Although the woman appears to be the material and efficient cause of the birth of a child, originally the purusa, the male, is the cause of the child
The great Vaiṣṇava philosopher Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa has very nicely explained the materialistic conclusion in his Govinda-bhāṣya, a commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra. He writes as follows:
“The Sāṅkhya philosopher Kapila has connected the different elementary truths according to his own opinion. Material nature, according to him, consists of the equilibrium of the three material qualities—goodness, passion and ignorance. Material nature produces the material energy, known as mahat, and mahat produces the false ego. The ego produces the five objects of sense perception, which produce the ten senses (five for acquiring knowledge and five for working), the mind and the five gross elements. Counting the puruṣa, or the enjoyer, with these twenty-four elements, there are twenty-five different truths. The nonmanifested stage of these twenty-five elementary truths is called prakṛti, or material nature. The qualities of material nature can associate in three different stages, namely as the cause of happiness, the cause of distress and the cause of illusion. The quality of goodness is the cause of material happiness, the quality of passion is the cause of material distress, and the quality of ignorance is the cause of illusion. Our material experience lies within the boundaries of these three manifestations of happiness, distress and illusion. For example, a beautiful woman is certainly a cause of material happiness for one who possesses her as a wife, but the same beautiful woman is a cause of distress to a man whom she rejects or who is the cause of her anger, and if she leaves a man she becomes the cause of illusion.
“The two kinds of senses are the ten external senses and the one internal sense, the mind. Thus there are eleven senses. According to Kapila, material nature is eternal and all-powerful. Originally there is no spirit, and matter has no cause. Matter itself is the chief cause of everything. It is the all-pervading cause of all causes. The Sāṅkhya philosophy regards the total energy (mahat-tattva), the false ego and the five objects of sense perception as the seven diverse manifestations of material nature, which has two features, known as the material cause and efficient cause. The puruṣa, the enjoyer, is without transformation, whereas material nature is always subject to transformation. But although material nature is inert, it is the cause of enjoyment and salvation for many living creatures. Its activities are beyond the conception of sense perception, but still one may guess at them by superior intelligence. Material nature is one, but because of the interaction of the three qualities, it can produce the total energy and the wonderful cosmic manifestation. Such transformations divide material nature into two features, namely the efficient and material causes. The puruṣa, the enjoyer, is inactive and without material qualities, although at the same time He is the master, existing separately in each and every body as the emblem of knowledge. By understanding the material cause, one can guess that the puruṣa, the enjoyer, being without activity, is aloof from all kinds of enjoyment or superintendence. Sāṅkhya philosophy, after describing the nature of prakṛti (material nature) and puruṣa (the enjoyer), asserts that the creation is only a product of their unification or proximity to one another. With such unification the living symptoms are visible in material nature, but one can guess that in the person of the enjoyer, the puruṣa, there are powers of control and enjoyment. When the puruṣa is illusioned for want of sufficient knowledge, He feels Himself to be the enjoyer, and when He is in full knowledge He is liberated. In the Sāṅkhya philosophy the puruṣa is described to be always indifferent to the activities of prakṛti.
"The Sāṅkhya philosopher accepts three kinds of evidences, namely direct perception, hypothesis and traditional authority. When such evidence is complete, everything is perfect. The process of comparison is within such perfection. Beyond such evidence there is no proof. There is not much controversy regarding direct perceptional evidence or authorized traditional evidence. The Sāṅkhya system of philosophy identifies three kinds of procedures—namely, pariṇāmāt (transformation), samanvayāt (adjustment) and śaktitaḥ (performance of energies)—as the causes of the cosmic manifestation."
Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, in his commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra, has tried to nullify this conclusion because he thinks that discrediting these so-called causes of the cosmic manifestation will nullify the entire Sāṅkhya philosophy. Materialistic philosophers accept matter to be the material and efficient cause of creation; for them, matter is the cause of every type of manifestation. Generally they give the example of a waterpot and clay. Clay is the cause of the waterpot, but the clay can be found as both cause and effect. The waterpot is the effect and clay itself is the cause, but clay is visible everywhere. A tree is matter, but a tree produces fruit. Water is matter, but water flows. In this way, say the Sāṅkhyites, matter is the cause of movements and production. As such, matter can be considered the material and efficient cause of everything in the cosmic manifestation. Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa has therefore enunciated the nature of pradhāna as follows:
“Material nature is inert, and as such it cannot be the cause of matter, neither as the material nor as the efficient cause. Seeing the wonderful arrangement and management of the cosmic manifestation generally suggests that a living brain is behind this arrangement, for without a living brain such an arrangement could not exist. One should not imagine that such an arrangement can exist without conscious direction. In our practical experience we never see that inert bricks can themselves construct a big building.
“The example of the water pot cannot be accepted because a waterpot has no perception of pleasure and distress. Such perception is within. Therefore the covering body, or the waterpot, cannot be synchronized with it.
“Sometimes the material scientist suggests that trees grow from the earth automatically, without assistance from a gardener, because that is a tendency of matter. They also consider the intuition of living creatures from birth to be material. But such material tendencies as bodily intuition cannot be accepted as independent, for they suggest the existence of a spirit soul within the body. Actually, neither the tree nor any other body of a living creature has any tendency or intuition; the tendency and intuition exist because the soul is present within the body. In this connection, the example of a car and driver may be given very profitably. The car has a tendency to turn right and left, but one cannot say that the car itself, as matter, turns right and left without the direction of a driver. A material car has neither tendencies nor intuitions independent of the intentions of the driver within the car. The same principle applies for the automatic growth of trees in the forest. The growth takes place because of the soul's presence within the tree.
“Sometimes foolish people take it for granted that because scorpions are born from heaps of rice, the rice has produced the scorpions. The real fact, however, is that the mother scorpion lays eggs within the rice and by the proper fermentation of the rice the eggs give birth to several baby scorpions, which in due course come out. This does not mean that the rice gives birth to the scorpions. Similarly, sometimes bugs are seen to come from dirty beds. This does not mean, however, that the beds give birth to the bugs. It is the living soul that comes forth, taking advantage of the dirty condition of the bed. There are different kinds of living creatures. Some of them come from embryos, some from eggs and some from the fermentation of perspiration. Different living creatures have different sources of appearance, but one should not conclude that matter produces such living creatures.
“The example cited by materialists that trees automatically come from the earth follows the same principle. Taking advantage of a certain condition, a living entity comes from the earth. According to the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, every living being is forced by divine superintendence to take a certain type of body according to his past deeds. There are many varieties of bodies, and because of a divine arrangement a living entity takes bodies of different shapes.
“When a person thinks "I am doing this," the "I am" does not refer to the body. It refers to something more than the body, or within the body. As such, the body as it is has neither tendencies nor intuition; the tendencies and intuition belong to the soul within the body. Material scientists sometimes suggest that the tendencies of male and female bodies cause their union and that this is the cause of the birth of the child. But since the puruṣa, according to Sāṅkhya philosophy, is always unaffected, where does the tendency to give birth come from?
“Sometimes material scientists give the example that milk turns into curd automatically and that distilled water pouring from the clouds falls down to earth, produces different kinds of trees, and enters different kinds of flowers and fruits with different fragrances and tastes. Therefore, they say, matter produces varieties of material things on its own. In reply to this argument, the same proposition of the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad—that different kinds of living creatures are put into different kinds of bodies by the management of a superior power—is repeated. Under superior superintendence, various souls, according to their past activities, are given the chance to take a particular type of body, such as that of a tree, animal, bird or beast, and thus their different tendencies develop under these circumstances. The Bhagavad-gītā (13.22) also further affirms:
- puruṣaḥ prakṛti-stho hi
- bhuṅkte prakṛti-jān guṇān
- kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ’sya
"The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil among various species." The soul is given different types of bodies. For example, were souls not given varieties of tree bodies, the different varieties of fruits and flowers could not be produced. Each class of tree produces a particular kind of fruit and flower; it is not that there is no distinction between the different classes. An individual tree does not produce flowers of different colors or fruits of different tastes. There are demarcated classes, as we find them among humans, animals, birds and other species. There are innumerable living entities, and their activities, performed in the material world according to the different qualities of the material modes of nature, give them the chance to have different kinds of lives.
