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Brhadaranyaka Upanishad : Ghata bhashyam

Section II - The Process of Creation

Verse 1.2.1
नैवेह किंचनाग्र आसीत्, मृत्युनैवेदमावृतमासीदशनायया, अशनाया हि मृत्युः; तन्मनोऽकुरुत, आत्मन्वी स्यामिति । सोऽर्चन्नचरत्, तस्यार्चत आपोऽजायन्त; अर्चते वै मे कमभूदिति, तदेवार्क्यस्यार्कत्वम्; कं ह वा अस्मै भवति य एवमेतदर्क्यस्यार्कत्वं वेद ॥ १ ॥
naiveha kiṃcanāgra āsīt, mṛtyunaivedamāvṛtamāsīdaśanāyayā, aśanāyā hi mṛtyuḥ; tanmano'kuruta, ātmanvī syāmiti | so'rcannacarat, tasyārcata āpo'jāyanta; arcate vai me kamabhūditi, tadevārkyasyārkatvam; kaṃ ha vā asmai bhavati ya evametadarkyasyārkatvaṃ veda || 1 ||
1. [Page 15] There was nothing whatsoever here in the beginning. It was Covered only by Death (Hiraṇyagarbha), or Hunger, for hunger is death. He created the mind, thinking, ‘Let me have a mind.’[1] He moved about worshipping (himself). As he was worshipping, water was produced. (Since he thought), ‘As I was worshipping, water sprang up,’ therefore Arka (fire) is so called. Water (or happiness) surely comes to one who knows how Arka (fire) came to have this name of Arka.
Now the origin of the fire that is fit for use in the horse sacrifice is being described. This story of its[Page 16] origin is meant as a eulogy in order to prescribe a meditation concerning it. There was nothing whatsoever differentiated by name and form here, in the universe, in the beginning, i.e. before the manifestation of the mind etc.
Question: Was it altogether void?
Nihilistic view: It must be so, for the Śruti says, ‘There was nothing whatsoever here.’ There was neither cause nor effect. Another reason for this conclusion is the fact of origin. A jar, for instance, is produced. Hence before its origin it must have been non-existent.
The logician objects: But the cause cannot be non-existent, for we see the Lump of Clay, for instance (before the jar is produced). What is not perceived may well be non-existent, as is the case with the effect here. But not so with regard to the cause, for it is perceived.
The nihilist: No, for before the origin nothing is perceived. If the non-perception of a thing be the ground of its non-Existence, before the origin of the whole universe neither cause nor effect is perceived. Hence everything must have been non-existent.
Vedāntin’s reply: Not so, for the Śruti says, ‘It was covered only by Death.’ Had there been absolutely nothing either to cover or to be covered, the Śruti would not have said, ‘It was covered by Death’ For it never happens that a barren woman’s son is covered with flowers springing from the sky. Yet the Śruti says, ‘It was covered only by Death.’ Therefore on the authority of the Śruti we conclude that the[Page 17] cause which covered, and the effect which was covered, were both existent before the origin of the universe. Inference also points to this conclusion. We can infer the existence of the cause and effect[2] before creation. We observe that a positive effect which is produced takes place only when there is a cause and does not take place when there is no cause. From this we infer that the cause of the universe too must have existed before creation, as is the case with the cause of a jar, for instance.
Objection: The cause of a jar also does not preexist, for the jar is not produced without destroying the Jump of clay. And so with other things.
Reply: Not so, for the clay (or other material) is the cause. The clay is the cause of the jar, and the gold of the necklace, and not the particular lump-like form of the material, for they exist without it. We see that effects such as the jar and the necklace are produced simply when their materials, clay and gold, are present, although the lump-like form may be absent. Therefore this particular form is not the cause of the jar and the necklace. But when the clay and the gold are absent, the jar and the necklace are not produced, which shows that these materials, clay and gold, are the cause, and not the roundish form. Whenever a cause produces an effect, it does so by destroying another effect it produced just before, for the same cause cannot produce more than one effect at a time. But the cause, by destroying the previous effect, does not destroy itself. Therefore the fact that [Page 18] an effect is produced by destroying the previous effect, the lump, for instance, is not a valid reason to disprove that the. cause exists before the effect is produced.
Objection: It is not correct, for the clay etc. cannot exist apart from the lump and so on. In other words, you cannot say that the cause, the clay, for example, is not destroyed when its previous effect, the lump or any other form, is destroyed, but that it passes on to some other effect such as the jar. For the cause, the clay or the like, is not perceived apart from the lump or jar, and so on.
Reply: Not so, for we see those causes, the clay etc., persist when the jar and other things have been produced, and the lump or any other form has gone.
Objection: The persistence noticed is due to similarity, not to actual persistence of the cause.
Reply: No. Since the particles of clay or other material which belonged to the lump etc. are perceptible in the jar and other things, it is unreasonable to imagine similarity through a pseudo-inference. Nor is inference valid when it contradicts perception, for it depends on the latter, and the contrary view will result in a general disbelief. That is to say, if everything perceived as ‘This is that’ is momentary, then the notion of ‘that’ would depend on another notion regarding something else, and so on, thus leading to a regressus in infinitum; and the notion of ‘This is like that’ being also falsified thereby, there would be no certainty anywhere. Besides the two notions of this’ and ‘that’ cannot be connected, since there is no abiding subject.
