What is Hindu view point of ‘What is Universe’? How did it manifest? How can we experience its manifestation?
Let us see how our ancestors have given a very derivative approach for our universe which they called it as Brahmanda [ब्रह्माण्ड]. The fact is that each Brahmanda they equated
to a living body with living life span, age and growth and destruction. They also identified the fact that there could be several of these universes – Ananta koti
Brahmanda [अनंता कोटिब्रह्माण्ड]. Even our modern science confirms that there are many universes like our solar system. If we equate it to our technical knowledge, each of this universe has a Construction, Life of existence and Destructive cycles.
To begin with let us get a glimpse of what is stated in our ancient Upanishad text of “Tattiriya Upanishad” [तैत्तिरीय उपनिषद].
‘ॐ ब्रह्म विदाप्नोति परम् । तदेषाभ्युक्ता । सत्यं ज्ञानमनन्तंब्रह्म। यो वेद निहितं गुहायां परमे व्योमन् । सोस्नुते सर्वान्कामासः । ब्रह्मणा विपश्चितेति । तस्वाद्वा एतस्मावात्मान ।
आकाशः संभूतः । आकाशाद्वायुः । वायोरग्निः । अग्नेरापः ।अद्भः प्रुधिवी । प्रुधिव्यावोषधयः । ओषधीभ्योरन्नं । अन्नात्पुरुषः । सवा एषः पुरुषः । पुरुषोन्नरसंमयः । तस्सेदमेव शिरः ।
अयं दक्षिण पक्षः । अयमुत्तर पक्षः । अयमात्मा । इदं पुच्छं प्रतिष्ट । तदप्ये श्लोको भवति’
It means this: The Knower of Brahman attains the Supreme. In reference to that the following is said. The Real, Conciour, Infinite is Brahman. He who knows that supreme Akasha [आकाश] as existing hidden in the heart realises all his desires along
with Omniscient Brahman. So, from this Atman [Brahman], has sprung Ether; from Ether Air; from Air Fire; from Fire Water; from Water Earth; From Earth Vegetables; From Vegetables Food; from Food Animals; thus man [Animals] constitutes
essence of food [अन्नाद्भवन्ति भूतानि – Annad-Bhavanti-Bhutani As said in Bhagavad Gita.
If you observe these verses, it seems our ancestors have understood the cosmology. It can be equated to what the modern physics has to say about mater formation as Solid->Liquid->Gas->Plasma. Though it stops there, and still researches are going on, Hindu philosophy says it as “Energy (Akasha)–> Vayu–> Agni–> Jala –>
Earth–>Trees–>Food–>Anemias” as the order of derivation. The word Akasham itself means Energy in Sanskrit[आकाशं – आ काशः इति आकाशं, काशं – Kasham Means Energy, Aa-Kasham
is one that is fully filled with energy]. What a wonderful meaning to the word itself? Even the modern science believes that the Galaxy is fully with Cosmic energy.
Let us go through some more details in to above statements in scientific manner. Primarily, there existed nothing called as space. It is a Void state with nothingness, no shape called Avyaya [अव्यय]. It is the most abstract entity called Aakasha [आकाश] that has nothing in it but everything derived from it. Equate it to an Abstract Class [for IT Professionals]. Akasha signified all aspects as infinity. It is the ultimate Shakti [शक्ति] with infinite manifestation power with in itself in subtle form [स्थूल] or Atomic form. The rest of the forms are simple manifestation of this into derivatives to build this universe in current state.
The next form of it is the Air or Vayu [वायु] – think of it as a sub class of Aakash. It is derived and has inherited all the properties of Aakash. However, the knowledge of Aakash is not directly exposed. But it has a purpose for its manifestation. If you look at the characteristics of Vayu, it can travel, one can feel it, has no smell and nobody can see it [we are talking about clean air not about some coloured gasses]. It cannot stay at one place and always in motion – so it is stateless. The wind [Air] has blown that fast and pwoerful that it created friction resulting in another manifestation of Fire [तेज].
If you examine the next derivative or sub class of Air, The Fire, it has two more distinct characters – It emits light and heat, it can be felt. So, it has kept some of the characters of Vayu but has some more characters. As we all know, the winds will help fire to catch up quickly. It is also stateless as it doesn’t have a state. It requires Air to maintain its state.
The reaction of Air and Fire resulted in chemistry and aided another derivate Vyapa [व्याप / जल]. You you look at water, it is mixture of two elements hydrogen and oxygen that are part of Air. This brought in an important character called state. It sustained some of the characters of its parents, Water flows like wind; it can be felt but has no colour. The important character that it acquired is a state [स्थिति]. It stays in a state which contains it. Here, it required another manifestation for containment, to contain one need something more solid form. This gave raise to another derivative Pruthivi / the Earthly material [पृथ्वी]. The Bang out of the above chemistry resulted in several earthly objects called the galaxy with planets. Our earth in its existence is an object in solid state that can be felt, with solid state that can contain liquids.
There is one specific distinction between our Earth and other planets. The earth has taken all the elements to enable evolution of creature’s micro organisms, animals and birds. It is primarily because earth has sustained all the elements in it, the Fire, Water and the Air [atmosphere].
