Evolution of Creation from 2-Fold Nature of Ishvara (Para & Apara prakriti) (57)


Lesson 57 begins “Ishvara (God) alone existed before time/space/creation”. But what is God and how did creation come about? This is topic of verse 4-5. We also see 2-fold nature of Ishvara being para & apara-prakriti and how it's understanding can help us see the world differently.

Source: Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – verse 4, 5

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 4:

bhūmirāpo'nalo vāyuḥ khaṃ mano buddhireva ca |
ahaṅkāra itīyaṃ me bhinnā prakṛtiraṣṭadhā ||

Earth, water, fire, air, space, the cosmic ego, the cosmic intellect, and also the unmanifest chit (potential) – this is My nature which is divided into eight-fold.

  • Central teaching 4-12th One of most important portions of Gītā. Reveals nature of God.
  • Teachings based on Upaniṣadic teaching. Krishna not add one single idea of his own. Whole teaching borrowed from Upaniṣads alone. Remember, there is no Krishna philosophy, only Upanishadic teaching.
  • Upaniṣads defines Īśvara as jagat kāraṇam, cause of universe. And everything created requires two fold cause.
    1. Raw material.
      • EG: Desk. So any creation requires a raw material.
      • Therefore FIRST principle is the material cause: upādāna kāraṇam.
    2. Second fold?
      • Because raw material can not become a product by itself.
      • EG: You leave metal & tree log in shack. It gradually assembles itself. 3 days later, TABLE ready!
      • EG: Buy cooking ingredients. Store in kitchen. Come from work/class, dinner ready!
      • Meaning raw material can not become product by itself. Requires intelligence principle responsible for conversion of RAW into appropriate EFFECT.
      • Therefore 2nd principle is intelligent cause: nimitta kāraṇam.
      • Thus every creation involves material and intelligent cause. EG: Shirt = weaver & cotton involved. Room = architect & brick-mortar involved.
  • Upaniṣads point out that Īśvara (material/intelligence cause) alone existed BEFORE creation came into being. So before creation/time/space evolved, God alone was there. IS.
    • PROBLEM IN THINKING: Suppose we say God is intelligent cause ONLY. Then question is, what is material cause?  OR God is material cause ONLY, question is what is intelligent cause?
      • To SOLVE, Vedānta says: Since Īśvara alone was THERE before creation, Īśvara is both intelligent & material cause.
    • Therefore from standpoint of intelligent cause, Īśvara created the world. Standpoint of material cause, Īśvara evolved into this universe.
      • Meaning, as intelligent cause, Īśvara is the creator.  And as material cause, God Himself evolved into THIS creation.
  • OBJECTION to above: How can one/same principle be both the intelligent AND material cause?
    • Normally I see intelligent & material cause separate. EG: Carpenter/wood. Weaver/cotton. Cook/rice. Cook intelligent, and rice material cause. Not identical!
    • Upaniṣad answers general observation is intelligent & material causes are different. But every rule has exception. We take example from…
    • Mundaka Upaniṣad: yathōrṇanābhiḥ sṛjatē gṛhṇatē ca yathā pṛthivyāmōṣadhayaḥ sambhavanti | yathā sataḥ puruṣāt keśalomāni tathā ‘kṣarāt sambhavatīha viśvam ||
      • Any living being BUILDS place for stay/residence out of external raw material. EG: Bird/nest. Outside raw material branches.
      • However spider is an exception. Fascinating specimen.
        • FUN FACT: Golden orb spider silk 5x stronger then steel. Also more elastic then any man-made material. And light. Used for bullet proof vests.
