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MAY my mind be filled with devotion towards the highest Brahman, the abode of Lakshmi who is luminously revealed in the Upanishads; who in sport produces, sustains, and reabsorbs the entire Universe; whose only aim is to foster the manifold classes of beings that humbly worship him.The nectar of the teaching of Parâsara's son (Vyâsa),—which was brought up from the middle of the milk-ocean of the Upanishads—which restores to life the souls whose vital strength had departed owing to the heat of the fire of transmigratory existence—which was well guarded by the teachers of old—which was obscured by the mutual conflict of manifold opinions,—may intelligent men daily enjoy that as it is now presented to them in my words.
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THE SMALL PÛRVAPAKSHA.
THE SMALL SIDDHÂNTA.
THE GREAT PÛRVAPAKSHA.
THE GREAT SIDDHÂNTA.
THE ONLY REALITY IS BRAHMAN.
Brahman, which is pure intelligence and opposed to all difference, constitutes the only reality; and everything else, i.e. the plurality of manifold knowing subjects, objects of knowledge, and acts of knowledge depending on those two, is only imagined on (or 'in') that Brahman, and is essentially false.
'In the beginning, my dear, there was that only which is, one only without a second' (Ch. Up. VI, 2, 1); 'The higher knowledge is that by which the Indestructible is apprehended' (Mu. Up. I, 1, 5); 'That which cannot be seen nor seized, which has no eyes nor ears, no hands nor feet, the permanent, the all-pervading, the most subtle, the imperishable which the wise regard as the source of all beings' (Mu. Up. I, 1, 6); 'The True, knowledge, the Infinite is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. II, 1); 'He who is without parts, without actions, tranquil, without fault, without taint' (Svet. Up. VI, 19); 'By whom it is not thought, by him it is thought; he by whom it is thought knows it not. It is not known by those who know it, known by those who do not know it' (Ke. Up. II, 3); 'Thou mayest not see the seer of sight; thou mayest not think the thinker of thought' (Bri. Up. III, 4, 2); 'Bliss is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. III, 6, 1); 'All this is that Self' (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 7); 'There is here no diversity whatever' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 19); 'From death to death goes he who sees any difference here' (Ka. Up. II, 4, 10); 'For where there is duality as it were, there one sees the other'; 'but where the Self has become all of him, by what means, and whom, should he see? by what means, and whom, should he know?' (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 15); 'the effect is a name merely which has its origin in speech; the truth is that (the thing made of clay) is clay merely' (Ch. Up. VI, 1, 4); 'for if he makes but the smallest distinction in it there is fear for him' (Taitt. Up. II, 7);— the two following Vedânta-sûtras: III, 2, 11; III, 2, 3—the following passages from the Vishnu-purâna: 'In which all difference vanishes, which is pure Being, which is not the object of words, which is known by the Self only—that knowledge is called Brahman' (VI, 7, 53); 'Him whose essential nature is knowledge, who is stainless in reality'; 'Him who, owing to erroneous view, abides in the form of things' (I, 2, 6); 'the Reality thou art alone, there is no other, O Lord of the world!— whatever matter is seen belongs to thee whose being is knowledge; but owing to their erroneous opinion the non-devout look on it as the form of the world. This whole world has knowledge for its essential nature, but the Unwise viewing it as being of the nature of material things are driven round on the ocean of delusion. Those however who possess true knowledge and pure minds see this whole world as having knowledge for its Self, as thy form, O highest Lord!' (Vi. Pu. I, 4, 38 ff.).—'Of that Self, although it exists in one's own and in other bodies, the knowledge is of one kind, and that is Reality; those who maintain duality hold a false view' (II, 14, 31); 'If there is some other one, different from me, then it can be said, "I am this and that one is another"' (II, 13, 86); 'As owing to the difference of the holes of the flute the air equally passing through them all is called by the names of the different notes of the musical scale; so it is with the universal Self' (II, 14, 32); 'He is I; he is thou; he is all: this Universe is his form. Abandon the error of difference. The king being thus instructed, abandoned the view of difference, having gained an intuition of Reality' (II, 16, 24). 'When that view which gives rise to difference is absolutely destroyed, who then will make the untrue distinction between the individual Self and Brahman?' (VI, 7, 94).—The following passages from the Bhagavad-Gîtâ: 'I am the Self dwelling within all beings' (X, 20); 'Know me to be the soul within all bodies' (XIII, 2); 'Being there is none, movable or immovable, which is without me' (X, 39).— All these and other texts, the purport of which clearly is instruction as to the essential nature of things, declare that Brahman only, i.e. non-differenced pure intelligence is real, while everything else is false.
