Science of the Absolute








The last chapter ended on a note which referred to reality as "the Lord", constituting the source or the first material cause of the universe. It was therefore a theological and more or less conventional preliminary way of relating the universe with its cause as normal to the common man anywhere in the world. As all effects must have a cause, such a form of reasoning towards finding a cause is natural both to philosophy and science. Although the word "Lord" (isvara) as employed in the first chapter is meant only to be an overall initial starting point for further discussion, it is still vague and undefined as a general basic foundation for the universe presented to man with its varied phenomenal aspects. The Lord refers to what Rudolf Otto calls the "numinous". It is both a mystery and a tremendous wonder, and all ideas of the sacred arise from it.


The man in the street begins by wondering about the nature of the world presented to his view. To such a common-sense question only a more or less conventional commonsense answer can be given, because all answers to questions must correspond to the nature of the curiosity of the questioner. That is why Narayana Guru brings in the theological terms in the opening chapter, even though such a vision is meant by him to belong to a veritable philosophical and scientific context.


Vague though this concept is, it represents the overall source of reality to be clarified stage by stage in later chapters. It also represents the essence of a paradox presented by the universe to man. Appearances and realities intermix or interlace in the substance which is the basis of the universe. Thus equated, the Lord is carried over from the last verse of the previous chapter to the first verse of the present chapter. If the Lord occupies the central position of the first chapter, and the world is the dialectical counterpart here in the second chapter, we have a more subjective and psychological reality called caitanya, replacing the Lord in the very first verse.


Caitanya is a sort of matter and mind, and is an evident reality in common life as when we say an animal has lost its caitanya. Consciousness has not attained any degree of richness or purity as when we use the expressions cit or samvit which refer to pure consciousness where duality is further resolved into absolute unity. This concept therefore corresponds to the élan vital of Bergson. It is on the basis of such a life-energy that Bergson's creative evolution can be consistently thought of as taking its course. Thus it is that our reference to the philosophy of Bergson in this chapter attains to a high relevancy and compatibility with Narayana Guru's philosophy. Bergson, as we have said, is a philosopher who fights shy of being considered either a metaphysician or a dialectician as such. His field of operation is exactly the region of thought or understanding where matter inserts itself into mind, and commonsense translates itself and gets articulated on the one side with what is perceived and perceptible, and on the other side with what is conceived and conceivable.


We have seen how Bergson has very persistently and correctly stuck to this neutral position between physics and metaphysics in his long, drawn-out discussion about the nature of Time and Space. He finally succeeded in abolishing multiplicity of times in terms of one unique Time, which attains as it were, to the doorstep of the Absolute. In this way he gives us, in his speculations, supreme examples of how the gap between physics and metaphysics can be bridged when common human understanding and the intuition natural to all human beings is added on to the total knowledge-situation. In his eyes science is not only physics but includes biology. In his hands mechanistic realities become revised and revalued in terms of a living process.


As has already been stated, we have shown how, in the various stages of the revaluation of the relativity theory, Bergson adopts a method of eliminating plurality in favour of unity. Space and Time, instead of being two realities which cannot mix properly into unity by the methods adopted by Einstein or Minkowski, have been reduced to perfect reciprocity with mutual transparency between them. This enables us to think of endosmosis and exosmosis as dynamic and organic processes capable of taking place between them before they are absorbed into one unique and universal Time, representing a universal flux which is the culminating concept as nearly representing the Absolute as Bergson is willing to make it. The reader should pay special attention to the negative steps of the argument and compare Bergson's method with Narayana Guru's method found in the Apavada Darsana. The Absolute as a notion is perfectly defined at the end of Chapter II as the three categories of reality which are existence-subsistence-value (sat-cit-ananda).


Noting how Narayana Guru initially attains to a definition of the Absolute in the last verse of this chapter the reader should also mark how the key notion of this chapter which is caitanya (vital consciousness) replaces the more conventional term "Lord", but is still viewed as permitting a certain degree of duality as between the gross and subtle. The vestiges of a paradox are still there in the first verse. What should receive our attention is the method by which this paradox is resolved or made to drop stage by stage by mutual transparency between the gross and the subtle elements which together constitute appearance and reality as presented to our vision.



Hitherto in all literature pertaining to the nature of the Absolute, whether viewed theologically, mystically or philosophically, we can see the persistence of a peculiar language of its own. Contemplative literature like perennial philosophy has its own lingua mystica far removed from the language of mater-of-fact physics or commonsense. It consists mostly of language filled with figures of speech where various grades of parables, fables, myths or metaphors, besides other comparisons, play a large part. This succeeds only in establishing vague indirect analogies between the world of visible facts and the world of more abstract reasonings. The vagueness of such a style usual to absolutist literature cannot be abolished although the style can be varied indefinitely. When intuition was once admitted into speculation we parted company with verifiable facts and entered into metaphysics which at best relies on what is called dialectical reasoning. The lack of any publicly evident degree of certitude makes the dialectical approach fall into disrepute and there are moderns who even contemptuously refer to metaphysics as 'nonsense'.


The Bergsonian approach is a new departure in this respect. The reader should have noticed already how, side-by-side with algebraic equations he uses a structural geometrical language consisting of logical relations represented by parameters meant to reflect the laws of nature in general, wherein the reality of such ultimate categories as time and space have their legitimate raison d'etre.


These logical parameters are representable in visual relational forms within two grades, one that is in the process of being made (i.e. as taking place in reality within consciousness), and the other that is already made, having the status of a fixed conceptualized version of the former. While both of them are representable in geometrical form, one has a more perceptual status than the other. When it has a conceptual status it is more symbolic and belongs to the domain of algebra. The former representation is directly related to the visible or the perceivable and is to be understood in terms of a schéma moteur.


Such a schema is to be understood within the living consciousness of an actual human being more directly related to the thought than indirectly to thinking processes. One is a duplicate of the other and if we represent the perceptual figure by continuous lines traced on paper the other can be represented by dotted lines in order to indicate its more conceptual status. Thus there are two systems of reference given to us which can be pressed together so as to make one and the same absolute reality. Such are some of the bold assumptions of Bergsonian metaphysics which keeps us close to human experience both seen or lived. By bringing in concepts tallying with percepts it is able to bring a new kind of apodictic certitude to both physics and metaphysics.


In order to indicate here that in making the above generalization we are not attributing anything more to Bergson than what he himself implicitly or explicitly adopts; let us turn to a few of the features of his revaluation of relativism. A review of these features will reveal some of the new methodological perspectives which will help to give to our own commentary on the Darsana Mala a more correct scientific status than what contemplative literature of this kind has hitherto enjoyed.



The main items of Bergson's revaluation of Einstein's relativity can be enumerated as follows:
  1. Demi-relativity,
  2. Lack of proper vertico-horizontal correlation
  3. Lack of full respect for reciprocity between systems of reference
  4. Recognizing the uniqueness of time as a fourth dimension.
  5. The perfect unitive treatment of time and space as a single absolute reality.




1. Demi-relativity results when we pay too much importance to the horizontal contraction of a line of light based on the hypothesis implied in the equations of Lorentz. It is a form of distortion as in unilateral vision. This distortion can be remedied when time and space are brought more intimately into mutual relationship as demanded by the very form of the Lorentz equations when completely understood.


2. The reciprocal relationship at the basis of time and space is implied in the vertico-horizontal relationship between them, as pre-existing in the laws of nature which the equations of Lorentz are meant to reflect. Demi-relativity has to be subjected to a bilateral correction rather than a unilateral one. Time and space will then have a fully relativist status, wherein one may be said to step into the domain of the other and vice versa.


3. On such a basis of perfect reciprocity, when possible distortions of pluralistic times represented by corresponding lines of light have been corrected, the two reciprocal systems; one having the status of being referred to and the other the status of referring, become interchangeable duplicates of each other. They can be juxtaposed so as to reveal one and the same unique and universal time as a sort of fourth dimension.


4. When Time has thus been given its own unique status, the other spatial dimensions become secondary in importance and the overall vertical parameter which Time corresponds to in the schematic language of Bergson reveals to us a "powerful means of investigation, a principle of research". The process of becoming can be represented as a vermicular figure belonging to the vertical axis.


5. When the two rival systems, the one referred to (and representing time in terms of space) and the other referring to (and representing space in terms of time) are correctly correlated, we have a scheme relating extension and thought. Bergson readily absorbs into his philosophy of pure becoming these correlates with the last vestige of paradox between them. This culminating philosophical notion is next best to the Absolute.


This quick survey of the broad outlines of the methodology of Bergson helps us to glean for our own purposes the following broad principles of Absolutist methodology.



In the very first verse of Apavada Darsana we find an ambiguous reference to the world as both subtle and gross. In passing from the rigid and objective world of inert things to the world where life movements and processes of becoming reside in a more flexible psychological sense, we live in a world admitting at one and the same time both these aspects of reality. We should notice here that the same is true in regard to the theory of relativity and also in Bergson's absolutist revaluation of it. Einstein speaks in terms of flexible lines of light expanding or contracting according to the equations of Lorentz. He also speaks of a rigid line to which it has constantly to refer back. These are of two epistemological grades but they have to be treated as belonging to one and the same context for purposes of discussion. Modern physicists refer to a reality sometimes called affinée (refined or subtle) where the theory of relativity belongs, as against its own limiting case of classical Newtonian mechanics and Euclidean geometry.


The "field" with Einstein has a structure and epistemological status of its own, not unlike what Narayana Guru also assumes in this chapter. Einstein's methodology presupposes its own type of epistemology. The observer and the observed belong together so that universal relativity can be explained. Further, this common background of the observer and the observed with a universalized status has an independent frame of reference within which the mathematics as well as the observations needed for the relativity theory are independently self-contained. The old-fashioned way of thinking of gravity as acting, as it were, from a distance, is abolished in favour of a point of origin where gravitational and inertial factors meet within the field of the frame of reference. The structure of space is also a much-discussed subject pertaining to relativity theory. Euclidean space-structure is too inadequate for its purposes.


Space must admit of curvature, and the postulate of Euclidean parallels has been modified in such a manner as to admit parallels in a modified form by Lobachevsky, while Riemann's structure of space does not admit them. Space is a compromise between absolutist and relativist factors, thus bringing in another element of ambiguity. As we have already seen, these peculiarities of Einstein have been taken up by Bergson who has subjected them to a stricter methodological scrutiny. What we have to specially notice is that Einstein sets the model for a new tradition in scientific thought, bringing such thought more into line with what is required for the transition from relativism to absolutism. He has thus, though perhaps unconsciously, rendered a greater service to unified science than to physics. He lived and moved within limits of the observables implied in the Lorentz equations which themselves reflected real laws of nature and the purer mathematical calculables. He may be said to have established a correlation between a lower limiting case as conceivable on a vertical axis and a higher limiting case of the same in the world of conceptual signs on which calculations or pure mathematics must thrive.


The way in which Bergson is able to reduce into more clear and finalized terms the multiple rival elements that still vitiate Einstein's theory is amply evident. When subjected to final analysis it is not difficult to see here two systems, one perceptual and the other conceptual. Both are capable of being treated together, so as to schematically reveal the same structural features. Such a possibility opened out by Einstein's new way of scientific thinking is of immense value for us in methodically laying the foundations for a Science of the Absolute. Subjectivism, structuralism and selectionism with a schematic language that goes with it have become natural to scientific thinking. Post-Einsteinians like Eddington have given these features full vogue and even used such language to some extent in their writings.


Schrodinger has also adopted a similarly new methodological and epistemological approach reminiscent of Vedanta (see pages 67-68 above). Bergson also believes in the possibility of this unified variety of schematic thinking implied in language when he writes:

"If time has positive reality and if the retardation of duration in instantaneity represents a certain hesitation or indeterminism inherent to a certain part of things which keeps suspended on it all the rest, and finally if there is creative evolution, then I understand very well that the part that has already gone past in time should appear as juxtaposed in space and not any more as pure succession; I also conceive that all the part of the universe which is mathematically related to the present and the past - that is to say, the unraveling of the future of the inorganic world - could be representable by the same schema we have once before shown in astronomy and physics. Prevision is in reality a vision." (1)

Precise thinking whether in science or philosophy consists in correlating two structural aspects which have reciprocal, complementary or conjugate relationships between them. One can be distinguishable as pertaining to the horizontal and the other to the vertical. When both reflect the same laws of nature or the same logical parameters, and we add to this an overall dynamism of a double process resembling endosmosis and exosmosis, as taking place between the two structural ambivalent poles of a unit, whether this unit is one referring or referred to, we have in our hands all that is required for giving scientific precision and certitude or correct communicability to our further discussions in respect of a unified Science of the Absolute.


In thinking of this process we need not limit ourselves to the analogy of osmotic interchange of essences in the biological world. The same alternating process resembling respiration or even the heart beat can be imagined as taking place in the context of thermodynamics where one speaks of entropy and negentropy. In the world of cybernetics the same alternating process of action and retroaction exists (see pp.97-106 above). Electromagnetic pulsations involving alternating sinus functions reveal the same dynamism basic to physical, biological, logical or even semantic contexts.


In short, a structurally based methodology and epistemology free from myth or fable is what we stand for in the present work for further development or discussion.




Post-Hilbertian mathematics has an epoch-making significance in the matter of giving precision and certitude of a scientific nature within the pure processes of thought and expression with which all theorization or speculation, whether of physics or philosophy, has to deal. The emergence of a branch of mathematics called the algebra of geometry makes mathematics attain to the status of a self-sufficient branch of knowledge where mathematical realities can be thought of as independent entities having an absolutist status of their own.


The quantitative experimental world is left far behind by such a new development in scientific thinking. Conceptual and perceptual elements reveal the same relational pattern and have a reciprocity between them whereby they give certitude to each other making absolute certitude possible. A Science of the Absolute is unthinkable without supposing such a possibility where two sets of elements, one proper and the other improper, mutually lend certitude to each other. We have in the foregoing said enough to justify this generalized statement. Let us now see where we stand in the matter of accepting a structural framework for giving precision to thought and language. It has to be remembered that such a structural framework lays no claim to be a reality in itself. Just as Cartesian correlates or latitudes and longitudes give linguistic precision to thought, so the structuralism we are thinking of has no reality other than that of serving as an instrument for correct thinking and for research based on such thinking.


Life starts by our being naturally compelled to take for granted by sheer necessity the pluralistic, practical and therefore relativistic world where we have to make the best of our lives. Vedantic literature refers to this aspect or zone presented to us in our everyday life as the vyavaharika (workaday). This is where such a relativistic starting point is supposed. Here begins the possibility of calculations and logical construction by which, through a series of possibilities less real and still full of possible error, we can attempt to reach the ultimate reality beyond the zone. Such a zone is called pratibhasika (having a reflected status in the mind). This truth results from a kind of reflection of a reflection of the truth of the Absolute. In the Absolute there is no room for plurality or alternations. It is called paramarthika (of ultimate value status). Between where calculations begin and end lies the gap through which correct speculation is called upon to guide itself correctly without violating the laws of either thought or nature.


When mere metaphysical speculation gains the support of physical realities sanctioned by laws of nature (i.e. when conceptualization is made to correspond to its own perceptual counterpart) both verbal, mathematical or symbolic speculation and relational structures lend mutual certitude to each other. There is a subtle equation between the two aspects which gives support to speculation or to schematic constructions from the complementary aspect of the total situation unitively understood. Schematization and sign language can go hand in hand to reveal the possibility of a unified science of the future. Leibniz dreamt of a universal mathematical language and although his dream has since miscarried and been lost by his disciples and admirers who did not understand him fully (2), we are now in a position to approach the same subject in the fresh light of post-Hilbertian mathematical formalism which is becoming more and more acceptable to modern thinkers.


Now having examined the work of Bergson in which he tries to fill the same epistemological gap in a way in keeping with the spirit of science, we are here trying to put together our findings so that we can elicit from structuralism the starting point for a new two-sided methodological approach, where the axiomatic and the dialectical features are naturally to be found incorporated.


It has to be pointed out here that we have carefully refrained from constructing or arbitrarily assuming any feature of this structuralism on our own, We have always been conscious that this double-sided verification of truth or reality has been tacitly assumed, for example, in the Pythagorean theorem described by us in detail on page 50. The two proofs meet centrally on neutral absolutist ground to give scientific certitude to the truth implied in the theorem. The conceptual and the perceptual sides are made to approach from opposite poles to give a central certitude. This example suffices therefore to justify the schematic, axiomatic and dialectical approach we have tried to justify and adopt.


It is in the pure context of a vertical parameter that we have to imagine two partial certitudes coming together to result in a fully normalized certitude. To reveal such a vertical axis of reference with its implications referring to existential or subsistential aspects, placed back to back as two reciprocal relational representations, whether treated as complementary or neutrally related to each other, is the one feature of structuralism that is most important for us to accept in the first place. The Cartesian Correlates which have received universal acceptance are themselves sufficient to justify this vertical axis. The horizontal axis can be more easily supplied as it only refers to space or movement implied in human activities or relations of the workaday value-world.


Errors are possible not only conceptually but also perceptually. Thus the three dimensions in which we live among percepts have their corresponding conceptual counterparts on the opposite side. The future and the past can also be understood to have a similar reciprocity, complementarity or neutral parity of status. The various quotations taken from Bergson can be seen to fully support and justify these structural features. We shall now pass in review some of the main features of structuralism which get support from Bergson's own unitive revaluation of relativity:

1. Colour to Bergson is not a non-reality that should be omitted from the structural features of absolute Space-Time, as he is able to visualize them together. In this connection the tetrahedron and the colourful universe, spread out as an extensive fabric or stuff given to the vision of animals and men, supplies what constitutes the most concrete aspect of reality given to the senses. The colour-solid proposed by us incorporates this superficial feature of absolute reality. Bergson speaks rather of a tetrahedron which could be draped or clothed with the reality represented by colour in space (see pp. 148-153 above).

2. The vertical parameter can be verified in another striking passage of Bergson (see p.95 above).

3. The most striking reference to the transparent vision of a real being placed on a structural parameter can be found quoted by us (on p.155 above).

4. In respect of the complementary plus and minus aspects of time in its creative evolution, we have more than one interesting reference in Bergson, including the one quoted on p.385 above. There are equally other striking passages where the "helicoidal form", and "we arrive at accidents, etc." are mentioned (see pp. 246 and 248 above)


These revaluations of Bergson have a clear structural implication when they are read together and coherently understood.


This justifies almost every other feature of the colour-solid, which itself is not an arbitrary creation by us, but is found to be in use by modern commercial colour- and paint-dealers and those interested in colour harmony on aesthetic grounds free from commercialism. The fact that even the Upanishads (see p.116) give recognition to such a reality raises its status in our eyes. We have neither added nor taken away from this picture. The possible use that such a structural model can have in regulating the correct use of terms referring to the characteristics and relationships between thought processes is recommendation enough as far as we are concerned.


We have to note here that there are three other dimensions in each of the reciprocal cones of the colour solid. These dimensions are given to us in ordinary human experience. The mathematical relations implied by them in the world of natural laws as also the correct processes of thought coinciding with them are both further features easily acceptable. It is when we come to the vertical parameter, passing through the past to the future (i.e. from percepts to concepts), that we attain the thinnest, purest and most important of the structural parameters. We have tried to explain how such a parameter exists between the Logos and the Nous of the Socratic and Eleatic contexts in philosophy (see p.60-64 above). We have also been able to recognize the same parameter in other widely different scientific contexts.



We hope we have sufficiently explained how the structuralism we have developed can be justified in the light of the latest notions of physics and metaphysics. This structure must now be made to stand out more distinctly and coherently, independent of the various disciplines or contexts from which we were able to extract its essential characteristics. In speaking of the revaluation of Einsteinian relativity, it is true that we were concerned with time, space, gravitation, electromagnetism and other categories in which a philosophy of science is primarily interested. We can, however, extrapolate the structural elements out of such a limited context and conceive it as applicable to a larger and more abstract philosophical context without divesting it of its value in yielding scientific certitude.


Instead of Space and Time as overall categories we can deal with cause and effect. Causes are deeper than effects, which are visible and belong to appearance rather than reality. One can delve into deeper and deeper causes in an infinite chain of causes and effects, and when such causes and effects belong to the order of material causes we arrive at a vertical series of such pairs. Vedanta in its method of reasoning gives to the upadanakarana or material cause a great importance. Here is where causes and effects can be treated as interchangeable terms. There are other kinds of causes and effects which we have to examine and put together into a common structural whole. Bergson gives us here the following picture of three kinds of causes:
A cause may act by impelling, releasing, or unwinding. The billiard ball that strikes another determines its movement by impelling. The spark that explodes the powder acts by releasing. The gradual relaxing of the spring that makes the phonograph turn unwinds the melody inscribed on the cylinder: if the melody which is played be the effect, and the relaxing of the spring the cause, we must say that the cause acts by unwinding. What distinguished these three cases from each other is the greater or less solidarity between the cause and the effect. In the first, the quantity and quality of the effect vary with the quantity and quality of the cause. In the second, neither quality nor quantity of the effect varies with quality and quantity of the cause: the effect is invariable. In the third, the quantity of the effect depends on the quantity of the cause, but the cause does not influence the quality of the effect: the longer the cylinder turns by the action of the spring, the more of the melody I shall hear, but the nature of the melody, or of the part heard, does not depend on the action of the spring." (3)


These three kinds of causes can be correctly fitted into a scheme such as we have proposed. The unwinding cause can represent a fully verticalized relationship between the two. The impelling cause interacts and fits into the horizontal plane of mechanistic action and reaction. The releasing cause resembles something like electromagnetics, corresponding to apperception in consciousness where disparity between quantitative cause and qualitative effect is maximum. This transformation of cause and effect can occupy the central point of origin in our schema.


Aristotle's classification of causes and effects into four logical forms with contradiction and contrariness between subjects and predicates in the context of his logic has suggested to many thinkers a subtle logical form or underlying figure. So far, however, no one has succeeded in putting together the material, instrumental and first or formal causes into a constituent structural whole. The Vedantin has shown special favour to the material cause and has exalted it above all others, as when a pot is made by the potter who is himself the incidental cause while the clay is the material cause. This verticalized way of reasoning which combines cause and effect in one and the same context is fundamental to Vedantic methodology. The potter with his wheel is an extraneous factor to the total situation, having only a secondary or incidental status. Even in the cosmological context, in the great process of becoming there is a flux which is operative along a vertical axis as a steady state, independent of the alternating expansion or contraction which are incidental. The subtle paradox persisting between being and becoming is somehow to be transcended by Vedanta before the Absolute can be attained. The Bhagavad Gita confirms this in Chapter II, verse 16:

"What is unreal cannot have being, and non-being cannot be real; the conclusion in regard to both these has been known to philosophers." (4)

This verse gives the subtle dialectical formula of the dynamism found at the core of the Absolute. Bergson likewise does not think in terms of causes or effects but gives a central position to this grand process of becoming in absolute reality.


Whether we choose Being and Becoming, Time and Space, or Cause and Effect as the reciprocal complementary factors capable of absorbing each other, this same structural pattern remains valid. Thus in every chapter to follow, our epistemology and methodology based on schematism (statically conceived as the schematismus of Kant, and dynamically conceived as the schéma moteur of Bergson) can be considered as a valid linguistic or protolinguistic frame of reference. This reference will keep the double-sided aspect in our minds and give clarity to concepts and intuitively experienced percepts so that a certitude coming from both sides is enhanced by a double correction.


In the present chapter, Narayana Guru equates effects to corresponding causes in order to arrive at a Cause where the status of reality is finally revised and also given a high significant value which the Absolute represents, not only for fixing its context for this chapter, but for the rest of his work.



We must keep the structural relationships between causes and effects and take care to give to the vertical parameter among them an important place above the others. Then we can think of two reciprocal processes of reasoning. One is of descent: equating backwards or negatively all effects at the plus pole into their basic or material causes at the minus pole, and the other is of ascent in the opposite direction. We can see how in successive verses of Chapter II Narayana Guru´s method employs a pure vertical equation of the terms involved. Firstly in the form of a dialectical descent, which at the end of the series is seen to be corrected to a necessary extent by a corresponding dialectical ascent, whereby in the last few verses he balances and neutralizes the tendency to negation from becoming over-accentuated.


A scrutiny of the commentary reproduced with the text reveals this subtle interplay of opposite dialectical movements. The careful student should not fail to take note of these subtle nuances of reasoning wherein. lies the teaching or clarification of the Absolute of this chapter as a whole.


This very way of reasoning is recognized in technical Vedantic terminology as satkaranavada or giving primacy to cause over effect. This differs from other philosophical schools like the Vaiseshika (atomist) to which method Ramanuja is also seen to adhere. It is important to note a further feature of the methodology adopted here, which consists of avoiding an infinite regression in the matter of continuing indefinitely to equate effects to a cause. Doing this results in the error of anavasta or lack of stability of ground, referred to in Western Logic as Infinite Regression.


In Verse 4, where the perfect reciprocity between causes and effects seems at first sight to be broken by double negation, its dialectical counterpart of double assertion of the plus side soon mends the situation again and gives an absolutist status to the First Cause which can have no further cause behind it. This is the lower limit of the descending dialectical movement. A bracket thus seems to be inserted upward at a certain point in the vertical axis to avoid infinite regression. Similarly, when we scrutinize the second half of the series of verses we can notice the corresponding compensatory movement of re-normalization from what is merely ontological, through subsistence, which in turn touches a value factor which would mark as it were, an upper limit; although thought still moves within the limits of the three pure categories of the Absolute which are sat, cit and ananda (existence, subsistence and value).


Thus there is a double bracketing so as to make the notion of the Absolute contain a real existent value within the scope of subsistent consciousness, however pure or thin it might be. It is in the name of a High Value called Ananda that the character of the Absolute is finally fixed. Such a finalized position is fully in keeping with the spirit of the teachings of the Upanishads as we can see from the third valli (chapter) of the Taittiriya Upanishad.



