Book: Surya Siddanta: The essentials of emergence of reality

We need to define and understand a few basic concepts before we can tie these concepts together to understand how this reality emerges. The Surya Siddanta starts with defining these concepts first.

Defining Beginning

The first and foremost to define is “Where does it all begin?” The Surya Siddanta starts by saying:

acintyAvyaktarUpAya nirguNAya gunAtmane

samastajagadAdhAra mUrtaye brahmaNe namah||1||

Translates to

The incomprehensible, unmanifested, that without qualities, yields to creation which forms the basis of each and every movable qualified as self

The beginning as described is incomprehensible and nothing is manifested in it. We see no qualities and it has yielded itself to creation. It is important to note that the environment needs to yield to creation. If not, none of this around us will be possible. It should be noted that the Surya Siddanta does not concern itself with how the incomprehensible is formed and what that incomprehensible is. This is part of other literature and I have addressed a some of this in my previous book “A Research of Shiva: The Enigma”.

It is interesting to note that we can follow through to the formation of a concrete reality from an incomprehensible using purely abstract concepts that can applied on just about any incomprehensible. This is like writing a pseudo-code for a program. Without actually knowing the specific language, specific operating system or specific machine that will run the program, we can write a pseudo-code that will work, if translated correctly for specificity.

So, what does get created in this incomprehensible, unmanifested? This is explained in the next part of this verse. It tells us that this incomprehensible, unmanifested has yielded itself to the creation. This is reason for this reality around us. So, this reality is created in that incomprehensible. So, what is this reality around us?

Defining Reality

Similar to the definition of “the beginning”, modern science flounders with the definition of reality. Typically reality is defined as the “observable universe” where “observable” is defined by modern science as any object that can be “sensed” by either natural or extended senses. But, common observation consists also of awareness, consciousness and growth, which cannot be sensed or measured by any of the natural or extended senses present in modern science. Yet, they do exist and we know it, because we also exist. So, how can these be ignored from the definition without giving a credible theory that incorporates their existence from the basic elements studied? Observables that can be sensed are at best a sub-set of all observables that should exist according to common sense. So, what is studied as reality by modern science is just this partial sub-set.

The Surya Siddanta gives us a different concise definition of reality. From the above verse, reality is claimed to be that what is formed, which is “each and every movable qualified as self”. The ancient Sanskrit literature mostly refer NOT to the observable universe, but to “jagat” which translates to “any movable”.

This “movable and immovable” is referenced for example in the Isha Upanishad as:

isavasyamidam sarvam yatkincya jagatyam jagat

tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma grdhah kasyasviddhanam

Translates to

This entire world that is moving is covered by potential, hence give up this inquiry who has impelled my experience of desires

It is referenced in the Aitreya Upanishad as:

tadapānenājighṛkṣat tadāvayat saiṣo’nnasya graho yadvāyurannāyurvā eṣa yadvāyuḥ

Translates to

If, wishing to learn, we yield to the opposite force, he, when seeking life, seizes that movable/un-movable and which this perception of life is.

Here it says the he who is seeking life sezies the perception of that “movable/un-movable” which forms life. So, what is this movable?

Defining movable

In modern science, the definition of movement is matter/light/energy being progressively re-located from a set of co-ordinates A to another set of co-ordinates B in space and time.

Such a definition cannot be used in our scenario. We are still at the definition where nothing exists but that unmanifested which yields to the formation of this movable. Hence, we need to ask ourselves, for such a system, what is a movable? Why is movable very important?

We need to ask ourselves, what does motion, the way we have defined it, have any relation to existence of life? Our definition of motion is more an addendum to life, where life can move if possible and not necessarily life itself. But, this verse tells us, that seizing the movable is the perception or is the experience or is what is formed.

To understand this, we need to ask ourselves “What can I perceive or observe or experience?” Most certainly, on an abstract level it is “that which continuously changes.” If there is no change, the mind either does not perceive it or ignores what it perceives. For example, how do we see? Light has to continuously reflect off the object that we are seeing and hit our retina. Our mind has to continuously interpret those reflected light signals. If we do not continuously receive it or the brain does not continuously interpret it, it simply vanishes from our sight. An example can be seen in the mirror tricks performed by magicians to make something disappear in front of our eyes.

