A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 3

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

This page describes the philosophy of ishvara-gita, its philosophy as expounded by vijnana bhikshu: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the ninth part in the series called the “the philosophy of vijnana bhikshu”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 9 - Īśvara-gītā, its Philosophy as expounded by Vijñāna Bhikṣu

In the second part (uttara-vibhāga) of the Kūrma Purāṇa the first eleven chapters are called Īśvara-gītā. In the first chapter of this section Suta asks Vyāsa about the true knowledge leading to emancipation as originally instructed by Nārāyaṇa in his incarnation as a tortoise.

It is reported by Vyāsa that in Vadarikāśrama in an assembly of the sages

(—)Ṛṣi Nārāyaṇa appeared and later on Śiva also came there. Śiva then at the request of the sages gave a discourse regarding the ultimate nature of reality, the world and God. 'The real discourse begins with the second chapter. Vijñāna Bhikṣu wrote a commentary on the Īśvara-gītā ; he thought that since the Īśvara-gītā contains the main purport of the Bhagavad-gītā it was unnecessary for him to write any commentary on the latter.

Apart from the Sāṃkhya and Yoga works, Yijñāna Bhikṣu wrote a commentary on the Brahma-sūtra, a commentary on the Upaniṣads, and a commentary on the Īśvara-gītā of the Kūrma Purāṇa. In his commentary on the Brahma-sūtra he quotes a passage from Citsukhācārya of the thirteenth century, lie himself probably flourished some time in the fourteenth century.

Bhikṣu’s other works are

  • Sāṃkhya-pravacatia-bhāṣva,
  • Yoga-vārtika,
  • Yoga-sūtra,
  • Sāṃkhya-sāra,
  • and the Upadeśa-ratnamālā.

In his interpretation of the Brahma-sūtta and of the Īśvara-gītā he has followed the line of interpretation of Vedānta as adopted in the Purāṇas, where the Sāṃkhya-yoga and Vedānta appear to be wielded together into one indivisible harmonious system. The philosophy of the Īśvara-gītā as dealt with here is based upon Bhikṣu’s commentary, called the Īśvara-gītā-bhāṣya which was available to the present writer as a manuscript by courtesy of M. M. Gopīnātha Kavirāja, of the Benares Sanskrit College.

The main questions that were asked by the sages which led to the discourse of Śiva are the following:

  1. What is the cause of all?
  2. Who suffers rebirth?
  3. What is the soul?
  4. What is emancipation?
  5. What is the cause of rebirth?
  6. What is the nature of rebirth?
  7. Who can realize all?
  8. What is the ultimate reality, the Brahman ?

The answers to these questions are not given serially, but the most important topics as they appeared to the instructor, Śiva, were handled by him in his own order of discourse. Thus the eighth question was taken up for answer before all other questions. This answer begins with a description of the nature of Atman not as the individual soul, but as the highest self.

Vijñāna Bhikṣu seems to acknowledge the doctrine of absolute absorption or assimilation of the individual soul within the universal and infinite soul. And even during his existence in this world, the soul is said to be merely a witness.

He explains that in the answer to the eighth question in the Kūrma Purātia, 11. 1. 7, p. 453[1], the word ātmā refers to the Godhead, though in ordinary usage it stands only for the finite souls, and suggests the self-sameness of the finite and infinite souls. The reference here is thus to the prākṛtā-tmā and not to the jīvā-tmā[2]. God is called sarvā-ntara as He has already entered the hearts (antaḥ) of the diverse living beings and exists there in the capacity of being only a witness (sarveṣāṃ sva-bhinnānām antaḥ-sākṣitvenanugataḥ)[3]. A sākṣī (witness) is he who illuminates (sva-prati-vitnbita-vastu-bhāsakaḥ), without any efforts on his part (vyāpāraṃ vina’ va). He is called antaryāmi on account of his association with finite intelligences and through this association even the individual soul shares the greatness of the highest self.

Vijñāna Bhikṣu says that the line “asmād vijāyate viśvam atraiva pravilīyate” occurs here by way of giving a reason for the śakti-śaktimad-a-bhedatva doctrine so ably put forth by calling the ultimate Reality or paramā-tman, antaryāmin and then explaining the doctrine a little by giving him a few adjectives more to bring out the significance of the esoteric doctrine or suggestion of Śakti-śaktimad-abhedatva. Now it is said that as it is from Him that the inverse-effects are created, in Him they exist and in Him they are annihilated. He is non-different (or better, inseparable) from puruṣa and prakṛti, because of His being the support and the ground of the whole universe beginning from puruṣa and prakṛti; i.e. of the effects right down from puruṣa and praktṛi and inclusive of them.

