श्लोक 16 (Part#2): अद्वितीय, अद्वैत!

For anyone new to Vedanta, what Shri Krishna said in 13th shloka and what he is saying in 16th Shloka seems contradictory.

In 13th Shloka, Shri Krishna had called us embodied self, indicating that we are not the body, instead, we are someone that occupies this body.

If you remember, to understand this, we had divided ourselves into three entities:

1. What dies with the death of the body –> Sthula Sharir, Suksham Sharir
2. What goes on to new life –> Karan-Sharir
3. What is unchanged by death or birth –> Consciousness/चेतना, i.e. our true self.

But, in 16th Shloka, Shri Krishna is saying that everything in this physical universe is just names given to forms of Consciousness/चेतना, and Consciousness/चेतना alone is सत्.

However, this is not a contradiction. Instead, a clear relationship is given between these various Shariras, physical entities, and Consciousness/चेतना.

16th Shloka indicates that Sthula Sharir, Suksham Sharir, Karan-Sharir, and everything else in this universe doesn’t have an existence of their own. They are just the names given to the different forms of Consciousness/चेतना or Brahman. They are made of Consciousness/चेतना or Brahman.

This is the reason, in Vedantic technical terms, Brahman is called निमित्त कारण, i.e., the reason why this universe exists, as well as उपादान कारण, i.e, the material cause of this universe.

But, we may ask, how can a material world, including various Shariras come into existence from Consciousness/चेतना, which is not material?

Let’s try to understand this through an example.

Whenever we lit a fire, it emits heat and light too. This heat and light don’t have any separate existence from the fire. They are just attributes of the fire.

Similarly, Consciousness/चेतना or Brahman has two attributes, projection, and veiling. These two together are called Maya.

As heat and light depend on fire for their existence, projection and veiling depend on Brahman for their existence. Due to this, Brahman is सत् and Maya is असत्.

While the projecting power of Maya projects this entire universe of various shapes and forms, veiling power hides the presence of Brahman in those projected shapes and forms.

Together they give us an appearance of a fragmented world where everything is different from one another. But, in reality, everything is just Consciousness/चेतना or Brahman. Everything is one, अद्वितीय, अद्वैत!

But, as we associate ourselves with the body and this body is part of Maya, we need to work our way through Maya to experience the Brahman.

As we saw so far, Brahman is not somewhere far. It is everywhere, and in everything, it is our true identity, but just hidden behind the layers of Maya.

Let’s work to experience that.

All the Best!