THE TATWAS AND BEYOND.
"God is 'not this not this'." – Brihad. Ar. Up.
"Other than the known is God, other than the unknown too." – Swetas. Up.
We present our readers today a table of the 36 tatwas derived from Maya, together with the other postulates of the Siddhanta School, with which they are connected in adwaita relation. In Tamil small tracts called kattalai (கட்டளை) exist which describe and define these tatwas. These tatwas are variously enumerated as 19 or 25 or 36 or 96. Both Siddhantis and Vedantis (Idealists) accepts the number 36 or 96 but they differ in several particulars – 36 when still more analyzed give 96. The more simpler form of the table is herein given and this requires to be carefully studied. A careful and precise definition of these tatwas has to follow but we do not attempt it here for want of space. Rev. Hoisington has translated one of these tracts as also Rev. Foulkes of Salem. Both these books unfortunately are out of print and we hope to reprint them if we can obtain permission. We will proceed to explain the table briefly, stating at the same time its point of difference with other Schools. We have to premise first that the tatwas which are enumerated here are all produced out of and form sub-divisions of Maya only and the term as such does not cover either Anava, or Karma or Atma or God. These tatwas form as it were different coats or vestures of different texture at different times and at different stages, to the soul undergoing evolution with intent to rid itself of its coil (Anava) in strict accordance with the Law of Karma. These form however no vestures for the Supreme Being and He is accordingly addressed as 'Tatwa thithan,' 'Beyond the tatwas.' The soul is also sometimes called so, as lying outside the category of the 36 tatwas. But a distinction has however to be made between the two. The soul, a subject when united to the objective (material) body becomes in a sense objective. But the supreme subject can never become objective. The enumeration of the tatwas begin from the lowest and the grossest which is the earth. And philosophic enquiry also proceeds and ought to proceed from the lowest, the things known to the Highest, the Unknown. This is the pure inductive method. And when we come to enquire of the manner in which this enquiry has proceeded, we will find that each school holds on to one or other tatwas or something else as the highest and truest existence and refuse to recognize that anything else can be real or true. As such we find Lokayithas (materialists) occupy the lowest rung of the ladder. We say lowest from our standpoint and we beg their pardon for saying so. In their own estimation, they are postulating the Highest possible existence, and every other postulates is only a hoax. The Lokayita will only recognize the first four tatwas, earth, water, fire and air, and will not even recognize even the Akas as a real element. The Buddhists and Jains also recognize only these 4 elements. If you point to existence of mental powers, the Lokayitas will refer all of them as being merely functions of the brain or other organs of the body and that all these functions are mere phenomena produced out of and caused by the bodily powers. We proceed a step higher and we come to those who admit the mental powers to be substance and would reduce all the bodily functions and powers to mere phenomena and assert that beyond this mind (Buddhi), there can nothing be. If you assert that there is such a thing as an atma, they will think you are a fool; and if they want however to take you in, they will only assert that what we have all along believed in as atma and God cannot be anything but this, Buddhi and they will call this by every name you have learned to apply to what you regard as higher things. Passing beyond this Buddhi, we reach its immediate cause the Mulaprakriti. With most Indian theistic schools, they do not carry their notion of matter beyond this Mulaprakriti, standing at the head of the first 24 tatwas. They fail to see that matter can assume even finer and more intelligent forms than these 24 tatwas; and as people, lower down have mistaken, the gross forms as Manas and Buddhi itself as soul and God, these higher forms of matter have also been mistaken for soul and God; and the mistake is made more natural, as the souls whose vestures are formed out of these rarer forms of matter are more and more advanced spiritually and intellectually. It will be seen that what is called Guna (meaning merely quality) is the special essence of Mulaprakriti or matter at this stage, and this Guna which divides itself as Satwa, Rajas and Tamas, does not pertain