If like the body He had not superintended all the causal agencies, then the cause, like the dravya, guṇa, karma, etc., could not have effected any causal function

(yadi hi paramā-tmā dehavat sarvaṃ kāraṇaṃ na’dhitiṣṭheta tarhi dravya-guṇa-karmā-di-sādhā-raṇā-khila-kriyā-rtha-mūla-kāraṇaṃ na syād iti)[4].

If it is said that the sentence speaks of effectedness (or causality) as common to all tangible manifestations, then the idea of the previous sentence maintaining the identity between Brahman and the world would not be admissible[5].

Brahman is the upādāna-kāraṇa of the universe, but this universe is a pariṇāmi-rūpa of Brahman. His is not therefore the pariṇāmi-rūpa, because that will contradict the statements made by the scriptures declaring the Brahman to be unchangeable (kūṭastha). Then Vijñāna Bhikṣu defines that God being the ultimate substratum of all, the functioning of all tvpes of causes is helped in its operation by Him and it is this that is called the adhiṣṭhāna-kāraṇatā of God.

Then he maintains his doctrine of jīvūtma-paramā-tmanor amśāṃśy-abheda by the line “sa māyī rnāyayā baddhaḥ karoti vividhās tanūḥ” and says further that Vājñavalkya-smṛti and Vedānta-sūtra also preach the same doctrine. Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā says the same thing. Then comes the elaboration of the same idea. A reference to Śaṅkara by way of criticizing him is made[6]. Māyā-vāda is called a sort of covert Buddhism and for support a passage from Padma-purāṇa has also been quoted.

adhiṣṭhāna-kāraṇatva, or the underlying causality, is defined as that in which, essence remaining the same, new differences emerge just as a spark from the fire. This is also called the aṃśāṃśi-bhāva, for, though the niravayava Brahman cannot be regarded as having parts, yet it is on account of the emergence of different characters from a common basis that the characterized units are called the parts of the common basis. It should be noted that Vijñāna Bhikṣu is against the view that the Brahman undergoes any transformatory change. Though the Brahman does not undergo any transformatory change, yet new differences emerge out of it. In the sentence “Sa māyī mayayā baddhaḥ” the idea is that the māyā itself is an integral part of the Divine entity and not different from it. The māyā is like an aṃśa which is identical with the aṃśin.

Though in the scriptures both the distinction and the identity of the individual with the Brahman have often been mentioned, yet it is by the realization of the difference of the individual with the Brahman that ultimate emancipation can be attained[7].

The self is of the nature of pure consciousness and is not in any way bound by its experiences. The assertion of Śaṅkara that ātmā is of the nature of joy or bliss is also wrong; for no one can always be attached to himself, and the fact that everyone seeks to further his own interest in all his actions does not imply that the soul is of the nature of bliss. Moreover, if the soul is of the nature of pure consciousness, it cannot at the same time be of the nature of pure bliss; at the time of acquiring knowledge we do not always feel pleasure.[8]

Egoism (abhimāna) also does not belong to the soul but like sukha and duḥkha belongs to prakṛti, which are wrongly attributed to the self.[9] The soul is, however, regarded as an enjoyer of its experiences of pleasure and pain, a reflection of them on it through the vṛtti, and such a reflection of pleasure and pain, etc., through the vṛtti is regarded as the realization (sākṣātkāra) of the experiences. Such an enjoyment of experiences, therefore, is to be regarded as anaupādhika (or unconditional). This is also borne out by the testimony of the Bhagavad-gltā and Sāṃkhya. Such an enjoyment of the experiences does not belong to the prakṛti (sākṣātkāra-rūpa-dharmasya dṛśya-dharmatva-sambhavāt)[10].

The passages which say that the experiences do not belong to the puruṣa refer to the modifications of vṛtti in connection with the experiences. The assertion of Śaṅkara, therefore, that the ātman is as incapable of experiences (bhogā) as of the power of acting (kartṛtva) is therefore false.

