Read this article to learn about the meaning of physical world granting by the Samkara philosophy of Ramanuja!
Ramanuja has given the name ‘achida’ to prakriti or material substance. The unconscious element is material and devoid of deformation and distortion.
These three distinctions in it which are as follows:
1. Suddha sattva:
In this, rajas and tamas do not exist. It is eternal and creates knowledge and happiness. Its qualities are sound, touch, etc.
2. Misra sattva:
In this, all the three gunas exist. It is this that is called prakriti, ignorance and Maya. The five objects of perception, five sense organs, five physical elements, five pranas, prakrti, mahat, ego and mind are among its transformed products.
3. Sattva sunya:
Time has been said to be the unconscious elements devoid of sattva. There is no guna in it. Eternity, efficiency, creation and dissolution are comprehended by this “time”. It is the cause of the products of prakriti and natural objects.
Pure and mixed sattva are the constituents of the objects of the experience of jiva and Ishwara, of the places of experience and of the substance of experience.
Evolution of creation:
All physical objects arise out of the unconscious and material elements. Ramanuja considers the Upanishad description of the evolution of creation to be true in every detail. The all-powerful Ishwara created the universe of diverse objects out of Himself, of His own independent volition.
Both conscious and unconscious elements are present in Brahman. Agreeing with Samkhya philosophy, Ramanuja accepts prakriti as an indestructible and eternal reality. But as opposed to Samkhya, he believes prakriti to be part of God, guided or motivated by Him. In the state of dissolution, prakriti exists in a subtle and unmanifested form. Ishwara creates the universe out of this prakriti and according to the past actions of the jivas.
By the will of Ishwara prakriti is divided into three elements— fire, water, and earth. All gross objects emerge as a result of the gradual mixture of these three elements which are the invariable constituents of all the objects in the world. This process of gradual mixing is called nivrita karana.
World is real:
According to Ramanuja, creation is as much real as Brahman. The Upanishad sentences which propound the negation of multiplicity and seek to establish unity, mean no more than that objects have no reality independent of Brahman. They are real as being dependent upon Brahman. Prakriti is Brahman’s power. Brahman is the material as well as the efficient cause of the world.
The effect is not distortion of the illusion of its cause, but of its product all evidence tends to establish the reality of the universe. The universe is real although its material or gross objects are not eternal. The effect is inherent in its cause. How can the effect be unreal or illusory if the cause is real? Conscious and unconscious are the attributes of Brahman.
Between them and Brahman, a relation of part and whole exists. They are in Brahman. Between them and Brahman, there is aprithakasiddhi or inseparability. Indivisible Brahman can assume the form of the diversified universe by his self-distinction. Brahma is the creator, to Vishnu falls the duty of sustaining the world, while Rudra is its destroyer. All these are the various aspects of Brahman.
In his all-pervading form, Ishwara is the creator, sustainer as well as the destroyer. All these activities are only his sport. His mere desire is sufficient to transform his energy into the universe. According to Samkara, the universe is unreal or false. But according to Ramanuja, there cannot be correspondence between true and false elements. If it were so, then Brahaman too would have been false. Thus Ramanuja refutes Samkara’s view.
According to Ramanuja, it is Brahman who creates, sustains and destroys the universe. In a state of dissolution, both conscious and unconscious elements exist within Brahman in seed form. The conscious and the unconscious always exist although their objects and form are susceptible to continuous change.
In the state of dissolution, objects are absent but Brahman exists and is possessed of pure and unmanifest unconsciousness. This is called “Karana Brahman” or Brahman, as the cause. It is contended by Ramanuja that wherever in the Upanishads, objects have been denied real existence and negatives have been employed to describe Brahman, it is this Brahman, as the cause, that is implied.
When creation takes place, Brahman is manifested in the form of bodied jivas and physical objects, and in that state is known as ‘Karya Brahman’ or Brahman, as the effect. Thus, Ramanuja like Samkhya, believes that the effect is existent before it is manifested (satkaryavada) but he differs from the Samkhya in accepting Brahman and not prakriti as the original cause (Brahman parinamavada)
The world as the sport of God:
The creation of the universe is no more than a matter of sport for Ishwara. According to Ramanuja, Ishwara being perfect does not indulge in the creation of the world because of some external necessity. All his desires are satisfied. He is unprejudiced and creates the objects of the world according to the actions of the jivas. He awards them pleasure or pain according to their actions.