I am other than name, form and action.
My nature is ever free!
I am Self, the supreme unconditioned Brahman.
I am pure Awareness, always non-dual.
— Adi Shankara, Upadesasahasri 11.7
Why does the supreme unconditioned Brahman appear as multiplicity? What is the point of existence? Why did the Universe come into being?
I am obviously thinking within my dualistic mind, but I don't understand why the One became Many. Is there a purpose to the One becoming the Universe? Are we all a dream in the mind of God, and finding our way back to realizing that we are God? I just don't understand why the One became Many, or at least appears to be Many to the individual person through Maya. Why does Maya exist within Brahman?
There is only one answer in the Hindu scripture to the above question. The answer is that Brahman as Viraj was lonely. Philosophers do not like this answer since Brahman is by definition full and thus cannot have any want.
Who is Viraj?
In the beginning, this [universe] was the self (Viraj) alone, in the
shape of a person. He reflected and saw nothing else but His self. He
first said: "I am He." Therefore He came to be known by the name I
(Aham). Hence, even now, when a person is addressed, he first says:
"It is I," and then says whatever other name he may have. And because
He, before (purva) the whole group [of aspirants], burnt (aushat) all
evils, therefore He is called Purusha. He who knows this verily burns
up him who wishes to be [Viraj] in advance of him.
Brhadaranyaka Upanishad I.IV.1
Viraj: The first embodied being, born of the Cosmic egg. He is endowed
with a human form. It is important to remember that Sankaracharya uses
the word Prajapati to denote both Hiranyagarbha and Viraj. The
applies to Brahman when identified, through maya, with the totality of
subtle bodies, and the latter, to Brahman when identified through
maya, with the totality of gross bodies.
Commentary of Brhadaranyaka Upanishad I.IV.1 by Swami Nikhilananda
He was afraid. Therefore one who is alone is afraid. This one who is
alone then thought to himself, 'since there is nothing else than
myself, of what am I afraid?' Thereupon his fear, verily, passed away,
for, of what should he have been afraid? Assuredly it is from a second
that fear arises.
Brhad-aranyaka Upanishad I.4.2
He, verily, had no delight. Therefore he who is alone has no delight.
He desired a second. He became as large as a woman and a man in close
Brhad-aranyaka Upanishad I.4.3
Hiranya-garbha or Prajapati divided himself into two. Both are his
elements. The two are not separate and the theory is not one of final
dualism. ................ The original being, atman or self looks
around and sees nothing else but himself. When he realizes his
loneliness, he has two feelings, one of fear and the other of desire
for companionship. His fear is dispelled when he realizes that there
is nothing else of which he has to be afraid. His desire for
companionship is satisfied by his dividing himself into parts which
are then called husband and wife.
The appearance of diverse objects in the universe arises in the infinite consciousness when it becomes aware of itself—coincidentally (like a ripe cocoanut falling when a crow alights on it). Whenever and wherever this consciousness contemplates itself in whatever manner, then and there it appears so, without any cause.
The Yoga-Vasistha repeats the above position of accidental creation at many places -
This creation does not arise as a ‘memory’ in the infinite consciousness. It arises in the consciousness without any reason or cause whatsoever (it is a coincidence like the ripe cocoanut falling when a crow alights on it);
Originally, Brahman alone existed as Brahman. In it innumerable substances appeared like ripples on the surface of the ocean. This is known as nature. It is not causally related to Brahman, but it happened like a cocoanut accidentally falling when a crow happened to alight on it. In that nature are found diverse creatures endowed with diverse characteristics.
The notion ‘I’ arises in Brahman accidentally (like the crow alighting on the cocoanut tree and the cocoanut falling down without causal relationship).
this entire creation of world-appearance is but an accidental manifestation of the intention of the omnipotent conscious-energy (cit-sakti) of the infinite consciousness or Brahman.
