IN the Eighth Chapter of the unpublished Sammohana Tantra, it is said that Śaṃkara manifested on earth in the form of Śaṃkarāchārya, in order to root out Buddhism from India. It compares his disciples and himself to the five Mahāpreta (who form the couch on which the Mother of the Worlds rests), and identifies his Maths with the Āmnāyas, namely, the Govardhana in Puri with Purvāmnāya (the Sampradāya being Bhogavāra), and so on with the rest. Whatever be the claims of Śaṃkara as destroyer of the great Buddhistic heresy, which owing to its subtlely was the most dangerous antagonist which the Vedānta has ever had, or his claims as expounder of Upaniṣad from the standpoint of Siddhi, his Māyāvāda finds no place in the Tantras of the Āgamas, for the doctrine and practice is given from the standpoint of Sādhanā. This is not to say that the doctrine is explicitly denied. It is not considered. It is true that in actual fact we often give accomodation to differing theories for which logic can find no living room, but it is obvious that in so far as man is a worshipper he must accept the world-standpoint, if he would not, like Kālīdāsa, cut from beneath himself the branch of the tree on which he sits. Next, it would he a mistake to overlook the possibility of the so-called “Tāntrik” tradition having been fed by ways of thought and practice which were not, in the strict sense of the term, part of the Vaidik cult, or in the line of its descent. The worship of the Great Mother, the Magna Mater of the Near East, the Ādyā Śakti of the Śākta Tantras, is in its essentials (as I have elsewhere pointed out) one of the oldest and most widespread religions of the world, and one which in India was possibly, in its origins, independent of the Brāhmanic religion as presented to us in the Vaidik Saṃhitās and Brahmaṇas. If this be so, it was later on undoubtedly mingled with the Vedānta tradition, so that the Śākta faith of to-clay is a particular presentation of the general Vedāntik teaching. This is historical speculation from an outside standpoint. As the Sarvollāsa of Sarvānandanātha points out, and as is well-known to all adherents of the Śākta Āgamas, Veda in its general sense includes these and other Śāstras in what is called the great Śatakoti Saṃhitā. Whatever be the origins of the doctrine (and this should not be altogether overlooked in any proper appreciation of it), I am here concerned with its philosophical aspect, as shown to us today in the teachings and practice of the Śāktas who are followers of the Āgama. This teaching occupies in some sense a middle place between the dualism of the Sāṃkhya, and Śaṃkara’s ultra-nlonistic interpretation of Vedānta to which, unless otherwise stated, I refer. Both the Śaiva and Śākta schools accept the threefold aspect of the Supreme known as Prakāśa, Vimarśa, Prakāśa-Vimarśacalled in Tāntrik worship, “The Three Feet” (Carana-tritaya). Both adopt the Thirty-six Tattwas, Śiva, Śakti, Sadāśiva, Īśvara and Śuddhavidyā, preceding the Puruṣa-Prakṛti Tattvas with which the Sāṃkhya commences. For whereas these are the ultimate Tattvas in that Philosophy, the Śaiva and Śākta schools claim to show how Puruṣa and Prakṛti are themselves derived from higher Tattvas. These latter Tattvas are also dealt with from the Śabda side as Śakti, Nāda, Bindu and as Kalās which are the Kriyā of the various grades of Tattves which are aspects of Śakti. The Śākta Tantras, such as the Saubhāgyaratnākara and other works, speak of ninety-four of such Kalās appropriate to Sadāśiva, Īśvara, Rudra, Viṣṇu, and Brahmā, “Sun,” “Moon,” and “Fire,” (indicated in the form of the Raṃ Bīja with Candrabindu transposed) of which fifty-one are Mātṛkā Kalās, being the subtle aspects of the gross letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. This last is the Mīmāṃsaka doctrine of Śabda adopted to the doctrine of Śakti. Common also to both Śākta and Śaiva Sampradāyas is the doctrine of the Śadadhvā. (See my “Garland of Letters.”)
