Ajatavada – The Theory of Non-Creation

Nothing whatsoever is born. Nevertheless, the universe is a matter of day-to-day experience. It is said to be a creation undergoing evolution. Anything created must eventually undergo destruction. And that which had its origin at some time and its destruction at another, is temporal or non-eternal. That which is non-eternal is not the real. For, Reality is that which exists in all three periods of time – past, present and future. Before the universe came, there was a past at some time wherein it was not. And there shall be a future after it ceases to be. Thus that which exists for some time is not the Real and can have no intrinsic reality about it.

The universe neither exists nor does it not exist. It exists, but only apparently for some time and exists for so long as it lasts. It has neither birth nor death, and neither does it exist forever. That which is eternal must be unborn and that which is unborn can suffer no birth and thereby come into being or existence. And yet, the universe is said to be a creation and every creation must presuppose a cause of which it is the resultant effect.

That its being is a creation, having come into existence at some time in the remote past, is also an undisputed fact amongst scientists as well. And its having had an origin is an acknowledged fact, though the manner of it may be a matter of dispute.

Only nothing can come out of nothing. And something can come out of something. But that something can never come out of nothing, and the manifested universe which is a something, must have a something out of which and from which it has come into existence.

Now with regard to the universe which is considered to be a creation; is the created universe an unreal effect issuing and springing forth from an unreal cause, or is it a real effect issuing from an unreal cause? Or is it a real universe coming out of a real cause or an unreal effect springing out of a real cause? Thus there are four ways of looking at the point in issue.

Taking the first point of view into consideration, we find that an unreal effect never comes into being from an unreal cause. Nothing only produces nothing. A barren woman’s son can at no time give birth to the horns of an horse. Both are equally non-existent.

On the other hand, a real effect too can never come out of an unreal cause. It is a logical absurdity. A barren woman’s son who is non-existent, can never be the cause of an existent thing like a pot.

If the universe were to be a real effect of a real cause, then too, by virtue of its reality, it would cease to be an effect and would begin to enjoy a parallel reality with its supposed cause. In that case there would be two parallel realities existing simultaneously for all times, as eternal parallels, one limiting the other and hence both would cease to be the Reality by virtue of the presence of the other.

Furthermore, the very nomenclatures of cause and effect would be rendered inadmissible. Hence, a real universe coming out of an equally real cause is ruled out.

Also, a real cause cannot give rise to an unreal effect. At the most it may give rise to a similar effect which could be considered as equally real. In that case, as we have seen above, it ceases to be an effect and behaves as a parallel reality.

So, in all the four cases, we find that the cause-effect relationship involving an origin for the universe, is found to be inadmissible.

Further, going into the two words “cause” and “effect”, we find that if the cause were to become the very effect itself, like the milk transforming itself as the curd, then the cause ceases to be a self-existent cause. It is irretrievably lost. It can no more be regained from the curd. Moreover, at that point, when it ceased to exist as cause and suffered destruction in becoming an existent effect, it neither was an existent cause nor an existent effect, nor an impossible combination of both, so that momentarily it underwent an impossible and an inexplicable condition amounting to anything or nothing. And where one cannot say or demark where a cause ends and the effect begins, where is the cause and where is the effect?

And a cause which is capable of undergoing destruction in becoming another, by that very process, must have a birth, an origin. And this itself must have a cause and that again must have its cause, and so on. Thus, it leads to “regressus ad infinitum”, which is logically untenable.

Thus, the only other possibility left out for the universe is that it is an apparent effect of a real cause which in no way undergoes any mutation or transformation whatsoever. Just as a rope, in twilight lends its existence as a basis in having itself made perceivable as a snake, so too does the Reality become the basis in having itself made perceivable as the universe. The rope as in no way become the snake all through. Even when the snake was visible, it was only the rope. Even before the snake appeared, it was the rope and when the snake was, it still was the rope and thereafter, after the snake had vanished, it still remained the good old rope. The snake never had a birth and never did it have a death. It only appeared for some time. It was only an appearance. And so long as it lasted, it enjoyed a semblance of reality.

So too, is the case with the universe. It is only an appearance, an apparent manifestation having no intrinsic reality about itself. From the point of view of the rope, only the rope exists. To it, there never was a snake at any time. So too, from the point of view of the Reality, only Reality is. Never is there a universe. So, what is there to speak of its origin? Thus the universe is explained away.

Moreover, subjectively, every individual everyday undergoes three states of experience – the waking, the dreaming and the deep sleep states. These states successively alternate, and when he is in the presence of one, the other two are not there for him to experience. The very fact that he alternates from one to another, itself shows that neither of the three is true. For, they mutually dismiss each other. The universe which he perceives in the waking and dream states is dismissed in deep sleep state. And the pleasant void which goes to dismiss the universe, itself gets dismissed on waking. But the truth, the true state does not subject itself to a negation at any time. Hence, the three states are equally unreal; and the universe perceived in two of them cannot in anyway be more real.

Nevertheless, it may be stated that the dream state on waking is found to be unreal. But, how could we postulate the same unreality for the waking state, which is found to be so real, solid and concrete?

To this it is answered that without taking recourse to the waking state, by analysing the very content of the dream state itself, we find that not only the dream state but the waking state too is unsubstantial without any content of reality in it. In dream, one sees objects like elephants and mountains which are larger than oneself. The things perceived are found to be larger than the place of perception. Besides one does not go to different places in dream and directly experience the supposed objective objects and places, as the time interval to go there, experience and then to come back is not there. Moreover, on awakening one does not continue to reside in the place of the dream. Thus, the dream objects are found to be unreal on waking. So too, is the case with the waking state. In both the states, objects stand as things perceived. As things perceived, they are similar in nature. Perceptions, too, enjoy a great deal of similarity. Thus, the wise declare that on account of the similarity of experiences, they both stand on an equal footing of unreality. The states being unreal, the universes perceived in them are equally unreal and hence, once again, the universe gets itself explained away to establish the simple fact that nothing whatsoever comes into being at any time in the non-dual Consciousness.