Sri Swami Sivananda

This article is a chapter from the book “Bliss Divine”.

The Cause of This Universe
Nature of the Creative Process
God and the Universe
Evolution of the Elements
The Doctrine of Ajati-vada
World is Mental Creation
The Cosmic Drama
Why Has God Created This World?
God Only Is: the World Is Not
Know the Truth


The universe is a mystery. No one can say how it came to be.

You will find in the Rig-Veda: “Who knows here, who can here state whence came all this multifarious universe? Even the Devas are posterior to its creation; who then knows whence this came out?”.

Some hold that the universe was created out of nothing by a fiat of God and that it will again lapse into nothing at the period of deluge. This dogma of creation ex nihilo is not endorsed by scientists. They say emphatically that what exists now should have existed always and will continue to exist always in some form or the other. In Sankhya philosophy also you will find: “That which is cannot come out of that which is not”. The Gita also states: “There can be no existence out of non-existence, nor can the existent cease to be. The truth about both has been perceived by seers”.

Something cannot come out of nothing. Something can come out of something only.

The grass comes out of the earth and is absorbed into the earth. Even so, this universe comes out of Brahman, rests in Brahman, and dissolves in Brahman.

The Cause of This Universe

In the beginning, Brahman who is one without a second, alone exists. When darkness was rolling over darkness, there was existence alone.

In Brahman, there was a Spandana or vibration before the world was projected. This is the Sankalpa of Brahman. He thought or willed: “Ekoham Bahu Syam: I am one; may I become many”. This vibration corresponds to the bulging of the seed within the ground when it is soaked with water. Then the whole world was projected.

When an ordinary, meagre juggler can bring forth mangoes, fruits, money, sweetmeats, an imaginary palace, etc., through Indrajala or Sammohana-vidya, can He–the omnipotent, omniscient Ruler–not create this insignificant world for His own play? When a mortal king adorns his palace with furniture, pictures, curios, garden, fountain, etc., can He not furnish this world with beautiful landscape, brilliant sun, moon and stars, mighty rivers and oceans?

Nature of the Creative Process

This visible world is God’s jugglery. This world is not chaos. It is an organised, divine institution. The world is a shadow of God.

Brahman creates this unthinkable universe through His illusive power of Maya for His own Lila or sporting. The phenomenon of this universe is due to the power called Maya, by which the Absolute, without undergoing any change in or by Itself, appears as an ever-changing succession of phenomena conditioned by time and space.

Brahman has projected this universe without being affected in any way. The Absolute is not affected by the world-process that is going on within It, just as the rains from a cloud do not wet the sky. The one Brahman, through His Sakti, can put on all these countless names and forms and appear as many. There is no change in Himself. The world is mere appearance.

Brahman does not require any instruments or hands for making these forms. He is Chaitanya, self-luminous intelligence. By mere willing, He can bring forth countless worlds.

Just as the potentiality of a seed brings forth a tree, so also, the Svabhava or potentiality of Brahman brings forth this universe. Projection co-exists with existence.

God and the Universe

This whole universe is the body of God. This entire world is God or Virat-Svarupa.

This world is not a world of dead matter, but a living Presence. Brahman or the Absolute manifests Itself as the universe through forms.

Creation is a joyous self-expression of the One.

A king played the part of a beggar for his own sporting. A sage played the part of a fool for his own sporting. Even so, this world is a sport or Lila of Brahman.

Brahman appears as the world. It is Brahman alone that shines as the world of variegated objects. Brahman Himself appears as stone, tree, stars, etc. The One Consciousness alone appears as the universe of plurality.

Just as one man alone becomes many in dream, so also the one God exists as many.

The whole universe is Brahman only in essence. All this is Brahman only, appearing in Brahman and through Brahman.

Earth, food, fire and sun are forms of Brahman. East, west, north and south are parts of the Lord. The sky, heaven, ocean are portions of Brahman.

Breath is a part of Brahman. Sight is a part of Brahman. Hearing is a part of Brahman. Mind is a part of Brahman. This life is Brahman. Brahman or Truth is the essence in which the universe has its being, from which it is born, and in which it dissolves at the end of each world-cycle.

An effect does not exist apart from its cause. A pot does not exist apart from clay. This universe does not exist apart from Brahman. It has no independent existence. It is one with Brahman.

If you have a candle light, and from it you light a thousand other candles, is not the first light in all the other candles? So it is with God. Creating all things, He is in all by spirit, breath and being.

The world is charged with the splendour, glory and grandeur of God. Just as sugar-cane juice pervades the sugar-cane, just as salt pervades the water when a lump of salt is dissolved in it, just as butter pervades milk, so also, Brahman pervades all the objects, animate or inanimate.

Brahman is one. Manifestation is many. One has become many.

