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

31. And on account of the momentariness (of the âlayaviâna, it cannot be the abode of mental impressions).

If you maintain that the so-called internal cognition (âlayaviâna 1) assumed by you may constitute the abode

p. 427

of the mental impressions, we deny that, because that cognition also being admittedly momentary, and hence non-permanent, cannot be the abode of impressions any more than the quasi-external cognitions (pravritti-viâna). For unless there exists one continuous principle equally connected with the past, the present, and the future  1, or an absolutely unchangeable (Self) which cognises everything, we are unable to account for remembrance, recognition, and so on, which are subject to mental impressions dependent on place, time, and cause. If, on the other hand, you declare your âlayaviâna to be something permanent, you thereby abandon your tenet of the âlayaviâna as well as everything else being momentary.--Or (to explain the Sûtra in a different way) as the tenet of general momentariness is characteristic of the systems of the idealistic as well as the realistic Bauddhas, we may bring forward against the doctrines of the former all those arguments dependent on the principle of general momentariness which we have above urged against the latter.

We have thus refuted both nihilistic doctrines, viz. the doctrine which maintains the (momentary) reality of the external world, and the doctrine which asserts that ideas only exist. The third variety of Bauddha doctrine, viz. that everything is empty (i. e. that absolutely nothing exists), is contradicted by all means of right knowledge, and therefore requires no special refutation. For this apparent world, whose existence is guaranteed by all the means of knowledge, cannot be denied, unless some one should find out some new truth (based on which he could impugn its existence)--for a general principle is proved by the absence of contrary instances.


426:1 The viânaskandha comprises viânas of two different kinds, the âlayaviâna and the pravrittiviâna. The âlayaviâna comprises the series of cognitions or ideas which refer to the ego; the pravrittiviâna comprises those ideas which refer to apparently external objects, such as colour and the like. The ideas of the p. 427 latter class are due to the mental impressions left by the antecedent ideas of the former class.

427:1 Viz. in the present case the principle that what presents itself to consciousness is not non-existent.

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