28 – Tattva Bodha: Formation of Time-Space & Person & Jiva-Ishvara are Maya's Upadhi


Discourse 28 discusses: Formation of 5 organs of action and 5 pranas from Rajas aspect of 5 Elements. How 5 Elements densify into the physical universe. Once universe comes, jiva considers itself small, and Ishvara big. But both are maya's upadhi, and enjoy the same reality Consciousness.

Source: Tattva Bodha

Verse: From the Rajas aspect of the 5 subtle-elements, comes 5 organs of action…

eteṣāṃ pañcatattvānāṃ madhye ākāśasya rājasāṃśāt, vāgindriyaṃ saṃbhūtam
Among these five elements, from the rajas aspect of space, the organ of speech is formed.
vāyoḥ rājasāṃśāt paṇīndriyaṃ saṃbhūtam
From the rajas aspect of air the (organ of action called) hand is born.
vahneḥ rājasāṃśāt padendriyaṃ saṃbhūtam
From the rajas aspect of fire the (organ of movement called) leg is born.
jalasya rājasāṃśāt upasthendriyaṃ saṃbhūtam
From the rajas aspect of water, the organ of evacuation is born.
pṛthivyā rājasāṃśāt gudendriyaṃ saṃbhūtam
From the rajas aspect of earth, the organ of procreation is born.

  • Rajasic aspect of:
    1. SPACE
      • Produces organ of action: Speech. To do: Communication.
      • CONNECTION: If Sattvic aspect accounts for knowing sounds (Space element), the Rajas aspect accounts for projecting outwards (communicating) by sound/speech.
    2. AIR
      • Produces organ of action: Hand. To do: Grasping.
      • CONNECTION: Just as Air is constantly moving and changing landscapes, so are hands.
    3. FIRE
      • Produces organ of action: Leg. To do: Locomotion.
      • CONNECTION: Fire symbolic for metabolic process > transforms food to energy > allows locomotion.
    4. WATER
      • Produces organ of action: Anus. To do: Evacuation.
      • CONNECTION: Water digests food, facilitates elimination.
    5. EARTH
      • Produces organ of action: Genitals.  To do: Procreation.
      • CONNECTION: Earth is from where life grows and returns to.
  • SUMMARY: From individual rajas-aspect of each element, comes individual organ of Action.

Verse: Creation of Physiological functions (prāṇa)…

eteṣāṃ samaṣṭi-rājasāṃśāt pañcaprāṇāḥ saṃbhūtāḥ
From the total rajas aspect of these (five subtle elements) are born the five prāṇās (physiological functions).

  • From rajas-aspects of all 5 subtle-elements, enables physiological function, called prāṇa (apāna, prāṇa, samāna, udāna, vyāna). Which is why prana is able to empower all 5 organs of action.
  • For example, having optimal energy (prana), it translates to speaking with articulation, pronouncing each syllable distinctly. It allows delicate movement of artist's paintbrush. Opposite is disjointed prana on alcohol. Speech becomes muffled, locomotion disoriented, and hand movements shaky.

Intro to Grossification of 5 elements…

  • Before moving onto next verse, let's revise what happened so far…
  • Brahman is the final reality. It enjoys capacity to manifest a universe. Capacity is called maya. First thing maya manifests is  5 elements, starting with space > air > fire > water > earth.
  • So far the sattvic/rajasic aspects of 5 elements has created:
    • Sattva of 5 Elements:
      • 5 organs of perception
      • 4 functions comprising the Inner-instrument (antahkarana, or Subtle-Body)
    • Rajas of 5 Elements:
      • 5 organs of action
      • 5 pranas.
  • Now the 5 elements, which are still in subtle-form (thus usually called 5 subtle-elements, or tanmantras) – need to grossify or densify to become 5 gross-elements. Moment they're grossified — physical time, space, sentient bodies and insentient objects come as we know it.  Let's see how this happens in next verse…

Verse: Grossification of 5 elements…

eteṣāṃ pañcatattvānāṃ tāmasāṃśāt pañcīkṛta-pañcatattvāni bhavanti
From the tamas aspect of these 5 subtle elements, the five grossified elements are formed.
pañcīkaraṇaṃ katham iti cet, eteṣāṃ pañcamahābhūtānāṃ
tāmasāṃśa-svarūpam ekam-ekaṃ bhūtaṃ dvidhā vibhajya
ekam-ekam-ardhaṃ pṛthak tūṣṇīṃ vyavasthāpya
aparam-aparam-ardhaṃ caturdhā vibhajya
svārdham-anyeṣu ardheṣu
svabhāga-catuṣṭaya-saṃyojanam kāryam, tadā pañcīkaraṇaṃ bhavati
If it is asked how pañcīkaraṇa takes place, it is as follows: The tamasa aspect of each of the five elements divides into two equal parts. One half of each remains intact. The other half of each gets divided into four equal parts. To the intact half of one element, one-eighth portion (12.5%) from each of the other elements gets joined. Pañcīkaraṇa (grossification) is complete.

