Chapter X - THE S'ANKARA SCHOOL OF VEDÂNTA

Surendranath Dasgupta

An artistic impression of Surendranath Dasgupta

by Surendranath Dasgupta

| Ch1 || Ch2 || Ch3 || Ch4 || Ch5 || Ch6 || Ch7 ||Ch8 || Ch9 || Ch10 || Index ||


Comprehension of the philosophical Issues more essential than the Dialectic of controversy.

_Pramâna_ in Sanskrit signifies the means and the movement by which knowledge is acquired, _pramâtâ_ means the subject or the knower who cognizes, _pramâ_ the result of pramâna--right knowledge, _prameya_ the object of knowledge, and _prâmânya_ the validity of knowledge acquired. The validity of knowledge is sometimes used in the sense of the faithfulness of knowledge to its object, and sometimes in the sense of an inner notion of validity in the mind of the subject--the knower (that his perceptions are true), which moves him to work in accordance with his perceptions to adapt himself to his environment for the attainment of pleasurable and the avoidance of painful things.

The question wherein consists the prâmânya of knowledge has not only an epistemological and psychological bearing but a metaphysical one also. It contains on one side a theory of knowledge based on an analysis of psychological experience, and on the other indicates a metaphysical situation consistent with the theory of knowledge. All the different schools tried to justify a theory of knowledge by an appeal to the analysis and interpretation of experience which the others sometimes ignored or sometimes regarded as unimportant. The thinkers of different schools were accustomed often to meet together and defeat one another in actual debates, and the result of these debates was frequently very important in determining the prestige of any school of thought. If a Buddhist for example could defeat a great Nyâya or Mîmâmsâ thinker in a great public debate attended by many learned scholars from different parts of the country, his fame at once spread all over the country and he could probably secure a large number of followers on the spot. Extensive tours of disputation were often undertaken by great masters all over the country for the purpose of defeating the teachers of the opposite schools and of securing adherents to their own.

These debates were therefore not generally conducted merely in a passionless philosophical mood with the object of arriving at the truth but in order to inflict a defeat on opponents and to establish the ascendency of some particular school of thought. It was often a sense of personal victory and of the victory of the school of thought to which the debater adhered that led him to pursue the debate. Advanced Sanskrit philosophical works give us a picture of the attitude of mind of these debaters and we find that most of these debates attempt to criticize the different schools of thinkers by exposing their inconsistencies and self-contradictions by close dialectical reasoning, anticipating the answers of the opponent, asking him to define his statements, and ultimately proving that his theory was inconsistent, led to contradictions, and was opposed to the testimony of experience. In reading an advanced work on Indian philosophy in the original, a student has to pass through an interminable series of dialectic arguments, and negative criticisms (to thwart opponents) sometimes called _vitandâ_, before he can come to the root of the quarrel, the real philosophical divergence.

All the resources of the arts of controversy find full play for silencing the opponent before the final philosophical answer is given. But to a modern student of philosophy, who belongs to no party and is consequently indifferent to the respective victory of either side, the most important thing is the comprehension of the different aspects from which the problem of the theory of knowledge and its associated metaphysical theory was looked at by the philosophers, and also a clear understanding of the deficiency of each view, the value of the mutual criticisms, the speculations on the experience of each school, their analysis, and their net contribution to philosophy. With Vedânta we come to an end of the present volume, and it may not be out of place here to make a brief survey of the main conflicting theories from the point of view of the theory of knowledge, in order to indicate the position of the Vedânta of the S'ankara school in the field of Indian philosophy so far as we have traversed it. I shall therefore now try to lay before my readers the solution of the theory of knowledge (_pramânavâda_) reached by some of the main schools of thought. Their relations to the solution offered by the S'ankara Vedânta will also be dealt with, as we shall attempt to sketch the views of the Vedanta later on in this chapter.

The philosophical situation. A Review.

Before dealing with the Vedânta system it seems advisable to review the general attitude of the schools already discussed to the main philosophical and epistemological questions which determine the position of the Vedânta as taught by S'ankara and his school.

The Sautrântika Buddhist says that in all his affairs man is concerned with the fulfilment of his ends and desires (_purusâdrtka_). This however cannot be done without right knowledge (_samyagjñâna_) which rightly represents things to men. Knowledge is said to be right when we can get things just as we perceived them. So far as mere representation or illumination of objects is concerned, it is a patent fact that we all have knowledge, and therefore this does not deserve criticism or examination. Our enquiry about knowledge is thus restricted to its aspect of later verification or contradiction in experience, for we are all concerned to know how far our perceptions of things which invariably precede all our actions can be trusted as rightly indicating what we want to get in our practical experience (_arthaprâdpakatva_). The perception is right (_abhrânta_ non-illusory) when following its representation we can get in the external world such things as were represented by it (_samvâdakatva_). That perception alone can be right which is generated by the object and not merely supplied by our imagination. When I say "this is the cow I had seen," what I see is the object with the brown colour, horns, feet, etc., but the fact that this is called cow, or that this is existing from a past time, is not perceived by the visual sense, as this is not generated by the visual object. For all things are momentary, and that which I see now never existed before so as to be invested with this or that permanent name. This association of name and permanence to objects perceived is called _kaipanâ_ or _abhilâpa_. Our perception is correct only so far as it is without the abhilâpa association (_kalpanâpodha_), for though this is taken as a part of our perceptual experience it is not derived from the object, and hence its association with the object is an evident error. The object as unassociated with name--the nirvikalpa--is thus what is perceived. As a result of the pratyaksa the manovijñâna or thought and mental perception of pleasure and pain is also determined. At one moment perception reveals the object as an object of knowledge (_grâhya_), and by the fact of the rise of such a percept, at another moment it appears as a thing realizable or attainable in the external world. The special features of the object undefinable in themselves as being what they are in themselves (_svalaksana_) are what is actually perceived (_pratyaksavisaya_) [Footnote ref 1]. The _pramânaphala_ (result of perception) is the


[Footnote 1: There is a difference of opinion about the meaning of the word "svalaksana" of Dharmakîrtti between ray esteemed friend Professor Stcherbatsky of Petrograd and myself. He maintains that Dharmakîrtti held that the content of the presentative element at the moment of perception was almost totally empty. Thus he writes to me, "According to your interpretation svalaksana mean,--the object (or idea with Vijñânavâdin) _from which everything past and everything future has been eliminated_, this I do not deny at all. But I maintain that if everything past and future has been taken away, what remains? _The present_ and the present is a _ksana_ i.e. nothing.... The reverse of ksana is a ksanasamtâna or simply samtâna and in every samtâna there is a synthesis ekîbhâva of moments past and future, produced by the intellect (buddhi = nis'caya = kalpana = adhyavasâya)...There is in the perception of a jug _something_ (a ksana of sense knowledge) which we must distinguish from the _idea_ of a jug (which is always a samtâna, always vikalpita), and if you take the idea away in a strict unconditional sense, no knowledge remains: ksanasya jñânena prâpayitumas'akyatvât. This is absolutely the Kantian teaching about _Synthesis of Apprehension_. Accordingly pratyaksa is a _transcendental_ source of knowledge, because practically speaking it gives no knowledge at all. This _pramâna_ is _asatkalpa_. Kant says that without the elements of intuition (= sense-knowledge = pratyaksa = kalpanâpodha) our cognitions would be empty and without the elements of intellect (kalpanâ = buddhi = synthesis = ekîbhâva) they would be blind. Empirically both are always combined. This is exactly the theory of Dharmakîrtti. He is a Vijñânavâdî as I understand, because he maintains the cognizability of ideas (vijñâna) alone, but the reality is an incognizable foundation of our knowledge; he admits, it is bâhya, it is artha, it is arthakriyâksana = svalaksana; that is the reason for which he sometimes is called Sautrântika and this school is sometimes called Sautranta-vijñânavâda, as opposed to the Vijñânavâda of As'vaghosa and Âryâsanga, which had no elaborate theory of cognition. If the jug as it exists in our representation were the svalaksana and paramârthasat, what would remain of Vijñânavâda? But there is the perception of the jug as opposed to the _pure idea_ of a jug (s'uddhâ kalpanâ), an element of reality, the sensational ksana, which is communicated to us by sense knowledge. Kant's 'thing in itself' is also a ksana and also an element of sense knowledge of pure sense as opposed to pure reason, Dharmakîrtti has also _s'uddhâ kalpanâ_ and _s'uddham pratyaksam_. ...And very interesting is the opposition between pratyaksa and anumâna, the first moves from ksana to samtâna and the second from samtâna to ksana, that is the reason that although bhrânta the anumâna is nevertheless pramâna because through it we indirectly also reach ksana, the arthakriyâksana. It is bhrânta directly and pramâna indirectly; pratyaksa is pramâna directly and bhrânta (asatkalpa) indirectly... ." So far as the passages to which Professor Stcherbatsky refers are concerned, I am in full agreement with him. But I think that he pushes the interpretation too far on Kantian lines. When I perceive "this is blue," the perception consists of two parts, the actual presentative element of sense-knowledge (_svalaksana_) and the affirmation (_nis'caya_). So far we are in complete agreement. But Professor Stcherbatsky says that this sense-knowledge is a ksana (moment) and is nothing. I also hold that it is a ksana, but it is nothing only in the sense that it is not the same as the notion involving affirmation such as "this is blue." The affirmative process occurring at the succeeding moments is determined by the presentative element of the first moment (_pratyaksabalotpanna_ N.T., p. 20) but this presentative element divested from the product of the affirmative process of the succeeding moments is not characterless, though we cannot express its character; as soon as we try to express it, names and other ideas consisting of affirmation are associated and these did not form a part of the presentative element. Its own character is said to be its own specific nature (_svalaksana_). But what is this specific nature? Dharmakîrtti's answer on this point is that by specific nature he means those specific characteristics of the object which appear clear when the object is near and hazy when it is at a distance (_yasyârthasya sannidhânâsannidhânâbkyâm jñânapratibhâsabhedastat svalaksanam_ N., p. 1 and N.T., p. 16). Sense-knowledge thus gives us the specific characteristics of the object, and this has the same form as the object itself; it is the appearance of the "blue" in its specific character in the mind and when this is associated by the affirmative or ideational process, the result is the concept or idea "this is blue" (_nîlasarûpam pratyaksamanubhûyamânam nîlabodharûpamavasthâpyate ... nîlasârûpyamasya pramânam nîlavikalpanarûpam tvasya pramânaphalam_, N.T.p. 22). At the first moment there is the appearance of the blue (_nîlanirbhâsam hi vijñânam_, N.T. 19) and this is direct acquaintance (_yatkiñcit arthasya sâksâtkârijñânam tatpratyaksamucyate_, N.T. 7) and this is real (_paramârthasat_) and valid. This blue sensation is different from the idea "this is blue" (_nîlabodha_, N.T. 22) which is the result of the former (_pramânaphala_) through the association of the affirmative process (_adhyavasâya_) and is regarded as invalid for it contains elements other than what were presented to the sense and is a _vikalpapratyaya_. In my opinion _svalaksana_ therefore means pure sensation of the moment presenting the specific features of the object and with Dharmakîrtti this is the only thing which is valid in perception and vikalpapratyaya or pramânaphala is the idea or concept which follows it. But though the latter is a product of the former, yet, being the construction of succeeding moments, it cannot give us the pure stage of the first moment of sensation-presentation (_ksanasya prâpayitumas'akyatvât_, N.T. 16). N.T. = _Nyâyabindutîkâ_, N = _Nyâyabindu (Peterson's edition).]


ideational concept and power that such knowledge has of showing the means which being followed the thing can be got (_yena krtena arthah prâpito bhavati_). Pramâna then is the similarity of the knowledge with the object by which it is generated, by which we assure ourselves that this is our knowledge of the object as it is perceived, and are thus led to attain it by practical experience. Yet this later stage is pramânaphala and not pramâna which consists merely in the vision of the thing (devoid of other associations), and which determines the attitude of the perceiver towards the perceived object. The pramâna therefore only refers to the newly-acquired knowledge (_anadhigatâdhigantr_) as this is of use to the perceiver in determining his relations with the objective world. This account of perception leaves out the real epistemological question as to how the knowledge is generated by the external world, or what it is in itself. It only looks to the correctness or faithfulness of the perception to the object and its value for us in the practical realization of our ends. The question of the relation of the external world with knowledge as determining the latter is regarded as unimportant.

The Yogâcâras or idealistic Buddhists take their cue from the above-mentioned Sautrântika Buddhists, and say that since we can come into touch with knowledge and knowledge alone, what is the use of admitting an external world of objects as the data of sensation determining our knowledge? You say that sensations are copies of the external world, but why should you say that they copy, and not that they alone exist? We never come into touch with objects in themselves; these can only be grasped by us simultaneously with knowledge of them, they must therefore be the same as knowledge (_sahopalambhaniyamât abhedo nîlataddhiyoh_); for it is in and through knowledge that external objects can appear to us, and without knowledge we are not in touch with the so-called external objects. So it is knowledge which is self-apparent in itself, that projects itself in such a manner as to appear as referring to other external objects. We all acknowledge that in dreams there are no external objects, but even there we have knowledge. The question why then if there are no external objects, there should be so much diversity in the forms of knowledge, is not better solved by the assumption of an external world; for in such an assumption, the external objects have to be admitted as possessing the infinitely diverse powers of diversely affecting and determining our knowledge; that being so, it may rather be said that in the beginningless series of flowing knowledge, preceding knowledge-moments by virtue of their inherent specific qualities determine the succeeding knowledge-moments. Thus knowledge alone exists; the projection of an external word is an illusion of knowledge brought about by beginningless potencies of desire (_vâsanâ_) associated with it. The preceding knowledge determines the succeeding one and that another and so on. Knowledge, pleasure, pain, etc. are not qualities requiring a permanent entity as soul in which they may inhere, but are the various forms in which knowledge appears. Even the cognition, "I perceive a blue thing," is but a form of knowledge, and this is often erroneously interpreted as referring to a permanent knower. Though the cognitions are all passing and momentary, yet so long as the series continues to be the same, as in the case of one person, say Devadatta, the phenomena of memory, recognition, etc. can happen in the succeeding moments, for these are evidently illusory cognitions, so far as they refer to the permanence of the objects believed to have been perceived before, for things or knowledge-moments, whatever they may be, are destroyed the next moment after their birth. There is no permanent entity as perceiver or knower, but the knowledge-moments are at once the knowledge, the knower and the known. This thoroughgoing idealism brushes off all references to an objective field of experience, interprets the verdict of knowledge as involving a knower and the known as mere illusory appearance, and considers the flow of knowledge as a self-determining series in successive objective forms as the only truth. The Hindu schools of thought, Nyâya, Sâmkhya, and the Mîmâmsâ, accept the duality of soul and matter, and attempt to explain the relation between the two. With the Hindu writers it was not the practical utility of knowledge that was the only important thing, but the nature of knowledge and the manner in which it came into being were also enquired after and considered important.

Pramâna is defined by Nyâya as the collocation of instruments by which unerring and indubitable knowledge comes into being. The collocation of instruments which brings about definite knowledge consists partly of consciousness (_bodha_) and partly of material factors (_bodhâbodhasvabhâva_). Thus in perception the proper contact of the visual sense with the object (e.g. jug) first brings about a non-intelligent, non-apprehensible indeterminate consciousness (nirvikalpa) as the jugness (ghatatva) and this later on combining with the remaining other collocations of sense-contact etc. produces the determinate consciousness: this is a jug. The existence of this indeterminate state of consciousness as a factor in bringing about the determinate consciousness, cannot of course be perceived, but its existence can be inferred from the fact that if the perceiver were not already in possession of the qualifying factor (_vis'esanajñâna_ as jugness) he could not have comprehended the qualified object (_vis'istabuddhi_} the jug (i.e. the object which possesses jugness). In inference (_anumâna_) knowledge of the linga takes part, and in upamâna the sight of similarity with other material conglomerations. In the case of the Buddhists knowledge itself was regarded as pramâna; even by those who admitted the existence of the objective world, right knowledge was called pramâna, because it was of the same form as the external objects it represented, and it was by the form of the knowledge (e.g. blue) that we could apprehend that the external object was also blue. Knowledge does not determine the external world but simply enforces our convictions about the external world. So far as knowledge leads us to form our convictions of the external world it is pramâna, and so far as it determines our attitude towards the external world it is pramânaphala. The question how knowledge is generated had little importance with them, but how with knowledge we could form convictions of the external world was the most important thing. Knowledge was called pramâna, because it was the means by which we could form convictions (_adhyavasâya_) about the external world. Nyâya sought to answer the question how knowledge was generated in us, but could not understand that knowledge was not a mere phenomenon like any other objective phenomenon, but thought that though as a guna (quality) it was external like other gunas, yet it was associated with our self as a result of collocations like any other happening in the material world. Pramâna does not necessarily bring to us new knowledge (_anadhigatâdhi-gantr_) as the Buddhists demanded, but whensoever there were collocations of pramâna, knowledge was produced, no matter whether the object was previously unknown or known. Even the knowledge of known things may be repeated if there be suitable collocations. Knowledge like any other physical effect is produced whenever the cause of it namely the pramâna collocation is present. Categories which are merely mental such as class (_sâmânya_), inherence (_samavâya_), etc., were considered as having as much independent existence as the atoms of the four elements. The phenomenon of the rise of knowledge in the soul was thus conceived to be as much a phenomenon as the turning of the colour of the jug by fire from black to red. The element of indeterminate consciousness was believed to be combining with the sense contact, the object, etc. to produce the determinate consciousness. There was no other subtler form of movement than the molecular. Such a movement brought about by a certain collocation of things ended in a certain result (_phala_). Jñâna (knowledge) was thus the result of certain united collocations (_sâmagrî_) and their movements (e.g. contact of manas with soul, of manas with the senses, of the senses with the object, etc.). This confusion renders it impossible to understand the real philosophical distinction between knowledge and an external event of the objective world. Nyâya thus fails to explain the cause

of the origin of knowledge, and its true relations with the objective world. Pleasure, pain, willing, etc. were regarded as qualities which belonged to the soul, and the soul itself was regarded as a qualitiless entity which could not be apprehended directly but was inferred as that in which the qualities of jñâna, sukha (pleasure), etc. inhered. Qualities had independent existence as much as substances, but when any new substances were produced, the qualities rushed forward and inhered in them. It is very probable that in Nyâya the cultivation of the art of inference was originally pre-eminent and metaphysics was deduced later by an application of the inferential method which gave the introspective method but little scope for its application, so that inference came in to explain even perception (e.g. this is a jug since it has jugness) and the testimony of personal psychological experience was taken only as a supplement to corroborate the results arrived at by inference and was not used to criticize it [Footnote ref 1].

Sâmkhya understood the difference between knowledge and material events. But so far as knowledge consisted in being the copy of external things, it could not be absolutely different from the objects themselves; it was even then an invisible translucent sort of thing, devoid of weight and grossness such as the external objects possessed. But the fact that it copies those gross objects makes it evident that knowledge had essentially the same substances though in a subtler form as that of which the objects were made. But though the matter of knowledge, which assumed the form of the objects with which it came in touch, was probably thus a subtler combination of the same elementary substances of which matter was made up, yet there was in it another element, viz. intelligence, which at once distinguished it as utterly different from material combinations. This element of intelligence is indeed different from the substances or content of the knowledge itself, for the element of intelligence is like a stationary light, "the self," which illuminates the crowding, bustling knowledge which is incessantly changing its form in accordance with the objects with which it comes in touch. This light of intelligence is the same that finds its manifestation in consciousness as the "I," the changeless entity amidst all the fluctuations of the changeful procession of knowledge. How this element of light which is foreign to the substance of knowledge


[Footnote 1: See _Nyâyamañjarî_ on pramâna.]


relates itself to knowledge, and how knowledge itself takes it up into itself and appears as conscious, is the most difficult point of the Sâmkhya epistemology and metaphysics. The substance of knowledge copies the external world, and this copy-shape of knowledge is again intelligized by the pure intelligence (_purusa_) when it appears as conscious. The forming of the buddhi-shape of knowledge is thus the pramâna (instrument and process of knowledge) and the validity or invalidity of any of these shapes is criticized by the later shapes of knowledge and not by the external objects (_svatah-prâmânya_ and _svatah-aprâmânya_). The pramâna however can lead to a pramâ or right knowledge only when it is intelligized by the purusa. The purusa comes in touch with buddhi not by the ordinary means of physical contact but by what may be called an inexplicable transcendental contact. It is the transcendental influence of purusa that sets in motion the original prakrti in Sâmkhya metaphysics, and it is the same transcendent touch (call it yogyatâ according to Vâcaspati or samyoga according to Bhiksu) of the transcendent entity of purusa that transforms the non-intelligent states of buddhi into consciousness. The Vijñânavâdin Buddhist did not make any distinction between the pure consciousness and its forms (_âkâra_) and did not therefore agree that the âkâra of knowledge was due to its copying the objects. Sâmkhya was however a realist who admitted the external world and regarded the forms as all due to copying, all stamped as such upon a translucent substance (_sattva_) which could assume the shape of the objects. But Sâmkhya was also transcendentalist in this, that it did not think like Nyâya that the âkâra of knowledge was all that knowledge had to show; it held that there was a transcendent element which shone forth in knowledge and made it conscious. With Nyâya there was no distinction between the shaped buddhi and the intelligence, and that being so consciousness was almost like a physical event. With Sâmkhya however so far as the content and the shape manifested in consciousness were concerned it was indeed a physical event, but so far as the pure intelligizing element of consciousness was concerned it was a wholly transcendent affair beyond the scope and province of physics. The rise of consciousness was thus at once both transcendent and physical.

The Mîmâmsist Prabhâkara agreed with Nyâya in general as regards the way in which the objective world and sense contact induced knowledge in us. But it regarded knowledge as a unique phenomenon which at once revealed itself, the knower and the known. We are not concerned with physical collocations, for whatever these may be it is knowledge which reveals things--the direct apprehension that should be called the pramâna. Pramâna in this sense is the same as pramiti or pramâ, the phenomenon of apprehension. Pramâna may also indeed mean the collocations so far as they induce the pramâ. For pramâ or right knowledge is never produced, it always exists, but it manifests itself differently under different circumstances. The validity of knowledge means the conviction or the specific attitude that is generated in us with reference to the objective world. This validity is manifested with the rise of knowledge, and it does not await the verdict of any later experience in the objective field (_samvâdin_). Knowledge as nirvikalpa (indeterminate) means the whole knowledge of the object and not merely a non-sensible hypothetical indeterminate class-notion as Nyâya holds. The savikalpa (determinate) knowledge only re-establishes the knowledge thus formed by relating it with other objects as represented by memory [Footnote ref 1].