How do we hear something? There has to be a continuous presence of sound waves that impinge our eardrums. In the absence of continuity of the sound waves hitting out ears, the sound stops. An example can be seen when we play sound tracks and music. Stop the music and we do not hear anything.

Dissecting this reasoning some more, we find that, for light to continuously reflect off of an object, the object needs to be present at the same location with relation to us continuously. Time is a continuously moving abstract according to us. If we and that object on which light reflects, do not move continuously with that abstract time, then wouldn’t the object be lost to us, because we should not get the continuous reflected stream of light impinging our retinas? With similar reasoning, we can safely say that anything we perceive needs to continuously move along with that abstract time. Thus, motion, rather than being a space and time related concept is more a pure time related concept.

So, irrespective of whether it is an animate or an inanimate object, for objects to be perceived by us and be present as a part of the observable universe that we can observe, at a minimum, movement on the time axis is needed. The same object needs to move from one frame of time to the next frame of time as we move from one frame to the next. When there is no movement along the time axis, we do not perceive the object continuously and it is unknown to us. Hence, everything that is present in reality has to be a “movable” and this motion is very important to be part of our universe. Hence, reality is defined as “each and every movable”.

Defining “qualified self”

But, the definition of reality does not just end with every movable. It also says that it has to be a “movable with qualified self”. So, what is a qualified self?

The self, according to wikipedia is said to be “an individual person as the object of its own reflective consciousness”. Most references in modern science refers “self”, “I” or “consciousness” to a sentient being possessing awareness. An inanimate or non-sentient objects is considered to have no “self” or awareness.

Yet, as we saw in the previous definition of “movable”, an inanimate or non-sentient object has to also move along the time axis for them to be continuously present in the observable reality around us. Again, we defined the beginning as “quality-less and incomprehensible”. How then can an inanimate possess “quality”, if there is no “self”? For example, how does granite have the material characteristics such as hardness, resistance to weathering, strength and so on? Granite also needs to have some “qualified form of that quality-less incomprehensible” to possess qualities. Granite also needs to have the awareness of “self” to retain these characteristics over the progression of change. So, when a incomprehensible recognizes a limit to itself and associated qualities to it, it becomes a “qualified-self”.

Thus we see that irrespective whether we talk about sentient or non-sentient beings, animate or inanimate objects, for them to be present as a part of this observable reality around us, they need to have be movable and have a qualified self. Hence, reality is defined as “each and every movable that is qualified by self”.

The abundant inactive

So, now going back to the beginning and traversing the next step in formation. What happens in that beginning which is unmanifested that yields to creation of reality?

alpAvAshiShTe tu kRta mayA nAma mahAsuraH

rahasyaM paraM jijnAsurjnAnamuttamam||2||

Translates to

The infinitesimally unordered, but made, contained in what is called the abundant inactive, mainly concealing the inquisitiveness for active knowledge

The first step is where that “quality-less incomprehensible” becomes the “abundant inactive”. What is that “abundant inactive”? The verse tells us that it is the “minute unordered, but made.” What does unordered mean? What is made?

Ordered or unordered needs to have a reference. For example, the following series of data:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Is ordered when we are looking for an ascending order of numbers and highly unordered when we are looking for a descending order of numbers. When the number set is:

9, 7, 0, 6, 5, 4, 2, 3, 1, 8

It is unordered irrespective of whether we are looking for an ascending or descending order of numbers. Such a set is “made”, but is unordered.

In the context of reality, what is unordered, but made, is answered in the phrase “concealed inquisitiveness for active knowledge”. In our example above, “order” and “made” is with respect to numbers. Here, it is with respect to knowledge present. So, we find that the “abundant inactive” has concealed knowledge which is ripe to be known! And it can only be known to the inquisitive. This brings us to the very intriguing set of questions “What is knowledge?” and “What is active knowledge?” “Can there be inactive knowledge?” “What is unordered knowledge?” “Can there be an ordered knowledge?”

Defining Knowledge

The standard definition of knowledge from oxford dictionary says:

“Facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.”

A second definition of it is:

“Awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.”

