Ever since this infinite universe was created, there have been enquiries about who created it, and how was it possible to maintain and sustain such a complicated system through the process of birth, growth and decay and death. Scriptures and sacred texts help an ardent seeker in this search to discover the mysterious manifestations of the eternal truth. The wide range of approaches from different angles and planes shown in these texts not only indicate their versatility in dealing with a subtle and complex subject, but are meant to guide individuals, who may be at varying levels of realisation.
It is only after traversing through many births when the Jivatma had occasion to practise devotion, that the desire to enquire into one’s real nature arises in it. A study of the Self is necessary for developing correct discrimination. But how is one to know oneself? Who is the “I” to be known? Is this “I” the subject or the object of enquiry?
In a lecture, Sri K. Srivasan explained Vidyaranya’s use of the analogy of the stage lamp (in Panchadasi) to illustrate the significant role of the inner Self or consciousness that is integral in each one of us. A stage lamp throws light on the empty stage, the props, the audience, etc, without discrimination. The light shines when the play is in progress and even after the play is over. We are able to recognise the actors, action, etc, on stage and also see that the stage is empty because of the light. Likewise it is the Supreme Being, who is the embodiment of consciousness, and is non-dual, blissful and eternal who enters into every aspect of the universe and also assumes the form of the individual Jivatma. It is through His Maya that the universe of names and forms was created. This Self in every being is the witness to both the doer and the deed.
An individual functions with the mind (Antakarana) and the senses. He is able to see, hear, think or act. All activity of the Jivatma is in the form of various transformations that take place within and outside. But the Jivatma assumes that it is interacting in this world without realising the power of the Self that is animating it.