by Bhalchandra Sitaram Sukthankar | 1935 | 327,828 words
The English translation of the Bhagavad-Gita Rahasya, also known as the Karma-yoga Shastra or “Science of Right Action”, composed in Marathi by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1915. This first volume represents an esoteric exposition of the Bhagavadgita and interprets the verses from a Mimamsa philosophical standpoint. The work contains 15 chapters, Sanskri...
"That second imperceptible substance, which is higher than the (Sāṃkhya) Imperceptible, and which is eternal, and which is not destroyed even when all other living things are destroyed, [is the ultimate goal]"
The sum and substance of the last two chapters was that what was referred to as the kṣetrajña (Owner of the Body) in the consideration of the Body and the Ātman is known in Sāṃkhya philosophy as 'Puruṣa'; and that when one considers the question of the construction and the destruction of the mutable and immutable or the moveable and immoveable world, one arrives finally, according to the Sāṃkhyas, at only two independent and eternal fundamental elements, namely, Matter and Spirit; and that it is necessary for the Spirit to realise its difference from Matter, that is, its isolation, and transcend the three qualities (become triguṇātīta) in order to obtain the total annihilation of its pain and attain Release, Modern natural scientists explain the order in which Matter places its evolution before Spirit, after its union with Spirit, in a way slightly different from the Sāṃkhyas; and, as the natural sciences are further developed, this order is likely to be improved. But the fundamental proposition that all perceptible objects have come into existence in a gradual order out of one imperceptible Matter as a result of the development of the constituents, cannot possibly be altered. Nevertheless, looking upon this as the subject-matter of other sciences, the lion of Vedānta does not enter into any dispute about it. That lion wants to go beyond all these sciences, and determine what Absolute Element is at the root of the Cosmic Body, and how a man should be merged in It; and in this its province it will not be out-roared by any other science.
As jackals become mute in the presence of the lion, so do all other sciences in the presence of Vedānta; therefore, an ancient classical writer has appropriately described Vedānta in the following words:
tāvat garjanti śāstrāṇi jambukā vipine yathā |
na garjati mahāśaktiḥ yāvad vedāntakesarī ||
That is: "other sciences howl like jackals in the woods, so long as the lion of Vedānta, the all-powerful, does not roar".
The 'Observer' which has been located after the consideration of the Body and the Ātman, namely, the Puruṣa (Spirit) or Ātman (Self), and imperceptible Matter with its sattva, rajas and tamas constituents which has been located after the- consideration of the Mutable and the Immutable, are both independent according to the Sāṃkhyas, who say that, on that, account, the fundamental Element of the world must be looked, upon as dual. But Vedānta goes further, and says that in as- much as the spirits of the Sāṃkhyas are innumerable (though, they are qualityless), it would be prima facie better and more proper from the logical point of view (i) to carry to its- logical conclusion and without exception, the theory of the- unifying tendency of Knowledge, described in the words, "avibhaktaṃ vibhakteṣu", which is seen rising from lower grades to higher grades, and as a result of which tendency. all the various perceptible objects in the universe can be included in one imperceptible Matter, and (ii) to include both Matter and these innumerable Spirits finally and without division in the Absolute Element, than to believe that fundamental Matter is capable of first ascertaining in what the good of each one of these innumerable Spirits lies, and of behaving accordingly (Bhagavadgītā 18.20–22). Diversity is the result of Individuation, and if Spirit is qualityless, these innumerable Spirits cannot possess the quality of remaining distinct from each other; or, one has to say that they are not fundamentally innumerable, but that this innumerability has arisen in them as a result of their contact with the quality of Individuation possessed by Matter. There arises also another question, namely, is the union which takes place between independent Spirit and independent Matter real or illusory?. If you say it is real (permanent), then, in as much as it can never be got rid of, the Ātman can never attain Release according to the Sāṃkhya doctrines; and if you say it is illusory, then, the statement that Matter begins to place its evolution before Spirit, as a result of its union with Spirit, falls to the ground. Even the illustration that Matter keeps up a continual dance for the benefit of Spirit, in the same way as the cow gives milk for the benefit of its calf, is inappropriate; because, you cannot explain away the relation between Matter and Spirit in the same way as you can explain the love of the cow for her calf on the ground that it has come out of her womb ("Śāṃkarabhāṣya 2. 2. 3). According to Sāṃkhya philosophy, Matter and Spirit are fundamentally extremely different from each other and whereas one is gross (jaḍa), the other is self-conscious (sacetana). If these two substances are extremely different and independent of each other at the commencement of the world, why should one act for the benefit of the other? Saying that such is their inherent quality is not a satisfactory answer. If one has to rely on an inherent quality, why find fault with the Gross-Non-Dualism (jaḍādvaita) of Haeckel?, Does not Haeckel say that in the course of the growth of the constituents of fundamental Matter, it acquires the Self-consciousness of looking at itself or of thinking of itself? But if the Sāṃkhyas do not accept that position, and if they differentiate between the 'Observer' and the 'visible world', why should one not make further use of the logic by which one arrives at this differentiation? Howmuchsoever one may examine the visible world, and come to the conclusion that the sensory nerves of the eye possess particular properties, yet, the one who has ascertained this, remains a separate entity. When in this way the Spirit which sees the visible world is found to be different from the visible world which it sees, then, is there or is there not some way for us for ascertaining who this 'Observer' is, as also whether the real form of the visible universe is as we perceive it by our organs, or different from it? Sāṃkhya philosophers say that, as these questions can never be solved, one is driven to look upon Matter and Spirit as two fundamentally different and independent elements; and if we consider the matter purely from the point of view of natural sciences, this opinion of the Sāṃkhyas cannot be said to be incorrect; because, the 'Observer', or what is known in Vedānta as the 'Ātman', cannot at any time become perceptible to the organs of the Observer, that is, to its own organs, as a separate entity, in the same way as we can examine the properties of the other objects in the universe as a result of their having become perceptible to our organs; and how can human organs examine such a substance which is incapable of perception by the organs, that is, beyond the reach of the organs (indriyātīta)?
The Blessed Lord has himself described the Ātman in the Bhagavadgītā in the following words:–
That is, "it, that is, the Ātman cannot be cut by weapons, it cannot be burnt by fire, it cannot be wetted by water or dried up by wind". Therefore, the Ātman is not such a thing that it will be liquified like other objects by pouring on it a liquid substance like sulphuric acid, or that we will be able to see its interior by cutting it by sharp instruments in a dissecting room, or that by holding it over fire it will be turned to gas, or that it will be dried up by wind!"
In short, all the devices which natural scientists have got for examining worldly objects fall flat in this case. Then, how is the Ātman to be examined? The question does appear to be difficult; but if one ponders a little over the matter, it will be seen to be not difficult. How have even the Sāṃkhyas determined that Spirit is qualityless and independent? Have they not done that by experience got by their own consciousness? Then, why not make use of the same method for determining the true nature of Matter and Spirit 1 Herein lies the great difference between Materialistic philosophy and the philosophy of the Absolute Self. The subject-matter of Materialistic philosophy is perceptible to the organs, whereas that of the philosophy of the Absolute Self is beyond the organs, that is, it is self-perceptible, or something which one oneself alone can realise. It may be argued that if the Ātman is self-perceptible, then let each person acquire such knowledge of it as he himself can: where is the use of the philosophy of the Absolute Self? This objection will be proper, if the Mind or the Conscience of each man were equally pure. But, as we know by experience that the purity or strength of everybody's mind is not the same, we have to- accept as authoritative in this matter the experience of only those persons whose minds are extremely pure, clean, and broad. There is no sense in carrying on a foolish argument that 'I think like this' or 'you think like that' etc. Vedānta does not ask you to abandon logic altogether. All that it says is that since the subject-matter of the philosophy of the Absolute Self is selfperceptible, that is, as it is not capable of discernment by Materialistic methods, those arguments, which are inconsistent with the personal and direct experience which supermen, possessing an extremely pure, clean, and broad mind, have described regarding the Absolute Self, cannot be taken as correct in the consideration of that philosophy. Just as in Materialistic sciences, inferences inconsistent with physical experience are considered useless, so in the philosophy of the Absolute Self, personal experience or something which one's Ātman has realised is considered of higher value than technical skill. That teaching which is consistent with such selfexperience is acceptable to the Vedāntists. Śrīmat Śaṃkarācārya has laid down this very principle in his commentary on the Vedānta-Sūtras, and those who wish to study the philosophy of the Absolute Self must always bear it in mind. There is an ancient saying that:–acintyāḥ khalu ye bhāvā na tāṃs tarkeṇa sādhayet । prakṛtibhyaḥ paraṃ yat tu tad acintyasya lakṣaṇam ॥ that is, "one should not, by mere imagination or inference, draw conclusions about those objects on which it is impossible to contemplate as they are beyond the reach of the organs; that substance which is beyond Matter, (which is the fundamental substance of the entire universe), is. in this way, incapable of contemplation"; and this stanza has been, adopted in the Mahābhārata (Śriman Mahābhārata Bhīṣma 5.12) and also in the commentary of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya on the Vedānta-Sūtras, but with the reading 'yojayet' instead of 'sādhayet'. (Śāṃkarabhāṣya 2.1. 7). It is similarly stated in the Muṇḍakopaniṣad and the Kaṭhopaniṣad, that knowledge of the Absolute Self cannot be got merely by imagination (Muṇḍakopaniṣad 3.2.3; Kaṭhopaniṣad 2.8.9 and 22). That is why the Upaniṣads have an important place in the philosophy of the Absolute Self. Much attention had been paid in India in ancient times to the question of concentrating the mind, and there was developed in our country an independent science on that subject which is known as the (Pātañjala) Yoga science. Those venerable Ṛṣis who, being experts in that science, had besides minds which were naturally very pure and broad, have described in the Upaniṣads the experience gained by them by introspection about the nature of the Ātman, or all that with which their pure and peaceful minds were inspired. Therefore, for drawing 1 any conclusion about any Metaphysical principle, one cannot but refer to these Śruti texts (Kaṭhopaniṣad 4.1). One may find various arguments which support and justify this self-experience according to one's own acumen; but thereby, the authoritativeness of the original self-experience does not suffer. It is true that the Bhagavadgītā is a Smṛti text; but, I have explained in the very beginning of the first chapter, that it is considered to be as authoritative in the matter as the Upaniṣads. I have, therefore, in this chapter first explained with authorities, but simply–that is, without giving reasons–the doctrines propounded in the Gītā and in the Upaniṣads about this unimaginable Substance which is beyond Matter, and I have considered later on in the chapter in what way those theories can be scientifically supported.
The Bhagavadgītā does not accept the Sāṃkhya dualism of Matter and Spirit, and the first doctrine of the philosophy of the Absolute Self in the Gītā, as also in Vedānta, is that there is at the root of the moveable and immoveable world, a third Principle which is all-pervading, imperceptible and imperishable, and which is beyond both Matter and Spirit. Although the Sāṃkhya Prakṛti is imperceptible, it is qualityful (saguṇa), because, it is composed of the three constituents. But whatever is qualityful is perishable.
Therefore, that something else which, being imperceptible, still survives after this qualityful imperceptible Matter has been destroyed, is the real and permanent Principle of the entire Cosmos–as has been stated in the Gītā in the course of the discussion on Matter and Spirit in the stanza (Bhagavadgītā 8.20) quoted at the beginning of this chapter; and later on, in the fifteenth chapter, after referring to the Mutable and the Immutable–the Perceptible and the Imperceptible–as the two Sāṃkhya elements, the Gītā says:–
That is, "that Puruṣa, which is different from both these (Matter and Spirit) is the Super-Excellent, the One which is known as the Absolute Ātman, the Inexhaustible and the AllPowerful; and, pervading the three-sphered universe, It protects it."
As this Spirit is 'beyond' both the Mutable and the Immutable, that is, beyond the Perceptible and the Imperceptible, it is properly called (See Bhagavadgītā 15.18) 'the Absolute Spirit' (puruṣottama).
That is, "when the Ātman is imprisoned within the body, it is called Kṣetrajña (or Jīvātman, i.e., personal Self); and when the same Ātman is released from these 'prākṛta' qualities, that is, from the qualities of Matter or of the body, it is known as the Paramātman (Absolute Self)".
One is likely to think that these two definitions of the 'Paramātman' are different from each other; but really speaking, they are not so. As there is only one Paramātman, which is beyond the Mutable and Immutable Cosmos, and also beyond the Jīva (or, beyond both imperceptible Matter and Spirit, according to the Sāṃkhya philosophy) a two-fold characteristic or definition of one and the same Paramātman can he given, by once saying that It is beyond the Mutable and the Immutable, and again saying that It is beyond Jīva (Soul) or the Jīvātman (i.e., Puruṣa). Bearing this aspect in mind, Kālidāsa has described the Parameśvara in the Kumārasambhava in the following words: "You are the Matter which exerts itself for the benefit of the Spirit, and You are also the Spirit which, apathetic Itself, observes that Matter" (Kuma. 2.13). So also, the Blessed Lord has said in -the Gītā: "mama yonir mahadbrahma", i.e., "Matter is My generative principle (yoni) or only one of My forms" (14.3) and that "Jīva or Soul is a part of Me" (15.7); and in the seventh chapter, the Blessed Lord says:–
That is, "the earth, water, fire, air, ether, the Mind, Reason, and Individuation is My eightfold Prakṛti"; besides this (apareyam itastv anyām), "that Jīva (Soul) which is maintaining the whole of this world is also My second Prakṛti" (Bhagavadgītā 7.5). The twenty-five Sāṃkhya elements have been referred to in many places in the Mahābhārata. Nevertheless, it is stated in each place that there is beyond these twenty-five elements an Absolute Element (paramatattva), which is the twenty-sixth (ṣaḍviṃśa) Element, and that a man does not become a 'buddha' (scient) unless he has realised It (Śān. 308). Our world is nothing but that knowledge which we get of all the objects in the world by means of our organs of Perception; that is why Matter or Creation is sometimes referred to as 'jñāna' (Knowledge), and from this point of view, the Spirit becomes 'the Knower' i.e., jñātā (Śān. 306. 35–41). But the real TO BE KNOWN (jñeya) is beyond both Matter and Spirit, that is, beyond both Knowledge and Knower, and, that is what is known as the Absolute Spirit (paramapuruṣa) in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 13.12). Not only the Gītā, but also all the works on Vedānta philosophy are repeatedly exhorting us to realise that parama or para (that is, Absolute) Spirit which pervades the entire Cosmos and eternally maintains it; and they say that It is One, that It is Imperceptible, that It is Eternal, and that It is Immutable. The adjectives 'akṣara' (Immutable) and 'avyakta' (Imperceptible) are used in Sāṃkhya philosophy with reference to Prakṛti (Matter), because, it is one of the Sāṃkhya doctrines that there is no other fundamental cause of the Cosmos which is more subtle than Prakṛti (Sāṃkhya Kārikā 61). But–and my readers must bear this in mind- - as, from 'the point of view of Vedānta, the Parabrahman alone is a-kṣara, that is, something which is never destroyed, and also a-vyakta, that is, imperceptible to the organs, the same terms 'akṣara' and 'avyakta' are used in the Gītā for referring to the form of the Parabrahman which is beyond Matter (Bhagavadgītā 8.20; 11.37; 15.16, 17). It is true that when this point of view has been accepted it would be incorrect to refer to Matter as akṣara (imperishable or immutable) though it may be avyakta (imperceptible); but as the Gītā accepts the doctrines of the Sāṃkhya system, regarding the order of creation of the Cosmos to such extent as they can be accepted without prejudicing the omnipotence of this Third Element (Absolute Spirit) which is beyond both Matter and Spirit, the Perishable and the Imperishable or the Perceptible and the Imperceptible Cosmos has been described, in the Gītā without departing from the fixed terminology of the Sāṃkhyas; and therefore, when there is occasion to describe the Parabrahman, it becomes necessary for the Gītā to refer to. it as the Imperceptible (avyakta) beyond the (Sāṃkhya) tar perceptible, or the Immutable (akṣara) beyond the (Sāṃkhya), immutable. See, for instance, the stanza given at the commencement of this chapter. In short, in reading the Gītā, one must always bear in mind that the words 'avyakta' and. 'akṣara' are both used in the Gītā, sometimes with reference to the Prakṛti (Matter) of Sāṃkhya philosophy, and at other- times with reference to the Parabrahman of Vedānta philosophy, that is, in two different ways. That further Imperceptible, which is beyond the imperceptible of the Sāṃkhyas, is the Root of the Cosmos according to Vedānta. I shall later on explain how, as a result of this difference between Sāṃkhya and Vedānta philosophy regarding the Root Element of the world, the form of Mokṣa according to- the philosophy of the Highest Self is also different from that according to Sāṃkhya philosophy.
When you once reject the Sāṃkhya dualism of Matter and Spirit, and say that there is a Third Element which is eternal, and which is at the root of the world in the form of a Parameśvara or a Puruṣottama, the further questions which necessarily arise are: what is the form of this third fundamental Element, and what is the nature of its relation to both Spirit and Matter? The three, Matter, Spirit, and!
Absolute Īśvara are respectively called Cosmos, Jīva and Parabrahman in Metaphysics (i.e., the philosophy of the Absolute Self). The main object of Vedānta philosophy is to determine the exact nature of, and the mutual relationship bet- ween, these three substances; and one finds this subjectmatter discussed everywhere in the Upaniṣads. Nevertheless, there is no unanimity of opinion amongst Vedāntists on this point; some of them say that these three substances are fundamentally one, while others say that the Jīva (personal Self) and the Cosmos are fundamentally different from the Parameśvara, whether to a small or a large extent; and on that account, the Vedāntists are divided into Advaitins (Monists), Viśiṣṭādvaitins (Qualified-Monists), and Dvaitins (Dualists).
All are unanimous in accepting the proposition that all the activities of the Jīva and of the Cosmos are carried on according to the will of the Parameśvara. But some believe that the form of these three substances is fundamentally homogenous and intact like ether; whereas, other Vedāntists say that since the Gross can never become homogeneous with the self-conscious, the personal Self (jīva) and the Cosmos must be looked upon as fundamentally different from the Parameśvara, though they are both included in one Parameśvara, in the same way as the unity of a pomegranate is not destroyed on account of there being numerous grains in it; and whenever there is a statement in the Upaniṣads that all the three are 'one', that is to be understood as meaning 'one like the pomegranate'. When in this way, diversity of opinion had arisen as regards the form of the Self (jīva), commentators supporting different creeds have stretched the meanings not only of the Upaniṣads, but also of the words in the Gītā, in their respective commentaries. Therefore, the subject-matter really propounded in the Gītā has been neglected by these commentators, in whose opinion the principal subject-matter to be considered in the Gītā has been whether the Vedānta of the Gītā is Monistic or Dualistic. However, before considering this matter further, let us see what the Blessed Lord has Himself said in the Gītā about the mutual relationship between the Cosmos (prakṛti), Jīva (ātman or puruṣa), and Parabrahman (Paramātman or Puruṣottama, i.e., Absolute Ātman or Absolute Spirit). My readers will see- from what follows that there is unanimity on this matter between the Gītā and the Upaniṣads, and all the ideas in the Gītā are, to be found in the Upaniṣads, which were earlier in point of time.
In describing the Puruṣottama, Para-puruṣa, Paramātman, or Parabrahman, which is beyond both Matter and Spirit, the Bhagavadgītā has first said that it has its two forms, namely the vyakta and the avyakta (that is, the one which is perceptible to the eyes, and the one which is imperceptible to the eyes). It is clear that the vyakta form out of these two, that is to say, the form which is perceptible to the organs, must be possessed of qualities (saguṇa). Then remains the imperceptible form. It is true that this form is avyakta, that is, it is not perceptible to the organs; but from the fact that it is imperceptible to the organs, it does not follow that it must be qualityless; because, though it might not be perceptible to the eyes, it can still possess all kinds of qualities in a subtle form. Therefore, the Imperceptible also has been further subdivided into saguṇa (possessed of qualities), saguṇa-nirguṇa (qualified and qualityless) and nirguṇa (qualityless). The word 'guṇa' is here intended to mean and include all the qualities which can be perceived not only by the external organs, but also by the Mind. As the Blessed Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who was a living incarnation of the Parameśvara, was personally standing in front of Arjuna to advise him, He has indicated Himself in the first person by referring to His perceptible form in the following phrases in various places in the Gītā. "Prakṛti is My form "(9. 8); "the Jīva (Self) is a part of Me" (15.7); "I am the Ātman inhabiting the heart of all created things " (10. 20); " all the various glorious (śrīmat) or magnificent (vibhūtimat) beings which exist in the world have been created out of a part of Me" (10.41);. "keep your mind fixed on Me and become My devotee " (9.34); "in that way, you will come to be merged, in Me. I am telling you this confidently, because you are dear to Me" (18.65); and after having satisfied Arjuna by showing him His Cosmic Form that all the moveable and the immoveable Cosmos was actually contained in His perceptible form, He has ultimately advised Arjuna, that, as it was easier to worship the perceptible form than to worship the imperceptible form, he should put faith in Him (Bhagavadgītā 12.8), and that He was the fundamental repository of the Brahman, of perennial Release, of eternal Religion and of beatific happiness (Bhagavadgītā 14.27). Therefore, one may safely, say that the Gītā from beginning to end describes only the perceptible form of the Blessed Lord.
But one cannot, on that account, look upon as correct the opinion of some, followers of the Path of Devotion or of some commentators, that a perceptible Parameśvara is considered to be the ultimate object of attainment in the Gītā; because, side by side with the descriptions referred to above of His perceptible form, the Blessed Lord has Himself stated that it is illusory, and that His imperceptible form, which is beyond (para) that perceptible form, and which is not cognisable by the organs, is His principal form.
For instance, He says:
avyaktaṃ vyaktim āpannaṃ manyante mām abuddhayaḥ |
paraṃ bhāvam ajānanto mamāvyayam anuttamam ||
That is, "whereas I am imperceptible to the organs, ignorant people consider Me as perceptible and do not take cognisance of My superior and imperceptible form which is beyond the perceptible form" (7.24);
And farther on, in the next verse (7.25), He has said:–"as I am clothed in My YOGA-MĀYĀ (illusory form), ignorant people do not recognise Me".
