ISKCON Szeged, Hungary
19 June 2003
A Vedic Schema of the Mind and its Processes
Maha-samasti, Samasti and Vyasti:
How Consciousness is Conditioned
We begin this second part of the essay by laying down a foundation of six scriptural quotations. The schema that follows is built upon these sastric evidences.
Taittiriya Upanisad 2. 7:
raso vai sah
rasam hy evayam labdhanandi bhavati
ko hy evanyat kah pranyat
yad esa akasa anando na syat
esa hy esanandayati
The Supreme Truth is Rasa. The jiva becomes blissful on attaining this rasa. Who would work with the body and prana (sensory powers) if this blissful form did not exist? He gives bliss to all.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 3. 25. 15:
cetah khalv asya bandhaya
muktaye catmano matam
gunesu saktam bandhaya
ratam va pumsi muktaye
The stage in which the consciousness of the living entity is attracted by the three modes of material nature is called conditional life. But when that same consciousness is attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one is situated in the consciousness of liberation.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 3. 32. 19
nunam daivena vihata
hitva srnvanty asad-gathah
purisam iva vid-bhujah
Such persons are condemned by the supreme order of the Lord. Because they are averse to the nectar of the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they are compared to stool-eating hogs. They give up hearing the transcendental activities of the Lord and indulge in hearing of the abominable activities of materialistic persons.
Rg-Veda 10. 129. 4:
kamas tad agre samavartatadhi manaso retah prathamam yadasit
In the beginning there was desire, which was the primal germ of the mind.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 7. 9. 43:
naivodvije para duratyaya-vaitaranyas
soce tato vimukha-cetasa indriyartha-
maya-sukhaya bharam udvahato vimudhan
O best of the great personalities, I am not at all afraid of material existence, for wherever I stay I am fully absorbed in thoughts of Your glories and activities. My concern is only for the fools and rascals who are making elaborate plans for material happiness and maintaining their families, societies and countries. I am simply concerned with love for them.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 10. 1. 4:
puman virajyeta vina pasughnat
Glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the parampara system; that is, it is conveyed from spiritual master to disciple. Such glorification is relished by those no longer interested in the false, temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a butcher or one who is killing his own self?
The first quotation informs us that the Absolute Truth is rasa, the reservoir of pleasure for everyone, even jivas in the conditioned state who work with physical bodies. In the beginning of his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (Nectar of Devotion), Srila Rupa Gosvami testifies that Lord Krsna is the akhila-rasamrta-murti, the form of all kinds of nectarean rasa or taste. The word akhila is rendered by Srila Prabhupada as meaning "all kinds," "all sorts," "universal," "all that be," "complete," and so on. The second quotation, spoken by Lord Kapiladeva, tells us that the living entities are grouped into two categories--conditioned and liberated-- by the quality of their attraction, or in other words, by the quality of their taste. Liberated souls are attracted to Krsna, and they obtain akhila-rasa, the complete taste of nectar. Conditioned souls are attracted to the modes of nature, and they obtain khila (incomplete) or jada (dead, insentient) rasa. In a Srimad-Bhagavatam lecture given on 7 December 1974 in Bombay, Srila Prabhupada explained:
You are captivated by this material jada-rasa, material rasa. There is rasa; otherwise why a man is working so hard to maintain the family? Unless there is some ananda, why he is taking? Nobody is taking so much hard responsibility for others. But children, wife, family, they take. There is. . . Unless there is some ananda, how he can take? So the relationship has got ananda. But this ananda is flickering, illusion.
