The purpose of creation

I was going through an extremely interesting article on the problem of evil according to Hindu view. In that article there is a section that explains two sutras of the Brahmasutras from an Advaitic and Vishistadvaitic point of view. The particular sutras I am referring to are part of the “na-prayojanatva-adhikaranam”. According to Sri Shankaracharya and Sri Ramanujacharya, these two are sutras number 32 and 33 in the first pada of the second adhyaya. In other words sutras 2.1.32 and 2.1.33.

Sri Madhwacharya, as is well known, has given his own arrangement of the sutras. Instead of the 555 (or so) accepted in other sampradyas Sri Madhwacharya has classified them into 564 sutras. The above two sutras are also very slightly different in their placement. In Dvaita they are 2.1.33 and 2.1.34.

The following is an attempt to capture the gist of the explanation given to these two sutras by Sri Madhwacharya and the illustrious commentators in the Dvaita parampara.

|| ॐ न प्रयोजनवत्त्वात् ॐ || 2-1-33 ||

In the Shaankara and Raamaanujeeya sampradayas this first (of the two) sutras is considered as a ‘purvapaksha’. In other words, it is considered as the argument or the objection that must be refuted. So, according to them, this sutra is nothing but the sutrakara stating the objection.

“Not on account of having a motive”

You may read the relevant portions of the quoted article to know the exact explanation given in the other two sampradayas. Sri Shankara and Sri Ramanuja essentially agree that Brahman creates the world, sustains it, grows it and so on – not because he does not have a motive. In other words, Brahman does have a motive!

The following sutra is then relied upon to show the ‘real’ motive of Brahman.

|| ॐ लोकवत्तु लीलाकैवल्यम् ॐ || 2-1-34 ||

“But (it is) mere sport, as in ordinary life”

What the two bhashyas say is that it is ‘leela’ or mere sport that is motive for Brahman to create. An example of a very well established and powerful King is given. Just like there cannot be objection to the supremacy of the King if he indulges in a sport to amuse himself, similarly Brahman indulging in creation etc as a mere leela does not taint his supremacy and ability to be self-sufficient.

Sri Madhwa’s commentary

Sri Madhwa takes a very different approach to interpreting these two sutras. He considers both the sutras as Siddhanta!! That is – the first one does not talk about the objection. The first one too is giving an explanation.

Therefore when the first sutra says “not on account of having a motive” it does actually mean that Brahman has no motive that would serve him in any way while he creates the Universe.

Sri Madhwa quotes the Brihadaranyaka verse अथैष एव परमानन्दः and says since it is already established through Shruti that Brahman is Purnananda i.e. he possesses complete bliss/joy by himself he does not need any motivation (that would serve himself) in order to create the Universe etc.

Therefore there cannot be an objection that Brahman creates the world for deriving joy or amusement. He has no benefit in creating and maintaining the Universe.

Sri Madhwa then quotes the Narayana Samhita and points out that Brahman is आप्तकाम i.e. One who has realized forever realized the fruits of all his desires. There is not an iota of benefit that he realizes from the activity of creation. Therefore he does not do it with any motive that serves himself.

Then why does he do it?

In order to answer this natural follow-up question, Sri Madhwa uses the second of the sutras.

|| ॐ लोकवत्तु लीलाकैवल्यम् ॐ || 2-1-34 ||

“But (it is) mere sport, as in ordinary life”

Sri Madhwa points out that the word लोकवत्तु  contains a तु which in this case is to be understood as एव (only).

Which means, the meaning of the sutra is “As in ordinary life, it is only sport (and not with any purpose)

Therefore the major difference between the interpretation of Sri Madhwa and others is that while the rest say that is does not matter that leela is a motive, Sri Madhwa says leela is not a motive at all!

Then what is leela?

यथा लोके मत्तस्य सुखोद्रेकादेव नृत्तगानादिलीला, न तु प्रयोजनापेक्षया एवमेवेश्वरस्य

Just as we seen in this world how intoxicated people dance and sing without desiring any benefit similarly is Ishwara’s actions in this case

Brahman performs srushti sthithi laya etc on account of his “Purnananda” and not for it.

Sri Raghavendra Tirtha, in this Tantra Dipika, while explaining this points out the commentary of others in the sampradaya (Sri Jayatirtha in Nyayasudha and TattvaPradeepa and others) and says

व्याख्यानादौ हस्तचालनादाविव प्रयोजनाभावादित्यर्थः

Here he highlights another example of how a person who is totally involved in giving a speech moves his hand during the talk. The movement of the hand has no purpose. The speaker does not derive any personal benefit from it. Similar is God’s creation.

The second sutra has the word लीलाकैवल्यम् in it. It has two parts to it लीला and कैवल्यम्. The commentators in the other sampradayas have mostly ignored the word कैवल्यम्. Sri Jayatirtha in his Nyayasudha and Sri Raghavendra Tirtha in his Tantradipika highlight this. Sri Raghavendra Tirtha says

ईशस्य अपि सृष्टिक्रिया लीलायाः कैवल्यं केवलं प्रयोजनवत्तां विना लीलैवेत्यर्थः

The srishti etc of Ishwara is *only* for sport and without any benefit (for himself).

Then is the exercise totally useless?

Sri Jayatirtha in his Tattva Pradeepa explains this:

अतः पूर्णानन्दोsपि भगवान् लोकानुग्रहाय सृष्ट्यादि क्रीडां करोतीति न किञ्चिदयुक्तमिति भावः

Although he is full of bliss he plays the sport of creation etc in order to cause benefit to the world. No objection arises out of such a position”

So two conclusions:

  • Brahman has no personal motive or benefit in creating etc
  • Brahman performs these activities for the benefit of the jeevas. Such an activity does not heap any weakness or defect on to him.

In fact when we look at the next immediate adhikarana in the Brahmasutras, the appropriateness of the second explanation becomes evident.

Sutra 2-1-35 to 2-1-37 raise the question of whether Brahman is partial towards some and discriminatory against others (evil) when doing creation etc and when giving out results and punishments. Such a question only remains valid if it is accepted that the activities of creation etc is performed keeping these jeevas in mind. If Brahman does not have the souls in mind when doing creation etc then there is no point in asking if he is partial to some and discriminatory towards others.

Sri Krishnarpanamastu

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