Ishvara is the cause and pluralistic world is the effect. Material world is called lower nature of Ishvara as cause is always considered to be more real than the effect. The universe is called lower nature also because the varied manifestations of the Supreme Lord are transient whereas He Himself is unchanging. Though representing the lower nature of Ishvara, reality of the physical world cannot be denied.
The same theme that all beings arise out of union of the material nature and the consciousness nature has been reiterated in shlokas 14.3 and 14.4. It has been stated in these two shlokas that mahad brahma (the total material existence) is the womb (source of birth) of all the embodied beings that appear in different species of life ; and Ishvara is the seed giving father. That is how births of all living beings become possible.
These two verses re-affirm that all existences are a manifestation of the Divine. The universe arises out of the union of Infinite with the finite. As material nature and also the spirit belong to Ishvara, He is the father and also the mother of whole of the universe.
It has been re-iterated in shloka 13.27 that whatever being is born, moving or non-moving, it has sprung from the union of the field (kshetra – matter) and the knower of the field (kshetragya – consciousness).
The mysteries of maya have further been unravelled in shloka 7.14 wherein Krishna states as under :
‘This divine maya of Mine, consisting of the three modes, is very difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can certainly cross beyond it.’
The fact that maya has been labelled as divine suggests that the material world is created by Ishvara by His divine power of self-creation. That which is divine cannot be illusionary. When Krishna says maya of Mine, consisting of the three modes, it means that the material world belongs to the Supreme Lord. It is supported and nurtured by Him.
Further, it has been stated that it is very difficult to overcome maya. Why ? Because God creates the universe and hides behind His creation. Glamour of the universe, so created through maya, is very difficult to resist. Attracted by objects of the senses, man is inclined towards them instead of directing his mind towards the creator. Attraction of the sense objects leads him away from Ishvara. Due to such attraction of maya, the soul which is otherwise free, finds itself in bondage. It is only when one transcends maya, the prakriti and its modes, that he can perceive the reality of the Supreme.
How can one pierce the veil of maya ? The maya can be overcome by surrendering to the Supreme Lord who is beyond the three gunas. By becoming one with Him, one can transcend all forms of maya.
What is the purpose of Ishvara in creating the universe ? The Supreme Lord takes on various forms through His maya to reveal His own self to man. Through maya, He presents Himself in a form in which man can perceive Him directly. Maya facilitates moksha of man by presenting the Supreme in terms which he can understand and relate to.
When whole of the world is freed from bondage, purpose of the Divine is served and all the creation is restored to its origin of pure consciousness, beyond all distinctions. God thus redeems the universe by His grace.
Vijay Singal, author of ‘Bhagavad Gita – Saying it the simple way’