Maya vs. Causal Body, Ishvara vs. Brahman, Infinite Jivas & Avidya (128)


Lesson 128 answers question about maya, karana-sharira, ishvara-brahman, big crunch, hiranyagarbha. Shows comparison chart of Knower-Knower. Explains map of creation chart. And introduces Verse 7.

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 5, 6, 7

Q & A (Clarifying Verse 5 mainly):

  • QUESTION: Suppose I get mokṣa, but other jīvas don’t get mokṣa. This implies the ajñānis are always there. Isn't this duality of (1) ajñānis (2) Brahman. How to resolve this contradiction?
    • ANSWER 1:
      • There's no such thing as jiva. Just like there's no such thing as “pot”. When we say “pot”, we are actually referring entirely to clay. Pot and clay are not two different entities.
        • In other words: There's no independent existence corresponding to “pot”… because “pot” can be negated.
          • EG: Pot IS. Clay IS. Molecule IS. Atoms IS. Form-name gets negated. But IS can't be negated… remains the same in-and-through all names.
      • So we can't find anything called a “jiva“. Jiva is only real if you look at it from standpoint of name-form.  In reality, jiva is nothing but Ishvara, and Ishvara is nothing but Brahman.
        • EG: High/low wave > Ocean > H2O. Where there is wave/Ocean, that's where H2O IS.  Thus you're only talking about H2O, when mentioning wave/Ocean.
      • That's why Krishna told Arjuna in BG, CH2 Verse 11 & 30 Combined: Arjuna grieve not for these people. Their essence is ātmā. Owing to your non-apprehension of reality, you think they are jīvas.”
    • ANSWER 2:
      • Question can only be asked from standpoint of Dream world of apparent duality. Remember, entire dream has it's existence in One Conscious being.
        • Upon waking, the dream-world-of-plurality resolved into the Waker. Hence there's no TWO realities of dream-world (AND) waker. Waker alone IS.
  • QUESTION: If desire for moksha is innate, that means all beings will eventually discover it. However, if this happens, then problem arises of “last jiva”. REPHRASED: From the beginning-less creation, the Jiva count was finite and on every moksha of Jiva, the counter goes down. Doesn't this mean, counter will reach ZERO eventually… thus end of creation?
    • ANSWER 1:
      • Jiva count is infinite. 1 minus infinity = infinity. Thus counter never goes down. Hence creation will never end.
        • How to know that creation will never end? Because creation never started (at one particular point of time). What doesn't have a beginning, doesn't have an end.
          • EXCEPTION: Only removal of ignorance is exception to the rule. EG: I will continue being ignorant of “Hebrew” until I learn “Hebrew”.
        • How to know jiva count is infinite?
          • (1) Purpose of creation? Exhausting endless jiva desires.
          • (2) Creation already existed for infinite amount of “years” in the past.
          • (3) This implies jivas already had infinite amount of years in the past to exhaust their karmas.
    • ANSWER 2:
      • Creation can't go out of existence, because Creation (jagat) is an Effect of a timeless Cause. That’s why creation is seen as “lila“: Divine play.
        • EG: NATARAJA
          • Demon dwarf: Symbolizes jīva's sense of separateness/ignorance, defeated by Shiva (in form of self-knowledge).
          • Drum (upper right hand):
            • (1) Symbolizes primal sound (AUM), which reverberate throughout entire universe.
            • (2) What is property of space (which embodies entire universe)? Sound.
            • (3) What is a sound? A name.
            • (4) What is a name? A form. They’re interdependent.
          • Snake: Coils 3 times around his neck: Meaning, I am the truth of: Past, present, future.
