by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1940 | 232,512 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081
This page describes the philosophy of dialectical criticism against the shankara school: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the fifteenth part in the series called the “philosophy of the ramanuja school of thought”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.
The readers who have followed the present work so far must have noticed that the chief philosophical opponents of the Śrī Vaiṣṇava school of thought were Śaṅkara and his followers. In South India there were other religious opponents of the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas, Śaivas and the Jainas. Mutual persecution among the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas, Śaivas and the Jainas is a matter of common historical knowledge. Conversion from one faith to another also took place under the influence of this or that local king or this or that religious teacher. Many volumes were written for the purpose of proving the superiority of Nārāvaṇa, Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa to Śiva and vice versa.
Madhva and his followers were also opponents of the Śrī Vaiṣṇavas, but there were some who regarded the philosophy of the Madhvas as more or less akin to the Śrī Vaiṣṇava thought. There were others, however, who strongly criticized the views of Madhva, and Mahācārya’s Pārāśarya-vijaya and Parakāla Yati’s Vijayīndra-parājaya may be cited as examples of polemical discussions against the Madhvas. The Śrī Vaiṣṇavas also criticized the views of Bhāskara and Yādavaprakāśa, and as examples of this the Vedārtha-saṃgraha of Rāmānuja, or the Vāditraya-khaṇḍana of Veṅkaṭa may be cited. But the chief opponents of the Śrī Vaiṣṇava school were Śaṅkara and his followers.
The Śata-dūṣaṇī is a polemical work of that class in which Veṅkaṭanātha tried his best to criticize the views of Śaṅkara and his followers. The work is supposed to have consisted of one hundred polemical points of discussion as the name Śata-dūṣaṇī (century of refutations) itself shows. But the text, printed at the Śrī Sudarśana Press, Coṅ-jeeveram, has only sixty-six refutations, as far as the manuscripts available to the present writer showed. This printed text contains a commentary on it by Mahācārya alias Rāmānujadāsa, pupil of Vādhūla Śrīnivāsa. But the work ends with the sixty-fourth refutation, and the other two commentaries appear to be missing.
The printed text has two further refutations—the sixty-fifth and sixty-sixth—which are published without commentary, and the editor, P. B. Anantācārya, says that the work was completed with the sixty-sixth refutation (samāptā ca Śata-dūṣaṇī). If the editor’s remark is to be believed, it has to be supposed that the word Śata in Śata-dūṣaṇī is intended to mean “many” and not “hundred.” It is, however, difficult to guess whether the remaining thirty-four refutations were actually written by Veṅkaṭa and lost or whether he wrote only the sixty-six refutations now available. Many of these do not contain any new material and most of them are only of doctrinal and sectarian interest, with little philosophical or religious value, and so have been omitted in the present section, which closes with the sixty-first refutation.
The sixty-second refutation deals with the inappropriateness of the Śaṅkara Vedānta in barring the Śūdras from Brahma-knowledge. In the sixty-third, Veṅkaṭa deals with the qualifications of persons entitled to study Vedānta (1 adhikāri-viveka), in the sixty-fourth with the inappropriateness of the external garb and marks of the ascetics of the Śaṅkara school, in the sixty-fifth with the prohibition of association with certain classes of ascetics, and in the sixty-sixth with the fact that Śaṅkara’s philosophy cannot be reconciled with the Brahma-sūtra.
The view that Brahman is qualityless cannot give any satisfactory account of how the word Brahman can rightly denote this qualityless entity. For if it is qualityless it cannot be denoted by the term Brahman either in its primary sense or in any secondary sense of implication (lakṣaṇā) \ for if the former is not possible, the second is also impossible, since an implicative extension of meaning can take place only when in any particular content the primary meaning becomes impossible. We know also from the scriptural testimony that the word Brahman is often used in its primary meaning to denote the Great Being who is endowed with an infinite number of excellent qualities. The fact that there are many texts in which an aspect of qualitylessness is also referred to cannot be pushed forward as an objection, for these can all be otherwise explained, and even if any doubt arises the opponent cannot take advantage of it and assert that Brahman is qualityless. It is also not possible to say that the word Brahman denotes the true Brahman only by implication, for the scriptures declare the realization of the meaning of the word Brahman as being one of direct perception. So in the opponent’s view of Brahman, the word Brahman would be rendered meaningless.
There cannot be any inquiry regarding Brahman according to Śaṅkara’s interpretation of the term as a qualityless something. Śaṅkara says that Brahinan is known in a general manner as the self in us all; the inquiry concerning Brahman is for knowing it in its specific nature, i.e. whether it is the body endowed with consciousness, the overlord, pure self, or some other entity regarding which there are many divergences of opinion. Veṅkaṭa urges that if the self-revelation of Brahman is beginningless it cannot depend on our making any inquiry about it. All that depends on causes and conditions must be regarded as an effect and in that sense Brahma-revelation would be an effect which is decidedly against Śaṅkara’s intention. Thus, therefore, an inquiry regarding the general and specific nature of Brahman cannot deal with its own real pure nature. If, therefore, it is urged by the Śaṅkarites that this inquiry does not concern the real nature of Brahman, but only a false appearance of Brahman (upahita-svarūpa), then the knowledge derived from this inquiry would also be of this false appearance and nothing would be gained by this false knowledge.
Again, when Brahman is partless and self-revealing, there cannot be any meaning in knowing it in a general manner or in a specific manner, for no such distinction can be made in it. It must be known in its entirety or not known at all; there cannot be any distinction of parts such that there may be scope for different grades of knowledge in it. All inquiry (jijñāsā) however must imply that its object is known generally but that greater detail is sought; since Śaṅkara’s unqualified homogeneous Brahman cannot be the object of such an inquiry, no such Brahman can be sought. Therefore, an inquiry can only be regarding a qualified object about which general or special knowledge is possible.
The Śaṅkarites cannot legitimately urge that a distinction of general and specific knowledge is possible in their view; for it may be maintained that, though the Brahman may be known in a general manner, there is room for knowing it in its character as different from the illusory appearances, since if Brahman has no specific nature it is not possible to know it in a general manner (nirviśeṣe sāmānya-ni-ṣedhaḥ). If it is urged that the knowledge of the world-appearance as false is the knowledge of Brahman, then there would be no difference between Vedānta and the nihilism of Nāgārjuna.
Veṅkaṭa here says that all errors and illusions do not vanish merely by the knowledge that all world-appearance is false. The performance of the scriptural duties is absolutely necessary even when the highest knowledge is attained. This is well illustrated in the ordinary experience of a jaundiced person where the illusion of yellow is not removed merely by the knowledge of its falsity but by taking medicines which overcome the jaundice. Ultimate salvation can be obtained only by worshipping and adoring God the supreme Lord and not by a mere revelation of any philosophical wisdom. It is impossible to attain the final emancipation merely by listening to the unity texts, for had it been so then Śaṅkara himself must have attained it. If he did so, he would have been merged in Brahman and would not have been in a position to explain his view to his pupils. The view that the grasping of the meaning of the unity texts is an immediate perception is also untenable, for our ordinary experience shows that scriptural knowledge is verbal knowledge and as such cannot be regarded as immediate and direct perception.
Śaṅkara’s reply to the above objection is that though the final knowledge of the identity of all things with self be attained yet the illusion of world-appearance may still continue until the present body be destroyed. To this Veṅkaṭa asks that if azidyā be destroyed through right knowledge, how can the world-appearance still continue? If it is urged that though the azidyā be destroyed the root-impressions (vāsanā) may still persist, then it may be replied that if the z'āsanā be regarded as possessing true existence then the theory of monism fails. If vāsanā is regarded as forming part of Brahman, then the Brahman itself would be contaminated by association with it. If vāsanā is, however, regarded as a product of az idyā, then it should be destroyed with the destruction of azidyā. Again, if the vāsanā persists even after the destruction of avidyā, how is it to be destroyed at all? If it can be destroyed of itself, then the avidyā may as well be destroyed of itself. Thus there is no reason why the vāsanā and its product, the world-appearance, should persist after the destruction of avidyā and the realization of Brahma-knowledge.
Śaṅkara and his followers say that the utterance of the unity text produces a direct and immediate perception of the highest truth in the mind of a man chastened by the acquirement of the proper qualifications for listening to the Vedāntic instructions. That the hearing of the unity texts produces the immediate and direct perception of the nature of self as Brahman has to be admitted, since there is no other way by which this could be explained. To this \ eṅkata replies that if this special case of realization of the purport of the unity texts be admitted as a case of direct perception through the instrumentality of verbal audition only because there is no other means through which the pure knowledge of Brahman could be realized, then inference and the auditory knowledge of other words may equally well be regarded as leading to direct perception, for they also must be regarded as the only causes of the manifestation of pure knowledge. Moreover, if the causes of verbal knowledge be there, how' is that knowledge to be prevented, and how is the direct and immediate perception to be produced from a collocation of causes which can never produce it? Any knowledge gained at a particular time cannot be regarded as the revelation of one individuated consciousness which is identical with all knowledge of all times or of all persons, and therefore the words which may lead to any such knowledge cannot be regarded as producing any such immediate realization (āparokṣyd).
If it is held that there is no other cause leading to the realization of pure consciousness apart from what leads to the apprehension of the specific forms of such consciousness, then the same is true of all means of knowledge, and as such it would be true of inference and of verbal expressions other than the unity texts. It is not possible therefore to adduce for the unity texts claims which may not be possessed by other ordinary verbal expressions and inferential knowledge. In the case of such phrases as “You are the tenth,” if the person addressed had already perceived that he was the tenth, then the understanding of the meaning of such a phrase would only mean a mere repetition of all that was understood by such a perception; if, however, such a person did not perceive the fact of his being the tenth person, then the communication of this fact \vas done by the verbal expression and this so far cannot be regarded as direct, immediate or perceptual. It may be noted in this connection that though the object of knowledge may remain the same, yet the knowledge attained may be different on account of the ways of its communication.