If you have a look at the order of derivation of the universe, it is in above order. The object that we have a closer access is the earth. Though we directly or indirectly deal with other objects, we ourselves are an earthly substance in a solid state. Just like how the earth got derived from its parents, we associate our derivation from Earth. Yes, the evolution began from micro organisms and evolved to macro state of animals and other creatures.
Our ancestors have embedded the knowledge of this derivation in their definition itself. The order as chanted in our scriptures says, Prithirvyapatejovayurakashat [प्रुथिर्व्यापस्तेजोवायुराकाशत]. So the order of derivation is, Earth –> Water –> Fire –> Air –> Space. Everything derived from space.
We all belong to one being which is Void, Stateless, Inexpressible, infinite and Atomic form [अव्यय, निराकार, अव्यक्त, अनंत, सूक्ष्म].
Thus all living organisms are made up of these basic elements called Panchabhootas [पंचभूत]. The manifestation enabled development of specific sensory organisms [इन्द्रिय] to detect the characters of these elements. The five basic sensors, The Eyes [Vision, light], The Ears [The Sound], The Nose [Smell], The Toung [Taste] and Skin [To feel and touch]. These sensory organs enabled the character visibility of the parent objects.
Each of these objects are having definite life span for existence they have a purpose for their living. They are having a standard pattern in their implementation with Construction, Living and Destruction as its lifecycle. In that sense, the Earth also has the same lifecycle as other Panchbhootas. Everything has to dissolve into space after it finishes its lifecycle. The span of life cycle differs from one object or organism to another. While a human has 100 years of life span, the whole Brahmanda [Universe] has its defined life span.
The same has been stated in our scriptures as Brahma Kalpa. One Brahma Kalpa means one day of Brahman [the Universe or Brahmanda]. Once the Kalpa is over, the existing creation has to be destroyed to start another chain of creation through construction. Hence the Vedanta explains this cycle of Construction, Existance and Destruction as Jagat [जगति – ‘ज’ जननं [Birth], ‘ग’ गति [Moves and Goes] – Means the one that gives Birth and Moves, Lives and Goes [dies or goes back to Cosmos.
As the universe expanded, more and more derivative objects have evolved by expanding characteristics enabling a playful life with objects [Vedanta Calls it as Jagan-Nataka जगन्नतक]. As has been stated, each of the organisms have purpose to complete its life cycle. The Bacteria, Sea creatures, animals, Birds each of these organisms use the sensory organs (devices / इन्द्रिय) throughout their life span to survive before they perish.
The factor that differentiates humans with other organisms is that other organisms would do their specific function by just following their sensors blindly whereas the human are given the ability to detect parent characteristics as well as to direct these sensors in intellectual fashion to understand and behave differently through discrimination. This power of discrimination [विवेक] is key differentiator between humans and other animals. This gives us power of manipulation, control and manifestation with brain, the intellect.
The beautiful brain in human can do wonders. It helps in self realization and also to understand the mere existence of universe and cause of one’s own existence within it. Let us see what wonders it can do practically.
We have seen the way water exists in all 3 states as Solid, Liquid, and Gaseous states. It is the bond among atoms that differentiates its existence in different states. It is flexible that it can easily transcendent from solid to Liquid and Gas and vice versa.
It is Maya [illusion] that really doesn’t allow us to treat and look the all elements of nature as living organisms including Earth, Water, Fire, Air. We are actually a mixture of all these five elements plus the sensory wisdom put together as a matter. If we separate the sensory wisdom from ourselves, we get decomposed into the Matter [Five elements].
The reason for our inability to visualize these elements as living creatures is simply because of Maya that restricts our sensory wisdom to realize the sensory wisdom of these elements to treat them also as living organisms.
If we apply simple material science principles and technically, we are typecast as Human objects. We need to typecast to water to change our state to liquid and up to the parent class Aakash to be able to access those methods. The problem is we just lose identity once we typecast to water class as we lose access to our sensory methods and wisdom. This information is contained in our brain.
In actual fact, one key method – the Pranic Shakti [प्रण शक्ति] is actually available to all the object hierarchy. Our ancestors have mastered the use of this to achieve wonders and attain self control. The Astangadyayi [Astanga Yoga] of Patanjali talks about 8 fold approaches in acquiring mastery over our senses to tap the powers of pranic shakthi. [Please read my other article on Golden Principles of Yoga for more details on the same].
If we think about it technically, during typecast from solid to water, we need the wisdom of information from our brain also to get transformed to get back to our identity and information access. The Pranic Shakthi can be used in packing this information and accessing it elsewhere. After all our body is just a machine and it’s the Pranic Shakthi [the ultimate Brahman] that is controlling us. This Pranic Shakthi existing in every human’s doesn’t realize its true potential till the time it is awakened. Its primary character is Dreaming and acquisition of information using sensory organs just like any other animal. As humans, if we also follow the path of these animals without awakening / realizing self, we cannot be differentiated.
It is an established fact that there are Yogis who has mastered the Yogic techniques to manage the Pranic shakti and are living with out food and water for months together. Science is still not able to identify how this is possible. See below links for reference.