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A History of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 1 by Surendranath Dasgupta

Part 11 out of 13

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[Footnote 1: According to Nyaya God created all words and associated them
with their meanings.]

397

bring; these two are then combined into the meaning "bring the
cow." But on the former theory the word _gam_ means that it is
connected with some kind of action, and the particular sentence
only shows what the special kind of action is, as in the above
sentence it appears as associated with bringing, but it cannot
have any meaning separately by itself. This theory of Kumarila
which is also the Nyaya theory is called abhihitanvayavada [Footnote ref
1].

Lastly according to Prabhakara it is only the Veda that can
be called s'abda-prama@na, and only those sentences of it which
contain injunctions (such as, perform this sacrifice in this way
with these things). In all other cases the validity of words is
only inferred on the ground of the trustworthy character of the
speaker. But Kumarila considers the words of all trustworthy
persons as s'abda-prama@na.

The Prama@na of Non-perception (anupalabdhi).

In addition to the above prama@nas Kumarila admits a fifth
kind of prama@na, viz. _anupalabdhi_ for the perception of the
non-existence of a thing. Kumarila argues that the non-existence of
a thing (e.g. there is no jug in this room) cannot be perceived
by the senses, for there is nothing with which the senses could
come into contact in order to perceive the non-existence. Some
people prefer to explain this non-perception as a case of anumana.
They say that wherever there is the existence of a visible object
there is the vision of it by a perceiver. When there is no vision
of a visible object, there is no existence of it also. But it is easy
to see that such an inference presupposes the perception of want
of vision and want of existence, but how these non-perceptions
are to be accounted for is exactly the point to be solved. How
can the perception of want of vision or want of existence be grasped?
It is for this that we have to admit a separate mode of prama@na
namely anupalabdhi.

All things exist in places either in a positive (_sadrupa_) or in
a negative relation (_asadrupa_), and it is only in the former case

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: See _Prabhakaramima@msa_ by Dr Ga@nganatha Jha and S.N.
Dasgupta's _Study of Patanjali_, appendix. It may be noted in this
connection that Mima@msa did not favour the Spho@ta doctrine of sound
which consists in the belief that apart from the momentary sounds of
letters composing a word, there was a complete word form which was
manifested (spho@ta) but not created by the passing sounds of the
syllables. The work of the syllable sounds is only to project this
word manifestation. See Vacaspati's _Tattvabindu, S'lokavarttika_
and _Prakara@napancika_. For the doctrine of anvitabhidhana see
Sahkanatha's _Vakyarthamat@rkav@rtti_.]

398

that they come within the purview of the senses, while in the
latter case the perception of the negative existence can only be
had by a separate mode of the movement of the mind which we
designate as a separate prama@na as anupalabdhi. Prabhakara
holds that non-perception of a visible object in a place is only the
perception of the empty place, and that therefore there is no need
of admitting a separate prama@na as anupalabdhi. For what is
meant by empty space? If it is necessary that for the perception
of the non-existence of jug there should be absolutely empty
space before us, then if the place be occupied by a stone we ought
not to perceive the non-existence of the jug, inasmuch as the
place is not absolutely empty. If empty space is defined as that
which is not associated with the jug, then the category of negation
is practically admitted as a separate entity. If the perception of
empty space is defined as the perception of space at the moment
which we associated with a want of knowledge about the jug, then
also want of knowledge as a separate entity has to be accepted,
which amounts to the same thing as the admission of the want or
negation of the jug. Whatever attempt may be made to explain
the notion of negation by any positive conception, it will at best
be an attempt to shift negation from the objective field to knowledge,
or in other words to substitute for the place of the external
absence of a thing an associated want of knowledge about the
thing (in spite of its being a visible object) and this naturally ends
in failure, for negation as a separate category has to be admitted
either in the field of knowledge or in the external world. Negation
or abhava as a separate category has anyhow to be admitted.
It is said that at the first moment only the ground is seen without
any knowledge of the jug or its negation, and then at the next
moment comes the comprehension of the non-existence of the jug.
But this also means that the moment of the perception of the
ground is associated with the want of knowledge of the jug or
its negation. But this comes to the same thing as the admission
of negation as a separate category, for what other meaning can
there be in the perception of "only the ground" if it is not meant
that it (the perception of the ground) is associated with or qualified
by the want of knowledge of the jug? For the perception of
the ground cannot generate the notion of the non-existence of
the jug, since even where there is a jug the ground is perceived.
The qualifying phrase that "only the ground is perceived" becomes

399

meaningless, if things whose presence is excluded are not
specified as negative conditions qualifying the perception of the
ground. And this would require that we had already the notion
of negation in us, which appeared to us of itself in a special
manner unaccountable by other means of proof. It should also
be noted that non-perception of a sensible object generates the
notion of negation immediately and not through other negations,
and this is true not only of things of the present moment but also
of the memory of past perceptions of non-existence, as when we
remember that there was no jug here. Anupalabdhi is thus a
separate prama@na by which the absence or want of a sensible
object--the negation of a thing--can be comprehended.

Self, Salvation, God.

Mima@msa has to accept the existence of soul, for without it
who would perform the Vedic commandments, and what would
be the meaning of those Vedic texts which speak of men as performing
sacrifices and going to Heaven thereby? The soul is
thus regarded as something entirely distinct from the body, the
sense organs, and buddhi; it is eternal, omnipresent, and many,
one in each body. Prabhakara thinks that it is manifested to us in
all cognitions. Indeed he makes this also a proof for the existence
of self as a separate entity from the body, for had it not been so,
why should we have the notion of self-persistence in all our
cognitions--even in those where there is no perception of the body?
Kumarila however differs from Prabhakara about this analysis of
the consciousness of self in our cognitions, and says that even
though we may not have any notion of the parts of our body or
their specific combination, yet the notion of ourselves as embodied
beings always appears in all our cognitions. Moreover in our
cognitions of external objects we are not always conscious of the
self as the knower; so it is not correct to say that self is different
from the body on the ground that the consciousness of self is
present in all our cognitions, and that the body is not cognized in
many of our cognitions. But the true reason for admitting that
the self is different from the body is this, that movement or
willing, knowledge, pleasure, pain, etc., cannot be attributed to
the body, for though the body exists at death these cannot then be
found. So it has to be admitted that they must belong to some
other entity owing to the association with which the body appears

400

to be endowed with movement etc. Moreover knowledge,
feeling, etc. though apparent to the perceiver, are not yet perceived
by others as other qualities of the body, as colour etc.,
are perceived by other men. It is a general law of causation
that the qualities of the constituent elements (in the cause) impart
themselves to the effect, but the earth atoms of which the body
is made up do not contain the qualities of knowledge etc., and
this also corroborates the inference of a separate entity as the
vehicle of knowledge etc. The objection is sometimes raised that
if the soul is omnipresent how can it be called an agent or a
mover? But Mima@msa does not admit that movement means
atomic motion, for the principle of movement is the energy which
moves the atoms, and this is possessed by the omnipresent soul.
It is by the energy imparted by it to the body that the latter
moves. So it is that though the soul does not move it is called an
agent on account of the fact that it causes the movement of
the body. The self must also be understood as being different
from the senses, for even when one loses some of the senses
he continues to perceive his self all the same as persisting all
through.

The question now arises, how is self cognized? Prabhakara
holds that the self as cognizor is never cognized apart from the
cognized object, nor is the object ever cognized without the cognizor
entering into the cognition as a necessary factor. Both the
self and the object shine forth in the self-luminous knowledge in
what we have already described as tripu@ti-pratyak@sa (perception
as three-together). It is not the soul which is self-illumined but
knowledge; so it is knowledge which illumines both the self and
the object in one operation. But just as in the case of a man
who walks, the action of walking rests upon the walker, yet he is
regarded as the agent of the work and not as the object, so in the
case of the operation of knowledge, though it affects the self, yet
it appears as the agent and not as the object. Cognition is not
soul, but the soul is manifested in cognition as its substratum,
and appears in it as the cognitive element "I" which is inseparable
from all cognitions. In deep sleep therefore when no object is
cognized the self also is not cognized.

Kumarila however thinks that the soul which is distinct from
the body is perceived by a mental perception (_manasa-pratyak@sa_
as the substratum of the notion of "I," or in other words the self
perceives itself by mental perception, and the perception of its

401

own nature shines forth in consciousness as the "I." The objection
that the self cannot itself be both subject and object to its
own operation does not hold, for it applies equally to Prabhakara's
theory in which knowledge reveals the self as its object and yet
considers it as the subject of the operation. The analogy of
linguistic usage that though the walking affects the walker yet
he is the agent, cannot be regarded as an escape from this charge,
for the usage of language is not philosophical analysis. Though
at the time of the cognition of objects the self is cognized, yet it
does not appear as the knower of the knowledge of objects, but
reveals itself as an object of a separate mental perception which
is distinct from the knowledge of objects. The self is no doubt
known as the substratum of "I," but the knowledge of this self
does not reveal itself necessarily with the cognition of objects,
nor does the self show itself as the knower of all knowledge of
objects, but the self is apprehended by a separate mental intuition
which we represent as the "I." The self does not reveal itself as
the knower but as an object of a separate intuitive process of the
mind. This is indeed different from Prabhakara's analysis, who
regarded the cognition of self as inseparable from the object-cognition,
both being the result of the illumination of knowledge.
Kumarila agrees with Prabhakara however in holding that soul
is not self-illuminating (_svayamprakas'a_), for then even in deep
sleep the soul should have manifested itself; but there is no such
manifestation then, and the state of deep sleep appears as an
unconscious state. There is also no bliss in deep sleep, for had
it been so people would not have regretted that they had missed
sensual enjoyments by untimely sleep. The expression that
"I slept in bliss" signifies only that no misery was felt. Moreover
the opposite representation of the deep sleep state is also found
when a man on rising from sleep says "I slept so long without
knowing anything not even my own self." The self is not
atomic, since we can simultaneously feel a sensation in the head
as well as in the leg. The Jaina theory that it is of the size of
the body which contracts and expands according to the body it
occupies is unacceptable. It is better therefore that the soul should
be regarded as all-pervading as described in the Vedas. This
self must also be different in different persons for otherwise their
individual experiences of objects and of pleasure and pain cannot
be explained [Footnote ref 1].
___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: See _S'lokavarttika_, atmavada _S'astra-dipika_, atmavada and
mok@savada.]

402

Kumarila considered the self to be merely the potency of
knowledge (jnanas'akti) [Footnote ref 1]. Cognitions of things were
generated by the activity of the manas and the other senses. This self
itself can only be cognized by mental perception, Or at the
time of salvation there being none of the senses nor the manas
the self remains in pure existence as the potency of knowledge
without any actual expression or manifestation. So the state of
salvation is the state in which the self remains devoid of any
of its characteristic qualities such as pleasure, pain, knowledge,
willing, etc., for the self itself is not knowledge nor is it bliss
or ananda as Vedanta supposes; but these are generated in it by
its energy and the operation of the senses. The self being divested
of all its senses at that time, remains as a mere potency of the
energy of knowledge, a mere existence. This view of salvation
is accepted in the main by Prabhakara also.

Salvation is brought about when a man enjoys and suffers
the fruits of his good and bad actions and thereby exhausts them
and stops the further generation of new effects by refraining from
the performance of kamya-karmas (sacrifices etc. performed for
the attainment of certain beneficent results) and guarantees
himself against the evil effects of sin by assiduously performing
the nitya-karmas (such as the sandhya prayers etc., by the performance
of which there is no benefit but the non-performance
of which produces sins). This state is characterized by the
dissolution of the body and the non-production of any further
body or rebirth.

