Question 86-88: What remains after the Universe?

evolution - involutionThere is evolution, there is sustenance afforded by the Paramatma, there is involution, the withdrawal of all things back to the Cosmic Egg, the Hiranyagarbha, which is verily the form of Brahman. The youthful Rama is beset with questions about what remains after the dissolution of the Universe.

advaita San. n. ‘having no duality’, ‘one without a second’; unity, non-dualism – the philosophy which sees creator and created as one, not two. Advaita contends that only brahman has any actual existence and considers the empirical world as illusion. In the words of its propagator, Adi-shankara: ‘Brahman permeates everything as butter permeates milk. Brahman is other than the universe. Nothing exists that is not brahman’. ‘All is Self. Self is all.’
ajnana: ignorance Bg 16.13-15, SB 1.13.45
ajnana: nescience – ignorance (especially of orthodox beliefs) SB 3.7.7, SB 3.12.2
ajnana: of ignorance Adi 1.88-89, Adi 3.59
ajnana: ignorant Bg 18.72
ajnana: ignorance. Adi 2.96
ajnana: by ignorance Antya 2.99
akash: San. m., n. (ambara) sky, space, an expanse; the element of ether, the subtlest form of matter. Space gives things form and keeps them discrete. Its quality is sound. ‘It is through space that sounds are transmitted and heard. Love and play are products of akasha and seeds sprout on account of akasha.’ ‘Akasha pervades the cosmos but remains unstained.’ (bg XIII.32)
Atma the Self, the soul, the life principle, the divine core of personality, man’s individual indwelling reality (jivatma)
Brahm-satta: the potency of Brahman; the lustre equivalent to millions of suns.
jñan, Hin. m. jñana San. n. (from jña – to know) true intuited understanding; spiritual wisdom; higher knowledge. gyani, one with wisdom
shunya Hin., San. adj. var, sunya void, empty m. null, void, nothingness, emptiness, non-existence; solitude.
sunyam: void SB 1.14.14
sunyam: vacant SB 8.19.11


Question 86: Sir, what remains after the great dissolution? Is it void or light, insentient or sentient, mind or intelligence? It must be something, either real (sat) or unreal (asat), modification or quiescence. How do you say that it is beyond description?

Answer: Ramji, when the entire universe becomes extinct, what remains thereafter is not void, because the image or reflection of manifestation (universe) always remains in it. What remains after the great dissolution is always independent and without any cause or support. An artist visualises many images in a log of wood that do not exist in the log but are in the mind of the artist, and the log remains as it is. Had the log of wood not been there, the artist would not have visualised the images. Similarly the mind (artist) visualises the universe in Atma (the log). Where would the mind imagine images of the world if the Atma were not there? Just as the images in wood are forms in wood, so the entire universe is an aspect of Brahman and its existence sans Brahman is a non-entity. The being of the universe is not possible without Atma.

It proves that Atma which is of the nature of Absolute Existence is not shunya (void). It is neither void (shunya) nor non-void
(ashunya). it is neither negative nor affirmative. The words void and non-void are also an ideation in the mind, that is, they are just statements. Null is that which does not exist, but Atma is Truth (Sat) and permanent. Only that can be called ashunya which is manifest and has a name and a form. Atma is without both these. O Ramji, Atma manifests itself both as light and darkness. It proves that Atma is neither shunya nor ashunya, neither light nor darkness. Both light and darkness depend upon Atma. As the images in the log of wood are a non-entity, so the universe is a non-entity in Atma. Just as there is no distinction between fruit and its pulp, or between clay and clay-pots, so there is no distinction between the universe and Atma. In the case of clay and clay-pots, there is a change of form, but in the case of Atma there is no change at all. Atma is always even. This world is experienced owing to the ideation of mind and it is an illusion; in reality there is nothing except Atma. It is owing to this modification in the mind that Atma is perceived in various forms in the universe. All the objects of experience vanish on enquiry or contemplation and Atma only stays. The gyani (wise) knows this state. A person established in this state is unaffected by the pleasures and sufferings of the world, because his mind is still and is absorbed in Pure Consciousness. It is after a prolonged effort that one attains stability in this state. Atma is advaita (non-dual) and is without any idea of duality. It is neither subtle nor gross; it is always even and absorbed in itself. It is free from ideations and is beyond description. It is supreme and Pure Consciousness.

Question 87: Sir, at the time of the great dissolution, what happens to the universe that is apparently visible ?

Answer: Ramji, where are the children of a barren woman or the heavenly gardens created from and where do they disappear? Just as these are unreal or non-existent, so is the universe.

Question 88: Sir, the child of a barren woman and the garden in heaven are mere statements and are not perceived, but the universe is perceived so explicitly. How can you bring in that analogy ?

Answer: Ramji, just as the child of a barren woman and the garden in heaven have not been created, so is the universe. In a dream, all dream objects appear as real and the sense organs perform their functions, but all these disappear on waking up and are unreal; even so the universe is a mode of akash and nothing else has been created. Just as there is no distinction between water and bubbles, coal and blackness, fire and brightness, moon and gentleness, air and its motion, akash and void, so there is no distinction between Brahm and jagat (universe). Whatever manifestations you perceive at different times (past-present-future) are the Brahm-satta established in itself. Just as the water in a mirage is perceived on account of illusion, so the Brahm is perceived as a Universe on account of ignorance (ajnana)

The Play of Creation, Preservation and Dissolution

Creation, Preservation and Dissolution are the three forms of the Divine will; you have to penetrate the inner meaning of creation by means of Karmayoga; you have to grasp the significance of preservation and maintenance of the Universe by means of Bhaktiyoga and when you master the Jnanayoga, you arrive at the experience of dissolution, of manifoldness in the of the One. Devotion makes you aware of the Lord who sustains and supports every being; it is Love, which is eterenal, unaffected by duality, Truth and unsullied – without blemish; that is to say, Love which is unchanging, sincere and pure. There is no one who is devoid of devotion; deep down in his core, everyone has the feeling of kinship with all creatures. It is this that makes a lonely man miserable, that makes every one likeable to some one or other. If you have no love, you are like a lamp without the flame, blind and blinding. Love of the pure type is unmixed with hate, unhampered with greed.

The entire Creation represents the play of God. Not only that. Its maintenance (Sthithi) and Dissolution (Laya) are also God’s play (leela). How can anyone describe the manifold Leelas of God? They take diverse forms. As Leela, one can imagine that the entire Universe can disappear! His Sankalpa is All-powerful. Whatever happens, good or bad, is God’s Leela! Unless one has cultivated an attitude of equanimity towards good and bad, one cannot claim to have understood God. The sadhakas of today are happy when something good happens; when something bad comes about, they slide into contrary thoughts. When the entire Creation is the Cosmic Leela of God, to demarcate a few and sing in terms of those few reveals only feebleness of vision.


evolution - involution
evolution to involution is the eternal play, the sport of the Lord