The appearance of plurality is due to avidyâ.
'Falsehood' (mithyâtva) belongs to what admits of being terminated by the cognition of the real thing—such cognition being preceded by conscious activity (not by mere absence of consciousness or knowledge). The snake, e.g. which has for its substrate a rope or the like is false; for it is due to an imperfection (dosha) that the snake is imagined in (or 'on') the rope. In the same way this entire world, with its distinctions of gods, men, animals, inanimate matter, and so on, is, owing to an imperfection, wrongly imagined in the highest Brahman whose substance is mere intelligence, and therefore is false in so far as it may be sublated by the cognition of the nature of the real Brahman. What constitutes that imperfection is beginningless Nescience (avidyâ), which, hiding the truth of things, gives rise to manifold illusions, and cannot be defined either as something that is or as something that is not.—'By the Untrue they are hidden; of them which are true the Untrue is the covering' (Ch, Up. VIII, 3, 1); 'Know Mâya to be Prakriti, and the great Lord him who is associated with Mâya' (Svet. Up. IV, 10); 'Indra appears manifold through the Mâyâs' (Bri. Up. II, 5, 19); 'My Mâya is hard to overcome' (Bha. Gî. VII, 14); 'When the soul slumbering in beginningless Mâyâ awakes' (Gau. Kâ. I, 16).—These and similar texts teach that it is through beginningless Mâyâ that to Brahman which truly is pure non-differenced intelligence its own nature hides itself, and that it sees diversity within itself. As has been said, 'Because the Holy One is essentially of the nature of intelligence, the form of all, but not material; therefore know that all particular things like rocks, oceans, hills and so on, have proceeded from intelligence [FOOTNOTE 22:1] But when, on the cessation of all work, everything is only pure intelligence in its own proper form, without any imperfections; then no differences— the fruit of the tree of wishes—any longer exist between things. Therefore nothing whatever, at any place or any time, exists apart from intelligence: intelligence, which is one only, is viewed as manifold by those whose minds are distracted by the effects of their own works. Intelligence pure, free from stain, free from grief, free from all contact with desire and other affections, everlastingly one is the highest Lord—Vâsudeva apart from whom nothing exists. I have thus declared to you the lasting truth of things—that intelligence only is true and everything else untrue. And that also which is the cause of ordinary worldly existence has been declared to you' (Vi. Pu. II, 12, 39, 40, 43-45).
Avidyâ is put an end to by true Knowledge.
Other texts declare that this Nescience comes to an end through the cognition of the essential unity of the Self with Brahman which is nothing but non-differenced intelligence. 'He does not again go to death;' 'He sees this as one;' 'He who sees this does not see death' (Ch. Up. VI, 27); 'When he finds freedom from fear and rest in that which is invisible, incorporeal, undefined, unsupported, then he has obtained the fearless' (Taitt. Up. II, 7); 'The fetter of the heart is broken, all doubts are solved and all his works perish when he has been beheld who is high and low' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 8); 'He knows Brahman, he becomes Brahman only' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 9); 'Knowing him only a man passes over death; there is no other path to go' (Svet. Up. III, 8). In these and similar passages, the term 'death' denotes Nescience; analogously to the use of the term in the following words of Sanatsujâta, 'Delusion I call death; and freedom from delusion I call immortality' (Sanatsuj. II, 5). The knowledge again of the essential unity and non-difference of Brahman— which is ascertained from decisive texts such as 'The True, knowledge, the Infinite is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. II, 1); 'Knowledge, bliss is Brahman' (Bri. Up. III, 9, 28)—is confirmed by other passages, such as 'Now if a man meditates on another deity, thinking the deity is one and he another, he does not know' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 10); 'Let men meditate upon him as the Self (Bri. Up. I, 4, 7); 'Thou art that' (Ch. Up. VI, 8, 7); 'Am I thou, O holy deity? and art thou me, O holy deity?'; 'What I am that is he; what he is that am I.'—This the Sûtrakâra himself will declare 'But as the Self (scriptural texts) acknowledge and make us apprehend (the Lord)' (Ve. Sû. IV, 1, 3). Thus the Vâkyakâra also, 'It is the Self—thus one should apprehend (everything), for everything is effected by that.' And to hold that by such cognition of the oneness of Brahman essentially false bondage, together with its cause, comes to an end, is only reasonable.