Mima@msa does not admit the existence of any God as the
creator and destroyer of the universe. Though the universe is
made up of parts, yet there is no reason to suppose that the
universe had ever any beginning in time, or that any God created
it. Every day animals and men are coming into being by the
action of the parents without the operation of any God. Neither
is it necessary as Nyaya supposes that dharma and adharma
should have a supervisor, for these belong to the performer and

_____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: It may be mentioned in this connection that unlike Nyaya
Mima@msa did not consider all activity as being only of the nature of
molecular vibration (_parispanda_). It admitted the existence of energy
(_s'akti_) as a separate category which manifested itself in actual
movements. The self being considered as a s'akti can move the body and
yet remain unmoved itself. Manifestation of action only means the
relationing of the energy with a thing. Nyaya strongly opposes this
doctrine of a non-sensible (atindriya) energy and seeks to explain all
action by actual molecular motion.]

403

no one can have any knowledge of them. Moreover there cannot
be any contact (_sa@myoga_) or inherence (_samavaya_) of dharma
and adharma with God that he might supervise them; he cannot
have any tools or body wherewith to fashion the world like
the carpenter. Moreover he could have no motive to create the
world either as a merciful or as a cruel act. For when in the
beginning there were no beings towards whom should he be
actuated with a feeling of mercy? Moreover he would himself
require a creator to create him. So there is no God, no creator,
no creation, no dissolution or pralaya. The world has ever been
running the same, without any new creation or dissolution, s@r@s@ti
or pralaya.

Mima@msa as philosophy and Mima@msa as ritualism.

From what we have said before it will be easy to see that
Mima@msa agrees in the main with Vais'e@sika about the existence
of the categories of things such as the five elements, the qualities,
rupa, rasa, etc. Kumarila's differences on the points of jati,
samavaya, etc. and Prabhakara's peculiarities have also been
mentioned before. On some of these points it appears that
Kumarila was influenced by Sa@mkhya thought rather than by
Nyaya. Sa@mkhya and Vais'e@sika are the only Hindu systems which
have tried to construct a physics as a part of their metaphysics;
other systems have generally followed them or have differed from
them only on minor matters. The physics of Prabhakara and
Kumarila have thus but little importance, as they agree in
general with the Vais'e@sika view. In fact they were justified in not
laying any special stress on this part, because for the performance
of sacrifices the common-sense view of Nyaya-Vais'e@sika about
the world was most suitable.

The main difference of Mima@msa with Nyaya consists of the
theory of knowledge. The former was required to prove that the
Veda was self-valid and that it did not derive its validity from
God, and also that it was not necessary to test its validity by any
other means. To do this it began by trying to establish the self-validity
of all knowledge. This would secure for the Veda the
advantage that as soon as its orders or injunctions were communicated
to us they would appear to us as valid knowledge, and
there being nothing to contradict them later on there would be
nothing in the world which could render the Vedic injunctions

404

invalid. The other prama@nas such as perception, inference, etc.
were described, firstly to indicate that they could not show to us
how dharma could be acquired, for dharma was not an existing
thing which could be perceived by the other prama@nas, but
a thing which could only be produced by acting according to
the injunctions of the Vedas. For the knowledge of dharma
and adharma therefore the s'abdaprama@na of the Veda was our
only source. Secondly it was necessary that we should have a
knowledge of the different means of cognition, as without them
it would be difficult to discuss and verify the meanings of debatable
Vedic sentences. The doctrine of creation and dissolution
which is recognized by all other Hindu systems could not be
acknowledged by the Mima@msa as it would have endangered the
eternality of the Vedas. Even God had to be dispensed with on
that account.

The Veda is defined as the collection of Mantras and Brahma@nas
(also called the _vidhis_ or injunctive sentences). There are
three classes of injunctions (1) apurva-vidhi, (2) niyama-vidhi, and
(3) parisa@nkhya-vidhi. Apurva-vidhi is an order which enjoins
something not otherwise known, e.g. the grains should be washed
(we could not know that this part of the duty was necessary for the
sacrifice except by the above injunction). Niyama-vidhi is that
where when a thing could have been done in a number of ways,
an order is made by the Veda which restricts us to following
some definite alternative (e.g. though the chaff from the corn
could be separated even by the nails, the order that "corn should
be threshed" restricts us to the alternative of threshing as the
only course acceptable for the sacrifice). In the niyama-vidhi
that which is ordered is already known as possible but only as
an alternative, and the vidhi insists upon one of these methods as
the only one. In apurva-vidhi the thing to be done would have
remained undone and unknown had it not been for the vidhi.
In parisa@nkhya-vidhi all that is enjoined is already known but
not necessarily as possible alternatives. A certain mantra "I take
up the rein" (_imam ag@rbhna@m ras'ana@m_) which could be used in
a number of cases should not however be used at the time of
holding the reins of an ass.

There are three main principles of interpreting the Vedic
sentences. (1) When some sentences are such that connectively
they yield a meaning but not individually, then they should be

405

taken together connectively as a whole. (2) If the separate sentences
can however yield meanings separately by themselves they
should not be connected together. (3) In the case of certain
sentences which are incomplete suitable words from the context
of immediately preceding sentences are to be supplied.

The vidhis properly interpreted are the main source of dharma.
The mantras which are generally hymns in praise of some deities
or powers are to be taken as being for the specification of the
deity to whom the libation is to be offered. It should be remembered
that as dharma can only be acquired by following
the injunctions of the Vedas they should all be interpreted as
giving us injunctions. Anything therefore found in the Vedas
which cannot be connected with the injunctive orders as forming
part of them is to be regarded as untrustworthy or at best inexpressive.
Thus it is that those sentences in the Vedas which
describe existing things merely or praise some deed of injunction
(called the _arthavadas_) should be interpreted as forming part
of a vidhi-vakya (injunction) or be rejected altogether. Even
those expressions which give reasons for the performance of
certain actions are to be treated as mere arthavadas and interpreted
as praising injunctions. For Vedas have value only as
mandates by the performance of which dharma may be acquired.

When a sacrifice is performed according to the injunctions of
the Vedas, a capacity which did not exist before and whose existence
is proved by the authority of the scriptures is generated
either in the action or in the agent. This capacity or positive
force called _apurva_ produces in time the beneficent results of the
sacrifice (e.g. leads the performer to Heaven). This apurva is like
a potency or faculty in the agent which abides in him until the
desired results follow [Footnote ref 1].

It is needless to dilate upon these, for the voluminous works
of S'abara and Kumarila make an elaborate research into the
nature of sacrifices, rituals, and other relevant matters in great
detail, which anyhow can have but little interest for a student
of philosophy.

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: See Dr Ga@nganatha Jha's _Prabhakaramima@msa_ and Madhava's
_Nyayamalavistara_.]

406

CHAPTER X

THE S'A@NKARA SCHOOL OF VEDANTA

Comprehension of the philosophical Issues more essential
than the Dialectic of controversy.

_Prama@na_ in Sanskrit signifies the means and the movement
by which knowledge is acquired, _pramata_ means the subject or
the knower who cognizes, _prama_ the result of prama@na--right
knowledge, _prameya_ the object of knowledge, and _prama@nya_ the
validity of knowledge acquired. The validity of knowledge is
sometimes used in the sense of the faithfulness of knowledge to
its object, and sometimes in the sense of an inner notion of
validity in the mind of the subject--the knower (that his perceptions
are true), which moves him to work in accordance with
his perceptions to adapt himself to his environment for the
attainment of pleasurable and the avoidance of painful things.
The question wherein consists the prama@nya of knowledge has
not only an epistemological and psychological bearing but a
metaphysical one also. It contains on one side a theory of knowledge
based on an analysis of psychological experience, and on
the other indicates a metaphysical situation consistent with the
theory of knowledge. All the different schools tried to justify
a theory of knowledge by an appeal to the analysis and interpretation
of experience which the others sometimes ignored or
sometimes regarded as unimportant. The thinkers of different
schools were accustomed often to meet together and defeat one
another in actual debates, and the result of these debates was frequently
very important in determining the prestige of any school
of thought. If a Buddhist for example could defeat a great Nyaya
or Mima@msa thinker in a great public debate attended by many
learned scholars from different parts of the country, his fame at
once spread all over the country and he could probably secure a
large number of followers on the spot. Extensive tours of disputation
were often undertaken by great masters all over the country
for the purpose of defeating the teachers of the opposite schools
and of securing adherents to their own. These debates were therefore
not generally conducted merely in a passionless philosophical

407

mood with the object of arriving at the truth but in order to
inflict a defeat on opponents and to establish the ascendency of
some particular school of thought. It was often a sense of personal
victory and of the victory of the school of thought to which the
debater adhered that led him to pursue the debate. Advanced
Sanskrit philosophical works give us a picture of the attitude
of mind of these debaters and we find that most of these
debates attempt to criticize the different schools of thinkers by
exposing their inconsistencies and self-contradictions by close
dialectical reasoning, anticipating the answers of the opponent,
asking him to define his statements, and ultimately proving that
his theory was inconsistent, led to contradictions, and was opposed
to the testimony of experience. In reading an advanced work on
Indian philosophy in the original, a student has to pass through an
interminable series of dialectic arguments, and negative criticisms
(to thwart opponents) sometimes called _vita@n@da_, before he can
come to the root of the quarrel, the real philosophical divergence.
All the resources of the arts of controversy find full play
for silencing the opponent before the final philosophical answer
is given. But to a modern student of philosophy, who belongs to
no party and is consequently indifferent to the respective victory
of either side, the most important thing is the comprehension of
the different aspects from which the problem of the theory of
knowledge and its associated metaphysical theory was looked at
by the philosophers, and also a clear understanding of the deficiency
of each view, the value of the mutual criticisms, the speculations
on the experience of each school, their analysis, and their
net contribution to philosophy. With Vedanta we come to an
end of the present volume, and it may not be out of place here
to make a brief survey of the main conflicting theories from the
point of view of the theory of knowledge, in order to indicate the
position of the Vedanta of the S'a@nkara school in the field of
Indian philosophy so far as we have traversed it. I shall therefore
now try to lay before my readers the solution of the theory
of knowledge (_prama@navada_) reached by some of the main
schools of thought. Their relations to the solution offered by
the S'a@nkara Vedanta will also be dealt with, as we shall attempt
to sketch the views of the Vedanta later on in this chapter.

408

The philosophical situation. A Review.

Before dealing with the Vedanta system it seems advisable
to review the general attitude of the schools already discussed to
the main philosophical and epistemological questions which determine
the position of the Vedanta as taught by S'a@nkara and
his school.

