25 – Tattva Bodha: Beyond Science: Origin of Universe According to Vedanta / Upanishads


Discourse 25 introduces creation theories, Vedantic view of how universe came, and what is God.

Source: Tattva Bodha


Before going into the verses, an introduction to creation was elaborated.

  • When we inquire into origin of things, when the cause is known, we are specific. For example, “Who created your house?”. We answer with specifics, such as, “architect, plumber, electrician”. However when cause is unknown, we explain away the author to God, without proper knowledge of what “God” means. Furthermore, one's intellect can't stand ignorance, so even an unverified belief feels better then not knowing. It's a coping mechanism. But also, mind naturally projects to fill in the blanks, even in presence of partial knowledge. For this reason, hundreds of creation theories are born, such as…
  • Various Creation Theories:
    1. Rationalists/Atheists:
      • Claims, “There's no God!”. He creates his own definition of God, then discards his own definition. Then writes a book, “Why I'm not a Christian/Hindu/Muslim”, for example. It becomes a best-seller, perpetuating author's flawed definition of God, which convinces thousands — further eroding the very fabric of Religion, right conduct, and spirituality.
      • Richard Dawkins is the most prominent figure in this category. We've analyzed his videos and arguments, and they're based on 3 reasonings, (a) taking scriptural statements literally, (b) “God is nowhere to be seen”, and (c) he has his own definition of God, which he is dismissing. 
      • The rationalist argues, “How can God create the world in 7 days, when there was no day/night without sun!”. Proudly thinking he demolished the scriptures with this logic, without looking into the implied/metaphorical meaning, nor accounting how people in a particular culture used to speak in ancient times to convey certain concepts. 
    2. Scientists View: Universe came from “Big Bang”.
    3. Pragmatics: Why does it matter if there is God? What difference does it make to my day-to-day lifestyle or business?
    4. Religion: In certain religions, critical-thinking is discouraged, dismissing the innate human capacity to ask questions.
    5. The uninformed Baptist: When God created earth, he put some Dinosaurs bones to test our faith! 
  • What is Religion's View on Creation?
    • World can't come without being created. Being created, there is a creator.  For example, without a creator, the pot can't come. Thus pot is creator's creation. Unfortunately this same logic is applied for entire universe (jagat).  Word “creation” implies the creator/maker is away and material is away. Thus is born the notion (in both Christianity and Islam) that God creates the world, and having created it — He remains AWAY from the world.
  • What is Vedanta's View on Creation?
    • What is Creation (sṛṣṭi)?
      • Anything intelligently put together that serves a purpose or function, and has a relationship to something else that's also intelligently put-together.
      • EG: Spiders-web, honey comb, ant hill, birds nest, organs in body. They are all intricate creations. For example, bee-hive is connected to honey, honey to bees, bees to flowers, flowers to pollen, pollen to rains, rains to oceans. Meaning the creator of bees, flowers, pollen, honey, bee-hive, oceans — has to have knowledge of them all in order for them to have an intricate and harmonious relationship. 
    • What about man-made objects like a car? A car can always be improved because man's intelligence is limited. Whereas whatever is made by total-intelligence — can't be improved. This contrast is meant to show the difference between man's limited-knowledge, and creator's all-knowledge. Man constantly observes patterns in nature to adjust his instruments to work most efficiently with the laws of nature. For example the shape of airplane wings were optimized hundreds of times to boost the airflow and lift. 
    • KNOWLEDGE ALWAYS RESTS ON A CONSCIOUS BEING: If anything is put together intelligently, this means there should be knowledge of that. And knowledge has to always rest on a Conscious being. Even ignorance has to rest on a Conscious Being.  So the order is: Anything intelligently put together > presupposes Knowledge > knowledge rests on Conscious being.
    • EFFICIENT CAUSE: The one who has knowledge of how to put things intelligently together, is called: nimitta-karanam (Efficient or intelligent cause).  EG: Spider is efficient-cause for the web. Bird is efficient-cause of bird-nest.
    • CONCLUSION OF VEDANTA'S VIEW OF CREATION SO FAR: Anything in the universe (jagat/brahmanda) is efficiently or intelligently put together. Since all things in universe have a relationship to each other, this means they come from the one same nimitta-karana — who is a Conscious being called Ishvara. The word “Ishvara” means, “Cause of the universe”, or God/Lord in short.
      • ghatasya karta ghatajnah, sarvasya karta sarvajnah: Pot maker has pot knowledge (like it's purpose, shape, it's utility for holding water). However doesn't know beyond that, such as what clay is made of, structure of atoms, etc. Whereas Maker of everything (whether known or unknown) is all-knowledge. Meaning He knows about atoms, clay, earth, heart and brain inside that pot-maker, etc.   So Īśvara is sarvajñaḥ.
