The Birth of All Forms and Creatures

Sri Aurobindo translates Shwetashwatara Upanishad, Chapter Five, Verse 2:  “He being One entereth upon womb and womb, yea, upon all forms of being and upon all wombs of creatures.  This was He that of old filled with many sorts of Knowledge Kapila, the seer, after his Mother bore him; yea, He saw Kapila shaping. (Or, He in the beginning filled with kinds of knowledge Kapila, the Seer of old when he was born from his Mother, yea, He saw Kapila in his shaping.”

This verse takes up the question of the creation of the world of forms and all creatures that inhabit the world from and by the Eternal, the Brahman.   The Upanishad clearly enunciates that is the One that enters into form.   Some religious traditions appear to set up an external God who fashions beings out of clay.  These beings are apparently separate and the image of the potter shaping pottery is consistent with this view of the world.  These traditions however do not attempt to answer where the clay comes from!  Nor do they answer as to how an all-pervasive God creates something external to himself without thereby limiting his infinity.  The Upanishad makes it clear that “all this is the Brahman.”

The reference to Kapila here is not to the well-known sage of that name, founder of the Sankhya school of philosophy, who existed a considerable time after this Upanishad was written.  Traditional commentators associate the term “Kapila” with “Hiranyagarbha” the womb of creation, and one of the meanings of the term “kapila” is a color that is reddish brown in hue, although some consider the shade to be “golden colored” which aligns it with “hiranyagarbha”, the golden womb.

The golden womb is important to the understanding of the creation of the worlds of matter, life and mind from the pure existence, consciousness and bliss of the Eternal.  Sri Aurobindo references the supramental consciousness as a transitional level that maintains its full knowledge of the Oneness while also having the capacity to create an infinite diversity of forms.  It “translates” the One into the Many, and it is referenced as having the brilliance of gold.  The Isha Upanishad in this regard states “The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid.”

Kapila, born from the executive power of the Eternal, his Mother, has the knowledge and the power to create and direct the development of the worlds and the creatures that inhabit them.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Shwetashwatara Upanishad, pp.369-384

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