      • To spin the web, it finds the raw material within itself. So it’s both intelligent and material CAUSE of the web.
        • Called: abhinna nimitta upādāna kāraṇam, ONE cause happens to be BOTH intelligent & material cause.
        • In same way, Īśvara is BOTH of this creation. Therefore, jagat kāraṇam (cause of the world).
  • NEXT QUESTION: What is nature of such a God which is BOTH causes?
    • It consists of 2 principles known by different names in Upaniṣad.
    • Krishna calls: parā prakṛti (higher) and aparā prakṛti (lower/inferior principle).
  • For sake of understanding parā/aparā… let’s see common/uncommon FEATURES of both:
    • One COMMON feature of parā/aparā:
      • Both are beginningless. Eternal. Neither can be created/destroyed.
        • Also scientists agree matter never created/destroyed. Only transformed. (Law of conservation of energy & matter). EG: When a candle burns, nothing lost.
      • Conclusion: parā/aparā both eternal (nitya).
    • Many UNCOMMON features of parā/aparā mentioned in Upaniṣad. We discuss 4 major ones:
      1. Parā-prakṛti is the conscious principle (cetana tatvam). And this consciousness can never be created/destroyed. Science slowly taking this view, stepping away from deductive materialism.
        • Hence Consciousness is nature of parā prakṛti.
        • Aparā prakṛti is matter principle (jadaḥ).
        • Comparison: Spirit/matter. Consciousness/inert.
        • Hence both Consciousness & Matter never created or destroyed. And this consciousness-matter mixture is called Īśvara..
      2. Parā-prakṛti (consciousness) in original condition is without attributes. Nirguṇam svarūpam.
        • Aparā (material cause) = saguṇa svarūpam. EG: Physical/chemical attributes.
          • Field of science. Dealing only with matter (aparā). Whereas Consciousness NEVER available for scientific study. For science, it is mystery. Vedanta says NOT mystery, revealed elaborately in Upanishads.
      1. Upanishad point out, parā = free from all modifications. Consciousness principle can never undergo change, under any condition.
        • Whatever changes talking about IS matter level alone. Body/mind/matter all change.
        • Therefore parā-prakṛti = without modifications (nirvikāra tatvam).
        • And aparā = subject to continuous modifications (savikāra tatvam).
          • Nothing in creation is stationary. Even within atoms of WALL, electronics/protons/neutrons interacting-moving.
          • In book Tao of Physics (Fritjof Capra) symbolizes ever changing as Naṭarāja, who represents eternal material dance of creation. In total Harmony.
      1. Parā-prakṛti is satyam. Independently existent, always. Conscious principle (cetana tatvam).
        • Aparā (acetana/jadaḥ tatvam) depends upon parā for everything.
        • Comparison:
          • parā = Absolute. Free. Standalone. Self-dependent reality.
            • satyam / svatantra (independent).
          • Aparā = mithyā / asvatantra (dependent reality)
          • BOTH put together (like pure air/fragrance) = Īśvara, the CAUSE of creation.
      1. SUMMARY of 4 above:
        1. Parā is consciousness principle (cetana tatvam).
          Aparā is inert/without consciousness (acetana tatvam).
        2. Parā is without attributes (nirguṇa tatvam).
          Aparā is with characteristics (saguṇa tatvam).
        3. Parā is without modifications/changes (nirvikāra tatvam).
          Nir in sanskrit always means without. Self is: Nirvikalpa, nirvaṇam, nirguṇa, nirvikāra.
          Aparā is continually modified (savikāra tatvam).
        4. Parā is satyam (independently existing).
          Aparā is mityhā (dependently existent).


