object:1.02.3.1 - The Lord
book class:Isha Upanishad
author class:Sri Aurobindo
class:chapter --- IV - THIRD MOVEMENT  --- The Lord
In its third movement the Upanishad takes up the justification
of works already stated in general terms in its second verse and
founds it more precisely upon the conception of Brahman or
the Self as the Lord, - Ish, Ishwara, Para Purusha, Sa (He) -
who is the cause of personality and governs by His law of works
the rhythm of the Movement and the process of the worlds that
He conceives and realises throughout eternal Time in His own
It is an error to conceive that the Upanishads teach the true
existence only of an impersonal and actionless Brahman, an
impersonal God without power or qualities. They declare rather
an Unknowable that manifests itself to us in a double aspect
of Personality and Impersonality. When they wish to speak of
this Unknowable in the most comprehensive and general way,
they use the neuter and call It Tat, That; but this neuter does
not exclude the aspect of universal and transcendent Personality
acting and governing the world (cf. Kena Upanishad III). Still,
when they intend to make prominent the latter idea they more
often prefer to use the masculine Sa, He, or else they employ the
* 8. It is He that has gone abroad - That which is bright, bodiless, without scar of
imperfection, without sinews, pure, unpierced by evil. The Seer, the Thinker, the One
who becomes everywhere, the Self-existent has ordered objects perfectly according to
their nature from years sempiternal.
term Deva, God or the Divine, or Purusha, the conscious Soul,
of whom Prakriti or Maya is the executive Puissance, the Shakti.
The Isha Upanishad, having declared the Brahman as the
sole reality manifesting itself in many aspects and forms, having
presented this Brahman subjectively as the Self, the one Being of
whom all existences are Becomings, and as that which we have to
realise in ourselves and in all things and beyond all things, now
proceeds to assert the same Brahman more objectively as the
Lord, the Purusha who both contains and inhabits the universe.
It is He that went abroad. This Brahman, this Self is identical
with the Lord, the Ish, with whose name the Upanishad opens,
the Inhabitant of all forms: and, as we shall find, identical with
the universal Purusha of the 16th verse, - "The Purusha there
and there, He am I." It is He who has become all things and
beings, - a conscious Being, the sole Existent and Self-existent,
who is Master and Enjoyer of all He becomes. And the Upanishad proceeds to formulate the nature and manner, the general
law of that becoming of God which we call the world. For on
this conception depends the Vedic idea of the two poles of death
and immortality, the reason for the existence of Avidya, the
Ignorance, and the justification of works in the world.
THE DIVINE PERSONALITY
The Vedantic idea of God, "He", Deva or Ishwara, must not be
confused with the ordinary notions attached to the conception of
a Personal God. Personality is generally conceived as identical
with individuality and the vulgar idea of a Personal God is a
magnified individual like man in His nature but yet different,
greater, more vast and all-overpowering. Vedanta admits the
human manifestation of Brahman in man and to man, but does
not admit that this is the real nature of the Ishwara.
God is Sachchidananda. He manifests Himself as infinite
existence of which the essentiality is consciousness, of which
again the essentiality is bliss, is self-delight. Delight cognizing
variety of itself, seeking its own variety, as it were, becomes the
universe. But these are abstract terms; abstract ideas in themselves cannot produce concrete realities. They are impersonal
states; impersonal states cannot in themselves produce personal
This becomes still clearer if we consider the manifestation of
Sachchidananda. In that manifestation Delight translates itself
into Love; Consciousness translates itself into double terms, conceptive Knowledge, executive Force; Existence translates itself
into Being, that is to say, into Person and Substance. But Love is
incomplete without a Lover and an object of Love, Knowledge
without a Knower and an object of Knowledge, Force without a
Worker and a Work, Substance without a Person cognizing and
This is because the original terms also are not really impersonal abstractions. In delight of Brahman there is an Enjoyer of
delight, in consciousness of Brahman a Conscient, in existence
of Brahman an Existent; but the object of Brahman's delight and
consciousness and the term and stuff of Its existence are Itself. In
the divine Being Knowledge, the Knower and the Known and,
therefore, necessarily also Delight, the Enjoyer and the Enjoyed
This Self-Awareness and Self-Delight of Brahman has two
modes of its Force of consciousness, its Prakriti or Maya, -
intensive in self-absorption, diffusive in self-extension. The intensive mode is proper to the pure and silent Brahman; the
diffusive to the active Brahman. It is the diffusion of the Selfexistent in the term and stuff of His own existence that we call
the world, the becoming or the perpetual movement (bhuvanam,
jagat). It is Brahman that becomes; what He becomes is also the
Brahman. The object of Love is the self of the Lover; the work
is the self-figuration of the Worker; Universe is body and action
of the Lord.