As from a blazing fire, sparks all similar to one another, come forth in thousands, so also, from the one imperishable Brahman proceed all breathing animals, all worlds, all the gods, and all beings.

Evolution of the Elements

By dint of His will, the Lord, the undecaying substratum or reality of the universe, gave the first impetus to Nature to shake off her state of primal equipoise and to be gradually and successfully evolved into those categories and elements which were necessary for the formation of the present universe.

The first evolute is Akasa. Why should Akasa be the first evolute? Because, without space, nothing can exist. Prana acted on Akasa. There was Spandana or vibration. Wherever there is vibration, there must be motion. Motion is the quality of air. Therefore, air came out of Akasa. Motion produced heat. Therefore, fire was born of Vayu or air. When there is heat, water is produced. On a hot day, the body perspires. Hence, water was born of fire. Wherever there is water, there is food. Earth is Annam or food. Therefore, earth was born of water.

The subtler the element, the more powerful it is. Water is more powerful than earth, because it is more subtle than earth. Water removes away earth. Fire is more powerful than water, because it is more subtle than water. Fire dries up all water. Air is more powerful than fire, because it is more subtle than fire. Air blows up fire. Ether or Akasa is more powerful than air, because it is more subtle than air. Air rests in Akasa. Akasa is the support for air. Air is born of Akasa, fire is born of air, water is born of fire, earth is born of water. During cosmic Pralaya, earth is reduced or involved into water, water into fire, fire into air, and air into Akasa.

The whole world, the gross bodies of the four kinds of beings, viz., Udbhija or the seed-born, Svedaja or those born of sweat, oviparous or those born of egg, and viviparous or those born of placenta, and all objects of enjoyment are formed out of the five elements.

The Doctrine of Ajati-vada

As people with gross minds cannot grasp the theory of Ajati-vada or non creation, this kind of Srishti-krama is given. If you study the doctrine of Ajati-vada, propounded by Gaudapada in his Karika, you will find that this world does not exist in the past, present and future. This doctrine can be understood only by high-class aspirants who lead a life of seclusion and meditation.

If you remain in Allahabad for six months, you forget all about your native place which is Madras. There is no Madras for you while you live in Allahabad, and there is no Allahabad for you while you live in Madras. This world is a mere collection of Samskaras created by the mind.

If you can consciously destroy the mind by Sadhana and Samadhi, the world vanishes. It is all Brahman only. You shut yourself in a room for a fortnight, give up reading newspapers, engage yourself in deep meditation, and see whether there is world or not.

World is Mental Creation

It is only the waking state that brings before us this creation. This universe is nothing but a mode of the mind, self-evolved from Brahman, the cause of the universe.

The motion or vibration of Prana moves the mind. The movement of the mind generates the universe. The mind manifests itself as the external world. Names and forms arise owing to Vikshepa Sakti, one of the powers of Maya. The Vikshepa force operates both in the Jagrat and in the Svapna states. The whole world is projected on account of this power only. In sleep, it disappears.

In the deep sleep state you have no experience of the world, because there is no mind. This clearly shows that there will be world only if there is mind and that the mind alone creates this world.

World is mental creation. There is no world in sleep. There is no world in Samadhi. There is no world for a sage. That is the reason why the Srutis declare that this world is Manomatra Jagat, Manah-Kalpita Jagat.

This ever-agitated Manas, having come into existence out of the ineffable Brahman, creates the world according to its own Sankalpa or thoughts. This legerdemain of the universe springs out of the Sankalpa of Manas. It is through the Sankalpa of your Manas that the universe appears to be and it is this Sankalpa that is asked to be given up by you if you wish to soar to the One Reality beyond the universe.

With the growth of a paltry Sankalpa, there will arise the universe; with the extinction of the former, the latter will also disappear. With the annihilation of Sankalpa, all conception of differences between the seer and the seen will vanish, and then the Reality of Brahman will begin to shine uninterruptedly. Then the shadow of all the universe, movable and fixed, will be found absorbed in It in a non-dual state.

When the mind ceases to think, the world vanishes, and there is bliss indescribable. When the mind begins to think, immediately the world reappears, and there is suffering.

With the contemplation of ‘I’, all the train of ideas of the universe will set in; otherwise all the universe will vanish as instantaneously as darkness before the sun. Mind and ‘I’ are one. Destroy the ‘I’; then the mind is destroyed. If the mind, which is the instrument of knowledge, perception and activity, vanishes, with it disappears this subjective world also.

The Cosmic Drama

This phenomenal universe is but an outcome of the Divine Will, seeming to be real through the workings of the mind.