Now let’s tie above parā/aparā information into evolution of creation…

  • Even before evolution of creation, Īśvara alone exists as parā & aparā (in potential). And out of Īśvara takes place evolution of the world/creation.
    • HOW? Thoroughly described in various Upaniṣad (sṛṣti prakaraṇam; concepts of creation). However in CH7, evolution presented in 2 stages. For example…
      • STAGE 1: Seed (Īśvara) becomes a plant (subtle elements). Intermediary stage.
      • STAGE 2: Plant evolves into a TREE which is beautiful creation.
      • Creation evolves exactly in same way.
  • Krishna presents the evolution based on section of Sānkya philosophy (presented by Kapila Muni). Which is slightly different from Vedic evolution. But we utilize part of it to support verse 4…
  • Krishna says, creation comes in 2 levels: (Verse 4/5)
    • STAGE 1: ONE parā-prakṛti & ONE aparā-prakṛti. This is stage of dissolution (pralaya). Potential seed.
    • STAGE 2: Intermediary stage. ONE aparā-prakṛti multiplies itself into 8-fold principle.
      • Metaphor: One single sperm cell unites with egg. Creating zygote, which undergoing division (mitosis).
      • In same way, ONE single aparā-prakṛti multiples into 8-fold-aparā-prakṛti.
      • What happens to parā during multiplication? NOTHING.
        • Why? We said, parā does NOT undergo modifications. Hence Consciousness principle remains same. While material/matter aspect multiplies into 8.
      • Therefore IN intermediary stage (before physical creation), there are: 8-fold-aparā + 1-fold-parā. Total 9.
    • STAGE 3 (final): Comes the explosion/magnification, where the 8-fold-aparā multiplies into manifold PHYSICAL universe. (Verse 6+)
      • This includes galaxies, plants, novas, black holes. Your physical body. All gross matter.
      • Even mind is matter only. Except it is subtle-gross matter.
      • Therefore our experience NOW is FINAL product of evolution.
  • Summary of evolution of creation:
    • Aparā > multiples into 8-fold-aparā > gives rise to manifold physical objects, whose total we call Universe.
      • Thus whatever material aspect experiencing any moment, it is aparā aspect of Īśvara.
    • And what happens to parā? Untouched.
      • Where is parā NOW? It is YOU, the observer of experience of aparā (material/matter).
    • Therefore you (jīva), the observing conscious principle is parā-prakṛti.
    • And what is aparā? Whatever is experienced, observed, perceived, remembered, thought-of.



  • Krishna presenting us intermediary stage of creation (not in physical state yet) in verse 4/5. He says…
  • Entire creation is manifestation of Īśvara. Made of aparā/parā mixtures – which existed even before creation.
    And evolution of this creation occurs in 2 stages. EG: Seed > plant > tree   |   Embryo > baby > adult.
  • Regarding parā-prakṛti:
    • Important to understand, parā is beyond time/space parameters (Nārāyaṇīyam). Reason why Consciousness continues to be changeless principle.
    • For eg: If think about anything changing, the change/division only possible when object falls within space. And object to alter in requires time to transform.
    • Therefore what is beyond space/time… can not change / remains indivisible.
      • And to identify TIME, you need a secondary principle out of TIME. And since YOU can always identify time (slow/fast)… means YOU (observer) must then be out of time/unchanging (parā).
  • Regarding aparā:
    • Krishna enumerates, 8-fold-aparā is matter/energy/inert principle, which consists of: 5 elements (pañca mahā bhūtāni).
      • NOTE: Scriptures talk 2 types of 5 elements.
        1. sūkṣma bhūtāni: Before arrival of physical world, 5 elements have abstract form, in subtle condition.
        2. sthūla bhūtāni: Gross, concrete, tangible 5 elements. These are FINAL PRODUCT experienced.
    • In short: Subtle elements = intermediary stage. Gross elements = final product.
    • In verse 4/5, we are speaking of subtle 5 elements. Meaning invisible/subtle space, air, fire, water, earth.
  • Krishna also speaks of 3 more principles:
    • Macrocosmic Manaḥ, Buddhi (Intellect), Ahamkāraḥ (sense of doership). All are intermediary stage.
      • CAUTION: Does NOT relate to microscosmic jīva’s Subtle Body. * Also Shankara said manaḥ should be replaced by avyaktam (unmanifest/undetermined/potential)… but don't worry about this right now, as mostly concern of scholars.
  • So mind (avyaktam), intellect, ahamkara and 5 elements makes up intermediary stage of aparā. Total 8.
    • At this stage, 14 lokās (worlds) not come to existence. Physical bodies not come. All in subtle/intermediary.
    • Krishna’s explanation (Sānkhya philosophy) shares similarity with big bang theory.
      • Out of nothing (S1: 1x para/apara) > big bang (S2: 8-fold-aparā) > universe (S3: multiplicity)
      • However science not know what “NOTHING” is. Krishna says: 1x parā/aparā
  • We said lower (aparā) is dependent on higher (parā). Therefore aparā called mithyā (dependent reality).