When, therefore, we consider the abstract and impersonal
aspect of the infinite existence, we say, "That"; when we consider
the Existent self-aware and self-blissful, we say, "He". Neither
conception is entirely complete. Brahman itself is the Unknowable beyond all conceptions of Personality and Impersonality.
We may call it "That" to show that we exile from our affirmation
all term and definition. We may equally call it "He", provided
we speak with the same intention of rigorous exclusion. "Tat"
and "Sa" are always the same, One that escapes definition.
In the universe there is a constant relation of Oneness and
Multiplicity. This expresses itself as the universal Personality and
the many Persons, and both between the One and the Many and
among the Many themselves there is the possibility of an infinite
variety of relations. These relations are determined by the play
of the divine existence, the Lord, entering into His manifested
habitations. They exist at first as conscious relations between
individual souls; they are then taken up by them and used as
a means of entering into conscious relation with the One. It is
this entering into various relations with the One which is the
object and function of Religion. All religions are justified by this
essential necessity; all express one Truth in various ways and
move by various paths to one goal.
The Divine Personality reveals Himself in various forms and
names to the individual soul. These forms and names are in a
sense created in the human consciousness; in another they are
eternal symbols revealed by the Divine who thus concretises
Himself in mind-form to the multiple consciousness and aids it
in its return to its own Unity.1
HE THAT WENT ABROAD
It is He that has extended Himself in the relative consciousness
whose totality of finite and changeable circumstances dependent
on an equal, immutable and eternal Infinity is what we call the
Universe. Sa paryagat.
In this extension we have, therefore, two aspects, one of pure
infinite relationless immutability, another of a totality of objects
1 It would be an error to suppose that these conceptions are in their essence later
developments of philosophical Hinduism. The conception of the many forms and names
of the One is as old as the Rig Veda.
in Time and Space working out their relations through causality.
Both are different and mutually complementary expressions of
the same unknowable "He".
To express the infinite Immutability the Upanishad uses
a series of neuter adjectives, "Bright, bodiless, without scar,
without sinews, pure, unpierced by evil." To express the same
Absolute as cause, continent and governing Inhabitant of the
totality of objects and of each object in the totality (jagatyam
jagat) it uses four masculine epithets, "The Seer, the Thinker,
the One who becomes everywhere, the Self-existent" or "the
The Immutable is the still and secret foundation of the play
and the movement, extended equally, impartially in all things,
samam brahma,2 lending its support to all without choice or
active participation. Secure and free in His eternal immutability the Lord projects Himself into the play and the movement,
becoming there in His self-existence all that the Seer in Him visualises and the Thinker in Him conceives. Kavir mans. paribhuh.
THE PURE IMMUTABLE
The pure immutability of the Lord is "bright". It is a luminosity
of pure concentrated Self-awareness, not broken by refractions,
not breaking out into colour and form. It is the pure selfknowledge of the Purusha, the conscious Soul, with his Power,
his executive Force contained and inactive.
It is "bodiless", - without form, indivisible and without
appearance of division. It is one equal Purusha in all things,
not divided by the divisions of Space and Time, - a pure selfconscious Absolute.
It is without scar, that is, without defect, break or imperfection. It is untouched and unaffected by the mutabilities. It
supports their clash of relations, their play of more and less,
of increase and diminution, of irruption and interpenetration.
2 "The equal Brahman." - Gita.
Isha Upanishad: Analysis
For Itself is without action, acalah. sanatanah.,3 "motionless,
It is without sinews. The reason for Its being without scar is
that It does not put out Power, does not dispense Force in multiple channels, does not lose it here, increase it there, replenish
its loss or seek by love or by violence its complementary or its
food. It is without nerves of force; It does not pour itself out in
the energies of the Pranic dynamism, of Life, of Matarishwan.
