Sunday, August 17, 2014


    We refer to an article entitled 'Wisdom and Worship' in an issue of the Brahmavadin dated 5th June 1897. The first paragraph is devoted to the statement and exposition of the two postulates of existence, according to the Sankhyas, namely Nature and Souls, and the next paragraph shows how untenable this theory is, in the view of the Vedantin, and the article proceeds in its first half to expound the view of the Vedantin, on the same subject. As the article deals with some of the most fundamental questions connected with Hindu Philosophy, we proceed to-day to examine some of these statements contained in the first part of the article only, leaving the question of worship to be discussed hereafter. According to Sankhya, there is Nature (Pradhana), which changes and manifests all phenomena, and there are an infinite number of Souls, which being simple cannot change, and must, therefore, be different from Nature. Nature works out all phenomena for the liberation of the Soul, and Liberation consists in the Soul discriminating that it is not nature (Pradhana). The Soul is omnipresent also. The Vedantin answers that this is not a perfect system. If Nature is simple, and the Soul is also simple, there will be two simples, and the Soul being omnipresent, Nature must be omnipresent also, and then Nature will be beyond time, space and all causation, and no change is possible as such in Nature. There is thus an impossibility of having two simples and two absolutes. How does the Vedantin solve this problem? His solution is this: - "Because, according to the Sankhyan there must be a Soul apart from Nature, for the reason that Nature in all her modifications, from gross matter up to chitta, or the intellect, is simply insentient (even the mind-stuff being insentient), so, there must be some sentient being as the motive-power behind Nature, making the mind think and Nature work. Now, says the Vedantin, this sentient being, which is behind the whole universe, is what we call God, and consequently this universe is not wholly (the italics are ours) different or apart from Him. It is but Himself, Who has some how (the italics are ours) become this universe. He is not only the instrumental cause of the universe, but also the material cause thereof. A cause is never altogether different from its effect, and an effect is but its own cause reproduced in another form." All Vedantins accept these propositions, it is stated, namely first, that God is both the instrumental and material cause of this universe and that everything that exists is He; and secondly, that Souls are also part of God, sparks of that Infinite Fire, and an Upanishat Text is quoted in proof of this. No, it is said further down, it is no spark, but the burning log itself, in as much as Brahman can have no parts. 'Then how can there be so many souls?' We are led into another simile, the oft-repeated simile of the Sun and its myriad reflections in different particles of water: "so all these Souls are but reflections of Brahman and are not real. They are not the real ' I,' the One undivided Being; men, women, brutes are mere reflections of Him, and are unreal." There is but one Infinite Being, and he appears as 'you' and 'me', and the appearance of distinctions, is all a delusion. This apparent division of Him is caused by looking at Him through the net-work of time and space and causation. The Ego is He, the Non-Ego is He. They are not part of Him, but the whole of Him. "It is the Eternal Knower Who stands behind all phenomena; He Himself is the phenomena. He is both the subject and object, He is the Ego and the Non-Ego." Here we might pause, before we proceed to the rest of the paragraphs.

In the first place, we must beg leave to state that the criticism of the Sankhya proceeds on a mere word-quibble; the word that is translated 'simple' is, we believe, 'Avyaktam,' that source of fruitful dispute between a number of learned heads, like the late Mr. T. Subba Rao, the Light of the East, the Thinker and the Brahmavadin itself etc., etc., i. e., where the word occurs in the Gita. The whole mistake is, no doubt, due to not remembering that this word, and others like Prana, Purusha, Atma, Kshetra, etc., are used in the older works in a number of acceptations, and any argument based on such a verbal semblance, is sure to end in fatal error. Now in regard to this word 'Avyakta', it is used in the 10th sutra of the Sankhya-Karika, to distinguish Mulaprakriti from its own products; and the Commentator no doubt says that the distinction might apply to the Soul also. The word might itself be applied to the Soul, but then it only means, 'uncaused' and 'causeless'. And Colebrooke translates it as 'undiscrete'. The 3rd Sutra makes clear this distinction in the very beginning, "Nature is no production; seven principles are productions and productive; sixteen are productions (unproductive). The Soul is neither a production nor productive." Herein lies all the difference, between the Soul as Avyakta and Nature (Pradhana) as Avyakta, and the mental and sensory planes.

