What is the reason for creation in Advaita Vedanta? Why did Brahman create the Universe?

These three are my favorite answers by posters on Quora:

From Teja Anand:

Well, in Advaita Vedanta, this question would not even exist, as most of it would be erroneous when held against Advaita’s basic thrust – non-duality.

Q. What is the reason for creation?

A. In Advaita Vedanta, there is no reason, no such thing as ‘reason.’ Deductive ‘reasons’ and ‘understanding.’ is only to provide the mind with a false sense of security, a feeling it possesses the “known,” and can therefore survive another minute, as opposed to the dreaded “unknown.”

In Reality, nothing happens because there was a ‘reason.’ It just happens, spontaneously and perfectly. Even that is inaccurate, because, for something to ‘happen’ there must be past and future, and time does not exist. We can only say, there is only Now, and everything arose and collapsed Now (if it arose, see below,) or “everything just Is.” Mind, of course, can neither comprehend nor be satisfied with either of those answers.

Q. Why did Brahman create the Universe?

A. Dvaita (Duality) says there are two, or many, the Self and everything that arose out of the Self, the Creator and its Creation, and then gives cool concepts and names to the various levels of this duality – Brahman, Atman, Siva, The Absolute and the Consciousness it ‘created’ to experience Itself through, etc.

The minute you define and conceptualize this “two,” it literally forces you to go looking for ‘reasons’ why the One thing bothered to ‘create’ the Second thing or anything at all, and forces gurus to come up with cool answers like “The Absolute was unsatisfied with just Being and wanted to know Itself consciously (as if the Absolute could ever experience such anthropomorphized feelings as ‘dissatisfaction 🙂 or “It is simply the Divine Lila (Play) of the Lord,” to satisfy the desperately searching minds of their students.

Advaita, instead, says “Nothing has ever arisen,” and asks you to let go deep enough into Silence to “See if anything arose.”

It is important to realize that neither of these two approaches – dvaita or advaita – is ‘better,’ righter or wronger. It’s just our humanity (mind) trying to conceptualize our universe out of its fear of the unknown. This is the reason for all philosophies, scriptures, religions, and countless ‘incarnations’ of God revered throughout the East and West. In this Dream (it is a dream, after all,) all we can do is honor our humanity, honor our fear of the unknown, our searching and the Great Mystery that ‘mind’ will never parse. At a certain point, we just Are, and rest in that Being.

From Nachi Keta:

In Advaita Vedanta, nobody did creation.

Do not bring someone into the question (even Brahman). There won’t be any impersonal questions in Advaita Vedanta. There won’t be any 2nd party in advaita discussion. Advaita discussion is with your own self, that is why, it is termed as “self inquiry”.

Let’s recap few Advaita core concepts:

  1. There is no creation like how it is explained as done by a supernatural external entity. No 6 days of hard work and resting 1 day. No Brahma-Vishnu-Rudra triad government with massive 330 million battalion. Creation comes into existence the moment YOU attempt to perceive something outside of you in pursuit of happiness outside YOU. “comes into existence” means, in much the same way there is no world for you (in your perception) when you sleep, but carry the whole bondage of the world in your mind when you wake up.
  2. There is only ONE entity in Advaita (read, A-Dwaita). So if you acknowledge your existence, i.e., if there is a questioner which is YOU, there is no other Brahman or quora answerers, guru or anyone else to answer anything for you. Simply nothing else exists outside of you. So you must understand that the YOU said above is not the human body OP that wrote the quora question. That is the YOU the consciousness that encompasses everything, including the body that typed the question, all the bodies that type the answers, quora servers, internet, earth, cosmos, space, time, past, future The name Advaita uses to refer to such entity is AATMAN. The closest english translation for that word is: “I”. I said closest because there is no other word or phrase that can be used from english, though the word “I” is heavily loaded to mean something distorted in colloquial sense.
  3. If you refer to some Brahman, as if some external Brahman, you did not even start Advaita journey.
  4. Advaita explains that world is perceived because of Avidya (ignorance). Ignorance of the true self. If there ought to be a creator of the world, it could be: Avidya.
  5. If you do not like the world being perceived, especially if it is because of ignorance, you may want to overcome that. What shall be done to achieve that? Simply stop perceiving so in wrong sense. This is GYAN. When gyan is attained, the illusion of Avidya ceases, whatever exists is perceived without any cognitive biases, in its true nature as Self. There is no world then. But wait, if there is no world simply by knowing the reality well, without any armageddon destruction of the world, did the world exist in first place? Was it ever created at all? This is the subject matter of Advaita.

So, let’s come back here. Who is asking the question? Whom do they want answer from? What is that external object the questioner is referring to?

OP: What is the reason for creation in Advaita Vedanta? Why did Brahman created the Universe?

If all these issues are sanitized in the question, it can be put as a correct Advaita question as follows:

Why do I perceive a world all around me? How can I perceive myself, my own self, in its true nature, away from the world as an instrument?

From Rami Sivan:

A very good question, and the answer is one word LĪLA – which means sport, play, fun.

Comparative theories are useful in assessing the value of this particular cosmogenic proposition.

In the monotheistic religions God creates the world for his own glorification, and creates mankind to obey, worship and serve him and to dwell happily with him in heaven for eternity. This proposition only makes sense from a geocentric point of view where the stars are decorative lights in the canopy of heaven.

Vedānta rejects this theory on the assumption that God is Perfect. (pūrṇam adaḥ purṇam idam etc.) A perfect being is self-fulfilled and therefore can have no “desires” — having desires means we desire those things or experiences which we are lacking in ourselves. Even a human being is exhorted to transcend self-centered desires which are described in the Gīta as the enemy to be vanquished and the cause of all suffering.

So how could a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent Being possibly have any desires whatsoever? Let alone a self-referent desire for His own glorification! When one sees the vastness of the Universe, it becomes even more ludicrous that such a Being would be glorified by a bunch of tiny, puny creatures on this temporary and totally insignificant speck of dust called earth!

So the Hindu theory is that Brahman overflowing with immense joy (ānanda) bursts forth like a dancer (naṭarāja) and dances – not for any objective but out of pure exuberance and personal expression. Play is engaged in for its own sake and not for achieving goals – like dance and music which are ends in themselves.

In the Vedas Prajāpati contemplates and says to himself “eko’ham bahusyām” — I am ONE only, let me become many — and so projects the manifold universe into being for the sake of Divine Play – Līla.

So there is no purpose to life – it just IS. There is no “divine plan” just the dance of life – good and bad, creation and destruction, atoms and planets and galaxies all spinning and alternating in the rhythm of timelessness. A Divine “Plan” is conceptualized in a universe which has trajectory and time is linear. A “plan’ conceived on at a point in time and flowing towards a culmination in time.

The Hindu concept of time is cyclical, like the motion of the planets, the Universe is a pulsating universe, projection (sṛṣthi) and withdrawal (pralaya) – alternating – the eternal Play of the Divine.

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