It is believed that Brahman is always, both in the state of dissolution and the state after creation, associated with cit and acit. In the state of dissolution, the cosmic matter as well as the individual selves exists in Brahman in an un-manifest form as devoid of name and form. When creation takes place, they are unfolded and given name and form. That is, when Brahman which exists prior to creation with cit and acit in a state of non-differentiation wills to be 'many' as the Chandogya Upanishad says, the same becomes Brahman with cit and acit in a state of differentiation with an infinity of distinctions in name and form. What actually evolves or undergoes modification is the cit and acit but not Brahman directly. In the case of the acit the transformation is complete from one state to another, as the lump of clay changes to a pot. In the case of jiva, there is no change in respect of its svarupa which is immutable, but the change is only to the extent of its attributive knowledge which so far was dormant. As far as Brahman is concerned there is also no change in respect of its svarupa. The only change that can be spoken of for Brahman is that it was niyanta or controller of the subtle cit and acit prior to the creation and it now becomes a niyanta of cit and acit in manifested form.
A change in the attribute does not affect the substance, which is its asraya or substrate. Brahman as the adhara or ground of the cit and acit, remains unaffected by the change in the acit. Brahman is, therefore, regarded as the material cause by virtue of its being the adhara of cit and acit.
This theory is justified both on the strength of the scriptural texts and also on the logical ground. According to the theory of causality adopted by Visistadvaita, cause and effect are different states of the same substance. The effect is not a new product which comes into existence from what does not already exist, as the Naiyayikas believe (asat-karya-vada). It exists in the causal state in an un-manifest form and the same assumes a different state after causation. If we take the example of clay and pot, the lump of clay which is the cause becomes an effect when it is changed into a pot. Thus, the cause and effect are two different states (avasthas) of the same one substance. Upadanatva or material causality consists in the association of an entity with a different state (avasthantara-yogitvani).
That which serves as the ground for the changed states is regarded as the material cause. The clay is the upadana-karana for pot, vase etc., since these are made of the same substance. A piece of gold is the material cause of ear-ring, necklace, bangles etc., made of gold. Thus the cause and effect are not distinct (ananya) because the two are different states of one common substance. The same one substance assumes different names as cause and effect due to the two changed states. It is in this sense that Brahman as cause and the universe as effect are spoken of as ananya or non-distinct in the Vedanta-sutra which is based on the Chandogya text. Thus the association of the Brahman with the cit and acit in their subtle states serves as the upadana karana for the universe.
The Upanishads also support the existence of Brahman in the state of dissolution with subtle cit and acit. The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad says, "Now all this was undifferentiated; it became differentiated by name and form." The word 'this' in this statement, taking the context into consideration, refers to the universe of cit and acit. Existence in an undifferentiated form implies existence without name and form. This interpretation is further supported by the Subdla Upanishad, describing the process of dissolution in the reverse order, when it says that tamas (prakriti) becomes united with Paramatman. The Chdndogya passage dealing with the creation of the universe states that the word 'this' (idarit) meaning the physical universe was in the beginning only sat. The implication of this statement, as interpreted by Ramanuja, is that the universe of cit and acit existed with sat or Brahman in an undifferentiated form If this meaning were not accepted, it would not be possible to explain how Brahman could become 'many' (bahusyari) after it wills to create for the obvious reason that which does not already exist cannot be produced according to the principle of satkaryavada accepted by Visistadvaita.
It should also be noted in this connection that the universe of cit and acit constitutes the body (sarira) of Brahman as stated in the Antaryami Brahmana. As sarira and sariri are organically related and are eternally inseparable, Brahman as sariri remains always associated with cit and acit. The changes taking place in the body do not affect the svarupa of the soul within. This is explained on the analogy of the bodily changes taking place in a personality. A boy grows into youth, a youth attains manhood and from this state he becomes an old man. But these different states which actually belong to the physical body do not affect the svarupa of the jivatman within. In the same way, Brahman as the adhara of the universe is not affected by the evolution of the universe which is its body. In the light of these explanations Brahman is admitted as the material cause of the universe.
(Last Updated on : 27-11-2014)