Nature itself occupies a higher position, is more pervasive than the Intellect, and Intellect is more pervasive than the senses, and so on. That is to say, Intellect is omnipresent, and senses are not, when in relation to the senses themselves. But Intellect is not, when in relation to Pradana, and Pradana is omnipresent so far as regards its own productions, but its omnipresence is nothing when in the presence of the Soul, since the latter is the superintendent, the enjoyer, and the former ceases to exist when the Soul is in a state of abstraction. As such, the word 'omnipresence' itself is a relative term, as 'space' itself is, and it is absurd to conclude that since both are called simple and omnipresent, ergo, they must be two absolutes, and two such impossible things. We will explain ourselves more fully. Take, for instance, the five senses, the eye, the ear, etc. The eye covers a certain sphere in its operation, but it is limited; it cannot comprehend what the ear can perceive, and the ear cannot do what the nose can feel, and so on. Each sense, in fact, is limited and unpervading; but take the Intellect in connection with this. The Intellect is omnipresent. It both sees and hears and smells &c.

It covers a greater sphere, and all the spheres covered by its own productions, the senses. But take the intellect (Buddhi) itself in its relation to the Soul. The Soul is sentient and Buddhi is insentient. The latter is nowhere, when the Soul is in itself. As such, the Soul is more really omnipresent than Pradhana or Nature. That is to say, there are different planes of existence, and different grades of Vyapaka Vyapti. The one lowest is Vyapti, and the one higher is Vyapaka, and this higher itself is Vyapti when compared with something higher than itself, and so on, till we arrive at a Being, Who is most omnipresent and beyond Whom our thought and mind cannot penetrate. This view of the Sankhyan has no doubt not presented itself to the Vedantin, and what the latter has however in his mind is the old riddle, how can two things co-exist, and one be omnipresent? Like all such riddles, this is based on a fallacy, in not taking note of the facts above presented, about the essential difference between Pradana and the Soul. The riddle supposes that two things are of the same kind, of the same quantity, length, breadth, width and of the same density or tenuity &c. If they are so, no doubt it will be an impossibility.

But we contend that things of different densities and tenuities can fill and overlap one over the other, and much more so when one is sentient and Chit, and the other is non-sentient and Achit. For instance, there can be no two things so contrary in Nature as Light and Darkness. And do they co-exist or not, or are they one and the same? To the objection of the Vedantin, that darkness is no padartha, we have only to instance the recent discoveries of our own Hindu Scientist, I mean Dr. Bose, who could demonstrate the presence of invisible rays of light in a pitch-dark room by means of his instrument. What does this mean? The ray of light has been so thin as to be swallowed up in the grosser darkness. When a lamp is brought, it could dispel the darkness itself; but, only within a certain radius. Then a bigger light, a gaslight, an electric light of a vast number of candle powers; but all these pale away before the brilliant light of the Sun. There is, thus, such a merger of one, the less powerful, in one more tenuous: are not all these summed up in the simple sentence "Nachichchitsannithau" 'யாவையும் சூன்யம் சத்தெதிர்' 'In the presence of the Sat, every thing else is Sunyam (non-existent - non-apparent'?

Saint Meykanda Deva adds 'As before the Perfect and Eternal Intelligence, the imperfect and acquired intelligence (falsehood) is shorn of its light, it is therefore established that in the presence of the Sat, Asat loses its light." And the illustration implied in this, is amplified in the following verse, "Evil (Asat) ceases to exist before Him, as does darkness before the Sun." The term Asat has itself been the parent of many misconceptions, in the East and in the West, and different interpreters of Sankara explain it in different ways. Here is what a critic of Paul Deussen says, "Kant is mostly credited with having proved that there is something behind or beneath the "reality" of our senses, which these cannot fathom.
). The European scientists say sneeringly: What of that; if we cannot get at it, let us ignore it! And on the other hand, the Neo-Kantian Metaphysicians say: No, this is the only reality; therefore, all the rest is useless rubbish, only fit for momentary amusement: and that is all.

