Question: What part do the individual souls play in the process of creation?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: I have described that: At first a general, conglomerate false ego (ahankara) is created. This is called sambhu in Brahma Samhita wherein it explains how the soul as a ray of consciousness mingles with material energy. Consciousness and prakrti, the most primitive conceptions of energy, are categorically different. The conglomerate consciousness comes in contact with mass energy, and as they mingle together, a general ego evolves. That general ego gradually dissolves into innumerable egos, and the conglomerate consciousness distributes itself as individual units of consciousness absorbed in material energy. In this way, gradually, the individual conditioned souls come down and are entangled within the material world.In a primitive state when the individual souls are massed together as a common whole, the conglomerate false ego, or ahankara, is known as mahat-tattva. As it evolves, it differentiates into innumerable individual units. Just as an atom can be broken down into subatomic particles, electrons, protons, neutrons and so on, the conglomerate ego gradually breaks into its component individual egos, jiva souls. Their position is tatastha, marginal, and undetectable. From that subtle, undetectable plane of marginal energy, consciousness first develops into the detectable plane as a whole, and then innumerable individual spiritual units are manifest from that mass lump of ego, or mahat-tattva. Gradually, the other elements of creation develop within this negative plane of exploitation.
This world is sometimes pushing forth and sometimes withdrawing. In the same way that the heart expands and contracts again and again, the whole universe expands and contracts. Regrouping within the one, and again manifest as the many – the one and the many – the evolution and dissolution of the material universe takes place. As a heart expands and contracts, the whole universe is manifest and withdrawn.The same characteristics that we find in the smallest unit can be traced in the bigger units. This is the suggestion by which we may know the whole, more or less. There are also some categorically new elements to be added to our knowledge. In this way, those who are within this universe can have some partial knowledge.But those who are independent, outside the contracting and expanding world, who are impartial onlookers, can give the real history. That is the revealed truth, which is distributed in installments according to the capacity of the people, of the time, place and circumstance. The revealed truth is found in varying degrees in the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, and the other scriptures of the world. Through this process, the truth is partially revealed in different places of the world in proportion to the thinking and capacity of each particular group of people. The revealed truth is reliable, but still it is modified to fit the persons to whom it is extended.For that reason we find differences in the different versions of the revealed truth.
It is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam that medicine may be hidden within candy to treat the ignorant; in the same way, the revealed truth may be hidden within the mundane concessions of ordinary religion to help the ignorant class of men, (paroksavada vedo ‘yam).Still, Vedic revelation is conceived of by authorities as the most ancient as well as the most perfect of all versions of revealed truth. The revealed truth as presented by Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu must be considered full-fledged theism. There it is mentioned what lies beyond this created world is the eternally dancing world. Here we are trapped in the world of contraction and expansion, but in the spiritual realm, everything is an eternal, blissful dance. Still, even the reality there is of a lower and higher type according to the nature of rasa – transcendental mellow, anandam, ecstasy – which is the desired substance of every conscious unit.
[Excerpted from the 2nd Chapter: “The Creation” of “Subjective Evolution.” From Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaja’s Folio]