The Transcendent, The Supreme and the Gods of Creation

When we consider the statements of the seers about the Transcendent, we find that they consistently use language to break us away from specific limiting association with any particular aspect or form in the manifested universe. “Not this, not that” is a formula for breaking our attachment to the idea that we can define the Supreme and understand within our framework of human language. This is not meant, however, to imply that the Absolute is disconnected from, separate or unrelated to the manifested universe.

The Isha, Kena and Taittiriya Upanishads, each in their own way, take up this theme, and their respective statements are worth serious consideration. The Isha makes it clear that all that exists is a form or habitation of the Lord of Creation, and that one needs to embrace both the negative conception to break down limitations and the positive affirmation to embrace Reality. The Kena Upanishad shows that the gods of the creation, the powers that are responsible for the manifestation of all that exists, are delegates and subordinated powers to the Absolute, the Lord, the Eternal Brahman. The Taittiriya Upanishad points out that if we just focus on the negative aspect of “not this, not that”, we only understand the Eternal as negation, but that there is also a way to know the Eternal as all that exists, as well as transcending all that is, and then one achieves the status of a realised being one with the ultimate Reality.

The Gita sets forth these themes in its own way, as Sri Aurobindo points out: “But at the same time the divine Transcendence is not a negation, nor is it an Absolute empty of all relation to the universe. It is a supreme positive, it is an absolute of all absolutes. All cosmic relations derive from this Supreme; all cosmic existences return to it and find in it alone their true and immeasurable existence.”

With respect to the gods: “The gods are the great undying Powers and immortal Personalities who consciously inform, constitute, preside over the subjective and objective forces of the cosmos. The gods are spiritual forms of the eternal and original Deity who descend from him into the many processes of the world.”

In conclusion, everything depends on the Supreme for its existence: “Nothing in the universe has its real cause in the universe; all proceeds from this supernal Existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 7, The Supreme Word of the Gita, pg. 332