Consciousness in Gaudapada’s Mandukya-karika

by V. Sujata Raju | 2013 | 126,917 words

This page relates ‘Critique of various theories of causation’ of the study on Consciousness as presented by Gaudapada in his Mandukya-karika. Being a commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad, it investigates the nature of consciousness and the three states of experience (i.e., wakeful, dream and deep sleep) which it pervades. This essay shows how the Gaudapadakarika establishes the nature of Consciousness as the ultimate self-luminous principle.

The fourth chapter of the Māṇḍūkyakārikā is known as the Alātaśānti Prakaraṇa (Quenching of the Firebrand) . The purpose of this chapter as stated by Śaṅkara, is the establishment of the system of advaita by pointing out the contradictions in the schools that are opposed to it. Śaṅkara, in the beginning of this chapter points out the relation or saṅgati of the earlier three chapters culminating into this fourth chapter. He observes that the āgama prakaraṇa by determining of meaning of auṃkāra becomes the premiss (pratijñā), for establishing the non-dual reality (advaita). The advaita was established using logic in the second (vaitathya) chapter on the ground that the external world of phenomena/objects is illusory. Again in the third chapter this (same) non-duality was ascertained /established on the authority of the both the scriptures and reasoning. It was conclusively established at the end of the third chapter, that ‘Non Duality alone is the Ultimate Truth’. At the end of third chapter it was indicated that ‘The dualists and the nihilists are those who oppose this philosophy of advaita, which is the true import of the scriptures. The dualists and the Nihilists mutually oppose one another and their philosophies are false because they give rise to emotions and passions like attachment and aversion. The meaning is that, they mutually contradict one another and their philosophies are affected by such factors arising out of their attachment to their own views and their aversion towards others view. On account of this it has been indicated that the philosophies of those opponents are false. In the context of non duality there can be no play of aversion or hatred for what exists is the one non dual principle, there is no possibility of a second. The Advaita philosophy is eulogized as the true philosophy for it is free from any of those (viz. passions, aversion) vitiating features.

Śaṅkara begins the study of Alātaśānti Prakaraṇa to show in detail the falsity of those views which are opposed to one another. The mutual falsification of these views will automatically establish the truth of non-duality with the help of the method of (āvīta-nyāya)[1] difference/negative reasoning. By adopting the method of āvīta (vyatireka) inference i.e. by pointing out the contrast and difference/disagreement, the non-dualism is ultimately established as the final conclusion.

The chapter entitled alātaśānti prakaraṇa contains one hundred kārikās and I have critically examined the quintessence of Gauḍapāda’s Advaita philosophy. This chapter begins with an invocation to ‘the best among bipeds’ (dvipadāṃ vara) who has perfectly understood the dharmas which are comparable to ākāśa through knowledge which is also the ākāśa and is non-different from the object known.

Kārikā 1 reads:

‘I bow to that best among men who by means of knowledge, which is like Ākāśa and non-different from the object of knowledge (i.e., the Dharma), realised the nature of Dharmas (i.e., the Jīvas) which are, again, like the Ākāśa’.

Śaṅkara, in his commentary on this kārikā suggests that Gauḍapāda makes obeisance to Nārāyaṇa, often described as ‘Puruṣottama’, who is the best of human beings. In the first kārikā of this chapter there is a salutation to the proclaimer of the tradition of Advaita philosophy by identifying him with the nature of Advaita Reality itself. Obeisance is made to the teacher at the commencement of a scripture to bring this undertaking to a successful end.

According to Śaṅkara the term ‘ākāśakalpa’ in the kārikā is somewhat similar to ākāśa (space) and also marginally different from ākāśa. When knowledge is compared to ākāśa, it means that it is all pervasive like space. The term dharma in the kārikā refers to the jīva which is also non different from the Supreme. The knowledge, the Self and the supreme are all one and non dual. What is the purpose of such knowledge? The jīva is compared to gagana or the sky. The supreme knowledge is non different (jneya-abhinna) from the object of knowledge. This knowledge is non-different from its object known, as fire is non-different from heat and the sun from light.

Gauḍapāda pays homage to Him who has realised (Saṃbuddha) this all pervasive knowledge. Śaṅkara says, he is the best of men (puruṣas) and is therefore called Puruṣottama or Nārāyaṇa. It could be a reference to Gauḍapāda’s guru/ācārya who taught Vedānta to him which is mentioned in this kārikā as the greatest of men (dvipadām vara).[2]

Ānandagiri in his comment on the Śaṅkara’s commentary on kārikā 1, says that Gauḍapāda had practiced penance at the Badarikāśrama to propitiate Nārāyaṇa who, pleased with the penance, gave him as a boon the philosophical knowledge and thus Nārāyaṇa could be regarded as Gauḍapāda’s teacher. Ānandāgiri regards ‘Dvipadāṃ vara’ as Nārāyaṇa.[3]

Bhattacharya points out that, although ‘dvipadāṃ vara’ is found in the Mahābhārata (vanaparvan 54.45, Ādiparvan 220.36), it is a very common epithet for Buddha in the Buddhist literature, and he gives a long list of references.[4] He quotes several parallels in Buddhist literature for the teaching that jñāna and dharmas (knowledge and its objects) are like space. In the Bodhicaryavatāra, Śantidev writes: ‘Sarvamākāśasaṅkāśaṃ parigṛhṇantu madvidhāḥ’; ‘let those who are like me accept the doctrine that all is like space’; or, in the Aṣṭa-sāhasrikāprajñā-pāramitā, we find the phrase ‘sarvadharmahākāśasamaḥ’; ‘all dharmas are the same as space’; the Laṅkāvatārasūtra (X.172) speaks of dharmas as ‘aniruddhāḥ anutpannāḥ prakṛtyāgaganopamāḥ’; using the same term, ‘gaganopamāḥ’ which occurs here in Gauḍapādakārikā[5].

The term dharma in its Buddhist philosophical meaning as a thing or object, ‘entity’, ‘nature’, or ‘an element of existence’ or ‘structure’ appears some twenty-two times in the fourth prakaraṇa. The meaning of the word dharma in II.25 and III.1 of Gauḍapādakārikā are different.

Śaṅkara takes the meaning of the term ‘dharma’ in the fourth prakaraṇa as either jīva or ātman. He does not explain here as to how jñāna is ākāśakalpa and dharmas are gaganopama. He would, however, explain the non-difference of jñāna and jñeya saying that jñeya refers to ātman (or strictly ātmans), and jñāna is not different from ātman.[6]

According to Bhattacharya, in kārikā 1 the salutation is offered to the greatest amongst gods and men who is referred to as Buddha. [7] He gives two reasons for this. First, the kārikā 1 compares jñāna to the ākāśa and says that it is not different from the jñeya. Secondly, the dharmas or elements of existence are also stated to be like the ākāśa. Both these conceptions are from Buddhists philosophy which is taught by Buddha Himself.