Thus, the same object may be realized perceptually in some part and non-perceptually in another part. Again, though Brahman is admittedly realized in direct perception, yet at the time of its first apprehension from such verbal phrases as “Thou art he” it is a verbal cognition, and at the second moment a realization is ushered in which is immediate and direct. But if the first cognition be not regarded as direct and immediate, why should the second be so? Again, the position taken by Śaṅkara is that since disappearance of the falsity of world-appearance cannot be explained otherwise, the communication imparted by the understanding of the unity texts must be regarded as being immediate; for falsehood is removed by the direct and immediate realization of the real. But the world is not false; if it is regarded as false because it is knowable, then Brahman, being knowable, would also be false. Again, if the world-appearance be regarded as false, there is no meaning in saying that such an appearance is destroyed by right knowledge; for that which never exists cannot be destroyed.
If it is held that the world-appearance is not destroyed but only its knowledge ceases, then it may be pointed out that a false knowledge may cease naturally with the change of one’s mental state, just as the illusion of false silver may cease in deep dreamless sleep, or it may be removed by inferential and other kinds of cognition. There is no necessary implication that false knowledge must be removed only by direct and immediate knowledge. Again, if it is held that the cessation of the world-appearance means the destruction of its cause, then the reply is that no direct realization of reality is possible unless the cause itself is removed by some other means. So long as there is a pressure on the retina from the fingers there will be the appearance of two moons. Thus it is meaningless to suppose that it is only by direct and immediate perception that the falsity of the world-appearance would cease.
If the removal of the falsity of world-appearance simply means that the rise of a knowledge is contradictory to it, then that can be done even by indirect knowledge, just as the false perception of two moons may be removed by the testimony of other persons that there is only one moon. But not only is the world not false and therefore cannot be removed, but verbal knowledge cannot be regarded as leading to immediate perception; even if it did, there must be other accessory conditions working along with it, just as in the case of visual perception, attention, mental alertness, and other physical conditions are regarded as accessory factors. Thus, mere verbal knowledge by itself cannot bring about immediate realization. Nor is it correct to suppose that perceptual knowledge cannot be contradicted by non-perceptual knowledge, for it is well known that the notion of one continuous flame of a lamp is negated by the consideration that there cannot be a continuous flame and that what so appears is in reality but a series of different flames coming in succession. Thus, even if the realization of the purport of unity texts be regarded as a case of direct perception, there is no guarantee that it could not be further contradicted by other forms of knowledge.
In refuting the reality of pure contentless consciousness, Veṅkaṭa urges that even if such a thing existed it could not manifest by itself its own nature as reality, for if it did it could no longer be regarded as formless; since if it demonstrated the falsity of all content, such content would be a constituent part of it. If its reality were demonstrated by other cognitions, then it was obviously not self-luminous. Then, again, it may be asked, to whom does this pure consciousness manifest itself? The reply of the Śaṅkarites is that it does not reveal itself to this or that person but its very existence is its realization. But such a reply would be far from what is normally understood by the term manifestation, for a manifestation must be for some person.
The chief objection against the existence of a contentless consciousness is that no such thing can be experienced by us and therefore its priority and superiority or its power of illuminating the content imposed upon it cannot also be admitted. The illustration of bliss in the deep dreamless sleep is of no use; for if in that state the pure contentless consciousness was experienced as bliss, that could not be in the form of a subjective experience of bliss, as it could not be called contentless. A later experience after rising from sleep could not communicate to the perceiver that he was experiencing contentless consciousness for a long period, as there is no recognition of it and the fact of recognition would be irreconcilable to its so-called contentless character.
In attempting to refute the existence of indeterminate knowledge (nirvikalpa) Veṅkaṭa says that the so-called indeterminate knowledge refers to a determinate object (nirvikal-pakam. api saviśeṣa-viṣayakameva). Even at the very first moment of sense-contact it is the object as a whole with its manifold qualities that is grasped by the senses and it is such an object that is elaborated later on in conceptual forms. The special feature of the nirvikalpa stage is that in this stage of cognition no special emphasis is given to any of the aspects or qualities of the object. If, however, the determinate characters did not in reality form the object of the cognition, such characters could never be revealed in any of the later stages of cognition and the nirvikalpa could never develop into the savikalpa state. The characters are perceived in the first stage, but these characters assume the determinate form when in the later moments other similar characters are remembered. Thus a pure indeterminate entity can never be the object of perception.
The contention of the Śaṅkarite is that perception is directly concerned with pure being, and it is through nescience that the diverse forms are later on associated with it, and through such association they also seemingly appear as being directly perceived. Veṅkaṭa says that both being and its characters are simultaneously perceived by our senses, for they form part of the same object that determines our knowledge. Even universals can be the objects of our direct knowledge: it is only when these universals are distinguished from one another at a later moment that a separate mental operation involving its diverse functions becomes necessary. Again, if perception only referred to indeterminate being, how then can the experience of the diverse objects and their relative differentiation be explained?
In refuting the view of the Śaṅkara school that the apprehension of “difference” either as a category or as a character is false, Veṅkaṭa says that the experience of “difference” is universal and as such cannot be denied. Even the much-argued “absence of difference” is itself different from “difference” and thus proves the existence of difference. Any attempt to refute “difference” would end in refuting identity as well; for these two are relative, and if there is no difference, there is no identity. Veṅkaṭa urges that a thing is identical with itself and different from others, and in this way both identity and difference have to be admitted.
The Śaṅkarites say that the world-appearance, being cognizable, is false like the conch-shell-silver. But what is meant by the assertion that the world is false? It cannot be chimerical like the hare’s horn, for that would be contrary to our experience and the Śaṅkarite would not himself admit it. It cannot mean that the world is something which is different from both being and non-being, for no such entity is admitted by us. It cannot also mean that the world-appearance can be negated even where it seems to be real (pratipanno-pādhau niṣedha-pratiyogitvcun), for if this negation cannot further be negated, then it must be either of the nature of Brahman and therefore false as world-appearance or different from it.
The first alternative is admitted by us in the sense that the world is a part of Brahman. If the world-appearance can be negated and it is at the same time admitted to be identical with Brahman, then the negation would apply to Brahman itself. If the second alternative is taken, then since its existence is implied as a condition or explication of the negation, it itself cannot be denied. It cannot also be said that falsity means the appearance of the world in an entity where it does not exist (svā-tyantā-bhāva-samāna-dhikaraṇatayā pratīyamānatvam), for such a falsity of the world as not existing where it appears cannot be understood by perception, and if there is no perception for its ground no inference is also possible. If all perception is to be regarded as false, all inference would be impossible. It is said that world-appearance is false because it is different from the ultimate reality, the Brahman.
Veṅkaṭa, in answer to this, says that he admits the world to be different from the Brahman though it has no existence independent and separable from it. Still, if it is argued that the world is false because it is different from reality, the reply is that there may be different realities. If it is held that since Brahman alone is real, its negation would necessarily be false, then the reply is that if Brahman is real its negation is also real. The being or reality that is attributed by Veṅkaṭa to the world is that it is amenable to proof (prāmāṇika). Truth is defined by Rāmānuja as that which is capable of being dealt with pragmatically (vyavahāra-yogyatā sattvaṃ), and the falsity of the assertion that the world is false is understood by the actual perception of the reality of the world. Again, the falsity of the world cannot be attempted to be proved by logical proof, for these fall within the world and would therefore be themselves false. Again, it may be said that Brahman is also in some sense knowable and so also is the world; it may be admitted for argument’s sake that Brahman is not knowable in an ultimate sense (pāramārthika), so the world also is not knowable in an ultimate sense; for, if it were, the Śaṅkai ite could not call it false. If that is so, how could the Śaṅkarite argue that the world is false because it is knowable, for in that case Brahman would also be false?
Again, it may be argued that the objects of the world are false because, though being remains the same, its content always varies. Thus we may say a jug exists, a cloth exists, but though these so-called existents change, “being”alone remains unchanged. Therefore the changeable entities are false and the unchangeable alone is real. Now it may be asked: what is the meaning of this change? It cannot mean any difference of identity, for in that case Brahman being different from other entities could be regarded as false. If, however, Brahman be regarded as identical with the false world, Brahman itself would be false, or the world-appearance would be real being identical with the real Brahman.
Spatial or temporal change can have nothing to do with determining falsehood; the conch-shell-silver is not false because it does not exist elsewhere. Brahman itself is changeable in the sense that it does not exist as unreal or as an entity which is neither being nor non-being. Change cannot here legitimately be used in the sense of destruction, for, even when the illusion of conch-shell-silver is discovered, no one says that the conch-shell-silver is destroyed (bādha-vināśayor viviktatayaiva vyutpatteḥ). Destruction (vināśa) is the dissolution of an entity, whereas vādha or contradiction is the negation of what was perceived.
In such phrases as “a jug exists” or “a cloth exists,” the existence qualifies jug and cloth, but jug and cloth do not qualify existence. Again, though Brahman abides everywhere, it does not cause in us the cognition “jug exists” or “cloth exists.” Again, temporal variation in existence depends upon the cause of such existence, but it cannot render the existence of anything false. If non-illumination at any particular time be regarded as the criterion of falsehood, then Brahman also is false for it does not reveal itself before the dawn of emancipation. If it is held that Brahman is always self-revealing, but its revelation remains somehow hidden until emancipation is attained, then it may be said with the same force that the jug and the cloth also remain revealed in a hidden manner in the same way. Again, the eternity of illumination, or its uncontradicted nature, cannot be regarded as a criterion of reality, for it is faultlessness that is the cause of the eternity of self-illumination, and this has nothing to do with determining the nature of existence. Since the ordinary things, such as a jug or a cloth, appear as existent at some time, they are manifestations of the self-illumination and therefore real.
An opposite argument mav also be adduced here. Thus, it may be said that that which is not false does not break its continuity or does not change. Brahman is false, for it is without any continuity with anything else, and is different from everything else.
