Ashtavakra Samhita, Chapter 2, Verse 6
thena vyaapthaiva sharkaraa
tathaa vishvam mayi kluptham mayaa vyaaptham nirantharam
Just as the sugar which is produced by the sugarcane juice is wholly permeated by that juice so is the whole universe which is created in me is permeated by me uninterruptedly.
This and the previous two verses do not make sense if you look at the world with duality. For the mind, waves appear to be different from the water that produces them, and the cloth different from the thread, and the sugar from the sugarcane juice. It makes sense only when you consider Brahman the cause and look at the underlying unity of his creation instead of its diversity. Creation is not separate from Brahman, neither are you. This is the message. We all exist in him and contain his essence. In truth, we are part of the sum that is Brahman.
The three examples presented in this chapter explain the nature of Brahman and his relationship with creation in different ways. In the first analogy of ocean and waves, creation is presented as a formation or appearance arising from the Self. In the second analogy of cloth and thread we are introduced to the ideas of Brahman as the material cause and the source of unity and materiality of all things that exist.
In this third analogy, we are introduced to his all-pervasive nature. The Self is present both within and without creation. He not only pervades it but also envelops it. This popular description of Brahman is found in the Vedas also. If you set aside the duality, the idea that you are inside Brahman should be a comfortable feeling. You are never separate from God. You are an integral part of him. What separates you from him are your ignorance, delusion and the duality that you are different from him.
In this verse the Self is compared to the sugarcane juice. The sugar is compared to the creation that appears in the Self. Just as the sugar is wholly pervaded by juice, the Self pervades creation. This analogy is slightly confusing because sugarcane juice visible while the sugar is subtle and invisible. In contrast, the Self is invisible, while creation that manifests in him is perceptible.
The analogy is different because it is used to explain the pervading nature of Brahman rather than his subtle nature. We find its opposite in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Uddalaka Aruni used the example of saltwater In a conversation with his son, Svetaketu, to explain the subtle nature of Brahman. He compared salt to Brahman and the water to creation or existence.
The all-pervasive nature of Brahman is well described in many scriptures of Hinduism. Brahman is the subtlest of the subtle, and present in all. The Upanishads declare that he is in all, and all are in him. Brahman, the lord of the universe, not only creates and upholds his creation but also permeates it. He is the source of its existence, materiality, bliss, and its essence. The first two can be understood with intelligence or discretion (buddhi), but the other two can be realized only through direct experience in the state of self-absorption (samadhi) because they are subtle and cannot be perceived.
The Self is subtle, invisible, and beyond the senses, but it is both the source and the support. It pervades as well as envelops. All that exists here is his abode. Hence, we have no right to claim ownership nor doership. Offering our actions to Brahman, says the Isa Upanishad, we are expected to live upon earth. Then our actions will not harm us or create karma. In some verses, the analogy of clay is also used to suggest that Brahman is the source of all materiality and he is both the efficient cause and the material cause.
Suggestions for Further Reading
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- Atheism and Materialism in Ancient India
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- Creation in Hinduism As a Transformative Evolutionary Process
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- Lessons from the Dance of Kali, the Mother Nature
- Letting your God live in You - The True Essence of the Hindu Way of Life
- prajnanam brahma - Brahman is Intelligence
- Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs From The Perspective Of Hinduism
- The Definition and Concept of Maya in Hinduism
- The Meaning of Nirvana
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- Why Hinduism is a Preferred Choice for Educated Hindus
- Essays On Dharma
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- Hindu Rites and Rituals
- The Origin of The Sanskrit Language
- Symbolism in Hinduism
- Essays on The Upanishads
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