The cosmic order arises and exists in the supreme being or the infinite consciousness by sheer coincidence (as the ripe cocoanut falls when a crow coincidentally alights on it).
In this world which appears to have been created, even as the fruit of cocoanut-palm might appear to have been dislodged by a crow which coincidentally happens to alight on the tree at that moment, sheer ignorance generates feelings like ‘this I should have’ and ‘this I should reject’.
Further, stories of creation are all treated as ultimately false by the Yoga-Vasistha -
Theories concerning creation or the transformation of the self or consciousness into matter are expressions used by teachers while instructing students; there is not an iota of truth in all this.
As per the Yoga Vasistha, Creation is thus an accident, occuring randomly without any cause.
Chapter 4: Pralaya: The Four Types of Annihilation
(1) S'rî S'uka said: 'Time beginning with the smallest unit of the
atom and culminating in the two halves [or parârdhas of the life of
Brahmâ], oh King, has been described [in 3.11] together with the
duration of the yugas. Now hear about the annihilation of a kalpa. (2)
A thousand cycles of four yugas is called a kalpa, a day of Brahmâ, in
which there are fourteen original progenitors of mankind [Manus] oh
ruler of the citizens. (3) At their end there is a period of
dissolution of the same duration that is described as the night of
Brahmâ. During that time the three worlds are subject to destruction.
(4) This is said to be the occasional annihilation [or naimittika
pralaya] in which [Nârâyana] the creator of the universe lies down
upon His bed Ananta, to absorb the universe including Lord Brahmâ. (5)
After the completion of two parârdhas [the two halves of the entire
life] of the highest situated living being, Lord Brahmâ, the seven
elements [mahat, ahankâra and the five tanmâtras] are subject to
destruction. (6) This [occasion] oh King, at which the universal egg,
this aggregate [of these seven universal aspects] reaches the time of
its disruption and dissolves oh King, constitutes the elemental
(23) It is spiritual knowledge [the consciousness, the Absolute Truth
alone] that is the foundation which manifests in the form of these
elements of intelligence, the senses and the sense objects. Whatever
that is perceived as having a beginning and an end is insubstantial,
for it has no existence apart from its cause [only being a reference
to it, compare 11.28: 21]. (24) A lamp, an eye that perceives and the
form perceived do not stand apart from the light [that is treated by
them]. The same way intelligence, the senses and sense perceptions do
not stand apart from the [one Supreme] reality [the Absolute Truth]
that is quite different [see also siddhânta and B.G. 9.15]. (25) The
wakefulness, sleep and deep sleep that belong to the intelligence are
therefore called a deception of the senses [relative to the fourth
state of meditation called turîya]. This oh King is the duality
experienced by the soul [11.13: 27-34]. (26) Just as clouds are there
and are not there in the sky, this entire universe with its different
parts being generated and having vanished is there and not there
within the Absolute of the Truth. (27) The ingredient cause my best,
of any composite entity out here, is something real [that can be
perceived] so is stated [in the Vedânta-sûtra], just as the threads of
a piece of cloth can be perceived separately from the fabric they form
[see also 6.3: 12, 11.12: 21]. (28) Whatever one may experience as
having a general cause and a specific effect constitutes a form of
illusion; everything with a beginning and an end is insubstantial
because of the interdependence [of cause and effect]. (29) Even though
knowable to us the changeable nature of [the phenomenal world or] even
a single atom, can in no way be explained without [ - as standing
apart from -] the Self inside [of the Time, the Lord, the expansion of
the universe, the 'fourth dimension'], for if that would be so [if
there would not be such a Self] it should, being equal to the
consciousness, stay the way it is. (30) One cannot have different
types of Absolute Truth; if an unknowing person thinks of the Absolute
in terms of opposites, that is just like having two skies, two
daylights or two life breaths. (31) Just as gold appears to men in
many forms depending its use, the Supreme Lord Adhokshaja who is