Prabhâkara rejected the Sâmkhya conception of a dual element in consciousness as involving a transcendent intelligence (_cit_) and a material part, the buddhi; but it regarded consciousness as an unique thing which by itself in one flash represented both the knower and the known. The validity of knowledge did not depend upon its faithfulness in reproducing or indicating (_pradars'akatva_) external objects, but upon the force that all direct apprehension (_anubhûti_) has of prompting us to action in the external world; knowledge is thus a complete and independent unit in all its self-revealing aspects. But what the knowledge was in itself apart from its self-revealing character Prabhâkara did not enquire.

Kumârila declared that jñâna (knowledge) was a movement brought about by the activity of the self which resulted in producing consciousness (_jñâtatâ_) of objective things. Jñâna itself cannot be perceived, but can only be inferred as the movement necessary for producing the jñâtatâ or consciousness of things. Movement with Kumârila was not a mere atomic vibration, but was a non-sensuous transcendent operation of which vibration


[Footnote 1: Sâmkhya considered nirvikalpa as the dim knowledge of the first moment of consciousness, which, when it became clear at the next moment, was called savikalpa.]


was sometimes the result. Jñâna was a movement and not the result of causal operation as Nyâya supposed. Nyâya would not also admit any movement on the part of the self, but it would hold that when the self is possessed of certain qualities, such as desire, etc., it becomes an instrument for the accomplishment of a physical movement. Kumârila accords the same self-validity to knowledge that Prabhâkara gives. Later knowledge by experience is not endowed with any special quality which should decide as to the validity of the knowledge of the previous movement. For what is called samvâdi or later testimony of experience is but later knowledge and nothing more [Footnote ref 1]. The self is not revealed in the knowledge of external objects, but we can know it by a mental perception of self-consciousness. It is the movement of this self in presence of certain collocating circumstances leading to cognition of things that is called jñâna [Footnote ref 2]. Here Kumârila distinguishes knowledge as movement from knowledge as objective consciousness. Knowledge as movement was beyond sense perception and could only be inferred.

The idealistic tendency of Vijñânavâda Buddhism, Sâmkhya, and Mîmâmsâ was manifest in its attempt at establishing the unique character of knowledge as being that with which alone we are in touch. But Vijñânavâda denied the external world, and thereby did violence to the testimony of knowledge. Sâmkhya admitted the external world but created a gulf between the content of knowledge and pure intelligence; Prabhâkara ignored this difference, and was satisfied with the introspective assertion that knowledge was such a unique thing that it revealed with itself, the knower and the known, Kumârila however admitted a transcendent element of movement as being the cause of our objective consciousness, but regarded this as being separate from self. But the question remained unsolved as to why, in spite of the unique character of knowledge, knowledge could relate itself to the world of objects, how far the world of external objects or of knowledge could be regarded as absolutely true. Hitherto judgments were only relative, either referring to one's being prompted to the objective world, to the faithfulness of the representation of objects, the suitability of fulfilling our requirements, or to verification by later uncontradicted experience. But no enquiry was made whether any absolute judgments about the ultimate truth of knowledge and matter could be made at all. That which appeared was regarded as the real. But the question was not asked, whether there was anything which could be regarded as absolute truth, the basis of all appearance, and the unchangeable, reality. This philosophical enquiry had the most wonderful charm for the Hindu mind.


[Footnote 1: See _Nyâyaratnamâla_, svatah-prâmânya-nirnaya.]

[Footnote 2: See _Nyâyamañjari_ on Pramâna, _S'lokavârttika_ on Pratyaksa, and Gâgâ Bhatta's _Bhattâcintamani_ on Pratyaksa.]


Vedânta Literature.

It is difficult to ascertain the time when the _Brahma-sûtras_ were written, but since they contain a refutation of almost all the other Indian systems, even of the S'ûnyavâda Buddhism (of course according to S'ankara's interpretation), they cannot have been written very early. I think it may not be far from the truth in supposing that they were written some time in the second century B.C. About the period 780 A.D. Gaudapâda revived the monistic teaching of the Upanisads by his commentary on the Mândûkya Upanisad in verse called _Mândûkyakârikâ_. His disciple Govinda was the teacher of S'ankara (788--820 A.D.). S'ankara's commentary on the _Brahma-sûtras_ is the root from which sprang forth a host of commentaries and studies on Vedântism of great originality, vigour, and philosophic insight. Thus Ânandagiri, a disciple of S'ankara, wrote a commentary called _Nyâyanirnaya_, and Govindânanda wrote another commentary named _Ratna-prabhâ_. Vâcaspati Mis'ra, who flourished about 841 A.D., wrote another commentary on it called the _Bhâmati._ Amalânanda (1247--1260 A.D.) wrote his _Kalpataru_ on it, and Apyayadiksita (1550 A.D.) son of Rangarâjadhvarîndra of Kâñcî wrote his _Kalpataruparimala_ on the _Kalpataru._ Another disciple of S'ankara, Padmapâda, also called Sanandana, wrote a commentary on it known as _Pañcapâdikâ_. From the manner in which the book is begun one would expect that it was to be a running commentary on the whole of S'ankara's bhâsya, but it ends abruptly at the end of the fourth sûtra. Mâdhava (1350), in his _S'ankaravijaya,_ recites an interesting story about it. He says that Sures'vara received S'ankara's permission to write a vârttika on the bhâsya. But other pupils objected to S'ankara that since Sures'vara was formerly a great Mîmâmsist (Mandana Misra was called Sures'vara after his conversion to Vedântism) he was not competent to write a good _vârttika_ on the bhâsya. Sures'vara, disappointed, wrote a treatise called _Naiskarmyasiddhi._ Padmapâda wrote a tîkâ but this was burnt in his uncle's house. S'ankara, who had once seen it, recited it from memory and Padmapâda wrote it down. Prakâs'âtman (1200) wrote a commentary on Padmapâda's _Pañcapâdikâ_ known as _Pañcapâdikâvivarana. _Akhandânanda wrote his _Tattvadîpana,_ and the famous Nrsimhâs'rama Muni (1500) wrote his _Vivaranabhâvaprakâs'ikâ_ on it. Amalânanda and Vidyasâgara also wrote commentaries on _Pañcapâdikâ,_ named _Pañcapâdikâdarpana_ and _Pañcapâdikâtîkâ_ respectively, but the _Pañcapâdikâvivarana_ had by far the greatest reputation. Vidyâranya who is generally identified by some with Mâdhava (1350) wrote his famous work _Vivaranaprameyasamgraha_ [Footnote ref 1], elaborating the ideas of _Pañcapâdikâvivarana_; Vidyâranya wrote also another excellent work named _Jîvanmuktiviveka_ on the Vedânta doctrine of emancipation. Sures'vara's (800 A.D.) excellent work _Naiskarmyasiddhi_ is probably the earliest independent treatise on S'ankara's philosophy as expressed in his bhâsya. It has been commented upon by Jñânottama Mis'ra. Vidyâranya also wrote another work of great merit known as _Pañcadas'î,_ which is a very popular and illuminating treatise in verse on Vedânta. Another important work written in verse on the main teachings of S'ankara's bhâsya is _Samksepas'arîraka_, written by Sarvajñâtma Muni (900 A.D.). This has also been commented upon by Râmatîrtha. S'rîharsa (1190 A.D.) wrote his _Khandanakhandakhâdya_, the most celebrated work on the Vedânta dialectic. Citsukha, who probably flourished shortly after S'rîharsa, wrote a commentary on it, and also wrote an independent work on Vedânta dialectic known as _Tattvadîpikâ_ which has also a commentary called _Nayanaprasâdinî_ written by Pratyagrûpa. S'ankara Mis'ra and Raghunâtha also wrote commentaries on _Khandanakhandakhâdya._ A work on Vedânta epistemology and the principal topics of Vedânta of great originality and merit known as _Vedântaparibhâsâ_ was written by Dharmarâjâdhvarîndra (about 155OA.D.). His son Râmakrsnâdhvarin wrote his _S'ikhâmani_ on it and Amaradâsa his _Maniprabhâ._ The _Vedântaparibhâsâ_ with these two commentaries forms an excellent exposition of some of the fundamental principles of Vedânta. Another work of supreme importance


[Footnote 1: See Narasimhâcârya's article in the _Indian Antiquary_, 1916.]


(though probably the last great work on Vedânta) is the _Advaitasiddhi_ of Madhusûdana Sarasvatî who followed Dharmarâjâdhvarîndra. This has three commentaries known as _Gaudabrahmânandî_, _Vitthales'opadhyâyî_ and _Siddhivyâkhyâ_. Sadânanda Vyâsa wrote also a summary of it known as _Advaitasiddhisiddhântasâra_. Sadânanda wrote also an excellent elementary work named _Vedântasâra_ which has also two commentaries _Subodhinî_ and _Vidvanmanorañjinî_. The _Advaitabrahmasiddhi_ of Sadânanda Yati though much inferior to _Advaitasiddhi_ is important, as it touches on many points of Vedânta interest which are not dealt with in other Vedânta works. The _Nyâyamakaranda_ of Ânandabodha Bhattârakâcâryya treats of the doctrines of illusion very well, as also some other important points of Vedânta interest. _Vedântasiddhântamuktâvalî_ of Prakâs'ânanda discusses many of the subtle points regarding the nature of ajñâna and its relations to cit, the doctrine of _drstisrstivâda_, etc., with great clearness. _Siddhântales'a by Apyayadîksita is very important as a summary of the divergent views of different writers on many points of interest. _Vedântatattvadîpikâ_ and _Siddhântatattva_ are also good as well as deep in their general summary of the Vedânta system. _Bhedadhikkâra_ of Nrsimhâs'rama Muni also is to be regarded as an important work on the Vedânta dialectic.

The above is only a list of some of the most important Vedânta works on which the present chapter has been based.

Vedânta in Gaudapâda.

It is useless I think to attempt to bring out the meaning of the Vedânta thought as contained in the _Brahma-sûtras_ without making any reference to the commentary of S'ankara or any other commentator. There is reason to believe that the _Brahma-sûtras_ were first commented upon by some Vaisnava writers who held some form of modified dualism [Footnote ref 1]. There have been more than a half dozen Vaisnava commentators of the _Brahma-sûtras_ who not only differed from S'ankara's interpretation, but also differed largely amongst themselves in accordance with the different degrees of stress they laid on the different aspects of their dualistic creeds. Every one of them claimed that his interpretation was the only one that was faithful to the sûtras and to the Upanisads. Should I attempt to give an interpretation myself and claim that to be the right one, it would be only just one additional view. But however that may be, I am myself inclined to believe that the dualistic interpretations of the _Brahma-sûtras_ were probably more faithful to the sûtras than the interpretations of S'añkara.


[Footnote 1: This point will be dealt with in the 2nd volume, when I shall deal with the systems expounded by the Vaisnava commentators of the _Brahma-sûtras_.]


The _S'rîmadbhagavadgîtâ_, which itself was a work of the Ekânti (singularistic) Vaisnavas, mentions the _Brahma-sûtras_ as having the same purport as its own, giving cogent reasons [Footnote ref 1]. Professor Jacobi in discussing the date of the philosophical sûtras of the Hindus has shown that the references to Buddhism found in the _Brahma-sûtras_ are not with regard to the Vijñâna-vada of Vasubandhu, but with regard to the S'ûnyavâda, but he regards the composition of the _Brahma-sûtras_ to be later than Nâgârjuna. I agree with the late Dr S.C. Vidyâbhûshana in holding that both the Yogâcâra system and the system of Nâgârjuna evolved from the _Prajñâpâramitâ_ [Footnote ref 2]. Nâgârjuna's merit consisted in the dialectical form of his arguments in support of S'unyavâda; but so far as the essentials of S'unyavâda are concerned I believe that the Tathatâ philosophy of As'vaghosa and the philosophy of the _Prajñâpâramitâ_ contained no less. There is no reason to suppose that the works of Nâgârjuna were better known to the Hindu writers than the _Mahâyâna sûtras_. Even in such later times as that of Vâcaspati Mis'ra, we find him quoting a passage of the _S'âlistambha sûtra_ to give an account of the Buddhist doctrine of pratîtyasamutpâda [Footnote ref 3]. We could interpret any reference to S'ûnyavâda as pointing to Nâgârjuna only if his special phraseology or dialectical methods were referred to in any way. On the other hand, the reference in the _Bhagavadgîtâ_ to the _Brahma-sûtras_ clearly points out a date prior to that of Nâgârjuna; though we may be slow to believe such an early date as has been assigned to the _Bhagavadgîtâ_ by Telang, yet I suppose that its date could safely be placed so far back as the first half of the first century B.C. or the last part of the second century B.C. The _Brahma-sûtras_ could thus be placed slightly earlier than the date of the _Bhagavadgîtâ_.


[Footnote 1: "Brahmasûtrapadais'caiva hetumadbhirvinis'citah" _Bhagavadgîtâ_. The proofs in support of the view that the _Bhagavadgîtâ_ is a Vaisnava work will be discussed in the 2nd volume of the present work in the section on _Bhagavadgîtâ_ and its philosophy.]

[Footnote 2: _Indian Antiquary_, 1915.]

[Footnote 3: See Vâcaspati Mis'ra's _Bhâmatî_ on S'ankara's bhâsya on _Brahma-sûtra_, II. ii.]


I do not know of any evidence that would come in conflict with this supposition. The fact that we do not know of any Hindu writer who held such monistic views as Gaudapâda or S'ankara, and who interpreted the _Brahma-sûtras_ in accordance with those monistic ideas, when combined with the fact that the dualists had been writing commentaries on the _Brahma-sûtras_, goes to show that the _Brahma-sûtras_ were originally regarded as an authoritative work of the dualists. This also explains the fact that the _Bhagavadgîtâ_, the canonical work of the Ekânti Vaisnavas, should refer to it. I do not know of any Hindu writer previous to Gaudapâda who attempted to give an exposition of the monistic doctrine (apart from the Upanisads), either by writing a commentary as did S'ankara, or by writing an independent work as did Gaudapâda. I am inclined to think therefore that as the pure monism of the Upanisads was not worked out in a coherent manner for the formation of a monistic system, it was dealt with by people who had sympathies with some form of dualism which was already developing in the later days of the Upanisads, as evidenced by the dualistic tendencies of such Upanisads as the S'vetâs'vatara, and the like. The epic S'amkhya was also the result of this dualistic development.

It seems that Bâdarâyana, the writer of the _Brahma-sûtras_, was probably more a theist, than an absolutist like his commentator S'ankara. Gaudapâda seems to be the most important man, after the Upanisad sages, who revived the monistic tendencies of the Upanisads in a bold and clear form and tried to formulate them in a systematic manner. It seems very significant that no other kârikâs on the Upanisads were interpreted, except the _Mândûkyakârikâ_ by Gaudapâda, who did not himself make any reference to any other writer of the monistic school, not even Bâdarâyana. S'ankara himself makes the confession that the absolutist (_advaita_) creed was recovered from the Vedas by Gaudapâda. Thus at the conclusion of his commentary on Gaudapâda's kârikâ, he says that "he adores by falling at the feet of that great guru (teacher) the adored of his adored, who on finding all the people sinking in the ocean made dreadful by the crocodiles of rebirth, out of kindness for all people, by churning the great ocean of the Veda by his great churning rod of wisdom recovered what lay deep in the heart of the Veda, and is hardly attainable even by the immortal gods [Footnote ref l]." It seems particularly significant that S'ankara should credit Gaudapâda and not Bâdarâyana with recovering the Upanisad creed. Gaudapâda was the teacher of Govinda, the teacher of S'ankara; but he was probably living when S'ankara was a student, for S'ankara says that he was directly influenced by his great wisdom, and also speaks of the learning, self-control and modesty of the other pupils of Gaudapâda [Footnote ref 2]. There is some dispute about the date of S'ankara, but accepting the date proposed by Bhandarkar, Pathak and Deussen, we may consider it to be 788 A.D. [Footnote ref 3], and suppose that in order to be able to teach S'ankara, Gaudapâda must have been living till at least 800 A.D.

Gaudapâda thus flourished after all the great Buddhist teachers As'vaghosa, Nâgârjuna, Asanga and Vasubandhu; and I believe that there is sufficient evidence in his kârikâs for thinking that he was possibly himself a Buddhist, and considered that the teachings of the Upanisads tallied with those of Buddha. Thus at the beginning of the fourth chapter of his kârikâs he says that he adores that great man (_dvipadâm varam_) who by knowledge as wide as the sky realized (_sambuddha_) that all appearances (_dharma_) were like the vacuous sky (_gaganopamam_ [Footnote ref 4]. He then goes on to say that he adores him who has dictated (_des'ita_) that the touch of untouch (_aspars'ayoga_--probably referring to Nirvâna) was the good that produced happiness to all beings, and that he was neither in disagreement with this doctrine nor found any contradiction in it (_avivâdah aviruddhas'ca_). Some disputants hold that coming into being is of existents, whereas others quarrelling with them hold that being (_jâta_) is of non-existents (_abhûtasya_); there are others who quarrel with them and say that neither the existents nor non-existents are liable to being and there is one non-coming-into-being (_advayamajâtim_). He agrees with those who hold that there is no coming into being [Footnote ref 5]. In IV. 19 of his kârikâ he again says that the Buddhas have shown that there was no coming into being in any way (_sarvathâ Buddhairajâtih paridîpitah_).


[Footnote 1: S'ankara's bhâsya on Gaudapâda's kârikâ, Anandâs'rama edition, p. 214.]

[Footnote 2: Anandâs'rama edition of S'ankara's bhâsya on Gaudapâda's kârikâ, p. 21.]

[Footnote 3: Telang wishes to put S'ankara's date somewhere in the 8th century, and Venkates'vara would have him in 805 A.D.-897 A.D., as he did not believe that S'ankara could have lived only for 32 years. _J.R.A.S._ 1916.]

[Footnote 4: Compare _Lankâvatâra_, p. 29, _Katham ca gaganopamam_.]

[Footnote 5: Gaudapâda's kârikâ, IV. 2, 4.]


Again, in IV. 42 he says that it was for those realists (_vastuvâdi_), who since they found things and could deal with them and were afraid of non-being, that the Buddhas had spoken of origination (_jâti_). In IV. 90 he refers to _agrayâna_ which we know to be a name of _Mahâyâna_. Again, in IV. 98 and 99 he says that all appearances are pure and vacuous by nature. These the Buddhas, the emancipated one (_mukta_) and the leaders know first. It was not said by the Buddha that all appearances (_dharma_) were knowledge. He then closes the kârikâs with an adoration which in all probability also refers to the Buddha [Footnote ref 1].

Gaudapâda's work is divided into four chapters: (i) Âgama (scripture), (2) Vaitathya (unreality), (3) Advaita (unity), (4) Alâtas'ânti (the extinction of the burning coal). The first chapter is more in the way of explaining the Mândûkya Upanisad by virtue of which the entire work is known as _Mândûkyakârikâ_. The second, third, and fourth chapters are the constructive parts of Gaudapâda's work, not particularly connected with the Mândûkya Upanisad.

In the first chapter Gaudapâda begins with the three apparent manifestations of the self: (1) as the experiencer of the external world while we are awake (_vis'va_ or _vais'vânara âtmâ_), (2) as the experiencer in the dream state (_taijasa âtmâ_), (3) as the experiencer in deep sleep (_susupti_), called the _prâjña_ when there is no determinate knowledge, but pure consciousness and pure bliss (_ânanda_). He who knows these three as one is never attached to his experiences. Gaudapâda then enumerates some theories of creation: some think that the world has proceeded as a creation from the prâna (vital activity), others consider creation as an expansion (_vibhûti_) of that cause from which it has proceeded; others imagine that creation is like dream (_svapna_) and magic (_mâyâ_); others, that creation proceeds simply by the will of the Lord; others that it proceeds from time; others that it is for the enjoyment of the Lord (_bhogârtham_) or for his play only (_kridârtham_), for such is the nature (_svabhâva_) of the Lord, that he creates, but he cannot have any longing, as all his desires are in a state of fulfilment.


[Footnote 1: Gaudapâda's kârikâ IV. 100. In my translation I have not followed S'ankara, for he has I think tried his level best to explain away even the most obvious references to Buddha and Buddhism in Gaudapâda's kârikâ. I have, therefore, drawn my meaning directly as Gaudapâda's kârikâs seemed to indicate. I have followed the same principle in giving the short exposition of Gaudapâda's philosophy below.]


Gaudapâda does not indicate his preference one way or the other, but describes the fourth state of the self as unseen (_adrsta_), unrelationable (_avyavahâryam_), ungraspable (_agrâhyam_), indefinable (_alaksana_), unthinkable (_acintyam_), unspeakable (_avyapades'ya_), the essence as oneness with the self (_ekâtmapratyayasâra_), as the extinction of the appearance (_prapañcopas'ama_), the quiescent (_s'ântam_), the good (_s'ivam_), the one (_advaita_) [Footnote ref 1]. The world-appearance (_prapañca_) would have ceased if it had existed, but all this duality is mere mâyâ (magic or illusion), the one is the ultimately real (_paramârthatah_). In the second chapter Gaudapâda says that what is meant by calling the world a dream is that all existence is unreal. That which neither exists in the beginning nor in the end cannot be said to exist in the present. Being like unreal it appears as real. The appearance has a beginning and an end and is therefore false. In dreams things are imagined internally, and in the experience that we have when we are awake things are imagined as if existing outside, but both of them are but illusory creations of the self. What is perceived in the mind is perceived as existing at the moment of perception only; external objects are supposed to have two moments of existence (namely before they are perceived, and when they begin to be perceived), but this is all mere imagination. That which is unmanifested in the mind and that which appears as distinct and manifest outside are all imaginary productions in association with the sense faculties. There is first the imagination of a perceiver or soul (_jîva_) and then along with it the imaginary creations of diverse inner states and the external world. Just as in darkness the rope is imagined to be a snake, so the self is also imagined by its own illusion in diverse forms. There is neither any production nor any destruction (_na nirodho, na cotpattih_), there is no one who is enchained, no one who is striving, no one who wants to be released [Footnote ref 2]. Imagination finds itself realized in the non-existent existents and also in the sense


[Footnote 1: Compare in Nâgârjuna's first kârikâ the idea of _prapañcopas'amam s'ivam. Anirodhamanutpâdamanucchedamas'âs'vatam anekârthamanânârthamanâgamamanirgamam yah pratîtyasamutpâdam prapañcopas'amam s'ivam des'ayâmâva sambuddhastam vande vadatâmvaram_. Compare also Nâgârjuna's Chapter on _Nirvânaparîksâ, Pûrvopalambhopas'amah prapañcopas'amah s'ivah na kvacit kasyacit kas'cit dharmmo buddhenades'itah_. So far as I know the Buddhists were the first to use the words _prapañcopas'aman s'ivam_.]

