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The Vedanta Sutras, commentary by Sankaracharya (SBE34), tr. by George Thibaut [1890] at

10. And moreover (the Sânkhya doctrine) is objectionable on account of its contradictions.

The doctrine of the Sânkhyas, moreover, is full of contradictions. Sometimes they enumerate seven senses, sometimes eleven 2. In some places they teach that the subtle elements of material things proceed from the great principle, in other places again that they proceed from self-consciousness. Sometimes they speak of three internal organs, sometimes of one only 3. That their doctrine, moreover, contradicts Sruti, which teaches that the Lord is the cause of the world, and Smriti, based on Sruti, is well known.--For these reasons also the Sânkhya system is objectionable.

Here the Sânkhya again brings a countercharge--The system of the Vedântins also, he says, must be declared to be objectionable; for it does not admit that that which suffers and that which causes suffering 4 are different classes of things (and thereby renders futile the well-established distinction of causes of suffering and suffering beings). For

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those who admit the one Brahman to be the Self of everything and the cause of the whole world, have to admit also that the two attributes of being that which causes suffering and that which suffers belong to the one supreme Self (not to different classes of beings). If, then, these two attributes belong to one and the same Self, it never can divest itself of them, and thus Scripture, which teaches perfect knowledge for the purpose of the cessation of all suffering, loses all its meaning. For--to adduce a parallel case--a lamp as long as it subsists as such is never divested of the two qualities of giving heat and light. And if the Vedântin should adduce the case of water with its waves, ripples, foam, &c. 1, we remark that there also the waves, &c. constitute attributes of the water which remain permanently, although they by turns manifest themselves, and again enter into the state of non-manifestation; hence the water is never really destitute of waves, not any more than the lamp is ever destitute of heat and light.--That that which causes suffering, and that which suffers constitute different classes of things is, moreover, well known from ordinary experience. For (to consider the matter from a more general point of view) the person desiring and the thing desired 2 are understood to be separate existences. If the object of desire were not essentially different and separate from the person desiring, the state of being desirous could not be ascribed to the latter, because the object with reference to which alone he can be called desiring would already essentially be established in him (belong to him). The latter state of things exists in the case of a lamp and its light, for instance. Light essentially belongs to the lamp, and hence the latter never can stand in want of light; for want or desire can exist only if the thing wanted or desired is not yet obtained.

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(And just as there could be no desiring person, if the object of desire and the desiring person were not essentially separate), so the object of desire also would cease to be an object for the desiring person, and would be an object for itself only. As a matter of fact, however, this is not the case; for the two ideas (and terms), 'object of desire' and 'desiring person,' imply a relation (are correlative), and a relation exists in two things, not in one only. Hence the desiring person and the object of desire are separate.--The same holds good with regard to what is not desired (object of aversion; anartha) and the non-desiring person (anarthin). An object of desire is whatever is of advantage to the desiring person, an object of aversion whatever is of disadvantage; with both one person enters into relation by turns. On account of the comparative paucity of the objects of desire, and the comparative multitude of the objects of aversion, both may be comprised under the general term, 'object of aversion.' Now, these objects of aversion we mean when we use the term 'causes of suffering,' while by the term 'sufferer' we understand the soul which, being one, enters into successive relations with both (i.e. the objects of desire and the objects of aversion). If, then, the causes of suffering and the sufferer constitute one Self (as the Vedânta teaches), it follows that final release is impossible.--But if, on the other hand, the two are assumed to constitute separate classes, the possibility of release is not excluded, since the cause of the connexion of the two (viz. wrong knowledge) may be removed.

All this reasoning--we, the Vedântins, reply--is futile, because on account of the unity of the Self the relation, whose two terms are the causes of suffering, and the sufferer cannot exist (in the Self).--Our doctrine would be liable to your objection if that which causes suffering and that which suffers did, while belonging to one and the same Self, stand to each other in the relation of object and subject. But they do not stand in that relation just because they are one. If fire, although it possesses different attributes, such as heat and light, and is capable of change, does neither burn nor illumine itself since it is one only; how can the

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one unchangeable Brahman enter with reference to itself into the relation of cause of suffering and sufferer?--Where then, it may be asked, does the relation discussed (which after all cannot be denied altogether) exist?--That, we reply, is not difficult to see 1. The living body which is the object of the action of burning is the sufferer; the sun, for instance, is a cause of suffering (burning).--But, the opponent rejoins, burning is a pain, and as such can affect an intelligent being only, not the non-intelligent body; for if it were an affection of the mere body, it would, on the destruction of the body, cease of itself, so that it would be needless to seek for means to make it cease.--But it is likewise not observed, we reply, that a mere intelligent being destitute of a body is burned and suffers pain.--Nor would you (the Sânkhya) also assume that the affection called burning belongs to a mere intelligent being. Nor can you admit 2 a real connexion of the soul and the body, because through such a connexion impurity and similar imperfections would attach to the soul 3. Nor can suffering itself be said to suffer. And how then, we ask, can you explain the relation existing between a sufferer and the causes of suffering? If (as a last refuge) you should maintain that the sattva-guna is that which suffers, and the guna called passion that which causes suffering, we again object, because the intelligent principle (the soul) cannot be really connected with these two 4. And if you should say that the soul suffers as it were because it leans towards 5 the sattva-guna, we point out that the employment of the phrase, 'as it were,' shows that the soul does not really suffer.

