When we visit a friend who has built a beautiful house, we are tempted to ask, “Who is the architect?” implying that there has to be an intelligent cause for that creation. It also requires material to build it.
Any creation must have these two types of causes, the intelligent cause and the material cause – nimitta karana and upadana karana. A clay pot has clay as its material cause and the potter’s knowledge and skill as the intelligent cause. A larg building has many material causes and many different intelligent causes, because it is a much more complex. This universe is very complex indeed. Does it therefore, require many, many more material and intelligent causes? Sastra tells us that there is only one cause, Isvara.
ISVARA — abhinaa nimitta upadhana karanam
Isvara is the single cause of this creation that we call universe. He is the intelligence AND all the material required to create this. Everything here works in perfect harmony, without clashing with each other. It is like the stunt motorcycle riders who criss-cross each other in perfect rhythm, never once getting even close to an accident. To the on-lookers, it looks absolutely amazing. The world is like that. One may think of that intelligence, that knowledge, that consciousness which put together this incredibly complicated jagat (known and yet-to-be-known universe) with such great precision as Isvara.
Look at how any Being functions. The body is maintained at a steady temperature. Each organ performs a specific function according to an order, without getting in the way of other organs. The process of child birth, for example, is such an amazing one, and yet is so common in all forms of life.
Think of Isvara as an order and its sub-orders – cosmological order, physical order, chemical order, physiological order, psychological order, order of karma etc. Everything functions within this order. There is never disorder; even seeming disorder is part of the order. It is not that Isvara is infallible; what is infallible is Isvara.
In our culture, as in many ancient cultures, we accept everything as Isvara or Bhagawan in manifest form. In most households, parents tell their children that everything here is Bhagawan. (whether they themselves understand it is another question!)
One can pray to anything – a tree, the sun, an elder, a book. In fact, when we begin a puja, we make a conical mound of turmeric paste and the priest says, asmin bhimbhe, Mahaganapatim aavaahayami, I invoke Lord Ganesha in this figure. Lo and behold, it becomes Isvara for the duration of the puja, till the priest releases it with another mantra and dissolves the turmeric.
The entire jagat is non-different from Isvara. How does it matter what form I pray to? In an interesting book called Secret, several well-known personalities tell us when we desire anything in the world, all we have to do is to ask the Universe. If one is sincere, and is consistent with the asking, Universe will give. Religious misunderstanding notwithstanding, they are saying “Pray to God, that is the Universe”
No matter what you are seeking, no matter which ‘God’ you pray to, what is important is to pray. Not only is there a possibility that one’s wishes will be granted, the very action of praying also removes the helplessness (and consequent frustrations, depression etc.) and makes life that much easier.
Think about it.