In Vedantic terminology we can say that the present chapter is concerned with effecting a transition from a practical workaday point of view in human life, called vyavaharika, to what constitutes the highest of absolutely true values called paramarthika. Both these standpoints belong together in the overall context wherein a mortal person aspiring to spiritual perfection belongs. He has two comparatively firm grounds between which he can make his choice in guiding his life in view of ultimately attaining the supreme perfection of the Absolute. Intermediately between these two comparatively firm positions there is an infinite range of possibilities of error, hallucinations or misplaced values. Such a zone is referred to as the pratibhasika, and such errors find more fecund soil in the world of abstract concepts than in the world of actually experienced percepts. This is why the Sanskrit term referring to this points to pratibha or "reflected light in consciousness" and this zone of error is justly called pratibhasika. Sankara´s methodology in his Advaita Vedanta employs these three terms to great advantage in weaning the student´s mind away from the given empirical world of values to that of ultimately true values. Prof. 0. Lacombe analyses the implications of these three concepts as follows:


"Once more we come up against this difficulty in Advaita Vedanta in the theory of Being (sat) which is not achieved along proper lines, but flows into the theory of Truth (satya) and into that of Knowledge (jnana) .... It would be wrong to consider this philosophy as an idealism, if this is an idealism that is not conscious of itself, because of the fact that authentic idealisms were developed in India before it had itself seen the light of day and that they had been combated ....

There is need here to distinguish successive approximations of the Real to that which is absolutely Real (paramarthika). In the infinity of the relative there is an infinity of degrees which go on approaching more and more nearly to the Absolute without ever joining it; and each degree that is more profound than another absorbs into itself all the appearance of reality of the other which becomes thus purely illusory from this point of view. Notwithstanding this, however, in its general form at least we can distinguish zones whose metaphysical significance does not get confused. One that is fully charged with sense and practical values, offers to our human action and to our moral action a point of support that is sufficiently firm; that is the vyavaharika : textually, "of a practical order." The other is not merely appearance of reality but appearance of appearance, of a second degree. This is the pratibhasika, which surely has its objective causes, but does not have the consistency other than what is subjective; for example all errors of perception, hallucinations, etc ." (5)

Such paragraphs as the above reveal the intermediate ground where errors are possible between the two firm limits marked by relativist and absolutist interests in life. The classification of all possible errors, whether based on judgments or experiences, is not an easy task. Ludwig Wittgenstein has tried to give examples of various kinds of incompatibilities in his "Philosophical Investigations" (6) and introduced "word games." He remarked that in trying to prove the news of a death of a certain person as seen in the paper it is no use to try to confirm it by producing ten copies of the same newspaper. Although we readily recognize the error it is hard to analyze it.


A simpler case of error is when a foreigner angrily replies in his own vernacular to somebody who asks him a non-understandable question. Sankara refers to the impossibility of one person drinking the medicine for another although it is quite reasonable for one fellow-traveler to help carry the luggage of another. To treat a reflected image as real is a simple form of illusion of which even animals are capable, but there are subtler forms of illusion, as when a child treats her doll as hungry or sleepy, or when a grown-up is able to see eidetic projections of forests in the sky and treats the visible world with a passive attitude of listless indifference as a passing vision belonging to the same grade of reality. These last two examples are taken from the writings of Narayana Guru. Instances can be multiplied and even classified if the relational and structural parameters between the reciprocal structural aspects of conceptual or perceptual thought are kept in mind. These are future possibilities.


At present, precise analysis can hardly be pressed further than to bring all errors arising from the mixing up of conceptual with perpetual values under one blanket term, pratibhasika, as used by Sankara in the above quotation. When concepts do not correctly correspond to percepts superstitions arise and in the other way about we have the cause for hallucinations. Possibilities and probabilities have to meet, as it were, from above or below to yield right knowledge. Single facts may not tally with general ideas descending from the a priori, and conversely generally ideas might not tally with given sets of facts. Both have to confirm each other at every step in life. If somebody says that the pillar supporting the roof falls down when nobody is looking and quickly rises up just before somebody looks, one cannot disprove it except by an appeal to overall possibilities.


The Sanskrit term for this latter is ritu (truth by general world order) of which satyam (truth by ontological experience), built upwards instead of descending downwards, is a counterpart. Both have to contribute to the central result and conviction.


Now if we introduce our structural method of analysis into the complex situation of various errors in the intermediate pratibhasika zone, we are able to classify them according to the primacy of percepts or concepts. This is exactly what has been attempted in the khyativada of the Vedantins which is a structural way of analyzing the possibility of all errors.


The four Khyatis belong together to the same context of absolute knowledge when viewed from the relativistic side. Adyasa (wrong supposition) and maya refer to overall categories of error. Upadhi is conditioning of Truth. (7)

We can get a clearer idea of all possible errors through the structuralist approach enabling us to classify errors and to place them in their proper positions or limits. Superstitions, suppositions, error of judgement, hallucinations or illusion and even absurdities, all of which belong to the domain of maya as understood in Advaita Vedanta could be thus analyzed and critically examined. We shall have occasion to come to this at a later stage.



Let us focus our attention on the methodology of Verse 7 where Narayana Guru departs from the usual Vedantic way of locating reality by a synthetic a priori approach resembling that of Kant. Modern philosophers and scientists who call themselves positivists prefer to characterise their own approach as analytic rather than synthetic. The a priori is repugnant to the general scientific spirit of our age. It is strange, however, to notice even trained thinkers like Einstein confused about the strict use of such terms as a priori synthetic and a posteriori analytic.

He expresses his distrust of the a priori as follows:

"One remark about concepts in general, Before we turn to the problem of space: concepts have reference to sensible experience, but they are never, in a logical sense, deducible from them. For this reason I have never been able to understand the quest of the a priori in the Kantian sense." (8)


Again we find an advanced scientific epistemologist like Heisenberg also expressing his distrust of the two Cartesian divisions of res cogitans and res extensa which is at the basis of Descartes' analysis of substance into basic aspects of reality. These scientists strangely seem to forget that all axioms on which mathematics has necessarily to be based for its postulates correspond to an a priori given reality. As for Heisenberg, it is equally strange that he rejects the two divisions of Descartes while he continues to use the Cartesian correlates like every other modern scientist.


Thus accepting indirectly these correlates, so basic to post-Einsteinian thought, to which context he undoubtedly belongs, Heisenberg still expresses his disapproval of Descartes:

"Descartes in his res cogitans and res extensa is not adequate as the point of departure if one should wish to understand the modern sciences of nature." (9)


A close examination of such statements reveals some confusion in the minds of scientists about what is strictly subjective or 'objective.' There is a first degree of objectivity, as when we think of a horizontal reciprocity between two contraries. There is also a deeper subjectivity and objectivity which are more correctly referred to as immanent and transcendental.


If the former pair pertains to the horizontal axis, the latter corresponds more correctly to the vertical axis. In the vertical axis, what is more objective or ontologically rich is the negative side of the axis (10), while the transcendental aspect of the same expands itself in the poverty of pure conceptualism and nominalism. Reality is at the bottom and not at the top. If objectivity is naturally equated to what is ontologically given, we have to recognize a structural reversion of positive and negative as applicable to the two axes. In the vertical axis, as language and mathematics reveal the negation of negation as possible, double assertion also keeps conceptual realities from evaporating their essences in the direction of mere nominalistic nothingness.


A clear understanding of the structure of thought helps us to avoid the confusion of terms between such pairs as a priori and a posteriori and analytic and synthetic. In the sentences quoted from Einstein we discover traces of this same confusion. It is true that all concepts must necessarily refer to corresponding percepts and that given the percepts the mind is not naturally capable of arriving at concepts nor their corresponding names. If there is a one-way link between them, which in principle at least is admitted by Einstein, then there must also be a corresponding returning link. This is the basis of the one-to-one correspondence between ensembles which modern mathematics has brought to light. It is because Einstein gives more importance to percepts that Bergson had to take the trouble of revaluing his relativity theory so as to bring out its deficiencies and partialities.


In Verse 7, which we are scrutinizing in respect of its methodology, we find Narayana Guru consciously making a concession to the analytic or a posteriori approach natural to the spirit of modern scientists. A careful reading of the commentary will reveal that Narayana Guru's reasoning travels downwards to the core of ontological existence by a process of elimination of parts from the whole. Any scientist in a laboratory can visualize such a process without depending on logic or metaphysics. He can take a piece of chalk and divide it ad infinitum. Nothing hinders him from thinking such division possible. The series of graded realities resulting from the separation of the parts of a piece of cloth which Narayana Guru adopts as an example, give us a series of actual realities reaching from the reality of the cloth to thread, cotton, and finally to atoms and their mental duplicates in consciousness.


Even modern nuclear physics accepts such a method. Thus tracing the course of the analytical method in reasoning, it is fully scientific in spirit. By the graded a posteriori approach Narayana Guru is able to trace the vertical axis downwards into the very core of absolute self-consciousness.


There is nothing illegitimate, non-rigorous, inadequate or non-composable in such an argument, even to the eyes of an analytical positivist. One can travel downwards into the world of nuclear physics where indeterminism and incertitudes hide, as much as one can travel in the opposite direction through more metaphysical speculations so as to reach the world of astronomical predictions or visions, where the same indeterminism and incertitude prevails. To substantiate what we have said about structuralism being at the core of nuclear physics and its recognized methods, we cite the instance where a mirror reflection of an observed nuclear phenomenon is considered sufficiently real:

"Another basic type of symmetry is that between right and left, or symmetry under a reflection. The principle of invariance involved may be stated in the following way: any process which occurs in nature can also occur as it is seen reflected in a mirror; The mirror image of any object is also a possible object in nature; the motion of any object as seen in a mirror is also a motion which would be permitted by the laws of nature; an experiment made in a laboratory can also be made in the way it appears as seen in a mirror, and any resulting effect will be the mirror image of the actual effect. More precisely, we expect that the laws of nature are invariant under reflection, and experience seems to support this idea." (11)



Passing quickly in review the contents of the present chapter, let us say a few words about each of the verses by of rounding off our discussion.

Verse 1. In the first verse we have to notice the reference to two grades of realities. They are called sthula (gross) and sukshma (subtle). The gross implies a greater degree of objectivity or at least duality between subject and object. It must also have an ontological content within the scope of vital consciousness (caitanya), which is treated here as the key concept for the whole chapter, having the status of an absolutist norm.

The gross has a horizontal content while the subtle, as its reciprocal counterpart, has a vertical content. There is still a trace of duality retained between them for the practical purpose of starting the discussion. In Verse 2 this duality will be absorbed into unity. In this opening verse the primacy is now on the subjective and the tendency to treat the subject more and more subjectively will be greatly pronounced after the second verse. The paradox is not yet abolished, as there is still an either-or relation between the gross and subtle counterparts. This relation is completely abolished by mutual absorption of one by the other in the last verse.


Verse 2. In the second verse the effect (karya) corresponds to the gross visible world and the cause (karana) is its more subtle dialectical counterpart. The relation between them tends to be treated in a more verticalized context. The duality of either-or begins to give place to unity where both cause and effect belong together without contradiction. Horizontal relativistic plurality is resolved in terms of a verticalized unity between purer and more refined fundamental causes and effects treated together. This is the very essence of the transition from what is relativistic into what is more absolutist. Causes and effects belong together as in the context of pure mathematics and are treated as interchangeable in a reversible process. The immanent-transcendent character of the verse is evident from the fact that no assertion is made, but the answer is indirectly indicated by two rhetorical questions. We also should notice that a vestige of contradiction still lingers because of the use of the term asat (non-existence). The gradual abolition of this contradiction in the succeeding verses should be noticed.


Verse 3. The principle of error or indeterminism (maya) involved here was already used in the previous chapter in a more general sense. There is no question of origin and dissolution with reference to a non-existing thing. Through the vague and neutral ground of indeterminism presented by the principle of maya interposed as an ambiguous element between the absolute and relative factors (the paramarthika and vyavaharika), the transition from the relative standpoint to an absolute one is seen to be most easily effected in this verse. The reference to maya is also fully justified in order to completely transcend all vestige of contradiction seen in the use of the terms asti (is) and nasti (is not). The term brahman (Absolute) also occurs for the first time in this chapter. We have to notice how the non-existence suggested in the previous verse is quickly resolved in the present verse. In higher reasoning the contradiction can be by passed by a purer and more verticalized dialectical treatment.


Such a treatment, as it were, by cancellation, properly belongs to the methodology of the Science of the Absolute. Later we shall be analyzing the implications of this indeterminate maya-factor only initially introduced here. Maya represents the relativistic counterpart of the Absolute for linguistic communicability and has no reality of its own. It is the name for an overall category of philosophical error.


Verse 4. In this verse we arrive at a form of double-sided reasoning fully legitimate to Advaita Vedanta. This method of anvayavyatireka is known in Western logic as the combined method of agreement and difference. There is a double movement first from plurality to unity and then a reverse movement from negative unity to existence treated as a whole. The term avyatiriktatvat is a highly technical form of unitive and negative reasoning favoured by Vedantic thinkers. There are other similar favoured expressions such as ananya (none-other) and pragabhava (anterior non- existence) which with the three other abhavas, anyonyabhava (mutual non-existence), atyantabhava (ultimate non-existence) and prathvamsabhava (final non-existence), which have all to be treated together in a fourfold structural context to enable us to see how reasoning functions globally and structurally. The subtlest type among such two-sided concepts is the one used in the present verse, avyatiriktatvat ("because of the condition of not being different"). This double movement takes place, like action and retroaction in cybernetics, purely in the vertical axis as in an interchangeable reaction or its mathematical equation. The two questions in. the verse indicate the bracketing peculiarity which we have already explained.


Verse 5. By referring to dull minds (mandadhih), Narayana Guru wishes to underline a subtlety in this verse which should not be missed. The effect is seen to be fully absorbed into the cause. The reality belonging to the effect has necessarily to pass to the side of the cause. In doing so it has to go beyond the zone of ambiguity presented by the incertitude of maya where existence and non-existence reside together. In admitting both, one is still caught in the alternations of an either-or situation. This ambiguity has to be transcended to give to reality full absolute status which could only be one without any rival dual factor. The bhed-abheda-vadin (followers of the principle of difference-non-difference) like Bhartrprapanca have been effectively refuted by Sankara on the basis of this same tendency to ambiguity which is an attribute of "dull minds". The primacy most definitely passes from the relative to the Absolute in this verse.


Verse 6. The unitive standpoint is here further affirmed so as to banish all possible ambiguity of position in respect of the finalized status of the Absolute. The lower and higher limits of contradiction and tautology known to modern logistics are expressly referred to. Both these limits, within whose amplitude relativistic doubts can thrive, are abolished in favour of a unitive absolute concept. Even Einstein said:

"But the idea that there were two structures of space independent of each other, the metric-gravitational and the electromagnetic, was intolerable to the theoretical spirit."
How much more should a philosopher assert the importance of avoiding two truths at one and the same time. (12)

Verse 7. We have already treated of the special methodological significance of this verse. We have only to add that even by this analytical approach it is possible to remove maya to a great distance. Relativity can be bypassed both by the synthetic and the analytic approaches. The latter leads to the heart of matter and the former to the overall conceptual or nominalistic Absolute.


Verse 8. A pure verticalized status for the Absolute is fully accomplished in this verse. There is however a final vestige or duality which is still to be expressly cancelled out. It is required by Advaita Vedanta that both horizontal contradiction and vertical duality should be abolished together. This is called sajatiya-vijatiya-bheda-sunyata (non-difference as between those of the same class and one that is different. Both vertical and horizontal aspects of duality have to be abolished to give to the Absolute its fullest status. The final argument in abolishing inner duality is contained in the second half of the verse which puts the Berkleyan notion of esse est percipi both in its converse and normal forms. When fully developed this double-sidedness is a feature of scientific as well as Vedantic methodology.


Verse 9. Before arriving at the last verse where the Absolute is described under the three categories of sat-cit-ananda (existence subsistence-value), in this verse the notion of Value is made to stand out in a certain relief, independent of the two other factors. These two factors have to be first fused together into unity so as to abolish horizontal or vertical implications that might persist between them. When duality has been mutually absorbed they are raised to a unitive status under the caption of a High Value which is ananda as bliss. Such a status for the Absolute is fully recognized in the various Upanishads where bliss is equated with the Absolute. We quote the Taittiriya Upanishad (III, 6):

"Having performed austerity, he understood That Brahman is bliss (ananda)." (13)


Verse 10. The final verse insists on abolishing in the name of the Absolute all vestiges of plurality that might still cling to the mind of the reader. The three categories of the Absolute are meant to absorb each other. First sat and cit are mutually absorbed and then they are finally included under ananda which knows no difference between subject and object. Prof. 0. Lacombe explains this way of understanding the unique notion of the Absolute, employed in the same notion of osmotic interchange as also used by Bergson in his own philosophy. (Perhaps Lacombe was influenced by the latter.) We read:

" There is without doubt in the empirical universe duality of subject and object, with a very marked primacy, though not unconditional, of the subject: But if the subject emerges from a background which is indivisibly one of being and intellectual light, - sat and cit - behind the object also, although its degradation could be more pronounced, there is still something of being and of intelligible light which do not separate, so that the profound identity of the subject and the object, which are in reality absolute, do not translate themselves in terms of relativity by virtue of an osmosis and as an exchange of substance between these two orders, or "attributes" to speak like Spinoza." (14)




[1] Bergson, op.cit. p 84, our translation.


[2] Referring to the plan of Bertrand Russell (a one time admirer of Leibniz) and others, to present a precise mathematical symbolic logic. Tobias Danzig, also a mathematician, writes:

“I confess that I am out of sympathy with the extreme formalism of the Peano-Russell school, that I have never acquired the taste for their methods of symbolic logic, that my repeated efforts to master their involved symbolism have invariably resulted in helpless confusion and despair.

To me the tremendous importance of this symbolism lies not in these sterile attempts to banish intuition from the realm of human thought, but in its unlimited power to aid intuition in creating new forms of thought.”

From T. Danzig, “Number, the Language of Science”, New York, Doubleday, 1956, pp. 99 – 100.


[3] Bergson, "Creative Evolution", p. 82.


[4] "The Bhagavad Gita", p. 124


[5]  O. Lacombe, "L'Absolu selon le Vedanta", Paris, Paul Geuthner, 1937, p. 57, our translation.
[6] L. Wittgenstein, "Philosophical Investigations", trans. C.E.M. Anscombe, Oxford, Blackwell, 1953, sections 65-77.


[7] For clarification of these terms, see our article of the series "Vedanta Revalued and Restated" entitled "Favourite Examples in Vedanta" in "Values", Vol.9, No. 12 (Sept. 1964).


[8] Einstein, op. cit. p. 474.

[9] W. Heisenberg, “L’Homme, la Nature, la Science”, Planète, Paris, 1962, No. 5,p. 27, our translation.


[10] Spinoza also confirms this in the following statement about negative determination:

“ As to the doctrine that figure is negation and not anything positive, it is plain that the whole of the matter considered indefinitely can have no figure and that figure can only exist in finite and determined bodies. For he who says that he perceives a figure, and that figure can only merely indicates thereby that he conceives a determinate thing and how it is determinate. This determination, therefore, does not appertain to the thing according to its being, but on the contrary to its non-being. As then figure is nothing else than determination, and determination is negation, figure, as has been said, can be nothing but negation”

From B. De Spinoza, “The Works of Spinoza”, trans. R.H.M. Elwes, New York, Dover Publ., 1964, pp. 369-370


[11] I. Kaplan, “Nuclear Physics”, Addison-Wesley, World Student Series Ed. (2nd. Ed.) 1964. P.382.


[12] Einstein, op. cit. p. 482


[13] Hume, op. cit. p. 291


[14] Lacombe, op. cit. p. 58. Our translation.








From the theological and cosmological aspects of the first chapter through its first degree of revaluation in terms of life-energy in the second chapter, we now arrive at a more definite subjective notion of mind. Manas or mind is a more strictly conceived term in Vedanta than the term "mind" in English. In French the word esprit is more commonly used, but this has a much wider and subtler meaning than the more ordinary concept of "mind". To fix the meaning of manas as used in this chapter we have to rely on the precision brought to bear upon this ordinary notion by modern phenomenologists, who view it under two different perspectives The disciples of Hegel use the word geist, (1) having its nearest corresponding term in "esprit". We sometimes see the term "mind-stuff" as we ourselves have translated the Sanskrit term cit. For lack of any corresponding English term denoting its essential meaning we use this phrase. Modern phenomenologists have relied on the Greek term epoché (self-restraint) and when understood it is meant to be more scientific than philosophical, unlike the use of Hegel's term geist.


Manas in the Vedantic context is the seat of nescience (avidya), misdirected volition (vikalpa) and even pure volition (sankalpa). It is a factor to be abolished by anyone who aspires to a full vision of the Absolute. It has both a transcendental and an immanent content which can be finally abolished in favour of fuller vision of absolute truth or reality.


Modern phenomenologists however are not in favour of the terminology used by conventional metaphysicians. They do not seem to care for terms like a priori and a posteriori. Vedanta has no need for such reservations and limitations because of the difference of the background of historical thought which is not the same in the East and West. This we have explained elsewhere. (2)


The repugnance of many modern European thinkers for certain terms is quite understandable, but prejudices pertaining only to limited regions of the world need not hinder us from making free use of such convenient terms if we only make our own meaning clear and keep out of our mind all the confusing connotations of terms employed in philosophical and scientific literature. About the nature and peculiarities of phenomenology, we quote from its most important exponent Edmund Husserl:

"Pure or transcendental phenomenology will be established not as a science of facts, but as a science of essential Being (as "eidetic" Science); which aims exclusively at establishing "knowledge of essences" (wesenserkenntnisse) and absolutely no "facts." The corresponding reduction which leads from the psychological phenomenon to the pure "essence" or, in respect of the judging thought, from factual ("empirical") to "essential" universality, is the Eidetic Reduction.

In the second place, the phenomena of transcendental phenomenology will be characterized as non-real (irreal). Other reductions, the specifically transcendental, "purify" the psychological phenomena from that which lends them reality, and therewith a setting in the real "world". Our phenomenology should be a theory of essential Being, dealing not with real, but with a transcendentally reduced phenomena." (3)


The above quotation will not by itself reveal to the student of modern phenomenology exactly what this branch of "science" is supposed to represent. One reads pages and pages of the writings of Husserl and others meant to explain what it should not be taken to be, and also that it should not be considered a strict discipline. On the other hand, it also should not be considered as having anything to do with objective or real entities which positivists admit into their philosophy. Phenomenology openly revels in a world of appearances only given to the mind, while at the same time does not absolutely deny the real world. Yet it seems to take from the total knowledge-situation only a portion, wishing to annex it into a new discipline which strangely claims itself to be an a priori "Science of Essences," although such a title seems at first sight to be a contradiction in terms. Husserl does not use the term "real" in the ordinary sense, because his reality has a special status of its own which is hard to explain. Besides Husserl there is a wide range of modern writers who are generally included as belonging in various degrees to the same school. Some, like Sartre and Heidegger, are marginal instances, and C.G. Jung definitely has some affiliations when he calls the approach to his analytical psychology and also his own philosophy "phenomenological" (4), although his domain does not cover the same ground as Husserl who fixes and delimits it in his own way.


When experts who belong to this school find it difficult to state their case clearly, we will not dare attempt here to do the same any better.


All that we can do is to indicate broadly the frontiers or boundaries here and there so that this new movement in modern thought, which is gaining many important adherents, may be recognized by us in relation to our own interests in this chapter as representing a legitimate field of enquiry in the context of the totality of absolute knowledge. Let us first quote from Jean Paul Sartre to show how scepticism may be said to mark a certain negative limit in the progress of modern phenomenological thought. Sartre, who is famous for saying, "The essence of man is his existence," has this to say:

"Atheistic existentialism, of which I am a representative, declares with greater consistency that if God does not exist there is at least one being whose existence comes before its essence, a being which exists before it can be defined by any conception of it. That being is man, or, as Heidegger has it, the human reality.

Thus, there is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it. Man simply is. Not that he is simply what he conceives himself to be, but he is what he wills, and as he conceives himself after already existing - as he wills to be, after that leaps towards existence." (5)


Although he is not a regular phenomenologist, he can safely be considered a camp follower of the modern impetus in thought represented by phenomenology, although strict phenomenologists might not openly reveal their affiliation to religion or scepticism. However, scepticism in the case of Sartre excludes theological notions of an Absolute or a God, but not a psychological absolute, as is seen from the following:

"In order to define the probable one must possess the true. Before there can be any truth whatever, then, there must be an absolute truth, and there is such a truth which is simple, easily attained and within the reach of everybody: it consists in one's immediate sense of one's self." (6)


If we take Sartre as a kind of rearguard representative of this modern offshoot of a tradition in thought shared by Hume, Berkeley and Hegel, we are not far wrong in fixing one of the limits within which modern phenomenology moves.



