The Matrix of the Unborn 2- the Tantric concept of Creation
------ © Dr. Satya Prakash Choudhary
The ultimate Reality - the mother of all that is, is beyond all form, words, thoughts and names. All notions of space and time, in fact the very mind dissolves into a primordial pool that is unfathomable. But man always tries to know the unknown through the known and has tried to understand that which is beyond the mind through the mind. The 6 systems of philosophy (Shaddarsanas) explain the concept of creation from various viewpoints. Apart from these, the various schools of Shaiva and Shakta Tantras also explain the concept of creation. In essence, all these schools of thought explain the same. At root all are similar, the external differences being only due to the various angles from which they approach. While the details differ, most of these schools of thought have something in common.
The ultimate reality, the core of all things and all Beings is beyond words, thoughts and description. The seers called it by various names - Param Shiva, Brahman, Pure Consciousness and Cosmic consciousness. Call it what you want to, but it is the eternal ocean in which the countless universes arise as waves; the boundless space within which everything is born, grows and dies; the source of all things, the substratum upon which all things appear, the one and only reality which is unproduced, indestructible, motionless, eternal, all-pervading and beyond time and space. It is a veritable zero of vibrationless equilibrium.
It eternally alternates between two phases of rest and action, having in it the twin aspects of Self-Illumination and Supreme Power (Shakti), which always remain in a State of perfect coexistence with each other. When this ultimate reality, the Supreme Light (Prakasa), is self-moved to manifest something of itself, there is a deliberation (Vimarsa) on itself, a movement resulting in the projection of the Universe from itself. Thus Shakti is inseperable from the 'One who beholds Her' ("Shaktiman" is another name for Shiva who is said to behold Shakti). She is the universal principle of energy, power and creativity of the Universal Consciousness. The universe is a product of these two in various permutations and combinations, which the poet and devotee see as a sport, play or union of these two.
As we had already observed, although it is restless, "Shiva-Shakti" alternates between periods of rest and action. During the period of action, the energy undergoes many changes and gets distorted giving rise to myriads of forms. It reorgaizes itself during the period of rest and thus a continuous process of ceration, preservation and destruction goes on eternally. The same Supreme Power came to be revered as Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra in its various acts or aspects of creation, preservation and destruction respectively.
Energized Consciousness presents itself as "Shiva-Shakti" in unity, the two-in-one, at the point of creation, which is depicted as Shiva and Shakti in a close embrace, in Tantric iconography. The Shiva Linga itself is a representation of these two inseperable aspects of the great cosmic power, the masculine and feminine in their eternal embrace. In this Conscious Energy that till now is in a state of vibrationless equilibrium, the fist vibration arises as the desire to create, manifest, and express. In other words the one wishes to become the many. This is the first cause, the First Vibration (Adi Spanda), the point of primal stress in Conscious Energy. This results in a seperation, bringing forth the Dual from the Non-dual. Henceforward we have Shakti (also called Prakriti or Mahamaya by various schools), which is a projection of Shiva (also referred to as Purusha or The Cosmic Man). The point of primal stress is the mysterious primordial point (Bindu), the origin of all things that are. When the primordial Bindu bursts to form three foci, it manifests as a vibration that is expressed as the solemn and mysterious original sound. These primal sound vibrations are technically called "Nada Brahma" (also known as Sabda Brahma, Primordial Nada and Pranava Nada).
From the primordial sound (Nada), gradually the entire manifestation starts as articulate sound. The articulate sound (Vak) is expressed as the letter ( varna ) and combinations of letter-sounds go to form the word (nama). Each word has a meaning (artha). The meaning embodied in the name or the word becomes expressed as form. Thus various forms arise. The Primordial Sound (Nada) pervades all creation and is the original source of all the letters of the alphabets, mantras and all other sound vibrations by which thoughts are exchanged. All sounds have meaning. Sound and meaning are inseperable. To the poet and devotee, the first vibration is that of the Divine Mother's veena (a musical instrument). Thus the entire world and the countless universes are the music of divine Mother's veena, the music that flows forth perennially through the veena of the Goddess of Knowledge (Saraswati).
From pure undifferentrated Shakti comes Cosmic Intelligence ("Mahat"). In Mahat, there is neither movement nor resistance, while it shines in its own splendour. Coming down from Mahat, the next entity in creation is the "I" consciousness or "Ahamkara"- often referred to as "Ego". It is not to be taken in the Freudian sense of the word. It is the "I" consciousness, an aspect of the Supreme Self or Brahman, the collective Self, an "awareness" of itself.
COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS (PARAM-SHIVA)
CONSCIOUS ENERGY (SHIVA-SHAKTI)
COSMIC INTELLIGENCE (MAHAT)
"I" CONSCIOUSNESS (AHAMKARA)
The moment Ahamkara comes, all the three qualities (gunas) i.e. Satva, Rajas and Tamas begin to manifest themselves. Till now, being in a supreme state of equilibrium, they were as such unmanifest. Satva is detected by brilliance, Rajas by movement or dynamism and Tamas by inertia or its power of resistance. These three gunas or qualities decide the nature of everything in the universe. Human beings are classified as Satvic, Rajasic, or Tamasic according to the predominant quality manifest in them. Even verious foods are classified as Satvic, Rajasic or Tamasic according to the quality that they impart to us on eating. Hence the spiritual aspirant is advised to have Sattvic food, while a man of action is allowed to have Rajasic food and Tamasic food is generally not advised because it tends to make one dull, lazy and idiot like.
To take up the thread where we have left it, various tattwas originate as follows
Thus we find that the entire universe both the gross and the subtle has its origin from Shakti, the Cosmic Power or Energy that creates, sustains and eventually withdraws the universe and that the countless universes are only the dust of her feet. Shakti is rooted in and is the active form of the passive unchanging aspect which is known as Consciousness or Shiva. Thus Shiva represents the unmanifest and Shakti, the manifest. Shiva is the formless and Shakti the formed. Shiva is consciousness and Shakti energy, not only in the cosmos as a whole but in each and every individual. The individual consciousness is rooted in and is Shiva, whereas the body and mind are manifestations of Shakti. The roots of Shakti are in Shiva. Just as the power of heat and light is inherent in fire, Shakti also is inherent in Shiva. Though they seem to be different in the ultimate sense, they are one and the same. One is the principle of changelessness and the other is the principle of change. Shakti is change within changelessness and Shiva is changelessness as the root of change. Everything in the world, every object from the tiniest atom to the largest star is a manifestation, an expression of the cosmic power called Shakti. To the Shaivite, she is the consort of Shiva, an inseperable half of Shiva-Shakti. To the Vaishnavite, she is the wondrous splendour in the heart of Vishnu.
Shakti is everything. All these manifestations have come from the underlying substratum Shiva. Each and everything in the created universe is no more than manifested Consciousness. Consciousness is an inexhaustible source of everything in the universe, yet ever transcending the things that come out of it. From Shiva comes the Universe as a whole and everything individually through the power of Shakti, yet Shiva remains ever the same. Both Shiva and Shakti are one and the same. This is the eternal mystery, the eternal wonder that ever defies description.