Shining World

Is Jiva Created or Unborn?

Question: Is jiva created by Brahman?

Answer from Swami Paramarthananda: No. Brahman does not and cannot create anything. All that is seen as Creation is a manifestation of maya-sahita Isvara. He also creates only the body-mind of the jivaJiva is anadi – unborn. If one says, “I am born,” it means only his body-mind is born. Due to ignorance, the creation of the body-mind is superimposed on jiva. At the time of death, body perishes, not the jiva.

Question: Does Isvara (the Lord) create this world?

Answer by Swami P: Isvara (the Lord) by himself cannot create. He is only a samanya karanam (general cause) for the Creation, the visesha karanam (special cause) is a set of karmas (good deeds and bad deeds) of the jiva (embodied self). A world is required for the jivas (embodied self) to exist and go through their karmas (fructification of good deeds and bad deeds). Thus jiva (embodied self) also supports Isvara (the Lord) for the evolution of the Creation. Both jiva (embodied self) and Isvara (the Lord) are anadi (timeless). There is no birth for jiva (embodied self). Only the bodies of jiva (embodied self) are born.

Martin: Hi. I got this Paramarthananda text from a Vedantin friend and he asked about where in the books of James that jiva is anadi (timeless). I remember that James has said the word is translated as “beginningless ignorance.” I guess he has mentioned this both in Inquiry to Existence and Mandukya Upanishad and Gaudapada’s Karika books.

Sundari: This is an important and subtle teaching taught in both texts you mention as well as The Essence of Enlightenment and other teachings. It’s pivotal for moksa. The real question is: If pure awareness does not create, and neither Isvara nor jiva creates, who does? Awareness is the “causeless cause” because, for awareness, there is no Creation. Yet when Maya appears, Isvara (pure awareness plus Maya) apparently “causes” the Creation and jiva assists in its evolution. Isvara provides the reflected medium for jiva, reflected awareness, to apparently work out its karma. But we all know the Creation is not real.

It is easier to assimilate this teaching if the inquirer follows the methodology of the teachings, which progress from the karana-karya vada, the cause-and-effect teaching, to the non-origination teaching, or Mandukya karika. The main purpose of the cause-and-effect teaching (as all other prakriyas adopted by the Upanishads) is not to make you believe in causation or the Creation. It is to reveal the truth of the Self being attribute-free, limitless, part-less, beginningless (out of time, endless) consciousness – and that the Creation is neither real nor unreal but has a dependent reality on you, consciousness.

The next step, the non-origination teaching in the Mandukya karika, is the most advanced and subtle of all Vedanta teachings, as it explains why the cause-and-effect teaching is not the whole truth. It answers the logical question: How can sat, consciousness, be the basis of the material Creation (small-self jiva/jagat) if it is non-dual consciousness? The material Creation is not material. It is a projection caused by Maya, which is not the same NOR not different from sat, existence/awareness. You can’t get something out of something that is incapable of modification. Sat is not the cause of anything. How could it be? If it were, it would not be non-dual.

To sum up: there are two jivas, the “small-self” finite jiva and the eternal Jiva, Jivatman. As both the eternal Jiva (Jivatman) and Isvara are pure awareness, therefore they are adjata, unborn. They are also principles in awareness, like Maya, and so beyond, or out of, time – anadhi, beginningless, and therefore endless. They are either unmanifest or manifest when Maya appears. The small-self jiva, while also the Self, is “in time” and ends with the death of the body, though the vasanas/subtle body are eternal because the causal body is eternal. The subtle body of that particular vasana bundle is subsumed into the causal body at the death of the gross body and will reincarnate at the appropriate time to work out its karma, but there really is only one subtle body, the eternal Jiva. Everything reduces to the Self; there is no other option.

The Mandukya also points out that the Self implies not-Self. When you know you are the Self, there is no satya and mithya for you anymore, they are just concepts/principles used to teach you that you are the Self and can be discarded. Mithya “becomes” satya because it was satya all along. You see everything as just IS-NESS, a direct experience of existence as your identity, the Self.

Martin: Is it about different contexts you can translate the word anadi as “timeless” or “beginningless” ignorance or is it okay the use both in every context? Why do James and you prefer “beginningless” ignorance to “timeless” in the translation of anadi? Consciousness is beyond time and space, but has no attributes, so saying that consciousness is timeless is not wise. Because the implied meaning is that it is a state?

Sundari: “Beginningless” is better, though the implied meaning is “finite.” The implied meaning for “timeless” is “in time.” All words have implied meanings and are therefore limited; they are the finger pointing at the moon, they are not the moon.

The purpose of the anadhi teaching is to reveal that though Maya is beginningless, avidya is not, therefore beginningless is the better word in this instance. Maya, macrocosmic ignorance, continues with moksa, but avidya, personal ignorance, ends, which is why we say that ignorance is beginningless but not endless.

Just remember, Martin, that moksa is not about learning Vedanta, it is about you.

~ Love, Sundari

Your Shopping cart