One of the striking features of phenomenology which interests us is putting it into relation with the Science of the Absolute. The methodology proper to phenomenology, as we have so far shown, is the fact that there are two points of reference in it. It never loses sight of the mind or something equivalent to it, whether called self, wesen, geist, or epoché. Full absolutism and its implications, as with Hegel's notion of the mind (7), is repugnant to pure phenomenology on the one side; and on the other, uncompromising scepticism which denies all basis of belief in something non-empirical, as with Hume, is also an extreme position not favoured by phenomenologists. As with Einstein's relativity, which includes observer and observed in one and the same context for developing its theory, and as with the general Vedantic approach which relates the Self and the non-Self together into a bipolar relationship, phenomenology is an approach in which it is conversant about the mind, as Sir William Hamilton called it:

"If we consider the mind merely with the view of observing and generalizing the various phenomena it reveals, - that is, of analyzing them into capacities or faculties, - we have one mental science, or one department of mental science; and this we may call the Phenomenology of Mind." (8)


Whether the mind is given a central place as the reality with which phenomenology is concerned, or whether reality is transferred from the mind to the various phenomenal effects of which the mind is the cause, is not a question completely clear to modern phenomenologists. They tend to treat both of them as equally real. As a result, we find in the writings of Husserl much vagueness about the nature of the reality that phenomenologists are interested in. Hume would not have given any reality at all to the appearances which his phenomenology represents. Others give some sort of reality to the mind, and relate appearances to it, unilaterally stressing the unity of mind above appearance. In order to give some sort of content to pure phenomenology Husserl is seen to adopt in his writings many subtle devices so that phenomena which are illusive mental stages belong to a kind of stream of consciousness with some sort of content. Thus he refers to the epoché, which itself does not mean anything real, but can be made to refer to some elusive element in the so-called stream of consciousness. This he fixes by a process called "bracketing." When bracketed it contains an eidetic intentional epoché, which is a kind of reality as near as could be for the phenomenologist to work with. We read the following:

"This 'fact-world,' as the world already tells us, I find to be out there, and also take it just as it gives itself to me as something that exists out there. All doubting and rejecting of the data of the natural world leaves standing the general thesis of the natural standpoint. 'The' world is as fact-world always there; at the most it is at odd points 'other' than I supposed, this or that under names as 'illusion,' 'hallucination,' and the like, must be struck out of it, so to speak; but the 'it' remains ever, in the sense of the general thesis, a world that has its being out there.
We put out of action the general thesis which belongs to the essence of the natural standpoint, we place in brackets whatever it includes respecting the nature of Being: this entire world therefore which is continually 'there for us', 'present to our hand', and will ever remain there; is a 'fact-world' of which we continue to be conscious, even though it pleases us to put it in brackets." (9)


Thus we find the accent shifting from the subjective mind to the objective epoche considered as real. In the minds of those who originated the word, an epoché presents a delimited and fixed aspect as something independent of the mind. Hegel's geist or wesen still does not suggest anything of this bracketed reality which becomes definitely formulated only in later phenomenology. Brentano is considered to be the father of modern phenomenology, although all the elements of Husserl's phenomenology are not discernible in his writings. But in Brentano's theory of 'intentionality', which modifies the epistemological status of a percept or a thing by admitting it into its proper context, we have the beginnings of the modern phenomenological view:

"Only three forms of psychic activity, representation, judgment and phenomena of love and hate, are just three modes of 'intentionality', i.e., of referring to an object intended. Judgments may be self-evident and thereby characterized as true and in an analogous way love and hate may be characterized as "right". (10)


We know that Husserl and the ethical humanist Nicola Hartmann were disciples of Brentano, and Heidegger and Sartre were directly influenced by him through Husserl. Brentano, although a kind of doyen of the phenomenological school, never pushed the implications of pure phenomenology to their ultimate limits as did Husserl. Much of this hesitancy and vagueness of Husserl is lacking in Brentano who is satisfied with deriving three modes of "intentionality".


It is not hard to recognize in these modes three kinds of relations or tendencies in the domain of psychic or psychological processes. Of these, the phenomena of love and hate are axiological and belong structurally to the vertical dimension if we try to fit them into our own structural pattern. Representation is a mere horizontal movement in thought. In the act of judgment there is a choice between one or more alternatives as real, and ratiocination or logic enters into this mode of activity. This is the zone where facts and doubts about facts are involved.



To what Brentano began with as the first principles of phenomenology indicated in his three modes of intentionality, Husserl in later years gave more complete form. He has this to say about Brentano:

"This old tendency finds its most modern impress in Brentano's separation of the 'psychical' from 'physical phenomena'. It is particularly important, since it blazed a fresh trail for the development of phenomenology - although Brentano himself remained a stranger to phenomenological ground, and although with his sharp distinction, he failed to reach that for which he sought, namely, the separation of the empirical of psychology and physical natural sciences." (11)


While Husserl does not consider Brentano a phenomenologist in the strict sense, he does acknowledge the debt he owes to him, particularly on the problems of reason in the spheres of feeling and will. He writes:
"A first impulse in this direction was given through Brentano's brilliant work. "On the Origin of Social Knowledge" (1889), a work to which I am most gratefully indebted." (12)


Husserl has vaguely seen the outlines of a fourfold structural pattern, which he was able to formulate as two sets of antitheses:

"Two antitheses are involved, however: eidetic versus factual, and transcendental versus psychic. Rightly, they yield a four-fold classification." (13)


It is not hard to see how the two distinct axes of reference which we have treated as corresponding to Cartesian correlates are adopted by the science of phenomenology. The vertical is that between the transcendental and eidetic, while the horizontal corresponds to the factual and psychic. These two sets of antitheses are not, however, treated in Husserl's writings as clearly pertaining to Cartesian correlates, but references are made to correlates of some sort whenever a distinction is made between two aspects of the fourfold division. Much of the verbosity, vagueness and apparent need for coining more terms special to the science of phenomenology might have been avoided and the structural features discussed in a more geometrically finalized form. As it is at present, Husserl's writings are hard and exacting for the lay reader unfamiliar with the subtle nuances with which technical terms are sometimes bandied about. The use of some kind of structuralism as we have suggested becomes evident here. We have so far been able to recognize in Brentano and Husserl the two correlates intersecting at right angles and the three intentional zones, in terms of our own structuralism. Let us now continue with the examination of the structural dynamic features of phenomenology. The intricate language becomes evident from the quotations.



If the reader has now formed for himself even a rough idea of what intentionality means, as also the term "eidetic" as used in phenomenology, and if he has also understood what phenomenological reduction of the natural 'world about us' means, he is in a position to enter more or less correctly into the special aspects of the total knowledge-situation which is epistemologically separated as specially pertaining to this new a priori science.


To explain this in our own terminology, phenomenological reduction merely means the verticalization of the factual and empirically objective world 'about us' or 'given to us' in its horizontalized version. The intentional world is a more fluid one, or at least a finer and subtler one, with a thin and pure schematic status hidden behind fully factual appearances and brute realities. The phenomenologist retains within brackets the essential realities underlying facts. If the world of facts has a horizontal reference, the world proper to phenomenology gives primacy to a vertical reference. Husserl takes care to explain that even this horizontal reference finally belongs to the same phenomenological world:

"Sciences of experience are sciences of 'fact'. The acts of cognition which underlie our experiencing posit the Real in individual form, posit it as having spatio-temporal existence ..." (14)

As for the nature of the phenomenological reduction, we have in the previous chapter given a very elaborate sample of this method employed by Bergson to the relativity theory. The various stages of the methodology involved therein have been examined by us. The phenomenological reduction into eidetic and intentional terms of a brute horizontal version of empirically given facts is not unlike Bergson's revaluation of the factual aspects of relativity into more intuitively given aspects. The term "eidetic" refers to the pole of the mind which sees in appearances more than mere emptiness. The phenomenon of colour for example can belong to the mind or the empirical world "out there". Locke makes a distinction between primary and secondary qualities of an empirical reality corresponding to just these primary and secondary aspects when they are both put together and enclosed in brackets.


Such an enclosure is an epoché given to a psycho-physical rather than a merely physical basis in the stream of consciousness. Bracketing is a subtle process by which a simplified given reality as such is enclosed as a segment of the vertical axis taken at various levels. The object is to avoid both unnecessary factual implications and unnecessary constructions being added to facts. A simplified and colourful real world in a special sense as abstracted from the world of the facts of natural science results as a residue signified by the term "epoché".

If this bracketing is understood we can think of an epoché being bracketed at immanent and transcendental levels of the vertical axis. The immanent has ontological richness while the transcendental is richer in essences. The ontological is the noetic and the transcendental is the noematic. This free way of structural interpretation might not correspond in every respect with what Husserl has in his own mind but at least the broad outlines of what he wants to say is covered here for the purposes of our present study. We shall take care to cite below from Husserl's words so that the reader may form his own opinion in this difficult matter. Let us first begin with the noetic:

"For simplicity's sake let us limit ourselves to noetic experiences of the lowest level.
By way of illustration let us take a sensory perception, the simple perception of a tree, which we get as soon as we glance out into the garden, when, in a unitary act of consciousness, we see this tree there, at one moment appearing to be motionless, then stirred by the wind, and presenting also modes of appearance which differ greatly insofar as during the course of our continued observation we shift our spatial position in regard to it, stepping to the window may be, or changing the position of head or eyes, and at the same time perhaps relaxing the mechanism of accommodation or tightening it up.


In this way the unity of single perception can include in itself a great variety of modifications, which we, as observing from the natural standpoint, attribute now to the real object as its changes, now to a real (realen) and positive (wirklichen) relationship to our real (realen) psycho-physical subjectivity, and lastly to this subjectivity itself." (15)

Now Husserl goes on to describe what remains over as phenomenological residuum:

".... when we effect the reduction to 'pure immanence,' and what in the case should count as a real (reelles) integral part of the pure experience." (16)


Husserl now contrasts the above with the noematic factors:

"The colour of a tree-trunk, as we are aware of it under the conditions of pure perception, is precisely 'the same' as that which before the phenomenological reduction we, (as 'natural' human beings, at any rate, prior to any admixture of physical knowledge) betook to be that of the real (wirklichen) tree. Now this colour, as bracketed, belongs to the noema. But it does not belong to the perceptual experience as a real (reelles) integral part of it, although we also find in the experience a colour-like something, namely, the sensory colour, the hyletic phase of the concrete experience in which the noematic or 'objective' colour manifests itself in varying perspectives." (17)

He concludes:

"All considered, it is also quite beyond doubt that 'unity' and 'variety' here belong to totally different dimensions, and indeed that every hyletic element has its place as a real (reelles) integral part in the concrete experience, whereas that which 'exhibits' itself in its variety and 'varies perspectively' has its place in the noema." (18)



Although phenomenology deals with pure appearances, the entities with which it deals have a fully existential status. These entities do not however become statically fixed objects in the ordinary sense and whatever dynamism exists between objects is of a mechanistic order. But the interchange of essence in the heart of the real belonging to the phenomenological sphere is subject to a subtler form of dynamism, almost resembling the vital osmosis between organisms understood in more structural terms. Although to some extreme adherents of phenomenology and existentialism, such as Martin Heidegger, there is no duality between being and becoming because of the final absolutist emphasis on what really exists, Heidegger says:

"The being that exists is man. Man alone exists, rocks are, but they do not exist. Trees are, but they do not exist. Angels are, but they do not exist, God is, but he does not exist. The proposition 'man alone exists' does not mean by any means that man alone is a real being while all other beings are unreal and mere appearances or human ideas." (19)

While Heidegger only deals with what really exists, Husserl rather speaks of the dynamic process of interchange between the noetic and the noematic. A reciprocity between epochés at different levels is capable of being visualized by him. The process is not unlike the interchange between entropy and negentropy in thermodynamics, which is a favourite with those who want to represent subtle reciprocities taking place in the heart of absolute reality as was seen in the case of Costa de Beauregard. Exosmosis and endosmosis belonging to the context of the élan vital are favoured by Bergson in the name of creative evolution.


In phenomenology we see the same process represented in the language of Husserl, as follows:

"All the types of presentational modifications of which we have so far treated are always capable of being reformed on new levels in such a way that the intentionalities in noesis and noema rest on one another in descending levels, or rather dovetail into one another in a peculiar way. 
There are simple forms of representations, at further stages, at a second or third, or on essential lines, at any desired level. Memories 'in' memories may serve as an example. Living in memory we bring before us into consciousness a connected experience. We can bring this explicitly before us by first reflecting 'in' memory (which on its side is a representative modification of a primordial act of reflecting), and then finding the connected experience characterized as 'having been lived' under the form of memory. Among the experiences so characterized, whether we reflect upon them or no, memories themselves may now appear, characterized as "memories that have been lived", and we can glance through and past them on to remembered matter of the second level. And then within the connected experiences modified in this secondary way memories can once more appear, and so idealiter in infinitum." (20)

Here we are concerned with a descending dialectical process and because memory is dealt with, we can safely say that this process, which is called change of signature until it arrives at a limit, is concerned only with the negative side of the vertical axis. After the signature has been changed, then, according to us, the plus side of the vertical axis emerges. There are even "fancies of fancies" of the second degree as there are "memories within memories". This is not unlike the mathematical operations of extracting square roots or multiplying a number by itself, The former is negative in principle while the latter is positive. The change of signature implies the difference in the orientations of the process.


The implications of this are further elaborated:

"A mere change of signature (the precise nature of which we will presently learn to understand) translated all these events into the type of free fancy; we have fancies in fancies and so from one level to another the dovetailing can be indefinitely carried on.

On similar lines we may also have mixtures. Every representation essentially implies in its own procedure in respect of the stage just below its representative modifications or percepts, which through reflection - which functions so wonderfully in this process of representation, are brought to the focus of conscious apprehension; within the unity of the phenomenon of representation we may find the production of memories, expectations, fancies, and so forth, adjoining those of perceptions, and the acts of representation involved in the whole process may themselves belong to any one of these types, and all this at different stages." (21)

There is also a third variety which is important. Here it is not merely one movement which is implied, but a complex of vertical and horizontal movements. The two kinds of presentation called copy and sign must necessarily refer to the horizontal and vertical aspects respectively out of the four kinds of realities or entities that result from the two sets of antitheses already explained, Here we have to add on our own, that what is not explicitly stated by Husserl; the possibility of the horizontal aspect prevailing and dominating the vertical aspects out of all proportion. The natural world given to the usual physical sciences results from such a horizontal accentuation, belonging to the world of "copies" rather than "signs." We draw attention to this because in the text to follow there is a pertinent reference which we shall have occasion to explain more completely in the Epilogue. When causes and effects are thought of as absorbing each other and clinging together in the form of apperceptive masses, we understand something of these phenomenological entities.


Sankara calls this nama-rupa-krita-karya-karana-samghata, or "the complex consisting of names and forms and causes and effects treated together". He describes the human body as consisting of such complexes. Husserl explains these same complexes as follows:

"This also holds good of the complex types, presentation as copy and presentation as sign. Let us take an example which shows very complicated and yet lightly grasped constructions of perceptions out of perceptions of a higher level. A name on being mentioned reminds us of the Dresden Gallery and of our last visit there: we wander through the rooms, and stand before a picture of Teniers which represents a picture gallery. When we consider that pictures of the latter would in their turn portray pictures which on their part exhibited readable inscriptions and so forth, we can measure what interweaving of presentations, and what links of connection between the discernible features in the series of pictures, can really be set up. But for the illustrating of our insight into essences, in particular of our insight into the ideal possibility of carrying on the dovetailing processes indefinitely, we do not need to consider such complicated cases as these." (22)

After reading above of the individual aspects of the upward, downward and complex processes, there arises the natural necessity of giving them a general basis or formulation on which these different movements trace themselves. This brings us to the idea of the norm which is also referred to as follows by Husserl:

"With these new reflections we do not really leave behind us the problem of method. The discussions on method which we have so far undertaken were determined by the most general insight into the essential nature of the sphere of phenomenology.


It goes without saying that a deeper-reaching knowledge of this sphere - not in its details, but in its sweeping generalities - must also furnish us with standards of method of richer capacity, with which all special methods will have to link themselves up. We do not and cannot bring method to any field from beyond its boundaries. Formal Logic, or Noetics, does not give method, but the form of possible method, and useful as the knowledge of form can be in methodological matters, determinate method - not after the pattern of mere technical specializations, but after the general type of method - is a norm which springs from the main regional division of the sphere in question and its general structural forms, and therefore, in its epistemological aspect is essentially depending on the knowledge of these structures." (23)

If we now add to the picture we have so far formed another more subtle feature, we attain to a sufficiently clear idea of the implications of the mode of operation and general dynamism pertaining to phenomenology. This refers to an interesting methodological feature which is that of "cancellation" of counterparts. Here we attain to something highly dialectical in import, which we have to understand in the same light as when Hegel speaks about thesis and antithesis cancelling out into a synthesis. Hegel got lost in his own attempt to give content to the resultant synthesis and it was only in historical imagery that he visualized such a synthesis. In the purer context of a Science of the Absolute it is not difficult to see that the cancellation implied here between two elements fixed in the vertical parameter on the plus and minus sides, when fully and legitimately cancelled out, results in a central normative notion of the Absolute. Such a notion acts as a common reference for all disciplines. This cancellation need not necessarily be without some sort of residue.


It is only when the numerator of a fraction finds its own equivalent counterpart in the denominator that complete cancellation is legitimate. Otherwise when the noetic and noematic aspects are cancelled there will be a remainder of one or the other, giving a revised status to what finally results. The mechanism is very subtle and hard to imagine. The following quotation helps to clarify the matter:

"If now noematic form of service is the 'cancelling' of the corresponding positing character, its specific correlate is the cancellation character we designate as 'not'. The cancelling mark of negation strikes out something posited, or, to speak more concretely, a posited meaning' (satz), and indeed through the cancelling of its specific positional character, i.e., its ontological modality. Thereby this character and the posited statement itself appear as a 'modification of something else. Or to state the same thing differently: through the transformation of plain consciousness of Being into the corresponding consciousness of negation, the plain character 'being' (sein) turns in the noema into that of 'not being'." (24)



It is necessary to explain here how phenomenology is relevant to the subject-matter treated by Narayana Guru in this chapter. It is also necessary to examine some of the varieties of phenomenology that have come into vogue in modern philosophical thought. The first question we will discuss in the Epilogue after examining more closely the text of Narayana Guru. Now we proceed to go into the second.


Phenomenology is not a subject with strict delimitations nor one with a cut-and-dried content readily thought of as something presented with clear outlines. As a new and original branch of modern thinking, each author who engages in phenomenological writing chooses to fill the gap naturally existing in the present world of thought.


Theology, philosophy and scientific thinking have had to be divorced from each other in European thought. The scientific spirit for historical reasons had to be sceptical in content and the philosophy conforming to the same spirit was obliged to deal with God in its own original way, giving him some kind of place in a revised frame of reference. In such a revised frame ontology gained primacy over teleology and the intricacies of scholastic thought were eliminated or eased out so as to accommodate the notion of a transcendent being who participated in the pure essences of which his main attributes were to be his natural expressions.


Aristotelianism has a complementary or even rival line of speculation in both Platonism and neo-Platonism. Its subsequent offshoot was more suited to the scientific spirit than the merely theological. Aristotle thought in terms of prime matter and pure motion, and what was prior to the visible world interested him as the Unmoved Mover or the First Cause, his thought, unlike that of Plato, descended into the core of matter and reached to such notions as entelecheia (the potency that can manifest matter) and to more basic notions of the prius nobis (what is prior to knowledge). Unlike the Platonic Highest Good which is a kind of result to be attained in the possible and distant future, Aristotle brought up the rear end of the opposite pole in the progress of classical thought. Aquinas gave primacy to Aristotelianism over Platonism as represented by Augustine. He really started a revolution within the heart of theology, making it perhaps a bit more compatible with the spirit of science.

With Descartes the ontological status of God became fully established, although he had to exercise great caution in effecting such a transition and was exposed to great dangers from the Papacy.


This is sufficiently evidenced by the fact he had to suppress certain of his ideas and writings for fear of official condemnation. There is also the case of Spinoza who had to face persecution not only from his Jewish co-religionists who ultimately excommunicated him, but also from Church Christianity. In those days when closed religious tendencies ran high a philosopher always had to be on his guard.


This is roughly the background against which we have to trace the origin of phenomenology. It is really a post-Hegelian product, although when Hegelian phenomenology first comes to mind, we have to connect it with Kantian notions such as the ding-an-sich (thing-in-itself) which itself cannot be known. The epistemology of Kantian phenomenology may be summed up as follows:

"Still less can phenomenon (erscheinung) and illusion (schein) be taken as identical. For truth or illusion is not to be founded in the objects of intuition, but in the judgements upon them, so far as they are thought. It is therefore quite right to say that the senses never err, not because they always judge rightly but because they do not judge at all. Truth therefore, and error, and consequently illusory appearance also, as the cause of error, exist in our judgments only, that is, in the relation of an object to our understanding. No error exists in our knowledge, if it completely agrees with the laws of our understanding, nor can there be an error in a representation of the senses, because they involve no judgment, and no power of nature can, of its own accord, deviate from its own laws." (25)

We can even trace the origins of phenomenology to the heart of empiricism, for it is in the secondary qualities of Locke and in the phenomenalism attributed to Hume who dismissed the reality of the world of mere appearance by placing the accent on the mind. This is also the position taken by Berkeley in whom we find a phenomenological outlook. The very sources of phenomenology ultimately take us back to the pre-Socratic hylozoist philosophers who have influenced phenomenologists like Heidegger.


Although Heidegger takes care to eliminate many superficial aspects of pure Being in his own notion of the ontological essence of matter, he still retains a certain affinity with this ancient school of thought.


When the tradition of phenomenology is seen in its fullest perspective, it is not surprising to find among its representatives thinkers who are also religious like Kierkegaard, himself, and even the Zionist Martin Buber. As we have already pointed out, there are also fully convinced atheists like Sartre who have use for phenomenology. Husserl, though hardly a believer in the ordinary sense of the term, refers to God as a "necessary limiting concept". We read:

"Therefore God Himself is subject to this absolute and transparent necessity, just as surely as He is to the insight that 241=142. Even He could win a knowledge of His consciousness and its content only through reflection." (26)


In a footnote on the same page he adds:

"We are not here carrying over the conflict into the domain of theology: in epistemological reflection the idea of God is a necessary limiting concept, or an indispensable pointer in the construction of certain limiting concepts which even the philosophical atheist cannot dispense with."


Heidegger stresses the importance of establishing an under- standing once again with the Greek notion of doxa, called "glory" by him:

"For the Greeks glory was not something additional which one might or might not obtain; it was the mode of the highest being. For moderns glory has long been nothing more than celebrity and as such a highly dubious affair, an acquisition tossed about and distributed by the newspapers and radio - almost the opposite of being.


Thus glory is the fame (ruf, call, reputation, fame) in which one stands. Heraclitus says (fragment 29): 'for the noblest choose one thing before all else: glory, everlastingly abiding over against things mortal; but the many are glutted like cattle.

But to this there comes a limitation, which at the same time indicates the full richness of the context. Doxa is the regard (ansehen, looking-at, esteem) which every essence conceals and discloses in its appearance (aussehen) (eidos, idea)" (27)

Heidegger reverts back to the ancient Greek notion of glory, adding his own revaluations as he thinks fit. Marcel, a definite believer in the Christian context, is on the side of belief in an "ontological mystery."

He writes:

"To sum up my position on this difficult and important point, I would say that the recognition of the ontological mystery, in which I perceive as it were the central redoubt of metaphysics, is no doubt only possible through a sort of radiation which proceeds from revelation itself and which is perfectly well able to affect souls who are strangers to all positive religion of whatever kind; that this recognition, which takes place through certain higher modes of human experience, in no way involves adherence to any given religion; but it enables those who have attained it to perceive the possibility of a revelation in a way which is not open to those who have never ventured beyond the frontiers of the problematical and who therefore never reached the point from which the mystery of being can be seen and recognized." (28)

Marcel, earlier in his work defines being as:

"What withstands - or what would withstand - an exhaustive analysis bearing on the data of experience and aiming to reduce them step by step to elements increasingly devoid of intrinsic or significant value." (29)
Heidegger is much closer to Sartre in his definition of being:
"The essence of being there lies in its existence." (30)


Although Heidegger gives a legitimate place to the idea of God, his contribution to philosophy lies at the opposite pole of any notion of a teleological God. His pure and penetrating powers of analysis are seen to be best applied where he brushes aside all notions of Being hitherto existing in metaphysics.

Such notions according to him are not "Being as such" which always lies below and beneath metaphysical Being which eludes the grasp of the analysis of the ordinary metaphysician or philosopher. This unrevealed aspect, when rid of even the implications of such classical notions as ousia (essence) reveal a straight vertical line of light which is neither subjective nor objective, but instead leads on to the idea of Time discussed in his great work "Being and Time". This Time goes to the heart of Being itself.

He says:

"In Being and Time, Being is not something other than Time: 'Time' is called the first name of the truth of Being, and this truth is the presence of Being and thus Being itself.

 But the Time of which we should think here is not experienced through the changeful career of beings. Time is evidently of an altogether different nature which neither has been recalled by way of the time concept of metaphysics nor ever can be recalled in this way. Thus Time becomes the first name, which is yet to be heeded, of the truth of Being, which is yet to be experienced." (31)


When Being in itself is thus attained, his further analysis does not stop there. He pushed it to the very last limits of absolutist thinking when he says that Being has to imply existence as well as the Nothing. The Nothing is a dialectical counterpart of existence. Such a meeting of antinomies is fully justified in Heidegger's way of thinking.


When confronted with Nothingness, reality again gains ground in a strange way:

"How did it come about that with Being it really is nothing and that the Nothing really is not? Is it perhaps from this that the as yet unshaken presumption has entered into all metaphysics that 'Being' may simply be taken for granted and that Nothing is therefore made more easily than beings? That is indeed the situation regarding Being and Nothing. If it were different, then Leibniz could not have said in the same place by way of an explanation: 'Car le rien est plus simple et plus facile que quelquechose' (For the nothing is simpler and easier than any thing)." (32)


In tiding over the final objection of infinite regression Heidegger is able to attain the Absolute given to fundamental phenomenological ontology. Pure existence is pure Being and as established by him is beyond the taint of any possible duality.




In Kierkegaard we have an instance of a phenomenologist who in many respects transcends the bounds of phenomenology as commonly understood. In the first place he is a person given to highly mystical feelings and sentiments. His interest in ontology does not just concern itself with something real, but reveals itself in the fundamental limit of ontological analysis as also in the case of Heidegger where Being and Nothingness meet.


Kierkegaard is concerned more directly with truth and falsehood in a highly generalized and personalized context. There is a definite sense of frustration and anguish at the basis of his philosophical thinking, and which deeply colours his writing. This gives it a bold and out-of-the-way character. There is a strange absolutist note in his writing, making it very appealing to other thinkers who see in him a representative of what they want to say, and who is able to say it in a more thorough-going fashion. He is thus indirectly the inspirer of many phenomenologists and existentialists like Jaspers, Heidegger and Sartre. Paul Tillich says this about Kierkegaard:


"When Kierkegaard broke away from Hegel's system of essences he did two things: he proclaimed an existential attitude and he instigated a philosophy of existence. He realized that the knowledge of what concerns us infinitely is possible only in an attitude of infinite concern, in an existential attitude." (33)


Although Kierkegaard is not strictly an ontological phenomenologist, he could be included in the general overall context of phenomenology, in that he tacitly and even overtly adopts a completer frame of reference than what phenomenology normally requires for its upward and downward movements. A careful examination of Kierkegaard, taken together with the personal, general and overall manner of arriving at his subject-matter, reveals to us some aspects of a structural frame of reference worked out in greater detail and tacitly assumed in his writings.