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[paragraph continues] If it is understood that its suffering is not real, we do not object to the phrase 'as it were 1.' For the amphisbena also does not become venomous because it is 'a serpent as it were' ('like a serpent'), nor does the serpent lose its venom because it is 'like an amphisbena.' You must therefore admit that the relation of causes of suffering and of sufferers is not real, but the effect of Nescience. And if you admit, that, then my (the Vedântic) doctrine also is free from objections 2.

But perhaps you (the Sânkhya) will say that, after all, suffering (on the part of the soul) is real 3. In that case, however, the impossibility of release is all the more undeniable 4, especially as the cause of suffering (viz. the pradhâna) is admitted to be eternal.--And if (to get out of this difficulty) you maintain that, although the potentialities of suffering (on the part of the soul) and of causing suffering (on the part of the pradhâna) are eternal, yet suffering, in order to become actual, requires the conjunction of the two--which conjunction in its turn depends on a special reason, viz. the non-discrimination of the pradhâna by the soul--and that hence, when that reason no longer exists, the conjunction of the two comes to an absolute termination, whereby the absolute release of the soul becomes possible; we are again unable to accept your explanation, because that on which the non-discrimination depends, viz. the guna, called Darkness, is acknowledged by you to be eternal.

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[paragraph continues] And as  1 there is no fixed rule for the (successive) rising and sinking of the influence of the particular gunas, there is also no fixed rule for the termination of the cause which effects the conjunction of soul and pradhâna (i.e. non-discrimination); hence the disjunction of the two is uncertain, and so the Sânkhyas cannot escape the reproach of absence of final release resulting from their doctrine. To the Vedântin, on the other hand, the idea of final release being impossible cannot occur in his dreams even; for the Self he acknowledges to be one only, and one thing cannot enter into the relation of subject and object, and Scripture, moreover, declares that the plurality of effects originates from speech only. For the phenomenal world, on the other hand, we may admit the relation of sufferer and suffering just as it is observed, and need neither object to it nor refute it.

Herewith we have refuted the doctrine which holds the pradhâna to be the cause of the world. We have now to dispose of the atomic theory.

We begin by refuting an objection raised by the atomists against the upholders of Brahman.--The Vaiseshikas argue as follows: The qualities which inhere in the substance constituting the cause originate qualities of the same kind in the substance constituting the effect; we see, for instance, that from white threads white cloth is produced, but do not observe what is contrary (viz. white threads resulting in a piece of cloth of a different colour). Hence, if the intelligent Brahman is assumed as the cause of the world, we should expect to find intelligence inherent in the effect also, viz. the world. But this is not the case, and consequently the intelligent Brahman cannot be the cause of the world.--This reasoning the Sûtrakâra shows to be fallacious, on the ground of the system of the Vaiseshikas themselves.


376:2 In the former case the five intellectual senses are looked upon as mere modifications of the sense of touch.

376:3 Buddhi in the latter case being the generic name for buddhi, ahankâra, and manas.

376:4 Lit. that which burns and that which is burned, which literal rendering would perhaps be preferable throughout. As it is, the context has necessitated its retention in some places.--The sufferers are the individual souls, the cause of suffering the world in which the souls live.

377:1 In the case of the lamp, light and heat are admittedly essential; hence the Vedântin is supposed to bring forward the sea with its waves, and so on, as furnishing a case where attributes pass away while the substance remains.

377:2 'Artha,' a useful or beneficial thing, an object of desire.

379:1 In reality neither suffering nor sufferers exist, as the Vedântin had pointed out in the first sentences of his reply; but there can of course be no doubt as to who suffers and what causes suffering in the vyavahârika-state, i.e. the phenomenal world.

379:2 In order to explain thereby how the soul can experience pain.

379:3 And that would be against the Sânkhya dogma of the soul's essential purity.

379:4 So that the fact of suffering which cannot take place apart from an intelligent principle again remains unexplained.

379:5 Âtmanas tapte sattve pratibimitatvâd yuktâ taptir iti sankate sattveti. An. Gi.

380:1 For it then indicates no more than a fictitious resemblance.

380:2 The Sânkhya Pûrvapakshin had objected to the Vedânta doctrine that, on the latter, we cannot account for the fact known from ordinary experience that there are beings suffering pain and things causing suffering.--The Vedântin in his turn endeavours to show that on the Sânkhya doctrine also the fact of suffering remains inexplicable, and is therefore to be considered not real, but fictitious merely, the product of Nescience.

380:3 Not only 'suffering as it were,' as it had been called above.

380:4 For real suffering cannot be removed by mere distinctive knowledge on which--according to the Sânkhya also--release depends.

381:1 This in answer to the remark that possibly the conjunction of soul and pradhâna may come to an end when the influence of Darkness declines, it being overpowered by the knowledge of Truth.

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