In the same way, He has given the explanation of His perceptible form in the fourth chapter (4.6) as follows: "although I ani not subject to birth and am eternal, yet I embody Myself in My own Prakṛti and take, birth, that is, become perceptible by My own MĀYĀ (svātmamāyayā)".
He has said later on in the seventh chapter that: "Matter made up of three constituents is my DIVINE ILLUSION, those who conquer that ILLUSION become merged in Me; and those low-natured fools whose perception is destroyed by it, are not merged in Me." (7.14, 15),
And He has ultimately in the eighteenth chapter advised Arjuna as follows: "O Arjuna! the Īśvara resides in the hearts of all living beings in the form of Self (jīva), and he controls the activities of all created beings by his ILLUSION as if they were machines".
It is stated in the Nārāyaṇīya chapter in the Śāntiparva in the Mahābhārata that the Blessed Lord had shown to Nārada also that Cosmic Form which He had shown to Arjuna (Śān. 339); and I have explained already in the first chapter that the Gītā advocates the Nārāyaṇīya or the Bhāgavata religion.
After the Blessed Lord had thus shown to Nārada His Cosmic Form with its myriad eyes, colours and other visible qualities, He says to him:
māyā hy eṣā māyā sṛṣṭā yan mām paśyasi nārada |
sarvabhūtaguṇair yuktaṃ naivaṃ tvaṃ jñātum arhasi ||
(Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 339. 44).
That is, "that My form which you see is an ILLUSION (māyā) created by Me; but do not, on that account, carry away the impression that I am possessed of the same qualities as are possessed by created things";
And then He goes on to say: "My real form is all-pervasive, imperceptible, and eternal and that form is realised by the Released." (Śān. 339. 48).
We must, therefore, say that the Cosmic Form, which had been shown to Arjuna as stated in the Gītā, was illusory. In short, although the Blessed Lord has attached importance to His perceptible form for purposes of worship, the doctrine laid down by the Gītā will, from the above statements, be clearly seen to be that (i) the excellent and superior form of the Parameśvara is His imperceptible form, that is, the form which is not cognisable by the organs; (ii) that His changing from the Imperceptible to the Perceptible is His MĀYĀ (Illusion); and (iii) that unless a man conquers this Māyā, and realises the pure and imperceptible form of the Parameśvara, which is beyond the Māyā, he cannot attain Release. I will consider later on in detail what is meant by MĀYĀ. It becomes quite clear from the statements quoted above that the theory of Māyā was not an invention of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya, and that even before his time it was an accepted theory in the Bhagavadgītā, the Mahābhārata, and also in the Bhāgavata religion.
Even in the Śvetāśvataropaniṣad, the creation of the Cosmos is described as follows:–
māyām tu prakṛtim vidyān māyinaṃ tu maheśvaram
That is, "Māyā is the Prakṛti (the Sāṃkhya Prakṛti) and the Lord of that Māyā is the Parameśvara; that Parameśvara creates the universe by His Māyā (Illusive Force)".
Although it is thus clear that the superior form of the Parameśvara is not perceptible, but is imperceptible, yet, it is necessary to consider whether this imperceptible form has qualities or is qualityless; because, we have before ourselves the example of a qualityful imperceptible substance in the form of the Sāṃkhya Prakṛti which, being imperceptible, is at the same time possessed of qualities, that is, which possesses the sattva, rajas, and tamas qualities; and according to some persons, the imperceptible and superior form of the Parameśvara must also be considered qualityful in the same way. These people say that in as much as the imperceptible Parameśvara creates the perceptible Cosmos, though He may do so by His Māyā (Bhagavadgītā 9.8), and as He also resides in the heart of everybody and makes them carry on their various activities (18.61); in as much as He is the recipient and the Lord of all sacrifices (9.24); in as much as all the Bhāvas (that is, rational activities) in the shape of pain and happiness of all living beings spring from Him (10.5); in as much as He is the one who creates devotion in the hearts of living beings; and as "labhate ca tataḥ kāmān mayaivaḥ vihitān hi tān" (7.22), that is, as "He is the giver of the result of the desires of living beings"; therefore, though He may be imperceptible, that is, though He may not be perceptible to the organs, yet He must be looked upon as possessed of the qualities of mercy, potentiality etc., that is, possessed of qualities (saguṇa). But on the other hand, the Blessed Lord Himself says: "na māṃ karmāṇi limpanti", that is, "I am never polluted by Action" or, which is the same thing, by qualities (4.14); foolish people suffer from MOHA (ignorance) as a result of the qualities of Prakṛti, and look upon the Ātman as the doer (3.27; 14.19); as this eternal and nonactive Parameśvara inhabits the hearts of living beings in the form of Jīva (13.31), people, who are overwhelmed by ignorance, become confused, though the Parameśvara is really speaking untouched by their activity or action (5.14, 15). It is not that the forms of the Parameśvara who is imperceptible, (that is, imperceptible to the organs) have thus been described as only two, namely, qualityful (saguṇa) and qualityless (nirguṇa); but in some places both the forms are naked up in describing the imperceptible Parameśvara. For instance, there are mutually contradictory saguṇa-nirguṇa descriptions of the Parameśvara in the ninth chapter of the Gītā where it is stated that: "bhūtabhṛt na ca bhūtastho" (9.9), that is, "I am the fundamental support of all created things, and yet, I am not in them", and in the thirteenth chapter, where it is stated that: "the Parabrahman is neither sat (real) nor asat, i.e., illusory" (13.12), "It appears to be possessed of all organs, yet, is devoid of organs, and is qualityless, and at the same time the experiencer of the qualities" (13.14); "It is distant, and yet It is near" (13.15); "It is undivided, and yet It appears to be divided" (13.16). Nevertheless, in the beginning of the Gītā, already in the second chapter, it is stated that "this Ātman is imperceptible, unimaginable (acintya) and immutable, i.e., avikārya" (2.25); and there is in the thirteenth chapter, a description of the superiority of the imperceptible form of the Parameśvara,. which is pure, qualityless (nirguṇa), unorganised (niravayava), unchanging (nirvikāra), unimaginable (acintya) and eternal (anādi), in the following words:–"this absolute Ātman (Paramātman) is eternal, qualityless, and inexhaustible, and therefore, though It might reside in the body, It does nothing and is not effected by anything" (13.31).
As in the Bhagavadgītā, so also in the Upaniṣads is the form of the imperceptible Parameśvara found described in three ways, that is, sometimes as being saguṇa (qualityful), sometimes as saguṇa-nirguṇa (qualityful and qualityless), and sometimes as nirguṇa (qualityless). It is not that one must always have a visible icon before oneself for purposes of worship. It is possible to worship a form which is indefinite (nirākāra), that is, which is imperceptible to the eyes and the other organs of Perception. But, unless that which is to be worshipped is perceptible to the Mind, though it might be imperceptible to the eyes and other organs of perception, its worship will be impossible. Worship means contemplation, visualising by the Mind (manas) or meditation; and unless the Mind perceives some other quality of the object of contemplation–even if it cannot perceive its form–how can the Mind contemplate on it? Therefore wherever the contemplation, mental visualisation or meditation, of or on the imperceptible Parameśvara, that is, on the; Parameśvara who is not visible to the eyes, has been mentioned. in the Upaniṣads, He has been considered as possessed of qualities (saguṇa). These qualities which are imagined to exist in the Parameśvara are more or less comprehensive or more or less sāttvika according to the merit of the worshipper, and' everyone gets the result of his worship in the measure of his faith. It is stated in the Chāndogyopaniṣad (3.14.1) that "man (puruṣa) is the embodiment of his determination (i.e., he is kratumaya), and he gets his meed after death, according to his 'kratu' (determination)"; and it is also stated in the Bhagavadgītā that: "those who worship deities are merged in the deities, and those who worship ancestors are merged in the ancestors (Gītā 9.25), or "yo yacchraddhaḥ sa eva saḥ", that is, "every, one obtains results according to his own faith (17.3).
Necessarily, therefore, different qualities of the imperceptible Parameśvara to be worshipped have been, described in the Upaniṣads according to the difference in the spiritual merit of the worshipper. This portion of the Upaniṣads is technically called, 'VIDYĀ'. Vidyā means the path (in the form of worship) of reaching the Īśvara, and any chapter in which such path is described has the suffix 'vidyā' placed at the end of its name. Many forms of worship are described in the Upaniṣads such as Śāṇḍilya-vidyā (Chāndogyopaniṣad 3.14), Puruṣa-vidyā (Chāndogyopaniṣad S. 16, 17), Paryaṃka-vidyā (Kauṣītakyupaniṣat or Kauṣītakī Brāhmaṇopaniṣad l) Prāṇopāsanā (Kauṣītakyupaniṣat or Kauṣītakī Brāhmaṇopaniṣad 2) ete., etc., and all these forms have been dwelt upon in the third, section of the third chapter of the Vedānta-Sūtras. In these chapters, the imperceptible Parameśvara has been described as qualityful in the following terms: e. g., 'manomaya' (mind- embodied), 'prāṇaśarīra' (embodiment of Vital Force), 'bhārūpa' (of shining appearance), 'satyasaṃkalpa' (Truth-formed), 'ākāśātmā' (ether-like), 'sarvakarmā' (all-capable), 'sarvakāma' (fulfiller of all desires), 'sarvagandha ' (embodiment of all scents), and 'sarvarasa', i.e., embodiment of all tastes (Chāndogyopaniṣad, 3.14.2); and in the Taittirīyopaniṣad (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.1–5; 3.2–6) the worship of the Brahman in a rising scale has been described, as the worship of food, life, mind, practical knowledge, (vijñāna), and joy (ānanda); and in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka, Gārgya Bālāki has prescribed to Ajātaśatru the worship of the Spirit in the Sun, the Moon, ether, the air, fire, water, or the cardinal points, as being the form of the Brahman; but Ajātaśatru has told him that the true Brahman is beyond all these, and ultimately maintained that the worship of Vital Force (prāṇopāsanā) is the highest. But this list does not end here. All the forms of the Brahman mentioned above are technically called 'pratīka' (symbols), that is to say, an inferior form of the Brahman adopted for worship, or some sign indicating the Brahman; and when this form is kept before the eyes in the shape of an idol, it becomes a 'pratimā' (icon). But all the Upaniṣads lay down the doctrine that the real form of the Brahman is different from this (Kena 1.2.8). In some places, this Brahman is defined so as to include all qualities in only three qualities, as in the following expressions: "satyaṃ jñānam anantaṃ brahma" (Taitti. 2.1), or "vijñānam ānandaṃ brahma" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 3.9.28), or that the Brahman is of the form of satya (sat), jñāna (cit), ānanda (joy), or is 'saccidānanda' in form. And in other places, there are descriptions which include mutually contradictory qualities, in the same way as in the Bhagavadgītā, like the following: "the Brahman is neither sat (real) nor asat, i.e., illusory" (Ṛg-veda 10.129), or is "aṇor aṇīyān mahato mahīyān", that is, smaller than an atom and larger than the largest (Katha 2.20), or "tad ejati tannaijati tad dūre tad antike", that is, "It does not move and yet It moves, It is far away and yet It is near (Īśā 5; Muṇḍakopaniṣad 3.1.7), or "It has the appearance of possessing the qualities of all organs" '(sarvendriyaguṇabhāsa), and yet is 'sarvendriyavivarjita ', i.e., devoid of all organs (Śveta. 3.17). Mṛtyu, in advising Naciketā, has kept aside all these descriptions, and said that the Brahman is something which is beyond righteousness, beyond that which is done and that which has not been done, and beyond that which has happened and that which is capable of happening, i.e., 'bhavya' (Kaṭha 2.14); and similar descriptions are given by Brahmadeva to Rudra in the chapter on the Nārāyaṇīya religion in the Mahābhārata (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 351.11.); and by Nārada to Śuka in the chapter on Mokṣa (331. 44). Even in the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 2.3.2), it is stated in the beginning that there are three iconical forms of the Brahman, namely, earth, water, and fire and two non-iconical forms, namely, air and ether; and it is then stated that the forms or colours of the ether-formed (sārabhūta) spirits into which these non-iconical forms are transformed, change; and it is ultimately stated that "neti, neti", that is, "It is not this", "It is not this", that is to say, whatever has been described so far, is not the Brahman; the Parabrahman is something which is beyond (para) this non- iconical or iconical substance (which can be identified by Name and Form), and is 'agṛhya', i.e., incomprehensible, and 'avarṇanīya', i.e., indescribable (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 2.3.7 and Vedānta-Sūtras 3.2.22).
Nay, the Brahman is that which is beyond all objects whatsoever which can be named; and the words "neti, neti", that is, "It is not this, It is not this" have become a short symbol to show the imperceptible and qualityless form of that Brahman; and the same description has appeared four times in the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 3.2.29; 4.2.4; 4.4.22; and 4.5.15); and in the same way, there are also descriptions in other Upaniṣads of the qualityless and unimaginable form of the Parabrahman, such as,
adreśyaṃ (adṛśya), agrāhyam
na cakṣuṣā gṛhyate na 'pi vācā
That is, "That which is not visible to the eyes, and which cannot be described by speech",
aśabdam asparśam arūpam avyayaṃ tathā 'rasaṃ nityam agandhavac ca yat |
anādy anantaṃ mahataḥ paraṃ dhruvaṃ nicāyya tan mṛtyumukhāt pramucyate ||
That is, “It does not possess the five qualities of sound, touch, colour, taste, and smell, which are possessed by the five primordial elements, and is without beginning, without end, and imperishable” (See Vedānta-Sūtras 3.2.22–30).
In the description of the Nārāyaṇīya or Bhāgavata religion in the Śāntiparva of the Mahābhārata, the Blessed Lord has described His real form to Nārada as being " invisible, unsmellable, untouchable, qualityless, inorganic (niṣkama), unborn, eternal, permanent and inactive (niṣkriya); and said that such His form is known as "vāsudeva paramātmā" (Vāsudeva, the Absolute Atman); and that He is the Parameśvara who has transcended the three constituents, and who creates and destroys the universe (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 339. 31–38).
Not only in the Bhagavadgītā but also in the Bhāgavata or Nārāyaṇīya religion described in the Mahābhārata, and even in the Upaniṣads, the imperceptible form of the Parameśvara is considered to be superior to His perceptible form, and this imperceptible form is again described in three ways F that is, as being qualityful, qualityful-qualityless and qualityless, as will appear from the quotations above. Now, how is one going to harmonise these three mutually contradictory forms with the superior and imperceptible form of the Parameśvara? Out of these three forms, the qualityful-qualityless or dual form may be looked upon as a step between the saguṇa (qualityful) and the nirguṇa (qualityless) or the ajñeya (unknowable); because, one can realise the qualityless form only by, in the first place, realising the qualityful form, and then omitting quality after quality; and it is in this rising grade that the worship of the symbol of the Brahman has been described in the Upaniṣads. For instance, in the Bhṛguvalli in the Taittirīyopaniṣad, Bhṛgu has said to Varuṇa in the first place that anna (food) is Brahman, and thereafter he has in a gradual order explained to him the other forms of the Brahman, namely, Vital Force (prams), Mind (manas), diverse knowledge (vijñāna) and joy i.e., ānanda (Taitti. 3.2–6). Or, it may even be said that, since that which has no qualities cannot be described by adjectives showing quality, it is necessary to describe it by mutually contradictory adjectives; because, when you use the words 'distant' or 'real (sat) our mind gets inferentially the idea that there is some other thing, which is near or illusory (asat). But, if there is only one Brahman to be found on all sides, what can be called near or illusory, if one calls the Parameśvara distant or real (sat)? Therefore,.one cannot but use such expressions as, 'It is neither distant nor near, It is neither real nor illusory' and thereby get rid of mutually dependent quality-couplets like distant and near, or illusory and real; and one has to take advantage of these mutually contradictory adjectives in ordinary conversation for showing that, that which remains, and which is qualityless, and is such as exists everywhere and at all times, in an -unrelated and independent state, is the true Brahman (Bhagavadgītā 13.12). In as much as whatever is,, is Brahman, it is distant and it is also near, it is real or existent, and, at the same time, it is -unreal or illusory; and looking at the matter from another point of view, the same Brahman may be defined at the same time by mutually contradictory adjectives (Bhagavadgītā 11.17; 13.15). But though, in this way, one justifies the dual qualification of 'qualityful-qualityless' yet, it still remains to explain how the two mutually contradictory qualifications of 'qualityful' and ^qualityless' can be applied to the same Parameśvara. When the imperceptible Parameśvara takes up a perceptible (vyakta) form which is cognisable by the organs, that may be said to be His Māyā or illusion; but when He changes from the Qualityless to the Qualityful without becoming perceptible to or cognisable by the organs, and remains imperceptible, how is He to be called? For instance, one and the same indefinite Parameśvara is looked upon by some as qualityless, and is described by the words "neti, neti", that is, "It is not this, It is not this"; whereas others consider him qualityful, that is, as possessing all qualities and being the doer of all things, and being kind. Then it becomes necessary to explain, what the reason for this is, and which is the more correct description, as also to explain how the entire perceptible universe and all living beings came into existence out of one qualityless and imperceptible Brahman.
To say that the imperceptible Parameśvara, who brings all projects to a successful conclusion, is, as a matter of fact, qualityful, and that His description in the Upaniṣads and in the Gītā as 'qualityless' is an exaggeration or meaningless praise, would be like cutting at the very root of the philosophy of the Absolute Self; because, characterising as an exaggeration the conscious selfexperience of great Ṛṣis, who, after concentrating their minds and after very minute and peaceful meditation, have expounded the doctrine, that that is the true form of the Brahman which:
yato vāco nivartante aprāpya manasā saha
(Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.9),
That is, "is unrealisable by the mind, and which cannot be described by speech";
And saying that the true Brahman must be qualityful, because our minds cannot grasp the idea of an eternal and qualityless Brahman, would be as reasonable as saying that one's own candle-light is superior to the Sun! It would be different, of course, if this qualityless form of the Parameśvara had not been explained and justified in the Upaniṣads or in the Gītā; but such is not the case. The Bhagavadgītā does not rest with saying that the superior and true form of the Parameśvara is imperceptible,, and that His taking up the form of the perceptible Cosmos is His MĀYĀ (Bhagavadgītā 4.6). The Blessed Lord has said to Arjuna in clear and unmistakable terms that: "as a result of MOHA (ignorance) arising from the qualities of Prakṛti, FOOLISH PEOPLE consider the (imperceptible and qualityless) Ātman as the performer of Actions" (Bhagavadgītā 3.27–29); the Īśvara does nothing, and people are deceived as a result of IGNORANCE (Bhagavadgītā 5.15); that is to say, though the imperceptible Ātman or the Absolute Īśvara is fundamentally qualityless (Bhagavadgītā 13.31), people as a result of 'confusion' or 'ignorance' foist on Him, qualities like activity etc., and make Him qualityful and imperceptible (Bhagavadgītā 7.24). From this, it follows that the true- doctrines of the Gītā about the form of the Parameśvara are- that:–(1) though there is any amount of description of the- perceptible form of the Parameśvara in the Gītā, yet. His fundamental and superior form is imperceptible and qualityless and people look upon Him as qualityful by IGNORANCE or MORA; (2) the Sāṃkhya Prakṛti is His perceptible diffusion that is to say, the whole of this cosmos is the ILLUSION of the Parameśvara; and (3) the Sāṃkhya Puruṣa, that is, the personal Self, is fundamentally of the same form as the Parameśvara, and is qualityless and inactive -like the- Parameśvara, but people consider him as a doer (kartā) as a result of IGNORANCE. The same are the doctrines of Vedānta philosophy. But in later Vedānta treatises, some amount of distinction is made between Māyā (illusion) and Avidyā (ignorance) in enunciating these doctrines. For instance, in the Pañcadaśī, it is stated in the beginning, that the Ātman and the Parabrahman are originally identical, that is, are both of the form of the Brahman, and that when this Brahman, in the form of Consciousness (cit) is reflected in the form of Māyā (Illusion), Prakṛti composed of the sattva, rajas and tamas constituents (the Sāṃkhya fundamental Prakṛti) comes into existence. But later on, this Māyā is subdivided into 'māyā' (illusion) and 'avidyā' (ignorance); and it is stated that we have pure 'māyā' when the pure (śuddha) sattva component, out of the three components of this Māyā is preponderant, and the Brahman which is reflected in this pure maya, is called the qualityful or perceptible Īśvara (Hiraṇya-garbha); and, if this sattva component is impure (aśuddha), that Māyā becomes 'avidyā' (ignorance) and the Brahman which is reflected in it is given the name of 'jīva' (Pañcadaśī with commentary 1.15–17). From this point of view, it is necessary to make a two-fold distinction between one and the same Māyā, by looking upon maya as the cause of the 'perceptible Īśvara' springing out of the Parabrahman, and 'avidyā' as the cause of the 'Jīva' springing but of the Parabrahman. But, this distinction has not been made in the Gītā. The Gītā says that the Jīva becomes confused (7. =4–15) as a result of the same Māyā by means of which the Blessed Lord takes up his perceptible or qualityful form (7.25), or by means of which the eight-fold Prakṛti, that is, all the various objects in the world are born from Him (4. 6). The word ' avidyā ' does not occur anywhere in the Gītā, and where it appears in the Śvetāśvataropaniṣad, it is used to signify the diffusion of Māyā (Sveta 5. 1). I shall, therefore, disregard the subtle difference made in later Vedantic treatises between avidyā and maya in relation to the Jīva and the Īśvara, merely for purposes of facility of exposition, and take the words māyā, avidyā and ajñāna as synonymous, and shortly and scientifically deal with the question as to what is ordinarily the elementary form of this Māyā with its three constituents or of avidyā, ajñāna, or moha, and also how the doctrines of the Gītā or of the Upaniṣads can be explained with reference to that form.
