The word īśvara means god or the supreme controller. Being the supreme controller, He controls both us, the ātmā and prakåti, or matter, consisting of three modes of material nature and time. The soul is a spiritual particle, full of desire, love, and activity. For those who are yogīs in devotion, He appears as īśvara or in his beautiful personal form, and for those who do not believe in God, He appears to them as time and death.
According to our (We are referred to as soul) desires and karma, He provides us with a particular body to execute our desires. As they say, first deserve then desire. This body is a vehicle that is like the hardware, and the subtle body consisting of mind, intelligence, and ego is the software that drives it. The body is considered to be a machine that is driven by the soul.
The creation of the body, mind, intelligence, and remaining elements takes place under the direction of the īśvara.
Desire The Key
Our existence depends on our desire. Our main character is to desire. To fulfill our material desires, we take many births and take up different bodies to fulfill our desires. Indeed research finds that desire, a proper purpose, and meaning in life can increase our lifespan. We cannot stop cravings, but by practicing yoga, we get purified and cultivate the mode of goodness. This brings about divine qualities, and then we desire to live for a higher good, in god’s service to benefit the self and every soul and live a fulfilling life.
Why does the soul come to the material world in anyways?
The answer is that the god is everyone’s father; when the son (i.e., us the soul) wants to be separate from him for some time,
God lovingly gives us a body as per our (his son’s) desire and karma. When we want to go back to Him, He arranges for us to go back to Him by teaching us yoga (the process of connecting to god) through a guru agency and obtaining infinite love or Bhakti.
Primary ingredients used for the creation
God or, īśvara being unlimitedly powerful, has the power to create or destroy anything. Only He possesses the ability to connect matter and spirit and create a human being, animal, or any living being. Just as a scientist creates some mix in the lab with different chemicals, Kåñëa is considered the supreme scientist.
The Lord gives the soul a material body(the soul and matter are like oil and water which never mix but stay connected) just like a scuba diver wearing a body cover. This covering is manifold and develops from subtle to gross. Throughout the process of creation, the soul remains pure and does not change. The state of matter varies from unmanifested to the manifest. Matter in its unmanifested form called pradhäna.
The soul, which is beyond matter, does not mix with matter but has a subtle connection, which we have explained earlier with examples. This pradhäna has everything manifested within the creation like the sky, oceans, bodies, etc. in a latent form. It’s like wheat flour, which can be made into bread, cake, or any such products by properly mixing water and other ingredients.
Now let’s list out the 24 elements present in the pradhäna, which are manifested later on.
The aggregate elements, namely the five gross elements, the five subtle elements, the four internal senses, the five senses for gathering knowledge and the five external organs of action which are present in a latent form (not yet manifested) are known as the pradhāna.
There are five gross elements are earth, water, fire, air, and ether.
There are also five subtle elements: smell, taste, color, touch, and sound.
The senses for acquiring knowledge and the organs for action number ten, namely the auditory sense, the sense of taste, the tactile sense, the sense of sight, the sense of smell, and the active organs for speaking, working, traveling, generating, and evacuating.
The internal, subtle senses are experienced as having four aspects: mind, intelligence, ego, and contaminated consciousness.
Distinctions between them can be made only by different functions since they represent different characteristics.
All these are considered qualified Brahman. The mixing element, which is known as time, is counted as the twenty-fifth element.
Please refer to the figure on the right and read the description given in the upcoming pages.
It’s time to re-affirm just like water and oil cannot mix, soul and matter cannot mix either; however, the soul maintains a subtle connection. Just as Newton’s law states, “Every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it.” pradhäna remains in a state of equilibrium until the Lord acts on it. By the mystic potency of god, the elements evolve from subtle to gross. The body that the soul develops ultimately depends on the desire and the karma of the soul.
Our body and mind, a product of ahaṅkāra or ego
This material body is a temporary identity for the soul; a yogī understands the concept of rebirth and realizes that each passing body in different births is an experience for the soul in this world’s extraordinary journey. This body, although real, is temporary and, in one sense, false. It is not the real identity of the soul. It is a product of ahaṅkāra or ego. Ego means “I am” identity. This ahaṅkāra or false ego mixed with the Three modes of nature produces all different parts of our gross and subtle bodies. Like the mind, intelligence, hands, legs, ears, etc.