"That is the Western conception of the Indian term Maya (Asat), indeed a rubbish conception. And mistaken by this illusion, Western philosophers have declared that Eastern philosophy and particularly Vedantism and Buddhism, are 'Akosmism' i.e., they deny the existence of the universe altogether. An incredible absurdity! Is not the real meaning of Sankara easy enough to understand? Every one knows that there are different states of consciousness; that of an animal is different from that of a man, that of a savage different from that of a savant, that of a waking man different from that of a dreaming man, and all these are different from that of a sage in Samadhi. Now, it is a matter of course, that the 'reality' of a waking man is different from that 'reality' which he conceives as such when he is dreaming, and both are very different from that 'reality' or those different states of 'reality' of which he becomes conscious when he enters Sushupti and Turiya, and all these are, again, other 'realities' than that as which the Mukta 'realizes' Atman. Viewed from the standpoint of any of these different states of consciousness, all the other conceptions of 'reality' appear as Maya, as illusion or as unreal. The material scientist, together with most European philosophers, would even not hesitate a minute to declare the alleged realization of Atman an illusion, although he would not deny that this might be some state of consciousness."

And, by the way, he objects to translating Avidya as ignorance or nescience, but as not-Vidya or not-yet-wise or other-than-wise. That is, Asat does not mean non-existent, but not-Sat or other-than-Sat. This is Sankara's view according to Dr. Hubbe Schleiden; and this is the view we have taken trouble to expound above, and yet how many followers of Sankara hesitate before reading Maya as illusion and delusion, and Avidya as ignorance and nescience. In the very article under review, we read in one sentence that each soul is a spark, a part; in the next sentence, no, it is not a part, but the whole of Brahman. In the very next sentence, all these souls are but reflexions of the Brahman, and are not real. "Men, women and animals &c, are but reflections of Him, and are unreal in themselves." If they are mere reflexions, and unreal, how is it reconcilable with the statement, that each soul is not even apart but the whole of Brahman. The whole argument is made up by the use of similes and by not sticking to one, but by jumping from one into another, to meet the difficulty arising in the former.

Either the argument must proceed on simple facts and inferences, and without the use of similes, or, when it is attempted to be proved solely from figures, then no apology should be presented that it is only a figure, and it should not be strained. The simile was expressly used for demonstrating to the ignorant, how the thing is possible and conceivable, and when the ignorant man following the simile, asks if the same antecedents are present in the thing compared, to warrant the conclusion, what answer does the Vedantin give him? "This apparent division of Him (as 'you' and 'me' and the dog) is caused by looking at Him, through the net-work of time, space and causality." 'Looking at Him' indeed! When? And by whom? How is this 'looking at Him,' and this delusion possible, before the actual division itself? The operation of the division of Him into 'you' and 'me' and animal, must precede the operation of 'you' and 'me' &c, looking upon each other and Him delusively. Does the delusion come in before the evolution of 'Brahman' into 'you' and 'me' and 'animal,' or after such evolution? To any thinking being, it must occur that this delusion must have occurred before, and not after; and the Brahmavadin sees this, and states below that there will be in the universe a final duality, Atman and delusion (mark here and elsewhere the word delusion is simply used as a synonym for Maya), and this objection is brushed aside on the ground that delusion is no-existence, and that to call it otherwise is idle sophistry! And yet 'you' and 'me' and others, were all this while under a delusion! Were we or were we not? Is that a fact or a delusion itself? Is the evolution of God into men, women and animals, is that a fact or not? If a fact, is the question, 'how is this evolution brought about,' a possible question or an impossible question? If not a fact, why is the statement made in another paragraph, that there are perfect men and imperfect men, men like Christ, Buddha and Krishna, who have to be worshipped, and men, like ourselves, who have to worship them.