Although the words nirguṇa and saguṇa are apparently insignificant, yet, when one considers all the various things which they include, the entire Cosmos verily stands in front of one's eyes. These two small words embrace such numerous and ponderous questions as: how has the unbroken entity of that eternal Parabrahman, which is the Root of the Cosmos, been broken up by its acquiring the numerous activities or qualities which are perceptible to human organs, though it was originally ONE, inactive, and apathetic?; or, how is that, which was fundamentally homogeneous, now seen to be transformed into distinct, heterogeneous, and perceptible objects?; how has that Parabrahman, which is nirvikāra (immutable), and which does not possess the various qualities of sweetness, pungency, bitterness, solidity, liquidity, heat or cold, given rise to different kinds of tastes, or to more or less of solidity or liquidity, or to numerous couples of opposite qualities, such as, heat and cold, happiness and pain, light and darkness, death and immortality?; how has that Parabrahman, which is peaceful and undisturbed, given rise to numerous kinds of voices or sounds?; how has that Parabrahman, which does not know the difference of inside or outside, or distant or near, acquired the qualities of being here or further away, near or distant, or towards the East or towards the West, which are qualities -of directions or of place 1; how has that Parabrahman, which is immutable, unaffected by Time, permanent and immortal been changed into objects, which perish in a longer or shorter space of time?; or how has that Parabrahman, which is not affected by the law of causes and products, come before us in the form of a cause and a product, in the shape of earth and the earthenware pot? Or, to express the same thing in short, we "have now to consider how that which was ONE, acquired diversity; how that which was nondual, acquired duality; how that which was untouched by opposite doubles (dvaṃdva), "became affected by these opposite doubles; or,, how that which was unattached (asaṅga), acquired attachment (saṅga). Sāṃkhya philosophy has got over this difficulty by imagining a duality from the very beginning, and by saying that qualityful Prakṛti with its three constituents, is eternal and independent, in the same way as the qualityless and eternal Puruṣa (Spirit). But, not only is the natural tendency of the human mind, to find out the fundamental Root of the world, not satisfied by this duality, but it also does not bear the test of logic Therefore, the writers of the Upaniṣads have gone beyond Prakṛti and Puruṣa, and laid down the doctrine that the qualityless (nirguṇa) Brahman, which is even higher than the saccidānanda Brahman, i.e., the Brahman possessed of the qualities of eternal Existence (sat), Consciousness (cit), and Joy (ānanda), is the root of the world. But, I must now explain how the Qualityful (saguṇa) came out of the Qualityless (nirguṇa); because, it is a doctrine of Vedānta, as of Sāṃkhya philosophy, that that which is not, is not; and that that which is, can never come into existence out of that which is not. According to this doctrine, the Qualityful (saguṇa), that is, the qualityful objects in the world cannot come into existence out of the Brahman which is qualityless (nirguṇa). Then, whence has the Qualityful come? If one says that the Qualityful does not exist, then, one can see it before one's eyes; and, if one says that the Qualityful is Real (existing), in the same way as the Qualityless, then, in as much as the forms of qualities like, sound, touch, form, taste etc., which are perceptible to the organs, are one to-day and different to-morrow, that is, are ever-changing, or mother words, are perishable, mutable, and inconstant, one has to say, that the all-pervading Parameśvara is, so far at least as this qualityful -part of Him is concerned, (imagining of course, the Parameśvara to be divisible), perishable. And how can one give the name of Parameśvara to something, which is divisible and perishable, and which always acts in a dependent way, and subject to the rules which regulate the creation? In short, whether you imagine that all qualityful objects, which are perceptible to the organs, have sprung out of the five primordial elements, or whether you imagine with the Sāṃkhyas or the material scientists, that all objects have been created from one and the same imperceptible but qualityful fundamental Matter, whichever position you take up, so long as this fundamental Prakṛti (Matter) has not been divested of perishable qualities, one certainly cannot describe these five primordial elements or this fundamental substance in the shape of Prakṛti as the imperishable, independent, or immortal element of the world. Therefore, he who wants to accept the theory of Prakṛti, must either give up the position that the Parameśvara is eternal, independent and immortal, or he must try to find out what lies beyond the five primordial elements, or beyond the fundamental qualityful Prakṛti known as ' Prakṛti '; and there is no third alternative. In the same way, as it is impossible to quench thirst by a mirage, or to get oil out of sand, so also is it futile to hope that immortality can ever come out of that which is palpably perishable; and, therefore, Yājñavalkya has definitely told Maitreyī that, however much of wealth one may acquire, yet, "amṛtatvasya tu nāśāsti vittena" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 2.4.2), i.e., "Do not entertain the hope of obtaining immortality by such wealth". Well: if you say that immortality is unreal, then, every man entertains the hope that the reward which he wishes to obtain from a king should be available for enjoyment after his death to his sons, grand-sons etc., so long as the Sun and the Moon last; or, we even find that, if there is a chance for a man to acquire long-standing or permanent fame, he does not care even for life. 5ot only are there prayers of the ancient Ṛṣis like: "O Indra! give us 'akṣita śrava', that is, imperishable fame or wealth" (Ṛg-veda 1.9.7) or, "Soma! make me immortal in the sphere of Vaivasvata (Yama)" (Ṛg-veda 9.133.8) to be found in extremely ancient works like the Ṛgveda, but even in modern times, pure Materialists like Spencer, Kant, and others are found maintaining that "it is the highest moral duty of mankind in this world to try to obtain the permanent happiness of the present and future generations, without being deluded by transient happiness". From where has this idea of permanent happiness, beyond the span of one's own life, that is to say, of immortality come? If one says that it is inherent nature, then, one is bound to admit that there is some immortal substance beyond this perishable body; and, if one says that such an immortal substance does not exist, then, one cannot explain in any other way that mental tendency which one oneself actually experiences. In this difficulty, many Materialists advise that, as these questions can never be solved, we should not attempt to solve them, or allow our minds to travel beyond the qualities or objects which are to be found in the visible world. This advice seems easy to follow; but, who is going to control the natural desire for philosophy which exists in the human mind, and how?; and, if this unquenchable desire for knowledge is once killed, how is knowledge to be increased? Ever since the day when the human being came into this world r he has been continually thinking of what the fundamental immortal principle at the root of this visible and perishable world, is; and, how he will reach it; and, however much the Material sciences are developed, this inherent tendency of the. human mind towards the knowledge of the immortal principle will not be lessened. Let the material sciences be developed as much as they can, philosophy will always packet all the knowledge of Nature contained in them, and run beyond! That was the state of things three or four thousand years ago, and the same state of things is now seen in Western countries. Nay, on that day when this ambition of a human being comes to an end, we will have to say of him "sa vai mukto 'thavā paśuḥ", that is, "he is either a Released soul, or a brute!"
No philosophers from any other country have yet found an explanation, which is more reasonable than the one given- in our ancient treatises, about the existence of an Element, which is unbounded by time or place, and is immortal, eternal, independent, homogeneous, sole, immutable, all- pervasive, and qualityless, or as to how the qualityful creation came into existence out of that qualityless Element. The modern German philosopher Kant has minutely examined the reasons why man acquires a synthetic knowledge of the heterogeneity of the external universe, and he has given the same explanation as our philosophers, but in a clearer way and according to modern scientific methods; and although Haegel has gone beyond Kant, yet his deductions do not go beyond those of Vedānta. The same is the case with Schopenhauer. He had read the Latin translation of the Upaniṣads, and he himself has admitted that he has in his works borrowed ideas from this "most valuable work in the world's literature". But it is not possible to consider in a small book like this, these difficult problems and their pros and cons, or the similarity and dissimilarity between the doctrines of Vedānta philosophy, and the doctrines laid down by Kant and other Western philosophers, or to consider the minute differences between the Vedānta philosophy appearing in ancient treatises like the Upaniṣads and the Vedānta-Sūtras, and that expounded in later works. Therefore, I have in this book broadly referred to only that portion of them to which it is necessary to refer in order to impress on the minds of my readers the veracity, the importance, and the reasons for the Metaphysical doctrines in the Gītā, on the authority principally of the Upaniṣads, and the Vedānta-Sūtras, and of the Bhāṣyas (commentaries) of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya on them. In order to determine what lies beyond the Sāṃkhya Dualism of Matter and Spirit, it is not sufficient to stop with the distinction made by Dualists between the Observer of the world and the visible world; and one has to consider minutely the form of the knowledge which the man who sees the world gets of the external world, as also how that knowledge is acquired, and. what that knowledge consists of. Animals Bee the objects in the external world in the same way as they are seen by men.
But, as man has got the special power of synthesising the experience impressed on his mind through organs of Perception like the eyes, ears, etc., he has got the special quality that he acquires the knowledge of the objects in the external world. It has already been explained by me in the chapter on the Body and the Ātman, that that power of synthesis, which is responsible for this special feature in man, is a power which is beyond Mind and Reason, that is to say, is a power of the Ātman. Man acquires the knowledge, not of only one object, but also and in the same way, of the various relations in the shape of causes and products, between the diverse objects in the world–which are known aa the laws or principles of Creation; because, although the various objects in the world might be visible to the eyes, yet, the relation of causes and products between them is not a thing which is actually visible; and that relation is determined by the intellectual activity of the one who sees. For instance, when a particular object has passed before our eyes, we decide that he is a soldier by seeing his form and his movement, and that impression remains fixed in our minds. When another similar object passes before our eyes in the wake of the first object, the same intellectual process is repeated, and our Reason decides that that object is a second soldier; and when, in this way, we, by our memory remember the various impressions, which our mind has received one after the other, but at different moments or times, and synthesise them, we get the synthetical knowledge of these various impressions that an 'army' has been passing in front of our eyes.
When the mind has decided by looking at the form of the object which comes after the army, that he is a 'king', the former impression about the army, and the new impression about the king, are once more synthesised by our mind, and we say that the procession of the king is passing. From this, it becomes necessary for us to say, that our knowledge of the world is not some gross object which is actually perceived by the organs, but that ' knowledge ' is the result of the synthesis of the various impressions received by the mind, which is made by the 'Observing Ātman'; and for the same reason Knowledge (Jñāna) has been defined in the Bhagavadgītā by the words:
That is, by saying that: "that is true knowledge by means of which we realise the non-diversity or unity in that which is diverse or different" (Bhagavadgītā 18. 20).
But if one again minutely considers what that is of which impressions are first received on the mind through the medium of the organs, it will be seen that though by means of the eyes, ears, nose etc., we may get knowledge of the form, sound, smell or other qualities of various objects, yet, our organs cannot tell us anything about the internal form of that substance which possesses these external qualities. We see that wet earth is manufactured into a pot, but we are not able to know what the elementary fundamental form of that substance which we call 'wet earth', is. When the mind has severally perceived the- various qualities of stickiness, wetness, dirtiness of colour, or rotundity of form in the earthenware pot, the 'Observing' Atman synthesises all these various impressions, and says r "this is wet earth"; and later on when the Mind perceives the qualities of a hollow and round form or appearance, or a firm sound, or dryness of this very substance (for there is no reason, to believe that the elementary form of the substance has changed), the 'Observer' synthesises all these qualities and calls the substance a 'pot'. In short, all the change or difference- takes place only in the quality of 'rūpa' or 'ākāra', that is, 'form', and the same fundamental substance gets different names after the 'Observer' has synthesised the impressions made by these various qualities on the Mind. The most simple examples of this are the sea and the waves, or gold and ornaments; because the qualities of colour, solidity or liquidity, and weight, in these various objects, remain unchanged and the 'rūpa' (form) and name are the only two things which change; and, therefore! these easy illustrations are always mentioned in Vedānta philosophy. The gold remains the same; but the 'Observer', who synthesises the impressions received by the Mind, through the organs, of the changes which have taken place at different times in its form, gives to this fundamentally one and the same substance different names at different times, e. g., once 'necklace', at another time 'armlets'; once 'bangles', and at another time a 'necklet'; once 'rings', and at another time a 'chandrahāra' etc. These various NAMES which we give to objects from time to time, and the various FORMS of those objects by reason of which those names changed, are referred to in the Upaniṣads as 'NĀMA-RŪPA' (Name and Form) and this technical term also includes all other qualities (Chāndogyopaniṣad 6.3 and 4; Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.4.7); because, whatever quality is taken, it must have some Name or Form. But although these NAMES and FORMS change every moment, yet, there is underlying them some substance, which is different from that Name and Form, and which never changes; and it becomes necessary for us to say,. that numerous films in the shape of Name and Form have come on this fundamental substance, in the same way as some floating substance (taraṅga) comes on the surface of water. Our organs cannot perceive anything except Name and Form; therefore, it is true that our organs cannot realise that fundamental substance which is the substratum of these Names and Forms, but is different from them. But, though this Elementary Substance, which is the foundation of the entire universe, may be imperceptible, that is, uncognisable by the organs, yet, our Reason has drawn the definite inference that it is 'sat', that is, really and eternally to be found in and under this Name and Form, and never ceases to exist; because, if you say, that there is fundamentally nothing beyond the Name and Form which is perceptible to our organs, then a 'necklace' and 'bangles' will become different objects, and there will be no foundation for the knowledge acquired by us, that both are made of one and the same substance, gold. All that we will be able to say is: 'this is a necklace', 'these are bangles'; but we will not be able to say that 'the necklace is of gold'. It, therefore, logically follows that that gold, with which we connect the necklace or chain embodied in a Name and Form by means of the words 'is of' in the sentences 'the necklace is of gold', 'the chain is of gold', etc., is not non-existent like the horn of the hare; and that the word 'gold' gives one the idea of that substance which has become the foundation of all golden ornaments. When the same logical argument is applied to all the various objects in the world, we come to the conclusion that the various objects having Names and Forms which we come across, such as, stones, pearls, silver, iron, wood, etc., have come into existence as a result of different Names and Forms having been super-imposed on one and the same eternal substance; that all the difference is only in the Name and Form and not in the fundamental substance; and that there permanently exists at the bottom of all Names and Forms only one homogeneous substance. ' Existing at all times in a permanent form in all substances ' in this way, is technically known in Sanskrit as 'sattā-sāmānya'.
This doctrine of our Vedānta philosophy has been accepted as correct by modern Western philosophers like Kant and others; and this invisible substance, which is different from all Names and Forms, and which is the root of the universe embodied in Name and Form, is in their books referred to as 'Thing-in-itself' (vastu-tattva); and the Name and Form which becomes perceptible to the eyes and the other organs is called by them "external appearance". But it is usual in Vedānta philosophy to refer to this everchanging external Appearance embodied in Name and Form as 'mithyā ' (illusory), or 'nāśavanta' (perishable), and to refer to the Fundamental Element as 'satya' (Real) or 'amṛta' (immortal). Ordinary people define the word 'satya' by saying 'cakṣur vai satyam', that is, "that which is seen by the- eyes is real"; and if one considers the ordinary course of life,, it is needless to say that there is a world of difference between seeing in a dream that one has got a lakh of rupees, or hearing, about a lakh of rupees, and actually getting a lakh of rupees. Therefore, the dictum 'cakṣur vai satyam' (i.e., that is Real, which is seen by the eyes) has been enunciated in the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 5.14.4) in order to explain whether one should trust more one's eyes or one's ears, if one has merely heard something by mere hearsay, or if one has actually seen it. But, what is the use of this relative definition of 'satya (Reality) for a science by which one has to determine whether the rupee which goes under the visible Name of 'rupee' or is recognised by its Form, namely, by its round' appearance, is Real '! We also see in the course of ordinary affairs, that if there is no consistency in what a man says, and if he now says one thing and shortly afterwards another thing, people call him false. Then, why should not the same argument be applied to the Name and Form called 'rupee' (not to the underlying substance) and the rupee be called false or illusory? For, we can take away the Name and Form, 'rupee' of a rupee, which out eyes see to-day, and give it to-morrow the Name and Form of 'chain' or 'cup'; that is to say, we see by our own eyes that Names and Forms always change, that is, are not constant. Besides, if one says that nothing else is true except what one sees by one's eyes, then, we will be landed in the position of calling that mental process of synthesis by means of which we acquire the knowledge of the t world, and which is not visible to our eyes, unreal or false; and, thereby,, we will have to say that all knowledge whatsoever which we acquire is false.
Taking into account this and such other difficulties, the ordinary and relative definition of 'satya' namely, "that alone is 'satya' (Real) which can be seen by the eyes", is not accepted as correct; and the word 'satya' has been defined in the Sarvopaniṣad as meaning something which is imperishable, that is, which does not cease to exist, though all other things have ceased to exist: and in the same way, satya has been defined in the Mahābhārata as:
This is the principle underlying the fact that a person who now says one thing and, shortly afterwards another thing is called 'false' in common parlance. When we accept this non-relative definition of the Real (satya), one has necessarily to come to the conclusion that the Name and Form which constantly changes is false, though it is seen by the eyes; and that the immortal Thing-initself (vastu-tattva), which is at the bottom of and is covered by that Name and Form, and which always remains the same, is Real, though it is not seen by the eyes.
The description of Brahman, which is given in the Bhagavadgītā in the following words, namely,
yaḥ so sarveṣu bhūteṣu naśyatsu na vinaśyati
(Bhagavadgītā 8.20; 13.27),
That is, "that is the immutable (akṣara) Brahman, which never ceases to exist, although all things, that is, the bodies of all things encased in Name and Form are destroyed",
Has been given on the basis of this principle; and the same stanza has again appeared in the description of the Nārāyaṇīya or Bhāgavata religion in the Mahābhārata with the different reading "bhūtagrāmaśarīreṣu" instead of "yaḥ sa sarveṣu bhūteṣu" (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 339.23). In the same way, the meaning of the 16th and 17th stanzas of the second chapter of the Gītā is the same. "When, in Vedānta philosophy, the ornament is referred, to as 'mithyā' (illusory) and the gold as 'satya' (real), one has not to understand that comparison as meaning that the ornament is useless, or invisible to the eyes, or totally false,, that is, mere earth to which gold foil has been attached, or not in existence at all. The word 'mithyā' has been used there with reference to the qualities of colour, form etc., and of appearance of an object, that is, to its external appearance, and not to the fundamental substance; because, as must be borne in mind, the fundamental substance is always 'satya' (Real). The Vedāntist has to ascertain what the fundamental substance underlying the covering of Name and Form of various objects is; and that is the real subject-matter of philosophy. Even in ordinary life, we see that although a large sum may have been spent by us on labour for manufacturing a particular ornament, yet, it" one is forced to sell that ornament to a merchant in adverse circumstances, the merchant says to us: "I do not take into account what expenses you have incurred per tola for manufacturing the ornament; if you are prepared to sell me this ornament as gold by weight, I will buy it" I If the same idea is to be conveyed in Vedānta terminology, we will have to say that, "the merchant sees the ornament to be illusory, and only the gold to be real". In the same way, if one wishes to sell a newly built house, the purchaser pays no attention to what amount has been spent for giving that house prettiness (rūpa-form), or convenience of arrangement (ākṛti = construction), and says that the house should be sold to him by the value of the timber and other material which has been used in constructing the house. My readers will get a clear idea from the above illustrations about the meaning of the reference by Vedāntists to the Name-d and Form-ed (nāmarūpātmaka) world as illusory and to the Brahman as real. When one says that the visible world is 'mithyā' (illusory), one is not to be understood as meaning that it is not visible to the eyes; the real meaning is that the numerous appearances of various objects in the world resulting from Time or Space and diversified by Name and Form are perishable, that is, 'mithyā' and that that imperishable and immutable substance which exists eternally under the cloak of this Name and Form is permanent and real. The merchant considers bangles, anklets, chain, armlets, and other ornaments as 'mithyā ' (illusory) and gold alone as satya (real). But in the factory of the goldsmith of the world, various Names and Forms are given to one and the same Fundamental Substance, and' such various ornaments as gold, stone, timber, water, air etc. are formed out of that Substance. Therefore, the Vedāntist goes a little deeper than the ordinary merchant, and looks upon all Names and Forms,, such as, gold, silver, or stone etc. as mithyā (illusory), and looks upon the Fundamental Substance being the substratum of all those objects, that is, the Thing- in-itself (vastu-tattva) as 'satya' (immutable or real). As this Thing-in-itself has no- qualities of Name, Form etc., it is impossible that it should ever- become perceptible to the organs like eyes etc. But not only can one form a definite inference, by means of one's Reason, that it must exist in an imperceptible form, though it is invisible to the eyes, or unsmellable by the nose, or untouchable by the hand, but one has also to come to the conclusion that the immutable 'THAT' in this world is the real Thing-in-itself. This is what is known as the Fundamental Real in the world. But, some foolish foreign scholars and some local scholars considered as 'philosophers', without taking into account these technical Vedantic meanings of the words 'satya' and 'mithyā', or taking the trouble to see whether or not it is possible for the word 'satya' to have a meaning different from what they think, ridicule Vedānta by saying: " that world which we actually see with our own eyes is called 'mithyā' (illusory) by the Vedāntists I Now, what is to be done?" But as Yāska has said it, a pillar is not to blame because a blind man does not see it! It has been stated over and over again in the Chāndogya (6.1 and 7.1), Bṛhadāraṇyaka (1.6.3), Muṇḍaka (3.2.8), Praśna. (6. 5), and other Upaniṣads that the ever-changing (that is, perishable) Names and Forms are not real, and that he who wishes to see the Real (that is, permanent) Element, must extend his vision beyond these Names and Forms; and these Names and Forms have in the Kaṭha (2.5) and Muṇḍaka (1.2.9) been referred to as 'avidyā', and ultimately in the Śvetāśvataropaniṣad as 'māyā' (Śvetāśvataropaniṣad 4.10). In the Bhagavadgītā, the same meaning is conveyed by the words 'maya' 'moha', and 'ajñāna'. That which existed in the commencement of the world was without Name and Form, that is, it was qualityless and imperceptible; and the same thing later on becomes perceptible and qualityful, as a result of its acquiring Names and Forms (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.4.7; and Chāndogyopaniṣad, 6.1.2, 3). Therefore, the mutable and perishable Name and Form 1 is given the name 'Māyā' and the visible or qualityful world is said to be the illusory Māyic drama or 'līlā' of the Īśvara. From this point of view, the Sāṃkhya Prakṛti is nothing but Māyā composed of the sattva, rajas and tamas constituents, that is to say, Māyā possessing Name and Form, though it might be imperceptible; and the creation or extension of the perceptible universe, described in the eighth chapter as having sprung from this Prakṛti, is also the evolution of that Māyā embodied in qualityful Names and Forms; because, whatever quality may be taken, it is bound to be visible to the organs, that is to say, to be embodied in Name and Form. All the Material sciences fall in this way into the category of Māyā. Take History, Geology, Electricity, Chemistry, Physics or any other science; all the exposition to be found in it is only of Names and Forms, that is to say, only of how a particular substance loses one Name and Form and acquires another Name and Form. For instance, these sciences only consider how and when that which is known as 'water' acquires the name of 'steam', or how various aniline dyes, having the red, green, blue, or various other colours, which are only differences of Name and Form, are formed from one black substance called coal-tar, etc. Therefore, by studying these sciences which are engrossed in Names and Forms, one cannot acquire the knowledge of the Real Substance, which is beyond Names and Forms; and it is clear that he who wishes to find the form of the Real Brahman must extend his vision beyond these Material sciences, that is to say, beyond these sciences which deal only with Names and Forms. And the same meaning is conveyed by the story at the commencement of the seventh chapter of the Chāndogyopaniṣad.