Ajñāna, according to Vijñāna Bhikṣu, means anyathā-jñāna. Pradhāna is so called because it performs all the actions for the sake of the puruṣa ; and it is through the fault of his association with pradhāna that the puruṣa is associated with false knowledge.

The ātman remains unchanged in itself and the differences are due to the emergence of the association of buddhi and other faculties which give rise to experience. At the time of emancipation jīvas remain undifferentiated with Brahman. Prakṛti, puruṣa, and kāla are ultimately supported in Brahman and yet are different from it.

There are indeed two kinds of scriptural texts, one emphasizing the monistic side, the other the dualistic. A right interpretation should, however, emphasize the duality-texts, for if everything were false then even such a falsity would be undemonstrable and self-contradictory. If it is argued that one may accept the validity of the scriptural texts until the Brahman is realized and when that is done it matters little if the scriptural texts are found invalid, the reply to such an objection is that, whenever a person discovers that the means through which he attained the conclusion was invalid, he naturally suspects the very conclusion arrived at. Thus the knowledge of Brahman would itself appear doubtful to a person who discovers that the instruments of such knowledge were themselves defective.

The individual soul exists in the paramā-tman in an undifferentiated state in the sense that the paramā-tman is the essence or ground-cause of the jīvas ; and the texts which emphasize the monistic side indicate this nature of paramā-tman as the ground-cause. This does not imply that the individual souls are identical with Brahman.

Pleasure and pain do not belong to the self; they really belong to the antaḥkaraṇa and they are ascribed to the self only through the association of the antaḥkaraṇa with the self. In the state of emancipation the self is pure consciousness without any association of pleasure and pain. The ultimate end is the cessation of the suffering of sorrow (duḥkha-bhoga-nivṛtti) and not the cessation of sorrow (na duḥkha-nivṛttiḥ) ; for when one has ceased to suffer sorrow, sorrow may still be there and the avoidance of it would be the end of other persons. The assertion of Śaṅkara that there is bliss in the stage of emancipation is wrong. For during that stage there is no mental organ by which happiness could be enjoyed. If the self be regarded as of the nature of bliss, then also the self would be both the agent and the object of the enjoyment of bliss, which is impossible. The ascription of ānanda in the state of emancipation only refers to it in a technical sense, i.e., ānanda means the absence of pleasure and pain.

Bhikṣu admits a gradation of realities. He holds further that when one entity is stabler than another, the former is more real than the latter. Since paramā-tman is always the same and does not undergo any change or transformation or dissolution, He is more real than the prakṛti or puruṣa or the evolutes of prakṛti. This idea has also been expressed in the view of the Purāṇas that the ultimate essence of the world is of the nature of knowledge which is the form of the paramā-tman. It is in this essential form that the world is regarded as ultimately real and not as prakṛti and puruṣa which are changing forms.

The prakṛti or māyā has often been described as that which can be called neither existent nor non-existent. This has been interpreted by the Śaṅkarites as implying the falsity of māyā. But according to Vijñāna Bhikṣu it means that the original cause may be regarded as partly real and partly unreal in the sense that while it is unproductive it is regarded as unreal, and when it passes through the course of evolutionary changes it is regarded as real (kiñcit sad-rūpā kiñcit asad-rūpā ca bhavati).

Now coming to sādhanā he says that by āgama, anumāna and dhyāna one should attain self-knowledge. This self-realization leads to the asamprajñāta-yoga which uproots all the vāsanās. It is attained not only by the cessation of ajñāna but also by the destruction of the karmas. He also maintains that the emphasis of Śaṅkara on the understanding of the Upaniṣadic texts as a means to the attainment of self-realization is also wrong.

In the state of mukti, self having dissociated itself from the liṅga-śarīra becomes one with Brahman, just as the river becomes one with the sea. This is not a case of identity, but one of non-difference (liṅga-śarīrā-tmaka-ṣoḍaśa-kala-śūnyena ekatām avi-bhāga-lakṣanā-bhedam atyantaṃ vrajet). Here in the state of mukti the identity and difference of jīva and Brahman have been indicated on the analogy of the river and the sea.

Bhikṣu says that there is a difference between the Sāṃkhya and Yoga regarding the attainment of emancipation. The followers of the Sāṃkhya can attain emancipation only by the cessation of their prārabdha karmas. Since avidyā has been destroyed, the realization of emancipation has only to wait till the prārabdhas exhaust themselves. The followers of Yoga, however, who enter into a state of asamprajñāta-samādhi have not to suffer the fruits of the prārabdha, because being in a state of asamprajñāta meditation the prārabdha can no longer touch them. They can, therefore, immediately enter into a state of emancipation at their own sweet will.

