Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 13 Aug 2019


Worldly and Divine Illusions

Note: This article is meant for intellectuals only

Shri Buchholz asked: Is it true that God wants this world to run peacefully? Every thing happens after God’s almighty will. Therefore, things are exactly as God wants them to be. Mokṣa is just liberation from the world of māyā—not from the will of God! In the Śāṇḍilya Upaniṣad (Chapter 3), it is said that Maheśvara, who is black and yellow, reigns with avidyā, mūla prakṛti or Māyā, who is red and black and who coexists with Him. So, Mahāmāyā is a higher form of Pārvatī! It solves māyā up.

Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! The unimaginable God (Parabrahman) becomes the first energetic Incarnation, called Īśvara through mediation, which means, by merging with the first created energetic body. Mahāmāyā is the unimaginable power of the non-mediated Parabrahman. The same unimaginable power or mahāmāyā exists with Īśvara and is called as māyā. Parabrahman and Īśvara are one and the same, after all. Similarly, mahāmāyā and māyā are also one and the same. The difference is only in the possessor of the power in the sense that the non-mediated God, Parabrahman, is unimaginable and invisible, whereas the mediated God, Īśvara, is unimaginable but visible through the medium. Śaṅkara calls this unimaginable power of Parabrahman as mahāmāyā (Mahāmāyā viśvaṃ bhrāmayasi Parabrahmamahiṣī—Saundarya Laharī). He called the original non-mediated unimaginable God as Parabrahman. Parabrahman cannot be expressed through words since He is not even imaginable (Maunavyākhyāprakaṭita Parabrahma tattvam—Dakṣiṇāmūrti Stotram). In the Gita, we find the same unimaginable power of Parabrahman (mahāmāyā) mentioned as māyā. Īśvara or Datta is Parabrahman mediated by the first energetic body. Krishna or any Human Incarnation is the same Īśvara mediated by the material human body for the sake of human beings. The power of Krishna is the power of Datta, which is māya. This māyā of Krishna or Datta is the same mahāmāyā of the Parabrahman. This means Krishna is Datta and Datta is Parabrahman. The energy-medium of Datta is the same matter-medium of Krishna because matter can be considered to be condensed energy. Further, energy is gross, whereas space is subtle energy. Hence, space appears as energy and energy appears as matter. Space is not ‘nothing’ since it appears as something. The unimaginable God appears as space or subtle energy, which is an adhyāsa or superimposition. Who is watching these illusions? Who is seeing the space as soon as it is created? The unimaginable God Himself is the spectator. It is He, who had a desire to create the world for His entertainment. This means that God Himself appeared to Himself as space, gross energy, gross matter and so on! This illusion is called mahāmāyā or māyā.

Māyā and Avidyā

Is this māyā exactly the same as the illusion of a person who sees a rope as a serpent in dim light? Not at all! The reason is that the person does not have the knowledge of the rope, when he sees it as a serpent. The illusion of the person is known as avidyā whereas the illusion of God is known as māyā (mahāmāyā). In māyā, God has the knowledge of the ultimate truth, which is Himself. When the person sees the rope, the serpent disappears. But in the case of God, this rule is not applicable. God always has the knowledge of Himself and in spite of His self-knowledge, creation continues to appear real to God. You cannot compare God’s situation to that of a person, who looks at a rope in dim light and imagines it to be a serpent. The person does not have the knowledge that it is a rope.

There is a huge difference between God watching creation and the person watching the illusory snake. God sees creation as real—as real as the illusory snake superimposed upon the rope and seen by the ignorant person. So, if you take the point of the reality of the world seen by God, it is also an illusion. But if you come to the point of God’s self-awareness, it is not an illusion because God has no ignorance. It means that God has taken the merit of avidyā (individual ignorance) while avoiding its defect. The merit of avidyā is that, due to it, creation appears to be perfectly real, leading to perfect entertainment. The defect of avidyā is that there is no awareness of the reality i.e., the person is ignorant. In the case of God, He is fully aware of the truth underlying creation. He Himself is the Truth upon which the world is superimposed and God has complete self-awareness. Yet, He willfully sees the illusory world as real. So, there is a lot of difference between the māyā of God and the avidyā of the soul. The only similarity is that a non-existent item appears to be fully existent. The non-existent subtle energy appears to be the existent space (subtle energy) to God. All of creation is space or subtle energy, in essence. When space and creation appear real to God Himself, what to speak of the soul, which is a tiny part of creation? Space is undoubtedly existent for the soul.