"Give me knowledge of the Ātman".
In reply, Sanatkumāra said to him:
"Tell me what you have learnt, so that I will tell you what comes next ".
"I have learnt all the Vedas, namely, the Ṛg. and the other Vedas, in all four, as also History and Purāṇas (which is the fifth Veda), and also Grammar, Mathematics, Logic, Fine Arts, Ethics, subsidiary parts of the Vedas (vedāṅga), Morality, Black Magic, Warfare (kṣetravidyā), Astrology, the science of Serpents, Deities etc.; but I have not thereby acquired the knowledge of the Ātman, and I have, therefore, come to you ".
In reply to that, Sanatkumāra said:–
"All that you have learnt deals only with Names and Forms and the true Brahman is far beyond this Nāma-Brahma (the Brahman qualified by Names)";
And he has afterwards gradually described to Nārada the Immortal Element in the form of the Absolute Spirit, which is beyond Names and Forms, that is to say, beyond the Sāṃkhya imperceptible Prakṛti, as also beyond Speech, Hope, Project, Mind, Reason (jñāna) and Life (prāṇa), and is superior to all of them.
All that has been said before may be summarised by saying that though the human organs cannot actually perceive or know anything except Names and Forms, yet, there must be some invisible, that is, imperceptible, eternal substance which is covered by this cloak of non-permanent Names and Forms; and that, it is on that account that we get a synthetic knowledge of the world. Whatever knowledge is acquired, is acquired by the Ātman; and therefore, the Ātman is called the 'Jñātā' (Knower). Whatever knowledge is acquired by this Knower, is of the Cosmos defined by Name and Form; and, therefore, this external Cosmos defined by Name and Form is called 'Jñāna' (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 306.40); and the Thing-in-it-self (vastu-tattva) which is at the root of this Name-d and Fora-ed (nāmarūpātmaka) Cosmos is called the 'Jñeya'. Accepting this classification, the Bhagavadgītā says that the 'kṣetrajña ātmā' is the Jñātā and the eternal Parabrahman, uncognisable by the organs is the Jñeya (Bhagavadgītā 13.12–17); and dividing Jñāna (Knowledge) subsequently into three parts, the Knowledge of the world arising on account of diversity or manifoldness, is called rājasa knowledge, and the synthetic knowledge ultimately obtained from this diversity is called sāttvika knowledge (Bhagavadgītā 18.20, 21). To this an objection is raised by some to the effect that it is not proper for us to make the three-fold division of Jñātā, Jñāna, Jñeya (the Knower, Knowledge, and the To-Be-Known); and that there is no evidence before us for saying that there is anything in the world except that of which we get knowledge. The visible things, such as, cows, horses, etc., which are seen by us are nothing ' but the Knowledge which we have acquired; and although this Knowledge is Real, yet, as there is no means except Knowledge itself for describing that of which this Knowledge has been acquired, we cannot say that there are any external objects besides this Knowledge which are independent sub- stances, nor that there is some other independent substance, which is at the root of all these external objects; because, if there is no Knower, then there is no world. which can be' known. Looking at the matter from this point of view, the- third division of Jñeya out of Jñātā, Jñāna, and Jñeya drops- out, and the Jñātā and the Jñāna which he acquires, are the only two things which remain; and if this logic is carried a little further, then, in as much as the 'Knower' or 'Observer" is also a kind of Jñāna (Knowledge), nothing- else except Jñāna (Knowledge) remains. This is known as 'Vijñāna-vāda' and that has been accepted as correct by the Buddhists following the Yogācāra path, who have laid down the doctrine that there is nothing independent in this world except the Jñāna (Knowledge) or the Jñātā (Knower); nay, that even the world itself does not exist, and that whatever is, is nothing but the Knowledge of mankind. Even among Western writers, there are some who support this doctrine, like Hume and others; but Vedānta philosophy does not accept this doctrine, which has been refuted by Bādarāyaṇācārya in the Vedānta-Sūtras (Vedānta-Sūtras 2.28–32), and by Śrīmat Śaṃkarācārya in his Bhāṣya (commentary) on those Sūtras. It is true that a man realises ultimately only the impressions made on his Mind; and this is what we call 'Jñāna'; but if there is nothing else except this Jñāna, how can one account for the diversity which is realised by our Reason in the various kinds of Jñāna, e. g., between the 'cow 'being a different Jñāna, the 'horse' being a different Jñāna, or 'I' being a different Jñāna? The mental process of acquiring knowledge is everywhere the same, and if there is nothing else except such Jñāna, then, how have the differences between a cow, a horse etc. arisen? If someone says that the Mind creates these different divisions of Knowledge at its sweet will like a dream-world, one cannot explain this somewhat of consistency which is to be found in the Jñāna acquired in a waking state, which is different from the dream-world (Śāṃkarabhāṣya 2.2.29; 3.2.4). Besides, if you say that there is no other thing except Jñāna, and that the Mind of the 'Observer' creates all the various things, then each 'Observer' must get the ego-ised knowledge that "my mind, that is, I myself, am the pillar" or "I myself am the cow". But since such is not the case, and everyone gets the experience that he himself is something different and that the pillar, the cow etc. are substances which are different from himself, Śaṃkarācārya has adduced the doctrine that there must be some other independent external things, in the external world, which are the foundation of the Knowledge acquired by the Mind of the Observer (Śāṃkarabhāṣya 3.2.28). Kant is of the same opinion, and he has clearly said that although the synthetical process of human Season is necessary for acquiring the knowledge of the world, yet, this knowledge is not something self-created, that is, unfounded or new which has been spun out by human Reason, but is always dependent on the external things in the world. Here an objection may be raised that: " What! your Śaṃkarācārya once says that the external world is Mithyā (illusory); and for refuting the Buddhistic doctrines, the same Śaṃkarācārya maintains that the existence of the external world is as real as the existence of the Observer! How are you going to reconcile these two things?" This question has already been answered before. When the Ācārya calls the external world 'mithyā' (illusory) or 'asatya' (unreal), he is to be understood as saying that the visible Name and Form of the external universe is unreal, that is to say, perishable. But although the external appearance embodied in Name and Form is said to be illusory, yet, one doss not thereby prejudice the doctrine that there is some Real substance at the bottom of it, which is beyond the reach of the organs. In short, just as we have laid down the doctrine in the chapter on the Body and the Ātman, that there is some permanent Ātman-Element at the root of the perishable Names and Forms, like the bodily organs etc., so also, have we to come to the conclusion that there is some permanent substance at the root of the external universe clothed in Names and Forms. Therefore, Vedānta philosophy has laid down the doctrine that there is under the ever-varying (that is, illusory) appearance both of the physical organs and of the external world, there is some permanent (nitya), that is, Real (satya) substance. The next question is whether the two fundamental substances in these two cases are one and the same or are different. But before considering that question, I shall first consider precisely the allegation which is sometimes made as regards the modernity of that doctrine.
Some persons say that although the Vijñāna-vāda of the Buddhists is not acceptable to Vedānta philosophy, yet, in as much as the opinion of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya that the Name-d and Form-ed (nāmarūpātmaka) appearance of the external world, which is visible to the eyes, is illusory, and that the imperishable substance underlying it is Real–which is known as the 'MĀYĀ-VĀDA'–is not to be found in the ancient Upaniṣads, it cannot be considered as part of the original Vedānta philosophy. But, if one carefully considers the Upaniṣads, he will easily see that this objection is totally without foundation. I have already stated before that the word 'satya' (Real) is applied in ordinary parlance to those things which are actually visible to the eyes; Therefore, in some places in the Upaniṣads, the word 'satya' has been used in this its ordinary meaning, and the Name-d and Form-ed external objects, visible to the eyes, have been called 'satya'; and the Fundamental Substance which is clothed by those Names and Forms is called 'amṛta'.
For instance, in the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad (1.6.3), it is stated that:
That is, "that amṛta is covered by satya";
And the words amṛta and satya have been immediately afterwards denned as:
That is, "prāṇa (Vitality) is amṛta (eternal) and Name and Form is satya (Real); the prāṇa is clothed by this satya in the shape of Name and Form".
The word prāṇa is here used in the meaning of the Parabrahman in the form of prāṇa. From this it is seen that those things which are known as 'mithyā' and 'satya' in the later Upaniṣads, were originally respectively known as 'satya' and 'amṛta'. In some places, this amṛta is referred to as 'satyasya satyam', that is, "the ultimate satya (Reality), which is at the core of the satya (Reality) visible to the eyes" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 2.3.6). But, the abovementioned objection does not become substantiated by reason of the fact merely that the visible universe has been referred to as satya in some places in the Upaniṣads; because, in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka itself, the final proposition stated is that everything else except the Ātman-formed Parabrahman is 'ārtam', that is, perishable (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 3.7.23). When the search for the Fundamental Substance underlying the world was first started, the world which was visible to the eyes was first looked upon as satya, and the investigators began to find out what other subtle satya was at its core. Then it was found that the form of that visible world which was being called satya, was perishable; and that there was at its core, some other imperishable, that is, amṛta substance. As it became more and more necessary to define clearly this difference between the two, the two words 'avidyā' and 'vidyā' came to be used in place of the words 'satya' and 'amṛta', and ultimately, the terminology 'māyā' and 'satya' or 'mithyā' and 'satya' came into vogue; because, as the root meaning of the word 'satya' is, 'eternally lasting', people began latterly to consider it improper to refer to perishable and ever-changing Names and Forms as 'satya'. But, though the words 'māyā' or 'mithyā' may have thus come into vogue subsequently, yet, the ideas that the appearance of worldly objects which is visible to one's eyes is perishable and asatya, and that the 'Elementary Substance' which underlies it, is alone sat or satya, have been in vogue from ancient times; and even in the Ṛg-veda, it is stated that: "ekaṃ sad viprā BAHUDHĀ vadanti" (1.164.46 and 10.114.5)–"that which is fundamentally one and permanent (sat), is given different NAMES by the viprāḥ (scients)"–that is to say, one and the same Real and eternal thing appears in different appearances as a result of Names and Forms. The word 'māyā' has also been used in the Ṛg-veda to mean "making one form to appear as numerous"; and there is a statement in it that "indro māyābhiḥ pururūpaḥ īyate", that is, "Indra takes up various shapes by his Māyā" (Ṛg-veda 6.47.18). The word 'māyā' has been once used in the Taittirīya Saṃhitā in the same sense (Taittirīya Saṃhitā 1.11), and ultimately in the Śvetāśvataropaniṣad, the word 'māyā' has been applied to Names and Forms. But although the practice of applying the word 'māyā' to Names and Forms first came into vogue at the date of the Śvetāśvataropaniṣad, yet, the idea that Names and Forms are non-permanent (anitya), and unreal (asatya), is prior in point of time; and it is clearly not an idea, which has been invented by Śaṃkarācārya by perverting the meaning of the word 'māyā'. Those who have not got the moral courage to fearlessly call the appearance of the Name-d and Form-ed universe 'mithyā' as has been done by Śrī Śaṃkarācārya, or those who are even afraid to use the word 'māyā' in the same sense, as has been done by the Blessed Lord in the Bhagavadgītā, may, if they wish, use the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad terminology of 'satya' and 'amṛta' without any objection. Whatever may be said, the proposition that a distinction was made between Names and Forms as 'vināśī' (perishable) and the Fundamental Substance underlying them as 'amṛta' or 'avināśī' (imperishable), even in the times of the ancient Vedas, does not thereby suffer, The province of Adhyātma (the philosophy of the Absolute Self) does not end after deciding that in order that the Ātman should acquire the Knowledge, which it acquires, of the various Name-d and Form-ed objects in the external world, there must be, in the external world, at the root of these various objects, some 'something' in the shape of a fundamental and permanent substance, which is the foundation or counterpart of such Knowledge, and that otherwise it is impossible to acquire that Knowledge. Vedāntins call this Permanent Substance, which is at the root of the external world, 'Brahman'; and, it is necessary to determine the form of this Brahman, if it is possible to do so. As this Eternal Substance, which is at the root of all Name-d and Form-ed things is imperceptible, its form can clearly not be perceptible, or sthūla (gross), like the form of objects embodied in Name and Form. But if you omit objects which are perceptible and gross, yet, there are numerous other objects which are imperceptible, such as, the Mind, Memory, Desire, Life, Knowledge etc.; arid it is not impossible that the Parabrahman is of the form of any one of them. Some say that the Parabrahman is of the same form as Prāṇa (Vital Force). The German philosopher Schopenhauer has come to the decision that the Parabrahman is the embodiment of Desire. As Desire is a faculty of the Mind, the Brahman may, according to this opinion, be said to be made up of Mind (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 3.4). But, from what has been stated so far, one may say that: 'prajñānaṃ brahma' (Aitareyopaniṣad 3.3), or "vijñānaṃ brahma" (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 3.5), i.e., "Brahman is the knowledge acquired by us of the diversity in the gross material world". Haegel's, doctrine is of that kind. But in the Upaniṣads, the form of the Brahman has been made to include sat, that is, the common quality of Existence possessed by all things in the world (or their 'sattāsāmānyatva') as also ānanda (Joy), along with Knowledge in the form of Consciousness (i.e.,. cidrūpī jñāna); and the Brahman is said to be 'saccidānanda' in form. Another form of the Brahman is the OM-kāra. The explanation of this form is as follows:-All the eternal Vedas first came out of the OM-kāra; and in as much as Brahmadeva created the entire universe from the eternal words in the Vedas, after the. Vedas had come into existence (Bhagavadgītā 17.23; and Ma. Bhā, Śān. 231.56- -58), it is clear that there was nothing in the beginning except the OM-kāra, and, therefore, the OM-kāra is the true form of the Brahman (Māṇḍūkya. 1; Taitti. 1.8). But, if you consider the matter from the purely Metaphysical. point; of view, all these forms of the Parabrahman possess more or less the character of Name and Form; because, all these forms are perceptible to human organs, and all that men come to know in this way, falls into the category of Names and Forms. Then, how is one going to determine the true form of that eternal, all-pervasive, homogeneous, permanent, and immortal Element (Bhagavadgītā 13.12–17), which is the foundation of these Names and Forms? Some Metaphysicians say that this Element must forever remain uncongnisable by our organs; and Kant has even given up the further consideration of this subject-matter. In the Upaniṣads also, the uncognisable form of the Parabrahman has been described by saying "neti, neti"-that is. It is not something about which something can be told–the Brahman is beyond that; It is not visible to the eyes; and "yato vāco nivartante aprāpya manasā saha", that is, "It is beyond speech and also beyond the Mind". Nevertheless, the philosophy of the Absolute Self has come to the conclusion that even in this difficult position, man can, by his Reason, determine the nature of the form of Brahman. We must first find out which one is the most superior and comprehensive of the various imperceptible things mentioned above, namely, Desire, Memory, Determination, Hope, Life, Knowledge etc., and look upon the highest of them all as the form of the Parabrahman; because, it is an indisputable fact that the Parabrahman is- the highest of all imperceptible substances. When one considers Desire, Memory, Hope, Determination etc. from this point of view, one sees, as has been shown in the chapter on the Body and the Ātman, that these are all natural faculties of the Mind; that the Mind is, therefore, higher than them all; that knowledge is higher than the Mind; that Reason is higher than Knowledge, as Knowledge is only an inherent faculty of Reason; and that ultimately that Ātman of which the Reason is a servant, is the highest of all (Bhagavadgītā 3.42). If the Ātman is higher than Desire, the Mind and the other imperceptible substances, it naturally follows, that the Ātman must be the form of the Parabrahman. The same argument has been adopted in the seventh chapter of the Chāndogyopaniṣad, and Sanatkumāra has said to Nārada, that the Mind is higher (bhūyas) than speech, Knowledge is higher than the Mind, and Strength (bala) is higher than Know- ledge; and in as much as, going up in this way, the Ātman is the highest of all (bhūman), the Ātman must be the true form of the Parabrahman. From among English writers, Green has accepted this doctrine; but as his arguments are slightly different in nature, I will concisely mention them here in Vedantic terminology. Green says that there must be some substance uniformly underlying the various Names and Forms in the external universe, which (substance) is the counterpart of the Knowledge created by the Ātman by synthesising the various impressions of Names and Forms made on the Mind through the organs; otherwise, the Knowledge resulting from the synthesis made by the Ātman will be self-conceived and without foundation, and will fall flat like the Vijñāna-vāda. We call this 'Something', Brahman; but Green accepts the terminology of Kant, and calls it the Thing-in-itself (vastu-tattva): this is the only difference between us and Green. In any case, the vastu-tattva (Brahman) and the Ātman remain ultimately the only two correlative things. Out of these,, although the Ātman cannot be grasped by the Mind or by Reason, that is to say, although it is beyond the reach of the organs, yet, taking as correct one's self -experience, we come to the conclusion that the Ātman is not Gross, but is Thought- formed (cidrūpī), or of the form of Consciousness (caitanyarūpī). Having in this way determined the form of the Ātman, we have next to determine the form of the Brahman. That Brahman or vastu-tattva is either (1) of the same form as the Ātman or (2) is different in form from the Ātman; these two things alone are possible; because, there is no third thing which now remains except the Brahman and the Ātman. But, it is our experience that if any two objects are different in form, then their effects and products must also be different. Therefore, in any science, we determine whether two things are the same or different, by considering their effects. For instance, if the roots, rootlings, bark, leaves, flowers, fruits etc. of two trees are the same, we come to the conclusion that they are the same; and if they are different, we say that the trees are different. When the same argument is applied in the present case, we see that the Ātman and the Brahman must be uniform; because, as has been mentioned above, the synthesis of the impressions created on the Mind by the various objects in the world, which (synthesis) results from the activity of the Ātman, must be the counterpart of the synthesis of all the objects in the world made by the Brahman or vastu-tattva (which is the Root of those objects) by breaking up their diversity; if not, all Knowledge will be without foundation and will fall flat. And, it now follows as a natural conclusion that though these two Elements, which arrive at two exactly similar syntheses may be in two different places, they cannot be different from each other; and that, the form of the Brahman must be the same as the form of the Ātman. In short, from whichever point of view one considers the matter, it now follows that not only is the Brahman-Element underlying the Names and Forms in the external world, not gross like Matter embodied in Names and Forms, but also the various forms of the Brahman, which are embodiments respectively of Desire, Mind, Knowledge, Life, Vital Force, or the logos OM-kāra, are forms of a lower order, and the true form of the Brahman is beyond all of them and superior to all of them, that is to Bay, is of the form of the pure Ātman. And it also follows from what has been stated in various places in the Gītā on this subject, that the doctrine of the Gītā is the same (Bhagavadgītā 2.20; 7.7; 8. 4; 13.31; 15.7, 8). But, it must not be thought that this doctrine of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman was found out by our Ṛṣis merely by some such logic; because, as has been stated in the beginning of this chapter, no proposition can be definitely laid down in the philosophy of the Absolute Self by means of Reason alone and it must always be supported by self-experience. We also see even in the Material sciences, that we first get an experience and later on come to know or find out the reasons for it. For the same reason, hundreds of years before the rational explanation for the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman was found out, our ancient Ṛṣis had first come to the conclusion that: "neha nānā 'sti kiṃcana" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.4.19; Kaṭhopaniṣad 4.11), i.e., "the diversity which is visible in this world is not real", and that there is at the bottom of that diversity an Element which is one in all directions, immortal, imperishable, and permanent (Bhagavadgītā 18.20); and had, by introspection, arrived at the ultimate conclusion that the Imperishable Element clothed in Names and forms in the external world and the Ātman-element to be found in our bodies, which is beyond Reason, are one and the same, that is, they are both homogeneous, immortal, and inexhaustible; or that whatever element is in the Cosmos (brahmāṇḍa) also resides in the human body (piṇḍa); and in the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad, Yājñavalkya says to Maitreyī, to Gārgī, Vāruṇi and others, and to Janaka that this is the mystic import of Vedānta (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 3.5–8, 4.24). It has been stated earlier in the same Upaniṣad, that he who has understood that "ahaṃ brahmāsmi", i.e., "I am the Parabrahman", has understood everything (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.4.10); and in the sixth chapter of the Chāndogyopaniṣad, the father of Śvetaketu has explained to him this elementary principle of the Monistic (advaita) Vedānta in various ways. In the beginning of the chapter Śvetaketu said to his father:–"In the same way as one knows all the Name-d and Form-ed transformations of mud when he once knows what there is in a ball of mud. tell me that one thing by knowledge of which I will come to know about all things; because, I do not know that one thing". His father then explained to him by nine different illustrations, namely, of rivers, the sea, water, salt, etc. that: "that Element (tat) which is at the root of the visible world and thou (tvam), that is to say, the Ātman in thy body, are one and the same thing; that is, "tat tvam asi"; and when thou hast understood what thy Ātman is, thou wilt of thy own accord understand what is at the root of the Cosmos"; and every time, the canon "tat tvam asi"–"thou art that"–is repeated (Chan. 6. 8–16). "tat tvam asi" is one of the important canons of Monistic Vedānta, and that is translated into Marathi by "jeṃ piṇḍīṃ teṃ brahmāṇḍīṃ", i.e., "that which is in the Body, is also in the Cosmos".
