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Re: Prakruti Body ?

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.