Non-sentients | Tattvatraya | Manavala Mamunigal


Non-sentient Matter (Achit)

77 - 78: We now pass onto a study of the characteristics of Achit, the non-sentient matter, the second of the three Tattvas or (entities), referred to at the beginning of Section I.

The non-sentient things are totally devoid of knowledge; and liable to change of state, just the antithesis of chit (Sentient Beings), characterised by knowledge and non-changeability.

Achit is, of 3 kinds, namely:

1. Pure Sattva 2. Mixed Sattva and 3. Sattva-śūnya (totally devoid of Sattva),

- that is to say those which are based solely on Sattva (purity), those based on an admixture of all the 3 Guṇas (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas) and those that are not linked to any of the 3 Guṇas.

79 - 84: In the first category of things viz. Śuddha Sattva, or Pure Sattva is the supreme Heaven. It is untainted by Rājas and Tamas.

It is eternal; it is productive of knowledge and bliss;

it does not come into being as a result of Karma or actions of the sentient beings and the possessions coveted by them,

but is projected solely by the will of the Lord for His enjoyment, in the form of towers and terraces, halls and mansions.

Of limitless splendour, far surpassing the brilliance of even the Sun and Fire, it is so vast that it cannot be measured by the Eternally Free (Nitya-Sūrīs), the Emancipated Souls (muktas) or even the Lord Himself. It is such a great marvel indeed!

It is self-luminous (ajaḍa), although according to the view of a limited section, it is non-luminous (Jada). Being self-luminous, it manifests itself, un- aided by knowledge, to the Ever-free and the Emancipated souls.

It does not, however, manifest itself to the bound souls, still involved in the cycle of birth and death, even as the self-luminous knowledge of the individual souls gets blurred by their deeds (Karma) in the pre-liberation period.

The individual souls and their knowledge were both described in Section l as self-luminous (ajaḍa), and now, Matter, in the first category of Pure Sattva is also said to be self-luminous:

And therefore, it becomes necessary to bring out the distinction between this category of Matter and the individual souls and their knowledge:

The former (Pure Sattva) does not manifest itself as I and is, therefore, unlike the souls; it evolves into bodies etc., and thus differs from the soul and knowledge: unlike knowledge it projects itself unaided by other objects being the source of sound, touch etc.

85 - 118: The next category is “Mixed Sattva”, known severally as Prakriti, Avidya or Māyā. It is Sattva mixed with the other 2 Guṇas, namely Rājas and Tamas.

The incidence of Rajas and Tamas is responsible for befogging the individual soul’s operating as a screen veiling the knowledge and bliss of the bound souls.

It is not mere diminution and/or disappearance of knowledge and bliss, but the mischief goes farther, landing the individual soul in perversion of knowledge,

arrogating to itself independence, mistaking the body for the soul, coveting the transient worldly pleasures, losing sight of the real and ultimate goal, resorting to means other than the Lord etc.

It is eternal, that is to say it is not liable to fluctuations such as appearing at certain times and disappearing thereafter, to reappear.

It serves as the Lord’s instrument in His sporting activities such as the creation of the universe.

It undergoes changes, homogeneous as well as heterogeneous, at different places and at different times –

homogeneous, for example, when there is no preponderance of any one Guṇa (attribute) over the other two and in the subtle (Sūkṣmā) State, when there is no distinction of name and forms

and heterogeneous when the milieu changes into a gross (sthūla) state involving the distinction of names and forms and the fluctuating tempo of the Guṇas - the different times, alluded to, are the point of time at which creation took place and again that at which dissolution comes about.

This is called Prakriti or unmodified cause, because it produces several changes of state - with its 3 Guṇas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas); these follow the 7 principles, namely, Mahat, Ahaṁkāra, the subtle matter (tanmātra) of sound, the subtle matter of touch, colour, taste, and smell.

- It is also known as Avidya, or ignorance, veiling knowledge.

- It is called Māyā, or wonder, as it produces a wonderful variety (i.e.) variegated forms of creation.

This Mixed Sattva comprises 24 principles as enumerated in Tiruvāymoḷi.
They are:

- the 5 potent objects of sense,
- the 5 sense-organs;
- the 5 elements,
- Prakriti,
- Mahat,
- Ahaṁkāra and
- Manas (mind).

Of these, the first principle is Prākriti otherwise known as Pradhāna or Avyakta:

- Prakriti has already been defined;

- Pradhāna means the primary instrument of the Lords sporting activities.

- Avyakta means that the difference in its attributes is not distinctly discernible in that subtle state.

