Brahma Sutra 1.1.2 (Creation of Universe)

Janmadyasya yatah/ (जन्माद्यस्य यतः)

Meaning: (Brahman is that) from which the origin, &c., of this (world proceed).

The previous sutra dicussed about enquiry into knowledge of Brahman after one realizes that fruits of work is transitory in nature and fruit of knowledge is eternal.

This sutra defines who the Brahman is.

Taittiriya Upanishad 3.1

भृगुर्वै वारुणिः। वरुणं पितरमुपससार। अधीहि भगवो ब्रह्मेति।

Meaning: Bhrgu, the well-known son of Varuna, approached his father Varuna with the (formal) reest, ‘ O revered sir, teach me Brahman. ’

तस्मा एतत्प्रोवाच। अन्नं प्राणं चक्षुः श्रोत्रं मनो वाचमिति।

Meaning: To him he (Varuna) siad this: ‘ Food, vital force, eye, ear, mind, speech – these are the aids to the knowledge of Brahman. ’

यतो वा इमानि भूतानि जायन्ते। येन जातानि जीवन्ति। यत्प्रयन्त्यभिसंविशन्ति। तद्विजिज्ञासस्व। तद्ब्रह्मेति।

Meaning: that from which all these beings take birth, that by which they live after being born and into which they enter after death. Crave to know that well. That is Brahman. ’


Purva-paksha or Objection:

It is not possible to gain a knowledge of Brahman from the characteristic marks stated in this passage. The attributes stated in that passage–viz. being that from which the world originates, and so on–do not properly indicate Brahman as for attributes being more than one, there arises possibility of more than one Brahman. Therefore Brahman can’t be defined at all; consequently the enquiry into Brahman is useless. If a man who knows nothing about cows, but wishes to know about them, is told ‘a cow is that which has either entire horns, or mutilated horns, or no horns,’ the mutally exclusive ideas of the possession of entire horns, and so on, raise in his mind the ideas of several individual cows, although the term ‘cow’ is one only; and in the same way we are led to the idea of several distinct Brahmans.

Uttar Paksha or Reply:

Brahman can be known on the basis of the origination, subsistence, and reabsorption of the world–these characteristics occupying the position of collateral marks. No objection can be raised against this view. Three processes sufficiently indicate Brahman as that entity which is their material (upadaan) and efficient (nimitta) cause and thus implies implies greatness (brihattva) and power of growth (brimhana)–this being the meaning of the root brimh (from which ‘Brahman’ is derived).

brimhyati, brumhyati iti brahma: That which is great and grows one who come to him equally great is Brahman.

More than one attribute don’t give rise to concept of more than one Brahman. when we say ‘Devadatta is of a dark complexion, is young, has reddish eyes,’ &c., we also make a statement as to several attributes, and yet we are understood to refer to one Devadatta only; similarly we understand in the case under discussion also that there is one Brahman only.


Three causes or kaaranas:

  1. Nimitta kaarana (Effective cause)
  2. Upaadaan kaaran (Material cause)
  3. Sahkaari kaaran (instrumental cause)

3 kaaranas.JPG

In case of pot as result, earth is the material cause, Potter is the effective cause and wheel is the instrumental cause.

3 causes.JPG

Take another example, in case of cloth, threads are material cause; weaver is the effective cause and equpments are the instrumental cause.

We can observe that while material cause (upaadaan kaaran) itself changes into the effect; the effective cause (nimitta kaaran) doesn’t undergo any change. It shapes the upaadaan kaaran via sahkaari kaaran into the effect/product.

In case of creation of universe, if universe is the effect; Brahman is both Upaadaan kaaran and Nimitta Kaaran. 

Chhandogya Upanishad 6.2.1 :

सदेव सोम्येदमग्र आसीदेकमेवाद्वितीयम् ।
तद्धैक आहुरसदेवेदमग्र आसीदेकमेवाद्वितीयं
तस्मादसतः सज्जायत ॥ ६.२.१॥

“O Somya (who is fit to drink the Soma juice (prepared in Soma yagnya)) the universe which you see now with manifold forms and names was not like this before its creation but was present subtle (difficult to distinguish) form of “Sat”.

