A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 3

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1940 | 232,512 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of god and the world: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the second part in the series called the “the philosophy of yamunacarya”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

As we have already noted, the Mīmāmsists do not admit the existence of Īśvara. Their antitheistic arguments, which we have not considered, can be dealt with here in contrast to Yāmuna’s doctrine of Īśvara. They say that an omniscient Īśvara cannot be admitted, since such an assumption cannot be proved, and there are, indeed, many objections to the hypothesis. For how can such a perception of omniscience be acquired? Surely it cannot be acquired by the ordinary means of perception; for ordinary perception cannot give one the knowledge of all things present and past, before and far beyond the limits of one’s senses. Also the perception of Īśvara generally ascribed to the Yogins cannot be admitted; for it is impossible that the Yogin should perceive past things and things beyond the limits of his senses, by means of his sense-organs. If mind (antaḥkaraṇa) be such that it can perceive all sense-objects without the aid of the senses, then what is the use at all of the senses? Of course it is true that by great concentration one can perceive things more clearly and distinctlv; but no amount of concentration or any other process can enable a man to hear by the eye or to perceive things without the help of the senses.

Omniscience is therefore not possible, and we have not by our senses seen any such omniscient person as Īśvara. His existence cannot be proved by inference; for, since He is beyond all perceptible things, there cannot be any reason (hetu) which we could perceive as being associated with Him and by reason of which we could make I lim the subject of inference. It is urged by the Naiyāyikas that this world, formed by collocation of parts, must be an effect in itself, and it is argued that, like all other effects, this also must have taken place under the superintendence of an intelligent person who had a direct experience of world materials. But this is not necessarv; for it may very well be conceived that the atoms, etc., have all been collocated in their present form by the destinies of men (adṛṣṭa)— according to the karma, of all the men in the world.

The karmas of merit and demerit exist in us all, and they are moulding the world-process, though these cannot be perceived by us. The world may thus be regarded as a product of the karmas of men and not of Īśvara, whom no one has ever perceived. Moreover, why should Īśvara, who has no desire to satisfy, create this world ? This world, with all the mountains, rivers and oceans, etc., cannot be regarded as an effect produced by any one.

Yāmuna follows the method of the Nyāya and tries to prove that the world is an effect, and, as such, must have been produced by an intelligent person who had a direct knowledge of the materials. He also has a direct knowledge of the dharma (merit) and adharma (demerit) of men, in accordance with which He creates the whole world and establishes an order by which every man may have only such experiences as he deserves. He, by His mere desire, sets all the world in motion. He has no body, but still He carries on the functioning of His desire by His manas. He has to be admitted as a person of infinite knowledge and power; for otherwise how could He create this world and establish its order?

The Śaṅkarites had held that, when the Upaniṣads say that nothing exists but one Brahman, it means that Brahman alone exists and the world is false; but that is not the sense. It means simply that there is no other Īśvara but Īśvara, and that there is none else like Him. When the Upaniṣads declare that Brahman is all that we see and that He is the sole material of the world, it does not mean that everything else does not exist and that the qualityless Brahman is the only reality. If I say there is one sun, it does not mean that He has no rays; if I say there are the seven oceans, it does not mean that the oceans have no ripples, etc. The only meaning that such passages can have is that the world has come out of Him, like sparks from fire, and that in Him the world finds its ultimate rest and support; from Him all things of the world—the fire, the wind, the earth—have drawn their powers and capacities, and without His power they would have been impotent to do anything. If, on the contrary, it is held that the whole world is false, then the whole experience has to be sacrificed, and, as the knowledge of Brahman also forms a part of this experience, that also has to be sacrificed as false.

All the Vedānta dialectic employed to prove that the perception of difference is false is of very little use to us; for our experience shows that we perceive differences as well as relations. We perceive the blue colour, the lotus, and also that the lotus has the blue colour; so the world and the individuals may also be conceived in accordance with the teaching of the Upaniṣads as being inseparably related to Him. This meaning is, indeed, more legitimate than the conception which would abolish all the world manifestation, and the personality of all individual persons, and would remain content only to indicate the identity of their pure intelligence with the pure intelligence of Brahman. There is not any pure, all-absorbing, qualityless intelligence, as the Śaṅkarites assert; for to each of us different and separate ideas are being directly manifested, e.g. our feelings of individual pleasures and pains. If there were only one intelligence, then everything should have shone forth simultaneously for all times.

Again, this intelligence is said to be both Being (sat), intelligence (cit), and bliss (ānanda). If this tripartite form be accepted, it will naturally destroy the monistic doctrine which the Śaṅkarites try to protect so zealously. If, however, they assert that these are not separate forms or qualities, but all three represent one identical truth, the Brahman, then that also is not possible; for how can bliss be the same as intelligence? Pleasure and intelligence are experienced by all of us to be entirely different. Thus, in whichever way we try to scrutinize the Śaṅkarite doctrines, we find that they are against all experiences and hardly stand the strain of a logical criticism. It has, therefore, to be admitted that our notions about the external world are correct and give us a true representation of the external world. The manifold world of infinite variety is therefore not merely an illusory appearance, but true, as attested by our sense-experience.

Thus the ultimate conclusion of Yamuna’s philosophy demonstrates that there are, on the one side, the self-conscious souls, and, on the other, the omniscient and all powerful Īśvara and the manifold external world. These three categories are real. He hints in some places that the world may be regarded as being like sparks coming out of Īśvara; but he does not elaborate this thought, and it is contradicted by other passages, in which Īśvara is spoken of as the fashioner of the world system, in accordance with the Nvāva doctrine. From the manner in which he supports the Nyāva position with regard to the relation of Īśvara and the world, both in the Siddhi-trava and in the Āgama-prāmāṇva, it is almost certain that his own attitude did not differ much from the Nvāva attitude, which left the duality of the world and Īśvara absolutely unresolved. It appears, therefore, that (so far as we can judge from his Siddhi-traya) Yāmuna’s main contribution consists in establishing the self-consciousness of the soul. The reality of the external world and the existence of Īśvara had been accepted in previous systems also.

Yāmuna thus gives us hardly any new ideas about Īśvara and His relation to the souls and the world. He does not make inquiry into the nature of the reality of the world, and rests content with proving that the world-appearance is not false, as the Śaṅkarites supposed. He says in one place that he does not believe in the existence of the partless atoms of the Naiyāyikas. The smallest particle of matter is the trasareṇu, the specks of dust that are found to move in the air when the sun’s rays come in through a chink or hole. But he does not say anything more than this about the ultimate nature of the reality of the manifold world or how it has come to be what it is. He is also silent about the methods which a person should adopt for procuring his salvation, and the nature and characteristics of that state.

Yāmuna, in his Agama-prāmāṇya, tried to establish that the Pañca-rātra-saṃhitā had the same validity as the Vedas, since it was uttered by Īśvara himself. Viṣṇu, or Vāsudeva, has been praised in the Purusa-sūkta and in other places of the Vedas as the supreme Lord. The Pāśupata-tantra of the Śaivas is never supported by the Vedas, and thus the validity of the Pāśupata-tantra cannot be compared with that of the Pañcarātra-saṃhitā.

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