“Thus one should understand that pradhāna, matter, cannot act unless impelled by a living creature. The materialistic theory that matter independently acts cannot, therefore, be accepted. Matter is called prakṛti, which refers to female energy. A woman is prakṛti, a female. A female cannot produce a child without the association of a puruṣa, a man. The puruṣa causes the birth of a child because the man injects the soul, which is sheltered in the semen, into the womb of the woman. The woman, as the material cause, supplies the body of the soul, and as the efficient cause she gives birth to the child. But although the woman appears to be the material and efficient cause of the birth of a child, originally the puruṣa, the male, is the cause of the child. Similarly, this material world gives rise to varieties of manifestations due to the entrance of Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu within the universe. He is present not only within the universe but within the bodies of all living creatures, as well as within the atom. We understand from the Brahma-saṁhitā that the Supersoul is present within the universe, within the atom and within the heart of every living creature. Therefore the theory that matter is the cause of the entire cosmic manifestation cannot be accepted by any man with sufficient knowledge of matter and spirit.
“Materialists sometimes give the argument that as straw eaten by a cow produces milk automatically, so material nature, under different circumstances, produces varieties of manifestations. Thus originally matter is the cause. In refuting this argument, we may say that an animal of the same species as the cow—namely, the bull—also eats straw like the cow but does not produce milk. Under the circumstances, it cannot be said that straw in connection with a particular species produces milk. The conclusion should be that there is superior management, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.10), where the Lord says, mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram: "This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings." The Supreme Lord says, mayādhyakṣeṇa ("under My superintendence"). When He desires that the cow produce milk by eating straw, there is milk, and when He does not so desire it, the mixture of such straw cannot produce milk. If the way of material nature had been that straw produced milk, a stack of straw could also produce milk. But that is not possible. And the same straw given to a human female also cannot produce milk. That is the meaning of the Bhagavad-gītā’s statement that only under superior orders does anything take place. Matter itself has no power to produce independently. The conclusion, therefore, is that matter, which has no self-knowledge, cannot be the cause of the material creation. The ultimate creator is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“If matter were accepted as the original cause of creation, all the authorized scriptures in the world would be useless, for in every scripture, especially the Vedic scriptures like the Manu-smṛti, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is said to be the ultimate creator. The Manu-smṛti is considered the highest Vedic direction to humanity. Manu is the giver of law to mankind, and in the Manu-smṛti it is clearly stated that before the creation the entire universal space was darkness, without information and without variety, and was in a state of complete suspension, like a dream. Everything was darkness. The Supreme Personality of Godhead then entered the universal space, and although He is invisible, He created the visible cosmic manifestation. In the material world the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not manifested by His personal presence, but the presence of the cosmic manifestation in different varieties is the proof that everything has been created under His direction. He entered the universe with all creative potencies, and thus He removed the darkness of the unlimited space.
“The form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is described to be transcendental, very subtle, eternal, all-pervading, inconceivable and therefore nonmanifested to the material senses of a conditioned living creature. He desired to expand Himself into many living entities, and with such a desire He first created a vast expanse of water within the universal space and then impregnated that water with living entities. By that process of impregnation a massive body appeared, blazing like a thousand suns, and in that body was the first creative principle, Brahmā. The great Parāśara Ṛṣi has confirmed this in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa. He says that the cosmic manifestation visible to us is produced from Lord Viṣṇu and sustained under His protection. He is the principal maintainer and destroyer of the universal form.