According to Bhikṣu, though Īśvara transcends the guṇas, yet through his body as pure sattva he carries on the creative work and the work of superintending and controlling the affairs of the universe. Though his agency is manifested through his body as pure sattva as a directive activity, yet it is without any association of passions, antipathies, etc.

In the third chapter of the Kūrma Purāṇa it is said that pra-dhāna, puruṣa and kāla emerge from avyakta, and from them the whole world came into being. Bhikṣu says that the world did not emanate directly from Brahman but from pradhāna, puruṣa and kāla. There cannot be any direct emanation from Brahman; for that would mean that Brahman undergoes a change. A direct emanation would imply that evil and hell also sprang from Brahman. The emanation of prakṛti, puruṣa and kāla from Brahman is explained on the supposition that Brahman is a kind of ground-cause of prakṛti, puruṣa, and kāla (abhivyakti-kāraṇa or ādhāra-kāraṇa).

But this emanation of prakṛti, puruṣa and kāla is not through modificatory processes in the manner in which curd is produced from milk. I n the time of dissolution prakṛti and puruṣa are unproductive of any effects and may therefore be regarded as it were as nonexistent. It is through the will of God that the prakṛti and puruṣa are drawn out and connected together, and the point of motivation is started for the processes of modification of th e prakṛti. This point of motivation is called kāla. It is by such a course that all these three may be regarded as producing an effect and therefore as existent. It is in this sense that prakṛti, puruṣa and kāla are regarded as brought into being by God[11].

Avyakta as God is so called because it transcends human knowledge. It is also so called because it is a state of non-duality, where there is no difference between energy and its possessor, and where everything exists in an undifferentiated manner. Avyakta used in the sense of prakṛti is the basis of change, or change as such; and puruṣa denotes the knower.

The paramā-tman is spoken of as the soul of all beings. This should not, however, be taken to mean that there is only the paramātman which exists and that all things are but false impositions on his nature. The paramā-tman or Parame-śvara is both different and identical with kāla, pradhāna and the puruṣa. The existence of the prakṛti and the puruṣa has to be regarded as less ultimate than the existence of God, because the existence of the former is relative as compared with the existence of God (vikārā-pekṣayā sthiratvena apekṣakam etayos tattvam, p. 44).

Time is regarded as an instrumental cause of the connection of prakṛti and puruṣa. Time is a superior instrumental agent to deeds, for the deeds are also produced by time (karmā-dīnam api kāla-janyatvāt). Though the time is beginningless, yet it has to be admitted that it has a special function with reference to each specific effect it produces. It is for that reason that at the point of dissolution time does not produce the evolutes of mahat, etc. Mahat-tatva is in itself a combination of the conscious centres and the material element.

When the word puruṣa is used in the singular number, such a use should not be interpreted to mean a denial of the individual puruṣas. It only means that in such instances of scriptural texts the word puruṣa has been used in a generic sense. Puruṣas are also of two kinds—the apara and the para. Both are in themselves devoid of any qualities and of the nature of pure consciousness. But there is this difference between the para puruṣa and the apara puruṣa, that while the former never has any kind of association with any experience of pleasure and pain, the latter may sometimes be associated with pleasure and pain which he at that time feels to be his own (anye guṇā-bhimānāt saguṇā iva bhavanti paramātmā tu guṇā-bhimāna-śūnyaḥ, p. 46).

It must be understood, however, that the experiencing of pleasure and pain is not an indispensable part of the definition of puruṣa, for at the stage of jīvan-mukti the puruṣas do not identify themselves with the experiences of pleasure and pain, but they are still puruṣas all the same. God, however, who is called the superior puruṣa, does not associate Himself with the experiences that proceed as a fruit of karma and which are enjoyed in a spatial-temporal manner. But God continues to enjoy eternal bliss in association with His own special upādhi or conditions (svo-pādhistha-nityā-nanda-bhoktṛtvaṃ tu parama tmano pi asti).

When the scriptural texts deny the enjoyment of the experiences of pleasure and pain with regard to the Supreme puruṣa, the idea is that though the Supreme puruṣa underlies the ordinary puruṣas as their ground yet he is not in any way affected by their experiences (ekasminn era buddhāv avasthāmena jīva-bhogataḥ prasaktasya paramā-tma-bhogasyai’vapratiṣedhaḥ).