The Śaṅkarites hold that since it is impossible to explain the existence of any relation (whatever may be its nature) between the perceiver and the perceived, the perceived entity or the content of knowledge has to be admitted as false. In reply to this Veṅkaṭa says that the falsity of the world cannot be adduced as a necessary implication (arthāpatti), for the establishment of a relation between the perceiver and the perceived is possible not by denying the latter but by affirming it. If, however, it is said that since the relation between the perceiver and the perceived can be logically proved chimerical, the necessary deduction is that the perceived entity is false. To this the reply is that the falsity of the relation does not prove the falsity of the relata; the relation between a hare and a horn may be non-existent, but that will not indicate that both the hare and the horn are themselves non-existent.
Following that argument, the perceiver might just as well be declared as false. If, however, it is contended that the perceiver, being self-luminous, is self-evident and cannot therefore be supposed to be false, the reply is, that even if, in the absence of the act of perceiving, the perceiver may be regarded as self-revealing, what harm is there in admitting the perceived to have the same status even when the perceiver is denied? If, however, it is said that the cognition of objects cannot be admitted to be selfestablished in the same way as the objects themselves, it may be asked if consciousness is ever perceived to be self-revealed. If it is said that the self-revealing character of consciousness can be established by inference, then by a counter-contention it may be held that the self-revealing character of the universe can also be proved by a suitable inference. It may again be questioned whether, if the Śaṅkarite wishes to establish the self-revealing nature of Brahman by inference, its objectivity can be denied, and thus the original thesis that Brahman cannot be the object of any process of cognition must necessarily fail.
The Śaṅkarite may indeed contend that the followers of Rāmānuja also admit that the objects are revealed by the cognition of the self and hence they are dependent on the perceiver. The reply to such a contention is that the followers of Rāmānuja admit the existence of self-consciousness by which the perceiver himself is regarded as cognized. If this self-consciousness is regarded as false, then the self-luminous self would also be false; and if this selfconsciousness be admitted as real, then the relation between them is real. If the self-revealing consciousness be regarded as impossible of perception and yet real, then on the same analogy the world may as well be regarded as real though unperceived.
The objection that the known is regarded as false, since it is difficult logically to conceive the nature of the relation subsisting between the knower and the known, is untenable, for merely on account of the difficulty of conceiving the logical nature of the relation one cannot deny the reality of the related entity which is incontestably given in experience. Therefore the relation has somehow to be admitted. If relation is admitted to be real because it is experienced, then the world is also real because it is also experienced. If the world is false because it is inexplicable, then falsity itself would be false because it is inexplicable.
The objection that there can be no relation between the past and the future is groundless, for the very fact that two things exist in the present time would not mean that they are necessarily related, e.g. the hare and the horn. If, however, it is said that it may be true that things which exist in the present time are not necessarily related, yet there are certain entities at present which are related, so also there are certain things in the present which are related with certain other things in the past and the future. It is no doubt true that the relation of contact is not possible between things of the present and the future, but that does not affect our case, for certain relations exist between entities at present, and certain other relations exist between entities in the present and the future. What relations exist in the present, past and future have to be learnt by experience. If spatial contiguity be a special feature of entities at present, temporal contiguity would hold between entities in present, past and future. However, relation does not necessarily mean contiguity; proximity and remoteness may both condition the relation. Relations are to be admitted just as they are given by experience, and are indefinable and unique in their specific nature. Any attempt to explain them through mediation would end in a conflict with experience. If an attempt is made to refute all relations as such on the ground that relations would imply further relations and thus involve a vicious infinite, the reply is that the attempt to refute a relation itself involves relation and therefore according to the opponent’s own supposition stands cancelled. A relation stands by itself and does not depend on other relations for its existence.
In refuting the view of the Śaṅkarites that self-luminous Brahman cannot have as an object of illumination anything that is external to it, Veṅkaṭa argues that if nescience be itself inherent in Brahman from beginningless time, then there would be no way for Brahman to extricate itself from its clutches and emancipation would be impossible. Then the question may be asked, whether the avidyā is different from Brahman or not. If it be different, then the monism of the Śaṅkara philosophy breaks down; if it be non-different, then also on the one hand Brahman could not free itself from it and on the other hand there could be no evolution of the avidyā which has merged itself in the nature of the Brahman, into the various forms of egoism, passions, etc. If this avidyā be regarded as false and therefore incapable of binding the free nature of Brahman, the objection may still be urged that, if this falsehood covers the nature of Brahman, how can it regain its self-luminosity; and if it cannot do so, that would mean its destruction, for self-luminosity is the very nature of Brahman. If the avidyā stands as an independent entity and covers the nature of Brahman, then it would be difficult to conceive how the existence of a real entity can be destroyed by mere knowledge. According to Rāmānuja’s view, however, knowledge is a quality or a characteristic of Brahman by which other things are known by it; experience also shows that a knower reveals the objects by his knowledge, and thus knowledge is a characteristic quality of the knower by which the objects are known.
In refuting the view of Śaṅkara that ignorance or avidyā rests in Brahman, Veṅkaṭa tries to clarify the concept of ajñāna. He says that ajñāna here cannot mean the absolute negation of the capacity of being the knower; for this capacity, being the essence of Brahman, cannot be absent. It (ajñāna) cannot also mean the ignorance that precedes the rise of any cognition, for the Śaṅkarites do not admit knowledge as a quality or a characteristic of Brahman; nor can it mean the negation of any particular knowledge, for the Brahman-con-sciousness is the only consciousness admitted by the Śaṅkarites.
This ajñāna cannot also be regarded as the absence of knowledge, since it is admitted to be a positive entity. The ajñāna which can be removed by knowledge must belong to the same knower who has the knowledge and must refer to the specific object regarding which there was absence of knowledge. Now since Brahman is not admitted by the Śaṅkarites to be knower, it is impossible that any ajñāna could be associated with it. The view that is held by the members of the Rāmānuja school is that the individual knowers possess ignorance in so far as they are ignorant of their real nature as self-luminous entities, and in so far as they associate themselves with their bodies, their senses, their passions, and other prejudices and ideas. When they happen to discover their folly, their ignorance is removed. It is only in this way that it can be said to be removed by knowledge. But all this would be impossible in the case of Brahman conceived as pure consciousness. According to the view of Rāmānuja’s school, individual knowers are all in their essential natures omniscient; it is the false prejudice and passions that cover up this omniscience whereby they appear as ordinary knowers who can know things only under specific conditions.
Veṅkaṭa, in refuting the definition of immediate intuition (anubhūti) as that which may be called immediate perception without being further capable of being an object of awareness (avedyatve sati aparokṣa-vyavahāra-yogyatvam), as given by Citsukhācārya in his Tattva-pradīpikā, raises certain objections against it as follows. It is urged by the Śaṅkarites that if the immediate intuition be itself an object of further cognitive action, then it loses its status as immediate intuition and may be treated as an object like other objects, e.g. a jug. If by the words “immediate intuition” it is meant that at the time of its operation it is self-expressed and does not stand in need of being revealed by another cognition, then this is also admitted by Rāmānuja. Furthermore, this intuition at the time of its self-revelation involves with it the revelation of the self of the knower as well. Therefore, so far as this meaning of intuition is concerned, the denial of selfrevelation is out of place.
The words “immediate intuition” (anubhūti) are supposed to have another meaning, viz. that the intuition is not individuated in separate individual cognitions as limited by time, space or individual laws. But such an intuition is never experienced, for not only do we infer certain cognitions as having taken place in certain persons or being absent in them, but we also speak of our own cognitions as present in past and future, such as “I know it,” “I knew it” and the like, which prove that cognitions are temporally limited. It may be asked whether this immediate intuition reveals Brahman or anything else; if it reveals Brahman, then it certainly has an object. If it is supposed that in doing so it simply reveals that which has already been self-expressed, even then it w ill be expressive of something though that something stood already expressed. This would involve a contradiction between the two terms of the thesis avedyatve sati aparokṣa-vyavahāra-yogyatvam, for, following the arguments given above, though the Brahman may be regarded as immediate, yet it has been shown to be capable of being made an object of intuition. If on the other alternative this intuition expresses something else than Brahman, that would bring the opponent to a conclusion not intended by him and contradictory as well.
Just as one may say that one knows a jug or a cloth or an orange, so one may say that one knows another man’s awareness or one’s own. In this way an awareness can be the object of another awareness just as another object. Again, if one cannot be aware of another man’s awareness, the use of language for mental understanding should cease.
If the immediate intuition itself cannot be made an object of awareness, that would mean that it is not known at all and consequently its existence would be chimerical. It cannot be urged that chimerical entities are not perceivable because they are chimerical, but entities do not become chimerical because they cannot be perceived, for the concomitance in the former proposition is not conditional. The Śaṅkarites would not hold that all entities other than immediate intuition are chimerical. It may also be held that chimerical entities are not immediate intuition because they are chimerical ; but in that case it may also be held that these objects (e.g. a jug) are not immediate intuition because of their specific characters as jug, etc. The whole point that has to be emphasized here is that the ordinary objects are other than immediate intuition, not because they can be known but because of their specific characters. The reason that an entity cannot be called immediate intuition if it can be known is entirely faulty.
If, again, Brahman is manifest as only immediate intuition, then neither the scriptures nor philosophy can in any way help us regarding the nature of Brahman.
The Śaṅkarites deny the production of individual cognitions. In their view all the various forms of so-called cognitions arise through the association of various modes of avidyā with the self-luminous pure consciousness. In refuting this view Veṅkaṭa urges that the fact that various cognitions arise in time is testified by universal experience. If the pure consciousness be always present and if individual cognitions are denied, then all objects ought to be manifested simultaneously. If, however, it is ascertained that though the pure consciousness is always present yet the rise of various cognitions is conditioned by other collocating causal circumstances, the reply is that such an infinite number of causal conditions conditioning the pure consciousness would be against the dictum of the Śaṅkarites themselves, for this would be in conflict with their uncompromising monism.