[Footnote 2: Compare Nâgârjuna's karikâ, "anirodhamanutpâdam" in _Mâdhyamikavrtti, B.T.S._, p. 3.]


of unity; all imagination either as the many or the one (_advaya_) is false; it is only the oneness (_advayatâ_) that is good. There is no many, nor are things different or non-different (_na nânedam ...na prthag nâprthak_) [Footnote ref 1]. The sages who have transcended attachment, fear, and anger and have gone beyond the depths of the Vedas have perceived it as the imaginationless cessation of all appearance (nirvikalpah prapañcopas'amah_), the one [Footnote ref 2].

In the third chapter Gaudapâda says that truth is like the void(_âkâs'a_) which is falsely concieved as taking part in birth and death, coming and going and as existing in all bodies; but howsoever it be conceived, it is all the while not different from âkâs'a. All things that appear as compounded are but dreams (_svapna_) and mâyâ (magic). Duality is a distinction imposed upon the one (_advaita_) by mâyâ. The truth is immortal, it cannot therefore by its own nature suffer change. It has no birth. All birth and death, all this manifold is but the result of an imposition of mâyâ upon it [Footnote ref 3]. One mind appears as many in the dream, as also in the waking state one appears as many, but when the mind activity of the Togins (sages) is stopped arises this fearless state, the extinction of all sorrow, final ceasation. Thinking everything to be misery (_duhkham sarvam anusmrtya_) one should stop all desires and enjoyments, and thinking that nothing has any birth he should not see any production at all. He should awaken the mind (_citta_) into its final dissolution (_laya_) and pacify it when distracted; he should not move it towards diverse objects when it stops. He should not taste any pleasure (_sukham_) and by wisdom remain unattached, by strong effort making it motionless and still. When he neither passes into dissolution nor into distraction; when there is no sign, no appearance that is the perfect Brahman. When there is no object of knowledge to come into being, the unproduced is then called the omniscent (_sarvajña_).

In the fourth chapter, called the Alats'ânti, Gaudapâda further


[Footnote 1: Compare _Mâdhyamikakârikâ, _B.T.S._, p.3 _anekârtham anânârtham_, etc.]

[Footnote 2: Compare _Lankâvatârasûtra_, p.78, _Advayâsamsâraparinirvânvatsarvadharmâh tasmât tarhi mahâmate S'unyatânutpâdâdvayanihsvabhâvalaksane yogah karaniyah_; also 8,46, _Yaduta svacittavisayavikalpadrstyânavabodhanât vijñânânâm svacittadrstyamâtrânavatârena mahâmate vâlaprthagjanâh bhâvâbhâvasvabhâvaparamârthadrstidvayvâdino bhavanti_.]

[Footnote 3: Compare Nâgârjuna's kârikâ, _B.T.S._ p. 196, _Âkâs'am s'as'as'rngañca bandhyâyâh putra eva ca asantas'câbhivyajyante tathâbhâvena kalpanâ_, with Gaudapâda's kârikâ, III. 28, _Asato mâyayâ janma tatvato naiva jâyate bandhyâputro na tattvena mâyâya vâpi jâyate_.]


describes this final state [Footnote ref l]. All the dharmas (appearances) are without death or decay [Footnote: ref 2]. Gaudapâda then follows a dialectical form of argument which reminds us of Nâgârjuna. Gaudapâda continues thus: Those who regard kârana (cause) as the kâryya (effect in a potential form) cannot consider the cause as truly unproduced (_aja_), for it suffers production; how can it be called eternal and yet changing? If it is said that things come into being from that which has no production, there is no example with which such a case may be illustrated. Nor can we consider that anything is born from that which has itself suffered production. How again can one come to a right conclusion about the _regressus ad infinitum_ of cause and effect (_hetu_ and _phala_)? Without reference to the effect there is no cause, and without reference to cause there is no effect. Nothing is born either by itself or through others; call it either being, non-being, or being-non-being, nothing suffers any birth, neither the cause nor the effect is produced out of its own nature (_svabhâvatah_), and thus that which has no beginning anywhere cannot be said to have a production. All experience (_prajñapti_) is dependent on reasons, for otherwise both would vanish, and there would be none of the afflictions (_samkles'a_) that we suffer. When we look at all things in a connected manner they seem to be dependent, but when we look at them from the point of view of reality or truth the reasons cease to be reasons. The mind (_citta_) does not come in touch with objects and thereby manifest them, for since things do not exist they are not different from their manifestations in knowledge. It is not in any particular case that the mind produces the manifestations of objects while they do not exist so that it could be said to be an error, for in present, past, and future the mind never comes in touch with objects which only appear by reason of their diverse manifestations. Therefore neither the mind nor the objects seen by it are ever produced. Those who perceive them to suffer production are really traversing the reason of vacuity (_khe_), for all production is but false imposition on the vacuity. Since the unborn is perceived as being born, the essence then is the absence of


[Footnote 1: The very name Alâtasânti is absolutely Buddhistic. Compare Nâgârjuna's kârikâ, _B.T.S._, p. 206, where he quotes a verse from the _S'ataka_.]

[Footnote 2: The use of the word dharma in the sense of appearance or entity is peculiarly Buddhistic. The Hindu sense is that given by Jaimini, "Codanâlaksanah arthah, dharmah." Dharma is determined by the injunctions of the Vedas.]


production, for it being of the nature of absence of production it could never change its nature. Everything has a beginning and an end and is therefore false. The existence of all things is like a magical or illusory elephant (_mâyâhastî_) and exists only as far as it merely appears or is related to experience. There is thus the appearance of production, movement and things, but the one knowledge (_vijñâna_) is the unborn, unmoved, the unthingness (_avastutva_), the cessation (s'ântam). As the movement of burning charcoal is perceived as straight or curved, so it is the movement (_spandita_) of consciousness that appears as the perceiving and the perceived. All the attributes (e.g. straight or curved) are imposed upon the charcoal fire, though in reality it does not possess them; so also all the appearances are imposed upon consciousness, though in reality they do not possess them. We could never indicate any kind of causal relation between the consciousness and its appearance, which are therefore to be demonstrated as unthinkable (_acintya_). A thing (_dravya_) is the cause of a thing (_dravya_), and that which is not a thing may be the cause of that which is not a thing, but all the appearances are neither things nor those which are not things, so neither are appearances produced from the mind (_citta_) nor is the mind produced by appearances. So long as one thinks of cause and effect he has to suffer the cycle of existence (_samsâra_), but when that notion ceases there is no samsâra. All things are regarded as being produced from a relative point of view only (_samvrti_), there is therefore nothing permanent (_s'âs'vata_). Again, no existent things are produced, hence there cannot be any destruction (_uccheda_). Appearances (_dharma_) are produced only apparently, not in reality; their coming into being is like mâyâ, and that mâyâ again does not exist. All appearances are like shoots of magic coming out of seeds of magic and are not therefore neither eternal nor destructible. As in dreams, or in magic, men are born and die, so are all appearances. That which appears as existing from an imaginary relative point of view (_kalpita samvrti_) is not so in reality (_para-mârtha_), for the existence depending on others, as shown in all relative appearance, is after all not a real existence. That things exist, do not exist, do exist and not exist, and neither exist nor not exist; that they are moving or steady, or none of those, are but thoughts with which fools are deluded.

It is so obvious that these doctrines are borrowed from the Mâdhyamika doctrines, as found in the Nâgârjuna's kârikâs and the Vijñânavâda doctrines, as found in _Lankâvatâra_, that it is needless to attempt to prove it, Gaudapâda assimilated all the Buddhist S'ûnyavâda and Vijñânavâda teachings, and thought that these held good of the ultimate truth preached by the Upanisads. It is immaterial whether he was a Hindu or a Buddhist, so long as we are sure that he had the highest respect for the Buddha and for the teachings which he believed to be his. Gaudapâda took the smallest Upanisads to comment upon, probably because he wished to give his opinions unrestricted by the textual limitations of the bigger ones. His main emphasis is on the truth that he realized to be perfect. He only incidentally suggested that the great Buddhist truth of indefinable and unspeakable vijñâna or vacuity would hold good of the highest âtman of the Upanisads, and thus laid the foundation of a revival of the Upanisad studies on Buddhist lines. How far the Upanisads guaranteed in detail the truth of Gaudapâda's views it was left for his disciple, the great S'ankara, to examine and explain.

Vedânta and S´ankara (788-820 A.D.).

Vedânta philosophy is the philosophy which claims to be the exposition of the philosophy taught in the Upanisads and summarized in the _Brahma-sûtras_ of Bâdarâyana. The Upanisads form the last part of the Veda literature, and its philosophy is therefore also called sometimes the Uttara-Mîmâmsâ or the Mîmâmsâ (decision) of the later part of the Vedas as distinguished from the Mîmâmsâ of the previous part of the Vedas and the Brâhmanas as incorporated in the _Pûrvamîmâmsâ sûtras_ of Jaimini. Though these _Brahma-sûtras_ were differently interpreted by different exponents, the views expressed in the earliest commentary on them now available, written by S'ankarâcârya, have attained wonderful celebrity, both on account of the subtle and deep ideas it contains, and also on account of the association of the illustrious personality of S'ankara. So great is the influence of the philosophy propounded by S´ankara and elaborated by his illustrious followers, that whenever we speak of the Vedânta philosophy we mean the philosophy that was propounded by S'ankara. If other expositions are intended the names of the exponents have to be mentioned (e.g. Râmânuja-mata, Vallabha-mata, etc.), In this chapter we shall limit ourselves to the exposition of the Vedânta philosophy as elaborated by S'ankara and his followers. In S'ankara's work (the commentaries on the _Brahma-sûtra_ and the ten Upanisads) many ideas have been briefly incorporated which as found in S'ankara do not appear to be sufficiently clear, but are more intelligible as elaborated by his followers. It is therefore better to take up the Vedânta system, not as we find it in S'ankara, but as elaborated by his followers, all of whom openly declare that they are true to their master's philosophy.

For the other Hindu systems of thought, the sûtras (_Jaimini sûtra, Nyâya sûtra,_ etc.) are the only original treatises, and no foundation other than these is available. In the case of the Vedânta however the original source is the Upanisads, and the sûtras are but an extremely condensed summary in a systematic form. S'ankara did not claim to be the inventor or expounder of an original system, but interpreted the sûtras and the Upanisads in order to show that there existed a connected and systematic philosophy in the Upanisads which was also enunciated in the sûtras of Bâdarâyana. The Upanisads were a part of the Vedas and were thus regarded as infallible by the Hindus. If S'ankara could only show that his exposition of them was the right one, then his philosophy being founded upon the highest authority would be accepted by all Hindus. The most formidable opponents in the way of accomplishing his task were the Mîmamsists, who held that the Vedas did not preach any philosophy, for whatever there was in the Vedas was to be interpreted as issuing commands to us for performing this or that action. They held that if the Upanisads spoke of Brahman and demonstrated the nature of its pure essence, these were mere exaggerations intended to put the commandment of performing some kind of worship of Brahman into a more attractive form. S'ankara could not deny that the purport of the Vedas as found in the Brâhmanas was explicitly of a mandatory nature as declared by the Mîmâmsâ, but he sought to prove that such could not be the purport of the Upanisads, which spoke of the truest and the highest knowledge of the Absolute by which the wise could attain salvation. He said that in the karmaknda--the (sacrificial injunctions) Brâhmanas of the Vedas--the purport of the Vedas was certainly of a mandatory nature, as it was intended for ordinary people who were anxious for this or that pleasure, and were never actuated by any desire of knowing the absolute truth, but the Upanisads, which were intended for the wise who had controlled their senses and become disinclined to all earthly joys, demonstrated the one Absolute, Unchangeable, Brahman as the only Truth of the universe.

The two parts of the Vedas were intended for two classes of persons. S'ankara thus did not begin by formulating a philosophy of his own by logical and psychological analysis, induction, and deduction. He tried to show by textual comparison of the different Upanisads, and by reference to the content of passages in the Upanisads, that they were concerned in demonstrating the nature of Brahman (as he understood it) as their ultimate end. He had thus to show that the uncontradicted testimony of all the Upanisads was in favour of the view which he held. He had to explain all doubtful and apparently conflicting texts, and also to show that none of the texts referred to the doctrines of mahat, prakrti, etc. of the Sâmkhya. He had also to interpret the few scattered ideas about physics, cosmology, eschatology, etc. that are found in the Upanisads consistently with the Brahman philosophy. In order to show that the philosophy of the Upanisads as he expounded it was a consistent system, he had to remove all the objections that his opponents could make regarding the Brahman philosophy, to criticize the philosophies of all other schools, to prove them to be self-contradictory, and to show that any interpretation of the Upanisads, other than that which he gave, was inconsistent and wrong. This he did not only in his bhâsya on the _Brahma-sûtras_ but also in his commentaries on the Upanisads. Logic with him had a subordinate place, as its main value for us was the aid which it lent to consistent interpretations of the purport of the Upanisad texts, and to persuading the mind to accept the uncontradicted testimony of the Upanisads as the absolute truth. His disciples followed him in all, and moreover showed in great detail that the Brahman philosophy was never contradicted either in perceptual experience or in rational thought, and that all the realistic categories which Nyâya and other systems had put forth were self-contradictory and erroneous. They also supplemented his philosophy by constructing a Vedânta epistemology, and by rethinking elaborately the relation of the mâyâ, the Brahman, and the world of appearance and other relevant topics. Many problems of great philosophical interest which had been left out or slightly touched by S'ankara were discussed fully by his followers. But it should always be remembered that philosophical reasonings and criticisms are always to be taken as but aids for convincing our intellect and strengthening our faith in the truth revealed in the Upanisads. The true work of logic is to adapt the mind to accept them. Logic used for upsetting the instructions of the Upanisads is logic gone astray. Many lives of S'ankarâcârya were written in Sanskrit such as the _S'ankaradigvijaya_, _S'ankara-vijaya-vilâsa_, _S'ankara-jaya_, etc. It is regarded as almost certain that he was born between 700 and 800 A.D. in the Malabar country in the Deccan. His father S'ivaguru was a Yajurvedi Brâhmin of the Taittirîya branch. Many miracles are related of S'ankara, and he is believed to have been the incarnation of S'iva. He turned ascetic in his eighth year and became the disciple of Govinda, a renowned sage then residing in a mountain cell on the banks of the Narbuda. He then came over to Benares and thence went to Badarikâs'rama. It is said that he wrote his illustrious bhâsya on the _Brahma-sûtra_ in his twelfth year. Later on he also wrote his commentaries on ten Upanisads. He returned to Benares, and from this time forth he decided to travel all over India in order to defeat the adherents of other schools of thought in open debate. It is said that he first went to meet Kumârila, but Kumârila was then at the point of death, and he advised him to meet Kumârila's disciple. He defeated Mandana and converted him into an ascetic follower of his own. He then travelled in various places, and defeating his opponents everywhere he established his Vedânta philosophy, which from that time forth acquired a dominant influence in moulding the religious life of India.

S'ankara carried on the work of his teacher Gaudapâda and by writing commentaries on the ten Upanisads and the _Brahma-sûtras_ tried to prove, that the absolutist creed was the one which was intended to be preached in the Upanisads and the _Brahma-sûtras_ [Footnote: 1]. Throughout his commentary on the _Brahma-sûtras_, there is ample evidence that he was contending against some other rival interpretations of a dualistic tendency which held that the Upanisads partly favoured the Sâmkhya cosmology


[Footnote 1: The main works of S'ankara are his commentaries (bhâsya) on the ten Upanisads (Îs'a, Kena, Katha, Pras'na, Mundaka, Mândûkya, Aitareya, Taittirîya, Brhadâranyaka, and Chândogya), and on the _Brahma-sûtra_.]


of the existence of prakrti. That these were actual textual interpretations of the _Brahma-sûtras_ is proved by the fact that S'ankara in some places tries to show that these textual constructions were faulty [Footnote ref 1]. In one place he says that others (referring according to Vâcaspati to the Mîmâmsâ) and some of us (referring probably to those who interpreted the sûtras and the Upanisads from the Vedânta point of view) think that the soul is permanent. It is to refute all those who were opposed to the right doctrine of perceiving everything as the unity of the self (_âtmaikatva_) that this S'ârîraka commentary of mine is being attempted [Footnote ref 2]. Râmânuja, in the introductory portion of his bhâsya on the _Brahma-sûtra,_ says that the views of Bodhâyana who wrote an elaborate commentary on the _Brahma-sûtra_ were summarized by previous teachers, and that he was following this Bodhâyana bhâsya in writing his commentary. In the _Vedârthasamgraha_ of Râmânuja mention is made of Bodhâyana, Tanka, Guhadeva, Kapardin, Bhâruci as Vedântic authorities, and Dravidâcâryya is referred to as the "bhâsyakâra" commentator. In Chândogya III. x. 4, where the Upanisad cosmology appeared to be different from the _Visnupurana_ cosmology, S'ankara refers to an explanation offered on the point by one whom he calls "âcâryya" (_atroktah parihârah âcâryyaih_) and Ânandagiri says that "âcâryya" there refers to Dravidâcâryya. This Dravidâcâryya is known to us from Râmânuja's statement as being a commentator of the dualistic school, and we have evidence here that he had written a commentary on the Chândogya Upanisad.

A study of the extant commentaries on the _Brahma-sûtras_ of Bâdarâyana by the adherents of different schools of thought leaves us convinced that these sûtras were regarded by all as condensations of the teachings of the Upanisads. The differences of opinion were with regard to the meaning of these sûtras and the Upanisad texts to which references were made by them in each particular case. The _Brahma-sûtra_ is divided into four adhyâyas or books, and each of these is divided into four chapters or pâdas. Each of these contains a number of topics of discussion (_adhikarana_) which are composed of a number of sûtras, which raise the point at issue, the points that lead to doubt and uncertainty, and the considerations that should lead one to favour


[Footnote 1: See note on p. 432.]

[Footnote 2: S'ankara's bhâsya on the _Brahma-sûtras_, I. iii. 19.]


a particular conclusion. As explained by S'ankara, most of these sûtras except the first four and the first two chapters of the second book are devoted to the textual interpretations of the Upanisad passages. S'ankara's method of explaining the absolutist Vedânta creed does not consist in proving the Vedânta to be a consistent system of metaphysics, complete in all parts, but in so interpreting the Upanisad texts as to show that they all agree in holding the Brahman to be the self and that alone to be the only truth. In Chapter I of Book II S'ankara tries to answer some of the objections that may be made from the Sâmkhya point of view against his absolutist creed and to show that some apparent difficulties of the absolutist doctrine did not present any real difficulty. In Chapter II of Book II he tries to refute the Sâmkhya, Yoga, Nyâya-Vais'esika, the Buddhist, Jaina, Bhâgavata and S'aiva systems of thought. These two chapters and his commentaries on the first four sûtras contain the main points of his system. The rest of the work is mainly occupied in showing that the conclusion of the sûtras was always in strict agreement with the Upanisad doctrines. Reason with S'ankara never occupied the premier position; its value was considered only secondary, only so far as it helped one to the right understanding of the revealed scriptures, the Upanisads. The ultimate truth cannot be known by reason alone. What one debater shows to be reasonable a more expert debater shows to be false, and what he shows to be right is again proved to be false by another debater. So there is no final certainty to which we can arrive by logic and argument alone. The ultimate truth can thus only be found in the Upanisads; reason, discrimination and judgment are all to be used only with a view to the discovery of the real purport of the Upanisads. From his own position S'ankara was not thus bound to vindicate the position of the Vedânta as a thoroughly rational system of metaphysics. For its truth did not depend on its rationality but on the authority of the Upanisads. But what was true could not contradict experience. If therefore S'ankara's interpretation of the Upanisads was true, then it would not contradict experience. S'ankara was therefore bound to show that his interpretation was rational and did not contradict experience. If he could show that his interpretation was the only interpretation that was faithful to the Upanisads, and that its apparent contradictions with experience could in some way be explained, he considered that he had nothing more to do. He was not writing a philosophy in the modern sense of the term, but giving us the whole truth as taught and revealed in the Upanisads and not simply a system spun by a clever thinker, which may erroneously appear to be quite reasonable, Ultimate validity does not belong to reason but to the scriptures.

He started with the premise that whatever may be the reason it is a fact that all experience starts and moves in an error which identifies the self with the body, the senses, or the objects of the senses. All cognitive acts presuppose this illusory identification, for without it the pure self can never behave as a phenomenal knower or perceiver, and without such a perceiver there would be no cognitive act. S'ankara does not try to prove philosophically the existence of the pure self as distinct from all other things, for he is satisfied in showing that the Upanisads describe the pure self unattached to any kind of impurity as the ultimate truth. This with him is a matter to which no exception can be taken, for it is so revealed in the Upanisads. This point being granted, the next point is that our experience is always based upon an identification of the self with the body, the senses, etc. and the imposition of all phenomenal qualities of pleasure, pain, etc. upon the self; and this with S'ankara is a beginningless illusion. All this had been said by Gaudapâda. S'ankara accepted Gaudapâda's conclusions, but did not develop his dialectic for a positive proof of his thesis. He made use of the dialectic only for the refutation of other systems of thought. This being done he thought that he had nothing more to do than to show that his idea was in agreement with the teachings of the Upanisads. He showed that the Upanisads held that the pure self as pure being, pure intelligence and pure bliss was the ultimate truth. This being accepted the world as it appears could not be real. It must be a mere magic show of illusion or mâyâ. S'ankara never tries to prove that the world is mâyâ, but accepts it as indisputable. For, if the self is what is ultimately real, the necessary conclusion is that all else is mere illusion or mâyâ. He had thus to quarrel on one side with the Mîmâmsâ realists and on the other with the Sâmkhya realists, both of whom accepted the validity of the scriptures, but interpreted them in their own way. The Mîmâmsists held that everything that is said in the Vedas is to be interpreted as requiring us to perform particular kinds of action, or to desist from doing certain other kinds.