Even on this point, there is a vast difference between God and the soul. The essentially non-existent space appears as the existent space only for God. For the soul, space is fully existent; it is not non-existent, in essence. It is only for God that space is non-existent, in essence. For the soul, space is as existent as the soul itself since the soul is a tiny part of space. Thus, the same space is essentially non-existent for God while being essentially existent for the soul. The common point between God and the soul is that space appears to be real to both.

Difference Between God and Soul

If space appears to be real for both God and the soul, why can I not simply say that space is real? No, I cannot! Space is as real as the soul. It is on an equal plane of reality with the soul. Hence, the soul, which exists in space, cannot play with space. But God plays with space. For example, Krishna showed the universe and infinite space in His finite mouth! The soul cannot do this. God Krishna could do it because God is essentially real whereas the soul is essentially unreal. A miracle is possible only when the doer of the miracle is real and the material of the miracle is essentially unreal.

The soul thinks itself to be God and thinks that this world is unreal. If the world were unreal for the soul, the soul could have done a miracle very easily, just as God does (Netaronupapatteḥ—Brahma Sūtra). Since it is impossible for a soul to perform a miracle, it clearly proves that it is equally impossible for a soul to be God. Krishna was also a soul, but the unimaginable God had entered Krishna and merged with him to become a Human Incarnation. The miracle done by Krishna was actually the miracle done by the unimaginable God existing in Krishna in a merged state. Since the merging between them was perfect, we can say that Krishna did the miracle. There is no difference between Krishna and the unimaginable Parabrahman. Hence, we call Krishna as Krishna Parabrahman, which means that Krishna Himself is Parabrahman. We can say, without a trace of hesitation, that the unimaginable and naturally invisible Parabrahman became the visible-imaginable Krishna.

Parabrahman, Datta and the Human Incarnation

The sages who had worshipped the Parabrahman for millions of births, became the Gopikās and worshiped Krishna as Parabrahman. They had realized that the imaginable-visible Krishna was that unimaginable-invisible Parabrahman. When Parabrahman became Datta, the Parabrahman merged with the energetic body of Datta. When Datta became Krishna, Datta (or Parabrahman) merged with the material human body. Treating the merged energetic body as Parabrahman is the first step. The sages spent one million births to realize this truth. Treating the human body of the Human Incarnation as Parabrahman (or Datta) took them another million births. Finally, they discovered Rāma, the Human Incarnation of Datta or Parabrahman. In their next births as the Gopikās, the sages were given the full opportunity to serve Datta or Parabrahman in the form of Krishna. They did not have the same opportunity to serve Rāma in their previous births, since Rāma had to act as an ideal human being. The reason, why the sages took so many births to reach this conclusion is that in the first step, it is very very difficult to believe that Parabrahman (unimaginable God) has become the imaginable-visible Energetic Incarnation, called Datta. In the second step, it is vastly more difficult to believe that Datta or Parabrahman has become the other Energetic Incarnations such as Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. In the third step, it is infinitely difficult to believe that Datta or Parabrahman has become the different Human Incarnations such as Rāma, Krishna and others.

In the phase of māyā, God appears as this creation, but that illusion is limited only to God. Actually, this illusion is divine in which God has complete self-knowledge, without any trace of ignorance about either Himself or about the object seen as creation. You can compare this divine illusion with the worldly illusion in which a beggar is imagining himself to be a king. In the worldly illusion, neither has the beggar actually become the king nor has the king even appeared to the beggar wearing all his precious jewels. Both these facts are well-known to the beggar. But in the case of the divine illusion, the king appears wearing all precious jewels and God becomes that really-appearing king. Yet, God knows fully that He alone exists and that the king is essentially non-existent. In the case of worldly illusion, the beggar did not really become the king. This point is similar to the divine illusion since God did not really become creation. Secondly, for the beggar, the king did not really appear before him. This point is different in the case of divine illusion since creation appears to God as real. Thirdly, the beggar has self-awareness just as God also has self-awareness. It means that the only difference between the worldly and divine illusions is that the king does not really appear before the beggar whereas creation appears before God as real.

In the example of the rope appearing to be a snake, the spectator is not the rope. Three items exist in this example, which are the rope, the snake and the spectator. In the example of the beggar and the king, only two items exist, which are the beggar and the king. In the case of the snake-rope example of a worldly illusion, the ignorance of the object (rope) exists with the spectator. In the divine illusion, no ignorance exists with God, the Spectator. Hence, there is no exact simile to compare with the divine illusion (māyā), in which God does not even have a trace of ignorance of the truth. All worldly illusions (avidyā), however, are due to ignorance.

avidya mula-prakruti maya mahamaya maaya mahaamaaya Eshwara Esvara Ishwara vishvam bhramayasi Parabrahmamahishi Mounavyaakhyaaprakatita Parabrahma tattvam Netaronupapatteh avidyaa