II-4 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 9

Topic 9 - The creation of names and forms is by the Lord and not by the individual soul

Sutra 2,4.20

संज्ञामूर्तिक्लृप्तिस्तु त्रिवृत्कुर्वत उपदेशात् || २० ||

saṃjñāmūrtiklṛptistu trivṛtkurvata upadeśāt || 20 ||

saṃjñāmūrtiklṛptiḥ - the creation of name and form; tu - but; trivṛtkurvataḥ - of Him who does the tripartite creation, of His who made the elements triple;  upadeśāt - on account of scriptural teaching, as Śrutis stated so. (saṃjñā - name;  mūrtiḥ - form; klṛptiḥ - creation; trivṛt - tripartite, compound;  kurvataḥ - of the Creator.)

20. But the creation of names and forms is by Him who does the tripartite (creation), for so the scriptures teach.

The Sūtras have shown that the creation of the elements and organs in their collective aspect (Samashti) and the activity of the individual souls proceed from the highest Self; and they have also further confirmed the view that the rule which the souls exercise over their organs depends on the highest Self. A question now arises with regard to the creation of the world in its discrete aspect (Vyashti), which consists in the differentiation of names and forms (i.e. of individual beings). Is this latter creation the work of Hiraṇyagarbha only, who represents the collective aggregate of all individual souls; or, fundamentally, the work of the highest Brahman having Hiraṇyagarbha for its body--just as the creation of water e.g. is the work of the highest Brahman having sire for its body?--The Pūrvapakshin maintains the former alternative. For, he says, the text 'Having entered with this living-soul-self (anena gīvenāt- manā), let me differentiate names and forms' (Kh. Up. VI, 3, 2), declares the Jīva-soul to be the agent in differentiation. For the resolve of the highest deity is expressed, not in the form 'let me differentiate names and forms by myself (svena rūpeṇa), but 'by this soul-self,' i.e. by a part of the highest Self, in the form of the individual soul.--But on this interpretation the first person in 'vyākaravāni' (let me enter), and the grammatical form of 'having entered,' which indicates the agent, could not be taken in their literal, but only in an implied, sense--as is the case in a sentence such as 'Having entered the hostile army by means of a spy, I will estimate its strength' (where the real agent is not the king, who is the speaker, but the spy).--The cases are not analogous, the Pūrvapakshin replies. For the king and the spy are fundamentally separate, and hence the king is agent by implication only. But in the case under discussion the soul is a part, and hence contributes to constitute the essential nature of, the highest Self; hence that highest Self itself enters and differentiates in the form of the soul. Nor can it be said that the instrumental case ('with this soul-self') has the implied meaning of association ('together with this soul-self'); for if a case can be taken in its primary sense, it is not proper to understand it in a sense which has to be expressed by means of a preposition. But the third case, jīvena, cannot here be understood even in its primary sense, i.e. that of the instrument of the action; for if Brahman is the agent in the acts of entering and differentiating, the soul is not that which is most suitable to accomplish the end of action (while yet grammar defines the instrumental case--kāraṇa--on this basis). Nor can it be said that the activity of the soul comes to an end with the entering, while the differentiation of names and forms is Brahman's work, for the past participle (pravisya) indicates (according to the rules of grammar) that the two actions--of entering and differentiating--belong to the same agent. And although the soul as being a part of the highest Self shares in its nature, yet in order to distinguish it from the highest Self, the text by means of the clause 'with that living Self refers to it as something outward (not of the nature of the Self). The agent in the action of differentiation of names and forms therefore is Hiraṇyagarbha. Smriti texts also ascribe to him this activity; cp.'he in the beginning made, from the words of the Veda, the names and forms of beings, of the gods and the rest, and of actions.'

Against this view the Sūtra declares itself. The differentiation of names and forms belongs to him who renders tripartite, i.e. the highest Brahman; since it is assigned by Scripture to the latter only. For the text 'That divinity thought, let me, having entered these three beings with this living-soul-self, differentiate names and forms--let me make each of these three tripartite,' shows that all the activities mentioned have one and the same agent. But the rendering tripartite cannot belong to Brahma (Hiraṇyagarbha), who abides within the Brahma-egg, for that egg itself is produced from fire, water, and earth, only after these elements have been rendered tripartite; and Smriti says that Brahmā himself originated in that egg, 'in that egg there originated Brahmā, the grandfather of all the worlds.' As thus the action of rendering tripartite can belong to the highest Brahman only, the differentiation of names and forms, which belongs to the same agent, also is Brahman's only.--But how then does the clause 'with that living-soul-self' fit in?--The co-ordination 'with that soul, with the Self,' shows that the term 'soul' here denotes the highest Brahman as having the soul for its body; just as in the clauses 'that fire thought'; 'it sent forth water'; 'water thought,' and so on, what is meant each time is Brahman having fire, water, and so on, for its body. The work of differentiating names and forms thus belongs to the highest Brahman which has for its body Hiraṇyagarbha, who represents the soul in its aggregate form. On this view the first person (in 'let me differentiate') and the agency (conveyed by the form of 'pravisya') may, without any difficulty, be taken in their primary literal senses; and the common agency, implied in the connexion of pravisya and vyākaravāni, is accounted for. The view here set forth as to the relation of Brahman and Hiraṇyagarbha also explains how the accounts of Hiraṇyagarbha’s (Brahmā's) creative activity can say that he differentiated names and forms.