The Sautrantika Buddhist says that in all his affairs man is
concerned with the fulfilment of his ends and desires (_puru@sadrtka_).
This however cannot be done without right knowledge (_samyagjnana_)
which rightly represents things to men. Knowledge is said
to be right when we can get things just as we perceived them.
So far as mere representation or illumination of objects is concerned,
it is a patent fact that we all have knowledge, and therefore
this does not deserve criticism or examination. Our enquiry about
knowledge is thus restricted to its aspect of later verification or
contradiction in experience, for we are all concerned to know how
far our perceptions of things which invariably precede all our
actions can be trusted as rightly indicating what we want to get
in our practical experience (_arthapradpakatva_). The perception is
right (_abhranta_ non-illusory) when following its representation we
can get in the external world such things as were represented by
it (_sa@mvadakatva_). That perception alone can be right which is
generated by the object and not merely supplied by our imagination.
When I say "this is the cow I had seen," what I see is the
object with the brown colour, horns, feet, etc., but the fact that
this is called cow, or that this is existing from a past time, is
not perceived by the visual sense, as this is not generated by
the visual object. For all things are momentary, and that which
I see now never existed before so as to be invested with this
or that permanent name. This association of name and permanence
to objects perceived is called _kaipana_ or _abhilapa_.
Our perception is correct only so far as it is without the abhilapa
association (_kalpanapo@dha_), for though this is taken as a part of
our perceptual experience it is not derived from the object, and
hence its association with the object is an evident error. The
object as unassociated with name--the nirvikalpa--is thus what
is perceived. As a result of the pratyak@sa the manovijnana or
thought and mental perception of pleasure and pain is also
determined. At one moment perception reveals the object as an

409

object of knowledge (_grahya_), and by the fact of the rise
of such a percept, at another moment it appears as a thing
realizable or attainable in the external world. The special
features of the object undefinable in themselves as being
what they are in themselves (_svalak@sa@na_) are what is
actually perceived (_pratyak@savi@saya_) [Footnote ref 1].
The _prama@naphala_ (result of perception) is the

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: There is a difference of opinion about the meaning of the word
"svalak@sa@na" of Dharmakirtti between ray esteemed friend Professor
Stcherbatsky of Petrograd and myself. He maintains that Dharmakirtti held
that the content of the presentative element at the moment of perception
was almost totally empty. Thus he writes to me, "According to your
interpretation svalak@sa@na mean,--the object (or idea with Vijnanavadin)
_from which everything past and everything future has been eliminated_,
this I do not deny at all. But I maintain that if everything past and
future has been taken away, what remains? _The present_ and the present
is a _k@sa@na_ i.e. nothing.... The reverse of k@sa@na is a k@sa@nasamtana
or simply sa@mtana and in every sa@mtana there is a synthesis ekibhava
of moments past and future, produced by the intellect (buddhi = nis'caya =
kalpana = adhyavasaya)...There is in the perception of a jug _something_
(a k@sa@na of sense knowledge) which we must distinguish from the _idea_ of
a jug (which is always a sa@mtana, always vikalpita), and if you take
the idea away in a strict unconditional sense, no knowledge remains:
k@sanasya jnanena prapayitumas'akyatvat. This is absolutely the Kantian
teaching about _Synthesis of Apprehension_. Accordingly pratyak@sa is a
_transcendental_ source of knowledge, because practically speaking it
gives no knowledge at all. This _prama@na_ is _asatkalpa_. Kant says
that without the elements of intuition (= sense-knowledge = pratyak@sa =
kalpanapo@dha) our cognitions would be empty and without the elements of
intellect (kalpana = buddhi = synthesis = ekibhava) they would be blind.
Empirically both are always combined. This is exactly the theory of
Dharmakirtti. He is a Vijnanavadi as I understand, because he maintains
the cognizability of ideas (vijnana) alone, but the reality is an
incognizable foundation of our knowledge; he admits, it is bahya, it is
artha, it is arthakriyak@sa@na = svalak@sa@na; that is the reason for
which he sometimes is called Sautrantika and this school is sometimes
called Sautranta-vijnanavada, as opposed to the Vijnanavada of As'vagho@sa
and Aryasanga, which had no elaborate theory of cognition. If the jug as
it exists in our representation were the svalak@sa@na and paramarthasat,
what would remain of Vijnanavada? But there is the perception of the jug
as opposed to the _pure idea_ of a jug (s'uddha kalpana), an element of
reality, the sensational k@sa@na, which is communicated to us by sense
knowledge. Kant's 'thing in itself' is also a k@sa@na and also an element
of sense knowledge of pure sense as opposed to pure reason, Dharmakirtti
has also _s'uddha kalpana_ and _s'uddham pratyak@sam_. ...And very
interesting is the opposition between pratyak@sa and anumana, the first
moves from k@sa@na to sa@mtana and the second from sa@mtana to k@sa@na,
that is the reason that although bhranta the anumana is nevertheless
prama@na because through it we indirectly also reach k@sa@na, the
arthakriyak@sa@na. It is bhranta directly and prama@na indirectly;
pratyak@sa is prama@na directly and bhranta (asatkalpa) indirectly... ."
So far as the passages to which Professor Stcherbatsky refers are
concerned, I am in full agreement with him. But I think that he pushes
the interpretation too far on Kantian lines. When I perceive "this is
blue," the perception consists of two parts, the actual presentative
element of sense-knowledge (_svalak@sa@na_) and the affirmation
(_nis'caya_). So far we are in complete agreement. But Professor
Stcherbatsky says that this sense-knowledge is a k@sa@na (moment)
and is nothing. I also hold that it is a k@sa@na, but it is nothing
only in the sense that it is not the same as the notion involving
affirmation such as "this is blue." The affirmative process
occurring at the succeeding moments is determined by the presentative
element of the first moment (_pratyak@sabalotpanna_ N.T., p. 20) but
this presentative element divested from the product of the affirmative
process of the succeeding moments is not characterless, though we cannot
express its character; as soon as we try to express it, names and other
ideas consisting of affirmation are associated and these did not form
a part of the presentative element. Its own character is said to be its
own specific nature (_svalak@sa@na_). But what is this specific nature?
Dharmakirtti's answer on this point is that by specific nature he means
those specific characteristics of the object which appear clear when
the object is near and hazy when it is at a distance (_yasyarthasya
sannidhanasannidhanabkyam jnanapratibhasabhedastat svalak@sa@nam_ N.,
p. 1 and N.T., p. 16). Sense-knowledge thus gives us the specific
characteristics of the object, and this has the same form as the
object itself; it is the appearance of the "blue" in its specific
character in the mind and when this is associated by the affirmative
or ideational process, the result is the concept or idea "this is blue"
(_nilasarupa@m pratyak@samanubhuyamana@m nilabodharupamavasthapyate ...
nilasarupyamasya prama@nam nilavikalpanarupa@m tvasya prama@naphalam_,
N.T.p. 22). At the first moment there is the appearance of the blue
(_nilanirbhasa@m hi vijnanam_, N.T. 19) and this is direct acquaintance
(_yatkincit arthasya sak@satkarijnanam tatpratyak@samucyate_, N.T. 7) and
this is real (_paramarthasat_) and valid. This blue sensation is
different from the idea "this is blue" (_nilabodha_, N.T. 22) which is
the result of the former (_prama@naphala_) through the association of
the affirmative process (_adhyavasaya_) and is regarded as invalid for
it contains elements other than what were presented to the sense and is
a _vikalpapratyaya_. In my opinion _svalak@sa@na_ therefore means pure
sensation of the moment presenting the specific features of the object
and with Dharmakirtti this is the only thing which is valid in perception
and vikalpapratyaya or pramanaphala is the idea or concept which follows
it. But though the latter is a product of the former, yet, being the
construction of succeeding moments, it cannot give us the pure stage
of the first moment of sensation-presentation (_k@sa@nasya
prapayitumas'akyatvat_, N.T. 16). N.T. = _Nyayabindu@tika_,
N = _Nyayabindu (Peterson's edition).]

410

ideational concept and power that such knowledge has of showing
the means which being followed the thing can be got (_yena k@rtena
artha@h prapito bhavati_). Prama@na then is the similarity of the
knowledge with the object by which it is generated, by which we
assure ourselves that this is our knowledge of the object as it is
perceived, and are thus led to attain it by practical experience.
Yet this later stage is prama@naphala and not prama@na which
consists merely in the vision of the thing (devoid of other associations),
and which determines the attitude of the perceiver towards
the perceived object. The prama@na therefore only refers
to the newly-acquired knowledge (_anadhigatadhigant@r_) as this is
of use to the perceiver in determining his relations with the objective
world. This account of perception leaves out the real
epistemological question as to how the knowledge is generated
by the external world, or what it is in itself. It only looks to
the correctness or faithfulness of the perception to the object and
its value for us in the practical realization of our ends. The
question of the relation of the external world with knowledge as
determining the latter is regarded as unimportant.

411

The Yogacaras or idealistic Buddhists take their cue from
the above-mentioned Sautrantika Buddhists, and say that since
we can come into touch with knowledge and knowledge alone,
what is the use of admitting an external world of objects as the
data of sensation determining our knowledge? You say that
sensations are copies of the external world, but why should you
say that they copy, and not that they alone exist? We never come
into touch with objects in themselves; these can only be grasped
by us simultaneously with knowledge of them, they must therefore
be the same as knowledge (_sahopalambhaniyamat abhedo
nilataddhiyo@h_); for it is in and through knowledge that external
objects can appear to us, and without knowledge we
are not in touch with the so-called external objects. So it is
knowledge which is self-apparent in itself, that projects itself in
such a manner as to appear as referring to other external objects.
We all acknowledge that in dreams there are no external
objects, but even there we have knowledge. The question
why then if there are no external objects, there should be so
much diversity in the forms of knowledge, is not better solved
by the assumption of an external world; for in such an assumption,
the external objects have to be admitted as possessing the
infinitely diverse powers of diversely affecting and determining
our knowledge; that being so, it may rather be said that in
the beginningless series of flowing knowledge, preceding knowledge-moments
by virtue of their inherent specific qualities determine
the succeeding knowledge-moments. Thus knowledge
alone exists; the projection of an external word is an illusion of
knowledge brought about by beginningless potencies of desire
(_vasana_) associated with it. The preceding knowledge determines
the succeeding one and that another and so on. Knowledge,
pleasure, pain, etc. are not qualities requiring a permanent entity
as soul in which they may inhere, but are the various forms
in which knowledge appears. Even the cognition, "I perceive a
blue thing," is but a form of knowledge, and this is often erroneously
interpreted as referring to a permanent knower. Though
the cognitions are all passing and momentary, yet so long as
the series continues to be the same, as in the case of one person,
say Devadatta, the phenomena of memory, recognition, etc. can
happen in the succeeding moments, for these are evidently illusory
cognitions, so far as they refer to the permanence of the objects

412

believed to have been perceived before, for things or knowledge-moments,
whatever they may be, are destroyed the next
moment after their birth. There is no permanent entity as perceiver
or knower, but the knowledge-moments are at once the
knowledge, the knower and the known. This thoroughgoing
idealism brushes off all references to an objective field of experience,
interprets the verdict of knowledge as involving a knower
and the known as mere illusory appearance, and considers the
flow of knowledge as a self-determining series in successive
objective forms as the only truth. The Hindu schools of thought,
Nyaya, Sa@mkhya, and the Mima@msa, accept the duality of soul
and matter, and attempt to explain the relation between the
two. With the Hindu writers it was not the practical utility of
knowledge that was the only important thing, but the nature of
knowledge and the manner in which it came into being were also
enquired after and considered important.

Prama@na is defined by Nyaya as the collocation of instruments
by which unerring and indubitable knowledge comes into being.
The collocation of instruments which brings about definite knowledge
consists partly of consciousness (_bodha_) and partly of material
factors (_bodhabodhasvabhava_). Thus in perception the
proper contact of the visual sense with the object (e.g. jug) first
brings about a non-intelligent, non-apprehensible indeterminate
consciousness (nirvikalpa) as the jugness (gha@tatva) and this later
on combining with the remaining other collocations of sense-contact
etc. produces the determinate consciousness: this is a jug.
The existence of this indeterminate state of consciousness as a
factor in bringing about the determinate consciousness, cannot of
course be perceived, but its existence can be inferred from the
fact that if the perceiver were not already in possession of the
qualifying factor (_vis'e@sanajnana_ as jugness) he could not have
comprehended the qualified object (_vis'i@s@tabuddhi_} the jug (i.e.
the object which possesses jugness). In inference (_anuma@na_)
knowledge of the li@nga takes part, and in upamana the sight
of similarity with other material conglomerations. In the case
of the Buddhists knowledge itself was regarded as prama@na;
even by those who admitted the existence of the objective world,
right knowledge was called prama@na, because it was of the same
form as the external objects it represented, and it was by the form
of the knowledge (e.g. blue) that we could apprehend that the