Scripture is of greater force than Perception
But, an objection is raised—how can knowledge, springing from the sacred texts, bring about a cessation of the view of difference, in manifest opposition to the evidence of Perception?—How then, we rejoin, can the knowledge that this thing is a rope and not a snake bring about, in opposition to actual perception, the cessation of the (idea of the) snake?—You will perhaps reply that in this latter case there is a conflict between two forms of perception, while in the case under discussion the conflict is between direct perception and Scripture which is based on perception. But against this we would ask the question how, in the case of a conflict between two equal cognitions, we decide as to which of the two is refuted (sublated) by the other. If—as is to be expected—you reply that what makes the difference between the two is that one of them is due to a defective cause while the other is not: we point out that this distinction holds good also in the case of Scripture and perception being in conflict. It is not considerations as to the equality of conflicting cognitions, as to their being dependent or independent, and so on, that determine which of the two sublates the other; if that were the case, the perception which presents to us the flame of the lamp as one only would not be sublated by the cognition arrived at by inference that there is a succession of different flames. Wherever there is a conflict between cognitions based on two different means of knowledge we assign the position of the 'sublated one' to that which admits of being accounted for in some other way; while that cognition which affords no opening for being held unauthoritative and cannot be accounted for in another way, is the 'sublating one [FOOTNOTE 25:1].' This is the principle on which the relation between 'what sublates' and 'what is sublated' is decided everywhere. Now apprehension of Brahman—which is mere intelligence, eternal, pure, free, self-luminous—is effected by Scripture which rests on endless unbroken tradition, cannot therefore be suspected of any, even the least, imperfection, and hence cannot be non-authoritative; the state of bondage, on the other hand, with its manifold distinctions is proved by Perception, Inference, and so on, which are capable of imperfections and therefore may be non-authoritative. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the state of bondage is put an end to by the apprehension of Brahman. And that imperfection of which Perception—through which we apprehend a world of manifold distinctions—may be assumed to be capable, is so-called Nescience, which consists in the beginningless wrong imagination of difference.—Well then—a further objection is raised—let us admit that Scripture is perfect because resting on an endless unbroken tradition; but must we then not admit that texts evidently presupposing the view of duality, as e.g. 'Let him who desires the heavenly world offer the Jyotishtoma-sacrifice'—are liable to refutation?—True, we reply. As in the case of the Udgâtri and Pratihartri breaking the chain (not at the same time, but) in succession [FOOTNOTE 26:1], so here also the earlier texts (which refer to duality and transitory rewards) are sublated by the later texts which teach final release, and are not themselves sublated by anything else.
The texts which represent Brahman as devoid of qualities have greater force
The same reasoning applies to those passages in the Vedânta-texts which inculcate meditation on the qualified Brahman, since the highest Brahman is without any qualities.—But consider such passages as 'He who cognises all, who knows all' (Mu. Up. I, 1, 9); 'His high power is revealed as manifold, as essential, acting as force and knowledge' (Svet. Up. VI, 8); 'He whose wishes are true, whose purposes are true' (Ch. Up. VIII, 1, 5); how can these passages, which clearly aim at defining the nature of Brahman, be liable to refutation?—Owing to the greater weight, we reply, of those texts which set forth Brahman as devoid of qualities. 'It is not coarse, not fine, not short, not long' (Bri. Up. III, 8, 8); 'The True, knowledge, infinite is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. II, 1); 'That which is free from qualities,' 'that which is free from stain'—these and similar texts convey the notion of Brahman being changeless, eternal intelligence devoid of all difference; while the other texts—quoted before—teach the qualified Brahman. And there being a conflict between the two sets of passages, we—according to the Mîmâmsâ principle referred to above—decide that the texts referring to Brahman as devoid of qualities are of greater force, because they are later in order [FOOTNOTE 27:1] than those which speak of Brahman as having qualities. Thus everything is settled. The text Taitt. Up. II, 1 refers to Brahman as devoid of qualities.
