam ? If I may offer a few thoughts here, there is a difference in the "bodies" BhagavAn has. When the Upanishads say that the entire universe including all matter and each and every living being is the body of Brahman, they mean that the universe is pervaded, controlled, and supported by Brahman. Brahman exists as the innermost self of everything. Just as our body would be lifeless if our self left it, the universe would cease to exist in any meaningful way if Brahman were not its innermost controlling self. This is how the universe is Brahman's SarIra or body. Secondly, for the delight of his manifold devotees who meditate on him, Brahman manifests a supremely auspicious, unimaginably beautiful, exhilarating supernal form. This form, known as the "divya-mangaLa-vigraha" in Sanskrit or "tirumEni" in Tamil, is also a "body" of Brahman, because it is a true manifestation of him. These manifested forms of Brahman are five-fold [*]: (a) para-rUpa -- the form taken to delight the liberated souls in SrI vaikuNTha (b) vyUha -- a four-fold form taken for the purpose of cosmic creation, and for the purposes of progressive meditation by the upAsaka (c) vibhava -- the descents such as Narasimha, Rama, Krishna, taken to delight devotees in samsAra and to reestablish dharma (d) arca -- the form taken at the devotee's desire for personal and immediate worship in an icon or picture (e) antaryAmi or hArda -- the form taken within the human being's heart for yogic meditation and assurance that the Lord's personal presence is always there These five forms are not material manifestations, even though they may appear to be so. They are made of what is known as Suddha-sattva, or "pure goodness" -- akin to knowledge itself. The concept of Suddha-sattva has been set forth to show that these five-fold forms of BhagavAn are entirely different in nature from our bodies. The difference between these two types of "bodies" should now be clear. The first represents the philosophical reality that Brahman is the universal producer, sustainer, and retractor. The second represents manifestations taken for the delight of the bhaktas. The two types of bodies of Brahman are very different. Therefore, there should be no confusion about the composition of the universe. The universe is made of prakRti, the Vedic term for matter, which is entirely different from Suddha-sattva. adiyEn, Mani [*] There are many verses in the Vedas and supporting SAstras which discuss this five-fold manifestation. The clearest one is the first verse of the mahAnArAyaNa upanishad: ambhas-yapAre bhvanasya madhye nAkasya pRshTam mahato mahIyAn | sukreNa jyotI:mshI samanupravishTaH prajApatiS carati garbhe antaH || para rUpa: mahato mahIyAn -- higher than the highest nAkasya pRshTe -- spans the highest heaven (SrI vaikuNTha-loka) vyUha (one manifestation of which is kshIrAbhdi or the milk ocean): ambhas-yapAre -- on the great ocean vibhava: bhuvanasya madhye -- on this very earth arca: SukrENa jyotI:mshi -- luminous images antaryAmi: carati garbhe antaH -- he moves in the inner recesses of creatures The vyUha forms are generally unfamiliar to us. They are described in detail in the Mahabharata and in the Pancaratra Agamas.