This would mean that the Upanisads being a part of the Veda should also be interpreted as containing injunctions for the performance of certain kinds of actions. The description of Brahman in the Upanisads does not therefore represent a simple statement of the nature of Brahman, but it implies that the Brahman should be meditated upon as possessing the particular nature described there, i.e. Brahman should be meditated upon as being an entity which possesses a nature which is identical with our self; such a procedure would then lead to beneficial results to the man who so meditates. S'ankara could not agree to such a view. For his main point was that the Upanisads revealed the highest truth as the Brahman. No meditation or worship or action of any kind was required; but one reached absolute wisdom and emancipation when the truth dawned on him that the Brahman or self was the ultimate reality. The teachings of the other parts of the Vedas, the karmakânda (those dealing with the injunctions relating to the performance of duties and actions), were intended for inferior types of aspirants, whereas the teachings of the Upanisads, the jñânakânda (those which declare the nature of ultimate truth and reality), were intended only for superior aspirants who had transcended the limits of sacrificial duties and actions, and who had no desire for any earthly blessing or for any heavenly joy. Throughout his commentary on the _Bhagavadgîtâ_ S'ankara tried to demonstrate that those who should follow the injunctions of the Veda and perform Vedic deeds, such as sacrifices, etc., belonged to a lower order. So long as they remained in that order they had no right to follow the higher teachings of the Upanisads. They were but karmins (performers of scriptural duties). When they succeeded in purging their minds of all desires which led them to the performance of the Vedic injunctions, the field of karmamârga (the path of duties), and wanted to know the truth alone, they entered the jñânamârga (the way of wisdom) and had no duties to perform. The study of Vedânta was thus reserved for advanced persons who were no longer inclined to the ordinary joys of life but wanted complete emancipation. The qualifications necessary for a man intending to study the Vedânta are (1) discerning knowledge about what is eternal and what is transitory (_nityânityavastuviveka_), (2) disinclination to the enjoyment of the pleasures of this world or of the after world (_ihâmutraphalabhogavirâga_), (3) attainment of peace, self-restraint, renunciation, patience, deep concentration and faith (_s'amadamâdisâdhanasampat_) and desire for salvation (_mumuksutva_). The person who had these qualifications should study the Upanisads, and as soon as he became convinced of the truth about the identity of the self and the Brahman he attained emancipation. When once a man realized that the self alone was the reality and all else was mâyâ, all injunctions ceased to have any force with him. Thus, the path of duties (_karma_) and the path of wisdom (_jñâna_) were intended for different classes of persons or adhikârins. There could be no joint performance of Vedic duties and the seeking of the highest truth as taught in the Upanisads (_jñâna-karma-samuccayâbhâvah_). As against the dualists he tried to show that the Upanisads never favoured any kind of dualistic interpretations. The main difference between the Vedânta as expounded by Gaudapâda and as explained by S'ankara consists in this, that S'ankara tried as best he could to dissociate the distinctive Buddhist traits found in the exposition of the former and to formulate the philosophy as a direct interpretation of the older Upanisad texts. In this he achieved remarkable success. He was no doubt regarded by some as a hidden Buddhist (_pracchanna Bauddha_), but his influence on Hindu thought and religion became so great that he was regarded in later times as being almost a divine person or an incarnation. His immediate disciples, the disciples of his disciples, and those who adhered to his doctrine in the succeeding generations, tried to build a rational basis for his system in a much stronger way than S'ankara did. Our treatment of S'ankara's philosophy has been based on the interpretations of Vedânta thought, as offered by these followers of S'ankara. These interpretations are nowhere in conflict with S'ankara's doctrines, but the questions and problems which S'ankara did not raise have been raised and discussed by his followers, and without these one could not treat Vedânta as a complete and coherent system of metaphysics. As these will be discussed in the later sections, we may close this with a short description of some of the main features of the Vedânta thought as explained by S'ankara.

Brahman according to S'ankara is "the cause from which (proceeds) the origin or subsistence and dissolution of this world which is extended in names and forms, which includes many agents and enjoyers, which contains the fruit of works specially determined according to space, time, and cause, a world which is formed after an arrangement inconceivable even by the (imagination of the) mind [Footnote ref 1]." The reasons that S'ankara adduces for the existence of Brahman may be considered to be threefold: (1) The world must have been produced as the modification of something, but in the Upanisads all other things have been spoken of as having been originated from something other than Brahman, so Brahman is the cause from which the world has sprung into being, but we could not think that Brahman itself originated from something else, for then we should have a _regressus ad infinitum_ (_anavasthâ_). (2) The world is so orderly that it could not have come forth from a non-intelligent source. The intelligent source then from which this world has come into being is Brahman. (3) This Brahman is the immediate consciousness (_sâksi_) which shines as the self, as well as through the objects of cognition which the self knows. It is thus the essence of us all, the self, and hence it remains undenied even when one tries to deny it, for even in the denial it shows itself forth. It is the self of us all and is hence ever present to us in all our cognitions.

Brahman according to S'ankara is the identity of pure intelligence, pure being, and pure blessedness. Brahman is the self of us all. So long as we are in our ordinary waking life, we are identifying the self with thousands of illusory things, with all that we call "I" or mine, but when in dreamless sleep we are absolutely without any touch of these phenomenal notions the nature of our true state as pure blessedness is partially realized. The individual self as it appears is but an appearance only, while the real truth is the true self which is one for all, as pure intelligence, pure blessedness, and pure being.

All creation is illusory mâyâ. But accepting it as mâyâ, it may be conceived that God (Îs'vara) created the world as a mere sport; from the true point of view there is no Îs'vara who creates the world, but in the sense in which the world exists, and we all exist as separate individuals, we can affirm the existence of Îs'vara, as engaged in creating and maintaining the world. In reality all creation is illusory and so the creator also is illusory. Brahman, the self, is at once the material cause (upâdâna-kârana) as well as the efficient cause (nimitta-kârana) of the world.


[Footnote 1: S'ankara's commentary, I.i. 2. See also Deussen's _System of the Vedânta_.]


There is no difference between the cause and the effect, and the effect is but an illusory imposition on the cause--a mere illusion of name and form. We may mould clay into plates and jugs and call them by so many different names, but it cannot be admitted that they are by that fact anything more than clay; their transformations as plates and jugs are only appearances of name and form (_nâmarúpa_). This world, inasmuch as it is but an effect imposed upon the Brahman, is only phenomenally existent (_vyavahârika_) as mere objects of name and form (_nâmarûpa_), but the cause, the Brahman, is alone the true reality(_pâramârthika_) [Footnote ref 1].

The main idea of the Vedânta philosophy.

The main idea of the advaita (non-dualistic) Vedãnta philosophy as taught by the S'akara school is this, that the ultimate and absolute truth is the self, which is one, though appearing as many in different individuals. The world also as apart from us the individuals has no reality and has no other truth to show than this self. All other events, mental or physical, are but passing appearances, while the only absolute and unchangeable truth underlying them all is the self. While other systems investigated the pramanas only to examine how far they could determine the objective truth of things or our attitude in practical life towards them, Vedãnta sought to reach beneath the surface of appearances, and enquired after the final and ultimate truth underlying the microcosm and the macrocosm, the subject and the object. The famous instruction of S'vetaketu, the most important Vedânta text (mahâvâkya) says, "That art thou, O S'vetaketu." This comprehension of my self as the ultimate truth is the highest knowledge, for when this knowledge is once produced, our cognition of world-appearances will automatically cease. Unless the mind is chastened and purged of all passions and desires, the soul cannot comprehend this truth; but when this is once done, and the soul is anxious for salvation by a knowledge of the highest truth, the preceptor instructs him, "That art thou." At once he becomes the truth itself, which is at once identical with pure bliss and pure intelligence; all ordinary notions and cognitions of diversity and of the


[Footnote 1: All that is important in S'ankara's commentary of the _Brahma-sûtras_ has been excellently systematized by Deussen in his _System of the Vedanta_; it is therefore unnecessary for me to give any long account of this part. Most of what follows has been taken from the writings of his followers.]


many cease; there is no duality, no notion of mine and thane; the vast illusion of this world process is extinct in him, and he shines forth as the one, the truth, the Brahman. All Hindu systems believed that when man attained salvation, he became divested of all world-consciousness, or of all consciousness of himself and his interests, and was thus reduced to his own original purity untouched by all sensations, perceptions, feelings and willing, but there the idea was this that when man had no bonds of karma and no desire and attachment with the world and had known the nature of his self as absolutely free and unattached to the world and his own psychosis, he became emancipated from the world and all his connections with the world ceased, though the world continued as ever the same with others. The external world was a reality with them; the unreality or illusion consisted in want of true knowledge about the real nature of the self, on account of which the self foolishly identified itself with world-experiences, worldly joys and world-events, and performed good and bad works accordingly. The force of accumulated karmas led him to undergo the experiences brought about by them. While reaping the fruits of past karmas he, as ignorant as ever of his own self, worked again under the delusion of a false relationship between himself and the world, and so the world process ran on. Mufti (salvation) meant the dissociation of the self from the subjective psychosis and the world. This condition of the pure state of self was regarded as an unconscious one by Nyâya-Vais'esika and Mîmamsâ, and as a state of pure intelligence by Sâmkhya and Yoga. But with Vedânta the case is different, for it held that the world as such has no real existence at all, but is only an illusory imagination which lasts till the moment when true knowledge is acquired. As soon as we come to know that the one truth is the self, the Brahman, all our illusory perceptions representing the world as a field of experience cease. This happens not because the connections of the self with the world cease, but because the appearance of the world process does not represent the ultimate and highest truth about it. All our notions about the abiding diversified world (lasting though they may be from beginningless time) are false in the sense that they do not represent the real truth about it. We not only do not know what we ourselves really are, but do not also know what the world about us is. We take our ordinary experiences of the world as representing it correctly, and proceed on our career of daily activity. It is no doubt true that these experiences show us an established order having its own laws, but this does not represent the real truth. They are true only in a relative sense, so long as they appear to be so; for the moment the real truth about them and the self is comprehended all world-appearances become unreal, and that one truth, the Brahman, pure being, bliss, intelligence, shines forth as the absolute--the only truth in world and man. The world-appearance as experienced by us is thus often likened to the illusory perception of silver in a conch-shell; for the moment the perception appears to be true and the man runs to pick it up, as if the conch-shell were a real piece of silver; but as soon as he finds out the truth that this is only a piece of conch-shell, he turns his back on it and is no longer deluded by the appearance or again attracted towards it. The illusion of silver is inexplicable in itself, for it was true for all purposes so long as it persisted, but when true knowledge was acquired, it forthwith vanished. This world-appearance will also vanish when the true knowledge of reality dawns. When false knowledge is once found to be false it cannot return again. The Upanisads tell us that he who sees the many here is doomed. The one, the Brahman, alone is true; all else is but delusion of name and form. Other systems believed that even after emancipation, the world would continue as it is, that there was nothing illusory in it, but I could not have any knowledge of it because of the absence of the instruments by the processes of which knowledge was generated. The Sâmkhya purusa cannot know the world when the buddhi-stuff is dissociated from it and merged in the prakrti, the Mîmâmsâ and the Nyâya soul is also incapable of knowing the world after emancipation, as it is then dissociated from manas. But the Vedânta position is quite distinct here. We cannot know the world, for when the right knowledge dawns, the perception of this world-appearance proves itself to be false to the person who has witnessed the truth, the Brahman. An illusion cannot last when the truth is known; what is truth is known to us, but what is illusion is undemonstrable, unspeakable, and indefinite. The illusion runs on from beginningless time; we do not know how it is related to truth, the Brahman, but we know that when the truth is once known the false knowledge of this world-appearance disappears once for all. No intermediate link is necessary to effect it, no mechanical dissociation of buddhi or manas, but just as by finding out the glittering piece to be a conch-shell the illusory perception of silver is destroyed, so this illusory perception of world-appearance is also destroyed by a true knowledge of the reality, the Brahman. The Upanisads held that reality or truth was one, and there was "no many" anywhere, and S'añkara explained it by adding that the "many" was merely an illusion, and hence did not exist in reality and was bound to disappear when the truth was known. The world-appearance is mâyâ (illusion). This is what S'añkara emphasizes in expounding his constructive system of the Upanisad doctrine. The question is sometimes asked, how the mâyâ becomes associated with Brahman. But Vedânta thinks this question illegitimate, for this association did not begin in time either with reference to the cosmos or with reference to individual persons. In fact there is no real association, for the creation of illusion does not affect the unchangeable truth. Mâyâ or illusion is no real entity, it is only false knowledge (_avidyâ_) that makes the appearance, which vanishes when the reality is grasped and found. Mâyâ or avidyâ has an apparent existence only so long as it lasts, but the moment the truth is known it is dissolved. It is not a real entity in association with which a real world-appearance has been brought into permanent existence, for it only has existence so long as we are deluded by it (_prâtîtika-sattâ_). Mâyâ therefore is a category which baffles the ordinary logical division of existence and non-existence and the principle of excluded middle. For the mâyâ can neither be said to be "is" nor "is not" (_tattvânyatvâbhyâm anirvacanîyâ_). It cannot be said that such a logical category does not exist, for all our dream and illusory cognitions demonstrate it to us. They exist as they are perceived, but they do not exist since they have no other independent existence than the fact of their perception. If it has any creative function, that function is as illusive as its own nature, for the creation only lasts so long as the error lasts. Brahman, the truth, is not in any way sullied or affected by association with mâyâ, for there can be no association of the real with the empty, the mâyâ, the illusory. It is no real association but a mere appearance.

In what sense is the world-appearance false?

The world is said to be false--a mere product of mâyâ. The falsehood of this world-appearance has been explained as involved in the category of the indefinite which is neither _sat_ "is" nor _asat_ "is not." Here the opposition of the "is" and "is not" is solved by the category of time. The world-appearance is "is not," since it does not continue to manifest itself in all times, and has its manifestation up to the moment that the right knowledge dawns. It is not therefore "is not" in the sense that a "castle in the air" or a hare's horn is "is not," for these are called _tuccha_, the absolutely non-existent. The world-appearance is said to be "is" or existing, since it appears to be so for the time the state of ignorance persists in us. Since it exists for a time it is _sat_ (is), but since it does not exist for all times it is _asat_ (is not). This is the appearance, the falsehood of the world-appearance (_jagat-prapañca_) that it is neither _sat_ nor _asat_ in an absolute sense. Or rather it may also be said in another way that the falsehood of the world-appearance consists in this, that though it appears to be the reality or an expression or manifestation of the reality, the being, _sat_, yet when the reality is once rightly comprehended, it will be manifest that the world never existed, does not exist, and will never exist again. This is just what we find in an illusory perception; when once the truth is found out that it is a conch-shell, we say that the silver, though it appeared at the time of illusory perception to be what we saw before us as "this" (this is silver), yet it never existed before, does not now exist, and will never exist again. In the case of the illusory perception of silver, the "this" (pointing to a thing before me) appeared as silver; in the case of the world-appearance, it is the being (_sat_), the Brahman, that appears as the world; but as in the case when the "this" before us is found to be a piece of conch-shell, the silver is at once dismissed as having had no existence in the "this" before us, so when the Brahman, the being, the reality, is once directly realized, the conviction comes that the world never existed. The negation of the world-appearance however has no separate existence other than the comprehension of the identity of the real. The fact that the real is realized is the same as that the world-appearance is negated. The negation here involved refers both to the thing negated (the world-appearance) and the negation itself, and hence it cannot be contended that when the conviction of the negation of the world is also regarded as false (for if the negation is not false then it remains as an entity different from Brahman and hence the unqualified monism fails), then this reinstates the reality of the world-appearance; for negation of the world-appearance is as much false as the world-appearance itself, and hence on the realization of the truth the negative thesis, that the world-appearance does not exist, includes the negation also as a manifestation of world-appearance, and hence the only thing left is the realized identity of the truth, the being.

The peculiarity of this illusion of world-appearance is this, that it appears as consistent with or inlaid in the being (_sat_) though it is not there. This of course is dissolved when right knowledge dawns. This indeed brings home to us the truth that the world-appearance is an appearance which is different from what we know as real (_sadvilaksana_); for the real is known to us as that which is proved by the pramanas, and which will never again be falsified by later experience or other means of proof. A thing is said to be true only so long as it is not contradicted; but since at the dawn of right knowledge this world-appearance will be found to be false and non-existing, it cannot be regarded as real [Footnote ref l]. Thus Brahman alone is true, and the world-appearance is false; falsehood and truth are not contrary entities such that the negation or the falsehood of falsehood will mean truth. The world-appearance is a whole and in referring to it the negation refers also to itself as a part of the world-appearance and hence not only is the positive world-appearance false, but the falsehood itself is also false; when the world-appearance is contradicted at the dawn of right knowledge, the falsehood itself is also contradicted.

Brahman differs from all other things in this that it is self-luminous (_svaprakâs'a_) and has no form; it cannot therefore be the object of any other consciousness that grasps it. All other things, ideas, emotions, etc., in contrast to it are called _drs'ya_ (objects of consciousness), while it is the _drastâ_ (the pure consciousness comprehending all objects). As soon as anything is comprehended as an expression of a mental state (_vrtti_), it is said to have a form and it becomes drs'ya, and this is the characteristic of all objects of consciousness that they cannot reveal themselves apart from being manifested as objects of consciousness through a mental state.


[Footnote 1: See _Advaitasiddhi, Mithyâtvanirukti_.]


Brahman also, so long as it is understood as a meaning of the Upanisad text, is not in its true nature; it is only when it shines forth as apart from the associations of any form that it is svaprakâs'a and drastâ. The knowledge of the pure Brahman is devoid of any form or mode. The notion of _drs'yatva_ (objectivity) carries with it also the notion of _jadatva_ (materiality) or its nature as non-consciousness (_ajñânatva_) and non-selfness (_anâtmatva_) which consists in the want of self-luminosity of objects of consciousness. The relation of consciousness (_jñâna_) to its objects cannot be regarded as real but as mere illusory impositions, for as we shall see later, it is not possible to determine the relation between knowledge and its forms. Just as the silver-appearance of the conch-shell is not its own natural appearance, so the forms in which consciousness shows itself are not its own natural essence. In the state of emancipation when supreme bliss (_ânanda_) shines forth, the ânanda is not an object or form of the illuminating consciousness, but it is the illumination itself. Whenever there is a form associated with consciousness, it is an extraneous illusory imposition on the pure consciousness. These forms are different from the essence of consciousness, not only in this that they depend on consciousness for their expression and are themselves but objects of consciousness, but also in this that they are all finite determinations (_paricchinna_), whereas consciousness, the abiding essence, is everywhere present without any limit whatsoever. The forms of the object such as cow, jug, etc. are limited in themselves in what they are, but through them all the pure being runs by virtue of which we say that the cow is, the jug is, the pot is. Apart from this pure being running through all the individual appearances, there is no other class (_jâti_) such as cowness or jugness, but it is on this pure being that different individual forms are illusorily imposed (_ghatâdîkam sadarthekalpitam, pratyekam tadanubiddhatvena pratîyamânatvât_). So this world-appearance which is essentially different from the Brahman, the being which forms the material cause on which it is imposed, is false (_upâdânanisthâiyaniâbhâvapratiyogitvalaksanamithyâtvasiddhih --as Citsukha has it).

The nature of the world-appearance, phenomena.

The world-appearance is not however so illusory as the perception of silver in the conch-shell, for the latter type of worldly illusions is called _prâtibhâsika,_ as they are contradicted by other later experiences, whereas the illusion of world-appearance is never contradicted in this worldly stage and is thus called _vyavahârika_ (from _vyavahâra_, practice, i.e. that on which is based all our practical movements). So long as the right knowledge of the Brahman as the only reality does not dawn, the world-appearance runs on in an orderly manner uncontradicted by the accumulated experience of all men, and as such it must be held to be true. It is only because there comes such a stage in which the world-appearance ceases to manifest itself that we have to say that from the ultimate and absolute point of view the world-appearance is false and unreal. As against this doctrine of the Vedânta it is sometimes asked how, as we see the reality (_sattva_) before us, we can deny that it has truth. To this the Vedânta answers that the notion of reality cannot be derived from the senses, nor can it be defined as that which is the content of right knowledge, for we cannot have any conception of right knowledge without a conception of reality, and no conception of reality without a conception of right knowledge. The conception of reality comprehends within it the notions of unalterability, absoluteness, and independence, which cannot be had directly from experience, as this gives only an appearance but cannot certify its truth. Judged from this point of view it will be evident that the true reality in all our experience is the one self-luminous flash of consciousness which is all through identical with itself in all its manifestations of appearance. Our present experience of the world-appearance cannot in any way guarantee that it will not be contradicted at some later stage. What really persists in all experience is the being (_sat_) and not its forms. This being that is associated with all our experience is not a universal genus nor merely the individual appearance of the moment, but it is the being, the truth which forms the substratum of all objective events and appearances (_ekenaiva sarvânugatena sarvatra satpratîtih_). Things are not existent because they possess the genus of being (_sat_) as Nyâya supposes, but they are so because they are themselves but appearance imposed on one identical being as the basis and ground of all experience. Being is thus said to be the basis (_adhisthâna_) on which the illusions appear. This being is not different with different things but one in all appearances. Our perceptions of the world-appearance could have been taken as a guarantee of their reality, if the reality which is supposed of them

could be perceived by the senses, and if inference and s'ruti (scriptures) did not point the other way. Perception can of course invalidate inference, but it can do so only when its own validity has been ascertained in an undoubted and uncontested manner. But this is not the case with our perceptions of the world-appearance, for our present perceptions cannot prove that these will never be contradicted in future, and inference and s'ruti are also against it. The mere fact that I perceive the world-appearance cannot prove that what I perceive is true or real, if it is contradicted by inference. We all perceive the sun to be small, but our perception in this case is contradicted by inference and we have hence to admit that our perceptions are erroneous. We depend (_upajîvya_) indeed for all our transactions on perception, but such dependence cannot prove that that on which we depend is absolutely valid. Validity or reality can only be ascertained by proper examination and enquiry (_parîksâ_), which may convince us that there is no error in it. True it is that by the universal testimony of our contemporaries and by the practical fruition and realization of our endeavours in the external world, it is proved beyond doubt that the world-appearance before us is a reality. But this sort of examination and enquiry cannot prove to us with any degree of satisfaction that the world-appearance will never be contradicted at any time or at any stage. The Vedânta also admits that our examination and enquiry prove to us that the world-appearance now exists as it appears; it only denies that it cannot continue to exist for all times, and a time will come when to the emancipated person the world-appearance will cease to exist. The experience, observation, and practical utility of the objects as perceived by us cannot prove to us that these will never be contradicted at any future time. Our perception of the world-appearance cannot therefore disprove the Vedânta inference that the world-appearance is false, and it will demonstrate itself to be so at the time when the right knowledge of Brahman as one dawns in us. The testimony of the Upanisads also contradicts the perception which grasps the world-appearance in its manifold aspect.