Now if, again, it is held that the cognitive forms do really modify the nature of pure consciousness, then the pure consciousness becomes changeable, which is against the thesis of Śaṅkara. If it is held that the forms are imposed on pure consciousness as it is and by such impositions the specific objects are in their turn illuminated by consciousness, then the position is that in order that an object may be illuminated such illumination must be mediated by a false imposition on the nature of pure consciousness.
If the direct illumination of objects is impossible, then another imposition might be necessary to mediate the other false impositions on the nature of pure consciousness, and that might require another, and this would result in a vicious infinite. If the imposition is not false, then the consciousness becomes changeable and the old objection would recur. If, however, it is urged that the objects are illuminated independent of any collocating circumstances and independent of any specific contribution from the nature of the pure consciousness, then all objects (since they are all related to pure consciousness) might simultaneously be revealing.
If, again, all cognitions are but false impositions on the nature of pure consciousness, then at the time of an illusory imposition of a particular cognition, say, a jug, nothing else would exist, and this would bring about nihilism. It may also be asked, if the Śaṅkarite is prepared to deny the world on account of the impossibility of any relation subsisting between it and the perceiver, how can he launch himself into an attempt to explain the relation of such a world with Brahman?
On the other hand, the experience of us all testifies to the fact that we are aware of cognitions coming into being, staying, passing away, and having passed and gone from us; except in the case of perceptual experience, there is no difficulty in being aware of past and future events; so the objection that the present awareness cannot be related to past and future events is invalid. The objection that there cannot be awareness of past or future entities because they are not existing now is invalid, for past and future entities also exist in their own specific temporal relations. Validity of awareness consists in the absence of contradiction and not in the fact of its relating to an entity of the present moment, for otherwise an illusory perception of the present moment would have to be considered as valid. Thus, since it is possible to be aware of an awareness that was not there but which comes into being both by direct and immediate acquaintance and by inference, the view of the Śaṅkarites denying the origination of individual awareness is invalid.
In the view of Rāmānuja, knowledge is no doubt admitted to be eternal; yet this knowledge is also admitted to have specific temporal characters and also specific states. Therefore, so far as these characters or states are concerned, origination and cessation would be possible under the influence of specific collocative circumstances. Again, the objection that since pure consciousness is beginningless it cannot suffer changes is invalid, for the Śaṅkarites admit avidyā also as beginningless and yet changeable. It may also be pointed out in this connection that the so-called contentless consciousness is never given in experience. Even the consciousness in dreamless sleep or in a swoon is related to the perceiver and therefore not absolutely contentless.
It is urged by the Śaṅkarites that the pure consciousness is unchanging because it is not produced. If, however, the word unchanging means that it never ceases to exist, it may be pointed out that the Śaṅkarites admit ajñāna to be unproduced and yet liable to destruction. Thus there is no reason why a thing should not be liable to destruction because it is not produced. If it is urged that the destruction of avidyā is itself false, then it may be pointed out with the same force that the destruction of all things is false. Moreover, since the Śaṅkarites do not admit any change to be real, the syllogism adduced by them that an entity which is unproduced is not changeable falls to the ground.
The difference between Śaṅkara’s conception of Brahman and that of Rāmānuja is that according to the former Brahman is absolutely unchangeable and characterless, and according to the latter the Brahman is the absolute, containing within it the world and the individual beings and all the changes involved in them. It is unchangeable only in so far as all the dynamical change rises from within and there is nothing else outside it which can affect it. That is, the absolute, though changeable within it, is absolutely selfcontained and self-sustained, and is entirely unaffected by anything outside it.
The Śaṅkarites urge that since consciousness is unproduced it cannot be many, for whatever is many is produced, e.g. the jug. If it is a pure consciousness which appears as many through the conditioning factors of avidyā, it may be asked in this connection whether, if the pure consciousness cannot be differentiated from anything else, it may as well be one with the body also, which is contrary to Śaṅkara’s thesis. If, however, it is replied that the so-called difference between the body and the pure consciousness is only a false difference, then it would have to be admitted and that would militate against the changeless character of Brahman as held by the Śaṅkarites.
Again, if the real difference between the body and the pure consciousness be denied, then it may be urged that the proposition following from it is that things which in reality differ are produced (e.g. the jug); but according to the Śaṅkarites jug, etc., are also not different from Brahman, and thus a proposition like the above cannot be quoted in support. Moreover, since the avidyā is unproduced, it follows that according to the maxim of the Śaṅkarites it would not be different from Brahman which, however, the Śaṅkarites would undoubtedly be slow to accept. It cannot also be held that an awareness does not differ from another awareness on the supposition that different awarenesses are but seeming forms imposed upon the same consciousness, for so long as we speak of difference we speak only of apparent difference and of apparent divergent forms; and if the apparent divergent forms are admitted, it cannot be said that thev are not different.
Again, ir is urged that the same moon appears as many through wavy water, so it is the same awareness that appears as many, though these are identically one. To this the reply is that the analogy is false. The image-moon is not identical with the moon, so the appearances are not identical with awareness. If it is said that all image-moons are false, then on the same analogy all awarenesses may be false and then if only one consciousness be true as a ground of all awarenesses then all awarenesses may be said to be equally true or equally false. Again, as to the view that the principle of consciousness as such does not differ from individual cognitions, such a position is untenable, because the Rāmānujists do not admit the existence of an abstract principle of consciousness; with them all cognitions are specific and individual. It may be pointed out in this connection that according to the Rāmānujists consciousness exists in the individuals as eternal qualities, i.e. it may suffer modification according to conditions and circumstances.
In objecting to the unqualified character of pure consciousness Veṅkaṭa says that to be unqualified is also a qualification. It differs from other qualities only in being negative. Negative qualifications ought to be deemed as objectionable as the positive ones. Again, Brahman is admitted by the Śaṅkarites to be absolute and unchangeable, and these are qualifications. If it is replied that these qualifications are also false, then their opposite qualifications would hold good, viz. Brahman would be admitted as changeable. Again, it may be asked how this unqualified character of Brahman is established. If it is not established by reason, the assumption is invalid; if it is established by reason, then that reason must exist in Brahman and it will be qualified by it (the reason).
Veṅkaṭa denies the assumption of the Śaṅkarites that consciousness is the self because it reveals it to itself on the ground that if whatever reveals it to itself or whatever stands self-revealed is to be called the self, then pleasure and pain also should be identical with the self, for these are self-revealed. Veṅkaṭa further urges that the revelation of knowledge is not absolutely unconditional because revelation is made to the perceiver’s self and not to anything and everything, a fact which shows that it is conditioned by the self. It may also be pointed out that the revelation of knowledge is not made to itself but to the self on one hand and to the objects on the other in the sense that they form constituents of knowledge.
Again, it is testified by universal experience that consciousness is different from the self. It may also be asked whether, if consciousness be identical with the self, this consciousness is unchangeable or changeable. Would later recognition be impossible? In the former alternative it may further be asked whether this unchanging consciousness has any support or not; if not, how can it stand unsupported? If it has a support, then that support may well be taken as the knower, as is done by the Rāmānujists. It may also be pointed out hēre that knowledge being a character or a quality cannot be identified with that (viz. the self) which possesses that character.
The Śaṅkarites assert that the self is pure consciousness. Therefore the perception of self as “I” is false, and therefore this notion of “I” is obsolete both in dreamless sleep and emancipation. To this Veṅkaṭa’s reply is that if the notion of “I” is obsolete in dreamless sleep, then the continuity of selfconsciousness is impossible. It is no doubt true that in dreamless sleep the notion of the self as “I” is not then manifestly experienced, but it is not on that account non-existent at the time, for the continuity of the self as “I” is necessarily implied in the fact that it is experienced both before the dreamless sleep and after it. Since it is manifestly experienced both before and after the dreamless sleep, it must be abiding even at the time of the sleep. And this self-consciousness itself refers to the past and the present as a continuity. If this ego-notion was annihilated during the dreamless sleep, then the continuity of experience could not be explained (madhye ca’hama-rthā-bhāve saṃskāra-dhārā-bhāvāt, pratisandhānā-bhāva-prasaṅgaś ca). It is a patent fact that in the absence of the knower neither ignorance nor knowledge can exist.
It cannot also be said that the continuity of experience is transmitted to pure consciousness or avidyā during the dreamless sleep; for the pure consciousness cannot be a repository of experiences, and if avidyā is the repository it would be the knower, which is impossible; and the fact of recognition would be unexplainable, for the experience associated with avidyā cannot be remembered by the entity to which the ego-notion refers. Moreover, the experience of a man rising from sleep who feels “I slept happily so long” indicates that the entity referred to by the ego-notion was also experienced during the sleep. Even the experience referring to the state in dreamless sleep as “I slept so soundly that I even did not know myself” also indicates that the self was experienced at that time as being ignorant of its specific bodily and other spatial and temporal relations. It cannot be contended that the entity denoted by the ego-notion cannot abide even in emancipation, for if there was no entity in emancipation no one would attempt to attain to this stage.
The existence of pure qualityless consciousness at the time of emancipation would mean the annihilation of the self, and no one would ever be interested in his own self-destruction. Moreover, if the entity denoted by the ego-notion is not a real entity, then the view (often put forward by the Śaṅkarites) that the entity denoted by the ego-notion is often falsely identified with the body or the senses would be meaningless. If the illusion be due to a false imposition of false appearances, such as the body or the senses, on the pure consciousness, then that cannot be called the delusion of the ego-entity as the body and the senses. It cannot also be said that in the experience of the self as “I” there are two parts, the pure consciousness which is eternal and real and the egohood which is a mere false appearance. For if it is so in the ego-experience it might also be so in other experiences as objectivity as this or that. Moreover, if this is so, what is there to distinguish the specific experience as subjectivity from the experience as objectivity? What is it that constitutes the special feature of subjectivity? Thus it may be confidently stated that the ego-entity is the real nature of the self.