At this point it is opportune to introduce the words samasti and vyasti, which appear in the title of this second part of the essay. Sama means "same," vyasa means "divided," and asti means "it is so. " The Lord is akhila ("universal", "all that is," etc. ), thus His point of view is samasti, as we see in Gita 15. 7: mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah, "The living entities in this conditional world are My eternal fragmental parts. " But the point of view of the conditioned souls is that they are divided (vyasti) by matter from God and from one another. In fact, the very word jiva or jiva-bhuta carries with it the sense of this division. "ln the conditioned state, the living entity is known as jiva-bhuta, or 'the living force within matter. '" [C. c. Madhya 6. 269p] (In the same purport Srila Prabhupada explains that the liberated soul is called brahma-bhuta. ) Srimad-Bhagavatam 1. 3. 32 states, sa jivo yat punar-bhavah, "the jiva takes repeated births. " Similarly, 4. 29. 74 tells us, jiva ity abhidhiyate, "thus the jiva is understood" as the cetana (conscious living entity) that is yuktah (combined) with sodasa-vistrtam (sixteen expansions), namely the five sense objects, the five sense active organs, the five knowledge-acquiring senses and the mind.
The third quotation, also spoken by Lord Kapila, explains that those divided from the Lord are most unfortunate. They are averse to akhila-rasa, which appears in this world as acyuta-katha, the topics of Lord Acyuta. Those who have no taste for Krsna consciousness are compared to stool-eating hogs; i. e. there is a rasa they are mad after, but unhappily it is the taste to hear, discuss and imitate the nasty affairs of animalistic people.
Thus the conditioned souls are daivena-vihata, condemned by divine order. They are separated from the complete nectar of Krsna's association. And so they are forced to slake their need for nectar in obnoxious ways. It is on this point that we may discern the precise manner their consciousness is transformed. The jiva-bhutas are no less spirit souls than the brahma-bhutas. They are even no less parts and parcels and eternal servants of Krsna. But they have no taste to serve Him.
Srimad-Bhagavatam 5. 11. 8 compares the mind to the flaming wick of a lamp. If the wick burns improperly, if the flame smokes and sputters, the lamp will be blackened and its light will be unsteady. If it burns nicely, the flame will illuminate brightly without blackening the lamp. This verse points out in no uncertain terms that there are two states of mind: tattva and vrtti. Tattva, which commonly means "truth," is translated here by Srila Prabhupada as "its original position. " Vrtti is translated here as "various engagements. " Like tattva, vrtti is a word that appears quite often in Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is a way of designating activities that are geared to material sustenance.
Thus the liberated mind, the pure mind, has no other engagement than Krsna consciousness. The impure mind is bound to vrttis. Srimad-Bhagavatam 5. 11. 9 lists eleven such engagements in three divisions. When the mind is absorbed in hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling, it is engaged in sense objects. When the mind is absorbed in grasping, walking, talking, urination/defecation and sexual intercourse, it is engaged in organic activities. When the mind is absorbed in mental concoction and self-importance, it is engaged in abhimana (false egoism).
The verse from the Rg-Veda--the fourth scriptural quotation that lays the foundational logic of this second part of the essay--informs us that the seed of the mind is desire. It also points to the mind as the starting point of material existence. If the living entity has no taste for full Krsna consciousness, he will have unsatisfied desires. Material desires are the root of the material mind and its processes (manaso-vrtti).
Srimad-Bhagavatam 10. 1. 42 states that the nature of the mind is vikaratmaka. The reader may recall the word vikara from the first part of this essay. It means "transformation. " The specific vikaras of the mind are three: thinking (consciousness and contemplation), feeling (emotions) and willing (determination). There is even a pure, original form of these transformations of mind.
From the Srimad-Bhagavatam we understand that Krishna is the Original Consciousness and the center of all psychological movement, namely thinking, feeling and willing. We are all parts and parcels of the Supreme Thinking, Feeling and Willing, but our present thinking, feeling and willing being contaminated by the cloud of ignorance, we are thinking, feeling and willing in a perverted way. [Letter to Mrs, Cline, 69-02-22]
Thus the impure vyasti mind of the conditioned souls develops out of the original pure samasti mind of the Lord. Srimad-Bhagavatam 10. 1. 42 declares that the material body develops from the material mind.
The reader will recall Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana's comment in the first part of this essay to the effect that the liberated soul knows and dwells within both the realm of vikara (transformation) and vikara-avarti (transcendence). This is illustrated by the fifth quotation above, spoken by Sri Prahlada Maharaja. He prays that he lives without fear in the material world because he is always remembering the glories and activities of the Lord. His only purpose for being here is to deliver the fallen conditioned souls, whose minds are absorbed in carrying the heavy burden of false material happiness.
