तदैक्षत बहु स्यां प्रजायेयेति तत्तेजोऽसृजत तत्तेज ऐक्षत बहु स्यां प्रजायेयेति तदपोऽसृजत । तस्माद्यत्र क्वच शोचति स्वेदते वा पुरुषस्तेजस एव तदध्यापो जायन्ते ॥ ६.२.३ ॥
tadaikṣata bahu syāṃ prajāyeyeti tattejo’sṛjata tatteja aikṣata bahu syāṃ prajāyeyeti tadapo’sṛjata | tasmādyatra kvaca śocati svedate vā puruṣastejasa eva tadadhyāpo jāyante || 6.2.3 ||
3. That Existence decided: ‘I shall be many. I shall be born.’ He then created fire. That fire also decided: ‘I shall be many. I shall be born.’ Then fire produced water. That is why whenever or wherever a person mourns or perspires, he produces water.
Tat, that [existence]; aikṣata, decided; bahu syām, I shall be many; prajāyeya iti, I shall be born; tat, that [existence]; asṛjata, created; tejaḥ, fire; tat tejaḥ, that [existence as] fire; aikṣata, decided; bahu syām, I shall be many; prajāyeya iti, I shall be born; tat, that [fire]; apaḥ, water; asṛjata, created; tasmāt, that is why; yatra kva ca, whenever and wherever; puruṣaḥ, a person; śocati, grieves; svedate vā, or perspires; tat, [it happens] that; tejasaḥ eva, from fire; āpaḥ adhijāyante, water comes.
The word aikṣata means ‘saw,’ ‘thought,’ or ‘decided.’ It can only apply to a conscious principle, because only a conscious principle can decide or think or see. And only a conscious being can say that he will be many.
The scriptures say that this Existence, or Brahman, is one without a second, always the same, unchanging, and unchangeable. So how can it at the same time be many? Vedānta says that it is like a lump of earth sometimes taking different forms of pots, cups, etc. Or it is like a rope which sometimes looks like a snake. The change is only in names and forms. It is not a real change.
Vedānta says, this applies to all that we see in this world. Underlying the seeming diversity there is unity. This unity—this One—supports the diversity. It is this One that has become many, but only in appearance. To go back to the example of the earth, the earth remains earth, though in appearance it may take the form of a lump or of some pots or of some other things.
An apt description of this is ‘unity in diversity.’ It is Brahman that has become everything—space, air, fire, water, earth.
Then the question arises, how can fire, which is inanimate, think? The answer is that here fire stands for Brahman. Brahman as fire is making things happen. Brahman is the source of everything. It is the base, the reality. Just as earth can be in the form of a lump or a pot, similarly, Brahman can be in the form of fire, water, or something else.
It is not that Brahman undergoes any change. Brahman remains Brahman. It is Sat, eternal Existence. It is the Absolute. It is never conditioned by anything. When it says it will be ‘many,’ it means it will appear in many forms, just as earth or gold can be in many forms. But it must be borne in mind that this Existence is also pure consciousness.