Shorter works by Nataraja Guru

 

EDUCATION

BY NATARAJA GURU

 

 

PART III
ONE-WORLD EDUCATION

 

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INTRODUCTION
A gentleman is different from a boor. Education in the ordinary sense could be said to be what makes a gentleman out of a boor. The word 'education' itself comes from the Latin "ex" and "ducere" (to draw from, or out), and the more modern of educational theories today have insisted on this aspect of education. Classical notions of education are diametrically opposed to such modern ones, which thus believe in drawing out what is already present in the child, rather than in putting book-learning into him by lessons hard to learn, involving the tears and drudgery of classrooms. This change in perspective was ushered into existence by a bold man called Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who is sometimes referred to in encyclopaedias of education as the "Father of Modern Educational Theory".

 

In spite of such recognition given to him, with his picture appearing on the frontispiece of Monroe's "Encyclopaedia of Education", Rousseau's theories are still a closed book to many moderns. His "Emile" might be the Bible of educationists, but it contains too many enigmas, which have puzzled and continue to puzzle even such intelligent modern minds as H.G. Wells, who called Rousseau a hypochondriac who believed in shedding his sentimental tears into the Lac Léman of Geneva.

 

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Rousseau remains an enigma to modern educational authorities today, and his name hardly figures in the training courses of teachers at all. The modern teacher knows Montessori, Froebel and Pestalozzi. He understands the "project method" of John Dewey, and how the school and society have to be related organically according to the standards of what is called the "project-active" school based on a pragmatic socialized outlook. The study of nature is also understood by him to be important - not in itself, but because of its benefits to society. The Herbartian educational theory, savouring of post-Kantian speculation, is too theoretical and bookish to appeal to the minds of modern experimental educators. Even Herbert Spencer, as a naturalistic educator, and the ideas of John Locke, are considered as being outside the scope of education as understood in a pragmatic setting. One learns by doing; and play and work in the modern schoolroom have to go hand in hand, instead of being divorced from each other. It is here that Montessori, Pestalozzi and Froebel are still respected in the modern educational world. Otherwise, the humanities are generally seen to recede into the background in any syllabus of modern schools.

 

 

 

A ONE-SIDED APPROACH
Instead of programmes built around book-knowledge, as the humanities are bound to be, one hears of programmes based on interests and possible useful activities, commonly referred to under the designation 'project method'. "How does it work?" is a more important question than "in what philosophical light does one understand it?" That is the problem involved. Thus, the whole centre of gravity of modern education has drastically changed its position; there is little Latin and less Greek, while grammar and syntax have been thrown to the winds. Science has displaced the humanities, thus putting outside the pale of the normal education of a young man or woman of our generation all of those subjects in which human values are directly involved. Aesthetics, ethics, economics and education are subjects that are studied without any normative reference presupposed by them. Mill's utilitarianism could thus go hand in hand with this kind of approach, in which science and technocracy have a lopsided chance to enter the minds of young scholars or pupils, whether at college or high school.

 

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THE TRAGIC PARADOX
These processes, it is true, are conducive to the education of a citizen of a welfare state, or of one that has got to develop vast territories in order to build bridges or long tunnels or otherwise exploit the resources of a big country to the best advantage of the beneficiaries directly concerned. Thus, educational progress in its outward march goes from one technocratic victory to another, producing heroes interested in exploring other planets than our own, and forgetting values nearer home, residing within the self of man himself. A bomb gives power to a nation so that it could dominate and dictate to a neighbour, even if it does not do so openly. Armies are maintained and the stockpiling of armaments goes on, instead of the carrying out of the good intentions expressed at international conferences piously intending the golden day of world disarmament. Tensions mount up in the meanwhile, and cold wars, like subterranean fires, kill life by various forms of injustices that are not allowed to erupt into the open. Conflicting ideologies create situations far worse than in the days of the slavery that was supposed to have been abolished long ago. All this results from a tragic paradox hiding at the core of education itself.

 

This paradox can be stated in terms of the two standards revealed by the story by H.G. Wells about the great schoolmaster who fell dead while he was lecturing at Oundle School on the occasion of ceremonies there, over which Wells himself happened to be presiding. The conflict was clearly between the two mutually exclusive positions represented by the slogans, "Love thy neighbour as thyself", and "Britannia rules the waves". No educator, except perhaps Rousseau, ever faced this paradox squarely. He said that it is impossible to educate a citizen and a man at the same time. State educational systems are seen to shut their eyes to this obvious verity, and pretend ostrich-wise that it does not exist. Neither Montessori, nor Pestalozzi, nor Froebel is prepared to face this paradox with its tragic implications.

 

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Herein lies the basic drawback of modern education. One has to love Pakistan on the one hand, and watch millions of refugees suffer and starve on the other. This is what it amounts to. There is a helplessness here, which should only need to be proved once, yet still the educational policy-makers look on helplessly and suggest watered-down palliatives falling far short of curing the disease. The hand of God is revealed to no man, and there is no panacea for all ills. We can only travel from error to error, and those who say there is an absolute answer to such questions are derided in these days of scepticism, relativism, and the trial-and-error approach. Final answers are suspected of being dogmatic, as in the Middle Ages. "Down with the Absolute" is the modern slogan. "Let us invade the domain of knowledge piecemeal, and never try to storm the citadel wholesale"; such notions indicate the prevailing trend of modernism. It is no wonder then that Rousseau stands condemned as a sentimentalist and that his ideas sound strange to modern ears. He speaks, for example, of a form of negative education which holds that a child should be allowed to be a child before being a grown-up. Such a doctrine of negative education cannot be fitted easily into what gives meaning to education as understood in the West today. This is the reason why modern educators, as mentioned already, have nothing to say about the book "Emile". The paradox in education was faced by Rousseau; but the same paradox killed the great schoolmaster of Oundle by pulling his loyalties in opposite directions.

 

What we have to say, therefore, from the standpoint of One-World Education consists of recommending a fresh study of Rousseau to see how he is able to resolve the paradox and develop a theory of education in which its tragic implications are no more allowed to work havoc. Any theory of education must be capable of reconciling the two rival or conflicting positions of educating a citizen and a man at the same time. Such is the educational problem that confronts us in this book, for stating which we have just finished preliminarily clearing the ground.

 

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FOUR STAGES OF EDUCATION
Education is a process to be conceived of in terms of a lifetime. There is the education of childhood, the education of the adolescent and the adult, the education of the man of affairs, whether as a citizen or as a householder - and there is also finally the education that applies to a pensioner or a man who is thinking in terms of passing on from this life to the next. The child must not be deprived of play; the adolescent should not be deprived of the legitimate enjoyments of life proper to his age, including the pleasures of romance and love. The man of more mature years, when tried and weighed down by his responsibilities and worries, must be allowed some retirement and rest. And fourthly and finally, the man whose next event in life would consist in facing his own death has to find a more serious solution. Kalidasa in his "Raghuvamsa" refers to just these stages, which he visualizes under ideal conditions when he describes the citizens of King Dilipa's time as learning lessons in infancy; seeking pleasures in youth; practising austerities in advanced years; and finally learning to leave the body beautifully by the practice of Yoga.

 

These four divisions readily suggest to us four different types of education, which we could distinguish as:

 

(1) the Negative Education of Rousseau;
(2) the Naturalistic Education of Herbert Spencer;
(3) the Pragmatic or Socially Responsible Education of John Dewey for a man of middle age, combined with some contemplation proper to his age; and
(4) a programme of full-fledged Idealistic Education which covers spiritual disciplines such as Yoga.

 

Of the four broad divisions thus conceived, Negative Education would take us to the age of 14 or 15, varying only slightly in respect of a boy or a girl. Adolescence could cover the ages of 15 to 20, comprising the period of Naturalistic Education. From 20 to 45 could be called the period of practical social adjustment proper to Pragmatic Education. And finally, a fully contemplative discipline would apply from the age of 45 until death. Keeping these broad features in mind, it is thus possible to think in terms of four such stages of education in which we would expect variations, both in respect of the activities proper to men and women, as also in respect of the content of both theory and practice involved in each of the stages of the process.

 

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EDUCATION AS A BIPOLAR PROCESS
Here we have also to remember that education is a bipolar process. It always involves a relationship between the teacher and the taught, who are sometimes referred to as the educator and the educand, respectively. The personality of the educator is considered all-important to the process, which has sometimes been compared to an osmotic interchange of essences between a highly evolved personality called the Guru and the less evolved educand who is called the disciple. In certain countries, under certain prevailing theories of education, the personality of the educator is not given as much importance as in other traditions, philosophies or schools of thought. Adjusting the pupil to the needs of fitting into a society correctly does not involve the teacher's personality as directly as when Rousseau and Emile consider themselves inseparable. In advanced years, when a man is engaged in problems of life beyond death, the guidance of a spiritual teacher or Guru comes into the picture again more imperatively. In Naturalistic Education, the open book of nature itself could be treated as the education, as one of the counterparts of a dialectical process. The workshop or the project in Pragmatic Education need not necessarily involve respect for a personal teacher, because hydrogen and oxygen can be shown to combine to make water, irrespective of whether the student loves or respects the teacher or not. Thus, the bipolar process called education has to be studied in all its phases and aspects as it progresses through the broad stages that we have indicated, and each phase has its own type of bipolar process to be imagined as proper to it. The education of a woman has to differ drastically from that of a man, because of the different functions they have to fulfil in their lives. It is always the personality of the pupil that has to be given primacy in the forming of any educational theory. Furthermore, the interaction between teacher and taught has to be secured and maintained as a constant and uniform one so that the process could develop or unravel harmoniously throughout life, and more especially

 

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during the stages that we have tried to distinguish above as the Negative and the Idealistic, marking the first and the last of the four broad divisions.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION
Such are some of the guidelines which are suggested here for us to formulate a One-World Education. We know of no other textbook which satisfies these basic requirements than Rousseau's "Emile". Other precious indications can be found in works such as those of Kalidasa. Education and economics and ethics are all presented in a blended form in various parts of his works, whether poetic, lyric, epic or heroic. To glean educational theory from them would require detailed research into them which we cannot undertake here, inasmuch as these remarks are merely meant to be broad guiding considerations for the time being.

 

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14
WORLD EDUCATION MANIFESTO

 

Human problems are many. Most of them concern individuals. There are also total problems facing humanity as a whole. Nowadays it is an accepted dictum that "wars begin in the minds of men". It is also well realized now that modern war is a menace to humanity. To avoid this great danger, or at least to meet it with intelligent certitude, the answer lies in a whole-hearted and thoroughgoing love of fellow men and a reliance on Absolutist Wisdom. When we take it for granted that the atom bomb is not in keeping with the dignity or destiny of mankind, education conceived in terms of a whole lifetime and as applying to the whole of humanity at once, is the only factor with which to counter this ever-staring disaster which threatens the race.

 

The educator has the pupil or the child as his only tool, or rather counterpart, with which he is to accomplish this great task of saving humanity and securing its peace and happiness. With this tender and formative factor, sometimes for convenience called the educand, the person of mature age or understanding, called the educator, has to enter into a fruitful relationship in the continued process called education. The two persons involved are the dialectical counterparts of an educational situation.

 

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The individual personality of the educand has to be influenced by an education that is compatible with his age, sex, stage or type. The innate tendencies in the educand have to be adjusted progressively through the process so as to unfold his potentialities as fully as possible, so that throughout the process and in later life, he can play the happy role of a member of the human family, and thus contribute to the general happiness of mankind. Whether this goal is stated as peace on earth and goodwill to men; or in more religious terminology as the whole-hearted love of God and one's own neighbour; or in terms of social order as well-being in a workaday sense; whether conceived as a political ideal for world citizenship in the world of tomorrow; or even as the will to power of the idealist - the universal and human basis of education that should prepare him to lead a better life, with which we are concerned in this manifesto, must remain the same.

 

 

 

THE BIPOLAR RELATION
If the intervention of the educator in the natural unfolding of the personality of the educand is to be successful, it is necessary to establish scientifically correct educational relations between the two persons involved. Here the understanding of the personal factor and the laws that underlie the bipolar relation are matters of primal importance. The educator in his own person represents the second pole by virtue of which the various subjects, the relational, emotional or environmental factors that might confront the educand in the process, have to be eliminated or selected, graded or regulated and presented to him without any violation of the bipolar character of the process. This condition has to go on unhindered and harmoniously for many years before education can have any tangible effect. The educator has to adjust himself to every kind of educational contingency that might arise, in which he might have to play many a role, initiate many orbits of interest or activity, improvise many an experimental or educative situation, and stimulate intellectual interests in the pupil in many desirable and natural directions.

 

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THE PERSONAL FACTOR AND WORLD HAPPINESS
In other words, the two persons have to be treated as belonging together to a dialectical situation in which both the counterparts are of equal importance. The science of education has therefore to be conceived, not only along living or organic lines, but also in dialectically-conceived terms. The prevailing mechanistic approach, although called "scientific" because of its use of instruments, measurements and even experiments, has ended in a sterile accumulation of impersonal quantitative data and statistics, which leave the personality totally outside the discussion. Educators even avoid references to the personal factor, and if they do so at all it is to include, perhaps apologetically, a last paragraph on the subject. Thus important human values, not to speak of higher ones, are glaringly omitted from any programme of education. The present manifesto is an attempt to present the case for an education which would help to enhance the value of the person along scientific, open and dynamic lines without closed or static dogmatisms. Localized traditions or closed cults are here discredited. A classless and casteless humanity without frontiers or barriers made by traditional ideas, however superior in themselves, is kept in mind here. Further, the personal factor involved here in this living bipolar process of educational adjustment is to be a central or absolute concept or entity envisaged for developing the theme and thesis of this manifesto systematically and methodically. This manifesto is further conceived as a universal or world manifesto because the high hope that the peace and happiness of mankind should be the primary concern of any programme of education worth the name, whether individual or collective.

 

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I
SECTION 1: GENERAL

 

THE NEED FOR A NEW MANIFESTO

 

When organisations such as the UNESCO are in the field, it is legitimate to ask the question why there should be need for a manifesto of this kind. The reasons are:

 

FIRSTLY: That the programmes of the UNESCO are based on the recognition of the present set-up of sovereign states, each with its own closed pattern of cultural or citizenship values, not properly conceived on any human or one-world basis. In respecting the wishes of member-nations and not encroaching on their sovereignty, the UNESCO has to be very careful not to draw any loyalty to itself in any absolute sense. At best it can gather statistics, act as a clearing-house for information, and promote over-all literacy under what is called a programme of "fundamental education", which term, vague as it is, has been recently described in a UNESCO publication (1) as in effect merely "the educational arm of social and economic development".

 

Community projects and the training of leaders in rural areas figure prominently in the programmes of this body. It is not easy to see how the humming beehive-like secretariat with its pilot projects, the gathering of educational data, and the compilation of international educational statistics from dry governmental reports coming in from the numerous member-states, large or small, can effectively include within its scope in a practical or tangible sense, personal or human values which would make at least one human a better man. It is true that some cultural publications are attempted, and the fostering of international understanding, made at the level of a college debating society or get-together party, is also sometimes included in UNESCO programmes. It is not hard to discover that the millions of dollars spent by the organization are lost in the sands of such works as surveys which hardly interest anybody, or in works mostly consisting of the typing, translating, collecting, collating or clearing of information on a world-wide scale, or sometimes on items of travelling or on conferences in far-flung parts of the globe.

 

The International Bureau of Education which had been doing the same kind of work since the days of the League of Nations has now been largely absorbed into the UNESCO, but the same work now goes on in Paris in a slightly more glorified or outwardly-streamlined form.

 

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How the individual educand in a personal sense could ever be reached or influenced by all this peripheral paraphernalia which leaves him outside its close scrutiny; and how it can help in the making of a better man or even a better citizen in a human or world sense, remains a puzzle.

 

 

 

SECONDLY: The fact that the UNESCO takes for granted rival citizenships, endangers, besides compromising, the role of that body as an effective world organization. The United Nations Organization itself, of which the UNESCO is but a limb, can only hoist the flags of individual sovereign states under or alongside its own flag. Although such spectacular and symbolic acts might have a very indirect educative value, the status of the UNO remains at a very impotent, dull and relativistic level. How much more inferior is the status of the UNESCO, which can do little more than arrange exhibitions or shows or imposing assemblies at which rival power-groups and their satellites get a good chance to sling mud at each other on its well-equipped and publicised platforms. There is further the constant danger in the surcharged atmosphere of these assemblies - which have no tangible common goal to draw together a united loyalty - of cold wars being fanned at any moment into hot flames, when war-minded men are made to sit side by side at the same desk or table.

 

 

 

THE REASON FOR ITS FAILURE:
Education is often defined as meant for citizenship. If two rival citizenships are imagined without any middle ground between them, war clouds can find in this situation ever-favourable conditions to rise and spread at a minute's notice.

 

The way out of this difficulty is a secret of the dialectician. Mere logical reason can never attain to the root of the problem, much less solve it. The really wise men of the world, who at any given time can scarcely be found, might hold this secret; but such could never hope to get a hearing at these loud assemblies which are conceived, as it were, from the peripheral rather than from the central point of view. The problem of education for peace in the field of world education has to be envisaged from an altogether opposing angle than the one from which it has so far been approached by these world bodies.

 

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Even with an amended constitution, such bodies can never be expected to cope with the task of preparing humanity for peace, because of their origin and their intrinsic nature.

 

 

 

THE CONTRADICTION AT THE CORE OF THE PROBLEM ITSELF
The raison d'être of this manifesto and its ample justification will become evident when we recognize that there is a subtler philosophical contradiction lurking at the very core of the problem of education. Little attention has been paid to this, even by leaders of educational thought. Training colleges go on teaching the theory and practice of education decade after decade, paying no attention to this - which effectively compromises all programmes of state education. The future of education itself must remain sombre until the time when this secret of a philosophical or contemplative order becomes sufficiently understood. Why this verity has so far remained unrecognised in education is because involved in it is a paradoxical conflict of basic principles of human nature.

 

Rousseau was laughed at for his paradoxes. Yet, although he was much misunderstood and maligned, he still enjoys the recognized position of the father of modern educational thought. Rousseau himself is a puzzle to moderns who have forgotten the idiom in which he wrote. In his classical treatise, "Emile", which is devoted to education, he puts his finger right on this very contradiction and states it as strikingly as possible when he writes:

 

"Forced to combat Nature or social institutions, one has to make a choice between making a man or a citizen; for one cannot make the one and the other at the same time". (Book I)

 

A citizen or patriot is obliged to protect the frontier of any political unit he may belong to. He has to kill or die - an imperative necessity which even a contemplative such as Socrates could not escape from. In modern days necessity of this kind becomes more binding than ever.

 

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Only under very special conditions may a conscientious objector be tolerated. The generality of men are just citizens for wartime, and are mostly treated in the educational world to be so, if not already so. The hereditary and religious attachments that an ordinary person might have, also make him in many cases willing to die for "the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods", as stated in an old ballad. Nelson, that model hero for English schoolboys, applied the telescope to his blind eye when he was told to retire from the battle. His motto: "England expects every man will do his duty" pertains to the same closed context.

 

In one of his books devoted to education, H.G. Wells describes the conflict which very much troubled - and perhaps indirectly caused the sudden death of - a martyr to the cause of education, Sanderson of Oundle. In "The Great Schoolmaster", Wells describes the last speech made by this sensitive and conscientious educator who wished to be true to English tradition and cultivate patriotism in his pupils by making them sing "Rule Britannia". He also had to cultivate in the Sunday school hours and at those periods set aside for religious lessons, that other attitude implied in the biblical words, "Love thy neighbour as thyself". The story - which actually happened - records how, while on a school anniversary day, all was happy and gay, with Wells himself presiding, when the poor schoolmaster, who was making a spirited speech on the subject of this very contradiction, collapsed while the above-mentioned contradictory phrases were hardly out of his mouth, and he had hardly said 'Amen' to "Love thy neighbour as thyself" - thus became forever a martyr to the cause of true human education.

 

A later philosopher than Rousseau - one who perhaps had a slightly better reception than Rousseau by the Western world - reiterated the same implicit contradiction lurking at the core of our ideas of a philosophical nature, pertaining to the growth and development of the personality or consciousness of man.

 

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Bergson wrote:

"…since the time of Aristotle, and which has vitiated the greater part of the philosophy of Nature, is to see in vegetative life, in instinctive life, and in the life that is based on reason, three successive degrees of the same tendency that developed itself, while they are three divergent directions of one and the same activity which took by itself many divergent directions in the process of growing up". (2)

 

The Indian philosopher, Sankara, also refers to this inner philosophical contradiction which touches the human spirit when treating of the impossibility of attaining salvation by combining knowledge (jnana) and works (karma). In his commentary on the Gita he wrote:

 

"The conclusion, therefore, of the Bhagavad Gita is that salvation is attained by knowledge alone and not by knowledge conjoined by works". (3)

 

 

 


MODERN EDUCATIONAL ENDEAVOUR

 

UNESCO AGAIN
If we refer again to the UNESCO, it is just to point out that even when we take a closer look at the work of that body, we find that there is no serious educational theory implied in it. The same already-quoted publication admits more glaringly the empty and peripherally-dissipated content of its own work when we read from the preface the following:

 

"Readers of educational abstracts are familiar with the term 'fundamental education' used by the UNESCO to designate educational activities which aim to help people to take an active part in the social and economic development of their communities. The term is now widely used in many countries, though the forms of educational activity which it describes and the subject-matter of its 'teaching' vary considerably with differences in the local needs and conditions.

 

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Again the term itself is not an exclusive one and some countries have adopted a different terminology - such as 'social education', 'mass education', and 'community education', to describe similar activities. 'Fundamental Education' has been recently described as the educational arm of social and economic development."

 

When we notice that the word 'teaching' in the above quotation is put by the writer himself (or herself) in quotes, and take into account the grave implication of the last part of the quotation which we have underlined, it is quite safe to say that, by the admission of its own sponsors, the UNESCO has no educational content or message worth the name, and that it does not actually deliver the goods which it is under contract, as it were, to deliver to the people of the world. The same applies to many great educational establishments, such as some of the important universities, especially of America, whose legal validity and honesty have recently been questioned and challenged by young men who have become alive to the sad defeat of true education in them.

 

 

 

THE NEW EDUCATION MOVEMENT
If we turn to other educational endeavours of our times we have the New Education Movement or Fellowship of Europe, which has spread to the New World also. The epicentre of this movement is Geneva, that famous international city where the spirit of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the unique 'Citizen of Geneva', may be said to be still presiding. We have said already that Rousseau is still recognized as the father of modern educational thought, for which his inclusion as such in the "Cyclopaedia of Education" of Monroe is sufficient evidence. Rousseau himself may be said to be the inspirer of the New Education Movement which started in the same city. It would therefore be but natural for us here to hearken back to Rousseau in our effort to place ourselves correctly in relation to the educational trends of our time so as to be able to relate this manifesto to its own natural background or starting point.

 

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MISTRUST IN THE FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION
Although the mortal remains of Rousseau were removed to the Panthéon in Paris one hundred years after his miserable and lonely death as a hunted and persecuted person, his name is still lingering in the charming lakeside city of Geneva. His much-misunderstood or ill-understood theories act still as an anathema to the orthodox, not only of religion, but even of politics and education. Rousseau is still a dear yet puzzling enigma to Europeans generally. Yet they cannot do without him either. They neither accept him nor reject him totally. As an original thinker and a contemplative of high stature, his name stands out more prominently than any other single name in the history of modern thought. What is called modernism may be said to have been ushered into being and given its dialectically revalued character by him, together with his contemporary and spiritual or intellectual counterpart, Voltaire, as a few of the modern intelligentsia can still recognize.

 

Rousseau has remained a puzzle even to those who should have been naturally disposed to give him recognition. Even Frenchmen of high academic status have misjudged him, not to mention persons like H.G. Wells, who, in his "Outline of History" lightly brushes him aside as a sentimentalist of no importance. It is interesting to note that the general editor in a footnote has taken care to pull up Wells on this point. Even Henri Legrand of the University of Paris, who presents the Larousse edition of "Emile", in his prefatory note on this work of Rousseau admits his confusion when he says, "One finds oneself confusedly troubled with what one meets with, by all that is old-fashioned, the naive and the baroque" in the book. He adds further, "Emile is far from us... this is true, for it contains the greater part of the illusions and paradoxes of Rousseau" (p. 6).

 

 

 

DEVELOPMENTS IN EUROPE AFTER ROUSSEAU
Rousseau's views on education influenced others who could follow only in a general way the sense of the trail he marked out for them.

 

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The deeper dialectical secrets of Rousseau, though still interesting to them, eluded their grasp. Pestalozzi, Froebel, Loyola, Montessori and Decroly are some of the names that have come down to our times after Rousseau.

 

They approached education from the active experimental angle, in which a programme of education began to be conceived on the basis of interest rather than in terms of bookish subject-matter. Education was concerned with drawing out what was in the child rather than in driving in. The child begins hereafter to be given more importance than the teacher. The heuristic method of Herbart insists that the teacher should not tell the answers to questions in the classroom in advance, but somehow try to elicit them patiently from the child; and that the old knowledge in the child has to have the new grafted on by the principle of apperception. The child has to be left free for play and activities. Occupations interesting and natural to the child have to be provided for. Rousseau, though not his followers, even provided for a negative stage in education, when the pupil was not expected to learn anything at all, but just be a child first before becoming an adult. The child with Rousseau was to be brought up in isolation and loneliness under the guidance of a single governor, without being interfered with by any outside or extraneous social influences. He spoke of three main kinds of education: that which belonged to Nature, which could well be left alone; that which belonged to things, with which the educator could not do much even if he wanted to; and the education that man could give, where the full role of the personal factor as a bipolar relation was recognized by him. When Rousseau went so far as to recognize the personal factor in this dialectically scientific manner, he became a puzzle to his followers, and they began to leave him alone. Private education thus had to part company with public education.

 

 

 

IMPERSONAL PUBLIC STANDARDS IN EDUCATION
Education on a general scale is the responsibility of governments, and the position from which governments may be expected to look upon this problem must necessarily be a standardised, impersonal and public one.

 

 

 

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This is the reason why, in spite of the profound impression that Rousseau made in the world of educational thought, he was coldly left behind after some years. Governments were more interested in making the cannon fodder called the true patriot or the citizen; and whatever else it wanted to make of the educand was only of secondary importance to it. The phenomenon that we have been watching in recent times, of the rapid popularity that Montessori gained in the educational world, is to be explained by the fact that here for the first time the tiny tots who were the educands had something conceived along modern lines for their education. Paedocentricity, activity, freedom from interference, non-bookishness; experimental material based on the natural interests of the child, rather than subjects to be taught compulsorily; letting the child be a child first before becoming an adult - these were features which came from the new orientation given to education of which Rousseau himself was the initiator. As a result, the Montessori method was recommended and promoted by one modern state after another. Although merely consisting of sense-training, the Montessori method may be said to have stumbled into this popularity by dint of Montessori's original attempts merely to correct defective children whose senses functioned inadequately. The scientific aspects of her method later became adapted so as to include the infant who was more normally human in endowments. Still, some of the roundabout artificialities of the method which have come from its abnormal origin could be discovered as lingering on in the Montessori Method as it is put into practice at the present-day, even in its revised form.

 

 

 

THE DECLARATION OF GENEVA
Rousseau's home city again comes into the story of world education in the famous Declaration of Geneva promulgated by the now forgotten League of Nations. This was meant to guarantee the freedom and protection of the child in the world of free human rights.

 

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It was a kind of Magna Carta born in the minds of some educators who were also leaders of thought in that interesting European Rousseau-city which enjoyed the admiration and respect of President Wilson of the U.S.A., who was instrumental in choosing it as the home of the League of Nations. There to the present-day the Eastern or Western pilgrim can visit the "Ile Rousseau" at the heart of the city near the Quay Wilson, dominated by the more-than-life-size bronze statue of Rousseau, surrounded by tall poplars and accessible by a causeway. The "Citizen of Geneva", as he is called on the pedestal inscription, lives on by reputation and continues to puzzle and thus add a new dimension to the atmosphere of this city situated at the very heart of Europe. The Declaration of Geneva is but an expression of the all-embracing spirit of Rousseau, who may be said to be the latest of modern dialectical philosophers - not yet fully understood in the West, but whom the East is likely one day to rediscover and possibly even respect as a world-teacher.

 

 

 

ROUSSEAU, MORE THAN A MERE MODERN THINKER OR EDUCATOR
Rousseau was a contemplative and dialectical philosopher who could view education for the first time from the standpoint of the science of dialectics, which is still a vague term to most modern intellectuals. He had more than paedocentricity, activity or freedom to contribute to education. By being a contemplative, he is not to be looked upon as belonging to the Age of Reason on a par with his contemporary, Voltaire, who often mocked him in his writings. Rousseau must be included among the contemplative perennial philosophers who transcend their own epoch and the geographical region where their influence was first felt. While Prof. Legrand, whom we have already quoted as introducing "Emile", strangely mistrusts Rousseau when he says:

 

"Emile is far removed from us, because it contains some of the errors and manias common to people of his age".

 

He is seen soon almost to contradict himself when he continues:

 

"In appraising in its wholeness the spirit that animates the book, we are able to see hazily something that is profound which agrees singularly with our modern soul".

 

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From such contradictions and from the very fact that the modern educator is unable to shake off the profound impression that Rousseau has succeeded in making on him, however much he might seem to disown him or be ashamed of him on specific items of educational doctrine; there is no doubt that the dialectically-revalued notions of Rousseau are the soundest ones available in the Western world for the erection of the superstructure which we envisage in this manifesto for World Education.

 

 

 

THE DIALECTICAL IDIOM OF ROUSSEAU
The idiom of dialectics has become forgotten in world literature. Paradox is of the very stuff of this dialectical way, because it is in paradox or in dilemma that human conflicts and problems make themselves evident in everyday life. Life has the ever-staring question, "To be or not to be". What is mistaken for being old-fashioned or naive in Rousseau by the best of trained thinkers really belongs to the natural and inevitable style of the timeless contemplative way of higher wisdom. This is referred to as Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita (IV. 2), which Krishna as the teacher in this contemplative textbook of dialectics, himself deplores as a precious heritage tending to be lost again and again in the world. (4)

 

 

 

THE J.J. ROUSSEAU INSTITUTE
Following in the footsteps of Rousseau, it was right that some leading educationalists of Europe established at the beginning of this century a Rousseau Institute of Education at Geneva. This is also alternatively named "The Institute of Educational Sciences". This Institute, although it was the mother of the International Bureau of Education which in its turn, has culminated in UNESCO, with which it is organically linked at present, as we have already noticed, is now receding into the background in favour of those peripherally-conceived items of educational endeavour that can no more be said to have any tangible value in the context of World Education, as pointed out above.

 

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Educational endeavour has therefore to be given a fresh start and impetus, and this is what this manifesto represents. The sterile sands of mass education have all but absorbed the nourishing waters of educational effort, and it is time that educators the world over rallied to retrieve the cause. The hour for a manifesto of this kind is therefore now upon us.

 

 

 

FRESH BREEZES FROM THE EAST
Western civilization has all but forgotten its contemplative idiom. From the days of the discovery of the telescope, technical advances through the conquests of science have overpowered the normal imagination of the Western mind. What it might have contributed to human happiness, mainly in the form of human comforts, has been taken away on the other hand by its trail of smoke and gas. Obsessed by pride or confusion, the common man has no clear training in the appreciation of normal or natural human values in everyday life, not to speak of moral, spiritual or contemplative life. All goodness or kindness has been ruled out by him as sentimental and uncritical dogmatism or blind faith.