It is urged by the Śaṅkarites that the notion of the self as the knower is false because the ultimate reality, being the self-luminous Brahman, is absolutely unchangeable. The attribution of the characteristic of being a knower would be incompatible with this nature. To this it may be replied that if the fact of being a knower is regarded as a changeable character, then being or self-luminosity would also be a character, and chey also would be incompatible with this nature. The change of the states of knowledge does not in any way affect the unchangeable nature of the self, for the self is not changed along with the change of the cognitions.
It is well known that the Śaṅkarites conceive of pure consciousness which is regarded as the witness (sākṣin), as it were, of all appearances and forms that are presented to it, and it is through its function as such a witness that these are revealed. It is through this sākṣi-consciousness that the continuity of consciousness is maintained, and during dreamless sleep the blissfulness that is experienced is also made apparent to this sākṣi-consciousness. The Rāmānujists deny this sākṣi-consciousness because it is unnecessary for them; its purpose is served by the functions of a knower whose consciousness is regarded as continuous in the waking state, in dreams, and also in dreamless sleep. Veṅkaṭa urges that the manifestation of blissfulness which is one with pure consciousness is implied by the very nature of pure consciousness as self-revealed. It may also be pointed out that the sensuous pleasures cannot be manifested during dreamless sleep; if this is so, why should a sākṣi-consciousness be admitted for explaining the experience of blissfulness during dreamless sleep?
Since Brahman is not admitted to be a real knower, the conception of sākṣin is not the same as that of a knower. It cannot also be a mere revelation; for if it be a revelation of itself as Brahman, then the mediation of the function of sāfoz-consciousness is unnecessary, and if it be of avidyā, then through its association Brahman would be false. It cannot be that the functioning of the sākṣi-consciousness is one with the nature of Brahman, and yet that partakes of the nature of avidyā; for it cannot both be identical with Brahman and the avidyā. If the functioning of the sākṣi-consciousness be false, a number of other sākṣins is to be admitted, leading to a vicious infinite. Thus in whatsoever way one may try to conceive of the sākṣi-consciousness, one fails to reconcile it either with reason or with experience.
Twenty-ninth and thirtieth Objections.
Veṅkaṭa urges that the Śaṅkarites are wrong in asserting that scriptural testimony is superior in validity to perceptual experience. As a matter of fact, scriptural knowledge is not possible without perceptual experience. Therefore scriptures are to be interpreted in such a way that they do not come into conflict with the testimony of perceptual knowledge. Therefore, since the perception proves to us the reality of the many around us, the scriptural interpretation that would try to convince us of their falsity is certainly invalid. The Śaṅkarites further urge and adduce many false illustrations to prove the possibility of attaining right knowledge through false means (e.g. the fear that arises from the perception of false snakes, representations of things that are made by letters, and the combinations of letters which are combinations of lines). But Veṅkaṭa’s reply to it is that in all those cases where falsehood is supposed to lead us to truth it is not through falsehood that we come to truth but from one right knowledge to another. It is because the lines stand as true symbols for certain things that they are represented by them, and it is not possible to adduce any illustration in which falsehood may be supposed to lead us to truth. If, therefore, scriptures are false (in the ultimate sense) as Śaṅkarites would say, it would be impossible for them to lead us to the true Brahma-knowledge.
The view of the Śaṅkarites that the emancipation may be attained by right knowledge even in this life before death, called by them Jīvanmukti or emancipation in life, is denied by the Rāmānujists, who hold that emancipation cannot be attained by right knowledge but by right actions and right feelings associated with right knowledge, and consequently emancipation is the result. Real separation of the association of the worldly things from the self can only come about after the body ceases to exist. Veṅkaṭa points out that, so long as the body remains, perception of the ultimate truth as one is impossible, for such a person is bound to be aware of the existence of the body and its manifold relations. If it be said that though the body persists yet it may be regarded as absolutely false or non-existent, then that would amount to one’s being without any body and the distinction of emancipation in life and emancipation in death would be impossible.
The Śaṅkarites assert that ajñāna or ignorance, though opposed to knowledge, is a positive entity as it is revealed as such by perception, inference and scriptural testimony. Veṅkaṭa, in refusing this, says that if ajñāna be regarded as opposed to knowledge, it can only be so if it negates knowledge, i.e. if it be of the nature of negation. Such a negation must then obviously refer to a content of knowledge; and if this be admitted then the content of knowledge must have been known, for otherwise the negation cannot refer to it. To this the Śaṅkarites are supposed to say that the negation of knowledge and the content to which it refers are two independent entities such that the experience of the negation of knowledge does not necessarily imply that the content should be known. Therefore it is wrong to say that the negation of knowledge is a contradiction in terms. To this the obvious reply is that as in the case of a negation, where the presence of the object of negation contradicts a negation, so when there is a negation of all contents of knowledge the presence of any content necessarily contradicts it. So the experience that “I do not know anything” would be contradicted by any knowledge whatsoever.
If it is urged that a negation of knowledge and its experience may be at two different moments so that the experience and the negation may not be contradictory, the reply is that perceptual experience always grasps things which are existent at the present time. Though in the case of the supposed perception of ajñāna during dreamless sleep the experience of ajñāna may be supposed to be known by inference, and in cases of such perception as “I am ignorant,” “I do not know myself or anything else,” there is obviously perceptual experience of ajñāna. It is, therefore, impossible that “I” should perceive and be at the same time ignorant. Perception of ignorance would thus be absurd. Again, the experience of a negation necessarily must refer to a locus, and this implies that there is a knowledge of the locus and that this would contradict the experience of a universal negation which is devoid of all knowledge. It may, however, be urged that the perception of ignorance is not the experience of a negation, but that of a positiv e entity, and so the objections brought forward in the above controversy would not apply to it.
To this the reply is that the admission of a positive category called ajñāna which is directly experienced in perception may imply that it is of an entity which is opposed to knowledge; for the negative particle “a” in “ajñāna” is used either in the sense of absence or negation. If it does so, it may well be urged that experience of opposition implies two terms, that which opposes and that to which there is an opposition. Thus, the experience of ajñāna would involve the experience of knowledge also, and, therefore, when the opposite of ajñāna shines forth, how' can ajñāna be perceived? It is clear, therefore, that no advantage is gained by regarding ajñāna as a positive entity instead of a mere negation.
The conception of a positive ajñāna cannot serve any new purpose which is not equally attainable by the conception of it as negation of knowledge. If a positive entity is regarded as able to circumscribe or limit the scope of manifestation of Brahman, a negation also may do the same. The Śaṅkarites themselves admit that knowledge shines by driving away the ignorance which constituted the negation-precedent-to the production of (prāga-bhāva) knowledge, and thus in a way they admit that ajñāna is of the nature of negation. The supposed experience of dullness (tnugdhu smi) involves in it the notion of an opposition. The mere fact that the word “dull” (mugdha) has no negative particle in it does not mean that it has no negative sense. Thus, a positive ignorance cannot be testified by perception.
It has been suggested that the existence of ajñāna may be proved by inference on the supposition that if light manifests itself by driving away darkness, so knowledge must shine by driving away positive ignorance. Now inference is a mode of knowledge and as such it must drive away some ignorance which was hiding its operation. Since this ajñāna could not manifest itself, It must imply some other ajñāna which was hiding it, and without driving which it could not manifest itself, and there would thus be infinite regress. If the ajñāna be regarded as hiding, then the inference may as well be regarded as destroying the ignorance directly. Whenever a knowledge illuminates some contents, it may be regarded as dispelling the ignorance regarding it. The scriptural texts also do not support the conception of a positive ajñāna. Thus, the concept of a positive ajñāna is wholly illegitimate.
The supposition that the ajñāna rests in the individual jīvas and not Brahman is also false. If the ajñāna is supposed to rest in the individual in its own real essence (i.e. as Brahman), then the ajñāna would virtually rest in Brahman. If it is supposed that ajñāna rests in the individual jīvas, not in their natural state but in their ordinarily supposed nature as suffering rebirth, etc., then this amounts to saying that the ajñāna is associated with the material stuff and as such can never be removed; for the material limitations of an individual can never have a desire to remove the ajñāna, nor has it the power to destroy it. Again, it may be asked whether the ajñāna that constitutes the difference of individual jīvas is one or many in different cases. In the former case in the emancipation of one, ajñāna would be removed and all would be emancipated. In the second case it is difficult to determine whether avidyā comes first or the difference between individual jīvas, and there would thus be anyonyā-śraya, for the Śaṅkarites do not admit the reality of difference between jīvas.
In the theory that ajñāna is associated with Brahman, the difference between jīvas being false, there is no necessity to admit the diversity of ajñāna according to the diversity of jīvas. In any case, whether real or fictitious, avidyā cannot explain the diversity of the jīvas. Again, if the ajñānas which are supposed to produce the diversity of the jīvas be supposed to exist in the Brahman, then Brahman cannot be known. In the view that these ajñānas exist in the jīvas, the old difficulty comes in as to whether the difference of avidyās is primary or whether that of the jīvas is primary. If the difficulty is intended to be solved by suggesting that the regression is not vicious as in the case of the seed and the shoot, then it may be pointed out that in the supposition that the ajñānas which produce difference in jīvas have these as their support then there is no scope for such a regression. The seed that produces the shoot does not produce itself. If it is suggested that the avidyā of the previous jīvas produces the later jīvas, then the jīvas would be destructible. Thus, from whichever way we may try to support the view that the avidyā rests in individual jīvas we meet with unmitigated failure.
It is said that the defect of avidyā belongs to Brahman. If this defect of avidyā is something different from Brahman, then that virtually amounts to the admission of dualism; if it is not different from Brahman, then Brahman itself becomes responsible for all errors and illusions which are supposed to be due to avidyā, and Brahman being eternal all errors and illusions are bound to be eternal. If it is said that the errors and illusions are produced when Brahman is associated with some other accessory cause, then about this also the old question may be raised as to whether the accessory cause or causes are different or not different from Brahman and whether real or not. Again, such an accessory cause cannot be of the nature of a negation-precedent-to the production of the true knowledge of the identity of the self and the Brahman; for then the doctrine of a positive ignorance propounded by the Śaṅkarites would be wholly unnecessary and uncalled for. Further, such a negation cannot be identical with Brahman, for then with true knowledge and with the destruction of ignorance Brahman itself would cease.