I am not however here concerned with these details, but with the general concept of Śakti which is their underlying basis. It is sufficient to say that Śākta doctrine is a form of Advaitavāda. In reply to the question what is “silent concealment” (Goptavyam), it is said:—Ātmāhambhāva-bhāvanayā bhāvayitavyam ityarthah. Hitherto greater pains have been taken to show the differences between the Darśanas than, by regarding their points of agreement, to co-ordinate them systematically. So far as the subject of the present article is concerned, all three systems, Sāṃkhya, Māyāvāda, Śaktivāda, are in general agreement as to the nature of the infinite formless Consciousness, and posit therewith a finitizing principle called Prakṛti, Māyā, and Śakti respectively. The main points on which Sāṃkhya (at any rate in what has been called its classical form) differs from Māyāvāda Vedānta are in its two doctrines of the plurality of Ātmans on the one hand, and the reality and independence of Prakṛ ̣ ti on the other. When however we examine these two Sāṃkhya doctrines closely we find them to be mere accommodations to the infirmity of common thought. A Vedātic conclusion is concealed within its dualistic presentment. For if each liberated (Mukta) Puruṣa is all-pervading (Vibhu), and if there is not, the slightest difference between one and another, what is the actual or practical difference between such pluralism and the doctrine of Ātmā? Again it is difficult for the ordinary mind to conceive that objects cease to exist when consciousness of objects ceases. The mind naturally conceives of their existing for others, although, according to the hypothesis, it has no right to conceive anything at all. But here again what do we find? In liberation Prakṛti ceases to exist for the Muktra Puruṣa. In effect what is this but to say with Vedānta that Māyāis not a real independent category (Padārtha)?
A critic has taken exception to my statement that the classical Sāṃkhya conceals a Vedāntic solution behind its dualistic presentment. I was not then, of course, speaking from a historical standpoint. Śiva in the Kulārṇava Tantra says that the Six Philosophies are parts of His body, and he who severs them severs His body. They are each aspects of the Cosmic Mind as appearing in Humanity. The logical process which they manifest is one and continuous. The conclusion of each stage or standard can be shown to yield the material of that which follows. This is a logical necessity is it be assumed that the Vedānta is the truest and highest expression of that which the lower dualistic and pluralistic stages are the approach.
In Sāṃkhya, the Puruṣa principle represents the formless consciousness, and Prakṛti formative activity. Śaṃkara, defining Reality as that which exists as the same in all the three times, does not altogether discard these two principles, but says that they cannot exist as two independent Realities. He thus reduces the two categories of Sāṃkhya, the Puruṣa Consciousness and Prakṛti Uncomciousneas to one Reality, the Brahman; otherwise the Vākya, “All is Brahman” (Sarvam khalvidam Brahna) is falsified. Brahman, however, in one aspect is dissociated from, and in another associated with Māyā, which in his system takes the place of the Sāṃkhyan Prakṛti. But, whereas, Prakṛti is an independent Reality, Māyā is something which is neither real (Sat) nor unreal (Asat) nor partly real and partly unreal (Sadasat), and which though not forming part of Brahman, and therefore not Brahman, is yet, though not a second reality, inseparably associated and sheltering with, Brahman (Māyā Brahmāśritā) in one of its aspects: owing what false appearance of reality it has, to the Brahman with which it is so associated. It is an Eternal Falsity (Mithyābhutā sanātanī), unthinkable, alogical, unexplainable (Anirvacanīya). In other points, the Vedāntic Māyā and Sāṃkhyan Prakṛti agree. Though Māyā is not a second reality, but a mysterious something of which neither reality nor unreality can be affirmed, the fact of poisiting it at all gives to Śaṃkara’s doctrine a tinge of dualism from which the Śākta theory is free. According to Sāṃkhya, Prakṛti is real although it changes. This question of reality is one of definition. Both Mūlaprakṛti and Māyā are eternal. The world, though a changing thing, has at least empirical reality in either view. Both are unconsciousness. Consciousness is reflected on or in unconsciousness: that is to state one view for, as is known, there is a difference of opinion. The light of Puruṣa-Consciousness (Cit) is thrown on the Prakṛti-Unconsciousness (Acit) in the form of Buddhi. Vijñānabhikṣu speaks of a mutual reflection. The Vedāntic Prativimbavādins say that Ātmā is reflected in Antahkarana, and the apparent likeness of the latter to Cit