The material world is not a perverted reflection of the spiritual world

There is the notion that the material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world.

In no particular order, the material world features things like Facebook, Microsoft, petroleum refineries, nuclear bombs, cell phones, quantum mechanics, Star Wars, electrons, matter, and Michael Jackson. What would the original objects be, of which these items are perverted reflections? Unsurprisingly, none of these are mentioned in the scriptures.

There are some things in Vṛndāvana – like trees and earth and the sun- that are also present in the material world. But these objects in Vṛndāvana are not the same as the material world, because they are not made of matter. Instead of reflection, the word shadow is more appropriate. Reflection does contain some elements of the original object, whereas a shadow does not contain any. Further, not everything in the material world has an equivalent in the spiritual world, and vice versa. Therefore the shadow is only partial.

Furthermore, the word ‘perverted’ used to qualify reflection is superfluous because reflection never produces the original anyway.

The notion that one thing is a reflection of another arises from the limited mind, which can only conceive of the beginning of something, expansion of that thing and then modification of the expansions. Instead, all śaktis of Kṛṣṇa are eternal, have no beginning, and did not arise from one another.  They are eternally existing, distinct in nature and have distinct functions.

6 replies »

  1. How to explain ” Urdhva mulam adha sakham” if the material world is not reflection of spiritual world. Could you please enlighten me more?

    • The verse does not describe the material world as a reflection of the spiritual world. It is describing the cosmos with a metaphor. The translation is: “It is said [in the Vedas] that there is an imperishable Asvattha tree whose roots are upward and whose branches are downward, and the leaves of which are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is a knower of the Vedas.”

      No mention of a ‘reflection’ of the spiritual world here.

  2. Do you mean it is not like reflection from mirror, but perverted like love-lust, permanent-impermanent, etc.?

    There is no need of sun, moon, or stars, nor is that abode illumined by electricity or any form of fire. All these material universes are illumined by a reflection of that spiritual light, and because that superior nature is always self-luminous, we can experience a glow of light even in the densest darkness of night.” In the Hari-vaàça the spiritual nature is explained by the Supreme Lord Himself as follows: “The glaring effulgence of the impersonal Brahman [the impersonal Absolute] illuminates all existences, both material and spiritual. But, O Bhärata, you must understand that this Brahman illumination is the effulgence of My body.”

    We are related to someone as a father, a son, a lover, a beloved, a master, a servant or whatever. These are perverted reflections of the relationship with Kåñëa found in the spiritual world. Today in the material world I may be relishing my love for my son, but tomorrow my son may be my greatest enemy

    • Relationships with people in this world are not perverted reflections of the relationships in the spiritual world. First, there is nothing perverted about a father-son relationship even if that relationship is in the material world. Second, the relationship in the spiritual world is a totally different kind of relationship- not even remotely related to the relationships in the material world.
      About the English translations you copy-pasted from other websites, I can say nothing. Cite the original Sanskrit. Provide a context from commentaries from other acaryas. Then I can comment.

  3. Does “perverted reflections” mean describing the cosmos with a metaphor like lust-love, permanent-temporary, etc. (not the material world as a mirror reflection of the spiritual world)?

    • I would like to see the scriptural basis for that. As far as I know, there is none. Also, lust is not a ‘perverted’ reflection of prema, love. It is an insult to Krsna say that lust is in any way or form related to prema.

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