Again, since everything else outside Brahman is false, if there is any such entity that obstructs the light of Brahman or distorts it (if the distortion is in any sense real), then that entity would also be Brahman; and Brahman being eternal that distortion would also be eternal. If the defect which acts as an obstructive agent be regarded as unreal and beginningless, then also it must depend on some cause and this will lead to an infinite regress; if it does not depend upon any cause, then it would be like Brahman which shines forth by itself without depending on any defect, which is absurd. If it is supposed that this defect constructs itself as well as others, then the world-creation would manifest itself witliout depending upon any other defect. If it is said that there is no impropriety in admitting the defect as constructing itself, just as an illusion is the same as the construction, i.e. is made by it, then the Śaṅkarites would be contradicting their own views; for they certainly do admit the beginningless world-creation to be due to the operation of defects.
If the avidyā is not itself an illusory imposition, then it will be either true or chimerical. If it is regarded as both an illusory construction and a product, then it would not be beginningless. If it has a beginning, then it cannot be distinguished from the world-appearance. If illusion and its construction be regarded as identical, then also the old difficulty of the avidyā generating itself through its own construction would remain the same. Again, if the avidyā appears to Brahman without the aid of any accessory defect, then it will do so eternally. If it is urged that, when the avidyā ceases, its manifestation would also cease, then also there is a difficulty which is suggested by the theory of the Śaṅkarites themselves; for we know that in their theory there is no difference between the illumination and that which is illuminated and that there is no causal operation between them. That which is being illuminated cannot be separated from the principle of illumination.
If it is urged that the avidyā is manifested so long as there is no dawning of true knowledge, then may it not be said that the negation-precedent-to the rise of true knowledge is the cause of world-appearance and that the admission of avidyā is unnecessary? If it is said that the negation cannot be regarded as the cause of the very varied production of woild-appearances, then it can be urged with as much force that the position may also be regarded as capable of producing the manifold world-appearance. If it is held that positive defects in the eye often produce many illusory appearances, then it may also be urged on the other side that the nonobservation of distinctions and differences is also often capable of producing many illusory appearances.
If it is urged that negation is not limited by time and is therefore incapable of producing the diverse kinds of world-appearances under different conditions of time, and that it is for that reason that it is better to admit positive ignorance, then also it may be asked with as much force how such a beginningless ignorance unconditioned by any temporal character can continue to produce the diverse world-appearance conditioned in time till the dawning of true knowledge. If in answer to this it is said that such is the nature and character of avidyā, then it may well be asked what is the harm in admitting such a nature or character of “negation.” This, at least, saves us from admitting a strange and uncalled for hypothesis of positive ignorance.
It may be urged that negation is homogeneous and formless and as such it cannot undergo transformations of character, while avidyā, being a positive stuff, can pass through a series of transformations of character (vivarta-paramparā). In this connection it may be urged that the nature of avidyā is nothing but this succession of transformations of character; if it is so, then since it is the nature of avidyā to have a succession of diverse kinds of transformations, there may be all kinds of illusions at all times. It cannot also be regarded as an effect of transformation of character, for the avidyā is supposed to produce such effects.
If it is urged that avidyā is a distinct entity by itself, different from the appearance of its character that is perceived, then also the old question would recur regarding the reality or unreality of it. The former supposition would be an admission of dualism; the latter supposition, that is, if it is false, the succession of it as various appearances conditioned by diverse kinds of time and space would presuppose such other previous presuppositions ad infinitum.
If it is held that there is no logical defect in supposing that the previous sets of transformations determine the later sets in an unending series, it is still not necessary to admit avidyā in order to explain such a situation. For it may well be supposed that the different transformations arise in Brahman without depending upon any extraneous cause. The objection that such a supposition that Brahman is continually undergoing such diverse transformations of character (real or unreal) would inevitably lead to the conclusion that there is no Brahman beyond such transformations is invalid; for our perceptual experience shows that the transfor-matory change of a lump of clay does not invalidate its being. In such a view Brahman may be regarded as the ground of all illusory appearances. On the other hand, it is only on the assumption of false avidyā that one cannot legitimately affirm the existence of a basis, for the basis of falsehood would itself be false. Therefore, if Brahman be regarded as its basis, then it would itself be false and would land, us in nihilism.
Again, it may well be asked whether avidyā shines by itself or not. If it does not, it becomes chimerical; if it does, then it may again be asked whether this shining is of the nature of avidyā or not. If it is, then it would be as self-shining as Brahman and there would be no difference between them. Again, if the shining character of avidyā belongs to Brahman, the Brahman being eternal, there would never be a time when avidyā would not shine. The shiningness cannot also be regarded as a character of either Brahman or the avidyā, for none of them is regarded as being a knower of it.
If it is urged that the character as the knower is the result of an illusory imposition, then the objection is that the meaning of such an imposition is unintelligible unless the conception of avidyā is clarified. The character as knower is possible only on the supposition of an illusory imposition, and on the above supposition the illusory imposition becomes possible on the supposition of the knower. If it is due to Brahman, then Brahman, being eternal, the illusory impositions would also be eternal. If it be without any reason, then the entire world-illusion would be without any cause.
Again, any conception regarding the support of avidyā is unintelligible. If it has no support, it must be either independent like Brahman or be like chimerical entities. If it has a support and if that support be of the nature of Brahman, then it is difficult to conceive how the eternally pure Brahman can be the support of the impure avidyā which is naturally opposed to it. If the solution is to be found in the supposition that the impure avidyā is false, then it may well be urged that if it is false there is no meaning in the effort to make it cease. If it is said in reply that though it is nonexistent yet there is an appearance of it, and the effort is made to make that appearance cease, then also the reply is that the appearance is also as false as itself. If it is admitted that though false it can yet injure one’s interest, then its falsehood would be only in name, for its effects are virtually admitted to be real.
If Brahman in its limited or conditioned aspect be regarded as the support of avidyā, then since such a limitation must be through some other avidyā this would merely bring us into confusion. If it is held that avidyā has for its support an entity quite different from Brahman conditioned or unconditioned, then the view that Brahman is the support of avidyā has to be given up, and there would be other difficulties regarding the discovery of another support of this support. If it be said that like Brahman avidyā is its own support but Brahman is not its own support, then the support of avidyā would have no other support. If it is said that the support can be explained on the basis of conditions, then also it would be difficult to imagine how a condition of the nature of a receptacle (ādhārā-kāro-pādhi) can itself be without any support.
If further supports are conceived, then there would be a vicious infinite. Again, if it is held that what is false does not require any support, then it may be urged that according to the Śaṅkarites the support is regarded as the basis on which the illusion occurs, and even the jug is regarded as an illusion on the ground. Moreover, this false experience of avidyā is not any of the illusory or limited perceptions, such as ego-experience or the experience of other mental states; for these are regarded as the effects of avidyā. If they are not so, then they must be due to some other defects, and these to other ones, and so there would be a vicious infinite. If it is held that avidyā is nothing different from its experience, then since all experience is of the nature of Brahman, Brahman itself would be false. Again, if the avidyā manifests itself as Brahman by hiding its (Brahman) nature, then all pure revelation being hidden and lost, avidyā itself, which is manifested by it, would also be naturally lost. If it be manifested as Brahman and its own nature be hidden, then Brahman alone being manifested there would be no question of bondage. It is obvious that it cannot manifest itself both as avidyā and as Brahman, for that would be self-contradictory, since knowledge always dispels ignorance.
If it is held that just as a mirror reflects an image in which the character of the mirror and the real face is hidden, so avidyā may manifest itself and hide both itself and the Brahman. To this the reply is that in all cases of illusions of identity (tādātmyā-dhyāsa) the non-observation of the difference is the cause of the error. The cause of the illusion of the face and the mirror is the non-observation of the fact that the face is away from the mirror. But Brahman and avidyā are neither located in a proximate space so that it is possible to compare their illusion of identity by the illustration of other illusions which depend upon such proximity. If it is said of avidyā, not being a substance, that all criticism that applies to real and existent entities would be inapplicable to it, then such a doctrine would be almost like nihilism, for all criticisms against nihilism are accepted by nihilists as not invalidating their doctrine.
It is held by the Śaṅkarites that avidyā and māyā are two distinct conceptions. Māyā is supposed to be that by which others are deluded, and avidyā is supposed to be that which deludes one’s self. The word māyā is used in various senses but none of these seems to satisfy the usage of the word in Śaṅkarite manner. If it is supposed that the word māyā, of which Brahman is supposed to be the support, has this peculiarity that it manifests its various forms to others as well as deludes them, then it is hard to distinguish it from the conception of avidyā. If it is held that the word avidyā is restricted to mean the agent that causes false perceptions as in the case of conch-shell-silver, then māyā may also be called avidyā, for it also causes the false world-appearance to be perceived. There is no reason why the cause of the false perception of the conch-shell-silver should be called avidyā and not those relatively true cognitions which contradict such illusory perceptions. Īśvara also may be said to be suffering from avidyā, for since He is omniscient He has the knowledge of all individual selves of which falsehood is a constituent.
If God has no knowledge of illusions, He would not be omniscient. It is wrong also to suppose that māyā is that which manifests everything else except Brahman in its nature as false; for if the Brahman knows the world-appearance as false without being under an illusion, it would still be hard to repudiate the ignorance of Brahman. If Brahman knows all things as the illusions of others, then He must know the others and as such their constituent illusions, and this would mean that Brahman is itself subject to avidyā. It is difficult also to conceive how one can have any cognition of falsehood without being under illusion, for falsehood is not mere non-existence but the appearance of an entity where it does not exist. If Brahman sees other people only under illusions, that does not mean that Brahman deludes others by His māyā. There may be a magician who would try to show his magic by mere false tricks.
