Tuesday, November 09, 2004

On the non-creation of the world

(Taken from A Source Book in Indian Philosophy, Moore & Radhakrishnan),
this is from a section of Kumarila Bhatt's (7th century AD) `Slokavartika'.

1. On God's Not being the Creator of the World


45. At a time when all this (earth, water, etc.) did not exist, what could have been the condition of the Universe ? As for God himself, what could be his position ? And what his form ?

46. And at that time (when no men existed) who would know Him and explain His character to the later created persons ? (If it be held that He cannot be perceived by any man, then) without perception (or cognition of some sort, by some person), how can we determine this (fact of His existence) ?

47. Then again, in what manner do you believe the world to have had a beginning in time ? (If it be held that it is brought about by a desire on the part of God, then) since God is (held to be) without a material body, etc., how could He have any desire towards creation ?

48-9. And if He has a body, assuredly this body could not have been created by Himself; thus then we would have to postulate another creator (for His body)(and so on, ad infinitum). If God's body be held to be eternal, then (we ask)-- so long as earth (water, etc.) have not been produced, of what material would that body be composed ?

49-50. Then again, in the first place, how is it that He should have a desire to create a world which is to be fraught with all sorts of troubles to living beings ? For at that time (of the beginning of creation) he has not got any guiding agencies, in the shape of virtue (or sin) etc., of the living beings themselves. Nor can any creator create anything, in the absence of means and instruments.

51. Even the production of the spider's net is not held to be without some sort of a (material) basis; as (the net is spun out of) the saliva, which is produced out of the body of the animals (flies, etc.,) eaten (by the spider).

52. (If it be held that God creates the world out of pity, then we say) in the absence of objects of compassion (in the shape of living persons), no pity (or compassion) could be possible for Him. And if He were urged to creation by pure compassion, then He would create only happy beings.

53. If it be urged that "without some pain, neither the creation nor the continuation of the world would be possible," - then (we reply that ) when everything depends upon the mere will of the Creator Himself, what could be impossible for Him ?

54. And if He were to depend upon laws and agencies, then this fact would deprive Him of His (boasted) independence. (You say He desires to create the world, -- will you let me know) what is that end which He desires, and which could not be gained without creating the world ?

55. For without some end in view, even a fool does not act. Then if He were to act so (without any end in view), then what would be the good of His intelligence ?

56. If the activity of the Creator were due to a desire for mere amusement, then that would go against His ever-contentedness. And (instead of affording any amusement), the great amount of work (required for creation) would be a source of infinite trouble to Him.

57.And His desire to destroy the world (at pralaya) [time of destruction] too would be hardly explicable. And (above all) such a Creator could never be known by anybody.

58. Even if He were known in form, the fact of His being the Creator could never be known. Because at that time (i.e., in the infancy of creation) what could the living beings, appearing at the beginning of creation, understand ?

59. They could not understand wherefrom they have been born; nor could they know the state of the world prior to creation, or the fact of God being the Creator.

60. Nor could the idea that they would derive from His own assertion (with regard to His being the Creator) be altogether trustworthy, because even though He may not have created the world, He might speak of having done so, in order to show off His great power.

61. In the same manner, the Word [Veda] that would proceed from Him would only be doubtful, and hence could not be admitted as sure proof of His existence (and creative power). And as for that (Veda) which is eternal, how could it make a mention (of facts with reference to the creation of living beings, etc.) ?

62. For, if the Veda existed before the objects (created), then there can be no connection between this (Veda) and the objects created. Therefore the passages (occuring in the Veda) (which appear to describe the process of creation) must be interpreting something else.

.....after this it starts getting more technical (starts using concepts
that when translated, would have to be shorn of all the connotations the
translated word has ) and so I quit.