  • Comparison:
    1. 5 Subtle-Elements: Each element had 100% of it’s own tama-guna.
    2. 5 Gross-Elements: Each element preserves 50% of it’s tama-guna. The other 50% is filled up by 12.5% of tama guna from other 4 elements.
      • EG: For “Fire” element to grossify (meaning for it to become physical heat or fire we can perceive) — it preserves 50% of it's tama-guna, and the other 50% is filled up by 12.% of space's tama guna, 12.5% of air's tama guna, 12.5% of water's tama guna and 12.5% of earth's tama guna. This process in Sanskrit is called “pancikarana“, which means “making of the 5 gross”.
  • When complete, physical time-space and bodies come. So grossified Space has become impure, due to having 12.5% of other 4 elements. Thus all 5 interact. EG: From Earth, a seed grow in Space — needs sunlight (Fire), water (Water), air (Air).

Verse: Tama aspect 5-gross elements produce our Gross body, to begin experiencing the world…

etebhyaḥ pañcīkṛta-pañcamahābhūtebhyaḥ sthūla-śarīraṃ bhavati
From these five elements which have undergone grossification (pañcīkaraṇam), the gross body is formed.

  • Each Physical body comes from grossified 5-elements, to begin experiencing the world. Thus no race/skin-color/body-type is superior. Superiority from ignorance.
  • What is point of explaining creation? To show intelligent order in creation. And all Effects are modifications of 5 elements. All resolves into Brahman.
  • NEXT VERSE: Now that jiva (sentient being) and universe has come, jiva assumes difference between the two…

Verse: Identity of Individual and Cosmos

evaṃ piṇḍabrahmāṇḍayor-aikyaṃ saṃbhūtaṃ
In this manner, identity between microcosm (individual) and the macrocosm (cosmos) is born.

  • Whether you look at anything in this universe, whether it's your thought, emotion, a sentient being, your body — or insentient rock, water, fire — it's nothing but 5 elements. Due to ignorance of the individual, differences are taken to be real, therefore the start of endless complexes (“I'm small, I'll never be like him/her, I'm not good enough, etc“).
  • Idea to contemplate: Anything perceived = 5 elements = Ishvara whose truth is Consciousness.
  • Difference between Sentient and Insentient:
    1. Sentient (anything that responds to it's environment):
      • It has all 3 gunas of the 5 elements. It's subtle-body has Sattva and Rajas portion. And it's gross body has the tamas portion. For example your thoughts are made from Sattva portion of 5 elements. While your physical body is made from tamas portion of 5 elements. 
      • Self-aware due to subtle-body. So it enjoys sat (Existence) and cit (Consciousness).
    2. Insentient:
      • It only has the tamas portion of the 5 elements. Since rock doesn't have Subtle-body, it doesn't have sattva & rajas portion of 5 elements.
      • Isn't self-aware as doesn't have a subtle-body. Only enjoys sat.

Verse: Jiva & Ishvara are Both Upadhis of Maya

sthūlaśarīrābhimāni jīvanāmakaṃ brahma-pratibimbaṃ bhavati, sa eva jīvaḥ prakṛtyā svasmāt īśvaraṃ bhinnatvena jānāti
The one who is identified with the gross physical body is called a jīva, is (but) the reflection (pratibimba) of Brahman. That very jīva, by nature (without enquiry), knows (thinks) Īśvara as different from himself.
avidyopādhiḥ san ātmā jīva ityucyate, māyopādhiḥ san īśvara ityucyate
The Self (ātmā), conditioned by ignorance (avidyā / individual Causal Body) is called the jīva. When conditioned by māyā (including hiranyagarbha & virāt) is called Īśvara (the Lord).
evam upādhi-bhedāt jīveśvara-bheda-dṛṣṭiḥ yāvat paryantaṃ tiṣṭhati tāvat paryantaṃ janma-maraṇādirūpa-saṃsāro na nivartate
Their difference is due to the conditionings (limiting adjuncts). So long as the notion (conclusion) that the individual and the Lord are essentially different remains, till then there is no redemption from the saṃsāra which is in the form of repeated birth, death and so on.
tasmāt-kāraṇāt na jīveśvarayor-bheda-buddhiḥ svīkāryā
Therefore, for that reason, the conclusion of difference between the individual and the Lord is not to be accepted.