Before you write out a drama, you have a vivid mental picture of the whole drama in your mind. Then you write it out in succession in four acts. When it is staged, it is acted in succession, part by part. Similarly, the universe and its movements are a vivid mental picture in the Cosmic Mind, in the mind of Isvara.

There is neither ‘past’ nor ‘future’ for Him. Everything is ‘present’ for Him. There is neither ‘near’ nor ‘far’ for Him.. Every place is ‘here’. Every time is ‘now’. The events come out in succession on the stage of the long world-drama as Time rolls on.

Atoms rotate continuously. Old becomes new and new becomes old. In reality, there is no such thing as old; there is no such thing as new. The Jivas with individual minds are witnessing the events in succession. But the Isvara knows all events at one sweep. He is all-knowing. He is all-understanding also. He knows every detail of His creation.

This vast sense-universe shines as Atma-sankalpa. The Cosmic Mind creates the Maya. Individual minds receive things under delusion.

Why Has God Created This World?

The answers to the question, “Why has God created the world?”, are very unsatisfactory. For His own glorification? We cannot attribute to Him so much vanity. By love of mankind? How may He love a thing before it exists and how may it be called love to create millions for misery and eternal pain? The creation of the world is a moral necessity. It is to give fruits for enjoyment to the souls and to help them attain God-realisation. God’s desire for His creation is to provide all that is needed to bring His creation into an awareness of Himself.

The question, “Why has God created the world?”, is an Ati-prasna or transcendental question. The finite mind cannot give a proper answer. The reason can give answers only to worldly questions. The question itself is wrong.

What is the cause for Avidya, Maya, and Samsara? This is an Ati-prasna. In enquiring the cause, you abuse your innate mental organ of causality to penetrate into a region for which it is not made and where it is no more available. You are here in ignorance, pain and misery. You know the way out of them. The question of a cause for them is senseless.

A finite mind that is gross and conditioned by time, space and causation cannot comprehend the why and how of the universe, a question that is transcendental. The question has never been answered by anybody, by, any Sastra, by any sage or Acharya. Do not rack your mind on this point. You can never get a solution for this problem. It is Mouja of Brahman to create this universe. It is His Lila-vilasa. It is His Maya. It is His Svabhava (innate nature).

You simply waste your energy and time by entering into hot discussions regarding the question, “Why has God created this world? Is the world real or unreal?”. It would matter nothing to you whether the world be real or not. You will not gain anything substantial by entering into such controversies. You will have to dive deep into the chamber of your heart by withdrawing the mind and the outgoing senses to rest in the Supreme Self. Give up, therefore, these useless discussions and proceed straightaway in the quest of the Self and Its realisation. Instead of counting the number of the leaves in a tree, try to eat the fruits directly. Try to enjoy the eternal bliss of the Self by realisation. This is wisdom.

God Only Is: the World Is Not

There is only the eternal Brahman in truth. Nothing else really exists. Only Brahman, the absolute, undifferentiated mass of Satchidananda, exists.

Creation is a dream. Waking also is a dream. The body is a dream.

The whole world is an utter untruth. This world is utterly non-existent. Sensual enjoyments are like fondling the son of a barren woman in dream.

Heaven, Moksha and world are mere words only, just like the son of a barren woman.

Everything is a great delusion. There is neither dream nor deep sleep, neither heaven nor emancipation. The truth is that everything is the Peace and Bliss of Eternity.

Nothing here is ever born; nothing here ever dies. The subject of instruction, and the purpose, of all teachings is only a play of words or sounds.

The infinite which is both inside and outside appears as this world through space and time.

Brahman appears as the world. World is mere appearance. It is like snake in the rope, like water in the mirage, like blueness in the sky.

The snake appears because of the ignorance of the rope; when the rope is known, the snake disappears. The world appears because of the ignorance of the Self; it does not appear when there is Knowledge of Atman.

When one forgets Himself, Brahman appears to him as the universe. When one is established in one’s own Self, the universe appears as the Brahman.

Know the Truth

If you attain Knowledge of the Self, the meaning of life will cease to be a mystery. You will clearly understand the why and how of this universe. The purpose and progress in the scheme of things will become clear to you. All transcendental things will be known to you like the apple in the palm of your hand.

Withdraw. Meditate. Dive deep into the recesses of your heart. You will have awareness of a Reality, very different from empirical reality, a timeless, spaceless, changeless Reality. You will feel and experience that whatever is outside of this only true Reality is mere appearance, is Maya, is a dream.

Know the Truth, the Absolute. You are saved. You are liberated. You are enlightened. You are free.

You can know Brahman only by becoming Brahman. To become Brahman is to identify yourself with the divine element–the Supreme Soul–which constitutes your essential nature. The Knower of Brahman becomes Brahman. The river joins the ocean and becomes one with the ocean. The drop mixes with the sea and becomes one with the sea.

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