Objection: [Page 19] They would be connected through the similarity between them.
Reply: No, for the notions of ‘this’ and ‘that’ cannot be the object of each other's perception, and (since according to you there is no abiding subject like the Self), there would be no perception of similarity.
Objection: Although there is no similarity, there is the notion of it.
Reply: Then the notions of ‘this’ and ‘that’ would also, like the notion of similarity, be based on nonentities.
Objection (by the Yogācāra school): Let all notions be based on nonentities. (What is the harm?)
Reply: Then your view that everything is an idea would also be based on a nonentity.
Objection (by the nihilist): Let it be.
Reply. If all notions are false, your view that all notions are unreal cannot be established. Therefore it is wrong to say that recognition takes place through similarity. Hence it is proved that the cause exists before the effect is produced.
The effect too exists before it is produced.
Question: How?
Reply: Because its manifestation points out its pre-existence. Manifestation means coming within the range of perception. It is a common occurrence that a thing, a jar for instance, which was hidden bydarkness or any other thing and comes within the range of perception when the obstruction is removed by the appearance of light or in some other way, does [Page 20] not preclude its previous existence. Similarly this-universe too, we can understand, existed before its. manifestation. For a jar that is non-existent is not perceived even when the sun rises.
Objection: No, it must be perceived, for you deny its previous non-existence. According to you, any effect, say a jar, is never non-existent. So it must be perceived when the sun rises. Its previous form, the lump of clay, is nowhere near, and obstructions like darkness are absent; so, being existent, it cannot but appear.
Reply: Not so, for obstruction is of two kinds. Every effect such as a jar has two kinds of obstruction. When it has become manifest from its component clay, darkness and the wall etc. are the obstructions; while before its manifestations from the clay the obstruction consists in the particles of clay remaining as some other effect such as a lump. Therefore the effect, the jar, although existent, is not perceived before its manifestation, as it is hidden. The terms and concepts ‘destroyed,’ ‘produced,’ ‘existence’ and ‘non-existence’ depend on this twofold character of manifestation and disappearance.
Objection: This is incorrect, since the obstructions represented by particular forms such as the lump or the two halves of a jar are of a different nature. To be explicit: Such obstructions to the manifestation of a jar as darkness or the wall, we see, do not occupy the same space as the jar, but the lump or the two halves of a jar do. So your statement that the jar, although present in the form of the lump or the two [Page 21] halves, is not perceived because it is hidden, is wrong, for the nature of the obstruction in this case is different.
Reply: No, for we see that water mixed with milk occupies the same space as the milk which conceals it.
Objection: But since the component parts of a jar such as its two halves or pieces are included in the effect, the jar, they should not prove obstructions at all.
Reply: Not so, for being separated from the jar they are so many different effects, and can therefore serve as obstructions.
Objection: Then the effort should be directed solely to the removal of the obstructions. That is to say, if, as you say, the effect, the jar for instance, is actually present in the state of the lump or the two halves, and is not perceived because of an obstruction, then one who wants that effect, the jar, should try to remove the obstruction, and not make the jar. But as a matter of fact, nobody does so. Therefore your statement is wrong.
Reply: No, for there is no hard and fast rule about it. It is not always the case that a jar or any other effect manifests itself if only one tries to remove the obstruction; for when a jar, for instance, is covered with darkness etc., one tries to light a lamp.
Objection: That too is just for destroying the darkness. This effort to light a lamp is also for removing the darkness, which done, the jar is automatically perceived. Nothing is added to the jar.
Reply: [Page 22] No, for the jar is perceived as covered with light when the lamp is lighted. Not so before the-lighting of the lamp. Hence this was not simply for removing the darkness, but for covering the jar with light, for it is since perceived as covered with light. Sometimes the effort is directed to the removal of the obstruction, as when the wall, for instance, is pulled down. Therefore it cannot be laid down as a rule that one who wants the manifestation of something must simply try to remove the obstruction. Besides,, one should take such steps as will cause the manifestation for the efficacy of the established practice regarding it. We have already said that an effect which is patent in the cause serves as an obstruction to the manifestation of other effects. So if one tries only to destroy the previously manifested effect such as the lump or the two halves which stand between it and the jar, one may also have such effects as the potsherds or tiny pieces. These too will conceal the jar and prevent its being perceived; so a fresh attempt will be needed. Hence the necessary operation of the factors of an action has its utility for one who wants the manifestation of a jar or any other thing. Therefore the effect exists even before its manifestation.