413

external object was also blue. Knowledge does not determine the
external world but simply enforces our convictions about the external
world. So far as knowledge leads us to form our convictions
of the external world it is prama@na, and so far as it determines our
attitude towards the external world it is prama@naphala. The
question how knowledge is generated had little importance with
them, but how with knowledge we could form convictions of
the external world was the most important thing. Knowledge
was called prama@na, because it was the means by which we
could form convictions (_adhyavasaya_) about the external world.
Nyaya sought to answer the question how knowledge was
generated in us, but could not understand that knowledge was not
a mere phenomenon like any other objective phenomenon, but
thought that though as a gu@na (quality) it was external like other
gu@nas, yet it was associated with our self as a result of collocations
like any other happening in the material world. Prama@na
does not necessarily bring to us new knowledge (_anadhigatadhi-gant@r_)
as the Buddhists demanded, but whensoever there were
collocations of prama@na, knowledge was produced, no matter
whether the object was previously unknown or known. Even the
knowledge of known things may be repeated if there be suitable
collocations. Knowledge like any other physical effect is produced
whenever the cause of it namely the prama@na collocation
is present. Categories which are merely mental such as class
(_samanya_), inherence (_samavaya_), etc., were considered as having
as much independent existence as the atoms of the four elements.
The phenomenon of the rise of knowledge in the soul was thus
conceived to be as much a phenomenon as the turning of the
colour of the jug by fire from black to red. The element of
indeterminate consciousness was believed to be combining with
the sense contact, the object, etc. to produce the determinate
consciousness. There was no other subtler form of movement than
the molecular. Such a movement brought about by a certain
collocation of things ended in a certain result (_phala_). Jnana
(knowledge) was thus the result of certain united collocations
(_samagri_) and their movements (e.g. contact of manas with soul,
of manas with the senses, of the senses with the object, etc.). This
confusion renders it impossible to understand the real philosophical
distinction between knowledge and an external event
of the objective world. Nyaya thus fails to explain the cause

414

of the origin of knowledge, and its true relations with the objective
world. Pleasure, pain, willing, etc. were regarded as qualities
which belonged to the soul, and the soul itself was regarded
as a qualitiless entity which could not be apprehended directly
but was inferred as that in which the qualities of jnana, sukha
(pleasure), etc. inhered. Qualities had independent existence
as much as substances, but when any new substances were
produced, the qualities rushed forward and inhered in them. It
is very probable that in Nyaya the cultivation of the art of inference
was originally pre-eminent and metaphysics was deduced
later by an application of the inferential method which gave
the introspective method but little scope for its application,
so that inference came in to explain even perception (e.g. this is
a jug since it has jugness) and the testimony of personal psychological
experience was taken only as a supplement to corroborate
the results arrived at by inference and was not used to criticize it
[Footnote ref 1].

Sa@mkhya understood the difference between knowledge and
material events. But so far as knowledge consisted in being the
copy of external things, it could not be absolutely different from
the objects themselves; it was even then an invisible translucent
sort of thing, devoid of weight and grossness such as the external
objects possessed. But the fact that it copies those gross objects
makes it evident that knowledge had essentially the same substances
though in a subtler form as that of which the objects were
made. But though the matter of knowledge, which assumed the
form of the objects with which it came in touch, was probably
thus a subtler combination of the same elementary substances
of which matter was made up, yet there was in it another element,
viz. intelligence, which at once distinguished it as utterly
different from material combinations. This element of intelligence
is indeed different from the substances or content of
the knowledge itself, for the element of intelligence is like a
stationary light, "the self," which illuminates the crowding,
bustling knowledge which is incessantly changing its form in
accordance with the objects with which it comes in touch. This
light of intelligence is the same that finds its manifestation in
consciousness as the "I," the changeless entity amidst all the
fluctuations of the changeful procession of knowledge. How this
element of light which is foreign to the substance of knowledge

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: See _Nyayamanjari_ on prama@na.]

415

relates itself to knowledge, and how knowledge itself takes it up
into itself and appears as conscious, is the most difficult point
of the Sa@mkhya epistemology and metaphysics. The substance
of knowledge copies the external world, and this copy-shape of
knowledge is again intelligized by the pure intelligence (_puru@sa_)
when it appears as conscious. The forming of the buddhi-shape
of knowledge is thus the prama@na (instrument and process of
knowledge) and the validity or invalidity of any of these shapes
is criticized by the later shapes of knowledge and not by the
external objects (_svata@h-prama@nya_ and _svata@h-aprama@nya_). The
prama@na however can lead to a prama or right knowledge only
when it is intelligized by the puru@sa. The puru@sa comes in touch
with buddhi not by the ordinary means of physical contact but
by what may be called an inexplicable transcendental contact.
It is the transcendental influence of puru@sa that sets in motion
the original prak@rti in Sa@mkhya metaphysics, and it is the same
transcendent touch (call it yogyata according to Vacaspati or
samyoga according to Bhik@su) of the transcendent entity of
puru@sa that transforms the non-intelligent states of buddhi into
consciousness. The Vijnanavadin Buddhist did not make any
distinction between the pure consciousness and its forms (_akara_)
and did not therefore agree that the akara of knowledge was
due to its copying the objects. Sa@mkhya was however a realist
who admitted the external world and regarded the forms as
all due to copying, all stamped as such upon a translucent substance
(_sattva_) which could assume the shape of the objects.
But Sa@mkhya was also transcendentalist in this, that it did not
think like Nyaya that the akara of knowledge was all that knowledge
had to show; it held that there was a transcendent element
which shone forth in knowledge and made it conscious. With
Nyaya there was no distinction between the shaped buddhi and
the intelligence, and that being so consciousness was almost like
a physical event. With Sa@mkhya however so far as the content
and the shape manifested in consciousness were concerned it was
indeed a physical event, but so far as the pure intelligizing element
of consciousness was concerned it was a wholly transcendent
affair beyond the scope and province of physics. The rise of
consciousness was thus at once both transcendent and physical.

The Mima@msist Prabhakara agreed with Nyaya in general
as regards the way in which the objective world and sense contact

416

induced knowledge in us. But it regarded knowledge as a
unique phenomenon which at once revealed itself, the knower
and the known. We are not concerned with physical collocations,
for whatever these may be it is knowledge which reveals
things--the direct apprehension that should be called the prama@na.
Prama@na in this sense is the same as pramiti or prama,
the phenomenon of apprehension. Prama@na may also indeed
mean the collocations so far as they induce the prama. For
prama or right knowledge is never produced, it always exists,
but it manifests itself differently under different circumstances.
The validity of knowledge means the conviction or the specific
attitude that is generated in us with reference to the objective
world. This validity is manifested with the rise of knowledge,
and it does not await the verdict of any later experience in the
objective field (_sa@mvadin_). Knowledge as nirvikalpa (indeterminate)
means the whole knowledge of the object and not merely
a non-sensible hypothetical indeterminate class-notion as Nyaya
holds. The savikalpa (determinate) knowledge only re-establishes
the knowledge thus formed by relating it with other objects as
represented by memory [Footnote ref 1].

Prabhakara rejected the Sa@mkhya conception of a dual element
in consciousness as involving a transcendent intelligence (_cit_) and
a material part, the buddhi; but it regarded consciousness as an
unique thing which by itself in one flash represented both the
knower and the known. The validity of knowledge did not depend
upon its faithfulness in reproducing or indicating (_pradars'akatva_)
external objects, but upon the force that all direct apprehension
(_anubhuti_) has of prompting us to action in the external world;
knowledge is thus a complete and independent unit in all its
self-revealing aspects. But what the knowledge was in itself apart
from its self-revealing character Prabhakara did not enquire.

Kumarila declared that jnana (knowledge) was a movement
brought about by the activity of the self which resulted in producing
consciousness (_jnatata_) of objective things. Jnana itself
cannot be perceived, but can only be inferred as the movement
necessary for producing the jnatata or consciousness of things.
Movement with Kumarila was not a mere atomic vibration, but
was a non-sensuous transcendent operation of which vibration

__________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: Sa@mkhya considered nirvikalpa as the dim knowledge of the
first moment of consciousness, which, when it became clear at the next
moment, was called savikalpa.]

417

was sometimes the result. Jnana was a movement and not the
result of causal operation as Nyaya supposed. Nyaya would
not also admit any movement on the part of the self, but it
would hold that when the self is possessed of certain qualities,
such as desire, etc., it becomes an instrument for the accomplishment
of a physical movement. Kumarila accords the same
self-validity to knowledge that Prabhakara gives. Later knowledge
by experience is not endowed with any special quality
which should decide as to the validity of the knowledge of the
previous movement. For what is called sa@mvadi or later testimony
of experience is but later knowledge and nothing more [Footnote ref 1]. The
self is not revealed in the knowledge of external objects, but we
can know it by a mental perception of self-consciousness. It is
the movement of this self in presence of certain collocating circumstances
leading to cognition of things that is called jnana [Footnote ref 2].
Here Kumarila distinguishes knowledge as movement from knowledge
as objective consciousness. Knowledge as movement was
beyond sense perception and could only be inferred.

The idealistic tendency of Vijnanavada Buddhism, Sa@mkhya,
and Mima@msa was manifest in its attempt at establishing the unique
character of knowledge as being that with which alone we are in
touch. But Vijnanavada denied the external world, and thereby
did violence to the testimony of knowledge. Sa@mkhya admitted
the external world but created a gulf between the content of knowledge
and pure intelligence; Prabhakara ignored this difference,
and was satisfied with the introspective assertion that knowledge
was such a unique thing that it revealed with itself, the knower and
the known, Kumarila however admitted a transcendent element
of movement as being the cause of our objective consciousness,
but regarded this as being separate from self. But the question
remained unsolved as to why, in spite of the unique character of
knowledge, knowledge could relate itself to the world of objects,
how far the world of external objects or of knowledge could be
regarded as absolutely true. Hitherto judgments were only relative,
either referring to one's being prompted to the objective
world, to the faithfulness of the representation of objects, the
suitability of fulfilling our requirements, or to verification by later

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: See _Nyayaratnamala_, svata@h-prama@nya-nir@naya.]

[Footnote 2: See _Nyayamanjari_ on Prama@na, _S'lokavarttika_ on
Pratyak@sa, and Gaga Bha@t@ta's _Bha@t@tacintama@ni_ on Pratyak@sa.]

418

uncontradicted experience. But no enquiry was made whether
any absolute judgments about the ultimate truth of knowledge
and matter could be made at all. That which appeared was regarded
as the real. But the question was not asked, whether
there was anything which could be regarded as absolute truth,
the basis of all appearance, and the unchangeable, reality. This
philosophical enquiry had the most wonderful charm for the
Hindu mind.

Vedanta Literature.

