A History of Indian Philosophy Part 65

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This makes it dependent on some other such ent.i.ty which can produce it or manifest it. Pure consciousness differs from all its objects in this that it is never dependent on anything else for its manifestation, but manifests all other objects such as the jug, the cloth, etc. If consciousness should require another consciousness to manifest it, then that might again require another, and that another, and so on _ad infinitum_ (_anavastha_). If consciousness did not manifest itself at the time of the object-manifestation, then even on seeing or knowing a thing one might doubt if he had seen or known it. It is thus to be admitted that consciousness (_anubhuti_) manifests itself and thereby maintains the appearance


[Footnote 1: Vedanta would have either pratijna, hetu and udaharana, or [email protected], upanaya and nigamana, and not all the five of Nyaya, viz.

pratijna, hetu, [email protected], upanaya and nigamana.]

[Footnote 2: Vedantic notions of the pramana of upamana, arthapatti, s'abda and anupalabdhi, being similar to the [email protected] view, do not require to be treated here separately.]


of all our world experience. This goes directly against the jnatata theory of k.u.marila that consciousness was not immediate but was only inferable from the manifesting quality (_jnatata_) of objects when they are known in consciousness.

Now Vedanta says that this self-luminous pure consciousness is the same as the self. For it is only self which is not the object of any knowledge and is yet immediate and ever present in consciousness. No one doubts about his own self, because it is of itself manifested along with all states of knowledge. The self itself is the revealer of all objects of knowledge, but is never itself the object of knowledge, for what appears as the perceiving of self as object of knowledge is but a.s.sociation comprehended under the term [email protected] (ego). The real self is identical with the pure manifesting unity of all consciousness.

This real self called the atman is not the same as the jiva or individual soul, which pa.s.ses through the diverse experiences of worldly life. is'vara also must be distinguished from this highest atman or Brahman. We have already seen that many Vedantists draw a distinction between maya and avidya. Maya is that aspect of ajnana by which only the best attributes are projected, whereas avidya is that aspect by which impure qualities are projected. In the former aspect the functions are more of a creative, generative ([email protected]_) type, whereas in the latter veiling ([email protected]_) characteristics are most prominent. The relation of the cit or pure intelligence, the highest self, with maya and avidya (also called ajnana) was believed respectively to explain the phenomenal is'vara and the phenomenal jiva or individual. This relation is conceived in two ways, namely as upadhi or pratibimba, and avaccheda. The conception of pratibimba or reflection is like the reflection of the sun in the water where the image, though it has the same brilliance as the sun, yet undergoes the effect of the impurity and movements of the water. The sun remains ever the same in its purity untouched by the impurities from which the image sun suffers. The sun may be the same but it may be reflected in different kinds of water and yield different kinds of images possessing different characteristics and changes which though unreal yet phenomenally have all the appearance of reality. The other conception of the relation is that when we speak of akas'a (s.p.a.ce) in the jug or of akas'a in the room. The akas'a in reality does not suffer


any modification in being within the jug or within the room. In reality it is all-pervasive and is neither limited (_avachinna_) within the jug or the room, but is yet conceived as being limited by the jug or by the room. So long as the jug remains, the akas'a limited within it will remain as separate from the akas'a limited within the room.

Of the Vedantists who accept the reflection a.n.a.logy the followers of [email protected]@mhas'rama think that when the pure cit is reflected in the maya, is'vara is phenomenally produced, and when in the avidya the individual or jiva. Sarvajnatma however does not distinguish between the maya and the avidya, and thinks that when the cit is reflected in the avidya in its total aspect as cause, we get is'vara, and when reflected in the [email protected]@na--a product of the avidya--we have jiva or individual soul.

Jiva or individual means the self in a.s.sociation with the ego and other personal experiences, i.e. phenomenal self, which feels, suffers and is affected by world-experiences. In jiva also three stages are distinguished; thus when during deep sleep the [email protected]@na is submerged, the self perceives merely the ajnana and the jiva in this state is called prajna or anandamaya. In the dream-state the self is in a.s.sociation with a subtle body and is called taijasa. In the awakened state the self as a.s.sociated with a subtle and gross body is called vis'va. So also the self in its pure state is called Brahman, when a.s.sociated with maya it is called is'vara, when a.s.sociated with the fine subtle element of matter as controlling them, it is called [email protected]; when with the gross elements as the ruler or controller of them it is called [email protected] [email protected]

The jiva in itself as limited by its avidya is often spoken of as paramarthika (real), when manifested through the sense and the ego in the waking states as vyavaharika (phenomenal), and when in the dream states as dream-self, [email protected] (illusory).