This evolution of God into man and animals, is put in one place on a possible and rational basis, in that God wants to know Himself, wants to see Himself and realize Himself by means of His reflexions (why and wherefore it is not stated), in as much He cannot know and see Himself otherwise, in the same way as we on earth cannot see our face, except in a mirror! Again, we ask, is the distinction between a perfect man and an imperfect man real or not? And does our learned brother contemplate the possibility of seeing his beautiful face distorted in a mirror? Whose fault was this? It was our brother's fault in not choosing a good mirror. And does he mean to attribute to the Most Intelligent such fault, in not choosing such a vessel in which He can see Himself and know Himself to the best advantage? The Perfect cannot seek to know Himself in the imperfect and the ignorant, the wicked and the sinful, the sorrowing and the suffering. If all this is a play of His and no such distinction, as the imperfect, the wicked and the sinful and the sorrowing and the suffering, exists, and all this is a hallucination, myth, non-existence (we use his own choice words), why should any man aspire to be a good man, a perfect man, a Jivan-mukta? Why should he realize his identity with the Absolute? God, in trying to realize Himself (for His sport or for what?), became man and woman and brute; and look at the bother of this man, woman or brute, doing good acts, acts without attachment, real tapas, yoga and jnana to realize his identity with the Absolute! What guarantee is there that, after all this bother, a Jivan-mukta may not again be differentiated from the Absolute into a man, woman or animal? How senseless and vain all these efforts seem, how ignoble, the purpose of creation and evolution? To the question why does the Perfect become the imperfect, which question our brother states in all its various forms, vulgar and highly philosophic, our brother's answer is that this question is an impossible one, and it should not be put at all! We have already pointed out how inconsequential this question and answer is.

But the same question has been put in, and answers, attempted by learned men who are of our brother's ilk; and these answers are various and conflicting in themselves. Of these, Svami Vivekananda gets most glory. His answer is 'I do not know.' Mr. Mukhopadhyaya replies that the Svami is wrong, and that the Perfect does not become the imperfect, God does not become man. Man is only a reflection and as such cannot be God According to the 'Brahmavadin' man is a reflexion, is unreal; but the unreality itself is unreal, and as such man is God. And so no question arises of the Perfect and the imperfect. According to Paul Deussen, the answer is, 'the never ceasing new creation of the world is a moral necessity, connected with the doctrine of samsara, "A moral necessity for Atman? What a contradictio in adjecto!" exclaims his critic*.

[* Dr. Hubbe Schleiden at page 227, January 1895, 'The Theosophist.']

[*We have seen in the Bangalore Palace of His Highness, The Maharaja of Mysore, a number of mirrors in which one's face is distorted in the ugliest and most horrible manner.]

"Atman as we all agree is that which is beyond all necessity and causality, that is, causality reigns or exists only in our manifested world, of individual consciousness of any sort." And the critic's own explanation is that existence is the manifestation of the will to exist, and this will is trishna, tanha, the desire for enjoyment. Well, whose will, we ask; who desires for enjoyment? The Absolute, the Sachchidananda, or any other? What, call this hell, an earth, an enjoyment for Him? We leave our learned Doctor to fight out Professor Deussen by himself, and proceed to state another learned lady's opinion. If we remember correctly, she said, Ishwara evolves into man and brute, to gather experience, to improve himself by means of his animal sheaths, and that there could be no perfect Brahman, at any time; it goes on improving itself, day after day. And that if the Veda repeats the cry that there is a Bourne from which there is no return, no return, it is a mere make-believe. And all these are learned expounders of Sankara's school, and who is right? Can we ask this question, or is our question captious? The Siddhanti's answer is the question itself is based on a fallacy, an assumption. The fact assumed is that the Perfect becomes the imperfect. Is this a fact proved? Does God really become man and brute? What is the proof of this, let alone Vedic
texts and the desire to reach a high-sounding philosophic unity? It is this fancied desire to generalize everything into one, that led the Greek philosophers to postulate number and water and fire, as the Final and Ultimate Cause of all things. Why not leave bad, good and evil as they are? Why should you refer the evil to the good, impure to the pure? Will not
silence in this respect be golden? Will not Mownam in be real Gnanam?