It is difficult to ascertain the time when the _Brahma-sutras_
were written, but since they contain a refutation of almost all the
other Indian systems, even of the S'unyavada Buddhism (of course
according to S'a@nkara's interpretation), they cannot have been
written very early. I think it may not be far from the truth in
supposing that they were written some time in the second century
B.C. About the period 780 A.D. Gau@dapada revived the monistic
teaching of the Upani@sads by his commentary on the Ma@n@dukya
Upani@sad in verse called _Ma@n@dukyakarika_. His disciple Govinda
was the teacher of S'a@nkara (788--820 A.D.). S'a@nkara's commentary
on the _Brahma-sutras_ is the root from which sprang
forth a host of commentaries and studies on Vedantism of great
originality, vigour, and philosophic insight. Thus Anandagiri, a
disciple of S'a@nkara, wrote a commentary called _Nyayanir@naya_,
and Govindananda wrote another commentary named _Ratna-prabha_.
Vacaspati Mis'ra, who flourished about 841 A.D., wrote
another commentary on it called the _Bhamati._ Amalananda
(1247--1260 A.D.) wrote his _Kalpataru_ on it, and Apyayadik@sita
(1550 A.D.) son of Ra@ngarajadhvarindra of Kanci wrote his
_Kalpataruparimala_ on the _Kalpataru._ Another disciple of S'a@nkara,
Padmapada, also called Sanandana, wrote a commentary on it
known as _Pancapadika_. From the manner in which the book is
begun one would expect that it was to be a running commentary
on the whole of S'a@nkara's bhasya, but it ends abruptly at the
end of the fourth sutra. Madhava (1350), in his _S'a@nkaravijaya,_
recites an interesting story about it. He says that Sures'vara received
S'a@nkara's permission to write a varttika on the bhasya.
But other pupils objected to S'a@nkara that since Sures'vara was
formerly a great Mima@msist (Ma@n@dana Misra was called Sures'vara
after his conversion to Vedantism) he was not competent to write

419

a good _varttika_ on the bha@sya. Sures'vara, disappointed, wrote
a treatise called _Nai@skarmyasiddhi._ Padmapada wrote a @tika
but this was burnt in his uncle's house. S'a@nkara, who had once
seen it, recited it from memory and Padmapada wrote it down.
Prakas'atman (1200) wrote a commentary on Padmapada's _Pancapadika_
known as _Pancapadikavivara@na. _Akha@n@dananda wrote
his _Tattvadipana,_ and the famous N@rsi@mhas'rama Muni (1500)
wrote his _Vivara@nabhavaprakas'ika_ on it. Amalananda and
Vidyasagara also wrote commentaries on _Pancapadika,_ named
_Pancapadikadarpa@na_ and _Pancapadika@tika_ respectively, but
the _Pancapadikavivara@na_ had by far the greatest reputation.
Vidyara@nya who is generally identified by some with Madhava
(1350) wrote his famous work _Vivara@naprameyasa@mgraha_ [Footnote ref 1],
elaborating the ideas of _Pancapadikavivara@na_; Vidyara@nya
wrote also another excellent work named _Jivanmuktiviveka_ on
the Vedanta doctrine of emancipation. Sures'vara's (800 A.D.)
excellent work _Nai@skarmyasiddhi_ is probably the earliest independent
treatise on S'a@nkara's philosophy as expressed in his
bha@sya. It has been commented upon by Jnanottama Mis'ra.
Vidyara@nya also wrote another work of great merit known as
_Pancadas'i,_ which is a very popular and illuminating treatise in
verse on Vedanta. Another important work written in verse on
the main teachings of S'a@nkara's bha@sya is _Sa@mk@sepas'ariraka_,
written by Sarvajnatma Muni (900 A.D.). This has also been
commented upon by Ramatirtha. S'rihar@sa (1190 A.D.) wrote
his _Kha@n@danakha@n@dakhadya_, the most celebrated work on the
Vedanta dialectic. Citsukha, who probably flourished shortly
after S'rihar@sa, wrote a commentary on it, and also wrote an
independent work on Vedanta dialectic known as _Tattvadipika_
which has also a commentary called _Nayanaprasadini_ written
by Pratyagrupa. S'a@nkara Mis'ra and Raghunatha also wrote
commentaries on _Kha@n@danakha@n@dakhadya._ A work on Vedanta
epistemology and the principal topics of Vedanta of
great originality and merit known as _Vedantaparibha@sa_ was
written by Dharmarajadhvarindra (about 155OA.D.). His son
Ramak@r@snadhvarin wrote his _S'ikhama@ni_ on it and Amaradasa his
_Ma@niprabha._ The _Vedantaparibha@sa_ with these two commentaries
forms an excellent exposition of some of the fundamental
principles of Vedanta. Another work of supreme importance

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: See Narasi@mhacarya's article in the _Indian Antiquary_,
1916.]

420

(though probably the last great work on Vedanta) is the
_Advaitasiddhi_ of Madhusudana Sarasvati who followed Dharmarajadhvarindra.
This has three commentaries known as _Gau@dabrahmanandi_,
_Vi@t@thales'opadhyayi_ and _Siddhivyakhya_. Sadananda
Vyasa wrote also a summary of it known as _Advaitasiddhisiddhantasara_.
Sadananda wrote also an excellent elementary work
named _Vedantasara_ which has also two commentaries _Subodhini_
and _Vidvanmanoranjini_. The _Advaitabrahmasiddhi_ of Sadananda
Yati though much inferior to _Advaitasiddhi_ is important, as it
touches on many points of Vedanta interest which are not dealt
with in other Vedanta works. The _Nyayamakaranda_ of Anandabodha
Bha@t@tarakacaryya treats of the doctrines of illusion very
well, as also some other important points of Vedanta interest.
_Vedantasiddhantamuktavali_ of Prakas'ananda discusses many of
the subtle points regarding the nature of ajnana and its relations
to cit, the doctrine of _d@r@stis@r@stivada_, etc., with great clearness.
_Siddhantales'a by Apyayadik@sita is very important as a summary
of the divergent views of different writers on many points of
interest. _Vedantatattvadipika_ and _Siddhantatattva_ are also good
as well as deep in their general summary of the Vedanta system.
_Bhedadhikkara_ of Nrsi@mhas'rama Muni also is to be regarded as
an important work on the Vedanta dialectic.

The above is only a list of some of the most important Vedanta
works on which the present chapter has been based.

Vedanta in Gau@dapada.

It is useless I think to attempt to bring out the meaning of
the Vedanta thought as contained in the _Brahma-sutras_ without
making any reference to the commentary of S'a@nkara or any
other commentator. There is reason to believe that the _Brahma-sutras_
were first commented upon by some Vai@s@nava writers who
held some form of modified dualism [Footnote ref 1]. There have been more
than a half dozen Vai@s@nava commentators of the _Brahma-sutras_
who not only differed from S'a@nkara's interpretation, but also
differed largely amongst themselves in accordance with the
different degrees of stress they laid on the different aspects of
their dualistic creeds. Every one of them claimed that his interpretation
was the only one that was faithful to the sutras and to

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: This point will be dealt with in the 2nd volume, when I shall
deal with the systems expounded by the Vai@s@nava commentators of the
_Brahma-sutras_.]

421

the Upani@sads. Should I attempt to give an interpretation
myself and claim that to be the right one, it would be only
just one additional view. But however that may be, I am
myself inclined to believe that the dualistic interpretations of the
_Brahma-sutras_ were probably more faithful to the sutras than the
interpretations of S'ankara.

The _S'rimadbhagavadgita_, which itself was a work of the
Ekanti (singularistic) Vai@s@navas, mentions the _Brahma-sutras_ as
having the same purport as its own, giving cogent reasons [Footnote ref 1].
Professor Jacobi in discussing the date of the philosophical
sutras of the Hindus has shown that the references to Buddhism
found in the _Brahma-sutras_ are not with regard to the Vijnana-vada
of Vasubandhu, but with regard to the S'unyavada, but he regards
the composition of the _Brahma-sutras_ to be later than Nagarjuna.
I agree with the late Dr S.C. Vidyabhu@shana in holding that
both the Yogacara system and the system of Nagarjuna evolved
from the _Prajnaparamita_ [Footnote ref 2]. Nagarjuna's merit
consisted in the dialectical form of his arguments in support
of S'unyavada; but so far as the essentials of S'unyavada are
concerned I believe that the Tathata philosophy of As'vagho@sa
and the philosophy of the _Prajnaparamita_ contained no less.
There is no reason to suppose that the works of Nagarjuna were
better known to the Hindu writers than the _Mahayana sutras_.
Even in such later times as that of Vacaspati Mis'ra, we find
him quoting a passage of the _S'alistambha sutra_ to give an account
of the Buddhist doctrine of pratityasamutpada [Footnote ref 3].
We could interpret any reference to S'unyavada as pointing to
Nagarjuna only if his special phraseology or dialectical methods
were referred to in any way. On the other hand, the reference in
the _Bhagavadgita_ to the _Brahma-sutras_ clearly points out a date
prior to that of Nagarjuna; though we may be slow to believe such
an early date as has been assigned to the _Bhagavadgita_ by Telang,
yet I suppose that its date could safely be placed so far back
as the first half of the first century B.C. or the last part
of the second century B.C. The _Brahma-sutras_ could thus be
placed slightly earlier than the date of the _Bhagavadgita_.

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: "Brahmasutrapadais'caiva hetumadbhirvinis'cita@h"
_Bhagavadgita_. The proofs in support of the view that the
_Bhagavadgita_ is a Vai@s@nava work will be discussed in the 2nd
volume of the present work in the section on _Bhagavadgita_ and
its philosophy.]

[Footnote 2: _Indian Antiquary_, 1915.]

[Footnote 3: See Vacaspati Mis'ra's _Bhamati_ on S'a@nkara's bhasya on
_Brahma-sutra_, II. ii.]

422

I do not know of any evidence that would come in conflict with
this supposition. The fact that we do not know of any Hindu
writer who held such monistic views as Gau@dapada or S'a@nkara,
and who interpreted the _Brahma-sutras_ in accordance with those
monistic ideas, when combined with the fact that the dualists
had been writing commentaries on the _Brahma-sutras_, goes to
show that the _Brahma-sutras_ were originally regarded as an
authoritative work of the dualists. This also explains the fact that
the _Bhagavadgita_, the canonical work of the Ekanti Vai@s@navas,
should refer to it. I do not know of any Hindu writer previous
to Gau@dapada who attempted to give an exposition of the
monistic doctrine (apart from the Upani@sads), either by writing
a commentary as did S'a@nkara, or by writing an independent
work as did Gau@dapada. I am inclined to think therefore that
as the pure monism of the Upani@sads was not worked out in a
coherent manner for the formation of a monistic system, it
was dealt with by people who had sympathies with some form
of dualism which was already developing in the later days of
the Upani@sads, as evidenced by the dualistic tendencies of such
Upani@sads as the S'vetas'vatara, and the like. The epic S'a@mkhya
was also the result of this dualistic development.

It seems that Badaraya@na, the writer of the _Brahma-sutras_,
was probably more a theist, than an absolutist like his commentator
S'a@nkara. Gau@dapada seems to be the most important
man, after the Upani@sad sages, who revived the monistic tendencies
of the Upani@sads in a bold and clear form and tried to
formulate them in a systematic manner. It seems very significant
that no other karikas on the Upani@sads were interpreted,
except the _Man@dukyakarika_ by Gau@dapada, who did not himself
make any reference to any other writer of the monistic
school, not even Badaraya@na. S'a@nkara himself makes the confession
that the absolutist (_advaita_) creed was recovered from
the Vedas by Gau@dapada. Thus at the conclusion of his commentary
on Gau@dapada's karika, he says that "he adores by
falling at the feet of that great guru (teacher) the adored of his
adored, who on finding all the people sinking in the ocean made
dreadful by the crocodiles of rebirth, out of kindness for all
people, by churning the great ocean of the Veda by his great
churning rod of wisdom recovered what lay deep in the heart
of the Veda, and is hardly attainable even by the immortal

423

gods [Footnote ref l]." It seems particularly significant that S'a@nkara
should credit Gau@dapada and not Badaraya@na with recovering the
Upani@sad creed. Gau@dapada was the teacher of Govinda, the
teacher of S'a@nkara; but he was probably living when S'a@nkara
was a student, for S'a@nkara says that he was directly influenced by
his great wisdom, and also speaks of the learning, self-control
and modesty of the other pupils of Gau@dapada [Footnote ref 2]. There is
some dispute about the date of S'a@nkara, but accepting the date proposed
by Bha@n@darkar, Pa@thak and Deussen, we may consider
it to be 788 A.D. [Footnote ref 3], and suppose that in order to be able to
teach S'a@nkara, Gau@dapada must have been living till at least 800 A.D.

Gau@dapada thus flourished after all the great Buddhist
teachers As'vagho@sa, Nagarjuna, Asa@nga and Vasubandhu; and
I believe that there is sufficient evidence in his karikas for thinking
that he was possibly himself a Buddhist, and considered that
the teachings of the Upani@sads tallied with those of Buddha.
Thus at the beginning of the fourth chapter of his karikas he
says that he adores that great man (_dvipadam varam_) who by knowledge
as wide as the sky realized (_sambuddha_) that all appearances
(_dharma_) were like the vacuous sky (_gaganopamam_ [Footnote ref 4]. He
then goes on to say that he adores him who has dictated (_des'ita_)
that the touch of untouch (_aspars'ayoga_--probably referring to
Nirva@na) was the good that produced happiness to all beings,
and that he was neither in disagreement with this doctrine nor
found any contradiction in it (_avivada@h aviruddhas'ca_).
Some disputants hold that coming into being is of existents,
whereas others quarrelling with them hold that being (_jata_)
is of non-existents (_abhutasya_); there are others who quarrel
with them and say that neither the existents nor non-existents
are liable to being and there is one non-coming-into-being
(_advayamajatim_). He agrees with those who hold that there
is no coming into being [Footnote ref 5]. In IV. 19 of his
karika he again says that the Buddhas have shown that there was
no coming into being in any way (_sarvatha Buddhairajati@h paridipita@h_).