From our divergent notions of the past and future also we infer this. Our notions of a jar that was and one that is yet to be cannot, like the notion of the present jar, be entirely independent of objects. For one who desires to have a jar not yet made sets oneself to work for it. We do not see people strive for things, which they know to be non-existent. Another reason [Page 23] for the pre-existence of the effect is the fact that the knowledge of (God and) the Yogins concerning the past and future jar is infallible. Were the future jar Nonexistent, His (and their) perception of it would prove false. Nor is this perception a mere figure of speech. As to the reasons for inferring the existence of the jar, we have already stated them.
Another reason for it is that the opposite view involves a self-contradiction. If on seeing a potter, for instance, at work on the production of a jar one is cértain in view of the evidence that the jar will come into existence, then it would be a contradiction in terms to say that the jar is non-existent at the very time with which, it is said, it will come into relation. For to say that the jar that will be is non-existent, is the same thing as to say that it will not be. It would be like saying, ‘This jar does not exist.’ If, however, you say that before its manifestation the jar is nonexistent, meaning thereby that it does not exist exactly as the potter, for instance, exists while he is at work on its production (i.e. as a ready-made jar), then there is no dispute between us.
Objection: Why?
Reply: Because the jar exists in. its own future (potential) form. It should be borne in mind that the present existence of the lump or the two halves is not the same as that of the jar. Nor is the future existence of the jar the same as theirs. Therefore you do not contradict us when you say that the jar is nonexistent before its manifestation while the activity of the potter, for instance, is going on. You will be [Page 24] doing this if you deny to the jar its own future form as an effect. But you do not deny that. Nor do all things undergoing modification have an identical form of existence in the present or in the future.
Moreover, of the four kinds[3] of negation relating to, say, a jar, we observe that what is called mutual exclusion is other than the jar: The negation of a jar
is a cloth or some otfier thing, not the jar itself. But the cloth, although it is the negation of a jar, is not a nonentity, but a positive entity. Similarly the previous non-existence, the non-existence due to destruction, and absolute negation must also be other than the jar; for they are spoken of in terms of it, as in the case of the mutual exclusion relating to it. And these negations must also (like the cloth, for instance) be positive entities. Hence the previous non-existence of a jar does not mean that it does not at all exist as an entity before it comes into being. If, however, you say that the previous non-existence of a jar means the jar itself, then to mention it as being ‘of a jar’ (instead of as ‘the jar itself) is an incongruity. If you use it merely as a fancy, as in the expression, ‘The body of the stone roller,’[4] then the phrase ‘the previous non-existence of a jar’ would only mean that it is the imaginary nonexistence that is mentioned in terms of the jar, and not the jar itself. If, on the other hand, you say that [Page 25] the negation of a jar is something other than it, we have already answered the point. Moreover, if the jar before its manifestation be an absolute nonentity like the proverbial horns of a hare, it cannot be connected either with its cause or with existence (as the logicians hold), for connection requires two positive entities.
Objection: It is all right with things that are inseparable.
Reply: No, for we cannot conceive of an inseparable connection between an existent and a non-existent thing. Separable or inseparable connection is possible between two positive entities only, not between an entity and a nonentity, nor between two nonentities. Therefore we conclude that the effect does exist before it is manifested.
By what sort of Death was the universe covered? This is being answered: By Hunger, or the desire to eat, which is a characteristic of death. How is hunger death? The answer is being given: For hunger is death. The particle ‘hi’ indicates a well-known reason. He who desires to eat kills animals immediately after. Therefore ‘hunger’ refers to death. Hence the use of the expression. ‘Death’ here means Hiraṇyagarbha as identified with the intellect, because hunger is an attribute of that which is so identified. This effect, the universe, was covered by that Death, just as a jar etc. would be covered by clay in the form of a lump. He created the mind. The word ‘Tat’ (that) refers to the mind. That Death of whom we are talking, intending to project the effects which will be presently mentioned, created the inner organ called mind, characterised by deliberation etc. and possessing the power to reflect on [Page 26] those effects. What was his object in creating the mind? This is being stated: Thinking, ‘Let me have a mind—through this mind (Ātman) let me be possessed of a mind.’ This was his object. He, Prajāpati, being possessed of a mind after it was manifested, moved about worshipping himself, thinking he was blessed. As he was worshipping, water, an all-liquid substance forming an accessory of the worship,was produced. Here we must supply the words, 'After the manifestation of the ether, air and fìre,’ for another Śruti (Tai. II. i. i) says so, and there can be no alternative in the order of manifestation. Since Death thought, ‘As I was worshipping, water sprang up.’ therefore Arka, the fire that is fit for use in the horse sacrifice, is so called. This is the derivation of the name ‘Arka’ given to fire. It is a descriptive epithet of fire derived from the performance of worship leading to happiness, and the connection with water. Water or happiness surely comes to one who knows[5] how Arka (fire) came to have this name of Arka. This is due to the similarity of names. The particles ‘ha’ and ‘vai’ are intensive.