which is produced by such reflection is Cidābhāsa or Jīva. This question of Cidābhāsa is one of the main points of difference between Māyāvāda and Śaktivāda. Notwithstanding that Māyā is a falsity, it is not, according to Śaṃkara, a mere negation or want of something (Abhāva), but a positive entity (Bhāvarūpamajānam): that is, it is in the nature of a power which veils (Ācchādaka) consciousness, as Prakṛti does in the case of Puruṣa. The nature of the great “Unexplained” as it is in Itself, and whether we call it, Prakṛti or Māyā, is unknown. The Yoginīhṛdaya Tantra beautifully says that we speak of the Heart of Yoginī who is Knower of Herself (Yoginī svavid), because the heart is the place whence all things issue. “What man,” it says, “knows the heart of a woman? Only Śiva knows the Heart of Yoginī.” But from Śruti and its effects it is said to be one, all-pervading, eternal, existing now as seed and now as fruit, unconscious, composed of Guṇas (Guṇamayī)unperceivable except through its effects, evolving (Parināmī) these effects which are its products; that is the world, which however assumes in each system the character of the alleged cause; that is, in Sāṃkhya, the effects are real: in Vedānta, neither real nor unreal. The forms psychic or physical arise in both cases as conscious-unconscious (Sadasat) effects, from the association of Consciousness (Puruṣa or Īśvara) with Unconsciousness (Prakṛti or Māyā), Mīyate anena iti Māyā. Māyāis that by which forms are measured or limited. This too is the function of Prakṛti. Māyā, as the collective name of eternal ignorance (Ajñāna), produces, as the Prapañcaśakti, these forms, by first veiling (Avaranaśakti) Consciousness in ignorance and then projecting these forms (Vikṣepaśakti) from the store of the cosmic Saṃskāras. But what is the Tamas Guṇa of the Sāṃkhyan Prakṛti in effect but pure Avidyā? Sattva is the tendency to reflect consciousness and therefore to reduce unconsciousness. Rajas is the activity (Kriyā) which moves Prakṛti or Māyā to manifest in its Tāmasik and Sāttvik aspect. Avidyā means “na vidyate,” “is not seen,” and therefore is not experienced. Cit in association with Avidyā does not see Itself as such. The first experience of the Soul reawakening after dissolution to world experience is, “There is nothing,” until the Saṃskāras arise from out this massive Ignorance. In short, Prakṛti and Māyā are like the materia prima of the Thomistic philosophy, the finitizing principle; the activity which “measures out” (Mīyate), that is limits and makes forms in the formless (Cit). The devotee Kamalākānta lucidly and concisely calls Māyā, the form of the Formless (Śūnyasya ākāra iti Māyā).
In one respect, Māyāvāda is a niore consistent presentation of Advaitavāda, than the Śākta doctrine to which we now proceed. For whilst Śaṃkara’s system, like all others, posits the doctrine of aspects, saying that in one aspect the Brahman is associated with Māyā (Iśvara), and that in another it is not (Parabrahman); yet in neither aspect does his Brahman truly change. In Śākta doctrine, Śiva does in one aspect (Śakti) change. Brahman is changeless and yet changes. But as change is only experienced by Jīvātmāsubject to Māyā, there is not perhaps substantial difference between such a statement, and that which affirms changelessness and only seeming change. In other respects, however, to which I now proceed, Śākta doctrine is a more monistic presentation of Advaitavāda. If one were asked its most essential characteristic, the reply should be, the absence of the concept of unconscious Māyā as taught by Śaṃkara. Śruti says, “All is Brahman.” Brahman is Consciousness: and therefore all is consciousness. There is no second thing called Māyā which is not Brahman even though it be “not real,” “not unreal”; a definition obviously given to avoid the imputation of having posited a second Real. To speak of Brahman, and Māyā which is not Brahman is to speak of two categories, however much it may be sought to explain away the second by saying that it is “not real” and “not unreal”; a falsity which is yet eternal and so forth. Like a certain type of modern Western “New Thought,” Śākta doctrine affirms, “all is consciousness,” however much unconsciousness appears in it. The Kaulācāryya Sadānanda says in his commentary on the 4th Mantra Iśa Upaniṣad (Ed. A. Avalon): “The changeless Brahman, which is consciousness appears in creation as Māyā which is Brahman, (Brahmamayī), consciousness (Cidrūpinī) holding in Herself unbeginning (Anādi) Karmik tendencies (Karmasaṃskāra) in the form of the three Guṇas. Hence, She is Guṇamayī, despite being Cinmayī. As there is no second principle these Guṇas are Cit-Śakti. “The Supreme Devī is thus Prakāśa vimarśasāmarasyarūpinī, or the union of Prakāśa and Vimarśa.