In order to strengthen the teachings of Gauḍapāda and Śaṅkara, T.M.P. Mahadevan[8] gives a position which is against Bhattacharya’s opinion on this issue. According to Mahadevan the space-analogy is not particularly a Buddhistic one. In the Advaita Prakaraṇa Gauḍapāda uses this analogy to establish the all pervasiveness and nonduality of the Self/ ekātmavāda. The knowledge that is jñeyābhinna, non-different from the objects of knowledge is the doctrine also advocated by the Advatins, though not in the similar manner as the Vijñānavādins hold it. Mahadevan remarks that the Advaitin may compare the dharmas to ākāśa/ether, not to prove their niḥsvbhāva or Śūnyata as in Buddhism but to indicate their real nature of the Self as being non-dual. Therefore the meaning of the kārikā, is not incompatible with the teaching of the Vedānta.[9]

The traditional, Brahminical Advaitins maintain that the kārikā 1 offers an obeisance to Nārāyaṇa, the instructor of the śāstras. Even though there is no evidence given for the phrase dvipadāṃ vara as referring to Nārāyaṇa, scholars like Bhatttacharya after a painful study of the Buddhist text conclude that it is Lord Buddha who is denoted by dvipadāṃ vara. The interpretation also varies in the second kārikā in the sense that Bhattacharya believes that the kārikā addresses again to Lord Buddha. While the Śaṅkara and others hold the other view that it is in praise of śāstras/scriptures that describes the Yoga of non-contact (asparśayoga). I have elucidated here both the positions as found in Bhattacharya and Saṅkara.

In kārika 1, there is obeisance to Nārāyaṇa/guru. In kārikā 2 there is obeisance made to the śāstra which teaches the yoga called ‘Asparśa-Yoga’. This kārikā is also intended to show the merits of non-duality.

Non-duality is described here as a yoga and is given the name asparśayoga. Kārikā 2 reads:

‘I salute this Yoga known as the Asparśa (i.e., free from all touch which implies duality), taught through the scriptures-the Yoga which promotes the happiness of all beings and conduces to the well-being of all and which is free from strife and contradictions’.

Śaṅkara, the commentator says that: Asparśayoga is that yoga which has no contact (sparśa) or relationship with anything at any time. It is the very nature of Brahman. Thus, it is ‘indeed so named’ (vai nāma) as asparśayoga, it is well known to the knowers of Brahman. It brings happiness to all beings (sarva-sattva-sukhaḥ). There are forms of yoga like austerity (tapas) etc. which though brings relative happiness is also largely associated with pain/misery. But asparśayoga prescribed here is not similar to it. The asparśayoga promotes harmony and happiness to all beings. Asparśa means a total absence of “touch”. In other words it refers to the absence of any relation to any object. The non-dual Brahman cannot have a contact with any “object” for there exists nothing other than It. According to Śaṅkara it is the asparśayoga with this merit is saluted in kārikā 2.

The most important aspect of asparśayoga is that it is free from all disputes and thereby opinion, (avivāda). It has been already stated in kārikā III.18 earlier that nonduality (advaita) is the ultimate reality and this position does not contest with the dualists position. The dualists have every reason to quarrel/oppose with one another but not with the (sarvasaṃgrahaka) advaita. It does not contradict or oppose (aviruddhaḥ). What exists is the self effulgent ātman which cannot contradict any one or any position; one cannot contradict one’s own ātman. Gauḍapāda pays obeisance to such a Supreme Yoga taught by the scriptures.

According to Bhattacharya the real instructor of the asparśa yoga, who is saluted in kārikā 2 by the author, is no other than the Buddha. He says that the word ‘asparśayoga’ does not occur in the Upaniṣads, though Śaṅkara remarks on kārikā 3:39, where the term also occurs, that it is well-known in the Upaniṣads (Prasiddham Upaniṣatsu).

In any case, Bhattacharya quotes the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.3.10) as a source text for this teaching of asparśayoga:

yadāpañcāvatiṣṭhante jñānāni manasāsaha,
buddhiśca na viceṣṭate tāmāhuḥ paramāṃ gatim.

‘When the five (instruments of) knowledge along with the mind cease from activity and the intellect does not stir, they call that the highest state’.[10]

Bhattacharya says that, such Upaniṣadic passage(s) do not appear to resemble, in any profound way, the philosophical teachings of Buddhist non-dualism which describe the nature of all dharmas as resembling ākāśa. It is to this doctrine of emptiness or non-origination which the term aśparśayoga refers, because there is nothing to contact or touch when one knows that nothing has come into being.

Bhattacharya makes what seems to be an inappropriate connection between asparśayoga and samādhi (yogic trance states), mentioning the asaṃ prajñāta samādhi of Yogasūtra (I, 2, 18, 51), the nirvikalpa samādhi of the Pañcadasi (II.28), and the last of the nine Buddhist Sampattis called saṃjñāveditanirodha, ‘the cessation of consciousness and sensation.[11] Aśparśa refers to the ninth or last of the nine dhyānas or meditations called anupūrvavihāra. The ninth dhyāna is saṃjñāveditanirodha.

Bhattacharya says that asparśa yoga is ‘asukha yoga’ as it cannot be attained with ease as Gauḍapāda says it as ‘durdarśa’. He admits that Śaṅkara’s interpretation of asparśayoga in both the kārikās (IV:2 and III.39) cannot be rejected. Bhattacharya also justifies the use of the word sparśa in the Bhagavadgita, viz. (i) Mātrāsparśāstu Kaunteya Śītoṣṇasukhadukhadāḥ (Gita 2-14), (ii) sparśān kṛtvābahir bāhyān (Gita 5-27).

Bhattacharya argues that in the ninth or last stage of yoga or meditation, all the mental properties or mentals (caitta or caitasika dharmas) headed by sparśa (contact) are suppressed with the citta or mind itself, it is called asparśayoga. The cessation of vedanā is possible only when sparśa ceases (Saṃyutta Nikāya, IV, p.220, XXXVI. 15.4). Sparśa is the cause of vedanā, so when there sparśa there is vedanā, and when there is no sparśa there is no vedanā.

Bhattacharya further says in Buddhist Sanskrit works, there is the use of such words as sparśavihāra, sparśavihāratā, and asparśavihāra. Sparśavihāra is translated in Tibetan to mean Sukhastithi or Sukhaavasthiti; so asparśayoga is nothing but asukhayoga and this fact is referred by Gauḍapāda in kārikā 3:39 i.e. ‘Yoga is not that which can be attained with ease’ (Aśparśayoga vai nāma durdarsaḥ sarvayogibhiḥ).

In the yoga called nirodhasamāpatti, there is no sparśa of anything, so it is rightly named asparśayoga, says Bhattacharya.

Bhattacharya thinks that the fear of the yogins referred to in kārikā 3:39 by Gauḍapāda, is illustrated by Buddha’s own case. “So when the Blessed One entered that state, i.e. saṃjñāvedayitanirodha before his parinirvāṇa, Ānanda took him to be dead. But the venerable Anuruddha said to him that was not the case, the Blessed One only having entered the stage of the dhyāna called saññāvedayitanirodha. After a short time, however, He passed away”.[12] It is therefore quite natural that an untrained yogin should be afraid of it, as of death.