Moreover we are led to think that the world-appearance is false, for it is not possible for us to discover any true relation between the consciousness (_drk_) and the objects of consciousness (_drs'ya_). Consciousness must be admitted to have some kind of connection with the objects which it illumines, for had it not been so there could be any knowledge at any time irrespective of its connections with the objects. But it is not possible to imagine any kind of connection between consciousness and its objects, for it can neither be contact (_samyoga_) nor inherence (_samavâya_); and apart from these two kinds of connections we know of no other. We say that things are the objects of our consciousness, but what is meant by it is indeed difficult to define. It cannot be that objectivity of consciousness means that a special effect like the jñâtatâ of Mîmâmsâ is produced upon the object, for such an effect is not admissible or perceivable in any way; nor can objectivity also mean any practical purpose (of being useful to us) associated with the object as Prabhakâra thinks, for there are many things which are the objects of our consciousness but not considered as useful (e.g. the sky). Objectivity also cannot mean that the thing is the object of the thought-movement (_jñâna-kârana_) involved in knowledge, for this can only be with reference to objects present to the perceiver, and cannot apply to objects of past time about which one may be conscious, for if the thing is not present how can it be made an object of thought-movement? Objectivity further cannot mean that the things project their own forms on the knowledge and are hence called objects, for though this may apply in the case of perception, it cannot be true of inference, where the object of consciousness is far away and does not mould consciousness after its own form. Thus in whatever way we may try to conceive manifold things existing separately and becoming objects of consciousness we fail. We have also seen that it is difficult to conceive of any kind of relation subsisting between objects and consciousness, and hence it has to be admitted that the imposition of the world-appearance is after all nothing but illusory.

Now though all things are but illusory impositions on consciousness yet for the illumination of specific objects it is admitted even by Vedânta that this can only take place through specific sense-contact and particular mental states (_vrtti_) or modes; but if that be so why not rather admit that this can take place even on the assumption of the absolute reality of the manifold external world without? The answer that the Vedânta gives to such a question is this, that the phenomenon of illumination has not to undergo any gradual process, for it is the work of one flash like the work of the light of a lamp in removing darkness; so it is not possible that the external reality should have to pass through any process before consciousness could arise; what happens is simply this, that the reality (_sat_) which subsists in all things as the same identical one reveals the object as soon as its veil is removed by association with the vrtti (mental mould or state). It is like a light which directly and immediately illuminates everything with which it comes into relation. Such an illumination of objects by its underlying reality would have been continuous if there were no veils or covers, but that is not so as the reality is hidden by the veil of ajñâna (nescience). This veil is removed as soon as the light of consciousness shines through a mental mould or vrtti, and as soon as it is removed the thing shines forth. Even before the formation of the vrtti the illusory impositions on the reality had still been continuing objectively, but it could not be revealed as it was hidden by ajñâna which is removed by the action of the corresponding vrtti; and as soon as the veil is removed the thing shines forth in its true light. The action of the senses, eye, etc. serves but to modify the vrtti of the mind, and the vrtti of the mind once formed, the corresponding ajñâna veil which was covering the corresponding specific part of the world-appearance is removed, and the illumination of the object which was already present, being divested of the veil, shows itself forth. The illusory creations were there, but they could not be manifested on account of the veil of nescience. As soon as the veil is removed by the action of the vrtti the light of reality shows the corresponding illusory creations. So consciousness in itself is the ever-shining light of reality which is never generated but ever exists; errors of perception (e.g. silver in the conch-shell) take place not because the dosa consisting of the defect of the eye, the glaze of the object and such other elements that contributed to the illusion, generated the knowledge, but because it generated a wrong vrtti. It is because of the generation of the wrong vrtti that the manifestation is illusory. In the illusion "this is silver" as when we mistake the conch-shell for the silver, it is the _cit,_ consciousness or reality as underlying the object represented to us by "this" or "_idam_" that is the basis (_adhisthâna_) of the illusion of silver. The cause of error is our nescience or non-cognition (_ajñâna_) of it in the form of the conch-shell, whereas the right knowledge is the cognition of it as conch-shell.

The basis is not in the content of my knowledge as manifested in my mental state (_vrtti_), so that the illusion is not of the form that the "knowledge is silver" but of "this is silver." Objective phenomena as such have reality as their basis, whereas the expression of illumination of them as states of knowledge is made through the _cit_ being manifested through the mental mould or states. Without the vrtti there is no illuminating knowledge. Phenomenal creations are there in the world moving about as shadowy forms on the unchangeable basis of one cit or reality, but this basis, this light of reality, can only manifest these forms when the veil of nescience covering them is temporarily removed by their coming in touch with a mental mould or mind-modification (_vrtti_). It is sometimes said that since all illumination of knowledge must be through the mental states there is no other entity of pure consciousness apart from what is manifested through the states. This Vedânta does not admit, for it holds that it is necessary that before the operation of the mental states can begin to interpret reality, reality must already be there and this reality is nothing but pure consciousness. Had there been no reality apart from the manifesting states of knowledge, the validity of knowledge would also cease; so it has to be admitted that there is the one eternal self-luminous reality untouched by the characteristics of the mental states, which are material and suffer origination and destruction. It is this self-luminous consciousness that seems to assume diverse forms in connection with diverse kinds of associations or limitations (_upâdhi_). It manifests _ajñâna_ (nescience) and hence does not by itself remove the ajñâna, except when it is reflected through any specific kind of vrtti. There is of course no difference, no inner and outer varieties between the reality, the pure consciousness which is the essence, the basis and the ground of all phenomenal appearances of the objective world, and the consciousness that manifests itself through the mental states. There is only one identical pure consciousness or reality, which is at once the basis of the phenomena as well, is their interpreter by a reflection through the mental states or vrttis.

The phenomena or objects called the drs'ya can only be determined in their various forms and manifestations but not as to their ultimate reality; there is no existence as an entity of any relation such as samyoga (contact) or samavâya (inherence) between them and the pure consciousness called the drk; for the truth is this, that the drk (perceiver) and the drs'ya (perceived) have one identical reality; the forms of phenomena are but illusory creations on it.

It is sometimes objected that in the ordinary psychological illusion such as "this is silver," the knowledge of "this" as a thing is only of a general and indefinite nature, for it is perceived as a thing but its special characteristics as a conch-shell are not noticed, and thus the illusion is possible. But in Brahman or pure consciousness there are neither definite nor indefinite characteristics of any kind, and hence it cannot be the ground of any illusion as the piece of conch-shell perceived indefinitely as a mere "this" can be. The answer of Vedânta is that when the Brahman stands as the ground (_adhisthâna_) of the world-appearance its characteristic as sat or real only is manifested, whereas its special character as pure and infinite bliss is never noticed; or rather it may be said that the illusion of world-appearance is possible because the Brahman in its true and correct nature is never revealed to us in our objective consciousness; when I say "the jug is," the "isness," or "being," does not shine in its purity, but only as a characteristic of the jug-form, and this is the root of the illusion. In all our experiences only the aspect of Brahman as real shines forth in association with the manifold objects, and therefore the Brahman in its true nature being unknown the illusion is made possible. It is again objected that since the world-appearance can serve all practical purposes, it must be considered as real and not illusory. But the Vedânta points out that even by illusory perceptions practical effects are seen to take place; the illusory perception of a snake in a rope causes all the fear that a real snake could do; even in dreams we feel happy and sad, and dreams may be so bad as to affect or incapacitate the actual physical functions and organs of a man. So it is that the past impressions imbedded in us continuing from beginningless time are sufficient to account for our illusory notions, just as the impressions produced in actual waking life account for the dream creations. According to the good or bad deeds that a man has done in previous lives and according to the impressions or potencies (_samskâra_) of his past lives each man has a particular kind of world-experience for himself and the impressions of one cannot affect the formation of the illusory experience of the other. But the experience of the world-appearance is not wholly a subjective creation for each individual, for even before his cognition the phenomena of world-appearance were running in some unknowable state of existence (_svena adhyastasya samskârasya viyadâdyadhyâsajanakatvopapatteh tatpratîtyabhâvepi tadadhyâsasya pûrvam sattvât krtsnasyâpi vyavahârikapadârthasya ajñâtasattvâbhyupagamât_). It is again sometimes objected that illusion is produced by malobserved similarity between the ground (_adhisthâna_) and the illusory notion as silver in "this is silver," but no such similarity is found between the Brahman and the world-appearance. To this Vedânta says that similarity is not an indispensable factor in the production of an illusion (e.g. when a white conch is perceived as yellow owing to the defect of the eye through the influence of bile or _pitta_). Similarity helps the production of illusion by rousing up the potencies of past impressions or memories; but this rousing of past memories may as well be done by _adrsta_--the unseen power of our past good or bad deeds. In ordinary illusion some defect is necessary but the illusion of this world-appearance is beginningless, and hence it awaits no other dosa (defect) than the avidyâ (nescience) which constitutes the appearance. Here avidyâ is the only dosa and Brahman is the only adhisthâna or ground. Had there not been the Brahman, the self-luminous as the adhisthâna, the illusory creations could not have been manifested at all The cause of the direct perception of illusion is the direct but indefinite perception of the adhisthâna. Hence where the adhisthâna is hidden by the veil of avidyâ, the association with mental states becomes necessary for removing the veil and manifesting thereby the self-luminous adhisthâna. As soon as the adhisthâna, the ground, the reality, the blissful self-luminous Brahman is completely realized the illusions disappear. The disappearance of the phenomena means nothing more than the realization of the self-luminous Brahman.

The Definition of Ajñâna (nescience).

Ajñâna the cause of all illusions is defined as that which is beginningless, yet positive and removable by knowledge (_anâdibhâvarupatve sati jñânanivartyatvam_). Though it manifests itself in all ordinary things (veiled by it before they become objects of perception) which have a beginning in time, yet it itself has no beginning, for it is associated with the pure consciousness which is beginningless. Again though it has been described as positive (_bhâvarûpa_) it can very well constitute the essence of negation (_abhâva_) too, for the positivity (_bhâvatva_) does not mean here the opposite of abhâva (negation) but notes merely its difference from abhâva (_abhâva-vilaksanatvamâtram vivaksitam_). Ajñâna is not a positive entity (_bhâva_) like any other positive entity, but it is called positive simply because it is not a mere negation (_abhâva_). It is a category which is believed neither to be positive in the ordinary sense nor negative, but a third one which is different both from position as well as from negation. It is sometimes objected that ajñâna is a mere illusory imagination of the moment caused by defect (_dosa_) and hence it cannot be beginningless (_anâdi_); but Vedânta holds that the fact that it is an imagination or rather imposition, does not necessarily mean that it is merely a temporary notion produced by the defects; for it could have been said to be a temporary product of the moment if the ground as well as the illusory creation associated with it came into being for the moment, but this is not the case here, as the cit, the ground of illusion, is ever-present and the ajñâna therefore being ever associated with it is also beginningless. The ajñâna is the indefinite which is veiling everything, and as such is different from the definite or the positive and the negative. Though it is beginningless yet it can be removed by knowledge, for to have a beginning or not to have it does not in any way determine whether the thing is subject to dissolution or not for the dissolution of a thing depends upon the presence of the thing which can cause it; and it is a fact that when knowledge comes the illusion is destroyed; it does not matter whether the cause which produced the illusion was beginningless or not. Some Vedântists however define ajñâna as the substance constituting illusion, and say that though it is not a positive entity yet it may be regarded as forming the substance of the illusion; it is not necessary that only a positive entity should be the matter of any thing, for what is necessary for the notion of a material cause (_upâdâna_) is this, that it should continue or persist as the same in all changes of effects. It is not true that only what is positive can persist in and through the effects which are produced in the time process. Illusion is unreal and it is not unnatural that the ajñâna which also is unreal should be the cause of it.

Ajñâna established by Perception and Inference.

Ajñâna defined as the indefinite which is neither positive nor negative is also directly experienced by us in such perceptions as "I do not know, or I do not know myself or anybody else," or "I do not know what you say," or more particularly "I had been sleeping so long happily and did not know anything." Such perceptions point to an object which has no definite characteristics, and which cannot properly be said to be either positive or negative. It may be objected that the perception "I do not know" is not the perception of the indefinite, the ajñâna, but merely the negation of knowledge. To this Vedânta says that had it been the perception of a negation merely, then the negation must have been associated with the specific object to which it applied. A negation must imply the thing negatived; in fact negation generally appears as a substantive with the object of negation as a qualifying character specifying the nature of the negation. But the perception "I do not know or I had no knowledge" does not involve the negation of any particular knowledge of any specific object, but the knowledge of an indefinite objectless ignorance. Such an indefinite ajñâna is positive in the sense that it is certainly not negative, but this positive indefinite is not positive in the same sense in which other definite entities are called positive, for it is merely the characterless, passive indefinite showing itself in our experience. If negation meant only a general negation, and if the perception of negation meant in each case the perception of a general negation, then even where there is a jug on the ground, one should perceive the negation of the jug on the ground, for the general negation in relation to other things is there. Thus negation of a thing cannot mean the general notion of the negation of all specific things; similarly a general negation without any specific object to which it might apply cannot manifest itself to consciousness; the notion of a general negation of knowledge is thus opposed to any and every knowledge, so that if the latter is present the former cannot be, but the perception "I do not know" can persist, even though many individual objects be known to us. Thus instead of saying that the perception of "I do not know" is the perception of a special kind of negation, it is rather better to say that it is the perception of a different category namely the indefinite, the ajñâna. It is our common experience that after experiencing the indefinite (_ajñâna_) of a specific type we launch forth in our endeavours to remove it. So it has to be admitted that the perception of the indefinite is different from the perception of mere negation. The character of our perceiving consciousness (_sâksi_) is such that both the root ajñâna as well as its diverse forms with reference to particular objects as represented in mental states (_vrtti-jñâna_), are comprehended by it. Of course when the vrttijñâna about a thing as in ordinary perceptions of objects comes in, the ajñâna with regard to it is temporarily removed, for the vrttijñâna is opposed to the ajñâna. But so far as our own perceiving consciousness (_sâksi-caitanya_) is conceived it can comprehend both the ajñâna and the jñâna (knowledge) of things. It is thus often said that all things show themselves to the perceiving consciousness either as known or as unknown. Thus the perceiving consciousness comprehends all positives either as indefinite ajñâna or as states of knowledge or as specific kinds of ajñâna or ignorance, but it is unable to comprehend a negation, for negation (_abhâva_) is not a perception, but merely the absence of perception (_anupalabdhi_). Thus when I say I do not know this, I perceive the indefinite in consciousness with reference to that thing, and this is not the perception of a negation of the thing. An objection is sometimes raised from the Nyâya point of view that since without the knowledge of a qualification (_vis'esana_) the qualified thing (_vis'ista_) cannot be known, the indefinite about an object cannot be present in consciousness without the object being known first. To this Vedânta replies that the maxim that the qualification must be known before the qualified thing is known is groundless, for we can as well perceive the thing first and then its qualification. It is not out of place here to say that negation is not a separate entity, but is only a peculiar mode of the manifestation of the positive. Even the naiyâyikas would agree that in the expression "there is no negation of a jug here," no separate negation can be accepted, for the jug is already present before us. As there are distinctions and differences in positive entities by illusory impositions, so negations are also distinguished by similar illusory impositions and appear as the negation of jug, negation of cloth, etc.; so all distinctions between negations are unnecessary, and it may be accepted that negation like position is one which appears as many on account of illusory distinctions and impositions. Thus the content of negation being itself positive, there is no reason to object that such perceptions as "I do not know" refer to the perception of an indefinite ajñâna in consciousness. So also the perception "I do not know what you say" is not the perception of negation, for this would require that the hearer should know first what was said by the speaker, and if this is so then it is impossible to say "I do not know what you say."

So also the cognition "I was sleeping long and did not know anything" has to be admitted as referring to the perception of the indefinite during sleep. It is not true as some say that during sleep there is no perception, but what appears to the awakened man as "I did not know anything so long" is only an inference; for, it is not possible to infer from the pleasant and active state of the senses in the awakened state that the activity had ceased in the sleep state and that since he had no object of knowledge then, he could not know anything; for there is no invariable concomitance between the pleasant and active state of the senses and the absence of objects of knowledge in the immediately preceding state. During sleep there is a mental state of the form of the indefinite, and during the awakened state it is by the impression (_samskâra_) of the aforesaid mental state of ajñâna that one remembers that state and says that "I did not perceive anything so long." The indefinite (_ajñâna_) perceived in consciousness is more fundamental and general than the mere negation of knowledge (_jñânâbhâva_) and the two are so connected that though the latter may not be felt, yet it can be inferred from the perception of the indefinite. The indefinite though not definite is thus a positive content different from negation and is perceived as such in direct and immediate consciousness both in the awakened state as well as in the sleeping state.

The presence of this ajñâna may also be inferred from the manner in which knowledge of objects is revealed in consciousness, as this always takes place in bringing a thing into consciousness which was not known or rather known as indefinite before we say "I did not know it before, but I know it now." My present knowledge of the thing thus involves the removal of an indefinite which was veiling it before and positing it in consciousness, just as the first streak of light in utter darkness manifests itself by removing the darkness[Footnote ref 1]. Apart from such an inference its existence


[Footnote 1: See _Pañcapâdikâvivarana, Tattvadîpana_, and _Advaitasiddhi_.]


is also indicated by the fact that the infinite bliss of Brahman does not show itself in its complete and limitless aspect. If there was no ajñâna to obstruct, it would surely have manifested itself in its fullness. Again had it not been for this ajñâna there would have been no illusion. It is the ajñâna that constitutes the substance of the illusion; for there is nothing else that can be regarded as constituting its substance; certainly Brahman could not, as it is unchangeable. This ajñâna is manifested by the perceiving consciousness (_sâksi_) and not by the pure consciousness. The perceiving consciousness is nothing but pure intelligence which reflects itself in the states of avidyâ (ignorance).

Locus and Object of Ajñâna, Ahamkâra, and Antahkarana.

This ajñâna rests on the pure _cit_ or intelligence. This cit or Brahman is of the nature of pure illumination, but yet it is not opposed to the ajñâna or the indefinite. The cit becomes opposed to the ajñâna and destroys it only when it is reflected through the mental states (_vrtti_). The ajñâna thus rests on the pure cit and not on the cit as associated with such illusory impositions as go to produce the notion of ego "_aham_" or the individual soul. Vâcaspati Mis'ra however holds that the ajñâna does not rest on the pure cit but on the jîva (individual soul). Mâdhava reconciles this view of Vâcaspati with the above view, and says that the ajñâna may be regarded as resting on the jîva or individual soul from this point of view that the obstruction of the pure cit is with reference to the jîva (_Cinmâtrâs'ritam ajñânam jîvapaksapâtitvât jîvâs'ritam ucyate_ Vivaranaprameya, p. 48). The feeling "I do not know" seems however to indicate that the ajñâna is with reference to the perceiving self in association with its feeling as ego or "I"; but this is not so; such an appearance however is caused on account of the close association of ajñâna with antahkarana (mind) both of which are in essence the same (see Vivaranaprarneyasamgraha, p. 48).

The ajñâna however does not only rest on the cit, but it has the cit as its visaya or object too, i.e. its manifestations are with reference to the self-luminous cit. The self-luminous cit is thus the entity on which the veiling action of the ajñâna is noticed; the veiling action is manifested not by destroying the self-luminous character, nor by stopping a future course of luminous career on the part of the cit, nor by stopping its relations with the visaya, but by causing such an appearance that the self-luminous cit seems so to behave that we seem to think that it is not or it does not shine (_nâsti na prakâs'ate iti vyavahârah_) or rather there is no appearance of its shining or luminosity. To say that Brahman is hidden by the ajñâna means nothing more than this, that it is such {_tadyogyatâ_) that the ajñâna can so relate itself with it that it appears to be hidden as in the state of deep sleep and other states of ajñâna-consciousness in experience. Ajñâna is thus considered to have both its locus and object in the pure cit. It is opposed to the states of consciousness, for these at once dispel it. The action of this ajñana is thus on the light of the reality which it obstructs for us, so long as the obstruction is not dissolved by the states of consciousness. This obstruction of the cit is not only with regard to its character as pure limitless consciousness but also with regard to its character as pure and infinite bliss; so it is that though we do not experience the indefinite in our pleasurable feelings, yet its presence as obstructing the pure cit is indicated by the fact that the full infinite bliss constituting the essence of Brahman is obstructed; and as a result of that there is only an incomplete manifestation of the bliss in our phenomenal experiences of pleasure. The ajñâna is one, but it seems to obstruct the pure cit in various aspects or modes, with regard to which it may be said that the ajñâna has many states as constituting the individual experiences of the indefinite with reference to the diverse individual objects of experience. These states of ajñâna are technically called tulâjñâna or avasthâjñâna. Any state of consciousness (vrttijñâna) removes a manifestation of the ajñâna as tulâjñâna and reveals itself as the knowledge of an object.

The most important action of this ajñâna as obstructing the pure cit, and as creating an illusory phenomenon is demonstrated in the notion of the ego or ahamkâra. This notion of ahamkâra is a union of the true self, the pure consciousness and other associations, such as the body, the continued past experiences, etc.; it is the self-luminous characterless Brahman that is found obstructed in the notion of the ego as the repository of a thousand limitations, characters, and associations. This illusory creation of the notion of the ego runs on from beginningless time, each set of previous false impositions determining the succeeding set of impositions and so on. This blending of the unreal associations held up in the mind (_antahkarana_) with the real, the false with the true, that is at the root of illusion. It is the antahkarana taken as the self-luminous self that reflects itself in the cit as the notion of the ego. Just as when we say that the iron ball (red hot) burns, there are two entities of the ball and the fire fused into one, so, here also when I say "I perceive", there are two distinct elements of the self, as consciousness and the mind or antahkarana fused into one. The part or aspect associated with sorrow, materiality, and changefulness represents the antahkarana, whereas that which appears as the unchangeable perceiving consciousness is the self. Thus the notion of ego contains two parts, one real and other unreal.

We remember that this is distinctly that which Prabhâkara sought to repudiate. Prabhâkara did not consider the self to be self-luminous, and held that such is the threefold nature of thought (_triputi_), that it at once reveals the knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the self. He further said, that the analogy of the red-hot iron ball did not hold, for the iron ball and the fire are separately experienced, but the self and the antahkarana are never separately experienced, and we can never say that these two are really different, and only have an illusory appearance of a seeming unity. Perception (_anubhava_) is like a light which illuminates both the object and the self, and like it does not require the assistance of anything else for the fulfilment of its purpose. But the Vedânta objects to this saying that according to Prabhakara's supposition, it is impossible to discover any relation between the self and the knowledge. If knowledge can be regarded as revealing itself, the self may as well be held to be self-luminous; the self and the knowledge are indeed one and the same. Kumârila thinks this thought (_anubhava_), to be a movement, Nyâya and Prabhâkara as a quality of the self [Footnote ref 1]. But if it was a movement like other movements, it could not affect itself as illumination. If it were a substance and atomic in size, it would only manifest a small portion of a thing, if all pervasive, then it would illuminate everything, if of medium size, it would depend on its parts for its own


[Footnote 1: According to Nyâya the _âtman_ is conscious only through association with consciousness, but it is not consciousness(_cit_). Consciousness is associated with it only as a result of suitable collocations. Thus, _Nyâyamañjarî_ in refuting the doctrine of self-luminosity {_svaprakâs'a_) says (p.432)

_sacetanas'citâ yogâttadyogena vinâ jadah nârthâvabhâsadanyaddhi caitanyam nâma manmahe.]


constitution and not on the self. If it is regarded as a quality of the self as the light is of the lamp, then also it has necessarily to be supposed that it was produced by the self, for from what else could it be produced? Thus it is to be admitted that the self, the âtman, is the self-luminous entity. No one doubts any of his knowledge, whether it is he who sees or anybody else. The self is thus the same as vijñâna, the pure consciousness, which is always of itself self-luminous [Footnote ref 1].