The strange and moving epitaph he wished over his grave, "That individual", sufficiently indicates the master thought and key concept he had in his mind throughout his life. It was his own personality he tried to lay bare with some of its deep-seated peculiarities, especially belonging to what we might describe as the negative vertical. This is the very aspect of phenomenological ontology which others like Heidegger have tried to show. This part of the structure does not so easily reveal itself and trying to make it do so requires a certain attitude of mind and spirit which is called "anguish" by existentialists. To understand this anguish one has to think of the loneliness of the individual existing apart from the crowd which represents in formal terms the horizontal and false counterpart of the negative vertical where anguish properly belongs. The process of revealing such an anguish is like dissecting a deep-seated nerve. Only here in the present case such revealing of deep-seated tendencies has become evident to oneself subjectively and not as if on a dissecting table.


It is this subjective factor that makes the discussion difficult to accomplish in the normal metaphysics such as that of Hegel of which Kierkegaard disapproved. Another feature of Kierkegaard's approach to phenomenology is his treatment of the individual as if related at one and the same time to the sphere of politics, religion and metaphysics.


This synthesis is a new departure and very far from the academic. The individual is at once to be understood as the centre of a subtle structural scheme as also in the context of public life, both in the world of newspapers and the church-going world of ordinary Christian believers and missionaries. The strong language in which he condemns conventional Christians and group-minded political demagogues and party leaders is enough to estrange people in many official and religious quarters. Strong language is both his recommendation and his drawback, and makes him most interesting:

"The reader will also remember that here the word 'crowd' is understood in a purely formal sense, not in the sense one commonly attaches to 'the crowd' when it is meant as an invidious qualification, the distinction which human selfishness irreligiously erect between 'the crowd' and superior persons, etc. Good God! How could a religious man hit upon such an inhuman equality! No, 'crowd' stands for number, the numerical, a number of noblemen, millionaires, high dignitaries etc. - as soon as the numerical is involved it is 'crowd,' 'the crowd'. (34)

The various peculiarities of Kierkegaard's phenomenology can be examined in the light of his own words. He is fond of adopting a very intimate and informal style in order to reveal some fundamental feature of his philosophical thought. The individual is revealed globally as well as in piecemeal fashion by him. As an example of his global treatment of some of the deep seated peculiarities of the personality we read the following:

"For the truth consists precisely in that conception of life which is expressed by the individual. The truth can neither be communicated nor be received except as it were under God's eyes, not without God's help, not without God's being involved as the middle term, He himself being the Truth. It can therefore only be communicated by and received by 'the individual' which as a matter of fact can be every living man." (35)


The reference to God as "the middle term" has to be understood with all its logical, metaphysical, religious and other implications of general life, all treated together. In the light of other piecemeal analyses of structure which we shall presently quote, this reference to a "middle term"' has its definite structural implications. It is not merely to be taken as the middle term of an Aristotelian syllogism. The total human situation, when structurally understood as Kierkegaard wishes us to understand it, has a centralized point of origin where all worthwhile communicability of truth takes place between its positive and negative counterparts and can be imagined as included in a vertical axis of reference. God as the overall Witness and Supreme Judge of all Truths is an onlooker, supervisor or regulator of the communicability of truth. This is the point of apperception where the stale and conventional come to neutralize their partiality and the falsehoods inevitable to life in a crowd. The reference to the bipolar condition for truth to be communicated by one individual to another reveals how the process can only take place in a vertical axis having its positive and negative counterparts, one conceptual and public and the other felt as personal and unrevealed. The latter unmistakably refers to the negative side of the vertical axis.


Other examples of a piecemeal analysis of structure are unmistakably present when some of Kierkegaard's analogies and references are closely scrutinized . We may take the one where he imagines himself to be at a banquet and at the point where he is at maximum surfeit. In this analogy one of the butlers represents the negative and the other the positive side of the situation.

We read:

"When at a banquet, where the guests have already overeaten, one person is concerned about bringing on new courses, another about having a vomitive at hand, it is perfectly true that only the first has interpreted correctly the requirement of the guests, but I wonder whether the other might not also say that he is concerned about what the requirement might be." (36)


The structural analysis is unmistakable. This same kind of structure is found in the following quotation:

"Here one does not miss what is generally lacking, viz. a decisive categorical definition and a decisive expression for the situation: to preach Christianity .... in Christendom. Everything is put in terms of reflection. The communication is qualified by reflection, hence it is indirect communication. The communicator is characterized by reflection, therefore he is negative – not one who says that he himself is a Christian in an extraordinary degree, or even lays claims to revelations .... but, on the contrary, one who even affirms that he is not a Christian. That is to say, the communicator stands behind the other man, helping him negatively - for whether he actually succeeds in helping someone is another question. The problem itself is a problem of reflection: to become a Christian .... when one is a Christian of a sort." (37)

The zeal of Christian missionaries to communicate the "true" Christian verities to another person involves a subtle irony. The man who is most keen on communicating Christian doctrines is not necessarily the man who feels any interest in propagating Christianity from motives which are (not) truly spiritual. The true believer and man of faith is, as it were silent and stands behind the man. who pretends. The irony of this situation is brought out as follows:

"For a 'crowd' is untruth. In a godly sense it is true, eternally, Christianity, as St. Paul says "only one attains the goal" - which is not meant in a comparative sense, for comparison takes others into account. It means that every man can be that one, God helping him therein – but only one attains the goal. And again this means that every man. should be chary about having to do with 'the others' and essentially should talk only with God and with himself - for only one attains the goal." (38)


Kierkegaard's oft-repeated phrase that whatever belongs to the crowd is false reveals him to be like Plotinus who speaks about the flight of the alone to the Alone. True spirituality moves up and down in a vertical reference, although it has quite clearly a positive aspect where a congregation is present. The congregation is false, but each individual represents the truth in himself. We read the following:

"For the crowd is untruth. Hence where there is a multitude, a crowd, or where decisive significance is attached to the fact that there is a multitude, there it is sure that no one is working, living, striving for the highest aim, but only for one or another earthly aim; since to work for the eternal decisive aim is possible only where there is one and to be this one which all can be is to let God be the helper the 'crowd' is the untruth. 
The falsehood first of all is the notion that the crowd does when in fact only the individual in the crowd does, though it be every individual. For 'crowd' is an abstraction and has no hands: but each individual has ordinarily two hands. 
No, when it is a question of a single individual man, then is the time to give expression to the truth by showing one's respect for what it is to be man." (39)

The whole approach of Kierkegaard to the crowd as representing falsehood is not to be taken as factual or realistic in any sense. It is intended to have only a formal status as he already explained.


We see that although Kierkegaard does not conform to the pattern of ordinary ontological phenomenology he is unconsciously using the modes of subjectivism, selectionism, and structuralism, and even the schematismus of Kant. He is more directly interested in locating truth on the negative side of the total knowledge-situation. In this manner he is in conformity with the verses of Narayana Guru in the present chapter. The further implications of such a correspondence between Kierkegaard's negativism and the negativism of this chapter will be examined in the Epilogue, where we will appraise the individual verses.



The phenomenological impetus in modern thought reaches its culmination and its finality with the existentialism of Jean Paul Sartre. To appraise and estimate the significance of his existentialism correctly we have to think of three important circumstances.


Firstly, the brutality and suffering caused by the two world wars has sufficiently shocked the complacent mind of the European steeped in the opulence and comfort of life. There was finally a rude awakening and a search for a more firm and steady reality than what Sunday church-going religion offered. The promise of future salvation no longer appealed and idealistic Platonic realities were also too airy and thin to satisfy the needs of the age. Reality was therefore approached in all its harsh aspects including agony or anguish in actual life.


Secondly, together with these overall circumstances we have also to think of the fact that scientific theories had failed to give a definite answer to the average person's search for some stable reality on which he could regulate his life.


Matter, according to Einstein, could change its mass by its motion and space could retract and finally disappear, being absorbed into an amalgam of Time-Space. The Cartesian Correlates offered a neutral point of origin where both Time and Space went into a central reality. The vague structuralism thus offered, although it suggested something of a thin and logical or mathematical order, could not firmly hold together aspects of reality so as to offer the human spirit something easy to grasp.


Phenomenology had its distant origin in history as an urge to seek for some kind of ontological basis. On the other hand the Platonic world of intelligibles was no longer acceptable as a sufficient basis for guiding one in the search for truth. The essences constituting the best attributes of God had to be put in relation to a here-and-now existence. Post-Kantian and Hegelian philosophers had preferred such absolutist notions as the thing-in-itself, giving to such a notion a vague and questionable kind of content. Hume's phenomenology was one of mere appearances without content and value in human life. Thus philosophical thought traveled downwards from the essences in God and Goodness on High to some kind of fundamental ontology. We can guess at these successive stages by the very names applied to reality by phenomenological and existential writers. "Fundamental ontology" is the name used by Husserl, while the Christian, Marcel, speaks of the Ontological Mystery. When we come to Sartre however all the vagueness and mystery vanishes. Sartre fixes and finalizes his phenomenological ontology with the apodictic name of 'existence.' This bold statement that 'The essence of man is his existence´ has become a kind of great dictum in modern existentialism.

The negative estrangement and descent into the ontological ground of existence which offers the human being the chance of involvement comes face to face with nothingness on its opposite side as it reaches the paradoxical core in its search for stability.


This marks the point to which Heidegger´s thought finally reached. Sartre however has been able to resolve this. He says:

"Its nothingness of being is encountered only within the limits of being, and the total disappearance of being would not be the advent of the reign of non-being, but on the contrary the concomitant disappearance of nothingness. Non-being exists only on the surface of being." (40)

We know how Sartre's existentialism caught the imagination of the public and impressed youth in an out-of-the-way fashion. The wild enthusiasm that existentialism received among the youthful thinkers and creative artists of Europe gave it a form which discredited it in the eyes of respectable ecclesiastical, academic and other official philosophers. Sartre himself recently refused the Nobel Prize because he preferred to remain in the company of the so called non-bourgeois world. In a certain way this act marks the culmination of the triumph of this movement, whether more conventional and respectable philosophers look upon it with approbation or not.


One who closely examines the writings of Sartre cannot fail to recognize a philosopher who is in every respect a serious and fully trained thinker. Even his academic skill is not lacking in any way. An example of his philosophical thought is "Being and Nothingness". Nowhere in this work, which is over 600 pages long, can any discredit be given to him. Sartre fully deserves all the recognition he receives as one of the great thinkers of existentialism.


In correctly estimating the phenomenological ontology of Sartre, the third factor which we have to keep in mind is the overall demand of our times for philosophy to conform to the requirements of some sort of normative scientific thinking.


Phenomenology has sometimes been called an a priori science. Even the possibility of such a science arriving at certitude was unthinkable before Einstein's relativity theory broke into the classical notions of rigid time and space, making the universe into a kind of refined space-time continuum. Mathematical equations with long rows of digits began to enter into the "factual" calculations of Physics. Such equations and numbers could no longer be realities in the classical sense. They should only belong to another world of physics where the mind of the observer and the thing observed could enter through mathematics into a sort of intimate communion. Such a refined double-sided ground offered to phenomenology a favourable climate and soil in which to strike root and affirm itself. Although Einstein stood for universal relativity it was not hard to discover in his relativity a relativism that is the dialectical counterpart of an absolutism belonging to the same epistemological context.


Sartre does not seem to find it difficult to brush aside the implications of relativity and look upon reality in absolutist terms. The ease with which he accomplished this is unlike that of Bergson whose painful labours in reducing the real implications of relativity into absolutist terms is evident in Durée et Simultanéite. Here is an example of Sartre's approach to the subject:

"It is believed that motion is a simple affection of being because after the motion the moving body is discovered to be just as it was before. It has so often been posited as a principle that transfer does not distort the figure transferred that it has appeared evident that motion is added to being without modifying it. It is certain, as we have seen, that the quiddity of the 'this' remains unaltered. Nothing is more typical of this conception than the resistance which has been encountered by a theory like that of Fitzgerald concerning 'contraction,' or like Einstein's concerning 'the variations of mass,' because they seem particularly to attack what makes the being of the moving body.


Hence evidently comes the principle of the relativity of motion, which is marvelously agreeable if the latter is an external characteristic of being and if no intra-structural modification determines it. Motion becomes then a relation so external to the being of its setting that it amounts to saying that being is in motion and its environment at rest or conversely that the environment is in motion and the being considered is at rest. From this point of view motion appears neither as a being nor as a mode of being but as an entirely desubstantialized relation." (41)

He also makes this interesting observation:

"Man can no longer encounter anything but the human; there is no longer any other side of life, and death is a human phenomenon; it is the final phenomenon of life and is still life. As such it influences the entire life by a reverse flow. Life is limited by life; it becomes like the world of Einstein, finite but unlimited." (42)

As an ontologist and existentialist Sartre leads us to a final position in his philosophical reasonings where he refrains from going any further, saying that if he did he would be entering metaphysics. Metaphysics can afford to indulge in mere abstractions for its own sake but the existentialist, although he attains to an absolute existent reality, will not get lost in abstractions which are not real enough so as to offer to man a ground for 'involvement.' In such 'involvement' the person's deep sense of anguish still finds scope for engaging his personality within here-and-now reality.


This is where Sartre fully accepts the absolutist position. Hence he can be described as an absolutist who wants to limit himself to the real problems of life. His other dramatic and literary works develop an ethics and a value-theory related to life, wherein the anguish so pronounced in Kierkegaard also finds its place.


The following shows how Sartre is prepared to go the whole length in the direction of absolutism in his search for the fully existent in his ontology:

"Thus by abandoning the primacy of knowledge, we have discovered the being of the knower and encountered the absolute, that same absolute which the rationalists of the seventeenth century had defined and logically constituted as an object of knowledge. But precisely because the question concerns an absolute of existence and not of knowledge, it is not subject to that famous objection according to which a known absolute is no longer an absolute because it becomes relative to the knowledge which one has of it. In fact the absolute here is not the result of a logical construction on the ground of knowledge but the subject of the most concrete of experiences. And it is not at all relative to this experience because it is this experience.

Thus we have attained the ontological foundation of knowledge, the first being to whom all other appearances appear, the Absolute in relation to which every phenomenon is relative. This is no longer the subject in Kant's meaning of the term, but it is subjectivity itself, the immanence of self in self." (43)

The Absolute is not an empty word without an existential content. Sartre is a realist who wishes to look at reality with the eyes of a man firmly planted in the here-and-now. He wants to bridge the gap between a real vision of existence in the absolutist context of consciousness and its own schematic representation for serving as an aid to help in intuiting this reality. In the three dimensions of time we find that he gives full recognition to this schematic requirement:


"Temporality is evidently an organized structure. The three so-called 'elements' of time, past, present, and future, should not be considered as a collection of 'givens' for us to sum up - for example, as an infinite series of 'nows' in which some are not yet and others are no longer - but rather as the structured moments of an original synthesis. Otherwise we will immediately meet with this paradox: the past is no longer; the future is not yet; as for the instantaneous present, everyone knows that this does not exist at all but is the limit of an infinite division, like a point without dimension .... The only possible method by which to study temporality is to approach it as a totality which dominates its secondary structures and which confers on them their meaning. We will never lose sight of this fact. Nevertheless we cannot launch into an examination of the being of Time without a preliminary clarification of the too-often obscure meaning of the three dimensions by means of pre-ontological, phenomenological description. We must, however, consider this phenomenological description as merely a provisional work whose goal is only to enable us to attain an intuition of temporality as a whole." (44)

We further see evidence of this structural language in the following:

"Also the ens causa sui remains as the lacked, the indication of an impossible vertical surpassing which by its very non-existence conditions the flat movement of consciousness; in the same way the vertical attraction which the moon exercises on the ocean has for its result the horizontal displacement which is the tide. (45)

The language of Cartesian correlates is not a stranger to Sartre's phenomenological ontology. We are, therefore, fully justified in taking it for granted as a linguistic help to understand some of his intricate paragraphs in which the constant interplay of such expressions as "being-in-itself", "for itself" and "in-itself" make it very difficult for untrained readers to get at the bottom of what he means, stated in such original and unfamiliar terminology. He further uses such expressions as "being is opaque to itself precisely because it is filled with itself" and speaks of being "glued on" to itself.


Such language may be considered metaphorical and figurative only in a structural sense. In the following quotations we shall be able to recognize the structural implications which we shall ourselves take care to point out. We read as follows:

"Being is equally beyond negation and beyond affirmation. Affirmation is always affirmation of something; that is, the act of affirming is distinguished from the thing affirmed. But if we suppose an affirmation in which the affirmed comes to fulfill the affirming and is confused with it, this affirmation can not be affirmed - owing to too much of plenitude and the immediate inherence of the noema in the noesis .... But being is not a connection with itself. It is itself. It is an immanence which cannot realize itself, an affirmation which can not affirm itself, an activity which can not act, because it is glued to itself." (46)

A fully normalized notion of absolute Being is here implied. There are two aspects glued together and these are none other than the vertical plus and the vertical minus referred to as noema and noesis. Sartre continues:

"But if being is in itself, this means that it does not refer to itself as self-consciousness does. It is this self. It is itself so completely that the perpetual reflection which constitutes the self is dissolved in an identity .... This can be better expressed by saying that being is what it is. This statement is in appearance strictly analytical. Actually it is far from being reduced to that principle of identity which is the unconditioned principle of all analytical judgments. First the formula designates a particular region of being, that of being in-itself. We shall see that the being of for-itself is defined, on the contrary, as being what it is not and not being what it is. The question here then is of a regional principle and is as such synthetical. Furthermore it is necessary to oppose this formula - being in-itself is what it is - to that which designates the being of consciousness. The latter, in fact, we shall see, has to be what it is." (47)


The ontological notion of Being is here finally fixed between double negation and double assertion. It is not to be understood in terms of consciousness which bypasses Being as such. The distinction of this particular region is of structural importance. Sartre now brings contingency and possibility into the picture:

"An existing phenomenon can never be derived from another existent qua existent. This is what we shall call contingency of being-in-itself. But neither can being-in-itself be derived from a possibility. The possible is a structure of the for-itself; that is, it belongs to the other region of being. Being-in-itself is never either possible or impossible. It is." (48) 
Here the region of the possible is distinguished from what has finalized existence. Possibility refers to the horizontal axis of the for-itself, and not the vertical in-itself.

Continuing, we read:

"Being is. Being is in-itself. Being is what it is. These are the three characteristics which the preliminary examination of the phenomenon of Being allows us to assign to the being of phenomena. For the moment it is impossible to push our investigation further. This is not yet the examination of the in-itself - which is never anything but what it is - which will allow us to establish and to explain its relations with the for-itself." (49)


This is a preliminary to the structure of Being, distinguishing Being-in-itself from just Being which refers to the totality. "Being is what it is" refers to anything outside the vertical and horizontal element Being for-itself . Sartre now speaks about the need for a unitary synthesis:

"We must take into account what is required of an existent if it is to be considered as a totality, it is necessary that the diversity of its structures be held within a unitary synthesis in such a way that each of them considered apart is only an abstraction.... The phenomenon of in-itself is an abstraction without consciousness but its Being is not an abstraction." (50)

Here Sartre wishes to stress the distinction between structure, which is an abstraction and which might have many aspects to it, and Being which can be directly intuited with the help of structural abstraction. Ontology will suffer if both structure and being are treated as belonging to the same epistemological order. We conclude with the following: 
"As for the totality of the for-itself and the in-itself, this has for its characteristic the fact that the for-itself makes itself other in relation to the in-itself but that the in-itself is in no way other than the for-itself in its being; the in-itself pure and simple is." (51)


The subtle epistemological difference of status between the "in-itself", representing the vertical and the "for-itself", the horizontal, is brought out here. They belong to two subdivisions of the same class, as between genus and species. Genus can cover species but not the converse. In other words the vertical has a more comprehensive ontological content and presupposes and includes the horizontal, as when electric current includes a magnetic field, or multiplication covers addition



It remains for us to speak about a few of the other known representatives of the phenomenological and existential standpoint. What we must note in the first place is that the original phenomenological impetus culminated in its most striking, effective and popular form in Sartre's existentialism, where it received its final outlines attaining to an almost absolutist status. The structural implications of phenomenology became quite clear and complete in this form. Ontology lost all its ambiguity and vagueness by referring directly to existence. Sartre as well as Heidegger, gave great clarity to phenomenology and existentialism as a legitimate review of Absolute Reality.


Unfortunately, the clarity of such a position. has become compromised and weakened in the hands of other existentialist spokesmen. The ontological movement which was uncompromising in its estrangement with essentialism and which clearly expressed itself by the great dictum, "Man's essence is his existence," began to be slowed down. The radical note of heterodoxy which both Heidegger and Sartre had inherited from Nietzsche and Kierkegaard (and to a lesser degree from such creative artists as Dostoevsky, Hölderlin, and Rilke) was watered down considerably in favour of considerations which were more teleological than ontological. The structural outlines became less clear and a vague form of belief took the place of a thorough-going existentialism. This has happened in such a manner that one suspects official religion and perhaps even politics of having some hand in this compromising attitude. This, however, does not directly concern us in our present study. We are not interested in taking sides with either orthodoxy or heterodoxy in such matters, but only wish to present an integrated Science of the Absolute. Such a science has first and foremost to clarify modern phenomenology and existentialism.


Of the three representatives of phenomenology and existential that we are going to pass in quick review, Karl Jaspers may be said to fulfil most sufficiently the requirement of presenting a clear and unambiguous philosophy. He is able to push the structural features and implications to further comprehensive horizons, with clearly defined limits and outlines. The ontological verity that phenomenology seeks is given its central place in a structural notion clearly emerging from his writings. He is not only interested in the vertical descent into the heart of existence, but he wishes to put the notion of existence in a total context of its own. He possesses clarity of thought and definiteness of expression. These are rare gifts of Jaspers, who is not interested in speaking for any particular religious group. One of his main achievements is his elevation of psychology and history to a more important place in existentialist philosophy. He has postulated for his theory of history a principle called the "Axial Period.' While actually Jaspers is a non-denominational Christian his generous attitude to all religious expressions is unmistakable:

"The Christian faith is only one faith, not the faith of mankind." (52)

His methodological classification of philosophy into three disciplines is most striking. These three disciplines all deal with the structural aspects of his method; they are: (1) philosophical world orientation, (2) clarity of existence, and (3) the path of metaphysics. The first one refers to the overall structural feature within which his major contribution called the Encompassing has its reality. The second refers to existence and marks the beginning of the negative descent from its point of origin. The third, which is another term for the "never-ending search for truth," clearly points to the plus side of vertical axis. As for the Encompassing, its structural implications are sufficiently clear from the following quotation:


"The Encompassing appears and disappears for us in two opposed perspectives; either as Being itself, in and through which we are - or else as the Encompassing which we ourselves are, and in which every mode of Being appears to us. Our knowledge of objects in the world has the form of relating them to one another and deriving them from one another. What appears to us is understood by understanding its relation to something else. But where, in philosophizing, we are concerned with the Encompassing, it is clear that we are dealing with something which can not be understood like some object in the world; more especially, we find that the modes of the Encompassing cannot be derived from some particular which appears in them. For example: if we call the Encompassing "Thought", we cannot derive Thought itself from anything which can be thought of. Or if the Encompassing is our consciousness, it cannot be derived from anything which appears to this consciousness. Or if it is the Whole, it cannot be derived from any individual, be it ever so comprehensive. Or if it is empirical existence, then as such it can never be derived from any determinate, objectively known empirical thing. If it is reason, then we cannot derive it from the non-rational; if it is existence it cannot be derived from any mode of the Encompassing, let alone one of its contents. In short, our being can never be derived from anything which appears to us; I myself can never be understood through anything which I encounter.

In thinking about temporal existence, one must continually run through the circuit of the modes of the Encompassing. We cannot remain static in one of its modes. Each demands the others. The loss of one mode lets all the others become false. The philosopher seeks to omit none." (53)

We see from the above that the Encompassing is Jasper's normative notion. He also thinks in dynamic terms rather than static ones.


With Gabriel Marcel, we find that he characterizes his phenomenology as an ontological "mystery," although he explains how such a thing is not to be mixed up with orthodox mysticism. It is clear that Marcel is a believer and not a heterodox nor unconventional thinker. The efforts he makes to derive from the teleological side what he wants to be ontological are sometimes artificial and forced. He uses terms like "radiation which proceeds from revelation," which the human being is supposed to experience as a reality without going outside the realm of Phenomenological thinking. Marcel's difficulties in reconciling these two points of view are evident from the following:

"Speaking more particularly to Catholics, I should like to note that from my own standpoint the distinction between the natural and the supernatural must be rigorously maintained. It will perhaps be objected that there is a danger that the word 'mystery' might confuse the very issue. 
I would reply that there is no question of confusing those mysteries, which are enveloped in human experience as such, with those mysteries which are revealed, such as the Incarnation or Redemption, and to which no effort of thought bearing on experience can enable us to attain. 
Supernatural life must, when all is said and done, find a hold in the natural - which is not to say that it is the flowering of the natural. On the contrary it seems to me that any study of the notion of created Nature, which is fundamental for the Christian, leads to the conclusion that there is in the depth of Nature, as of reason which is governed by it, a fundamental principle of inadequacy to itself which is, as it were, a restless anticipation of a different order." (54)


Marcel in trying to define ontological existence, reduces it to something of no ontological value or significance. Here he reveals himself as standing firmly on the side of belief in some sort of hypostatic value-factor. His phenomenology thus becomes acceptable to the Church. We read:
"As for defining the word 'Being,' let us admit that it is extremely difficult. I would merely suggest this method of approach: Being is what withstands - or what could withstand - an exhaustive analysis bearing on the data of experience and aiming to reduce them step by step to elements increasingly devoid of intrinsic or significant value." (55)

The last example we shall take is of Martin Buber. His background is Hebraic and he often refers to the Biblical prophets in his writings, inspired by such a non-European source, he applies Biblical standards and norms to European philosophers like Kant and Nietzsche, whose shortcomings he points out, especially by way of detracting their estimate of man as falling short of conferring a full spiritual stature to him by what he distinguishes disparagingly as their "philosophical anthropology." He traces the origins of this failing to some out-of-the-way lecture notes of Kant by an admirer of his, published in the form of a handbook. Even the Superman of Nietzsche does not come up to the expectations of Buber, because it fails to correctly give to man a central place in nature. The Superman rises above the natural context and asserts himself, and when the negative prevails he falls into a state of anguish. Such a picture presented by Nietzsche as representing man's predicament and how to rise above it is not fully satisfactory to Buber, who wants man to be given a more central place in a kind of Biblical ontological context of his own, from which position alone man could, according to him, be directly related to the world around him. Thus he is able to place man as a being among the world of things in which he is placed. Philosophical anthropology enables Buber to further analyze the broad divisions and structural implications of the relation of man with the world. Whether such an analysis belongs properly to the phenomenological and existential spheres or goes beyond into the domains of theology and religion is an open question.