According to Śaṃkara, man is Spirit (Ātmā) vestured in the Māyik ‘falsities’ of mind and matter. He, accordingly, can only establish the unity of Īśvara and Jīva by eliminating from the first Māyā, and from the second Avidyā; when Brahman is left as common denominator. The Śākta eliminates nothing. Man’s spirit or Ātmā is Śiva, His mind and body are Śakti. Śakti and Śiva are one. The Jīvātmā is Śiva-Śakti. So is the Paramātmā. This latter exists as the one: the former as the manifold. Man is then not a Spirit covered by a non-Brahman falsity, but Spirit covering Itself with Its own power or Śakti.
What then is Śakti, and how does it come about that there is some principle of unconsciousness in things, a fact which cannot be denied. Śakti comes from the root “śak,” “to be able,” “to have power.” It may be applied to any form of activity. The power to see is visual Śakti, the power to burn is Śakti of fire, and so forth. These are all forms of activity which are ultimately reducible to the Primordial Śakti (Ādyā Śakti) whence every other form of Power proceeds. She is called Yoginī because of Her connection with all things as their origin. It is this Original Power which is known in worship as Devī or Mother of Many Names. Those who worship the Mother, worship nothing “illusory” or unconscious, but a Supreme Consciousness, whose body is all forms of consciousness-unconsciousness produced by Her as Śiva’s power. Philosophically, the Mother or Daivaśakti is the kinetic aspect of the Brahman. All three systems recognize that there is a static and kinetic aspect of things: Puruṣa, Brahman, Śiva on the one side, Prakṛti, Māyā, Śakti on the other. This is the timehonoured attempt to reconcile the doctrine of a changeless Spirit, a changing Manifold, and the mysterious unity of the two. For Power (Śakti) and the possessor of the Power (Śaktimān) are one and the same. In the Tantras, Śiva constantly says to Devī, “There is no difference between Thee and Me.” We say that the fire burns, but burning is fire. Fire is not one thing and burning another. In the supreme transcendental changeless state, Śiva and Śakti are, for Śiva is never without Śakti. The connection is called Avinābhāvasambandha. Consciousness is never without its Power. Power is active Brahman or Consciousness. But, as there is then no activity, they exist in the supreme state as one Tattva (Ekam tattvam iva); Śiva as Cit, Śakti as Cidrūpinī. This is the state before the thrill of Nāda, the origin of all those currents of force which are the universe. According to Śaṃkara, the Supreme Experience contains no trace or seed of objectivity whatever. In terms of speech, it is an abstract consciousness (Jñāna). According to the.view here expressed, which has been profoundly elaborated by the Kashmir Śiva School, that which appears “without” only so appears because it, in some form or other, exists “within.” So also the Śākta Viśvasāra Tantra says, “what is here is there, what is not here is nowhere.” If therefore we know duality, it must be because the potentiality of it exists in that from which it arises. The Śaivaśākta school thus assumes a real derivation of the universe and a causal nexus between Brahman and the world. According to Śaṃkara, this notion of creation is itself Māyā, and there is no need to find a cause for it. So it is held that the supreme experience (Āmarśa) is by the Self (Śiva) of Himself as Śakti, who as such is the Ideal or Perfect Universe; not in the sense of a perfected world of form, but that ultimate formless feeling (Bhāva) of Bliss (Ānanda) or Love which at root the whole world is. All is Love and by Love all is attained. The Śākta Tantras compare the state immediately prior to creation with that of a grain of gram (Canaka) wherein the two seeds (Śiva and Śakti) are held