Jahad Ajaha Lakshana - The process of discarding the literal in order to get to the essence of Reality

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In Vedantic study, there is a concept called "jahad ajaha lakshana", which means the proposition of abandoning the literal and grasping that which is  the essence behind the literal. 


The following example is given --



The general illustration in Vedanta philosophy is this. Suppose there is a person called Devadatta, and he has a friend called Yajnadatta. Devadatta is living in Bombay, and Yajnadatta saw him in Bombay. After some years, Yajnadatta sees Devadatta in another place. The place has changed; the time has also changed. Firstly, insteadof being in Bombay, he is now seen in Rishikesh. And instead of having seen him ten years back, he sees him now, after ten years. When Yajnadatta sees Devadatta in an audience, he makes a statement: “This is that Devadatta whom I saw in Bombay ten years back.”

Now, two places cannot be identical, and two timesalso cannot be identical. Bombay is not Rishikesh, andten years back is not now, after ten years. The identity of the person is what is connoted here. The aspect of space and time are abandoned. The distance of space betweenBombay and Rishikesh is ignored, and also the distance ofduration, a gap of ten years, is abandoned. Therefore, the epithets that are used in the sentence “This is the same Devadatta whom I saw ten years back” are unnecessary because ‘ten years back’ is unnecessary to define a person, and ‘this’ and ‘that’ are also unnecessary. It is the same identical person who is before us whether he was there insome other place or whether he is here, and whether he was at that time or whether he is here at this time.

In a similar manner, the doctrine says that we have to eliminate certain unnecessary descriptive factors associated with God as Creator and the individual as an isolated part. How can an isolated part become one with the Universal Being? It is possible only in the same senseas a person seen in some other place is the same as theperson seen in this place, if only we eliminate unnecessary factors. Now, what are these factors that condition God and make us feel that He is totally different from the individual? These factors are described here in the verses following.


Ishvara is the name of the creative principle. God is not only the instrumental cause of the world, but also the material cause. We must know the difference between an instrumental causean efficient cause, as it is calledanda material cause. The carpenter is the instrumental cause, or the efficient cause, of a piece of furniture because he causes the furniture to manifest by his effort. In a similar manner, God causes the world to manifest by the force of His will, as the carpenter creates the shape or the structure of the furniture by the force of his will. But there is a difference between the carpenter and God in the sense that the wood that is the material of the furniture does not come from the body of the carpenter. He is not the material cause of the productnamely, the furniture. He is only the efficient cause, and not the material cause.

Here in the case of the carpenter and the table, the material comes from somewhere else, outside the location or the personality of the carpenter. But in the case of God, there is no external material. There is no furniture, wood, steel, brick and cement, etc., that God can have outside Himself. He cannot have an exterior or totally outside material for the creation of the world. God is also the substance out of which the world is made. The Mundakopanishad gives the illustration of a spider spinning its web. The web is made out of the very substance that comes out of its own being.

Therefore, God is not only the instrumental cause, He is also the material cause. He becomes the material of the universe when He associates Himself as consciousnesswith the tamasic aspect of prakriti, which becomes thefive tanmatrassabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa, gandhaandby the process of quintuplication becomes the five gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether.


God is the creator of the material of the universe in the form of the five tanmatras and the five gross elements, by associating Himself with tamasic prakriti.By associating Himself with sattvic prakriti, which is thesattva guna manifest in a universal way, He becomes the instrumental cause. That is, the intelligence of Brahman is reflected through the universal sattva of prakriti, andthat universally manifest intelligence is the causative factor, the instrumental or efficient cause, the intelligent cause of the universe. But the material is the very sameBrahman associating itself with tamasic prakriti. This is the meaning of this particular verse: jagato yadu pādānaṁ māyā mādāya tāmasīm, nimittaṁ śuddha sasattvāṁ tāmucyate brahma tadgirā. God becomes the upadana, orthe material cause, by associating Himself with tamasicprakriti. But He becomes nimitta, or the instrumental cause, by associating with shuddha sattva pradhan prakriti.

So the manner of the reflection of Brahman inthe properties of prakriti, sattva and tamas differently, becomes the cause of God Himself appearing as the instrumental cause and the material cause together. Therefore, God is called abhina nimitta upadana karana. Abhina means non-differentiated, nimitta is instrumental,upadana is material, and karana is cause. God is the undifferentiated material and instrumental cause of the universe. This is how God appears as the creative principle of the cosmos, but He may appear as an individual by associating Himself with another thing.


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