          • Calm face: Represents detachment… awareness of His sarvajña.
          • Ring of fire: Represents creation, but also ongoing changes within it to give way to new creation.
  • QUESTION: Elaborate difference between Ishwara and Brahman. I thought they were the same… just from different points of view.
    • ANSWER:
      • Īśvara is Pure Awareness (cit) reflected in māyā. This reflection is called Īśvara (or cidābhāsa).
        • Formula: Brahman (Awareness) conditioned by māyā's 3 guṇa śakti = Īśvara.
      • Therefore, Īśvara is NOT strictly same as Brahman. Because Īśvara means “Reflected Awareness“, while Brahman means “Pure Awareness“.
        • Hence Īśvara is still mithyā, because it depends upon Brahman. Just as Ocean depends on H2O.
      • This also answers last weeks Q: “If Ishvara is mithya in respect to Brahman, yet we defined Ishvara as “All knowledge, all-power”, how can all-knowledge-power be defined mithya?”.
        • ANSWER: Because all-knowledge-power depends on Awareness.
  • Adding more SPECIFICITY between Māyā / Causal Body / avidyā:
    • Prakṛti (māyā) is composed of…
      • 3 Gunas:
        • When sattva-guṇa predominates, prakṛti is called: māyā.
        • When tama-guṇa predominates, then prakṛti: is called Universe (jagat).
        • When raja-guṇa predominates, prakṛti is called: Causal-Body (kāraṇa-śarīra) OR avidyā.
          • Why is Causal Body equated to Ignorance?
            • What is function of Causal Body? Gives rise to Subtle/Gross body.
            • What does Subtle/Gross body presuppose? I am an individual.
            • What does “I am an individual” presuppose? I am NOT the whole.
            • What does “I am NOT the whole” presuppose? I am IGNORANT of my nature as the WHOLE.
            • SUMMARY: Ignorance CAUSES subtle/gross body. Thus ignorance/Causal Body are synonymous.
          • What does “śarīram” mean? What withers/decays.
            • Thus kāraṇa-śarīram also withers away upon shifting identify from the wanting-individual… to the WHOLE.
              • Therefore no individual subtle/gross body can get born because there’s NOTHING TO GAIN.
                • EG: We only go to places which we think will fill us up. And don’t go to places which we KNOW lack capacity to fill us.
      • In all 3 cases, it's the one same prakṛti endowed with Awareness (kṣetrajña). That's why jīva knows about knowledge (sattva-guṇa), but also ignorance (tama-guṇa).
  • QUESTION: Big Crunch. Dissolution. Talk about that. How does big crunch happen?
    • Time of creation, 5 elements manifest in order: Space, air, fire, water, earth. Subtle > Gross.
      • EG: Creation of star/planet:
        • Space: In space…
        • Air: …rotating clump of gas (hydrogen/helium) is pulled together by gravity, in form of a interstellar cloud.
        • Fire: Center becomes hotter (fire) and…
        • Water/Earth: …denser.
    • Time of pralayam (dissolution, brahmāji night / big crunch): Order is reversed. Humans go out of existence. Stars/Planets disintegrate back into interstellar clouds.
  • QUESTION: Is Hiranyagarbha’s sarvajña-in-potential, similar to sarvajña-in-potential in the Causal Body?
    • Firstly:
      • It's strictly incorrect to equate “potential” with “Causal Body”. Should be equated to māyā (sattva-guṇa).
    • Secondly:
      • Sarvajña from standpoint of Unmanifest = māyā.
      • Sarvajña from standpoint of Manifest = hiraṇyagarbha.
    • What is Hiranyagarbha?
      • Īśvara identified with all subtle-bodies of all jīvas in the universe… but also with His own sattva-guṇa (infinite knowledge of everything).
  • Chart comparing Knower (Kṣetrajña) and Known (Kṣetram):