The sixth quotation instructs us that while pure glorification of the Lord is the satisfaction relished by liberated souls, it is also the medicine for curing the conditioned souls of their spiritual weakness, strong material desires, and dissatisfaction. Only very unfortunate persons infected with extreme self-loathing, who are perversely determined to annihilate their hopes for spiritual life, fail to be attracted.
We have looked carefully at the transformation of consciousness and seen that it is a transformation of rasa or taste. From out of this transformation, the field of activities appears. How does that take place? A basic understanding can be gleaned from the following quotations, both from purports to verses in Chapter 10 of Canto 2 of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
As such, before the creation or manifestation of the material cosmic world, the Lord exists as total energy (maha-samasti), and thus desiring Himself to be diffused to many, He expands Himself further into multitotal energy (samasti). From the multitotal energy He further expands Himself into individuals in three dimensions, namely adhyatmic, adhidaivic and adhibhautic, as explained before (vyasti). As such, the whole creation and the creative energies are nondifferent and different simultaneously. Because everything is an emanation from Him (the Maha-Visnu or Maha-samasti), nothing of the cosmic energies is different from Him; but all such expanded energies have specific functions and display as designed by the Lord, and therefore they are simultaneously different from the Lord. The living entities are also similar energy (marginal potency) of the Lord, and thus they are simultaneously one with and different from Him. [Bhag. 2. 10. 13p]
The heart of every living entity is the seat of the Supersoul, Paramatma, a plenary expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Without His presence the living entity cannot get into the working energy according to his past deeds. The living entities who are conditioned in the material world are manifested in the creation in terms of respective inclinations inherent in them, and the requisite material body is offered to each and every one of them by the material energy under the direction of the Supersoul. This is explained in the Bhagavad-gita (9. 10). When, therefore, the Supersoul is situated in the heart of the conditioned soul, the requisite mind is manifested in the conditioned soul, and he becomes conscious of his occupation as one is conscious of his duty after waking up from slumber. [Bhag. 2. 10. 30p]
A question may be raised--as it was raised by Mahatma Vidura before Sage Maitreya in Srimad-Bhagavatam 3. 7. 6--that if creation is a lila of the Lord, and that all-blissful Lord is directly present in the heart of the living entity, why does His presence and His lila result in misfortune for the living entities? Maitreya replied that the misfortune of the living entities is atma-viparyaya or perverse identification. They have lost touch with their actual identity as part and parcel of the Lord and are trying to find their identity within the energies of creation. The Lord never loses His original transcendental sense of self even as He sports with His illusory potency.
This brings us back to the subject of this second part of the essay: samasti and vyasti. The Lord has His own divine purpose in performing His lila of creation, and that purpose includes (samasti) the ultimate welfare of every one of His parts and parcels. "The material creation by the Lord of creatures (Visnu) is a chance offered to the conditioned souls to come back home--back to Godhead. " [B. g. 3. 10p] But from their conditional vyasti point of view, the living entities see this creation differently, and thus they suffer. Therefore: "Krsna consciousness means constantly associating with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in such a mental state that the devotee can observe the cosmic manifestation exactly as the Supreme Personality of Godhead does. " [Bhag. 4. 29. 69]
Let us consider in a more detailed manner how the lila of creation unfolds. Sastra describes it as having four stages. Each stage is a by-product of an expansion of the Lord.