If the Brahman tried to show His magic by mere false reflections, He would indeed be mad. It may be supposed that the difference between avidyā and māyā is that avidyā, by producing illusory experiences, hurts the real interests of the perceiving selves, yet the Brahman Who perceives these illusory selves and their experiences does so through the agency of māyā which does not injure His interest. To this the reply is that if māyā does not injure anybody’s interest, it cannot be called a defect. It may be objected that defects have no connection with harmful or beneficial effects but they have a relation only to truth and error. Such a view cannot be accepted, for truth and error have a pragmatic value and all that is erroneous hurts one’s interests ; if it were not so, nobody would be anxious to remove them.
If it is argued that māyā is not a defect of Brahman but a quality, then it may be said that if it were so then no one would be anxious to remove it. If, again, māyā were a quality of Brahman and served the purpose of such a mighty person, how could the poor individual selves dare it? And if they could, they would be able to injure the practical interests of an Omnipotent Being, for māyā being a quality would certainly be of great use to Him. Māyā cannot be destroyed by itself without any cause, for that would land us in the doctrine of momentariness. If the māyā were eternal and real, that would be an admission of dualism. If māyā be regarded as being included in Brahman, then Brahman, being only self-manifesting, and māyā being included within it would not have the power of producing the world-delusions which it is supposed to produce.
Again, māyā being eternal cannot also be false. Again, if the manifestation of māyā from Brahman be regarded as real, then the ignorance of Brahman becomes also real; if it is a false manifestation from Brahman, then it would be meaningless to suppose that Brahman should be using the māyā as an instrument of play. It is absurd to suppose that Brahman would be playing with false reflected images, like a child. Again, if the jīvas and Brahman be identical, then it is unreasonable to suppose that the ignorance of the jīvas would not imply the ignorance of Brahman. If, again, the jīvas and the Brahman be really different, then how can there be any emancipation by the knowledge of their identity? So the conception of a māyā and an avidyā different from it is wholly incomprehensible.
It is held by the Śaṅkarites that a knowledge of monistic identity produces emancipation. Now such a knowledge cannot be different from the Brahma-knowledge; for if it is a contentless entity, then it would be no knowledge, since the Śaṅkarites hold that knowledge can only be a mental state associated with a content (vṛtti-rūpaṃ hi jñānaṃ saviṣayam eva iti bhavatām api siddhāntaḥ). It cannot also be identical with Brahma-knowledge, for if such a knowledge can produce emancipation the pure Brahma-knowledge would have done the same. It may be held that in the case of the illusion of conch-shell-silver, when there is a true shining regarding the nature of the “this” in its own character, then that is equivalent to the contradiction of the illusory appearance of silver, and the manifestation of identity showing the real nature of Brahman may be regarded as contradictory to world-illusion. To this the reply is that there is no identity between the existence of the “this” as conch-shell and its appearance as silver.
Thus, one knowledge may contradict the other, but in the case under review there is no new element in the notion of the identity which was not already present in the Brahma-knowledge itself. If the notion of identity be regarded as a contentful knowledge, then it would be different from the Brahma-knowledge, and being itself false it could not remove the error. The case where a thing known is again recognized is also not a proper instance for supporting the Śaṅkarite position, for here also the knowledge of recognition is not the same as the knowledge of original acquaintance, whereas the notion of identity is supposed to be the same as the Brahma-knowledge. Again, if it is supposed that a mental state of a particular content removes the illusions and produces Brahma-knowledge, then the illusions would be real entities since they were capable of being destroyed like other entities.
If it is held that the notion of identity has a reference to Brahman as limited by avidyā, then that will be like the manifestation of the illusory world-creations through the sāfoi-consciousness, and such a manifestation would not remove errors.
Again, it may be asked whether the knowledge that produces the notion that all else excepting Brahman is false can itself be regarded as constituting falsehood, for that would be self-contradictory. If the notion of the falsehood of the world-appearance be itself regarded as false, then the world would have to be regarded as real. If it is urged that as in the supposition of the death of a barren woman’s son both the barren woman’s son and his death are false, so here also both the world and its falsehood may be equally false. But it may be replied that iṇ the instance put forward the falsehood of the barren woman’s son and that of his death are not both false. Again, if the falsehood of the world-appearance were real, then that would imply dualism.
Again, if inferences led to the contradiction of world-appear-ance, then there would be no reason to suppose that the contradiction of the world-appearance would be possible only through listening to the Vedāntic texts of identity. If the contradiction of world-appearance is produced by Brahman itself, then Brahman being eternal there would be no world-illusion. Again, Brahman has been regarded as helping the process of world-illusion in its own pure nature for otherwise there would have been no illusion at all. It is a curious doctrine that though Brahman in its pure nature helps illusion, yet, in its impure nature, as the scriptural texts or the knowledge arising out of them, it would remove it. So in whichever way we may think of the possibility of a removal of ajñāna we are brought into confusion.
The conception of the cessation of the avidyā is also illegitimate. For the question that arises in this connection is whether the cessation of avidyā is itself real or unreal. If it is unreal, then the hope that the avidyā is rooted out with such a cessation is baffled, for the cessation itself is a manifestation of avidyā. It cannot be said that the cessation of avidyā has as its ground a real entity, the ātman, for then the ātman will have to be admitted as suffering change. And if in any way the cessation of avidyā is to be regarded as having a true cause as its support, then the cessation being real there would be dualism. If it is regarded as an illusion, and there is no defect behind it, then the assumption of avidyā as a defect for explaining the world-illusion would be unnecessary. If it is without any further ground like avidyā and Brahman, then there is no meaning in associating avidyā with it. There is also no reason why, even after the cessation of avidyā, it may not rise up again into appearance.
If it is suggested that the function of the cessation of avidyā is to show that everything else except Brahman is false and as soon as this function is fulfilled the cessation of avidyā also ceases to exist, then also another difficulty has to be faced. For if the cessation of avidyā itself ceases to exist, then that would mean that there is a cessation of cessation w hich means that avidyā is again rehabilitated. It may be urged that when a jug is produced it means the destruction of the negation-precedent-to-production (prāga-bhāva), and when this jug is again destroyed it does not mean that the negation-precedent again rises into being; so it may be in this case also. To this the reply is that the two cases are different, for in the above case the negation of one negation is through a positive entity, whereas there is nothing to negate the cessation of avidyā', so in this case the negation would be a logical negation leading to a position of the entity negated, the avidyā. If it is said that there is the Brahman which negates the cessation of avidyā, then the difficulty would be that Brahman, the negation of both avidyā and its cessation, being eternal, there ought to be no illusory world-creation at any time.
If the cessation of avidyā is not itself of illusory nature and if it is regarded as included in the being of Brahman, then Brahman being beginningless the avidyā should be regarded as having always remained arrested. It cannot be said that the existence of Brahman is itself the cessation of ajñāna, for then it would be impossible to connect the cessation of avidyā with the realization of the nature of Brahman as cause and effect.
If it is suggested that a mental state reflecting the nature of Brahman represents the cessation of ajñāna of Brahman and that this mental state may be removed by other causes, then the reply is that this would mean that such a mental state is illusory; and this implies that the cessation of avidyā is illusory. The criticism of such a view is given above. The cessation of avidyā is not real, being outside Brahman; neither real, something different from real, and unreal, for that could not lead to a real cessation. So ultimately it must be neither unreal nor something different from any of the above entities, for the cessation of positive and negative entities only are of the nature of real and unreal.
Ajñāna is something different from real and unreal; its cessation is valid, being amenable to proofs. So the cessation has to be admitted as being something unique and different from all existent and non-existent entities. In reply it may be said that if the ajñāna is admitted to be like-anon-existent entity (asatīva), then in both the two meanings of negation, that is, in the view that negation is but the other name of position and that negation is a separate category in itself, the admission of avidyā would involve dualism.
If it is regarded as something chimerical, it could never show itself, and such a chimerical entity would have no opposition to the world-cycle. So the cessation of avidyā cannot lead to emancipation. Again, if the cessation of avidyā is non-existent, that would imply the existence of avidyā. The cessation of avidyā is not like the destruction of a jug which has a real existence, so that though it may appear like a non-being, yet the jug may be regarded as a positive entity. The destruction of avidyā is not of that nature, for it has no definite form. If it is held that the cessation of avidyā is of the fifth type, that is, different from existent, non-existent, existent-and-non-existent and different-from-existent-and-non-existent, then this is virtually the admission of the mādhyamika doctrine of indescribability of all phenomena, for it also describes the world-phenomena as being of the fifth type. There is also really no way in which such an absolutely unique and indefinable category can be related to anything else.
It is argued by the Śaṅkarites that the scriptural texts cannot signify Brahman, which is devoid of all and every specific quality. To this Veṅkaṭa replies that Brahman is endowed with all specific qualities and, therefore, it is quite legitimate that texts should signify it. It is wrong also to suppose that Brahman, being self-luminous, cannot be manifested by words, for it has been shown by the Rāmānuja school that even the self-luminous can be the object of further awareness. Brahman is also sometimes described by the Śaṅkarites as the state of being quality-less, but is itself a quality since it is used adjectively to Brahman. Moreover, if Brahman could not be signified by the scriptural texts, the texts themselves would be meaningless.
It is wrong also to suppose that the scriptural words refer to Brahman only in a secondary manner, just as one may point to a tree-top in order to show that the moon is visible (śākhā-candra-darśana) ; for whatever be the method, Brahman is indicated by the texts. Even a state of non-conceptual meditation (asamprajñāta-samādhi) is not absolutely unpredicable. In that state one cannot apply the concepts or words. If Brahman is absolutely without any character, it cannot be admitted that it should be implied or signified in a remote manner (lakṣya) by the scriptures. The passages which say that Brahman is beyond word (yato vāco nivartante) indicate only that the qualities of Brahman are infinite. Thus, it is wholly unjustifiable on the part of the Śaṅkarites to say that Brahman is not indicated by the texts.