But it is sufficiently clear that Buber makes an effort to approximate his anthropological philosophy as nearly as possible to conform to the requirements of phenomenological and existential standpoints. To this extent, Buber may be said to be scientific and not merely a dean of Hebraic culture, politics, and religion. The following quotation gives us some idea of the analysis of man's relation to his environment, wherein we see in the I-you and I-that principles the vertical and horizontal correlates.
We read:

"The word-principle I-you cannot be stated except by the whole of being, The my-principle I-that cannot be stated at all by the whole being.
And if you would like that I should tell you in all seriousness about what is true: man cannot live that, but he who lives only with that is not a man." (56)


Before concluding, it is necessary to explain why the title of Phenomenology is given to this chapter. The reader might notice at first glance that Narayana Guru uses the term asatya (non-existence) in this third chapter as the subject-matter, as will be seen to be indicated in the title. We have ourselves chosen phenomenology as the nearest understood expression in the context of Western thought. Phenomenology refers to a science of appearances or phenomena, and this means the same thing as asatya. It is evident, on the other hand, that this chapter concerns itself with ontology, which is reality viewed from an existential or fundamental standpoint. How the limits of this chapter tally with the scope of phenomenology will become more evident in the Epilogue. Western phenomenology, on which we have relied to find support for Narayana Guru's own vision of appearance and reality treated together on the basis of mind and its functioning, is an approach which is unilateral in that it treats of the overall phenomenon for its own sake without its natural counterpart, which is the mind.


In his treatment of this same world of appearances, Narayana Guru, as we shall presently see, approaches the same subject bilaterally as a dialectical, reciprocal, or reversible equation between the mind which is the cause and the phenomenon which is the effect. One sees in the following ten verses the dialectical methodology proper to the Science of the Absolute in full operation. An absolutist Ontology is what finally results.



[1] Hegel's own definition of the term is found in his "Encyclopaedia of Philosophy", trans. G.E. Mueller, New York: Philosophical Library, 1959, p.191: "This Mind or Spirit (Geist) is the concrete universal and substantial core of human existence....Mind-spirit (Geist) unites its own essential unity with its equally essential many partial and individual manifestations."


[2] "Search For a Norm in Western Thought" (Ch.l: Some Background Aspects), Values, Vol.11: no.3 (Dec.1965).


[3] Husserl, p. 40.


[4] Jung states: "Notwithstanding the fact that I have often been called a philosopher, I am an empiricist and adhere to the phenomenological standpoint" ."Psychology and Religion", Yale Univ. Press, 1938, p. l.


[5] J. Sartre, "Existentialism and Humanism", London: Methuen & Co. 1959, p. 27, trans. P. Mairett.


[6] Sartre, B & H., P.31.


[7] Hegel´s definition of the mind is as follows: "The subjective mind is simultaneously aware and certain of its conscious self as well as of its natural soul which it now opposes to itself as its own object and material to be shaped. The 'I am', thus, is one side of this relation and at the same time the whole relation; in being aware of myself as my own object I am self- reflection. In the world of nature light is an analogy to this: by manifesting itself it makes a visible world evident to sight."


[8] W.Hamilton, "Lect. On Metaph.", Ed. &Lon., Blackwood, 1877, Vol.I, p. 121


[9] Husserl pp. 96, 99-100


[10] Runes´ Dict., p. 41


[11] Husserl, p.229


[12] Husserl, p.359


[13] Rune's Dict.,p. 233.


[14] Husserl, p. 46.


[15 - 18] Husserl, pp.260-261.


[19] M. Heidegger, "Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre: The Way Back to the Ground of Metaphysics", edit. W. Kaufmann New York: Meridian Books, 1962, p.214.


[20] Husserl,pp.269-270


[21] Husserl, p. 270.


[22] Husserl, p.270


[23] Husserl, p.196-197


[24] Husserl, p. 278


[25] Kant, "Critique of Pure Reason", trans. F. Max Muller, New York: Doubleday Anchor ed., 1966, p.221 (B:349-50).


[26] Husserl, p. 210.


[27] Heidegger, "An Introduction to Metaphysics", New York: Doubleday, 1961, pp. 87-88.


[28] G. Marcel, "The Philosophy of Existence", New York: Philosophical Library, 1949, p.29.


[29] Marcel, p.5


[30] Heidegger, Exist., p.213


[31] Heidegger, Exist., p.215-216


[32] Heidegger, Exist., p.221


[33] P.Tillich, "The Courage to Be", Yale Un. Press, 1948, p.76


[34] Heidegger, Exist., p.318.


[35] Heidegger, Exist., p.97


[36] S. Kierkegaard, "Concluding Unscientific Postscript", Princeton Un. Press, 1948,p.166


[37] S. Kierkegaard, "The Point of View", trans. W. Lowrie. Oxf. Univ. Press, 1950


[38] Heidegger, Exist., p.92


[39] Heidegger, Exist., p 93-95


[40] Sartre, "Being and Nothingness, an Essay on Phenomenological Ontology", trans. HE. Barnes, London: Methuen, 1957, p.16 (1: Ch. l: 3 end).


[41] Sartre, B & N, pp.209-210


[42] Sartre, B & N, p. 532


[43] Sartre, B & N, & vii resp., (author´s intro.)


[44]Sartre, B & N, p.107 (2: Ch.II:1)


[45] Sartre, p.520 (conclusion: 1)


[46] Sartre, B & N, pp. lxv., (author´s intro.)


[47] Sartre, B & N, p.lxv (author´s intro)


[48] Sartre, p.lxvi


[49] Sartre, p.lxvi


[50] Sartre, B & N, p 622 (conclusion: 1)


[51] Sartre, B & N, p 624


[52] C. Jaspers, "The Origin and Goal of History", London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953, p. l.


[53] Jaspers, "Reason and Existence", Noonday Press, 1955. trans. W. Earle, New York:


[54] Marcel, "The Phil. Of Existence", N.Y. 1949, p.56


[55] Marcel, "The Phil. Of Existence", N.Y. 1949, p.59


[56] M. Buber, "La vie en Dialogue", pp. 7 & 29, resp. , Paris: Editions Aubier, 1960, our translation.








1. manomayamidam sarvam na manah kvapi vidyate ato vyomniva niladi drsyate jagadatmani
All this (world) is of mind-stuff,
The mind, however, is not anywhere.
Therefore, like the blue and so on in the sky,
The world is seen in the Self.
IDAM SARVAM, all this (world),
MANOMAYAM, is of mind-stuff,
MANAH, the mind,
KVAPI, anywhere,
NA VIDYATE, is not,
ATAH, therefore,
VYOMNIVA, in the sky,
NILADI VA, like the blue and so on,
ATMANI, in the Self,
JAGAT, the world,
DRISYATE, is seen.
In the sky there are no colours such as blue, etc. In spite of this, however we know this verity as we actually perceive the blue colour in the sky. In reality only the sky is real, and blueness, etc. are fully unreal. In the same manner in the pure unqualified Self this world is perceived which is a presentiment of the will. It is the Self alone that is real, and the world consisting of mind-stuff is unreal.


2. manaso'nanyaya sarvam kalpyate'vidyaya jagat vidyaya'sau layam yati tadalekhyamiva'khilam
By nescience, which is no other than the mind,
All this world is a presentiment of the will.
This (nescience) by knowledge gets reabsorbed,
Then the whole world (becomes) a mere configuration.
MANASAH, from the mind,
ANANYAYA, which is no other,
AVIDYAYA, by nescience,
SARVAM JAGAT, all this world,
KALPYATE, is a presentiment of the will,
ASAU, this (nescience)
VIDYAYA, by knowledge (i.e. true knowledge of the Self),
LAYAM ITI, gets reabsorbed (ignorance is abolished and Self-knowledge prevails),
AKHILAM, the whole (world),
ALEKHYAMIVA (BHAVATI), then it (becomes)a mere configuration (drawing)
It is the mind that is to be considered the same as nescience It is because of this ignorance that the world seems to be real. For destroying this ignorance, which is nescience, there is no other way than through knowledge, that is, true knowledge of the Self. When nescience is abolished Self-knowledge prevails, and when nescience is abolished and science prevails, the whole world resembles a configuration (drawing) presented by the mind. In the same way by the power of nescience which is the form of mind, the whole world is willed. Therefore this world is non-existent. When Self-knowledge prevails the fact that the world is unreal becomes experienced.

3. vijrmbhate yattamaso bhiroriha pisacavat tadidam jagrati svapnalokavad drsyate budhaih
Here, what a coward finds through darkness
To be like a looming ghost,
The same is seen to be by the wise
Like a dream-world of a waking state.
IHA, here (i.e. from a workaday standpoint),
BHIROH, to a coward,
TAMASAH, through darkness,
PISACAVAT, like a ghost,
YAT, what,
TAT IDAM, that same (i.e. what is visible),
BUDHAIH, by the wise,
JAGRATI, of the wakeful state,
SVAPNALOKAVAD, like a dream-world,
DRSYATE, is seen.
For a coward darkness is like a ghost, and this is a common experience. The ghost and its cause which is darkness are both non-existent. To the coward, however, because of his fear and lack of light it is darkness that is seen as a ghost. When a lamp is brought and one looks at it there is neither darkness nor a ghost. In the same way for those who are not aware of the principle of nescience, this world which is of the form of nescience (which is the same as ignorance), i.e. for a man who does not know this principle, it seems real. Just as in the same way as darkness becomes for a coward a ghost, through that ignorance which is of the nature of darkness, what looms in the form of this world is seen to be true only to those who have not attained to Self-knowledge. But to those who have Self-knowledge and who are wise, this world is like a daydream and seen to be unreal.

4. sankalpakalpitam drsyam sankalpo yatra vidyate drsyam tatra ca nanyatra kutracidrajjusarpavat.
This visible world results from a willing presentiment.
Where willing is present alone
Is this visible world seen, not anywhere else,
As a snake, too, when alone a rope is found.
DRISYAM, this visible world is seen (results),
SANKALPA KALPITAM, (as) a presentiment of the will,
YATRA, where,
SANKALPAH VIDYATE, willing is present,
TATRA CA, there alone,
DRISYAM VIDYATE, this visible (world) (exists),
ANYATRA KUTRACID NA, not anywhere else,
RAJJUSARPAVAT, as a snake too where alone a rope (is found)
All visible things are the product of willing. Only where there is willing is there any object. If there is no willing there is nothing at all. The snake imagined on the basis of a rope is merely a product of willing. For a man who has the presentiment of a snake, a piece of rope lying in a place badly lit seems like a snake. When a lamp is brought and the object is examined there is no snake in the rope. If we now inquire where the snake was, we can see that it has its being only in the will. This snake has neither a workaday reality (vyavaharika) nor an absolute reality (paramarthika). It has only a reflected eidetic (pratibhasika) status. In the same way as with this eidetic snake, if we consider any other of the many objects presented to us we conclude that they are only products of the will. Here we find the justification for what was said in the first chapter about the creation of the world by the mere will of the Highest Lord. In the same way as this eidetic snake came from the vitalistic will (of the individual), (so too) this workaday world is the product of the Highest Lord. All things as presentiment of the will are unreal. When knowledge comes they are destroyed. But the difference we should note here is that the snake-rope is of the nature of a vital presentiment of the will, when the right knowledge which belongs to the living being is operative they (i.e. snake and rope) get abolished. But in the case of this workaday world having its origin in the will of the Highest Lord, even after we come to know of it as unreal we cannot abolish it completely because the Lord's willing is stronger than individual vital willing and because all beings are caught and helplessly spun around by the will of the Lord. It is only the will of the Lord that can abolish altogether this collective presentiment (called) the visible world. In spite of this, however, those great souls who have attained to the experience of reality through Self-knowledge, know the unreality of the world in respect of the three aspects of time; whether past, present or future. Because it arises from the will and is also dissolved by the will the world is non-existent in the same way as the snake supposed in the basis of the rope. By bringing in the analogy of the rope and snake we have to understand that the world was not before or after but only present in the intermediate period when nescience prevailed and knowledge had not asserted itself. What is not present in the past and in the future can certainly be said to be non-existent in the present.

5. sankalpamanasoh kascinnahi bhedo'sti yanmanah tadavidyatmahprahkyam indrajalam ivadbhutam
Between the will and the mind,
There is no difference at all,
That which is mind and called nescience and darkness,
Like the magic of Indra, is a marvel.
SANKALPA MANASAH, as between the will and the mind,
KASCIT BHEDAH, any difference,
NA HI ASTI,there is none at all,
AVIYA TAMAH RAKHYAM, what is called nescience and darkness,
YAT MANAH, which is mind,
TAT, that,
INDRAJALAM IVA, like the magic of Indra,
ADBHUTAM, is marvel
What is given as the world, which is false in respect of the three aspects of time, is an appearance preserved with all the varied picturesqueness belonging to it, seems itself as created by that specific power which is the mind endowed with will. It is therefore described as a marvel (adbhutam) like the magic of Indra. Because this power remains in the form of darkness and nescience it is difficult to clearly determine the intrinsic nature of this factor which is itself unreal. Although all persons know that the objects produced by a magician are unreal yet they are taken to be real. Because it is difficult to find the truth about this unreality, it is said to be a marvel. In the same way, because it is not possible to understand the nature of the mind it is also said to be a marvel.

6. maricikavatprajnasya jagadatmani bhasate balasya satyamiti ca pratibimbamiva bhramat
Like a mirage, to a wise man,
The world looms in the Self,
Just as to an infant, by confusion,
A reflected image might real seem too.
PRAJNASYA, to a wise man, (who can discriminate between what is real and what is unreal),
JAGAT, the world,
MARICIKAVAT, like a mirage,
ATMANI, in the Self,
BHASATE, shines, looms,
BALASYA, to an infant(without discrimination),
BHRAMAT, by confusion,
PRATIBIMBAM IVA, like a reflected image,
SATYAM ITI CA, as if real too,
(BHASATE), might seem
For a child having no discrimination, when it sees a reflection in a mirror it thinks that there is another child in the mirror. The child treats the reflection as if it were a real child. This is due to confusion in the child's mind. By confusion we mean the erroneous comprehension of one thing for another. But a person who has attained to discrimination understands the reflection in the mirror to be non-existent. In the same way people of non-discrimination understand the world as real, but those with discrimination take it to be non-existent. The mirage that is seen in the desert in the form of water seems only real to animals while those who have knowledge and experience understand it to have no real existence. In the same way, the wise man who discriminates between the transient and eternal values in life arrives at certitude in knowledge. He treats this world like a mirage, or in other words, as having no real existence. It is only to people of non-discrimination that the world seems real. The world is a mere superimposition or epiphenomenon, of the Self. Therefore it is absolutely non-existent.

7. atma na ksiravadyati rupantaramato'khilam vivartamindrajalena vidyate nirmitam yatha
This Self, like milk (that turns),
Does not attain to another form.
Therefore, the whole (universe), as if created
By Indra's magic,
exists as (an eidetic) presentiment.
ATMA, the self,
KSHIRAVAT, like milk,
RUPA ANTARAM, to another form,
NA YATHA INDRAJALENA NIRMITAM, as if created by Indra's magic,
VIVARTAM VIDYATE, exists as (an eidetic) presentiment, (i.e. being non-existent, it appears as existent)
The Self is something that remains changeless and is without the states of birth, being, growth, transformation, decrease or destruction. Like milk that goes sour and changes over into curds or buttermilk, the Self does not change, taking the form of the world, because it is not possible for even an atom to be outside the Self. If one asks how this marvelous visible world originated and how it came about and on what basis it is established, the reply is that it exists in the Self in the form of an eidetic presentiment (vivarta). The things produced by the magician do not really exist. In the same way this world is really non-existent (i.e. it is false).

8. mayaiva jagatamadikaranam nirmitam taya sarvam hi mayino nanyadasatyam siddhijalavat
Maya itself is the prime (material) cause
Of the world, by that which is no other
Than the Maya-maker (Self) is all this
Created, as various magical effects.
MAYA IVA, Maya itself is,
JAGATAM, of the world,(with varied forms),
ADI KARANAM, the prime material cause,
MAYINAH NA ANYAT, what is no other than the Maya-maker, (i.e. the self),
SIDDHIJALAVAT ASATYAM, as various unreal magical effects,
SARVAM, everything,(i.e. the whole world),
TAYA HI, indeed by herself(i.e. by Maya),
NIRMITAM, created, made
Maya is what does not exist at all. When. we say that the non-existent Maya is the prime material cause of the world it goes without saying that the world is not real. Maya is not other than the Self and the resulting world which in its effect is not different from the Maya-maker which is the Self. The various unreal magical effects are none other than their author. Even thus they are unreal. In the same way the world is none other than the Lord, although it is non-existent.

9. vibhati visvam vrddhasya viyadvanamivatmani asatyam putrika rupam balasyeva viparyayam
To the mature mind, this universe
Looms like a sky-forest in the Self
Even as an unreal puppet-form
To a child (would seem) contrariwise.
VISVAM, the universe,
VRIDDHASYA, to the mature mind,
VIYADVANAM IVA, like a sky-forest,
ATMANI, in the Self,
VIBHATI, seems,
ASATYAM, unreal,
PUTRIKA RUPAM, puppet form,
BALASYA, to a child,
VIPARYAYAM IVA, as contrariwise (would seem)
Wise people look upon this world like a sky-forest imagined in the Self. In other words, they see everything in the form of the Self and they treat the world as unreal, because it is supposed in the Self. They understand that the Self alone is real. It is only unwise people who think the world is real. Children who lack understanding treat lifeless and inert puppets as equally real as themselves and play with them, carrying on a conversation. Only those of maturer years know that such things are inert and lifeless.

10. ekam satyam na dvitiyam hyasatyam bhati satyavat silaiva sivalingam na dvitiyam silpina krtam
One (alone) is real, not a second,
What is unreal, indeed, seems as being real.
The Siva Lingam is stone itself,
Not a second made by the mason.
EKAM SATYAM, one (alone) is real,
DVITIYAM NA, not a second,
ASATYAM HI, what is unreal indeed,
SATYAVAT BHATI, seems as being real,
SILA IVA SIVA LINGAM, the Siva Lingam is stone itself,
SILPINA KRITAM DVITIYAM NA, not a second made by a mason
It is the Self that alone is real. Anything other than the Self is not at all real. The unreal world merely has a semblance of the real. That which seems like the Siva-Lingam (i.e. the phallic emblem of Siva) is really the stone itself. As for the Siva-Lingam it merely seems as if it is a reality independent of the stone. What is real is the stone and the Siva-lingam is what is supposed on the basis of what really exists. The Siva-lingam, is not one that the mason made independently of the stone. It is the stone itself. The stone is real and the Siva-Lingam is unreal. In the same manner the Absolute is real and the world is unreal. The unreal world (only) seems real.







The overall purpose of this chapter is to establish a fundamental ontological unity of an absolutist status, in place of the dual factors of mere appearance and of the mind, which is no less unreal as the basis of all appearance. This dialectical duality is accepted in the very first verse of this chapter and we see in the last verse how the duality is finally absorbed by a mutual process of osmotic absorption of the essence of the one into the other. We can call these two aspects the "noetic and noematic" of the phenomenological context.


By way of introducing the content of this chapter in terms familiar to the modern reader we have examined a series of positions and suppositions belonging to the modern phenomenological school of thought. Besides the noematic and noetic we have to understand other terms like eidetic, epoche, phenomenological reduction, etc., which already present a variety of new concepts coined for the purposes of a new science combining natural psychology with a philosophical theory concerning man and the world. The reader has to guard himself from becoming confused by the multiplicity of words, especially after he has read this chapter wherein other technical terms such as darkness (tamas), nescience (avidya), willing (sankalpa), mind-stuff (manomaya), etc., have to be understood as belonging together without any confusion between them.


This is where we have to bring protolinguistic structuralism into the picture. Simple though these verses seem and although they present a mere skeleton without any flesh and blood by way of elaborations and descriptions, the reader who is able to follow the successive steps represented by each verse will get an encompassing and comprehensive notion of how Narayana Guru accomplishes the reduction of duality between the mind and the phenomenological world into a basic ontological unity pertaining to the Science of the Absolute. Phenomenology is not unilaterally treated as a mere science of appearances and a distinct branch of knowledge sufficient to itself.


Instead it is presented with its reciprocal implications which absorb each other negatively at first where ontology ultimately gets primacy over teleology. Even this vertical duality of movement in thought is balanced or cancelled out by the time we attain the finalized notion limiting this chapter marked by an ontological unity without any traces of duality.


Two sets of antithetic factors are successively abolished by a methodology that gives room to the immanent-transcendent as well as the factual-virtual aspects of existence at one and the same time. The four limbs enter into interplay in a delicate manner and the notion of Isvara or Lord which properly belongs to the first chapter is again alluded to for the purposes of bringing out the contrast between two kinds of appearances. The first appearance is richer and more universal than the second called vyavaharika (the workaday world), while the first is pratibhasika (reflection-appearance). Both are different versions of the same eidetic presentiment, the first stronger than the second. Vyavaharika has a more universal validity and holds good with all normal men at any time. Pratibhasika is an appearance given to partial and feeble-minded individuals such as cowards under special circumstances. In Vedanta the former refers to the samashti (the collective aspect) while the latter belongs to the vyashti (the individual aspect). Samashti can be equated and attributed to the mind of the Lord as representing the collective mind of humanity, while the latter refers to individual errors common to all men.


A further precautionary hint is also indicated here for the guidance of the critical student. Antinomies such as science and nescience, truth and error, etc., are not treated by Narayana Guru as capable of being strictly cancelled out, leaving no remainder of content. There is a subtle bracketing principle as in Husserl's fundamental phenomenology where the bottom of a receptacle and its lid are put together in such a way that the content still remains existent and real.


Paradox, when resolved, does not abolish all content into nothingness. On the contrary by a reasoning involving both a double assertion and a double negation the full absolute existence is reaffirmed rather than emptied into nothingness. This is the reason why we see in Narayana Guru's gloss to Verse 2 the reference to atmavidya (Self-knowledge). This is to be taken in a global sense with the purpose of countering the ill effects of nescience. If we think of atmavidya as having a vertical structural status and nescience as having a horizontalized one, the difficulties presented by two sets of antinomies are solved.


The mutual absorption or osmotic interchange between appearance and its cause in the mind takes place both as exosmosis and endosmosis alternatively at one and the same time as required by each of the reasonings proper to any one verse of the series. The reversal has also to be carefully noted when it takes place. The reduction of duality into unity involves a double correction at each stage.



It is necessary to clarify here the epistemological and methodological status of this chapter and the factors constituting the relationship between other chapters as well as the inner relationships between the ten verses. This is important because it is the way integration is accomplished. Integration is always more important than a mere detailed examination of contents. There is already plenty of literature discussing in almost hair-splitting fashion the various implications of the Science of the Absolute. The numerous commentaries on the Brahma Sutras are examples of this.


While it is easy to take the elements that constitute brahma-vidya (the Science of the Absolute) apart and minutely and separately examine each component element, the reverse process is not at all an easy one.


Even an amateur watchmaker can take a watch apart but to put it correctly together again requires the skill of an expert. The structural vision of the mechanism as a totality must be understood by anyone attempting to fit the fractional aspects together. This is all the more true in the present case where Narayana Guru has made a necklace where each jewel is meant to be correctly interpreted and related to the overall resultant product. Minute workmanship is there in each unit-piece, but how they are linked together with cardinal and ordinal elements respected throughout is the very factor which alone gives a scientific status to the whole subject.


We have seen how even within the sphere of modern phenomenology there are differing standpoints where emphasis is placed on one or another of its features which between them offer a variety. We have tried to link together and review this variety in a certain methodical order. The same is true in respect of each of the verses of the present chapter, as also of the content of this chapter as a whole when related to the chapters immediately preceding and following it.


What is the raison d'être of this chapter, especially when there is another, the next chapter, which is also devoted to appearance and illusion treated as an overall category of error or Maya? In the present chapter the gross and subtle aspects of a similar world of phenomenological realities have been reduced to unity by a methodology proper to such reduction. We pointed out how it was in terms of an élan vital of a more positive order than the present that the reduction. was accomplished. In the succeeding chapter on Maya not only is ontological and phenomenological reality reconciled or cancelled out with its corresponding counterparts, but features having a more thorough-going epistemological status. We find elements admitted belonging to a purer abstraction than what phenomenology admits.


Phenomenology belongs precisely to that sphere where the visible meets the intelligible on neutral ground. We are more directly concerned here with the world of appearances. No doubt this world of appearances is an effect of a more deeply seated cause which is the mind, but for the purposes of this chapter it is the equation of effect with its cause that we are primarily concerned with.


We have also to note that Narayana Guru departs somewhat from the usual Vedantic tradition by introducing herein what amounts to a new darsana. Much confusion is seen in Vedantic literature on the question of making matter and mind and the pure and the practical participate together, with material aspects correctly inserted into mental aspects, so that a proper articulation results in a mutual relationship without cleavage between them. Arguments admitting of contradiction have to be used in the world of cause and effect where material considerations prevail over mental ones. In the pure domain of thought, however, it is possible to use a higher form of dialectical reasoning where the principle of contradiction can be bypassed without difficulty.