The supreme living entity, Krsna, eternally manifests Himself as the catur-vyuha, or quadruple plenary expansion. The purport of this prayer is that one should give up his false ego and pray to this catur-vyuha by offering Them obeisances. Although the Absolute Truth is one without a second, the Absolute Truth displays His unlimited opulences and potencies by expanding Himself in innumerable plenary forms, of which the catur-vyuha is a principal expansion. The original being is Vasudeva, the Personality of Godhead. When the Godhead manifests His primeval energies and opulences, He is called Sankarsana. Pradyumna is the basis of the Visnu expansion who is the soul of the entire universe, and Aniruddha is the basis of the personal manifestation of Visnu as the Supersoul of every individual entity within the universe. Among the four plenary expansions mentioned here, the original expansion is Vasudeva, and the other three are considered to be particular manifestations of Him. When the living entity forgets that both he himself as well as the material nature are meant for the Lord's service, the quality of ignorance becomes prominent, and the conditioned entity desires to become himself the master. [Bhag. 11. 5. 29-30p]
The first purusa-avatara, Maha-Visnu in the Causal Ocean, who is the creator of the aggregate material energy, is an expansion of Sankarsana; the second purusa, Garbhodakasayi Visnu, is an expansion of Pradyumna; and the third purusa, Ksirodakasayi Visnu, is an expansion from Aniruddha. [C. c. Adi 2. 56]
As Srila Prabhupada notes in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 1. 14. 8, understanding the catur-vyuha (Lord Krsna in His four-fold Visnu-tattva manifestation that begins with Vasudeva) poses "complex problems for the layman. " We will start unraveling these complexities by mentioning that in these four forms, Krsna expands His pastimes beyond Goloka Vrndavana. For example, Lord Ramachandra is the original Vasudeva; He and His three transcendental brothers are the adi-caturvyuha. [Bhag. 3. 1. 34p] Sri Narayana, the Lord of Vaikuntha, is an expansion of Vasudeva. [Bhag. 1. 16. 26-30p] Besides being eternally present in the spiritual world, the four personalities of the catur-vyuha also appear in the mahat-tattva. [See C. c. Madhya 20. 276p].
How these quadruple forms of Godhead give shape to the mahat-tattva by Their divine presence is a major topic of discussion among great sages of the Vedanta philosophy. What follows is a summary from the Upanisads. Please take note of the states of consciousness and their symptoms that are associated with each of the four. Also note that in the Upanisads, the catur-vyuha are named Brahman (for Vasudeva), Isvara (for Sankarsana), Hiranyagarbha (for Pradyumna) and Virat (for Aniruddha).
|Aspect of Absolute||State of consciousness and symptoms||Creative manifestation (type of body)||Stage of creation|
|Brahman||Turiya: pure consciousness (above three gunas)||Brahma-bhuta (beyond material embodiment)||Brahman (above three gunas)|
|Isvara||Prajna (intelligence in avyakta): susupti (unconsciousness)||Karana-sarira (causal body)||Mahat|
|Hiranyagarbha||Taijjasa (creative intelligence); svapna (dream-sleep)||Linga-sarira (subtle body)||Taijasa|
|Virat||Ahamkara (false ego): jagrata (wakefulness)||Sthula-sarira (gross body)||
Now let us compare this to key statements from Srila Prabhupada's books. We begin with a quotation from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 20. 276p.
The three types of egotism (ahankara) are technically known as vaikarika, taijasa and tamasa. The mahat-tattva is situated within the heart, or citta, and the predominating Deity of the mahat-tattva is Lord Vasudeva (SB. 3. 26. 21). The mahat- tattva is transformed into three divisions: (1) vaikarika, egotism in goodness (sattvika-ahankara), from which the eleventh sense organ, the mind, is manifest and whose predominating Deity is Aniruddha (SB. 3. 26. 27-28); (2) taijasa, or egotism in passion (rajasa-ahankara), from which the senses and intelligence are manifest and whose predominating Deity is Lord Pradyumna (SB. 3. 26. 29-31); (3) tamasa, or egotism in ignorance, from which sound vibration (sabda-tanmatra) expands. From the sound vibration, the sky (akasa) is manifest and, the senses, beginning with the ear, are also manifest (SB. 3. 26. 32). Of these three types of egotism, Lord Sankarsana is the predominating Deity.