It is maintained by the Śaṅkarites that all determinate knowledge is false because it is determinate in its nature like the conch-shell-silver. If all that is determinate is false, then since all distinctions must involve determinateness they would all be false and thus ultimately we have monism. The futility of such a position is shown by Veṅkaṭa, who points out that such an inference involves determinate concepts in all its limbs, and would thus be absolutely unwarrantable according to the thesis itself. Moreover, if the determinate knowledge is false, the indeterminate would also be false for want of corroboration.
It is wrong also to suppose that determinate perceptions are false for want of corroborative evidence from other awarenesses; for an illusion may be further corroborated by other illusions and may yet be false, and the last corroborative knowledge would be false for want of further corroborations, which would lead to the falsehood of the whole set of corroborations which is dependent on it.
It is also wrong to suppose that determinate conceptions do not stand the test of causal efficiency, for all our practical experiences depend on determinate notions. It cannot also be held that the conceptual cognitions involving universals are false, for they are neither contradicted nor found to be doubtful in any way. Thus, if all determinate cognitions are regarded as false, then that would lead us to nihilism and not to monism. Moreover, if the indeterminate nature of Brahman is to be inferred from the indeterminate nature of our perception of external things, then on the analogy of the falsehood of the former the latter may also be false.
The Śaṅkarites hold that all effects are false, for they seem to contradict themselves if an attempt is made to conceive the logical situation. Is the effect produced out of the cause related with it or unrelated? In the first alternative the cause and the effect, being but two relata connected together by relation, there is no reason why the effect should be produced by the cause and not the cause by the effect. If the cause produces the effect without being related to it, then anything might produce anything. Again, if the effect be different from the cause, things which are different from one another would be productive of one another. If they are identical, then one could not produce the other. If it is said that cause is that which invariably precedes and effect is that which invariably succeeds, then a thing ought to be existent before the negation-precedent-to-production.
Again, if the effect be regarded as having been produced from a material cause which has undergone transformation, then it may further be asked whether these transformations are produced from other transformations, and this would lead to a vicious infinite. If the effect be regarded as produced from a cause which has not undergone any transformation, then it would abide the whole time in which the material cause remains. Moreover, an effect is like the illusory silver which is nonexistent in the beginning and in the end. The production of an entity cannot be either from a positive entity or a negative entity; for an effect, say, the jug, cannot be produced from its cause, the earth-matter, without producing some change in it, that is, without negating it in some way or the other. On the other hand, if the production is regarded as being from a negation, then it will itself be a negation. So in whichever way a causal relation may be viewed, it becomes fraught with contradictions.
The reply of Veṅkaṭa to this is that the objection as to whether the effect is related to the cause in its production or unrelated to it is overcome by the view that the effect is unrelated to the cause; but that need not imply that all that is unrelated to the cause should be the effect, for mere unrelatedness does not induce the production of the effect such that the very unrelatedness will connect anything with any other thing as effect. The special powers associated with causal entity are responsible for the production of the special effects, and these can be known by the ordinary methods of agreement and. difference. The relations of the causal elements among themselves are transferred to the effect. It is well known that causes produce effects of an entirely different nature, just as when a jug is produced by a stick and the potter’s wheel. Even the material cause is very different from the material cause as the effect. It is indeed admitted that the effect is produced from a modified (vikṛta) cause, for any change in the cause, even the proximity of an accessory condition, would be a modification. But if modification or vikāra cannot be affirmed of the cause in the sense in which the effect is regarded as a modification, it may be said in that sense that the effect is produced from an unmodified cause.
It would be wrong to suggest that any and every effect might spring from any and every unmodified cause, for an effect is produced from an unmodified cause under proper temporal conditions and the association of collocative agents. It is also wrong to suggest that in the supposition that an effect is analysable as a course of changes, the cause as the immediate antecedent would be undiscoverable; and the cause being undiscoverable the effect would also be inexplicable; for it is the effect which is recognized as perceived and this implies the existence of the cause without which it could not come into being. If it is urged that the effect is not perceived, or that it is contradicted, then the obvious reply is that both nonperception and contradiction are effects, and in denying effects through them the criticism becomes self-contradictory.
When a material cause is changed into an effect, there are certain parts of it which remain unchanged, even when that effect is changed into other objects called effects, and there are some characters which are formed only in certain effects. Thus, when gold is changed into a bangle and the bangle into a necklace, the persisting qualities of gold continue the same both in the bangle and in the necklace; but the special form of the bangle does not pass into that of the necklace. Again, the objection that if the effects were already existent in the cause, then there is no necessity of the causal operation as has elsewhere been repudiated, and it has also been pointed out that the assertion that all effects are false like conch-shell-silver is false, for these effects are not found to be contradicted like these illusory appearances. It is wrong also to suggest that because an effect does not exist in the beginning or in the end it also does not exist in the middle, for its existence in the middle is directly experienced. It may also be suggested on the other hand that because an effect exists in the middle it must also exist in the beginning and in the end.
It is suggested by the Śaṅkarites that all notions of difference as effects are illusorily imposed upon one permanent entity which permeates through all so-called different entities, and that it is this permeating entity which is real. Against such a supposition the Śaṅkarites may be asked to discover any entity that permeates both through Brahman and avidyā. It would be wrong to suggest that Brahman is both in itself and in the avidyā', for Brahman cannot have any dual entity, and also cannot be illusorily imposed upon itself.
The suggestion that since the unity of a flame is perceived to be false all perception is false is obviously wrong, for in the former case the illusion is due to the rapid coalescing of similar flames, but this does not apply to all perception.
In the sense of substance (dravya) an effect exists in the cause, but in the sense of an effect-state the effect does not exist in the cause. The objections of the Śamkhyists that if the effect-state did not exist in the cause it could not be produced and that similarly anything could be produced from anything are futile, for the effects are produced by specific powers which manifest themselves as effects in definite spatial and temporal conditions.
A question is asked whether the effects are produced from a positive or a negative entity, that is, whether when the effects are produced they are produced as states of a substance which persists through them or not. Veṅkaṭa’s reply is that the substance persists; only states and conditions change when the effect is produced. For in the production of an effect there is change only in the causal state and not in the causal substance. There is thus an agreement-between the cause and the effect only so far as the substance is concerned and not with reference to their states; for it is by the negation of the causal state that the effect-state arises. It is sometimes suggested that since an effect is neither permanently existing nor permanently non-existing it must be false. But this suggestion is obviously wrong, for the fact that an entity may be destroyed at a later moment does not mean that it was non-existent at the moment when it was perceived.
Destruction means that an entity which was existent at a particular moment was non-existent at another. Contradiction means that a thing is non-existent even when it is perceived. Mere non-existence is not destruction, for the negation-precedent-to-production might also be called destruction since it is also non-existent. Non-existence at a later point of time also does not mean destruction, for then even chimerical entities might also be called destruction. The case of conch-shell-silver is not a case of destruction, for clearly that is a case of contradiction in experience. Thus, if the concepts of production, destruction and non-existence be analysed, then it will be found that the concept of effect can never be regarded as illusory.
It is said that Brahman is of the nature of pure bliss (ānanda); but it may well be said that in whichever sense the word ānanda may be used it will not be possible to affirm that Brahman is of the nature of pure bliss. For if ānanda means an entity the awareness of which induces an agreeable experience, then Brahman will be knowable. If it means merely an agreeable experience, then Brahman would not be pure indeterminate consciousness. If it means a mere agreeable attitude, then duality will be implied. If it means negation of pain, then Brahman would not be positive and it is well admitted on all hands that Brahman is neutral. Moreover, according to the Śaṅkarites themselves the state of intuition of Brahman is regarded as a positive state like the state of dreamless sleep. Thus, in whichever way one may look at the problem the assertion that the indeterminate Brahman is of the nature of pure bliss becomes w holly unwarrantable.
The eternity of Brahman cannot be maintained, if it is regarded as indeterminate. If eternity means existence in all times, then avidyā also would be eternal; for it is also associated with all time, and time is itself regarded as its product. If it is urged that association with all time does not mean existence in all time, then it is wrong to regard existence in all times as a definition of eternity, for it will be enough to say that existence itself is eternal. The “inclusion of all time” as distinguished from mere existence shows the difference between existence and eternity. Eternity would thus mean existence in all time, which can be affirmed of avidyā also. Eternity cannot also be defined as that which does not cease in time since such a definition would apply to time also which does not cease in time. It cannot also be said that eternity means that which is not contradicted in the beginning or in the end, for then the world-appearance also would be eternal.
Again, it is difficult to understand how consciousness is regarded as eternal by the Śaṅkarites, for if it is affirmed of ordinary consciousness, then that is directly against perceptual experience; and if it is affirmed of transcendental consciousness, then that is directly against experience. Further, eternity cannot be regarded as the essence, for then it would be identical with self-luminosity, and its predication, such as Brahman is eternal, would be unnecessary. If it is regarded as a knowable quality, then if such a quality existed in consciousness, consciousness would become knowable. If it did not exist in consciousness, then its knowledge would not imply the eternity of consciousness. It cannot also be said that whatever is not produced is eternal, for then negation-precedent-to-production would be eternal. If it is said that any positive entity which is not produced is eternal, then avidyā would also be eternal. Thus, in whichever way one may try to prove the eternity of the indeterminable pure consciousness one fails.
It is often asserted by the Śaṅkarites that there is a unity of the self. If by self here they mean the “ego,” then clearly all the egos cannot be regarded as identical, for it is well known that the experiences of other people are never identified by us as ours. Nor can it be said that there is unity of consciousness of us all, for then each of us would know the minds of others. It is not maintainable that our underlying being is the same, for that would not mean the identity of our selves. One may think of universal existence, but that would not mean the identity of the existents. Again, the identity of the selves cannot be regarded as real since the selves (jīvas) themselves are regarded as unreal. If the identity of the selves be regarded as false, then there is no reason why such a doctrine should be propounded. In any case, when one has to deal with our experiential life, one has to admit the diversity of selves and there is no other proof by which their identity may be established. Thus it would be wrong to think, as the Śaṅkarites do, that there is one self.
Footnotes and references:
Śata-dūṣaṇī, 11. 78.