Well, we will here go back to our statement of what the Sankhyan meant when he postulated a Pradhana and a Soul or souls. The learned Editor of the "Light of the East" has evidently fallen into an error when, in his account of the Ancient Sankhya system, he opines that according to the ancient Sankhya and the Gita, there is only one Purusha and not many Purushas. The mistake is due to the fact that, in the enumeration of the padarthas, the singular only is used; a mere technical usage, as in such phrases, Jiveshwara Jagat, Chit Achit Ishwara, Pati-Pasu-Pasa. All the words used are in the singular, and it cannot mean that the respective schools mean to postulate only one Jiva, one Chit or one Pasa. In explaining each, the explanation will be given that the jiva or souls are many. In the same way, in the earlier sutras of the Sankhya, Purusha in the singular is used, but the subsequent sutras proceed to state that the Purushas are multitudinous. Pradana is real and it is the cause, and its effects, the phenomena, are also real, as the effect subsists already in the cause, and as our learned brother approvingly puts it, an effect is its own cause reproduced in another form; and we hope the following sentence from Dr. Brown's lectures, will equally meet with our brother's approval. "That the form of the body is only another name for the relative position of the parts that constitute it, and that the forms of the body are nothing but the body itself." If so, why should the cause be considered real, and the effect unreal, as against the view of Sankhyan by Vedantins? If the Maya is phenomen6n and effect, why should it be unreal, when the substance and cause is real? The relation of cause and effect has, however, to be kept separate from the relation of substance and phenomenon, and these two, from the questions of reality and delusion.

In the second paragraph, however, our brother identifies the Sankhya's Pradana with his own Maya and the Sankhya's Purusha with his own God or Brahman. If so, why attempt any criticism of the Sankhya? It is all a quibble about words. They practically postulate the same and mean the same things. Then, why is it that the Sankhya is called by Sankara, 'Nirishwara Sankhya' 'Godless or Atheistic Sankhya', and the Philosophy of the Gita as Seshwara Sankhya or the Theistic Sankhya. The word Sankhya meaning primarily number, meant with Kapila and Krishna a theory or philosophy. Compare for instance a similar change in the Tamil word 'எண்' meaning number, and in the distich 'எண்ணும் எழுத்தும் கண்ணெனத்தகும்' 'எண்' meaning logic and philosophy. The following quotation from the Gita itself, will explain the difference between the two schools.

"There are 'two Purushas' in this world, one destructible and the other indestructible, the destructible is Sarvabhuthani (all things), the indestructible is called the Kutastha." (Chapter XV. 16).

Well, look how this verse runs; it mentions only two Purushas, instead of mentioning three, as arising from the next verse; but there is a purpose in so mentioning two Purushas; it is seemingly to reiterate the accepted postulate of the Purvapatcha School, to enable it to state the siddhanta view, in the next verse which is:

"The 'Parama Purusha' is verily another, declared as the ' Paramatman', He who pervades and sustaineth the three worlds, the indestructible Ishwara."

Look again the steps that follow one upon another in the next verse.

"Since I excel the destructible (first Purusha), and am more excellent than the indestructible (second Purusha), in the world and in the Veda, I am proclaimed Purushothama" (third Purusha).

Be it noted here that the word Purusha simply means a category, a Padartha, as when we speak of the Thripadartha or Tatwatriyam. Note again how in verse 19, chapter 13, the first two Purushas are mentioned as (by its more appropriate names) Prakriti and Purusha; and the same definition of these two is given in verses 20 and 21, as by the Sankhya; and a further step beyond Kapila, is taken by Sri Krishna in postulating,

"A spectator and permitter, supporter and enjoyer, Maheshwara, thus is styled the Paramatman, in this body, the Paramapurusha."