The first point to understand is that Lord Vasudeva predominates over the mahat-tattva from an aloof, transcendent situation. Srila Prabhupada brings this nicely into focus in his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 3. 26. 21. He writes that the Vasudeva state is also called clear consciousness or Krsna consciousness; in Bhagavad-gita it is called ksetra-jna, wherein the field of activities--manifest at the samasti level within the mahat-tattva and at the vyasti level within the individual body--is perfectly understood along with the Supersoul.
In the portion of the purport from Madhya-lila Chapter Twenty quoted before, Srila Prabhupada writes that Lord Sankarsana is the predominating Deity over the three kinds of egoism that manifest within the mahat-tattva. As we have already seen, the three personalities of the catur-vyuha beginning with Sankarsana are associated with the three purusa-avataras who generate the material creation. The first purusa, Maha-Visnu, expands from Sankarsana.
He is called Isvara in the Upanisads and is said to preside over the karana (causal) feature of embodiment. From Srila Prabhupada's books we know that Maha-Visnu lies upon the karana-jal (causal ocean) to breathe uncountable universes out from His pores. The Upanisads say that Isvara is the Lord of dreamless sleep (susupti). Srila Prabhupada writes in Srimad-Bhagavatam 7. 9. 32, puport:
The adi-purusa, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead--Krsna, Govinda--expands Himself as Maha-Visnu. After the annihilation of this cosmic manifestation, He keeps Himself in transcendental bliss. The word yoga-nidram is used in reference to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should understand that this nidra, or sleep, is not like our nidra in the mode of ignorance. The Lord is always situated in transcendence. He is sac-cid-ananda--eternally in bliss--and thus He is not disturbed by sleep like ordinary human beings. It should be understood that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is in transcendental bliss in all stages. Srila Madhvacarya concisely states that the Lord is turya-sthitah, always situated in transcendence. In transcendence there is no such thing as jagarana-nidra-susupti--wakefulness, sleep and deep sleep.
This quotation is full of significance. We see here that while there is an apparent difference in Their influence upon the consciousness of the jivas, there is no difference in the transcendental positions of Lord Vasudeva and Lord Sankarsana (Maha-Visnu). You will recall from Essay One a quotation from Srimad-Bhagavatam 11. 25. 20 stating that wakeful consciousness is symptomatic of goodness, dream-consciousness is symptomatic of passion, and unconsciousness is symptomatic of ignorance. Thus while Lord Sankarsana's influence over the jivas is tamasic, He Himself is always turiya-sthitah, beyond the modes of nature. All Visnu-tattva forms are equally transcendental. "All the plenary expansions are one and the same visnu-tattva, and there is no difference in Their potency. " [Bhag. 3. 1. 34p] "Anyone who knows these three Visnus can be liberated from material entanglement. " [B. g. 7. 4p]
We see once more the relationship of samasti to vyasti or akhila to khila. The deep sleep of the vyasti living entities is an incomplete imitation of the lila of complete transcendental bliss enjoyed by Maha-samasti, Lord Maha-Visnu. Vedanta-sutra 1. 3. 15 (gati-sabdabhyam tatha hi drstam lingam ca) indicates that the dahara, i. e. the Supersoul, intimately associates with the living entities in deep sleep, although they fail to realize it. Chandogya Upanisad 8. 3. 2 says that every day the living entities go to the spiritual world of Brahman without knowing it. Deep sleep (susupti) is an energy of Maha-Visnu. Every night He comes to associate with us (the Paramatma in our heart is no different in potency from Maha-Visnu), and we are wrapped in the blanket of His susupti potency. Brhadaranyaka Upanisad 4. 2. 18 compares the jiva soul to a fish in a river, in that the self moves from one state of conditioned consciousness to another like a fish swims from one bank to another. The river is the energy of the three Visnus: jagarana-svapna-susupti.
tad-drastaram param smaret
All the conditions of deep sleep, dreaming and wakefulness are but energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should always remember the original creator of these conditions, the Supreme Lord, who is unaffected by them. [Bhag. 6. 16. 54]
The Upanisads say that Isvara (Maha-Visnu) is the Lord of Prajna. In Canto One of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada translates prajna as "introspective knowledge. " Gita 2. 57 explains prajna to mean knowledge by which one is unaffected by any condition in the material world. Maharaja Yudisthira acheived such introspective knowledge by merging the five gross elements of the body into the three modes of material nature (which also refers to the three aspects of the subtle body: mind the product of goodness, intelligence the product of passion and false ego the product of ignorance). He then merged the modes into one nescience, which Srila Prabhupada terms avyakta mahat-tattva. [See Srimad Bhagavatam 1. 15. 42p] This one nescience Yudisthira finally absorbed into Brahman, the pure self.