Prakas'atma and his followers think that since ajnana is one there cannot be two separate reflections such as jiva and is'vara; but it is better to admit that jiva is the image of is'vara in the ajnana. The totality of Brahma-cit in a.s.sociation with maya is is'vara, and this when again reflected through the ajnana gives us the jiva. The manifestation of the jiva is in the [email protected]@na as states of knowledge. The jiva thus in reality is is'vara and apart from jiva and is'vara there is no other separate existence of


Brahma-caitanya. Jiva being the image of is'vara is thus dependent on him, but when the limitations of jiva are removed by right knowledge, the jiva is the same Brahman it always was.

Those who prefer to conceive the relation as being of the avaccheda type hold that reflection (pratibimba) is only possible of things which have colour, and therefore jiva is cit limited (avacchinna) by the [email protected]@na (mind). is'vara is that which is beyond it; the diversity of [email protected]@nas accounts for the diversity of the jivas. It is easy however to see that these discussions are not of much fruit from the point of view of philosophy in determining or comprehending the relation of is'vara and jiva. In the Vedanta system is'vara has but little importance, for he is but a phenomenal being; he may be better, purer, and much more powerful than we, but yet he is as much phenomenal as any of us. The highest truth is the self, the reality, the Brahman, and both jiva and is'vara are but illusory impositions on it. Some Vedantists hold that there is but one jiva and one body, and that all the world as well as all the jivas in it are merely his imaginings. These dream jivas and the dream world will continue so long as that super-jiva continues to undergo his experiences; the world-appearance and all of us imaginary individuals, run our course and salvation is as much imaginary salvation as our world-experience is an imaginary experience of the imaginary jivas. The cosmic jiva is alone the awakened jiva and all the rest are but his imaginings. This is known as the doctrine of ekajiva (one-soul).

The opposite of this doctrine is the theory held by some Vedantists that there are many individuals and the world-appearance has no permanent illusion for all people, but each person creates for himself his own illusion, and there is no objective datum which forms the common ground for the illusory perception of all people; just as when ten persons see in the darkness a rope and having the illusion of a snake there, run away, and agree in their individual perceptions that they have all seen the same snake, though each really had his own illusion and there was no snake at all. According to this view the illusory perception of each happens for him subjectively and has no corresponding objective phenomena as its ground. This must be distinguished from the normal Vedanta view which holds that objectively phenomena are also happening, but that these


are illusory only in the sense that they will not last permanently and have thus only a temporary and relative existence in comparison with the truth or reality which is ever the same constant and unchangeable ent.i.ty in all our perceptions and in all world-appearance.

According to the other view phenomena are not objectively existent but are only subjectively imagined; so that the jug I see had no existence before I happened to have the perception that there was the jug; as soon as the jug illusion occurred to me I said that there was the jug, but it did not exist before. As soon as I had the perception there was the illusion, and there was no other reality apart from the illusion. It is therefore called the theory of [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@tivada, i.e. the theory that the subjective perception is the creating of the objects and that there are no other objective phenomena apart from subjective perceptions.

In the normal Vedanta view however the objects of the world are existent as phenomena by the sense-contact with which the subjective perceptions are created. The objective phenomena in themselves are of course but modifications of ajnana, but still these phenomena of the ajnana are there as the common ground for the experience of all. This therefore has an objective epistemology whereas the [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@tivada has no proper epistemology, for the experiences of each person are determined by his own subjective avidya and previous impressions as modifications of the avidya. The [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@tivada theory approaches nearest to the Vijnanavada Buddhism, only with this difference that while Buddhism does not admit of any permanent being Vedanta admits the Brahman, the permanent unchangeable reality as the only truth, whereas the illusory and momentary perceptions are but impositions on it.

The mental and physical phenomena are alike in this, that both are modifications of ajnana. It is indeed difficult to comprehend the nature of ajnana, though its presence in consciousness can be perceived, and though by dialectic criticism all our most well-founded notions seem to vanish away and become self-contradictory and indefinable. Vedanta explains the reason of this difficulty as due to the fact that all these indefinable forms and names can only be experienced as modes of the real, the self-luminous. Our innate error which we continue from beginningless time consists in this, that the real in its full complete light is ever hidden from us, and the glimpse


that we get of it is always through manifestations of forms and names; these phenomenal forms and names are undefinable, incomprehensible, and unknowable in themselves, but under certain conditions they are manifested by the self-luminous real, and at the time they are so manifested they seem to have a positive being which is undeniable. This positive being is only the highest being, the real which appears as the being of those forms and names. A lump of clay may be moulded into a plate or a cup, but the plate-form or the cup-form has no existence or being apart from the being of the clay; it is the being of the clay that is imposed on the diverse forms which also then seem to have being in themselves. Our illusion thus consists in mutually misattributing the characteristics of the unreal forms--the modes of ajnana and the real being. As this illusion is the mode of all our experience and its very essence, it is indeed difficult for us to conceive of the Brahman as apart from the modes of ajnana.

