Verse 8 of the Isha Upanishad conveys a lot of information and thus needs a more detailed analysis. We have previously looked at the top level implications of this verse. The specific terms used provide further insight into the nature of the relationship between the unmanifest and the manifest aspects of Brahman.
“It is He that has gone abroad — That which is bright, bodiless, without scar of imperfection, without sinews, pure, unpierced by evil. The seer, the Thinker, the One who becomes everywhere, the Self-existent has ordered objects perfectly according to their nature from years sempiternal.”
Sri Aurobindo observes: “There is a clear distinction in Vedic thought between kavi, the seer and manisi, the thinker. The former indicates the divine supra-intellectual Knowledge which by direct vision and illumination sees the reality, the principles and the forms of things in their true relations, the latter, the labouring mentality, which works from the divided consciousness through the possibilities of things downward to the actual manifestation in form and upward to their reality in the self-existent Brahman.”
“The pure immutability of the Lord is ‘bright’. It is luminosity of pure concentrated Self-awareness, not broken by refractions, not breaking out into colour and form. It is the pure self-knowledge of the Purusha, the conscious Soul, with his Power, his executive Force contained and inactive. It is ‘bodiless’, — without form, indivisible and without appearance of division. It is one equal Purusha in all things, not divided by the divisions of Space and Time, — a pure self-conscious Absolute. It is without scar, that is without defect, break or imperfection. … It is without sinews. … It does not pour itself out in the energies of the Pranic dynamism, of Life, of Matarishwan. It is pure, unpierced by evil. What we call sin or evil, is merely excess and defect, wrong placement, inharmonious action and reaction. By its equality, by its inaction even while it supports all action, the conscious Soul retains its eternal freedom and eternal purity.”
Then we come to the process of the manifestation: First some definitions: Kavi is seer. Manishi is thinker. Paribhu (or Virat) is ‘the one who becomes everywhere”. Svayambhu is the ‘self-existent’ or ‘self-created’.
“The Lord appears to us in the relative notion of the process of things first as Kavi, the Wise, the Seer. The Kavi sees the Truth in itself, the truth in its becoming, in its essence, possibilities, actuality. … it is a determination not in previous Time, but in perpetual Time…. The Manishi takes his stand in the possibilities. He has behind him the freedom of the Infinite and brings it in as a background for the determination of the finite. Therefore every action in the world seems to emerge from a balancing and clashing of various possibilities. … viewed by itself the realm of the Manishi would seem to be a state of plasticity, of free-will, of the interaction of forces, but of a free-will in thought which is met by a fate in things. For the action of the Manishi is meant to eventuate in the becoming of the Paribhu. The Paribhu … extends Himself in the realm of eventualities. He fulfils what is contained in the Truth, what works out in the possibilities reflected by the mind, what appears to us as the fact objectively realised. The realm … would seem … to be that of a Law and Predetermination which compels all things that evolve in that realm, — the iron chain of Karma, the rule of mechanical necessity… But the becoming of Virat is always the becoming of the self-existent Lord, — paribhuh svayambhuh.”
“This is the truth of things as seen from above and from the Unity. It is the divine standpoint.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Isha Upanishad and analysis, pp. 21-23, 28 & 51-73