“This cosmic manifestation is one of the diverse energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As a spider secretes saliva and weaves a web by its own movements but at the end winds up the web within its body, so Lord Viṣṇu produces this cosmic manifestation from His transcendental body and at the end winds it up within Himself. All the great sages of the Vedic understanding have accepted that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the original creator.
“It is sometimes claimed that the impersonal speculations of great philosophers are meant for the advancement of knowledge without religious ritualistic principles. But the religious ritualistic principles are actually meant for the advancement of spiritual knowledge. By performance of religious rituals one ultimately reaches the supreme goal of knowledge by understanding that Vāsudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the cause of everything. It is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that even those who are advocates of knowledge alone, without any religious ritualistic processes, advance in knowledge after many, many lifetimes of speculation and thus come to the conclusion that Vāsudeva is the supreme cause of everything that be. As a result of this achievement of the goal of life, such an advanced learned scholar or philosopher surrenders unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Religious ritualistic performances are actually meant to cleanse the contaminated mind in the material world, and the special feature of this Age of Kali is that one can easily execute the process of cleansing the mind of contamination by chanting the holy names of God—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
“A Vedic injunction states, sarve vedā yat padam āmananti (Kaṭha Up. 1.2.15): all Vedic knowledge is searching after the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, another Vedic injunction states, nārāyaṇa-parā vedāḥ: the Vedas are meant for understanding Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Lord. Similarly, the Bhagavad-gītā also confirms, vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ: (BG 15.15) by all the Vedas, Kṛṣṇa is to be known. Therefore, the main purpose of understanding the Vedas, performing Vedic sacrifices and speculating on the Vedānta-sūtra is to understand Kṛṣṇa. Accepting the impersonalist view of voidness or the nonexistence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead negates all study of the Vedas. Impersonal speculation aims at disproving the conclusion of the Vedas. Therefore any impersonal speculative presentation should be understood to be against the principles of the Vedas, or standard scriptures. Since the speculation of the impersonalists does not follow the principles of the Vedas, their conclusion must be considered to be against the Vedic principles. Anything not supported by the Vedic principles must be considered imaginary and lacking in standard proof. Therefore no impersonalist explanation of any Vedic literature can be accepted.
"If one tries to nullify the conclusions of the Vedas by accepting an unauthorized scripture or so-called scripture, it will be very hard for him to come to the right conclusion about the Absolute Truth. The system for adjusting two contradictory scriptures is to refer to the Vedas, for references from the Vedas are accepted as final judgments. When we refer to a particular scripture, it must be authorized, and for this authority it must strictly follow the Vedic injunctions. If someone presents an alternative doctrine he himself has manufactured, that doctrine will prove itself useless, for any doctrine that tries to prove that Vedic evidence is meaningless immediately proves itself meaningless. The followers of the Vedas unanimously accept the authority of Manu and Parāśara in the disciplic succession. Their statements, however, do not support the atheistic Kapila, because the Kapila mentioned in the Vedas is a different Kapila, the son of Kardama and Devahūti. The atheist Kapila is a descendant of the dynasty of Agni and is one of the conditioned souls. But the Kapila who is the son of Kardama Muni is accepted as an incarnation of Vāsudeva. The Padma Purāṇa gives evidence that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vāsudeva takes birth in the incarnation of Kapila and, by His expansion of theistic Sāṅkhya philosophy, teaches all the demigods and a brāhmaṇa of the name Āsuri. In the doctrine of the atheist Kapila there are many statements directly against the Vedic principles. The atheist Kapila does not accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He says that the living entity is himself the Supreme Lord and that no one is greater than him. His conceptions of so-called conditioned and liberated life are materialistic, and he refuses to accept the importance of immortal time. All such statements are against the principles of the Vedānta-sūtra."