It stands possessed of the States known as avibhakta-tamas, vibhakta-tamas and Akṣara.

The state obtained at the time of dissolution of the universe is referred to as avibhakta-tamas, that is, there is no scope then for differentiation by name and form.

When the Lord resolves to create the universe, there is vibhakta-tamas or differentiation of things by name and form.

By Akṣara is meant that situation when the individual souls, in their subtle state, are seen promiscuously mixed up with matter, like unto seed drenched with water, about to disintegrate.

From Prakriti, the aforesaid modifications, namely, mahat etc., arise, through inequalities among the three Guṇas (attributes).

The Guṇas - Sattva, Rājas and Tamas constitute attributes.

Even so, they are not distinguishable in the subtle State of (mūla) Prākriti when they maintain parity among themselves, but are clearly manifest in the gross state, when the said parity is disturbed and changes of state are undergone.

In the differentiated state, the essential nature of these three attributes has to be gauged from the physical effect each one produces as well as their psychological and moral correlates.

Thus Sattva is known to produce knowledge and bliss and to promote contacts with both, and an abiding love for them.

Rājas engender sexual desire and attachment to the sense objects.

Tamas lands one in perverse knowledge, inattentiveness, indolence and sleep (inactivity)

When these attributes were in equal proportions, Prakriti was also in an unmodified state without distinction of name and form, and the attributes were not manifest.

On the other hand, when they are in unequal proportions, Prakriti, as already stated, undergoes modifications and the attributes become manifest to perception and inference.

Of the transformations, which the inequalities among the three attributes produce, Mahat or the Great principle, comes first. This again is of 3 kinds, namely, Sāttvika, Rājasa and Tāmasa.

Mahat or buddhi is the medium through which the individual cognises the external world and it produces in him the power of determination with tendencies, dictated by the inequalities of the attributes.

From this (Mahat) arise the Ahaṁkāra or egotism, which, in turn, is of 3 kinds (viz.) Vaikārika, Taijasa, and Bhūtādi, depending upon the spell of the particular guṇa (attribute).

Ahankara is responsible for attachment to one’s body etc.

From Vaikārika, with its sāttvic tendencies 11 organs are produced: These are the

- 5 sensory organs, consisting of the ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose,

- 5 motor organs comprising speech, hands, legs, the organs of procreation and the organs of excretion and

- Manas (the faculty of attention).

From Bhūtādi, the type of Ahaṁkāra with its tendencies to Tamas, is generated the subtle base (tanmātra) of sound.

From the subtle base of sound arise the spatial ether (Ākāśa) and the subtle base of touch.

From this latter subtle base arise Air (Vāyu) and the subtle base of colour and form.

And from this base emerge Fire (agṇi) and the subtle base of Taste.

From the subtle base of taste spring up Water and the subtle base of Odour.

From this subtle base of Odour results the Earth (prithivī) whose characteristic is smell.

On, the 4 subtle bases (Tanmātras) beginning from the subtle base of touch are the effects produced by the 4 elements beginning with the spatial Ether (Ākāśa) and are the causes that produce the 4 elements beginning with Air.

Putting it more lucidly,

- from the subtle base of Sound is born the element of spatial ether;

- from this element arises the subtle base of touch,

- from which again comes the element of air;

- from the element of air arises the subtle base of colour and form,

- from which springs the element of fire;

- from the element of fire emerges the subtle base of taste,

- from which the element of water rises;

- from the element of water evolves the subtle base of odour

- from which the Earth (Prithvī) is born.

The Tanmātras (subtle bases) are the subtle states of the Elements:

Unlike the Elements, which exhibit certain distinct characteristics, the Tanmātras have no such characteristics and are, therefore, aviśeṣa or non-descript.

The characteristics of Earth and Water are gentleness or agreeableness (Santatva),
those of Fire and Air ferocity (ghoratva) which is disagreeable,
while the fifth element Ākāśa (spatial ether) is inert or indifferent (mūḍha).

When these elements combine there ensues a combination of all these characteristics.

The Ahaṁkāra of the taijasa variety, with its Rājasic tendencies serves as an auxiliary to the other two types of Ahaṁkāra, during their operation, like water helping the germination of the seed and the wind fanning the flame.

The Ahaṁkāra of the Sāttvic type created the 5 sensory organs, as follows:

- with the aid of the subtle base of sound, the Ear is created;

- with the aid of the subtle base of touch is created the Skin and the Eye;

- Tongue and Nose ate likewise created with the aid of the respective subtle bases, namely colour and form, taste and odour.