Again, though consciousness is continuous in all stages, waking or sleeping, yet ahamkâra is absent during deep sleep. It is true that on waking from deep sleep one feels "I slept happily and did not know anything"; yet what happens is this, that during deep sleep the antahkarana and the ahamkâra are altogether submerged in the ajñâna, and there are only the ajñâna and the self; on waking, this ahamkâra as a state of antahkarna is again generated, and then it associates the perception of the ajñâna in the sleep and originates the perception "I did not know anything." This ahamkâra which is a mode (_vrtti_) of the antahkarana is thus constituted by avidyâ, and is manifested as jñânas'akti (power of knowledge) and kriyâs'akti (power of work). This kriyâs'akti of the ahamkâra is illusorily imposed upon the self, and as a result of that the self appears to be an active agent in knowing and willing. The ahamkâra itself is regarded, as we have already seen, as a mode or vrtti of the antahkarana, and as such the ahamkâra of a past period can now be associated; but even then the vrtti of antahkarana, ahamkâra, may be regarded as only the active side or aspect of the antahkarana. The same antahkarana is called manas in its capacity as doubt buddhi in its capacity as achieving certainty of knowledge, and citta in its capacity as remembering [Footnote ref 2]. When the pure cit shines forth in association with this antahkarana, it is called a jîva. It is clear from the above account that the ajñâna is not a mere nothing, but is the principle of the phenomena. But it cannot stand alone, without the principle of the real to support it (_âs'raya_); its own nature as the ajñâna or indefinite is perceived directly by the pure consciousness; its movements as originating the phenomena remain indefinite in themselves, the real as underlying


[Footnote 1: See _Nyâyamakaranda_, pp. 130-140, _Citshkha_ and _Vivaranaprameyasamgraha_, pp. 53-58.]

[Footnote 2: See _Vedânta-paribhâsâ_, p. 88, Bombay edition.]


these phenomenal movements can only manifest itself through these which hide it, when corresponding states arise in the antahkarana, and the light of the real shines forth through these states. The antahkarana of which ahamkâra is a moment, is itself a beginningless system of ajñâna-phenomena containing within it the associations and impressions of past phenomena as merit, demerit, instincts, etc. from a beginningless time when the jîva or individual soul began his career.

Anirvâcyavâda and the Vedânta Dialectic.

We have already seen that the indefinite ajñâna could be experienced in direct perception and according to Vedânta there are only two categories. The category of the real, the self-luminous Brahman, and the category of the indefinite. The latter has for its ground the world-appearance, and is the principle by which the one unchangeable Brahman is falsely manifested in all the diversity of the manifold world. But this indefinite which is different from the category of the positive and the negative, has only a relative existence and will ultimately vanish, when the true knowledge of the Brahman dawns. Nothing however can be known about the nature of this indefinite except its character as indefinite. That all the phenomena of the world, the fixed order of events, the infinite variety of world-forms and names, all these are originated by this avidyâ, ajñâna or mâyâ is indeed hardly comprehensible. If it is indefinite nescience, how can all these well-defined forms of world-existence come out of it? It is said to exist only relatively, and to have only a temporary existence beside the permanent infinite reality. To take such a principle and to derive from it the mind, matter, and indeed everything else except the pure self-luminous Brahman, would hardly appeal to our reason. If this system of world-order were only seeming appearance, with no other element of truth in it except pure being, then it would be indefensible in the light of reason. It has been proved that whatever notions we have about the objective world are all self-contradictory, and thus groundless and false. If they have all proceeded from the indefinite they must show this character when exposed to discerning criticism. All categories have to be shown to be so hopelessly confused and to be without any conceivable notion that though apparent before us yet they crumble into indefiniteness as soon as they are examined, and one cannot make such assertion about them as that they are or that they are not. Such negative criticisms of our fundamental notions about the world-order were undertaken by S'rîharsa and his commentator and follower Citsukha. It is impossible within the limits of this chapter, to give a complete account of their criticisms of our various notions of reality. I shall give here, only one example.

Let us take the examination of the notion of difference (_bheda_)from _Khandanakhandakhâdya_. Four explanations are possible about the notion of difference: (1) the difference may be perceived as appearing in its own characteristics in our experience (_svarûpa-bheda_) as Prabhâkara thinks; (2) the difference between two things is nothing but the absence of one in the other (_anyonyâbhâva_), as some Naiyâyikas and Bhâttas think; (3) difference means divergence of characteristics (_vaidharmya_) as the Vais'esikas speak of it; (4) difference may be a separate quality in itself like the prthaktva quality of Nyâya. Taking the first alternative, we see that it is said that the jug and the cloth represent in themselves, by their very form and existence, their mutual difference from each other. But if by perceiving the cloth we only perceive its difference from the jug as the characteristic of the cloth, then the jug also must have penetrated into the form of the cloth, otherwise how could we perceive in the cloth its characteristics as the difference from the jug? i.e. if difference is a thing which can be directly perceived by the senses, then as difference would naturally mean difference from something else, it is expected that something else such as jug, etc. from which the difference is perceived, must also be perceived directly in the perception of the cloth. But if the perception of "difference" between two things has penetrated together in the same identical perception, then the self-contradiction becomes apparent. Difference as an entity is not what we perceive in the cloth, for difference means difference from something else, and if that thing from which the difference is perceived is not perceived, then how can the difference as an entity be perceived? If it is said that the cloth itself represents its difference from the jug, and that this is indicated by the jug, then we may ask, what is the nature of the jug? If the difference from the cloth is the very nature of the jug, then the cloth itself is also involved in the nature of the jug. If it is said that the jug only indicates a term from which difference is intended to be conveyed, then that also becomes impossible, for how can we imagine that there is a term which is independent of any association of its difference from other things, and is yet a term which establishes the notion of difference? If it is a term of difference, it cannot be independent of its relation to other things from which it is differentiated. If its difference from the cloth is a quality of the jug, then also the old difficulty comes in, for its difference from the cloth would involve the cloth also in itself; and if the cloth is involved in the nature of the jug as its quality, then by the same manner the jug would also be the character of the cloth, and hence not difference but identity results. Moreover, if a cloth is perceived as a character of the jug, the two will appear to be hanging one over the other, but this is never so experienced by us. Moreover, it is difficult to ascertain if qualities have any relation with things; if they have not, then absence of relation being the same everywhere, everything might be the quality of everything. If there is a relation between these two, then that relation would require another relation to relate itself with that relation, and that would again require another relation and that another, and so on. Again, it may be said that when the jug, etc. are seen without reference to other things, they appear as jug, etc., but when they are viewed with reference to cloth, etc. they appear as difference. But this cannot be so, for the perception as jug is entirely different from the perception of difference. It should also be noted that the notion of difference is also different from the notions of both the jug and the cloth. It is one thing to say that there are jug and cloth, and quite another thing to say that the jug is different from the cloth. Thus a jug cannot appear as difference, though it may be viewed with reference to cloth. The notion of a jug does not require the notions of other things for its manifestation. Moreover, when I say the jug is different from the cloth, I never mean that difference is an entity which is the same as the jug or the cloth; what I mean is that the difference of the cloth from the jug has its limits in the jug, and not merely that the notion of cloth has a reference to jug. This shows that difference cannot be the characteristic nature of the thing perceived.

Again, in the second alternative where difference of two things is defined as the absence of each thing in the other, we find that if difference in jug and cloth means that the jug is not in the cloth or that cloth is not in jug, then also the same difficulty arises; for when I say that the absence or negation of jug in the cloth is its difference from the jug, then also the residence of the absence of jug in the cloth would require that the jug also resides in the cloth, and this would reduce difference to identity. If it is said that the absence of jug in the cloth is not a separate thing, but is rather the identical cloth itself, then also their difference as mutual exclusion cannot be explained. If this mutual negation (_anyonyabhâva_) is explained as the mere absence of jugness in the cloth and of clothness in the jug, then also a difficulty arises; for there is no such quality in jugness or clothness that they may be mutually excluded; and there is no such quality in them that they can be treated as identical, and so when it is said that there is no jugness in cloth we might as well say that there is no clothness in cloth, for clothness and jugness are one and the same, and hence absence of jugness in the cloth would amount to the absence of clothness in the cloth which is self-contradictory. Taking again the third alternative we see that if difference means divergence of characteristics (_vaidharmya_), then the question arises whether the vaidharmya or divergence as existing in jug has such a divergence as can distinguish it from the divergence existing in the cloth; if the answer is in the affirmative then we require a series of endless vaidharmyas progressing _ad infinitum_. If the answer is in the negative then there being no divergence between the two divergences they become identical, and hence divergence of characteristics as such ceases to exist. If it is said that the natural forms of things are difference in themselves, for each of them excludes the other, then apart from the differences--the natural forms--the things are reduced to formlessness (_nihsvarûpatâ_). If natural forms (_svarûpa_) mean special natural forms (_svarûpa-vis'esa_) then as the special natural forms or characteristics only represent difference, the natural forms of the things as apart from the special ones would appear to be identical. So also it may be proved that there is no such quality as prthaktva (separateness) which can explain differences of things, for there also the questions would arise as to whether separateness exists in different things or similar ones or whether separateness is identical with the thing in which it exists or not, and so forth.

The earliest beginnings of this method of subtle analysis and dialectic in Indian philosophy are found in the opening chapters of _Kathâvatthu_. In the great _Mahâbhasya_ on Pânini by Patañjali also we find some traces of it. But Nâgârjuna was the man who took it up in right earnest and systematically cultivated it in all its subtle and abstruse issues and counter-issues in order to prove that everything that appeared as a fixed order or system was non-existent, for all were unspeakable, indescribable and self-contradictory, and thus everything being discarded there was only the void (_s'ûnya_). S'ankara partially utilized this method in his refutations of Nyâya and the Buddhist systems; but S'rîharsa again revived and developed it in a striking manner, and after having criticized the most important notions and concepts of our everyday life, which are often backed by the Nyâya system, sought to prove that nothing in the world can be defined, and that we cannot ascertain whether a thing is or is not. The refutations of all possible definitions that the Nyâya could give necessarily led to the conclusion that the things sought to be defined did not exist though they appeared to do so; the Vedântic contention was that this is exactly as it should be, for the indefinite ajñâna produces only appearances which when exposed to reason show that no consistent notions of them can be formed, or in other words the world-appearance, the phenomena of mâyâ or ajñâna, are indefinable or anirvacanîya. This great work of S'rîharsa was followed by _Tattvadîpikâ_ of Citsukha, in which he generally followed S'rîharsa and sometimes supplemented him with the addition of criticisms of certain new concepts. The method of Vedânta thus followed on one side the method of S'ûnyavâda in annulling all the concepts of world-appearance and on the other Vijñânavâda Buddhism in proving the self-illuminating character of knowledge and ultimately established the self as the only self-luminous ultimate reality.

The Theory of Causation.

The Vedânta philosophy looked at the constantly changing phenomena of the world-appearance and sought to discover the root whence proceeded the endless series of events and effects. The theory that effects were altogether new productions caused by the invariable unconditional and immediately preceding antecedents, as well as the theory that it was the cause which evolved and by its transformations produced the effect, are considered insufficient to explain the problem which the Vedãnta had before it. Certain collocations invariably and unconditionally preceded certain effects, but this cannot explain how the previous set of phenomena could be regarded as producing the succeeding set. In fact the concept of causation and production had in it something quite undefinable and inexplicable. Our enquiry after the cause is an enquiry after a more fundamental and primary form of the truth of a thing than what appears at the present moment when we wished to know what was the cause of the jug, what we sought was a simpler form of which the effect was only a more complex form of manifestation, what is the ground, the root, out of which the effect has come forth? If apart from such an enquiry we take the pictorial representation of the causal phenomena in which some collocations being invariably present at an antecedent point of time, the effect springs forth into being, we find that we are just where we were before, and are unable to penetrate into the logic of the affair. The Nyãya definition of cause and effect may be of use to us in a general way in associating certain groups of things of a particular kind with certain other phenomena happening at a succeeding moment as being relevant pairs of which one being present the other also has a probability of being present, but can do nothing more than this. It does not answer our question as to the nature of cause. Antecedence in time is regarded in this view as an indispensable condition for the cause. But time, according to Nyãya, is one continuous entity; succession of time can only be conceived as antecedence and consequence of phenomena, and these again involve succession; thus the notions of succession of time and of the antecedence and consequence of time being mutually dependent upon each other (_anyonyâs'raya_) neither of these can be conceived independently. Another important condition is invariability. But what does that mean? If it means invariable antecedence, then even an ass which is invariably present as an antecedent to the smoke rising from the washerman's house, must be regarded as the cause of the smoke [Footnote ref 1]. If it means such an antecedence as contributes to the happening of the effect, it becomes again difficult to understand anything about its contributing


[Footnote 1: Asses are used in carrying soiled linen in India. Asses are always present when water is boiled for washing in the laundry.]


to the effect, for the only intelligible thing is the antecedence and nothing more. If invariability means the existence of that at the presence of which the effect comes into being, then also it fails, for there may be the seed but no shoot, for the mere presence of the seed will not suffice to produce the effect, the shoot. If it is said that a cause can produce an effect only when it is associated with its accessory factors, then also the question remains the same, for we have not understood what is meant by cause. Again when the same effect is often seen to be produced by a plurality of causes, the cause cannot be defined as that which happening the effect happens and failing the effect fails. It cannot also be said that in spite of the plurality of causes, each particular cause is so associated with its own particular kind of effect that from a special kind of cause we can without fail get a special kind of effect (cf. Vâtsyâyana and _Nyâyamañjarî_), for out of the same clay different effects come forth namely the jug, the plate, etc. Again if cause is defined as the collocation of factors, then the question arises as to what is meant by this collocation; does it mean the factors themselves or something else above them? On the former supposition the scattered factors being always present in the universe there should always be the effect; if it means something else above the specific factors, then that something always existing, there should always be the effect. Nor can collocation (_sâmagrî_) be defined as the last movement of the causes immediately succeeding which the effect comes into being, for the relation of movement with the collocating cause is incomprehensible. Moreover if movement is defined as that which produces the effect, the very conception of causation which was required to be proved is taken for granted. The idea of necessity involved in the causal conception that a cause is that which must produce its effect is also equally undefinable, inexplicable, and logically inconceivable. Thus in whatsoever way we may seek to find out the real nature of the causal principle from the interminable series of cause-effect phenomena we fail. All the characteristics of the effects are indescribable and indefinable ajñâna of mâyâ, and in whatever way we may try to conceive these phenomena in themselves or in relation to one another we fail, for they are all carved out of the indefinite and are illogical and illusory, and some day will vanish for ever. The true cause is thus the pure being, the reality which is unshakable in itself, the ground upon which all appearances being imposed they appear as real. The true cause is thus the unchangeable being which persists through all experience, and the effect-phenomena are but impositions upon it of ajñâna or avidyâ. It is thus the clay, the permanent, that is regarded as the cause of all clay-phenomena as jug, plates, etc. All the various modes in which the clay appears are mere appearances, unreal, indefinable and so illusory. The one truth is the clay. So in all world-phenomena the one truth is being, the Brahman, and all the phenomena that are being imposed on it are but illusory forms and names. This is what is called the _satkâryavâda_ or more properly the _satkâranavâda_ of the Vedânta, that the cause alone is true and ever existing, and phenomena in themselves are false. There is only this much truth in them, that all are imposed on the reality or being which alone is true. This appearance of the one cause the being, as the unreal many of the phenomena is what is called the _vivarttavâda_ as distinguished from the _sâmkhyayogaparinâmavâda_, in which the effect is regarded as the real development of the cause in its potential state. When the effect has a different kind of being from the cause it is called _vivartta_ but when the effect has the same kind of being as the cause it is called _parinâma (kâranasvalaksanânyathâbhâvah parinâmah tadvilaksano vivarttah_ or _vastunastatsamattâko'nyathâbhâvah parinâmah tadvisamasattâkah vivarttah)_. Vedânta has as much to object against the Nyâya as against the parinâma theory of causation of the Sâmkhya; for movement, development, form, potentiality, and actuality--all these are indefinable and inconceivable in the light of reason; they cannot explain causation but only restate things and phenomena as they appear in the world. In reality however though phenomena are not identical with the cause, they can never be defined except in terms of the cause (_Tadabhedam vinaiva tadvyatirekena durvacam kâryyam vivarttah)_.

This being the relation of cause and effect or Brahman and the world, the different followers of S'ankara Vedânta in explaining the cause of the world-appearance sometimes lay stress on the mâyâ, ajñâna or avidyâ, sometimes on the Brahman, and sometimes on them both. Thus Sarvajnâtmamuni, the writer of _Sanksepa-s'ârîraka_ and his followers think that the pure Brahman should be regarded as the causal substance (_upâdâna_) of the world-appearance, whereas Prakâs'âtman Akhandânanda, and Mâdhava hold that Brahman in association with mâyâ, i.e. the mâyâ-reflected form of Brahman as Îs'vara should be regarded as the cause of the world-appearance. The world-appearance is an evolution or parinâma of the mâyâ as located in Îs'vara, whereas Îs'vara (God) is the vivartta causal matter. Others however make a distinction between mâyâ as the cosmical factor of illusion and avidyâ as the manifestation of the same entity in the individual or jîva. They hold that though the world-appearance may be said to be produced by the mâyâ yet the mind etc. associated with the individual are produced by the avidyâ with the jîva or the individual as the causal matter (_upâdâna_). Others hold that since it is the individual to whom both Îs'vara and the world-appearance are manifested, it is better rather to think that these are all manifestations of the jîva in association with his avidyâ or ajñâna. Others however hold that since in the world-appearance we find in one aspect pure being and in another materiality etc., both Brahman and mâyâ are to be regarded as the cause, Brahman as the permanent causal matter, upâdâna and mâyâ as the entity evolving in parinâma. Vâcaspati Mis'ra thinks that Brahman is the permanent cause of the world-appearance through mâyâ as associated with jîva. Mâyâ is thus only a sahakâri or instrument as it were, by which the one Brahman appears in the eye of the jîva as the manifold world of appearance. Prakâs'ânanda holds however in his _Siddhânta Muktâvalî_ that Brahman itself is pure and absolutely unaffected even as illusory appearance, and is not even the causal matter of the world-appearance. Everything that we see in the phenomenal world, the whole field of world-appearance, is the product of mâyâ, which is both the instrumental and the upâdâna (causal matter) of the world-illusion. But whatever these divergences of view may be, it is clear that they do not in any way affect the principal Vedânta text that the only unchangeable cause is the Brahman, whereas all else, the effect-phenomena, have only a temporary existence as indefinable illusion. The word mâyâ was used in the Rg-Veda in the sense of supernatural power and wonderful skill, and the idea of an inherent mystery underlying it was gradually emphasized in the Atharva Veda, and it began to be used in the sense of magic or illusion. In the Brhadâranyaka, Pras'na, and Svetâs'vatara Upanisads the word means magic. It is not out of place here to mention that in the older Upanisads the word mâyâ occurs only once in the Brhadâranyaka and once only in the Pras'na. In early Pâli Buddhist writings it occurs only in the sense of deception or deceitful conduct. Buddhaghosa uses it in the sense of magical power. In Nâgârjuna and the _Lankâvatâra_ it has acquired the sense of illusion. In S'ankara the word mâyâ is used in the sense of illusion, both as a principle of creation as a s'akti (power) or accessory cause, and as the phenomenal creation itself, as the illusion of world-appearance.

It may also be mentioned here that Gaudapâda the teacher of S'ankara's teacher Govinda worked out a system with the help of the mâyâ doctrine. The Upanisads are permeated with the spirit of an earnest enquiry after absolute truth. They do not pay any attention towards explaining the world-appearance or enquiring into its relations with absolute truth. Gaudapâda asserts clearly and probably for the first time among Hindu thinkers, that the world does not exist in reality, that it is mâyâ, and not reality. When the highest truth is realized mâyâ is not removed, for it is not a thing, but the whole world-illusion is dissolved into its own airy nothing never to recur again. It was Gaudapâda who compared the world-appearance with dream appearances, and held that objects seen in the waking world are unreal, because they are capable of being seen like objects seen in a dream, which are false and unreal. The âtman says Gaudapâda is at once the cognizer and the cognized, the world subsists in the âtman through mâyâ. As âtman alone is real and all duality an illusion, it necessarily follows that all experience is also illusory. S'ankara expounded this doctrine in his elaborate commentaries on the Upanisads and the Brahma-sûtra, but he seems to me to have done little more than making explicit the doctrine of mâyâ. Some of his followers however examined and thought over the concept of mâyâ and brought out in bold relief its character as the indefinable thereby substantially contributing to the development of the Vedânta philosophy.

Vedânta theory of Perception and Inference [Footnote ref 1].

Pramâna is the means that leads to right knowledge. If memory is intended to be excluded from the definition then


[Footnote 1: Dharmarâjâdhvarîndra and his son Râmakrsna worked out a complete scheme of the theory of Vedântic perception and inference. This is in complete agreement with the general Vedânta metaphysics. The early Vedântists were more interested in demonstrating the illusory nature of the world of appearance, and did not work out a logical theory. It may be incidentally mentioned that in the theory of inference as worked out by Dharmarâjâdhvarîndra he was largely indebted to the Mîmâmsâ school of thought. In recognizing arthapatti, upamâna s'abda and anupalabdhi also Dharmarâjâdhvarîndra accepted the Mîmâmsâ view. The Vedantins, previous to Dharmarâjâdhvarîndra, had also tacitly followed the Mîmâmsâ in these matters.]


pramâna is to be defined as the means that leads to such right knowledge as has not already been acquired. Right knowledge (_pramâ_) in Vedânta is the knowledge of an object which has not been found contradicted (_abâdhitârthavisayajñânatva_). Except when specially expressed otherwise, pramâ is generally considered as being excludent of memory and applies to previously unacquired (_anadhigata_) and uncontradicted knowledge. Objections are sometimes raised that when we are looking at a thing for a few minutes, the perception of the thing in all the successive moments after the first refers to the image of the thing acquired in the previous moments. To this the reply is that the Vedânta considers that so long as a different mental state does not arise, any mental state is not to be considered as momentary but as remaining ever the same. So long as we continue to perceive one thing there is no reason to suppose that there has been a series of mental states. So there is no question as to the knowledge of the succeeding moments being referred to the knowledge of the preceding moments, for so long as any mental state has any one thing for its object it is to be considered as having remained unchanged all through the series of moments. There is of course this difference between the same percept of a previous and a later moment following in succession, that fresh elements of time are being perceived as prior and later, though the content of the mental state so far as the object is concerned remains unchanged. This time element is perceived by the senses though the content of the mental state may remain undisturbed. When I see the same book for two seconds, my mental state representing the book is not changed every second, and hence there can be no _such supposition_ that I am having separate mental states in succession each of which is a repetition of the previous one, for so long as the general content of the mental state remains the same there is no reason for supposing that there has been any change in the mental state. The mental state thus remains the same so long as the content is not changed, but though it remains the same it can note the change in the time elements as extraneous addition. All our uncontradicted knowledge of the objects of the external world should be regarded as right knowledge until the absolute is realized.