Bhattacharya further says “that Buddha’s two teachers Ālāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta knew the seventh and eighth of the dhyānas respectively. The Buddha was, however, not satisfied with what he had from his teachers, and he started to seek after a still higher state and succeeded in realising it”.[13] It is this state which is called saññāvedayitanirodha or briefly nirodha.

Bhattacharya draws a conclusion that the asparśayoga was not originally taught in the Brahmanic system of yoga. He says that the use of the two words ‘avivāda’ and ‘aviruddha in this (IV:2) kārikā shows that in the acceptance of asparśayoga by the Vedāntins, among whom the author himself (Gauḍapāda) is included, there cannot be raised any dispute or opposition, for there is nothing to be opposed even from their own point of view.[14]

The passages in question simply mean that when ajāti is admitted, only advaita remains and this non-dualism does not bother itself with the different contradictory views involved in the acceptance of the origination (jāti). One who knows that the barren woman’s child (vandhyāputra) does not exist would hardly trouble oneself with carrying on dispute with theorists who indulge in controversies about the date and place of birth of the vandhyāputra and so on. There being only advaita, there cannot possibly be any internal or external opposition or contradiction about it.

There appears to be some possible meanings of the term ‘asparśayoga’ in the Gauḍapādakārikā by different scholars. They are:

(1) A technical term for the practice of yoga. Mahadevan (1960) notes:

asparśayoga is the yoga of transcendence, whereby one realises the suprarelational reality.... The purpose for which this yoga is to be resorted to is the same as that which is set forth in the Pātañjalasūtra as the goal of yoga, viz., to stem the tide of the surging psychoses of mind and gradually attain thereby a state of mindlessness.[15]

(2) Stephen Kaplan[16] agrees that,

asparśayoga denotes a type of meditative path. Kaplan does, however, acknowledge the link with a specific theory of perception”.

(3) Bhattacharya[17] suggests that,

asparśayoga is a description of the highest form of samādhi. The word asparśayoga literally means the yoga in which there is no contact, or the faculty of perception by touch or connection with anything. The author himself says in kārikā 3:.37, it is a samādhi ‘profound or abstract concentration’, and very difficult to realise. It points to what is Asamp› rajñāta samādhi (Yogasūtra, 1, 2, 18, 51) with the scholiast Vyāsa, or nirvikalpa samādhi (Pañcadaśī II.28) of yogins”.

(4) Asparśayoga as a reference to the Gauḍapādakārikā’ s perceptual theory of no contact. Hixon[18] maintains that:

asparśayoga is a path of insight which does not involve trance-states at all, or at least does not regard the highest realisation as a trance-state. We propose that asparśa is synonymous with asaṅga and niḥsaṅga as the terms are used in Gauḍapādakārikā 4:72 and 4:79, to refer to the absence of an object... this understanding of the mind does not apply only to trance-states but to the nature of mind and its objects in any and all states of consciousness”.

Colin Cole[19] suggests that there are two meanings of the term ‘Asparśa Yoga’. On the philosophical level, the term implies the realisation of non-duality, i.e., of Turīya or Brahman. In this sense it could be called the “Non-dual Yoga” or the “Yoga of the non-dual”. On the level of religious practice, the term refers to discipline, path, method or process whereby the sādhaka attains this condition of being one with Ultimate Reality.

These views are not mutually exclusive. Given the emphasis placed upon meditative technique in the Gauḍapādakārikā, it seems likely that ‘asparśayoga’ is a technical term which defines the nature of the practice of yoga in terms of its final goal, the realisation that the mind never comes into contact with the external world.

Gauḍapāda has stated in kārikā 2 that the Advaita-darśana is avivāda. The nondisputable (avivāda) and non-contradiction (aviruddha) of this kārikā links up to the discussion in kārikās 17 and 18 of the Advaita Prakaraṇa, concerning the fact that the dvaitin contradicts one another, whereas the advaitin finds no contradiction with them. Because the views of dualists are on the level of relative truth, yet the relative has no fundamental existence over and above the absolute which could contradict the absolute. The development of this subject/theme in the Alātaśānti Prakaraṇa is more extensive, and introduces a dialectical refutation of causality.

Gauḍapāda in kārikā 3 establishes the dialectical conflict between disputing doctrines of causality based on the philosophical problem of the existent (bhūta) and the nonexistent (abhūta). It is to be noted that Gauḍapāda in kārikās 3:27-28 has already dealt with this problem using the terms sat and asat by rejecting both alternatives. To establish this, he, again, illustrates the mutual conflicts among the dualists.

He says in this kārikā:

‘Some disputants (followers of Sāṅkhya) consider that there is the origination of a thing that already exists. Other intelligent people (the Vaiśeṣikas) maintain there is origination of what is non-existent. Thus they dispute with each other’.

It is a well-known fact that the Sāṅkhyas and the Nyāya Vaiśeṣikas stand on two opposite views regarding the doctrine of causation in Indian philosophy.

Śaṅkara explains the two opposite theories of causation in order to understand Gauḍapāda’s statement about them.

(i) Bhūtasya jātimicchanti–The Sāṅkhya theory of causation is technically called as sat-kārya-vāda or pariṇāmavāda though Śaṅkara does not use these words. They hold the view that the effect pre-exists in its material cause before manifestation. Thus, the pot (the jar) is not something new produced from the earth (mṛttikā), the pot already exists (sat) in the earth/clay as its potential. They say if the effect does not contain/exist in the cause potentially, it would not come out of it. The cause contains the effect in its subtle form. According to these theorists there is an actual transformation (parināma) of the cause. For example, when we say the pot/jar is produced what happens is the clay has transformed in the form of pot (mṛttikāghatarūpeṇa pariṇamate).

According to Bhattachārya, this is also the view of Vaibhāṣikas among the Buddhists.

(ii) Abhūtasyāpare jātimicchanti–The Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika, Sautāntrika among the Buddhists believe in the asatkāryavāda or ārambhavāda. For them, the effect is a new creation, a real beginning. The effect does not pre-exist in its cause. They say, if the effect already exists in the cause, there is no need for its production/origination. According to the Nyāya-Vaiśesika the jar/pot is a new (asat) object produced from clay, but there is intimate relation (samvāyasambandha) between them. The effect is non-existent (asat) before its origination.

Thus the Sāṅkhya system (satkāryvādins) deny the origination of a non-existent (asat) object, and the Vaiśeṣika system (asatkāryavidins) deny the origination of a existent (sat) object. According Śaṅkara the idea is that they (the disputants) quarrel among themselves with a desire to establish their victory over their opponents.

Gauḍapāda in kārikā 4 states that as there can be only two sets of objects: existent (sat) and non-existent (asat), it follows that the disputants destroy each other’s doctrine of creation (jātivāda). This in turn establishes the doctrine of non-origination (ajātivāda). This kārikā concurs in this rejection of both alternatives (bhūtaṃna jāyate kincid abhūtam naiva jāyate) i.e. neither the existent nor the non-existent comes into being. This is representing as the argument used by the followers of Advaya who teach the doctrine of non-origination (vivadantaḥ advayāh hi evam ajātim khyapayanti te).