Moreover such is the nature of ajnanas that they are knowable only by a false identification of them with the self-luminous Brahman or atman. Being as such is the highest truth, the Brahman. The ajnana states are not non-being in the sense of nothing of pure negation (_abhava_), but in the sense that they are not being. Being that is the self-luminous illuminates non-being, the ajnana, and this illumination means nothing more than a false identification of being with non-being. The forms of ajnana if they are to be known must be a.s.sociated with pure consciousness, and this a.s.sociation means an illusion, superimposition, and mutual misattribution. But apart from pure consciousness these cannot be manifested or known, for it is pure consciousness alone that is self-luminous. Thus when we try to know the ajnana states in themselves as apart from the atman we fail in a dilemma, for knowledge means illusory superimposition or illusion, and when it is not knowledge they evidently cannot be known. Thus apart from its being a factor in our illusory experience no other kind of its existence is known to us. If ajnana had been a non-ent.i.ty altogether it could never come at all, if it were a positive ent.i.ty then it would never cease to be; the ajnana thus is a mysterious category midway between being and non-being and undefinable in every way; and it is on account of this that it is called _tattvanyatvabhyam anirvacya_ or undefinable and undeterminable either as real or unreal. It is real in the sense that it is


a necessary postulate of our phenomenal experience and unreal in its own nature, for apart from its connection with consciousness it is incomprehensible and undefinable. Its forms even while they are manifested in consciousness are self-contradictory and incomprehensible as to their real nature or mutual relation, and comprehensible only so far as they are manifested in consciousness, but apart from these no rational conception of them can be formed. Thus it is impossible to say anything about the ajnana (for no knowledge of it is possible) save so far as manifested in consciousness and depending on this the [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@tivadins a.s.serted that our experience was inexplicably produced under the influence of avidya and that beyond that no objective common ground could be admitted. But though this has the general a.s.sent of Vedanta and is irrefutable in itself, still for the sake of explaining our common sense view (_pratikarmavyavasatha_) we may think that we have an objective world before us as the common field of experience. We can also imagine a scheme of things and operations by which the phenomenon of our experience may be interpreted in the light of the Vedanta metaphysics.

The subject can be conceived in three forms: firstly as the atman, the one highest reality, secondly as jiva or the atman as limited by its psychosis, when the psychosis is not differentiated from the atman, but atman is regarded as identical with the psychosis thus appearing as a living and knowing being, as [email protected]_ or perceiving consciousness, or the aspect in which the jiva comprehends, knows, or experiences; thirdly the [email protected]@na psychosis or mind which is an inner centre or bundle of avidya manifestations, just as the outer world objects are exterior centres of avidya phenomena or objective ent.i.ties. The [email protected]@na is not only the avidya capable of supplying all forms to our present experiences, but it also contains all the tendencies and modes of past impressions of experience in this life or in past lives. The [email protected]@na is always turning the various avidya modes of it into the [email protected] (jiva in its aspect as illuminating mental states), and these are also immediately manifested, made known, and transformed into experience. These avidya states of the [email protected]@na are called its [email protected] or states. The specific peculiarity of the [email protected] is this that only in these forms can they be superimposed upon pure consciousness, and thus be interpreted as states of consciousness and have their indefiniteness or cover removed. The


forms of ajnana remain as indefinite and hidden or veiled only so long as they do not come into relation to these [email protected] of [email protected]@na, for the ajnana can be destroyed by the cit only in the form of a [email protected], while in all other forms the ajnana veils the cit from manifestation. The removal of [email protected] of the [email protected]@na or the manifestation of [email protected] is nothing but this, that the [email protected]@na states of avidya are the only states of ajnana which can be superimposed upon the self-luminous atman (_adhyasa_, false attribution). The objective world consists of the avidya phenomena with the self as its background. Its objectivity consists in this that avidya in this form cannot be superimposed on the self-luminous cit but exists only as veiling the cit. These avidya phenomena may be regarded as many and diverse, but in all these forms they serve only to veil the cit and are beyond consciousness. It is only when they come in contact with the avidya phenomena as [email protected]@na states that they coalesce with the avidya states and render themselves objects of consciousness or have their veil of [email protected] removed. It is thus a.s.sumed that in ordinary perceptions of objects such as jug, etc. the [email protected]@na goes out of the man's body (_s'ariramadhyat_) and coming in touch with the jug becomes transformed into the same form, and as soon as this transformation takes place the cit which is always steadily shining illuminates the jug-form or the jug.

The jug phenomena in the objective world could not be manifested (though these were taking place on the background of the same self-luminous Brahman or atman as forms of the highest truth of my subjective consciousness) because the ajnana phenomena in these forms serve to veil their illuminator, the self-luminous.

