Prakriti Tattvas, Tattvas - Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series before reading further.

The third group of tattvas called Prakriti/Atma tattvas deal with the creation of the phenomenal world and living beings that assist the existence of soul. These tattvas are created by aparabindu acting in the realm of prakriti maya, or the material stuff. That's how the corporeal body, with its subtle and gross aspects, its five sheaths, the five senses organs, five cognitive organs, the four internal mind organs, developed.

Purusha, the soul, pairs with maya, and gives rise to five vidya tattvas. This Purusha, activated by Sadasiva, takes the help of vidya tattvas, and further needs the assistance of Prakriti tattvas to sustain the universe and the jivas in the universe.

Prakriti manifests itself as the various objects of experience of the Purusha. It is constituted of three gunas, namely Sattva (light), Rajas (activity), Tamas (darkness). The gunas together represent the sum total of the Soul's experiences.

  • Sattva is the guna whose essence is purity, fineness and subtlety. Sattva is associated with ego, mind and intelligence. Though sattva is an essential condition for consciousness, it is not sufficient. It should be remembered that consciousness is exclusively the Purusha.

  • Rajas is concerned with the actions of material objects and in living beings, pleasure and pain as well.

  • Tamas is the constituent concerned with the inertia and inaction. In material objects, it resists motion and activity. In living beings, it is associated with coarseness, negligence, indifference and inactivity.

The Three Bodies

The human being is composed of three sariras or "bodies" emanating from Brahman by avidya. There are three bodies, viz.,

  • Gross body: That which is seen by the physical eyes is the gross body.

  • Subtle body: Sukhshma sarira or the subtle body is the body of the mind and the vital energies, which keep the physical body alive. The subtle body is composed of seventeen Tattvas, viz., five Jnana Indriyas, five Karma Indriyas, five Pranas, mind and intellect.

  • Causal body: The causal body or Karana sarira is considered as the most complex of the three bodies. The causal body is nothing but Ajnana or primitive ignorance. The inert causal body dies when one gets knowledge of the self. It is the seed of the subtle and the gross body and has a nirvikalpa rupam, "undifferentiated form". It contains the impressions of experience, which results from past experience. Together with the subtle body it is the transmigrating soul or jiva, separating from the gross body upon death.

The Atma Tattvas

The twenty four prakriti tattvas or Atma tattvas are aspects of universe and physical body. Let's now enumerate the atma tattvas, which have been grouped functionally as follows:

  1. Five Mahabhutas, pancha boothams or the five gross elements, are the basis of all cosmic creation. These elements are:

    • Prithvi (Earth)

    • Apas (Water)

    • Agni(Fire)

    • Vayu (Air)

    • Aakash (ether)

  2. The five organs of knowledge known as jñānendriyas. Our perception of objects in the world around us occurs when the various forms of vibrations that emanate from them affect our sense organs. The mind and the five organs of knowledge, viz., ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose, are formed out of the Sattvic portion of the Tanmatras or rudiments of matter.

    • srotra tattva: hearing (ears)

    • tvak tattva: touching (skin)

    • chakshu tattva: seeing (eyes)

    • rasana tattva: tasting (tongue)

    • ghrana tattva: smelling (nose)

  3. The five tanmatras: While mahābhūtas are the basis for the material world, tanmātras are but limited aspects and views of it.The five subtle elements are the objects of the five senses, and they correspond to the five sense perceptions — hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell — and the five sense organs.

    • śabda tattva: sound: possesses subtle characteristics of aakash/ether. The tanmatra of ether element is Sound. Whenever there is compactness of molecules, we get a dull sound on tapping but when there is a cavity or hollow space, we get a resonant sound. Ether element is related to various actions like expansion, vibration, non-resistance. Sensory organ related to ether element is ear, as it is hollow and transmits the sound waves.

    • sparśa tattva: feel: possesses subtle characteristics of vayu. The tanmatra of Air element is Sparsha (Touch). The sensory organ related to Air element is skin. Skin is very sensitive for detecting any movement, change in pressure or vibration in subtle form. Any movement against skin can be easily registered. Air element is mobile, dry, light, cold and subtle in nature. Its main action is to do any kind of movement.

    • rūpa tattva: form: possesses subtle characteristics of tejas/fire. The tanmatra of fire element is Rupa (Vision). Perception of light is carried out by this tanmatra.

    • rasa tattva: taste: possesses subtle characteristics of water. The tanmatra of water element is rasa (taste). The sense of taste or the ability to taste depends on the liquidity that exists within in the mouth in the form of saliva. Dry mouth along with dry tongue is unable to give sense of taste.

    • gandha tattva: odor: possesses subtle characteristics of prithvi/earth. The tanmatra for Earth element is Gandha (Smell). The small particles of earth are scattered all over the place gives us the sense of smell.

  4. The five motor-organs, the five organs of action or the Karmendriyas, are the tongue, hands, feet, genitals and anus, and are formed out of the Rajasic portion of the Tanmatras. Karmendriyas represent both the physical organs and the corresponding subtle (astral) organs of action, specific to activity in the astral plane. They are connected directly to the manas tattva.

    • vāk tattva: speech (mouth) - speech acts as a mirror of the exterior reality, duplicating everything that exists outside into the mind. Vak tattva plays a major creative role in the human being as the instrument of speech and as such, the origin of the interior world of thought.

    • pāṇi tattva: grasping (hands)

    • pāda tattva: walking (feet)

    • pāyu tattva: excretion (anus)

    • upastha tattva: procreation (genitals). Upashta (sexual organs) - means the power of procreation and sexual enjoyment, or the generative organ.

  5. Four Antakaranas: 'Antha' means inner. Hence, Anthakkaranam means inner (or subtle) tool. The ego, intellect and mind of prakruthi Maya are the counterparts of Kalai, Vidya and aragam of Vidhya Maya.

    • chittam: refers to the quality of mental processes as a whole. The Chitta is the subconscious mind that is like a calm lake upon whose surface thoughts surge like waves.

    • Buddhi-Tattva: judgment, intellect, the faculty of discrimination. This is the first product of Prakriti, formed from its Sattva guna, resulting in Soul's Intellect or Power of Reasoning whereby it analyses its experiences and forms a judgement. The buddhi decides in which direction the senses and the mind go. The analogy is often given of the buddhi being the charioteer controlling the the horses representing the six senses (including the mind). It is modified into Manas and Ahamkaram.

    • Ahamkaram or ego: The offshoot of Buddhi-Tattva, whereby the Soul creates or builds a sense of Identity for itself out of sense perceptions, emotions, thoughts and memories. Ahamkara modifies into other tattvas called indriyas (five sense organs and 5 motor organs)

    • Manas-Tattva: the instinctive mind, the receiving and directing link between the outer senses and the inner faculties. The Lower Mind (as opposed to the Intellect ) whereby the Soul builds sense perceptions into intelligible images, names, classifies them and presents them to the higher levels of the mind for further processing. Formed from the tamas guna of the prakriti. From manas is derived the five subtle elements (tanmatras)