 

Rousseau became outmoded because, as a proud European, he was still capable of shedding tears into his favourite Lac Léman without any apparent reason whatsoever. He loved the lake and that was all. He came to be laughed at and was bypassed by the rest of his own people who took pride in their status as men of reason and not sentimental sissies. That extra dose of humanity which they found in the "Citizen of Geneva" was too much for them to understand. There is, however, a small group, even in the West, who are able to recognize in Rousseau a first-rate contemplative philosopher and world citizen, in spite of his personal so-called shortcomings which have become cheap subjects of derision directed against him by the common ill-educated man or woman. Rousseau's neglect of his own children was enough to turn their minds against him, without taking into account the pelting and persecution that his own people made him suffer. We would not be considered far from the truth if we should generalise about the small group we have referred to and say that they represent people of an eastern outlook living in a Western clime.

 

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The cold wind known as the "bise" in Geneva can freeze or numb all of man's tender emotions. The tender and sensitive plant that was Rousseau's spirit could not thrive in that harsh climate. Eastern breezes may still raise and revive his noble soul and rediscover him as the cause of an educational programme which knows no distinction of East or West, North or South. A pilgrimage to the Ile Rousseau, surrounded by its greenish lake and the white and black swans ever-swimming round his statue, would not be a bad idea to be undertaken by eastern lovers of contemplation when they visit Europe. Let them sit for a change and meditate a while under the tall poplars.

 

 

 

ROUSSEAU'S ABSOLUTIST CONCEPT OF NATURE
What Rousseau is never tired of calling "Nature" should not be confounded, as has often been done, with the word "nature" as used in such expressions as "the return to nature" or "a nature poet". Outside nature is one thing, but Nature with a capital letter, conceived synthetically as an absolute inner principle which gives us notions of right and wrong, and which is the basis of conscience, or an axis of reference in the educational, moral and spiritual progression of man towards his high goal, belongs to quite another order. According to Rousseau, who refers all education, except social adjustments in a practical utilitarian sense, to this innate and imperative urge called Nature; it is more than just habit cultivated during a lifetime. Nature should fall in line with Nature if it is to be good, and Nature itself should be thought of as transcending the limitations of life here and now, reaching into the past or future and giving a direction and purpose to life, in a teleological as well as an ontological sense. Natural inclinations like the verticality of a plant, which rights itself even when tilted from its original natural position and placed at a more horizontal angle, is the favourite example that Rousseau cites to show there is an innate sense of goodness, rightness or justice rooted timelessly within the human spirit. The positive content of the term "Nature" as intended by him is brought out into relief when in a certain section of "Emile" he elaborates spiritual life under what is called Natural Religion, in his "Profession of Faith of a Savoy Vicar".

 

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ROUSSEAU AND SOCIAL EDUCATION
It is true that the question of social adjustment in education finds little favour in the educational programme envisaged by Rousseau. This is neither an omission nor a prejudice. As with the philosophers of India, the world of men, sometimes referred to as the 'madding crowd' by poets, is a factor to be avoided rather than included in any sane programme of education based on contemplative principles. Desire (kama) and anger (krodha) arise from the rivalries of men, and these evils, which when taken together with miserliness (lobha), are referred to as belonging to the triune portals of hell in the Gita, (5), stem out of the penchant for activity (rajas) - especially competitive activity which, in the struggle for existence, the world of man necessarily implies. Love of social life (loka vasana) is a thing to be avoided by the spiritual aspirant, even according to the teachings of Sankaracharya in his "Vivekachudamani". While philosophers like Dewey have stressed utilitarian and pragmatic social adjustment by education, Rousseau has remained more truly a contemplative idealist, loyal to his ideas of goodness and Nature, which represented to him high absolutist values in life, and which were very precious for man. He was interested in gaining the soul, even at the loss of the whole world.

 

 

 

ROUSSEAU'S NEGATIVE EDUCATION
Rousseau is bold enough in this direction to lay down the law that should regulate the earliest years of the educand. He says it has to be 'negative' in character. The implications of this doctrine of negative education is none other than what is known as the "nivritti marga" or the "via negativa" that has been known to Vedanta in India and to pre-Socratic philosophers in the West. Outgoing action, whose tendencies are characterized as "rajasik", is an evil which, however, has to be respected only insofar as it is inevitable or necessary.

 

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"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof", is the dictum that holds good here, and the Gita doctrine of "niskama karma" or dispassionate action, which has confused even Indian thinkers, is nothing more than an intelligent and intuitive dialectical way of not getting trapped by the horizontal interests in life which spell activity, attachment, and consequent tension. Negative education consists in bringing up the child protected from the evils of society, like a young plant that is fenced in and protected from passers-by. The child is to be brought up in solitude, as in the forest schools of India of ancient times. He has to be guided by a single teacher who would regulate, interpret, select or prepare favourable educational conditions where nature would have a full chance to assert itself in the child, till it attained to full manhood or womanhood. Rousseau's Nature would correspond to the "categorical imperative" of Kant and to the creative "élan vital" of Bergson.

 

The whole process is maintained in the direction of natural goodness by a teacher who represents in himself the same principle. In Rousseau we see that for the first time education is considered as a bipolar process between a preceptor and a disciple, as with the Guru and sisya understood in ancient Indian education. Nature with Rousseau is thus nothing other than what is good in human nature. What we have done in this manifesto is just to give a more correct name to this very human nature, giving it its proper status according to a science of the Absolute, as a notion common to the educator and the educand at once, in the process of education. This common basis of educational relations we have named for scientific correctness "the personal factor" in education. (6)

 

 

 

THE ECHO OF TIME-HONOURED INDIAN CONCEPTS
Rousseau writes, "For being well-conducted, the infant should follow but one single guide". (7) Again, he emphasizes the strict bipolarity to be secured between teacher and taught in education, in referring to his educational relations with the pupil, Emile, in the following words:

 

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"Emile is an orphan. It is not important that he should have his mother or father. Entrusted with their duties, I succeed to their rights...and I would even wish that the pupil and the governor should regard themselves as such inseparables that the passing of their days should be with them always with a common object." (8)

 

The ancient Indian idea of the relations between a Guru and sisya (disciple) are here echoed unmistakably. In the education which we have touched upon as negative, as with Rousseau, the pupil is to be protected from the glare and pomp that society offers. Not only the infant but even the adolescent has to be so protected, as we read in Book V of "Emile". This noble passage is as follows:

 

"Would you like, therefore, to initiate and nourish in the heart of a young man the first movements of a nascent sensibility and turn his character towards a beneficial life and to bounty? Then do not allow to germinate in him pride, vanity, envy, by the misguiding picture of the happiness of men; do not expose at first sight before his eyes the pomp of courts and the feasts of palaces, the attraction of spectacles; do not make him promenade in social circles and in brilliant assemblies; do not show him the exterior of high life in society before he is in a state capable of appreciating it in itself. To show him the world before he understands humans; that would not be forming him, it would be to corrupt him; that would not be to instruct him, but to misguide him."

 

It is not hard to notice how close a family resemblance this passage bears to what the ancient Indian educator conceived as the life of the Brahmacharin (the initiate in the way of Brahman or the Absolute) in a Gurukula, a forest school where teacher and pupils lived together.

 

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SOLITARINESS
The cheap fling at Rousseau is that he conceived of education in anti-social terms. This is because he lauded solitude for man, as conducive to happiness. In Emile, Book IV, he wrote:

 

"A being who is truly happy is a being who is solitary. God alone enjoys a happiness that is Absolute"

 

When the Bhagavad Gita, VI. 10 reads,

 

"The yogi remaining in a lonely spot by himself should constantly engage in yoga secretly, with his relational mind subdued and free from expectant waiting and greed",

 

the contemplative pattern of life common to East and West alike is unmistakably reflected. From the day when he submitted an essay on the corruption implied in the arts and sciences to the University of Dijon in 1750, Rousseau never tired of attacking the evils of western civilization, as we understand them in their vastly amplified aspects at the present-day. Rousseau was a champion of those human values which are deep-seated in the human heart. The mystical note in Rousseau attains to sublimity when he puts the following words in the mouth of the Savoy Vicar:

 

"For elevating myself as far as I could to this state of happiness, of strength and of freedom, I exercise myself at sublime contemplation. I meditate on the order of the universe, not for explaining it by vain systems, but for admiring it endlessly, for adoring that wise Author who makes His presence felt therein... 0 God that is kind and good, in my confidence in Thee the supreme wish of my heart is that Thy will should be done. In joining my will with it, I do what Thou doest. I submit to Thy bounty, I believe that I partake in advance of that supreme felicity which is its prize."

 

The correct contemplatively mystical pattern, with a gentle touch of ecstasy and the advaitic (non-dualistic) note revealed in the part underlined by us in the above quotation, is sufficient to reveal the personality of Rousseau as a yogi or a Guru, or even as a solitary recluse or "muni", as we understand them in the context of Indian spirituality.

 

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He could not have been less of a true Christian or a true Brahmin because of these traits in his personality. While Rousseau's statue sits neglected on the little island we have pictured, regarded askance by proud moderns, he might one day be garlanded or offered incense, flowers, water and fruit by some Indian devotee if such a one should come to recognize his status as a "jagadguru" or World Teacher. Rousseau would surely have felt more at home among the mystics and saints of India rather than in the cold climate of Europe, except perhaps in the early spring, when the Nature he loved would adore him in response. Rousseau's personality and message has to be rediscovered at least in the cause of World Education. Rousseau's catholicity of outlook even in religion is reflected in the following quotation:

 

"I regard all the particular religions as so many salutary institutions which prescribe in each country a uniform way of honouring God by a public form of worship, all of which could have their reasons for being so in the climate, in the government and in the genius of the people, or in some other cause of a local order which would render one preferable to the other according to the time and place. I believe all of them to be good when they are able to serve God by them in a convenient manner. The essential worship is that of the heart. God has no regret about any homage paid to Him when it is sincere, under whatever form it may be ffered to Him." (9)

 

The Bhagavad Gita, which says that "all humanity treads the very path that is Mine" (IV. 11), reiterates this same verity, as also the motto of the Guru Narayana, "One religion and one God for all Mankind".

 

 

 

ROUSSEAU AND GURUKULA EDUCATION
Quotations could be multiplied to show that Indian doctrines of education such as "gurukula vasa" (living away from society under a single Guru), guru-bhakti (maintaining a strict bipolar relation with the teacher), brahmacharya (walking in the absolutist light of Nature or Goodness) and other related concepts, such as dhyana (meditation) and yoga contemplation), when understood shorn of any local coloration or exaggeration that might stick to them, follow on the best lines of thought opened out to the modern world by Rousseau, who describes himself simply as "un ami de la vérité" - a friend of truth.

 

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THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT NOTIONS ABOUT THE EDUCAND
In his own preface to the first edition of "Emile", published at The Hague in 1762, Rousseau says:

 

"One does not understand the child ... Commence, therefore, by studying better your pupil, for very assuredly you do not understand him".

 

Here he rightly touches on the central problem of all education. Again, in "Emile", Book V, he insists:

 

"Let us understand first of all what she (Sophie) consists of and we shall then be able to judge better where she lives".

 

Here it is implied that the objective environment of Sophie has to be understood together with understanding her. The dialectical or contemplative way has to treat these counterparts together when they belong to the same factor or situation. In his section on religious education he repeats:

 

"Begin therefore by studying human nature and what is most inevitably present in it, which constitutes what is best in humanity".

 

Here he refers to the knowledge of the generic or collective personality of humanity taken as a whole. When he comes again in Book IV to the discussion of notions of human justice he says:

 

"Here now, is the study which is important for us; but to do so properly one has to begin by understanding the human heart".

 

These are various possible perspectives or views of the personal factor in education. They have all to be included in a synthetic picture of the personality in which the educator and the educand - the educational counterparts of a given situation, could be discussed at one and the same time, by the help of a central concept of the factor which is common to all phases, aspects, types or environmental patterns involved in education, as a complete life process both collectively and individually understood.

 

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We shall put the punctuation mark here at the end of this first part of the manifesto where a synthetic picture emerges. The more analytical aspects of the personality will be discussed in Part II, where the starting point will be indicated by treating problems such as distinguishing sex differences or the specific attributes of a Peter or a Paul.

 

 

 

 

 

SECTION 2:
THE PERSONAL FACTOR: A SYNTHETIC PERSPECTIVE
THE PERSONAL FACTOR AS A DISTINCT AND CENTRAL CONCEPT

 

In religion we speak of the 'soul', which is what is subjected to a progress called 'spiritual'. Soul is the central concept here, without which theological sermons would be difficult. Education needs a similar concept which should be more positively or scientifically conceived. The terms "libido", "persona", "psyche", "subliminal self", "conscious or subconscious ego", are terms already available which have their own particular connotations, coloured by their usage or origin in abnormal or analytical psychology or in the psychology of psychic phenomena. Individuality can apply to humans and animals indifferently. Education has to do with specifically human qualities. Homo sapiens is distinguished by an elaborate brain, and through contemplation can attain to the heights of a superman if so desired, or to the state of a world citizen by social and political adjustment. The notion of the personal factor has to give room for all these possibilities and qualities of the self of Man. The term "personal factor" is what we propose here.

 

(a) There are two distinct sides or aspects to the personal factor.
Knowledge is what education connotes primarily. There is the synthetic knowledge of the subjective self that we can know when we contemplate it in silence or in seclusion to cut down or minimise external impressions that reach us.

 

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This inner aspect of the personal factor is what can sense its own presence as a light within, which in reality is not strictly localized within us in any actually objective sense.

 

(b) The second aspect of the personal factor is what philosophy distinguishes as the non-self. This is what is to be known - as distinguished from what knows - in the subjective self. Both of these are synthetic concepts, and are thus to be treated within the range of this first part of the manifesto before we come to the analytical aspects of the personal factor in the latter half.

 

 

 

PERSONAL FACTOR A REALITY, THOUGH THE APPROACH IS BY WAY OF AN ABSTRACTION
Although the personal factor is admittedly a mental abstraction, it has its status in reality as something that both exists and subsists. It exists in the sense that its presence is necessarily felt; and it subsists in the sense that even when its presence is not felt by the senses, it enters our consciousness as a formal idea or entity which we are bound to take into account in any intelligent understanding of the personality involved in education. In spite of being an abstraction, it is thus capable of being understood realistically. Actual life-problems do not therefore lie outside the scope of the personality as we conceive it here.

 

 

 

THE INTUITIVE APPROACH
The tendencies that constitute the personal factor could be studied on a chart or with the help of a schematic representation for the purposes of understanding them unitively and globally, as held together by an absolute life- or consciousness-principle. Rousseau puts this same verity in his own interesting way when he is speaking of God's own type of intelligence as follows:

 

"All truths are for it but one idea, as all places one spot, a single point, and all time one single moment". (10)

 

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The idea of the eternal present or the dialectical moment is implied here in dealing with the subject of the personality of man; for it has to include in its treatment both psychic and physical factors at once from a neutral standpoint. Bertrand Russell would call such an approach that of Neutral Monism, and Descartes' definition of intuition would also include this philosophical approach. All philosophers employ intuition of one kind or another. The correct dialectical way in metaphysics has been employed by Bergson in recent years. Neo-platonic dialectics, Hegelian and Marxian dialectics and the pre-Socratic dialectics of Zeno and Parmenides are possible aspects of the same intuitive absolutist approach, which is still to be clearly codified and stated methodically and systematically. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the world's greatest textbooks on dialectics. Plato in his Socratic dialogues refers to dialectics as a hymn. Our manifesto has to approach the personal factor from the same contemplative angle, and this should not be considered its drawback, but rather its special advantage.

Matter and mind can be treated unitively only by such an approach, which therefore need not necessarily be considered unrealistic or impracticable.

 

CONCENTRIC, CENTRAL OR PERIPHERAL GRADES OF REALITY
Consciousness is a spark at the core of life. This very statement implies central and peripheral aspects of consciousness, which may be called by different names according to their grade of materiality or mentality. The methodology of contemplation calls for the concepts of such concentric grades in the personal factor. Contemplative epistemology would justify this and give it full validity. Organic life, instinctive behaviour or intelligent conduct in the open world - are various grades of personal life, with reference to which the personal factor has to be conceived as a unitary concept or norm of thought in the science of education.

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A SCHEMATIC REPRESENTATION OF THE PERSONAL FACTOR IN ORDER
Just as a map need not be considered a fetish, the use of a schematic representation of the tendencies in the personal factor, so that the human intelligence, which is apt to be too analytical or synthetical, could grasp the ensemble or the pattern of correlation of tendencies, should be considered quite normal in our study of the personal factor. It is often objected that life, being very complex, does not admit of treatment in a simplified manner. It is to be admitted that the totality of life taken in actual detail is complex, but what concerns us in the complex totality need not necessarily be complicated. The simplification of life-tendencies in the individual for the purpose of perceptual treatment to help our ideas about them, is therefore legitimate, permissible and helpful to the educator. Insofar as it can serve the cause of World Education, such a method will have its place in the present manifesto, because much of what we have to say would otherwise remain vague or discursive.

 

THE PERSONAL FACTOR, AN ORGANISM IN THE PROCESS OF CREATIVE EVOLUTION
Let us now think of the personal factor in terms of a simple living organism. We know that growth and division are the two main expressions of a living organism. We borrow from Henri Bergson's "Creative Evolution" to help us to visualize clearly what this organism at the basis of the personal factor represents:

"The veritable and profound causes of division were what life carries within itself; for life is a tendency, and the essence of a tendency is to develop in the form of a branching shoot of corn, creating, by the very fact of its growth, the divergent divisions among which it will divide its own vital urge. This is what we are able to observe with regard to our own selves in respect of that special tendency we call our character. Each one of us, by taking a retrospective glance at his own past history, will be able to state that his personality as a child, although an indivisible whole, united within itself in a melted form the persons which could have been there, because of their nascent state; this indefiniteness so full of possibilities is in itself one of the greatest charms of childhood.

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But the personalities which thus interpenetrated become incompatible on growing up, and as each one of us lives but one life, we are forced necessarily to make a choice. We are in reality choosing ceaselessly, and we do abandon many things.... The route that we trace in time is scattered over with all that we began to be and all that we could have become. But nature, which has at her disposal an incalculable number of lives, is not subjected to such sacrifice. She conserves the diverse tendencies, which have diverged on growth. She creates with them those distinct series of species which do evolve independently." (11)

In this quotation one can distinguish the dialectical approach adopted by Bergson, the latest inheritor of the tradition from Socratic and Neo-Platonic times. Here living realism goes hand in hand with philosophical abstractions of a highly intuitive order. The Vedanta of India knows of the five concentric zones or sheaths called "kosas" that contain the Self. The one consisting of food-value (the annamaya kosa) is the most peripheral. Books like the "Panchadasi" of Vidyaranya refer to these aspects of the Self (atman) in a manner reminiscent of Bergson's approach. In Plotinus, Vedanta and Western dialectics may be said to find a meeting place.

 

THE METHOD OF CORRELATION BY TWO AXES CUTTING AT RIGHT ANGLES
It was Descartes who invented a scheme of correlation consisting of two lines intersecting at right angles. This convenient method has been generally adopted in mathematical graphs, as also by psychologists like Beatrice Hinkle in drawing the distinction between extroversion and introversion, which imply the objectivity and subjectivity, respectively, of life- tendencies. In treating the most elementary of life-expressions in connection with the personal factor it will help us to centre our discussions round the explanation given by such correlated schematic representations, without getting lost in elaborations that have no end.

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The first of these sketches is given here (fig. 14.1), and represents graphically, without any poetic or literary effusions that might misguide our imagination, all that is significant for us in the present manifesto.


STRUCTURE FIG. 14.1 

EXPLANATION OF FIGURE 14.1:
The vertical axis AB represents the life-duration of the individual organism. The horizontal or lateral axis marks the present with its multiplicity of interests that vary concentrically in their attraction to the individual. 0 is the centre of life where the past and present meet in the dialectical 'moment' or 'eternal present'. The dotted arrows between A and 0 represent virtual tendencies which converge to meet and melt into the matrix of the organism; and the linear arrows above, between O and B, show the divergent tendencies as they choose between alternatives in life's progression or 'creative evolution', as Bergson would put it.

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THE PERSONAL FACTOR AS A UNIT IN PSYCHIC LIFE
The pattern of the personal factor at the zone of nervous functioning is brought out graphically and in living terms in the following abridgement of a passage from "The Principles of Philosophy" (12) of M.E.H. Starling of the University of London:

"How the physiological processes in the nervous fibres on their arrival at the brain could excite a conscious sensation, we are not able to decide or discuss ...No sensation is the immediate or the unique product of the stimulation at the peripheral end of the nervous fibre, but the sensation that is most simple includes a judgement, which is to say that they produce neural activities of a complex order resulting from innumerable currents of the past and the present which are poured into the central nervous system...The first reactions of a baby are those by which it procures its nourishment.... An elementary unit in psychic life, as in neural life, should be a complete reaction. It is from the reaction and not from the sensation that a constructive psychology is to be built."

A careful reading of the above paragraph will reveal that Starling here is reconstructing synthetically what constitutes a complete reaction directed towards an object of interest, and how it has its circulation between the central and peripheral nervous system so as to make us imagine a unit in consciousness. We can find here the same scheme of centralisation and alternation of phases in relation to the same two axes that we have adopted for a correlated picture of life-tendencies. Living duration may be seen to enter into the picture, and not merely events in space.

 

THE ZONE OF PHYSICAL FUNCTIONING TYPIFIED BY THE HEART-BEAT
Let us now take the functioning of the heart as typifying physiological functioning in general. Terms such as "sex-diastole" or "-systole" are sometimes used in psychopathology, which will justify our claim here that the heartbeat could be taken to represent in its positive or negative, actual or virtual, qualitative or quantitative phases, other larger rhythmic cycles which take place within the limits of the body in the form of nervous or other circulations like the one described by Starling above.

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The same two axes of correlation could be used here as in the case of the progression of an organism in duration.

 

 

 

 

STRUCTURE FIG. 14.2

 


EXPLANATION OF FIGURE 14.2:
The two axes crossing at right angles represent respectively qualitative or quantitative aspects of the functioning of the heart. There is the same rhythmic alternation of phases which are marked clearly enough in the figure itself.

 

RECONSTRUCTION OF THE PERSONALITY IN EDUCATION
For fear of getting lost in elaborations which should more legitimately find place in a thesis rather than in a simple manifesto of the present kind, we shall confine the rest of our discussion of the personal factor to the explanation of two more diagrams in which the various items or component parts are brought together.

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For more detailed justifications, evidence, documentation and examples, the reader of this manifesto is referred to our already-mentioned book, "The Personal Factor in the Educative Process". (13) Bergson, Rousseau, James, McDougall, Ribot, Rivers, Dumas, Payot, Watson, Claparède and others are the authorities largely relied on in reconstructing, recreating and revaluing notions connected with the personality in education.

 

Education p 193-14

Please note that in this diagram – reproduced from the sloppily-edited Indian edition of this work, which is our only source, as the manuscript has disappeared – we find in the lower left hand corner, the words: “Negative phase of the ghain of human behaviour” – it should, of course, read “...chain of behaviour. This is typical of the editors involved – the printed text was full of absurd avoidable typos, errors and omissions, which we hope we have all corrected. Please forgive us if we have missed some.

 

 

STRUCTURE FIGURE 14.3

 

  

FIG. 14.3

EXPLANATION OF FIGURE 14.3: In this figure the line X' to X would represent subjective consciousness, and the axis Y' to Y, although also subjective in the sense that it is also to be understood as being within the consciousness of the individual, yet pertains to a stimulus-response order of reflexes or automatisms of the personal consciousness when related to the simple present. The terms 'subjective' and 'objective' are to be understood synthetically here. Those elements of consciousness which are related to the past, and are thus the background aspect of the personality, are indicated here by that part of the vertical axis OX'; and the corresponding portion of the vertical axis OX will stand for consciousness which has to do with the exercise of the will.

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Point 0 represents the centre of consciousness in the eternal present or dialectical moment. A distance measured from the Y' Y axis, at whatever point it may be, will indicate by its length that psychic state of tension or virtual relaxation in which some object of desire either influences positively, or enters negatively into, the personal consciousness of the individual.

The four compartments comprised within the two axes would stand,
1. on the positive side to the top, for waking consciousness;
2. that on the top left the field in which virtualities (which have still an objective status as in very realistic dreams) have to be placed;
3. the lower left quarter being the domain where potent virtualities with no name or form exist as related to instinctive dispositions, vague memories or other psychic states connected with tender emotions.
4. The quadrant on the lower right would represent the vaguest of backgrounds of consciousness in which there is only an amorphous matrix which consists merely of a general sense of well-being or of ill-being.

The sense of solidity, liquidity, taste or sound, is able to revive here shapeless memories of the past world or worlds, which constituted the experience of the self in the most synthetic or general of senses. These memories are called "vasanas" (vague instinctive dispositions), related to the five elements with which, in principle at least, consciousness ever enters in contact. The "prius nobis" of Aristotle, and the "turiya" or fourth state of the four-limbed self mentioned in the Mandukya Upanishad, may be said to belong to the past which gets lost in the eternity of the unknown and the unknowable at the point X.

The curve OAOBO, shown in dotted lines, would represent a complete chain of natural behaviour. If we take the example of grazing cattle, it would be possible to relate the psychic factors involved at each point in this curve to active and passive phases of bovine life, which here has the form of a figure-of-eight. One half of it falls into the waking and the other half into the other three subconscious states that we have just distinguished. Dream virtualities are really inverted in time as a series of events in duration so that at the point 0 opposing tendencies meet ambivalently and neutrally. The neutral 0 in consciousness is the Absolute in its purest sense, as spoken of in the last section of the Mandukya Upanishad, where the ego-sense is cancelled by its own opposite, and where all contraries and contradictions meet as if in the Truth of truths or the Light of lights. Reality and illusion, existence and subsistence, and all other pairs or counterparts melt into unity in this core which is both small and big at once. Life-functions or activities that we prize as superior or despise as degrading are cancelled-out in a neutral attitude in a perfect man who is able to live and have his being in what is represented by this centre of life-pulsation.

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This light is the seed of all and the most potent factor in the personality of man. The next peripheral zone marked in the plan of the personality here is the seat of affectivity in general, which consists mainly of emotions and passions. Passions are positive in character by their objectivity and by their prospective orientation. Emotions, on the contrary, are retrospective and are forms of regret. A reminiscent mood is a form of regret and all memories may be said to be regrets that hurt the personality and cause psychopathological states.

Emotions and passions taken together, when the polarity between them is barely evident, give us that zone which may be called the zone of affections of the personality, where sublimations, repressions and conflicts known to psychoanalytical schools and the various factors of psychopathology have their movement or being.

A perfected yogi is one who feels the joy of balanced or harmonised affectivity or sensibility, and who is satisfied in the self by the Self, as the Gita would put it. A thoroughgoing discussion of these matters, properly elaborated, would legitimately take the space of volumes. We shall therefore stop by referring finally to movements in thought or in pure consciousness. We can easily see that these movements still conform to the same pattern of the personal factor into which we have fitted most other aspects.

 

THE STRUCTURE OF THOUGHT-PROCESSES
John Dewey writes:

"There is thus a double movement in all reflections: a movement from a given, partial and confused situation that is suggested, which is complete and comprehensive (or inclusive) and returning from the suggested whole - which as it is suggested is a sense, an idea - a return movement to particular facts in such a way as to relate the ones with the others and to relate them to additional facts on which the suggestion had attracted attention. In a general way, the first of these movements is inductive and the second deductive. A complete act of thought comprises these two movements; that is to say, an effective interaction of particular facts observed (or which one remembers) and the suggested general sense." (14)

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The above paragraph, whatever its detailed implications may be in the light of Dewey's philosophy, at least brings to light the double movement that we can distinguish even in the poor domain of personal life which consists of what we have called 'movements in thought'.

 

ANALYTICO-SYNTHETIC SCRUTINY
If such movements in thought are capable of analysis by such respected pragmatic philosophers of modern times as Dewey; the analysis of consciousness by an eastern guru such as the Guru Narayana, when it enters into the same subtle preserves where contemplative philosophers love to dwell, should not be brushed aside by the proud modern as just speculation that is too sentimental or theoretical to command our attention at the present day. The most nuclear picture of the personality of man at its innermost essence or core could again be studied by reference to the two axes of correlation that we have adopted here. Such an analysis could correspond to a dissection in biology, only here the subtlest of aspects of inner life are brought under an analytico-synthetic scrutiny.

 

THE COMPONENT ELEMENTS OF THE CORE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Let us take two simple sentences for the purpose of analysing the component elements of consciousness in the most nuclear form as it is felt within each person.

1. First let us take the sentence, "this is a pot", which is a statement of an overt fact or mental event cognised at a certain instant in life. Here the word "this" would represent the vague background of suggestive material which consists of universals. It has no specificity. The inductive functions of thought have their origin in this. In the concept represented by the word "pot", an object in the outer world is located in time and space in a specific manner with a certain name or form that may help to cognise it. The linking word "is" is the act of thinking, whose movement is the central, neutral points that we have already noted.

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2. If, secondly, we take another sentence such as, "This is knowledge", we get to the subjective core of consciousness in which all references to the outer world of sensations is absent. At the base of the vertical axis we should put the connotation of the generic universal concept implicit in "this" which can refer to every kind of particular knowledge. The word "knowledge" itself would have a specific (not generic) content which includes comprehensively all possible knowledge of a pure order that man is capable of cognising, whether through intuition or positive intelligence. When this has a specific human content it would represent a supremely or uniquely high value like the "summum bonum" of Plato. Specific knowledge of an absolute order, as opposed to generic knowledge, is here implied. The vague foundation of this same knowledge is a wisdom-awareness, which is the basis of all reality. There is a movement between this foundation-aspect of wisdom-awareness and specific knowledge. This we can know by contemplation in its most wilfully active phases. The personal factor in its innermost aspects may be schematically represented in the same manner as we have represented its more peripheral aspects, in the manner shown in fig.14.4.

 

STRUCTURE FIG. 14.4

 


Without trying to explain more elaborately the implications of this sketch, we shall content ourselves in concluding this first part of the manifesto by quoting from the "One Hundred Verses of Self-Instruction" (Atmopadesa Satakam) of the Guru Narayana:

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"The powers of wisdom are many; all of them under two divisions,
The 'same' and the 'other' could conclusively be brought;
Merging into that form which makes for "other-same-ness"
To clarity of vision one should awake.

To subdue even somewhat the obduracy of the 'other'
Is hard indeed without wisdom's limitless power;
By such do gain mastery over it, and unto her who is
Wisdom, the anti-sensuous One, close access attain.

What appraises manifold variety, the 'other' that is;
And the 'same' is what unitively shines;
Thus understanding the state aforesaid, into that state
That yields sameness, melt and mix and erect sit.

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Following up further the said powers - a second division:
One of these is an attribute of the 'same', while the other
Qualifies the never-to-detachment-attaining harshness
Of the 'other': thus making two kinds of these again.

On to the 'same' as on to the 'other' there constantly alight
Their respective specific powers; though not proportionate
By spin-emergence as between these two in all,
All predications whatsoever come to be.

In 'this is a pot' the initial 'this' is the harsh
While 'pot' is what makes its specific attribute;
For the mind with its myriad magic of Great Indra to come to be,
Understand, 'this' to be the nucleus.

