The Process of the Cosmos

The Gita briefly takes up the question of how the immutable Brahman, the unmoving, infinite Being creates the cosmos, the existence within which we live, function and experience. The question was one that the Veda and the Upanishads had also addressed in various forms. Of particular note was Rig Veda hymn X.129 The Hymn of Creation, with its description of the Brahman: “That One lived without breath by his self-law, there was nothing else nor aught beyond it.” (Sri Aurobindo’s translation in The Life Divine, Book One, Part One, Chapter XXV The Knot of Matter, headnotes) This statement agrees with the intent of the Gita. Sri Aurobindo takes up the discussion: “For by that self-existence alone time and space and causality are able to exist, and without that unchanging support omnipresent, yet indivisible they could not proceed to their divisions and results and measures. But of itself the immutable Brahman does nothing, causes nothing, determines nothing; it is impartial, equal, all-supporting, but does not select or originate.”

This brings us to the question we have raised: “What then originates, what determines, what gives the divine impulsion of the Supreme? what is it that governs Karma and actively unrolls the cosmic becoming in Time out of the eternal being? It is Nature as Swabhava.” This is the Para Prakriti of the Supreme, the highest Nature.

“The self-awareness of the Spirit in this supreme Nature perceives in the light of self-knowledge the dynamic idea, the authentic truth of whatever he separates in his own being and expresses it in the Swabhava, the spiritual nature of the Jiva.” The Swabhava is the highest truth of the individual soul, before any divisions, fragmentations or separations that create the illusion of separation from the source.

“All that is in the Swabhava is loosed out into cosmic Nature for her to do what she can with it under the inner eye of the Purushottama. Out of the constant svabhava, out of the essential nature and self-principle of being of each becoming, she creates the varied mutations by which she strives to express it, unrolls all her changes in name and form, in time and space and those successions of conditions developed one out of the other in time and space which we call causality….”

This is a radically different view of creation than those that either picture some creator God as “artist” fashioning forms and placing them into the world; or that look upon the whole universe as a matter of colliding packets of matter / energy that has attained consciousness by some kind of chance. It is also somewhat difficult for the normal mental standpoint to see the creation from the viewpoint of a larger Being and Consciousness which is primary and of which our awareness is severely limited.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 3, The Supreme Divine, pp. 278-279