We have, in this way, proved that the Brahman is the same in form as the Ātman. But, some are likely to think that because the Ātman is believed to be of the form of Consciousness (cidrūpī), the Brahman is also of that form (i.e., cidrūpī). It is, therefore, necessary to give here some further explanation of the true nature of the Brahman, and at the same time of the true nature of the Ātman. cit or jñāna (Knowledge) is a quality acquired by Reason–which is gross in nature–by contact with the Ātman; but, in as much as it is not proper to arrogate this quality of Reason to the Ātman, one must, from the philosophical point of view, look upon the fundamental form of the Ātman as qualityless and unknowable. Therefore, though the Brahman of the same nature as the Ātman, it is, according to some, to some extent improper to say that both or either of these is of the same nature as cit (Consciousness or Knowledge). It is not that their objection extends only to the Brahman and Ātman being conscious in form; but, it naturally follows, that it is also not proper according to them to apply the adjective sat (Real) to the Parabrahman; because, sat and asat (Reality and Illusion) are two qualities, which are contrary to each other, and always mutually dependent, and which are usually mentioned with reference to two different things. He who has never seen light, can never get an idea of darkness; and what is more, he cannot even imagine the couple (dvaṃdva) of light and darkness. The same argument applies to the couple of sat and asat (Real and Illusory). It is quite clear that when, we notice that some objects are destroyed, we begin to divide all things into two classes of asat (perishable) and sat (nonperishable); or, in other words, in order that the human mind should conceive the two ideas of sat and asat, it is necessary that these two opposite qualities should come before the human eyes. But, if there was only one substance in the beginning, how can one apply to this Fundamental Substance the two mutually dependent words sat and asat, which came into- existence by being applied to two different substances after duality had first come into existence? Because, if you call that fundamental substance, sat, then the question arises–whether at that time (that is, before duality had come into existence) there was in existence something else by the side of it. Therefore, in the Nāsadīya-Sūkta of the Ṛg-Veda, no adjective is applied to the Parabrahman and the Fundamental Element of the universe is described by saying: "in the commencement of the world, there was neither sat nor asat, but whatever there was, was one", and that the couples of sat and asat came into existence afterwards (Ṛg-veda 10.129); and it is stated in the Gītā that he whose Reason has become free from the doubles of sat and asat, hot and cold, etc. reaches the nirdvaṃdva (beyond-doubles) sphere of the Brahman, which is beyond these doubles (Bhagavadgītā 7.28; 2.45). From this it will be seen how difficult and subtle are the ideas in the philosophy of the Absolute Self. If one considers the matter merely from the logical point of view, one is forced to admit this unknowability of the Parabrahman or of the Atman. But although the Parabrahman may, in this way, be qualityless and unknowable, that is, beyond the reach of the organs, yet, as every man has a self-experience of his own Ātman, it is possible for us to get the self-experience that the indescribable form of this qualityless Ātman which we realise by means of a visionary experience (sākṣātkāra), is the same as of the Parabrahman; and therefore, the proposition that the- Brahman and the Ātman are uniform does not become meaning- less. Looking at the matter from this point of view, it is impossible to Bay more about the form of the Brahman than that: "the Brahman is the same in form as the Ātman": and one has to depend for all other things on one's own self- experience. But, in a scientific exposition which has to appeal- to Reason, it is necessary to give as much explanation as is- possible, by the use of words. Therefore, although the Brahman is all-pervasive, unknowable, and indescribable, yet, in order to express the difference between the Gross World and the Brahman-Element (which is the same in nature as the Ātman), the philosophy of the Absolute Self considers the quality of caitanya (Consciousness), which becomes visible to us in Gross Matter after its contact with the Ātman, as the preeminent quality of the Ātman, and says that both the Ātman and the Parabrahman are cidrūpī or caitanya-rūpī (Conscious or Knowing, in form); because, if you do not do so, then, in as much as both the Ātman and the Brahman are qualityless, invisible, and indescribable, one has, in describing them either to sit quiet, or, if someone else gives some description of them by means of words, one has to say: "neti, neti I etasmād anyat param asti I ", i.e., "It is not this, this is not It (Brahman), (this is a Name and Form), the true Brahman is something else, which is quite beyond that", and in this way, do nothing else except restricting oneself to negatives (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 2.3.6). It is, therefore, that cit (Knowledge), sat ('sattāmātratva' or Existence) and ānanda (Joy) are commonly mentioned as the attributes of the Brahman. There is no doubt that these attributes are much higher than all other attributes; nevertheless, these attributes have been mentioned for the only purpose of acquainting one with the form of the Brahman, as far as it is possible to do so by words; and it must not be forgotten that the true form of the Brahman is qualityless, and that one has to get a selfexperience (aparokṣānubhava) of it in order to understand it. I shall now concisely explain what our philosophers have said regarding the way in which this self-experience can be had, that is to say, in what way and when this indescribable form of the Brahman is experienced by the brahma-niṣṭha (the devotee of the Brahman).
The identification of the Brahman with the Ātman is described in Marathi by saying "what is in the piṇḍa (Body), is also in the brahmāṇḍa (Cosmos); and it logically follows that when once a man has experienced this identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, there can no more remain any difference between the jñātā or observing Ātman, and the jñeya or the subject-matter to be seen. But, a doubt is likely to arise that if a man does not escape from his eyes and other organs, so long as he is alive, how can one get over the fact that these organs are different from the objects which are perceptible to the organs?; and, if one does not get rid of this difference, how is one to realise the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman? And, if one considers the matter only from the point of view of the organs, these doubts do not at first sight seem improper. But, if you consider the matter deeply, it will be seen that the organs do not perform the function of seeing external objects of their own accord, "cakṣuḥ paśyati rupāṇi manasā m tu cakṣuṣā" (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 311.17)–in order to see anything (and also in order to hear anything etc.), the eyes (as also the ears etc.) require the help of the Mind. It has been stated before that if the Mind is vacant, objects in front of the eyes are not seen. "When one takes into account this common experience, one sees that if the Mind is taken out of the organs, the dualities in the objects of the senses become nonexistent to us, though they might exist in the external world, notwithstanding that the organs of eyes etc. are perfectly in order; and it is easy to draw the inference that the Mind will in this way become steeped in the Ātman or in the Ātmanformed Brahman, and one will begin to get a visionary experience (sākṣātkāra) of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman. That man who has attained this mental state by meditation, mental isolation, worshipping in solitude, or by intense contemplation of the Brahman, will not perceive the dualities or differences in the visible world, although they may be before his eyes; and then he realises the form of the sole (advaita) Brahman of his own accord. In this beatific ultimate state, which is the result of the fullest Realisation of the Brahman, the three-fold difference, that is, triputī of Knower, Knowable, and Knowledge, or the dual difference of worshipper and worshipped ceases to exist. Therefore, this state of the mind cannot be described by one person to another person; because, it is dear that immediately on uttering the word 'another', this state of mind is destroyed, and the man returns from the advaita (non-dual) into the dvaita (dual). Nay, it is even difficult for anybody to say that he himself has experienced this state of mind! Because, as soon as you utter the word 'I', there arises in the mind the idea of a difference from others, and such an idea is obstructive to the realisation of the identity between this Brahman and the Ātman.
It is for this reason that Yājñavalkya has described this state of beatitude in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka as follows:–
yatra hi dvaitam iva bhavati tad itara itaraṃ paśyati … … jighrati … … śṛṇoti … … vijānāti | yatra tvasya sarvam ātmaivābhūt tat kena kam paśyet … … jighret … … śṛṇuyāt vijānīyāt | ... vijñātāram are kena vijānīyāt । etāvad are khalu amṛtatvam iti |
I.e., "so long as the duality of the Observer and the observed existed, the one was seeing the other, smelling the other, hearing the other, and knowing the other; but when everything assumes the form of the Ātman, (that is, when there no more remains the difference between oneself and another), then, who is to see, smell, hear or know whom? man I how can there be another one to know him who is himself the Knower? " (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.5.15; 4,3.27).
When everybody is in this way merged in the Ātman or in the Brahman, or becomes ātmabhūta or brahmabhūta, the doubles of pain and happiness, or fear, lamentation etc. cease to exist (Īśāvāsyopaniṣad 7); because, in order that one should feel fear, or lament, the one to be feared or lamented must be different from oneself, and there is no room for a difference of this kind, when one has realised the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman. This state of being free from pain, lamentation etc. is called the 'ānandamaya' state (the beatific state); and, it is stated in the Taittirīya Upaniṣad, that this ānanda (joy or beatitude) is Brahman (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.8; 3.6). But, even this description is not perfect; because, where does the experiencer of this beatitude now remain anymore? It is, therefore, stated in the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad that Selfbeatitude (ātmānanda) is something by far stranger than ordinary joy (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.3.32). Having regard to this insufficiency of the word 'ānanda' (beatitude), which occurs in the description of the Brahman, the person who has realised the Brahman (brahma-vettā) is, in some other places, described only as "brahma bhavati ya evaṃ veda" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.4.25) or "brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati" (Muṇḍakopaniṣad 3. 2. 9) "he, who has realised the Brahman, has become the Brahman", that is to say, omitting the word 'ānanda', from the description. In the same way as, after a lump of salt has been dissolved in water, the difference that one part of the water is saltish and another of it is not saltish does not remain, so also, once a man has realised the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, everything becomes merged in the Brahman. This beatific condition of the mind has been described in the Upaniṣads as above (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 2.4. 2; Chāndogyopaniṣad 6.13).
But that saint Tukārāma about whom was said "jāyacī vade nitya vedānta vāṇī", (i.e., " one whose voice always uttered Vedānta") has described his self-experience in the following words by taking the sweet illustration of jaggery instead of this other saltish illustration:–
As jaggery is sweet; so has God come to be every where ||
Now whom shall I worship; God is inside as also outside ||
(Tu. Tukārāma's Gāthā 3637).
This is what is meant by saying, that though the Parabrahman is imperceptible to the organs and unrealisable by the mind, yet it is 'svānubhavagamya', that is, it can be realised by every man by his self-experience. The unknowability of the Parabrahman which is spoken of, belongs to the stage in which there is a Knower and a To-Be-Known; it does not belong to the phase of the Realisation of Non-dualism. So long as one has the feeling that he is something different from the world, it is not possible for a man, whatever he may do, to fully realise the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman.
But, although a river cannot swallow the sea, yet, it can fall into the sea and become merged into it; so also, may a man dive into the Parabrahman and realise it; and then he reaches the Brahmised (brahmamaya) state of:
"sarvabhūtastham ātmānaṃ sarvabhūtāni cātmani
I.e., "all created beings are within himself, and he is within all created things."
In order to explain that the full Realisation of the Brahman depends on one's own self-experience, the form of the Parabrahman has been skilfully and paradoxically described as follows:
avijñātaṃ vijānatāṃ vijñānam avijānatāṃ"
(Kenopaniṣat (= Talavakāropaniṣat) 2.3),
I.e., "those who say that they have Realised the Parabrahman have not really Realised It; they alone have Realised It, who do not Realise that they have Realised It";
Because, when a person says that he has Realised the Parabrahman, there is clearly in his mind the dual feeling that he (the Jñātā) is something different from the Brahman (the Jñeya) which he has known, and, there- fore, his non-dual Realisation of the identity of the Atman.and the Brahman is, at this stage, to that extent, upripe or incomplete. Therefore, one who says this, admits by his own mouth that he has not really Realised the Brahman. On the other hand, when the dual feeling of T and 'Brahman' has disappeared, and the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman has been fully Realised, the words "I have understood That" (that is, necessarily, something which is different from me) cannot be used. Therefore, when a man is in this condition, that is to say, when the Realiser (jñānī) is unable to say that he has Realised the Brahman, he may be said to have Realised the Brahman. That a Realiser should be thus totally merged, engrossed, totally dissolved, saturated or dead into the Parabrahman, as a result of a total annhiliation of the feeling -of duality, would commonly be looked upon as difficult. But our philosophers have after personal experience come to the conclusion that this state of 'nirvāṇa'(dissolution), which at first sight appears difficult, can ultimately be reached by a man by practice (abhyāsa) and by renunciation (vairāgya). Some people raise an objection that in as much as the dual feeling of egoism is destroyed or dies in this state of mind, this is a kind of self-destruction. But anyone can see that this objection is without foundation, when one realises that though a man cannot describe this state when he is experiencing it, yet, he can afterwards remember it.
Even in modern times, Tukārāma, that highest among the devotees of the Blessed Lord, has said:–
I saw my death by my own eyes; that spectacle was incomparable |
(Tukārāma's Gāthā 3579).
in describing this state of ultimate bliss in figurative language, and with great exuberation and appreciation. By the worship of, and meditation on, the qualityful perceptible or imperceptible Brahman, the devotee gradually rises and ultimately reaches such a state that he Realises the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, which is described by the words "ahaṃ brahmāsmi" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.4.10), i.e., "I am the Brahman"; and then he becomes steeped to such an extent in that state, that he does not think of what state he is in, or of what he is experiencing. In as much as he has not ceased to be awake, this his state cannot be called the dream-state or the sleeping- state; and, it cannot be called a waking-state, as all the activities based on duality, which are carried on in the wakingstate, are stopped. Therefore, this state is referred to as the 'turīya' (fourth) state, which is different from the ordinary dreaming (svapna), sleeping (suṣupti) or waking (jāgṛti) states; and as the 'nirvikalpa' (i.e., in which there is not the slightest feeling of duality) form of meditation has been prescribed by the Pātañjala Yoga as the principal means for reaching this state, it is stated in the Gītā that one should spare no pains for acquiring by practice this 'nirvikalpa-samādhi-yoga' (Bhagavadgītā 6.20–23). This feeling of the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman is the most complete state of Knowledge; because, when the world becomes Brahmified (brahmarūpa), that is, One in form, one has reached the climax of the process of knowledge which is described in the Gītā by the words "avibhaktaṃ vibhakteṣu"–unifying that which is diverse–and it is not possible to get any further knowledge about anything. In the same way, when one has experienced this immortal Element which is beyond Name and Form, one automatically escapes the cycle of birth and death, since birth and death is included in the category of Name and Form, and such a man has gone beyond Name and Form (Bhagavadgītā 8.21). Therefore, Tukārāma has referred to this state as "the death of death" (Ga. 3580); and Yājñavalkya has, for the same reason, referred to this state as the limit or climax of immortality. This is indeed the 'state of being released from birth' (jīvan-muktāvasthā). It is stated in the Pātañjala YogaSūtras, and also in other books, that is this state of mind, a man acquires superhuman powers like levitation etc. (Pātañjala Sū. 3. 16–55); and, it is on this account that some persons take to Yoga practices. But, as has been stated by the author of the Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha, the power of levitation etc. is neither an ideal, nor any part of the state of a Brahmanengrossed (brahma-niṣṭha), and the man who is a. Birthreleased (jīvanmukta) makes no attempt to acquire these powers, which very often are not to be seen in him (Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha 5.89). Therefore, not only are these powers not referred to in the Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha, but one does not come across them anywhere even in the Gītā. Vaśiṣṭha has clearly said to Rāma, that these wonderful powers are only tricks of Māyā, and are not the science of the Brahman. They may be true; I do not insist that they cannot be true, but in any case, they undoubtedly do not form part of the brahma-vidyā (science of the Brahman). Therefore, the Brahma-Vidyā science says that whether these powers are acquired or not, a man should pay no attention to them, nor entertain any hope or desire about them, but should exert himself only in such efforts as will be sufficient to enable him to reach the ultimate beatific Brahmified state, in which he feels that there is only one Ātman in all created beings. Realisation of the Brahman is the purest state of Ātman; it is neither magic nor Māyic wonders; and therefore, not only is the worth of the science of the Brahman not increased by such wonders, but they cannot be any proof of the worth of that science. Birds, or in these days even aeronauts, fly in the sky; but, on that account no one considers them as knowers of the Brahman. Nay, people, who have acquired the powers of levitation may like Aghoraghaṇṭa in the Mālatī-Mādhava, be cruel and treacherous persons.
The indescribable experience of the beatitude of realising the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman cannot be fully related by one person to another; because, in doing so, one has to use the Dualistic phraseology of 'I' and 'You', and one's entire experience of non-duality cannot be described in this Dualistic phraseology. Therefore, the descriptions of this ultimate state which are to be found in the Upaniṣads must also be considered incomplete or unimportant; and if these descriptions are unimportant, then the purely Dualistic descriptions, which are found given in the Upaniṣads for explaining the creation or the formation of the universe, must also be considered unimportant. For instance, the descriptions of the creation of the visible universe to be found in the Upaniṣads, that the qualityful Puruṣa, named Hiraṇyagarbha, or the various perceptible objects in the world like āpa (water) etc. gradually came into existence out of the pure, permanent, all-pervading and immutable Ātman-formed Brahman; or that the Parameśvara first created these Names and Forms, and then entered them (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.6; Chāndogyopaniṣad 6.7.3; Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.4.7) etc., cannot be correct from the point of view of Non-Dualism; because, if the qualityless Parameśvara, realisable only by Knowledge, pervades everything, it is scientifically without foundation to say that one created the other. But, as the Dualistic phraseology is the only possible medium for explaining the formation of the universe to ordinary persons, the abovementioned descriptions of the perceptible universe, or of Names and Forms, have been given in the Upaniṣads.
Nevertheless, even in these descriptions the substratum of Non-Dualism is, in many places, kept intact, and it is made quite clear that though the Dualistic phraseology has been used in the descriptions, Non-Dualism is the true doctrine. Just as, though we now definitely know that it is not the Sun which revolves, we still speak of the rising or the setting of the Sun, so also, although it was definitely known that one and only one Parabrahman, in the form of the Ātman, pervades everything in all directions and without division, and that It is immutable, yet, we come across expressions like "the perceptible universe was created out of the Parabrahman" in the Upaniṣads; and in the same way, also in the Gītā, although the Blessed Lord has said:–"My true form is imperishable and unborn" (Bhagavadgītā 7.25), yet, He at the same time says, "I create the whole world" (Bhagavadgītā 4.6). But some scholars, neglecting the meaning underlying these descriptions, and looking upon them as literally true and important, lay down the proposition that the Upaniṣads support the Dvaita (Dualistic) or Viśiṣṭādvaita (Qualified Monistic) theory. They say that if one believes that there is only one qualityless Brahman which pervades everything, one cannot explain how the mutable, perishable, and qualityful objects came into existence out of this immutable Brahman; because, although one may describe the Name-d and Form-ed universe as 'Māyā', yet, in as much as it is logically impossible for the qualityful Māyā to come into existence out of the qualityless Brahman, the theory of Non-Dualism falls to the ground. Rather than that, it would be more proper (i) to accept as eternal a qualityful but perceptible form of the Name-d and Form-ed perceptible universe like Prakṛti, as is done in Sāṃkhya philosophy, and (ii) to imagine that at the innermost core of this Prakṛti, there is another permanent element in the shape of the Parabrahman (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 3.7), just as there is steam in an iron engine, and (iii) to believe that these two Elements form a Unity like the grains in a pomegranate. But, in my opinion, it is not proper to ascribe this meaning to the Upaniṣads. It is true that the Upaniṣads contain descriptions which are sometimes Dualistic, and at other times purely Non-Dualistic, and that we have to reconcile them with each other. But, we cannot reconcile the various statements in the Upaniṣads with each other by accepting the Dualistic point of view, as satisfactorily as can be done by accepting the Non-dualistic point of view, and saying that when the qualityless Brahman is taking up a qualityful form an illusory Dualistic state seems, only to that extent, to have come into existence. For instance, the words in the phrase 'tat tvam asi' can never be satisfactorily explained from the Dualistic point of view. It is not that Dualists did not realise this difficulty. But these Dualists have analysed that phrase by saying that 'tat tvam' means 'tasya tvam', that is, "Thou art OR That, which is something different from thee; thou art not That Itself"; and they have, in this way, somehow or other explained away this very important canon, and satisfied themselves. But those persons who understand even a little of Sanskrit, and whose minds are not perverted as a result of obstinacy, will at once see that this forced meaning is not correct. In the Kaivalyopaniṣad (Kaivalyovaniṣad 1.16), the terms 'tat' and 'tvam' have been interchanged by analysing the phrase 'tat tvam asi' as "sa tvameva tvameva tat" (i.e., "It is thou, thou art It"), and this canon has been proved to be in support of Non-Dualism. What more shall I say? Unless one excises away the major portion of the Upaniṣads, or intentionally closes one's eyes to them, it is impossible to show that there is any other import in the Upaniṣad science except a Hon-Dualistic import. But, as these arguments are endless, I shall not further discuss the matter here. Those, who are in favour of any opinion other than the Non-Dualistic theory, are perfectly welcome to accept it. I do not think that anything except a Non-Dualistic import could have been intended to be conveyed by those noble souls, who, after describing their selfexperience in unmistakable terms by saying: "neha nānā 'sti kiṃcana" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.4.19; Kaṭhopaniṣad 4.11), i.e., "there is no diversity of any kind in this world", and that whatever there is, is fundamentally "ekamevādvitīyam" (Chāndogyopaniṣad 6.3.2), i.e., "one only, without a second", have gone further and said:–"mṛtyoḥ sa mṛtyum āpnoti ya iha nāneva paśyati", that is, "he who sees diversity in this world, falls into the cycle of birth and death". But, though there is room for doubt whether all the Upaniṣads convey one and the same import, since there are different Upaniṣads of the different branches of the Vedas, one does not experience the same difficulty in the case of the Gītā. As the Gītā is a single work, it is clear that it expounds one kind of Vedānta; and, when one considers what that Vedānta is, one has to interpret the Gītā as expounding the Non-Dualistic doctrine that the only Reality is "That which remains over after all created things are destroyed" (Bhagavadgītā 8.20), and Which pervades on all sides all the material bodies (piṇḍa) as It pervades the Cosmos (brahmāṇḍa), (Bhagavadgītā 13.31). Nay, the principle of identifying everything with oneself (ātmaupamya), which has been mentioned in the Gītā, cannot be fully explained by any aspect of Vedānta other than a Non-Dualistic aspect. I do not mean to suggest that all the various philosophical speculations or doctrines, which were expounded at the time of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya, or after him, in support of the Non- Dualistic theory, have been accepted m toto in the Gītā. The Gītā was in existence before the Dualistic, Non-Dualistic and the QualifiedMonistic doctrines had been formulated; and I also accept the position that the Gītā cannot, on that account, contain any doctrinal arguments belonging to any particular sect. But this does not prevent one from saying that the Vedānta expounded in the Gītā is generally of the Non- Dualistic kind supported by the Śāṃkara School (the school of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya), and not Dualistic. But, although, from the point of view of philosophy, there is some common ground between the Gītā and the Śāṃkara school, yet, from the point of view of mode of life, the Gītā gives higher importance to the doctrine of Action (Karma-Yoga) than to the doctrine of Renunciation of Action (Karma-Saṃnyāsa) which is sup- ported by Śaṃkarācārya. But, this subject-matter will be considered later on. What I am dealing with at present is the question of philosophy, and all that I have to say here is that this philosophy is of the same kind in the Gītā as in the Śāṃkara school, that is, it is NonDualistic; and that is the reason why the Śāṃkarabhāṣya on the Gītā is considered more valuable than the other doctrinal commentaries.