The whole passus beginning 'that divinity thought,' therefore has the following meaning--'Having entered into those three beings, viz. Fire, Water, and Earth, with my Self which is qualified by the collective soul (as constituting its body), let me differentiate names and forms, i.e. let me produce gods and all the other kinds of individual beings, and give them names; and to that end, since fire, water, and earth have not yet mutually combined, and hence are incapable of giving rise to particular things, let me make each of them tripartite, and thus fit them for creation.'--The settled conclusion then is, that the differentiation of names and forms is the work of the highest Brahman only.

But, an objection is raised, the fact that the differentiation of names and forms must be due to the same agent as the rendering tripartite, does not after all prove that the former is due to the highest Self. For the rendering tripartite may itself belong to the individual soul. For the text relates how, after the creation of the cosmic egg, a process of tripartition was going on among the individual living beings created by Brahmā. 'Learn from me, my friend, how those three beings having reached man become tripartite, each of them. The earth when eaten is disposed of in three ways; its grossest portion becomes feces, its middle portion flesh, its subtlest portion mind,' and so on. Similarly, in the preceding section, it is described how the process of tripartition goes on in the case of fire, sun, moon, and lightning, which all belong to the world created by Brahmā, 'the red colour of burning fire is the colour of fire,' &c. And the text moreover states the original tripartition to have taken place after the differentiation of names and forms: 'That divinity having entered into these three beings differentiated names and forms. Each of these (beings) it rendered tripartite.'--To this objection the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 2,4.21

मांसादि भौमं यथाशब्दमितरयोश् च ॥ २१ ॥

māṃsādi bhaumaṃ yathāśabdamitarayoś ca || 21 ||

21. Flesh etc. result from earth, according to the scriptures. So also as regards the other two (i.e. fire and water).

The view that the description of tripartition, given in the passage 'each of these he made tripartite,' refers to a time subsequent to the creation of the mundane egg and to the gods created by Brahmā, cannot be upheld. For from it there would follow that, as in the passage 'earth when eaten is disposed of in three ways,' &c., flesh is declared to be more subtle than feces, and mind yet subtler, it would have to be assumed--in agreement with the nature of the causal substance--that flesh is made of water and manas of fire. And similarly we should have to assume that urine --which is the grossest part of water drunk (cp. VI, 5, 2)--is of the nature of earth, and breath, which is its subtlest part, of the nature of fire. But this is not admissible; for as the text explicitly states that earth when eaten is disposed of in three ways, flesh and mind also must be assumed to be of an earthy nature. In the same way we must frame our view concerning 'the two others,' i.e. water and fire, 'according to the text.' That means--the three parts into which water divides itself when drunk, must be taken to be all of them modifications of water, and the three parts of fire when consumed must be held to be all of them modifications of fire. Thus feces, flesh and mind are alike transformations of earth; urine, blood and breath transformations of water; bones, marrow and speech transformations of fire.

This moreover agrees with the subsequent statement (VI, 5, 4), 'For, truly, mind consists of earth, breath of water, speech of fire.' The process of tripartition referred to in VI, 3, 4, is not therefore the same as the one described in the section that tells us what becomes of food when eaten, water when drunk, &c. Were this (erroneous) assumption made, and were it thence concluded that mind, breath and speech--as being the subtlest created things--are made of fire, this would flatly contradict the complementary text quoted above ('mind consists of earth,' &c.). When the text describes how earth, water and fire, when eaten, are transformed in a threefold way, it refers to elements which had already been rendered tripartite; the process of tripartition must therefore have taken place before the creation of the cosmic egg. Without such tripartition the elements would be incapable of giving rise to any effects; such capability they acquire only by being mutually conjoined, and that is just the process of tripartition. In agreement herewith Smriti says, 'Separate from each other, without connexion, those elements with their various powers were incapable of producing creatures. But having combined completely, entered into mutual conjunction, abiding one within the other, the principles--from the highest Mahat down to individual things--produced the mundane egg.'--When the text therefore says (VI, 3, 3) 'The divinity having entered into those three beings with that soul-self differentiated names and forms; he made each of these tripartite,' the order in which the text mentions the activities of differentiation and tripartition is refuted by the order demanded by the sense.--The text then proceeds to exemplify the process of tripartition, by means of burning fire, the sun and lightning, which indeed are things contained within the mundane egg (while yet the tripartition of elements took place before the egg, with all its contents, was created); but this is done for the information of Śvetaketu, who himself is a being within the mundane egg, and has to be taught with reference to things he knows.

But, a final objection is raised, as on this view of the matter the elements--earth, water and fire--which are eaten and drunk, are already tripartite, each of them containing portions of all, and thus are of a threefold nature, how can they be designated each of them by a simple term--earth, water, fire?--To this the next Sūtra replies.

Sutra 2,4.22

वैशेष्यात्तु तद्वादस्तद्वादः ॥ २२ ॥

vaiśeṣyāttu tadvādastadvādaḥ || 22 ||

vaiśeṣyāt—On account of the preponderance; tu—but; tadvādaḥ(-tadvādaḥ)—that special name.

22. But on account of the preponderance (of a particular element in them the gross elements), are so named (after it).

Each element indeed is of a threefold nature, owing to the primary tripartition; but as in each mixed element one definite element prevails--so that each element has a distinctive character of its own--a definite designation is given to each.--The repetition (of 'that designation') in the Sūtra indicates the completion of the adhyāya.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'the fashioning of names and forms.'