    • All-Knowledge isn't Enough. Also need skills to put that knowledge into use:
      • Ishvara is all-everything, but also needs skill/power to put it into action. Thus Īśvara is also sarva-shaktiman (All Mighty / Omnipotent).
    • So far, saying God is all-knowing, and all-powerful is universally agreed.  The problem comes when ask “Where is this God? What is His location?”.
    • Common belief: He is above (Vaikuntha, Kailasa, Heaven, etc)! Then you ask whether this above is a physical above, or above one's comprehension? Usually it's physical. In other words, God is located anywhere, but HERE. Some even shout their prayers so the far-away-Lord will hear them.
    • Vedanta's REPLY to common belief above:  Vedanta has no prob with heaven, since it can't be proven nor disproven. However Vedanta attacks the statement, “God IN heaven created this world!”. Because that statement has no way of being proven here and now. Additionally, if Ishvara is away, then I can never know that Ishvara since He is not here, now; which shuts down further inquiry. 
    • WHERE IS GOD? The issue with asking “Where is God?” is that the question presupposes God isn't here and now. In fact it's the top argument a rationalist/atheist will throw at you. It's like you asking, “Where is Andre?”. What you meant was, “Andre is not here now. He is away”. Furthermore, when a child asks the same question to his father, who he or she considers wise, the father has no means of properly answering. Father is cornered by the son's illogical question — eventually resorting to an angry “Shut up!”. The son or daughter interprets the father's displeasure with “My questions are foolish; I don't want to lose my father's love by making him angry” — thereby ceases further enquiry.
      • Have to enquiry into the MATERIAL.  For example, knowledge and power isn't enough to make a pancake/roti.  Just flapping your hands (skills) and knowledge of ingredients is useless. Also need the dough.
      • But where does Isvara get it's material?  Can't be outside Ishvara because it means material was borrowed at some TIME, and was away (SPACE). But time/space itself is material. Thus material is also within Ishvara.
      • Ishwara is: Efficient-cause (nimitta-karana) and Material-cause (upadana-karana).
        • EG 1: Spider is nimitta-karana in reference to web pattern, and upadana-karana in reference to web material.
          • Additionally, you need to recognize how far an example goes, as each example has it's limitations. For example, the spider walks away after creating it's web. Which presupposes God walks away. To offset the limitation, we use a better example below…
        • EG 2: In sleep, there is no space-time-objects. Then out of you, comes an intelligent-material dream world, instantly. You become Ishvara in reference to the dream.
  • BRINGING IT TOGETHER: If anything created can't be away from material, and you are surrounded by material creations — then where is Ishvara located? In the material. Time is Ishvara. Space is Ishvara. Elements are Ishvara. Your very eyes reading these words are Ishvara.  Knowing there, there's no question of “I” being a separate entity from the Lord.
    • Chandogya Upanishad CH6.2.1: sad eva saumya idam agra āsīt, ekam eva advitīyam: Existence alone was in the beginning, without a second.
    • Just like in deep sleep, you remain as undifferentiated existence (nirvikalpa atma). In you, there's a potential to manifest a dream world. When this potential is activated, it manifests dream-time, dream-space, dream laws and orders, dream people, and dream objects. People in your creation, look at your creation and speculate names of you such as Rama, Allah, Krishna — and put you in heaven — and consider their body a separate creation from you.  Yet the whole things is you, without intrinsically changing you in any way. Then in an instant, the whole dream-world resolves back into you.
    • With macrocosm universe, the process is exactly as described above. Brahman (sat-cit) enjoys potential (all-knowledge, all-power) to manifest the universe. When the potential manifests time-space and elements, then from standpoint of the created universe, Brahman is called Ishvara (Cause of universe). Therefore Ishvara creates times-space-objects (sṛṣṭi: creation), sustains the manifest universe (sthiti: sustenance), and finally resolves it back into potential (pralaya: resolution). This creation-sustenance-resolution is since beginningless time, and is happening even now. For example, a new blood cell is created in your body, it's sustained for a while, and replace by a new configuration.


  1. What is bases of rationalists/atheist dismissal of God?
  2. How is “creation” defined according to Vedanta?
  3. Why is man's inventions or creations always subject to further improvement?
  4. Maker of pot has knowledge of pot — but maker of everything has knowledge of _____.
  5. Ishvara means “Cause of the universe”. True/False.
  6. Ishvara is e___-cause and m___-cause. 
  7. Where is God (Ishvara)?

Keywords:  sarva-śaktimān

Credit for help in Tattva Bodha to [1] Chinmaya Mission's Swami Advayananda, [2] Arsha Vidya's Swami Dayananda, [3] Neema Majmudar.

Recorded 12 Nov, 2023

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