When one has thus come to the conclusion that there remains behind only one immutable and qualityless Element.after all Names and Forms are eliminated, from the point of view of Knowledge, and that one has, on that account, to accept NonDualism after full and minute consideration, it becomes necessary to explain how the variegated perceptible qualityful universe came into existence out of one qualityless and imperceptible Element, from the point of view of Non- Dualistic Vedānta. It has been stated before that the Sāṃkhyas have got over this difficulty by looking upon Matter with its three constituents (that is, qualityful Matter) as eternal and independent, in the same way, as the qualityless Spirit. But, if in this way one looks upon qualityful Matter as independent, the fundamental Elements of the world become two, and the theory of Non-Dualism, which has been un- conditionally accepted as correct for the various reasons mentioned above, comes into question; and if one does not look upon qualityful Matter as independent, it becomes impossible to explain how the variegated qualityful universe came into. existence out of one fundamental qualityless substance; because, the theory that it is not possible for the Qualityful to come into existence out of the Qualityless, that is to say, for something to come into existence out of something which does not exist–according to satkāryavāda–has also been accepted by Non-Dualists. In short, there is a difficulty on either hand. Then, how are we to get over this dilemma? One must find out some way for explaining how the Qualityful came into existence out of the Qualityless without giving the go-bye to Non-Dualism, and that way seems to be closed to us by the theory of satkāryavāda. True, the position is a difficult one. Nay; according to some, this is the principal difficulty in the way of accepting Non-Dualism, and, on that account, they accept Dualism. But the Non- Dualists have, by their intelligence, found out a skilful and unquestionable way for getting over this difficult position. They say that the theory of satkāryavāda or of the guṇa-pariṇāma-vāda applies only when the cause and the product are both of the same kind or class; and on that account, even Non-Dualists will accept that the Real and Qualityless Brahman cannot give birth to a Real and Qualityful Māyā; but, this admission is effective only when both the substances are Real (satya). Where one substance is Real, and the other one is only a reflection of it, satkāryavāda does not apply. The Sāṃkhyas consider Prakṛti as an independent Real substance, in the same way as the Puruṣa. Therefore, they cannot, having regard to the theory of satkāryavāda, account for the outcome of a qualityful Prakṛti from a qualityless Puruṣa. But as the Non-Dualistic Vedānta holds that though Māyā may be eternal, it is neither Real nor independent, but is, as stated in the Gītā, a 'folly' (moha), an 'ignorance' '(ajñāna), or an 'illusion (māyā) seen by the organs', the objection based on satkāryavāda, does not in the least affect the Non-Dualistic doctrine. If a son is born to a father, we can say that he is the result of the guṇa-pariṇāma of the father; but when there is only one individual, namely, the father, and he is seen appearing sometimes in the guise of an infant, and sometimes of a young man, and sometimes of an old man, there does not exist, as we readily realise, the relation of cause and product, or of guṇa-pariṇāma between the man and his various disguises. In the same way, when we have come to the conclusion that there is only one Sun, we say that the reflection of that Sun seen in water is a kind of illusion, and that there is not another Sun which has come into existence by guṇapariṇāma; and astronomy tells us that when once the true form of a planet has been defined by means of a telescope, that form of it which we see by the naked eyes, is only an appearance resulting from the weakness of our eyes and the immense distance of the planet from us. From this, it becomes clear that a particular thing cannot be looked upon as an independent, real, and existing thing, merely on account of the fact that it is actually perceptible to our eyes and other organs. Then, why should we not make use of the same argument in the philosophy of the Absolute Self, and say that the qualityless Parabrahman which has been defined by the telescope of the knowledgeful (spiritual) eyes is the only thing which is Real, and that the Names and Forms, which are visible to the knowledgeless natural eyes, is not the product or result of, or something which has come out of, this Parabrahman, but is purely a deceptive and illusory appearance due to the incapacity of our organs? The objection that the Qualityful cannot come into existence out of the Qualityless can itself not be made here; because, the two substances do not belong to the same category, and whereas the one is Real, the other is merely an appearance; and it is common experience, that, though there may be fundamentally one Real substance, the appearances of that same substance change according to the faulty vision, or the ignorance, or the blindness of the person who sees. Take, for instance, the two qualities, namely, the words which can be heard by the ears, or the colours which can be seen by the eyes. Natural sciences Lave by minutely analysing the word or sound, which can be heard by the ears, clearly proved that 'sound' is nothing but waves or vibrations of the air. In the same way, it has now been determined by minute researches that the red, yellow, blue and other colours, which are visible to the eyes, are the evolutes of one fundamental sunlight, and that this sunlight itself is a kind of motion or vibration. If, although 'motion' or vibration is fundamentally one, the ears recognise it as 'sound' and the eyes as 'colour', then, the same argument being applied in a more comprehensive way to all the various organs, it follows that (i) the different human senses attribute (i.e., make an adhyāropa of) the different qualities of sound, colour, etc., which (qualities) are embodied in Name and Form, to one and the same Fundamental Substance, and thereby various appearances come into being; that (ii) it is not necessary for these appearances, qualities, or Names and Forms to exist in the Fundamental Substance; and that (iii) the coming into existence of all Names and Forms can thus be logically explained without the help of the doctrine of satkāryavāda. And in order to establish this proposition, Vedānta philosophy gives the various illustrations of a string being taken for a serpent, or a shell being taken for silver, or one thing being seen as two things by poking the finger under the eyeball, or the same substance being seen to be of different colours by the use of spectacles of different colours. It is true that a man will always perceive the various Names and Forms or qualities in the world, in as much as he can never get rid of his organs. But, this relative appearance of the world, which, is seen by the eyes of the organised human being, cannot be said to be the fundamental, that is, the non-relative and eternal form of the world. If human beings come to have fewer or more organs than they have at present, they may not see the universe in the same way as they now see it; and, if this is true, then, on being asked to explain the eternal and real nature of the Element which is at the root of the world, without reference to the organs of the person who sees, one las to answer by saying that the Fundamental Element is quality less, and our seeing it as qualityful is the result of the nature of our organs, and not the quality of the Fundamental Substance. Such questions do not arise in the Material sciences, because, in those sciences only such things are to be examined as are perceptible to the organs. But, from the fact that a man or his organs come to an end, we cannot conclude that the Parameśvara also comes to an end; nor can we conclude from the fact that a man sees Him as being of a particular kind, that His Real, non-relative form, which is uncircumscribed by Time, is what the man sees. Therefore, in that philosophy of the Absolute Self in which one has to determine the fundamental form of the Reality which is at the root of the universe, one must give up the relative and dependent vision of the human organs, and one has ultimately to consider the matter purely by his spiritual vision, that is to say, as far as possible, by Reason only; and when that is done, all the qualities which are perceptible to the organs automatically drop off; and one sees that the real form of the Brahman is beyond the reach of the organs, that is, qualityless; and that that form is a super- excellent form. But who is going to describe that which is qualityless and how? Therefore, the Non-Dualist Vedānta has laid down the proposition that the ultimate, that is to say, the non-relative and eternal form of the Parabrahman is not only qualityless but indescribable, and that, man sees a qualityful appearance, in this qualityless form, by reason of his organs. But, here again a question arises as to how the organs have acquired the power of changing the Qualityless into the Qualityful. The reply of the Non-Dualist Vedānta to this is: as human knowledge stops at this stage, one has either to say that this must be called the ignorance of the organs, and that their seeing the appearance of the qualityful universe in the qualityless Parabrahman is due to that ignorance; or, one has to content oneself with drawing the definite inference that the visible universe (Prakṛti) is only a ' divine illusion ' of the qualityless Parameśvara, since the organs themselves are part of the creation of the Parameśvara (Bhagavadgītā 7.14).
My readers will understand from this the import of the statements in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 7.14, 24, 25) that- though the aprabuddha, that is, those who see merely by the physical organs, see the Parameśvara to be perceptible and qualityful, yet, His real and excellent form is quality less; and that Realising that form by spiritual vision is the climax of Knowledge. But though, in this way, one arrives at the conclusion that the Parameśvara is fundamentally qualityless, and that the human organs see in Him the variegated appearance of the qualityful universe, yet, it becomes necessary to precisely explain in what meaning the word 'qualityless' has to be taken in this proposition. It is true that though our organs attribute the qualities of sound, colour etc., to vibrations of air, or mistake a shell for silver, the vibrations of air do not possess the quality of sound or colour, nor does the shell possess the quality of silver; but, from the fact that the Fundamental Substance does not contain the particular attributed qualities, one cannot draw the necessary conclusion that It will not possess other qualities. Because, as we actually see, though the shell does not possess the quality of silver, yet,. it possesses some qualities other than those of silver. This, therefore, gives rise to the following difficulty, namely, though one admits that the fundamental Brahman does not possess the qualities which are ascribed to it by one's organs as a 'result of one's ignorance, how can one be sure that the Parabrahman does not possess other qualities; and if it possesses other qualities, how is it qualityless? But, if one considers the matter a little minutely, it will be seen that even assuming the fundamental Brahman to possess qualities other than those ascribed to it by the organs, how are we going to find them out f The qualities which a man perceives are perceived by him through the medium of his organs; and those qualities, which are not perceptible to the organs, cannot be known. In short, even if the Parabrahman possesses some qualities other than those which are ascribed to it by our organs, it is not possible for us to know them; and saying that the Para- brahman does possess qualities is illogical, if it is impossible for us to know those qualities. Therefore, Vedāntists understand the word 'guṇa' as meaning 'qualities which are knowable by human beings', and formulate the proposition that the Brahman is 'qualityless' in this sense. Nondualistic Vedānta does not say that the fundamental Parabrahman cannot possess qualities or powers which are beyond the imagination of human beings, and no one, as a matter of fact, can say that. Nay, even the Vedāntists say that the ignorance of the organs or Māyā, which was mentioned above, must be an unimaginable power of that fundamental Parabrahman.
The three-constituented Māyā or Prakṛti is not some independent substance; but, what happens is that the human organs, as a result of ignorance, ascribe (make an adhyāropa of) a qualityful appearance to one homogeneous, and qualityless Brahman. This theory is known as 'VIVARTA-VĀDA'. The explanation given by the Non-Dualistic Vedāntists as to how the variegated qualityful universe first came to be seen if the qualityless Brahman was the only Fundamental Substance, is as follows:–The Kaṇāda Nyāya philosophy propounds the doctrine that innumerable atoms are the fundamental cause of the universe, and the followers of Nyāya philosophy consider these atoms to be Real. They have,, therefore, come to the conclusion, that the various objects in the world begin to come into existence when these innumerable atoms begin to coalesce. As according to this theory, the universe starts to come into existence when the union between the atoms commences to take place, it is called 'Ārambha-vāda' (the Theory of Commencement). But Sāṃkhya philosophy does not accept this Nyāya theory of innumerable atoms, and says that the Fundamental Root of the Gross world is one, homogeneous, real, and three-constituented Prakṛti; and they say that the perceptible world comes into existence as a result of the unfurling or pariṇāma of the constituents of this three- constituented Prakṛti. This doctrine is known as the 'Guṇapariṇāma-vāda' (Theory of the Development of Constituents), because, it maintains that the entire perceptible universe is the result of the unfurling of the constituents of one fundamental qualityful Prakṛti. But both these theories are negatived by the, Non-Dualistic Vedāntists. As atoms are innumerable, they cannot be the Boot of the world according to Non-Dualism; and the Dualistic theory, that though Prakṛti is one, it is different from Puruṣa and independent, is also inconsistent with Non-Dualism; but, when in this way, both these theories are negatived, it becomes necessary to explain how the qualityful universe came into existence out of one qualityless Brahman; because, according to the satkāryavāda, the Qualityful cannot come into existence out of the Qualityless. To this, the reply of the Vedāntists is, that the doctrine of satkāryavāda applies only where both the Cause and the Product are Real substances; where the fundamental substance is one, and only its forms or appearances are changed, this theory does not apply; because, as is common experience, seeing various appearances of one and the same thing is not a quality of that thing, and these various appearances can come into existence as a result of the difference in the vision of the persons who see. When this theory is applied to the qualityless Brahman and the qualityful universe, one has to say that the Brahman is qualityless, and that an appearance of qualityfulness comes into existence in it, as a result of the nature of the human organs. This is known as the 'Vivarta-vāda.' According to Vivarta-vāda, there is believed to be only one, fundamental, Real substance, and it is said that numerous, unreal or constantly changing Appearances are ascribed to it; and in the Guṇa-pariṇāma-vada, two Real substances are taken for granted from the very commencement, and it is said that the Guṇas (constituents) of one of these two become unfurled, and that all other things in the universe which are possessed of various qualities come into existence in consequence. The impression of the existence of a serpent, where, as a matter of fact, there is only a string, is the Vivarta-vāda; and, fibres being formed into a rope, or curds out of milk, is the Guṇa-pariṇāma-vāda.
Therefore, in the book called Vedāntasāra, these two theories are described and differentiated between in the following words:–
yas tāttviko 'nyathābhāvaḥ pariṇāma udīritaḥ |
atāttviko 'nyathābhāvo vivartaḥ sa udīritaḥ ||
(Ve. Sā. 21).
That is, "when from one fundamental substance, another substance of a different nature comes into existence essentially, that is, really, that is called (guṇa-) pariṇāma; but when-instead of this, the fundamental substance looks something different (atāttvika), it is said to be vivarta".
The Ārambha-vada is the theory of the Nyāya school, the Guṇapariṇāma-vāda is the theory of the Sāṃkhya school, and the Vivarta- vāda is the theory of the Non-Dualist Vedānta school. The- Non-Dualist Vedāntists do not look upon the two qualityful. substances, atoms and Prakṛti, as different from or independent of the qualityless Brahman; but by their doing so, the objection that the Qualityful cannot spring out of the Qualityless arises on account of satkārya-vāda; and in order to get rid of that objection, the Vivarta-vāda has come into existence. But, the conclusion drawn by some, that, on that account the- Vedāntists will not at any time or cannot accept the Guṇa-pariṇāma-vāda is wrong. The principal object of the Vivarta-vāda is to show that (i) the objection of the Sāṃkhyas, or of other Dualists against Non-Dualism, namely, that the qualityful' Prakṛti or Māyā cannot spring out of the qualityless Brahman, is not impossible to answer, and that (ii) it is possible for our organs to see innumerable Māyic (illusory) appearances in on- qualityless Brahman. "When this object has been achieved, that, is to say, when it has been proved by Vivarta-vāda, that it is possible to see the Appearance of the three-constituented qualityful Prakṛti in one qualityless Parabrahman, Vedānta philosophy has no objection to accept that the further development of that Prakṛti has taken place according to the Guṇa-pariṇāma-vāda. The chief doctrine of Non-Dualistic Vedānta. is that the fundamental Prakṛti is an Appearance, or an Illusion, and that it is not Real. But once this first, Appearance of Prakṛti begins to be seen, Non-Dualist Vedāntists have no objection to accept that the appearances, which are subsequently evolved from this one original Appearance, are not-independent; and to accept that the qualities of one appearance spring out of the qualities of another appearance, and that, in this way, appearances possessing various qualities have come into existence. Therefore, although the Blessed Lord has said in the Gītā that "Prakṛti is nothing but My Māyā" (Bhagavadgītā 7.14; 4.6), the Gītā itself also says that this Prakṛti, which has become imbued with or inhabited by the Parameśvara (Bhagavadgītā 9.10), is further developed according to the rule "guṇā guṇeṣu vartante" (Bhagavadgītā 3.28; 14.23).
From this it will be clear, that when once the appearance of Māyā has taken place in the fundamentally qualityless Brahman according to Vivarta-vāda, the principle of guṇotkarṣa (Development of Constituents) has been accepted even by the Gītā for explaining this Māyic appearance, that is, this further development of Prakṛti. It is not that because you say that the entire visible world is a Māyic appearance, therefore, there cannot be some such rule like guṇotkarṣa which controls the changes in form which take place in this Appearance. Vedāntists do not wish to deny that the further development of this Māyic appearance is bound by rules. All that they say is that these rules are also Māyic, like the fundamental Prakṛti, and that the Parameśvara is the OverLord of all these Māyic rules, and is beyond them, and that it is by His power that some sort of permanence or regularity has come into these rules. It is not possible for the qualityful, that is, perishable Prakṛti, which is in the form of an Appearance, to lay down rules which are not circumscribed by Time.
From the foregoing discussion, my readers will understand the nature and the mutual relationship between the Jīva (personal self) and the Parameśvara (the Absolute Īśvara), or according to Vedantic terminology, between Māyā (that is, the universe which has been brought into existence by Māyā), the Ātman, and the Parabrahman. From the point of view of the philosophy of the Highest Self, all the things in the universe are divided into two classes, namely, 'Names and Forms, and the Eternal Element' (nitya-tattva) clothed in those Names and Forms. Out of these, 'Names and Forms' are known as the qualityful Māyā or Prakṛti. But when you eliminate the Names and Forms, the Eternal Element (nitya- dravya) which remains, must be qualityless; because, no quality can exist without the support of a Name and Form. This eternal and imperceptible Element is the Parabrahman; and- the weak organs of human beings see the qualityful Māyā as a growth out of this qualityless Parabrahman. This Māyā is not a Real substance, and it is only the Parabrahman which is Real, that is, uncircumscribed by Time, and neverchanging. These are the doctrines which relate to the nature of the Names and Forms of the visible universe and the Parabrahman clothed by them. Now, when the human being is viewed from the same point of view, it is seen that the human body and organs are substances defined by Name and Form, like other substances in the visible world, that is to say, that they fall into the category of the non-permanent Māyā; and that the Annan, which is clothed by this Body and organs, falls into the category of the eternal Parabrahman; or, that the Brahman and the Atman are one and the same. My readers must have now noticed the differences between these NonDualistic doctrines, which do not look upon the external world as an independent substance in this sense, and the Buddhistic doctrines. Buddhists, who believe in the Vijñāna-vāda, say that the external world does not exist at all, and that Jñāna (Knowledge) alone is Real; and Vedāntists look upon only the ever-changing Names and Forms of the external universe asunreal, and say that under these Names and Forms, as also in the human body, there is, in both cases, one and the same Ātman-formed Substance; and that this homogeneous Ātman-Element is the ultimate Reality. In the same way, Sāṃkhya philosophy has accepted the synthesis of the diversity of created things by the law of "avibhaktaṃ vibhakteṣu," only so far as it applies to Gross Matter; but, as the Vedāntists have got over this difficulty of the satkāryavāda and established the doctrine that "whatever is in the Body, is also in the Cosmos," the innumerable Puruṣas and the Prakṛti of Sāṃkhya philosophy have, in Vedānta, philosophy, been comprised in one Paramātman by the principle of Non-Dualism (advaita) or Non-Division (avibhāga). The purely Materialistic philosopher Haeckel was, it is true, a Non-Dualist. But he includes even Consciousness (caitanya) in Gross Matter, and Vedānta philosophy does not give pre-eminence to the Gross, but proves that the immortal and independent Thought-Formed (cidrūpī) Parabrahman, which is uncircumscribed by Time or Space, is the Fundamental Boot of the world: this is the most important difference between the Non-Dualism of the philosophy of the Absolute Self and the Gross-Non-Dualism (jaḍādvaita) of Haeckel.
The same doctrines of Nondualistic Vedānta have been mentioned in the Gītā; and an ancient poet has summarised the Non-Dualistic Vedānta philosophy very concisely as follows:–
ślokārdhena pravakṣyāmi yad uktaṃ granthakotibhiḥ |
brahma satyam jagan mithyā jīvo brahmaiva nāparaḥ ||
That is, "I will explain in half a stanza the summary of a million books–(1) the Brahman is Real, (2) the world (jagat)' that is, all the Names and Forms in the world, are mithyā, or perishable, and (3) the Ātman of a man and the Brahman are fundamentally ONE and the same, and not two."
If anybody does not appreciate the word 'mithyā' in this stanza, he is quite welcome to read the third section of the stanza as 'brahmāmṛtaṃ jagat satyam' consistently with the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad;- thereby, the purport does not change at all as has been stated before. Nevertheless, many Vedāntists enter into a fruitless discussion as to whether the invisible but eternal Fundamental Element of the visible world, in the shape of the Brahman,, should be called sat (satya) or asat (asatya = anṛta). I shall, therefore, explain here concisely what the underlying principle in this discussion, is. This discussion has come into existence- because the word sat or satya has two different meanings; and if one first carefully considers in what meaning the word sat has been used by any particular person, no confusion will arise; because, everybody accepts the distinction that though the Brahman is invisible, it is Real, and that though the Name-d and Form-ed Cosmos is visible, yet, it is ever-changing. The ordinary meaning of the word sat or satya is: (1) that which is, at the moment, actually visible to the eyes, that is to say, perceptible (whether this visit's appearance of it,, does or does not change to-morrow); and the other meaning of that word is: (2) that of which the nature always remains the same, and never changes, notwithstanding that it is invisible- to the eyes, i.e., imperceptible. Those who accept the first meaning say, that the Name-d and Form-ed world which is visible to the eyes is satya (visible) and that the Parabrahman is just the opposite, that is, it is not visible to the eyes and therefore, asat or asatya (invisible).
