adhyatma prasara

adhyatma prasara (Sanskrit: "evolution of the Self") — the Self's evolution is a progressive unfoldment, growth and maturing toward its inherent, divine destiny, which is complete merger with Brahman. In its essence, the Self is ever perfect. But as an individual soul body emanated by Brahman, it is like a small seed yet to develop. As an acorn needs to be planted in the dark underground to grow into a mighty oak tree, so must the Self unfold out of the darkness of the malas to full maturity and realization of its innate oneness with Brahman. The Self evolves by taking on denser and denser sheaths — cognitive, instinctive-intellectual and pranic — until finally it takes birth in physical form in the bhuloka. Then it experiences many lives, maturing through the samsara (reincarnation process). Thus, from birth to birth, the Self learn and mature. See: mala, moksha, samsara, vishvagrasa.

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Evolution is the result of experience and the lessons derived from it. There are young atma (Self) just beginning to evolve, and old atma nearing the end of their earthly sojourn. In Saiva Siddhanta, evolution is understood as the removal of fetters which comes as a natural unfoldment, realization and expression of one's true, self-effulgent nature. This ripening or dropping away of the mala (soul's bonds) is called malaparipaka. The realization of the Self nature is termed svanubhuti (experience of the Self).

Self Realization leads to moksha, liberation from the three malas and the reincarnation cycles. Then evolution continues in the celestial worlds until the soul finally merges fully and indistinguishably into Supreme Brahman, the Primal Self, Parameshvara. In his Tirumantiram, Rishi Tirumular calls this merger vishvagrasa, "total absorption. The evolution of the Self is not a linear progression, but an intricate, circular, many-faceted mystery. Nor is it at all encompassed in the Darwinian theory of evolution, which explains the origins of the human form as descended from earlier primates.

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