Sunday, March 05, 2006

Jeeva, Kutastha, Ishwara and Brahman

1. Defnition of Jeeva, Kutastha, Ishwara and Brahman

While trying to analyze on the meaning of Mahavakyas, there are many technical details to be known (as per Mimamsa shastra and nyaaya shastra as well as Vedanta) so that the meaning is apprehended in the right way.

There are four terms which needs to be known before entering into this in-depth analysis of Mahavakyas (analysis as per the words or padaas used in the vakya).


We will start from the ultimate reality of Brahman – Brahman is that which is one without a second, it is SAT CHIT ANANDA in nature. Nothing more needs to be said about Brahman because it is beyond all words and thoughts.

When this Brahman seems to be having the power of Maya, the cosmic power which is responsible for creation, Brahman is called Ishwara. Thus we can easily say that Brahman in its natural state is Nirguna or Nirvishesha but when Brahman is endowed with the power of Maya, it is Saguna and Savishesha and is termed as Ishwara. Ishwara is taken from the root eet which means “creator” or “controller”.

We have to remember what Satya Darshanam answers for the objection that “IS Maya real or unreal” --- the answer being that Maya itself is only an illusion and Brahman is never endowed with Maya as Maya itself is only an illusory power (thus non-existent from the ultimate perspective).

Ishwara thus created various beings in the world (the non-sentient bodies and minds) and thereby entered into them as Consciousness. This Consciousness which is present in all beings is termed as Kutastha as it is unchanging and eternal. This Kutastha which is the same in all the bodies and minds seems to get identified with a particular body and mind is called Jeeva or limited Self. This identification is because of reflection of Kutastha on the intellect which is termed as Jeeva. Jeeva is non-eternal and limited because it is reflected in the limited intellect & as it is associated with the limited body and mind.

AS we have now seen all the four entities, we will try to understand this clearly with the help of examples (which can be found in Panchadashi as Vidyaranya deals this in detail).

Brahman or Nirguna Brahman is Mahaakasha (Maha is mentioned to show that it is unlimited and never in bondage) – unlimited space.
Ishwara is reflection of unlimited space in the various clouds that are seen (there are difference among people about the definition of Ishwara which we will deal in the other thread). We can just remember that Ishwara has two qualities of Sarvajnatva and Sarvavyaapitva – he is omniscient or all-knowing and all-pervading.

Kutastha is space limited by a pot – the space inside a pot. The space inside a pot is called Ghataakasha which is not at all different from Mahaakasha but seems to be different because of the limitation of “pot”. Thus Kutastha is Consciousness or Brahman alone but seems to be different from Brahman because of the body-mind complex. But Kutastha is never affected by body-mind because it is the witness to the activities of body and mind. Thus there are no “many” kutasthaas or Consciousnesses but only one Kutastha which seems to be limited by various bodies and minds which by themselves are only illusions in the ultimate reality of Brahman.

Jeeva is reflection of kutastha in the water in the pot – reflection of ghata akasha in the water in the pot is Jeeva. Thus Jeeva is non-eternal and limited only because the reflection has validity only in the water and until water is there.

The moment the AHAM or “I” realizes that I am not the jeeva but the witness Kutastha, he realizes the ultimate reality that there is neither reflection nor the reflecting medium, neither the Kutastha nor the Brahman, neither the pot-space nor unlimited space – but only ONE Consciousness exists, one without a second.

Now it might be doubted that Sankara said “Jeeva brahmaiva na parah” – Jeeva is Brahman alone and not different from it – this fails here as reflection is unreal whereas Brahman is real only.

This objection/doubt is not valid because any reflection is nothing but the original alone – the reflection seems to exist only until the medium exists – thus any reflection is not different from the original. Thereby there is no fault in Sankara’s definition also as he means that when the jeeva realizes that he is the original and not the reflection, he becomes the Kutastha and realizes his oneness with the ultimate reality of Brahman.

The above definitions are as per Vidyaranya in Panchadashi – other authors in Advaita differ in the definition or concept of Ishwara.


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