For instance, in the Taittirīyopaniṣad, the visible world has been called 'sat', and that which is beyond the visible world, has been called 'tyat' (THAT, that is, which is beyond) or 'anṛta' (invisible to the eyes); and the Brahman is described by saying that that substance which was in existence at the commencement of the world has become two-fold as follows:–
sacca tyaccābhavat | niruktaṃ cāniruktaṃ ca | nilayanaṃ cānilayanaṃ ca | vijñānaṃ cāvijñānaṃ ca | satyaṃ cānṛtaṃ ca |
(Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2 6),
That is: "It became 'sat' (visible to the eyes) and That (which is beyond); describable and indescribable; dependent and independent; known and unknown (unknowable); and real (visible) and invisible".
But though the Brahman has in this way been described as 'anṛta', the word anṛta does not mean false or unreal; but later on, in the Taittirīyopaniṣad itself, it is stated that " this anṛta (invisible) Brahman is the 'pratiṣṭhā' (support) of the world, that it does not depend on anything else, and that he who has realised this need not fear anything". From this it is clear, that though there is a difference in words, there is no difference in the intended meaning. In the same way, it is ultimately said that " asadvā idam agra āsīt", that is, "this world was as asat (Brahman) in the beginning"; and, as stated in the Ṛg-Veda (10.129.4), the sat, that is, the Name-d and Form-ed perceptible world, is said to have subsequently grown out of it (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.7). From this, it becomes quite clear that the word 'asat' has been used here only in the meaning of avyakta, that is, not visible to the eyes; and in the Vedānta-Sūtras, Bādarāyaṇācārya has interpreted those words in the same meaning (Vedānta-Sūtras 2.1.17). But, those who interpret the word 'sat' or 'satya, as meaning existing permanently, or ever-lasting, though not visible to the eyes (which is the second of the two meanings mentioned above), give to the invisible but immutable Parabrahman the name sat or satya and call the Name-d and Form-ed Māyā, asat or asatya, i.e., perishable.
For instance, there is a description in the Chāndogya that:
sadeva saumyedam agra āsīt katham asataḥ sajjāyeta,
That is, "O my son! this world was originally sat (Brahman); how can 'sat', that is, that which exists, come into existence out of something which is asat, that is, which never was in existence? " (Chāndogyopaniṣad 6.2.1, 2).
But in this Chāndogyopaniṣad itself, the Parabrahman has in one place been called 'asat.' in the sense of avyakta, that is, imperceptible (Chāndogyopaniṣad 3.19.1). This confusing method by which the same Parabrahman was at different times and in different meanings given the mutually contradictory names of once 'sat' and at another time 'asat'–which was a method promoting verbal warfare, though the intended import was the same–gradually wore out; and ultimately, the one terminology of calling the Brahman sat or satya, i.e., eternally lasting, and the visible world asat or perishable, has become fixed. In the Bhagavadgītā, this ultimate terminology las been accepted and in the second chapter, the Parabrahman has been described as sat and imperishable, and Names and Forms are described as asat, that is, perishable, in those meanings of those words (Bhagavadgītā 2.16–18); and the same is the doctrine of the Vedānta-Sūtras. Nevertheless, the old terminology of the Taittirīyopaniṣad of referring to the visible world as 'sat' and to the Parabrahman as 'asat' or as 'tyat' (THAT = that which is beyond) has not been totally exterminated; and what the original meaning of the description of the Brahman in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 17.23) as 'OM-Tat-Sat' must have been, can very clearly be seen by reference to the old terminology. 'OM' is a Vedic prayer in the form of a mystic word, and it has been explained in various ways in the Upaniṣads (Pra. 5; Mān. 8–12; Chāndogyopaniṣad 1.1). 'tat' means 'THAT', that is, the indescribable Element which is far beyond the visible world, and 'sat' is the visible world which can be seen by the eyes; and this canon means that these three together constitute the Brahman. And it is with this import that the Blessed Lord has said in the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 9.19); that "sad asaccāham arjuna", that is, "sat is the Parabrahman and asat is the visible world, and I am both". Still, in as much as the Gītā propounds the Karma-Yoga, it has been explained at the end of the seventeenth chapter that by taking the word 'sat' in the canon, OM-Tat-Sat, as meaning Action, which is good from the point of view of respectability, or which has been done with a good intention, or of which the result is good, and by taking the word 'tat' as meaning, Action, which is beyond the abovementioned Action, that is, which has been performed by giving up the desire for fruit, as and when occasion arises to use that canon, the doctrine of Karma-Yoga can be fully supported on the basis of this description of the Brahman. As that which has been referred to as 'sat' in the canon, is nothing else but the visible world, that is to say, Karma (See the next chapter), this interpretation of the definition of the Brahman in terms of Karma, easily arises out of the original interpretation. There are to be found in the Upaniṣads other descriptions of the Brahman than 'om-tat-sat', 'neti, neti ', 'saccidānanda' and 'satyasya satyam'; but as they are not necessary for understanding the meaning of the Gītā, I have not given them here.
When the mutual relationship between the Cosmos [jagat), the personal Self (jīva) and the Parameśvara (Paramātman) have been explained in this way, it becomes quite clear in what sense one has to take the word 'aṃśa' used by the Blessed Lord in the phrases "the Jīva is an 'aṃśa' of Myself" (Bhagavadgītā 15.7), and "I have pervaded the whole of this world by one 'aṃśa' " (Bhagavadgītā 10.42) in the Bhagavadgītā, and also used by Bādarāyaṇācārya in the Vedānta-Sūtras (Vedānta-Sūtras 2. 3. 43; 4.4, 19), or the word 'pāda' used in the Puruṣa-Sūkta in the line "pādo 'sya viśvā bhūtāni tripād asyāmṛtaṃ divi"–'the jagadātman (the Cosmic-Self) Which has pervaded the moveable and the immoveable, and yet remained over ten fingers'. Although the Parameśvara or the Paramātman is allpervading, yet, as It is unorganised, homogeneous, and devoid of Name and Form, that is to say, uncuttable (acchedya) and immutable (avikārya), it is impossible to break It up into individual pieces (Bhagavadgītā 2.25). Therefore, in order to distinguish between this homogeneous Parabrahman which pervades everything on all sides, and the Ātman within the body of a man, one has to say in common parlance that the 'śārīra-ātman' (the Ātman within the body) is an 'aṃśa' (part) of the Parabrahman. Yet, the word 'aṃśa' or 'part' has not to be taken in the meaning of 'an independent piece which has been cut-out', or 'one of the grains taken out of the numerous grains in a pomegranate'; and it must be taken in its elementary meaning to indicate that the Ātman is a part of the Parabrahman in the same way as ether (ākāśa) in the house or in an earthenware pot (maṭhākāśa, ghaṭākāśa) are parts of an all-pervading ether (See Amṛtabindūpaniṣad 13). The Sāṃkhya Prakṛti, and the homogeneous element accepted by the Materialistic GrossNon-Dualism of Haeckel, are in the same way qualityful, that is, limited, parts of the Real qualityless Parameśvara. Nay, whatever perceptible or imperceptible fundamental element is arrived at according to the Materialistic sciences, (then may it be how much soever comprehensive like ether), it is only a Name and Form broken in upon by Time and Space, that is to say,, it is perishable and limited. It is true that it has occupied the Parabrahman to the extent of its capacity, but instead of the Parabrahman being thereby in any way limited, It has fully pervaded and saturated the former and one cannot gauge to what extent It remains over. Although the words 'daśāṃgula' (ten fingers), or 'tripāda' (three steps) have been used in the Puruṣa-Sūkta in order to indicate to what extent the Parameśvara has gone beyond the visible universe, yet, they are to be taken as meaning 'ananta' (endless); because, strictly speaking, Space and Time, weights and measures, and even numbers are only kinds of Names and Forms; and it has been shown above that the Parabrahman is beyond all these Names and Forms. Therefore, the Parabrahman has been described in the Upaniṣads as, that Element which swallows up or absorbs 'kāla' (Time), which 'kāla' has swallowed up everything (Mai. 6.15); and the same is the purport conveyed by the descriptions to be found in the Gītā and in the Upaniṣads of the habitation of the Parameśvara, such as, " na tad bhāsayate sūryo na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ", that is, "there is no such luminary object like the Sun or the Moon or Fire for illuminating the seat of the Parameśvara, who is selfillumined" (Bhagavadgītā 15.6; Kaṭhopaniṣad 5.15; Śvetāśvataropaniṣad 6. 14). The Sun, the Moon, the stars, etc., are Name-d and Form-ed perishable objects. That self-illumined Knowledge-filled Brahman which is "jyotiṣām jyotiḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 13.17; Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 4.4.16)–that is, "brilliance of brilliance"–extends endlessly beyond all of them; and it is stated in the Upaniṣads that not only does It not depend on any other luminary objects, but whatever light is possessed by the Sun, the Moon etc., is obtained by them from this self- illumined Brahman (Muṇḍakopaniṣad 2.2.10). Take the most subtle or the most distant object, which is made perceptible to the organs by instruments invented by Material sciences; it is but the world denned by Name and Form, which is circumscribed by the limitations of Time and Space. As the true Parameśvara is in them, and yet different from and more comprehensive than all of them, and also homogeneous and uncircumscribed by the bonds of Names and Forms, that is to say, as He is independent, it is not possible for the devices or instruments of Material sciences, which consider merely Names and Forms, to find out the 'amṛta-tattva' (imperishable Element) which is the Boot of the world, though they might become a thousand times more subtle or comprehensive than they are at present. That imperishable, immutable and undying element must ultimately be found out by the Path of Knowledge shown in the philosophy of the Absolute Self.
From the exposition of the principal doctrines of the philosophy of the Absolute Self and their concise scientific explanation given so far, it will be clear why all the perceptible Name-d and Form-ed appearances of the Parameśvara are Māyic or perishable, why His imperceptible form is superior to them, why His qualityless form, that is, the form undefined by Name and Form, is still superior, and why it is stated in the Gītā that the qualityless form seems qualityful as a result of ignorance. But this work of setting out these doctrines in words can be easily done by anyone who has acquired a little knowledge like me; there is nothing much in that. In order that these doctrines should be impressed on the mind, engraved on the heart and ingrained in one's flesh and bone after they have been understood, and that one should thereby fully realise that there is only one Parabrahman which saturates all living things; and in order that by reason, of such feeling, one should acquire an immutable mental frame which will enable one to behave with equability towards everybody in times of misfortune, it is necessary to have the continual additional help of impressions acquired during, numerous births, control of the organs, persevering practice, meditation, and worship. Therefore, the summary of all the above doctrines, and the highest doctrine of the philosophy of the Absolute Self is: only that man may be said to have become fully saturated with the knowledge of the Brahman in whose every action the principle, "there is only one Ātman in all created things", has become naturally and clearly visible, even in times of distress; and such a man alone gets Release (Bhagavadgītā 5.18–20; 6.21, 22). The 'earthenware pot' of that man in whom such behaviour is not to be seen is to that extent imperfectly or insufficiently 'baked', in the fire of the Knowledge of the Brahman. This is the difference between real saints and mere Vedāntists; and, therefore, in describing Knowledge, it is stated in the Gītā that true Knowledge may be said to have been acquired, when noble emotions like "humility (amānitva), peacefulness (śānti), self-control (ātmanigraha), equability of mind (samabuddhi)" are awakened,. whereby the total purification of the mind is continually expressed in conduct, instead of saying that 'Knowledge is the understanding by Reason of what is at the root of the external world' (Bhagavadgītā 13.7–11). That man whose Discerning. Reason has become devoted to the Self, that is, has become steady in the contemplation on the Self and Non-Self, and who has Realised the identity of the Ātman with all created beings, must, undoubtedly, also possess a Desiring Reason which is pure. But, as there is no other external measure except a man's conduct for finding out the state of his Reason, the words 'jñāna' (Knowledge) or 'samabuddhi' (equable mind) are usually made to include the pure Discerning Reason, the pure Desiring Reason, and pure Conduct; this thing must be borne in mind, especially in these days of bookish knowledge. There may be many who can give long dry discourses on the Brahman, and also others who hearing those discourses will nod their heads in appreciation and say 'Hear, hear', or, like courtiers in a drama, say,. "Let us hear the same thing again " (Bhagavadgītā 2.29; Kaṭhopaniṣad 2.7); but, as stated above, that man who has become internally and externally pure, that is, equable in mind, is the true devotee of the Ātman, and he alone attains Release, and not mere learned men who may be how well-read or intelligent soever. It has been plainly stated in the Upaniṣads that: "nāyam ātma pravacanena labhyo na medhayā na bahunā śrutena" (Kaṭhopaniṣad 2.22; Muṇḍakopaniṣad 3.2.3.), (that is, "this Ātman is not reached by giving discourses, nor by intelligence, nor by great learning" ~Translator.), and the Saint Tukārāma has also said:–"you have become a Pandit (i.e., learned man), you interpret the Purāṇas; but you do not know who you are ॥" (Tukārāma's Gāthā 2599). See how narrow our minds are! The words 'attains Release' easily come out of our mouths, as if Release is something different from the Ātman. There would be difference between the Observer and the visible world, before the Knowledge has been acquired that the Brahman and the Ātman are identical; but, our Vedāntists- have come to the conclusion that when one has fully Realised the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, the Ātman is merged into the Brahman, and the brahmajñānī (one who has Realised the Brahman) acquires the form of Brahman wherever he is; and. this Metaphysical state is known as the 'brahmanirvāṇa Release,' which is not given by anybody to anybody, and which does not come from anywhere, and for obtaining which it is not necessary to leave this world and to go to another world. Whenever and wherever the complete Realisation of the Ātman comes, Release is obtained at that very moment and at that place; because, Release is the fundamental pure, state of the Ātman, and is not some independent thing or place. There is a stanza in the Śiva-Gītā that:–mokṣasya na hi vāso 'sti na grāmāntaram eva vā । ajñānahṛdayagranthināśo mokṣa iti smṛtaḥ ॥ (Śiva-gītā 13.32) that is, "Release is not in a particular place, nor has one to go to some other town or country in order to obtain it: the destruction of the knot of Ignorance (ajñāna) round our hearts is known as Release". And this final conclusion which arises out of the philosophy of the Absolute Self has been described in the words "abhito brahmanirvāṇaṃ vartate viditātmanām" (Bhagavadgītā 5.26), i.e., "those, who have fully Released the Atman, attain Released in the form of brahmanirvāṇa wherever they may be", or, "yaḥ sadā mukta eva saḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 5.28) in the Bhagavadgītā, as also in the canons, "brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati", i.e., "he who has Realised the Brahman has become Brahman" (Muṇḍakopaniṣad 3.2.9) etc., in the Upaniṣads. Therefore, this state of perfection of the human Ātman from the point of view of Knowledge is known as the 'brahmabhūta' (Bhagavadgītā 18.54), or, 'the Brāhmī state' (Bhagavadgītā 2.72). Descriptions to be found elsewhere in the Bhagavadgītā of the 'sthitaprajña' (steady-inmind), (Bhagavadgītā 2.55–72), 'bhaktimān' (devotee), or 'triguṇātīta' (beyond the three constituents) (Bhagavadgītā 14.2–2) or of this state. From the term, 'triguṇātīta', one is not to draw the conclusion that the Gītā looks upon Prakṛti and Puruṣa as independent.
The isolation (Kaivalya) of the Puruṣa is looked upon as Release, as is done by the Sāṃkhyas. According to Gītā, the Brāhmī state described in the philosophy of the Absolute Self by the words, "ahaṃ brahmāsmi", i.e., "I am the Brahman" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.4.10), is obtained sometimes by the Path of Devotion, sometimes by Pātañjala Yoga practice of the Control of the Mind, and sometimes by the path of the Discernment of Constituents (guṇāguṇa-vivecana) described in Sāṃkhya philosophy. As the philosophy of the Absolute Self, out of these paths is purely rational philosophy, Devotion has been mentioned in the Gītā as the easiest means for an ordinary person for acquiring the Knowledge of the form of the Parameśvara. We have later on, in the thirteenth chapter, fully consider this matter. Whatever may be the means employed, this much is beyond doubt, that attaining the Knowledge of the true Parameśvara, that is, Realising the identity of the Brahman and Atman, and that there is only one Atman in all created beings, and behaving accordingly, is the climax of Spiritual Knowledge (adhyātma-jñāna). Those who have reached this state are indeed blessed and perfect. As has been stated above, as organic pleasure is the same in the case of men as of animals, the purpose of a human birth or the manhood of man is fully satisfied only by the acquisition of Knowledge. Continually observing this equability of Mind towards all created beings in the performance of all bodily, vocal or mental Actions is known as the 'nityamuktāvasthā' (state of perpetual Release), 'pūrṇa-yoga' (perfect Yoga), 'siddhāvasthā' (the state of a perfect being).
The saint Jñāneśvara, in commenting on the description of the Devotee in the twelfth chapter of the Gītā (Bhagavadgītā 12.18) says:–
Oh, Pārtha, that man in whom there is no trace of differentiation
Who, both friend and foe, looks upon as alike.
Lighting his own house and leaving the house of another in darkness
A thing which he never does, O Pāṇḍava like a light.
To the one who deals the blow to cut and to the one who planted it
It (the tree) gives both of them shelter like the tree.
And earlier in the same chapter, in commenting on the 13th stanza of the Gītā, he says:–
Supporting the best rejecting the worst
Is a thing which he does not do he is like the earth.
Activating the body of a king
And refusing to activate the body of a poor man
Is a thing which the Prana (Vital Force) does not do so is he; he is kind.
Staking the thirst of a cow and becoming a poison to kill a tiger.
Is a thing which water does not do he is like water.
Towards all created beings he is friendly, looking upon all as one
He is kind to all with a sense of equability.
He does not know the word 'I' he does not say of anything that it is ' mine'
Experience of pain and happiness for him there is none.
(Jña. 12. 145–149).
And Jñāneśvara has thus, by giving numerous illustrations,, and in very sweet and attractive language, described in Marathi the equability of the Brahmified man; and we may safely say, that this description contains a summary of the description of the Brāhmī state given in four different places in the Gītā. This is what is to be ultimately acquired by Spiritual Knowledge.
My readers will have understood from what has been, stated above, how the tradition of Spiritual Knowledge, which is the root of the science of Release, has come to us in an unbroken line from the Upaniṣads right upto Tukārāma. But, in order to impress on my readers that this knowledge had come into existence in our country even before the date of the Upaniṣads, that is to say, already in very very ancient times, and that the ideas in the Upaniṣads have gradually grown from those times, I shall give here, before concluding, a well-known hymn (sūkta) from the Ṛg-Veda, which is the foundation even of the Spiritual Knowledge in the Upaniṣads, together with its Marathi translation. Not only do we not come across in the scriptures of any religion, critical philosophical ideas, as to what the unknowable Fundamental Element of the Cosmos must have been, and how this variegated visible universe sprang from it, which are as comprehensive, independent and root-touching as those in this hymn, but no one has yet come across any text replete with such Spiritual Knowledge, which is equal to it in point of antiquity. Therefore, many wonderstruck Western scholars have translated this hymn into their various languages, looking upon it as important, from the point of view of religious history, for showing how the natural tendency of the human mind runs beyond the Name-d and Form-ed universe to reach the permanent and unimaginable BrahmanEnergy which is beyond it. This hymn is the 129th hymn in the tenth mandala of the Ṛg-Veda, and is known as the 'NāsadīyaSūkta', having regard to its commencing words. And this Sūkta has been adopted in the Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa (2.8.9), and the description given in the Nārāyaṇīya or the Bhāgavata religion in the Mahābhārata as to how the universe was first created by the desire of the Blessed Lord has been, based on this hymn (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 342.8). According to the general index (sarvānukramaṇikā), the Ṛṣi of this hymn is Parameṣṭhi Prajapati, its deity is the Paramātman, and it consists of seven stanzas (ṛcā) in the triṣṭupa metre, each stanza containing four lines of eleven words each. As the words, sat and asat, have a double meaning, the difference of opinion among the writers of the Upaniṣads, as regards describing the Fundamental Element of the world as 'sat' which has been referred to earlier in this chapter, is also to be found in the Ṛg-Veda. For instance, this Fundamental. Cause of the world is in some places described by saying "ekaṃ sad viprā bahudhā vadanti" (Ṛg-veda 1.164.46), or "ekaṃ santaṃ bahudhā kalpayanti" (Ṛg-veda 10.114.5)–that is, "It, being one and sat (i.e., lasting forever), has been given different names by people "; whereas in other places, it has been described by saying: "devānāṃ pūrvye yuge 'sataḥ sad ajāyata" (Ṛg-veda 10.72.7), that is, "the sat, that is, the perceptible universe, came into existence out of the asat, that is, the Imperceptible, even before the gods had come into existence." In addition to this, there are other descriptions all differing from, each other in the Ṛg-Veda itself as to how the entire universe came into being out of one visible Element, e.g.,:–in the beginning of the world, there was the Golden Embryo (hiraṇyagarbha), of which both death and immortality are shadows, and. It later on created the entire world (Ṛg-veda 10.121.1, 2); or, that, a Virāṭa-formed Puruṣa existed at first, and from him the entire world was created by means of a sacrifice (Ṛg-veda 10.90): or,, that there was āpa (water) at first, and in that water Prajāpati came into existence (Ṛg-veda 10.72.6; 10.82.6); or, that rcā and ̥ satya first came into existence, and afterwards, darkness; and after that, water (samudra), the year etc. came into existence (Ṛg-veda 10.190.1).