When the antahkarana (mind) comes in contact with the external objects through the senses and becomes transformed as it were into their forms, it is said that the antahkarana has been transformed into a state (_vrtti_) [Footnote 1]. As soon as the antahkarana has assumed the shape or form of the object of its knowledge, the ignorance (_ajñâna_) with reference to that object is removed, and thereupon the steady light of the pure consciousness (_cit_) shows the object which was so long hidden by ignorance. The appearance or the perception of an object is thus the self-shining of the cit through a vrtti of a form resembling an object of knowledge. This therefore pre-supposes that by the action of ajñâna, pure consciousness or being is in a state of diverse kinds of modifications. In spite of the cit underlying all this diversified objective world which is but the transformation of ignorance (ajñâna), the former cannot manifest itself by itself, for the creations being of ignorance they are but sustained by modifications of ignorance. The diversified objects of the world are but transformations of the principle of ajñâna which is neither real nor unreal. It is the nature of ajñâna that it veils its own creations. Thus on each of the objects created by the ajñâna by its creating (_viksepa_) capacity there is a veil by its veiling (âvarana) capacity. But when any object comes in direct touch with antahkarana through the senses the antahkarana becomes transformed into the form of the object, and this leads to the removal of the veil on that particular ajñâna form--the object, and as the self-shining cit is shining through the particular ajñâna state, we have what is called the perception of the thing. Though there is in reality no such distinction as the inner and the outer yet the ajñâna has created such illusory distinctions as individual souls and the external world of objects the distinctions of time, space,


[Footnote 1: Vedânta does not regard manas (mind) as a sense (indriya). The same antahkarana, according to its diverse functions, is called mânâs, buddhi, ahamkâra, and citta. In its functions as doubt it is called mânâs, as originating definite cognitions it is called buddhi. As presenting the notion of an ego in consciousness ahamkâra, and as producing memory citta. These four represent the different modifications or states (vrtti) of the same entity (which in itself is but a special kind of modification of ajñâna as antahkarana).]


etc. and veiled these forms. Perception leads to the temporary and the partial breaking of the veil over specific ajñâna forms so that there is a temporary union of the cit as underlying the subject and the object through the broken veil. Perception on the subjective side is thus defined as the union or undifferentiation (_abheda_) of the subjective consciousness with the objective consciousness comprehending the sensible objects through the specific mental states (_tattadindriyayogyavisayâvacchinnacaitanyâbhinnatvam tattadâkâravisayâvacchinnajñânasya tattadams'e pratyaksatvam_). This union in perception means that the objective has at that moment no separate existence from the subjective consciousness of the perceiver. The consciousness manifesting through the antahkarana is called jîvasâksi.

Inference (_anumâna_), according to Vedânta, is made by our notion of concomitance (_vyâptijñâna_) between two things, acting through specific past impressions (_samskâra_). Thus when I see smoke on a hill, my previous notion of the concomitance of smoke with fire becomes roused as a subconscious impression, and I infer that there is fire on the hill. My knowledge of the hill and the smoke is by direct perception. The notion of concomitance revived in the subconscious only establishes the connection between the smoke and the fire. The notion of concomitance is generated by the perception of two things together, when no case of the failure of concomitance is known (_vyabhicârâjñâna_) regarding the subject. The notion of concomitance being altogether subjective, the Vedântist does not emphasize the necessity of perceiving the concomitance in a large number of cases (_bhûyodars'anam sakrddars'anam veti vis'eso nâdaranîyah_). Vedânta is not anxious to establish any material validity for the inference, but only subjective and formal validity. A single perception of concomitance may in certain cases generate the notion of the concomitance of one thing with another when no contradictory instance is known. It is immaterial with the Vedânta whether this concomitance is experienced in one case or in hundreds of cases. The method of agreement in presence is the only form of concomitance (_anvayavyâpti_) that the Vedânta allows. So the Vedânta discards all the other kinds of inference that Nyâya supported, viz. _anvayavyatireki_ (by joining agreement in presence with agreement in absence), _kevalânvayi_ (by universal agreement where no test could be applied of agreement in absence) and _kevalavyatireki_ (by universal agreement in absence). Vedânta advocates three premisses, viz. (1) _pratijña_ (the hill is fiery); (2) _hetu_ (because it has smoke) and (3) _drstânta_ (as in the kitchen) instead of the five propositions that Nyâya maintained [Footnote ref 1]. Since one case of concomitance is regarded by Vedânta as being sufficient for making an inference it holds that seeing the one case of appearance (silver in the conch-shell) to be false, we can infer that all things (except Brahman) are false (_Brahmabhinnam sarvam mithyâ Brahmabhinnatvât yedevam tadevam yathâ s'uktirûpyam_). First premiss (_pratijñâ_) all else excepting Brahman is false; second premiss (_hetu_) since all is different from Brahman; third premiss (_drstânta_) whatever is so is so as the silver in the conch [Footnote ref 2].

Âtman, Jîva, Îs'vara, Ekajîvavâda and Drstisrstivâda.

We have many times spoken of truth or reality as self-luminous (_svayamprakâs'a). But what does this mean? Vedânta defines it as that which is never the object of a knowing act but is yet immediate and direct with us (_avedyatve sati aparoksavyavaharayogyatvam_). Self-luminosity thus means the capacity of being ever present in all our acts of consciousness without in any way being an object of consciousness. Whenever anything is described as an object of consciousness, its character as constituting its knowability is a quality, which may or may not be present in it, or may be present at one time and absent at another. This makes it dependent on some other such entity which can produce it or manifest it. Pure consciousness differs from all its objects in this that it is never dependent on anything else for its manifestation, but manifests all other objects such as the jug, the cloth, etc. If consciousness should require another consciousness to manifest it, then that might again require another, and that another, and so on _ad infinitum_ (_anavasthâ_). If consciousness did not manifest itself at the time of the object-manifestation, then even on seeing or knowing a thing one might doubt if he had seen or known it. It is thus to be admitted that consciousness (_anubhûti_) manifests itself and thereby maintains the appearance


[Footnote 1: Vedanta would have either pratijñâ, hetu and udâharana, or udâharana, upanaya and nigamana, and not all the five of Nyâya, viz. pratijña, hetu, udâharana, upanaya and nigamana.]

[Footnote 2: Vedântic notions of the pramâna of upamana, arthapatti, s'abda and anupalabdhi, being similar to the mîmâmsâ view, do not require to be treated here separately.]


of all our world experience. This goes directly against the jñâtatâ theory of Kumârila that consciousness was not immediate but was only inferable from the manifesting quality (_jñâtatâ_) of objects when they are known in consciousness.

Now Vedânta says that this self-luminous pure consciousness is the same as the self. For it is only self which is not the object of any knowledge and is yet immediate and ever present in consciousness. No one doubts about his own self, because it is of itself manifested along with all states of knowledge. The self itself is the revealer of all objects of knowledge, but is never itself the object of knowledge, for what appears as the perceiving of self as object of knowledge is but association comprehended under the term ahamkâra (ego). The real self is identical with the pure manifesting unity of all consciousness. This real self called the âtman is not the same as the jîva or individual soul, which passes through the diverse experiences of worldly life. Îs'vara also must be distinguished from this highest âtman or Brahman. We have already seen that many Vedântists draw a distinction between mâyâ and avidyâ. Mâyâ is that aspect of ajñâna by which only the best attributes are projected, whereas avidyâ is that aspect by which impure qualities are projected. In the former aspect the functions are more of a creative, generative (_viksepa_) type, whereas in the latter veiling (_âvarana_) characteristics are most prominent. The relation of the cit or pure intelligence, the highest self, with mâyâ and avidyâ (also called ajñâna) was believed respectively to explain the phenomenal Îs'vara and the phenomenal jîva or individual. This relation is conceived in two ways, namely as upâdhi or pratibimba, and avaccheda. The conception of pratibimba or reflection is like the reflection of the sun in the water where the image, though it has the same brilliance as the sun, yet undergoes the effect of the impurity and movements of the water. The sun remains ever the same in its purity untouched by the impurities from which the image sun suffers. The sun may be the same but it may be reflected in different kinds of water and yield different kinds of images possessing different characteristics and changes which though unreal yet phenomenally have all the appearance of reality. The other conception of the relation is that when we speak of âkâs'a (space) in the jug or of âkâs'a in the room. The âkâs'a in reality does not suffer any modification in being within the jug or within the room. In reality it is all-pervasive and is neither limited (_avachinna_) within the jug or the room, but is yet conceived as being limited by the jug or by the room. So long as the jug remains, the âkâs'a limited within it will remain as separate from the âkâs'a limited within the room.

Of the Vedântists who accept the reflection analogy the followers of Nrsimhâs'rama think that when the pure cit is reflected in the mâyâ, Îs'vara is phenomenally produced, and when in the avidyâ the individual or jîva. Sarvajñâtmâ however does not distinguish between the mâyâ and the avidyâ, and thinks that when the cit is reflected in the avidyâ in its total aspect as cause, we get Îs'vara, and when reflected in the antahkarana--a product of the avidyâ--we have jîva or individual soul.

Jîva or individual means the self in association with the ego and other personal experiences, i.e. phenomenal self, which feels, suffers and is affected by world-experiences. In jîva also three stages are distinguished; thus when during deep sleep the antahkarana is submerged, the self perceives merely the ajñâna and the jîva in this state is called prâjña or ânandamaya. In the dream-state the self is in association with a subtle body and is called taijasa. In the awakened state the self as associated with a subtle and gross body is called vis'va. So also the self in its pure state is called Brahman, when associated with mâyâ it is called Îs'vara, when associated with the fine subtle element of matter as controlling them, it is called hiranyagarbha; when with the gross elements as the ruler or controller of them it is called virât purusa.

The jîva in itself as limited by its avidyâ is often spoken of as pâramarthika (real), when manifested through the sense and the ego in the waking states as vyavahârika (phenomenal), and when in the dream states as dream-self, prâtibhâsika (illusory).

Prakâs'âtmâ and his followers think that since ajñâna is one there cannot be two separate reflections such as jîva and Îs'vara; but it is better to admit that jîva is the image of Îs'vara in the ajñâna. The totality of Brahma-cit in association with mâyâ is Îs'vara, and this when again reflected through the ajñâna gives us the jîva. The manifestation of the jîva is in the antahkarana as states of knowledge. The jîva thus in reality is Îs'vara and apart from jîva and Îs'vara there is no other separate existence of Brahma-caitanya. Jîva being the image of Îs'vara is thus dependent on him, but when the limitations of jîva are removed by right knowledge, the jîva is the same Brahman it always was.

Those who prefer to conceive the relation as being of the avaccheda type hold that reflection (pratibimba) is only possible of things which have colour, and therefore jîva is cit limited (avacchinna) by the antahkarana (mind). Îs'vara is that which is beyond it; the diversity of antahkaranas accounts for the diversity of the jîvas. It is easy however to see that these discussions are not of much fruit from the point of view of philosophy in determining or comprehending the relation of Îs'vara and jîva. In the Vedânta system Îs'vara has but little importance, for he is but a phenomenal being; he may be better, purer, and much more powerful than we, but yet he is as much phenomenal as any of us. The highest truth is the self, the reality, the Brahman, and both jîva and Îs'vara are but illusory impositions on it. Some Vedântists hold that there is but one jîva and one body, and that all the world as well as all the jîvas in it are merely his imaginings. These dream jîvas and the dream world will continue so long as that super-jîva continues to undergo his experiences; the world-appearance and all of us imaginary individuals, run our course and salvation is as much imaginary salvation as our world-experience is an imaginary experience of the imaginary jîvas. The cosmic jîva is alone the awakened jîva and all the rest are but his imaginings. This is known as the doctrine of ekajîva (one-soul).

The opposite of this doctrine is the theory held by some Vedântists that there are many individuals and the world-appearance has no permanent illusion for all people, but each person creates for himself his own illusion, and there is no objective datum which forms the common ground for the illusory perception of all people; just as when ten persons see in the darkness a rope and having the illusion of a snake there, run away, and agree in their individual perceptions that they have all seen the same snake, though each really had his own illusion and there was no snake at all. According to this view the illusory perception of each happens for him subjectively and has no corresponding objective phenomena as its ground. This must be distinguished from the normal Vedânta view which holds that objectively phenomena are also happening, but that these are illusory only in the sense that they will not last permanently and have thus only a temporary and relative existence in comparison with the truth or reality which is ever the same constant and unchangeable entity in all our perceptions and in all world-appearance. According to the other view phenomena are not objectively existent but are only subjectively imagined; so that the jug I see had no existence before I happened to have the perception that there was the jug; as soon as the jug illusion occurred to me I said that there was the jug, but it did not exist before. As soon as I had the perception there was the illusion, and there was no other reality apart from the illusion. It is therefore called the theory of drstisrstivâda, i.e. the theory that the subjective perception is the creating of the objects and that there are no other objective phenomena apart from subjective perceptions. In the normal Vedânta view however the objects of the world are existent as phenomena by the sense-contact with which the subjective perceptions are created. The objective phenomena in themselves are of course but modifications of ajñâna, but still these phenomena of the ajñâna are there as the common ground for the experience of all. This therefore has an objective epistemology whereas the drstisrstivâda has no proper epistemology, for the experiences of each person are determined by his own subjective avidyâ and previous impressions as modifications of the avidyâ. The drstisrstivâda theory approaches nearest to the Vijñânavâda Buddhism, only with this difference that while Buddhism does not admit of any permanent being Vedânta admits the Brahman, the permanent unchangeable reality as the only truth, whereas the illusory and momentary perceptions are but impositions on it.

The mental and physical phenomena are alike in this, that both are modifications of ajñâna. It is indeed difficult to comprehend the nature of ajñâna, though its presence in consciousness can be perceived, and though by dialectic criticism all our most well-founded notions seem to vanish away and become self-contradictory and indefinable. Vedânta explains the reason of this difficulty as due to the fact that all these indefinable forms and names can only be experienced as modes of the real, the self-luminous. Our innate error which we continue from beginningless time consists in this, that the real in its full complete light is ever hidden from us, and the glimpse that we get of it is always through manifestations of forms and names; these phenomenal forms and names are undefinable, incomprehensible, and unknowable in themselves, but under certain conditions they are manifested by the self-luminous real, and at the time they are so manifested they seem to have a positive being which is undeniable. This positive being is only the highest being, the real which appears as the being of those forms and names. A lump of clay may be moulded into a plate or a cup, but the plate-form or the cup-form has no existence or being apart from the being of the clay; it is the being of the clay that is imposed on the diverse forms which also then seem to have being in themselves. Our illusion thus consists in mutually misattributing the characteristics of the unreal forms--the modes of ajñâna and the real being. As this illusion is the mode of all our experience and its very essence, it is indeed difficult for us to conceive of the Brahman as apart from the modes of ajñâna. Moreover such is the nature of ajñânas that they are knowable only by a false identification of them with the self-luminous Brahman or âtman. Being as such is the highest truth, the Brahman. The ajñâna states are not non-being in the sense of nothing of pure negation (_abhâva_), but in the sense that they are not being. Being that is the self-luminous illuminates non-being, the ajñâna, and this illumination means nothing more than a false identification of being with non-being. The forms of ajñâna if they are to be known must be associated with pure consciousness, and this association means an illusion, superimposition, and mutual misattribution. But apart from pure consciousness these cannot be manifested or known, for it is pure consciousness alone that is self-luminous. Thus when we try to know the ajñâna states in themselves as apart from the âtman we fail in a dilemma, for knowledge means illusory superimposition or illusion, and when it is not knowledge they evidently cannot be known. Thus apart from its being a factor in our illusory experience no other kind of its existence is known to us. If ajñâna had been a non-entity altogether it could never come at all, if it were a positive entity then it would never cease to be; the ajñâna thus is a mysterious category midway between being and non-being and undefinable in every way; and it is on account of this that it is called _tattvânyatvâbhyâm anirvâcya_ or undefinable and undeterminable either as real or unreal. It is real in the sense that it is a necessary postulate of our phenomenal experience and unreal in its own nature, for apart from its connection with consciousness it is incomprehensible and undefinable. Its forms even while they are manifested in consciousness are self-contradictory and incomprehensible as to their real nature or mutual relation, and comprehensible only so far as they are manifested in consciousness, but apart from these no rational conception of them can be formed. Thus it is impossible to say anything about the ajñâna (for no knowledge of it is possible) save so far as manifested in consciousness and depending on this the Drstisrstivâdins asserted that our experience was inexplicably produced under the influence of avidyâ and that beyond that no objective common ground could be admitted. But though this has the general assent of Vedânta and is irrefutable in itself, still for the sake of explaining our common sense view (_pratikarmavyavasathâ_) we may think that we have an objective world before us as the common field of experience. We can also imagine a scheme of things and operations by which the phenomenon of our experience may be interpreted in the light of the Vedânta metaphysics.

The subject can be conceived in three forms: firstly as the âtman, the one highest reality, secondly as jîva or the âtman as limited by its psychosis, when the psychosis is not differentiated from the âtman, but âtman is regarded as identical with the psychosis thus appearing as a living and knowing being, as _jîvasâksi_ or perceiving consciousness, or the aspect in which the jîva comprehends, knows, or experiences; thirdly the antahkarana psychosis or mind which is an inner centre or bundle of avidyâ manifestations, just as the outer world objects are exterior centres of avidyâ phenomena or objective entities. The antahkarana is not only the avidyâ capable of supplying all forms to our present experiences, but it also contains all the tendencies and modes of past impressions of experience in this life or in past lives. The antahkarana is always turning the various avidyâ modes of it into the jîvasâksi (jîva in its aspect as illuminating mental states), and these are also immediately manifested, made known, and transformed into experience. These avidyâ states of the antahkarana are called its vrttis or states. The specific peculiarity of the vrttiajñânas is this that only in these forms can they be superimposed upon pure consciousness, and thus be interpreted as states of consciousness and have their indefiniteness or cover removed. The forms of ajñâna remain as indefinite and hidden or veiled only so long as they do not come into relation to these vrttis of antahkarana, for the ajñâna can be destroyed by the cit only in the form of a vrtti, while in all other forms the ajñâna veils the cit from manifestation. The removal of ajñâna-vrttis of the antahkarana or the manifestation of vrtti-jñâna is nothing but this, that the antahkarana states of avidyâ are the only states of ajñâna which can be superimposed upon the self-luminous âtman (_adhyâsa_, false attribution). The objective world consists of the avidyâ phenomena with the self as its background. Its objectivity consists in this that avidyâ in this form cannot be superimposed on the self-luminous cit but exists only as veiling the cit. These avidyâ phenomena may be regarded as many and diverse, but in all these forms they serve only to veil the cit and are beyond consciousness. It is only when they come in contact with the avidyâ phenomena as antahkarana states that they coalesce with the avidyâ states and render themselves objects of consciousness or have their veil of âvarana removed. It is thus assumed that in ordinary perceptions of objects such as jug, etc. the antahkarana goes out of the man's body (_s'arîramadhyât_) and coming in touch with the jug becomes transformed into the same form, and as soon as this transformation takes place the cit which is always steadily shining illuminates the jug-form or the jug. The jug phenomena in the objective world could not be manifested (though these were taking place on the background of the same self-luminous Brahman or âtman as forms of the highest truth of my subjective consciousness) because the ajñâna phenomena in these forms serve to veil their illuminator, the self-luminous. It was only by coming into contact with these phenomena that the antahkarana could be transformed into corresponding states and that the illumination dawned which at once revealed the antahkarana states and the objects with which these states or vrttis had coalesced. The consciousness manifested through the vrttis alone has the power of removing the ajñâna veiling the cit. Of course there are no actual distinctions of inner or outer, or the cit within me and the cit without me. These are only of appearance and due to avidyâ. And it is only from the point of view of appearance that we suppose that knowledge of objects can only dawn when the inner cit and the outer cit unite together through the antahkaranavrtti, which makes the external objects translucent as it were by its own translucence, removes the ajñâna which was veiling the external self-luminous cit and reveals the object phenomena by the very union of the cit as reflected through it and the cit as underlying the object phenomena. The pratyaksa-pramâ or right knowledge by perception is the cit, the pure consciousness, reflected through the vrtti and identical with the cit as the background of the object phenomena revealed by it. From the relative point of view we may thus distinguish three consciousnesses: (1) consciousness as the background of objective phenomena, (2) consciousness as the background of the jîva or pramâtâ, the individual, (3) consciousness reflected in the vrtti of the antahkarana; when these three unite perception is effected.

Pramâ or right knowledge means in Vedânta the acquirement of such new knowledge as has not been contradicted by experience (_abâdhita_). There is thus no absolute definition of truth. A knowledge acquired can be said to be true only so long as it is not contradicted. Thus the world appearance though it is very true now, may be rendered false, when this is contradicted by right knowledge of Brahman as the one reality. Thus the knowledge of the world appearance is true now, but not true absolutely. The only absolute truth is the pure consciousness which is never contradicted in any experience at any time. The truth of our world-knowledge is thus to be tested by finding out whether it will be contradicted at any stage of world experience or not. That which is not contradicted by later experience is to be regarded as true, for all world knowledge as a whole will be contradicted when Brahma-knowledge is realized.