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 5:

apareyamitastvanyāṃ prakṛtiṃ viddhi me parām |
jīvabhūtāṃ mahābāho yayedaṃ dhāryate jagat ||

This (eight-fold nature) is (My) lower nature, Know (that) nature which is distinct from this (lower nature) and which is in the form of Jiva to be My higher (nature) by which this Universe is sustained, Oh Arjuna.


  • Apareyam (iyam aparā): The 8-fold aparā is Īśvara’s lower/inferior nature. It is matter/energy. Because both are acetana tatvam (inert principle).
  • Whereas scriptures consider Consciousness superior, which is neither matter/energy.
    • Many mistake Consciousness as form of energy. Comparison:
      • Energy:
        • Energy is subject to change. EG: Mechanical, electrical, magnetic.
        • Energy is inter-convertible. Electrical > mechanical FAN > sound > wind.
        • Meaning energy is subject to modification in intensity/conversion. EG: 1V vs. Thunder (100Mil/1Bil).
      • Consciousness:
        • Not subject to modification, so it is neither matter nor energy.
        • Then what is Consciousness? Consciousness.
  • Therefore prakṛtim viddhi me parām, may you know my higher nature (parā).
    • What is higher nature? Other then lower-nature (aparā). Matter/energy
      • Thus parā is beyond scientific study, observation, physical/chemical laws.
    • And where is pāra located? Just how aparā is within this creation, so is parā within this creation.
  • How to know aparā?
    • Whatever varies, subject to start/end. Whatever you can experience, witness, feel, inquire, imagine, sense, intuit.
      • Even space is modifying according to Einstein/scientists. EXPANDING. And since all objects DEPEND on the modifying space, it means ALL object themselves are also transforming/altering.
    • Having ruled out the world (jagat), what of your body?
      • Going out of shape, despite effort to keep slim.
      • And the mind? Dramatic play.
    • So how to know aparā? As your body-mind and world. Why? Because they are observed to vary.
  • How to know parā?
    • Krishna reveals:
      • Whatever is experienced is aparā. But to experience, there must be an experiencER. Therefore parā is none other then self… the experiencER.
    • And by LOGIC to be an experiencer/observer, YOU have to be a consciousness principle.
      • So who is observing changes? YOU, the jīva. 24/7! Therefore true identity of jīva is parā.
    • Meaning observed body-mind (5 sheaths) is aparā. And the observer jīva, awarer, experincer, I AM… is parā. Tat Tvam Asi.
      • That’s why verse 5 is important. Mahāvakya revealing jīva’s identity.
  • So what is Krishna saying so far?
    • Whole creation is a mixture of parā (experiencER) and aparā (experiencED).
    • Parā-prakṛti (observER), aparā (observED).
  • Therefore Krishna says, mahābāho, “O Arjuna, powerful one, not enough to have powerful arms. Better have powerful intellect.”
  • mahābāhō jīvabhūtāṃ viddhi: Know parā prakṛti IS the very consciousness, the very jīva, experiencer BEHIND the body-mind complex.
    • Just like electricity = invisible one blessing the FAN, enlivens it, activates it.
      • Similarly, your INERT body-mind complex is enlivened & activated by TOUCH of consciousness. And THIS consciousness is my higher nature (parā-prakṛti).
  • yayedaṃ dhāryate jagat: because of that spirit/consciousness alone (parā-prakṛti), entire inert material universe is SUSTAINED & maintained. NOTE: spirit = parā.
  • How is consciousness (parā) experienced at physical/prāna body level? As very life principle. As being ALIVE & ALERT.
    • No consciousness (parā) = would NOT be alive/alert.
    • So sentiency MEANS body-mind is blessed by parā (conscious principle: cetana tatvam)
    • For example, long as body is healthy to sustain/bear consciousness (parā), it functions. When can no longer bear consciousness, it disintegrates. Disposed of at earliest.
  • Extending this to macrocosmic (samaṣṭi) level:
    • Whole cosmos is in HARMONY only because of intelligence principle (parā-prakṛti/ caitanya tatvam; consciousness principle).
    • Meaning world is functioning, AS THOUGH a cosmic intelligent person, owning to parā alone.
      • That’s why in religion we instinctively LOOK UP to contact the cosmic person (puruṣa). Just like good bacteria in your own stomach are looking up to YOU, who to them, is the creator/sustainer/destroyer of them and their world.