And then a most beautiful passage about the distinction of these three Padarthas, and of the different Gnans, Pasagnan, Pasugnan, and Pathignan, occurs. The Lokayatha only knows his body, and has no knowledge of his own self or anything higher. According to the Nirishwara Sankhya or the Vedantin, there are or seem to exist only two things, Prakriti and Soul, Maya and Atman, and liberation consists in distinguishing his own self as different from a Prakriti or Maya (delusions). This is Pasugnan or Atmagnan. According to the Seshwara Sankhya, he sees and learns to distinguish Prakriti from his self, and his self from the Highest One (verse 29), as Akartha and Kartha, and knowing the nature of this One, he reaches Brahman-hood, (verse 30 of Chapter 13). It is also to be remarked particularly that in the whole Gita, in innumerable passages, as in the one cited above, the knowledge of the Supreme, the devotion wholly to Him, is put forward as the highest path of attaining Liberation, and not the Atmagnan doctrine that the knowledge of the individual self, as implied in the phrase 'know Thyself,' is the highest attainment.

We beg leave again to quote Dr. Hubbe Schleiden, simply to show how this latter theory is repugnant to the followers of Sankara. "Indeed there can be no more fatal error than to believe with those furthest advanced Western philosophers that Jnanam, or Moksha means nothing else but the intellectual conception, Monism (Advaita), nothing else but the intellectual enjoyment of a proud theory."

What we have said till now, will convince our readers that there is another side o these questions, and that they do not stand alone where the Sankhyans and the Vedantins left them. According to this view, the Sankhyans are correct, no doubt, so far as they go, in postulating Prakriti and Purusha, and the Vedantin is quite correct in his identification of these two with his Maya and Brahman. There is but a thin partition between the soul or man of the Sankhya, and the latter's Brahman. In fact, man is God. In such identification of man with God, what results is, that man's intelligence does not pass on to the postulating and realizing of a Higher Being than himself; and the Brahman of the Vedantin is only so in name. The third school postulates this third Padartha, differing from the soul or Atman of either school, whom the latter cannot know, except with the grace of the third Padartha, and though it might be correct to say that man cannot know himself, it will be blasphemous to say that God cannot know himself. This will be attributing a human imperfection to the most High and to limit His nature.

How do we know that He cannot know Himself, when we cannot know our own selves, nor Him, without His Grace. Consider the following passage from Saint Meykanda Deva. "When the soul unites itself to God, and feels His Arul (Love), God covers it with His Supreme Bliss and becomes one with it. Will He not know Himself, who is understood by the soul, through the intelligence of the soul? "The next passage we are going to quote will show clearly that God has not manifested His glorious Truth to one people, and in one clime alone. "Why may not the absolute Being be self-conscious?" asks a Christian Divine in almost the same words. "To deny this to Him, would be to deny to Him, one of the perfections which even finite beings may have."*

[* Rev. J. Iverach's 'Is God knowable?' page 225.]

The question remains, what then is the necessity for all this evolution and resolution. The answer is contained in a simple sentence in the first sutra of Sivajnanabodha, namely, 'மலத்துளதாம்.'
The second Padartha in our categories, and not the third, is imperfect, or more correctly, is shrouded by dross, which has to be removed like the colors on a crystal, so that, its own pristine purity may be apparent, and it can reflect and realize the Glory and Presence of God in all its brightest effulgence. This existence and resolution is due to the will of this lower being, Atman, to perfect itself, and the Will of the Highest comes into play, to enable the soul to work out its own salvation. The Ichcha, Gnana and Kriya Saktis of the Lord induces the Ichcha, Gnana and Kriya saktis of the individual soul, and herein is God's Grace and Love and Omnipotence manifested. The exercise of the Divine Will is not for enabling itself to exist free from samsara, not for perfecting itself, not for knowing, seeing, or realizing itself, not for its sport or pleasure, not fur no purpose, but it is simply to help and aid the poor soul in its attempt to effect all these things.

How well does our Saint Tayumanavar- realize this conception of God's great Beneficence in the following line.

"இமையளவும் உபகார மல்லால் வேறொன்று

இயக்காநிர்க் குணக்கடலாய் இருந்தவொன்றே."


This view postulates three Padarthas, and it may be called Dualism, or Dwaita or anything of the sort, but how this view is the strict Advaita also, true monism, we will demonstrate in a future article*.

[* See Paper on "Advaita according to Saiva Siddhanta."]


No comments:

Post a Comment