So the Supreme puruṣa has in common with ordinary puruṣas certain experiences of his own. These experiences of pure eternal bliss are due to the direct and immediate reflection of the bliss in the puruṣa himself, by which this bliss is directly and immediately experienced by him. By such an experience the puruṣas cannot be admitted to suffer any change. lie can, however, be aware of the mental states of ordinary persons as well as their experiences of pleasure and pain in a cognitive manner (such as that by which we know external objects) without being himself affected by those experiences. This enjoyment of experience is of course due to the action of God’s mind through the process of reflection.

The monism of such a view becomes intelligible when we consider that the puruṣa, the mahat, the ahaṃkāra and all its products exist in an undifferentiated condition in the very essence of God. The ultimate puruṣa as the supreme cognitive principle underlies the very being of puruṣas and the faculties such as the buddhi and the ahaṃkāra, and also all in later material products. For this reason, by the underlying activity of this principle all our cognitions become possible, for it is the activity of this principle that operates as the faculties of the origins of knowledge. In the case of the experience of pleasure and pain also, though these cannot subsist outside the mind and may not apparently be regarded as requiring any separate organ for their illumination, yet in their case also it is the mind, the buddhi, that behaves as the internal organ. So though pleasures and pains cannot be regarded as having an unknown existence, yet their experiences are also interpreted as being due to their reflection in the mind.

When the mahat becomes associated with the puruṣa and no distinction is felt between it, the puruṣas and the original ground-cause, it is then that the cycle of world-existence appears. It is the super-consciousness of God that holds together the objective and the subjective principles. The objective principle, the prakṛti, and the subjective centres, the puruṣas, are held together in a state of non-distinction. It is this that gives rise to all experiences of sorrow and bondage with reference to the conscious centres. It may be asked how it is that the buddhi and the puruṣa are held in nondistinction instead of being distinguished from one another. The reply is that distinction and non-distinction are both possible elements in the buddhi, and the function of Yoga is to destroy the obstruction in the way of the realization of such a mutual distinction (yogā-dinā tu pratibandha-mātram apākriyate).

Love of God proceeds in two stages: first, from the notion of God as satisfying our highest needs; and, secondly, in the notion of Him as being one with the self of the devotee.

These highest needs find their expression

  1. firstly in our notion of value as pleasure and satisfaction in our experiences;
  2. secondly, in our notion of value in our emancipation;
  3. thirdly, in our notion of value in the satisfaction that we achieve in our realization of the sublimity in experiencing the greatness of God

(Prema ca anurāga-viśeṣaḥ paramā--tmani iṣṭa-sādhanatā-jñānāt ātmatva-jñānāc ca bhavati. iṣṭam api dvi-vidhaṃ bhogā-pavargau tan-mahimā-darśano-ttha-sukhaṃ ca iti tad evaṃ māhātmya-pratipādanasya phalaṃ prema-lakṣaṇā bhaktiḥ).

Māyā, as identified with prakṛti, should be regarded as substantive entity. The prakṛti has two elements in it, sattva and tamas. Through sattva, wisdom or true knowledge is produced; through tamas is produced delusion or false knowledge. It is this aspect of prakṛti as producing false knowledge that is called māyā. Māyā is described as being triguṇā-tmikā prakṛti or the prakṛti with three guṇas. But though the māyā is identified with prakṛti, yet this identification is due to the fact that the tamas side of prakṛti cannot be taken as apart from the prakṛti as a whole. When it is said in the scriptures that God destroys the māyā of Yogins, it does not mean that the triguṇā-tmikā prakṛti as a whole is destroyed, but only that the operation of the tamas side is suspended or destroyed or ceases only with reference to the Yogin. Māyā is also described as that which cannot produce an illusion in Him on whom it has to depend for its existence, i.e. God, but that it can produce illusion or false knowledge in others (svā-śraya-vyāmohakatve sati para-vyāmohakatvam).

It is further said that God creates the world by his maya-śakti as composed of the three guṇas. The significance of the designation māyā in this connection implies that it is by the false identification of the prakṛti and the puruṣa that the latter evolutionary process of the formation of the world and world-experience becomes possible. The term māyā is generally restricted to prakṛti in its relation to God, whereas it is called avidyā as a delusive agent with reference to individuals.

