Question 62/65: How does the illusion of Universe arise?

seashoreWe are constantly challenged by our senses, our worldly experience. What is real, what is unreal? We chant asatoma, the mantra that prays that we are lead from the unreal to the Real. How do we reach that destination, that experience? Do prayers, pujas, yantras, pilgrimages, take us to that far shore of human experience? Does bhakta – devotion, or jnana – wisdom, take us there? The young Rama, astute student, asks.

atma-tathwa: reality of the atma within;
tattva: San. n. ‘thatness’ – real nature, essence, principle; truth, reality, the Absolute (brahman) (V. 963); one of the five elements; the chemical elements. ‘Use them all intelligently and in moderation for the service of humanity.’ (SSS)
mithya: Mixture of truth and falsehood; neither true nor untrue, but something in between. The world is not untrue (a-sat) but mithya.
chithswarupa: (-svaruupa). Embodiment of consciousness.
jnanaswarupa: (jnaana-svaruupa). The embodiment of spiritual wisdom.
dharmaswarupa: (-svaruupa). Embodiment of dharma.
chit: (chith) (chittha). Consciousness, knowledge, awareness.
vyapara: (vyaapaara). Activity, occupation, business.
vrittis: (vritthis). Agitations of the mind, consciousness.
pariṇāma: transformed by His energy.
parinami: (parinaami). Change, transformation.
aparinami: (-parinaami). Not subject to change or modification
purusha – the dweller in the citadel of the body’, ‘he who fills the body of man’ – man, the self, the individual person. By implication, purusha is used as a name for God within, the eternal witness – Consciousness, the Self, the atman (V. 14, 406). ‘You are all limbs of that one body, the purusha, who is far more expansive than this universe, which is but a fraction of his physical manifestation.’ The whole of creation is the cosmic body of God, the supreme Person, who is expressed through the medium of each created object, thus having uncountable (‘thousands’) of heads, eyes and limbs. Purusha is also the masculine principle; in one sense, God alone is purusha and all of creation is female (prakriti); ‘manhood comes with the rejection of the dual’.


Question 62: Sir, how to obtain relief from this ideation of the universe?

Answer: Ramji, it is not easy to get relief from this ideation. The illusion of the universe cannot disappear except by contemplation on the spirit of the precepts. He who attempts to achieve relief from this illusion either by his intelligence, pilgrimages, penances, oblations, mortification or such other acts, is highly unwise. Such a person does not experience anything except the universe of five elements with places, time and actions.

Dhyana (meditation), japa (constant repetition of God’s name), or yoga are of no help in realising the Atma Tathwa. Neither are the nine forms of devotion like sravanam (listening), kirtanam (singing), Vishnusmaranam (contemplating on Vishnu), Padasevanam (serving His Lotus Feet), vandanam (salutation), archanam (worship), dasyam (servitude), sneham (friendship), and Atmanivedanam (self-surrender) of any help. They are different forms of sadhana (spiritual effort, spiritual exercises), which we ourselves have taken up. They are not God-given.

How many ascetics in this world do severe penance? How many people constantly do japa? Even when they are sleeping, the japamala (rosary beads) rotates in their hand. Do all these spiritual exercises confer moksha (liberation) on oneself? Never! One has therefore to constantly contemplate on the Atma Tathwa.


Question 65: Sir, if the entire universe is an illusion, how is it perceived?

Answer: Ramji, the universe is experienced on account of ignorance and is dissolved on enquiry and contemplation. Just as a child perceives a ghost in his shadow due to ignorance, and the idea of the ghost disappears on right understanding, and he recognises his shadow, so the universe is experienced on account of ignorance and it is dissolved on enquiry or contemplation. The universe is unreal; if it were real it would never cease to exist. The realisation of its non-existence on contemplation proves that it was never created. Atma – the real substance – is indestructible, and the universe that is unreal can never stay stable.

Bhaktha: Swami, even after hearing all this, the nature of the world remains an enigma to me. When one side is seen, it strikes me as real; when the other side is presented, it strikes me as unreal. Nothing is definite.

Swami: That is exactly the nature of Mithya. It means that the world is neither Sathya nor Asathya, it is real as well as unreal. You are born in Mithya, you are enmeshed in it, and so you cannot distinguish this from that, the Sathya from the Asathya.

Bhaktha: Then sitting aside this discussion of Mithya, tell me something, Swami, about that Sathya, that Purusha, whoever He is.

Swami: The Purusha has neither birth nor death, he undergoes no change. He is Chithswarupa, Jnanaswarupa. Dharma or codes of social conduct are not of His nature; so, he is not Dharmaswarupa. The Jnana which is his nature, does not change, is not corrected or supplemented from time to time; it is eternal wisdom. Light is its nature and so its does not admit of a dot of darkness. The sun does not have effulgence added to it from the world it illumines; it will emit splendour whether there are worlds or not.

The Purusha is self-luminous. He is always the object of knowledge; he cognises all Vrittis or mutations of the Chittha or consciousness; he is modification-less, Aparinaami, unevolved. The Chittha is Parinaami, it changes and evolves. The Purusha is sentience itself; he is not affected by apprehension or non-apprehension. No Vyapara or activity can affect Him. Even when unmanifested, effulgence is his nature.

The seed in the soil grows into a tree, the tree is the manifested form of the seed. This change from seed to tree and tree to seed shows that the Sakthi in the seed has Vyapara. This is Parinaama. But the Purusha is unchanging, unaffected. He is the see-er. He is completely apart from Prakriti. No deed can diminish His glory, nor exhaust His personality.


waves in motion
the waves, the foam, the bubbles – arise from the ocean and return to the ocean.