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

19. If it be said that (the formation of aggregates may be explained) through (Nescience, &c.) standing in the relation of mutual causality; we say 'No,' because they merely are the efficient causes of the origin (of the immediately subsequent links).

Although there exists no permanent intelligent principle of the nature either of a ruling Lord or an enjoying soul, under whose influence the formation of aggregates could take place, yet the course of mundane existence is rendered possible through the mutual causality 1 of Nescience and so on, so that we need not look for any other combining principle.

The series beginning with Nescience comprises the following members: Nescience, impression, knowledge, name and form, the abode of the six, touch, feeling, desire, activity, birth, species, decay, death, grief, lamentation, pain, mental affliction, and the like 2. All these terms constitute

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a chain of causes and are as such spoken of in the Bauddha system, sometimes cursorily, sometimes at length. They are, moreover, all acknowledged as existing, not by the Bauddhas only, but by the followers of all systems. And as the cycles of Nescience, &c. forming uninterrupted chains of causes and effects revolve unceasingly like water-wheels, the existence of the aggregates (which constitute bodies and minds) must needs be assumed, as without such Nescience and so on could not take place.

This argumentation of the Bauddha we are unable to accept, because it merely assigns efficient causes for the origination of the members of the series, but does not intimate an efficient cause for the formation of the aggregates. If the Bauddha reminds us of the statement made above that the existence of aggregates must needs be inferred from the existence of Nescience and so on, we point out that, if he means thereby that Nescience and so on cannot exist without aggregates and hence require the existence of such, it remains to assign an efficient cause for the formation of the aggregates. But, as we have already shown--when examining the Vaiseshika doctrine--that the formation of aggregates cannot be accounted for even on the assumption of permanent atoms and individual souls in

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which the adrishta abides  1; how much less then are aggregates possible if there exist only momentary atoms not connected with enjoying souls and devoid of abodes (i.e. souls), and that which abides in them (the adrishta).--Let us then assume (the Bauddha says) that Nescience, &c. themselves are the efficient cause of the aggregate.--But how--we ask--can they be the cause of that without which--as their abode--they themselves are not capable of existence? Perhaps you will say that in the eternal samsâra the aggregates succeed one another in an unbroken chain, and hence also Nescience, and so on, which abide in those aggregates. But in that case you will have to assume either that each aggregate necessarily produces another aggregate of the same kind, or that, without any settled rule, it may produce either a like or an unlike one. In the former case a human body could never pass over into that of a god or an animal or a being of the infernal regions; in the latter case a man might in an instant be turned into an elephant or a god and again become a man; either of which consequences would be contrary to your system.--Moreover, that for the purpose of whose enjoyment the aggregate is formed is, according to your doctrine, not a permanent enjoying soul, so that enjoyment subserves itself merely and cannot be desired by anything else; hence final release also must, according to you, be considered as subserving itself

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only, and no being desirous of release can be assumed. If a being desirous of both were assumed, it would have to be conceived as permanently existing up to the time of enjoyment and release, and that would be contrary to your doctrine of general impermanency.--There may therefore exist a causal relation between the members of the series consisting of Nescience, &c., but, in the absence of a permanent enjoying soul, it is impossible to establish on that ground the existence of aggregates.


404:1 The kâranatvât of Sankara explains the pratyayatvât of the Sûtra; kâryam praty ayate ganakatvena gakkhati.

404:2 The commentators agree on the whole in their explanations of the terms of this series.--The following is the substance of the comment of the Brahmavidyâbharana: Nescience is the error of considering that which is momentary, impure, &c. to be permanent, pure, &c.--Impression (affection, samskâra) comprises desire, aversion, &c., and the activity caused by them.--Knowledge (viâna) is the self-consciousness (aham ity âlayaviânasya vrittilâbhah) springing up in the embryo.--Name and form is the rudimentary flake--or bubble-like condition of the embryo.--The p. 405 abode of the six (shadâyatana) is the further developed stage of the embryo in which the latter is the abode of the six senses.--Touch (sparsa) is the sensations of cold, warmth, &c. on the embryo's part.--Feeling (vedanâ) the sensations of pleasure and pain resulting therefrom.--Desire (trishnâ) is the wish to enjoy the pleasurable sensations and to shun the painful ones.--Activity (upâdâna) is the effort resulting from desire,--Birth is the passing out from the uterus--Species (gâti) is the class of beings to which the new-born creature belongs.--Decay (garâ).--Death (maranam) is explained as the condition of the creature when about to die (mumûrshâ).--Grief (soka) the frustration of wishes connected therewith.--Lament (paridevanam) the lamentations on that account.--Pain (duhkha) is such pain as caused by the five senses.--Durmanas is mental affliction.--The 'and the like' implies death, the departure to another world and the subsequent return from there.

406:1 Ânanda Giri and Go. Ânanda explain: Âsrâyasrayibhûteshv iti bhoktriviseshanam adrishtâsrayeshv ity arthah.--The Brahma-vidyâbharana says: Nityeshv âsrâyasrayibhûteshv anushv abhyupagamyamâneshu bhoktrishu ka satsv ity anvayah. Âsrâyasrayibhûteshv ity asyopakâryopakârakabhâvaprâpteshv ity arthah.--And with regard to the subsequent âsrayâsrayisûnyeshu: âsrayâsrayitvasûnyeshu, ayam bhâvah, sthireshu paramânushu yadanvaye paramânûnâm samghâtâpattih yadvyatireke ka na tad upakârakam upakâryâh paramânavah yena tatkrito bhogah prârthyate sa tatra karteti grahîtum sakyate, kshanikeshu tu paramânushu anvayavyatirekagrahasyânekakshanasâdhyasyâsambhavân nopakâryopakârakabhâvo nirdhârayitum sakyah.--Ânanda Giri remarks on the latter: Adrishtâsrayakârtrirâhityam âhâsrayeti. Another reading appears to be âsayâsrayasûnyeshu.

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