According to Śaṅkara if the effect is already existent (sat), it cannot be newly originated, for it is already there making the entire causal process redundant. It is meaningless to say that what is existent is born–like ātman. Similarly, if the effect is non-existent (asat), it can not be originated. It will remain non-existent forever. What is non-existent like the barren woman’s son (vandhyāputra) or a hare’s horn are not at any time born. Thus the dualists contradicting each other about the passing into birth of an existing or non-existing entity establish the doctrine of non-origination (ajātivāda). The meaning is that the dualists by disputing each other re-enforce indirectly the truth of ajāti (ajātimkhyāpayanti te).

Gauḍapāda in kārikā 5 says:

‘We approve the ajāti or non-creation declared by them. We do not quarrel with them. Now, hear from us the Ultimate Reality which is free from all disputations’.

Śaṅkara suggests that through disputation the dualists (the followers of the Sāṅkhya and Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika) tend to support the advaita view by cancelling out each others’ view. They have established in this way the doctrine of non-origination (ajāti) and we approve (anumodāmahe) that by stating “Let it be so”. We do not quarrel with them, by taking any side for or against, as they dispute among themselves by taking sides. The philosophy of the ultimate reality is free from dispute. Śaṅkara says that we have given our approval to the seeker for understanding the absolute non-manifestation of the Self/ ātman. Bhattacharya says that Gauḍapāda in this kārikā accepts the doctrine of non-origination of the Advayavādins or Buddhists expressing his approval.

Gauḍapāda restates in the next three kārikās (6-8) what he had described earlier (3:2022) namely the idea: “In no way will an intrinsic nature change” (4:7, 3:2)] and the view that “the disputants only contradict each other”[20].

The main subject matter of this chapter is the doctrine of non-origination (ajātivāda). Gauḍapāda now proceeds in the following kārikās to offer his arguments as to how the doctrine of jāti cannot be justified.

In kārikā 6 he says:

‘The disputants (i.e. the dualists) contend that the ever unborn (changeless) entity (ātman) undergoes a change. How does an entity which is changeless and immortal partake of the nature of the mortal’?

It follows that the followers of Sāṅkhya and Nyāya Vaiśeṣika system as discussed in kārikā 3 are agree upon the point that origination (jāti) is possible of what is unborn; for what is already born does not take birth again. According to both Gauḍapāda and Śaṅkara the birth of an unborn cannot be justified. They say it is experienced by everybody that what has no birth (ajāta) has also no death (amṛta) (ajāto hi amṛto dharmo martyatam katham esyati).

An unborn entity by its very nature is immortal. It is equally illogical and absurd to talk about the death of the unborn. Gauḍapāda in kārikā 7 continues in support of this proposition and regards that, ‘The immortal cannot become mortal, nor can the mortal ever become immortal. For, it is never possible for a thing to change its nature’.

Gauḍapāda in kārikā 8 explains that the nature of Brahman is constant and unchanging. Brahman who is immortal can never become mortal. The inherent nature can never change under any circumstances. If an entity because of its nature being unborn (ajāta) and regarded (amṛta) immortal ever comes into being (jāyete) then we arrive at an absurd position of immortal becoming mortal and changing.

The argument from prakṛti and anyatḥābhāva used in the second line of kārikā 7 (which repeated in 4:29) is modeled on Nagarjuna’s Madhymikakārikā XV.8:

yady astivamprakṛtya syan na bhaved asya nastita prakṛter anyathābhāvo na hi jātupapadyate.[21]

But here (Māṇḍūkyakārikā XV: 8) what they really mean is that bhāvas (entities) have no such positive prakṛtii. e., they are essenceless. In Upaniṣad-darśan, bhāva (jīva) is of the nature of (svabhāva) of aja and amṛta.

Gauḍapāda in kārikā 9 explains the meaning of the word prakṛti or svabhāva. As origination (jāti) necessarily involves some change in the nature of the object concerned, he first explains how the ‘natural condition’ or ‘an intrinsic nature’ of prakṛti cannot change.

According to Gauḍapāda this inherent nature is of four kinds. They are as follows:

The first kind of accomplishment posited by Gauḍapāda is sāṃsiddhiḥ. The word siddhiḥ here means an accomplishment that is achieved through an efforṭ. Such an accomplishment when completed is called sāmsiddhih. Whatever is derived from this sāmsiddhiḥ is called sāmsiddhiki. Certain attainments when accomplished in full form cannot change or deviate from its nature. Saṅkara gives the example of the siddhiḥs acquired by the yogis after a prolonged austerity etc. These yogis possess superhuman powers who transform themselves atomic size/enlarge themselves as mountains etc. With the acquisition of these siddhiḥs there is no loss of it. Not changing or undergoing no change is its inherent nature.

The second kind of inherent nature enlisted by Gauḍapāda is called svābhāvikī, which is the natural propensity of the object to possess their essential nature. This cannot be vitiated at any point in any time or space. It is natural for the fire to illuminate the surrounding and generate heat. One cannot separate the heat/ the illuminating capacity from fire. They reside inseparably in their substratum in this case called fire. The pot never gives up ghatatva and cloth its patatva. The intrinsic nature of an object is never lost. Svābhāvikī therefore refers to this non-deviating, intrinsic nature of an object viz. its essential qualities.

The third kind of svabhāva postulated by Gauḍapāda is the inborn and unlearnt and unacquired nature of living beings like for the birds to fly or the fish to swim. This is called sahajā because it is spontaneous, inborn, natural capacity for certain living beings to behave in a particular way.

The fourth kind of svabhāva is akṛ. Any other thing/anything else not artificially super induced/not produced by any other cause as the nature of water to flow down, is the nature of a thing. The meaning is that which does not depend upon anything extraneous for its origin is also called prakṛti.

Further anything which never ceases to be other than itself, in any condition, is also the nature of a thing. Everybody acknowledges the fact that ‘to be the nature of a thing’, when it does not cease to be itself. Śaṅkara says that even in worldly experience (vyavahāra), the nature of a thing is not known to change, e.g., potness of pot and clothness of cloth.

According to Śaṅkara, the main import of this kārikā is that if in the case of all objects of empirical experience, which are merely imaginary or superimposed on Brahman, nature/ Prakṛti means that something which never changes, then what should it mean when referring to the unchanging nature of Ultimate Reality? In other word, the nature of absolute reality viz., absolute immortality, can never be subject to change.

In kārikā 10 Gauḍapāda describes the inherent nature of the jīva. He says:

‘All the Jīvas are, by their very nature, free from senility and death. They think, as it were, that they are subject to these and thus by this very thought they appear to deviate from their very nature’.