In both of these definitions, the encompassing notions and ideas vary from a highly intelligent coherent logical deduction using the brain to the simplest being aware of and reacting to a given surrounding environment using simple tools available. While such an “all encompassing” definition is good for a general talk, when we want to get scientific and study the inherent specifics of knowledge itself, these definitions become too broad. It becomes necessary for us to redefine or recast the definition of knowledge.

Moreover, the state at which that incomprehensible is present in our sequence of reading the Surya Siddanta, has not reached a stage where facts, information, education, person, skill, experience or awareness is present. We are still at the “inactive” stage where nothing has been formed. So, how can this verse refer to knowledge in the above manner? Knowledge here has a more rudimentary meaning.

In my previous book “A research of Shiva: The Enigma”, I had articulated what knowledge is from the “Bhagavad Gita’s chapter 13”. To recapitulate it here:

idaM SareeraM kauntEya kShEtramityabhidheeyatE |

EtadyO vEtti taM praahuH kShEtragnya iti tadvidaH ||1||


This body is measured only in this environment. He who knows this, he considers the knowledge of the environment is the same as that.

kShEtragnyaM chaapi maaM viddhi sarvakShEtrEShu bhaarata |

kShEtrakShEtragnyayOrgnyaanaM yattajgnyaanaM mataM mama ||2||


Knowledge of the environment rather than knowing of the I is present across the environment. The thought of “I” is that knowing of the environment of the knowledge of environment.

From the above, we find that knowledge is used in the simplest sense and is defined as:

“The ability to identify the state of the surrounding environment.”

For example, the volume of mercury changes with change in atmospheric temperature. How does mercury do it? According to modern science, the explanation is that, in mercury as with other materials, when temperature of the surrounding environment changes, the atoms vibrate strongly due to increase in kinetic energy associated with them, which increases the distance between the atoms. This is called thermal expansion and a coefficient is associated to determine the volume of increase. The coefficient of expansion for mercury is high and hence volume of expansion also is high.

The explanation of modern science for thermal expansion of mercury is sufficient when we want to use mercury to create a thermometer. But, when we want to learn about knowledge and the environment, this explanation is insufficient since it leaves a number of unanswered questions. The questions to be asked when we want to study knowledge is, “What is kinetic energy or energy?”, “Why does the vibration or kinetic energy of atoms increase with temperature?”, “How does this thermal energy convert to kinetic energy?”, “From where does the knowledge of increased thermal energy in the surrounding environment come to the atoms of mercury?”, “What is the reference of thermal energy against which, increase in thermal energy is measured by the atoms?” and “What is the surrounding environment when atoms themselves are the ones that are forming the space?” To answer these question, we need to become that nil intelligent atom.

The answers to these questions directly lead us to the conclusion that whatever is responsible for this kind of behaviour, it should impart to the atoms some inherent set of capabilities. These capabilities imparted should be responsible for atoms to inherently detect thermal energy. The atoms need to have some sense of thermal energy that was present, have an ability to detect current thermal energy and have the capability to compare the detected thermal energy to the original thermal energy present to know that temperature has changed! Once a change it detected, these atoms need to have an inherent sense to convert that thermal energy to motion and hence kinetic energy! It is easy for us to imagine such capabilities, since we already are formed sentient objects. But, when we look at it from the atom’s perspective, sentience is supposedly nil. So, while the questions themselves seem obvious to us, it is not so obvious to the atoms and needs to be studied to understand formation.

Such an ability to detect pertinent properties of the surrounding environment related to that which affects the self, is what is called “the ability to identify the state of the surrounding environment” or simply “knowledge”.

Active knowledge

When we look at knowledge, we are looking at two parts to it. “A surrounding environment that is exposing a state” and “the self that is identifying that state and translating to knowledge”. For example, the surrounding environment can be at a temperature of 30oC and have a density of 15psi. The atoms may detect and react to temperature but not density.

This shows us that there are many possibilities available between the two parts. There is a possibility that the state, while exposed by the surrounding environment, need not translate to knowledge in each and every observer. There also is the possibility that the state translated to knowledge but was not reacted upon. The state exposed and translated to knowledge and reacted upon, becomes active knowledge.

That which is not detected then becomes concealed active knowledge that is inactive. This is the kind of knowledge present abundantly that becomes the “abundant inactive” that is talked about.

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