True knowledge does not consist in a mere identification with Brahman as pure consciousness, but it means the knowledge of Brahman, his relationship with pradhāna, puruṣa, and kāla, and the manner in which the whole cosmic evolution comes into being, is maintained, and is ultimately dissolved in Brahman; and also in the personal relationship that he has with the individuals, and the manner in which he controls them and the ultimate ways of attaining the final realization. Kāla is, again, here referred to as the conditional upādhi through which God moves the prakṛti and puruṣa towards the evolution of the cosmic process.

The great difficulty is to explain how God who is regarded in essence of the nature of pure consciousness and therefore absolutely devoid of desire or will can be the cause of the great union of prakṛti with the puruṣas. The answer proposed by Bhikṣu is that in God’s nature itself there is such a dynamization that through it He can continue the actualizing process and the combining activities of th t prakṛti and puruṣa lying dormant in Him.

Though prakṛti and puruṣa may also be regarded as the causes of the world, yet since the combination happens in time, time may be regarded primarily as a dynamic agent; the condition existing in God through which He renders the union is made possible

(mama svīyo bhāvaḥ padā-rthaḥ sva-bhāva upādhiḥ tatas tasya preraṇāt bhagavāti a-pratihato mahā-yogasya prakṛti-puruṣā-di-saṃyogasya īśvaras tatra samarthaḥ . . . prakṛti-prati-kṣaṇa-pariṇāmānam eva kālo-pādhitvāt).

Since God moves both the prakṛti and the puruṣa through His own dynamic conditions, the whole universe of matter and spirits may be regarded as His body in the sense that they are the passive objects of the activity of God. God is thus conceived as dancing in his activity among his own energies as prakṛti and puruṣas. It may be argued that puruṣa being itself absolutely static, how can these be moved into activity consists of the fact that they are turned to the specific operations or that they are united with the prakṛti. Sometimes it is also suggested that the prakṛti is the condition of the puruṣas and that the movement of the prakṛti in association with the puruṣas is interpreted as being the movement of the puruṣas.

In the seventh chapter of Īśvara-gītā Brahman is defined as the Universal. Thus any cause may be regarded as Brahman in relation to its effect. So there may be a hierarchy of Brahmans as we proceed from a lesser universal to a higher universal.

The definition of Brahman is:

yad yasya kāraṇaṃ tat tasya brahma tad-apekṣayā vyāpakatvāt”

As God contains within Himself all the universals, He is called brahma-māyā. God is always associated with the puruṣas. But yet His dynamic activity in association with the puruṣas consists in bringing about such an association with prakṛti that the objects of the world may be manifested to them in the form of knowledge.

The jīva or individual is regarded as being a part of God, the relation being similar to that of a son and father. When the jīvas dedicate all their actions to God with the conviction that if it is God who works through them, then virtues and vices lose their force and become inefficacious to cause any bondage to them. As all jīvas are the parts of God, there is a great similarity between them in spite of their diversity. God exists in the jīvas just as the whole exists in the parts.

Vijñāna Bhikṣu conceives of the adhiṣṭhāna-kāraṇa as the ground cause, as one which in itself remains the same and yet new differences emerge out of it. This is also his doctrine of the part and the whole. The parts are thus supposed to be emergents from the whole which does not itself participate in any change. The relation is thus not organic in the sense that the dissolution of the parts would mean the dissolution of the whole. In the pralaya the parts are dissolved, yet pure Brahman remains just as it was in the stage of creation. So, again, when the parts are affected pleasures and pains are experienced, but the affection of the parts does not involve in the least the affection of the whole. But the whole is not affected by the sufferings that exist in the emergents. It is further stated that it is through the function of the ground-cause that the emergents, e.g. substance, quality and action, can express themselves or operate in their specific forms. The underlying whole, the ground-cause, has really no parts in itself. Yet from this common basis various emergents of appearances as characterized units show themselves, and since they are seen to emerge from it they are in this specific technical sense called the parts of the underlying ground cause.

It will thus be seen that the Brahman, the ground-cause, always remains unchangeable in itself, but it is said that the Brahman is associated with māyā and is united by it (sa māyī māyayā baddhaḥ). The idea is that the māyā is an integral part of the divine entity and not different from it. Māyā is like a part which is identical with the whole.