But—an objection is raised—even the passage 'The True, knowledge, infinite is Brahman' intimates certain qualities of Brahman, viz. true being, knowledge, infinity!—Not so, we reply. From the circumstance that all the terms of the sentence stand in co-ordination, it follows that they convey the idea of one matter (sense) only. If against this you urge that the sentence may convey the idea of one matter only, even if directly expressing a thing distinguished by several qualities; we must remark that you display an ignorance of the meaning of language which appears to point to some weakmindedness on your part. A sentence conveys the idea of one matter (sense) only when all its constitutive words denote one and the same thing; if, on the other hand, it expresses a thing possessing several attributes, the difference of these attributes necessarily leads to a difference in meaning on the part of the individual words, and then the oneness of meaning of the sentence is lost.—But from your view of the passage it would follow that the several words are mere synonyms!—Give us your attention, we reply, and learn that several words may convey one meaning without being idle synonyms. From the determination of the unity of purport of the whole sentence [FOOTNOTE 27:2] we conclude that the several words, applied to one thing, aim at expressing what is opposite in nature to whatever is contrary to the meanings of the several words, and that thus they have meaning and unity of meaning and yet are not mere synonyms. The details are as follows. Brahman is to be defined as what is contrary in nature to all other things. Now whatever is opposed to Brahman is virtually set aside by the three words (constituting the definition of Brahman in the Taittiriya-text). The word 'true' (or 'truly being') has the purport of distinguishing Brahman from whatever things have no truth, as being the abodes of change; the word 'knowledge' distinguishes Brahman from all non-sentient things whose light depends on something else (which are not self-luminous); and the word 'infinite' distinguishes it from whatever is limited in time or space or nature. Nor is this 'distinction' some positive or negative attribute of Brahman, it rather is just Brahman itself as opposed to everything else; just as the distinction of white colour from black and other colours is just the true nature of white, not an attribute of it. The three words constituting the text thus have a meaning, have one meaning, and are non-synonymous, in so far as they convey the essential distinction of one thing, viz. Brahman from everything else. The text thus declares the one Brahman which is self-luminous and free from all difference. On this interpretation of the text we discern its oneness in purport with other texts, such as 'Being only this was in the beginning, one only, without a second.' Texts such as 'That from whence these beings are born' (Taitt. Up. III, 1); 'Being only this was in the beginning' (Ch. Up. VI, 2, 1); 'Self alone was this in the beginning' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 1), &c., describe Brahman as the cause of the world; and of this Brahman the Taittirîya passage 'The True, knowledge, infinite is Brahman' gives the strict definition.
In agreement with the principle that all sâkhâs teach the same doctrine we have to understand that, in all the texts which speak of Brahman as cause, Brahman must be taken as being 'without a second', i.e. without any other being of the same or a different kind; and the text which aims at defining Brahman has then to be interpreted in accordance with this characteristic of Brahman, viz. its being without a second. The statement of the Chândogya as to Brahman being without a second must also be taken to imply that Brahman is non-dual as far as qualities are concerned; otherwise it would conflict with those passages which speak of Brahman as being without qualities and without stain. We therefore conclude that the defining Taittirîya-text teaches Brahman to be an absolutely homogeneous substance.