as one under a single sheath. There is, as it were, a Maithuna in this unity of dual aspect, the thrill of which is Nāda, productive of the seed or Bindu from which the universe is born. When the sheath breaks and the seeds are pushed apart, the beginning of a dichotomy is established in the one consciousness, whereby, the “I,” and the “This” (Idaṃ or Universe) appear as separate. The specific Śiva aspect is, when viewed through Māyā, the Self, and the Śakti aspect the Not-Self. This is to the limited consciousnees only. In truth the two Śiva and Śakti are ever one and the same, and never dissociated. Thus each of the Bindus of the Kāmakalā are Śiva-Śakti appearing as Puruṣa-Prakṛti. At this point, Śakti assumes several forms, of which the two chief are Cit-Śakti or Cit as Śakti, and Māyā-Śakti or Māyā as Śakti. Māyā is not here a mysterious unconsciousness, a non-Brahman, non-real, non-unreal something. It is a form of Śakti, and Śakti is Śiva who is Consciousness which is real. Therefore Māyā Śakti is in itself (Svarūpa) Consciousness and Brahman. Being Brahman It is real. It is that aspect of conscious power which conceals Itself to Itself. “By veiling the own true form (Svarūpa = Consciousness), its Śaktis always arise,” (Svarūpāvarane cāsya śaktayaḥ satatotthitāḥ) as the Spandakārikā says. This is a common principle in all doctrine relating to Śakti. Indeed, this theory of veiling, though expressed in another form, is
common to Sāṃkhya and Vedānta. The difference lies in
this that in Sāṃkhya it is a second, independent Principle which veils; in Māyāvāda Vedānta it is the non-Brahman Māyā (called a Śakti of Īśvara) which veils; and in Śākta Advaitavāda (for thc Śāktas are non-dualists) it is Consciousness which, without ceasing to be such, yet veils Itself. As already stated, the Monistic Śaivas and Śāktas hold certain doctrines in common such as the thirty-six Tattvas, and what are called Śadadhvā which also appear as part of the teaching of the other Śaiva Schools. In the thirty-six Tattva scheme, Māyāwhich is defined as “the sense of difference” (Bhedabuddhi), for it is that which makes the Self see things as different from the Self, is technically that Tattva which appears at the close of the pure creation, that is, after Śuddhavidyā. This Māyā reflects and limits in the Paśu or Jīva, the Icchā, Jñāna, Kriyā Śaktis of Īśvara. These again are the three Bindus which are “Moon,” “Fire,” and “Sun.” (See Author’s “Garland of Letters.”) What are Jñāna and Kriyā (including Icchāits preliminary) on the part of the Pati (Lord) in all beings and things (Bhāveśu) which are His body: it is these two which, with Māyā as the third, are the Sattva, Rajas and Tamas Guṇas of the Paśu. This veiling power explains how the undeniable element of unconsciousness, which is seen in things exists. How, if all be consciousness, is that principle there? The answer is given in the luminous definition of Shakti; “It is the function of Śakti to negate” (Niśedhavyāpārarūpāshaktih), that is, to negate consciousness and make it appear to Itself as unconscious (Kārikā 4 of Yogarāja or Yogamuni’s Commentary on Abhinava Gupta’s Paramārthasāra). In truth the whole world is the Self whether as “I” (Ahaṃ) or “This” (Idaṃ). The Self thus becomes its own object. It becomes object or form that it may enjoy dualistic experience. It yet remains what it was in its unitary blissful experience. This is the Eternal Play in which the Self hides and seeks itself. The formless cannot assume form unless formlessness is negated. Eternity is negated into finality; the all-pervading into the limited; the all-knowing into the “little knower”; the almighty into the “little doer,” and so forth. It is only by negating Itself to Itself that the Self becomes its own object in the form of the universe.