Though in the scriptures both the distinction and the identity of the individual with the Brahman have often been mentioned, yet it is by the realization of the difference of the individual from the Brahman that the ultimate emancipation can be attained[12].

In the Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad, n. 4. 5, it is stated that all other things are desired because we desire the self. Śaṅkara infers from it that we are primarily attached to the self, and since all attachments imply attachment to pleasure, it follows that the self is of the nature of pleasure or bliss. Other things are desired only when they are falsely regarded as ourselves or parts of ourselves. Bhikṣu denies this proposition. He says that firstly it is not true that we are always attached to our own selves; nor, therefore, is it true that seeking of happiness from other sources is always the seeking of the selves. It is, therefore, wrong to suppose that self is of the nature of bliss. If the soul is of the nature of pure consciousness, it cannot be the nature of pure bliss. If bliss and consciousness were the same, all knowledge would imply pleasure, but our knowledge is as much associated with pleasure as with pain.

Pleasure and pain, as also egoism (abhimāna), belong to prakṛti or its product buddhi and are transferred through its function (vṛtti) to the self, which is the real enjoyer and sufferer of pleasure and pain. The self is thus the real experiencer and the experiences therefore do not belong to the prakṛti but to the self[13]. Through the operation of the sense-contact with the object and light the mental states are generated. These mental states are called vṛtti and belong to buddhi and therefore to prakṛti, but corresponding to each such mental state there is an intuition of them on the part of the puruṣa (vṛtti-sākṣātkāra) and it is this intuition that constitutes the real experience of the puruṣa. The word bhoga has an ambiguity in meaning. It sometimes refers to the mental states and at other times to their intuition and it is as the former state that the bhoga is denied of the puruṣa.

The ajñāna (ignorance) in this system means false knowledge. When the puruṣa intuits the vṛttis of the buddhi and thereby falsely regards those vṛttis as belonging to itself there is false knowledge which is the cause of the bondage. The intuition in itself is real, but the associations of the intuitive characters with the self are erroneous. When the self knows its own nature as different from the vṛttis and as a part of Brahman in which it has an undifferentiated reality, we have what is called emancipation. The existence of the self as undifferentiated with Brahman simply means that the Brahman is the ground-cause, and as such an unchangeable ground-cause Brahman is of the nature of pure consciousness. It is in its nature as pure consciousness that the whole world may be regarded as existing in the Brahman of which the prakṛti and the puruṣa, the one changing by real modifications and the other through the false ascription of the events of prakṛti to itself, may be regarded as emergents.

The world is ultimately of the nature of pure consciousness, but matter and its changes, and the experience itself are only material and temporary forms bubbling out of it. But since these emergent forms are real emanations from Brahman an over-emphasis on monism would be wrong. The reality consists of both the ground-cause and the emergent forms. Śaṅkara had asserted that the duality was true only so long as the one reality was not reached. But Bhikṣu objecting to it says that since the monistic truth can be attained only by assuming the validity of the processes that imply duality, ultimate invalidation of the dualistic processes will also nullify the monistic conclusion.

Footnotes and references:


Bibliotheca Indica edition, 1890.


See Īśvara-gītā-bhāṣya, MS.


evam antaryāmi-sattva-sambandhāt cin mātro’pi paramā-ntaryāmī bhavati sarvā-ntaratvena sarva-śaktiṣv’ avibhāga-lakṣaṇā-bhedāt.


Īśvara-gītā-bhāṣya. MS.






Īśvara-gītā-bhāṣya. MS.








na tu sākṣād eva brahmaṇaḥ. . . atra kālā-di-trayasya brahma-kāryatvam abhivyakti-rupam eva vivakṣitam.. . . prakṛti-puruṣayoś ca mahad-ādi-kāryo-nmukhatañ ca parame-śvara-kṛtād anyonya-saṃyogād eva bhavati, evaṃ kālasya prakṛti-puruṣa-samyogā-khya-kāryo-nmukhatvaṃ parame-śvare-cch ayai’va bhavati.


yady api bhedā-bhedā-vubhāv eva śruti-smṛtyoruktau tathā’pi yathokta-bheda-jñāna-rūpa-vivekad eva sarvā-bhimāna-mivṛtyā sākṣāt mokṣaḥ.


sākṣāt-kāra-rūpa-dharmasya dṛśya-dharmatva-sambhavāt.
     Bhikṣu’s commentary on Īśvara-gītā. MS.