Agni upasana is now prescribed// Agni which is part of ashwamedha yaaga

Upanisad 1st glorifies agni by talking about origin of Agni
Sacred origin of Agni here is mentioned by talking about origin of srshti
Naiva Iha an kinchana aaseet
Here nothing existed before the creation/cosmos
On face of it looks like upanishad talks of shunyavada. Sankara refutes this & analyses this by using an example of a pot. Since in this bhashyam the word ghata occurs many times this bhashyam is called Ghata Bhashyam
The bhashyam has 2 sections : before creation did a Karanam exist or not? And 2nd - before creation did a karyam exist or not?
Before the creation of pot is there a clay as a Karanam ? And did the pot exist in the clay or not?

For the 1st discussion Sankara considers the Buddhist Kshankikavijnana vada (also called yogachara)
As per Yogachara there is no external world at all. Mind alone is the world. Varieties of objects in the world correspond to varieties of cognitions or perceptions in the mind.
Each cognition has only momentary Kshanka existence - there is no continuous cognition vijnana - like a cinema reel moving creates a illusion a of continuity.

Everything is momentary. Observer / observed / observation is all kshanimam or momentary. Atman is also kshanikam. They do not accept a clay Karanam as a cause for a pot karyam. Clay producing a pot will imply continuity which they do not accept.

Sankara refutes this, and established that an effect cannot exist without a cause
We have got the knowledge that "that" clay alone is appearing as "this" pot.
This recognition is called pratyabijna -  a v important concept
Pratyabijna is a understanding or perception in which the past and present are connected - "Soyam"

When you see the hall for a 2nd time you recognize this as the same hall you saw yesterday, this perception was not present the 1st Time you see the hall.