It is pure, unpierced by evil. What we call sin or evil, is
merely excess and defect, wrong placement, inharmonious action and reaction. By its equality, by its inaction even while it
supports all action, the conscious Soul retains its eternal freedom
and eternal purity. For it is unmodified; It watches as the Sakshi,
the witness, the modifications effected by Prakriti, but does not
partake of them, does not get clogged with them, receives not
their impression. Na lipyate.
THE SOUL INALIENABLY FREE
What is the relation of the active Brahman and of the human
soul to this pure Inactive? They too are That. Action does not
change the nature of the Self, but only the nature of the diverse
forms. The Self is always pure, blissful, perfect, whether inactive
or participating in action.
The Self is all things and exceeds them. It exceeds always
that in which the mind is engrossed, that which it takes in a particular time and space as a figure of itself. The boundless whole
is always perfect. The totality of things is a complete harmony
without wound or flaw. The view-point of the part taken for
a whole, in other words the Ignorance, is the broken reflection
which creates the consciousness of limitation, incompleteness
and discord. We shall see that this Ignorance has a use in the
play of the Brahman; but in itself it appears at first to be only a
parent of evil.
Ignorance is a veil that separates the mind, body and life
3 Gita II. 24.
Isha Upanishad: Part One
from their source and reality, Sachchidananda. Thus obscured
the mind feels itself pierced by the evil that Ignorance creates. But
the Active Brahman is always Sachchidananda using for its selfbecoming the forms of mind, body and life. All their experiences
are therefore seen by It in the terms of Sachchidananda. It is not
pierced by the evil. For It also is the One and sees everywhere
Oneness. It is not mastered by the Ignorance that It uses as a
minor term of its conception.
The human soul is one with the Lord; it also is in its completeness Sachchidananda using Ignorance as the minor term of
its being. But it has projected its conceptions into this minor
term and established there in limited mind its centre of vision,
its view-point. It assumes to itself the incompleteness and the
resultant sense of want, discord, desire, suffering. The Real Man
behind is not affected by all this confusion; but the apparent or
exterior Man is affected. To recover its freedom it must recover
its completeness; it must identify itself with the divine Inhabitant within, its true and complete self. It can then, like the
Lord, conduct the action of Prakriti without undergoing the
false impression of identification with the results of its action. It
is this idea on which the Upanishad bases the assertion, "Action
cleaveth not to a man."
To this end it must recover the silent Brahman within. The
Lord possesses always His double term and conducts the action
of the universe, extended in it, but not attached to or limited by
His works. The human soul, entangled in mind, is obscured in
vision by the rushing stream of Prakriti's works and fancies itself
to be a part of that stream and swept in its currents and in its
eddies. It has to go back in its self-existence to the silent Purusha
even while participating in its self-becoming in the movement of
Prakriti. It becomes, then, not only like the silent Purusha, the
witness and upholder, but also the Lord and the free enjoyer
of Prakriti and her works. An absolute calm and passivity, purity and equality within, a sovereign and inexhaustible activity
without is the nature of Brahman as we see it manifested in the
There is therefore no farther objection to works. On
the contrary, works are justified by the participation or selfidentification of the soul with the Lord in His double aspect of
passivity and activity. Tranquillity for the Soul, activity for the
energy, is the balance of the divine rhythm in man.
THE LAW OF THINGS
The totality of objects (arthan) is the becoming of the Lord in
the extension of His own being. Its principle is double. There
is consciousness; there is Being. Consciousness dwells in energy
(tapas) upon its self-being to produce Idea of itself (vijnana) and
form and action inevitably corresponding to the Idea. This is the
original Indian conception of creation, self-production or projection into form (sr.s.t.i, prasava). Being uses its self-awareness to
evolve infinite forms of itself governed by the expansion of the
innate Idea in the form. This is the original Indian conception of
evolution, prominent in certain philosophies such as the Sankhya
(parin.ama, vikara, vivarta). It is the same phenomenon diversely
In the idea of some thinkers the world is a purely subjective
evolution (vivarta), not real as objective fact; in the idea of others
it is an objective fact, a real modification (parin.ama), but one
which makes no difference to the essence of Being. Both notions
claim to derive from the Upanishads as their authority, and their
opposition comes in fact by the separation of what in the ancient
Vedanta was viewed as one, - as we see in this passage.