These Fundamental Elements mentioned in the Ṛg-Veda have been later on referred to as follows:–
(1) in the Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa, water has been referred to as the Fundamental Element as: "āpo vā idam agre salilam āsīt" (Taittirīya Upaniṣad Bra. 1. 1. 3. 5), i.e., "all this was liquid water in the beginning";
(2) in the Taittirīyopaniṣad, asat has been mentioned as the Fundamental Element, as: "asad vā idam agra āsīt" (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.7), i.e., "all this was asat in the beginning";
(3) in the Chāndogyopaniṣad, sat has been mentioned as the Fundamental Element, as: "sad eva saumyedam agra āsīt" (Chāndogyopaniṣad 6.2), i.e., "all this was sat in the beginning"; or,
(4) ether is said to be such Element, as: "ākāśaḥ parāyaṇam" (Chāndogyopaniṣad 1.9), i.e., "ether was the root of everything";
(5) in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka, death (mṛtyu) is mentioned as the Fundamental Element, as: "naiveha kiṃcanāgra āsīn mṛtyunaivedam āvṛtam āsīt" (Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.2.1), i.e., "in the beginning, there was nothing whatsoever; every- thing was covered by death"; and
(6) in the Maitryupaniṣad, darkness [tamas] has been mentioned as the Fundamental Element, as: "tamo vā idam agra āsīd ekam" (Mai. 5.2), i.e., "this entire universe was in the beginning tamas (tamoguṇī, darkness)", and sattva and rajas afterwards came into existence out of it.
In the same way, the Manu-Smṛti contains the following description of the commencement of the universe, consistent with these descriptions in the Vedas:–
āsīd idaṃ tamobhītam aprajñātam alakṣaṇam |
apratarkyam avijñeyaṃ prasuptam iva sarvataḥ ||
That is, "all this was first covered up by darkness (tamas), and it was undiscernible and as if in a sleeping state, so that it would be impossible to differentiate between one thing and another; thereafter, the imperceptible Paramātman entered it and first created water" (Manu-Smṛti 1.5–8).
Such and other different descriptions about the Fundamental Substance existing at the commencement of the universe must have been in vogue even at the time of the Nāsadīya-Sūkta; and the question as to which of these Fundamental Substances, was the really fundamental one, must also then have arisen.
Therefore, the Ṛṣi of that hymn gives the following explanation, in order to explain what the truth (bīja) about the whole thing was in the following words:–
nāsadāsīn no sad āsīt tadānīṃ nāsīd rajo no vyomā paro yat |
kim āvarīvaḥ kuha kasya śarma nnambhaḥ kim āsīd gahanaṃ gabhīram || 1 ||
That is: (1) "then, that is, in the beginning, there was neither asat, nor sat, nor the firmament (antarikṣa), nor the ether (ākāśa) beyond it. (In this state) who (can be said to have) covered (whom)? Where? For whose benefit? Was there (even) unfathomable and deep water?"
na mṛtyur āsīd amṛtaṃ na tarhi na rātryā anha āsīt praketaḥ |
ānīd avātaṃ svadhayā tad ekam tasmād dhānyan na paraḥ kiṃcanāsa || 2 ||
That is: (2) "then, death, that is, the perishable, visible, mortal universe was not existing; and, therefore, there was not (the distinction of) also (another) amṛta, i.e., imperishable, eternal substance. (Similarly) there was no means (= praketa) for finding out the difference between day and night. (Whatever there was) That solitary thing was breathing, that is, throbbing by svadhā, that is, by its own power, without there being any air. Except or beyond that, there was nothing."
tama āsīt tamasā gūḍham agre 'praketaṃ salilaṃ sarvamā idam |
tucchenābhvapihitaṃ yad āsīt tapasas tan mahinā 'jāyataikam || 3 ||
That is: (3) "though there was (said to be) darkness in the beginning; or that all this was water enveloped in darkness devoid of any differentiation; (or) that ābhu, that is, the allpervading Brahman was (from the beginning) covered by tuccha, that is, by illusory Māyā; yet, that came into existence as a result of austerity (subsequently, by transformation), from the fundamentally one Brahman"
kāmas tad agre samavartatādhi manaso retaḥ prathamaṃ yad āsīt |
sato bandhum asati niravindan hṛdi pratīṣyā kavayo manīṣā || 4 ||
That is: (4) "the semen, that is, the seed of the Mind (of This) which first came into existence, became Kāma (that is, the desire or the power to create the world). (This is) the (first) relation between sat, that is, the perishable visible world, and the asat, that is, the fundamental Parabrahman, as has been ascertained by scients by means of their Reason, by meditating in their minds".
tiraścīno vitato raśmireṣām adhaḥ svid āsīd upari svid āsīt |
retodhā āsan mahimāna āsan svadhā avastāt prayatiḥ parastāt || 5 ||
That is: (5) "(this) raśmi, that is, shred or ray, fell transversely [between) them; and if you say it was below, it was also above; (some of these) became retodhā, that is, productive of seed, and (growing) became bigger. Their self-prowess (svaśakti) pervaded on one side, and prayati, that is, development (pervaded everything) on the other side".
ko addhā veda ka iha pra vocat kuta ājātā kuta iyaṃ visṛṣṭiḥ |
arvāg devā asya visarjanenātha ko veda yata ābabhūva || 6 ||
That is: (6) "who is there who can in greater (than this) detail (pra), explain how came the visarga, that is, the development (of the sat) and from whom it came? Who knows this definitely? Even the gods came after the visarga of this (visible sat universe). Then who is to know from where it came?"
iyaṃ visṛṣṭir yat ābabhūva yadi vā dadhe yadi vā na dadhe |
yo asyādhyakṣaḥ parame vyoman so aṅga veda yadi vā na veda || 7 ||
That is: (7) "The adhyakṣa (Hiraṇyagarbha) of this universe, inhabiting the highest (parama) firmament, may know the place from where the development of this sat came about, or, from where it was created, or was not created; or, even the Hiraṇyagarbha may not be knowing it! (Who is in a position to say that?)".
The sum and substance of Vedānta philosophy is, that one should not remain enmeshed in the various Name-d and Formed, mutable and perishable Appearances which are perceptible to the eyes or the other organs, but should recognise by means of Knowledge that THERE IS SOME, ONE AND IMMORTAL ELEMENT, which is beyond them; and, the fact that the Reason of the Ṛṣi who composed this hymn unerringly grasped the crux of the whole matter at the first attempt, clearly shows the keenness of his introspection! Instead of entering into a discussion with persons, who raised the questions, whether That, which existed in the beginning of the universe and before the various things in the world came into existence, was sat or asat, death or immortality, ether or water, light or darkness etc., this Ṛṣi speeds beyond all of them, and says that sat and asat, mortal and immortal light and darkness, the covering and the covered, the giver of happiness and the feeler of happiness, are mutually dependent opposites, which came into existence after the visible world was created; and he asks, who was there to cover whom before these opposite couples in the world came into existence, that is- to say, when there was no such difference as this one and that one. The Ṛṣi of this hymn, therefore, says, to start with, that it is not proper to describe the Fundamental, homogeneous, Substance as sat or asat, ether or water, light or darkness, death or immortality, or by such other mutually dependent expressions; he says, that whatever there was, was stranger than all these things; that It was one and one alone, and was throbbing in all directions by its inexhaustible energy; and that there was nothing else which was a mate to it or which covered it. The root word 'an' in the verb 'ānīt' in the second rcā means to breathe or to throb; and the word 'prāṇa'̥ is derived from that root. But who can say that That, which was neither sat nor asat, was breathing like a living being? and where was the air to breathe? Therefore, the words avātaṃ (that is, without air) and svadhayā (by its own prowess) have been added to the word 'ānīt', and the idea that the Fundamental Element of the world was not Gross Matter, which (idea) pertains to the stage of Non-Dualism, has been very skilfully described in the language of Dualism by saying that "that ONE substance was breathing or throbbing by Its own prowess without air, that is, without depending on air!"; and the apparent contradiction in terms, which is involved in this, is 'the result of the insufficiency of Dualistic terminology.
The descriptions of the Parabrahman to be found in the Upaniṣads, such as, "neti, neti", or "ekamevādvitīyam" or "sve mahimni pratiṣṭhitaḥ" (Chāndogyopaniṣad 7.24.1), that is, "that which subsists by Itself alone, by Its own prowess, that is, without depending on anyone else", are mere repetitions of this idea. It is clear that that indescribable Element, which has been referred to in this hymn as throbbing in all directions at the commencement of the entire universe, will survive when the entire visible universe is destroyed. Therefore, this same Parabrahman has been described in the Gītā with a slight amplification, in the words: "Which is not destroyed though all other things are destroyed" (Bhagavadgītā 8.20); and it is stated later on (Bhagavadgītā 13.12) by clear reference to this hymn that "It is neither sat nor asat". But, if there was nothing in the beginning except the qualityless Brahman, a difficulty arises as to how to dispose of such descriptions as, "there were in the beginning, water, darkness, or the couple of ābhu and tuccha", which are to be found even in the Vedas. Therefore, this Ṛṣi says in the third ṛcā, that the descriptions, which we come; across, to the effect that in the beginning of the universe there- was darkness, or water clothed in darkness, or, that ābhu (Brahman) and the Māyā (tuccha) which covered It, existed from the very beginning, are descriptions of the ONE and sole, fundamental Parabrahman, after It had developed into a diversified expansion by the prowess of Its austere meditation, and not of Its fundamental state. The word 'tapa' in this ṛcā is intended to describe the wonderful Spiritual: power of the fundamental Brahman, and the same thing is' described in the fourth ṛcā, (See Muṇḍakopaniṣad 1.1.9). It need not be said that that Fundamental Substance, the result of the prowess of Which is this entire universe, according to the saying: "etāvān asya mahimā 'to jyāyāṃś ca pūruṣaḥ" (Ṛg-veda 10.90.3), is beyond such universe and superior to and different from everything. But, though this Ṛṣi had, in this way, at a stroke cast off all Dualistic couples like, the object to be seen and the observer, the enjoyer and the enjoyed, the clother and the clothed, darkness and light, mortal and immortal etc., and come to the conclusion that there was fundamentally only one unmixed wonderful Parabrahman in the form of Consciousness (i.e., cidrūpī), yet, when he was faced with the problem of having to explain how the diverse, perishable, qualityful, Name-d and Form-ed universe, consisting of the couples of water etc. or the three-constituented Prakṛti from which it (the universe) sprang, had come into existence out of this ONE and sole, indescribable, and qualityless Element, he had to take shelter under the Dualistic terminology of Mind, Desire, asat, sat etc., and he ultimately frankly admits that this question is beyond the grasp of human Reason. In the fourth ṛcā, the fundamental Brahman has been referred to as asat; but that ward cannot be interpreted as meaning 'nothing'; because, already in the second ṛcā, there is a clear statement that 'It is'. Not only in this hymn, but in the Ṛg-Veda and the Vājasaneyī Saṃhitā, moot questions have been asked, making use of the language of ordinary parlance, by comparing the visible world with a sacrifice (yajña), and asking from where the ingredients such as, clarified butter, dried sticks etc. necessary for performing the yajña were initially brought (Ṛg-veda 10.130.3); or, by taking the illustration of a house, and asking the question as to from where the timber (fundamental Prakṛti) for constructing this imposing edifice of ether and the earth, which is actually visible to the eyes, out of one Fundamental qualityless Substance, was brought; such as, "kiṃ svid vavaṃ ka u sa vṛkṣa āsa yato dyāvāpṛthvī niṣṭatakṣuḥ" (Ṛg-veda 10.31.7; 10.81.4; Vājasaneyī Saṃhitā 17.20). These questions cannot be answered further than by saying what has been said in the fourth and fifth stanzas of this hymn, that is to say, by saying that the Kāma-formed Element of creating the universe, somehow or other came into existence in the Mind of that indescribable ONE and Bole Parabrahman, and that the entire development of sat, that is, the imposing edifice of ether and earth, came into existence as a result of its branches spreading out above and below, and in all directions like the threads in a piece of cloth or the rays of sunshine. (Vājasaneyī Saṃhitā 33.74).
And, therefore, the meaning conveyed in this hymn has been adopted in the Upaniṣads in the words:–
so 'kāmayata | bahu syām prajāyeyeti |
(Tai 2.6; Chāndogyopaniṣad 6.2.3),
That is, "that Parabrahman acquired the Desire of becoming multifarious" (See Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad 1.1.4);
And even in the Atharva-Veda, there is a statement that 'Kāma' (Desire) came first into existence out of the Fundamental Substance at the root of the visible world (Atharvaveda 9. 2. 19). But, the wonder about this hymn is, that instead of becoming a slave to Reason like the Sāṃkhyas, and imagining the existence of another self-created and independent element like Fundamental Matter, because the question of the creation of the Qualityful from the Qualityless, or of the asat from the sat, or of the dvaṃdva (subject to doubles) from the nirdvaṃdva (beyond doubles I. or of the saṅga (attached) from the asaṅga (unattached), is beyond the grasp of human intelligence, this Ṛṣi frankly says: "Say that you do not understand that which you do not understand; but on that account, it is not proper to give to the Illusion in the form of the visible world, the same value as the indescribable Brahman, which has been definitely ascertained by means of an absolutely purified Mind and as a selfexperience. Besides, one must also realise that even if one considers, the three constituented Prakṛti as a second independent substance, one still cannot answer the question as to how Reason (mahān) or Individuation first entered that substance, in order that the universe should be created; and if this difficulty cannot be overcome, where is the point in looking upon Prakṛti as independent? All that one need say is, that it is impossible to understand how Prakṛti or sat came into existence out of the fundamental Brahman. For that, it is not necessary to look upon Prakṛti as independent. It is not possible even for gods to find out how sat came into existence; much less, then, for human intelligence; because, as even the gods came into existence after the visible world, how can they know anything about it? (Bhagavadgītā 10.2). But, someone may here raise the following doubt: it is stated in the Bg.-Veda itself that the Hiranyagarbha is prior in point of time and superior even to the gods, that He alone was in the beginning "bhūtasya jātaḥ putireka āsīt" (Ṛg-veda 10.121.1), that is, "the 'pati', oi 'king', or, 'adhyakṣa', of the entire universe"; then, how can He not be knowing this Thing?; and, if it is possible for Him to have known it, how can you say that It is unknowable? Therefore, the Ṛṣi gives, in the beginning, a formal answer to that question by saying: "Yes, He may be knowing the answer to it"; but, immediately thereafter, this Ṛṣi who seeks by his Reason to fathom the knowledge of even Brahmadeva, ultimately and in a state of doubt says: "Or, He may even not be knowing it. Who can say?; because, as He also falls within the category of sat, how can this 'adhyakṣa' or king of the universe, who lives in what is in fact ether (ākāśa), though you may call it 'parama', have a definite knowledge about something which existed before sat or asat, ether or water, came into existence?" But, although he does not know how this ONE, asat, that is, imperceptible, and qualityless Substance came into contact with the variegated Name-d and Form-ed sat, that is, Prakṛti, yet, he does not swerve from his Non- Dualistic conviction that this fundamental Brahman is ONE and only ONE!. This is an excellent example of how the human mind fearlessly roams about like a lion in the impregnable forests of unimaginable things, on the strength of its sāttvika devotion and its pure inspiration, and defines, to whatever extent it can, the unimaginable things existing in that forest; and it is really a matter of great surprise that this hymn is to be found in the Ṛg-Veda. The subject-matter of this hymn has been very minutely examined in our country, and also by Kant and other philosophers in the Western countries, by considering the Brahmanas, the Upaniṣads, and the later treatises on Vedānta philosophy (Taitti. Brā. 2.8.9). But, nobody has so far gone beyond giving to the opposite party convincing arguments like the Vivartavāda for making firmer, clearer, or logically more unquestionable those very doctrines which inspired the pure mind of this Ṛṣi, as appearing in this hymn; and we need not entertain any hopes that anybody will do so.
The chapter on the philosophy of the Absolute Self, (adhyātma) is now over. Before I go further, I will, following the usual practice of the 'kesari' (lion), and look back on the subject-matter or road which I have so far traversed; because, unless such a lion-look has been given, there is a risk of the link between this subject-matter and the next being lost, and of one's going astray. In the beginning of this book, after introducing my readers to the subject-matter, I have concisely explained to them the nature of Karma-jijñāsā (Desire for Action), and shown to them in the third chapter, that the science of Karma-Yoga (Proper Action) is the subject-matter of exposition in the Gītā. Then, after having proved in the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters, by considering the question, of happiness and unhappiness, that the Materialistic exposition of this subject-matter is one-sided and insufficient, and that its Intuitional exposition is lame, I have before entering into the Metaphysical exposition of Karma-Yoga. and already in the sixth chapter, dealt with the question of the Body and the Atman in order to determine what the Ātman is; and having in the seventh and eighth chapters dealt with the subject-matter of the Mutable and the Immutable according to the Dualistic Sāṃkhya philosophy, I have in this chapter explained what the nature of the Atman is, and in what way ONE, sole, immortal and qualityless Atman-Element saturates fully and eternally both the Body and the Cosmos; and I have finally drawn the conclusion that the Yoga of acquiring an equable frame of Mind, which believes that there is only one Atman in all created beings, and keeping that frame of Mind perpetually alive, is the climax of Self-Knowledge (ātmajñāna) and of SelfHappiness (ātmānanda); and that the highest humanness of man, that is, the fulfilment of the purpose of human birth, or the highest ideal of a human being, consists in bringing one's mind to this pure Self-Devoted (ātma-niṣṭha) state. Having, in this way, determined what the highest Metaphysical ideal (if mankind is, the question as to the basis on which one has to perform all the various Actions in this world, or, as to what is the nature of that Pure Reason with which those Actions are to be performed, which is the principal question in the science of Karma-Yoga, is ipso facto resolved. Because, as need not be told, all these Actions must be performed in such a way as will not be ultimately inconsistent with, but will foster, that equable frame of mind, which looks upon the Brahman as identical with the Ātman. This Metaphysical philosophy of Karma-Yoga has been explained to Arjuna in the Bhagavadgītā.
But, the justification of the Karma-Yoga is not thereby finished. Some persons say that in as much as the Actions to be performed in this Name-d and Form-ed world are inconsistent with Self-Knowledge, a scient must give them up. And, if that were so, all the activities in the world would become unperformable, and consequently, the science of what ought to be done and what ought not to be done would also become meaningless! Therefore in order to determine this question, the Karma-Yoga science must also deal with such important question as: what are the rules relating to Action, and what are the effects of Action, or why this Action or Karma must be performed, although the Mind may have become purified. These questions have also been dealt with in the Bhagavadgītā. As people following the Path of Renunciation attach no importance to these questions, they usually begin to close their shop as soon as the subject-matter of Vedānta or of Devotion in the Bhagavadgītā has been dealt with. But, doing so, amounts to sadly neglecting the most important doctrine enunciated in the Gītā. What answers have been given in the Bhagavadgītā to these various questions? Let us see them ahead.–-:o:–-
Footnotes and references:
Cf. "Knowledge is first produced by the synthesis of what is manifold". Kant's Critique of Pure Season, p. 64, Max Müller’s, translation, 2nd Edition.
This subject-matter has been considered in the Critique of Pure Reason by Kant. He has named the fundamental substance underlying the world as "Ding an sich" (the Thing-in-itself); and I have translated those words by 'vastu-tattva'; the external appearance of Name and Form has been named by Kant as 'Erscheiung' (Appearance). According to Kant, the 'Thing-in-itself' cannot be known.
In defining the word 'real' (sat or satya), Green has said:–"whatever anything is really, it is unalterably" (Prolegomena to Ethics, §25.) This definition of Green and the definition in the Mahābhārata are fundamentally one and the same.
Green's Prolegomena to Ethics, §§26 to 36.
This feeling of non-duality or of non-differentiation which results from meditation and concentration is also experienced by smelling a chemical gas called nitrous-oxide. This gas is known as 'laughing gas' (See Will to Believe and Other Essays on Popular Philosophy by William James, pp. 234–298). But the great difference between the two is, that this state is artificial, whereas the state attained by self-absorption (samādhi) is true and natural. But, I have mentioned this here, because the existence of a state of non-dual feeling (abheda-bhāva) can be proved by the evidence. of this artificial state of mind.
See p. 210 above. ~Translator.
See p. 234 above. ~Translator.
To explain this meaning in English, we have to say: Appearances are the results of subjective condition, viz., the senses of the observer, and not of the Thing-in-it-self
Even among the English writers on Metaphysics, there is a difference of opinion as to whether the word real, i.e., sat should be applied to the appearance of the world (Māyā) or to the vastu-tattva (Brahman). Kant looks upon the Appearance as sat real) and calls the vastu-tattva, imperishable. But, Haeckel, Green and others call the Appearance, asat (unreal), and the vastu-tattva, sat (real).
First ṛcā:–I have given the above meaning, analysing the words "kim āsīd" in the fourth line as "āsīt kim"; and the purport of it is, "water did not exist then" (Taittirīya Upaniṣad Brā, 2.2.9).
Third ṛcā:–Soma commentators consider the first three lines of this stanza as independent, and interpret it by saying that in the beginning of the universe, there was "darkness, or water covered by darkness, or ābhu (void) covered by tuccha". But, according to me that interpretation is not correct. Because, if in the first two stanzas there is a clear statement that nothing whatsoever existed in the beginning, it is not possible that it should be stated in this ṛcā that there was in the beginning either darkness or water–which is something quite the opposite. Besides, according to this interpretation, the word yat in the third part of the stanza has to be considered meaningless; therefore, it becomes necessary to refer the word 'yat', in the third part of the stanza, to the word 'yat' in the fourth part, and to interpret the stanza as has been done by me above. This ṛcā has been included in this hymn as an answer to those persons who maintained that there were in the beginning substances like water etc.; and what the Ṛṣi intended to say was that there were no fundamental substances like darkness, water etc., as was said by these people, but that, all that was the further development of one and the same Brahman. As the two words 'tuccha' and 'ābhu' are mutually opposite, the word ābhu means opposite of tuccha, that is to say, big or powerful, and the same meaning has been given to it by Sāyaṇācārya in the other two places where that word occurs in the Ṛg-Veda (Ṛg-veda 10.27.1, 4). In the Pañcadaśī (Chitra. 129, 130), the word tuccha has been interpreted as meaning Māyā (See Nṛsiṃ. Utta. 9). Therefore, ābhu has not to be interpreted as meaning 'void' but as Parabrahman. The word āḥ (a + as) in the phrase 'sarvam āḥ idam' is the past tense form of the root as, and it means 'āsīt', that is, 'was'.