In 'this is knowledge', the initial 'this' is 'same'
While its attribute is cognitive consciousness.
For the mind and all else to vanish
And the good path to gain, 'this' should one contemplate."
(Verses 36-42)

Here we see that eastern wisdom of a contemplative order can meet modern thought neutrally and on a par, in what pertains to this central notion or norm in education.

It is a strange coincidence that while the last paragraphs of the above were being typed, the headlines in the dailies announced: (July 22, 1957):

"East-West Philosophers Find Basis for Discussion: Warsaw Conference Ends: Nearly fifty eminent philosophers from twenty East and West countries tonight wound up a four-day conference here at Warsaw amid statements that they had 'established a dialogue'."

This manifesto on World Education is also meant to make East and West, North and South, meet in the one name of human happiness dear to all mankind.

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II
In Part I of this manifesto we were able to arrive at a global and synthetic perspective of the personal factor in education. Our aim was to reconstruct an integrated though schematic picture of this in the light of a time-honoured intuitive approach known to philosophers, eastern or western, of antiquity or of recent years. In this part, we are retaining this reconstructed image as the basis of what we have to say concerning the varieties and modalities of the personal factor when more analytically viewed. We have to distinguish here not merely the basic aspects of the personality implicit in the personal factor, as we have called this central notion, but also those explicit traits of the personal factor which exist in a more overt sense. In other words, those characteristics of the personal factor by which we should be able to appraise the difference between a Peter and a Paul, instead of merely referring in generic terms to any Rama or Krishna, must stand out in relief from the comparatively stable (though not altogether static) psyche of Part I.

Education should be understood in terms of changing man for the better. Such a change must manifest itself in behaviour, whether in the individual or in the general pattern we call civilization.

 

UNITY OF ENDS AND MEANS
The education of gentleman as known in the West has here to be thought of in the same breath as the perfected model of spiritual life as conceived in the great religions of the world. Insofar as these models have given us patterns of a good life worth perpetuating, they should be conserved. In evolving the gentleman or the perfect man of the future, we might have to put into the melting-pot many of those petrified moulds which the conservative orthodoxies of various departments of human life have thrown up to the surface through the changes or upheavals of history.

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Living and dialectically revalued notions of piety, sportsmanship, chivalry, social responsibility, statesmanship or even citizenship have to enter into the makeup of the educated gentleman of tomorrow. Contemplation, which knows no historical limitation, has also to be given its full place in a normative model such as we have to keep in mind. The man of tomorrow must be one hundred per cent human and thus represent the highest human value in himself. To accomplish this end, the innate and overt aspects of the personality have to be adjusted and balanced. A scientifically-understood norm has to apply to the image and to the mould it fits into, at once. In other words, the subjective and the objective have to be justly and truly comprehended. Disequilibrium, maladjustment and lack of harmony or beauty have to be avoided. As a head-dress must match the man or woman concerned, so the behaviour-pattern available for the educated person has to agree with what he represents in himself as the effect of his education up to that moment. Thus ends and means have to meet unitively in the process, and more especially in the final stages of positive adjustment in education. The ends and means have to meet, at least in infinity or eternity, so that some behaviouristic cap or other has to be chosen, whether one likes it or not. Such is the implication of absolute necessity, which in a practical sense culminates with death, and in a theoretical sense with eternal life. The crisis of man, whether actual or spiritual, has to be met with the benefit of the best wisdom available to man and in keeping with the dignity of the race.

When Shakespeare says that a man's dress "declareth the man" in him; or when proverbs tell us that birds of a feather flock together; or again when the Bhagavad Gita states "what a man's faith is, that he even is" (XVII. 3); or even when a modern psychologist is able to recognize with Th. Ribot: 'The man of great passion is confiscated wholly by his passion, he is his passion" (15) - we are touching one of the laws of fundamental personal dialectics. It is also said that, "as a man thinketh, he becometh".

In the human world of actions and opportunities which is spread before each individual, there are many items that, through necessity, taste or refinement, he would select to adopt as his own. Man is ever equating himself to things or thoughts.

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The hat that a woman would wear; the food that a boy might select when seated at a feast spread before him; the pattern of behaviour to which he would naturally conform; not to mention the occupations corresponding to his aptitudes - have all to be understood as regulated by the laws of personal dialectics implied in each case. These laws could be used diagnostically besides being rules to be followed. The Sabbath could be for man and vice-versa, according to the necessity or contingency involved in the situation. Education must meet the individual and the individual must fit into the available pattern in the world of activities and opportunities.

 

 

SECTION 1:


THE CONTENT OF EDUCATION


FROM SIMPLE SENSATIONS TO HIGH HUMAN VALUES
If a simple sensation reaching the organism may be said to mark the alpha of the educative process, the omega of the series may be said to be marked by the appreciation of high human values. In this manifesto this is to be conceived as a positive and progressive adjustment of personal tendencies, reaching out to the highest of human values within one's grasp. Even in the final stage of perfection, sensations are not totally abolished, but tend to recede into the background to occupy a secondary position. The personality does not live in a vacuum, but in a graded scale of behaviour-patterns. It fits into a field of creative life-expression with a starting-point and a culminating target to reach. Activity and affectivity require catering to in this process, without violating laws of human dialectics which concern one's existence, one's more formal or intelligent subsistence, and the values that might attract or repel one at each intermediate stage. The process is not mechanistic but living, creative and organic.
If we should consider a simple sensation, we find that the stimulus that starts it, through centralisation from the periphery, attains to the core of consciousness.

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Instead of resulting in a simple unit-response, as wrongly supposed by some mechanistically-minded physiologists, simple stimuli invariably produce whole, complex or integrated responses, resulting in ideas, through a characteristic central delay after the irradiation of the primary impulse. The ideas attain to a higher or lower status in consciousness according to the facilitations, inverse or onward, going towards the higher or lower centres, already there in the form of habitual dispositions connected with instincts and memories.

If we rely on Rousseau's educational psychology here, rather than being misled by stimulus-response psychology (dominated by its brass instruments and gadgets, which what is called experimental education has brought into vogue in the West, and which may be called a form of scientific superstition peculiar to the age), we can easily see that personal life, with which education is concerned, hardly consists of unit-sensations, the total sum of which make up life. On the contrary, the simplest sense-stimulus gets translated and verticalized into an idea, integrated and raised to the status of an interest or a life-value. Sensations and perceptions have to be understood unitively. As Rousseau points out:

"Simple ideas are nothing but sensations that have been compared. There are judgements involved in the simplest of sensations." (16)

That an idea is also an idea of value we shall see on page 217.

 

VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL WORLDS OF VALUES
If modern philosophy admits of the notion of Monadology of Leibniz, in which the Monad of monads corresponds to God; and if the cosmology of Descartes admits of a universe in which ethereal fluids move round a vortex - it should not sound strange in these days of the space-time continuum, and of the drastic revision of our theory of knowledge, methodology and value notions, that we should, for the sake of brevity, begin here to refer, as it were, abruptly, to vertical and horizontal worlds of values.

In the "Contrat Social" Rousseau himself uses this contrasting set of values in his discussion, as follows:

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"As I meditated on the nature of man, it seemed that I discovered therein two distinct principles; one of them rose to the study of eternal verities, towards love, justice and true morality, to those regions of the world that the sage loves to contemplate; the other lowered it, rendered it slave of the senses, and of passions, which are its instruments, and was thus opposed to all that was suggested by the first principle."

Once the sensation gets integrated into a value-idea by the very interest that it implies thereby, it can exert a vertical pull upwards, hypostatically; or become a lowering weight that can, by a descending dialectical process, bring the consciousness into relation with simple existents that are of interest in the sustenance or joy of life. Taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing can work unitively hand in hand with natural elements or entelechies, as Aristotle would call them, conceived as value-factors (and not as mere objects), to make a whole string of values, from simple existent ones to the high ideological ones of the platonic world of the Intelligibles. A contemplative psychology, epistemology and methodology are implied here, which we cannot discuss at length in this manifesto. We shall, however, have occasion to discuss the epistemological and other implications of this contemplative, intuitive approach to the personal factor in some of the sections that follow.

 

THE BASIC CONFLICT AND UNITIVE TREATMENT OF LIFE VALUES
It is true that one cannot serve two masters, and that Caesar's domain is different from that of God. As Rousseau would put it strikingly, as pertains to education one "cannot make a citizen and a man at once".

This contradiction at the core of the personal tendencies themselves has to be fully recognized in any science of education that deserves the name. In the scheme that we have adopted, the conflict is represented by the correlates crossing at right angles. Every aspect of personal life, within body limits or outside, is subject to the conflict.

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It is the task of contemplation, however, to resolve this conflict unitively, and to transcend or overcome the confusion it might bring in the process of education, by developing a sound methodology, epistemology and a scheme of values proper to it. Within its humble limits, this manifesto gives broad indications in this matter of great importance. For the time being let us name this the "law of conflicting interests in education". This is the second law. The first law was already implicit in Part I of the manifesto, being the "law of unity, equality or identical total value".

 

THE LAW OF POLARITY OR AMBIVALENCE
The third law and the second of the important fundamental notions that we have to formulate correctly in personal psycho-dynamics may be called the "law of polarity or ambivalence". In the domain of biology it was Bleuler who first defined this term. Other terms such as dichotomy, polarity, synergism, antinomian principles - all expressing this reciprocal interdependence or relationship of a complementary or compensatory character - have been understood or used in physiology, theology, philosophy or cosmology. This element of paradox or tragic conflict in life attains to the very core of our being. Hamlet's "to be or not to be" is ever echoed in our hearts at every step we take, whether intellectual or physical. Piety and works are opposed, as also grace and sin. Groups of muscles balance one another; functioning itself delicately hangs in the balance, as with the heart, which is energised by two distinct sets of nerves, one positive and the other negative. The neutral core of consciousness is the wheel's hub where conflicting spokes meet, as the Upanishads and the Tao Teh Khing would put this verity. We should be content for the present to derive two secondary laws based on this principle of polarity. These could be stated as follows: III (a) the law of compensation of interests and III (b) the law of equilibrium. Their nature will be clear from the contexts as we continue.

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EDUCATION CONSISTS OF A SERIES OF EQUATIONS TO INTERESTS
There have been many definitions of education; that it is "a drawing out" or "a driving in of truth", that it is "a preparation to face the battle of life", that it is "the development of head and heart" or "of the whole man", that its aim is "social adjustment for utility" or "for leisure", that it is "for citizenship" etc. Each of them may be partially valid, but the best of them is one which treats ends and means unitively, and refers to the process in terms of harmony, equilibrium, balance, beauty or proportion in life-tendencies. There is a cancelling-out of counterparts, a constant search for agreement, accord or unitive peace with oneself or with the outer world, involved in the best notion of education. Childhood-interests are equated with play; youth-interests in seeking companionship; old-age-interests in thoughts good, bad or indifferent. One sphere of interest succeeds another, but the balancing of counterparts holds good always, and man tends by his natural gift of reason to rise in the scale of values, while the equilibrium of forces, acting horizontally, is ever maintained constant. A scientifically- conceived education has thus the law of equilibrium implied in its end and its means.

 

THE CONTENT OF POSITIVE EDUCATION
We have noted that Rousseau considered the earliest phase of education as negative. Does this mean that later stages of education are positive, and if so, what is the precise content of such a programme? When the child grows towards becoming a young person his interests are directed to things with which he wants to be related intelligently or actively. Common everyday science, by which he relates himself to the physical world, gives him interesting experiences by which he is able to dispel, step by step, wrong or apparent notions with corrected or true ones. When his vision thus penetrates into the veil of appearance, his education may be said to be getting positively adjusted. One simple interest gives place to another, until one day he discovers that there are interesting events happening to himself. He then compares himself with others. This becomes the second stage of the positive process of education. He wishes to be self-sufficient and earn an honest livelihood and finally get a companion in life.

207


Simple, natural, positive adjustments of tendencies go on up to this point without any tragic factors creeping into life. Later in life, education demands higher idealistic adjustment in which tragic conflicts incidental to life are conquered by a more positive, yet unitive, solution. Thus, after the first stage of education, the whole of the remainder of the educative process has a positive content. Normal positive education is thus a harmonious ascent or a vertical adjustment to life-values. All tragic values involving conflict lie in the horizontal series of interests from which the educand is to be saved as much as possible. To help the pupil in this way to adjust his urges progressively and harmoniously, turning him away from the harsh and tragic aspects of life, is the task of the educator.

 

THE ONLOOKER THE BEST EDUCATOR, EVEN IN POSITIVE EDUCATION
Although we have just said that tragedy is to be avoided, this is not to be done wilfully by any interference or escapist doctrine. A born tragic hero must have a tragic situation to face to prove his worth. To hinder his self-fulfilment would be dangerous. Each type has its proper vocation in life, and this principle, which the Gita calls "svadharma" (one's proper calling), requires to be respected absolutely. The inner man must be matched one hundred per cent with the outer circumstance in a situation which, though apparently involving two wrongs, sometimes, when the two are put together, works for one right. The discipline by natural consequences that both Rousseau and Spencer adopt in their educational theories respects this principle of non-intervention or interference by the educator.

This is but a corollary of the principle of equalization and of the neutralisation of opposing tendencies in the pupil throughout the process. The plus and the minus aspects of the sets of tendencies involved in any given interest of the educand must by themselves be allowed to attain to an equilibrium by his working out his salvation himself, through his own proper vocation. Forcing in any way would only distort the tendencies.

208


Freedom, however, should not include freedom to go wrong and become maladjusted. The educator should expect from each according to his ability and give to each according to his need. He has to maintain here a neutrality based on a law of compensatory reciprocity, which is of the essence of the bipolar relation which, as we have said, is implied in education.

It is in this sense that the educator has been compared to an intelligent gardener who tends and watches, or to a good shepherd who leads his flock to fresh waters and green pastures. Socrates, who was concerned with the highest role of education, as the teacher of wisdom, still compared himself only to a midwife. Tolstoy has compared the subtle bipolar relation involved to the process of osmosis between liquids separated by living tissue. The reciprocity may be illustrated by referring to two magnets packed together so that one would help the other to retain its own power without getting spent itself. A dialectical law of reciprocity is here implied. The Guru (spiritual teacher) and the sisya (pupil in wisdom) were known to be related in this bipolar way in ancient Indian education. This is instinctively understood even by Indian peasant women to the present-day.

 

EDUCABILITY OF THE EDUCAND NEED NOT BE DOUBTED
Many modern thinkers have doubted even the educability of the educand. Among such, Th. Ribot put his finger at the very centre of the question when he stated briefly, "true character does not change". Voltaire, who is the representative of the Age of Reason, put it more pointedly when he said:

"Would you insist absolutely on changing the character of a man? Then purge him every day with diluents till you have him dead".

Guyau, Spinoza, Gall, Schopenhauer, Taine and Spencer are among the other thinkers who thought education could not do much to change the nature of a man. (17)

This objection would at once lose its whole force when we adopt the standpoint, attributed to Muhammad, that if the mountain would not come to him, he would go to the mountain. Dialectically approached, according to a theory that is also dialectically correct, and with dialectical relations or conditions properly secured for the osmotic process to go on, education still has possibilities of full success in its highest aim.

209


Some people like Voltaire have the perversity to obtain doubly wrong conclusions even when doubly right ones are possible. Reason can be wrongly used like an inverted telescope. Even extremely wrong opinions sometimes help us to see the truth of the opposite. Dialectics can resolve a double disaster into a blessing both ways.

 

THE DIALECTICAL APPROACH TO WORK-A-DAY PROGRAMMES IN EDUCATION
At this stage it might be objected that, this dialectical approach being of such an airy subtlety, it could not enter into school teaching in any tangible form. Gleaned from personal experience in teaching in various types of institutions from primary to university grades in different parts of the world, the following general indications may be set forth here as guiding principles for the educational practitioner:

(a) Recognition of the background aspects of the personality of the child which are the retrospective seat of the instincts, memories and global emotional dispositions connected with repose and relaxation, is a much neglected matter in actual educational practice as obtaining in the large public schools of today. The background aspect comes into evidence in the classroom when we find that certain children take more time for expression than others; but when they do begin to express themselves, they do better than those whose response was earlier and quicker. There is a kind of subconscious receptacle, where impressions lie stored and delayed before they become organized and ready for expression. The capacity of this receptacle varies with different children, and the teacher who ignores this difference would be dealing wrongly with the child, who might be forced to keep pace with pupils less richly endowed in this respect. Thus damage might be done which it would be hard to heal later on. The richer the negative aspect, the higher is the promise for the future.

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(b) Differing levels of personal reaction to the same set of interests or situations is another matter which a mechanistically-minded approach to education would tend to ignore with disastrous results. Defective children may show precociousness, which should not be encouraged. Normal healthy reactions should be encouraged even when the attainment from the scholastic point of view might be at an inferior level for the time being.

(c) There is similarly a personal rhythm of progression belonging to the personality of each child which it would be disastrous not to recognize, as the tendency happens to be in mass impersonal education. Slow and steady alternation can be superior to a quick rhythmic alternation, which might be due to a sick soul.

(d) There is even a diurnal alternation of emotive and intellectual, prospective and retrospective, positive or negative phases involved in everyday education which should be remembered both in framing the timetable and in balancing the curriculum. Analytical intellectual exercise must occupy the morning hours, and such subjects as history and light literary studies taken during the reminiscent, reposeful mood of the evening hours.

(e) Complete reactions are to be preferred to partial ones. This is another rule that mass education is likely to neglect. A natural chain of behaviour involves various phases, which we have tried to trace in Part I of this Manifesto. The figure-of-eight that it traces involves a natural sequence which follows a certain living order peculiar to the personal factor. A cyclist going uphill can admire a sunset without compromising one activity by the other. Although "one thing at a time" is proverbially a good rule, a properly compensated and balanced programme of daily activities helps to make education a pleasure to the teacher and to the taught. Here again a dialectical approach, equating work and play, helps in everyday education.

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VEDANTA REVALUED AND RESTATED

By Nataraja Guru

 

CONTENTS

 

I. The background, origin and a new approach - P1

II. The three categories of Reality – P11

III. The problem of transition from Existence to Subsistence – P23

IV. The Absolute as word-value significance – P33

V. Semantic polyvalence of Vedantic thought – P45

VI. Two Certitudes for the same truth – P54

VII. The integrated knowledge-situation of Vedanta – P67

VIII. The double domain of the Word – P81

IX. Varieties of Vedantism – P91

X. Favourite examples in Vedanta – P100

XI, Schematic protolinguism in Vedanta – P114

XII. A summarized running review – P128

Index – P139

 

I. THE BACKGROUND, ORIGIN, AND A NEW APPROACH


To a newcomer, India is a land of enigmas and wonders. Besides its mountains, rivers and seas, its people present such a variety of types, dress and language, and such a wide range of beliefs and behaviour patterns as to puzzle him.

Prevailing cults, doctrines and dogmas present a confused tangle. Their time-honoured customs and manners challenge and baffle the researches of the most penetrating of inquirers. The Indian sub-continent may thus be said to present to him the aspect of a veritable museum, with an endless variety of interesting features.

Exaggerations and superlatives are normal in this land of rolling plains and snow-capped mountain peaks. The pitch-dark nights alternate with days when sunshine manifests more colourfully what was absorbed within the womb of Nature. Enjoying comparative isolation by natural frontiers, this land has preserved something of its ancient personality, surviving those cross-breezes of time that have more easily ruffled the atmosphere of neighbouring regions.


THE HISTORICAL - CULTURAL BACKGROUND

More like a weed than a garden plant, humanity in South Asia shows striking contrasts as between high and low, rich and poor, Brahmin and Pariah, who segregate themselves in toil or in leisure, assorted into groups with distinct traits, or in an almost amorphous matrix or mixture.

2

 

The major portion of the submerged masses is inarticulate and dumb-driven by the stark necessities of life. Castes and tribes have thus persisted, with their distinguishing names and special outer marks, graded between static and closed groupings and more open and dynamic ones.
The Indian mind has an accentuation of subjectivism. The historical sense in respect of the actual dates of facts is poorly developed. This is due to the seven, five, or at least two thousand -five hundred years to which memory has to be stretched backwards to find the sources of secular or spiritual life. Errors have to be allowed in terms of centuries, not decades, and sometimes even in terms of millennia, in respect of many important events, or of the dates of important books. Often too, a contemplative geography takes the place of one in which longitude and latitude are valid. India is spoken of as a Jambu Dvipa, an “Island of Berries”, in certain Sanskrit books; and there is a vast submerged continent called Tamilakam to which it belonged, as spoken of in ancient Tamil literature.

Epochs are referred to in terms of yugas, each of them having a duration of a million years. Speculation has gone on un-bridled through the ages on the Indian soil. There abound specific and generic personalities, half-real and half-mythological, such as a Brihaspati vying with a Dakshinamurti; a Visvamitra with a Vasishta; and a Vyasa with a Valmiki. We are offered a gallery of figures about whose lives we know next to nothing.

Scepticism and belief, reason and sentiment, like bright and dark strands, have crossed over from one side to the other, changing between what was considered orthodox at one time into what was heterodox at another: and so on, many times over, during the long history of Indian thought. It is like a rope with many strands, whose individual fibres take up the continuity, one after another.

Such are some of the background aspects into which we have to fit our study of Vedanta which is a revaluation of the Veda that went before it. We can think of this situation as a tree of Wisdom which has put forth its best blossoms through a period of about five thousand years, as Dr. Paul Deussen has described it.

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We have to think of this cultural expression as a process of dialectical revaluation and restatement, taking place imperceptibly and in infinitesimal gradations through decades, centuries, even millennia: resulting in what is even now recognisable as present-day Vedanta. Alive even to this day, it may be said to be its culminating expression. Much of present-day Vedanta, however, having become overcovered with the debris of latter-day Indian scholasticism, stands in need of restatement, after being correctly revalued in the light of a correct Vedantic methodology, epistemology and axiology, in order to give it a normalized scientific status, balancing both scepticism and belief, and applying the instruments of reason, criticism, and intuition to the total knowledge-situation implicit in it.

This is the task which we shall undertake, in a running fashion, in the pages that follow. Empty "Lord-Lord-ism”; harsh exclusiveness; wrong loyalty to the dead letter rather than to the spirit; partial preferences and the lack of a resultant firm justice; a misplaced sense of value; and errors of judgement which spell disasters, big or small; are some of the evils sought to be mitigated by our present inquiry.

 

PRE-VEDIC INDIA

India was already civilised before the Aryans came with their Vedic religion. Until the significance of the Indus Valley civilisation was recognized, Indian historians invariably began their first chapters with reference to the Vedas as the source of Indian spiritual life. But the excavations at Mohenjo Daro and Harappa in the Indus Valley and at sites such as Lothal in Gujarat, have opened a backward vista of a couple of millennia more in which a pre-Aryan civilisation existed. When the Aryans came, they had to face the challenge of an order of things that existed before, and to respond to the new situation.

The Vedas, which began by reflecting a simple, natural and fully human sense of wonder about the phenomenal aspects of life, based on a vague belief in the Absolute, had to be subjected to several revisions, revaluations, and restatements, after this contact with the previous civilisation.

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The result is discernible in the various grades of wisdom-literature, of which the three Vedas, the Rik, Sama and Yajus stand apart as a group in themselves, by the primitive purity of their style and subject matter. They are filled with a sense of the numinous. They represent the first lispings of the awakened self of man at the dawn of the history of India.

If prose is suited for practical purposes, and poetry for purer or spiritual purposes, the language of the Veda may be said to excel in the latter; and whatever reference there might be to action in the hymns, chants and liturgies of the Vedas, refers to the context of burnt sacrifices to propitiate the pantheon of personifications of cosmological and phenomenal aspects of the Absolute. Their status in theology or psychology may be questioned, but their high proto-linguistic and poetic value in the context of the wonder of the adorable Absolute is beyond question. They must be subjected to their own innate standards of criticism, as has been done by Jaimini, and then they become a body of wisdom which can hold its own against any philosophy in the world, including the Vedanta, which itself in many respects has to presuppose the anterior and more antique of the two disciplines, the Veda and the Vedanta.

The challenge and response, or the blast and counter-blast aspects as they prevailed in India when the Aryans came into contact with the pre-Aryans, known by whatever name, has to be visualized somewhat as follows.

 

THE REVALUATION PROCESS

The green pastures and fields attracted the invaders in small groups as they penetrated inward from the north-west through a period of centuries; or of the millennium between two- thousand five hundred to one thousand five hundred years ago, roughly speaking - if we are permitted to guess between controversial dates. They had their cattle and horses too, and were formed somewhat like a city-state, with three groups which tended to segregate themselves by their natural functions as priests, soldiers, and traders; to which they added a fourth group which was not within the fold, but could come and go as servants.

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The Aryans seem to have brought neither servants nor enough women, judging from cases such as that of Dronacharya, who was a preceptor of archery to the Pandavas and who took Kripi for wife.

The origins of Vyasa and his father Parasara sufficiently reveal the state of intercourse prevailing between the originals and the newcomers. The story of the Pandavas and the circumstances of their birth and parentage show that some complexity, promiscuity, and polyandry was normal in those days, as with many prehistoric peoples the world over. Vyasa, otherwise called Veda-Vyasa, the central figure of Indian spirituality looked at from any angle or point of view, had a fisher-damsel for mother, and had for father Parasara, who was born of a Pariah woman, as stated in the beginning of the Mahabharata itself.

The settlers soon created for themselves pockets of influence, and as between those who joined the side of the newcomers and those who were of the original group, whether by loyalty or blood, two blocs developed in and around Hastinapura or Ayodhya (modern Delhi and Oudh respectively), not necessarily at the same epoch. The story of the clan of Raghu (or Rama) had the latter city for its epicentre; and the Pandavas under Krishna, who were of the Mahabharata context, had the former.

About the activities of both of these groupings, we have ample literature on which to base our broad guesswork in the two great epics of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The Ramayana has a story that moves from the north to the south, bringing a revalued culture, not necessarily all Aryan, to put law and order and some refinement into the peoples of the South. This may be recognized as an expression of the "blast" side of the situation in which challenge and response must be distinguished, if we are to place Veda and Vedanta in their proper perspectives.

The Mahabharata episode moves from the prehistoric pre-Aryan context to an Aryan heaven which the eldest of the Pandavas refuses to enter if his dog is not admitted, and where his enemies are already fully acceptable persons holding responsible offices.

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The Bhagavad Gita episode itself states the way in which Vedic relativism and Samkhya dualism are revalued and restated in terms in keeping with Vedantism. Elsewhere we have given to these matters fuller space already, and we are only referring to this aspect here in passing, to show that Veda and Vedanta are to be looked upon as counterparts, Vedanta being the revaluation of the Veda.

 

FROM NON-BRAHMIN SOURCES

If Veda belongs to the orthodoxy of the Brahmin priest, Vedanta was in the possession mainly of kings like Janaka; or of men of lowly social status like Raikva, the cart driver with itches on his body, who as custodian of Vedantic Wisdom, would not readily impart it even to superior people such as the Brahmins. Similar references elsewhere in the Upanishads, which are not at all few, point in the same direction.

Vedanta is the result of the interaction of primitive and crude Vedism - which latter was vitiated by the acceptance of cruel and unclean animal sacrifices and a harsh, exclusive priesthood, who would not allow a Sudra (the servant who necessarily belonged to the rival group) to study the secrets of its wisdom - with a form of higher Wisdom of the Absolute, which grew up from the meeting of the twin philosophical and critically revalued spiritual traditions called the two mimamsas, (critiques): the purva, (former) and the uttara, (later), this last being closer to Vedanta proper.

The subtle dialectical relation between these two critical schools will be examined by us later. Suffice it to say that Vedanta combines and reconciles Veda with the critical and philosophical aspect of wisdom, into Brahma-vidya, as a Science of the Absolute. How this was made an accomplished fact is what we have to explain.

Within the limits of belief in the Vedas and a full-fledged agnosticism, scepticism, and even atheism, at its core, the tree of Indian wisdom presents to us many problems, requiring, for full justice, a large treatise.

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In this present study we shall content ourselves with the revision, restatement, and revaluation of some aspects of Vedanta that interest us; particularly in the light of modern developments in scientific and philosophical thought; and pertaining also to the philosophy of Narayana Guru, which may be said to mark the culmination of revalued Vedantism in the India of recent times. The structural, subjective, and selective features pertaining to the notion of the Absolute, as we shall see, are shared by Vedantic thought also, and it is exactly this aspect that is of interest to us, as these features are evidenced also in the writings of Narayana Guru.

 

HOW TO DISTINGUISH VEDA FROM VEDANTA

Strictly speaking, the distinction between what is known as the Veda and its dialectical revaluation into Vedanta is one of the most central and difficult problems to be faced.

For this purpose, we have to draw first the preliminary distinction between Vedism as it manifested itself in its primitive form as a natural and actual historical occurrence, and critical Vedism, as it was subjected to later additions and amendments. Mere elaboration of the raw material of the Veda is one thing, and its subjection to dialectical revaluation is another. Both have gone on abreast in respect of the Veda, as it passed through the stages of Agamas, (traditions), Brahmanas, (commentaries) and Aranyakas, (forest teachings), forming various sakhas, (branches) tending to be more critical, rational or philosophical; from mere ritualistic beginnings, supplemented by hymns, chants or mantras, (evocative sound-spells).
The four stages in a man's life may be said to correspond to the stages of the historical development of Vedic thought itself, as it passed through simple sacrificial acts, with their connected gestures and chants, into more elaborated forms of ritual and mutterings, suited for various occasions and circum-stances, and on to non-ritualistic pure wisdom.

Various Rishis (seers), Gurus (wisdom preceptors), or Munis (quietists), who lived in the forests away from society, had their own favourite or particular Vedic traditions and chants, each with a form of ritual belonging to it, which made them into distinct units of Vedic schools, some of whom specialised in Vedic exegetics, semantics or grammar.

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In this way, a complex situation arose in which Vedism underwent a drastic modification of context as well as content.

Thus, if Veda is the tail end of a knowledge situation, we have to think of the Vedanta as belonging to the front pole, where it gets more finalised by ever-greater dialectical revaluations.

The intermediate literature presents a region where speculation thrives both ways as in a no-man's land between two contending armies. Each of the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita represents the various permutations and combinations possible in this dialectical revaluation, pertaining to the categories of Existence, Subsistence and Value in Vedanta philosophy. (As we have devoted a volume to the unravelling of the intricacies of the Bhagavad Gita it is not necessary to linger here on this subject any longer).

The two mimamsas, (critiques) called the pracina, (antique) or the purva, (anterior), and the uttara, (posterior or more finalised), have between them a subtle dialectical affinity, based on an apparent opposition. It is to explain this affinity that the subtlest polemical, logical, exegetic, and semantic powers of great teachers like Jaimini and Badarayana have been lavishly expended in their writings. When one is understood in terms of the other, reciprocally both ways, with all their subtle epistemological and axiological implications; cosmologically, psychologically, and eschatologically; we can consider ourselves to have touched the core of our subject.
There are three canonical texts, which have been accepted for this purpose in Vedanta: namely, the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita.

Between these three we can reasonably expect all Vedantic doctrines to have been touched upon in one context or another. When these texts are treated together with the Mahavakyas (the great dicta of the Vedanta); if properly explained and understood with their significance and position in the body of knowledge; we can rest satisfied that we have given some definiteness of content to the complex and multi-apartmented mansion of what is vaguely referred to as Vedantic Wisdom

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THE TWO CONVENTIONAL DIVISIONS

The totality of Indian spirituality of the Vedic context may be broadly divided, as is already conventionally accepted, into the jnana kanda (section on pure reason) and the karma-kanda (section on practical, ritualistic or other action), respectively.