तदैक्षत बहु स्यां प्रजायेयेति तत्तेजोऽसृजत तत्तेज
ऐक्षत बहु स्यां प्रजायेयेति तदपोऽसृजत ।

the “Sat” wished that “I become the multitudinous (expanded-StUla) chit and achit tatvas ie., the universe”. The “Sat” became many, as it wished. This is “Sat’s” first Sankalpam (Wish).

Aitereya Upanishad 1.1.1

आत्मा वा इदमेक एवाग्र आसीत्। नान्यत् किंचन मिषत्। स ईक्षत लोकान्नु सृजा इति।।1.1.1।।

In the beginning (all) this was verily the Atman alone. There was nothing else active. (Nothing else whatsoever living existed. There was no other thing that winked at all.) He thought: ` (now) verily I shall create the worlds. ‘

स इमाँल्लोकानसृजत।

He created these worlds|

Taittiriya Upanishad 2.6

सोऽकामयत। बहु स्यां प्रजायेयेति।

He (the Self) wished, ‘ Let me be many, let me be born.’

तत्सृष्ट्रा। तदेवानुप्राविशत्। तदनुप्रविश्य। सच्च त्यच्चाभवत्। निरुक्तं चानिरुक्तं च। निलयनं चानिलयनं च। विज्ञानं चाविज्ञानं च। सत्यं चानृतं च सत्यमभवत्। यदिदं किंच। यदिदं किंच। तत्सत्यमित्याचक्षते।

That (Brahman), having created (that), entered into that very thing. And having entered there, It became the formed and the formless, the defined and the undefined, the sustaining and the non-sustaining, the sentient and the insentient, the true and the untrue. Truth became all this that there is. They call that (Brahman) Truth.

असद्वा इदमग्र आसीत्। ततो वै सदजायत।

In the beginning all this was but the unmanifested/subtle (Brahman). From that emerged the manifested/gross.

Brihadaranyak 1.4.10; Maitri Upanishad 6.17

brahma va idam agra asit

In the beginning, there was only Brahma.

Mahopanishad, Narayana Upanishad:

eko ha vai nArAyaNa AsIt| na brhamA na ISAnah na Apah naagnishomi yau na eme dyAvA pRthvI na nakshatrANina sUryah na candramAh| 

Only nArAyaNa existed prior to creation. There was no Brahma, no Shiva (Ishana), no stars, moon, etc….”

The above passages confirm that Brahman is both upaadaan and nimitta kaaran of the universe. Since, in the beginning, there was only Brahman and it desired and became many. 


Q: Brahman in indivisible, ‘nirvikaar’ i.e. beyond any taints. So how can Brahman transform into many? How can Brahman be transformed into world full of evils? How can Brahman who is not tainted with evil creates the universe full of pain and pleasures.


The Brahman is declared to be distinct from indivisual self in series of sruti and smriti passages. The Brahman is superior than and distinct from the indivisual self, who experiances distress and sorrow.

Here are the quotations:

 Is Vedas mutually contradictory?

Madhyandiniya Brahman, Satpath Brahman and Antaryaami Brahman states that Brahman has for its body the indivisual selves and he is their inner self.

Also, Subalopanishad:

esha sarva-bhUtAntarAtmA apahatapApmA divyo deva: eko nArAyaNa:

एष सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा अपहृतपाप्मा दिव्यो देव एको नारायणः|

Narayana Upanishad:

  • यच किञ्चिज्जगत्यस्मिन् दृश्यते श्रूयतेऽपि वा ।

         अन्तर्बहिश्च तत्सर्वं व्याप्य नारायणः स्थितः ॥

Ramayana, Yuddha kand

जगत् सर्वं शरीरं ते

Vishnu Puran 1.22.38: Whoever is created for its generation by an agent, it forms body of Hari.