This recognition - "re"-cognition is pratibijna

We see the cause in the effect
Whenever you are recognizing an object you are connecting that object to the past & present
Pratyabijna is a proof for continuity

Whatever be the Karana dravyam we see it continuing in the effect also
We see the cloth of yesterday in the shirt, wood in furniture etc

Kshankikavijnana argues there is no continuity - there is only similarity
It is not the same clay perception but a new clay perception appearing as pot & we can take it as same clay because of sadrhyam similarity

Sankara says that argument will not hold good in your philosophy because if you talk about similarity between past & present you require an observer who was continuously existing ( & for the kshanikam vijnana observer is a,so kshanikam only )

Now we come to 2nd portion

Does he pot exist in clay before creation
Naiyayika or logicians say pot does not exist in clay

If pot is already there why should it be born?
Shankaran responds by saying pot was existent in potential form
5 reasons are provided

Abhivyakti lingatvat 
Because pot comes to manifestation it was already existent

When you switch on a light in a dark room and see a table it means table comes into manifestation which means table was there prior to manifestation
Manifestation occurs when covering is removed

Fir table to manifest the obstacle was darkness
For the pot(in the clay)  to manifest the obstacle is different : 
Clay can assume only one form at a time
When it is in pot form it cannot be in lump form or chair form or table form

Presence of one form becomes the obstacle for manifestation 
Eka karya akara Anyakarya  akaranam avaranam bhavati

If pot has to be created all other forms other than pot form have to be removed inckuding lump "form"
The effort of the pot maker is to remove the avaranam / obstacle - of all other forms and enable the manifestation of the pot

abhivyakti lingatvat 

2nd point
When pot maker is about to make the pot
" The pot is going to come"

Is this pot that is to come is existent or nonexistent
If you say nonexistent the subject of the sentence cannot be nonexistent

" From the standpoint of the future" - if such be argued then the response is that the statement the pot will come is connecting the future to the present
It is potentially existent

Then if pot is already existent before its creation then how come people will say there is no pot and only a lump of clay
Sankara's response : existence I is of 2 types - functional & actual
Pot is actually existent in all 3 periods of time - before it is made when it is and later when it is broken
Functional existence is temporary because only when it is manifest it is functional

3rd argument
Sarvajnajnaanaat apraamaanyaat

Ishwara (and yogis) can talk about what is going to happen in the future
If  future can be talked about in the present then it must be present in potential form
If not their knowledge of the future will be object less

4th argument

Nyayayika divide non existence into 4 types:
Prag abava - prior non existence
Pratdvamsa - posterior or later non existence
Atyanta - absolute non existence
Anyonya - mutual non existence

Prior non existence - non existence before its origination / child has prior non existence before its birth
Posterior - non existence after its destruction / pot is nonexistent after its destroyed
Atyanta - nonexistent in all three periods of time
Anyonya = difference or bheda -
Table and table ness is different from cloth and cloth ness
Difference IS there and hence it is a positive category an existent category but it is classified as a type of non existence

Based on this Shankara points out your anyonya abhavaa is bhavarupam and hence the other abhavaa must be positive only
Before srshti karyapragabhava also is bhavarupam -  Anyonyaabhavat

There is NO such thing as non existence in the world
In Advaita jagat abhava is translated as is akin to Brahman

Srshtepurvam ghataha asti

Last the 5th argument
This is based on definition of utpatti or Janma or birth according to Nyaya

Before srshti pot is nonexistent
There is clay karanam alone; karyam ghata is nonexistent

The pot comes to existence by intimate association with clay
It borrows existence from clay

Shankaran points out the fallacy - Nonexistent pot because of relationship with existent clay - there is a relationship between something nonexistent & something existent
How can such a relationship be possible between asat karanam and sat karyam ?
Relationship is possible only between 2 sad vastu  existent entities

Asataha sambandha abhaavaat

Thus with these 5 arguments srshtehe purvam karyam asti

Finally Sankara concludes with one final point

Let aside arguments. I will provide you Shruti support :
Read the next statement following the 1st line - m rtyunaa idam avrtam aasit
Mrtyu indicates karanam
Idam indicates karyam

And karyam was enveloped in karanam says Shruti here
If karyam or karanam is nonexistent this statement would be absurd

One nonexistent thing can neither cover nor be covered by another entity.
This concludes the ghata bhashyam

This post first appeared on SELF-KNOWLEDGE, please read the originial post: here

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Brhadaranyaka Upanishad : Ghata bhashyam


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