The same progression is outlined in this quotation from Bhagavad-gita 13. 6-7p.
The five great elements are a gross representation of the false ego, which in turn represents the primal stage of false ego technically called the materialistic conception, or tamasa-buddhi, intelligence in ignorance. This, further, represents the unmanifested stage of the three modes of material nature. The unmanifested modes of material nature are called pradhana.
The avyakta mahat-tattva is the root stage of the material creation (karana). The Upanisads call it Mahat. Beyond this Mahat is Brahman or vasudeva-sattva, pure consciousness. Lord Vasudeva presides over vasudeva-sattva, Lord Sankarsana presides over avyakta mahat-tattva, and Lord Pradyumna presides over vyakta (manifest) mahat-tattva. The Upanisads term this third stage of creation taijasa.
Again kindly recall the quotation from C. c. Madhya 20. 276p. There it
is said: "(2) taijasa, or egotism in passion (rajasa-ahankara),
from which the senses and intelligence are manifest and whose predominating
Deity is Lord Pradyumna (SB. 3. 26. 29-31). " Garbhodakasayi Visnu expands
from Lord Pradyumna. Essay One referred you to a quotation from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
Madhya 2. 292 that stated Garbhodakasayi Visnu is the Hiranyagarbha or Supersoul
of the whole universe. The Upanisads call Him Hiranyagarbha;
they say the linga-sarira (subtle body) emanates from Him. This is confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam 3. 28. 68-70:
The ocean entered His abdomen with hunger and thirst, but the Cosmic Being [Garbhodakasayi Visnu] refused to rise even then. The moon-god entered His heart with the mind, but the Cosmic Being would not be roused.
Brahma also entered His heart with intelligence, but even then the Cosmic Being could not be prevailed upon to get up. Lord Rudra also entered His heart with the ego, but even then the cosmic Being did not stir.
However, when the inner controller, the deity presiding over consciousness [Paramatma or Ksirodakasayi Visnu], entered the heart with reason, at that very moment the Cosmic Being arose from the causal waters.
The subtle active senses (prana-sarira) of the linga-sarira constitute
the dream-body. "One can
experience the distinction between the subtle and gross bodies even daily; in a dream, one's gross body is lying on the bed while the subtle body carries the soul, the living entity, to another atmosphere. " [Bhag. 4. 12. 18p] Thus Hiranyagarbha or Garbhodakasayi Visnu presides over the svapna state of consciousness, which is in the mode of passion.
Ksirodakasayi Visnu, the Paramatma, enters into the heart of the linga-sarira. Within the individual heart He is the localized feature of Lord Aniruddha, who presides over the vaikaraka phase of creation (false ego in the mode of goodness, sattvika-ahamkara). The Upanisads call Him Virat (a name of Ksirodakasayi Visnu; see C. c. Madhya 21. 39p). He is said to preside over jagrata, the wakeful state of embodied consciousness.
But some measure of contradiction seems to surface here between the Upanisads and Srimad-Bhagavatam. This fourth phase of creation is termed Visva by the Upanisads; the indication is that it is the most gross stage of development, by which the sthula-sarira (body of five physical elements) appears. The Lord of Visva, named Virat, is said to hold the jivas in the thrall of ahamkara, false ego. The gross elements and false ego suggest the mode of ignorance, which is ruled by Sankarsana. What is the connection of that to Aniruddha, ruler of the mode of goodness?