  1. यः पृथिव्यां तिष्ठन्। पृथिव्या अन्तरो यं पृथिवी न वेद यस्य पृथिवी शरीरं यः पृथिवीमन्तरो यमयति स त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः – {Satpatha Brahman 14.6.7.[7]}

  2. य आत्मनि तिष्ठन् आत्मनोऽन्तरो यमात्मा न वेद यस्यात्मा शरीरं य आत्मानमन्तरो यमयति स त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः – {Satpath Brahman 14.6.7.[30]}                                                     Meaning: He who, dwelling in the self is within the self, whom the self does not know, whose body the self is, and who controls the self from within, He is your Inner Controller and Immortal Self’

  1. यः सर्वेषु भूतेषु तिष्ठन्सर्वेभ्यो भूतेभ्योऽन्तरो यं सर्वाणि भूतानि न विदुः। यस्य सर्वाणि भूतानि शरीरं यः सर्वाणि भूतायन्तरो यमयति। एष त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः(BrihadaAranyak Upanishad 3।7।15)

Meaning: He who, dwelling in all beings, is within all beings, whom all beings do not know, whose body all beings are, who controls all beings from within, is your Inner Controller, immortal Self.

Though the world is full of evils, Brahman is not tainted with evils of the effect as good and bad attributes are restricted to body of the Brahman. The faults are attached to the body, don’t touch the self i.e. Brahman.

Upanishads calls Brahman with the names of ‘aatma’; ‘sat’; ‘self’ since Brahman is the antaryaami aatma of each aatma and thus having all the aatma as his body.

कार्यावस्थं कारणावस्थं च ब्रह्म प्रत्यगात्मशरीरकतया तदात्मभूतमिति|

In both state of cause and effect i.e. both during deluge and creation, indivisual aatmas remains body of the Brahman.

सर्वदा चित अचित वस्तुशरीरकतया तदात्मभूतमेव ब्रह्म| कदाचित अविभक्तनामरूप चिदचिद्वस्तुशरीरं तत्कारणावस्थम्| कदाचित विभक्तनामरूप चिदचिद्वस्तुशरीरं तत्कार्यावस्थं ब्रह्म| सर्वदा चित अचित वस्तुशरीरकतया तत विशिष्टत्वेऽपि ब्रह्मणः|

The Brahman has always for his body all the sentient (aatma) and non-sentient (prakriti) beings and he is the self of those beings. In the state of cause (Deluge); Brahman has its body consituting the sentient and non-sentient beings without distinct names and forms.  In the stage of effect, Brahman has as it’s body sentient and non-sentient beings with distinct names and forms.

Brahman doesn’t undergo any change but the sentient and non-sentient beings which forms the body of the Brahman, do undergo changes and are the seat of evils.

Thus, there is expansion and contraction of the body of the brahman. In the beginning i.e. at the time of deluge, remained only one having as its body all the sentient and non-sentient beings in subtle form (sukshma or unmanifest or asat).

तदैक्षत बहु स्यां प्रजायेयेति (chhandogya 6.2.1)

It thought, may I become many and be born.

It thought of becoming many by assuming a gross form, that has distinct name and form. Thus, Brahman expands its body in gross form, providing name and form to the aatmas.

As per Advait

Before creation, everything remains subtle. After creation, difference between them is produced by ignorance or association with limiting conditions (Upaadhi). They too accept the difference to be beginningless but once knowledge of oneness comes, ignorance due to upaadhis disappers and one becomes jeevan-mukta.


In Advait, Brahman becomes ignorant and is associated with limiting conditions. This is opposed to what stated in sruti and smriti.

What’s this upaadhi which is able to cover sarv-shaktimaan Brahman? If it’s same as Brahman (as everything is considered Brahman), then Brahman would never be liberated since brahman is restricting Brahman from becoming Brahman. If Upaadhi is different from Brahman, then advait vanishes and it becomes dvait i.e. Brahma and Upaadhi. If Upaadhi is neither Brahma, nor different from brahma; then does it exist at all? A non-existent thing has been able to bound the Brahman?