Śāṅkara in his commentary says the word dharmās in the kārikā should mean jīvas or ātmans. The word ‘viṣaya’ means ‘āśraya’ (substratum). But what is the substratum (āśraya) of that prakṛti whose change is imagined by the disputants? What is the defect/error in such imagination? This is being stated as follows:

According to Śaṅkara all the jīvas (dharmas), whose nature is that of ātman, are on account of that very nature free from all physical changes i.e. free from old age and death (jarā-maraṇa-nirmuktāḥ). Though the jīvas are such by their very nature, yet they think (icchantaḥ), imagine, as though, that they are subject to old age and death. This is like imagining a rope as a snake. They appear to deviate from their real nature by this error of superimposition in that kind of thought i.e. the thought of old-age and death. Hence, the immortal Self is free from all changes. It knows no decay and death. If a disputant erroneously imagines any modification /change in ātman due to old age and death, then he deviates from the real nature of ātman.

Gauḍapāda continues his critique of satkāryavāda in kārikā 11. Beginning from kārikā 11 and running through kārikā 23, he brings out a dialectical critique of the notion of causality.

Kārikā 11 reads as follows:

‘The disputant, according to him the cause itself is the effect, maintains that the cause itself is born as the effect. How is it possible for the cause to be unborn if it be said to be born (as the effect)? How, again, is it said to be eternal if it be subject to modification (i.e. birth)’?

The Vaiśeṣika shows how the Sāṅkhya theory of an existing thing being born as the world is self contradictory. According to Sāṅkhya, Pradhāna (Primordial Nature), the material cause is ‘unborn’ (aja) and permanent (nitya). It is also held to be the first or original cause (mūla kāraṇa). The creation of the world means that prakṛti is transformed into Mahat etc. and other effects. The meaning is according to Sāṅkhya view the Pradhāna/prakṛiti (kāraṇa) itself becomes Mahat (kārya). In other words, mahat is originated but mahat and Pradhāna are one and the same. The clay, according them, gets transformed into pots etc. Therefore we ought to say that Pradhāna is originated but Pradhāna is also said to be unborn (aja), by which they mean it is without origin. If this is the case, then it is the unborn that is born as the effect.

But how can an unoriginated (aja) and so immutable thing undergo origination or change? If it undergoes a change, how can it be eternal? The point is that there must be some difference between that which is originated and that which is unoriginated (jāyamāna and aja).

The non-difference (or identity) of cause and effect may be regarded from two different points of view viz. the cause is not other than the effect (kāraṇābhinnam kāryam) or the effect is not other than the cause (kāryābhinnaṃ kāraṇaṃ). But in neither case the Sāṅkhya system can be defended. The first alternative is shown in kārikā 11 which says: If the cause and effect are identical, then it is to be admitted that it is the cause and not the effect that ‘takes birth’ (jāyate). Again, if we accept it, the cause (pradhāna) cannot be regarded as unborn (aja), as according to the Sāṅkhya system pradhāna is eternal and unborn. This involves a self-contradiction.

According to Sāṅkhya, the beginingless Pradhāna is eternal. How can it be eternal if it is bhinnam, split up (in the series of its evolution), disintegrated (transformed), partially? Śaṅkara explains the word ‘bhinna’ to mean ‘rent asunders’, ‘divided into parts’ or ‘opened’ (vidīrna, sphuṭita) which implies ‘subject to some change’, and that which admits of any kind of change cannot be eternal (anitya). Things composed of parts, a jar for instance which is subject to division into parts, is not seen to be eternal in this world. It involves a contradiction on their part to say that of a part of a thing disintegrating and at the same time it is unborn and eternal.

To avoid this difficulty the Sāṅkhya might accept the other alternative viz., that the effect is identical with the cause or the effect (kārya) is non-different (ananya) from cause (kāraṇa). Now, the effect is also unborn (aja) as the cause which is unborn. Thus the contingency of the cause ceasing to be unborn (aja) will not arise.

Gauḍapāda in the next kārikā 12 says that this argument also cannot be accepted.

‘If (according to Sāṅkhya) the effect is non-different from the cause, then the effect also must be unborn (aja). In that case, how can the cause remain eternal when it is non-different from the effect which is born’?

Śaṅkara explains this kārikā by saying that if the effect is non-different from the unborn cause, then one can avoid the conclusion/inference that the effect too is unborn. But it is certainly a contradiction to say that a thing is an effect and at the same time unborn. If the effect is unborn, then it is not produced. Again, if it is not what is produced, it cannot be called the effect. This is a sheer contradiction.

Besides this there is an additional contradiction: if the effect and the cause are nodifferent, then the cause too will share the nature of the effect i.e. it is also subject to origination like this effect. It cannot, therefore, remain permanent and immutable. Śaṅkara says, to maintain that the cause is non-different from the effect which is born and yet itself remains unborn is analogous to the procedure of the man who cooked one half of a hen and reserved the other half for laying eggs (na hi kukkutyāekadeśaḥ pacyate ekadeśaḥ prasavāya kalpyate).

No example is seen in this world which lends assistance to understand the view that the effect arises out of a cause which is aja meaning unborn. If we were to look for a cause that itself created for an effect, then there will be a fallacy of infinite regress (anavasthā).

A material cause is not the ultimate first cause. Gauḍapāda in kārikā 13 says:

‘There is no illustration to support the view of him who says that the effect is born from the unborn cause. Again, if it be said that the effect is produced from a cause which is itself born then it leads to an infinite regress’.

According to Śaṅkara, the followers of Sāṅkhya can give no illustration of an unorginated material cause giving rise to an effect. It is, indeed, in the absence of illustration, no inference is possible. On the other hand, if it is maintained that the effect is born from a born cause, then it leads to an endless series of causes (anavasthā).[22]

There are some disputants[23] who say that the effect is the origin of the cause and the cause is the origin of the effect. How can they say that the cause and the effect are without a beginning?

When the Śruti says, ‘... But when to the knower of Brahman, everything has become the Self, what will he know and through what....?’ (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad II.4.14)[24], it is meant to establish that in reality, there is absence of duality from the absolute standpoint. Gauḍapāda on the basis of this Śruti text explains the kārikā 14.

Śaṅkara says that, from dharma etc., (merit and demerit) as causes, the aggregate of elements known as the body (dehādisaṅghāta) is produced. From this body again are produced merit (dharma) and demerit (adharma). They attribute to the causes in the form of merit and demerit and to effects in the form of bodies, as interdependence and mutual origin. How can such people predicate non-origination either to cause or effects? In other words, this is self-contradictory. According to Saṅkara it is a contradiction in terms to speak of begininglessness (anāditva) and being the cause and effect of each other (hetuphala bhāvatva). How can beginningless (anādi) thing have any cause (kāraṇa)? How can beginningless thing have any result/effect (phala) which is necessarily associated with change in the cause? Therefore, the eternal (nitya) and unchanging (kūṭastha) ātman can never become either an effect or a cause.

The contradiction is further explained by Gauḍapāda in kārikā 15. He says that, ‘the case of those who would trace the source of the cause to the effect and of the effect to the cause is like the case of those who would find the birth of the father from the son. (putrāj janma pittur gathā)’.