The inner experiences of pleasure and pain also are generated by a false identification of antahkarana transformations as pleasure or pain with the self, by virtue of which are generated the perceptions, "I am happy," or "I am sorry." In continuous perception of anything for a certain time as an object or as pleasure, etc. the mental state or vrtti is said to last in the same way all the while so long as any other new form is not taken up by the antahkarana for the acquirement of any new knowledge. In such case when I infer that there is fire on the hill that I see, the hill is an object of perception, for the antahkarana vrtti is one with it, but that there is fire in it is a matter of inference, for the antahkarana vrtti cannot be in touch with the fire; so in the same experience there may be two modes of mental modification, as perception in seeing the hill, and as inference in inferring the fire in the hill. In cases of acquired perception, as when on seeing sandal wood I think that it is odoriferous sandal wood, it is pure perception so far as the sandal wood is concerned, it is inference or memory so far as I assert it to be odoriferous. Vedânta does not admit the existence of the relation called _samavâya_ (inherence) or _jâti_ (class notion); and so does not distinguish perception as a class as distinct from the other class called inference, and holds that both perception and inference are but different modes of the transformations of the antahkarana reflecting the cit in the corresponding vrttis. The perception is thus nothing but the cit manifestation in the antahkarana vrtti transformed into the form of an object with which it is in contact. Perception in its objective aspect is the identity of the cit underlying the object with the subject, and perception in the subjective aspect is regarded as the identity of the subjective cit with the objective cit. This identity of course means that through the vrtti the same reality subsisting in the object and the subject is realized, whereas in inference the thing to be inferred, being away from contact with antahkarana, has apparently a different reality from that manifested in the states of consciousness. Thus perception is regarded as the mental state representing the same identical reality in the object and the subject by antahkarana contact, and it is held that the knowledge produced by words (e.g. this is the same Devadatta) referring identically to the same thing which is seen (e.g. when I see Devadatta before me another man says this is Devadatta, and the knowledge produced by "this is Devadatta" though a verbal (_s'âbda_) knowledge is to be regarded as perception, for the antahkarana vrtti is the same) is to be regarded as perception or pratyaksa. The content of these words (this is Devadatta) being the same as the perception, and there being no new relationing knowledge as represented in the proposition "this is Devadatta" involving the unity of two terms "this" and "Devadatta" with a copula, but only the indication of one whole as Devadatta under visual perception already experienced, the knowledge proceeding from "this is Devadatta" is regarded as an example of nirvikalpa knowledge. So on the occasion of the rise of Brahma-consciousness when the preceptor instructs "thou art Brahman" the knowledge proceeding from the sentence is not savikalpa, for though grammatically there are two ideas and a copula, yet from the point of view of intrinsic significance (_tâtparya_) one identical reality only is indicated. Vedânta does not distinguish nirvikalpa and savikalpa in visual perception, but only in s'âbda perception as in cases referred to above. In all such cases the condition for nirvikalpa is that the notion conveyed by the sentence should be one whole or one identical reality, whereas in savikalpa perception we have a combination of different ideas as in the sentence, "the king's man is coming" (_râjapurusa âgacchatî_). Here no identical reality is signified, but what is signified is the combination of two or three different concepts [Footnote ref 1].

It is not out of place to mention in this connection that Vedânta admits all the six pramânas of Kumârila and considers like Mîmâmsâ that all knowledge is self-valid (_svatah-pramâna_). But pramâ has not the same meaning in Vedânta as in Mîmâmsâ. There as we remember pramâ meant the knowledge which goaded one to practical action and as such all knowledge was pramâ, until practical experience showed the course of action in accordance with which it was found to be contradicted. In Vedânta however there is no reference to action, but pramâ means only uncontradicted cognition. To the definition of self-validity as given by Mîmâmsâ Vedânta adds another objective qualification, that such knowledge can have svatah-prâmânya as is not vitiated by the presence of any dosa (cause of error, such as defect of senses or the like). Vedânta of course does not think like Nyâya that positive conditions (e.g. correspondence, etc.) are necessary for the validity of knowledge, nor does it divest knowledge of all qualifications like the Mîmâmsists, for whom all knowledge is self-valid as such. It adopts a middle course and holds that absence of dosa is a necessary condition for the self-validity of knowledge. It is clear that this is a compromise, for whenever an external condition has to be admitted, the knowledge cannot be regarded as self-valid, but Vedânta says that as it requires only a negative condition for the absence of dosa, the objection does not apply to it, and it holds that if it depended on the presence of any positive condition for proving the validity of knowledge like the Nyâya, then only its theory of self-validity would have been damaged. But since it wants only a negative condition, no blame can be


[Footnote 1: See _Vedântaparibhâsâ_ and _S'ikhâmani._]


attributed to its theory of self-validity. Vedânta was bound to follow this slippery middle course, for it could not say that the pure cit reflected in consciousness could require anything else for establishing its validity, nor could it say that all phenomenal forms of knowledge were also all valid, for then the world-appearance would come to be valid; so it held that knowledge could be regarded as valid only when there was no dosa present; thus from the absolute point of view all world-knowledge was false and had no validity, because there was the avidyâ-dosa, and in the ordinary sphere also that knowledge was valid in which there was no dosa. Validity (prâmânya) with Mîmâmsâ meant the capacity that knowledge has to goad us to practical action in accordance with it, but with Vedânta it meant correctness to facts and want of contradiction. The absence of dosa being guaranteed there is nothing which can vitiate the correctness of knowledge [Footnote ref 1].

Vedânta Theory of Illusion.

We have already seen that the Mîmâmsists had asserted that all knowledge was true simply because it was knowledge (_yathârthâh sarve vivâdaspadîbhûtâh pratyayâh pratyayatvât_). Even illusions were explained by them as being non-perception of the distinction between the thing perceived (e.g. the conch-shell), and the thing remembered (e.g. silver). But Vedânta objects to this, and asks how there can be non-distinction between a thing which is clearly perceived and a thing which is remembered? If it is said that it is merely a non-perception of the non-association (i.e. non-perception of the fact that this is not connected with silver), then also it cannot be, for then it is on either side mere negation, and negation with Mîmâmsâ is nothing but the bare presence of the locus of negation (e.g. negation of jug on the ground is nothing but the bare presence of the ground), or in other words non-perception of the non-association of "silver" and "this" means barely and merely the "silver" and "this." Even admitting for argument's sake that the distinction between two things or two ideas is not perceived, yet merely from such a negative aspect no one could be tempted to move forward to action (such as stooping down to pick up a piece of illusory silver). It is positive


[Footnote 1: See _Vedântaparibhâsâ, S'ikhâmani, Maniprabhâ_ and Citsukha on svatahprâmanya.]


conviction or perception that can lead a man to actual practical movement. If again it is said that it is the general and imperfect perception of a thing (which has not been properly differentiated and comprehended) before me, which by the memory of silver appears to be like true silver before me and this generates the movement for picking it up, then this also is objectionable. For the appearance of the similarity with real silver cannot lead us to behave with the thing before me as if it were real silver. Thus I may perceive that gavaya (wild ox) is similar to cow, but despite this similarity I am not tempted to behave with the gavaya as if it were a cow. Thus in whatever way the Mîmamsâ position may be defined it fails [Footnote ref l]. Vedânta thinks that the illusion is not merely subjective, but that there is actually a phenomenon of illusion as there are phenomena of actual external objects; the difference in the two cases consists in this, that the illusion is generated by the dosa or defect of the senses etc., whereas the phenomena of external objects are not due to such specific dosas. The process of illusory perception in Vedanta may be described thus. First by the contact of the senses vitiated by dosas a mental state as "thisness" with reference to the thing before me is generated; then in the thing as "this" and in the mental state of the form of that "this" the cit is reflected. Then the avidyâ (nescience) associated with the cit is disturbed by the presence of the dosa, and this disturbance along with the impression of silver remembered through similarity is transformed into the appearance of silver. There is thus an objective illusory silver appearance, as well as a similar transformation of the mental state generated by its contact with the illusory silver. These two transformations, the silver state of the mind and external phenomenal illusory silver state, are manifested by the perceiving consciousness (_sâksicaitanya_). There are thus here two phenomenal transformations, one in the avidyâ states forming the illusory objective silver phenomenon, and another in the antahkarana-vrtti or mind state. But in spite of there being two distinct and separate phenomena, their object being the same as the "this" in perception, we have one knowledge of illusion. The special feature of this theory of illusion is that an indefinable (_anirvacanîya-khyâti_) illusory silver is created in every case where an illusory perception of silver occurs. There are three orders of reality in Vedânta, namely the


[Footnote 1: See _Vivarana-prameya-samgraha_ and _Nyâyamakaranda_ on akhyâti refutation.]


_pâramârthika_ or absolute, _vyavahârika_ or practical ordinary experience, and _prâtibhâsika,_ illusory. The first one represents the absolute truth; the other two are false impressions due to dosa. The difference between vyavahârika and prâtibhâsika is that the dosa of the vyavahârika perception is neither discovered nor removed until salvation, whereas the dosa of the prâtibhâsika reality which occurs in many extraneous forms (such as defect of the senses, sleep, etc.) is perceived in the world of our ordinary experience, and thus the prâtibhâsika experience lasts for a much shorter period than the vyavahârika. But just as the vyavahârika world is regarded as phenomenal modifications of the ajñâna, as apart from our subjective experience and even before it, so the illusion (e.g. of silver in the conch-shell) is also regarded as a modification of avidyâ, an undefinable creation of the object of illusion, by the agency of the dosa. Thus in the case of the illusion of silver in the conch-shell, indefinable silver is created by the dosa in association with the senses, which is called the creation of an indefinable (_anirvacanîya_) silver of illusion. Here the cit underlying the conch-shell remains the same but the avidyâ of antahkarana suffers modifications (_parinâma_) on account of dosa, and thus gives rise to the illusory creation. The illusory silver is thus _vivartta_ (appearance) from the point of view of the cit and parinâma from the point of view of avidyâ, for the difference between vivartta and parinâma is, that in the former the transformations have a different reality from the cause (cit is different from the appearance imposed on it), while in the latter case the transformations have the same reality as the transforming entity (appearance of silver has the same stuff as the avidyâ whose transformations it is). But now a difficulty arises that if the illusory perception of silver is due to a coalescing of the cit underlying the antahkarana-vrtti as modified by dosa and the object--cit as underlying the "this" before me (in the illusion of "this is silver"), then I ought to have the experience that "I am silver" like "I am happy" and not that "this is silver"; the answer is, that as the coalescing takes place in connection with my previous notion as "this," the form of the knowledge also is "this is silver," whereas in the notion "I am happy," the notion of happiness takes place in connection with a previous vrtti of "I." Thus though the coalescing of the two "cits" is the same in both cases, yet in one case the knowledge takes the form of "I am," and in another as "this is" according as the previous impression is "I" or "this." In dreams also the dream perceptions are the same as the illusory perception of silver in the conch-shell. There the illusory creations are generated through the defects of sleep, and these creations are imposed upon the cit. The dream experiences cannot be regarded merely as memory-products, for the perception in dream is in the form that "I see that I ride in the air on chariots, etc." and not that "I remember the chariots." In the dream state all the senses are inactive, and therefore there is no separate objective cit there, but the whole dream experience with all characteristics of space, time, objects, etc. is imposed upon the cit. The objection that since the imposition is on the pure cit the imposition ought to last even in waking stages, and that the dream experiences ought to continue even in waking life, does not hold; for in the waking stages the antahkarana is being constantly transformed into different states on the expiry of the defects of sleep, etc., which were causing the dream cognitions. This is called _nivrtti_ (negation) as distinguished from _bâdha_ (cessation). The illusory creation of dream experiences may still be there on the pure cit, but these cannot be experienced any longer, for there being no dosa of sleep the antahkarana is active and suffering modifications in accordance with the objects presented before us. This is what is called nivrtti, for though the illusion is there I cannot experience it, whereas bâdha or cessation occurs when the illusory creation ceases, as when on finding out the real nature of the conch-shell the illusion of silver ceases, and we feel that this is not silver, this was not and will not be silver. When the conch-shell is perceived as silver, the silver is felt as a reality, but this feeling of reality was not an illusory creation, though the silver was an objective illusory creation; for the reality in the s'ukti (conch-shell) is transferred and felt as belonging to the illusion of silver imposed upon it. Here we see that the illusion of silver has two different kinds of illusion comprehended in it. One is the creation of an indefinable silver (_anirvacanîya-rajatotpatti_) and the other is the attribution of the reality belonging to the conch-shell to the illusory silver imposed upon it, by which we feel at the time of the illusion that it is a reality. This is no doubt the _anyathâkhyâti_ form of illusion as advocated by Nyâya. Vedânta admits that when two things (e.g. red flower and crystal) are both present before my senses, and I attribute the quality of one to the other by illusion (e.g. the illusion that the crystal is red), then the illusion is of the form of anyathâkhyâti; but if one of the things is not present before my senses and the other is, then the illusion is not of the anyathâkhyâti type, but of the anirvacanîyakhyâti type. Vedânta could not avoid the former type of illusion, for it believed that all appearance of reality in the world-appearance was really derived from the reality of Brahman, which was self-luminous in all our experiences. The world appearance is an illusory creation, but the sense of reality that it carries with it is a misattribution (_anyathâkhyâti_) of the characteristic of the Brahman to it, for Brahman alone is the true and the real, which manifests itself as the reality of all our illusory world-experience, just as it is the reality of s'ukti that gives to the appearance of silver its reality.

Vedânta Ethics and Vedânta Emancipation.

Vedânta says that when a duly qualified man takes to the study of Vedânta and is instructed by the preceptor--"Thou art that (Brahman)," he attains the emancipating knowledge, and the world-appearance becomes for him false and illusory. The qualifications necessary for the study of Vedânta are (1) that the person having studied all the Vedas with the proper accessories, such as grammar, lexicon etc. is in full possession of the knowledge of the Vedas, (2) that either in this life or in another, he must have performed only the obligatory Vedic duties (such as daily prayer, etc. called _nitya-karma_) and occasionally obligatory duty (such as the birth ceremony at the birth of a son, called _naimittika-karma_) and must have avoided all actions for the fulfilment of selfish desires (_kâmya-karmas_, such as the performance of sacrifices for going to Heaven) and all prohibited actions (e.g. murder, etc. _nisiddha-karma_) in such a way that his mind is purged of all good and bad actions (no karma is generated by the _nitya_ and _naimittika-karma_, and as he has not performed the _kâmya_ and prohibited karmas, he has acquired no new karma). When he has thus properly purified his mind and is in possession of the four virtues or means of fitting the mind for Vedânta instruction (called _sâdhana_) he can regard himself as properly qualified for the Vedânta instruction. These virtues are (1) knowledge of what is eternal and what is transient, (2) disinclination to enjoyments of this life and of the heavenly life after death, (3) extreme distaste for all enjoyments, and anxiety for attaining the means of right knowledge, (4) control over the senses by which these are restrained from everything but that which aids the attainment of right knowledge (_dama_), (a) having restrained them, the attainment of such power that these senses may not again be tempted towards worldly enjoyments (_uparati_), (b) power of bearing extremes of heat, cold, etc., (c) employment of mind towards the attainment of right knowledge, (d) faith in the instructor and Upanisads; (5) strong desire to attain salvation. A man possessing the above qualities should try to understand correctly the true purport of the Upanisads (called _s'ravana_), and by arguments in favour of the purport of the Upanisads to strengthen his conviction as stated in the Upanisads (called _manana_) and then by _nididhyâsana_ (meditation) which includes all the Yoga processes of concentration, try to realize the truth as one. Vedânta therefore in ethics covers the ground of Yoga; but while for Yoga emancipation proceeds from understanding the difference between purusa and prakrti, with Vedânta salvation comes by the dawn of right knowledge that Brahman alone is the true reality, his own self [Footnote ref 1]. Mîmâmsâ asserts that the Vedas do not declare the knowledge of one Brahman to be the supreme goal, but holds that all persons should act in accordance with the Vedic injunctions for the attainment of good and the removal of evil. But Vedânta holds that though the purport of the earlier Vedas is as Mîmâmsâ has it, yet this is meant only for ordinary people, whereas for the elect the goal is clearly as the Upanisads indicate it, namely the attainment of the highest knowledge. The performance of Vedic duties is intended only for ordinary men, but yet it was believed by many (e.g. Vâcaspati Mis'ra and his followers) that due performance of Vedic duties helped a man to acquire a great keenness for the attainment of right knowledge; others believed (e.g. Prakâs'âtmâ and his followers) that it served to bring about suitable opportunities by securing good preceptors, etc. and to remove many obstacles from the way so that it became easier for a person to attain the desired right knowledge. In the acquirement of ordinary knowledge the ajñânas removed


[Footnote 1: See _Vedântasâra_ and _Advaitabrahmasiddhi.]


are only smaller states of ajñâna, whereas when the Brahma-knowledge dawns the ajñâna as a whole is removed. Brahma-knowledge at the stage of its first rise is itself also a state of knowledge, but such is its special strength that when this knowledge once dawns, even the state of knowledge which at first reflects it (and which being a state is itself ajñâna modification) is destroyed by it. The state itself being destroyed, only the pure infinite and unlimited Brahman shines forth in its own true light. Thus it is said that just as fire riding on a piece of wood would burn the whole city and after that would burn the very same wood, so in the last state of mind the Brahma-knowledge would destroy all the illusory world-appearance and at last destroy even that final state [Footnote ref l].

The mukti stage is one in which the pure light of Brahman as the identity of pure intelligence, being and complete bliss shines forth in its unique glory, and all the rest vanishes as illusory nothing. As all being of the world-appearance is but limited manifestations of that one being, so all pleasures also are but limited manifestations of that supreme bliss, a taste of which we all can get in deep dreamless sleep. The being of Brahman however is not an abstraction from all existent beings as the _sattâ_ (being as class notion) of the naiyâyika, but the concrete, the real, which in its aspect as pure consciousness and pure bliss is always identical with itself. Being (_sat_) is pure bliss and pure consciousness. What becomes of the avidyâ during mukti (emancipation) is as difficult for one to answer as the question, how the avidyâ came forth and stayed during the world-appearance. It is best to remember that the category of the indefinite avidyâ is indefinite as regards its origin, manifestation and destruction. Vedânta however believes that even when the true knowledge has once been attained, the body may last for a while, if the individual's previously ripened karmas demand it. Thus the emancipated person may walk about and behave like an ordinary sage, but yet he is emancipated and can no longer acquire any new karma. As soon as the fruits due to his ripe karmas are enjoyed and exhausted, the sage loses his body and there will never be any other birth for him, for the dawn of perfect knowledge has burnt up for him all budding karmas of beginningless previous lives, and he is no longer subject to any


[Footnote 1:_Siddhântales'a_.]


of the illusions subjective or objective which could make any knowledge, action, or feeling possible for him. Such a man is called _jîvanmukta_, i.e. emancipated while living. For him all world-appearance has ceased. He is the one light burning alone in himself where everything else has vanished for ever from the stage [Footnote ref 1].

Vedânta and other Indian Systems.

Vedânta is distinctly antagonistic to Nyâya, and most of its powerful dialectic criticism is generally directed against it. S'ankara himself had begun it by showing contradictions and inconsistencies in many of the Nyâya conceptions, such as the theory of causation, conception of the atom, the relation of samavâya, the conception of jâti, etc [Footnote ref 2]. His followers carried it to still greater lengths as is fully demonstrated by the labours of S'rîharsa, Citsukha, Madhusûdana, etc. It was opposed to Mîmâmsâ so far as this admitted the Nyâya-Vais'esika categories, but agreed with it generally as regards the pramânas of anumâna, upamiti, arthâpatti, s'abda, and anupalabdhi. It also found a great supporter in Mîmâmsâ with its doctrine of the self-validity and self-manifesting power of knowledge. But it differed from Mîmâmsâ in the field of practical duties and entered into many elaborate discussions to prove that the duties of the Vedas referred only to ordinary men, whereas men of higher order had no Vedic duties to perform but were to rise above them and attain the highest knowledge, and that a man should perform the Vedic duties only so long as he was not fit for Vedânta instruction and studies.

With Sâmkhya and Yoga the relation of Vedânta seems to be very close. We have already seen that Vedânta had accepted all the special means of self-purification, meditation, etc., that were advocated by Yoga. The main difference between Vedânta and Sâmkhya was this that Sâmkhya believed, that the stuff of which the world consisted was a reality side by side with the purusas. In later times Vedânta had compromised so far with Sâmkhya that it also sometimes described mâyâ as being made up of sattva, rajas, and tamas. Vedânta also held that according to these three characteristics were formed diverse modifications


[Footnote 1: See _Pañcadas'î_.]

[Footnote 2: See S'ankara's refutation of Nyâya, _S'ankara-bhâsya_, II. ii.]


of the mâyâ. Thus Îs'vara is believed to possess a mind of pure sattva alone. But sattva, rajas and tamas were accepted in Vedânta in the sense of tendencies and not as reals as Sâmkhya held it. Moreover, in spite of all modifications that mâyâ was believed to pass through as the stuff of the world-appearance, it was indefinable and indefinite, and in its nature different from what we understand as positive or negative. It was an unsubstantial nothing, a magic entity which had its being only so long as it appeared. Prakrti also was indefinable or rather undemonstrable as regards its own essential nature apart from its manifestation, but even then it was believed to be a combination of positive reals. It was undefinable because so long as the reals composing it did not combine, no demonstrable qualities belonged to it with which it could be defined. Mâyâ however was undemonstrable, indefinite, and indefinable in all forms; it was a separate category of the indefinite. Sâmkhya believed in the personal individuality of souls, while for Vedânta there was only one soul or self, which appeared as many by virtue of the mâyâ transformations. There was an adhyâsa or illusion in Sâmkhya as well as in Vedânta; but in the former the illusion was due to a mere non-distinction between prakrti and purusa or mere misattribution of characters or identities, but in Vedânta there was not only misattribution, but a false and altogether indefinable creation. Causation with Sâmkhya meant real transformation, but with Vedânta all transformation was mere appearance. Though there were so many differences, it is however easy to see that probably at the time of the origin of the two systems during the Upanisad period each was built up from very similar ideas which differed only in tendencies that gradually manifested themselves into the present divergences of the two systems. Though S'ankara laboured hard to prove that the Sâmkhya view could not be found in the Upanisads, we can hardly be convinced by his interpretations and arguments. The more he argues, the more we are led to suspect that the Sâmkhya thought had its origin in the Upanisads. Sâ'ankara and his followers borrowed much of their dialectic form of criticism from the Buddhists. His Brahman was very much like the s'ûnya of Nâgârjuna. It is difficult indeed to distinguish between pure being and pure non-being as a category. The debts of S`ankara to the self-luminosity of the Vijñânavâda Buddhism can hardly be overestimated. There seems to be much truth in the accusations against S'ankara by Vijñâna Bhiksu and others that he was a hidden Buddhist himself. I am led to think that S'ankara's philosophy is largely a compound of Vijñânavâda and S'ûnyavâda Buddhism with the Upanisad notion of the permanence of self superadded.

Share This


Suggestions for Further Reading

Source: A History Of Indian Philosophy Surendranath Dasgupta Volume I First Edition: Cambridge, 1922. Produced by Srinivasan Sriram and sripedia.org, William Boerst and PG Distributed Proofreaders. While we have made every effort to reproduce the text correctly, we do not guarantee or accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions or inaccuracies in the reproduction of this text. Please refer the original text for any academic or serious studies.