__________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: S'a@nkara's bha@sya on Gau@dapada's karika, Anandas'rama
edition, p. 214.]

[Footnote 2: Anandas'rama edition of S'a@nkara's bha@sya on Gau@dapada's
karika, p. 21.]

[Footnote 3: Telang wishes to put S'a@nkara's date somewhere in the 8th
century, and Ve@nkates'vara would have him in 805 A.D.-897 A.D., as he
did not believe that S'a@nkara could have lived only for 32 years.
_J.R.A.S._ 1916.]

[Footnote 4: Compare _Lankavatara_, p. 29, _Katha@m ca gaganopamam_.]

[Footnote 5: Gau@dapada's karika, IV. 2, 4.]

424

Again, in IV. 42 he says that it was for those realists (_vastuvadi_),
who since they found things and could deal with them and
were afraid of non-being, that the Buddhas had spoken of
origination (_jati_). In IV. 90 he refers to _agrayana_ which we
know to be a name of _Mahayana_. Again, in IV. 98 and 99
he says that all appearances are pure and vacuous by nature.
These the Buddhas, the emancipated one (_mukta_) and the leaders
know first. It was not said by the Buddha that all appearances
(_dharma_) were knowledge. He then closes the karikas with an
adoration which in all probability also refers to the Buddha [Footnote ref
1].

Gau@dapada's work is divided into four chapters: (i) Agama
(scripture), (2) Vaitathya (unreality), (3) Advaita (unity), (4)
Alatas'anti (the extinction of the burning coal). The first chapter is
more in the way of explaining the Ma@n@dukya Upani@sad by
virtue of which the entire work is known as _Ma@n@dukyakarika_.
The second, third, and fourth chapters are the constructive parts
of Gau@dapada's work, not particularly connected with the Ma@n@dukya
Upani@sad.

In the first chapter Gau@dapada begins with the three apparent
manifestations of the self: (1) as the experiencer of the
external world while we are awake (_vis'va_ or _vais'vanara atma_),
(2) as the experiencer in the dream state (_taijasa atma_), (3) as the
experiencer in deep sleep (_su@supti_), called the _prajna_ when there
is no determinate knowledge, but pure consciousness and pure
bliss (_ananda_). He who knows these three as one is never
attached to his experiences. Gau@dapada then enumerates some
theories of creation: some think that the world has proceeded
as a creation from the pra@na (vital activity), others
consider creation as an expansion (_vibhuti_) of that cause
from which it has proceeded; others imagine that creation is
like dream (_svapna_) and magic (_maya_); others, that creation
proceeds simply by the will of the Lord; others that it proceeds
from time; others that it is for the enjoyment of the Lord
(_bhogartham_) or for his play only (_kri@dartham_), for such
is the nature (_svabhava_) of the Lord, that he creates, but he
cannot have any longing, as all his desires are in a state of fulfilment.

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: Gau@dapada's karika IV. 100. In my translation I have not
followed S'a@nkara, for he has I think tried his level best to explain
away even the most obvious references to Buddha and Buddhism in
Gau@dapada's karika. I have, therefore, drawn my meaning directly as
Gau@dapada's karikas seemed to indicate. I have followed the
same principle in giving the short exposition of Gau@dapada's
philosophy below.]

425

Gau@dapada does not indicate his preference one way or the
other, but describes the fourth state of the self as unseen (_ad@r@s@ta_),
unrelationable (_avyavaharyam_), ungraspable (_agrahyam_), indefinable
(_alak@sa@na_), unthinkable (_acintyam_), unspeakable (_avyapades'ya_),
the essence as oneness with the self (_ekatmapratyayasara_),
as the extinction of the appearance (_prapancopas'ama_),
the quiescent (_s'antam_), the good (_s'ivam_), the one (_advaita_)
[Footnote ref 1]. The world-appearance (_prapanca_) would have ceased
if it had existed, but all this duality is mere maya (magic or illusion),
the one is the ultimately real (_paramarthata@h_). In the second chapter
Gau@dapada says that what is meant by calling the world a
dream is that all existence is unreal. That which neither exists
in the beginning nor in the end cannot be said to exist in the
present. Being like unreal it appears as real. The appearance
has a beginning and an end and is therefore false. In dreams
things are imagined internally, and in the experience that we
have when we are awake things are imagined as if existing outside,
but both of them are but illusory creations of the self.
What is perceived in the mind is perceived as existing at the
moment of perception only; external objects are supposed to
have two moments of existence (namely before they are perceived,
and when they begin to be perceived), but this is all mere
imagination. That which is unmanifested in the mind and that
which appears as distinct and manifest outside are all imaginary
productions in association with the sense faculties. There is first
the imagination of a perceiver or soul (_jiva_) and then along with
it the imaginary creations of diverse inner states and the external
world. Just as in darkness the rope is imagined to be a snake,
so the self is also imagined by its own illusion in diverse forms.
There is neither any production nor any destruction (_na nirodho,
na cotpatti@h_), there is no one who is enchained, no one who is
striving, no one who wants to be released [Footnote ref 2]. Imagination
finds itself realized in the non-existent existents and also in the sense

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: Compare in Nagarjuna's first karika the idea of
_prapancopas'amam s'ivam. Anirodhamanutpadamanucchedamas'as'vatam
anekarthamananarthamanagamamanirgamam ya@h pratityasamutpadam
prapancopas'amam s'ivam des'ayamava sambuddhastam vande vadatamvaram_.
Compare also Nagarjuna's Chapter on _Nirva@naparik@sa,
Purvopalambhopas'ama@h prapancopas'ama@h s'iva@h na kvacit kasyacit
kas'cit dharmmo buddhenades'ita@h_. So far as I know the Buddhists
were the first to use the words _prapancopas'aman s'ivam_.]

[Footnote 2: Compare Nagarjuna's k@arika, "anirodhamanutpadam" in
_Madhyamikav@rtti, B.T.S._, p. 3.]

426

of unity; all imagination either as the many or the one (_advaya_)
is false; it is only the oneness (_advayata_) that is good. There
is no many, nor are things different or non-different (_na nanedam
...na p@rthag nap@rthak_) [Footnote ref 1]. The sages who have transcended
attachment, fear, and anger and have gone beyond the depths of the
Vedas have perceived it as the imaginationless cessation of all
appearance (nirvikalpa@h prapancopas'ama@h_), the one [Footnote ref 2].

In the third chapter Gau@dapada says that truth is like the
void(_akas'a_) which is falsely concieved as taking part in birth
and death, coming and going and as existing in all bodies; but
howsoever it be conceived, it is all the while not different from
akas'a. All things that appear as compounded are but dreams
(_svapna_) and maya (magic). Duality is a distinction imposed
upon the one (_advaita_) by maya. The truth is immortal, it cannot
therefore by its own nature suffer change. It has no birth. All
birth and death, all this manifold is but the result of an imposition
of maya upon it [Footnote ref 3]. One mind appears as many in the dream,
as also in the waking state one appears as many, but when the
mind activity of the Togins (sages) is stopped arises this fearless
state, the extinction of all sorrow, final ceasation. Thinking everything
to be misery (_du@hkham sarvam anusm@rtya_) one should stop
all desires and enjoyments, and thinking that nothing has any
birth he should not see any production at all. He should awaken
the mind (_citta_) into its final dissolution (_laya_) and pacify it
when distracted; he should not move it towards diverse objects
when it stops. He should not taste any pleasure (_sukham_) and by
wisdom remain unattached, by strong effort making it motionless
and still. When he neither passes into dissolution nor into distraction;
when there is no sign, no appearance that is the perfect
Brahman. When there is no object of knowledge to come into
being, the unproduced is then called the omniscent (_sarvajna_).

In the fourth chapter, called the Alats'anti, Gau@dapada further

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: Compare _Madhyamikakarika, _B.T.S._, p.3 _anekartham
ananartham_, etc.]

[Footnote 2: Compare _Lankavatarasutra_, p.78,
_Advayasamsaraparinirva@nvatsarvadharma@h tasmat tarhi mahamate
S'unyatanutpadadvayani@hsvabhavalak@sa@ne yoga@h kara@niya@h_;
also 8,46, _Yaduta svacittavi@sayavikalpad@r@s@tyanavabodhanat vijnananam
svacittad@r@s@tyamatranavatare@na mahamate valaprthagjana@h
bhavabhavasvabhavaparamarthad@r@s@tidvayvadino bhavanti_.]

[Footnote 3: Compare Nagarjuna's karika, _B.T.S._ p. 196, _Akas'am
s'as'as'@r@nganca bandhyaya@h putra eva ca asantas'cabhivyajyante
tathabhavena kalpana_, with Gau@dapada's karika, III. 28, _Asato
mayaya janma tatvato naiva jayate bandhyaputro na tattvena mayaya
vapi jayate_.]

427

describes this final state [Footnote ref l]. All the dharmas
(appearances) are without death or decay [Footnote: ref 2].
Gau@dapada then follows a dialectical form of argument which
reminds us of Nagarjuna. Gau@dapada continues thus: Those who
regard kara@na (cause) as the karyya (effect in a potential form)
cannot consider the cause as truly unproduced (_aja_), for it
suffers production; how can it be called eternal and yet changing?
If it is said that things come into being from that which has no
production, there is no example with which such a case may be
illustrated. Nor can we consider that anything is born from that
which has itself suffered production. How again can one come to a
right conclusion about the _regressus ad infinitum_ of cause and
effect (_hetu_ and _phala_)? Without reference to the effect there
is no cause, and without reference to cause there is no effect.
Nothing is born either by itself or through others; call it either
being, non-being, or being-non-being, nothing suffers any birth,
neither the cause nor the effect is produced out of its own nature
(_svabhavatah_), and thus that which has no beginning anywhere cannot
be said to have a production. All experience (_prajnapti_) is
dependent on reasons, for otherwise both would vanish, and there
would be none of the afflictions (_sa@mkles'a_) that we suffer. When
we look at all things in a connected manner they seem to be
dependent, but when we look at them from the point of view of
reality or truth the reasons cease to be reasons. The mind (_citta_)
does not come in touch with objects and thereby manifest
them, for since things do not exist they are not different from
their manifestations in knowledge. It is not in any particular
case that the mind produces the manifestations of objects while
they do not exist so that it could be said to be an error, for in
present, past, and future the mind never comes in touch with
objects which only appear by reason of their diverse manifestations.
Therefore neither the mind nor the objects seen by it are
ever produced. Those who perceive them to suffer production are
really traversing the reason of vacuity (_khe_), for all production
is but false imposition on the vacuity. Since the unborn is
perceived as being born, the essence then is the absence of

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: The very name Alata@santi is absolutely Buddhistic. Compare
Nagarjuna's karika, _B.T.S._, p. 206, where he quotes a verse from the
_S'ataka_.]

[Footnote 2: The use of the word dharma in the sense of appearance or
entity is peculiarly Buddhistic. The Hindu sense is that given by Jaimini,
"Codanalak@sa@nah arthah, dharmah." Dharma is determined by the injunctions
of the Vedas.]