It follows from the above that, to the Śākta worshipper, there is no unconscious Māyā in Śaṃkara’s sense, and therefore there is no Cidābhāsa, in the sense of the reflection of consciousness on unconsciousness, giving the latter the appearance of consciousness which it does not truly possess. For all is Consciousness as Śakti. “Ahaṃ Strī,” as the Advaitabhāvopaniṣad exclaims. In short, Śaṃkara says there is one Reality or Consciousness and a not-real not-unreal Unconsciousness. What is really unconscious appears to be conscious by the reflection of the light of Consciousness upon it. Śākta doctrine says consciousness appears to be unconscious, or more truly, to have an element of unconsciousness in it (for nothing even empirically is absolutely unconscious), owing to the veiling play of Consciousness Itself as Śakti.
As with so many other matters, these apparent differences are to some extent a matter of words. It is true that the Vedāntists speak of the conscious (Cetana) and unconscious (Acetana), but they, like the Śākta Advaitins, say that the thing in itself is Consciousness. When this is vividly displayed by reason of the reflection (Prativimbha) of consciousness in Tattva, (such as Buddhi), capable of displaying this reflection, then we can call that in which it is so displayed, conscious. Where, though consciousness is all-pervading, Caitanya is not so displayed, there we speak of unconsciousness. Thus, gross matter (Bhūta) does not appear to reflect Cit, and so appears to us as unconscious. Though all things are at base consciousness, some appear as more, and some as less conscious. Śaṃkara explains this by saying that Caitanya is associated with a nonconscious mystery or Māyā which veils consciousness, and Caitanya gives to what is unconscious the appearance of consciousness through reflection. “Reflection” is a form of pictorial thinking. What is meant is that two principles are associated together without the nature (Svarūpa) of either being really affected, and yet producing that effect which is Jīva. Śākta doctrine says that all is consciousness, but this same consciousness assumes the appearance of changing degrees of unconsciousness, not through the operation of anything other than itself (Māyā), but by the operation of one of its own powers (Māyāśakti). It is not unconscious Māyā in Śaṃkara’s sense which veils consciousness, but Consciousness as Śakti veils Itself, and, as so functioning, it is called Māyāśakti. It may be asked how can Consciousness become Unconsciousness and cease to be itself? The answer is that it does not. It never ceases to be Consciousness. It appears to itself, as Jīva, to be unconscious, and even then not wholly: for as recent scientific investigations have shown, even so-called “brute mattter” exhibits the elements of that which, when evolved in man, is self-consciousness. If it be asked how consciousness can obscure itself partially or at all, the only answer is Acintyā Śakti, which Māyāvādins as all other Vedāntists admit. Of this, as of all ultimates, we must say with the Western Scholastics, “omnia exeunt in mysterium.”
Prakṛti is then, according to Sāṃkhya, a real independent category different from Puruśa. This both Māyāvāda and Śaktivāda deny. Māyā is a not real, not-unreal Mystery dependent on, and associated with, and inhering in Brahman; but not Brahman or any, part of Brahman. Māyā-Śakti is a power of, and, in its Svarūpa, not different from Śiva: is real, and is an aspect of Brahman itself. Whilst Brahman as Īśvara is associated with Māyā, Śiva is never associated with anything but Himself. But the function of all three is the same, namely to make forms in the formless. It is That by which the Īśvara or Collective Consciousness pictures the universe for the individual Jīva’s experience. Śakti is threefold as Will (Icchā), Knowledge (Jñāna), and Action (Kriyā). All three are but differing aspects of the one Śakti. Consciousness and its power or action are at base the same. It is true that action is manifested in matter, that is apparent unconsciousness, but its root, as that of all else, is consciousness. Jñāna is selfproved and experienced (Svatahsiddha), whereas, Kriyā, being inherent in bodies, is perceived by others than by ourselves. The characteristic of action is the manifestation of all objects. These objects, again, characterized by consciousness-unconsciousness are in the nature of a shining forth (Ābhāsa) of Consc.iousness. (Here Ābhāsa is not used in its sense of Cidābhāsa, but as an intensive form of the term Bhāsa.) The power of activity and knowledge are only differing aspects of one and the same Consciousness. According to Śaṃkara, Brahman has no form of selfdetermination. Kriyā is a function of imconscious Māyā. When Īśvara is said to be a doer (Kartā), this is attributed (Aupādhika) to Him by ignorance only. It follows from the above that there are other material differences between Śākta doctrine and Māyāvāda, such as the nature of the Supreme Experience, the reality and mode of creation, the reality of the world, and so forth. The world, it is true, is not, as the Mahānirvāṇa Tantra says, absolute reality in the sense of unchanging being, for it comes and goes. It is nevertheless real, for it is the experience of Śiva, and Śiva’s experience is not unreal. Thus again. the evolution of the world as Ābhāsa, whilet resembling the Vivarta of Māyāvāda, differs from it in holding, as the Sāṃkhya does, that the effect is real and not unreal, as Śaṃkara contends. To treat of these and other matters would carry me beyond the scope of this essay which only deals, and that in a summary way, with the essential differences and similarities in the concepts Prakṛti, Māyā and Śakti.
