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Nature and Definition of God In Vedanta

In Vedanta God should not be taken merely as an extra-cosmic Creator of the universe, creating the universe out of nothing by an act of will, as in Semitic religions. Neither is God a mere He. He is both personal and impersonal. He is only a convenient description to show that God is a conscious being (chaitanya) and not an inert existence (jada). As such God can be equally described as She or It, and can be thought of in all relationships such as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, master, lord, friend, and even as enemy (in the case of Ravana, for example), to establish emotional communion with the Divine to suit one’s nature. From different standpoints God in Vedanta is extra- cosmic, intra-cosmic and supra-cosmic — as the pure non-dual absolute Reality, in relation to which no relativity or any touch of duality can be posited. He is also transcendental and acosmic (nishprapancha).

God is also the infinite spiritual Reality (Brahman) from which the universe emerges, in which it rests, and into which it merges back, leaving no trace behind, like waves in the sea. The Taittiriya Upanishad defines Brahman precisely in this manner. The universe is not something apart from God, either in substance or in existence.

God is to be meditated upon as the tajjalan in silence, says the Chandogya Upanishad. It is the same idea as in the Taittiriya Upanishad, but put in an aphoristic formula, using the first syllables of the words: Tasmin jayate liyate aniti (That in which the universe is born, in which it merges, in which it vibrates/breathes/lives). The Vedanta Sutras begin the enquiry into the nature of God or Brahman (athato brahma-jijnasa) with this very definition: ‘Janmadi asya yatah, That from which the origin and so on of this manifested universe.’

In Vedic thought there is no conception of ‘creation’ out of nothing. It is srishti (projection) of subtle components into gross manifestation, like the seed into a tree. In the very early Vedic stage, it was like construction out of pre-existing materials. Later on the subtle prakriti/maya Power became the material cause of the universe. Hence God is known as the srushti karta, Projector of the universe, and not ‘creator’.

Source - Prabuddha Bharata magazine October 2002 page 511 - article titled - The Vedic Concept of God in All Its Aspects by Swami Mukhyananda.




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