Maya and Bhagawan explained | How does jiva separate from the Lord? | Shandilya Bhakti Sutra-13

Eternity of Bhagawan

[perfect_survey id=”6037″]

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 34

ऐश्वर्यम तथेति चेन्न स्वभाव्यात
Jiva or soul comes to the state of bondage due to his infinitesimal potentiality.

Purport of Aphorism 34

This aphorism describes the reason for bondage. Though essentially living entities are spiritual, they are subjected to the Mayic force of Bhagawan, due to their enjoying tendency, thus overpowering their spiritual characteristic. When the jiva develops a keen desire to enjoy and he is thrown into the material world to find happiness and seek enjoyment. But sooner or later, after experiencing torments resulting from his past actions (karma), his dormant spiritual characteristic is awakened. After realizing his position as an eternal servant of Bhagawan by the grace of exalted Bhagavat Acharyas and scriptures, he prepares to leave this material plane and enters the spiritual realm.

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 35

अप्रतिष्ठिद्धम परैश्वर्य तद्भावाच्च नैवमितरेषाम

The Supra-logical transcendental potencies of Bhagawan are ever unchangeable and undiminished. They do not undergo modifications as they are Bhagawan’s Swarupa Shaktis or sat-chid, ever existent and unabated whereas jivas are subjected to modification.

Purport of Aphorism 35

The attributes of Bhagawan are called Swarup Shakti. They define the potencies of Bhagawan which are his expansions and hence non-different from His very person. In case of the Mayic world, the name and form are not interconnected as senses are not able to grasp the form of a person, merely by hearing the name. But, in the spiritual spectrum, Lord’s name, form, potencies, pastimes etc are non-different from Him, just like water does not change in its molecular structure, whether we receive its samples from a well, dam, tap or the ocean.

Hence, the potencies of Bhagawan do not change as the Supreme Lord Himself is not prone to any modification (See Aphorism 38).

Unlike Bhagawan, jiva undergoes changes when exposed to Maya. Bhagawan is the master of Maya who is responsible for bringing about change in the world. He is Mayadheesha. Therefore, without Bhagawan’s governance, none can independently function. The superiority of the Lord cannot be proven by superior or inferior deeds as He sets all standards. He is the eternal law maker and though He follows His rules, He is not bound to them.

In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna clarifies that: “My actions are not results of Maya because they are products of my Swarupa Shaktis which are non-different from Me.

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 36

सरवानृते किमिति चेन्नैवम्बुद्ध्यानन्त्यातू

When all souls are essentially Chit (eternal), existing as a separated part of Bhagawan (vibbhinamsha) and also possess rights to liberation through Devotion (Bhakti), then why are jivas entangled by the chains of bondage (Maya)? The answer deals with the awkward tendencies present within a jiva propelled by Maya.

Purport of Aphorism 36

Maya means illusion causing the jiva to build bonds with the material plane, with people, family and friends.

We discussed in Aphorism 34, the process of separation of the jiva from Bhagawan.

But in aphorism 36, it is clarified that due to Mayic force, jiva develops tendencies that oppose its spiritual characteristic, thereby veiling its true nature. Due to the exercise of the triple gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, (mode of goodness, passion and ignorance) the jiva extends his miserable stay on earth.
Bhagawan says:

  • “Those beings who participate in the rat race of upgrading one’s lifestyle and express concern for their physical beauty and mental enjoyment
  • Those beings who are atheists by thought, word and deed and are against moral values and ethics
  • Those who do not consider my form as real but Maya, due to, envy being their ruling vice though they might read the Vedas and other scriptures
  • Those who are arrogant and ill-treat others, who are insolent and demoniac in nature

can in no way attain Bhakti and can never attain Me.”

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 37

प्रकृत्यानंतरालाद वैकार्य चीतयसत्त्वेना अनुवर्तमानात

Though the Lord creates the universe through His own external potency Maya, He is ever immutable because He is Sat-Chid-Ananda Swarupa.

Purport of Aphorism 37

We have discussed the unchangeable aspect of Bhagawan in brief in Aphorism 35 with respect to the Jiva’s tendency to undergo change due to Maya. But, how can we be rest assured about the Lord’s eternity and that He is the same unchangeable creator of all living beings?

A sculptor creates sculptures as his creative juices flow through the brain, initiating his hands to move in a particular fashion. He creates a range of sculptures and has authority to make modifications in them whenever he pleases. Though he fine-tunes the features of the sculpture, he cannot, by pressing his nose change its structure, although he does  that to his sculptures. A sculptor is a living being, while his sculptures (his creation) is non-living, inferior in attributes. The sculpture is lifeless, while the sculptor is lively. Therefore, he belongs to a higher strata of existence compared to the sculptures made of clay.

Similarly, Bhagawan creates the world and millions of universes manifest by His mere will. But, nothing can equal His potency. He is superior to His creation in all respects (like the sculptor). He is the creator, maintainer and destroyer, while his creation occupies an inferior plane prone to modifications (like the sculptures). This example is easy to relate but, let us look at other scriptural evidences, to affirm this truth.

  • Prashna Upanishad: “The creator (Bhagawan) moots a thought to create. His glance gave rise to Prakriti or (Maha-Tattva) and jiva (prana). These two became the secondary causes whereas He Himself ever remains as the efficient cause of creation.
  • Aitreya Upanishad: “Before the creation of the universe, nothing except Bhagawan and His potencies existed. The rule of having ‘a cause to exist’, like parents are the cause for a child to exist and seeds for a plant was absent before creation as there is no cause of Bhagawan’s existence. He alone is the cause. After the creation of the universe by the Will of Bhagwan, the cause-effect mesh was created to trace the existence of the material world which ultimately leads to Bhagawan. Nothing before Bhagawan existed and after destruction nothing other than Him remains. Before, creation there were no gross or subtle planes of existence. Hence, Bhagawan is the root cause of everything animate/inanimate we see or sense.”

Shandilya Bhakti Sutra Aphorism – 38

त्प्रतिष्ठा गृहपिठवत्

As it is said a man sits in the room although on a wooden chair.

Purport of Aphorism 38

The Lord is the initiator of creation and dissolution of all the universes. The universe is present inside the Lord and after dissolution, it merges in the Lord again. For many people, the coming and going of the universe from the body of the Lord is considered as a modification.

But, Shandilya Bhakti Sutra defines Bhagawan’s existence like the man sitting on chair, in the room. The man is equally present in the room as well as on the chair. Though it looks like the Lord undergoes change with the coming and going of the universe in and out of His body, He is ever present at all stages. What appears like coming and going is also His energy (Maya) in action. The Lord is non-different from His energies.

A modification is said to take place, when before and after results differ from each other. Like: Weight loss can only be marked on the comparison scale. We need to compare the weight of the person before exercise with his/her weight after rigorous exercise in order to conclude that modification has taken place. 

Now, referring to the sutra, irrespective of the chair, isn’t the man present in the room? Similarly, irrespective of the creation and dissolution of the world, Bhagawan is present at all times and remains unchanged.

What is perceived as a change, is an illusion created by Maya which inturn is the eternal potency of the Lord, non-different from Him. Therefore, we must understand that the Lord does not undergo any change.