How could a good God create an evil world? How can gross and subtle life expressions exist together? These are problems which require a neutral ground between mind and matter which alone can explain the two-sided relationship. When Vedanta speaks of the living Self (jivatma) caught in the cyclic process of being and becoming (samsara) and at the same time speaks of souls entering into Brahman (the Absolute), two kinds of logic have to be used. This precise kind of difficulty has vitiated much of the hair-splitting polemics of the Brahma Sutras. The commentaries on this work have some very unconvincing arguments and conclusions clothed in confusing verbosity. This chapter is meant to dispel the difficulties arising from this lack of equality of status between matter and mind.


We find that by introducing an unusual darsana of his own, Narayana Guru succeeds in meeting once and for all many of the issues which crop up ad nauseam in the form of vain sophistry. This is particularly true in scholastic developments of Vedanta after Sankara.


The notion of Maya is usually seen to be interposed as an overall blanket expression to cover all possible errors to be grounded in it without a clear analysis of the component factors entering into the notion taken as a whole. We shall see in the next chapter how Narayana Guru is able to number and grade some of these component factors more clearly than has so far been done. By interposing this present chapter much of the unnecessary weight that would have rested on the Maya Darsana has been lifted. This darsana also has within its scope many subtle epistemological factors belonging to the context of the negativität of Hegel.


The notion of caitanya or vital consciousness which was the key notion of Chapter 2 is not displaced by a more compact and inner notion of the mind. As Narayana Guru explains, the mind or manas is meant to represent a number of other notions which enter into Vedantic discussions in connection with the cause and effect of appearance. Terms such as will (sankalpa), darkness (tamas), nescience (avidya), etc., are some of the technical expressions used in these discussions. Manas is also given a more dignified status where it represents the negative Self taking the place of the Lord of the first two chapters.


In every verse there is an equation of counterparts as between the key notion of manas and the world of appearances. Other antithetical elements of a horizontal order enter into the argument of each verse which should be structurally isolated and distinguished as Narayana Guru intended. Only then will the full scientific character of these plain-looking verses come into evidence. The ontology of this chapter is neither mental nor material but belongs to the neutral ground of pure phenomenology. It is wholly in keeping with the spirit of modern science as we have seen in the case of modern relativity where elastic and supple lines of light are capable of expansion and contraction, and are treated side by side with rigid logical parameters of thought involving the observer and the observed in one and the same existent reality. We shall try to clarify the structural implications of each verse of this chapter before concluding this section.



Among the features of this chapter calling for special explanation is the one that comes into evidence in the very first verse. We have a reference in this verse to the colours blue etc. The colourful world represented by our own refractory planet is only a convenient substitute for the larger universe extending infinitely and indefinitely in all directions. The visible aspect of outer space seems to have a blue colour. This blue colour cannot be distilled from the sky and possessed by us. It has the status of a kind of epiphenomenon, the origin of which is not altogether "over there" but in the weakness inherent in our own power of sight. Modern Science now permits such a two-sided view more and more. The redness of the cover of a book is not to be located in the book but in the peculiarities of the human retina.


Colour phenomena have this double character referring to the subject and object at once. Therefore it is not strange that Narayana Guru deals with the perfect reciprocity between subject and object in the phenomenon of visibility. He definitely says that although blueness is false and imagined in the sky, there is still a reciprocal counterpart of truth implicit when stated in correct dialectical language. This makes the world a miniature colourful universe floating in the subjective vectorial and tensorial space of self-consciousness.


Colour, as in a rainbow for example or in the sunrise or sunset hours of twilight, does not generally belong to reality but is to be located more on the side of appearance. The neutral and normative standpoint taken by Narayana Guru is here evident from the fact that this phenomenal aspect of visible reality, instead of being unilaterally excluded, is included both subjectively and objectively as worthy of being a sufficiently important subject for a complete Science of the Absolute. We have further to note that the first chapter of the Darsana Mala starts from the dream world of the physical world and passes on through less fine, thin and fluid aspects of space and time relations to reach a neutralized or normalized view by the tenth verse and in the second chapter.


In the third chapter a still more subtle and pure status is attained in the context of phenomenology, where subject and object meet more intimately without sacrificing inner or outer perceptive or eidetic experience. We shall continue to be in the world of existence until we enter into the fifth chapter where the zero point is seen to be implied as a central and double limiting factor placed as it were back to back. These factors have already been explained in the Preliminaries and in Chapter 2.


The subjective colourful universe within the mind or the Self need not necessarily be imagined as having the same spatial limitations or horizontal structural peculiarities as its objective counterpart. Thought is free to construct its own relation-relata complexes helped by coordinates and in terms of new relational geometrical representations and parameters. The possibilities of such a representation have already been explored by us, taking account of the various distinct disciplines which reveal the same structural elements, implicitly and uniformly seen through all of them and giving to them a scientific unity. Here we are not concerned merely with the phenomenon of colour but with its status, as an element of a universal and concrete character somewhat in the manner of Hegel, who says:

"Nature as a system of active elements in dynamic relations is the appearing image of the ontological essence of being: Nature is essentially dialectical in its qualitative Polarities.
This concrete qualitative interpenetration of light and darkness appears in the realm of real colours." (1)


A green colour, for example, can be said to be present on a leaf that we hold in our hands at a particular time and place. The same green colour can be abstracted and generalized by our mind in the manner of mathematical thinking. Then the colour need not be a reality of local fixed character, but instead can be given as a universal concrete anywhere and at any time to all human beings and even animals. We attain herein to a notion of the concrete universal which does not necessarily mean that the concreteness applies to solidity or impenetrability of matter which belong merely to natural physics. The distinction we are trying to make is sufficiently evident from the following quotation from Husserl:

"But one and the same noematic colour of which we are thus aware as self-same, in itself unchanged within the unity of a continuously changing perceptual consciousness, runs through its perspective variations in a continuous variety of sensory colours. We see a tree unchanged in colour - its own colour as a tree, whilst the positions of the eyes, the relative orientations change in many respects, the glance wanders ceaselessly over the trunk and branches, whilst we step nearer at the same time, and thus in different was excite the flow of perceptual experience." (2)

Furthermore, the colourful universe implied in the subjective space of the Self has a structure of the totality of space as given to it by Riemann and Lobachevsky with an exponential mathematical factor of measurement involved, as when the physical world is seen through a powerful telescope or microscope. What we cannot see with our actual eyes can still enter a strictly scientific world through such instruments. We begin to live in a world of squares and square roots or expanded or contracted spaces when raised to the power of +10 or -10.


We arrive at an extended series of possible visions of the world, macroscopic or microscopic, starting from a zero point where normal sight is assumed. In spite of this instrumental and inevitable distortion, the colourfulness of the world remains the same and attains to a subjective limit in either direction. The microscopic and the macroscopic reciprocally cling together and as colour itself is a phenomenon requiring topological space, we see all the more the justification for the colour-solid structure we have already adopted for our purposes.


Vedanta also deals with such a world of colour having the same phenomenal status as is seen in the Svetasvatara Upanishad and in Sankara's commentary on the Brahma Sutras (see pp.164 & 188 above, respectively). Bergson also includes colourfulness in his vision of the Stuff of the material universe at the meeting point of continuity and discontinuity of elements of pure notion. The universal concrete is further seen to be fully acceptable in Vedanta.


When creation is reabsorbed into the Absolute, all individual beings in the universe and even such minute entities as gnats and mosquitoes do not lose their concrete individualities but retain them in a schematically purified form. As the Chandogya Upanishad (VI.9.2-3): states:

".... as they are not able to discriminate " I am the essence of this tree or that tree" - even so, indeed my dear, all creatures here, though they reach being, know not "We have reached Being". Whatever they are in this world, whether tiger, or lion, or wolf or boar, or worm, or fly, or gnat, or mosquito, that they become." (3)

Elsewhere it is stated that the principle of the Absolute permeates all living beings to the very tip of their nails.


One would think that the nails, being gross and inert, would be excluded as incapable of having any participation with the Absolute which has a spiritual status as against a grossly material one. The full participation of mind and matter assumed here supports the claims of the notion of a concrete universal. We read the following in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (I.4.7):

"He (i.e. the Absolute) entered in here, even to the fingernail-tips, as a razor would be hidden in a razor-case, or fire in a fire-holder. Him they see not, for (as seen) he is incomplete." (4)



In the Prologue we dealt with a certain number of epistemological, methodological and structural features proper to the sphere of phenomenology. Intentionality as against a factual appraisal of reality is the new overall factor that has been applied to the world of mere facts so as to make it more subtle and fluid. Eidetic tendencies belonging to the mind reveal various levels where phenomenological factors present appearances of different grades of immanent and transcendent reality. The whole sphere of phenomenology concerns itself with fundamental ontology, understood in the noetic and noematic contexts.


Phenomenological reduction consists in taking a verticalized view of the content of natural science and ordinary psychology. What is more there is always the possibility of cancellation between counterparts consisting of two sets of antithetical factors When the Phenomenological sphere is reduced to its proper proportions and then cancelled out into some sort of synthetic residuum, the reality remaining consists of the pure individuality of man centrally located in a world of things around him. This is the central value revealed by phenomenological reduction or cancellation. The status of such a fundamental notion is regarded by some phenomenologists as fully absolutist. In this chapter the four antithetical factors involving Being or non-Being, each set viewed vertically and horizontally, are finally reduced into one central existence.


With these notions kept in mind we shall now examine the present chapter of Narayana Guru where we find these very elements of epistemological and methodological import.


If the chapter is read in the usual way, seeking to find in it only conventional and traditional Vedantic verities it is easy to see that all these tenets of ordinary Vedanta are also stated here, together with the clarification of certain subtle peculiarities. The commentary to these verses seems to be full of tautologies and synonyms whose shades of connotation are meant to be viewed in different arrangements or perspectives. This is apt to be confusing. Without an analysis of these verses in the light of the phenomenological features referred to above, the whole chapter might seem to be filled with banalities or reiterations. It is important therefore to scrutinize them closely, bringing out the scientific nature of the reasoning employed.

Let us examine the scope of this chapter and its limits. It is not difficult to recognize from the final verse that absolute ontological reality (sat) is meant to be the resulting residue after the reductions and reciprocal cancellations have been accomplished. We see that the paradox is still retained in a rudimentary form in the intervening verses for purposes of discussion or reduction. When, however, the last verse abolishing or reducing the former in terms of the latter calls attention to the rival claims of falsehood and full and fundamental existence, this last vestige of duality is finally abolished in favour of ontology by a process of double negation of falsehood leaving reality on the side of a downright and fundamental or Absolute existence. In the commentary to this verse it is categorically stated by Narayana Guru himself that the Siva-lingam is false and the stone is real. Ordinary devout or religious persons attached to the worship of such a symbol will be somewhat shocked in the same way as Kierkegaard shocked the religious when he emphatically condemned all congregational church-mindedness as falsehood. In the case of Narayana Guru, however, there is the saving feature that he has already devoted the whole of the first chapter to a God with a conventional value for overt adoration and worship.


Even in the present chapter he has taken care to refer to an ontological version of God, as we can see in the commentary to Verse 8 where he states, "The world is none other than the Lord"; so no sacrilege is intended when the Guru states that the Siva-lingam is false while the stone is true. One has to judge each of the verities of any one chapter in the light of the context of the subject-matter pertaining to it. If one plucks out a notion properly belonging to one chapter and puts it side by side with what belongs to another chapter, only absurd answers will result. Each darsana has an inner consistency of its own. Any notion basic to absolutism should be treated as central for a particular chapter without violating the norms and rules of the Science of the Absolute. In the Platonic context, for example, we know how Truth and Beauty can be interchanged. Jaspers, in his own way, has also put his finger on this same verity when he explains that:

"In thinking about temporal existence, one must continually run through the circuit of the modes of the Encompassing. We can remain static in none of its modes. Each demands the others. The loss of one lets all the others become false. The philosopher seeks to omit none.

The modes are related to one another. Their tension is not a battle where each seeks to annihilate the others, but rather a mutual enlivening and intensification." (4)

From this quote we can see that Jaspers stands for a certain kind of dynamic outlook and does not wish to remain static in his vision.


Appearance and its basis with a fundamental ontological status are brought together within the ontological limits of this chapter. But the final abolition of all duality takes place in the normalized and neutralized notion of the Absolute only when it is properly attained at the end of Chapter 5. Before that central verse we are still in the domain of percepts and perceptibles proper to that of sat.


We shall be passing on to cit (thinking substance) in later chapters and finally to where, by the end of the first part of the work, full normalization is accomplished consistently with the central position of the fifth chapter, as we can note in the light of the overall structure of the total work. Now let us turn our attention to the first verse in order to grasp its own limiting character in respect of the content of this chapter. We can at once recognize the two pairs of antithetical factors. The first set is a factual one where the world of physical existence is equated with its causal substratum in the mind of man. The actualities and virtualities involved move along a horizontal axis where full intentionality between them is not yet established. It is by an analogy of the relation between this first pair of antithetical factors that we have to take the first step in phenomenological reduction. The second pair of antithetical factors is between the globally understood Self and the visible world subjected to an overall structural revision.


The former corresponds to the noetic and the latter to the noematic. Unreality and non-existence adhere to the side of the transcendental essences. The equations of the positive factors with their negative counterparts are negatively pushed backwards, stage by stage, in later verses till we reach the heart of ontological existence that is free from all taint of essence. We have explained elsewhere that this negative approach proper to Vedanta is also found in the methodic doubting of the Cartesian approach. Full intentionality comes into play with the second pair of antithetical factors just mentioned and clearly distinguishable even in the first verse. In each of the successive verses we have to try and distinguish the same pair of antithetical factors and see how each gains primacy negatively and by reduction over its positive counterpart. What we mean by absolutist reduction in the context of ontological existence must be sufficiently clear to the reader from the above indications.



As we have noted in connection with the previous chapter, there are special expressions referring to matters of methodological importance, such as satkaranavada (primacy of cause over effect) and anvayavyatireka (method of agreement and disagreement). It will now be helpful once again to note in this chapter some of the special terms belonging to the context of phenomenology. Such terms will have definite structural implications. Methodology and structuralism have clusters or families of terms or favourite expressions which been developed through years of trial and chosen for linguistic usage. Vedanta has many technical terms also and this gives it the all-round precision so necessary in a Science of the Absolute.


Idioms and ideograms exist in language to serve the same purpose. We have seen in the Upanishads how structural-pictorial language is put to such advantageous use. This language also surprisingly reveals the possibility that the ancient authors of these philosophical texts had some advance inklings of the language of modern mathematics. Notions such as parity, one-to-one correspondence, inclusive and exclusive ensembles, and the possibility of abstraction and generalization of various degrees, as also prognostics based on possibilities and probabilities, were at least vaguely known to Sankara, and in more clearly intuitive terms to the Upanishadic thinkers. We find striking references to dream psychology and auto-suggestion (sometimes in a somewhat childish and distorted form) and even general notions of semantics or semiotic processes, found mainly in the Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini and greatly relied upon by Sankara. Jaimini is also fully conscious of structuralism when the Vedic ritualistic situation is treated by him as a whole and openly compared to a bull whose four horns, three feet and seven hands are meant to represent aspects entering into the structure of the totality of mantras (Vedic formulas uttered at rituals) and ritualistic acts that conform to the same structure.


To quote Theos Bernard about Jaimini, we read:

"Jaimini explains that such descriptions are figurative speech, technically called catvari srnga. For example: 'The sacrifice is compared with a bull by reason of its producing the desired effect; it has four horns in the form of four kinds of priests; its three feet are the three libations (savanas) (performed three times a day); the sacrificer and his wife are the two heads; the chhandas (desires) are the seven hands. Being tied up by the three Vedas, viz. the Rik, Yajus and Sama, it resounds with the roaring sound uttered by the priests; this great god in the form of the sacrifice is amidst the mortals." (6)


We shall have occasion later to give more instances that refer to such topics to show how structural protolinguism helps to avoid verbosity and render obscure aspects of the Science of the Absolute more clear.


In the present chapter we are interested in noting and explaining specific terms. The first one that appears is ananyaya (which is no other). We also find this term used in the Bhagavad Gita (XI.54) in the context of contemplation where the disciple is asked to establish a strict bipolar relationship with the object of his meditation to the exclusion of anything extraneous to the situation. Even outside the context of contemplation the term is an important one. Perfect mechanical identity of two terms in a horizontal sense is not what is meant here. If in a certain intentional context two terms can serve in effect as essentially the same, they are vertically non-different, although nuances of meaning might seem to separate them on the basis of non-essential and non-intentional aspects. The term thus is proper to the context of an equation of phenomenological reduction between verticalized counterparts as seen employed in this chapter.


We shall now refer to one or two other expressions of the same kind, although they do not strictly occur in this chapter but are only suggestive of the way in which certain concepts are to be understood as properly fitting into the dynamism of phenomenology. One such expression is tadatmya (attaining to the status of identical selfhood). This implies that a notion can become identical with another in its inner semantic content as understood in the context of Self-knowledge. As we scrutinize, one after another, the terms of negative import used in the successive verses of this chapter, we find various terms having the same connotation are first merged into each other as ananyaya (non-different), and then each previous one is inclusively connotated by the next in succession having a more generalized and abstract status. One can easily note such a graded and inclusive succession existing between mind (manas) and nescience (avidya), as assumed in the second verse. Nescience thus covers mind and includes it. What is more it has its own dialectical and positive counterpart in vidya (knowledge) which is capable of being vertically cancelled out against its own negative counterpart. The generality and abstraction increases in the connotation of the terms such as darkness (tamas), willing (sankalpa), the author of Maya (mayin) equated to the Lord (Prabhu) and finally sat, or the final basis of ontological existence. For each of these terms one has to assume a positive counterpart. Ontology within a phenomenological vision of appearance has a status by which in the last verse Absolute ontology is attained without paradox. Fundamental phenomenological ontology cannot go any further than this limit of the vision of the Absolute, intended in this chapter as in every other chapter of the work.


The principle of tadatmya referred to above is evidenced in the transition taking place between the principle of nescience found in the magician or the author of Maya, treated as interchangeable terms.


The author of universal illusion is no other than an ontological God situated right in the heart of all beings, as stated in the Bhagavad Gita (XVIII.61):

"The Lord dwells in the heart-region of all beings,
O Arjuna, causing all beings to revolve through the principle
Of appearance (maya) (as if) mounted on a machine." (7)


Nescience has here attained an equality of status with the Lord seated in the heart of all beings. In other words, it has attained tadatmya with it. Reality itself is impersonally represented in the last verse as the negative vertical side of the Absolute without any of the anthropomorphic imagery now left behind in the first chapter.


We also bring in two other related notions referring to the known and the unknown found in the Kena Upanishad (1.3) where it is quite unmistakable that the structuralism refers to a vertical parameter. A complete Science of the Absolute has to take account of all such terms as belonging organically together. The mind, ignorance, darkness and even an ontological Lord as the Self are points in the same vertical parameter. We read as follows:

"Other, indeed, is It than the known,
And moreover above the unknown.
Thus we have heard of the ancients (purva)
Who to us have explained It. (8)

What we know is only a certain zone or area in the vertical parameter representing finalized absolutism. Relativistic versions of the same have a plus and minus aspect which is either above or below in the relational and structural parameter.


In the same way as we have now clarified in the text of this chapter the different terms which correspond to successive negative aspects of ontology, we could distinguish the successive plus or teleological-transcendental aspects of the same series in each of the verses.

The illusion and the maya-maker are dialectical counterparts as the varied magical effects also refer to the Self as the same magician. They are not strictly within ordinary human experience but are justified in the context of phenomenology, which is more than just natural science, and refer to the supernatural or occult aspects of the world of possible effects in a universe that can at least be thought of, although they are false in themselves. Other numerator aspects corresponding to denominator aspects are more strictly ontological and can be more easily recognized in some of the other verses as well. The snake-rope and ghost-pillar examples with an eidetic content are familiar in common life. Darkness is treated as having the same status as the ghost which is its immediate material cause. The errors possible to the mind of man are not of the same order as what is attributable to the will of the Lord who represents the collective mind of humanity. This subtle distinction is brought out in the commentary to Verse 4. The blue of the sky is an error because it disappears when we fly upwards, but nonetheless it is an error affecting the mind of the whole of humanity. It is a universal illusion as distinct from the mistake of a single individual who might be having hallucinations. The Lord's will has a horizontalized richness of content lending support and giving firm ground to the workaday necessary activities of human life. This is just the horizontal axis of the vyavaharika (workaday reality). Between the vyavaharika and the paramarthika (ultimate reality) there is an infinite number of quasi-stable possibilities of error, all of which can be classed under pratibhasika (a reflection of a reflection of the truth of the Absolute.)


Normalized phenomenology has to be distinguished from the possibility of superstitious visions or wrong judgments resulting from the promiscuous mixing of fact-truths with logic-truths. The maximum possibility of illusion rests on the shoulders of an ontological God who is alone capable of making falsehood appear as reality in an absolute context. It is in this sense that he is referred to as mayin (maya or magic maker).



Two pairs of reciprocities are found in Verses 6 and 9. The first one is based on a bilateral symmetry of structure on two sides of the vertical axis. One side is a horizontal replica or reflection of the other, capable of being viewed in its positive and negative dimensions at different levels along the vertical axis. A mirage in the desert has no reality except one of a phenomenological order. Both the factors are of a sterile or valueless order. It is the subject or the Self, horizontally viewed, which is the ontological basis of the mirage, as the desert is the sterile basis of it. The visible world is thus a passing show having the character of a sterile or valueless flux in relation to the subject. The future may be imagined as flowing towards the Self, while the past recedes from it. Such is the correct perspective to which the first pair of reciprocities belong.


The totality of such a process has already been structurally analyzed by Bergson. All we want to refer to here is to the first pair of bilateral and horizontally symmetrical counterparts given to the mind. An example of this is the child taking its reflection in the mirror to be as real as itself. One of these (i.e. the mirror reflection) can be equated or referred by a thinking man to its real or actual source on the positive side of the horizontal axis. In the context of complex numbers we know how real numbers have their corresponding negative numbers as, for example, 1 and -1.


Of the four antithetical factors belonging to phenomenology, these two refer to the actual and the virtual. In Verse 6, Narayana Guru wishes to call attention to this pratibimba (reflected image) phenomenon, involving the actual and the virtual only. This should not be mixed up with a second deeper-seated antithetical pair of truly eidetic phenomena which refer to two points on the vertical parameter, -1 on the minus side and 1 on the plus side. The former is the immanent (noetic) and the latter is the transcendental (noematic).


The example in the ninth verse is a familiar one to anybody who observes the mental states of children as well as adults. The sky-forest is a conceptualized version resulting from the opposite tendency to the other type of eidetic representation which attributes life to an inert doll. The two kinds of reciprocities coexist in consciousness, adhering to a structural basis of Cartesian coordinates. In an extended context, outside that of phenomenology, there are negative and imaginary numbers as well as continuous and contiguous associative links. Cardinal and ordinal numbers can be distinguished on the same basis as well as the four basic operations of arithmetic. What is contrary and what is contradictory can also be classified in this way. The former marks a vertical reciprocity of two counterparts and the latter a horizontal one.


So we see that the same structuralism can be imagined as operating at different degrees of abstraction and generalization. The operation is between actualities and virtualities with a vertical or horizontal gradation implied between them. It is in the Absolute Self that these four gradations are held together with any degree of concretion or Abstraction in the form of a unit thought or idea.



There are some striking passages in the Upanishads which have eluded interpretation by even such experts in Vedic exegetics as Sankara. In his Brahma Sutra commentary he makes profuse allusions to some of the most striking among them. There is sometimes evidence in his writings of his capacity to enter into the semantic and syntactical implications of Upanishadic texts, taking into account even such factors as sphota (bursting into meaning) found in the Panini Darsana. The structural features of semantic polyvalence are familiar to him, although much dependence is seen on the Purva-Mimamsa texts for such analyses. Both the Bhatta and Prabhakara schools of semantics are seen to be effectively criticized in his writings.


Some other aspects of structuralism are also evident here and there, and the theory of ensembles whereby classes can pertain to larger classes is not altogether unfamiliar to Sankara. He uses such devices with much ability and insight in his persistent polemics directed against the Samkhya (rationalist) philosophers who have themselves contributed to Indian speculation many structural features or frames of reference such as that of the three gunas (nature modalities). The mechanism of the mode of operation respecting an inner reciprocity between prakriti (Nature) and purusha (Spirit) is reflected in the three gunas. This finds full recognition and elaboration in Chapter 18 of the Bhagavad Gita.


Sankara has no serious objection to such a notion as found in his Gita commentary, but in his Brahma Sutra commentary he expresses himself definitely against any such schematism whenever it is put forward by the purva-pakshins (anterior questioners) who represent the Samkhya school of wisdom. We see no validity in this double-sided standpoint taken by Sankara, except perhaps in that the Brahma Sutras are more orthodox and closed, and are primarily interested in maintaining the authority of Vedism against other speculative schools which are more rational and critical in their appraisal of the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and other texts.


More than half the pages of the Brahma Sutras are devoted to the elaborate refutation of the Samkhya philosophy and its structural explanations of the Upanishads. Vedism, as we know from its origin and content, is less interested in the ontological or phenomenological aspects of the Absolute. The idea of a Supreme Lord (paramesvara), whose intelligence is all-important, dominates Vedic thought. Sabda brahma (lit., "Word-Absolute," or the Absolute of the world of sound or the spoken word) is the transcendental aspect that gains primacy over the ontological features belonging to the same Absolute. Vedism is therefore primarily intended for believers and critical reasoning or rationalism by itself is sufficient to disqualify even a great rishi (sage) like Kapila in the eyes of Vedic orthodoxy.


