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The meaning of «avyakta»

Avyakta, meaning "not manifest", "devoid of form" etc., is the word ordinarily used to denote Prakrti on account of subtleness of its nature and is also used to denote Brahman, which is the subtlest of all and who by virtue of that subtlety is the ultimate support (asraya) of Prakrti.[1] Avyakta as a category along with Mahat (Cosmic Intelligence) and Purusa plays an important role in the later Samkhya philosophy even though the Bhagavad Gita III.42 retaining the psychological categories altogether drops out the Mahat and the Avyakta (Unmanifest), the two objective categories.[2]

Charaka gives six elements or dhatus by adding Chetana to the five elements "earth", "water", "fire", "air" and "space". Chetana is identified with Purusa and the Avyakta-part of Prakrti treated as one category and called Paramatman. It is when Purusa or Chetana is connected with the body of senses and mind that consciousness can come to the self; consciousness is a phenomenon of the soul-mind-body complex. According to Bhagavad Gita XIII.1-2, Vikara or the evolutionary products of Prakrti are the Ksetras (Field) (Living organisms) and the Avyakta-part of Purusa or Chetana or Paramatman is the Ksetragna (Knower of the Field) (the individual self) (the Supreme Self).[3]

According to Sushruta’s views on the evolutionary process set in motion by Consciousness, Mahan (Intellect) is generated from Avyakta or mula-prakrti, from that Mahan, Ahamkara (Ego) is produced having the same qualities, and from Ahamkara are produced the twenty four elements that are achetana (unconscious) in nature, and the twenty-fifth element is the Jiva (Purusa or soul).[4]

Paingala Upanishad, extending the instructions of the Mandukya Upanishad states that the mula-prakrti (body) becomes animated by associating with the witnessing consciousness which is the conditioned Brahman, and begins to evolve. Its first evolute is Avyakta which has Ishvara-consciousness as its subject animating soul. Pure consciousness of Brahman descends into or becomes Ishvara - self with Avyakta as the body. Thus, at that stage of evolution the Avyakta is the "causal body".[5]

Maya, a Vedantic metamorphosis of the Samkhya Prakrti, is called Avyakta, not manifest, devoid of form etc., because one cannot obtain awareness of it by sense-perception and it cannot be seen in its native or true nature. It is to be inferred from its effects by persons whose intellect functions in accord with the declarations of Sruti. In its special condition it is spoken of as Susupti ("dreamless sleep") when in it the buddhi (Intellect) and the indriyas (senses) are completely dissolved and cease to function, when all parmanas (sources of knowledge) are still, and buddhi remains only in the form of a seed, the test of this is the universal verdict – "I did not know anything (while asleep)". Maya is the power of Ishvara or the conditioned Brahman as Saguna Brahman to create, which power is unimaginable and wonderful. It is the power to create drawn from the unconditioned Brahman or Nirguna Brahman, for effect without cause is impossible. Avyakta or Maya is beginningless avidya, it has no reality in the absolute sense and is destroyed by knowledge. It is compacted in three gunas - sattva, rajas and tamas, which by themselves are its constituents. Maya is of the nature of these three gunas and is superior to its effects. By virtue of being the cause of all transformations beginning with akasa and by virtue of the sruti which intimates the evolutions brought about by iksana ("seeing", "thinking"), samkalpa ("purposing") and parinama ("transformation"), Maya is established Shvetashvatara Upanishad - Know that Maya is Prakrti and Maheswara to be the Mayain, the wielder of Maya). It gives birth to this world. Maya is responsible for the reflected being of Ishvara and Avidya for the reflection that is the Jiva. From Maya is born everything from the Mahat to Brahmanda that is known as the Karanasarira or the "Causal body of the atman". The Karana sarira is called avyakta because not being available for sense-perception it is to be inferred from its effects.- Vivekachudamani.110, 122, 123[6]

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