When both of these exist together, they enter into conflict with each other if non-dialectically handled; or, when they are dialectically treated, they are absorbed without contradiction into a middle ground which is inclusive of both, where both contradiction and paradox are transcended.

There are thus two methods and two distinct epistemological positions possible: the one that admits the principle of contradiction and the other that does not do so.

Advaita (non-duality); visishta-advaita (non-duality admitting some difference between quality and the qualified Absolute); and dvaita (accepting the duality of ambivalent poles within the structure of the Absolute); are all possible varieties of Vedanta. Each of these finds justification in the three canonical texts referred to above, without violating the requirements of the great dicta and the spirit of Vedanta as a whole. They represent grades in which the Absolute Idea or Norm can transcend paradox or bypass the principle of contradiction and excluded middle, in giving differing accentuations to the value-factor of the content of the Idea from the theological, psychological or purely epistemological angles.

Ritualism and gnosis, which are rival factors involved in Vedanta, either enter into conflict horizontally, or absorb one another when vertically treated. Herein is the secret of Vedanta on which the author of the Gita has put his finger with precision and certitude when he says:

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"On what is action and what is inaction, even intelligent men here are confused. I shall indicate to you that action, on knowing which you will be emancipated from evil. One has to understand about action and understand about wrong action. Again one has to have a proper notion of non-action. The way of action is elusively subtle (indeed)! The one who is able to see action in inaction, and inaction in action - he among men is intelligent, he is one of unitive attitude (yogi) while still engaged in every (possible) kind of work." (IV 16-18)

In the last of these verses we have the paradox of action and inaction most squarely faced, and the dialectical solution suggested without contradiction of their rival claims. When dialectically treated, the paradox is resolved; but when treated from the point of view of ordinary logic, which excludes the middle ground and accepts the principle of contradiction, the conflict stares us in the face - and so to treat jnana and karma together would be unjustified. We shall have more to say on this kind of dialectical methodology of the Vedanta as occasions present themselves in this study.

Meanwhile, these quotations from the Bhagavad Gita, which is perhaps the most central authority for Vedanta; being repeatedly cited in the Brahma-Sutras of Badarayana, which latter is perhaps its only possible rival, if any; suffice to show that the gnostic and the ritualistic traditions in the Vedanta need not divide the wisdom of Vedanta into two water-tight compartments (as popular opinion might want us to believe), when viewed in the context of the higher wisdom that Vedanta is meant to represent.

What Sankara refers to as the evil of promiscuously mixing up wisdom with action (jnana-karma-samucchaya) can thus be avoided when the dialectical methodology proper to Vedanta is fully explained and understood: since samanvaya (dialectical agreement or "harmony" as often translated) can replace the samucchaya (mixing up) which would spell wrong Vedantism.

At the core of Vedantic wisdom there is lodged a paradox which we have approached frontally here, to get started on our subject. As we go along, some of the points or aspects still left obscure in the Vedanta philosophy will perhaps be cleared up. Vedanta transcends paradox by the postulation of an over-all normative notion of the Absolute as an Existent-Subsistent-Value.

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II. THE THREE CATEGORIES OF REALITY

All philosophy and science stand for certitude through thinking. Logic and mathematics lay down the methods by which certitudes are reached when mere thought, unsupported by methods or calculations, involves varying degrees of doubt about the steps of thinking or research.

Vedanta philosophy or Brahma-Vidya (the Science of the Absolute), as it is more correctly named, is no exception to the rule. It seeks certitude about absolute Existence, Subsistence, or Value, comprised in one notion called Brahman. (Brahman should not be confused with Brahma, the four-headed god of the Hindu pantheon: it represents the Absolute when used as a neuter and not as a masculine.)

 

TEXTS AND THE GREAT DICTA

To reveal the nature of the Absolute in poetic, figurative, or other convincingly authorised or valid language, is what the Upanishads, the most important body of literature of canonical status for Vedanta, have as their principal task.

The Absolute, being by nature a mystery and a wonder, means that the teaching of the Upanishads refers to a kind of philosophy that tends to be esoteric. However, when it has been subjected to more critical, rational, and intuitive treatment in the Brahma-Sutras of Badarayana (which is universally recognized as the second canonical text of Vedanta); and in the third similar canonical text called the Bhagavad Gita (which, however, is sometimes referred as a smriti - a code of obligatory duties of secondary importance); the subject matter of these three authoritative texts attains to a fully philosophical status, both from esoteric and exoteric norms of thought.

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Both a priori and a posteriori means of valid reasoning are employed in Vedanta to arrive at the four great dicta (or maha-vakyas) which define the finalised finds or (lakshya) of Vedantic research or inquiry.

Expressed by the first, second, or third personal or impersonal pronouns as referring to the Self or ultimate Reality, they read: "Pure consciousness is the Absolute"; "That existent is the Absolute"; "This Self is the Absolute"; or "That thou art". In whatever grammatical or syntactical form they may be put, they represent an equation between two aspects of the Absolute, one which is visible and the other which is intelligible, whether in the context of the cosmological, the psychological, or the theological orders of reality.

The great dicta may be said to be answers to the two most generalized problems of all philosophical inquiry; two grand problems arising ever and everywhere in the human understanding, and contained in the questions: "who am I?" and "how came this world?" These two questions are fundamental and basic to all philosophical inquiry on the part of any man endowed with natural curiosity to know about his environment and himself, as together making a sensible whole in the Absolute.

Vedanta follows such wholesale lines of inquiry and boldly claims to hold the answer for these questions, which is more than the most intrepid of modern analytic philosophers dare to claim.

There are modern philosophers who tend to believe that wholesale answers to globally or totally conceived problems are no longer justified, and that the scientific spirit pertains to the piecemeal annexation of one fact after another to the total store of human knowledge by demonstrable steps of trial and error. They are thus sceptical empiricists or pragmatists, confined to the instrumental or the operational world of probabilities, with a partial epistemology, methodology, and axiology.

 

VALID MEANS OF CERTITUDE

Vedanta, on the other hand, is rather a bold, wholesale, frontal, and a priori approach to ultimate realities of the most generalized order; and its natural starting point is belief rather than scepticism.

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The other valid means of certitude, such as what is demonstrable and given to the senses, such as the eyes, etc. (pratyaksha), are not omitted; but are given a revised epistemological and subjective status in Vedanta. They are fitted into an overall scheme with a transparency or homogeneity in the common medium of participation, which is neither mind nor matter, but something with a neutral status in the Absolute.

Vedanta is thus a complete philosophy of the Absolute; with a rather subjectively-biased epistemological status; with a methodology which admits of all valid means of certitude, from empiricism, through rationalism, criticism and intuitionism; with an importance also attached to semantic considerations; and referring to a high human value or goal to be reached for all mankind.

Although often mistaken for pantheism, pessimism, solipsism, eclecticism, idealism, or syncretism; none of these terms can be considered sufficient to cover the character of Vedanta, which is an integrated philosophy, a psychology, a cosmology, and a theology in its own right at one and the same time. It is often legitimately or illegitimately used as a surrogate of religion.

Although some aspects of Vedanta stand in need of revision or clarification in the light of modern norms and standards in philosophy, there is no gainsaying the verity that it represents a monument of the heights to which speculation in the human mind can attain. Progress in modern times tends rather to confirm Vedanta rather than discredit it or put it into cold storage. When properly restated, it can even offer the basis for a one-world philosophy or a unified science of tomorrow.

The much-misunderstood Purva Mimamsa will be seen, on closer study, to be nothing but semantics, offering the frame of reference for a language of unified science. Schematicism, structuralism, subjectivism, and a selective epistemology: all lie at the basis of Vedanta, in which not only the Vedas but the six systems of Indian philosophy, all of which have gone into disuse and mistrust at the present day, have been successfully integrated already into one body of unified Wisdom.

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The normative notion of the Absolute is the factor giving unity and organic coherence to the various elements of philosophy or science, logic, or mathematical discipline, that have contributed, or should legitimately be taken to have contributed, to this body of unitive wisdom called Advaita Vedanta, of which the other varieties, such as Dvaita (duality) and Visishta-Advaita (non-duality with Value), are only as corollaries to axioms.

 

VEDANTA AND MODERN THOUGHT

There are both points of contact and difference between Vedanta and modern Western philosophy. Having reviewed some of the significant aspects of such thought in another study, we have here to keep the matter in mind again, so as to enable us to see Vedanta in its revised perspective, noticing agreements and disagreements between the two extremes of Eastern and Western ways of thinking, widely separated as they are.

We have already seen how the official or academic philosophers of Europe, even up to the time of Hegel, treated Eastern philosophy and Indian speculation generally, as unworthy of any notice. Exceptions to the rule, such as Schopenhauer, Schelling, Schlegel and others, besides Max Müller and Paul Deussen, were those who admired it, as we have seen, almost as partisans in its favour.

It is the mean between the two attitudes of disadoption and adoption that we have to strike, to arrive at the normal view in this matter. The sceptical and the empirical standpoints have great credit at present in modern Western thought. This is due partly to the reaction against the extreme dogmatism of the Middle Ages and the rise of the scientific spirit after the Dark Ages had passed into the Age of Enlightenment and Reason.

From the paradoxes of the Eleatic philosophers, and the hylozoism of the pre-Socratic animists and nature philosophers who speculated about the reality of the elements of water or fire in a scheme of existent realities, to the extreme idealism of a Hegel, we have one sweep of the story of human speculation in the West, which we can keep in mind in order to see the highlights and contributions of each new development, insofar as these are likely to be of interest to us in placing Vedantic thought in its proper perspective in the context of human understanding and the lines of its speculation, as natural to man at any time and anywhere.

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A perennial and world background, in which normal human speculation naturally thrives, when once properly visualized, will help us to rid ourselves of the parochial or mental barriers of the language or customs of different regions or times. We can then seek that central scientific notion common to both philosophy and science; and clarify it for the thought of the one world of tomorrow, in which the idea of one language too would have full relevancy; as helping to avoid confusion of tongues, which a scientific language alone can be expected to solve - as it has to some extent already done. A Russian and an American scientist can now communicate in the language of formulae and equations, with letters of the Greek alphabet: and so it becomes punishable to pass on any information in such a language from one side of a frontier to another.

Philosophy too, when rid of linguistic or cultural frontiers, will tend to bring humanity together in a more real sense than in the case of the Tower of Babel, which left the question of a common language outside its scope.

Integrated Wisdom must accommodate existential laws, logical rules, and critical methods, and give full scope to intuition. Modern phenomenology and existentialism also have their contributions, which we have to notice so that we get a total or global view of speculation as a whole, as normal to man anywhere and at any time.

What is often referred to as perennial philosophy, at present tends to come near to mysticism rather than to the philosophies of the present time, which are referred to as analytic. This distinction itself will be seen to be arbitrary, when we have examined the whole field of speculation and understanding in the light of a normative notion of the Absolute. We cannot here attempt a thorough or systematic study of these aspects, but only a summary review of the whole position in a sweeping and general way.

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THREE BROAD DIVISIONS OF PHILOSOPHY

The Vedanta examines absolute reality under the three categories of sat (Existence), which is philosophically the domain of ontology; chit (Subsistence which results from abstract reasoning) which is the domain of the ratiocinative or rational aspect of philosophical inquiry; and ananda (which refers to the world of Value, whether moral, aesthetic, or of higher contemplation), with the good and the beautiful coming under this division, which has recently been named axiology.

Ontology, epistemology and axiology may be said to cover roughly these three zones or degrees of speculation. Often these divisions overlap or presuppose each other until they become merged into one central, neutral, normative notion, called the Absolute. The actual, the logically true, and the beautiful, or the good as summum bonum, may be said, in a more popular way, to cover the same divisions.

The cosmological, psychological, and theological versions of the same have been recognized in Vedanta as the adhibhautika, the adhyatmika and the adhidaivika aspects of the Absolute, which is yet another way of dividing up the total field of speculation, based on the "subject matter" or "object matter" to which it refers. Sometimes too, both subject and object matters are treated together more unitively, as in keeping with the non-duality of approach.

Although, strictly, Vedanta adheres to ajata-vada (the theory of non-creation), yet there is in popular Vedantic works, under a chapter known as utpatti prakarana (chapter on genesis), some reference to how, in the beginning, the world originated. Thus some aspects of genesis are included in Vedanta as also its inevitable counterpart, eschatology, which treats of matters pertaining to the soul after its departure from here, or refers to the end as pralaya (general finality).

Theories of reincarnation and the survival of the soul in various regions have been variously worked out in Vedantic texts. A total subjective and absolutist way of approach, giving primacy to the mind rather than to matter; which is of the essence of spirituality, as against mere one-sided materialism; characterises Vedanta on the whole - although the rejection of the materialist standpoint from its scope altogether is not intended by Vedanta, strictly speaking. Mind and matter in Vedanta may be said to be treated as counterparts with equal claims, as in the standpoint of neutral monism postulated by William James and approved by Bertrand Russell.

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As a result, empirical evidence (pratyaksha) occupies a respectable position side by side with sabda (a priori validity based on authoritative texts) in Vedantic methodology. When the story of creation and the survival of the soul, with its progress in the spiritual world, are brought into the scope of philosophy, it begins to resemble theology or religion.

 

RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY

Indians have had no reason to divorce religion from philosophy to the same extent as Europeans had to do because of the extremes and excesses of the dogmatism of the Middle Ages. The horrors of the Inquisition that haunted the conscience of the West were a nightmare which can vie only with the cruelty and injustice of the caste system that has persisted in India. Both have tended to drive a wedge between aspects of spiritual life which, without them, should have belonged together to one discipline or expression of aspiration for Truth or Freedom. As a perennial philosophy, Vedanta tries to steer free of historical and other considerations, and thus has a global, integral, and unitively comprehensive character of its own, with its own necessary methodological, axiological and epistemological peculiarities.

Though coloured somewhat by Vedism in its origin, it is not to be mixed up and thought of in terms of any genetic fallacy of its origin and growth on the Indian soil. Advaita Vedanta or more simply Advaita Philosophy, when revalued and restated, can give us the norm and reference, both theoretical and practical, of a way of life and a certitude that can claim a fully scientific status, while being a complete philosophy in its own right.

Partial philosophical growths or expressions which have gained the foreground in various epochs in the history of the world, can all be given their proper places as aspects of such a Philosophy of philosophies or science that Vedanta has claimed to represent, even from Upanishadic times.

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How far the various philosophies of the Western world can, by their light, confirm and not discredit some of its primary methodological, epistemological, or axiological postulates in yielding more certitude to Vedanta as a complete philosophy in itself, is what we shall try to show in the pages that follow. For purposes of orderliness, we shall adopt the Vedantic categories of sat, chit and ananda (Existence, Subsistence and Value) as aspects of the Absolute, to establish points of contact or contrast between Western philosophy and Eastern philosophy as represented by the Advaita Philosophy of the Indian soil.

 

THE ABSOLUTE AS EXISTENT

We have the experience of existing things. This experience is the natural starting point of all inquiry of truth, whether scientific or philosophical. The mysterious universe of Jeans, or the "all things wonderful" that the Lord God made, of the children's hymnbook, refer to the existential order of things.

This aspect of reality refers to what is observed by the naked eye, or when aided by instruments like the microscope or the telescope. Particle physics or bacteriology reveal one side of the existing universe; while the galaxies of the expanding universe refer to the other pole: these are known as the microcosm and macrocosm respectively.

We have to distinguish, however, the metaphysically existent from the ontologically existent. In scholastic philosophy, as opposed to existence there is essence, which has also to be noted. Brute actuality based on sensation is called the sensum: when removed one degree subjectively or secondarily, it has more of the status of a percept, rather than that of a sensum. Conceptual and nominal abstractions of the existent are also possible to abstract from the given actuality of a situation.

Significant existences have to be separated, as coloured by degrees of interest in things that exist. Epistemological realism and idealism are both possible in modern philosophy. Materialism itself has no definite meaning, especially in modern days where matter and energy are becoming interchangeable terms.
When we look for support in the history of Western Thought in fixing the connotation of what exists, we have to hearken back to the pre-Socratic hylozoists to find any firm philosophically valid ground.

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ALL-ENCOMPASSING CHARACTER OF 'SAT'

Sat (ontological reality), as understood in Vedanta, has no metaphysical limits put on it as in the West, where ontology is excluded from the purview of epistemology. Physical sat, ontological sat, and axiological sat are all comprised in Vedanta under an over-all epistemology. All these have metaphysical presuppositions implicit in them, so that when Vedanta speaks of something as sat, it is to be a significant aspect of reality, rationally, critically, or intuitively understood. It is also good, morally and aesthetically too, in the context of the Absolute; which is the highest of significant values in the Self.

An actuality that exists in the most primary of senses has to be given to the senses, especially to the sense of sight and touch. Lightning and thunder, though related as cause and effect, are not as actual as a stone that we can see and touch; although the former, too, enter our consciousness directly, though separately through hearing and sight. Weight is a reality that is not so directly given to the senses as colour. The outside colour of the room in which we might be sitting at night, as seen during the day, is not an actuality - to the extent that memory has to support perception. Thus, when closely examined, empirical ontology referring to material existence, which is treated as if it had apodictic certitude, has no such simple status. The position of neutral monism, which treats of reality as consisting of neither mind nor matter, comes very near to the concept of sat as used in Vedanta.

Sat is one of the three possible categories under which the Absolute can be viewed. It comprises the truth of the dictum cogito ergo sum of Cartesianism and the esse est percipi of Berkeley; and holds them both together by means of the ultimate notion of the Absolute, which is the basis of them both; and which could not be conceived by human understanding if it did not exist in the pure sense of sat as used in Vedanta.

A verse in the Bhagavad Gita stresses this all-encompassing philosophical character of the notion of sat sufficiently to bring out the three grades in which existence is to be understood:

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"This (term) sat (the real) is used in the sense of existence and also of goodness, and likewise 0 Partha (Arjuna), to all laudable actions, the expression sat is usually applied." (XV.26)

Immanent, empirical, transcendental, and even value aspects are comprised in the notion of sat in Vedanta. How this is made possible in Vedanta will become clearer as we proceed. It is an inter-subjective and trans-physical value-factor in the Absolute Self.

 

WESTERN PHILOSOPHICAL AFFINITIES

It is in the hylozoism of the pre-Socratic philosophers that we find anything near to the notion of sat in the history of Western philosophy.

Thales of Miletus gave to water the status of the source of all things; and Anaximander spoke of the original material substance as the 'principle' of all things. He is said to have described the soul as aeriform.

Heraclitus assumes ethereal fire as the substantial principle of all things. He at once identifies it with the divine spirit which knows and directs all things. The process of things with him is twofold, involving the transformation of all things into fire and then of fire into all things. This latter movement is styled the 'way downward', which leads from fire (identical with the finest air), to water, earth, and so to death. The former movement is the 'way upward from earth and water to fire and life'. Both movements are everywhere intertwined with each other, all identical and not identical. We step down a second time into the same stream and yet not into the same stream etc.

Indian philosophy may have been influenced by Egyptian thought and Egypt might have had affinities with India. Which-ever might have been the earlier, it is here in the hylozoist absolutism, which speaks in terms of flux and of ascent and descent of the substance treated as a pure principle, that we must establish, if at all, a point of contact between existential aspects of the Absolute of Eastern or Western philosophy.

Modern phenomenology has borrowed this way of looking at the world of things or elementals from the pre-Socratics.

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The Phenomenological epoché which, as an entity non--theoretical in status but still referring to no single predicable thing in the world; arrived at by a 'bracketing' and 'disconnecting' from the natural 'world about one' which Husserl tries to distinguish; comes near to the notion of sat of the Vedanta.

In Bergson the flux or process of becoming of matter that is non-mechanically conceived under a schéma moteur, as a cross-section of fluid reality, has also points of similarity with the notion of sat in Vedanta.

The quantum mechanics of modern physics, which tends to make matter a mere wrinkle in space, vectorially understood, would also suggest the pure notion of sat as understood in Indian philosophy. Plato's reference to 'the mobile image of eternity' and Aristotle's idea of the mind that 'becomes all things' touch the same entity or notion that sat represents.

In Vedanta, sat is an extreme philosophical abstraction, and we shall not enter more elaborately into its epistemological validity here. For the present, we must content ourselves by indicating where the points of contact lie in the Western world of speculation for the notion of sat to be understood in its proper philosophical perspective.

 

VALUE GIVES STABLE CONTENT TO EXISTENCE AND VICE-VERSA

Brahman, or the Absolute, is the highest of human values in Vedanta, and if existence is to be thought of as belonging to the context of the Absolute, the notion of existence must, by implication, indirectly at least, have reference to this high value. Anything non-significant and inconsistent with the highest aims of man becomes ipso facto non-existent in principle, although it might be an actuality in the merely empirical context, having no reference to the Absolute.

This way of interpreting the meaning of existence is supported by the theory of indirect meaning that Sankara accepts and adopts, when explaining the three attributes of satyam, jnanam, anantam brahma (the Absolute is existent, knowing and infinite). The connotation of one of these is to be looked upon as modifying the other, till they refer to the Absolute in a total meaning-content.

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This semantic principle of indirect meanings (laksanartha) applied to one Absolute, without any contradiction between component terms, is one of the secrets of Vedantic exegesis. This same way of giving significance of reality to sat (existence) is seen employed and explained, in the Bhagavad Gita:
"Whatever is sacrificed, given or done, and whatever austerity is gone through, without faith, it is called asat (non-existent, no-good) 0 Partha (Arjuna): it is not (of value) here or hereafter." (XVII. 28)

All truth, reality, or fact must satisfy the three tests of (1) being a significant value in human life here or hereafter; (2) being valid according to reason; and (3) being conceivable as existent; at one and the same time. This will apply equally to actions, gifts, things, or properties dealt with in transactions between man and man. Vedantic methodology, epistemology and axiology have thus to be treated together in order to yield the integrated unitive wisdom which it is meant to represent.

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III. THE PROBLEM OF TRANSITION FROM EXISTENCE TO SUBSISTENCE


How the mind is inserted into matter; how the body is articulated to the mind; and how there is participation between the subjective and the objective aspects of reality - are questions pertaining to one and the same problem. This problem has puzzled and eluded philosophers, theologians, as well as scientists, everywhere up to the present.

Whichever term is used, the link which enables psycho-physical interaction can be conceived only by what the terminology of Vedanta describes as samana-adhikaranatva (homogeneity of ground, context, or medium).

When different metals have to be soldered together there has to be a special medium or flux to hold them together effectively, intimately, and strongly. Water or air can each mix with their own kind most intimately without any difficulty. Sounds and colours can blend imperceptibly with degrees of clashing or lack of harmony. Through participation, it is not hard to infer from common experience; as also from the syntactical and semantic requirements of the grammar of any language - that the law of homogeneity is a common matrix in a fully intimate blending, where there is perfect harmony.

When participation itself is possible, it is thus legitimate to infer from common experience the presence of a common medium or a matrix in which that possibility exists. Conversely, consciousness, which is homogeneous and absolute, without any internal contradiction or conflict within itself, provides for participation between any apparently heterogeneous factors or elements, whether they are concrete or abstract.

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The notion of the non-dual Absolute can be taken here as an a priori postulate; or we can arrive at this common ground as an inductive hypothetical inference where mind and matter stand on neutral ground. Thus we see that the law of homogeneity holds good, not only in physics, but also in logic, language, mathematics or metaphysics.

 

THE LAWS OF CONTRADICTION AND HOMOGENEITY

How can the two laws of contradiction and of homogeneity both be accommodated within the Absolute as the common ground of reality, truth or value, on which basis alone these laws can even be conceivable? This is the next problem that we come up against.

This problem has been the source of much difference of opinion in the rival philosophies of non-duality, qualified non-duality, and duality, each of which has held its ground successively in the Vedanta. Duality can be accepted mildly, or in a stronger sense within the heart of the notion of the homogeneity of the matrix of reality, which is none other than the Absolute.

In the transition from the world of existence to that of subsistence (which depends for its reality on the mind and its power of reasoning), we have to face the implied paradox of having to think of the possibility of these laws as being together in one and the same medium, matrix or basis.

Philosophers usually attempt to get over this difficulty like the performer on the flying trapeze. At a certain stage in their argument, they let go of their hold on existence and catch up with a reality of a different order. Theologians also skip over this same difficulty when they pass from the reality of the world to that of God. Scientists confront this same problem by trying to distinguish between the relativistic and the absolutist approaches and end up with speculative subtleties as puzzling as those of the scholastic metaphysicians whom they look down upon.

The law of homogeneity cannot be accommodated alongside that of the inner contradiction in reality without transcending the implied paradox. In order to transcend this paradox, each philosopher resorts to some favourite pairs of expressions such as the distinction between the immanent and the transcendent, the practical and the pure, or the visible and the intelligible.

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Modern scientific philosophers may prefer the terms "observables and calculables". Whichever the terms used, we always find that there are two of them, having a polarity, an ambivalence, a dichotomy, or an antinomy implicit between them. The phenomenal and the noumenal; the worlds of appearance and reality; the relatively and the absolutely real - are other twin terms implying contrast, contrariety, or contradiction of various degrees in different philosophies, whether of the East or the West. Transcending paradox is the main difficulty that the magic of words is meant to accomplish.

 

UP AND DOWN MOVEMENTS IN THE SEARCH FOR CERTITUDE

Thought circulates in an existent, subsistent, and value world, whether in science, logic, or philosophy. The thinking mind is guided by interests; and each life-interest gives some satisfaction to the self. Like a bird who might light on the branch of a tree, subjective interests settle for a moment on the ramifications of rival interests claiming attention at a given time and place in the subjective-objective world. The subjective and objective counterparts of the existent-subsistent-value-factor tally for a moment and attain the real: but they are soon dissolved, like a bubble that bursts in rainwater.

According to alternating inner dispositions and urges, such as those of appetite or sex, there can be imagined an alternating circulation in the global consciousness of every man and of all men treated together. When value attaches itself to Platonic intelligibles, culminating in the summum bonum, we have what might be visualized as ascending dialectics. When the reverse process takes place, thought lingers on values that are "of earth earthy" - the prime matter in the unmoved mover, where pure acts reside and where Aristotelian entelechies become possible.

In between these ambivalent poles of the supreme good and the essentially actual, in the circulatory amplitude of thought, we have other possibilities, too numerous to classify.

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This is the domain of Maya's uncertainty of value in the context of absolute reality. We should think of this intermediate negative zone differently from its positive counterpart. The transcendent and the immanent change sides here. Cause or effect, subject or object, the specific or the generic, prevail in interest or significance alternately. There can be no rule of thumb to determine which has real value significance, and therefore existence or reality. So it is in between the plus and minus factors that all becomes unpredicable in this zone which is both intermediate and negative in its content. The Sanskrit word anirvachaniya (unpredicable) refers thus to the over-all Maya, the most generalized category of error possible in the fullest context of absolutism.

When Maya is eliminated, all uncertainty finally vanishes: and then, by double assertion prevailing over what is discarded by double negation, the Sun of truth-value dawns. This notion of Maya thus corresponds to the negativität of Hegel. But Hegel's positive Absolute lost its way in pan-Germanic enthusiasms of which Vedanta was innocent. The bright sun of the high value that was fully absolutist, reached by double positive assertion, was given its due importance in Vedanta. It is here that Vedanta scores over Hegelian absolutism, indicating a clear and normative philosophy as well as a correct way of life.

 

THREE ZONES OF REASONING

To complete the methodology of the Vedantic Absolute, we have therefore to recognize three distinct zones, each having its own kind of reasoning. Because thought is, as it were, refracted as it passes through a transparent prism, there prevail here certain structural peculiarities, which give a complicated innate structure to the total field of Vedantic inquiry.

The level of existence is the bottom stratum where human inquiry begins. From natural curiosity about actual single objects of interest, the understanding penetrates into more generalized and abstracted situations, with memories and anticipations of past or future possibilities or probabilities colouring the relation. Sense data assume an ontological compactness and, directed by life interests, there is ascent or descent in the scale of possible human values.

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The object prevails and looms large at one moment; and then at another moment the subject is the centre of interest. Life tendencies give both content and direction to these relational interests as they move in a time or space field within normalized consciousness, which is neither inside nor outside.

After existent aspects have been sublimated, the bipolarity passes into the indeterminate zone of maya's domain where there is a confusion of indeterminate values which attract and repel in alternation or together at a given moment.

On rising above this level there is a steady betterment in a world of values which are free of sensual, perceptual, or even of conceptual content. All are of a purely nominal significance. Even naming is finally abandoned when descending dialectics is used to remove the over-positive tones of values which do not refer fully to the Self or the Existent.

Thus existent, subsistent and value factors correct the exaggerations of each other and of one another. Finally, pure being attains to self-awareness in the Absolute.

It will suffice here to indicate that, in this dynamic structure of the circulation of thought, there is an upward and downward movement between the a priori and the a posteriori; and between the synthetic and the analytic aspects of thought as it circulates between the plus and minus poles, within whose amplitude of dialectical reasoning or intuition Vedantic reasoning lives and moves.

In order to show that such structuralism is present and fully recognized in Vedanta, we give here two references from “L'Absolu selon le Vedanta” by Prof. O. Lacombe. He writes:

"One sees also that the aspect of abundance of being, so dear to Bhartrprapancha, who sacrificed in it the first and most fundamental of strictly ontological requirements, the principle of contradiction, was not less dear to Sankara. It decomposes, however, in traversing the prism of non-being, into two coupled notions, one of which is altered in relation of the other."

The reference to the prism of non-being, through which ontological abundance passes, indicates in complicated language that structuralism which we have already examined.

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AN ALTERNATING PROCESS

Writing about the alternation of immanence and transcendence, the same author not only deals with this kind of structuralism but even of a kind of osmotic process that takes place between these aspects of the self. After saying that the 'order of emanation' has priority over the 'order of return to the absolute principle', when viewed from the side of the relative, Lacombe describes the circulation as follows:

"On arrival as on departure, at the very core of the dizzy unevenness marked by the opposition; transcendence-immanence, where the osmosis that is infinitely subtle and gentle, of their correlation plays; there reigns the infrangibility of their equalising movement."

These extracts will suffice to show the outlines of a structuralism and of a process which have to be imagined as abiding at the core of the notion of the absolute as viewed from the side of the relative.

Such ideas are not fancifully conceived by the professor, but are fully justified in Vedantic texts. In the Gaudapada Karika of the Mandukya Upanishad, whose authority is by no means negligible, there is the analogy of the fire-brand that is moved, a comparison intended to bring out the relationship between the thing in itself as the Absolute and its own relativistic aspect:

"A fire-brand, when set in motion, appears as straight, crooked, etc. So also consciousness, when set in motion, appears as perceiver, the perceived and the like"

In the writings of Narayana Guru we find that this circulation in consciousness is referred to more pointedly and clearly in his “Atmopadesa Satakam”:

"Awareness in order to know its proper state
Itself the earth and other manifestations became;
And in inverted state, now mounting, now changing,
Like a circulating faggot of fire, it keeps turning round."
(Verse 33)"

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The Bhagavad Gita too has this idea of circulation and alternation:

"The Lord dwells in the heart-region of all beings, 0 Arjuna, causing all beings to revolve through the principle of appearance (maya) (as if) mounted on a machine."
(XVI. 61)

The alternating process is more expressly indicated by Professor Lacombe in the same paragraph already quoted:

"At the time of manifestation, the accent weighs more and more on immanence; at the time of re-absorption it refers more and more to transcendence. Never, however, is either the one or other term ever sacrificed."