Vedism has placed Kapila completely outside the pale of orthodoxy, but in the Svetasvatara Upanishad (V.2) we find him honourably mentioned. Nonetheless, the Brahma Sutras tend to degrade him and the notion of the central substance (pradhana ) round which his philosophy is built. This is wholly repugnant to the Brahma Sutras, at least as interpreted by Sankara. In this study we would rather emulate the example and spirit of the Svetasvatara Upanishad which combines a rational ontological approach with belief in transcendental values. The Bhagavad Gita, which is a brahma-vidya-sastra (text on the Science of the Absolute), openly supports the Samkhya position in Chapter 18, verse 15.


Although the Brahma Sutra commentary discountenances structural interpretations of the Upanishads on any ontological or phenomenological lines, we find that Narayana Guru gives a legitimate place to pradhana in the very next darsana (see Verses 1 and 9). Whether he considers the pradhana as a substitute for Brahman as the cause of the world is another question which we shall examine in its proper place. It might be necessary for the pradhana of the Samkhyans to be submitted to a revaluation and extrapolation before it can be fitted properly into the Science of the Absolute.


All that we wish to underline here is that scientific speculation cannot afford to bypass or neglect fundamental ontological aspects of the notion of the Absolute. We have pointed out how this very chapter has its raison d'être in such a scientific necessity. Appearances have to be explained as appearances, so that reality emerges to view not in any one-sided manner, but asserts itself throughout, in all its neutral and normalized glory.


In the light of what we have said in the foregoing pages it is permissible for us to take some striking passages from the Upanishads that pertain to the phenomenological sphere because of their referring to the world of colourful appearances. We shall see how far it is possible to interpret the references based on schematism and structuralism as a linguistic device. Sankara´s great hesitancy in adopting a structural interpretation and instead basing his arguments on pure Vedic exegetic is not justifiable. Such an attitude seems to be motivated more by a desire to reaffirm Vedic orthodoxy and authority and on the basis of such an affirmation to discredit the otherwise sound and genuine schools of Kapila, Nagarjuna, Kanada and others whose contributions to Indian thought are by no means negligible.



The most striking of the four examples that we have chosen from the Upanishads is the one referring to the unborn female found in the Svetasvatara Upanishad (IV.5):

"With the one unborn female, red, white and black,
Who produces many creatures like herself,
There lies the one unborn male taking his delight.
Another unborn male leaves her with whom he has had his delight." (9)


The structural implications intended here are quite evident to anyone who is not prejudiced against the language of structuralism. In the Brahma Sutra commentary, however, we find Sankara or perhaps one of his later representatives objecting in this connection to the Samkhya viewpoint. He goes out of his way in suggesting less tenable alternatives with the sole intention, it would seem, of excluding any structural or phenomenological interpretation of the imagery presented in this Upanishadic verse. Nonetheless, Sankara in his Vivekacudamani (v.108) has the following striking verse where this principle of the same unborn female is directly referred to as having the three gunas:


"Avidya (Nescience) or Maya, called also the Undifferentiated,
is the power of the Lord.
She is without beginning, is made up of the three gunas and is superior to the effects (as their cause).
She is to be inferred by one of clear intellect only from the effects She produces.
It is She who brings forth this whole universe." (10)

The above verse clearly suggests the idea of giving birth to the whole universe. It is true that one of the meanings of aja as found in the Svetasvatara Upanishad is "she-goat" which can be substituted for the broader and more commonly accepted definition of "unborn female." Nonetheless this does not change the structural intentions of the verse. We can even substitute a dog or a cat, if we wish, giving it a red, white and black colouring without changing in any way the meaning of the metaphor. Instead of understanding this in its more natural way, Sankara suggests in his Brahma Sutra (I.4.9) commentary, an actual or plain female goat without any implications even by analogy, just by chance having three colours.


We read the following:  
"For as accidentally some she-goat might be partly red, partly white, partly black, and might have many young goats resembling her in colour, some other he-goat might love her and lie by her, while some other he-goat might leave her after having enjoyed her." (11)

From the above we see that Sankara completely shuts out any schematical interpretations especially in the matter of comparing the three colours with the three gunas (nature modalities) favoured by Samkhya structuralism. Instead he seems quite content to rely on Vedic exegetics based on the semantic polyvalence of structuralism as when he speaks of jahal-lakshana and ajahal-lakshana, which suggests the same structuralism in a more metalinguistic context. Colours have a language of their own and when fitted into their protolinguistic structure help to fix correct meanings. Although in a certain context Sankara speaks of colour as belonging to the order of the universal concrete, the use of colour in language seems to be outside his way of thinking and interpreting. There are numerous examples in the Upanishads whose secrets will leap into coherent meaning as soon as this new structural device is applied to explain them. The examples to follow will confirm this claim. There will be many other example which we shall deal with in the same manner in the following pages.


Colour itself is a factor belonging to the perceptual side of reality. It is not hard to see how white corresponds to the plus side, while black corresponds to the minus side. As for the colour red we have to remember that it is generally associated with passion or action (rajas) and therefore correctly corresponds to the rajo-guna, or active nature modality. Regarding the three gunas, we read in the Samkhya Karika of Isvara Krishna (Verse 12) the following:

"The three modes (gunas) have a joyous, grievous and stupefying nature. They serve for manifestation, activity and restraint; they mutually subdue and support each other, produce each other, consort together and take each other´s condition." (12)


This is of the nature of an outgoing tendency reaching out to possess some dear object. The two unborn males are not represented as having any colour peculiarities, although they are included in the colourful situation. They belong to a pure verticalized context, the second having a more transcendental status because he is not at the horizontal level where passions prevail. The very mention of the male and female suggests the plus and minus side of the vertical axis. The male is nearer to the purusha of the Samkhya scheme and the female to prakriti, which is only one degree more negative than maya, which is a concept more epistemological than phenomenological.


If it is the duality of the Samkhyas that is repugnant to Sankara and his school, the same duality could be seen to persist till all causes and effects are mutually absorbed and abolished. Duality is of the essence of a paradox and can only be dissolved on attaining the fullness of the Absolute. We are here still in the context of phenomenology and it is therefore natural that the visible colourful aspect prevails over more purely conceptual aspects of the same Absolute. In the verse quoted above from Sankara's Vivekacudamani it is clear that maya is mentioned as the cause giving birth to pluralistic entities of the visible world. Elsewhere in the Brahma Sutra commentary there is uncompromising insistence on the Absolute alone being the cause of the world process. Here also we discern a slight methodological and epistemological discrepancy. These matters we shall have occasion to discuss more fully later on. The difference here is only like the difference between saying it is the government which collects taxes or that it is the revenue officer representing the government, when one can pay one's taxes to either of them. The Absolute is only in principle the overall cause of the universe as Sankara himself maintains in the Vivekacudamani (v.260):

"That which, though One only, is the cause of the many; which refutes all other causes, but is Itself without cause; distinct from Maya and its effect, the universe; and independent - that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind." (13)


Thus there is no serious objection, even according to Sankara in his other writings, to giving the benefit of full structural implications to the present passage from the Upanishad. Of the two alternative males involved in the same schema one must be given a horizontal relationship in the context of passion and the other a purer vertical relationship. The latter is free from all passion, transcending horizontal interests through Self-knowledge. In the heart of the horizontally related male there is "redness" implied but the other male instead travels from the neutral grey point towards the white pole of the vertical axis representing full transparency, purity and freedom from passion.


One more point remains, that of the plurality of progeny. This plurality necessarily refers to the horizontal axis which originates at the zero point. There is another reference to the Upanishads by which the Absolute who was One, thought, "let Me be many" at a certain stage in the process of willing the world with its multiplicity of entities. This act of willing has its neutral point of participation where the one and the many meet as dialectical counterparts. The tri-coloured progeny represent such a participation of the one with the many. The one and the many have between them a mutual transparency or homogeneity belonging to the whole of the schematic representation intended here.



The next example we have chosen to clarify structuralism is found in the Katha Upanishad (VI.2-3):

"This whole world, whatever there is
Was created from and moves in Life (prana).
The great fear, the upraised thunderbolt -
They who know That, become immortal.

From fear of Him fire (agni) doth burn.
From fear the sun (surya) gives forth beat.
From fear both Indra and Wind (vayu),
And Death (mrityu) as fifth, do speed along." (14)


In the above passage five Vedic gods, when personified, represent a relationship with the principle of Life. Death, as the "fifth" represents an event of great importance in the personal life of all beings. The other gods have a transcendental phenomenological status rather than an immanent one. The sun as the source of light can be put at the top position of the positive vertical axis, and death as the dividing line can be put at the point of origination or the zero point. The three other gods are personifications of phenomena in visible world of light or in the world of the intelligibles. What is referred to as Life is the ontological ground of all phenomenological events. This occupies the negative or dark side of the structure. All phenomena have their origin or source in this ontological-immanent ground, which is the counterpart of the region of light. It can be thought of in terms reaching to darkness doubly filled by itself at its negative pole.


The thunderbolt is the central relational parameter which regulates every other secondary natural law in relation to itself. Fear is an indirect way of referring to other natural laws which cannot be violated by any factor or entity belonging to the phenomenological world. Natural laws have to be observed. There is no choice or contingency. Rigid necessity prevails. Death speeding along with the others has a specific mention as "the fifth" because death has a special double-sided status at the core of life in the vertical dimension. Agni can also be given a place in the vertical axis although he does not "speed along."



We read in the Chandogya Upanishad (VIII.14) the following:

"Verily, what is called space (akasa) is
the accomplisher of name and form.
That within which they are, is Brahman.
That is the Immortal.
That is the Self (atman, soul)." (15)

The usual way in which we find Brahman or the Absolute is to represent it as something ultimate or beyond. This ultimate is sometimes meant negatively as ultimate source or beginning. We can thus arrive at the ontological basis of the Absolute. When the reverse process of inquiry is adopted we arrive at a teleological notion of the Absolute.


Anyone who understands intimately the epistemology of the Upanishads will find that in various passages the above two alternatives get cancelled into a normalized notion of the Absolute Those who love the transcendental are generally believers in a hypostatic God, and reality is located in the world of the intelligibles. This domain is generally distinguished as pertaining to knowledge (vidya) where the bright ones (devas) belong. There is also the negative counterpart of this which is the ontological world of nescience (avidya).


Those attached to this aspect are sceptics and what they lose by such scepticism they gain back through the ontological richness of the negative context of the Absolute. We have seen how even a religious man like Kierkegaard insisted on belonging to this negative aspect of reality.


The methodology of the Upanishads consists in treating these two alternatives in a dialectical manner, wherein thought moves backwards and horizontally first from the factual and actual and then to its own virtual counterpart. In the same way numbers can in principle be absorbed into imaginary numbers where such mathematical elements as -1 reside. It is this first degree of virtuality of the horizontal negative side that is absorbed into the richer and more inclusive negativity of the vertical axis at its lower pole, we have then the other second pair of antithetical elements coming into interplay. We have to think here in terms of a cancellation or exchange of essences from one side to the other so that, by transcending death as a middle zero point, thought ascends by a double assertion on to itself.


There are two striking examples of such an ambivalent process found in the Isa Upanishad referring to nescience (avidya) and knowledge (vidya) as well as to becoming, (sambhuti) and non-becoming (vinasa). The older way of giving primacy to the one or the other is definitely replaced here by a full dialectical methodology where both alternatives are treated together. The implied dialectics cannot be stated more clearly than what we read in the Isa Upanishad (Verses 11 and 14 resp.):


"Knowledge and non-knowledge -
He who this pair conjointly (saha) knows,
With non-knowledge passing over death,
With knowledge wins the immortal

Becoming (sambhuti) and destruction (vinasa) -
He who this pair conjointly (saha) knows,
With destruction passing over death,
With becoming wins the immortal." (16)


In the passage from the Chandogya Upanishad it should be noted that both name and form have a common substratum which is equated to the Absolute or the Self. Names are conceptual in status and forms are perceptual. When a name and its corresponding form cling together as a reality it constitutes a relation-relata unit in consciousness compared to a monad as used by Liebniz. All such units belong to the general substratum of the monadus monadum (the Monad of all monads) with the principles of sufficient reason and pre-established harmony. The former (i.e. sufficient reason) is a vertical principle while the latter is horizontal. They correspond respectively to the Sanskrit terms samanvaya-sambandha (relation by intimate inherence) and samyoga-sambandha (relation by contiguity).


Pure space (akasa) can be filled with such crypto-crystalline units of name and form in an amorphous matrix which is itself nameless. Cosmological ground gives place to a psychological substratum passing through the normative notion of the Absolute, as is seen at the end of the Chandogya quotation above. Immortality and the Self are treated as interchangeable terms.



As a final instance of protolinguism we quote from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (11.2.3-4):

"There is a cup having its mouth below and its bottom up' - this is the head, for that is a cup having its mouth below and its bottom up. 'In it is placed every form of glory' - breaths, verily, are the 'every form of glory' placed in it; thus he says breaths (prana). 'On its rim sit seven seers' - verily, the breaths are the seers. Thus he says breaths. 'Voice as an eighth is united with prayer' - for voice as an eighth is united with prayer.


These two (sense-organs) here (i.e. the ears) are Gotama and Bharadvaja. This is Gotama and this is Bharadvaja. These two here (i.e. the eyes) are Visvamitra and Jamadagni. This is Visvamitra. This is Jamadagni. These two here (i.e. the nostrils) are Vasishtha and Kasyapa. This is Vasishtha. This is Kasyapa. The voice is Atri, for by the voice food is eaten (ad). Verily, eating (at-ti) is the same as the name Atri. He who knows this becomes the eater of everything; everything becomes his food." (17)


Sankara approves of this analogy of the inverted cup because he says that although the meaning is enigmatic there is a supplementary reference in which the Upanishad author gives his own explanation. Sankara says this is not done in respect of the three colours in the case of the animal (i.e. the unborn female) involved in the Svetasvatara Upanishad. Although he seems to console himself in this one-sided way, we find that the explanation given in the Upanishad is meant to clarify the same and even more schematic and simple case of the inverted cup which is clothed in a mythological language, pushed at it were to puerile limits.


If the reference to the seven rishis (seers) is mysterious enough the mystery is only heightened by references to pairs of rishis in the ears, eyes and nostrils and a single one in the month. It is very clear that Sankara in trying to avoid the natural language of structuralism makes exegetics attain impossible limits. It is in geometry which is akin to structuralism that the human mind is fully at home, as Bergson explains:

"We shall see that the human intellect feels at home among inanimate objects, more especially among solids, where our action finds its fulcrum and our industry its tools; that our concepts have been formed on the model of solids; that our logic is, pre-eminently, the logic of solids; that, consequently, our intellect triumphs in geometry, wherein is revealed the kinship of logical thought with unorganized matter, and where the intellect has only to follow its natural movement, after the lightest possible contact with experience, in order to go from discovery to discovery, sure that experience is following behind it and will justify it invariably." (18)


Reverting to the enigma of the inverted cup we at once see that it refers to the domain of transcendental values (i.e. glories) A cup used to contain an immanent item of value such as clarified butter used in Vedic ritualism is the counterpart of the value-receptacle of a transcendental order. Differences like this are also mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita (XVIII.14), where the adhishthanam (base or pedestal) is contrasted with the divine factor.


The head considered as a cup with a mouth enabling the Vedic words to be uttered by the rishis is the same which is capable of enjoying essential values of a transcendental order. The enjoyer and the eater in Vedic language are often interchangeable terms. If this structural explanation is pushed one step further we see how the inverted cup structurally corresponds to the bracketing of Husserl's phenomenology. All values have to be contained within brackets turned reciprocally so as to enclose some epoché. To suggest such a correspondence between Husserl and the language of the Upanishad is thus not at all far-fetched.


The last remark "everything becomes his food" refers to afferent and efferent impulses at one and the same time. The nostrils, ears and eyes have the same twin and double aspects of afferent and efferent impulses belonging to each of them. The mechanism giving out information equally absorbs the same inwardly. There is always an osmotic interchange in the world of essential values taking place.


The previous chapter ended by referring to the three important aspects of the Absolute known as sat-cit-ananda (existence-subsistence-value). Although numbered as three items they are not to be treated pluralistically. Any one of them can be given its own absolutist status while the other two are also present in it, in principle at least. In the present chapter the first item referred to is sat (ontological existence). It occupies the key or central position in this chapter. In each of the verses the analogies represent the horizontal antithetical factors while the teaching represents the vertical. Let us review the verses in the series summarily:

Verse 1. The purpose of this verse is to start off by referring to the equal phenomenological status of the mind and the world presented to it. The appearance of the one is virtually present in the other. When both are so equated we attain to an idea of the ontological factor belonging to phenomenology. Then we have two sets of antithetical factors given to common factual experience. They are the blue of the sky and the sky itself. This pair is given to common experience, while the more deep-seated factors exist between the Self and the overt phenomenological world. This phenomenon includes even colour when understood as a concrete universal.

Verse 2. Here we find a subtle form of equation to be taken note of. It is between the mind and the more comprehensive notion of nescience. The mind is a simple horizontal virtuality, while nescience belongs to a deeper and richer world of intentions. Ananyaya or "not other" is the special reasoning of Vedanta that is employed to give what is horizontal a more verticalized status. The cancellation of knowledge with the world presented to science results in eliminating its eidetic content. Instead of being real in a vital or actual sense it is reduced to a mere configuration The term alekhyam or configuration suggests something sketched by an artist. It can be called a schematized version of the world.


Verse 3. The intention here is to accentuate one degree further the effect of nescience. Eidetic phenomena can be either weak or strong. The term tamas or darkness is substituted for nescience or avidya which has a weaker status. The full power of ontological darkness is capable of making a ghost emerge from its own ontological negativity as a fully eidetic representation. Just as in mathematics a numerator and a denominator are cancelled out only when they have equality of status belonging to the same class, so here too, we have to note one of the laws regulating phenomenology, which is the assumption that the negativity is of the same order as its positive counterpart and cancelable against it. The dream takes away just that amount of reality from the presentiment of the ghost as a ghost takes away from the actuality of the waking, right or conscious state. To the mind of the wise man the dream represents the result of the cancellation of the two eidetic counterparts. The ghost is a fully horizontalized version reduced into its own verticalized version in the eyes of the wise man. We have pointed out in the Prologue how the eidetic intensity is more fully accentuated here than envisaged by ordinary phenomenology. This gives a legitimate place to an ontological Self equated with the Lord as the source of all phenomena as its numinous cause.

Verse 4. Now we come to where the mind is serially equated with nescience, etc. It is finally taken over by a still more ontologically rich notion of sankalpa or will. Although sankalpa is not the same as the horizontal mind it can be equated with it when vertically reduced. Here the presentiment is not of the order of an imaginary snake but has a more valid ontological substratum in the rope. Error is not so inexcusable as in the previous verse, yet some feebleness of mind still exists for the type of error involved. It is in semidarkness that such a type of error is natural in common experience. The main point underlined is the ambivalent and mutual reciprocity between the two ontological and transcendent presentiments. The snake is superimposed on a more existent rope. Furthermore the snake-rope counterparts inseparably and more intimately belong together to one and the same phenomenological context.


Verse 5. The object here is to reduce further and fuse together the individual factors giving all of them a fuller and more finalized status. The principle of the will is on a par with the mind when vertically equated with it. When all the different negations are added together on the side of the denominator we attain a negativity which is the source of marvelous possibilities Absolute, actualities as presented to view then comes under its purview. The reference to Indra's magic is justified because here the supernatural is finally attained.

Verse 6. The phenomenal world is here compared to a mirage and this classical Vedantic analogy is aptly resorted to with great advantage. The mirage is only an epiphenomenal effect of a lower eidetic content than the puppet form of Verse 9. Here a horizontal reciprocity of a bilateral nature has the same status as between a thing and its mirror-reflection. The water in a mirage cannot satisfy thirst, although the full appearance of it is presented. Life on this plus side of the vertical axis moves forward or backward, as the case may be, in the world of empty presentiments. The observing subject is technically known as drik and is more important than its objective counterpart (drisya). What is seen, taken as a whole, is only a mirage, without any thirst-quenching power. It is a kind of passing show without any lasting value content. Only the infant mind or the unwise man is capable of treating it seriously.


Verse 7. Here the theory of actual change or transformation taking place in the phenomenal world is strictly rejected. It exists only in the world of mechanistic actualities where chemical changes such as milk turning into curds take place. In the mental world of pure Self-consciousness no actual change occurs. All change is reciprocal and belongs to a purely phenomenological or mental order. The technical terms describing such mental states having apparent reality is vivarta. The magic of Indra is once again called into service. Because this transcendental phenomenal world bears a close resemblance to actuality it is referred to "as if created" (nirmitam yatha)

Verse 8. The all-comprehensive category of error, falsehood, appearance or illusion is found in this verse. Here the foundation is laid for the further elaboration of this negative principle to be given full treatment in the next chapter. The special purpose in introducing it in advance is to say that the principle of error (maya) has an agent (mayin) as its cause. This agent is like the magician producing the numerous and varied horizontal aspects of plurality, while as the total cause it remains a unique verticalized potentiality. The horizontal is false and the vertical is true.

Verse 9. Here the phenomenological content of the whole chapter is brought into relief. The examples of a child and an adult are brought into distinguish two pairs of eidetic presentiments on the horizontal or the vertical axis. The first is noetic and natural to the child. The latter is noematic and natural to an adult. These two presentments have an inner opposition or reciprocal complimentarily. The sky-forest marks the limit for phenomenological presentiment of the will and is to be abolished when recognized as belonging to the category of falsehood or mere appearance.

Verse 10. The purpose of the final verse is to abolish the last vestige of paradox natural to the content of appearances Ontology is now given a revised, revalued and absolutist status. This is done by the process of reasoning, implying both a double negation and double assertion. Together they yield unity and abolish all doubt of duality. This apodictic, ontological and absolutist position marks the terminal limit of this chapter. Ontological negativity is still valid and is naturally carried over into the next chapter.



[1] Hegel, p.175


[2] Husserl, p. 261


[3] Hume, p. 236


[4] Hume, p. 82


[5] Jaspers, "Reason & Existence", Routledge ed., p.75


[6] T. Bernard, "Hindu Philosophy", Bombay: Jaico, 1958, p.131


[7] Bhagavad Gita, p.702.


[8] Hume, P.335.


[9] Hume, p. 403.


[10] Vivekachudamani of Sankara, trans. S. Madhavananda Calcutta Advaita Ashrama, 5th ed. 1970, p. 39.


[11] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., Vol.1 ,p. 256


[12] Samkhya Karika of Ishvara Krishna, trans & comm. John Davies, Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1952, p. 22


[13] Vivekachudamani, p.101.


[14] Hume, p. 358


[15] Hume, p. 273


[16] Hume, p.364


[17] See Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank.,Vol.1, p. 254 (1.4.8)


[18] Bergson, Cr. Ev., pp. xix-xx.







Here we come to an epistemological aspect of the Science of the Absolute called Maya. No other idea, concept or doctrine has given rise to so much vain speculation here in India. The most popular context in which the term is used is when it is said that "All this world is Maya".


In this form as an overall statement about the phenomenal world it only means to say what is otherwise familiar in literature when Shakespeare compares the world to a stage . Other writers refer to it as a cosmic illusion. More often in the Vedas, Maya is mentioned as being the "magic of Indra", indicating that it is an illusion of a supernatural order. It is also referred to as the overall category of error possible to the mind in its effort to search for truth and reality behind mere appearance. When Shakespeare says "All that glitters is not gold", it implies the same spirit of research. In the phrase "The play's the thing" appearances and realities are made to meet each other in an integrated whole, including within its scope the imitation and the original.


Errors are frequently possible in the world of simple existence, as when a child treats a mirror-reflection as real. This is an error of the most elementary order. Other miscellaneous errors also exist as when a stick half-dipped in water appears to be bent. This is due to refraction. There are other optical illusions and errors due to errors of judgment with eidetic factors entering in mild or strong forms so as to make one imagine a ghost where there is only darkness or a snake where there is only a rope.


A classical example of error used in more serious and philosophical Vedanta is when the wave and the ocean are treated dualistically. For the Advaita Vedantin it is also a grave error to treat a pot and clay as different, although Ramanuja and others of a more dualistic outlook excuse such error as fully justified by what they consider to be right, true or significant.


In Maya we are not only interested in errors of ontological existence alone but include logical errors of judgment and confusion of values. This last refers to the final factor included within the scope of Indian philosophy which is the axiological one. Right thinking must lead us to spiritual freedom, salvation or union with God. If philosophy is not conducive to this final goal the teaching is discredited and considered defective or erroneous in an overall sense. The ends must justify the means and vice- versa, or else both ends and means have to be finally cancelled out into a neutral unity. All these considerations make of Maya a complex question. Students and teachers of Indian philosophy sometimes seem to be more influenced by Western thought when dealing with this question, and as a result a great deal of questionable literature has appeared on this subject. Some modern Indian philosophers are even ashamed and apologetic about this principle which seems to go against the practical and technological spirit of modernism. Even some of the best inheritors of Indian thought who should at least be expected to know the implications of this grand and noble contribution to speculation are sometimes seen to speak with a strange foreign accent about Maya and admit that at best it serves as a mere tautology or contradiction. Such spokesmen for Indian Philosophy have not however succeeded in abolishing the basic paradox implied in this principle.


Tautology comes in when it is said the world exists because it exists. Contradiction enters when it is said the world both exists and does not exist. These positions have been discarded as objectionable by Indian thinkers. They have been named respectively as two kinds of doshas or deficiencies found in dull non-philosophical minds. Tautology is called atmasrayah and like petitio principii, begs the question. Contradiction or logical impossibility is called asambhavah. Applicability beyond its limits is known as ativyapti and non-applicability to the whole is avyapti. These are two intermediate doshas. There is another dosha called anavestha or having no stable ground. In the West this is referred to as infinite regression.


Other genuine methodological peculiarities known to Vedantic thought such as satkaranavada (giving primacy to cause over effect) are proper to the Advaita of Sankara. On the other hand satkaryavada (giving primacy to effect over cause) is known to Ramanuja who stands for a kind of qualified non-duality. In this respect his writing resembles the Vaiseshikas and Purva Mimamsakas. Ramanuja has thus no use for the concept of Maya while Sankara´s philosophy is founded upon it.