That “the effect is the beginning (ādi) of the cause and the cause the beginning of the effect is like the birth of father from the son”, which is logically absurd. The same illustration of absurdity, the birth of father from son, is used in the Vigrahavyāvartanī of Nāgārjuna, and this same illustration, Bhattacharya points out, is used in the Bodhicaryāvatāra-IX.114.[25]

In kārikā 16, Gauḍapāda says the order (krama) of cause and effect must be stated. Yet this is impossible owing to the dialectical intertwining of cause and effect pointed out in preceding kārikās. If they are born simultaneously (yugapat), they have no relationship (a-sambandha) like animal horns. Therefore nothing rational can be stated about them.

Bhattacharya remarks on this line of reasoning: This argument is found in Buddhist works. It may be said that first there is the cause and then the effect (pūrva-krama, prior order); or it may be said that first there is the effect and then the cause (aparakrama, posterior order); or again, it may be said that the cause and effect are simultaneous (saha-krama, order of simultaneity). But it is clearly shown that none of these can be justified. Nagarjuna, says in Māṇḍūkyakārikā XI.2, (‘tasmān nātropapadyante pūrvaparasahakramāḥ)[26]

Bhattacharya also points out that this verse of the Gauḍapādakārikā draws the very conclusion stated by Candrakirti with an essentially similar analogy: “But it is not seen that between two simultaneous things there is any relationship as between the producer (janaka) and the produced (janya), just like between the right and left hands or feet.”[27]

In kārikā 17 Gauḍapāda says:

‘Your cause cannot be established if it be produced from the effect. How can the cause, which is itself not established, give birth to the effect’?

Śaṅkara in his commentary says: The cause being produced (utpadyamānaḥ san) from the effect which itself is not yet definitely produced, will be non-existent like something produced from the horns of a hare. And the cause itself being a mere horn of the hare can never produce the effect. The cause which depends for its production upon its effect (phala, which is janya) cannot possibly be proved to exist. And a non-existent cause, like the horns of a hare, cannot produce anything. Nobody has seen any relation of cause and effect between two non-existing things like horns of a hare which are not dependent on each other for their existence. Nor is the relation of support/container and supported/contained possible between them (adhāra-ādheya-bhāva).

In kārikā 18 Gauḍapāda says:

‘If the cause comes into being from the effect and the effect from the cause, which of the two comes into being first depending on which the other may take birth’?

According to Śaṅkara any relationship between the cause and effect is impossible (asaṃbandhatādoṣa). It is impossible to settle the order (krama) of cause and effect. It may be contended by the opponents that the cause and effect though not causally related depend upon each other for their mutual existence. Replying to this contention here, Gauḍapāda asks which of the two (the cause and the effect) comes to be prior so that the other that depends on and is posterior to it may come into being?

The order of cause and effect has been referred, again, by Gauḍapāda in kārikā 19 by the word kramakopa, meaning ‘incompatibility of order’. He states that, ‘The inability (to reply), the ignorance (about the matter) and the impossibility of establishing the order of succession (of the cause and the effect) clearly lead the wise to stick to their theory of absolute non-evolution (ajāti)’.

This inability (aśaktiḥ) of yours to point out the priority of the cause over the effect or of the effect over the cause shows your ignorance, complete and absolute. It shows your ignorance regarding the knowledge of Reality. Again, the order of succession, which you have stated viz. that the cause has its being from the effect and the effect from the cause, is making cause and effect mutually dependent. This is, in fact not consistent with logic and is against all reasons. Thus, from the fact that (the impossibility) of any causal relation between the cause and the effect; the absence of birth (ajātiḥ), the non-origination of everything has been highlighted (paridīpitā) by the wise people (buddhaiḥ), while the disputants speak of the contradiction of each other’s point of view.

The word ‘aśakti’ and ‘aparijñāna’, in this kārikā have been differently interpreted by Śaṅkara, Karmarkar and Bhattacharya.

According to Śaṅkara, the word “aśakti” means inability to offer any satisfactory explanation of the relation between cause and effect pointed out by the siddhāntin. The word ‘aparijñāna’ means want of knowledge of the truth of reality (tattvāviveka).

According to Karmarkar, the first line of the kārikā 19 is a critique of the asatkāryavāda of the Vaiśeṣikas i.e. the cause produces the effect.

He gives the following possible theories of kāryakāraṇabhāva:[28]

(1) The cause produces the effect.

(2) The effect produces the cause.

(3) Cause and effect mutually produce each other.

(4) Cause and effect produced simultaneously. This is obviously absurd. There cannot be kāryakāraṇabhāva between things which have a simultaneous origin.

(5) There is nothing, whatsoever is born.

(6) Cause and effect are one; effect is a mere appearance (vivarta).

Karmarkar says that Gauḍapāda discusses proposition no. I (cause produces the effect) in the first line of kārikā 19. According to him, this is the refutation of the asatkāryavāda of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas.

This theory entails that:

(1) Cause and effect are two entirely different things. There is kāryābhāva first before kārya is produced.

(2) Cause and effect are however intimately connected with each other by the (samavāya) inherence relation.

(3) This samavāya relation ensures that only a particular cause (the clay) produces a particular effect (pot), otherwise we might get even cloth from clay.

(4) Cause has thus a particular śakti to produce the effect in question.

(5) If cause and effect are non-different (ananya), origination (utpatti) would be meaningless (nirārthika) etc.

Gauḍapāda refutes the above tenets of the theory of asatkāryavāda. He points out that the existence of potency (śakti) in the cause to produce a particular effect cannot be proved.

Thus he remarks:

(a) Is this śakti different from cause? or

(b) Is this śaskti, like karyābhāva, of a non-existent nature?

In either case, the śakti would not help the cause to produce the effect; if the śakti is existent and not different from cause, it is cause itself.

Karmarkar says ‘aśaktiḥ’ means ‘the absence of any power in the cause to produce the particular effect’. The term “aparijñāna” may mean “pūrvāparāparijñāna” which has discussed in kārikā 21. That is the want of knowledge of the mutual relation of cause and effect.

According to Bhattacharya, the word ‘aśakti’ means ‘absence of capability’. It refers to kārikā 3 where two types of disputants are mentioned one maintaining satkāryvāda and the other asatkāryavāda. He says that ‘aśakti’ and aparijñāna should be interpreted as in Buddhist works. Aśakti means as explained by Candrakirti ‘it cannot be said that the śakti/ power belongs to thing that has come into being, or to one that has not yet come into being (jāteśaktir na sambhavati, ajātasvabhāve’ piśaktir nāsti).

The term ‘aparijñāna’ has reference to Nāgārjuna’s “pūrvāparakoṭi-parikṣā” in his Mulamadhyamaka Kārikā and means pūrvāparāparijñāna ‘absolute ignorance of the first and last points’ in kārikā 21. Bhattacharya says that this pūrvāparāparijñāna is in reality pūrvāparakoti-aparijñūna, that is, absolute ignorance of the first and last points, i.e., the beginning and the end of the world as well as anything in it[29].

