māyayāropitaṁ hi tat
The Vedic direction for the creation, maintenance and destruction of the material world is this: yato vā imāni bhūtāni jāyante; yena jātāni jīvanti; yat prayanty abhisaṁviśanti — i.e., everything is created by Brahman, after creation everything is maintained by Brahman, and after annihilation everything is conserved in Brahman. Gross materialists without any knowledge of Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān conclude material nature to be the ultimate cause of the material manifestation, and the modern scientist also shares this view that the material nature is the ultimate cause of all the manifestations of the material world. This view is refuted by all Vedic literature. The Vedānta philosophy mentions that Brahman is the fountainhead of all creation, maintenance and destruction, and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the natural commentation on the Vedānta philosophy, says, janmādy asya yato ’nvayād itarataś cārtheṣv abhijñaḥ svarāṭ, etc.
Inert matter is undoubtedly energy with potential to interact, but it has no initiative of its own. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam therefore comments on the aphorism janmādy asya by saying abhijñaḥ and svarāṭ, i.e., the Supreme Brahman is not inert matter, but He is supreme consciousness and is independent. Therefore inert matter cannot be the ultimate cause of the creation, maintenance and destruction of the material world. Superficially material nature appears to be the cause of creation, maintenance and destruction, but material nature is set into motion for creation by the supreme conscious being, the Personality of Godhead. He is the background of all creation, maintenance and destruction, and this is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.10):
The material nature is one of the energies of the Lord, and she can work under the direction of the Lord (adhyakṣeṇa). When the Lord throws His transcendental glance over the material nature, then only can the material nature act, as a father contacts the mother, who is then able to conceive a child. Although it appears to the layman that the mother gives birth to the child, the experienced man knows that the father gives birth to the child. The material nature therefore produces the moving and standing manifestations of the material world after being contacted by the supreme father, and not independently. Considering material nature to be the cause of creation, maintenance, etc., is called “the logic of nipples on the neck of a goat.” The Caitanya-caritāmṛta by Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī describes this logic of ajā-gala-stana-nyāya as follows (as explained by His Divine Grace Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja): “The material nature, as the material cause, is known as pradhāna, and as the efficient cause is known as māyā. But since it is inert matter, it is not the remote cause of creation.” Kavirāja Gosvāmī states as follows:
ataeva kṛṣṇa mūla-jagat-kāraṇa
prakṛti — kāraṇa yaiche ajā-gala-stana
(Cc. Ādi 5.61)
Because Kāraṇārṇavaśāyī Viṣṇu is a plenary expansion of Kṛṣṇa, it is He who electrifies the matter to put it in motion. The example of electrification is quite appropriate. A piece of iron is certainly not fire, but when the iron is made red-hot, certainly it has the quality of fire through its burning capacity. Matter is compared to the piece of iron, and it is electrified or made red-hot by the glance or manipulation of the supreme consciousness of Viṣṇu. Only by such electrification is the energy of matter displayed in various actions and reactions. Therefore the inert matter is neither efficient nor the material cause of the cosmic manifestation. Śrī Kapiladeva has said:
dhūmād vāpi sva-sambhavāt
yathāgniḥ pṛthag ulmukāt
The original fire, its flame, its sparks and its smoke are all one, for fire is still fire yet is different from the flame, flame is different from sparks, and sparks are different from the smoke. In every one of them, namely in the flames, in the sparks and in the smoke, the integrity of fire is present, yet all of them are differently situated with different positions. The cosmic manifestation is compared to the smoke because when smoke passes over the sky so many forms appear, resembling many known and unknown manifestations. The sparks are compared to living entities, and the flames are compared to material nature (pradhāna). One must know that each and every one of them is effective simply because of being empowered by the quality of the original fire. Therefore all of them, namely the material nature, the cosmic manifestation and the living entities, are but different energies of the Lord (fire). Therefore those who accept the material nature as the cosmic manifestation’s original cause (prakṛti, the cause of creation according to Sāṅkhya philosophy) are not correct in their conclusion. The material nature has no separate existence without the Lord. Therefore, setting aside the Supreme Lord as the cause of all causes is the logic of ajā-gala-stana-nyāya, or trying to milk the nipples on the neck of a goat. The nipples on the neck of a goat may seem like sources of milk, but to try to get milk from such nipples will be foolish.