  • Visible part of creation = aparā. Invisible sustaining principle = parā. Creation is mixture of both.
    • And the creation is called “cosmic person” (puruṣa sūktam).
  • What is “cosmic person” (puruṣa) referring to?
    • Referring to when Īśvara ASSUMES role of creator/sustainer/destroyer. Just like human being puruṣa assumes role of police man/daddy. Means puruṣa is free of all roles & consequences.
  • And this “cosmic person” dhāryate… SUSTAINS.
  • What does it mean to say SUSTAINS? Iśvara is the CAUSE of all EFFECTS. Metaphor:
    • Suppose your index finger has life of its own. Finger asks “what is out there?”. Same with toe. Nose. Etc.
    • Each individual part is sustained by OR an effect of whom? YOU (puruṣa; CAUSE).
      • Meaning YOU-puruṣa are the ultimate CAUSE of all effects, like finger/toe/nose. Meaning individual parts/effects of your TOTAL body (puruṣa), each have LIMITED experience.
        • EG: Eye is LIMITED to eye-ING. Does not know about world of finger-ING. Etc.
      • Therefore EACH part makes up one TOTAL you (puruṣa). Meaning, truth of YOU (puruṣa) is truth of each individual part. Essence of YOU is essence of individual parts.
    • Next question: What is the TRUTH of YOU (puruṣa)? Consciousness, Brahman.
      • Why consciousness? Because to play role of creator/sustainer/destroyer, I NEED to be conscious / self-aware. I need satcitānanda. Self-evident awareful existence in WHOSE presence I can intelligently design.
      • CAUTION: Do not allow mind to turn Īśvara into person with limbs using this example. Because Īśvara is an unfathomable to limited human mind. Because Īśvara is all knowledge/power. Just like little finger can not understand the little toe, let alone the entire puruṣa (cosmic person).
  • The only understanding the little finger (analogy for person) needs to permanently end rebirth cycle is:

    • Cosmic person (puruṣa) = all mini-puruṣas in creation. And TRUTH of puruṣa (macro/micro) is the one eternal limitless Consciousness (Brahman). Meaning consciousness is truth of YOU also. That much I need to DEEPLY assimilate to permanently end rebirth.


Additional Notes for clarity:

  • As parā-prakṛti, Brahman is the Creator. As aparā-prakṛti, Brahman is the created using it's power of māyā.
  • aparā-prakṛti: Consists of material world. Including jīva's body, mind, intellect, thoughts, saṃskāra, vāsanā. Includes entire cosmos and all laws of nature.
  • parā-prakṛti: Ātman. Reflected consciousness. It is NOT referring to Brahman.
  • Brahman is the cause of everything. The entire aparā-prakṛti has its basis in parā-prakṛti.
    • I, Ātman (Brahman) am the cause from which everything manifests and everything resolves into. In other words aparā-prakṛti has no existence apart from self (ātman).


Keywords: dharyate, ishvara svarupa, jadah, jiva, lokas, mahavakya, manah, manas, mithya, nimitta karanam, nirguna svarupa, nirvana, nirvanam, nirvikara tatvam, prana, purusha suktam, saguna svarupam, samashti, samasti, savikara tatvam, sthula bhutani, sukshma bhutani, suksma, upadana karanam, upanishads


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Chinmaya Int. Foundation, Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 9 July, 2019



