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Re: ARTICLE : Five factors of action

Posted By Shrisha Rao (shrao@nyx.net)
6 Jan 1997 20:58:03 -0700

mpt0002@jove.acs.unt.edu (Michael Tandy) wrote:

> These are described in the Gita, 18.14-15:
> adhisthanam tatha karta karanam ca prthag-vidham /
> vividhas ca prthak cesta daivam caivatra pancamam //
> "The locus and the doer, as well as the different types of facilities,
> various separate endeavors, and, especially, Divine will--these are the
> five factors of action."

The translation may be correct in some sense, but it is rather hard to
grasp and does not give a clear picture of what the verse is saying,
and its significance; one cannot easily understand what is meant by
`locus', for instance. The word `locus' is defined by Webster's Third

lo.cus \'lo--k*s\ \'lo--.si-, -.ki-, -ke-\ n or lo.ci [L - more at
STALL] pl 1: PLACE, LOCALITY 2: the set of all points whose location
is determined by stated conditions

-- it clearly relates to a space or field, either physical or
analogical, and I would say this is not the right translation for

Let's look at the verse again --

adhishhThAnaM tathA kartA karaNaM cha pR^ithagvidham.h |
vividhAshcha pR^ithakcheshhTA daivaM chaivAtra paJNchamam.h ||

To understand the same, consider the standard Vedantic example of a
clay pot. Simple enough, but it serves the purpose. To create a clay
pot, one needs five causes:

1> adhishhThaana -- the substratum; in this case the clay dough, which
is re-shaped to form the substance of the pot.

2> kartA -- the actor; in this case the potter, who makes the pot.

3> karaNaM cha pR^ithagvidham.h -- various types of implements; in
this case such as the potter's wheel, the stick used to rotate that
wheel, etc.

4> vividhAshcha pR^ithakcheshhTA -- various types of effort; in this
case such as rotating the dough on the potter's wheel and shaping it
into the pot-shape, drying the result, baking it in a kiln, etc.

5> daivaM -- the Divine Will; if this is not present, then all of the
previous, even if present and effecting, cannot succeed in creating a

These are the five kinds of causes of a clay pot, and it is stated in
the 'Gita that any activity whether fair or foul, of the body, speech,
or mind, needs such five causes.

It is interesting to note that in all six classical philosophical
doctrines of Saankhya, Yoga, etc., creation is given by this "standard
model." This is a point of difference with the Semitic schools, for
instance, which accept what St. Augustine calls "creation ex nihilo"
or creation out of a void. God or somebody waves a magic wand and
something appears out of a vacuum. This does not happen according to
Vedanta or the other traditional philosophical systems, because what
is called creation itself is a transformation according to the
Standard Model. Destruction also is explained similarly; nothing
actually vanishes into a vacuum, but is transformed into something
else. (The creation of the pot is equivalent to the destruction of
the clay, for instance.)

In fact, it is for this reason that the jiiva or living soul is
accepted to be beginningless and without destruction, in Vedanta. The
conscious "I-principle" cannot be "created" because there is no
adhishhThaana or substratum (locus?) that can be transformed into
consciousness; it is its own unique entity, and there is no instance
of something else transforming into it, or of it transforming into
something else. As such, the "I-principle," identified with the soul,
can neither be created nor destroyed, and thus is without beginning or
end. This again is in contrast with the Christian view, for instance,
where souls are created out of a void by God.


Shrisha Rao

> -m


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