428

production, for it being of the nature of absence of production it
could never change its nature. Everything has a beginning and
an end and is therefore false. The existence of all things is like
a magical or illusory elephant (_mayahasti_) and exists only as far
as it merely appears or is related to experience. There is thus
the appearance of production, movement and things, but the one
knowledge (_vijnana_) is the unborn, unmoved, the unthingness
(_avastutva_), the cessation (s'antam). As the movement of
burning charcoal is perceived as straight or curved, so it is the
movement (_spandita_) of consciousness that appears as the perceiving
and the perceived. All the attributes (e.g. straight or
curved) are imposed upon the charcoal fire, though in reality it
does not possess them; so also all the appearances are imposed
upon consciousness, though in reality they do not possess
them. We could never indicate any kind of causal relation
between the consciousness and its appearance, which are therefore
to be demonstrated as unthinkable (_acintya_). A thing
(_dravya_) is the cause of a thing (_dravya_), and that which is not
a thing may be the cause of that which is not a thing, but all
the appearances are neither things nor those which are not
things, so neither are appearances produced from the mind
(_citta_) nor is the mind produced by appearances. So long as
one thinks of cause and effect he has to suffer the cycle of
existence (_sa@msara_), but when that notion ceases there is no
sa@msara. All things are regarded as being produced from a
relative point of view only (_sa@mv@rti_), there is therefore nothing
permanent (_s'as'vata_). Again, no existent things are produced,
hence there cannot be any destruction (_uccheda_). Appearances
(_dharma_) are produced only apparently, not in reality; their
coming into being is like maya, and that maya again does not
exist. All appearances are like shoots of magic coming out of
seeds of magic and are not therefore neither eternal nor destructible.
As in dreams, or in magic, men are born and die, so are all
appearances. That which appears as existing from an
imaginary relative point of view (_kalpita sa@mv@rti_) is not
so in reality (_para-martha_), for the existence depending on
others, as shown in all relative appearance, is after all not
a real existence. That things exist, do not exist, do exist
and not exist, and neither exist nor not exist; that they are moving or
steady, or none of those, are but thoughts with which fools are deluded.

429

It is so obvious that these doctrines are borrowed from the
Madhyamika doctrines, as found in the Nagarjuna's karikas and
the Vijnanavada doctrines, as found in _La@nkavatara_, that it is
needless to attempt to prove it, Gau@dapada assimilated all the
Buddhist S'unyavada and Vijnanavada teachings, and thought that
these held good of the ultimate truth preached by the Upani@sads.
It is immaterial whether he was a Hindu or a Buddhist, so long
as we are sure that he had the highest respect for the Buddha and
for the teachings which he believed to be his. Gau@dapada took
the smallest Upani@sads to comment upon, probably because he
wished to give his opinions unrestricted by the textual limitations
of the bigger ones. His main emphasis is on the truth
that he realized to be perfect. He only incidentally suggested
that the great Buddhist truth of indefinable and unspeakable
vijnana or vacuity would hold good of the highest atman of the
Upani@sads, and thus laid the foundation of a revival of the
Upani@sad studies on Buddhist lines. How far the Upani@sads
guaranteed in detail the truth of Gau@dapada's views it was left
for his disciple, the great S'a@nkara, to examine and explain.

Vedanta and S'a@nkara (788-820 A.D.).

Vedanta philosophy is the philosophy which claims to be
the exposition of the philosophy taught in the Upani@sads and
summarized in the _Brahma-sutras_ of Badaraya@na. The Upani@sads
form the last part of the Veda literature, and its philosophy is
therefore also called sometimes the Uttara-Mima@msa or the
Mimamsa (decision) of the later part of the Vedas as distinguished
from the Mima@msa of the previous part of the Vedas and the
Brahma@nas as incorporated in the _Purvamima@msa sutras_ of
Jaimini. Though these _Brahma-sutras_ were differently interpreted
by different exponents, the views expressed in the earliest commentary
on them now available, written by S'a@nkaracarya, have
attained wonderful celebrity, both on account of the subtle and
deep ideas it contains, and also on account of the association of the
illustrious personality of S'a@nkara. So great is the influence of the
philosophy propounded by S'a@nkara and elaborated by his illustrious
followers, that whenever we speak of the Vedanta philosophy
we mean the philosophy that was propounded by S'a@nkara. If
other expositions are intended the names of the exponents have
to be mentioned (e.g. Ramanuja-mata, Vallabha-mata, etc.), In this

430

chapter we shall limit ourselves to the exposition of the Vedanta
philosophy as elaborated by S'a@nkara and his followers. In S'a@nkara's
work (the commentaries on the _Brahma-sutra_ and the ten
Upani@sads) many ideas have been briefly incorporated which as
found in S'a@nkara do not appear to be sufficiently clear, but are
more intelligible as elaborated by his followers. It is therefore
better to take up the Vedanta system, not as we find it in S'a@nkara,
but as elaborated by his followers, all of whom openly declare
that they are true to their master's philosophy.

For the other Hindu systems of thought, the sutras (_Jaimini
sutra, Nyaya sutra,_ etc.) are the only original treatises, and no
foundation other than these is available. In the case of the
Vedanta however the original source is the Upani@sads, and
the sutras are but an extremely condensed summary in a
systematic form. S'a@nkara did not claim to be the inventor or
expounder of an original system, but interpreted the sutras
and the Upani@sads in order to show that there existed a connected
and systematic philosophy in the Upani@sads which was also
enunciated in the sutras of Badaraya@na. The Upani@sads were a
part of the Vedas and were thus regarded as infallible by the
Hindus. If S'a@nkara could only show that his exposition of them
was the right one, then his philosophy being founded upon the
highest authority would be accepted by all Hindus. The most
formidable opponents in the way of accomplishing his task were
the Mima@msists, who held that the Vedas did not preach any
philosophy, for whatever there was in the Vedas was to be
interpreted as issuing commands to us for performing this or
that action. They held that if the Upani@sads spoke of Brahman
and demonstrated the nature of its pure essence, these were mere
exaggerations intended to put the commandment of performing
some kind of worship of Brahman into a more attractive form.
S'a@nkara could not deny that the purport of the Vedas as found
in the Brahma@nas was explicitly of a mandatory nature as declared
by the Mima@msa, but he sought to prove that such could
not be the purport of the Upani@sads, which spoke of the truest
and the highest knowledge of the Absolute by which the wise
could attain salvation. He said that in the karmak@n@da--the
(sacrificial injunctions) Brahma@nas of the Vedas--the purport of
the Vedas was certainly of a mandatory nature, as it was intended
for ordinary people who were anxious for this or that pleasure,

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and were never actuated by any desire of knowing the absolute
truth, but the Upani@sads, which were intended for the wise who
had controlled their senses and become disinclined to all earthly
joys, demonstrated the one Absolute, Unchangeable, Brahman
as the only Truth of the universe. The two parts of the Vedas
were intended for two classes of persons. S'a@nkara thus did not
begin by formulating a philosophy of his own by logical and
psychological analysis, induction, and deduction. He tried to show
by textual comparison of the different Upani@sads, and by reference
to the content of passages in the Upani@sads, that they
were concerned in demonstrating the nature of Brahman (as he
understood it) as their ultimate end. He had thus to show that
the uncontradicted testimony of all the Upani@sads was in favour
of the view which he held. He had to explain all doubtful and
apparently conflicting texts, and also to show that none of the
texts referred to the doctrines of mahat, prak@rti, etc. of the
Sa@mkhya. He had also to interpret the few scattered ideas
about physics, cosmology, eschatology, etc. that are found in the
Upani@sads consistently with the Brahman philosophy. In order
to show that the philosophy of the Upani@sads as he expounded it
was a consistent system, he had to remove all the objections that
his opponents could make regarding the Brahman philosophy, to
criticize the philosophies of all other schools, to prove them to
be self-contradictory, and to show that any interpretation of the
Upani@sads, other than that which he gave, was inconsistent and
wrong. This he did not only in his bhasya on the _Brahma-sutras_
but also in his commentaries on the Upani@sads. Logic with him
had a subordinate place, as its main value for us was the aid
which it lent to consistent interpretations of the purport of the
Upani@sad texts, and to persuading the mind to accept the uncontradicted
testimony of the Upani@sads as the absolute truth.
His disciples followed him in all, and moreover showed in great
detail that the Brahman philosophy was never contradicted
either in perceptual experience or in rational thought, and that
all the realistic categories which Nyaya and other systems
had put forth were self-contradictory and erroneous. They also
supplemented his philosophy by constructing a Vedanta epistemology,
and by rethinking elaborately the relation of the maya,
the Brahman, and the world of appearance and other relevant
topics. Many problems of great philosophical interest which

432

had been left out or slightly touched by S'a@nkara were discussed
fully by his followers. But it should always be remembered that
philosophical reasonings and criticisms are always to be taken
as but aids for convincing our intellect and strengthening our
faith in the truth revealed in the Upani@sads. The true work of
logic is to adapt the mind to accept them. Logic used for upsetting
the instructions of the Upani@sads is logic gone astray. Many
lives of S'a@nkaracarya were written in Sanskrit such as the
_S'a@nkaradigvijaya_, _S'a@nkara-vijaya-vilasa_, _S'a@nkara-jaya_,
etc. It is regarded as almost certain that he was born between 700
and 800 A.D. in the Malabar country in the Deccan. His father S'ivaguru
was a Yajurvedi Brahmin of the Taittiriya branch. Many miracles
are related of S'a@nkara, and he is believed to have been the
incarnation of S'iva. He turned ascetic in his eighth year and
became the disciple of Govinda, a renowned sage then residing in
a mountain cell on the banks of the Narbuda. He then came over
to Benares and thence went to Badarikas'rama. It is said that
he wrote his illustrious bha@sya on the _Brahma-sutra_ in his twelfth
year. Later on he also wrote his commentaries on ten Upani@sads.
He returned to Benares, and from this time forth he decided to
travel all over India in order to defeat the adherents of other
schools of thought in open debate. It is said that he first went to
meet Kumarila, but Kumarila was then at the point of death, and
he advised him to meet Kumarila's disciple. He defeated Ma@n@dana
and converted him into an ascetic follower of his own. He then
travelled in various places, and defeating his opponents everywhere
he established his Vedanta philosophy, which from that time forth
acquired a dominant influence in moulding the religious life of
India.

S'a@nkara carried on the work of his teacher Gaudapada and
by writing commentaries on the ten Upani@sads and the _Brahma-sutras_
tried to prove, that the absolutist creed was the one which
was intended to be preached in the Upani@sads and the _Brahma-sutras_
[Footnote: 1]. Throughout his commentary on the _Brahma-sutras_,
there is ample evidence that he was contending against some
other rival interpretations of a dualistic tendency which held
that the Upani@sads partly favoured the Sa@mkhya cosmology

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[Footnote 1: The main works of S'a@nkara are his commentaries (bha@sya) on
the ten Upani@sads (Is'a, Kena, Katha, Pras'na, Mu@ndaka, Ma@n@dukya,
Aitareya, Taittiriya, B@rhadara@nyaka, and Chandogya), and on the
_Brahma-sutra_.]

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of the existence of prak@rti. That these were actual textual
interpretations of the _Brahma-sutras_ is proved by the fact that
S'a@nkara in some places tries to show that these textual constructions
were faulty [Footnote ref 1]. In one place he says that others (referring
according to Vacaspati to the Mima@msa) and some of
us (referring probably to those who interpreted the sutras and
the Upani@sads from the Vedanta point of view) think that the
soul is permanent. It is to refute all those who were opposed
to the right doctrine of perceiving everything as the unity
of the self (_atmaikatva_) that this S'ariraka commentary of
mine is being attempted [Footnote ref 2]. Ramanuja, in the introductory
portion of his bha@sya on the _Brahma-sutra,_ says that the views of
Bodhayana who wrote an elaborate commentary on the _Brahma-sutra_
were summarized by previous teachers, and that he was
following this Bodhayana bha@sya in writing his commentary. In
the _Vedarthasa@mgraha_ of Ramanuja mention is made of Bodhayana,
Tanka, Guhadeva, Kapardin, Bharuci as Vedantic authorities,
and Dravi@dacaryya is referred to as the "bha@syakara" commentator.
In Chandogya III. x. 4, where the Upani@sad cosmology
appeared to be different from the _Vi@s@nupurana_ cosmology, S'a@nkara
refers to an explanation offered on the point by one whom
he calls "acaryya" (_atrokta@h pariharah acaryyaih_) and Anandagiri
says that "acaryya" there refers to Dravi@dacaryya. This Dravi@dacaryya
is known to us from Ramanuja's statement as being a
commentator of the dualistic school, and we have evidence here
that he had written a commentary on the Chandogya Upani@sad.

