“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)
ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
The world we live in is quite complex. It’s difficult to make heads or tails out of anything. One minute someone is our friend and the next they are unrecognizable in their actions. We drive for years and years on the same roads without any problem and then one day somebody rear ends our car while in traffic. Since the human being has intelligence, it tries its best to recognize patterns. Organization helps for understanding, and with knowledge one has a better idea how to move forward.
Kingdom, phylum, genus, species – these are the classifications of modern science to aid in understanding the many living creatures of the world. Not all of them are the same. Some have four legs, while others have two. Some are moving and others nonmoving. Some live off other moving creatures, while others are fine surviving off plant life.
A hierarchical structure helps in understanding navigation on a website also. The major search engines crawl websites on a regular basis, and if they know which pages are at the top level, they can better index for the search results. To help the process along, webmasters can submit sitemaps to the search engines. This helps in the process of understanding.
The Vedas already provide a hierarchical structure. They gave this to man long before the advancement of modern science. They passed it down in an oral tradition, with just enough knowledge provided to allow for survival. After all, how much do I really need to know about a tiger? It kills and eats other animals and lives in the jungle. It is dangerous and doesn’t listen to good counsel. You can preach nonviolence all you want to a tiger, but it won’t listen. There is a reason for the saying, “A tiger is a tiger.”
The sitemap doesn’t describe the origin of the page. Neither does the system of kingdom and phylum. Yet the Vedas are not imperfect in this way. For starters, they admit that there is an origin. They don’t attribute everything to chance. If an explosion occurs in a building and the police arrive, they want to know the cause. The “it just happened by chance” explanation will not work.
If that reasoning is invalid for something small like an explosion in an isolated area, then it certainly can’t pass for the creation of the massive universe, which is full of intelligence. The Vedas acknowledge an original cause, and they give details into its nature. That cause is known as a purusha, or person. Purusha also means “enjoyer.” The enjoyer operates on the enjoyed. Dull matter, known as the pradhana, is what the original purusha glances over in order to start the process of creation, maintenance and destruction.
“Material nature acts in two capacities as maya and pradhana. Maya is the direct cause, and pradhana refers to the elements of the material manifestation. When the first purusha-avatara, Maha-Vishnu, glances over the material nature, material nature becomes agitated, and the purusha-avatara thus impregnates matter with living entities.” (Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Ch 8)
Purusha is also the animating force within the living beings. So there is an original purusha and then smaller, less powerful purushas. Juxtaposed with the original purusha, even the smaller purushas are really prakriti, or “that which is enjoyed.”
If you know the original purusha, you know everything that’s needed to be known. This is because you know the origin of the vastly complex world that we encounter. All traits derive from the original purusha. The essence of life, the force that remains active despite the changes to body, descends from the original person. The different tendencies of the species are due to qualities in prakriti. Some species have more of the element of fire. Others have more wind. In the human species there is the most intelligence, which is a subtle element of material nature.
Due to the qualities found in the original person, there are many names of address. One is Krishna. This means “all-attractive.” If you’re having trouble conceptualizing how attractive the original person is, there is no need to worry. He descends to earth from time to time. The all-attractiveness is found in His transcendental body and that potency carries over to the works that describe Him. The potency is found in full in the works that contain His direct words, which serve as instruction.
The Bhagavad-gita is one such work; hence it is all-attractive like Krishna. The person trying to get a handle on the complex life in this world can understand everything very quickly through hearing from Krishna. The Lord Himself states that He is the origin of the material and spiritual worlds. He does not use vague terms. He does not say that a higher being, an impersonal force, or a voice from the sky is responsible for everything. Krishna is at the top of the hierarchy, and the wise souls go straight to Him to understand all that is needed to be known.
From whom everything has descended,
Created when glance on pradhana extended.
Hierarchies for understanding’s sake,
But judgment on origin of all not to make.
Shri Krishna, the all-attractive one,
From Him all beings have come.
Wise chartering the best course,
For knowledge going to original source.