  • INTRO:
    • Order: Brahman > intervening factor (maya) > 5-elements > time-space, insentient objects, sentient beings.
    • Intervening factor (maya), which has no reality apart from Consciousness, not only has capacity to project (intelligently putting together universe of laws-orders, cause-effects, connecting all things), but also to veil. That's why all are born ignorant.
    • Because of veiling, sthula-sharira-abhimani jivanamakam brahma pratibimba bhavati: All pervading Consciousness is, as though, confined to or partaken by one body. Thus a conscious being arises (jiva).
      • Now all pervading Consciousness, from standpoint of the body says, “This is me, a conscious being, over here, distinct from others and the Cause of the universe who rules me”.
      • Therefore, jiva is a name, when all-pervading Consciousness identifies with the 3 bodies, because of maya's veiling power.
      • Analogy: A cup was always produced in all-pervading space. From standpoint of cup, the space seems to be confined, assuming it's confinement is natural.
      • Similarly, maya has always been projecting your 3 bodies, but also veiled knowledge of who you are. Therefore everyone's experience becomes, “I know that I am”, which is the most effortless knowing to anyone. But amongst this self-evident knowing, one also says, “I am XYZ”. The XYZ refers to maya's projection and taking it to be intrinsic to “I”. Thus “I know that I am” is because of Consciousness, and is evident to everyone in every corner of Earth, since Consciousness is all-pervading and obtains in 3 periods of time. While XYZ is always changing and time-bound.
    • Therefore, avidya-upadhi san ātmā jīva iti ucyate: Due to avidya-upadhi (non-recognition of truth / 3 bodies) — Consciousness appears as jiva.
    • Māyā upadhi san īśvara iti ucyate: All-knowledge-capacity that intelligently puts together particles to perform a given function so all forms and jivas work within a certain order and enjoy symbiosis — is also an upadhi (superimposition) to Brahman.
      • In other words, Brahman with maya-upadhi actively creating/sustaining/changing the universe – is called Ishvara. So when you say the word “Ishvara“, you are including both Brahman and maya's projecting and veiling power that is projecting this universe right now, consisting of your 3 bodies, other jivas, time, space, insentient objects, laws and orders, both the manifest and unmanifest (or what is yet to come), the seen and the unseen, all worlds, and the invisible intelligence connecting causes-effect relationships between forms in the past, present and future.
    • So Consciousness, I, appears as jiva, through avidya-upadhi, and as Ishvara through maya-upadhi. Both are upadhis. This makes you believe there is a big-God and small-me. Two upadhis, as though, lend their attributes to Consciousness (upahita), thus it's not recognized and if it is, it's taken as the ever modifying upadhi.
      • Analogy: Wave comes from Ocean. Ocean from H2O. Both are upadhis to H2O, while H2O remains free of both Ocean/wave, as can find it in snow/iceberg/frost.
    • Imagine constant colors (upadhi) flowing behind a crystal (upahita). A non-discerning person concludes crystal is constantly changing, equivalent to I (Consciousness) constantly going through: I am happy, sad, big, small, etc. A discerning person concludes, if crystal is intrinsically red, it’ll never give up red. But since color changes, then color doesn’t belong to it.
    • Similarly, you can’t ever isolate pure/attributeless consciousness, because in manifest world, maya-upadhi is always true. Can’t ever find consciousness without objects, that’s how the setup is.
    • You can only cognitively understand, since consciousness is reality of all things, and nothing sticks onto it (else stuck would always be true) — then I am free of avidya-upadhi, maya-upadhi, and punya/papa.
    • Thus don’t get fooled that consciousness is another experience (upadhi). Rather Vedanta uses your experience to indicate there is an invariable presence throughout them.
    1. Out of Self (Consciousness), maya manifests a small entity, who is limited in knowledge and power. That entity is called Jiva. Out of Self (Consciousness), maya manifests the total, who is all knowledge, and all power. And includes jivas, laws, orders, cause-effect relationships, everything. The total is called Ishvara. Both are maya's projections (upadhis).  One is the total upadhi. The other is a small upadhi within the total upadhi. Both are one and the same Consciousness.