Finally, advait leads to the conclusion that the creation is illusion. This again is contradictory to sruti vakya which says brahman desired and created the universe. Now, can Brahman desire for something to be created and it turns out to be illusion?

AS per Vishistadvait:

Vishnu Puran 1.22.20:

All these are produced from portion of Vishnu who appears as all beings.


Vishnu Puran 1.22.38:

Whoever is created for its generation by an agent, it forms body of Hari.

Vishnu Puran 1.22.56

The fire remains in one place; but its light spreads all around. In this way, all the worlds are manifestations of the power of the Brahman.

Similarly, Brahman remains nirvikaar and it’s body gets manifested into the world. Chit and Achit are attributes to Brahman just like light to fire or fragnance to flower. Thus, chit and achit qualifies the Brahman. That qualified brahman or Vishishta Brahman is only tattva (ekameva adwitiya). The Brahman vishist by aatmas and Prakriti.

So, when upanishads proclaims;

eko ha vai Narayano Aasit

It means brahman was present with it body i.e. chit and achit in unmanifest form.

Q: So, why don’t Upanishads says Brahman was present with chit and achit?

Ans: There is no need to say Flower is present with fragrance or Sun is present with rays. There is no need to say Devdatta has arrived with his shirt and jeans. It’s understood that Devadatta is associated with shirt and jeans.

Now, chit and achita are inseparable attributes of Brahman.

If we don’t accept this, we would have to accept that aatman were created by brahman during creation (As per Vallabhacharya) for the enjoyment of Brahman which again contradicts shastra pramana and brings evils in the brahman.

Examples to Understand:

  1. Dancing peacock.
  2. Spider emitting web from its belly and again consuming it.
  3. water waves rising high and gets unmanifested again.

Here, if we assume feathers to be prakriti and the eyes in the features to be aatmas and peacock to brahman; it represents creation process in ideal way. In Creation, peacock looks at cloud becomes happy and dances. Thus, the features opens up. Similarly, Brahman Sriman Narayan when watches mahalakshmi, he becomes full of joy and creates the universe by expanding it’s body and providing name and form to them.

लोकवत्तु लीला कैवल्यम्

The creation of universe is just a play for the Brahman but in this divine play, aatmas gets chance to clear off its karma and enter leela vibhuti.

Spider is the Brahman and the net/ web is the creation. During deluge, spider engulfs the universe in it’s stomach and during creation spills it out and expand it. यथोर नाभा सृजते विश्वं एतत्
water waves
Similar to water waves, the body of Brahman gets manifested and unmanifested again and again


Upaadaan kaaran:

चेतन-अचेतन विशिष्ट ब्रह्म, उपादान कारणं।

सूक्ष्म चेतन अचेतन वस्तु विशिष्ट ब्रह्म जगत-करणं।

स्थूल चेतन अचेतन वस्तु विशिष्ट ब्रह्म जगतकारी।।

chit achit vishisht Brahma is the material cause. But we say brahman to be matrial cause since it is the antaryaami aatma of entire aatmas and prakriti and supports controls and holds them, thus they being his body. In regular conversations too, we call aatman by the name of the body.

Nimitta kaaran:

संकल्प विशिष्ट ब्रह्म एव निमित्त कारणं

Brahman vishist by his will power is the effective cause. Just will of the lord is sufficient for creation since him being satyakaam, satyasankalpa.

Instrumental cause

ज्ञान शक्ति विशिष्ट ब्रह्म एव सहकारी कारणं

Brahman Vishisht by knowledge and power is the instrumental cause. Actually, knowledge and power of Brahman is the instrumental cause, but we say brahman to be sahkaari kaaran since they are attributes of brahman. In regukar practice too, we don’t praize the qualities of a person which gave good lecture, but we praise the person possessing those qualities.

    अभिन्न निमित्तोपादानसहकारी कारण ब्रह्म’


vedat saram18198573_1398367980185815_1885732526965632188_ncropped-srirangam-ranganathaswamy-periyaperumal.jpggithacharya-2

Author: ramanujramprapnna

studying Ramanuj school of Vishishtadvait vedant

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