A study of the extant commentaries on the _Brahma-sutras_ of
Badaraya@na by the adherents of different schools of thought
leaves us convinced that these sutras were regarded by all as
condensations of the teachings of the Upani@sads. The differences
of opinion were with regard to the meaning of these sutras and
the Upani@sad texts to which references were made by them
in each particular case. The _Brahma-sutra_ is divided into four
adhyayas or books, and each of these is divided into four chapters
or padas. Each of these contains a number of topics of discussion
(_adhikara@na_) which are composed of a number of sutras, which
raise the point at issue, the points that lead to doubt and
uncertainty, and the considerations that should lead one to favour

__________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: See note on p. 432.]

[Footnote 2: S'a@nkara's bha@sya on the _Brahma-sutras_, I. iii. 19.]

434

a particular conclusion. As explained by S'a@nkara, most of these
sutras except the first four and the first two chapters of the
second book are devoted to the textual interpretations of the
Upani@sad passages. S'a@nkara's method of explaining the absolutist
Vedanta creed does not consist in proving the Vedanta to
be a consistent system of metaphysics, complete in all parts, but
in so interpreting the Upani@sad texts as to show that they all agree
in holding the Brahman to be the self and that alone to be the
only truth. In Chapter I of Book II S'a@nkara tries to answer
some of the objections that may be made from the Sa@mkhya
point of view against his absolutist creed and to show that some
apparent difficulties of the absolutist doctrine did not present
any real difficulty. In Chapter II of Book II he tries to refute
the Sa@mkhya, Yoga, Nyaya-Vais'e@sika, the Buddhist, Jaina, Bhagavata
and S'aiva systems of thought. These two chapters and
his commentaries on the first four sutras contain the main points
of his system. The rest of the work is mainly occupied in showing
that the conclusion of the sutras was always in strict agreement
with the Upani@sad doctrines. Reason with S'a@nkara never
occupied the premier position; its value was considered only
secondary, only so far as it helped one to the right understanding
of the revealed scriptures, the Upani@sads. The ultimate truth cannot
be known by reason alone. What one debater shows to be
reasonable a more expert debater shows to be false, and what he
shows to be right is again proved to be false by another debater.
So there is no final certainty to which we can arrive by logic
and argument alone. The ultimate truth can thus only be found
in the Upani@sads; reason, discrimination and judgment are all to
be used only with a view to the discovery of the real purport
of the Upani@sads. From his own position S'a@nkara was not thus
bound to vindicate the position of the Vedanta as a thoroughly
rational system of metaphysics. For its truth did not depend on
its rationality but on the authority of the Upani@sads. But what
was true could not contradict experience. If therefore S'a@nkara's
interpretation of the Upani@sads was true, then it would not contradict
experience. S'a@nkara was therefore bound to show that
his interpretation was rational and did not contradict experience.
If he could show that his interpretation was the only interpretation
that was faithful to the Upani@sads, and that its apparent
contradictions with experience could in some way be explained,

435

he considered that he had nothing more to do. He was not writing
a philosophy in the modern sense of the term, but giving us the
whole truth as taught and revealed in the Upani@sads and not
simply a system spun by a clever thinker, which may erroneously
appear to be quite reasonable, Ultimate validity does not belong
to reason but to the scriptures.

He started with the premise that whatever may be the reason
it is a fact that all experience starts and moves in an error which
identifies the self with the body, the senses, or the objects of the
senses. All cognitive acts presuppose this illusory identification,
for without it the pure self can never behave as a phenomenal
knower or perceiver, and without such a perceiver there would
be no cognitive act. S'a@nkara does not try to prove philosophically
the existence of the pure self as distinct from all other
things, for he is satisfied in showing that the Upani@sads describe
the pure self unattached to any kind of impurity as the ultimate
truth. This with him is a matter to which no exception can be
taken, for it is so revealed in the Upani@sads. This point being
granted, the next point is that our experience is always based
upon an identification of the self with the body, the senses, etc. and
the imposition of all phenomenal qualities of pleasure, pain, etc.
upon the self; and this with S'a@nkara is a beginningless illusion.
All this had been said by Gau@dapada. S'a@nkara accepted Gau@dapada's
conclusions, but did not develop his dialectic for a positive
proof of his thesis. He made use of the dialectic only for the
refutation of other systems of thought. This being done he
thought that he had nothing more to do than to show that his
idea was in agreement with the teachings of the Upani@sads. He
showed that the Upani@sads held that the pure self as pure being,
pure intelligence and pure bliss was the ultimate truth. This
being accepted the world as it appears could not be real. It must
be a mere magic show of illusion or maya. S'a@nkara never tries
to prove that the world is maya, but accepts it as indisputable.
For, if the self is what is ultimately real, the necessary conclusion
is that all else is mere illusion or maya. He had thus to
quarrel on one side with the Mima@msa realists and on the other
with the Sa@mkhya realists, both of whom accepted the validity
of the scriptures, but interpreted them in their own way. The
Mima@msists held that everything that is said in the Vedas is to be
interpreted as requiring us to perform particular kinds of action,

436

or to desist from doing certain other kinds. This would mean that
the Upani@sads being a part of the Veda should also be interpreted
as containing injunctions for the performance of certain kinds of
actions. The description of Brahman in the Upani@sads does not
therefore represent a simple statement of the nature of Brahman,
but it implies that the Brahman should be meditated upon as
possessing the particular nature described there, i.e. Brahman
should be meditated upon as being an entity which possesses a
nature which is identical with our self; such a procedure would
then lead to beneficial results to the man who so meditates.
S'a@nkara could not agree to such a view. For his main point was
that the Upani@sads revealed the highest truth as the Brahman.
No meditation or worship or action of any kind was required;
but one reached absolute wisdom and emancipation when
the truth dawned on him that the Brahman or self was the
ultimate reality. The teachings of the other parts of the Vedas,
the karmaka@n@da (those dealing with the injunctions relating
to the performance of duties and actions), were intended for inferior
types of aspirants, whereas the teachings of the Upani@sads,
the jnanaka@n@da (those which declare the nature of ultimate
truth and reality), were intended only for superior aspirants who
had transcended the limits of sacrificial duties and actions, and
who had no desire for any earthly blessing or for any heavenly
joy. Throughout his commentary on the _Bhagavadgita_ S'a@nkara
tried to demonstrate that those who should follow the injunctions
of the Veda and perform Vedic deeds, such as sacrifices,
etc., belonged to a lower order. So long as they remained in
that order they had no right to follow the higher teachings of
the Upani@sads. They were but karmins (performers of scriptural
duties). When they succeeded in purging their minds of all
desires which led them to the performance of the Vedic injunctions,
the field of karmamarga (the path of duties), and wanted
to know the truth alone, they entered the jnanamarga (the way
of wisdom) and had no duties to perform. The study of Vedanta
was thus reserved for advanced persons who were no longer
inclined to the ordinary joys of life but wanted complete
emancipation. The qualifications necessary for a man intending
to study the Vedanta are (1) discerning knowledge about what is
eternal and what is transitory (_nityanityavastuviveka_), (2)
disinclination to the enjoyment of the pleasures of this world or of

437

the after world (_ihamutraphalabhogaviraga_), (3) attainment of
peace, self-restraint, renunciation, patience, deep concentration
and faith (_s'amadamadisadhanasampat_) and desire for salvation
(_mumuk@sutva_). The person who had these qualifications should
study the Upani@sads, and as soon as he became convinced of the
truth about the identity of the self and the Brahman he attained
emancipation. When once a man realized that the self alone
was the reality and all else was maya, all injunctions ceased to
have any force with him. Thus, the path of duties (_karma_) and
the path of wisdom (_jnana_) were intended for different classes of
persons or adhikarins. There could be no joint performance of
Vedic duties and the seeking of the highest truth as taught in
the Upani@sads (_jnana-karma-samuccayabhava@h_). As against the
dualists he tried to show that the Upani@sads never favoured any
kind of dualistic interpretations. The main difference between
the Vedanta as expounded by Gau@dapada and as explained by
S'a@nkara consists in this, that S'a@nkara tried as best he could to
dissociate the distinctive Buddhist traits found in the exposition
of the former and to formulate the philosophy as a direct
interpretation of the older Upani@sad texts. In this he achieved
remarkable success. He was no doubt regarded by some as a
hidden Buddhist (_pracchanna Bauddha_), but his influence on
Hindu thought and religion became so great that he was regarded
in later times as being almost a divine person or an
incarnation. His immediate disciples, the disciples of his disciples,
and those who adhered to his doctrine in the succeeding
generations, tried to build a rational basis for his system in a
much stronger way than S'a@nkara did. Our treatment of S'a@nkara's
philosophy has been based on the interpretations of Vedanta
thought, as offered by these followers of S'a@nkara. These interpretations
are nowhere in conflict with S'a@nkara's doctrines, but
the questions and problems which S'a@nkara did not raise have
been raised and discussed by his followers, and without these one
could not treat Vedanta as a complete and coherent system of
metaphysics. As these will be discussed in the later sections,
we may close this with a short description of some of the main
features of the Vedanta thought as explained by S'a@nkara.

Brahman according to S'a@nkara is "the cause from which
(proceeds) the origin or subsistence and dissolution of this world
which is extended in names and forms, which includes many

438

agents and enjoyers, which contains the fruit of works specially
determined according to space, time, and cause, a world which is
formed after an arrangement inconceivable even by the (imagination
of the) mind [Footnote ref 1]." The reasons that S'a@nkara adduces for the
existence of Brahman may be considered to be threefold: (1) The
world must have been produced as the modification of something,
but in the Upani@sads all other things have been spoken of
as having been originated from something other than Brahman,
so Brahman is the cause from which the world has sprung into
being, but we could not think that Brahman itself originated from
something else, for then we should have a _regressus ad infinitum_
(_anavastha_). (2) The world is so orderly that it could not have
come forth from a non-intelligent source. The intelligent source
then from which this world has come into being is Brahman.
(3) This Brahman is the immediate consciousness (_sak@si_) which
shines as the self, as well as through the objects of cognition
which the self knows. It is thus the essence of us all, the self,
and hence it remains undenied even when one tries to deny it,
for even in the denial it shows itself forth. It is the self of us all
and is hence ever present to us in all our cognitions.

Brahman according to S'a@nkara is the identity of pure intelligence,
pure being, and pure blessedness. Brahman is the self of
us all. So long as we are in our ordinary waking life, we are
identifying the self with thousands of illusory things, with all that
we call "I" or mine, but when in dreamless sleep we are absolutely
without any touch of these phenomenal notions the nature of our
true state as pure blessedness is partially realized. The individual
self as it appears is but an appearance only, while the real truth
is the true self which is one for all, as pure intelligence, pure
blessedness, and pure being.

All creation is illusory maya. But accepting it as maya, it
may be conceived that God (Is'vara) created the world as a mere
sport; from the true point of view there is no Is'vara who creates
the world, but in the sense in which the world exists, and we all
exist as separate individuals, we can affirm the existence of
Is'vara, as engaged in creating and maintaining the world. In
reality all creation is illusory and so the creator also is illusory.
Brahman, the self, is at once the material cause (upadana-kara@na)
as well as the efficient cause (nimitta-kara@na) of the world.

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