inconceivable to the senses, is described in different terms by a
worldly person and a person of Vedic knowledge. (32) A cloud brought
about by the sun is made visible by the sun but means darkness to the
eyes that are a partial expansion of the sun. Similarly the ego, one's
I-awareness, is a quality of the Absolute made visible by the
Absolute, but as a partial expansion of the Absolute that ego means
darkness [falsehood] to the individual soul being bound to the
material self. (33) When a cloud produced by the sun is riven, the eye
sees the sun's form. When the same way the false ego that covers the
spirit soul is destroyed by spiritual [self-]inquiry, remembrance [of
the Original Self] will be the result. (34) When one thus with this
sword of discrimination has cut away the false ego originating from
illusion that binds the soul and one has developed a firm realization
of the Infallible Supreme Soul, one speaks of the entire annihilation
[of one's materially determined existence, âtyantika pralaya], dear
(35) Oh subduer of the enemies, some expert knowers of the subtle
all-pervading spirit, assert that the creation and destruction of all
living beings beginning with Brahmâ, is an everlasting [nitya]
process. (36) The [more or less favorable living] conditions of all
living beings subject to transformation, are rapidly and continuously
wiped out by the mighty force of the current of Time and constitute
the causes of their birth and death. (37) These states of existence
created by the Time, the form of the Lord without a beginning or an
end, one does not see [directly], just as the [movements of the]
planets in the sky are not seen [directly, see also 3.10: 10-14]. (38)
Annihilation in the sense of a continuous [nitya], periodical
[naimittika], natural [elemental or prâkritika] and complete
[âtyantika] destruction has been described. This is how Time [kâla]
All the souls who want to escape the Maya forever(Kaivalya), should pray/connect with Destroyer Adiyogi Shiva, while those who want to enjoy it (like Gopis or Devas) should pray/connect with Sustainer MahaVishnu(lord of Cosmic ocean), while rest like atheists and animals are connected to the creator Brahma naturally.
Do you have any other suggestions ? If you are the only one and there is no other- and I mean literally nothing else and you gape yourself in the dark, what the heck would you do? Try splitting yourself, try hurting yourself, try to create some thing just like you, see what your alter-ego does but finally realize that it’s your own body part that’s also you! What a bummer! Its the the lowest low ever don’t you think? This is not new many other first ones have felt that or Brahman passed on his feelings to them. Refer to Brihadaranyaka upanishad initial chapters “Death or Hiranyagarbha goes about wandering in the dark worshipping himself , creating stuff and eating himself when for distinction a baby appeared and he tried to eat it and that cried “Baan” . He stopped and let it grow and produce things that he then devoured”.
1.2.1 There was nothing whatsoever here in the beginning. It was covered only by Death (Hiranyagarbha), or Hunger, for hunger is death.
He created the mind, thinking, 'Let me have a mind.' He moved about
worshipping (himself). As he was worshipping, water was produced.
(Since he thought), 'As I was worshipping, water sprang up,' therefore
Arka (fire) is so called. Water (or happiness) surely comes to one who
knows how Arka (fire) came to have this name of Arka.
1.2.4 He desired, 'Let me have a second form (body)'. He, Death or Hunger, brought about the union of speech (the Vedas) with the mind.
What was the seed there became the Year (Viraj). Before him there had
been no year. He (Death) reared him for as long as a year, and after
this period projected him. When he was born, (Death) opened his mouth
(to swallow him). He (the babe) cried 'Bhan!' That became speech.
1.2.5 He thought, 'If I kill him, I shall be making very little food.' Through that speech and that mind he projected all this,
whatever there is the Vedas Re, Yajus and Saman, the metres, the
sacrifices, men and animals. Whatever he projected, he resolved to
eat. Because he eats everything, therefore Aditi (Death) is so called.
He who knows how Aditi came to have This name of Aditi, becomes the
eater of all this, and everything becomes his food.