to any higher forms of matter than Mulaprakriti. And this Mulaprakriti forms the special vesture of the lowest classes of souls called Sakala. And these souls range from the greatest Gods to the minutest living germ; each is clothed with the Gunas, Satwa, Rajas and Tamas. The highest of these classes of souls are clothed with very great powers and they become the lords of this universe in different manvantras. And there three beings are Rudra, Vishnu, and Brahma. And having regard to the greatness of these Jivas from our own low position, we need not wonder why people have often mistaken these Jivas to be the Supreme God Himself. And a more grosser mistake was never made than when it is (foolishly) asserted that this Saguna Rudra Jiva is the Pathi postulated by the Saiva Siddhanta. And some of these latter class of people crow over the former and say that the worship of this lower Brahm (Saguna Rudra or Ishwara) is all well for a time but that is no good and cannot secure any Moksha Sadana and that the belief in the Nirguna Brahm is alone capable of freeing one from his bonds. But that is making very great stock out of the difference between Saguna and Nirguna Beings. That this is not in fact any very important factor will be made manifest from the fact that instead of one Nirguna Being, as believed in by the Hindu Idealists there are a host of such Beings, who possess no vestures formed of the three Gunas. The higher orders of Pralayakalars and Vignanakalars are all Nirguna Beings and they can never be born again as mortals or human beings. The Sankhyas and Hindu Idealists postulate Mulaprakriti and 24 tatwas derived therefrom, and for a 25th they postulate Jiva (Souls) or Atma. When the Atma (Brahm) otherwise Nirguna, becomes clothed with a Saguna body it becomes a lower Brahm or Jiva, but when the question is asked how this is possible, some answer honestly that they do not know and others practice jugglery with words and phrases and say that there is no such occurrence as the Nirguna Brahm becoming a Jiva and that if it appears so, it is all a delusion. But the other side argue that if this is not a delusion, but that there is a Jiva clothed in darkness and if the other side would not postulate any being other than the Being who falsely appeared as Jiva, that the A'tma they believe in cannot be the highest but only one of the lower Jivas, and the same mistaken identity is here manifest as in the position of those who took matter or mind (Buddhi) or Indra or Brahma, Vishnu or Rudra as the Highest Being. Before we pass on we have to notice one class of Saguna Vadis, who would not admit that God is Nirguna at all and who seek to explain away all texts which refer to God as a Nirguna Being by saying that Nirguna simply means absence of bad qualities, and Saguna, presence of good qualities, Satwa; and when one is confronted with a text of the Gita itself, his highest authority that God is devoid of all the three Gunas, he does not pause to take the plunge, that absence of the three Gunas, does not negative, the presence of the Satva Guna! There is a whole sale misreading of the texts, and all this quibbling is made necessary simply because they would not brook the idea that the Saguna Being in whose worship they have become such strong adherents should turn out after all to be not the Highest. Next above the Sakalars (Jivas) come the Pralayakalars who have a special body (Nirguna) formed out the tatwas 26 to 30, and it is so distinctive in kind and form and powers that it has been regarded as a separate tatwa almost, called Purushatatwa or A'tma tatwa. This will make clear passages which assert that Avyaktam (unmanifested Prakriti) is greater than Atma and God is greater than Avyakta. Here Atma does not mean soul but this special Purusha tatwa. (What this comparative greatness and smallness mean we have explained in our article on 'Another Side' in explaining the meaning of omnipresence, Vibutwam). All that constitute this Purusha tatwa it will be noticed proceed from Asudda Maya and Asudda Maya itself is constituted as the thirty-first tatwa. And Mulaprakriti issues from the thirtieth, Kala. The next five, the highest tatwas constitute a different body, highly spiritual, for the highest order of souls, called Vignanakalars, and they proceed from Sudda Maya. The foremost in rank among these Vignanakalars become Lords, Ishwaras of the Universe and they are variously called Maheshwaras, Sadasivas, Bindu and Nadam. These two latter are so nearest God and so potent in their powers that they are almost called Siva and Sakti. And yet all these seven Ishwaras, three of which are Sagunas (Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra) and four, Nirguna (Maheshwara Brahm, Sadasiva Brahm, Bindu Brahm and Nada Brahm) are all souls united to Asudda and Sudda Maya bodies; and in the Vedas and Upanishads all these personal and impersonal Gods are spoken of as the Highest God and special Upanishads are devoted to the praise of one or other of these Gods. And great confusion arises from the fact that from Rudra (one of the Trinity) upwards all the different Ishwaras are called by all the names of the most High, Rudra, Siva, Sankara, Sambhu, Bava, Sarva, Pasupati &c. And the reason for this identity in form and name appears to be that these Ishwaras are in a sense immortal and are not subject to human rebirths as Sakalars, and that there are no possibilities of reversions among them and they make a much greater approach to the Majesty of the most High than other lower Beings. The four Avesthas – Jagra, Swapna, Sushupti and Thuriyam are all the conditions attaching to the human soul (Sakalar) and not to the Pralayakalar and Vignanakalar. And when these latter classes of souls are not themselves subject to these Avesthas which mark varying and diminishing conditions of the soul's intellectuality, to class God, the Param as being in the Turiya Avestha condition* [* Vide table at p.7 in Theosophy of the Vedas Vol.1.] is a sheer-blasphemy. The Siddhanti argues that the Being postulated by the Purvapatchi, if he is really in the Turiya Avasta cannot be the Highest and that the latter is only mistaking a lower Being for the Highest. But the term Turiya or Chathurtha is frequently applied to the Supreme as in the Text 'Sivam, Advaitam, Santam, Chathurtham' but it does not refer there to the Avesta at all but to the enumeration of Padarthas, (Things or Persons), in special reference to the Trinity. (Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra). This essential difference and distinction between the Trinity and the 'Fourth' Being is so much obliterated by the rise of new sects from time to time and is so little remembered and understood† [† Those who understand it are unwilling to speak it out for fear of offending the feelings of other religious sects.] now and much less by European writers that this has been the cause of a lot of unmerited abuse from the hands of unfriendly critics of Hinduism. In the last number of the Christian College Magazine, in noticing the life and writings of the Telugu Poet Vemana, the writer points out that God is there described as beyond the reach of the Thrimurthies, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra themselves and that Vemana describes the Highest by such terms as Deva, Paramatma, Brahm and few others and that he uses the term Siva to denote the Highest also and he fails to understand how this can possibly be, when, today, the term 'Narayana or Vishnu' is used in the whole of the Telugu country as the appellation of the most High and he suggest a probable explanation that it might be due to Lingayet influence. But in the days of the Author of the Atharvasika Upanishad and the Mahimna Stotra, not to mention any others, which we have 'quoted at p. 36, no Lingayat sect had come into being and yet their belief is exactly similar to that of Vemana. The brief survey we have taken of the tatwas which show what great force and real meaning there is in the texts we have quoted at the head of our article. The enquirer as he proceeds from the knowledge of the visible to invisible powers in nature and in man and ascends to a higher and higher knowledge, rejects the lower knowledge as 'not this,' 'not this' and transcending the manifested and the unmanifested Avyakta (Both Maya and Atma), knows "The one God, in every Bhuta hid, pervading all, the inner Atma of every atma, inspector of all deeds, in whom everything dwells (the support), the witness, The Pure Intelligence, and Nirguna Being.'* [Sweats. VI. 11.]
"Him, The Ishwara of Ishwara, the Maheshwara, The God Supreme of Gods, the King of Kings, the Supreme of the Supreme, the Isa of the Universe."
"The eternal of eternals, the Intelligence of every intelligence, who, the One, of many, the desires dispenses. Knowing that cause, the God to be approached by Sankhya and Yoga &c., † [† Sweats. VI. 7.] and 'Him having adored', the 'Mortal from all Pasa (bonds) is free‡ [‡ Swetas, VI. 13.]
We have referred to Saguna and Nirguna Beings, and these are often translated as personal and impersonal Beings, but the renderings are not perfectly accurate and the usage of all these 4 terms are frequently very loose and we hope to devote a separate paper for the definition and distinction of these terms.