In the previous section we have seen that the pluralistic world of things and beings has risen from Prajapati who manifested himself as prana, energy and rayi, matter. This section explains how the prana is acting within the body; how the physical being is kept united and integrated. It elucidates the activities of the body through which the individuals gain the worldly experience, the sum total of which goes by the name ‘life’, life being nothing but the series of experiences. In order to gain these experiences we have instruments of knowledge called sense organs and instruments of action in the body. These two sets of instruments are fully supported by our mind and intellect. Here the student inquires about the nature of the phenomenal factors or presiding deities in Vedantic terminology in the physical structure of the bodies.
atha hainam bhaargavo vaidarbhih paprachchha | bhagavan.h katyeva devaah prajaam vidhaarayante katara etat.h prakashayante kah punareshhaam varishhtha iti || 1 ||
Then Bhargava of Vidarbha, asked him (Pippalada): Sir, how many Devas support the created being? How many of these manifest their power through it? And which one among them is paramount?
Here the word Deva means faculty or that which illumines or reveals. The inquiry is what the instruments of knowledge and actions are and who are the Devas that support them in the body. The body cannot function without the sense organs and the organs of action. The tangible physical organs of perception or action are made of matter and hence they are inert. By themselves they cannot function. The Upanishad says that each such organ is presided over by a deity (Deva) that is by an aspect of Consciousness. Consciousness energizes the instruments of perception and action and makes them functional. The question is therefore specific as to what Devas exactly enlighten these instruments.
It must be noted that each of the instruments is so made as to illumine or perceive only a given type of objects and so each must have distinctly different controller governing it and at the same time there must be a synchronizing observer to co-ordinate various observations. This superior observer gathers information through these different outposts and come to experience the totality of all. The student’s question “who among them is paramount” relates to that one experiencer.
tasmai sa hovaacha akaasha ha vaa eshha devo vaayur agnir aapah prithivii vaanmanash chakshuh shrotram cha | te prakaashyaabhivadanti vayametad baanam avashhtabhya vidhaarayaamah || 2 ||
To the disciple he replied: These Devas are verily Space, akasa, – the Air, fire, water, earth, speech, mind, eye and ear, as well. These, having manifested their glory, said boastfully: "We support this body and uphold it".
The teacher replied that the factors that support the body are the instruments of knowledge and instruments of action presided over by the mind. Now it is hinted that these instruments are all governed by the five great elements or in the Vedantic terminology they are all presided over each by a Devata called ‘Dik’ which means quarters or space. Consciousness permeates all the matter; all elements and organs are controlled by a portion of Consciousness called a Deva. Body is the effect and the organs are the cause; the gross is the effect but the subtle is the cause. Body is the aggregate of the cause and effect. This will be clearer if we reflect that the body is not the sum of the organs or parts.
This concept is explained in detail in the Tables below.
6 KARANA SARIRA OR CAUSAL BODY CONSISTS OF VASANAS or Impressions (INHERENT Tendencies)
These Devas or the various organs of the body started a controversy among themselves each claiming that it alone supports the body and that without it the body will disintegrate and collapse.