But, the above explanation of the passage being accepted, it follows that the words 'true being,' 'knowledge,' &c., have to be viewed as abandoning their direct sense, and merely suggesting a thing distinct in nature from all that is opposite (to what the three words directly denote), and this means that we resort to so-called implication (implied meaning, lakshanâ)!—What objection is there to such a proceeding? we reply. The force of the general purport of a sentence is greater than that of the direct denotative power of the simple terms, and it is generally admitted that the purport of grammatical co-ordination is oneness (of the matter denoted by the terms co-ordinated).—But we never observe that all words of a sentence are to be understood in an implied sense!—Is it then not observed, we reply, that one word is to be taken in its implied meaning if otherwise it would contradict the purport of the whole sentence? And if the purport of the sentence, which is nothing but an aggregate of words employed together, has once been ascertained, why should we not take two or three or all words in an implied sense—just as we had taken one—and thus make them fit in with the general purport? In agreement herewith those scholars who explain to us the sense of imperative sentences, teach that in imperative sentences belonging to ordinary speech all words have an implied meaning only (not their directly denotative meaning). For, they maintain, imperative forms have their primary meaning only in (Vedic) sentences which enjoin something not established by other means; and hence in ordinary speech the effect of the action is conveyed by implication only. The other words also, which form part of those imperative sentences and denote matters connected with the action, have their primary meaning only if connected with an action not established by other means; while if connected with an ordinary action they have a secondary, implied, meaning only [FOOTNOTE 30:1]. Perception reveals to us non-differenced substance only
We have so far shown that in the case of a conflict between Scripture and Perception and the other instruments of knowledge, Scripture is of greater force. The fact, however, is that no such conflict is observed to exist, since Perception itself gives rise to the apprehension of a non-differenced Brahman whose nature is pure Being.—But how can it be said that Perception, which has for its object things of various kinds— and accordingly expresses itself in judgments such as 'Here is a jar,' 'There is a piece of cloth'—causes the apprehension of mere Being? If there were no apprehension of difference, all cognitions would have one and the same object, and therefore would give rise to one judgment only— as takes place when one unbroken perceptional cognition is continued for some time.—True. We therefore have to enquire in what way, in the judgment 'here is a jar,' an assertion is made about being as well as some special form of being. These implied judgments cannot both be founded on perception, for they are the results of acts of cognition occupying different moments of time, while the perceptional cognition takes place in one moment (is instantaneous). We therefore must decide whether it is the essential nature of the jar, or its difference from other things, that is the object of perception. And we must adopt the former alternative, because the apprehension of difference presupposes the apprehension of the essential nature of the thing, and, in addition, the remembrance of its counterentities (i.e. the things from which the given thing differs). Hence difference is not apprehended by Perception; and all judgments and propositions relative to difference are founded on error only.
Difference—bheda—does not admit of logical definition
The Logicians, moreover, are unable to give a definition of such a thing as 'difference.' Difference cannot in the first place be the essential nature (of that which differs); for from that it would follow that on the apprehension of the essential nature of a thing there would at once arise not only the judgment as to that essential nature but also judgments as to its difference from everything else.—But, it may be objected to this, even when the essential nature of a thing is apprehended, the judgment 'this thing is different from other things' depends on the remembrance of its counterentities, and as long as this remembrance does not take place so long the judgment of difference is not formed!—Such reasoning, we reply, is inadmissible. He who maintains that 'difference' is nothing but 'essential nature' has no right to assume a dependence on counterentities since, according to him, essential nature and difference are the same, i.e. nothing but essential nature: the judgment of difference can, on his view, depend on counterentities no more than the judgment of essential nature does. His view really implies that the two words 'the jar' and 'different' (in the judgment 'the jar is different') are synonymous, just as the words 'hasta' and 'kara' are (both of which mean 'hand').
Nor, in the second place, can 'difference' be held to be an attribute (dharma). For if it were that, we should have to assume that 'difference' possesses difference (i.e. is different) from essential nature; for otherwise it would be the same as the latter. And this latter difference would have to be viewed as an attribute of the first difference, and this would lead us on to a third difference, and so in infinitum. And the view of 'difference' being an attribute would further imply that difference is apprehended on the apprehension of a thing distinguished by attributes such as generic character and so on, and at the same time that the thing thus distinguished is apprehended on the apprehension of difference; and this would constitute a logical seesaw.— 'Difference' thus showing itself incapable of logical definition, we are confirmed in our view that perception reveals mere 'Being' only.
Moreover, it appears that in states of consciousness such as 'Here is a jar,' 'There is a piece of cloth,' 'The jar is perceived,' 'The piece of cloth is perceived,' that which constitutes the things is Being (existence; sattâ) and perception (or 'consciousness'; anubhûti). And we observe that it is pure Being only which persists in all states of cognition: this pure Being alone, therefore, is real. The differences, on the other hand, which do not persist, are unreal. The case is analogous to that of the snake-rope. The rope which persists as a substrate is real, while the non-continuous things (which by wrong imagination are superimposed on the rope) such as a snake, a cleft in the ground, a watercourse, and so on, are unreal.
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