We experience that when a cause is present, its effect, which did not exist before, arises. In Vakyapadiya (VP) 3.3.81 Bhartrhari says that this experience is owing to a marvelous function (atyadbhuta vrttih); for, according to his analysis, it would have to be accepted that the cause cannot perform any activity toward the effect before the effect arises. VP 3.3.81 goes as follows:
atyadbhuta tv iyam vrttir yad abhagam yad akramam/
bhavanam pragabutanam atmatattvam prakasate//
This important karika, by which Bhartrhari intends to imply that the relation of cause and effect is established only on the basis of vivarta, has been understood on the interpretation of Helaraja. According to him, the expression ‘atmatattva’ refers to an effect and what is called atyadbhuta vrttih is either vivarta or the power of Nescience (avidyasakti) which brings about vivarta. In view of Bhartrhari's vivarta theory and the context in which VP 3.3.81 is located, however, it is open to question whether ‘atmatattva’ can refer to an effect.
In the present paper, I have pointed out the problems involved in Helaraja's interpretation of the expression ‘atmatattva’, in order to show that what ‘atmatattva’ refers to is Brahman, the essence of all phenomena in this world, and that what is called atyadbhuta vrttih is just the power of Time (kalasakti). The interpretation I have suggested is as follows:
“Marvelous is this function (vrttih), [i. e., the power of Time,] by virtue of which the essence of previously non-existent things (bhavanam pragabhutanam atmatattvam), [i. e., Brahman,] which is indivisible and sequenceless, manifests itself (prakasate) [as something which is divisible and occurs in a sequence].”