And then the 5 motor organs are evolved,

- speech with the aid of Ear,
- hands with the aid of skin,
- legs with the aid of Eye;
- the genital organ with the aid of the Tongue and
- the organ of excretion with the aid of Nose.

Manas (mind), which is auxiliary to all these 10 organs, is, it is stated, created by this Ahaṁkāra itself without any other aid.

Some (like the Naiyāyikas) hold that the elements themselves produce some of the sensory organs. They say that the sensory organ of Smell is produced from the element Earth and so on.

This, however, runs counter to what has been stated in the scriptures, namely, the elements are only their nourishing support and nothing more.

Having set out in the foregoing paragraphs the manner in which the principles of Mahat etc., came into being, we will now proceed to examine how the Lord makes use of these, in His activities such as creation of the universe etc.

Without a combination of all these, effects are not produced:

- A wall is built out of the aggregate formed by mixing clay, sand and water.

- Likewise, the Lord mixes all these forces and creates the egg-shaped universe and in it, creates the four- faced Brahma.

Dwelling in the heart of the four-faced Brahma and other individual souls, the Lord, as the internal, controller or Ruler of all souls helps to foster the requisite knowledge and resolution in them to create a vast multitude of things.

Thus, after the creation of the elements, they are combined together to create the egg-shaped universe. Brahma, the demiurge is also created by the Lord and put into the universe.

Brahma creates the minor deities, men, animals etc., and the all-pervading Lord watches them all as the Internal Ruler of all souls.

There are several egg-shaped universes. Each one of them comprises 14 worlds, 7 lower and 7 upper worlds surrounded by 7 fortifications (āvaraṇas).

The 7 lower worlds inhabited by Daityas, Dānavas, Pannagas, Suparṇas, etc., are:

- Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Talātala, Mahātala, Sutala and Pāṭala;

while the 7 upper worlds are:

1. Bhūloka, (occupied by humans)
2. Bhuvarloka (inhabited by Gandharvas),
3. Suvar loka (the region of planets, Stars, Indra in power etc.),

4. Mahar-loka (the seat of residence of dethroned Indra and others awaiting reinstatement in power and others),

5. Janaloka (the abode of Prajāpatis)
6. Taparloka (the abode of Prajāpatis) and

7. Satyaloka (the residence of Brahma, Vishnu and Śiva and their votaries, who through propitiation of their Deities got a life over there).

The 7 coverings (fortifications) of progressively increasing dimensions are:

- Water, Fire, Air, Ether, Ahankara, Mahat and Avyakta.

They are unto God, like sporting accessories (balls) to play with:

Like water-bubbles seen in a vast expanse of water, all these were created all at once (simultaneously) unlike the structures built, brick by brick.

The elements:

Ākāśa, the Spatial Ether provides space for staying and moving about;
Vāyu, air is the medium wafting across fragrance etc.;
Tejas, fire for cooking, (heating and lighting);
Jala, water for wetting (cementing and cooling); and
Prithivī, earth for supporting.

The organs:

The sensory organs of Ear, Skin, Eye, Tongue and Nose apprehend sound, tactual sensations, colour and form, taste and smell, respectively.

Of the 5 motor organs of action,

- the organ of speech is used for speaking,
- the hand for making things,
- the leg for walking,
- the genital organ and the organ for excretion for excretory functions.

- Manas (Mind) is common to all these activities, as all these function only, when coordinated by the Mind.

The attributes of the elements:

The sense objects of sound etc. are the characteristic attributes of the 5 elements:

The attribute of spatial ether is sound, that of air is touch, of fire is colour and form, of water is taste, and of the earth is odour.

Perception of the attributes of one element in the other elements as well is due to the process known as Panchīkaraṇa, or five-fold combination, the blending of the elements in certain specified proportions:

Each element is compounded of 1/2 of itself and 1/2 of the 4 other elements in equal proportions:

Thus, for example, the element known as Prithivī or Earth is made up of 50% of earth, the remaining half being made up of 1/8 each of the other four elements.

The spatial ether, by itself too subtle to be visible, however, appears dark because of this five-fold combination. The dark colour is actually a characteristic of Earth.

It is also said that the succeeding subtle bases (Tanmātras) combine with the preceding subtle bases and hence additional features are present in the succeeding bases.

Spatial Ether has 1 only Sound as its attribute,

Air has 2 attributes, namely, Sound and Touch,

Fire has 3 attributes - Sound, Touch and Form,

Water has 4 attributes - Sound, Touch and Form, Taste, while

Earth has 5 attributes - Sound, Touch and Form, Taste and Smell in addition.