If we were to put the matter in our own words as a circulation taking place with a dialectical ascent and descent, we would describe the process as follows:

The chain of associations flits from one object of interest to another and is regulated by value considerations. Between cognition and conation, as psychologists would put it, there is an analytic and synthetic alternation in the phases of reasoning, which can be ratiocinative at a given moment and emotionally coloured at another. Circulation of thought normally takes place in the mind's search for certitude. Each certitude has a corresponding element of interest on which it rests, before passing on to the next element where it can find satisfaction momentarily or more enduringly as the case may be. Absolute happiness is the highest of satisfactions, where the movement of the circulating fire faggot is quenched to put it in the language of the Mandukya Karika. Happiness would thus result from a form of finalised certitude which Vedanta promises.

When value factors predominate, experimental and formed reasoning gives place to more intuitive and dialectical reasoning. Existential aspects alone demand experimental demonstrations. These are based on the a posteriori approach. Full a priorism prevails when dialectical intuition comes to be employed, where value factors are more significant. Intermediate between these we have syllogistic forms of reasoning which depend on the universal or the particular alternately; yielding certitude and the satisfaction that goes with it.

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Thus descent and ascent in the circulation of thought, based on interest alternating with intelligence, takes place all the time within human understanding, as it seeks greater and more significant certitude in life's problems and interests, great or small.

 

THE IMMANENT TO TRANSCENDENT LEAP

There is a feat, like that of the leap of the trapeze athlete, involved in the transition of the process of human inquiry, as it proceeds normally in graded order from one subject of interest-significance to another; if we can imagine the process on the lines outlined above, with the gift of some intuition added to mechanistic reasoning. This transit is necessary if we are to follow further along the path of contemplative philosophy that Vedanta really represents. .

Thus between existence (sat) and reason (chit) in the contemplative and absolutist context of Vedanta, there is a deep chasm where brute actuality is left behind and nature or substance, both immanent and transcendent at once, is attained.

The participation of the existent with the subsistent does not take place on even ground. When one has been left behind, the other is attained by human understanding, after consciousness itself attains to a certain degree of lucidity in the awareness of the Self, however dim in the beginning.

Transcendence belongs more intimately to the absolutist context, while immanence leads directly to the world of multiple relativistic values. The localised and pluralistic items that demand our attention minute after minute, which have been compared by Narayana Guru to a group of small fancy-feathered birds pecking at fruits and changefully roving in the branches of a tree, have to be brought down so that they are abolished and absorbed in the bright self-awareness of general human understanding in purer consciousness.

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MECHANISTIC AND INTUITIVE THOUGHT

The case of absolute truth has suffered from ancient times, and still suffers, because three steps of thought remain undistinguished and promiscuously mixed up.

When we formulate a law such as 'action and reaction are equal and opposite', as in the mechanics of the Euclidean and Newtonian order, we have an epistemology and methodology that go together with such a statement. On the other hand, when we say that 'the entropy of the universe is tending towards zero', we generalize and state a more subtle universal law where observables enter weakly, and calculables are treated in a purer or higher mathematical fashion.

Although both statements are capable of being expressed by equations, one refers to the mechanistic and the other to the purer world given to mathematical intuition. When we pass on higher still into the domain of pure value and try to equate items such as 'pure reason' with the 'summum bonum'; intuition comes into play more strongly, and thought proves itself by its axiomatic content.

The laws of physics, the truths of logic and higher and purer equations of the value world require different treatments for verification or demonstration. In actual practice it has been taken for granted till recently that science relies on the first kind of reasoning only. This, however, has now definitely been given up. In order to mark the latest position in this all-important question of the relation between the 'mind and the machine' let us examine extracts from an authority on the subject. Writing in “The Listener”, London, of Oct. 17, 1963, P.G.M. Dawe of Oxford University, says:

"To interpret the results of elementary mind-body experiments in vocabularies appropriate to the engineer, such as those of information theory, entropy, or computer technology or in terms of models, may sometimes be theoretically interesting and even elegant, but has had limited psychological significance…It is now clear that the discoveries and theories of the scientists always directly involve developments of their imagination or mind and otherwise of the story of their subject. The concepts of physics, or the invention of a machine are therefore to be fully understood only in terms of a story relating to the lives of individual men and women, and not vice-versa."
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The latest tendency in scientific psychology is thus in favour of considering thought-processes as non-mechanistic and as coming nearer to living intuitionism rather than being empirically rational. We have to let go our hold on brute facts and even of the language appropriate to mechanics to describe or understand the inner workings of the mind, even in everyday matters of utility values. When more idealistic or spiritual values are involved in individual or collective human behaviour, the accent has to be placed on the fully transcendental aspects. Between the poles of what Kant has called the a priori synthetic in transcendentalism, and the analytic or aesthetic, there is a subtle movement which, as we have seen above, has been compared to an osmosis between the two aspects of the Absolute of Vedanta.

What interests us directly here is the fact of the transition from the existent (sat) to the subsistent (chit). The subject on which we shall focus our attention next is how the value factor, named ananda, enters subtly into the sat and chit; and how they fuse or combine by subtle osmosis, and thus help to give content or significance to the Absolute as understood in Vedanta.

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IV. THE ABSOLUTE AS WORD-VALUE SIGNIFICANCE


Fact, truth or reality must have some significant value-content. If this is absent it becomes empty and cannot do any good to man who might have mere intellectual certitude about it. Man is the measure of all things, and the self which seeks certitude through science or metaphysics must have a resting place in utility or a final good that works and makes the man happier and better in one sense or another.

Thus the value-factor is an inseparable counterpart of what is merely true mathematically or logically. A tautology is a statement of truth which leaves the man who believes in it unaffected: while a mere contradiction when discovered helps only to reject wrong but not to accept any truth or value.

The charge against metaphysics by positivists of the present day holds good in so far as metaphysics often exults in mere verbosity; relying on mere tautological a priorisms of synthetic transcendentalism; without relating truth operationally to the working or living world of human significance, whether at the utilitarian or real level. In short, the truth must make man free and supply the bread with the freedom for which man hungers, at one and the same time.

Thus it is that the third category of the Absolute Reality called ananda (value interest) enters into a complete philosophy such as Vedanta claims to be. Ananda is often translated 'bliss', which would suggest the trance of a yogi. It is to be understood, however, in revised and restated terms as that axiological factor which, side by side with existence and subsistence, is an integral part of all true philosophising when it is not limited merely to abstract metaphysical speculation.

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The three categories of Existence, Subsistence, and Value have to fuse together by a sort of osmosis or interaction between them; cancelling one-sided exaggerations possible at each level before a significant notion of the Absolute can emerge to view. Thus it is that the Self and the non-Self cancel out into a high value in oneself, which becomes fully significant.

 


A COMPLETE PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE

The value element has to enter into the composition of the two other categories of existence (sat) and reason or subsistence (chit) in a very intimate manner of inherence or samanvaya, before the alchemy of the absolute Value can emerge at every level of life. Just as a mechanical mixture and a chemical compound are distinguished in science, so the intimate manner whereby existence is modified by attributes to substance in terms of chit requires the exercise of the subtlest form of intuition to grasp.

The Substance and Attribute of Spinoza's philosophy have natures which make for 'thinking substances'. There is nature which is still in the process of becoming something else by attributes (natura naturans); and there is nature that has become an existent thing in a more actual sense (natura naturata). This is a philosophical subtlety which, like the paradox of the participation of mind and matter, is a major one that philosophy has had to face whether in the East or the West.

Metaphysical speculation, whether in the East or in the West, has lingered long on this subtle distinction between material evolution (parinama) and purer change or becoming (vivarta) in a more vital sense, as intuitively and non-mechanistically understood as in Bergson.

Pure becoming is referred to as change in prakara or mode of expression by Ramanuja, while Sankara would call it a mere eidetic phenomenon, calling it vivarta (specific cognizable aspect of the same absolute substance), in which both kinds of change have to inhere.

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Samyoga and samanvaya are two relations in absolute Substance: the former based on mere contiguity in space, and the latter in continuity in mental associations. Potassium nitrate, sulphur, and carbon placed contiguously in space do not enter into intimate contact with each other as when gunpowder actually explodes. Being and becoming have to be conceived as twin aspects of the same relationship: one vertical and the other horizontal. The 'blue lotus' inheres in the class 'lotus', understood without its specific colour, and vice versa, very intimately; while a 'blue' lotus in wood painted blue has its substance and attribute merely horizontally associated by samyoga, which is accidental or incidental. Thus there are vertical and horizontal specifications to which existent and subsistent realities are subject in the context of Absolute Reality as understood in a complete philosophy of life.

 

THE THREE CATEGORIES INHERE AND SPECIFY ONE ANOTHER

The Absolute of Vedanta is given a priori and then confirmed a posteriori. Axioms and postulates are valid at one end; and at the other pole of the knowledge-situation, visual or experimental demonstration has its place, though only inductively. If we admit now that any truth that has no value-significance to the Self or to man cannot be treated seriously by any philosophy worth the name, we come to the position that a thing of no value is equivalent to being false or non-existent.

Existence, Subsistence and Value have to fall in a certain vertical line, giving to each object, truth, or interest, its place in an absolute scheme under the aegis of an overall normative notion of the Absolute. The Absolute is the highest of value-references available to philosophical speculation; and when the Absolute, Self, and Value are all thought of together as one giving meaning to the other; abolishing possible unilateral error or exaggeration; we succeed in giving content to the otherwise empty word called the Absolute.

The sat, the chit, and the ananda aspects or categories have all to be fitted into a common scheme as comprised in the notion of the Absolute as the reality of highest significance to life. Metaphysics otherwise would be verbose nonsense.

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In order that this may not be so, philosophers of the East and the West have depended on the magic of words to clear the situation finally. Cause and effect; the generic and the specific; the analogically understandable relationship of semantics of higher mathematics, algebraic as well as geometrical - have all been already explored to find a proper frame of reference, where speculation could cohere and make sense. Syntactics and semiotic processes have not been omitted, either in India or in Europe, by ancients as well as moderns. We can enter only very cautiously into this domain where stalwarts like Sankara, Panini, and others have trodden the ground with confidence and ease. All we can say generally here is that the magic of words has been freely employed by Sankara and others.

Modern thinkers too give increasing importance to such questions as 'the meaning of meaning.' It is here that Vedanta stands on common ground with the most advanced of modern thought. Works like Vedanta Paribhasha, Bhasha Paricheda, Vakya Vritti and other advanced texts of Vedanta and allied disciplines, call for greater recognition in order to show that the world has a central place in revealing the final nature of the Absolute.

If Sankara, the greatest of Vedantins, gives primacy to the word and its direct and indirect meanings (calling them vachyartha and lakshanartha respectively) in revealing the final nature of Truth as the highest Good, the reason is that sabda or word is our final epistemological reference for ultimate certitude.

Thus, ranging from pratyaksha (given to the senses) through anumana (inference), arthapatti (hypothetical postulation), anupalabdhi (negative certitude), and sabda (word), the valid means of knowledge become acceptable to the Vedantin at one and the same time.

At one pole we have verification of existence by means of pratyaksha (observable demonstration), and, at the other extreme, we have sabda (word) which is fully a priori and synthetic in status. Pratyaksha is empirical, analytic, positive, and a posteriori; while sabda is the other pole where axiomatic validity prevails.

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THE ABSOLUTE AS WORD-VALUE SIGNIFICANCE

The structure of the relation between these means of testing truth is complex and needs reduction to simplicity by Vedantic thought. The net result is that we can arrive at simplification by a process where sat, chit and ananda inhere and specify each other to result in the full notion of the Absolute of Vedanta. What is too vague and generalized here can only be explained step by step as we examine items of method, epistemology or value, one after another.

 

THE ULTIMATE STRUCTURE OF THOUGHT AND WORD

The question that a modern man will ask naturally about this taking refuge in subtleties like "the meaning of meaning" for proving the reality of the Absolute would be: "Why take so much trouble when the visible, demonstrable, practical world in which we live is sufficient for man for all ordinary purposes?"

This is quite true, if bread here was all that we needed for life. Man, however, does not live by bread alone; he craves for freedom too and, as homo sapiens, he is a thinking animal. This means that he must solve problems big or small to fulfil his life purpose. Speculation steps into the breach inevitably.

Philosophy would be superfluous if building bridges or developing a country for gaining bread were all that man wanted. Man wants to live in security, free from fear. Fear of calamities, avoidable or inevitable, comes from various sources. Doubts from within cause discontent in every man. The mystery of life itself causes alternate fear or wonder in all normal men who do not wilfully live in a fool's paradise, whether they are considered primitive or civilised, however much the latter may deny it in their pride. Wars and pestilences, famines and genocides, due to fanaticisms or idolatries, need effective remedies which wisdom alone can give. Truth must make man free.

Such are some of the implications of a full philosophy which tend to get overcovered by extraneous considerations brought about by some technological triumph of man in modern times. Vice and crime cannot be corrected merely by technical skill or space conquest. Problems of divorce and delinquency cannot be overcome by a mechanistic approach.

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The problem of evil or suffering is as much within human nature as in nature outside. As even Russell would admit, there are realities, both mental and physical, which belong to the two domains of two distinct dictionaries, the empirical and the mental, at least as Berkeley saw it. The form of logic, the structure of thought and language, conceptualism, subjectivism, structuralism, and other aspects of what is ultimately real, occupied and are occupying the minds of fully qualified scientists such as Eddington and Schroedinger, even in this age of science. Vedanta, though an ancient discipline, is no exception here.

 

VEDANTIC METHODOLOGY, EPISTEMOLOGY AND AXIOLOGY

The three categories of Existence, Subsistence, and Value have to be approached with the methods and theories of knowledge proper to each, so that their dynamism and inter-relationships within the core of the Absolute can be understood.

On the Indian soil, philosophical speculation has gone on unbridled through the ages; and different points of view of the Absolute have taken shape, all having some common basis of method or value significance.

India has had its sceptics and empiricists in the Charvakas and the Lokayatikas, before Vedantic thought began to evaluate them in more absolutist terms. In European thought scepticism came late and persists with force even to the present. Belief and scepticism are in reality two poles of the same knowledge-situation, when understood globally, completely, and in the light of the structure of thought as a whole. There is no physics without mathematics; and there is no proof without reliance on axioms. Observables and calculables have to go hand in hand to yield worthwhile or workable certitudes.

When the total structure of the absolute knowledge situation is taken in by the mind, we can clearly visualize the subtle dynamism, the osmosis, the semiotic processes or apperceptions taking place within consciousness when viewed in its proper epistemological perspective. There are thoughts or truths that are transparent to some, and others which have an ambivalent polarity between them, repelling one another. There are thoughts more essential than others, and relationships that are more eminent.

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Full-flooded generosity prevails at the core of the Absolute. Thoughts are reflected and refracted at certain planes or levels, and in the insertion, participation or articulation of certain aspects of thought elements, there is osmotic interchange of plus or minus, existence or essence. There is neutralization of existence and essence.

Finally, thought processes circulate, making figures-of-eight within consciousness; changing inter-physically and trans-subjectively, as when two people converse. There is a change-over from synthetic to analytic; from the a priori to the a posteriori; from the positive to the negative - at different ontological or teleological levels where phenomenological epochés take place. Here we are only using terms current in modern philosophical literature to indicate that Vedanta too has its time-honoured methodology and axiology in its dynamically, though perhaps tacitly, understood schematic representation of the Absolute consciousness in which all philosophy has to live and move.

Schematism and structuralism of a subjective status, in which mental events are isolated and studied to be put together into a global whole, are notions that are all becoming more and more acceptable to modern thinkers who are philosophers of science or scientific philosophers. Some of them tend to be classed as sceptics while others are believers. Whether classified as one or the other, they have necessarily to belong together as seekers of truth, fact or high value, if they are philosophers at all.

It is here that Vedanta steps in with its contributions which, when re-examined and restated, would help a global philosophy or an integrated science to evolve. It is in the structure of thought, which itself lies at the basis of the spoken word, that the details of thought processes can best be studied. Linguistic usage, semantics, syntactical peculiarities, and the pragmatics of language are looked upon more and more to give up the secrets -that have remained closed to speculation until recently.

Quantum mechanics and logistic, vectorial or projective geometry, are all making their contributions. Vedanta too, in the days of Sankara, entered into subjects such as the semantic polyvalency of words to reveal the final nature of that Absolute which, instead of being a mere tautological verity or a contradiction within itself, would help to relate fruitfully for thinking man the two limbs which pertain to it - the world on the one hand and the self of man on the other.

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When Vedanta is revalued and restated in the light of modern knowledge, especially of the physical world as seen by modern philosophers of science, a Science of the Absolute may reasonably be expected to emerge.

 

SANKARA'S USE OF SEMANTICS

The notion of the Absolute in Vedanta recedes from the concrete actual facts of the pluralistic phenomenal world presented to the senses by distinct stages of perceptualism, conceptualism, and nominalism, into the core where it can meet on common homogeneous ground its own counterpart of the pure noumenal aspect.

Thus when negatively focussed through these stages, it reaches the world of the word and its meaning, where 'the meaning of meaning' gains full reality. And so, when we take the leap from the empirical to the transcendental, we cross a deep chasm separating aspects of word-meaning to where the neutral notion of Absolute Reality abides as the common ground of the physical and mental worlds.

The semantic polyvalency of words thus gains primacy when we begin to analyse the notion at this inner subtle core, where the Absolute thinking substance, with its accidents and attributes, makes existence and essence meet eminently in its status of pure philosophical relationship.

After reaching the core by this kind of negative abstraction and generalization, we can travel along a deflected direction of the same light that has taken us to the core of the substance and follow up positively and analytically the conceptual and nominalistic attributes of the thinking substance in its process of becoming and not merely being.

Ascending and descending dialectics are possible in this circulation, as is evident in many parts of Sankara's commentaries of the Gita, the Brahma Sutras or the Upanishads. Taking refuge in semantics, when speculation on rational lines fails, is not a new way whose originality goes to the credit of Sankara.

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Jaimini, the author of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras, relied on semantics to a fuller extent in order to serve his philosophy based on the exegetics of Vedism. Sankara, having to establish his conclusions on the anterior position taken by Jaimini, had necessarily to refute them, using similar weapons.

Thus it is in the semantic analysis of word-content that Vedantism gains full validity. Not only the scriptures are relied on unquestionably, but even popular usage, belonging to the pragmatics of language rather than to pure semiotic processes, is relied on by Sankara to refute a successive range, sometimes of as many as five purva pakshins or graded opponents, set up by himself as representing wrong positions, each one of whose opinions he first states in his own words, before refuting them by his retort beginning 'iti-chet-na' ('If you say that, no').

On final analysis, his own position, when all others who seem sufficiently intelligent are refuted in succession, is some preciously subtle stuff which is like foam picked up on the seashore, leaving almost nothing but an absolute meaning-content notion, bitter or sweet, as a residue. Before the last bubbles burst, we find that it is on semantics that his Vedanta largely relies.

We cannot do better here than to give an instance of how all is finally viewed in semantic terms by Sankara, following the purva mimamsa (anterior critique) which showed him the way in this matter.

 

 

SANKARA'S VEDANTA RESTS FINALLY ON SEMANTICS

Veda means wisdom, and its reference to the four Vedas of the Aryan tribes as they entered India, is only its secondary meaning. Vedas were distinguished as sruti, or that which is heard from a rishi (seer) or fully qualified authority in teaching wisdom. .

Wisdom is largely a collection of axiomatic a priori verities and, like the axioms and postulates of algebra and geometry, these are infallible in the certitude-quality they contain. There are other Vedas equal to the Indian Vedas, such as the Pentateuch of the Jews. When wisdom is said to be "revealed", it only means that it is not the work of any single individual like a chariot made by a chariot-builder.

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A priori truths exist by themselves, mathematically valid, as it were, in the sky or something corresponding to the sky in vectorial space or pure space, understood as the basis of both algebra and geometry. The truth of the Pythagoras Theorem is not in actual space nor in theoretical space, but in both.

Language lives and moves in a space where all descriptions become valid, whether treated as perceptual or conceptual. Thus the ultimate notion of the Absolute, when understood in most general and abstracted terms as a thing-in-itself, can belong only to the world of the word.

"The Word was in God and it was God"- such biblical statements refer to the Absolute as the Logos, which is nothing new; and when Vedanta reduces all into the syllable AUM, as in the Mandukya Upanishad, it only recognizes the same verity.

It is in this sense that Sankara reduces the Absolute into its purest form by a semantic analysis which is at least as valid as logical or mathematical proof. The practical proof and the theoretical proof join in the Pythagorean Theorem as a central verity combining both into one certitude in knowledge. Similarly, the Absolute of Sankara is neither empty of all content nor filled with the multiple entities of the phenomenal world.

As genus and species can be made to refer to one unique genus in universal terms, it is possible to reduce by a semantic negative process and reach the unique class of all classes in the Absolute. Sankara avoids both leaning on the side of pantheistic pluralism and favouring the theory of emptiness (sunya) in arriving at the Absolute of the Upanishads. He does this masterfully by his approach through semantic analysis of a text in the Taittiriya Upanishad, which deserves careful scrutiny on our part. Sankara excels and succeeds in making his several rivals in polemical duels thoroughly vanquished and silenced before his sledgehammer arguments.

 

AN EXAMPLE OF SANKARA'S METHOD

Taking the text, satyam jnanam anantam brahma (Brahman, the Absolute, is Reality, Knowledge and Infinity) of the Brahmananda Valli of the Taittiriya Upanishad, Sankara first makes it clear that these attributes have to be treated as 'indirectly' applicable and not 'directly'.

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The latter, which would be literal, treating the words as they are understood ordinarily, he distinguishes as vachyartha; while the former, which is based on analogy, and has the notion of the universal and unique genus of the Absolute to reveal, he calls lakshanartha, where the attribute refers backward to help us to see the unique nature of the Absolute; distinguishing it negatively from any other specified object in the universe. In his own words in his Bhasya, we read:

"Brahman is Reality, Knowledge and Infinity" is a sentence which indirectly distinguishes the Absolute Brahman. Reality and others are verily three terms qualifying Brahman, which is the qualified.

(If it be said) that because of being specified by attributes indirectly, they refer (positively) to the qualified aspects, there is no such defect. Why? Because the attributes give primacy to the indirectly qualified (subject), rather than giving primacy to the attributes themselves, (If it be asked) where there is the specification as between sign and thing signified, quality and thing qualified, we say it is to distinguish between objects of the same genus that attributes are used; but the indirectly qualified (subject) however, is as in the definition of space as that which gives its room to every other thing, to be distinguished from everything else in the universe. It is (this kind of) indirect meaning that has to be given (to the text in question)"

Answering further in the same commentary to the objection whether by applying the negative method of 'not this, not this', (neti-neti) the Absolute would not itself vanish into nothingness, Sankara relies again on a semantic argument, and says that the words "Reality" etc., would not have any function at all if they referred to nothing. Since grammatically they are meant to have a function in the scriptures, they must at least specify the subject, Brahman, by excluding negatively those which are in conflict with the attribute mentioned, thus delimiting the function of each attribute such as Reality etc.

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Sankara's own sentence on this last point of saving the notion of the Absolute from falling into the nothingness (sunya) of the Buddhist reads:

"'Meaning of Reality etc' in effect, however, would (still) delimit the meaning of Brahman, the qualified, by excluding those attributes whose function would be in conflict with what is proper to it."

The word-content of the Absolute is finally underlined by Sankara in the third part of the same comment, as follows:

"The word Brahman, by its proper meaning, has force of 'signification'". (brahma sabdo' pi svarthena arthavan eva).

Existence, Subsistence and Value thus inhere in the notion of the Absolute, giving it content and significant value all together and each by each, negatively and indirectly, by analogy. These discussions above have necessarily to remain complex and subtle at present. We have to bring in the structure of thought schematically in order to simplify and clarify the position here. This we shall tackle presently.

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V. SEMANTIC POLYVALENCE IN VEDANTIC THOUGHT


The history of Indian philosophic thought is related to the Upanishads either by agreement or by difference. Rationalism and ritualism have played rival roles. Scepticism and belief have alternated, as also the primacy of existential or subsistential aspects, which have invited attention alternately.

The course of this alternation has been referred to as the 'white and black' onward paths in the Gita (VIII.26), giving such an alternation a perennial status in the context of the progress of thought in the world anywhere. When the a priori is stressed and the scripture respected by a believer, the white pole of abs-tract ideas is touched. On the other hand, when the pendulum swings to the other end of the scale of values, we have rank scepticism, empiricism, stress on the visible at the expense of the invisible world, and naturally too, an a posteriori approach to where demonstrably and operationally valid verity takes the field as a high pragmatic or utilitarian value in the world of the conquest of factors such as space. Time and eternity do not belong to this pole, and tend to have decreased significance.

The absolute knowledge situation has to be clearly visualized before we can see Vedanta in its proper perspective and context. It is neither orthodox nor heterodox; sceptical nor believing; immanent nor transcendent; ontological nor teleological; pure nor practical - but combines both matter and mind on its own neutral ground. Vedanta, when it gives importance to the validity of what is given to the senses (pratyaksha), tends to keep company with the heterodox; and when it gives primacy to the word or the validity of scripture (sabda), it tends to be uncompromisingly and even harshly orthodox.

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An examination of the further implications of the semantic polyvalence, side by side with the structural implications, of Vedantic thought, supported by Sankara or the Upanishads, would therefore help us very much to clarify our position. In the first instance, it will help us to see clearly that Vedanta is neither a rival philosophy nor a religion; but a correct attempt to integrate all Indian thought under one methodological, epistemological and axiological discipline.

 

SEMANTIC ANALYSIS OF 'THAT THOU ART'

We have already scrutinized the semantic subtleties implied in the three attributes of brahman (the Absolute) in the words satyam (existent), jnanam (rationally subsistent), and anantam (infinite) (which last attribute was meant to cover anandam (bliss or value factor), where we have noted the distinction between vachyartha (literal or direct meaning and lakshanartha (indirect meaning by analogy). The negative specification has also been noted.

Another semantic analysis of the great dictum (mahavakya) of the Vedanta, tat-tvam-asi (That thou art), will give us a clearer perspective which will serve as a stepping-stone for us to see the schematic or structural features of thought as an integrated global unity or whole, where word and meaning cling together in the central context of the notion of the Absolute.

The indirect meanings possible in any context have been divided into jahat (losing its original meaning) and ajahat (not losing) as a further subdivision of the indirect. In modern language we can distinguish these subdivisions as those based on a metonymical one. Ajahat can be called quantitative or analytic, and jahat qualitative and synthetic. The familiar examples, used by Sankara in his Sarva-darsana-siddhanta-sara-samgraha (verses 733-751) to bring out this subtle semantic distinction, are two in the first instance: (1) "A milk-village in the Ganges" (gangayam-ghoshah); and (2) 'The piebald runs' (sono-dhavati). In the first case the defect of meaning is corrected by treating it as a metonymy with an inner logical relation, while in the latter example the figure of speech to be employed is a synecdoche. When the two instances are thus still understood figuratively and not literally in two different ways, we can paraphrase them as: (1) 'The village where milkmen live is on the border of Ganges', and (2) 'The piebald horse is running.'

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In the first instance, the defect to be corrected is of a mere relational nature in description; while in the second instance quantitative ideas of part and whole enter. This distinction in the two semantic or meaning-worlds is a fundamental one, and if we decide to label the second quantitative significance as 'horizontal' we would be justified in calling the relational one 'vertical'. The horizontal is near to the pragmatics of language while the vertical would correspond to a purer semantic process.

 

THE THIRD EXAMPLE: 'HE IS THIS DEVADATTA'

Sankara resorts to a third example before he comes to the "That thou art" formula, to which he wishes to lead us. This example is the phrase so-ayam-Devadatta (He is this Devadatta). Here there is a combination of vertical and horizontal factors required to make sense. One of the words "he" or "this" has to shed part of its vertical or horizontal significance in order to avoid any inner contradiction standing in the way of the phrase making full sense.

Sankara himself, following the precedent of more ancient linguistic experts before him, calls this third way of making sense out of indirect figurative language, bhaga lakshana (partial indirect usage). The relevant verse, translated as it stands, reads:

"When that part which is opposed, having been rejected, non-contradiction is indicated. That is called partial indirect usage (bhaga lakshana) by those experts who understand signs."

This last or third variety of figurative or indirect meaning is what Sankara recommends when analysing the dictum "That thou art".

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The scriptures that repeat this formula cannot be wrong and have to make sense somehow. This being a given position for Sankara, by this partial indirectness (bhaga lakshana), resulting in the rejection of what is not agreeable in the two expressions "that" and "thou", as referring to God and man respectively in ordinary non-figurative language, we have to understand that they must be neutralized or cancelled out reciprocally.

One expression is thus made to correct the asymmetry of the other, and this corrected meaning is sometimes spoken of as the bhaga-tyaga-lakshanartha (meaning arrived at by the rejection of the part that is incongruous).

Thus we see that for giving significant content to the Upanishadic formula referring to the Absolute, and saving it from the danger of nihilism, Sankara is so hard put to it as to resort to subtleties of grammar, rhetoric, syntactics, semiotic processes, and pragmatics in the structure and mechanics of language and usage, in reasserting the validity of the Vedantic position. Vedanta thus becomes a complex affair; and but for the life of the Sannyasins in India who conformed to the Vedantic way of life, the whole school must have killed itself by now; and like European Scholastic hair-splitting, must have died a natural death by over-specialisation.

Fortunately we find, however, that in modern India teachers of Vedanta like the Guru Narayana, whose writings we have examined elsewhere, are able to simplify the position again, and thus keep Vedantism still alive in the land of its birth. Modern mathematics, logic and semantics only help to give it a further lease of life instead of letting it become outmoded.

 

TWO AXES OF REFERENCE

To simplify the position which, as we have seen, is too complicated for the ordinary man, and even for an expert in any one aspect, Narayana Guru has reduced the whole problem in his “Atmopadesa Satakam” (Verses 36-42 inclusive) and, side by side with the examination of the structure of thought processes as such, he also makes use of semantics to clarify the powers of thought, by taking two typical propositions: (1) "This is a pot" and (2) "This is knowledge,"

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Both these move semiotically from the general and virtual to the particular and specific: one in the domain of the practical, and the other in the domain of the pure world of meanings. If one is distinguishable as a horizontal movement towards the plus side, the other may be said to be a vertical movement to the plus side which could be also thought of as a negative specification of a pure notion such as that of the Absolute Self. Reduced to two such axes of reference, and making them cross at right angles so as to indicate the principle of contradiction or contrariety implied as between a mediate and immediate process of semiosis, treated together as a unitive whole, with a subtle osmotic reciprocity at the point where they participate with each other on homogeneous ground - we have for our use a schematic and structural plan of the interaction of the two sets of processes.

The content of the sentence 'This is a pot' being given immediately to the senses, and the movement resulting in positive specification of the pot as against any other object in the visible world, is an exclusive one that rejects many possibilities in favour of a single specific fact. The content of the sentence 'This is knowledge' has to be understood through the mediation of many examples which have to be thought of together as coming under the category of knowledge inclusively; and the synthetic process is further to be accentuated negatively or in a priori fashion to arrive at the certitude that the pure self of man alone can offer as a firm ground. Negative inclusion leads to certitude of the unique Self, which is no other than the Absolute.

 

THE IMPLIED PARADOX BETWEEN REFERENCES

The Bhagavad Gita (II.16) states the nature of the implied paradox between two aspects of the absolute Reality in the following words:

"na 'sato vidyate bhavona' bhavo vidyate satah
ubhayrapi drishtontastvanayos tattvadarsibhih
"

"What is unreal cannot have being and non-being cannot be real;
The conclusion in regard to both these has been known to philosophers."

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The osmosis of the subtle thought process takes place in the semantic world of the meaning of meaning of words. Within this paradoxical core of the knowledge-situation understood unitively, globally, and integrally, is the context of the normative notion of the Absolute. The whole of this has to be intuitively understood as belonging structurally, schematically, and subjectively to the background aspect of human understanding, where thoughts circulate and trace their courses. Some attempt to justify this view has been made elsewhere in our examination of modern thought. Here it is our object to give evidence in passing only, for the present, that even in Vedanta the same peculiarities are valid in its methodology and epistemology.

 

THE SCHEMATIC STATUS OF EXISTENCE IN SANKARA'S EPISTEMOLOGY

We have already seen how the ontology of Vedanta has a notion of Existence (sat) which has neither an immanent nor transcendental, empirical nor idealist, material nor mental status, epistemologically understood. It has a subjective status of its own.

We shall try to fix more definitely here the ontology of Vedanta, where Existence (sat) is to be understood schematically and intuitively in the context of absolute Self-consciousness.

If we can think of space philosophically as a generalized abstracted notion, both existing and subsisting, as Kant recommends, we shall have got near to the schematic status that is meant here. Sankara himself, as we have seen at the end of the last section, relies on the definition of space as: "that which is not a thing itself, but gives room to all things within it". He defines it as Aristotle would himself have done, when he says it is avakasa datr (that which gives room), which is the same as Aristotle's definition of space as "that without which bodies could not exist, but itself (space) continuing to exist when bodies cease to exist". When space exists horizontally as static and fixed space in extension, it can be called space spatialised, and when vertically conceived as successively capable of giving room for other bodies to occupy it, we have space spatializing.

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SPACE MENTALLY ANALYSED

Thus space, when intuitively scrutinized, yields two axes of reference: one in which bodies refuse to give room to others as in the property of impenetrability of matter, known to physics textbooks; and the other, in which space is still in the dynamic flux of becoming (bhava rupa).

Aristotle explains further this aspect of space, in the same context of his definition given above: "for in case it (space) were a body, then two bodies would exist in the same place."

Thus we can think of inclusive space and exclusive space, the former vertical and the other horizontal. As many vessels of graded sizes can be telescopically fitted into one another, many objects can occupy the same space: but the same vessels arranged on the table horizontally would each represent a space exclusive of every other. Space can thus be of two kinds: as that which rejects another; and at the same time, as that which includes all at different times or at once. Space can thus be specified negatively or positively, vertically or horizontally. We have seen how Sankara himself makes use of such a frame of reference to bring out the negative specification of the Absolute by defining it by attributes.

To bring out more clearly than hitherto that it is such a schematically conceived factor that Sankara has in mind when he thinks of absolute Existence (sat), we shall give an example here of his way of refuting a series of anterior questioners, in the following quotations:

(The questioner argues; if causes as well as effects such as clay and pot, being transitory, were to be considered unreal, would not such a procedure in reasoning abolish everything? To this Sankara answers):

"No: for we are conscious that all our experience consists of a double notion: the notion of being, the real; and the notion of non-being, the unreal."

(Here Sankara pauses a moment to explain the bipolar relation in terms of thought between what is said to exist (sadbuddhi) and its object in thought (sadbuddhi vishaya).

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They have their reality established on functional co-ordination (samanadhikaranatva). On the homogeneous ground as between them, Sankara explains that the attribute, as object, being transitory, is alone abolished, but not that of being, and consequently, the object of the pot is unreal, by reason of the transitory character of that thought, but not the object of the thought (sad-buddhi-vishaya), because this latter does not pass).

"Sankara: No. For one perceives the thought of being in respect of cloth also. It is the thought of being which has the object for its attribute.
Q: Like the thought of being, the thought of pot also is conceived by relation with another pot?
S: No. Because it is not conceived in respect of a cloth, etc.
Q: But the thought of being also, when the pot has disappeared, is not known either.
S: This is not valid, because there is no corresponding subject. The thought of being is related to the attribute; because it cannot, in the absence of the subject, have any attribute; how could it have anything to refer to at all in such a case? But this is not because there is no objective reality corresponding to the thought of being.
Q: If the subject - the pot for example - is not real, the unity of the functional reference of the two notions is not justified.
S: The objection is not valid. Because in the case of mirages and the like, we judge 'this is water,' although one of the two terms is not real, we recognize this coordination.
"In consequence, from the unreal - body, etc., coupled with their contraries and their causes - there is no passage to being; and, similarly, from the Real - the Self - there is no cessation of being, in existence, for at no time does the thought of the Real pass away, as we have said."

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We have expressly indulged in this fairly long quotation from Sankara, the greatest perhaps of the representatives of Vedantic thought, as he, with his characteristic insistence, presents here in fully critically philosophical form, acceptable even to moderns, a point of view which will reveal itself to be schematic in status.

The distinction between a pot as a single object actually sensed, and the 'thought of a pot' as a subjective counterpart of something that has being, is a point vital to his argument. The latter is an abstraction and a generalization, which the mind makes so that in the homogeneous ground of the Absolute, both the pot as such and the being as such can meet on common ground. Horizontal attributes can be substituted, but both the pure subject and the object of being subsist, at least schematically and structurally, within the very core of the notion of the Absolute, eternally. The Absolute is thus saved from nihilism on one side and from pluralism on the other.

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VI. TWO CERTITUDES FOR THE SAME TRUTH

The truth of the Pythagorean Theorem is one while the certitude in regard to it is derived in two different ways.

In the lower classes of high school, pupils are asked to cut out of paper the squares on the two sides of a right-angled triangle, and to divide them into convenient bits so as to fit them correctly into the square on the hypotenuse. When the bits fit the latter correctly without overlapping we arrive at a form of certitude which we call a practical proof.

The same certitude or proof can be approached by descending from mathematical axioms of algebra, irrespective of all quantitative or visible implications, as when the teacher of the higher classes of the high school proves the theorem on the blackboard. Thus two different approaches lead to the same neutral or central truth which is neither merely practical, nor merely theoretical. The visibles and the calculables come together to yield a unitive certitude in the heart of the Absolute itself.

These two approaches to one certitude thus envisaged have been at the basis of much polemic in Vedanta; giving rise to different schools, some tending to accept contradiction and others passing beyond it. If we think of the Buddhist Nihilists as taking a very extreme leftist position in this matter; and those like Bhartriprapancha, who incline towards the other extreme of pantheism, as taking the rightist position; we can fit the intermediate schools in graded fashion between them - putting Sankara as the one next and nearest to the Nagarjuna school of Madhyamika Buddhists (so­-called Nihilists), and Nimbarka or Madhva at the other extreme.

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We have to remember, however, even here, that a duality in the name of epistemology is not the same as a duality in the name of axiology. Ramanuja and Madhva, thinking as they do in the name of one adorable Absolute, belong to the context of axiology in their Absolutism. Sankara's position is more tenable epistemologically than axiologically.

As in the case of photographic prints, some of which might have more contrast or more faintness of outline; these possible gradations do not intrinsically affect the absolutist content of any of them. A magic lantern, when focussed in a certain way, might show structural details which might get faint or effaced when over- or under-focussed. The circle of white light could represent a neutral state between what shows structure and what is merely understood theoretically in terms of axiomatic truth.

Vedantic literature abounds in such terms as saguna brahman (the Absolute still within the scope of the three qualities) and nirguna brahman (the unqualified Absolute) which are the apara and para brahmans, sometimes also distinguished as the lower or the higher brahmans, respectively. Whatever its implications, the lower brahman is supposed by philosophers like Sankara or Ramanuja to lead to different grades of salvation. Others think that one implies the other, and still others say that, judged by the effect on the votary or contemplative, both are the same.


G. Thibaut, in his Introduction to the Brahma-sutra Bhashya of Sankara, gives a complete account of the possible prevailing differences:

"Among the passages where diverging views of those teachers are recorded and contrasted, three are of particular importance: firstly a passage in the Fourth Pada of the Fourth Adhyaya (Sutras 5.7) where the opinions of various teachers concerning the characteristics of the released soul are given and where the important discrepancy is noted that, according to Audulomi, its only characteristic is thought (chaitanya), while Jaimini maintains that it possesses a number of exalted qualities and Badarayana declares himself in favour of a combination of these two views. The second passage occurs in the Third Pada of the First Adhyaya (Sutras 20-22) where the question is discussed: why, in a certain passage of the Brihadaranyaka, Brahman is referred to in terms which are strictly applicable to the individual soul only.

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In connection therewith the Sutras quote the views of three ancient teachers about the relation in which the individual soul stands to Brahman. According to Asmarathya (if we accept the interpretation of the views given by Sankara and Sankara's commentators) the soul stands to Brahman in the bhedabheda relation, i.e., it is neither absolutely different nor absolutely non-different from it, as sparks are from fire. Audulomi, on the other hand, teaches that the soul is altogether different from Brahman up to the time when, obtaining final release, it is merged in it: and Kasakritsna finally upholds the doctrine that the soul is absolutely non-different from Brahman, which in some way or other presents itself as the individual soul"

Within the span of a compact paragraph, the above quotation, when carefully re-read and scrutinized, will help to show us where in the methodology, epistemology, or the axiology of Vedanta, is to be located the divergence of views in respect of the notion of the Absolute that all claim to derive from the common source of the Upanishads.

To this list of ancient Vedantins or philosophers of allied disciplines who are mentioned in the Brahma Sutras such as Atreya, Asmarathya, Audulomi, Kasakritsne, Jaimini, and Badari, we could add Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Vallabha and Nimbarka, whose versions of the final doctrine of the Upanishads have been recorded as different. Prof. Max Müller aptly compares this common Upanishadic source of ancient Indian thought to the Himalayas; and the various schools or systems, (more correctly called darsanas or "visions of the Absolute") of Indian thought to the great rivers that have their common source in the snowy heights, but flow in divergent directions. Though poetically sublime, this analogy does not reconcile the contradictions which, if viewed rather in an overall context of the Absolute, might perhaps be better reconciled and resolved unitively as we shall presently show.

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THE ABSOLUTE INDEPENDENT OF ALL RELATIVE REFERENCE

If the word brahman is meant to refer to the Absolute, as it is evidently intended, then it goes without saying that it cannot refer to any notion outside itself for its meaning. If there are two absolutes, one must either contradict the other, and, if so, either or both fail to be absolutes, or the relation between them must be merely tautological in status.

Thus strictly speaking, terms like the lower or the higher brahman or Absolute cannot be epistemologically justified, although for methodological or axiological considerations such could find legitimate use. There would then be at least four different notions of the Absolute: one that is positively so, and another that is only negatively so. Also, tautologically speaking, we could have one Absolute really so and another only virtually (or falsely) so, when viewed while admitting the contradiction of ordinary logic that excludes the middle ground. An Absolute other than its relative counterpart of the same will thus result; and an Absolute more positive than the other; the former with an outer contradiction excluding the middle ground, and the latter which includes all within its middle ground, though nominally distinguishable as more positive or negative. A vertico-horizontal frame of reference is implied here. The neutral Absolute would find its place at the point of intersection of these two references on a ground common to both, in which the two aspects participate. A complex of possible Absolutes would thus lead to much confusion.

If mathematics reflects logic, as modern symbolic algebra and logistic imply; if language admits the principle that double negation is an assertion; if algebraic convention accepts two minuses multiplied making a plus; two pluses remaining the more so, etc.; and if an arithmetical quantitative negative and positive are different from a qualitative positive or negative in terms of the vertical and horizontal correlates of Descartes - it would not be totally unwarranted for us here to think of a neutral Absolute which is the Absolute of all absolutes, and of a pair of quantitatively or arithmetically conceived relatives - a plus and a minus horizontally; and also of a pair of unitively or qualitatively conceived absolutes - the negative of which could be called a relative Absolute and the other a positive Absolute on the vertical axis of reference. The Absolute of absolutes would be the normative one whose two sets of certitudes meet in a central conviction of all.

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Another way of visualizing degrees or kinds in the context of absolutism would be to view it semantically, or through linguistic usage, reflecting the thinking process that must be supposed to underlie all language; as when we say, "I do not deny that the statement is false", which can only confirm the untenability of the statement in question all the more. Something could be "more so" qualitatively or quantitatively. A fully absolute notion of the Absolute could fall on the other side of the horse as with an over-alert rider, or not reach the saddle at all. The notion of the Absolute has to emerge in its full absolutist status by transcending its horizontal alternatives as well as its own inner contradictions with its full import of Absolutism itself. The notion of the Absolute has somehow to transcend all paradox, and even suggestive vestiges of it. This is an utterly necessary position, epistemologically speaking. Ultimate truth cannot be thought of as having a rival or be ranged against itself. That Vedanta does recognize this ultimate absolutist status for its Reality, Truth or Value is evident from the 7th verse of the Mandukya Upanishad, which reads:

"Not inwardly cognitive (anta-prajna), not outwardly cognitive (bahih -prajna), not both-wise cognitive (ubhayata -prajna), not a cognition mass (prajnana-ghana), not cognitive (prajna), not non-cognitive (a-vyavaharya) ungraspable (a-grahya), having no distinctive mark (a-lakshana), non-thinkable (a-chintya), that cannot be designated (a-vyapadesya), the essence of the assurance of which is the state of being one with the Self (ekatma­pratyaya-sara), the cessation of development (prapanchopa­shama), tranquil (santa), benign (siva), without a second (a-dvaita) - such they think is the fourth. He is the Self (atman). He should be discerned."

Here, except that there is an implied equation between the Self and the notion of the Absolute and that it is calm, benign and non-dual in content, no specific positive qualities are attributed to it.

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Vedanta here attains to a status as near as is possible to that of the sunya-vada of the Buddhist philosophy of the Middle Way (Madhyamika). The other extreme position may be represented by the so-called dualists such as Madhva.

 

THE PROBLEM OF ACCOMMODATING DIFFERENT VISIONS OF THE ABSOLUTE

An electric light might burn bright or dim and have still the same light involved. Between the limits, the function of electrical energy can vary, giving us innumerable intermediate gradations. What the infinitesimal calculus recognizes is just this variability; not in quantitative arithmetical terms but in integral or differential terms sometimes expressible in rationally denumerable numbers. When a bulb is supplied with weak light, the filaments inside it are visible, but as the intensity is increased we pass through intermediate stages where the duality between light and darkness is fused and they absorb each other till mere light, stunning and all-inclusive, remains. The vertical stages of the same light might permit degrees of duality till full unity prevails. Between the vijnanavada (idealism) of the Buddhists, through the saguna brahman (conditioned Absolute) of Vedanta, we have to allow for an epistemology which recognizes dualities of various degrees, till double negation makes the vision fully positive and non-dual. Over-focussed, we can get our own images as meditators into the picture; and when under-focussed, relativistic networks of ramified entities, perceptual or conceptual in status, can fill the field of vision. Laws, logical necessities and intuitive certitudes can be seen to occupy the gamut of visions of the absolute Value, the subjective capacity for the vision being neutralized at each level by the counterpart that meets it, as it were, descending from above.

Several grades of hypostasies and hierophanies can be accommodated within the scale of values thus visualized, the plus always cancelling and neutralizing the minus, to yield a vision in terms of a neutralized Absolute. Variability, viewed within such a pure mathematically conceived function, and moving between pure fundamental variables of the human spirit, may rise or fall or trace figures-of-eight that alternate within the four limbs of the complex quaternion of the Absolute.

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From the radiant Vishnu to the humble tulsi plant (the Indian basil), the amplitude of the range of possible values is sometimes spoken of by Vaishnava schools of thought as taratamya (graded scale of values). They cover the vertical range within which sacred values can oscillate. Sometimes stabilized at one level, sometimes at another, according to corresponding human capacities, the living vision of the Absolute reigns like the eternal cosmic dance of Nataraja. The right focus is the one that knocks down and stuns the onlooker to an utter forgetfulness of his individuality. He then experiences union with the Absolute - an experience "beyond all thought or word", as the Upanishads prefer to put it in the mildest of terms.

There is nothing humanly impossible here, as empirically-minded or conditioned moderns might seem to think. If such a vision is the prejudice of the believer, the rejection of the same is open to a similar charge of scepticism from the opposite pole of the same knowledge-situation. To keep the middle or neutral ground is what lends scientific status to such matters. A scientist holds the balance between scepticism and belief.

 

THE PLUS-MINUS QUATERNION STRUCTURE IMPLIED IN VEDANTA.

Significant certitudes in such a contemplative approach to Truth will at first be experienced as an alternation and changing over within the complex of actualities or virtualities in reference either to the vertical or horizontal axes.

Like a firebrand making figures-of-eight in darkness when waved round, without having a fixed content at any point, we have to imagine significant values in life emerging at different levels of positive or negative actuality or virtuality. The totality is spelt out in terms of a phenomenological epoché of which the substratum is always the same neutral Absolute. Vedantic methodology and epistemology have retained the trace of this graphic plotting of the points of value-reality as implicitly outlined on the basis of the Brahma Sutras by master-minds such as Sankara.

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Much of what the great Sankara said has now become incomprehensible even to his nearest disciple-interpreters such as Padmapada and Vachaspati Misra who, in the Panchapadika and the Chatussutri respectively, have tried to interpret him. A careful scrutiny of such comments, especially as they refer to the last three verses of the Sankara-Bhasya on the four first sutras treated as a unit (as do these two, the Vivarana and the Bhamati respectively), reveals to the modern student differences of interpretation and innate structural discrepancies which become the fecund causes of further possible schisms in the subsequent schools that have grown round Sankara's first great exposition.

It would be highly worthwhile for us to slow down our pace of discussion, so as to take a closer look at the implication of the three concluding verses with which Sankara chooses to sum up his position.

Epistemologically and methodologically these three verses, which are not Sankara's own, but come down from well-known Vedantic tradition anterior to him, give us a clue into the structure of thought adopted by thinkers of those days and known to Indian thought generally. They yield for us a sort of master key to all Indian thought generally, beginning from the syad­vada of the Jainas and culminating in the semantic implications of Vedanta itself in its latest form.

 

SEMANTICS AND STRUCTURALISM HELP CERTITUDE

Vedantic methodology and epistemology must yield scientific certitude. If it fails here, Vedanta can at best be considered merely as an appendage to theology and to the mythology that goes with it. Apodictic or dialectical certitudes must conspire in Vedanta to give it philosophic validity. How this is guaranteed by protagonists of Vedanta as a full-fledged philosophy or even science as Sankara intended it to be, is revealed to us in his three concluding verses, summing up his position as follows:

"gauna mithyatmano, satve putra dehadi badhanat
sadbrahmaham ityevam bodhikaryam katham bhavet;
anveshtavyam atmavijnanat prak pramatrvam atmanah
anvishtah yad pramataiva papma doshadi varjitah
dehatma pratyayo yadvat pramnatvena kalpitah
laukikam tadvad evedam pramanam tu atmanischayat
"

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"As son and body etc. are nullified, being relative or non-valid, how can the knowledge result such as: I am the existent Absolute?"

"Before what is to be inquired into as Self-knowledge, there is inquirer-hood for the Self; even when inquired into, this inquiring agent itself is free from all sin or evil".

"Just as in worldly matters the terms 'body', 'soul', etc. are used for purposes of certitude, so too is this a valid instrument of reasoning for certitude regarding the Self. "

The reader should concentrate his attention here for a while and, if possible, try to be guided alternately by the Bhamati and the Panchapadika, closely following the Sanskrit explanations, if he is to discover if there is a structural pattern in the mind of Sankara, without which no precise meaning can be gathered from the actual words of the comment. There is a subtle interplay between the measurer and the measured aspects of the Absolute in terms of the Self. The pramanas or instruments of valid reasoning are the measuring instruments; and the absolute Self within the subject is the object to be determined by measurement by the valid measuring of pramana. The immanent and the transcendent selves change places from one side of the knowledge-situation to the other; as between subject and object, the immanent and the transcendent: and as a result, the sense eludes the common reader, however penetrating his merely analytic scrutiny of the text may be.

One feels like a dog chasing its own tail in following the guiding thought process underlying the line of argument adopted by Sankara here. One is tempted to give up the inquiry altogether if one is not oneself armed with the same schematic notion that Sankara must have had in his mind. To resort to structuralism is as good as a semantic device, serving as a master key for the clarification of the subtle intricacies of Vedantic thought.

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THE PROTOLINGUISTIC AND THE METALINGUISTIC APPROACHES

The above text can be read and re-read. Different commentators will give diverging interpretations to make the meaning clear and final. Some will necessarily have a frame of reference different from others, and when they elaborate or try to make more explicit what is implicitly suggested in the text, the arthavada or exegetics employed might carry them too much in one direction or the other, depending on their own innate predilections, tastes, or past conditionings. The result is the plethora of meanings diverging between the Vivarana and the Bhamati schools with their various sub-schools; each laying stress on one aspect as against its rival one. Such ramifications prove endless in their possibilities, leaving us no wiser than when we started with the text itself.

Is there a way out of such an impasse? What we have always suggested here and elsewhere in our writings is the way of bringing the protolinguistic approach into close juxtaposition with the metalinguistic one. The distinction between the two approaches has first to be clearly visualized. There is a primitive and pure structure of thought implicit in all wisdom-literature, especially in the Vedas. The Purva-Mimamsa's thought and language, which relies much on semantics, participates in the same underlying structural elements of absolute consciousness, as it were, from two opposite poles of the total knowledge-situation.

Vedanta treats of this global or total situation, without an idea of which, like a book that has lost its binding strings, the thoughts that give it unity fail to hang by the same peg. Analysis and synthesis, the a priori and the a posteriori, have to find in the Self the unifying factor. When thus correlated with the notion of the Self and equated with the non-Self, its own dialectical counterpart, we attain, by tallying one with the other, a degree of certitude that attains to an apodictic status.

Axiomatic certitude meets experimental or observable certitude and when both these fuse, the resultant certitude gains a fully scientific status. The verity of the Pythagorean Theorem can be confirmed in two ways: through blackboard explanations by the teacher as well as by the actual cutting and pasting of squares on triangles by the students themselves - the two approaches lending weight to the resultant certitude. Similarly here, the clarifications of Sankara's disciples can be verified in both of the two possible ways: protolinguistically and structurally, or by the more theoretical approach which we can call metalinguistic.

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THE STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS OF THE GIVEN VEDANTA TEXT

In analysing the content and import of the three verses, let us divide this task up into three parts as represented by each verse as it stands.

The first verse has, in its very first line, four items put in relation.
There is on one side the reference to (a) 'son' and to one's own (a') 'body'. As applicable to each of these respectively we have the terms (x) gauna (a relative value) and the body as (x') mithya (false). When we give the symbols to the four items as (a) and (a') for the first pair, and (x) and (x') for those qualifying them, it is possible to arrange all four in a horizontal line, as in figure A below.

In the second verse there is reference backward to the Self or subject which is here treated as the measuring subject of truth. Instead of the inquiry pointing its arrow forward towards the non-Self, as is usual with ordinary scientific inquiry in the empirical world of relations or values, the reversal in the process of research is indicated.

In the third verse the transcendental status of the observer or researcher of the absolute Self is brought out. The Self is taken to be already endowed with attributes of sinlessness and purity. The Self and its counterpart in the non-Self are here brought into dialectical relation for purposes of certitude through research.

By an analogy established between the laukikam (earthy, empirical) approach and that of the transcendental; in Verse 3 the distinction between a positive and negative line of research into the true content of the self is established. The steps of reasoning can be graphically explained in the diagrams shown here.

The first verse asserts in schematic mathematical language that relativistic and false values existing objectively are abolished when a backward reference is made in terms of value to the Self. The very cancelling of counterparts effectively abolishes them.

In the second verse, after reversing the inquiring process, it passes from the empirical (horizontal) order of value to the transcendental (vertical) by pointing out a subject free from all evil or sin.

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In the third verse the Self and its counterpart are brought together and neutralized one by the other; thus pushing the same process of negative reasoning to its utmost limit, when finally the subjective and objective traits are absorbed in the non-dual unity of the Absolute. It is easier now to see the following clear features emerging out of the three verses:

 

 

Fig.A

 

Fig.B

 

Fig.C

 

Fig.D

 


(1) Vedantic inquiry is a negative process and goes from actual objects of interest such as "son" or "body" to its corresponding virtual neutral counterparts, passing from sensation thus to perception.

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(2) When we go still deeper into consciousness we find the subject gaining further primacy over its own non-Self counterpart. What we seek as a thing to be measured becomes itself a measuring rod that is already perfect and free. This reversal of direction and catching up with the transcendental, letting the empirical go, is all-important for the methodology of Vedanta, which thus differs from its own twin school of Purva Mimamsa which comes closest to it.
(3) The measure-measured which is the non-Self and the measure-measuring which is the Self, give certitude to each other till they merge into absolute unity and no question of measurement then arises at all.

Thus we see that, when structurally reviewed, the three verses attain a degree of certitude that remained elusive for us in mere 'metalinguistic' language. We can see now how Sankara followed strict lines of thought, not only in the choice of examples, but in the progressive via negationis that he maintained till all positive and negative values were finally neutralized in terms of the Absolute Self.

Just as the two possible proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem, one abstract and in terms of calculables, and the other in terms of visibles, have each their contribution to the scientific certitude arrived at, so we can make use of the structure of thought reflected in protolinguistic semantics to arrive at apodictic clarity in Vedantic matters. Sankara must have had in his mind this semantic structural scheme, taking account of the total knowledge-situation, when he wrote his great commentaries, and which therefore make them stand out as unique, both for theoretical and practical veracity and value.

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VII. THE INTEGRATED KNOWLEDGE-SITUATION OF VEDANTA

No less an authority in Vedanta than the great Sankara himself clearly had in mind a methodological approach, which was both rational in the ordinary sense of accepting contradictions, and fully dialectical in its more final stages; with counterparts to be cancelled in favour of a central and neutral notion of the Self as a high human value in the context of the Absolute. The principle of contradiction gave place to a higher way of dialectical reasoning, which absorbed its counterparts synthetically without an excluded middle ground between the two limbs or terms of the reasoning process. We developed our own protolinguistic or schematic pictorial language, which we found very useful in bringing out into clear relief the structural aspects of the reasoning process.

Vedanta uses both logic and dialectic according to the existent, subsistent, or value aspects of the reality under discussion, passing from the syllogistic way to the higher way in which thesis and antithesis are absorbed into a synthesis, as known in Hegel. Even Aristotelian syllogisms are employed in Vedanta in the light of the absolute Value, to whose determination all Vedantic reasoning is always directed. The transition between the logic that accepts the principle of contradiction, and the one that includes the middle ground without contradiction, is gentle, and may be said to take place with a differential and infinitesimal principle between the counterparts. To use the terminology developed by us and already employed at the end of the last section, we can say there are two sets of counterparts: one, the horizontal, which refers to the empirical values in life of the work-a-day world; and the other the vertical, which is transcendental in status, where the counterparts are more fully absorbed and cancelled out synthetically at a higher value-level.

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Even in the empirical world of values, the more negative absorbs and includes the less negative as we proceed, following the via negationis of neti neti, which the Upanishads recognize as the method proper to Vedantic thought as a whole. To arrive at the full notion of the Absolute, the paradox that life presents as between appearance and reality has somehow to be transcended by any philosophy that seeks final truth. Vedanta faces the total knowledge-situation with Freedom or Emancipation as its goal for man. The methodological and epistemological peculiarities of Vedanta are therefore its own, and have to the studied for their own sake.

 

SUBJECTIVISM, SCHEMATISM, AND DYNAMIC PROCESS VISUALIZED TOGETHER

Vedanta treats of Ananda (Value), Atma (the psychological Self), and Brahman (the Absolute), as interchangeable terms in. the context of full Absolutism. In other words: epistemologically, a certain degree of subjectivism is its basic starting point. Without being open to the charge of solipsism or syncretism; or of degenerating into mere eclecticism; Vedanta attempts to integrate and hold together unitively different branches of knowledge such as the psychological, the cosmological and the theological, with a scheme of reference of its own. The dynamic aspects which are inevitable components of Truth, understood in living terms, are fitted into one picture with process and reality, being and becoming, envisaged as a total dynamic knowledge-situation.

When philosophy generalizes items of reality into categories, the philosopher adopts a selective process. When, as with Kant, these selected categories are fitted organically into a scheme, we have a static picture of reality. When Bergson speaks of improving on the schema of Kant, or of a schéma moteur in terms of the élan vital as involved in a process of becoming, we have a more living dynamic picture of reality.

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When each dynamic unit in a system of units is conceived as partaking of pre-established harmony, with both plurality and atomic simplicity, irrespective of size; we have the monadological version of the same, which supplements the partial picture we have been able to build up, without the principles of "sufficient reason", "petites perceptions", and "the best of all possible worlds" being added to complete the vision of Truth.

All this has to live and move in the Self, and the Self itself has, epistemologically at least, its own non-Self aspect; and between the two there is a subtle osmotic interaction. Fichte and Hegel have developed their philosophy on these lines. These notions, when formed in Vedanta, should not therefore be considered utterly strange. Modern phenomenology also has its contribution, giving its touches to complete the knowledge--situation as a whole, which Vedanta keeps in mind, implicitly or explicitly.

The colourful world of effects, having simple physical causes like the colours of the spectrum, is a peripheral epiphenomenon merely, which Vedanta deprecates in favour of some value it calls nitya (lasting). Although mountains and waves are in a sense anadi (without beginning); when they enter the world of human values, the pleasures they yield have no firm or stable basis, de-pending on moods that alternate from period to period, and as between people of different ages or sexes. The changeless and lasting values lie deep in the Self of man. Introspection there-fore reveals the world that belongs to Vedanta, which proposes to put an end to suffering. Mere pleasures are therefore discountenanced in Vedanta, and affiliation to the Absolute as the summum bonum is recommended.

 

SEVEN QUESTIONS ANSWERED TOGETHER IN THE GITA

A philosophical treatise normally develops its subject item by item in a certain order. If the order is based on logic, we call the treatise systematic in presenting a certain overall view-point in philosophy, which it examines with all its implied pros and cons. Indian philosophical systems, so-called, are not so much dependent on logical sequence, as on the total vision of the knowledge-situation on whose basis they derive their degree of clarity or certitude. Such global or total visions of truth are called darsanas, and the logical reasoning element that enters into the fabric of the system would seem from Western standards to be deficient or weak.
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Analogies, when they are telling and based on common knowledge, often take the place of experimental demonstrations. At the other pole of the knowledge-situation where axiomatic a priorism is justified, speculation in Vedanta relies on what is called sabda pramana (a priori validity of the reliable heritage of human knowledge called scripture). Although in India the Vedas are normally considered to constitute such authoritative scriptures, we need not, in our time and with our freer outlook, limit ourselves to any one body of scripture, Eastern or Western. When both the poles of the knowledge-situation are treated together; and when the highest of human values called final emancipation is kept in view - the resultant philosophy might resemble theology. Psychology, cosmology, eschatology, science, and religious practices: all come within the purview of an integrated or complete concept of 'philosophy,' which uses experience, reason, and intuition as means for arriving at total certitude. The truth thus revealed is, or should be for Vedanta, worthwhile or significant to man at all places and for all times. In this connection, let us pause again for a moment to scrutinize an accepted Vedantic text to make sure that in this matter we are not straying away from data available in recognized canonical texts of Vedanta.

The two opening verses of the eighth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, devoted to what it calls Akshara Brahma Yoga, consists of seven questions put together by Arjuna, for reasons of his own, to Krishna, who gives a total or wholesale answer to all of them, without circumlocution and as directly as possible in the three verses immediately following.
The seven questions and their answers by Krishna are:

"What is that Absolute?
What is the principle of the Self?
What is action?
What is said to be the principle of existence,
And what is spoken of as the principle of divinity?
Here in the body what and how is to be understood the principle of sacrifice?
Again, how are you to be known by self-controlled persons at the time of going forth from this body?" (VIII. 1 and 2)

The answers come like a sledgehammer as directly as the questions themselves:

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"Unexpendable, the Absolute Supreme, its own nature, the principle of the Self is called;
The creative urge, the cause of the origin of existent beings, is designated action.
The principle of existence is the transient aspect,
And spirit is the principle of divinity,
What pertains to sacrifice is myself here in the body, 0 most superior among bearers of the body.
He who goes forth thinking of Me alone, attains my being" (VIII.3-5)


Without reading more into these words either of the questioner or the answerer, who is Krishna himself, let us try to match the corresponding counterparts in each of the questions.

The questions have an inner structural unity of their own with which the answers are also meant to tally in a one-one relationship.

 

THE REFERENCE TO THE BODY

One should note, in the first place, the repeated reference to the body in the last verse; not only with reference to Krishna, but also in reference to Arjuna. It is not the gross and inert mass of flesh or matter which is here understood as the inhabitant of the body, but something more purely existential, subsistential and of high value. It is a concrete universal which is under reference.

In this sense the body-bearer called Arjuna is the dialectical counterpart of the body of Krishna as representing the essence of the Absolute. In the second verse of the questioner quoted above, one notices a reference to the body, which is qualified by two requirements. It has to be the body of a man of self-control and again it must be that of one who is about to pass from the present life to the life beyond. If the questioner's body represents the thesis aspect of the dialectical situation; Krishna as the embodied Absolute principle is its counterpart, representing the antithesis. The synthesis of these two counterparts will result in the akshara brahman (the Absolute that is unexpended, that knows no change).

Where do the elemental existences that are components of the two bodies, whether of Krishna or of Arjuna, fit into the Scheme? That would be the next natural question to be asked.

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This question occurs in the words, "What is the principle of existence?" of the first verse, to which the answer is given in the fourth verse as follows: "The principle of existence is the transitory aspect as opposed to the enduring." These two are at the basis of the paradox that life presents, consisting of the permanent and the passing aspects of ultimate value.

The word karma (action) is given the most central of positions in the scheme, as being creative and implying the urge of the élan vital at the very core of the life of an organism. As pure act this creative urge has a horizontal aspect and a vertical one, the latter referring to the purer process of becoming, where the past and the future meet in abstract and general terms. Although the transient aspects are not outside the Absolute, it is in the pure sense that action could refer to becoming in the context of fuller absolutism. This pure becoming is thus to be thought of as being traced along the vertical axis, while the creation of existence may be said to be its horizontal concomitant.

Krishna is both divine and the Absolute to which any idea of sacrifice known to religions in the world may be said to refer. The Vedic religionist would think in terms of divinity while the rational Samkhyan would use the word Purusha (Spirit) in its place. Both of these tend to fall on the plus side of the vertical axis.

All these factors implied in the seven questions are comprised in the nature of the Self (svabhava), which is the ground of all the other items. The Self and Nature are here meant to be interchangeable terms. The self of Arjuna would be nearer to Nature and the self of Krishna to the Spirit or Purusha, which is the receiver of all sacrifices. The two differ in that their centres are at different levels in the vertical axis. The divine Self is an extrapolated version of the lower Self. The values that the higher Self is attached to are nobler and brighter than those of the lower, which is steeped in necessary and dark levels of life here on earth. The neutralized and normalized Absolute occupies a central position in the total knowledge- situation, of which these are symmetrical expressions, each with a penchant or slant of its own. As between the normalized and centralized Absolute and its other versions, there are different degrees of participation, some being more transparent than others.

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When there is perfect homogeneity between the lower and higher selves, there is perfect participation on a fully transparent basis. Other degrees of participation between opaque and transparent aspects of the Self can be imagined as being implied between any two of the endless gradations of possible selves, all having their centres in the vertical axis. A refraction and reflection of tendencies can also be added to the general scheme thus built up where existential and nominal values meet from opposite poles, implying the counterparts of Self and non-Self. Verbose speculation would fail us here because the possible gradations are infinite.

The active consciousness in its centre is the richest part of the whole knowledge-situation, and is the seat of pure apperceptions between the Self and the non-Self aspects, which are ever taking place. Such are some of the further implications of the picture that this chapter of the Gita tries to present, whose structural implications it will be profitable for us to examine.

 

STRUCTURAL INTERPRETATION OF THE PROBLEMS AND ANSWERS

The volley of seven problems raised together by the disciple and answered equally together by short answers has the purpose of showing how these problems and their answers hang together in the total absolutist knowledge-situation. It is the innate structure at the core of the notion of the neutral Absolute that makes even such an interpretation possible. That the author of the Vedantic text had such a structure in his mind when he made Arjuna frame his questions in such a form that they could be conveniently answered by the teacher Krishna here, is evident and will become more evident when we have presently examined more closely the details of the structural implications. We shall take one question after another as they have been put and answered, and indicate marginally the structural implications; taking care that we do not read more into it than was actually meant by the author himself.

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1.

Q. What is that Brahman?
A. Unexpendable (aksharam) is the Brahman Supreme (the Absolute Most High).

 

Fig. 1

Problem 1

Notes and Legend:
The Absolute is one and eternal, and has its own cosmological, psychological, and theological implications. It is a neutral and abstracted notion, covering existential, subsistential, and value aspects of total reality in terms of knowledge.

The total situation comprised by the Absolute, with an arrow that is vertical and pointing upward, represents the unexpended, enduring positive notion of the Absolute with three limits: (A), (B) and (C), marking the existential, subsistential and value levels. The inner zone "I" is the psychological; while the larger zone "II" comprises the cosmological and theological; with "IIIA" as hypostatic and "IIIB" as hierophantic values of religion.


2.

Q. What is adhyatma (that which pertains to the Self) ?

A. Svabhava (one's proper nature).

 

 


Fig. 2

Problem 2

Notes and Legend:
As Value, Self, and the Absolute are treated as interchangeable terms in Vedanta, this question becomes relevant. It is put next in importance as the second problem. The larger cosmological aspect is omitted and the Absolute is viewed in terms of Self-consciousness. The individual self, when contemplatively tuned, takes a central place. The jiva (living self), small "a", and the collective Self, capital "A", of humanity are both comprised in the adhyatma here.

The arrow indicates the verticalized positive orientation of the spirit as conducive to spiritual progress. The horizontal tendencies are not abolished in "A" but remain secondary and incidental. Nothing is really omitted from the former, but everything is retained in the form of an intuition of actuality, more mentally or in terms of subjective consciousness. The non-contemplative jiva has a horizontal orientation.

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3.

Q. What is karma (action)?
A. The creative urge that originates in the past and refers to the future as a process of becoming.

 

 

 

Fig. 3

Problem 3

Notes and Legend:
The eternal flux and becoming by which at every moment, as life pulsates, the future becomes transformed in terms of the past, creatively, as a force ever moving or active in a pure or practical sense, alternating and participating in both these aspects in cycles, is referred to as action (karma), as coming within the scope of the most comprehensive of definitions of action or motion in the core of life or in the Absolute. Its psychological implications as a perception and its cosmological dynamism in the general process of becoming have to be understood intuitively on the lines which Bergson's philosophy has elaborated.

The ambivalent alternation of activity in the core of a living organism has a spatial aspect and a time aspect referring to the past and the future. The space involved here is not actual space measured by a yardstick, but an intuition of space schematically understood, irrespective of big or small. The pulsation which takes the form of a figure-of-eight has been elaborately justified elsewhere in our writings. The line indicates the psycho-physical motor dynamism at the basis of all activity, participating in both the vertical and the horizontal aspects at once.

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4.

Q. What is adhibhutam (what pertains to the elementals)?
A. It is the transient aspect.

 

 

Fig. 4

Problem 4

Notes and Legend:
The elementals are the basis of the material manifestations of the physical universe. They are not lasting values because they do not hold the field of human interests uniformly, independently of time or place. Although the concrete universals implied in the physical world may be considered lasting (anadi) or beginningless, in the world of interests or value, axiologically, they change and pass according to particular conditions.
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The more lasting is the more real. All values that are subject to change are thus absorbed and included in the more universal and eternal values of life and thus nullified (badhita).

When a man is attached to his body and thinks of being fat or strong, or when he treats his son as a high value for the guidance of his life, the tendencies in the Self are said to refer to the horizontalized world of elemental or material values here. The contemplative of Vedanta minimises such values but fixes his mind on perennial values in the vertical, whether in a divinity or in the Absolute. The vertical in the figure is secondary, and the horizontal gains primacy. The smaller circle 'b' shows in aggregate a unit value, like a son or a body.

5.

Q. What is the theological or divine object?
A. Purusha (Spirit) is the divine object.

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 5

Problem 5

Notes and Legend:
This question is relevant because there are religious-minded people who are not fully affiliated to absolutist values, but belong to the same general context with some positive aims that are good as far as they go. The particular case of a devotee to a divinity is acceptable to an absolutist votary only as far as the value comes within the scope of the more universal and eternal when brought fully under the aegis of the Absolute. The lesser and more relativistically understood gods are covered by the greater, as a well within a lake or flood, as the Gita puts it in II. 46.

The concept of the Purusha of the Samkhyas is a rational, philosophical version of the verticalized positive value open to the same objection as the divinity of the believer.

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Thus three values in life, viz.: worship of divinities, treating dualistically the spirit as real, and full-fledged absolutism, are stages in verticalized tendencies. Pitryana (ancestor-worship) is altogether discountenanced as falling on the negative side with only regret for reward. The rational goal, as well as heaven, are both covered by the smaller circle as value (b). Horizontal values do not figure here.


6.

Q. In the body, how and who is the factor of sacrifices?
A. I myself am the factor of sacrifice in the body.

 

 


Fig. 6

Problem 6

Notes and Legend:
The Vedic sacrifices are directed to the propitiation of gods like Indra and Varuna. In Vedanta or in the Gita however, it is Krishna as the Absolute Value factor who is the acceptor of all sacrifices.
Sacrifice can be treated as an attitude or as a principle. The 'how' and the 'who' in the text cover both the body (as a universal concrete) as well as an attitude or aspiration more abstractly understood. The question-side has further the condition of a man of self-control as the subject (see question 7 below). Such a man would alone be fit to have absolute emancipation as the result of his sacrifice. Others might reach relativistic intermediate goals.

A bipolarity between the sacrificer (a) and the acceptor of all sacrifices (b) is the condition required for the abolition of the duality in the neutral Absolute. It is here a two-way process of osmosis between (a) and b), resulting in the normalized neutrality of the Absolute in (X), which is the goal finally envisaged in Vedanta. The double arrowheads show this two-way osmosis.

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7.

Q. How are you to be known by self-controlled persons at the time of going forth?
A. (The answer comes in Verse 5.) He who at the time of death, thinking of Me alone, leaves the body and goes forth, reaches my being, etc.

 

Fig. 7

Problem 7

Notes and Legend:
This refers to the final abolition of duality between subjective and objective selves in the Absolute, setting the limit to the spiritual progress understood in Vedanta, for which the clarifications above were preparatory.
The total knowledge-situation and the limit of spiritual progress on the part of a contemplative are schematically summed up, and the various stages involved marked out succinctly in graphic form for the guidance of seekers. Wisdom is finally to be noticed as a means as well as an end in itself.
The heterogeneous collections of questions purposefully put with an integrated scheme in Arjuna's own mind, make it possible here for the wisdom teacher, Krishna, to resolve a plethora of secondary problems which would have made the answers unnecessarily verbose and complicated.

The sacrifices to the Absolute Value, and Absolute Value as the personal or impersonal principle to which (or to whom) the sacrifices refer, tend to merge here into one. The principle of sacrifice itself is covered by an intuitive or mystically contemplative attitude of yoga (union) which establishes a bipolar relation between the subjective and the objective aspects of the same Self. When the osmosis is complete there is full transparency on both the sides of: (a) the subjective aspirant, purified by self-control and ready to understand the wisdom implications of the situation; and the counterpart of the same Self, on the side of the knowable (jneya) indicated as (b).

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The spiritual status of one or the other becomes one of non-difference as the bi-polarity is more firmly established. They attain tadatmya (that-same-selfhood) or sayujya (union). The vertical line itself is the sacrificial principle here.

The reference to leaving the body by a self-controlled man means that he is to raise his status vertically by aspiration to that of the aspired one in terms of knowledge of the Absolute (x).

 

THE BANE OF VERBOSITY IN METAPHYSICS

The modern revolt against metaphysics is based on the objection that it is too verbose. This is justified to some extent. When teaching a magical sleight-of-hand trick it is far easier to be guided by watching someone doing it than to learn it from a book which describes the index finger and thumb in such and such positions, dorsal, ventral etc. The latitudes and longitudes on a map help to place the position of a location such as Cape Comorin, which ancient maps for many centuries placed some-where near where Korea ought to be. The latitudes and longitudes as schematic versions of visible landmarks help to eliminate verbosity and all its ambiguities. A nurse can read the graph of a fever more easily than a statistically presented version, which the doctor, perhaps, could more easily read. As in the Pythagorean Theorem, one way lends certitude to the other. The central reality of the Absolute is neither here; nor in the Self; nor in the non-Self; neither there, nor in this or that; but in the Absolute itself which has a status in reality of its own. The possibilities of graphic representation in philosophy to avoid the bane of verbosity, is a field that has been so far only poorly explored or utilised. Vedantists have been aware of its possibilities, as indicated in the Upanishads, the Jaimini Sutras, the Vasishta and even the Panchadasi, to which we shall direct our in one of the sections to follow.

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VIII. THE DOUBLE DOMAIN OF THE WORD

Let us think as before of sitting facing the white circle of light shed on a white screen by an optical projector. The projector could be over-focussed, and would then shed a blurred image of anything on the slide interposed between the light and the screen. The same result happens when under-focussed: there are thus different possible perspectives.

When correctly focussed, the white light represents the notion of the Absolute; when slightly out of focus, whether on the plus (objective) or minus (subjective) side, the structure of the object or of the subject, respectively, will be revealed.

The neutral Absolute is independent of either perspective, whether objective or subjective, and it is therefore said to transcend duality, either from the side of the phenomenal or of the noumenal aspects. Such is the Advaitic view of the Absolute, which necessarily resembles the position of those who think in terms of vacuity - the Sunyavadins of Madhyamika Buddhism, represented by the school of Nagarjuna.
Sankara, however, fills this seeming vacuity with the content of an Absolute Substance such as Spinoza defines. The Absolute Substance is where thought and matter meet, as if from opposite poles, to cancel themselves out in favour of the central neutral notion of the Absolute. In other words, at such a neutral point where names and forms meet without being distinguished as one or the other, the subject and the object coalesce in the homogeneous matrix of pure word-content.

That there cannot be two truths without contradiction or tautology involved; and that varying grades of perspective of the same truth are possible; is the justification for the above assumptions.

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Further, the neutral point where non-duality must reside, while participating in both plus and minus overtones or undertones of the same truth, must remain homogeneous to both. These aspects have been elaborated elsewhere.

 

THE THIN LINE SEPARATING PERCEPTUAL AND CONCEPTUAL

Having fixed the white circle of light as representing the Absolute, one has to go one step further in order to distinguish the double domain implicit schematically and structurally at a certain zero degree of subjectivity in consciousness. We have to put, imaginatively, a thin line cutting the circle into two halves: the top half having a more conceptual or nominal status; and the bottom half a more perceptual, actual, or epistemological status.

We thus arrive at the domain of the Word, consisting of two distinct dictionaries, such as Bertrand Russell would distinguish. The line separating the two domains of the Word is of a semantic order only; like the mesh of lines that Spinoza would place before a circle; or like the schematic version of space and time of which Kant would speak.

In Vedantic parlance, the line of demarcation, which is real only as a reference, is the line that would separate nama (name) from rupa (form). The visibles and the intelligibles of Plato and the matter and form of Aristotle imply the same thin line of demarcation at the core of Absolute Reality, which is independent of all differences, internal or external, and free from all contradictions or relationships of part and whole, big and small, one and many; etc.

The perceptual side would loom large when the projector sheds its light under-focussed; and the nominal when over-focussed. Between the plus and the minus, the Word resides both as the symbol of the thing or as the thing of the symbol. Perfect reversibility and interchangeability of the two aspects should be granted. The former would represent the words of the dictionary conceived by Bishop Berkeley's philosophy, and the latter would correspond to the empiricism of Locke's secondary qualities. Both are to be schematically understood as participating homogeneously in one and the same word-matrix where the word-units of both dictionaries range the two domains in crypto-crystallized or amorphous forms, before being fully actualised in crystalline forms.

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Such a domain of the Word was meant by the word logos of the Greeks as used by Philo the Jew of the Neo Platonic Alexandrian context, and even in the pre-Vedantic context as we shall presently see.

 

THE DYNAMISM OF WORD-OSMOSIS

The above schema of the domain of the Word, with its two compartments, has to be given a living dynamic status, if the picture we have drawn is to be understood without static fixation. There is an alternating semantic exchange of content in a process of semiosis which, like osmosis between cells, goes on in the mutually transparent double domain of the Word that we have distinguished above. Thought breathes and circulates with life itself.


These might sound like over-statements to persons unfamiliar with the full implications of Vedantic thought. Vedanta recognizes that the whole of reality is covered by nama (name) and rupa (form). This is the same as saying that the universe of reality is none other than relations or relata, which are either nameable as concepts, or visible as forms, as percepts.


Nama and rupa can both become merged into the Absolute Substance that Brahman represents. When interest and action are introduced into such a relation-relata complex of concepts and percepts, thought circulates analytically or synthetically, or culminates horizontally in some action. Like the beating of the heart, action and will, both pure and practical, circulate and pass over from one side to the other of the two worlds of the Word that we have distinguished. The psychostatic picture becomes changed into a psychodynamic one, in which there is an osmotic ebb and flow between the poles of thought, and which is always solving problems for some desirable action of flight or attack. One has to supply, by imagination and intuition, this living picture of the ambivalent, alternatingly rotating process, taking place within orbits of interest of greater or lesser time duration. Bergson's philosophy would greatly help here.
Having devoted other works to the elaboration of such a dynamism in thought we need not linger here long.

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That Vedantic thought too runs along these lines is what we would like to stress here. In this matter we cannot appeal to a better authority than Prof. Max Müller, who was a full-fledged Western philosopher in his own right, and one of the best authorities on Vedanta combined; and who at least cannot be charged with saying something he knew nothing about. In his third lecture delivered before the Royal Institute of London in 1894 on "Vedanta Philosophy" he said:

"The word is the manifestation of thought; every word, we must remember, expresses a concept, not a percept: "Tree" is not meant for this or that tree; it is the general concept of all trees: and if every individual thing is the realization of an ideal type of thought or word; if every man, for instance, is the realization of the divine thought or word of man or of mankind - we need not be startled when we find in India as well as in Greece a belief that God created the world by the Logos, or by the Word, or by the many words, the logoi, the ideas of Plato, the species or types of modern science."

Although the dynamic aspects of semantic word-circulation and the two distinct domains of the Word are still only vaguely conceived by Prof. Max Müller in this quotation, it contains sufficient evidence to show that the theories of the Logos and that of nama-rupa which Vedanta accepts, had early beginnings in divergent geographical and cultural contexts in the history of human speculative thought.

Both in the Vedic and in the Greek or Hebrew contexts, it is necessary for us to rid the theory of its mythological implications, and view each in terms of simple semantic processes understandable in the light of the modern science of semantics. We should further think in terms of a schematisation based on subjective structuralism, so that implications of form as against name may not be omitted. Prof. Max Müller himself refers to the three contexts in which the theory of the Word was developed by the ancients, from which we glean the following:

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A) THE WORD IN THE VEDIC CONTEXT

We read, in Max Müller´s words:

"Thus we find in the Rig Veda, 3.6.8 a hymn placed in the mouth of Vach or speech, who had become not only one of the many deities, but a kind of power even beyond gods, a kind of Logos or primeval wisdom. There speech says of herself:

"I move along with Rudra, the God of storm and thunder; with the Vasus; with the Adityas; with the Viswedevas. I support both Mitra and Varuna; the two Asvins; Indra and Agni.
I am the Queen, the gatherer of treasures. I am intelligent; the first of those who deserve sacrifice; the gods have made me manifold, standing in my places, entering into many things.
I stretch the bow of Rudra to kill the enemy of Brahman; I cause war for men. I stretch out heaven and earth.
I breathe like the wind, holding to all things; beyond the sky; beyond this earth. Such a one am I by my power."

Continuing, Max Müller says:

"Such expressions seem to me to presuppose in the distant past the conception of Speech or the Word as a creative power, though possibly in the vague character of the Jewish Wisdom (Sophia) rather than in the more definite form of the Greek Logos."

 

B) THE WORD IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

In Proverbs VIII, 22 et seq., as Max Müller again points out, wisdom personified speaks as follows:

"22. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning or even the earth was.
25. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth.
27. When he prepared the heavens, I was there, when he set a compass upon the face of the depth.
30. Then I was by him, as one brought up with him and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him."

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The opening verses of the Gospel of St. John are highly reminiscent of the above words of the Old Testament Proverbs, and give the Word a central place prior and more fundamental than creation or God.

 

C) THE GREEK LOGOS AND LATER UPANISHADIC VERSIONS OF THE STATUS OF THE WORD

The Maitrayana Upanishad (VI. 22) reads:

"Two Brahmans have to be meditated on, the Word and the non-Word.
By the Word alone is the non-Word revealed."

Prof. Max Müller has this to say on the double aspect here under reference:

"Here we have again the exact counterpart of the Logos of the Alexandrian schools. There is, according to the Alexandrian philosopher, the Divine Essence, which is revealed by the Word, and the Word which alone reveals it. In its unrevealed state it is unknown, and was by some Christian philosophers called the Father: in its revealed state it was the Divine Logos or the Son.
From all this it seems to me that we are driven to admit that the same line of thought which after a long preparation found its expression in Philo and later on in Clement of Alexandria, was worked out in India at a much earlier time, starting from very similar beginnings and arriving at very similar results. But there is nothing to indicate borrowing on one side or the other."

 

INTERCHANGEABILITY OF THE WORD WITH BRAHMAN

We have expressly lingered here somewhat at length, relying largely moreover on the speculations connected with Word-­wisdom in Vedanta stated by no less an authority than Prof. Max Müller, with the object of showing that the semantic and schematic approach to the notion of the Absolute in Vedantic thought is nothing strange, nor a novelty originating in ourselves here. Widely divergent contexts in philosophical speculation have dealt with the same or almost the same fundamental idea. From Vedic, Greek and Hebrew antiquities the Word and the Absolute have been thought of together and often treated as interchangeable terms.

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'The Word was God' etc. of St John is a startling statement by itself, treated casually and taken for granted by the Christian devotee and by-passed by the common man. When understood in the context of word-wisdom, where the word and the non-­word cancel each other out into the neutral Absolute, we shall begin to see the same in the light of the analysis of Vedantic dicta like 'That thou art' etc., as masterfully accomplished by Sankara and other Vedantins in books such as the Vakya Vritti, wholly devoted to the analysis of semiotic processes both direct and indirect; i.e. syntactical and semiotical, as modern semantic experts would distinguish them. By cancelling the plus and minus, or indirect meanings of the expressions 'That' and 'Thou', the neutral notion of the Absolute is arrived at. Even the word "Brahman", as used in the Vedantic context from most ancient times, goes to justify this interchangeability.


The Satapatha Brahmana (XI. 2. 3), which is next only to the Vedas in antiquity and in canonical status, is nearer to Vedanta than to the Vedas, and further elaborates the role of the Word in relation to the notion of the Absolute, more vividly than in the Vedas that we have already examined. We read:

"Brahman was all this in the beginning. It sent forth (created) the Gods, and having sent them forth, it established them over the worlds: Agni (fire) over the earth; Vayu (wind) over the air; and Surya (Sun) over the sky... As to the worlds above these, Brahman established over them the deities who are above the former deities. And as these worlds are manifest and their deities, these worlds and their deities are manifest where he established them... Then Brahman went to the half (which was not manifest) beyond, and having gone there he thought: 'How can I get into these worlds?' and Brahman got into these worlds by two: by forms (rupa) and words (nama)."

The double domain of the Word is unmistakably clear in the above quotation which we could hardly resist from quoting, especially because it reveals schematic details which deserve careful scrutiny. Further, what is more important for us here is to note that the two branches put together, those of name and form, can be equated to Brahman itself interchangeably, as when we write: Absolute = name + form.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE ABOVE APPROACH

Vedic, Vedantic and Purva Mimamsic speculation has relied tacitly or overtly on an approach to truth based on the recognition of the Word. While neutralized between subjectivism and objectivism - more in favour of the former than the latter, if at all - Vedantic speculation has relied on the meaning-content of the Word to arrive at the supreme synthesis of all speculative aspects.

We have quoted freely from ancient scriptures, relying on Max Müller, who was the first of Vedantic exponents to put his finger on the word-content aspect of Vedantic thought, and was bold enough to bring its importance to light. He pointed out that in words like Vachaspati (Lord of language) and Brahmanaspati (Lord of the World - All or Absolute), the Word (vak) was used interchangeably with the notion of the Absolute. Both the Chandogya Upanishad (1.2.11) and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1.3.20) support this view.

The semantic analysis of "That thou art" and other dicta thus come to occupy the core of Vedantic speculation. To recognize this enables us to avoid irrelevant verbosity passing by the name of Vedantic philosophy. Let us therefore glean from the above, and from what we have so far said generally, the following points, so as to enable us to build on them further in the few studies of this series that remain for us.

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1.0 Vedanta is concerned with a neutral normative notion of the Absolute.

1.01 Vedantic speculation is poised between subjectivism and objectivism. Actualities of the non-contemplative mechanistic world are outside its scope.

1.02 As with Bergsonian metaphysics, Vedanta speculates, as it were, from inside the total knowledge-situation instead of taking disjunct outside views of it.

1.03 The dialectical approach of Zeno and Parmenides, as further elaborated by Bergson and Hegel, where counterparts are cancelled out into pure notions in the context of the Absolute, is natural to Vedanta. Bipolarity, ambivalence, alternation, circulation between positive and negative, are normal notions to Vedantic speculation. Phenomenology and existentialism too share much speculative ground in common with Vedanta.

1.1 Vedanta has its own ontology and epistemology where immanent and transcendental aspects are treated unitively. It cannot be strictly called idealistic or materialistic. When the crudely empirical sense-expressions of life are eliminated and consigned to the limbo of error, the remaining transcendental-cum-immanent content of consciousness is where Vedantic speculation lives and moves.

1.2 Vedantic speculation gives primacy to the material cause over the three others: instrumental, formal, or final.

1.3 It follows the negative way of the via negationis.

1.4 For Vedanta word and thought are related.

1.5 There is a schematism, structuralism, and semantics properly recognized in Vedantic speculation.

1.6 The domain of the Word, which is at the core of the notion of the Absolute, consists of two halves: one made up of what is revealed and the other of what is not. These have a reciprocal osmosis or circulation of thought-elements always taking place between them.

1.7 All general species, classes, sets, groups, whether of percepts or concepts, form ramifications in the two halves of the content of consciousness as relations or relata: one set appearing as a reflection of the other, forming the two dictionaries of Word-content. The tree of Porphyry is only one version of these two possible trees. (Being concerned with predicables, it confines itself to concepts, and leaves out 'animals' etc., as subaltern genera).

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1.8 Vedanta, which is a culmination of the Vedas and the Brahmanas, as we shall see when we come to structuralism, schematism, and subjectivism, as found in the Upanishads, the Gita and Brahma Sutras, revels in revealing the correlations of cosmological, psychological, and theological values or factors. What we have studied in the present section forms the background of such further elaborations of structuralism etc., to be undertaken before we terminate these studies.

1.9 The possible varieties of speculation in Vedanta, such as those of Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva, all thrive side by side without conflict in Indian Vedantic tradition, because they are all capable of being treated as different perspectives of the same Absolute. Some give an over-focussed version, while others give an under-focussed version. Some stress methodology; others epistemological correctness; while still others pin their faith on value factors such as piety, etc.

2.0 Epistemology, methodology, and axiology have to be treated separately in any Vedantic revaluation that attempts to disentangle Vedantic thought in scientifically revalued and restated terms.
For our next study we shall reserve the further examination of the structural implications that have already become evident in the pre-Vedantic literature that we have cited above, when we come to examine the same phenomenon in Vedantic literature proper, such as the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

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IX. VARIETIES OF VEDANTISM

Scientifically speaking, there cannot be more than one Vedanta, if by Vedanta we mean, as we ought to mean, the wisdom of the Absolute. In fact, however, it has become a common practice, both in the religious and philosophical contexts, to speak of kinds or schools of Vedanta or Vedantisms.
Vedanta can be so degraded and distorted as to refer to mere credos and cults, as we often see; and many kinds of deistic and theistic outlooks flourish today under Vedantic labels. Even under the names of single Vedantic teachers like Sankara, many apartments and anterooms are at present accommodated in the mansion of Vedanta, some of which, at least, have questionable claims.

Much lukewarmness and indifference passes for virtues such as tolerance or pious or generous broadness of outlook. Some call it Hindu, while others claim true Vedanta to be that or this or other orthodoxy or heterodoxy; observance or belief; giving primacy to one or other tenet, god or goddess of the Hindu pantheon. Saivite and Vaishnavite Vedantas thus flourish as rivals side by side with those that are based on Mother worship.

Each has an accent, stress, doctrinal colouration or tint, distinguishing it from its rivals, and many polemical battles are fought over subtle implications of the teaching to this day, most of which make little or no sense even to the educated Indian. One pretence hides another and silent oracles nod in knowing assent over articles of faith where close examination of claims will often reveal empty jargon. Vedism, Rationalism, or Yoga change sides from the left side of heterodoxy to the right side of orthodoxy.

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Puerile forms of faith find place within some modern brands which, claiming to be pure, integral or non-attached, make of Vedanta a jumble like bits of paper in a waste-basket, hardly attaining to coherence even as a mosaic.

The votaries of Vedanta are so varied at the present day that it has become a blanket term to hide all that is vaguely, eclectically, syncretically or solipsistically understood; and even popular superstition cannot effectively be excluded from what the term Vedanta must strictly connote or denote. The Brahma­ Sutras themselves would exclude Yoga and treat Vedanta as the closed preserve of persons of certain castes alone. Even sitting or standing postures gain delimiting significance in Vedanta, and rank superstitions sometimes pass muster without the scrutiny of healthy standards of criticism.

 

NOT A SURROGATE OF RELIGION

All these are marks of decadence in Vedanta, which has become goody-goody or namby-pamby, lending itself to be used to pamper to spurious spirituality and sometimes even to supporting charlatanish religions, occult growths or expressions.

Vedanta, when properly recognizable as such, must have such a radically unmistakable ring of the Absolute, and such strict norms and standards of thought, that it will not tolerate cant within its domain.
We often notice too that Vedanta is used as a surrogate for closed religions, and statically made to support the dead letter and hidebound attitude of orthodoxy. Like salt that has lost its savour, such Vedanta loses its fundamental quality by being compromised with relativistic values. Like pure milk in a dog-leather container, there is nothing one can do about such varieties of Vedanta but to cast them out of the window.
Vedanta, like mathematics, is a sastra (science text) as the Gita claims at the end of each chapter, and its open and dynamic character is so categorical and unequivocal as to make Krishna, as the true Vedantic Guru of the Gita, declare its character by saying:

"As each chooses to approach Me, even accordingly do I have regard for them. My very path it is, 0 Bharata (Arjuna) that all men do tread from every (possible) approach." (iv. 11)

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Such a categorical denial of any closed and static outlook, taken together with the other well known Upanishadic dictum that 'he who sees plurality wends from death to death' (Katha Upanishad IV.12), must be enough to dispel any vestige of doubt in the matter of the unity demanded in one voice by the canons of Vedanta. Even those like such an eminent modern authority as Dr. Radhakrishnan, who says that the Upanishads 'speak with a double voice'; or that they have two distinct philosophies to teach, do great injustice to this subject, which is perhaps the proudest monument of Indian wisdom, so apt not to be fully understood in the light of modernist speculation of the West, which cannot truly penetrate deep enough to the core of the unity with whose voice Vedanta has always spoken.

There might be overtones and undertones in the voice of Vedanta: but to say that two voices hide within it is to detract from the highest wisdom- heritage of India its essential character and value. Absolute truth cannot ever be dualistically conceived; and if it has been apparently so constructed, as with the Dvaita (Dualism) and Visishtadvaita (Qualified Non-dualism) of Madhva and Ramanuja respectively - the unity of the Absolute has not really been marred. This is because it is the structural perspective and not the content as such that has been at the bases of those "varieties" in Vedanta, so called. Vedanta and Vedantisms should never be mixed up in the mind.

 

VEDANTA ATTEMPTS INTEGRATED WISDOM

No comparison is thinkable except on the basis of a common ground on which differences can be established. Vedanta, considered as the culmination of the ritual of the Vedas; and as the integrated and finalized version of the philosophical tradition of the Indian soil anterior to it, whether orthodox or heterodox; must offer a common basis justifying the Vedantas of Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva as possible varieties of Vedanta.

Both philosophy and religion; materialism and idealism; Jaina and Buddhist heterodox speculation; and those that toe the orthodox line; Samkhya rationalism and Yoga discipline - find in the three canons of Vedanta, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and the Brahma Sutras, their natural point of revalued and restated integration.

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Vedanta represents the integration and "the finest blossom on the tree of Indian wisdom", as Paul Deussen would say. Nothing significant is lost nor any crowning crest-jewel of doctrinal conclusiveness omitted or bypassed by Vedanta.

The Great Dicta express its doctrinal conclusion unequivocally. Theological, cosmological, psychological, and eschatological values are preserved here and discussed by the various teachers with a methodology, epistemology and axiology all its own. The contributions of the six systems or "visions" (Shad Darsana), as well as the content of Vedism, are together retained in Vedanta. In short, Vedanta can claim to represent an earnest attempt at formulating an integrated wisdom of the Absolute; holding out the freedom or salvation that contemplative spirituality anywhere in the world offers as the highest hope and consolation of man. These claims of Vedanta have always been recognized and hardly need reiteration here.

 

GENETIC AND SOCIAL ASPECTS LESS IMPORTANT THAN CONTENT

Sankara had Buddhistic nihilism as his background; while Ramanuja had the Bhagavata Religion of the Pancharatra, with Jainism and Buddhism too playing their part. With Madhva the Jaina background and also the presence of Islam as a social force determined the shape of his Vedanta.
.
These genetic and objectively evident social actualities, doctrinal peculiarities and practices need not concern us here primarily, because it is the core or content of Vedanta as such that will give us the surest key. A scientific comparison and contrast of standards, such as the sat-karana-vada and the approach by giving primacy to cause over effect, are of methodological import; while others like the stress on escaping rebirth, etc. are axiological or eschatological in import. The intuition or logic employed by the kind of Vedanta under consideration would have to be based on epistemology.

These then form the first broad basis for a scientific classification of the varieties of Vedanta.

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Sankara excelled in epistemology; while Ramanuja was axiologically more sound. Madhva, for his part, was strong in tattva (principles of reasoning), as can be judged by what is called abhinava-anyatha-khyati-vada (a new way for accounting for error) and his svarupananda taratamya (a graded scale of self-bliss), etc.

The total knowledge-situation, the word and its structure stemming from pure semantics, have always belonged to Vedanta as its very core. The subjective, selective, perennial, structural, and schematic inherence of Vedantic speculation has to be recognized by us in comparing the varieties of Vedanta. Dialectical counterparts and antinomies have to be discovered as distinguishing features of Vedantic speculation.

From the seven categories (sapta padartha) of the Nyaya -Vaisesika; through the duality underlying prakriti (Nature) and purusha (Spirit) of the Samkhya -Yoga; to the twin schools of the Mimamsas, where semantic considerations gain ground fully to give an underlying unity of schematized structure for all or any variety of Vedantic thought, the common basis must be clearly visualized.

Then alone can the specific and the generic varieties of the family of Vedantic thought, its affinities and contrasting traits, be scientifically discussed.

At present Vedantic speculation has lost its way in the maze or tangle of Vedantic texts, commentaries, and glosses, variously called bhasyas, vartikas, vivaranas or tikas, resulting in a veritable forest of speculation, in which even an expert of the present day in India or an adept of the West can easily lose their way.

Besides the six systems that have nourished speculation, there are the various sakhas (branches), with samhitas (compendia) derived from different orthodox or heterodox traditions that have flourished on the soil of India during several millennia. These can help us to separate the distinguishing traits of Vedanta that existed before books like the Gita finally attempted to integrate all Vedantic thought into one body.

The Bhagavatas and the Pancharatras, which are centred upon supreme persons with the status of demiurges raised to Absolutism, such as the Purusha Narayana mentioned in the Satapatha Brahmana in relation to the Pancharatra Sattra; besides the Vedic and Upanishadic background largely relied on by Sankara - will reveal to future research traits valuable in grading and classifying all Vedanta under one integrated schematically homogeneous structural pattern.

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How Vedantic speculation hangs together by one and the same unifying peg can be revealed also by certain features common to all of them. In Section VII of this series we have examined the structural unity underlying the total knowledge-situation as understood in the Gita, where a volley of seven problems are raised at one stroke by Arjuna as questions to his Guru Krishna. In order to get started with a grip on the main problems involved, we shall here first examine an old Sanskrit verse in which the distinguishing traits of Madhva's variety of Vedanta are reviewed, before passing on to Ramanuja and Sankara. Nimbarka, Vallabha, and Chaitanya being less familiar, we shall pass them over for the present.

"srimad madhvamate harih, paratarah, satyam jagat tattvatah
bhedo jivaganah hareranucharah nichochhabhavamgatah
muktir naijasukhanubhutir bhaktistu tat sadhanam
hyakshadi triyanam pramanam sakalam naikyavedyo harih."

"In the doctrine of Srimat Madhva, Hari (Vishnu) is the most ultimate; the world is real in principle; differences (there are) among classes of created living beings, the devout followers of Hari (Vishnu), having attained to low or high status; salvation (consists of) one's proper (capacity) for (attaining) happiness (in the self), and devotion (bhakti) is the means thereof; the three tests of truth are the three such as perception; (and) what is given as the result of knowledge derived from all scriptures (taken together) is Hari (Vishnu or the Absolute) ".

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COMPONENTS OF MADHVA'S VEDANTA

1. Madhva considers the world as real in principle and not as an actuality.

2. This principle or tattva is to be understood as of two categories: svatantra and paratantra (self-controlled or under other control), while both these are united in an eternal flux or process which is called pravahato anadi (beginningless as flowing).
The Absolute of Madhva derives its name from the Vaishnava tradition where it is conceived as a supreme Person (Purusha), Hari, or Krishna.

3. There is a scale of spiritual values at the core of the Absolute in relation to which all beings could be classed or graded. This doctrine is referred to by the Sanskrit term svarupananda taratamya (graded stages in self-realization).

4. Salvation is the experience of the bliss of self-realization and the means for such is pure devotion (to the Ultimate).

5. Reasoning is based on three methodological principles, beginning with: (a) perceptual verification, together with
(b) inference and
(c) reliance on the a priori, which is called sabda pramana.

6. The Absolute (named Hari, Krishna or Vishnu for traditional reasons) is the content of all wisdom texts. He is to be known through their study as being the content of the totality of their teachings taken together.

Under these six items all the components that go to make Madhva's variety of Vedanta distinguishable, are in the main, conclusively comprised.

 

RAMANUJA'S FRAME OF REFERENCE IN VEDANTA

Vedanta as understood by Ramanuja is different from that of Madhva only in verbal versions of doctrine. The frame of reference in both cases remains basically the same. The former is called a Visishta Advaitin (one who stands for a non-duality that admits of specific predicates of the Absolute), while the latter is popularly known as a Dvaitin (a dualist).


These labels are misleading to the extent that they refer to the primacy or stress given to methodological or epistemological aspects. The general frame of reference adopted by both, however, remains fundamentally the same. We shall enumerate here first the broad doctrinal peculiarities of Ramanuja's Vedanta, before trying to establish the similarity of the frame of reference common to both.

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The following extracts are taken from the original work of Ramanuja himself called Vedartha Samgraha
"The Vedas in their totality teach us the nature of Narayana, the Supreme Brahman (231).

When words are used in the pre-established Vedic order, they carry their original significance: otherwise they are different in significance (233).

The Brahman knowable through the Vedas is Narayana who is antithetical to all evil, transcendent, and unique. He is an ocean of hosts of auspicious attributes. His supreme glory is beyond thought in its nature and attribute. He has as the means of his sport the entire universe, etc. (234).

Brahman himself, qualified by all entities as his modes, is signified by all terms which are applied to him by way of co-ordinate predication (samanadhikaranatva) (235).

The supreme Brahman resolved by himself to take up many modes and thought, 'Let me become many' ...He caused the individual selves to enter them as principles of their animation. He then brought into being the whole of the gross world out of these elements, animated by the conscious principles through mutual permutations and combinations (bahuprakaram). Then the supreme Brahman entered into all these entities as their ultimate Soul. Thus he exists in the state of effect as the supreme Self with all existence constituting his body. He exists characterized by these modes (prakaras) (236).

The Great Elements (mahabhutas) in their primeval subtle condition constitute what is Prakriti (nature). The sum total of individual selves (bhoktrvarga samuha) is called Purusha (Spirit)... Thus the Paramatman himself ...is designated by the terms Prakriti (nature) and Purusha (Spirit)
…Remaining the real, he became the real and the unreal (Taittiriya Upanishad 11. 6).

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The means for the attainment of Brahman is para bhakti which is of the nature of meditation which has acquired vividness of clearest perception (visadatma pratyakshata)…The term bhakti signifies a particular kind of love (priti). Love is a particular kind of cognition (238).

But love is the same thing as joy (sukham) (239). The cognition of that object is itself the joy in question (tad-vishaya jnanameva sukham) (240).

Entities other than Brahman can be objects of such cognitions of the nature of joy only to a finite extent and for limited duration. Since the form of cognition as joy is determined by its object, Brahman itself is joy (241).

When Brahman becomes the object of one's contemplation, he (the meditator) becomes blissful (242)."
A careful scrutiny of these two varieties of Vedanta will help us to see their common epistemological, methodological, and axiological frame of reference. As for Sankara, we have already incorporated his frame of reference into many discussions of aspects of Vedanta in general. We shall complete them in due course, when we take up the examination of the structural implications of Vedanta generally at closer quarters in the next section.

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X. FAVOURITE EXAMPLES IN VEDANTA

Science seeks certitude through experiments. Mathematics relies on proofs capable of being expressed in the form of equations. The Pythagoras Theorem, as we have seen, is capable of two proofs that meet to give one certitude which is neither abstract nor concrete exclusively. Vedanta too has its favourite method of arriving at certitude. When common experience vouches for truths in everyday life, experiments conducted under elaborate laboratory conditions become unnecessary. Language enshrining the common experiences of mankind in the form of proverbs or just common-sense can be relied on to give us certitude on many problems of importance in life.

Parables, fables, and figures of speech have taken a large place in lending support to speculation all over the world. Such a source of certitude, when properly rid of the extraneous, is not to be discredited, and should be considered as valid at least as proofs in Euclid, which derive their certitude from axiomatic a priori truths. When such truths are called postulates, theorems, riders, corollaries or lemmas, insofar as they are derived from self-evident verities acceptable to all, they have the same value as proofs or demonstrations. Experience can substitute for experiment in many cases. The falling of an apple cannot be called an experiment conducted by Newton to afford a basis for his theory of universal gravitation. Even non-scientists know that bodies are attracted towards the ground and not towards the sky. The rest of Newtonian theory has the status only of calculation or speculation or both.

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If Sankara and Jaimini give a large place to sabda pramana (scriptural authority) to arrive at certitude in respect of over-all philosophical problems such as the nature of the Absolute, it is not their weakness but rather their strength.

 

VEDANTA LIVES BY ITS OWN UNIQUE EXAMPLES

Language is most ordinarily used to describe objects or simple events. When intentions and interests enter into the world of events and relations between man and man; and when actions, single or in chains, further complicate the situation; the importance of the visible is slowly superseded by what is unquestionably accepted through language as representing the consensus of knowledge in respect of the experience of mankind.

Scriptures, therefore, have legitimately relied on parables, -fables, analogies and simple figures of speech like metaphor and simile. Works like the “Tao Te Ching” teach through simple anecdotes. The myths of nations contain secrets that the intuitive mind can grasp. The Bible lives by its parables.

Vedanta too is no exception to this general rule which applies to all scriptures anywhere, except perhaps in one respect which has specially interested us in the present series of studies which have been primarily intended to revalue and restate the whole field of Vedanta, highlighting more especially those aspects which rely on the inner structure of thought itself.

It is here that Vedantism excels in its use of its favourite examples, analogies, and pictorial language. These have more of a proto-linguistic slant and have such a telling apodicticity that throughout Vedanta's long history of two or three thousand years, they have tenaciously retained their place in its literature.
Even a modern Vedantin desiring to change the time-honoured examples of Vedanta, such as the pot and the clay, the wave and the sea, the snake and the rope, and the silver and the mother-of-pearl, would feel exasperated to do without these favourite literary devices which have struck root at the core of all Vedantic speculation.

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The reason for the wilful persistence of such examples as so dear to Vedantists at every time and everywhere; and which might even be said to be the distinguishing characteristic for recognising Vedantism as it prevails even today - this can only be attributed to the fact that they contain some elements inevitable to the Vedantic speculator for clinching his main issues and findings.

Certitude for the Vedantist is not to be understood as consisting of a predication about truth. The doctrines of Vedanta are not articles of faith, understood as enumerable in a series, as in the case of metaphysical or religious speculation common in the West. The Vedantist prefers to call what he believes as truth a 'vision', rather than the components of a 'system' or school of thought. Each school, if it could be so called, has a central vision or darsana, often cryptically and briefly expressible in the form of a dictum implying in each such case an experience of the speculator, meditator, or contemplative concerned. His certitude is often referred to as aparoksha anubhuti (non-transcendental personal experience). Such experience has to be so compact and concrete as a karatala amalakam (a gooseberry held in one's palm). Verbose predications of philosophical findings are discredited by Vedantins in favour of the certitude of the Yogi in whom the vision and the visionary attain to compact unity.

It is because Vedanta aims at a certitude that is felt inside as well as known to be yonder, at one and the same time, that the peculiar examples, analogies and pictorial language that we are going to discuss here become all-important. The Upanishads are replete with instances of picture-language: some elaborate, some more compact, which latter could be called ideograms.

Analogies are variously woven into the fabric of the Vedantic texts and the suffix iva (like) is very profusely relied on, as any page of the Upanishads would reveal. More complex literary devices with the scientific purpose of bringing out structural, schematic, or subjective subtleties are masterfully employed by the rishis (seers) who were the authors of the Upanishads. They all tend to minimize metalinguistic verbiage.

When these fables, anecdotes or parables are somewhat elaborate they become distinguishable as vallis, like the Brahmananda Valli and Bhrigu Valli, etc. of the Taittiriya Upanishad, or Kandas as of the Chandogya Upanishad.

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When examined with structuralism kept in our mind, even these anecdotes, such as the Bhrigu Valli, reveal to us peculiarities of composition which cannot be explained otherwise than by the theory that the rishis themselves had the same structuralism in their minds.

It is when such features become evident to the student that he can rest convinced that he has himself come to some kind of sure understanding of the purpose or the gist of Vedanta as a whole.
Let us fix our attention on some of the favourite examples of Vedanta.

 

APPEARANCE AND REALITY

All philosophical inquiry presupposes distinctions between truth and falsehood, fact and fiction; or more generally speaking, between what is apparent and what is behind appearance. Fact-finding, truth-seeking, and problem-solving are all meant to avoid nuisible situations in life, and to seek progress to happiness. Unhappiness is never a recognized end of philosophical inquiry. If all that glitters were gold, there would have been no need for any philosophizing at all. Thus two over-all categories are implied in all philosophizing. If there are more than two, they could all at least be included under these two as clauses. Absolute Truth is what can make man free. It is the value-pearl of great price, and is potent in leavening the whole lump of life. Even a little of Truth or Wisdom can save man from great fear, as the Gita prefers to put the same biblical verity.

Further, these two categories of appearance and reality, with which as presuppositions philosophy itself becomes possible, have between them an implied principle of paradox. The nature of this paradox is subtle and the complexion of the same can vary in degrees of possible differences between the two aspects involved, ranging from full contradiction at one extreme, grading into non-contradiction when purer pairs of opposites or antinomies are involved.

Each such pair can be said to belong together to a psycho-physical grade or order of its own. Contrast, contradiction, or contrariety belong to each ambivalent, reciprocal, or dichotomous couple of poles in the total knowledge-situation, with degrees of duality regulating their bipolarity.

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When there is full accentuation of the differentiating principle, we live in a horizontal world of values, with plus and minus separating each pair of the same grade. When, on the other hand, the polarity is less accentuated, contradiction tends to cancel differences between pairs of counterparts by one term cancelling out the other term. The former has a horizontal or arithmetical status, while the latter has a vertical or geometrical status.

The three examples that we shall scrutinize, which are, by acceptance or by rejection, equally favourite to Vedanta, will reveal further the structural pattern we have just tried to trace, together with the dynamism natural to it.

 

1. The Water and the Waves

Perhaps the most common example in Vedanta that we should consider first is that where appearance is compared to waves on the ocean, and reality is compared to the material cause of each wave, qualitatively understood, which is none other than the water without which waves become unthinkable.

If the waves refer to the visible aspect of reality, water refers to its intelligible cause. Schematically, the former could be called the horizontal aspect of the absolute reality, and the latter its projected vertical counterpart. The multiplicity of waves on the ocean has nothing to do with the dimension of depth of the water in a pure qualitative sense. Between the qualitative and the quantitative there is an implied paradox, when understood in the light of a neutral epistemological subjectivism proper to Vedantic speculation, as we have already pointed out.

Thus the wave and the water example, so dear to Vedantins, affords a frame of reference in order to correlate appearance with reality. There is a participation between these two only at a common neutral zero point of the total or absolute knowledge-situation. Body and mind, spirit and matter, meet centrally and diverge peripherally.

Philosophy consists of delving into the depths of the material cause of effects that are apparent and given directly to the senses. When the cause is distinguished we get to a relationship between cause and effect which will afford the first over-all frame of reference for clarifying the relation between true and false values in life.

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Accepting the principle of contra-diction fully at the initial stages of reasoning; but tending to absorb contradiction unitively in the final stages of philosophical inquiry; this two-sided example of a wave with water as its real cause beneath it affords the Vedantic speculator two intersecting or correlating axes, constituting a frame of reference which can be used to great advantage in avoiding the bane of verbosity in metaphysics.

Both wave and water, when understood as actualities, imply full contradiction, but when understood intuitively or in pure terms, they tend to merge in the common epistemological heterogeneous matrix of thought. How this is to be understood has been explained by us elsewhere when treating of the schematismus of Kant, the schéma moteur of Bergson, and the structuralism of Eddington.

 

2. The Rope and the Snake

The second example we have selected is not used with the same purpose by all Vedantins. It is used with full favour by those who belong to the non-dual (Advaita) school, which is perhaps the most important of all Vedantic schools, to which the great name of Sankara lends its support.

This example is particularly suitable in contrasting favourable and fearful or unfavourable value-factors in respect of what is good to man in distinguishing appearance from reality. Both snake and rope are contrasted on the basis of an axiologically based epistemology. Knowledge about the real abolishes the fear implied in the world of relativistic appearances. The weak man of ignorance sees a fearful snake where there is only a harmless rope. The snake is an eidetic or phenomenological presentiment. The rope represents truth in itself or in its simplest form of existence (sat).

If the phenomenon of the snake were treated as a horizontal aspect by us here, the reality of the rope would represent the vertical on which the snake is a mere supposition or superimposition (adhyasa). The contrast between appearance and reality here is not as strictly and symmetrically maintained as in the previous example which we have analyzed.

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Moreover, the aspect of evil is made to loom disproportionately larger than its dialectical counterpart of reality represented by the rope.

The Charvakas, who correspond in India to the Epicureans of the West, have rightly objected that failure to appreciate the intrinsic goodness or value of the world and rejecting it totally as of no value, as when the snake is abolished by right knowledge - as this favourite example of Vedanta would imply - means that nothing significant to human life in the remaining reality would be left over as residue. There is here a subtle structural violation of symmetry between the plus and minus value factors involved in the example.

Ramanuja and Madhva too have protested in their own ways against this disproportionate exaggeration of the aspect of evil in the world. In doing so, however there is room to think that they themselves have fallen into an opposite error by, seemingly at least, recognising ordinary everyday values such as the decorations and embellishments with which Vishnu is represented. In their eagerness to overthrow the theory of Maya, which would imply the falsehood of the phenomenal world, they have permitted puerile values to enter the domain of spirituality, by the backdoor as it were. True, the comparison of the world to a snake makes it insignificant as well as insipid to the common man. A flavourless reality may not satisfy even a normal saint who would like the salt to have its own quality of savour. None can enjoy mere tastelessness.

In recent years Narayana Guru, who revalued and restated Vedanta, reconciling all the above schools, applied the corrective revision to this favourite example by substituting a flower garland for the rope. Both appearance and reality regain, by this corrective touch, a more symmetrical status, where some residual value is retained in favour of both aspects; thus bringing them under one axiological treatment.

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3. The Pot and the Clay

The example of the pot and the clay, which we shall take next, together with the kindred examples of the thread and the cloth, and the ornament and the gold, are used in Vedanta in connection with establishing the importance of upadana karana (the material cause) over all the other causes, which are all horizontal in their implication. These latter kinds of causes are incidental, occasional, or less important.

Ramanuja and Madhva too recognize the necessity to give primacy to the upadana karana, which has its reference in the vertical axis, in their analyses of causes and effects. However, they do so without recognizing the contradictions between appearance and reality. But they try to minimise contradiction in favour of a vertical unity in diversity, treating these two aspects with more or less internal duality, each in its own way.

For Vedanta as a whole, when we do not think of its later schools, what is most important to derive from this example consists in the primacy given to the vertical axis of reference. Duality between plus and minus inside the vertical axis itself might be resolved by the differing dialectics employed by each of them: Ramanuja stressing the unity between samanya (general) and visesha (specific); and Madhva bracketing each life value into subjective and objective groups in an ascending scale, culminating in Vishnu, who would thus correspond to the Monad of monads of Leibniz.

We have to concede that there are two kinds of connection, firstly, a necessary and more intimate connection, continuity (samavaya) and, secondly, juxtaposition mechanistically understood and called samyoga sambandha by Vedantins. The potter using lumps of clay in a vertical series, one after another, can, within some time, spread the floor with many and different kinds of pots or pans. When spread out horizontally, they can be referred to as multiple effects of the potter's work. In the process of the manifestation of the universe, the potter would represent the creator and the pots horizontally spread out would represent creation. The colour of the potter's stick is only incidentally related to his work; while he himself could change places with his wife or son without altering the total situation of the potter's shop. As against this contingent, secondary, or attributive nature, accidental or incidental to the total situation, the clay has a necessary, inner, intimate, vertical link with its effect. We cannot think of getting the effect by substituting it by anything other than just that kind of clay that the potter selects and prepares for the success of his art of pottery.

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The relationship is more intimate. It is both existent and unsubstitutable or non-interchangeable. We can easily see here how useful this favourite example is to bring out the distinction between vertical and horizontal cause and effect, with one or the other of which the whole of the phenomenal or the noumenal world may be said to be filled.

Sankara makes capital of this distinction by insisting on it in great detail, as we have seen. He wonders why clay alone can give rise to a pot; why gold alone can give rise to gold ornaments; and milk alone can produce curds. A Western philosopher might consider this problem too simple to be worth answering. He would simply turn away, refusing to treat it as a problem of philosophy at all, muttering perhaps to himself "of course the tree is known by its fruits". Although very simple as a problem, the subtle vertical relationship that exists between causes and effects of this particular order changes the complexion of philosophizing altogether and tilts it in favour of Vedantic methodology. Vedanta leans largely on this simple vertical axis of reference, and to tamper with this would be to endanger the whole of its multi-storeyed superstructure. Like the mysterious letter "h" used in Max Planck's quantum mechanics, this example refers to the most fundamental key to all varieties of Vedanta, and gives us its chief distinguishing feature in one item.

 

OTHER EXAMPLES IN VEDANTA

The Mother of Pearl and Silver: Besides these very favoured examples, there is a whole range of others, some more frequently used than others. We cannot here enumerate or examine all of them. But we shall select a few more which have structural implications particularly interesting to us in our present study.
By far the most important is the example of the sukti-rajatam (mother of pearl and silver). The calcium carbonate of the shell is the material basis which represents sat or reality on which there is silver, silveriness or the presence of silver established or superimposed. This silver-semblance, according to modern biology, is only an opalescent iridescence due to the polarization of light in the nacreous layer inside the shell. We are to treat the example here only as meant by Vedantins, over-looking these scientific aspects.

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This example, moreover, happens to be unlike example No. 2 above (the rope and the snake), and one that is equally a favourite with Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva.

The reason is that by its very structure and actual constitution, this example lends itself admirably to be used to reveal subtle aspects of error and judgement about appearance and reality at one stroke; instead of having to treat them in disintegrated fashion and in separate abstruse paragraphs referring to each of these aspects, as is more usual in verbose philosophical treatises.

Many arguments get clinched together into a compactly conceivable knowledge-situation by this one example.

While Ramanuja would say that the silveriness that is seen as an actuality refers to silver present here or somewhere else in the universe, on the basis of esse est percepi; Sankara would tend to dismiss the silver-semblance altogether as an error of judgement, admitting full contradiction between good and bad, right and wrong, existent and non-existent. Madhva, who is well-known as an anyatha khyativadin (one who locates error elsewhere) has his own brand of the theory of error, outside the five classical ones, which is called abhinava (new) anyatha-khyati.


This is not the place to enter into a full discussion of his theory of error and right judgement. Suffice it for us to state in passing that, unlike Ramanuja, Madhva looks at error as taking place between two ambivalent counterparts in one and the same vertical axis. His duality resembles the duality between two monads as understood by Leibniz, where they range vertically from simple monads to the Monad of monads through the best of possible worlds, corresponding to actuality. All that we want to underline here is that this example yields us a structural basis for discussing different epistemological aspects of different Vedantins that no other example that we can readily think of affords. Ontology, epistemology and axiology can refer to the same content of right or wrong judgement by virtue of this example. The value of such an example alone is what has made it such a favourite with Vedantins.

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We can glean the following structural peculiarities from this one example itself:
Appearance is supposed or superimposed on a basic existent reality, separable vertically into two poles. The lower half or the minus pole is represented by the material of the shell. The silveriness belongs to the positive pole of the vertical axis, whether it is treated as actual illusion, semblance, or half-truth: to be valued or to be considered valueless, according to the temperament of the philosopher concerned. If other examples like that of the snake and the rope help us initially to reject outright what is evil and implied in the visible world, admitting full contradiction between good and evil - here these two cling more closely and subtly together, so as to reveal thought contradictions or different grades of value-relationships available to man in his life here.

Horizontal values and actualities enter more into the vision of life as envisaged by Ramanuja. Madhva prefers to sink deeper into the world of tattvas or elemental categories where his scale of values can find full amplitude to swing between the poles of his svarupananda taratamya (scale of values in terms of self-bliss), by which the holy tulsi (basil) plant and Hari (Vishnu) as the highest Absolute, get linked vertically in living terms for the guidance of the devout seeker of wisdom of the Absolute. We have said enough for the present to show how this example is precious to Vedanta.

 

HOW THE EXAMPLES ARE USED TO DISCUSS APPEARANCE AND REALITY

While we are on this subject we might profit as well by a short reference to various theories of error and right judgement prevailing in Vedanta which make maximum use of this mother-of-pearl-silver semblance. A Sanskrit verse sums up for us all the theories of locating error:
atmakhyatirasat khyatir
akhyatih khyatiranyatha
tatha anirvachaniya khyatir
ityetat khyati panchakam
.

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The sense of these words, translated freely, reads as follows:
"Self as manifested, non-existence as the base of phenomena, non-manifestation, manifestation of something else, and indeterminability of manifestation - such are the five kinds of phenomenal presentiment."
Relating these presentiments with our own example we find that:

1. The first named, which is the position of the Buddhist idealist, locates the source of phenomena in the inner self or in the will, as with Schopenhauer. The whole pearl would thus be located inside.

2. The second position mentioned corresponds to the Buddhist nihilists, so-called, who deny the validity of existence altogether. They would refuse to take notice of both silver and mother-of- pearl.

3. The third position refers to that of Purva Mimamsakas who would tend to treat both appearance and reality on a par of equality, admitting no error. The silveriness would not confuse them.

4. The fourth position is that of Syad-vadins who would allow alternative truth either in the silver or in the mother-of-pearl.

5. And finally the fifth position is that of a Vedantin proper, like Sankara, who would postulate impredicability of truth either in the mother-of-pearl or in the silver.

To complete this list, we could here add the case of Ramanuja, who would say that the element of silver in some subtle form as present somewhere in the universe is the basis of silveriness. Thus nothing is false for him. As for Madhva, he would tend to put reality in a fluid scale of values arranged in series. Silver could thus change places with something lower of less value, or with something of higher value.

 

OTHER MISCELLANEOUS EXAMPLES

The total range of examples in Vedanta, if we could collect them from the Bhagavad Gita, the Brahma sutras or the Upanishads, even leaving out more recent works like the Yoga Vasishta, could fill pages. We shall select only a few because of their particular structural implications.

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A lamp steadily burning in a windless place is mentioned in the Gita as representing the state of a person enjoying the peace of yoga or samadhi.

A tortoise that withdraws its limbs within its shell is compared to the verticalized attitude of a yogi in correct meditation, again in the Gita.

The Upanishads refer to a large fish swimming within a river, sometimes knocking against one bank and sometimes against the other, to represent spiritual progress through apt example.

A leech that progresses caterpillar-like, letting go its hold only after gaining a grip at the forward end; a snake that sheds its skin season after season; or a horse that can shake mud off its skin; are other examples bringing out aspects of the progress of the soul from the here to hereafter. Detachment while living in the world is compared to a lotus leaf that lives in water without being wet.

To establish the ambivalent yet unitive relationship between the plus and minus of the vertical axis, we have the example of a fire and the sparks that rise from it. These sparks are both non-different vertically, and different horizontally, from the fire.

The foam, the wave, and the bubbles of water in the ocean that pantheists would accept as all real at one and the same time, admitting an element of paradox, are abolished by Sankara by a stricter vertical t