Brahman is His own subject and His own object, whether
in His pure self-existence or in His varied self-becoming. He is
the object of His own self-awareness; He is the Knower of His
own self-being. The two aspects are inseparable, even though
they seem to disappear into each other and emerge again from
each other. All appearance of pure subjectivity holds itself as
an object implicit in its very subjectivity; all appearance of pure
objectivity holds itself as subject implicit in its very objectivity.
All objective existence is the Self-existent, the Self-becoming,
"Swayambhu", becoming by the force of the Idea within it. The
Idea is, self-contained, the Fact that it becomes. For Swayambhu
sees or comprehends Himself in the essence of the Fact as
"Kavi", thinks Himself out in the evolution of its possibilities
as "Manishi", becomes form of Himself in the movement in
Space and Time as "Paribhu". These three are one operation
appearing as successive in the relative, temporal and spatial
It follows that every object holds in itself the law of its own
being eternally, sasvatbhyah. samabhyah., from years sempiternal, in perpetual Time. All relations in the totality of objects are
thus determined by their Inhabitant, the Self-existent, the Selfbecoming, and stand contained in the nature of things by the
omnipresence of the One, the Lord, by His self-vision which
is their inherent subjective Truth, by His self-becoming which,
against a background of boundless possibilities, is the Law of
their inevitable evolution in the objective Fact.
Therefore all things are arranged by Him perfectly, yathatathyatah., as they should be in their nature. There is an imperative harmony in the All, which governs the apparent discords
of individualisation. That discord would be real and operate in
eternal chaos, if there were only a mass of individual forms and
forces, if each form and force did not contain in itself and were
not in its reality the self-existent All, the Lord.
THE PROCESS OF THINGS
The Lord appears to us in the relative notion of the process of
things first as Kavi, the Wise, the Seer. The Kavi sees the Truth
in itself, the truth in its becoming, in its essence, possibilities,
actuality. He contains all that in the Idea, the Vijnana, called
the Truth and Law, Satyam Ritam. He contains it comprehensively, not piecemeal; the Truth and Law of things is the Brihat,
the Large. Viewed by itself, the realm of Vijnana would seem
a realm of predetermination, of concentration, of compelling
seed-state. But it is a determination not in previous Time, but in
perpetual Time; a Fate compelled by the Soul, not compelling it,
compelling rather the action and result, present in the expansion
of the movement as well as in the concentration of the Idea.
Therefore the truth of the Soul is freedom and mastery, not
subjection and bondage. Purusha commands Prakriti, Prakriti
does not compel Purusha. Na karma lipyate nare.
The Manishi takes his stand in the possibilities. He has
behind him the freedom of the Infinite and brings it in as a
background for the determination of the finite. Therefore every
action in the world seems to emerge from a balancing and clashing of various possibilities. None of these, however, are effective
in the determination except by their secret consonance with the
Law of that which has to become. The Kavi is in the Manishi
and upholds him in his working. But viewed by itself the realm
of the Manishi would seem to be a state of plasticity, of freewill, of the interaction of forces, but of a free-will in thought
which is met by a fate in things.
For the action of the Manishi is meant to eventuate in the
becoming of the Paribhu. The Paribhu, called also Virat, extends
Himself in the realm of eventualities. He fulfils what is contained
in the Truth, what works out in the possibilities reflected by the
mind, what appears to us as the fact objectively realised. The
realm of Virat would seem, if taken separately, to be that of a
Law and Predetermination which compels all things that evolve
in that realm, - the iron chain of Karma, the rule of mechanical
necessity, the despotism of an inexplicable Law.
But the becoming of Virat is always the becoming of the selfexistent Lord, - paribhuh. svayambhuh.. Therefore to realise the
truth of that becoming we have to go back and re-embrace all
that stands behind; - we have to return to the full truth of the
free and infinite Sachchidananda.
This is the truth of things as seen from above and from the
Unity. It is the divine standpoint; but we have to take account of
the human standpoint which starts from below, proceeds from
the Ignorance, and perceives these principles successively, not
comprehensively, as separate states of consciousness. Humanity
is that which returns in experience to Sachchidananda, and it
must begin from below, in Avidya, with the mind embodied in
Matter, the Thinker imprisoned and emerging from the objective
Fact. This imprisoned Thinker is Man, the "Manu".
He has to start from death and division and arrive at unity
and immortality. He has to realise the universal in the individual and the Absolute in the relative. He is Brahman growing
self-conscious in the objective multiplicity. He is the ego in the
cosmos vindicating himself as the All and the Transcendent.
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