  1. Thanks very much for Such clear explanations:-)
    Found this is super helpful for theoretical understanding!

  2. Hi Andre.
    Thought this might be of interest.
    The world of Mitya can be seen as a reflection of Satya ( as per your earlier examples eg. Sun reflecting in the bucket; Jiva reflecting Atman etcetera. )
    Your example of the spider reflecting material and efficient cause as an analogue of Isvara:
    Apara multiplies itself from the one apara to eight in the seed state.
    I am wondering if we see reflected reality in:
    Spider is only creature on earth that seems to exhibit efficient and material cause.
    Is also only creature in existence that has 8 legs!
    Patanjali has 8 limbed yoga as his system.
    Buddha has noble 8 fold path of truth.
    In Celtic system, spider is seen as the guardian of the underworld which is symbolised as the gateway to spiritual intuition.
    It is also seen as the 8 spoked chakra of the heart.
    The Druidic triple wheel meditation relies on the four points of the solstice plus the four cross quarter festivals making a total of 8 cardinal points.
    One of the secret names of Jesus using the ancient Kabbalistic science of gematria was “ the plenitude of ogdoads”
    This was a mystery teaching where numbers are assigned numerical values and the original Aramaic name of Jesus resulted into three sets of 8.
    There are probably many more examples that I am not aware of.
    The interesting thing is that this seems to be isomorphic across many spiritual traditions.
    Perhaps the teachings of the Rishis echoed out across many cultures over time.

    1. Interesting to bring 8 together from various views.

      8 planets around Sun.
      7 lokas (Earth to Brahmā) and 8th is absolute Īśvara.

      More here: https://www.sanskritimagazine.com/indian-religions/hinduism/lord-shivas-favourite-number-8/

      Regarding spider:

      1) In Ancient Egypt, the spider was associated with the goddess Neith in her aspect as spinner and weaver of destiny.
      2) In African traditional folklore & Native American cultures, spider is personified as a trickster character.
      3) In Japanese mythological spider figure is the Jorogumo, portrayed as being able to transform into a seductive woman.

      Spiders both scary and fascinating, like māyā.

    2. And of course the meter anuṣṭubh, which is the meter of entire Bhagavad Gītā (song of the Lord).

      Each verse is 4 lines. And each line has exactly 8 syllables. Throughout the entire B.Gītā.

  3. Hello Andre. I have been following these lessons from the start. I feel like the first section of the Gita that deals with the jiva is much easier for me to understand because it can be verified by listening, contemplating, and assimilating the knowledge once we “see” the truth-ness of it.

    But now I’m having a hard time with the second section that deals with creation. Now we are dealing with topics that I cannot inquire into by myself. When the Gita/Upanishads say that Ishvara alone existed before creation, and how para and apara prakriti mixed together to create the universe, I have no way of inquiring into it and verifying it for myself. Are we supposed to just have faith and believe in the statements? Or is there some way that a Vedanta student can understand this through contemplation?

    I know that self inquiry helps to assimilate the knowledge that I am not the B-M-I, and I am Atma alone. But this self inquiry cannot be applied to God and creation. Is there another method, or do we just have to be quiet and listen carefully until the end of the chapter? Thanks!

    1. “I have no way of inquiring into it and verifying it for myself. Are we supposed to just have faith and believe in the statements? Or is there some way that a Vedanta student can understand this through contemplation?”

      Faith is important with anything to continue listening. Cause of creation (before the universe came) can be easily verified through logic which can’t be contradicted. Meaning no matter what body of science has to say, it can’t contradict the Upanishads.

      For example, science talks about plank length, which is the smallest length possible. It’s that first moment of big bang. When from nothing, the entire universe appeared.

      Then we have to ask, when where was this universe (of planets, lifeforms, jivas) before the universe existed?

      In fact, the universe is nothing but time-space and objects within it.

      Meaning, where were time-space-objects STORED before the big bang? It was in potential. This potential is called māyā.

      Just like right now, there is an entire dream-world waiting for the right circumstances (when you go to sleep). That dream world of time-space-objects is RIGHT NOW inside you. And it will manifest as an entire universe tonight when you go to sleep.

      Meaning there is a CAUSE that exists even before the time-space-objects.

      This is an intro.

      I encourage to not get hung up or frustrated if things are making sense in any one session. Because each sessions will say it in dozens of different ways.

      BTW: When I was first taught about the teaching of creation, it made me border line depressed as to how little my mind could understand (self judgement, criticism, etc). It took the longest time to slowly assimilate creation.

      1. Yes, I think I was starting to feel overwhelmed because I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I will have faith and trust that in time I will be able to assimilate it more and more. Thank you Andre. Namaste.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *