Dakshinamurti Stotra, translated by Alladi Mahadeva Sastri, , at sacred-texts.com
"Whoso hath highest love for God, and for the Guru as for God, to that Mahatman, the truths here taught shine in full." (Svetasvatara-Upanishad, VI., 23). These are the words with which the Upanishad concludes its teaching and with which Suresvaracharya, like many other teachers, closes his exposition of the Vedanta Doctrine. They form the key-note of the whole Vedic Religion as of all other Religious systems based on Revelation. It behoves, therefore, the student of spiritual wisdom,—nay, it behoves every seeker after Truth,—to study and understand the principle enunciated in the passage quoted above. To this end we have first to determine what place Revelation occupies in a religious system and how it helps man to realise truth. The Leda which is composed of different parts embodying teachings suited to different classes of people is, even in the form in which we have it, one of the oldest, if not the oldest, Scriptures accepted by large masses of people, revealing truths derived from the most
trustworthy source, from God Himself. It may, therefore, be taken as the type of Revelation intended to help the growth of man towards the attainment of his highest end.
2. What is the highest end of man? As to the ultimate end of man, a consensus of opinion can be obtained by a direct appeal to consciousness, though there may be found divergencies among writers on ethical philosophy as to the immediate end which man should place before himself in his conduct towards himself or in his conduct towards others. All are agreed that the one aim which. man has in all his acts is to secure happiness for himself. The highest as well as the ultimate end of man must, therefore, be to attain to a conscious state of unalloyed happiness, which is to be eternal and unsurpassed. To have a clearer and more definite idea of the highest end of man, it is necessary to compare him with other creatures in the universe and to mark the stage he has already reached in the march of progress towards the attainment of his highest end. The ancient Aryans have traced the evolutionary process in detail, and they fall in with the modern science as to the view that human form has been gradually evolved out of the animal. The evolutionary process which went on through the three lower kingdoms of nature below man,—not to speak of the still earlier stages of evolution referred to in the Upanishads, in the Puranas, and
in the orthodox systems of philosophy,—was concerned mainly with the perfecting of form, of the material vehicle used by Spirit, the Divine Consciousness, in Its evolution towards perfect self-realisation. The main purpose of this evolution is to so perfect the form as to make it a proper medium for the Divine Being dwelling within every creature to fully express Himself in all His aspects as Consciousness, Will, and Bliss. In the mineral kingdom, the physical form, which in the earlier kingdoms was more or less unstable, has attained to the highest degree of development in point of persistency under varying conditions; and in the vegetable kingdom, it becomes pliable to the action of vital force in the form of organic growth, without at the same time losing the persistency it has already gained in the mineral kingdom. The evolution of form in the animal kingdom adds to its persistency and improved capacity for organic growth a well-defined capacity for a life of sensation, all organs of sensation and activity being developed to a marked degree. In man, form is still further developed so as to constitute a fitting instrument for the carrying on of the process of thinking. By the time that the evolution of human form has, after passing through a long transition period, reached that stage at which it no longer admits of any appreciable further development, what we call mind begins to show signs of its
existence by way of perceiving objects, connecting them together, comparing and contrasting them with one another,—processes which constitute the germs of the thinking faculty. To explain: Animals, in common with man, possess a life of sensation, their sense-organs equally receiving and responding to impacts from external objects; but they evidently seem to lack the power of connecting the various impressions together into a single composite whole; i.e., they seem to have no faculty of perception. They receive impressions through the sense organs from without; and these impressions affect in their turn the prana or vital principle wherein they abide. In response to the impressions received through the sense-organs, prana gushes out through one or more organs of activity in the body; and, as a result, the sense-organs are brought in contact with more objects. In the animal, the sensory and motor forms of vital energy thus act and react upon each other, each contributing to the growth of the other. But this reciprocal action and reaction of the sensory and the motor organs on the growth of each other as a result of receiving impacts from the external world can in no way correspond to the purely internal faculty of perception and conception constituting the germs of that faculty of thinking which forms a distinguishing feature of human beings "Thus, man is distinguished from lower
animals by the possession of this faculty of perception and thought. It is in him that we find Atman,—the one Existence and Consciousness present in all kingdoms of nature alike,—manifesting Himself in every act of consciousness as "I," as the Individual Ego, persisting through various sensations, each of which comes into being for a moment and then disappears. It is this self-conscious Individual Ego who, abiding one and the same through all the various sensations, receives them all and connects them together, converting them into notions of substances and attributes, comparing and contrasting them with one another, taking note of their mutual relations, deducing laws, and carrying on the elaborate process of reasoning. Pari passu with this development of thinking faculty goes on the development of will, freedom of will progressing with thought and knowledge. It is, therefore, evident that the ultimate end of every human being should be to develop thought and will, by proper exercise through his form, to the highest stage of perfection; to attain to a full knowledge of the whole universe; to develop the self-consciousness and will of the Ego till he realises his unity with the Universal Ego, with the Divine Being possessed of all-embracing knowledge and love as well as an absolutely free will unswayed by passion, all bending before His adamantine will, the whole
universe subservient to Him as a pliable instrument in His hands;—seeing himself everywhere and none else anywhere, endued with Bliss infinite and unalloyed, transcending all limitations of time and space. Such, briefly, is the end which man has to attain, and which, of course, is worth attaining.
3. Now, if we compare man just emerging from a state of nature and in whom manas just begins to function, with a man who belongs to one of the most civilized races now inhabiting the globe, the difference in mental development will be found strikingly great, so great indeed that, but for the similarity in the structure of the body, they may belong to two different species altogether. The rate of progress in this line of evolution seems to be very slow. The various faculties which go to form the main stock of innate capacities of a civilized man have been developed slowly one after another in successive races. It takes, indeed, a very very long time for a faculty to develop from its germinal stage even to that stage of perfection which it has reached in man at present. In fact we are told that this mental development has gone on concurrently with the racial development for ages and ages. Though each race has a development of its own as a whole, yet any given race is made up of individuals whose progress varies very widely between two extreme points. Considering the little progress made by an individual Ego in a
savage or a half-savage tribe by way of acquiring a new faculty or even a further development, to any appreciable extent, of an already existing faculty,—as distinguished from the matter comprehended by that faculty,—one finds it hard to believe that all the faculties that an Ego, taking birth in a family of the most civilised race, manifests on attaining to a certain age have been developed in a few past incarnations just preceding the present, and much less so in the present birth alone. Moreover, the different stages of progress in mental and moral development reached by different individuals, as well as the different rates of progress made by different individuals placed under the same circumstances, point, beyond all reasonable doubt, to the fact of each individual Ego having an evolution of his own which has been going on through many lives in the past, bringing with him into each birth faculties already developed to a certain stage and ready to pace a few more steps forward in that incarnation. It may even be noted that, in the early years of any particular birth, the individual man rapidly goes through the whole process of past human evolution till that point of progress is reached whence he has to continue the slow process of further development.
4. When the Ego has reached a certain stage of growth, no further advance can be effected
without an external guide. Even the progress that has already been made has not been made without the guide of Higher Intelligent Beings, though, indeed, this aid has been rendered independently of the will and choice of the individuals concerned. On attaining to a certain stage of intellectual development, each individual Ego has to consciously choose and act for himself. He should no longer content himself with the limited scope of his will and knowledge if he would ever rise above the present level where he is a slave to the surrounding circumstances, entirely guided and acted on by them,—a state which is quite contrary to that which he wishes to attain, to the state of unity with the very Divine Being who knows all and guides and shapes the whole universe according to His will, His will being the law according to which the universe has to evolve. Having this grand aim in view, he should develop faculties whereby the sphere of his knowledge and experience may be extended so that he may know the right from the wrong, the good from the evil, and consciously follow the right and the good while consciously avoiding the wrong and the evil. In short, he should be able to know what is absolutely right; and, rising above all human motives of action, his will should be as free to act in the right way as that of the Divine Being. Now is the time for Revelation to teach to man its first lessons. It
is the Guru or His voice as the Sruti (Revelation) that teaches man about the existence of an immortal Ego who is conscious of everything that goes on around him. It shows what man should do if he wishes to secure a happy life after death. To this end various rules of moral conduct are laid down and an elaborate process of ceremonial prescribed, which being duly observed,. man lives a happy life after death in the region of svarga, quite beyond the reach of misery which man here on earth is put to. A knowledge of the immortality of the Ego and of the means of securing bliss in a future world cannot be acquired by the mere unaided intellect of man. The past conscious experience is not enough even to make him suspect the existence of a disembodied Ego; much less can it convince him of his reality and enable him to discover the means whereby to secure unearthly happiness in a world altogether beyond his comprehension.
5. To realise the Vedic teaching on this subject and to act upon it, man must have an unbounded faith in the Veda. To have an unbounded faith in the Veda is to have an unbounded faith in the Guru who gives voice to the teaching which takes the form of the Veda. 'Veda' literally means 'wisdom'; and the sacred word we now call Veda derives its sanctity and authority from the fact that it embodies wisdom taught by the
[paragraph continues] Divine Merciful Teachers for the guidance of man in his onward march of spiritual progress. These wise and disinterested Teachers who hold a Divine commission as spiritual instructors of the growing humanity can give utterance to nothing but truth. A true conception, therefore, of the lofty nature and the high functions of a spiritual Teacher will necessarily end in an utmost reverence and exalted love for Him, without which none can fully realise the truths taught by Him. To perceive a truth as fully as the Guru does, one should look at it from as many standpoints as the Teacher does; that is to say, the disciple's mind must be en rapport with that of the Teacher. A complete resignation on the part of the disciple to the will of the Teacher and an unbounded love for Him, a feeling of Bhakti or devout love to the Teacher, cannot but serve to remove the barrier which arrests the flow of wisdom from the Teacher to the disciple. Once the barrier is removed they come so close together that the truths which are stored up in the Teacher's mind will flow, as it were, in a continuous stream to the mind of the disciple through the conduit of complete sympathy opened by love. It is with such feelings of devotion and love that the disciple should approach the Guru. It may not be that the typical Guru, the Teacher who originally delivered teaching, is always present in the physical
body before the student's eyes. Still, when one wishes to learn anything from the accredited record of His teaching, one must image the true typical Guru and revere Him in the heart. The student should always devoutly turn his heart in an ardent and devout love towards the Great Personage that realised the truth and gave it out for the benefit of those who cared to avail themselves of it. What is generally called Revelation is a record of such teachings. Very often the truth thus taught is not recorded in a tangible form, it being handed down from generation to generation by mere word of mouth. The teachings, rather the traditions, thus handed down become mutilated and corrupt in the course of long ages and stand in need of interpretation by others who, having got an insight into the truth, can supply omissions and sift the genuine teaching from the accumulated accretions of ages. These disinterested visible custodians of the records and their interpreters, who are, as it were, the representatives of the Teacher or Teachers who gave voice to the truths preserved in the form in which they have come to us, should also be revered and loved as teachers in proportion as they approach the typical Guru in point of wisdom and moral excellence. But a thorough realisation of the nature and position of the typical Teacher united with an abiding devotion of love towards Him is necessary if the disciple would avoid the
many pitfalls of errors that beset him all through the line of his spiritual progress.
6. The truths recorded in the Veda are intended as a help to man's onward progress. Knowledge obtained by the mind elaborating upon the materials supplied by the sense-organs of the body coming in contact with external objects can never lead the man of the physical body to look for a world beyond the sphere of the senses, or to think of himself,—his real Self, his true Ego,—as an entity not dying with the body. It is the Veda that tells him that there is a world beyond the visible earth; that man, after the body dies, continues to live in other regions subject to pleasure and pain. Laying down rules of conduct and chalking out the path which one has tread in order to reach happy regions after death, the Veda serves to widen the range of man's experience and knowledge. The happiness thus secured in the life after death is exactly in proportion to the effort made while alive on earth in the direction pointed out by the Veda, just as it is down here on earth where man's pleasures are in proportion to his efforts. After enjoying all the happiness he is entitled to, man returns to earth again to take birth in a body, just as surely as he returns from sleep to the waking state. Thus alternately man, rather his Ego, lives on earth and the world or worlds
beyond, experiencing pleasure and pain, and thus gaining the knowledge which enables the Ego to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil. This power of discrimination manifests itself as conscience sitting in judgment over man's conduct in daily life and warning him against many possible dangers of evil conduct.
7. When the Ego has enjoyed all the pleasures afforded by the earth and the worlds beyond which he has been traversing all through, a sort of satiation is at length produced. Then man no longer feels attracted by the prospects of pleasure enjoyable in this world or in the worlds beyond; nor does he indulge, with the same zest as before, in the pleasures which come to him of their own accord. He then realises the Vedic teaching that all the temporal pleasures, celestial as well as earthly, which, as having been brought into existence by human effort, cannot form the inherent nature of the Ego, are comparatively short-lived. He further sees that through all the varying enjoyments of pleasure interspersed with moments of suffering, he himself—his soul or Ego,—remains ever the same, without undergoing any change. This leads him to more than suspect that the Ego is an entity distinct from the pleasures and pains, distinct from the body, and the organs, as distinct from them as from the
external objects of pleasure. While feeling thus, man finds himself unable to get away from the body and the sense-organs which subject him to suffering: which are a constant source of suffering interspersed no doubt with a few moments of pleasure. In the state of helplessness, man yearns for more help. Then the Teacher, or His voice in the shape of the Veda, comes to man's help. He is now distinctly taught that the soul is quite distinct from the body and the sense-organs, and that it is possible for man to release himself from the thraldom to which he is now subjected. As a first step on the path to this goal, the disciple is enjoined to discharge all the duties allotted to his station in life,—to observe the whole daily routine of life which he feels himself bound to go through as belonging to a particular caste and a particular religious order,—as perfectly and cheerfully as possible, leaving aside all self-interest in the work, with the sole purpose of obeying the command of the Teacher or God whom he adores and loves so much so that His pleasure constitutes, for the time being, the main end in view in all his actions.
8. When some progress has been made in this line of devotion, the disciple's conception of the universe in all its extent and variety is enlarged by the Teacher giving him in outline the constitution of the system of the worlds to which he
belongs, and gradually leading the disciple to have a tolerable view of the whole universe of which that system forms a part. The disciple is then taken through a course of contemplation which develops his power of concentration and makes him realise in some detail the nature of the universe in which he plays his part. All this course is necessary to purify the heart and to strengthen the intellect, so that the disciple may be morally and intellectually prepared to receive instruction in the grand truths as to the essential nature of man's True Ego, or Atman, and the ultimate goal he has to reach.
9. Now, the Teacher, or the Upanishad which is the verbal expression of His teaching to be given at this stage, teaches as follows: Atman, i.e., the true Self of man, is eternal, ever pure in His essential nature, not subject in Himself to birth and death, or to pain and pleasure. His essential nature is Consciousness and Bliss. He is the One Existence whence all creatures come into being; wherein they live, move and have their being; and whither they will all return at the time of dissolution. The Ego in man is one with the Universal Ego; Jiva and Isvara, are one. The ultimate end of man consists in realising this unity of Jiva and Isvara, in realising that Atman is one in all. Man cannot get out of the earthly life of alternate pleasure and pain for good and
attain to a state of eternal conscious bliss, till he intuitively realises that he is not the wretched miserable soul of the world with a limited knowledge and bliss; that, on the other hand, he is one with Isvara, with the Universal Ego, perfect in knowledge and bliss which are in themselves eternal and never obscured.
10. When the disciple is taught this grand truth, there naturally arises a doubt as to how this can be. The Upanishad as well as the Teacher points out the line of argument by which the disciple may form a fair intellectual conception of it. But a mere intellectual assent to the truth of the proposition does not amount to that realisation which consists in the individual Ego feeling and acting as if he is one with the Universal Ego, with Isvara himself. To this end man must intently dwell in thought on the Divine Being, the universal Ego, while regarding himself and Isvara and the spiritual Teacher as the one Atman; loving the atman, the Divine Self, above all, as his own very Self, casting away the limited self as something non-existent, keeping away from the mind all alien thoughts, being completely immersed in Him as both the end and the means in one. Gradually the light of the Divine Sun sheds its lustre upon the ever-expanding and purifying means, by which the soul sees better in the light of the omniscient wisdom of Isvara. The
ever-increasing knowledge of the real truth only heightens his love and devotion to Isvara. By thus constantly dwelling on the Divine Self in loving meditation, the mind is purged of all its dross and becomes perfectly pure. When the Buddhi becomes completely serene, Isvara, the Divine Self, is reflected in it as He is, and then Jiva becomes one with Isvara, the Buddhi being absorbed in His all-illumining and all-absorbing Light. Then he has reached the goal of the path; he has been liberated; he has attained nirvana, the supreme self-conscious Bliss.
11. One cannot reach the summum bonum indicated above without attaining perfection in knowledge and devotion. Both the intellect and the heart must be equally expanded and perfected before a thorough intuitive realisation of one's own True Self can be attained. They must in short combine into unity in the Self. At any particular stage of spiritual progress of man, his intellect and heart may be found to have not reached the same stage of progress. Some are more devotional than intellectual, some more intellectual than devotional. But neither of them can be developed very far without the aid of the other or without stimulating that other to further development. An intense devotion to the Divine Being or to the Teacher however vaguely imaged will not fail to lead the intellect to see more clearly the nature of man in
his relation to the Divine Being and the universe. Again a better and truer conception of the nature and position of the Teacher or of the Divine Being gives a better shape to the idea of the Divinity and makes devotion more and more definite and intense. Thus acting and reacting upon each other, knowledge and devotion attain perfection till they unite into one in Atman,—a unity which is beyond the power of all words to express and beyond the power of all thought to conceive.
12. It has been seen that, as a first step to the ultimate goal man should have a fair intellectual conception of himself and the universe around, as also of his relation to the universe and other beings therein. Evidently man is destined to ascend some day to the level of the Omniscient Lord, since, in every man who has risen above the mere animal life of sensation and reached a certain stage of intellectual development, there is an inherent desire to look at the nature around and try to find the mutual relations of things therein and his own place among them. Curiously enough, at every stage of the enquiry he finds something yet to know and eagerly looks for some guidance, come whence it may. Sometimes the requisite help comes in the form of a suggestion from within, taking the shape of a hypothesis, for which there seems to be no sufficient foundation in the former experience. More rarely, and at long intervals, it comes to him
in the form of a revelation, as the voice of a teacher preaching transcendental truths which are somewhat above his immediate comprehension, and which clearly to understand he has to intensely strain all his intellectual powers. In trying to grasp the truth, he gets a more comprehensive view of the universe. Such is the gradual, slow but sure, growth of intellect stimulated at every step by doubts and failures which are in their turn followed by slight but encouraging glimpses of truth. This gradual progress has been going on for ages, and traces of the long course of enquiry is left in the history of every nation. The Indian literature now extant bears ample testimony to the assiduity with which the intellectual enquiry has been carried on under varying conditions. The systems of philosophy to which the Indian mind has given birth range from the ultra-materialistic system of a Charvaka to the most sublime ultraspiritual system of the Vedanta. It must, however, be borne in mind that all these apparently most divergent systems of thought are necessary steps through which the intellect of man must pass and has passed, marking as they do the various stages of man's intellectual development. The various systems have bee intended as the training ground for the varying intellects of man, one system leading to another, each man honestly taking to that system of thought which appeals to
him most, as best suited to the grain of his mind, as the system which to him appears to embody rules of conduct based on a most rational basis. When the different systems are viewed in this light, when the value of even the most materialistic philosophy of a Charvaka is recognised as perforce gradually in the course of enquiry leading the intellect to a less materialistic and more spiritual system, the intellect finding no rest till it lands upon the most convicting truth, it becomes easy to understand what the author of the Purana means when he speaks of the different systems of faith in the following terms:
"Listen with faith, O sages, to what I say as to the truth of the various paths. Vedas, Dharmasastras, Purana, Bharata, Vedangas and minor Vedas; Kamika and other agamas; Kapala and Lakula in all their variety; the Pasupata, Soma, Bhairava and other agamas with their hundred varieties: Vaishnava and Brahma agamas; the agamas of the Buddhas and the Arhats; Lokayata, and the Tarkasastras in all their vastness; the profound Mimamsa, as also Sankhya and Yoga; all these and many more Sastras, the Omniscient Divine Being has made in brief. It is only by the Grace of Rudra that Devas like Brahma and Vishnu, Siddhas, Vidyadharas, Yakshas, Rakshasas, Munis and men make the Sastras again, in brief or in extenso. The wise say that each of these sastras is intended for a particular class according to the individual qualification, not all for one. These paths are not to be rudely handled by the learned subjecting them to rigorous unrelenting logic. As all streams ultimately empty themselves into the ocean, so all these
paths ultimately lead to the Mahesvara Himself. Worshipped in what form soever by people as ordained in their respective scriptures. He assumes that form and takes the devotee on to the next higher step, By His Grace man attains to superior paths. The Divine Being worshipped in the form in which He is represented in these paths takes the devotee step by step onward to the path of the Veda. The form which the Divine Being assumes in the path of the Veda is the immediate cause of salvation. Even there the form of the Divine Being as represented by the ritualistic portion of the Veda only stimulates a longing for knowledge; while, worshipped in the form presented in the theosophical portion He leads the devotee to moksha through wisdom.
"As the highest salvation is only of one kind, the knowledge which leads to it must be of one kind and of one kind' only. The Vedanta treats of Sankara as the non-dual Atman. No other path treats of Him directly as the Vedanta does. Therefore knowledge produced by the Veda is alone wisdom. Knowledge obtained by other means is avidya, unwisdom. The other paths cannot themselves lead to moksha; they are serviceable only as leading to it through the intervening steps. Mahadeva, as known by the Vedanta, directly gives moksha; as known and worshipped in the other paths He leads to moksha by gradually taking the soul on to the direct path. Wherefore he who treads the path of the Vedanta should not change it for any other. To those who tread the path of the Veda, nothing is hard to attain. There alone lie the supreme mukti and other enjoyments in plenty.
"Wherefore the different paths are useful to the different individuals for whom they are specially intended. Whenever other paths are opposed to the Vedanta in their theories as to the nature of Isvara, as to the cause of bondage,
as to the cause of the Universe, as to mukti, and as to what constitutes wisdom, and so on, those theories, to be sure, have been furnished in accordance with the prevailing desires of the ignorant whose minds are darkened by the mighty delusion: not because they are absolutely true in themselves, but because they serve, by holding out some legitimate pleasures to ultimately bring them round to the right path when their sins have been washed away in the waters of the more or less pure morality therein inculcated. As man allures an erratic cow by holding out grass, so does Mahesvara first hold out some pleasure and then gives supreme wisdom as the mind becomes perfected.
"Thus these paths, laid out as they are by Siva, are all of them true and serviceable. How can Siva be a deceiver? He is supremely merciful, omniscient, and altogether stainless. Yet of all the paths, the path of the Veda is the best. as conducing to all good." (Skanda-Purana, Suta-Samhita, Yajna-Vaibhava-Khanda, 22nd adhyaya).
This unique attitude of the Purana towards the several antagonistic systems of religion and philosophy only gives expression to the consciousness of the fact that mankind, made up as it is of different individuals who have reached different stages of intellectual and moral progress, cannot all think to order, in one and the same way, in their honest attempt to understand their position in the universe and to find the standard which they should follow in all their acts with a view to attaining the highest goal which they think it worth their while to strive for. Though
as a race the major portion of mankind has reached a certain stage of development, the progress made by different individuals composing the race—or even a nation which forms a component part of the race—varies between very wide limits, so that all the different systems of philosophy and religion find their adherents in a race or a nation at any one particular period of its development. In the Aryan race these systems seem to have prevailed in some form or other ever since the beginning of history, and there are, no doubt, at the present moment, thinkers of no mean order whose intellectual sympathies incline to the ultra-materialistic system of Charvaka or to some other system lying between that and the most spiritual system of Vedanta, so that any attempt at tracing an historical order of the origin and development of the different systems of philosophy may not prove quite so fruitful. In tracing, however, the psychological order of intellectual development as represented by the Indian systems of philosophy which correspond to the several stages thereof, those systems may perhaps range themselves in an order which may roughly correspond to the original historical order of their development.
13. As has been shown above, when there arises a necessity to widen man's experience beyond the limited range of the senses, the necessity
expresses itself as a yearning on the part of man for pleasures more durable and intense than the earth can afford, or than his limited vision can suggest resources for; and then he is furnished, under Divine Dispensation, with a code of ethics and ritual by Teachers who are detailed to the work by the Divine Providence. By duly acting up to it, he attains to unearthly pleasures hereafter. Under the immediate guidance of the Divine Teachers, or the Divine King-sages, the people follow the law with unbounded faith. But when these Divine Guides give up the role of direct Instructors with a view to strengthen human intellect by stimulating in it a spirit of independent enquiry and thought on the materials of thought thus supplied, i.e., when there is no visible Divine Personage in the person of a Mann or an Ikshvaku, to whom an appeal can be made by those whose faith in things invisible is shaken the least by any circumstance whatsoever, all but those few who find some reason to adhere to the received teachings as to the unseen world turn to their ordinary experience for guidance. In course of time a thorough reaction is produced in their minds against that unquestioning faith of the orthodox which culminates in a stupendous system of priestcraft and an almost meaningless ritualism born of ignorance and selfishness gathering themselves round the pure central core of a scientific ritual. This strong reactionary
spirit runs so much against the orthodox system that it accepts nothing as true except what the senses reveal, not even the recorded truths commonly accepted as Revelation and which form the basis of orthodox belief. It places no trust even in matters of inference. Thus the conclusion is inevitable that nothing is left behind after death; that there can be no life after death for which one should prepare while still alive here on earth. The result is an extreme materialistic sensualism or a low form of utilitarianism forming the rule of conduct. This system of thought forms the faith of a Charvaka. Though the system may satisfy the sensualist who wants to shake himself off all restrictions put on his libertine tendencies, its conclusions cannot commend themselves to the enquiring man who, as having already experienced heavenly pleasures, feels a sense of complete dissatisfaction about the mere earthly pleasures, and a secret and inexpressible longing for the celestial pleasures of even a more intense kind than he has already tasted. Though not quite agreeing with the orthodox ritualist who honestly exercises all the powers of his intellect with a view to find a rational basis for the received code of morality and ceremonial, yet the honest heterodox thinker cannot subscribe to all the conclusions to which the materialistic philosophy has led him, undermining all the basis of morality; and he follows
some rules of moral conduct which he formulates for himself in the light of his own conscience which has by this time under the impress of his former experience developed into a faculty.
14. This spirit of enquiry has served to stimulate the intellect of the orthodox as well as the heterodox thinker to that pitch of thought at which it is prepared to take a further step in advance with a little more light on their path. Both alike feel somewhat dissatisfied with all the pleasures the earth and heaven can afford, temporary as they are, lasting short or long in accordance with the intensity of the effort made to secure them, and always mixed with anxiety and care about their duration. While in this state of mind, the Divine Teacher comes once more to their help and throws out slight hints as to the possibility of freeing oneself from the ever-revolving wheel of birth and death and attain to a state of happiness untainted by pain, a state of being in which one will he free from all pain and will never return to the earthly life wherein pleasure and pain alternate with each other. The Teacher sets at rest their uneasy mind by declaring that this life of pain and pleasure is at best temporary and that freedom from pain can be obtained by knowing things as they are in their true relations. The Divine Teacher lays down a brief sketch of the
origin of the world and of the path which man has to tread with a view to obtain liberation. Inspired by this teaching, both the orthodox and the heterodox classes of thinkers set themselves to work. The orthodox thinkers still hold to the Veda as the standard by which the truth of the results of their intellectual speculation should be measured, and in course of time they add to the Veda the fresh block of teachings as part and parcel of it under the name of Upanishads; while the heterodox, carrying on their old reactionary spirit against ritualism into the realm of theosophy, deny all authority to Revelation as such. The orthodox thought assumes in course of time the forms of Vaiseshika, Nyaya, Sankhya, and Yoga systems, while the heterodox thought gives birth in the long run, to something like the Buddhistic and Arhata (Jain) systems of philosophy.
15. The thinkers of orthodox type try to cast all the knowledge they have acquired by Revelation into a systematic form. The chief object of their attempt at systematisation is to overthrow the materialistic system of Charvaka; and for this they have to perfect their logic. They have accordingly developed a complete system of logic by which they seek to establish the truths contained in the scripture independently of all aid from scripture. In their zeal to silence the Charvakas
who recognise no other source of knowledge than pratyaksha or sensuous perception, they have given undue prominence to anumana or empirical inference as the one sufficient instrument by which all things worth knowing can be known and proved. When the scripture is apparently at variance with the findings of logic, it is so interpreted as not to offend the conclusions alleged to have been arrived at by independent reasoning.—I say 'alleged' because it is the Revelation which has made them think of the soul, God, etc., whose existence could never have been suggested by mere empirical reasoning. This method of investigation cannot but vitiate thee system, so far as it relates to the subject which falls within the special province of Revelation. The laws of reasoning are primarily based on relations of agreement and difference among external objects, and as such they may hold good when dealing with things which are experienced as external to the entity that perceives them, and which thus fall within the ken of the sense-organs by which impressions of external objects are received. They are found most potent instruments in finding out the relations of one object to. another in the external world, and all sciences relating to gross material things outside the Self are based on those laws. But when the same laws are rigorously applied to things beyond the ken of sense-organs, especially when they are
extended to the region of the causes which have produced the phenomena we perceive, when they are resorted to in investigating the nature of Atman, the true Self who is quite unlike anything experienced by him for the very reason that He is the experiencer and all other things are experienced by Him,—when those laws which are based on the relations of phenomena to one another are appealed to in determining the relations between the phenomena on the one side and the Atman on the other, the conclusions arrived at cannot, of course, tally with truths exactly as they are declared in the scriptures which are the records of the ultimate verities realised by the Initiates in their Divine Samadhi. If some of the conclusions on transcendental matters arrived at by this method of investigation correspond to the reality, it is because the course of reasoning by which they have been arrived at is primarily, though perhaps unconsciously, inspired by the truths made known by Revelation. Not infrequently, the very line of argument adopted is already found sketched briefly in the scriptures; and, but for hints contained in the scriptures; the particular line of argument in question, as quite unique in itself, could not have occurred to the unaided reasoning. Hence it is that while the systems based on this method of investigation exhibit a tolerable degree of agreement in the analysis of
experience as to matters lying outside Atman who is the subject of all experiences, there is utmost divergence in their conclusions as to the First Cause of the Universe, as to the nature of Isvara and Atman, as to the cause of bondage, as to the nature and means of liberation.
16. The Tarkikas (Vaiseshikas and Naiyayikas) hold that the material universe is created out of the extremely fine atoms of matter acted on by the will of the Omniscient and Omnipotent Isvara. The soul is in itself an insentient entity rendered conscious by its union with manas through which it suffers pleasure and pain. The soul which is eternal identifies itself with the body, etc., on account of ignorance, and feels that it is born and dead with the body and thus suffers a lot of pain. The one means of attaining liberation is to destroy ignorance by knowledge of truth, obtained through the grace of the Divine Being, by meditating on the object of the right knowledge. By this knowledge of truth false notions disappear. When false notions disappear all the evil passions pass away; with them ceases activity; with it ceases birth, and with the cessation of birth, comes the annihilation of pain, which is the final bliss. The final bliss consists in perfect obliviousness to all: being freed from
manas, the soul is unconscious of anything, being in itself quite an insentient entity.
17. According to some of the Sankhyas, the material universe is evolved out of the one all-pervading insentient essence of matter called Pradhana, acting under the influence of a sentient Isvara who enters into it by way of being reflected in it; while there are other Sankhyas who hold that there is no such Being called Isvara, and that the one Pradhana evolves, of itself, into the universe of manifold existence. Creation, they say, is effected by mutually dependent Nature (Prakriti) and Soul, Prakriti not evolving without the conscious Soul, and the Soul not achieving its emancipation without Nature's evolution. All pain is due to the Soul—which is in itself free from pain—falsely identifying itself with the intellect which is evolved out of Nature (Prakriti). By contemplation of truth the Soul is enabled to discriminate between Nature and Soul, and then a final separation takes place. Kaivalya or absolute isolation has been attained: the result is final bliss. In this state of bliss the Soul remains pure consciousness, Nature manifesting itself never more to the vision of the soul.
18. The Nyaya and Sankhya schools have based their intellectual speculation on the teaching of the accepted Revelation, never disputing the matters of fact detailed therein: and they may be
so far considered orthodox. The heterodox thinkers, who find themselves unable to subscribe to the elaborate doctrine of Vedic ritual, lay the axe of speculation at the very root of it by way of denying the persistent existence of the soul, so that there is none who, doing an act at present, will, in a future period, reap the fruits thereof. They attach no value to the time-honored Veda which teaches among other things a long and to them indefensible course of rituals; but they substitute in its place scriptures containing a body of teachings treating mostly of pure morality and purporting to have been delivered by an Omniscient Teacher, a Buddha or an Arhat. Such are the Buddhists and the Arhats. The former hold as follows: There is no Isvara, no one eternally existent God who is the creator of the universe. Everything in the universe including the soul is sui generis, born of itself, and exists only for an instant, not having existed before nor existing after that one instant of its existence. All is pain; and the bondage of the soul consists in looking upon the self and the universe, by ignorance and consequent karma, as something continuously existent. When, by deep meditation of the truth that everything is painful, momentary, sui generis, and non-existent before and after, the soul recognises its own momentariness as well as the momentariness of all else, liberation is attained. Liberation consists in pure detached states of consciousness
following one upon another in a continuous stream without being tainted by external objects of perception; or, according to the Nihilist, it consists in everything, including the soul, being reduced in knowledge to a non-entity, to an absolute void.
19. The followers of the Arhats, on the other hand, reject the Buddhistic doctrine of momentariness of everything and accord to the universe a sort of continued existence. They advocate the continuous existence of the soul which, neither infinitesimally small nor infinitely great, occupies a limited space, doing acts at present and reaping the fruits thereof in future. With the Buddhists, they deny the existence of one eternal God,—of one independent and all-pervading creator of the universe,—while admitting the existence of an omniscient Being who has overcome all faults and shaken off all bonds of existence in the ordinary process of soul-evolution. The universe comes out of atoms by the action of individual karma. Everything is made up of something eternal and of something non-eternal. The bondage consists in the soul assuming, as the result of sin and false intuition, various bodies occupying limited parts of space. Liberation is the absolute release from action by the decay of the causes of bondage and existence. "It is the abiding in the highest regions, the soul being absorbed in bliss, with its knowledge unhindered, and its bliss
untainted by any pain or impression thereof." It is secured by right knowledge obtained through an absolute faith in the teaching of an Arhat, by right conduct, and by abstaining from all actions tending to evil.
20. In its struggle against the materialists of the Charvaka type, the intellect has attained a high stage of development; and, as a result, a complete system of logic has been formulated. But the conclusions based on mere intellectual speculation concerning matters which rise far above the loftiest reaches of the intellect cannot always subserve the cause of truth. It has been seen how much at variance, as regards the ultimate problems, are the few typical systems above referred to, which seek to prove everything by reason. In speculating about the transcendental, each theorist tries to outwit the other by resorting to reasoning, and thus a host of warring systems have come into being. This result soon leads to reaction. When reasoning is exclusively resorted to for guidance in an enquiry as to the matters which do not fall within the scope of the sense-organs, the conclusions are often at variance with truth. The laws of reasoning are based primarily upon relations of objects as perceived by the sense organs; and the sense-organs lend to the objects of perception their own colour and conditions which make them appear different from what
they really are; so that the systems of philosophy based on mere intellectual speculation are vitiated by the inherent defects of the instruments employed in obtaining knowledge. The systems, therefore, that are entirely based on intellectual speculation, discarding all light from the accepted Revelation—simply because the religions based on Revelation have inculcated practices which demand blind faith at first and which afterwards during the long lapse of ages grow into an elaborate and somewhat meaningless ceremonial—are farther removed from the teachings of True Revelation as to the right path of progress than those which are mainly guided by Revelation, though pretending to establish by independent reasoning the truths taught therein.
21. As a corrective to the foregoing methods of investigation which have led to a distortion of revealed truths, it is sought to get at the revealed truths first-hand, by interpreting the scriptures as they stand according to the principles of construction by which ordinary speech uttered by a trustworthy person is construed, For a clear understanding of the teaching of the scriptures thus made out, it should also be reconciled with experience by resorting to logic, clearly distinguishing, however, the facts which can be proved by empirical logic,—the logic based on ordinary experience—and those which cannot be so proved, but whose understanding can be made clearer by pursuing
such a course of logic as will not lead to a conclusion quite opposed to the revealed teaching. In the latter case, no modification is introduced, on the strength of the laws which obtain among objects of sensuous perception, into the body of the teachings as made out by an independent interpretation of the scriptural texts; the Revelation being intended to throw light upon such things only as are quite beyond the limited scope of intellect and sense-organs. Such, in brief, is the method of the Mimamsa school. In their attempt to-find out the import of the Veda interpreted by itself, undistorted by the intervention of human reason, the Mimamsakas have developed a complete system of the general principles of construction, according to which all revealed texts should be interpreted.
22. The system thus constructed out of the contents of the .Veda is called Mimamsa, an enquiry into the meaning of the Veda. It is divided into two great sections: one dealing with rituals,. the other with the soul and the universe; respectively termed Purva-Mimamsa or simply Mimamsa,. and the Uttara-Mimasa; the latter being also. known as Sariraka-Mimamsa, an enquiry into the nature of the embodied soul, but more popularly spoken of as the Brahma-Sutras or even as Vedanta-sutras. Though these two form two sections of one whole system, still in later history,
they have come to hold quite divergent views concerning some of the fundamental questions. Thus while the Vedantins look upon the universe as evolved out of an eternal Omniscient Isvara, the Mimamsakas admit no sort of Omniscient Being and regard the universe as having evolved out of atoms of matter acted on by the karma of individuals. Mimamsakas hold that salvation is attained by the works prescribed in the Veda, whereas the Vedantins maintain that all effects of actions being more, or less transient, eternal salvation can be attained by no other means than knowledge, for which an unselfish performance of the works prescribed in the Veda can but prepare the mind by way of purifying it. It is the Mimamsakas of the post-Buddhistic period that have been led to hold views so opposed to the Vedanta; a position which they have had to assume owing to the exigencies of time. They had to establish the authority of the Veda as a scripture against the Buddhist's anathemas, most of which were directed chiefly against the ritualistic portion of the Vedic teaching. To this end the importance of the Vedic ritual has been so much emphasised—as a piece of rhetoric—that it has come to be held as the main point of the teaching. It is held that nothing else is necessary for salvation, and that it is attained by avoiding all prohibited actions, by doing nothing with a selfish motive and thus generating no new
[paragraph continues] Karma necessitating rebirth, and by a strict observance of the obligatory duties which wash away all sins. The denial of the existence of an Omniscient Being is traceable to the Mimamsaka's zeal to abolish the authority of the Buddhistic and Arhata Scriptures looked upon by their followers as the deliverances of Omniscient Beings,—of those who in the natural course of spiritual progress have shaken off the bonds of flesh and attained perfection in knowledge. As against these the Mimamsaka defends the authority of the Veda on the ground that it is eternal and self-existent,—not the production of a mind, not even of the mind of an Omniscient Eternal Isvara, whose very existence he denies. Those passages in the Upanishads which treat of Isvara are explained away by the Mimamsaka as serving, at best, to furnish an imaginary form or forms—having no real objective existence—upon which the soul should contemplate in order to attain to the highest state of Bliss in Moksha.
23. The Vedantin, on the other hand, looks upon the Mimamsa as an enquiry into the ritualistic portion of the Veda treating of the ceremonial observances which every man has to go through before he is qualified to enter on the path of knowledge. But he deprecates against the Mimamsaka regarding the Upanishads as not pointing to the real objective existence of Brahman, the eternal
[paragraph continues] Omniscient Isvara, from whom the whole universe has come into existence, and in whom it has its being He further contends that by the mere observance of Vedic ritual none can attain everlasting Bliss; that, on the other hand, the highest bliss can be attained by knowledge alone which removes the ignorance that has blinded the vision of the soul to truth and thereby led to all the numerous evils which are collectively named samsara-bandha, the bondage of mundane existence. Interpreting the Upanishads, upon which the Vedanta Doctrine is mainly based, according to the rules of construction formulated in the course of enquiry into the contents of the Karma kanda or the ritualistic portion of the Veda, the Brahmavadin comes to the conclusion that the Upanishads inculcate the existence of Brahman, an all-pervading Principle, the one Existence whence the whole universe has come into being. Brahman as Isvara is not only the Divine Intelligence who controls and guides the evolution of the whole universe; Fie is also present in every thing that we perceive or think of, as its very basis, as its material cause, just as clay exists in the pot as its material cause. While agreeing thus far generally as against the other systems of philosophy, the different schools of Vedanta differ very widely from one another as regards the views they hold as to God, the individual Soul, the universe, and their mutual relations:
all the schools, curiously enough, basing their divergent views on the authority of the one class of writings named Upanishads. The dualists, the followers of Sri Madhvacharya, hold that the three are quite distinct from one another, every individual soul being quite distinct from every other soul, and every material object being quite distinct from every other. The followers of Sri Ramanujacharya try to reduce the whole existence to a unity made up of the three ultimate principles of God, the sentient and the insentient,—all inextricably united into one, God being as it were embodied in the other two, so that these two have no existence quite independent of God's. Like the dualists of Madhvacharya's school, they hold that the external universe is as real as the soul that perceives it, and that the individual souls of whom the sentient existence is composed are really distinct from one another and from God, each having a distinct individual consciousness of his own: the individual souls being absolutely governed by God from within in all their thoughts and actions, finding their utmost Bliss, when liberated from the bonds of samsara, in an inseparable union with God, in the hearty devotion of service rendered to the All-benign and Most Gracious Master, in the loving acknowledgment of the Divine Lord's absolute sovereignty over him through never-ending eternity. There are Vedantins of another school
headed by Srikantha-Sivacharya, who, like those mentioned above, admit the reality of separate existence in the case of individual souls even when liberated, but who differ from them only in so far as they hold that the liberated soul lives for himself enjoying the inherent unutterable bliss of his own nature as well as the loving blissful presence of the Divine Lord all around, not however quite so conscious of his absolute dependence on the Divine Being as the followers of Sri Ramanujacharya would have it. Besides the systems of Vedanta now mentioned, there are several others which, like the three foregoing ones, admit the reality of an external universe, either existing quite apart from Atman, or as having actually emanated from Atman.
24. Distinguished from all these systems and standing apart by itself is that system of Vedanta which maintains- an absolute unity of Atman, the One Reality, whereof all duality is an illusory manifestation. Unlike other systems of philosophy and religion it upholds an absolute identity of God and the individual soul as the One Existence and Light. It teaches that liberation from the bonds of samsara consists in a complete realisation of this oneness of the Self, the liberated soul seeing all in the one true Self and the one Self in all. The whole universe which seems to be so real to an ordinary being does not at all appear to the liberated
and if he ever sees the universe at all, he sees it as a manifestation of his own Self, of the Omniscient Isvara who, by the power of illusion which is always under His control, can bring into manifestation the whole universe by His own free will. Either way the universe has no real existence apart from the Atman by whose light it appears and in whose being it has its existence.
25. Such, in brief, are the main conclusions embodied in the Vedanta Doctrine as Sri Sankaracharya has expounded it. As establishing the absolute non-duality of the One Self, the One Existence and Light, the system is known as the Advaita-Vada by pre-eminence. The Advaita. Doctrine is developed in all its details in the commentaries on the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-gita and Sariraka-mimamsa-sutras, by its eminent Founder and by his equally eminent disciple and literary collaborator, Suresvaracharya, known respectively as the Bhashyakara and the Vartikakara,—the one laying down the foundation and building the superstructure of the system, and the other filling up the gaps, symmetrising and embellishing the whole. Between them, the Advaita Doctrine is completed and established against the other systems of philosophy and religion, orthodox as well as heterodox. The main outlines of the system are delineated in a concise and telling form by the Founder in his Dakshinamurti-Stotra,—an Ode to
the Divinity conceived as the Guru of Gurus,—which serves as the text upon which the devotee may meditate in the calm moments of his daily life. The Vartikakara has explained the meaning of this Ode in his work called Manasollasa, 'brilliant play of thought,' which renders explicit all that lies implicit in the hymn. Both these works have been literally translated into English in the present volume, elucidative notes being added whenever necessary.
26. It may be of some help to the beginner to show briefly the process by which Suresvaracharya has established the non-duality of Atman. Closely following the most fundamental principle of Mimamsa that the Veda teaches nothing which can be otherwise known, the Vedantin of the Advaita school has picked out the four following sentences from the Upanishads,—one from each Veda,—as embodying the one grand truth which the Sruti alone can teach:
"Prajnana (Consciousness) is Brahman." (Aitareyopanishad).
"I am Brahman." (Brihadaranyaka-Upanishad).
"That thou art." (Chhandogya-Upanishad).
"This self is Brahman." (Mandukya-Upanishad).
These four sentences clearly signify the absolute unity of the Self and Brahman. Indeed
this truth cannot be arrived at by the intellect and the senses which, by a long-acquired tendency, always look outwards for light and knowledge; and it is apparently a truth which is opposed to all human experience. At first sight it seems beyond all power of human comprehension to realise that the human Ego whose knowledge and power are so miserably limited is identical with the Omniscient and Omnipotent Brahman. Still, evidently for that very reason,—for the reason that Revelation is intended to enlighten man on truths which cannot be known by unaided intellect,—it should be regarded as the main truth inculcated in the Upanishad, striking the key note as it were of the Vedanta doctrine. The whole system of Advaita is only an attempt to read human experience in the light of this grand revealed truth. All the writings of Sankaracharya and Suresvaracharya have this one great purpose in view, namely to show that the Revealed Truth does not stultify human understanding, when properly investigated and explained.
27. With a view to establish this identity of Isvara and the Self, the Advaita-Vadin tries to show that all that goes to distinguish Jiva and Isvara is due to something which is outside their essential nature, to an upadhi or medium through which they are manifested. When manifested through Maya which is pure in itself, the One Existence and Light is regarded as the Isvara,
who, seeing through the medium of pure sattvic Maya completely under His control, knows the whole universe and exercises unlimited sway over it. When moving in the sphere of impure Maya and seeing through the coloured spectacles of avidya which are made of the glasses of various colours, the One Existence and Light appears as so many Jivas with limited ranges of vision, seeing everything in the colour of the sense-organs,—of the coloured spectacles—by which they perceive it. The external objects, i.e., the particular forms in which the external world, the whole non-ego, is manifested, are all garbs as it were vesturing the One Existence and Light that is both within and without, garbs lent to It by the coloured glasses through which It is seen. It is, in fact, the One Existence and Light, the one Self, that alone really exists and is manifested both within and without, as both the self and the non-self, as the subject and the object. The distinction as subject and object, as the ego and the non-ego, is purely a creation of ignorance; and all that one has to do to realise the truth is to shake off the sleep of ignorance which presents to the Self the dream of the universe as something real, as something which exists outside the Self. Then Atman, the Self, will shine forth in His true nature, realising Himself in the whole universe; seeing no universe outside Himself,
seeing Himself everywhere and none else anywhere, centred in Himself, as to whom there is not a where or a when. Then He is said to have been awakened from the sleep of Maya, all His former experience appearing like a dream.
28. That Jiva is one with Isvara is indicated by the fact that Jiva is possessed of consciousness and activity like Isvara. As possessing unlimited consciousness and activity, Isvara can alone have them inherent in His essential nature. They are the essential attributes of Jivas as well, though apparently of a limited extent. Moreover, all the activities which constitute the world's progress have their origin in the will and intelligence of sentient beings; and these sentient beings cannot, therefore, but be one with the Isvara, who is said to carry on the world-processes by His own will and intelligence. It is, in fact, His will which, reflected in the Jivas, carries on the various processes by which the universe is maintained. All the limitations to which a Jiva's will and intelligence are subject are traceable to the upadhis,—to the vehicles or the media through which the Jiva manifests himself as the Ego perceiving all else. A right understanding, therefore, of the essential nature of Atman will consummate in a conviction as to His absolute unity.
29. All that appear alien to the Self are only forms ensouled by Him,—in whose being they exist, and by whose light they shine. They are
therefore said to be produced out of the Self as their cause, as the Reality underlying all phenomena. They are only illusory forms of the Self who exists ever the same, unaffected by the forms set up in Him by mere avidya, just as a rope remains unaffected as rope all the while that it is mistaken for a serpent. These forms, external objects as they are called, have no real being outside that of the Self. No object ever shines except when associated with the Ego perceiving it and forming the material basis of the object, as clay is the material basis of a pot. The Atoms and the Pradhana, assumed by the Tarkikas and the Sankhyas to be the cause of the universe, are only hypothetical: or, if they be more than hypothetical, they are the illusory forms of Atman, the One Existence and Light. It is because Atman is thus the sole cause of the phenomenal universe that the existence and light which constitute the inherent essential nature of Atman are associated with each individual object in the universe, just as clay is found associated with the objects made of it.
30. The universe is but an external expression of the will, intelligence and activity of the One Existence. As the universe appears for a time and then disappears, even these last—will, intelligence and activity,—do not constitute the inherent nature of Isvara who exists the same for ever. Accordingly, to speak of the universe of
evanescent forms as really existing, or to speak of Isvara as the creator of the universe, is not absolutely true. When external objects are said to exist and shine, it is the Self that exists and shines in the forms spoken of as sense-objects. In fact, no object ever exists or shines except as the object of the consciousness of an Ego, of 'I'; while the Ego, what we feel as 'I,' exists and shines ever the same, seeing the objects and even their absence. These objects come and go, no individual object having really existed before manifestation nor continuing to exist thereafter. The sense-objects, properly speaking, can have no more real existence than the serpent for which a rope is mistaken. One way of realising the universality and unity of the Self is to refer the existence and light, present in all external objects, to the Ego who is associated with every object perceived. The one Atman appears as the Ego,—as perceiver when manifested in the buddhi, and as agent of actions when manifested in prana. Deluded by Maya, by the mighty power of illusion, the One Self appears as Jiva identifying Himself with the manas and prana in all their transformations. The removal, by knowledge, of the illusion which is the cause of samsara is called Moksha or Liberation. When this has been accomplished, all limitations created by Maya having disappeared, the Jiva realises his true nature as the one
[paragraph continues] Omniscient Atman and recognises the identity of Jiva and Isvara.
31. Maya and Vidya, illusion and wisdom, are both the mighty potentialities of the Lord. By the one He partially conceals His true nature and manifests Himself as Jiva; and then by the other which removes the veil of illusion, He realises Himself. Properly speaking, Vidya, the light of wisdom, constitutes His essential nature; but it is spoken of as coming into existence because, when the curtain of Maya is removed, the inherent light of Atman shines in full in the mind of those from whose vision it has hitherto been obscured, just as the sun is said to have his full light restored to him when the shadow that has eclipsed him from our view has been removed.
32. What is this Maya or Avidya, which like a shadow eclipses the Omniscient Self? Does it really exist or not? The Advaitin answers as follows: In common parlance Maya is a name given to a phenomenon which cannot be accounted for by any known laws of nature, and which cannot be said either to exist or not to exist. The phenomenon produced by the magician's will cannot be said to exist, because it soon disappears and the magician himself knows that it is an illusion. Neither can it be said not to exist at all, because we are conscious of the thing, though only for a time; and we are never conscious of a thing which
is altogether non-existent, such as a man's horn. Of a similar character is the phenomenon called the universe which is imagined to be distinct from Atman. It is like the silver for which the mother-of-pearl is mistaken. Here it is Atman who, owing to the illusion obscuring the mind of the perceiver, puts on all the forms which we call external objects. Like all other illusions it disappears by knowledge. Enlightened sages as well as the Sruti bear testimony to the fact that, on the dawn of knowledge of the true Self, Maya disappears altogether. It is in this sense,—in the sense that it disappears in the light of right knowledge—that the external universe is spoken of as unreal, as mithya, as opposed to the self-existent and self-luminous Atman who never ceases to exist and shine.
33. He who practises Yoga, restraining the mind from all external objects and fixing it on the indwelling Atman, the True Divine Self, gradually overcomes the distracting tendencies of manas. When manas dwells constantly on the Atman, it tends to become pure and co-extensive with Him. This process attains consummation when manas, becoming entirely atrophied as to the external universe, resumes its real form as Atman, and there exists no longer that parti-coloured organ by which to perceive the external world in all its variety,—no longer that power of illusion which has given
rise to the innumerable phenomena of the external universe. He who has attained to this condition has become a Jivanmukta, has been liberated from samsara while still alive in the body.
34. The Advaitin holds that the Upanishads and all allied Smritis, Itihasas and Puranas teach this doctrine in one harmonious voice. Even the authors of other systems of philosophy are most of them not averse to this doctrine, though they do not avowedly uphold it in their writings. First as to the inherent nature of Atman: The Saivas and the Sankyas admit that Atman is self-existent and self-conscious. They cannot deny that Atman is essentially blissful, as may be seen from the following story related by Vyasa in his commentary on Patanjali's Yoga-Sutras:
There was a great yogin named Jaigishavya. By yoga he attained to all siddhis and could read back the history of the universe through many a cycle. In time he turned away his attention from the siddhis, and by Divine wisdom he realised the true nature of the Self and became absorbed in entire devotion to it. He was once asked by the teacher what happiness he had derived from the siddhis already-attained. The reply was that no happiness was derived from them. Then the teacher looked surprised that such extremely felicitous siddhis had given him no happiness. The yogin then explained that the felicity conferred by the siddhis was no doubt far superior to the worldly happiness, but that it was misery when compared with the Bliss of Kaivalya or Absolute Freedom.
The foregoing story shows that Atman is happiness itself: though the Sankhyas do not avowedly say so, simply because the word is in common parlance applied to worldly happiness. The Naiyayikas also must admit that Atman is bliss itself in so far as they hold that it is even more desirable to attain Atman than to attain the state of Indra and. Brahma. But they avow that in moksha Atman is quite as unconscious as a stone, merely because the inherent absolute consciousness of Atman, manifesting itself when freed from all connection with the body and the senses, is quite different from the ordinary objective consciousness, of limited scope and duration obtained by means of the senses. It is for this very reason that the Buddhist Nihilists look upon Atman as a nonentity in Nirvana. In his zeal to maintain the universal applicability of the doctrine that everything is momentary, the Vijnanavadin, the Buddhist Idealist, is led to conclude that Atman is not a persistent, eternal entity; that He is, on the other hand, a stream of innumerable ever-varying momentary ideas or states of consciousness. In his view, liberation consists in the destruction of illusory objects by right knowledge and the consequent flow in a continuous stream of pure ideas which are independent of one another. The continuity of Atman experienced in liberation is, he says, somewhat like the continuity of a flame.
[paragraph continues] Though Atman's continuity is admitted to be a fact of experience, it is denied by him for the exigencies of a thesis. With a view to firmly establish the doctrine that all external objects are momentary, he spends much ingenuity in showing that whatever exists,—including Atman—exists only for a moment. In thus denying a fact of experience for the sake of an argument, he does not stand alone. The Mimamsakas,—of the school of Bhatta for instance,—in their zeal to demolish the Idealist's doctrine that external objects have no existence independent of the ideas of objects, i.e., independent of the states of consciousness which, as he maintains, are sue generis,—hold that an idea is not a fact of immediate experience; that it is, on the other hand, always a matter of inference only. As against the Idealist, they hold that the forms of objects presenting themselves to consciousness inhere in the external objects themselves, the existence of corresponding ideas or mental states being inferred from the existence of forms which are directly revealed in experience. To the Idealist, as to all others, the continuity of Atman is a fact of immediate consciousness expressing itself thus: ''I who now touch the object am the same entity who tasted it before." For the sake of argument, however, he persists in maintaining that Atman also is momentary. Again, the Mimamsaka holds that Atman is a doer and
enjoyer in himself, while the Vedantin maintains that Atman can be said to act or enjoy only when identified with an upadhi. As the Mimamsaka's main object is to demolish the materialistic doctrine of the Charvakas, he contents himself with showing that there is an entity independent of the body, who does works here and enjoys their fruits in a world beyond, so that all Vedic injunctions should be duly observed as conducing to the enjoyment of heavenly bliss. It does not serve the purposes of a ritualistic doctrine to prove that Atman is in himself pure and immutable, himself not a doer of an action nor an enjoyer of its effects. On the other hand such a teaching would prove prejudicial to the main purpose. The Mimamsakas having expounded their system with the object of supplying a rational basis to the ritualistic doctrine, they cannot be said to be directly averse to the doctrine that Atman in His essential nature is pure immutable Consciousness, Existence and Bliss.
35. Next as to the unity of Atman and the unreality of all else. No doubt, ail other schools of philosophy, such as the Sankhyas and the Naiyayikas, speak of the universe of matter and material objects as real, and assert that Atmans are infinite in number. They, however, declare that when Spirit is liberated, It dwells alone by Itself in Its own light, nothing else presenting itself to Its vision. Moreover, the Sankhyas and the Tarkikas
teach that liberation is attained .by a knowledge of the true nature of Spirit, and by discriminating Spirit from matter. If, as the result of this knowledge, the whole universe of matter and material objects has altogether vanished away from the vision of Spirit, how can it be said to exist at all, inasmuch as nothing can be said to exist, of which we are not conscious? Thus it follows that the universe has ceased to exist in virtue of the knowledge of the true nature of Spirit. Now, it is only an illusion that can be removed by mere knowledge. For example, it is the illusory notion of serpent which is removed when the rope that is mistaken for a serpent is recognised. It must, therefore, be admitted that the universe which is removed by knowledge is also an illusion. In the Yoga-Sutras, Patanjali says: ''Though removed from the vision of the liberated Spirit, it has not vanished altogether, as it is still perceived by others" (ii. 22). This can only hold good if the Universe is a mere illusion. To one whose eye has some organic defect, the mother-of-pearl appears to be silver, while to another it appears not as silver, but as the mother-of-pearl. That which appears the same to all is alone true. Wherefore the universe also, which presents itself to consciousness so long only as Atman's real nature is not known, and no longer, must be an illusion. Though conscious of this truth, the
philosopher does not expressly state it in order simply that the student's mind may not get perplexed. If at the very outset the system should start with a declaration of the unreality of the universe, the mind would be perplexed with the question, how can it be? It is only with a view to prevent this perplexity that the universe is spoken of as real. Again, according to the Sankhyas and the Tarkikas, neither the existence of manifold Atmans nor a distinction between Jiva and Isvara is ever perceived by the liberated soul; and they are, therefore, as unreal as the universe. They admit plurality of Atman at the outset with the hope of being better able to explain the varied distribution of pleasure and pain, which in fact is due to variety in the upadhis with which the one Atman is associated. Like the Vedantins, the Sankhyas and others maintain that in liberation Atman alone shines. He is, therefore, in reality one without a second. *
36. This short review of the methods and the fundamental tenets of the various systems of Aryan philosophy and religion is a necessary prelude to the short treatise which, while expounding the main principles of the Vedanta doctrine, also enters into a discussion and refutation of some of
the conclusions arrived at by other schools. An attempt has been made to show first wherein chiefly the several schools of philosophy differ and then how finally they all agree. By making allowances for the peculiar standpoints of the several divergent schools, it is possible to construct one harmonious system of Aryan philosophy and religion containing many a strata of thought suited to the various types of intellect.
lxxiv:* Vide Madhavacharya's commentary on Suta-Samhita, Yajna-vaibhava-khanda, 8th adhyaya, verse 24.