A solution is found in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 5. 41p and Srimad-Bhagavatam 5. 17. 16. We learn from the first reference that the source of the Visnu forms is Mula-Sankarsana (the "root Sankarsana"). From Him emanate Pradyumna and Aniruddha, Maha-Visnu, Garbhodakasayi Visnu and Ksirodakasayi Visnu, the jivas and the whole material manifestation. Turning to the Bhagavatam reference, we learn that Sankarsana is the final expansion of the catur-vyuha, and He is worshiped by Lord Siva as the cause of that great demigod's existence. How can Sankarsana be the root of the purusa-avataras and yet be the last expansion of the catur-vyuha? The answer becomes more clear in Srimad-Bhagavatam 5. 25. 1: apart from His form as Maha-Visnu, Sankarsana appears within this universe as Ananta, who is Godhead in the form of a thousand-headed snake of cosmic proportions.
Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said to Maharaja Pariksit: My dear King, approximately 240,000 miles beneath the planet Patala lives another incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the expansion of Lord Visnu known as Lord Ananta or Lord Sankarsana. He is always in the transcendental position, but because He is worshiped by Lord Siva, the deity of tamo-guna or darkness, He is sometimes called tamasi. Lord Ananta is the predominating Deity of the material mode of ignorance as well as the false ego of all conditioned souls. When a conditioned living being thinks, "I am the enjoyer, and this world is meant to be enjoyed by me," this conception of life is dictated to him by Sankarsana. Thus the mundane conditioned soul thinks himself the Supreme Lord.
Ksirodakasayi Visnu (Aniruddha) and Ananta (Sankarsana) both preside over the Visva phase of creation. The former takes charge of the inner direction of the living entities. The latter takes charge of their gross elemental bodies and the false ego. Srimad-Bhagavatam 4. 24. 36 proclaims Aniruddha, Ananta and Sankarsana to be the same Personality of Godhead. Therefore in some places in Srila Prabhupada's books, Lord Aniruddha is said to be the Deity of the total ego of the living entities. Another gloss on the revelation that there are two Sankarsanas is found in Srimad-Bhagavatam 4. 24. 36. There Lord Sankarsana is said to have a two-fold role in creation: integration and disintegration. Srila Prabhupada explains that the integrative force is seen as so-called gravitation, which holds the stuff of the world together. At the time of devastation, the same Sankarsana releases the disintegrative force in the form of annihilating fire from His mouths.
Perhaps some readers found this sojourn into the complexities of the catur-vyuhas and Their influence on consciousness and creation to be brain-taxing. But there is an important lesson in transcendental psychology to be learned from it.
In order to get release from the false ego, one has to worship Sankarsana. Sankarsana is also worshiped through Lord Siva; the snakes which cover the body of Lord Siva are representations of Sankarsana, and Lord Siva is always absorbed in meditation upon Sankarsana. One who is actually a worshiper of Lord Siva as a devotee of Sankarsana can be released from false, material ego. If one wants to get free from mental disturbances, one has to worship Aniruddha. For this purpose, worship of the moon planet is also recommended in the Vedic literature. Similarly, to be fixed in one's intelligence one has to worship Pradyumna, who is reached through the worship of Brahma. These matters are explained in Vedic literature. [Bhag. 3. 26. 21p]
The science of God analyzes the constitutional position of God and His diverse energies. Material nature is called prakrti, or the energy of the Lord in His different purusa incarnations (expansions) as described in the Satvata-tantra:
visnos tu trini rupani
purusakhyany atho viduh
ekam tu mahatah srastr
dvitiyam tv anda-samsthitam
tani jnatva vimucyate
"For material creation, Lord Krsna's plenary expansion assumesthree Visnus. The first one, Maha-Visnu, creates the total material energy, known as the mahat-tattva. The second, Garbhodakasayi Visnu, enters into all the universes to create diversities in each of them. The third, Ksirodakasayi Visnu, is diffused as the all-pervading Supersoul in all the universes and is known as Paramatma. He is present even within the atoms. Anyone who knows these three Visnus can be liberated from material entanglement. " [B. g. 7. 4p]
Part Three: Vedic Depth Psychology.