    2. In Me (Consciousness), there is a creative power called māyā. When My maya is activated, it projects infinite names-forms of time-space, sentient beings and insentient forms. I pervade them all right now, as the whole thing has no existence apart from Me. I also pervade your mind this very moment. I am known to you as self-evident I. I also pervade mind of a person who takes Me for granted, putting all his or her attention on forms, thereby missing Me; the very Awareness lighting up his every thought. From the standpoint of the ignorant, I seem to be confined to the mind and the physical body. In truth, I'm never confined, just as H2O is never confined to either the Ocean (Ishvara), nor the wave (jiva). In fact the Ocean and wave are just names-forms for H2O obtaining as the total, and miniscule. I seem confined – thereby small, limited and different – as long as I am obtaining in a mind that's yet to understanding that I am free of the body-mind confinement, projected by my own Maya
    3. Reflected Consciousness Model / Reflection Teaching:
      • DISCLAIMER: Andre will generally avoid below example, as originally used by Adi Shankara — as it's been shown to produce more confusion then resolution for most recipients. There's a tendency to imagine two Awarenesses. A Reflected Awareness, and Original Awareness — even though it's not the intention of the example. Basis of Reflection Teaching is that both the jiva and Ishvara are a reflecting medium. Only difference is the size. While the reflection is One. For example, a drop of water is a small reflecting medium. While entire Ocean is a big reflecting medium. However both are equally illumined by the same Sunlight. Thus the drop of water experiences itself as a small “I am”, while the Ocean experiences itself as a vast “I am”. Both the drop of water and Ocean are borrowing their “I am” from the Sun. Let's see the method below…
        1. JIVA: Imagine a Sun (consciousness), bucket (gross-body), water (subtle-body), and reflection of sun in water of the bucket. The reflection is conditioned by size of bucket and state of water. So the reflected Sun seems limited from standpoint of the bucket. In other words, the original-light mixed with the bucket, as though, becomes the individual (Jīva). So when Jīva says “I”, it’s referring to stuff of the bucket. EG: When water is agitated in bucket, who is agitated? I am (jīva). But who am “I” in Truth? The light (consciousness) because of which there is knowledge of agitation.
        2. ISHVARA: Imagine the same Sun shining on the entire Ocean (equated to Ishvara). The only difference is the reflecting-medium (upādhi) is bigger. But both bucket-of-water and Ocean are dependent on Sun for their illumination. In other words, jiva's “I am”, is the exact same as Ishvara's “I am”.
    • Tasmāt kāraṇāt na jīva-īśvarayoḥ bheda buddhiḥ svīkaryā: Therefore difference between jiva & Ishvara is not to be accepted. “Don’t accept” is not an advice.
    • To example why it's not an advice: If you want to reach some place, you’ll get to the same destination whether come by car, bus, helicopter, or walk. But can’t apply this “choice system” when matter is about knowing something. EG: Can't say,I accept  jiva is small, and Ishvara is big. And you can accept jiva/Ishvara enjoy same reality”. Became fact is a fact. It’s not open to choice like getting to some destination. This is explain by scriptures by bringing out two technical words…
      • Purusha-tantra (person oriented): Any action is purusha-tantra; dependent on person’s will. Person can decide what to do, not do, and how to do it differently.
      • Vastu-tantra (object oriented): When it comes to knowledge, it’s vastu-tantra; It’s not dependent on how I want things to be, but on a FACT. If consciousness is truth of individual and total, then I have no choice but to see it that way. Difference is only apparent, just like with wave & ocean.
    • Therefore, long as you’re fooled by HOW consciousness appears (IE: jiva/Ishvara upadhi) — rather then recognizing it's the Reality of both — one continues to engage in world because can’t stand one's sense of smallness. Consequently, actions are performed to gain mini fulfillments. Each action produces results. Results are 2 fold: immediate/unseen. Unseen results produce a body.
  • NEXT VERSE: Student throws objection, “How can you equate a limited jiva to limitless Ishvara. It's blasphemy!”.


  1. Where do 5 organs of perception come from?
  2. Where does Inner-instrument (mind, intellect, memory, ego) come from? 
  3. Where does 5 organs of action come from?  
  4. Where does 5 Pranas come from?
  5. Where does Gross Body come from? 
  6. Where does (individual) Causal-Body come from?
  7. Brahman supporting Māyā is called?  
  8. Complete the sentence: Both j____ and I____ are projections of m____. 


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

Recorded 10 Dec, 2023

Leave a Reply

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