It was only by coming into contact with these phenomena that the [email protected]@na could be transformed into corresponding states and that the illumination dawned which at once revealed the [email protected]@na states and the objects with which these states or [email protected] had coalesced. The consciousness manifested through the [email protected] alone has the power of removing the ajnana veiling the cit. Of course there are no actual distinctions of inner or outer, or the cit within me and the cit without me. These are only of appearance and due to avidya. And it is only from the point of view of appearance that we suppose that knowledge of objects can only dawn when the inner cit and the outer cit unite together through the [email protected]@[email protected], which makes the external objects


translucent as it were by its own translucence, removes the ajnana which was veiling the external self-luminous cit and reveals the object phenomena by the very union of the cit as reflected through it and the cit as underlying the object phenomena. The [email protected] or right knowledge by perception is the cit, the pure consciousness, reflected through the [email protected] and identical with the cit as the background of the object phenomena revealed by it. From the relative point of view we may thus distinguish three consciousnesses: (1) consciousness as the background of objective phenomena, (2) consciousness as the background of the jiva or pramata, the individual, (3) consciousness reflected in the [email protected] of the [email protected]@na; when these three unite perception is effected.

Prama or right knowledge means in Vedanta the acquirement of such new knowledge as has not been contradicted by experience (_abadhita_). There is thus no absolute definition of truth. A knowledge acquired can be said to be true only so long as it is not contradicted. Thus the world appearance though it is very true now, may be rendered false, when this is contradicted by right knowledge of Brahman as the one reality. Thus the knowledge of the world appearance is true now, but not true absolutely. The only absolute truth is the pure consciousness which is never contradicted in any experience at any time. The truth of our world-knowledge is thus to be tested by finding out whether it will be contradicted at any stage of world experience or not. That which is not contradicted by later experience is to be regarded as true, for all world knowledge as a whole will be contradicted when Brahma-knowledge is realized.

The inner experiences of pleasure and pain also are generated by a false identification of [email protected]@na transformations as pleasure or pain with the self, by virtue of which are generated the perceptions, "I am happy," or "I am sorry." In continuous perception of anything for a certain time as an object or as pleasure, etc. the mental state or [email protected] is said to last in the same way all the while so long as any other new form is not taken up by the [email protected]@na for the acquirement of any new knowledge. In such case when I infer that there is fire on the hill that I see, the hill is an object of perception, for the [email protected]@na [email protected] is one with it, but that there is fire in it is a matter of inference, for the [email protected]@na [email protected] cannot be in touch with the fire; so in the same experience there may be two modes of


mental modification, as perception in seeing the hill, and as inference in inferring the fire in the hill. In cases of acquired perception, as when on seeing sandal wood I think that it is odoriferous sandal wood, it is pure perception so far as the sandal wood is concerned, it is inference or memory so far as I a.s.sert it to be odoriferous. Vedanta does not admit the existence of the relation called _samavaya_ (inherence) or _jati_ (cla.s.s notion); and so does not distinguish perception as a cla.s.s as distinct from the other cla.s.s called inference, and holds that both perception and inference are but different modes of the transformations of the [email protected]@na reflecting the cit in the corresponding [email protected] The perception is thus nothing but the cit manifestation in the [email protected]@na [email protected] transformed into the form of an object with which it is in contact. Perception in its objective aspect is the ident.i.ty of the cit underlying the object with the subject, and perception in the subjective aspect is regarded as the ident.i.ty of the subjective cit with the objective cit. This ident.i.ty of course means that through the [email protected] the same reality subsisting in the object and the subject is realized, whereas in inference the thing to be inferred, being away from contact with [email protected]@na, has apparently a different reality from that manifested in the states of consciousness.

Thus perception is regarded as the mental state representing the same identical reality in the object and the subject by [email protected]@na contact, and it is held that the knowledge produced by words (e.g. this is the same Devadatta) referring identically to the same thing which is seen (e.g. when I see Devadatta before me another man says this is Devadatta, and the knowledge produced by "this is Devadatta" though a verbal (_s'abda_) knowledge is to be regarded as perception, for the [email protected]@na [email protected] is the same) is to be regarded as perception or [email protected]

The content of these words (this is Devadatta) being the same as the perception, and there being no new relationing knowledge as represented in the proposition "this is Devadatta" involving the unity of two terms "this" and "Devadatta" with a copula, but only the indication of one whole as Devadatta under visual perception already experienced, the knowledge proceeding from "this is Devadatta" is regarded as an example of nirvikalpa knowledge. So on the occasion of the rise of Brahma-consciousness when the preceptor instructs "thou art Brahman" the knowledge proceeding from the sentence is not savikalpa, for


though grammatically there are two ideas and a copula, yet from the point of view of intrinsic significance (_tatparya_) one identical reality only is indicated. Vedanta does not di

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A History of Indian Philosophy Part 65 summary

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