The word ‘Buddhaiḥ’ in the kārikā 19 is interpreted by Bhattacharya as ‘the Buddhists’. According to Śaṅkara, it means ‘Paṇditaiḥ’. According to Karmarkar[30] it means “Tattva-darśibhiḥ” and “Manīṣiṇaḥ”. In kārikā 42, we have jātistu desitā buddhaiḥ and in kārikā 54, evam hetuphalājāti prabisanti manisiṇaḥ.

Karmarkar observes that Gauḍapāda is concerned with establishing his famous doctrine of non-origination (ajātivāda) while Śaṅkaracārya on the other hand emphasises vivarta and māyāvāda- though he admits that both ‘ajāti’ and ‘vivarta’ are different aspects of the same proposition. Gauḍapāda specifically describes vivarta in kārikā 3:16, ‘jīvaṃkalpayate pūrvam etc.’ and specifically refers to māyāvāda in kārikā 3:24 “ajāyamāno Bahudhāmāyayājāyate tu saḥ” and 4:57 ‘samvṛtyājāyate sarvam’. In fact, there is no difference between Gauḍapāda and Śaṅkara as Gauḍapāda is described by Śaṅkara sa sampradāyavidācārya (and his paramaguru).

The opponent says that there is no mutual interdependence of cause (hetu) and effect (phala) because of the illustration of seed and sprout. In kārikā 20 Gauḍapāda gives reply to this contention. He says, ‘the illustration of a seed and its sprout is always like a thing that is yet to be proved (sādhyasama). And a reason (i.e. illustration, hetu) which is like one that is yet ‘to be proved’ (sādhyasama) cannot be used for establishing a proposition to be proved’.

The objector says that we have maintained “the relation of the cause and the effect, between the hetu (karma) and the phala (deha). But you have raised verbal difficulties (i.e. by merely catching those words) and tried to show that our argument tends to be as absurd as the birth of the father from the son and that there is a causal relation between the two horns of an animal. We have never maintained the coming into being of an effect from a cause not already existent or of the cause from effects not already established.”

The Siddhantin asks “what is, then, your contention”? The opponent says “the relation between the cause and the effect is similar to the relation that obtains between a seed and a sprout”. The seed produces the sprout and the sprout produces the seed. Everybody accepts the bījānkuranyāya as valid.

The Siddhāntin then proceeds: “So you appear to hold that the illustration of the seed and the sprout and the thing you wish to prove, are alike. The illustration (dṛṣṭānta) is not siddhaḥ, it is still sādhya.

The opponents ask whether the relation of cause and effect in the seed and sprout is really beginningless; the reply is that it is not so. The prior/antecedent among them is as much with a beginning as the posterior/the consequent one. Just as the latest born sprout has its beginning in the seed, that seed has its beginning from its earlier sprout and in this way seeds and sprouts have a beginning in their preceding order. Thus each prior sprout and prior seed is with a beginning. This principle applies to each and every one of them, the entire class of seed and sprout has a beginning (ādimat). Therefore, it is wrong to regard the relation between the seed and the sprout proving beginninglessness (anāditva). The same principle applies to cause and effect.

Again, the opponents maintain that the series of seeds and sprouts as a unit is without beginning. According to the Siddhāntin, it is not possible to take the series as a unit as beginninglessness. It is difficult to establish the continuous unity of any such series. Even those who maintain of the beginninglessness of such a series, do not certainly admit for a unitary entity called either a chain of seeds and sprouts or a procession of causes and effects. Therefore, it is justifiably stated in kārikā 14, ‘how can beginninglessness (anādvita) be declared by them for cause and effect’?

According to Śaṅkara apart from individual seeds and sprouts, there can be no such independent thing as a series of seeds and sprouts without a beginning. Similarly a series of causes and effects cannot be maintained as apart from individual antecedent (causes) and subsequent (effects).

Hence we (the siddhāntins) have well explained how the succession of causes and effects has no beginning. And we have not made use of any verbal (quibbles) difficulty in maintaining our point. Even expert logicians, do not make use of an illustration which itself requires a proof for its establishment, to prove a point which is like it in all respects. The word hetu (reason) in the kārikā is intended to mean “illustration” as the context requires illustration and not reason.

Karmarkar remarks sādhyasama is a hetvābhāsa mentioned by Gautama (the author of Nyāya-sūtras); it is the same as asiddhaḥ of other tarkikas.[31] Bhattacharya says sādhyasama hetu is one of the fallacies of a reason (hetvābhāsa). It is an assertion identical with the point to be proved, petitio principii.[32]

Gauḍapāda in kārikā 21 elucidates, how the learned disputants have established the doctrine of non-origination (ajāti).

He says:

‘The ignorance regarding the antecedence and the subsequence of the cause and the effect clearly establishes the absolute nonorigination. If the effect (Dharma, i.e., the Jīva) has really been produced from a cause, then why can you not point out the antecedent cause’?

This kārikā states that the absence of knowledge of the first (prior) and the last (posterior) points of a thing (pūrvāparāparijñānam)[33], i.e., the impossibility of describing causality as pūrvakrama or apara-krama in which either the cause or effect is primary, is indicator of non-origination (ajāteḥ paridipakam). According to one who knows origination as a fact should also know its antecedent cause as the relationship of the cause and the effect is inseparable. If the effect (kārya) is known, the cause (kārana) should also be known as their mutual relation is fixed. This fact of non-comprehension of knowledge of what is the effect and what is the cause establishes non-origination (ajāti).

Gauḍapāda concludes his criticism of the theory of causation in kārikās 22-23. The kārikā 22 probably refers to the followers of Sāṅkhya and Nyāya Vaiśeṣikas. An effect cannot arise out of itself. If the effect already exists in its material cause then it implies that the effect is born from itself. If the effect is different from the material cause, then anything could originate from anything. There are difficulties with the explanation of satkāryavāda. The effect is unmanifest in its cause, and there are even greater difficulties with the asatkāryavāda, that the effect is a new beginning, a real creation. If both these explanations are defective, a composite explanation, that the effect is both existent and non-existent in its material cause, will be contradictory.

Therefore the systems of the Sāṅkhya and the Vaiśeṣika cannot explain how a real effect can arise from the material cause.

Gauḍapāda states that,

‘Nothing, whatsoever, is originated either from itself or from other than itself (from something else). Nothing is ever born whether it is existent, or non-existent or both existent and no-existent (satasat)’.

Śaṅkara in his commentary on this kārikā says for the following reason, nothing whatsoever is born. He says that, a thing is born neither of itself nor of others/another or of both. Nor can we say that the thing which is born exists (sat), does not exist (asat) or both exists and does not exist (satasat). The birth of anything cannot be established by any manner whatsoever.

Nothing is born (svataḥ) out of itself i.e. from its own form which in itself has not yet come into existence. A jar does not come out of that very jar (a jar cannot be its own maker).