1.2.7 He desired, 'Let this body of mine be fit for a sacrifice, and let me be embodied through this,' (and entered it). Because that body
swelled (AsVat), therefore it came to be called Asva (horse). And
because it became fit for a sacrifice, therefore the horse sacrifice
came to be known as AsVamedha. He who knows it thus indeed knows the
horse sacrifice. (Imagining himself as the horse and) letting it
remain free, he reflected (on it). After a year he sacrificed it to
himself, and dispatched the (other) animals to the gods. Therefore
(priests to this day) sacrifice to Prajapati the sanctified (horse)
that is dedicated to all the gods. He who shines yonder is the horse
sacrifice; his body is the year. This fire is Arka; its limbs are
these worlds. So these two (fire and the sun) are Arka and the horse
sacrifice. These two again become the same god, Death. He (who knows
thus) conquers further death, death cannot overtake him, it becomes
his self, and he becomes one with these deities.*
That is the primal instinct that is on all sentience. To eat. Sacrifice thus becomes a primordial need What and how varies. Obviously, then Maya becomes a game. Sort of like what your body part does to fool another. You watch the game enjoying the many vagaries . Oh yes, many of your body parts Are sentient conscious entities. You watch their games, get bored and the drama stage changes,. Everything becomes righteous. Everything becomes unrighteous. You question who you are and word and sound emerges, space emerges. Abracadabra poof it vanishes when you realize that they are a part of you. You churn the darkness spin your own awareness and lo and behold light filled consciousness emerges. Wow. Let that spin too..the dance goes on
And Nasadiya Sukta emerges from some entities thought, sound and language in the future. Any more ideas on how to entertain oneself?
Interestingly, for sharing you keep a bunch of sentient entities around you while the rest of them goes about in birth death processes. And so much complexities and games emerge to attain those seats. So much hatred and love. The literature on supposed immortality. To attain the divine feet. The bliss enjoyers. The ignorant. No one is more depressed than an immortal. But then you need an ‘achutha’ that does not fall from such grace heights to keep the show going. Newer the games the better. The question then becomes what improvements that we make to our current vivarium to pass it on to more ignorant sentient entities so that we all Move on to better Vivariums...? See the real show ? Yes Truth hurts and sometimes fantasies are far better.
A set of 18 sages in south India called ‘siddhars’ have cryptic songs and poems that talk about Brahman. One of them is called Kudhambai Siddhar.
He wrote a touching description of Brahman that you see
In Tamil the verses read
He tells himself this
“In Space you will see an outcast that is not bound to anything but still you will love seeing that again and again”. He is referring to the visions in Kundalini post Ajna Chakra. The outcast is Brahman. The observer is jivatma which is also Brahman. The outcast knows this fact. The poor jivatma doesn’t and hence the feeling of liking and loving that it feels. Yes, sir it’s a very lonely existence. Universe is keeping that outcast busy - a poor attempt to make it forget who it really is...
This same feeling happens to other higher beings (devas) themselves, as a hand-me-down from Brahman. Here is a well-written summary in Nasadiya Sukta, The Hymn of creation. This is a very popular Hymn..( You have to ask the Vedic Pandits to recite it. Every Vedic pandit learns this. )
Then even non-existence was not there, nor existence,
There was no air then, nor the space beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?
Was there then cosmic fluid, in depths unfathomed?
Then there was neither death nor immortality
nor was there then the torch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.
At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness.
All this was only unillumined cosmic water.
That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing,
arose at last, born of the power of knowledge.
In the beginning desire descended on it -
that was the primal seed, born of the mind.
The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom
know that which is, is kin to that which is not.
And they have stretched their cord across the void,
and know what was above, and what below.
Seminal powers made fertile mighty forces.
Below was strength, and over it was impulse.
But, after all, who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened?
the gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?
Whence all creation had its origin,
the creator, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
the creator, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows — or maybe even he does not know.
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