119: The third category of non-sentient matter is Sattva-śūnya or that which is devoid of Sattva and the other two attributes, namely, Rājas and Tamas.

The word Sattva here stands for all the 3 attributes.

Under this comes Time:

It is the cause of the various transformations of Prakriti and its evolutes in the sense that the Lord carries out the functions of creation and dissolution at specified times.

Further all changes in the material world are Time- regulated and/or conditioned by time.

It is sub-divided into Kalā and Kāṣṭhā:

Kāṣṭhā = 15 twinkling of the eye
Kalā = 30 Kāṣṭhās;
30 kalās = 1 mūhurta,
30 mūhurtas = 1 Day,
30 days = 1 Month,
2 months = Ritu or season,
3 Ritus = 1 Ayaṇa,
2 Ayaṇas = 1 Year

... and so on, according to the division and sub-divisions of Time indicated by Parāśara Bhagavan in Śrī Vishnu Purāṇa.

Time is eternal. It is a helpful instrument for the sport of the Lord and is in the position of a body for Him.

The other two categories of Achit, discussed earlier, namely Pure Sattva: and Mixed Sattva are objects of enjoyment, instruments necessary for such enjoyment and places of enjoyment, for the Lord and the individual souls.

In so far as the Heaven (Nitya Vibhūti) is concerned,

- the objects of enjoyment are divine sounds, forms, etc.;

- the instruments of enjoyment are the celestial things such as ornaments, fans and parasol:

- the places of enjoyment are the towers and terraces, halls and mansions of supernal splendour.

This side of Heaven,

- the objects of enjoyment for the individual souls are those apprehended by the sense-organs;

- the instruments necessary for such enjoyment are the sense-organs, the eye, etc.;

- the places of enjoyment are all the 14 worlds and the several bodies of various kinds.

And for the Lord the Milky ocean, where He reclines, which is, as it were, the spring board for His incarnations (Avatars), His Avatars and Iconic manifestations are the objects, instruments and places of enjoyment, this side of the Heaven, known as Līla Vibhūti.

Pure Sattva is bounded by the Mixed Sattva below, and the latter by the former above; the last category, Time has no such boundaries and thus exists everywhere.

Some hold that Time is eternal only in the Eternal Heaven (Nitya Vibhūti) and non-eternal here.

Some (the Buddhists) altogether deny the existence of Time. But this is refuted, being opposed to

(1) perception and experience, which reveal all things mobile as well as immobile, time-bound and

(2) scriptures - the jyotisha (astrology) one of the six adjuncts of Vedas, rests solely on Time, which is its very life-line.

The Vaiśeṣikās and others mention that there is a separate substance called Direction:

This is also not correct as

(1) direction falls within the ambit of Ākāśa, the spatial ether, and Prithivī (Earth);

(2) direction is not absolute, being relative to the observer and thus ceases to be a distinct substance by itself and

(3) direction is determined by the relative position of the Sun and Earth, East and West being the conventional directions where the sun is said to rise and set.

- Thus, direction stands included in the Spatial Ether and Earth.

Some (Buddhists) say that Ākāśa (spatial ether), unlike the other elements Prithvī, etc., is not something concrete and positive, but is merely the absence of the covering or barrier (āvaraṇa):

- According to them it is nothing more than a mere expression, incapable of direct perception.

This again is incorrect, as Spatial Ether has a positive form as denoted by the observations:

- “The hawk flies here”, “The eagle flies over there” and so on.

Some others (the Naiyāyikas and Vaiśeṣikas) hold that Ākāśa is eternal, without components, all-pervading and invisible.

This theory is not acceptable:

- As Spatial Ether is the off-shoot of the Tāmasa variety of Ahaṁkāra, known as Bhūtādi, it cannot be eternal.

- As it is itself a component of Bhūtādi, there is no question of its being without parts.

- It is not all-pervading as it is not found in the other two types of Ahaṁkāras.

- As it has a form, due to the five-fold combination of the elements, as already explained and is thus visible, it is not correct to say that it is imperceptible.

Again, the view advanced by these schools that Air (vāyu) is imperceptible is also fallacious, as the tactual sense experiences the presence and impact of air.

There are several varieties of Fire: fire, light, etc., being the earthly variety, the celestial variety like the Sun, the gastric variety and that which is found in Gold.

- The solar fire is everlasting while the earthly fire, light, etc., are impermanent.

- The natural colour of fire is- red and it is hot for the touch.

- Water is of white colour (natural colour) cold for the touch and is sweet.

- The earth has forms and tastes of various kinds.

- Earth and Air are neither hot not cold to touch.