Now let’s go over this process of creation step by step. Step 1. The soul or ātmā is connected with subtle matter called pradhāna. Our best friend and Supreme Lord Paramātmā accompanies us on our material journey. When this happens, there is a golden spiritual effulgence created. This is called Hiranmaya or cosmic intelligence. He remains invisible until we realize Him through the practice of yoga.
So let’s summarize this first step. It is just like watching a 3-D movie. The movie can only be experienced when we wear the right type of 3-D goggles sitting in a theater. So we have to be in that theater and wearing the 3-D goggles to experience the movie (in this case, the body is the theater and the googles are the mind). We can get engrossed in the film so much that we could forget ourselves at least till the movie is over, and we take off the 3-D goggles and walk out of the theater.
Similarly, the soul is getting into a subtle body and mind to experience the material activities. It needs to wear the right goggles to experience this world. He sees the world as per his goggles or the state of body and mind.
In this journey, god accompanies the soul in His heart as his best friend, well-wisher, and guide. To be precise, the soul is now in a shell, and he can only watch as the creation unfolds. So let the journey begin.
Step 2. By the mystical potency of the Lord, there is a transformation of this Hiranmaya into Mahat Tattva. In the Mahat Tattva, the first of the three modes, the mode of the pure mode of goodness, manifests (completely free from the mode of passion and ignorance)
Note: This is the point where the three modes will begin to manifest. The mode of goodness or sattva guṇa in its pure form manifests here and with a reason. Sattva guṇa or mode of goodness
in its pure form, is called Suddha Sattva. All the different limbs of yoga practices purify the body and mind and take us to the platform of goodness and, eventually, pure goodness. When we take a shower, we get fresh and feel calm, and our outlook changes. But imagine taking a bath in a pristine lake. You feel so rejuvenated and inspired you can look at your surroundings and meditate. That is an example to explain the difference between goodness and a state of pure goodness.
So this pure goodness is a pristine pure form of matter that gives the mind extraordinary powers of serenity, clarity, purity to experience the self (soul), god, and the state of yoga. The mind becomes a pure medium for the soul to see itself.
Remember the example of the pure mirror, where the state of mind is a pure mirror.
After the manifestation of pure goodness, the other modes are manifest and take the manifestation from subtle to gross in the next stage.
Now manifestation of ahaṅkāra
Step 3. This mystical transformation further continues, and from Mahat tattva, there is a creation of universal ego or ahaṅkāra by the potency of the Kṛṣṇa or god. He acts as time under whose shelter the transformation takes place. This ego gives the soul its material identification; the soul forgets that he is the soul and thinks he is the product of matter or thinks he is this body.
Point to Remember: The manifestation of the pure mode of goodness is one step before ahaṅkāra or ego manifestation. Therefore, if we can purify our minds to the point of pure goodness by the practice of yoga, we surpass material ego and reach the soul’s level by cultivating pure goodness.
After Mahat Tattva, ego or ahaṅkāra is manifested. Now the shell in which the soul has a strong foundation of ego or ahaṅkāra for other gross material manifestations to develop. Now citta or subtle body is developed by the transformation of ego in which the three modes act as a catalyst.
This citta or subtle body transforms into the ahaṅkāra or ego consisting of mind, intelligence, and ego, whose creation and functions will be discussed in the next steps. This subtle body carries all the impressions of our past, experiences, and desires for the future.
Now we will learn how this ahaṅkāra transforms into gross and subtle bodies.
Transformation of Ahaṅkāra
4. Ego or ahaṅkāra interacts with the three modes of nature, i.e., mode of goodness, passion, and ignorance, and then manifests the subtle and gross bodies we possess.
