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Concept Of Manifestation In Hinduism

The theory of manifestation in Hinduism is known as abhivyaktivada. Abhivyakti, manifestation, presupposes an ‘object’ or ‘factor’ which is to be manifested. Manifestation can be an outcome of an effect from a cause, a sense from a word or a sentiment from a permanent emotion. When used in a broader sense, it means revelation of the self also.

Samkhya philosophy holds that the effect preexists in its cause in a latent form, as for example, pot in the clay. Causal operation of the potter brings into existence the ‘pot’ in its gross form. In other words, ‘pot’ manifests itself it its gross form from out of its latent form. The function of the causal operatives is only to manifest what already exists in a non-concrete manner.

The followers of Madhva school argue that if the effect pre-exists in the cause, causal operation becomes futile. If it is held that the effect is a manifestation of that which was already existent, then a question arises whether this manifestation itself is a cause and requires a further manifestation and so on. We thus need a chain of manifestations.

Baladeva Vidyabhushana, a follower of the Chaitanya School, supports abhivyakti theory but denies the Samkhya view of the effect as pre-existent in its cause, or that every abhivyakti (manifestation) would require a chain of manifestations. He, however, defines effect as an independent manifestation.

Further, certain effects are perceived from certain given causes under particular conditions which hitherto have been there un-manifested in the given causes. We may designate this outcome or result as vyapara or activity/experience/realization/cognition or perception. A realistic condition is there as a cause behind this act and the quality of the cause is extended to the caused. This cause-effect process is said to be present in every linguistic utterance (comprising word and meaning) in which the sound-form manifests the meaning. At another level, according to Bhartrhari, both the form and the meaning are an effect as manifestation of an abstract form and abstract thought in the mind. In reception, a sentence is to be considered as a ‘single undivided utterance’ and its meaning is an instantaneous flash of insight (Pratibha).

This is the sphota theory of Bhartrhari. The term sphota is derived from the root sphu which means ‘to burst’ and it is defined in two ways. In its linguistic sense, it is normally defined as ‘that from which the meaning bursts forth’ or ‘shines forth’ i.e. words expressing meaning as vachakas.

The term sphota occurs for the first time in the 2nd century BCE Mahabhashya of Patanjali. He distinguishes between two aspects of words, sphota, the structure in the mind, and dhvani, manifest sound form. According to Bhartrhari, the speech principle has three stages in the process of manifestation – pasyanti, Madhyama and vaikhari. Bhartrhari does not accept the fourth stage, para, which is postulated by the Pratyabhijna School of philosophy and is a stage that lies beyond pashyanti. Pashyanti represents the stage where the utterance exists in the form of integral thought, that is undifferentiated consciousness.

Bharata Muni, in his Natyashastra, explains that the abiding emotions (sthayi bhava) associated with vibhavas (the stimulus and stimuli) anubhavas (emotional reactions) and sanchari bhavas (the passing moods) presented in a kavya (poetry) manifest rasa (experiential state). While interpreting rasasutra of Bharata, various commentator refer to the word rasa nishpatti (manifestation) to mean aropa (imposition) of camtkara (charm), abhivyakti (appearance), anumiti (inference) , Utpatti (birth) and bhoga (enjoyment). Thus, a specific rasa, say, karuna, is also admitted to be a manifestation of the causal vibhavas (stimuli).