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 13, Verse 7:

* Starts at: 1:00:55

amānitvam adambhitvam ahiṃsā kṣāntiḥ ārjavam ।
ācārya-upāsanam śaucam sthairyam ātma-vinigrahaḥ ॥ 13-7
Absence of conceit, absence of pretension, not hurting, accommodation, straightforwardness, service to the teacher, cleanliness, steadfastness, mastery over the mind.


  • CH13 consists of 3 categories:
    • CATEGORY 1: Prakṛti & kṣetram. Material Universe.
    • CATEGORY 2: Puruṣaḥ, kṣetrajña, jñeyam. Consciousness principle.
    • CATEGORY 3: Jñānam. 20 Universal values which refine the soil mind, capable of sprouting the seeds of self-knowledge.
  • So far Krishna has taken on 2 words: Kṣetrajña/Kṣetram. He is now addressing jñānam (V7-11).
    • Can using words, give direct taste of durian? Because taster is different from tasted.  Only way is to taste it.
      • This principle doesn’t apply to myself. Because I am not away from myself, unlike the durian.
        • Hence when it comes to nature of self… words CAN give direct knowledge. IF they don’t, there can only be 2 reasons:
          1. Teacher is not explaining properly. Teacher doesn't know how to communicate the reality.
          2. Suppose teacher is competent, but you don't get it, then mind is NOT ready.
      • Therefore, śabda pramaṇa CAN give direct knowledge of my nature because I (the subject), am never not available to myself (the subject)..
        • How is this possible?  A context is created for words like “infinite“, “brahman“.  Ruling out subjective interpretation.
  • What is the consequence of an unprepared mind?
    • Accepting what sounds good, and rejecting what doesn’t.
    • Misinterpretation of any kind of input (whether self-knowledge or values of conduct). EG:
      1. Parents/close-associate is abusive, but you convince yourself it's acceptable, because you deserve it.
      2. Mahabharata:
        • Why did noone act to save Draupadi disrobing?
          • Bhishma thought it was Yudisthira Inappropriate interpretation of values.
          • 4 Pandavas didn’t act because they thought brother’s authority is higher.
        • Thus Mahabharata is not about: Yudisthira did all right, and Duryodhana all wrong. It shows both sides are prone to misinterpretation.
        • Only person with flawless discernment is Krishna. Hence message of Mahābhārata is: Be more like Krishna in making decisions and thinking.

Keywords: brahmaji night, cidabhasa, karana-sharira, prakrti, prakriti, shabda pramana, sabda pramana

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 8 June, 2021



  1. Robert brings up at minute 30:20 the “bodhisattva ideal” from Mahayana Buddhism. This spiritual warrior is praised almost to the level of a Buddha/Jnani. Quote from blog:

    • A buddha, or awakened one, is a being who has fully realized liberation from the suffering of delusions and conditioning […]

    • A bodhisattva is a being who carries out the work of the buddhas, vowing not to personally settle into the salvation of final buddhahood until she or he can assist all beings throughout the vast reaches of time and space to fully be free […]

    As we can see, a bodhisattva is a spiritually-advanced individual that, nonetheless, refrains to take the last step in the path of enlightenment so he can reincarnate in favorable conditions and be of aid for the rest of us.

    This attitude is of course admirable, but I think it is a consequence of Buddhism dismissing the idea of Oneness as the ultimate reality… so they take the burden upon themselves, as if saṃsāra is a war to be won.

    Furthermore, it contradicts the idea presented in this class of a last jīva, as it is assumed that the count of jīvas is finite and the task will eventually end. Lastly, I think this this vow poses some “risk”, as it is difficult to guarantee 100% that the new incarnation will be favorable, and, as you mentioned on the previous class #127, spiritual evolution is not necessarily progressive and there’s always a slight chance of spiritual regression.

    1. Well presented points Luis.

      I don’t argue M. Buddhism’s concept of bodhisattva; reincarnating to continue doing good. It’s a dharmic goal arising from much compassion. But whether it’s possible in reality, Advaita argues:

      1) The bodhisattva-jiva who made a promise to reincarnate, will be a totally different person without any memory of past life claims. So noone is there next life to enjoy the thought “I have been reborn to continue my exciting work from last life!”.

      2) Even if boddhisattva were to remember at age 15 that they have a purpose to “save others from samsara”, what PROOF is there that the claim isn’t any different from millions of teenagers who develop similar ambitions in those few years of enthusiasm and innocence.

      3) Bodhisattva is seems to be attempting to emulate an avatara. Only Ishvara alone can produce an avatara; product of one who has never had a past life. Avatara alone can consciously know “I’ve been reborn SPECIFICALLY because it was planned to be so”.

      4) Noone does things for others sake. We do things for our sake. EG: We don’t marry to make another happy. We marry to make ourselves happy. Student doesn’t listen to make teacher feel good by having another student in class. Student listens to benefit from the information. Etc. Therefore, one who claims to reincarnate to save others from samsara is themselves in samsara; thus in no different position then one they’re saving. Because definition of samsara is: Doing things for my own good. And a samsari teaching a samsari, leads only to more samsara (only better version). So noone really got saved. Because true saving is being taken out of samsara, by recognizing one’s nature to be a different order or reality (Consciousness).

      5) Boddhisattva has taken to dharma purpose of life, and not moksha. In Bhagavad Gita; dozens of times stated and implied – when mind is truly qualified – it drops the goal of “doing good” and solely pursues moksha. Thus boddhisattva is technically nothing but a good/dharmic person, still under spell of ignorance.

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