I may however conclude with a few general remarks. The doctrine of Śakti is a profound one, and I think likely to be attractive to Western minds when they have grasped it, just as they will appreciate the Tāntrik watchword, Kriyā or action, its doctrine of progress with and through the world and not against it, which is involved in its liberationenjoyment (Bhukti-mukti) theory and other matters. The philosophy is, in any case, not, as an American writer, in his ignorance, absurdly called it, “worthless,” “religious Feminism run mad,” and a “feminization of Vedānta for suffragette Monists.” It is not a “feminization” of anything, but a distinctive, original, and practical doctrine worthy of a careful study. The Western student will find much in it which is more acceptable to generally prevalent thought in Europe and America—than in the “illusion” doctrine (in itself an unsuitable term), and the ascetic practice of the Vedāntins of Śaṃkara’s school. This is not to say that ways of reconciliation may not be found by those who go far enough. It would not be difficult to show ground for holding that ultimately the same intellectual results are attained by viewing the matter from the differing standpoints of Sādhanā and Siddhi.
The writer of an interesting article on the same subject in the Prabuddha Bhārata (August 1916) states that the Sannyāsī Totapurī, the Guru of Śri Rāmakrishna, maintained that a (Māyāvādin) Vedāntist could not believe in Śakti, for if causality itself be unreal there is no need to admit any power to cause, and that it is Māyā to apply the principle of causation and to say that everything comes from Śakti. The Sannyāsīwas converted to Śākta doctrine after all. For as the writer well says, it is not merely by intellectual denial, but by living beyond the “unreal,” that the Real is found. He, however, goes on to say, “the Śaktivāda of Tantra is not an improvement on the Māyāvāda of Vedānta, (that is the doctrine of Śaṃkara) but only its symbolization through the chromatics of sentiment and concept.” It is true that it is a form of Vedānta, for all which is truly Indian must be that. It is also a fact that the Āgama as a Śāstra of worship is full of Symbolism. Intellectually, however, it is an original presentment of Vedānta, and from the practical point of view, it has some points of merit which Māyāvāda does not possess. Varieties of teaching may be different presentations of one truth leading to a similar end. But one set of “chromatics” may be more fruitful than another for the mass of men. It is in this that the strengtih of the Śākta doctrine and practice lies. Moreover (whether they be an improvement or not) there are differences between the two. Thus the followers of Śaṃkara do not, so far as I am aware, accept the thirty-six Tattvas. A question, however, which calls for enquiry is that of the relation of the Śākta and Śaiva (Advaita) Schools.
Māyāvāda is a doctrine which, whether true or not, is fitted only for advanced minds of great intellectuality, and for men of ascetic disposition, and of the highest moral development. This is implied in its theory of competency (Adhikāra) for Vedāntic teaching. When, as is generally the case, it is not understood, and in some cases when it is understood, but is otherwise not suitable, it is liable to be a weakening doctrine. The Śākta teaching to be found in the Tantras has also its profundities which are to be revealed only to the competent, and contains a practical doctrine for all classes of worshippers (S dhaka). It has, in this form, for the mass of men, a strengthening pragmatic value which is beyond dispute. Whether, as some may have contended, it is the fruit of a truer spiritual experience I will not here discuss, for this would lead me into a polemic beyond the scope of my present purpose, which is an impartial statement of the respective teachings, on one particular point, given by the three philosophical systems here discussed.