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is unreal. When one thing appears to us as something else it is false knowledge of the thing. By reason of the mAyA power we have this false knowledge and think that the universe is something other than brahman. But when the Realization dawns on us by the grace of the Guru we will then realize that there is nothing other than brahman.
bIjasyAntarivAnkuro jagadidaM prAng-nirvikalpaM punar-
tasmai SrI-guru-mUrtaye nama idaM SrI-dakshiNA-mUrtaye //
VITTULE MULAI POL MUNNAM VIKARPAMILIC-CAGAM-PIN
CITTIRAM VIRIPPAN YAVAN CITTANU-MAYIKAN POR
CATTIYAR KURUVAM-ANDAD-DAKSHINA-MURTTI PORRI //
To Him, who like a magician or a great yogin, displays, by (the power of) His own Will, this universe, which earlier was undifferentiated like the sprout in the seed, but which later was made differentiated under the varied conditions of space, time and causation created by mAyA, to Him of the form of the Guru, the blessed dakshinA-mUrti, is this prostration.
This verse dwells on the concept that the Absolute is also the material cause of the universe in addition to its being the efficient cause. But the analogy of the tree and the seed should not be carried too far. From the seed comes out a tree, from the tree again there is another seed. From brahman 'sprouts' the universe, of course, but from the universe there does not shoot forth a brahman! That is why brahman is called 'bIjam avyayam' (Gita: 9 - 18) (= the non-perishing seed). The analogy of the yogi is more apt here. The use of the words 'prAk' (earlier), MUNNAM in the Tamil version, and 'punaH' (again), PIN in the Tamil version, is not to indicate a passage of Time, but is to show the difference between the unmanifest state and the manifested state. Time starts only in the manifested state. In the unmanifested state, Time itself was - our language itself is failing us here! Why did we say 'was'? - unmanifest! Just as manifestation of the Absolute is a phenomenon of mAyA, Time also is a phenomenon of mAyA.
The Absolute doing the Creation of the Universe out of Itself is indeed a difficult concept. But there is very heavy scriptural authority for this. In fact one can give at least seven such evidences:
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