5. When the mode of goodness interacts with the ego or ahaṅkāra, the mind is created. The mind is said to be in the mode of goodness. By the practice of yoga, when we free the mind from the influence of passion and ignorance, the mind purifies, and the mode of goodness remains. At this point, the mind becomes serene and pure. The function of the Mind: The role of the mind is to think and reflect; this activity gives rise to desire.
The living entity’s mind is known by the name Lord Aniruddha, the supreme ruler of the senses. He possesses a bluish-black from resembling a lotus flower growing in the autumn. He is found slowly by the yogīs. The threefold ahaṅkāra, the source of the gross elements, the senses, and the mind, is identical because it is their cause. It is known by the name of Saṅkarṣaṇa, who is directly Lord Ananta with a thousand heads. If we want to overcome false ego, we should worship Lord Shiva, who continually meditates on Sankarshana.
Ego interacting with the mode of passion
5. The mode of passion interacts with the ego and produces passionate intelligence. The functions of intellect are to help ascertain the nature of objects when they come into view and to help the senses.
Characteristics of intelligence
Doubt, misapprehension, correct apprehension, memory, and sleep, as determined by their different functions, are the distinct characteristics of intelligence.
Egoism in the mode of passion produces two kinds of senses: acquiring knowledge and the senses of action. The senses of action depend on vital energy, and the senses for acquiring knowledge depend on intelligence.
So this intelligence and the senses of acquiring knowledge are produced from the mode of passion.
Impact of Yoga practice
Senses being in the mode of passion are difficult to control. By the practice of yoga, the mind gets purified and concentrated. The concentrated mind in the goodness mode can overcome passion and ignorance, namely lust, anger, and greed.
The processes of cleansing, āsanas, Prāṇayama, and meditation bring the mind to the point of the mode of goodness.
The Interaction of Mode of Ignorance
6. Mode of ignorance interacts with the ego and produces all the remaining elements. When egoism in ignorance is agitated, the subtle element sound is manifested, and from sound comes the ethereal sky and the sense of hearing.
Sound is defined as that which conveys the idea of an object, indicates the presence of a speaker screened from our view, and constitutes the subtle form of ether. Ether here refers to the subtle space for the field of activities of the vital air, the senses, and the mind.
From ethereal existence, which evolves from sound, the next transformation takes place under the impulse of time, and thus the subtle element touch and thence the air and sense of touch become prominent. Softness and hardness and cold and heat are the distinguishing features of touch.
There is fire by the friction of air, and this fire lets the eye sees different forms in color. The characteristics of form are understood by dimension, quality, and individuality. Its radiance appreciates the form of fire. Fire is recognized by its light and by its ability to cook, digest, destroy cold, evaporate, and give rise to hunger, thirst, eating, and drinking.
The subtle element taste evolves under a superior arrangement by the interaction of fire and the visual sensation. From taste, water is produced, and the tongue, which perceives taste, is also manifested. Although originally one, taste becomes manifold as astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent, sour, and salty due to contact with other substances. Water characteristics are exhibited by its moistening other substances, coagulating various mixtures, causing satisfaction, maintaining life, softening things, driving away heat, incessantly supplying itself to reservoirs of water, and refreshing by slaking thirst.
Due to water interaction with the taste perception, the subtle element odor evolves under the superior arrangement. Thence the earth and the olfactory sense, by which we can variously experience the earth’s aroma, become manifest. Odor, although one, becomes many — as mixed, offensive, fragrant, mild, strong, acidic, and so on — according to the proportions of associated substances. Modeling forms of the Supreme Brahman can perceive the characteristics of the earth’s functions by constructing residence places, preparing pots to contain water, etc. In other words, the earth is the place of sustenance for all elements.
The sense whose object of perception is sound is called the auditory sense, and that whose object of perception is touch is called the tactile sense. The sense whose object of perception is form, the distinctive characteristic of fire, is the sense of sight. The sense whose object of perception is taste, the unique feature of water, is known as the sense of taste. Finally, the sense whose object of perception is odor, the distinguishing characteristic of earth, is called the sense of smell.
Since the cause exists in its effect, the characteristics of the former are observed in the latter. That is why the peculiarities of all the elements exist in the earth alone.