|To them the
universe is one vast field in which spirit and matter, Atman and Anatman, contend with
each other at various levels of being. The higher we go in the scale of creation the
greater is the mastery of spirit over matter.
explained in the Taittiriya Upanishad, we are the spectators as well as the actors in a
grand spiritual evolution from annam to rana, from Prana to Manas, from manas to
vijnanam and from vijnanam to Ananda. In modem terms, the evolution is from matter to
life, from life to consciousness, from consciousness to self- conscious ness, and from
self-consciousness to universal or cosmic consciousness.
Or, to put it more concretely, the
progress is from minerals to plants, from plants to animals, from animals to man and from
man to God. At the one extremity we have inorganic matter in which the spirit is dormant,
and at the other extremity the absolute spirit in which matter is absorbed.
And at every intermediate stage true progress is to be measured
by the increasing richness of spirit and the shrinkage of matter. Also, after the
appearance of man, who is a free agent, the evolution is no longer involuntary as in lower
levels, but voluntary and conscious, and hence the progress is not in a straight line but
in wavy curves