Nor is anything born (parataḥ), from another, as something different from that another, just as a cloth is not born of a pot or a cloth from another cloth.

In the same way, two different things cannot together produce a new thing, as it is opposed to experience. In other words a thing is not born both out of itself and another, just as a jar or a cloth is not born out of a jar and a cloth, for this involves contradiction.

It may be urged here that we always see a jar is produced from clay/earth, and a son born of a father. According to Śaṅkara the ignorant have such notions and use such words as ‘It exits’, ‘It takes birth’. But these ideas and words are further examined by the discriminating people to determine whether they are real or unreal. When they examined, they found that the basis of concepts and words and the corresponding attributes of objects such as the jar and pot are nothing more than words. This is supported by the Śruti ‘The modification being only a name arising speech’ (Chāndogya Upaniṣad VI.1.4)[34], or “All effects are mere word and names”.

If effects (like the jar and the son) are supposed to be pre-existing in clay, parents, etc. birth need not be predicated of them as they already exist. Effects cannot be said to be born from non-being (asat), as like the horns of a hare, they have no existence whatsoever. No effects can be produced from being and non-being (sadasat) as such a combination is contradictory in its very nature. Hence it is established that nothing whatsoever is born.

Again, those (Buddhists) who maintain that, an object is produced, by the unity of action, actor and the result, and that it is of momentary/transitory nature are far removed from reason and experience. This is so because according to this theory i.e. everything is momentary, a thing cannot be cognised as ‘This is so and so’. The cognition of ‘this’ ceases to exist for the next moment immediately after being cognised. Thus memory of the thing is rendered as impossible and any kind of worldly activity (vyavahāra) also would be not possible.

This kārikā 22 presents a slightly short-cut version of the four logical alternatives i.e. being, non-being, both being and non-being, and neither being nor non-being. The first line of kārikā 22 presents a characteristic teaching of Nāgārjuna. The kārikā reads: nothing whatsoever is produced either from itself or from another (svataḥ va parataḥ vāpi na kiñcid vastu jāyate).

The words of Nagarjuna in Madhyamkakārikā XXI. 13 are as follows:

na svato jāyate bhāvaḥ parato, naiva jāyate/na svataḥ parataścaiva jāyate jāyate kutaḥ’,

Which Bhattacharya translates,

‘A thing comes into being neither from itself, nor from another, nor form both itself and another; and that being the case, how can it come into being”?[35]

The second line of kārikā 22 reads: ‘no entity whatsoever is originated which is existent and non-existent (sad asat sadasad vāpi na kiñcid vastu jāyate)’. The full set of logical alternative, called catuhkoti, are presented in Gauḍapādakārikā 83: asti (is), nāsti (is not), asti-nāstiti (is and is not) and nāsti nāstiti (neither is nor is not) are termed as the four koṭis (kotyās catasra).

In kārikā 23 Gauḍapāda specifies the meaning of the word “beginningless”. It means that which is without any origin. The meaning of the word “beginningless” should not be taken that something does have an origin, but that origin is indeterminate. He says that, ‘the cause is not born of a beginningless effect; nor does an effect naturally come out of a beginningless cause. Of that which has no beginning (no cause) there can be no origin, no birth’.

This kārikā concludes the dialectical reductio ad absurdum of the notion of causality with a rather straight forward line of reasoning. Being beginningless, neither the cause nor the effect, from the standpoint of their own essential nature, comes into being (hetur na jāyate’nādeḥ phalam cāpi svabhāvataḥ). For that which has no beginning has no origination (ādir na vidyate yasya tasya hyādir na vidyate).

If the cause and the effect are both without a beginning, then there is no effect and no cause. The effect, without a beginning, cannot produce a cause. Similarly, the cause, without a beginning, cannot produce an effect. If the cause and the effect are both without a beginning, then there is nothing whatsoever is born.

Footnotes and references:


āvīta-nyāya is the logic which seeks to infer the existence of one thing on the basis of the nonexistence of another thing, as opposed to the anvayī-anumana, whereby the existence of one thing is inferred on the basis of the existence of another.


Upaniṣad-brahma-yogin says that the Ācārya/guru is Śūka, an avatāra of Nārāyaṇa.


Sagauḍapādīyakārikātharvavedīya Māṇḍūkyopaniṣat, (Ānandagirikṛtaṭīkā samvalita Śaṅkarabhāṣyasameta Śaṅkaranandabhagavatkrta Māṇḍūkyopaniṣatdipika ca,( Poona: Āanadāśrama Sanskrit Series, No. 10, 1984),157.


Bhattacharya, Āgama śāstra, 84.


Ibid., 87.


Bhattacharya, Āgama śāstra, 88.


Bhattacharya has suggested that the invocation is, in fact, paying homage to the Buddha. Bhattacharya, Āgama śāstra, 83-4.


T.M.P. Mahadevan, Gauḍapāda, 220.


Ibid., 220-1.


Bhattacharya, Āgama śāstra, 94.


Ibid., 95-6.


Ibid., 99.


Ibid., 100.




Mahadevan, Gauḍapāda, 180-1.


Stephen Kaplan, Hermeneutics, Holography and Indian Idealism, A Study of Projection and Gauḍapāda’s Māṇḍūkya Kārikā, (Delhi: Motilal Barnarsidass, 1987), 99-100.


Bhattacharya, Āgamasāstra, 95.


Richard King, Op.cit; Early Advaita Vedānta and Buddhism, 180.


Colin A. Cole, Asparśa yoga: A Study of Gauḍapāda’s Māṇḍūkya Kārikā, (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1982), 105-6.


The kārikās 6, 7 and 8 of this chapter are identical with the kārikās 20, 21 and 22 of the third chapter (Advaita Prakaraṇa) respectively except only this that in kārikā 3:20 and 22 there is the word bhāva while in 4:6 and 8 the word is dharma.


Bhattacharya, Āgama śāstra, 109.


Bhattacharya points out that the Madhyamika Philosopher, Candrakirti, uses the term anavasthā for the ‘na vyavasthā’ of Gauḍapādakārikā IV.13, Bhattacharya, Āgamaśāstra, 114.


The followers of Mīmāṃsakas hold the view that the endless series of life and death, consisting of the cause and the effect is without beginning for instance of the hen and the egg. From the relative standpoint this view can be accepted.


Som Raj Gupta, The Word Speaks to the Faustian Man, Vol-II, 408.


Bhattacharya, Āgama śāstra, 116.


Ibid., 117.


Ibid., 118.


Karmarkar, Gauḍapāda Kārika, 115-6.


Bhattacharya, Āgama śāstra, 123.


Karmarkar, Gauḍapāda Kārika, 118.


Ibid., 119.


Bhattacharya, Āgama śāstra, 126.


This same technical philosophical issue is discussed by Nāgārjuna in an entire section of Madhyamakakārikā, the “Pūrvāparakotiparikṣā”, Māṇḍūkyakārikā XI.


S. Radhakrishnan, The Principal Upaniṣads, 447


Bhattacharya, Āgama śāstra 127.

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