We have referred to these peculiarities of method and ontology to show how complicated the question of Maya happens to be. Furthermore Maya is not to be mixed up with any religious doctrine, as it often is, as when a person declares that he does not believe in it. Others while trying to deny the world also deny Maya which is meant to do the same thing and nothing more. In trying to go behind appearances in order to find the cause behind all effects, there are many stratifications of causes successively eluding the vision of the philosophical enquirer, each of which has to be passed with a correct way of methodic doubt.


When one proceeds negatively to the cause behind the positive effects, one begins to touch the subjective stratum where matter and mind meet. If the research is further continued in the same negative direction of ontological existence one attains to the domain of phenomenology where the transcendent and the immanent thrive on a subtle ground. There is a constant interchange of existences and essences here. When the enquiry is further pushed backwards one finally reaches the stratum of pure epistemology. It is here that negativity attains its full status as a principle having its dialectical counterpart in the more positively normalized principle of the Absolute. We shall examine the implications of such normalization in the next chapter. In Hegel we find these two aspects of the Absolute, negative as well as positive, represented as confronting each other. In his notion of the process of becoming where thesis and antithesis constantly cancel out into a synthesis, such dialectical reasoning is presupposed. On looking around for a point of support in the world of Western speculation, we find that Hegelian philosophy is the only context where there is some semblance at least of support for this Indian philosophical concept of Maya. Hegel's own principle of negativity is described as follows:

"Either way - whether blindly acting or blindly reacting - the object is a plaything of circumstances; it is there to be pushed around and to push around in turn. This activity, which is bound to change and to corrode the object, is the negativity or irrationality inherent in its nature." (1)


Hegel also writes:

"The Absolute negates all things that are not absolute. It is their Nothing or negativity.
Nonetheless this negativity or freedom of the Absolute can be abstractly isolated or representationally pictured. For Religion then, God is the supreme Being beyond all determinations; or the Void which is neither definite nor indefinite. Or, object metaphysics pictures the Absolute as a thing-in-itself without form or content. Or, sometimes compromisers try to save a part of Being from its all-pervasive negativity, for example by postulating the conservation of matter in all changes" (2)

The above quotations still leave the character of Hegel´s negativity somewhat vague and general. The Absolute becomes fully the Absolute when it negates its own negative aspect and asserts itself doubly from the plus side. In the first quotation it is inertia belonging to ponderable things that is referred to as a negative principle yielding the idea of the Absolute. Thus there are two forces acting in opposite directions. These two forces are already implied in the dialectical revaluations of thesis and antithesis into synthesis. It is not hard to conceive in this alternating process and stabilization of a positive and negative movement as also of a resultant - one tending to be more positive. The negative in the double-sided movement is the Hegelian principle of negativity. It can be referred to a minus dimension in the vertical axis. The further clarification, given in Hegel's second quotation gives handy examples of the successive grades of pure or impure negativity. Religion could be said to be impure to the extent that religious belief does not attain to the clarity of philosophy which questions and doubts critically.



We know from the history of German idealism that there was an intimate group of philosophers who were all post-Kantians. Being influenced by Kant's notions of the ding-an-sich (thing-in itself) and the antinomies present in his transcendental cosmology, they began to think along certain kindred lines, finally ending up with the dialectics of Hegel.


This two-sided speculative game started with Fichte's notion of the Self and the non-Self. Fichte, the father of pan-Germanism, soon went out of fashion because of his rigid moralism and sense of social responsibility. Nonetheless his influence was not altogether lost on the post-Kantian group who were romantic and therefore loved free thought. Schopenhauer's "world as will and presentiment" contains the same a priori synthetic elements found it Kant. His appreciation of Buddhist and Upanishadic thought is unmistakable.


Schelling and Schlegel also were influenced by Kantian and Fichtean absolutism as well as by what they derived from their Sanskrit studies. Although Schelling disowned his disciple Hegel, the kinship between their respective philosophies is discernible. German absolute idealism is thus an integration and a culmination of certain tendencies presented in common by a group of philosophers who must be assumed to have influenced each other in their admiration, admitted or not, for the philosophy of the Upanishads.


Paul Deussen and Max Müller went further than the original post-Kantians and were more wholeheartedly and openly affiliated to Vedantic thought. If we remember these circumstances it is rather easy to fill in what is not explicit in Hegel from the quotation above. The antinomies of Kant and the Self and non-Self of Fichte have their ground in an inner factor called Will belonging to the Self in-itself treated as for-itself and by-itself.


Treated in this way the Self attains an independent absolutist status with a double dialectical movement of thought accommodated by the Absolute within its content.


The Will to live, the Will to power, and the Will as presentiment are all positive expressions at different levels of the same inner factor understood in itself. We are not concerned with the positive aspects of this Will here but wish to shed more light on the nature of negativity vaguely referred to by Hegel. The same negativity is described in terms of his own ding-an-sich by Kant, with whom the description belongs to the domain of pure reason. By the help of its critique, it is easy to see how it is in the same direction of negativity as with Hegel.

We read as follows:

"If, therefore, I am obliged to think something necessary for all existing things, and at the same time am not justified in thinking of anything as in itself necessary, the conclusion is inevitable: that necessity and contingency do not concern things themselves, for otherwise there would be a contradiction, and that therefore neither of the two principles can be objective; but that they may possibly be subjective principles of reason only, according to which, on one side we have to find for all that is given. as existing, something that is necessary, and thus never to stop except when we have reached an a priori complete explanation; while on the other we must never hope for that completion, that is, never admit anything empirical as unconditioned, and thus dispense with its further derivation In that sense both principles as purely heuristic and regulative, and affecting the formal interests of reason only, may well stand side by side. For the one tells us that we ought to philosophize on nature as if there were a necessary first cause for everything that exists, if only in order to introduce systematical unity into our knowledge by always looking for such an idea as an imagined highest cause. The other principle warns us against mistaking any single determination concerning the existence of things for such a highest cause, i.e. for something absolutely necessary, and bids us to keep the way always open for further derivation, and to treat it always as conditioned. If, then, everything that is perceived in things has to be considered by us only conditionally necessary, nothing that is empirically given can ever be considered absolutely necessary." (3)


Kant continues referring to the "philosophers of antiquity" as follows:

"The philosophers of antiquity considered all form in nature as contingent, but matter, according to the judgment of common reason, as primitive and necessary. If, however, they had considered matter, not relatively as the substratum of phenomena, but as existing by itself, the idea of absolute necessity would have a vanished at once, for there is nothing that binds reason absolutely to that existence, but reason can at any time and without contradiction remove it in thought, and it was in thought only that it could claim absolute necessity." (4)

He now shows how matter is not adequate to the idea of a necessary Being:
"Nevertheless, as every determination of matter, which constitutes its reality, and hence the impermeability of matter also, is an effect (action) which must have a cause, and therefore be itself derived, matter is not adequate to the idea of a necessary Being, as a principle of all derived unity, because every one of its real qualities is derived and, therefore, conditionally necessary only, so that it could be removed, and with it would be removed the whole existence of matter." (5)


Kant now brings in the vertical parameter of Pure Reason as we see from the following:

"It follows from all this that matter and everything in general that belongs to the world are not fit for the idea of a necessary original Being, as a mere principle of the greatest empirical unity, but that we must place it outside the world. In that case there is no reason why we should not simply derive the phenomena of the world and their existence from other phenomena, as if there were no necessary Being at all, while at the same time we might always strive towards the completeness of that derivation, just as if such a Being, as the highest cause, were presupposed." (6)

Kant now goes on to explain the "negative discipline" of pure reason. As we can see, his negativity is one of an epistemological order:

"In its empirical use reason does not require such criticism, because its principles are constantly subject to the test of experience. Nor is such criticism required in mathematics, where the concepts of reason must at once be represented in concreto in pure intuition, so that everything unfounded and arbitrary is at once discovered. But when neither empirical nor pure intuition keeps reason in a straight groove, that is, when it is used transcendentally and according to mere concepts, the discipline to restrain its inclination to go beyond the narrow limits of possible experience, and to keep it from extravagance and error is so necessary, that the whole philosophy of pure reason is really concerned with that one negative discipline only." (7)


Kant concludes by showing us how a "negative code" is necessary in order to correct whole systems of illusions and fallacies.
He says:
"Single errors may be corrected by censure, and their causes removed by criticism. But when, as in pure reason, we are met by a whole system of illusions and fallacies, well connected among themselves and united by common principles, a separate negative code seems requisite, which, under the name of a discipline, should erect a system of caution and self-examination, founded on the nature of reason and of the objects of its use, before which no false sophistical illusion could stand, but would at once betray itself in spite of all excuses. (8)



Although Schelling calls his philosophy Transcendental, he is able to bring the positive and negative aspects of the Absolute into close relation as if on equal terms where positivity and negativity could cancel out into the full neutral Absolute. We are not concerned with this finalized and fully normalized Absolute. We shall need the clarification of this finalized notion only at the end of the next chapter. Here we are more interested in Schelling's notion of negativity in the context of the Absolute. His position is identical to that of Vedanta.


If we can suppose that the principle of negativity prevails over its own dialectical counterpart, making it just possible to exist as two rival ambivalent factors with an element of paradox between them persisting and finally to be abolished, we then attain to a more or less correct notion of what is meant by Maya. The infinitesimally small degree of negativity implied in it is the only factor that keeps it from representing the pure Absolute itself.


Schelling's position is clearly brought out by B.A.G. Fuller, as follows:

"Moreover, if we examine the higher, conscious expressions of the Real, we shall find that they, too, obey the law of attraction, repulsion and resultant equilibrium, displayed in natural processes. To exhibit this new link between the ego and the non-ego is the purpose of the System of Transcendental Idealism. The expansion of consciousness, Schelling tells us, rests upon the fact that there is consciousness. Pure and primal consciousness is simply a registration of its own existence. But even this blank act of registration of mere existence by pure consciousness is consciousness of something. In performing it, consciousness becomes an object unto itself, and is now self-conscious. Since the object of which it is conscious is simply itself, the limitation of the subject by the object, of the "I" by the "me", is an act of self-limitation." (9)

Fuller continues describing how Schelling views consciousness as a process of contraction and expansion:

"Let us start with sensation. Consciousness is a process of expansion and contraction, and sensation is the equilibrium resulting from the conflict of these two forces. Sensations are data of consciousness because they represent an expansive, outgoing activity of the self. But being involuntary and uncontrollable, as well as limits upon creative activity, they show also that the outpouring of consciousness which gives rise to them is continually checked and balanced by the contraction and return of consciousness upon itself." (10)


Finally we see how Schelling is able to conceive of the Absolute as One Reality transcending all duality. From the standpoint of the Absolute, the finite is not real but merely an appearance. We read from Schelling:

"The Absolute is an infinite and eternal Reason, in which the conscious and the unconscious, the subject and the object, the ego and the non-ego are identical. The Absolute Reason is one. Outside of it there is nothing. Within it there can be no distinction or difference or division, since if there were, the Absolute would not be one and infinite. It would be, rather, a collection of finite beings. If follows that from the point of view of the Absolute the finite is not real but simply an appearance, and that the distinction and opposition between the conscious and the unconscious, spirit and matter, the self and the non-self, are illusions. Stated in terms of the law of attraction and repulsion, the Absolute is the point of indifference or absolute equilibrium in which the expansion and the contraction underlying the ego and the non-ego exactly balance and cancel each other. Here, then, we have a Reality transcending the opposition between idealism and realism and describable as neither subject nor object, mind nor matter." (11)


We are now trying to trace the relationship between the notion of Maya as found in Vedanta and in Socratic and post-Socratic Philosophy, and the influences if has left on modern thought in general. The dialectics of the One and the Many of Parmenides and the paradoxes of Zeno have elements of ambiguity or uncertainty and are essentially the same when understood with the epistemology proper to Maya.


The affinities are, however, overlaid with other considerations, and the following quotation from Prof. 0. Lacombe brings out some of its difficulties and differences from Western ways of thinking. This quotation will at least help us to see how intricate the notion is when viewed from the standpoint of the West:

"Maya is the irrational of the system of Sankara. It is less than the chora of Plato or the rule of Aristotle: non-being in that these have no existence and have reality only by and for form, but to no degree in themselves, one could still say they are participations of being in a limited sense yet not in a false one. The illusion of Sankara, without being any more for itself, nor by itself, nor in itself, is a participation with Being except in a sense so extenuated that it becomes false therein. What is more it is indeed this falsity (mithyatva), this ambiguity, which has made it the principle of illusion. But it is more than the mere objective possibility of our medieval metaphysicians and of those who have followed them; because this latter is not clothed with any positive character and is nothing but the manner in which the over finite spirits conceive from outside the creative richness of God, and think in reversed and passive images the capacity, absolutely actual, which he has to confer freely being to nothingness. The purely ideal moment where it is designed in abstracto, the branches of modes under which the Being could be reflected in non-being; modes which are finite because non-being is not one and of an infinite number because the Being is infinitely generous; this movement was not to be passed over by a free act of creation for Sankara - whether with a metaphysical freedom or a moral freedom after the manner of Leibniz - it is necessarily transcended by the fecund presence of being." (12)


Overladen with classical and scholastic terms familiar to European theology, the above passage is an example of a text hardly readable or understandable in any eastern language. But it is not hard to note toward the end of the above quotation how the generosity of God and the fecund presence of Being belong to opposite epistemological poles of a two-sided situation. The former is contingent, referring to essences, while the latter is necessary, referring to fecund existence. In the light of our previous discussion of antinomies and antithetical factors in the structure of absolute consciousness, these two ambivalent aspects can be distinguished. Maya takes into account both these aspects together, instead of giving primacy to the intelligibles of Plato or the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle. Professor Lacombe's analysis is penetrating and in other references to the same subject he brings out the peculiarities in Vedanta in dealing with some other aspects of Maya such as "cosmic illusional magic", "wonderful powers," mayamayisrishti (creation made of the stuff of illusion) and mayavi or mayin (magician), There is no need to go into all these aspects of maya, as we shall have other occasions to come back to such questions under Chapters 8, 9 and 10.



Anything can be applauded or laughed at for right or wrong reasons. We have seen how the theory of relativity is good enough for the purposes of physics, but becomes untenable in the eyes of a correct philosopher like Bergson. Voltaire laughed at the idea of living in the "best of all possible worlds," and caustically mocked the followers of Leibniz.

The notion of Maya or Mayavada, or the principle of illusion in Sankara´s Advaita, are often referred to either seriously or lightly depending on the philosophy of the commentator. Ramanuja has little use for Maya except as a form of primary nescience (avidya). He does not give it an independent status in his scheme. Madhva represents a supreme Vishnu on a dualistic pole in the context of absolutism and from this derives various value factors of the world represented in a graded series. In a scheme called svarupananda-taratamya (a gradation based on the degree of bliss in the Self) Madhva finds room for this in his philosophy.


The cardinal principle of one Indian school of thought becomes the laughing stock of a rival one and confusion becomes all the more intense when Western philosophers make their own contributions to this domain. It is highly necessary therefore that the principle of Maya, considered as a product of the genius of the Indian mind and arising legitimately from the Upanishads, should be viewed in its proper perspective in relation to the system or vision to which it properly belongs. Sankara is the best spokesman and his own definition of Maya deserves our first attention. We read in the Vivekacudamani, Verse 108:

"Avidya (Nescience) or Maya, called also the Undifferentiated, is the power of the Lord. She is without beginning, is made up of the three gunas and is superior to the effects (as their cause). She is to be inferred by one of clear intellect only from the effects She produces. It is She who brings forth this whole universe." (13)


Sankara now abolishes all paradox in the very next verse:

"She is neither existent nor non-existent nor partaking of both characters; neither same nor different nor both; neither composed of parts nor an indivisible whole nor both. She is most wonderful and cannot be described in words." (14)

In the light of Sankara´s definitions, it is clear how the treatment given by Western. scholars to what they call the "doctrine of Maya" by authorities even of the high status of Paul Deussen, does not have any adequacy of relationship to what was in the mind of Sankara himself. We read the following from Deussen:

"The fundamental doctrine is thus clothed in the empirical forms of knowledge which are innate within us and assert their right; while the metaphysical dogma is gradually more and more superceded by empirical intellectual methods. In this way is originated a series of conceptions which, following up what has already been said, we propose here at the close briefly to survey; they remodel the original idealism into the theories of pantheism, cosmogonism, theism, atheism and deism." (15)


After scrutinizing the more recent quotation from Lacombe and comparing it with this from Deussen it is noticeable that Deussen treats Maya on a par with other theories of false appearance found in Kant or Plato. We read as follows:

"When Kant in his inquiry into the capability of the human intellect drew the conclusion that the entire universe, as we know it, is only appearance and not reality he said nothing absolutely new, but only in more intelligible demonstrated form uttered a truth which in less intelligible shape had been in existence long before him .... This is the case in Greek philosophy, when Parmenides asserts the empirical reality to be mere show, or Plato to be mere shadows..." (16)

In contrast with this, Lacombe's penetrating analysis shows Maya as having an absolutist inner status as a principle of necessity having a negative character. Deussen tends rather to abolish empirical reality altogether in the name of some such reality as Platonic intelligibles. The principle of Maya is not meant to be an article of faith nor is it to be treated as a doctrine to be completely accepted or rejected. Rather it has an epistemological and methodological foundation of its own, proper to the type of absolutism found in the Advaita philosophy of Sankara. It is not mere idealism. Prof. Betty Heimann correctly puts her finger on how philosophers and scholars tend to treat the question of Maya in a light different from what is intended.
We read:

"The Sanskritist must at the outset feel repelled when for example the Indian concept of Maya is translated as 'illusion'. The Western mind, according to the present use of 'illusion' sees here something unreal, deceptive and delusive. Yet this is not even the primary meaning of the Latin word illusion from the root ludere, 'to play'. Illusion originally, though this is now forgotten, meant, 'interplay'. As such, but only in its original meaning is it a near equivalent of Maya. Maya, the 'world of the measurables' (from the root ma, to measure), is a relative and transitory display of forms. In this sense it actually corresponds to illusio : interplay in variant shapes and forms, manifestations of the underlying substance. Illusion, thus interpreted according to its original meaning, truly is analogous to the Sanskrit term lila, 'play and display' of the creative urge for world-formation and elusive world-manifestation, as taught in Indian cosmogony." (17)


The idea of interplay of complementary factors is fundamental to Maya, just as Heinsenberg's uncertainty principle is fundamental in the context of physics. Two rival factors like light and darkness cannot coexist without mutual participation contributing to abolish the distinction between them as equally real factors. This is the paradoxical principle of ambiguity which distinguishes Maya. The paradox itself is not given to the senses of the physicist. It has its being at the point where physics and metaphysics meet. To solve the paradox it is not enough that these two rival fundamental factors can coexist as if by kind permission of the philosopher concerned. The paradox is not dissolved thereby. Unless the paradox is first dissolved one does not attain the Absolute.


It is easy here to get caught within the principles of tautology and contradiction without attaining to any fixed ground on the combined basis of the two possible alternatives of reality or appearance. Sankara is also seen to take much trouble in his Brahma Sutra commentary (I.4.21) to banish the vestiges of this persisting paradox found in the type of doctrine known as bheda-bhedavada (the principle of difference-non-difference).


To dissolve the paradox one has to take at least one initial converse position stating the paradox in the negative form, as neither difference nor non-difference. This correctly follows the anirvacaniya (unpredicability) found in Sankara's Advaita. The subtle distinction is seen in contrast between Sankara´s proper viewpoint and that of a modern Indian interpreter as follows:

"Although Radhakrishnan is a follower of Sankara, he does not hold strictly with the latter that the world is neither real nor unreal, and regards Maya not as illusion, but as a concept of explanation. We cannot know the why of the world, and 'it is this fact of its inexplicable existence that is signified by the word Maya'. But while admitting that the appearance of the world is without explanation, Radhakrishnan does not 'cover up our confusion by the use of the word Maya, nor does he consider that the world is devoid of value and importance, for in his words, 'the things of the world ever struggle to recover their reality'. So it would seem at this point he regards the world as a combination of Being and Non-Being, sat and asat, rather than neither Being nor Non-Being as most Advaitins would hold." (18)

It is not hard for the reader to see from the above appraisal of Maya by Radhakrishnan that whether the paradox is stated in one form or its converse, it is not transcended by him.


It was Schopenhauer who pointed out that the whole problem of the will and the world as presentiment has to be viewed from a different perspective. Starting from the empirical outside to arrive at the idealistic brings into being a series of graded -isms as enumerated by Deussen. When viewed from the other deeper inner pole and methodically built up, one -ism is made transparent to the next, and the multiplicity of rival standpoints, all existing side by side, is also absorbed and thus avoided. We read the following from Schopenhauer:

"The objective world, the world of idea, is not the only side of the world, but merely a different side - the side of its inmost nature - its kernel - the thing in-itself." (19)


Sankara´s own indication of this approach from the inner to the outer is indicated by the karya-anumeya (what is to be inferred back from effect), following his own method of satkaranavada already explained. If a certain medicine cures a specific malady, the effect of curing is what makes the medicine good. Here, there is a reasoning from effect to cause. A blind man handling a jar upside down finds it useless. When properly held the difficulties vanish. Method and matter in Vedanta have to be compatible with. each other and in fulfilling this requirement a total structural and subjective view based on select categories is all important.



At the end of the third chapter we arrived by a certain method of reduction and verticalization to a sort of negative limit in which the Absolute still remained structurally in the form of a colourful solid. The world of appearances and eidetic representations justified such a status as marking the limit of the chapter. Previously, even from the beginning, we have noted the same process of reduction through successive equations of counterparts, always proceeding from the effect to the cause. Each verse invariably contained the elements of an equation of counterparts which were successively absorbed into the more existent and ontological aspects.


The Absolute was the existent by the time we reached the last verse of Chapter 3. Now having disposed of the ontological aspects belonging to phenomenology we are ready in this chapter to further purify the Absolute more fully in the context of its epistemology and methodology. The pure Idea of the Absolute, as Hegel called it, has to rid itself of all taint of its own possible negativity. There is both inner and outer negativity. What is understood in terms of consciousness refers to inner negation. What refers to a concrete universal might still retain an element of contradiction or contrariety which has to be abolished. This is in order to make the pure normative notion of the Absolute stand out independent of its own negative aspect. When the notion emerges in its purified form without inner contrariety and contradiction, it fulfills some of the characteristics laid down by Hegel. We read from Hegel:

"It is not an idealism in which the content of knowledge is through and through subjective, imprisoning its products within the subject; subject and object are only distinct but necessary poles within a comprehensive, universal concreteness. The contrast of idealistic and realistic philosophy is of no importance; such expressions as subjectivity and objectivity, reality and ideality, are simply bare abstractions." (20)

One can never attain to a full notion of the Absolute without completely shedding the paradox residing in its structure. Such a paradox can be found in the most peripheral as well as in the most interior of zones. We are here speaking the language of structuralism which should never be viewed as a reality in itself but instead considered as points or parameters of reference for linguistic purposes. Even the colour solid which seems to refer to aspects of reality is to be treated as a concrete universal in a schematic and generalized sense.


The space over which a colour might be spread can be big or small, but conceived in topological, vectorial or tensorial terms, the attributes of actuality have to be forgotten in favour of an abstracted and generalized entity, though still thinkable as having concrete attributes. In this sense we agree with Hegel who calls the Absolute an Idea. But in the light of a protolinguistic geometrical structure where concrete visible geometrical language and conceptual algebraic symbolism lend certitude to each other, we have to suggest a slight correction of Hegel who seems to be thinking only in terms of ideas which are algebraic, ignoring the possibilities of a more concrete geometrical language. It is thus possible to continue to keep in mind the colour solid found so helpful in the last chapter, on arriving at a precise notion of the phenomenological implications in the context of ontology. For the purposes of this chapter, in passing from ontology to epistemology we will omit this pronounced colourful contrast of harmony. We have now to think rather of contraries and contradictories within the structure of antinomies or the two sets of antithetical factors as existing in the thought of both Kant and Hegel. Paradoxes can be conceived as present at different concrete or abstract levels even within a delimited structuralism. The white, red and black clearly distinguish three aspects in the structure of the phenomenological sphere and represent theoretically the positive, negative and intermediate zones within which antinomies live and move. When a stable synthesis is established, counterparts are then absorbed or cancelled out. As pointed out by Schopenhauer there are two different aspects of reality involved in such a process. The deeper seat of paradox lies at the core of the Absolute as a negative principle of the most delicate or subtle character.


The Absolute has to be attained by abolishing this last residual paradox which in its transparency is hardly distinguishable from the light of the Absolute itself on which it thrives.


The Maya to be understood here does not primarily refer to the outer phenomenal zone or sheath of this structural unit. There is no firm ground offered to the philosopher interested in attaining the Absolute in these peripheral elements where the process of becoming and the flux of change are most horizontally pronounced. He has to start at the central core where paradoxes begin to get crystallized or formed. Maya is the final residue of epistemological negativity as an overall category of error. It resides at the very core of the notion of the Absolute, with a transparency in that inner zone so nearly equal to the Absolute with which it both participates and does not participate at one and the same time.


The method of philosophy has to correspond to the content treated by philosophy. It can start from the known or the unknown according to whether axiomatic certitude or experimental certitude is given priority. In the Science of the Absolute it is not enough to speak of appearances which are given positively or empirically to the senses. One has to attain step by step to the innermost reality hiding behind appearances before the absolute reality stands revealed. At every step there is a paradox and it has to be resolved, graded and numbered if scientific treatment is to be given to the component items or factors. This particular type of difficulty in respect of the starting point of the philosophy of the Absolute is referred to by Hegel, as follows:

"The object and method of philosophy are not known beforehand, their development is philosophy itself. This is the perplexity of its form. On the one hand, philosophy must immediately begin with itself; on the other hand, it is a mediation of all things. This necessary unity of immediacy and mediation is the Concept (Begriff) of philosophy." (21)

The notion of the Absolute should rid itself of all taints of negativity. The relative and the Absolute have to be closely distinguished. There are many ways in which the Absolute can emerge out of its proper background. In theology there is a perfect God of Goodness; in cosmology, the Ultimate Ground of all things: in psychology, the Self and the Non-Self. The pure Absolute cannot tolerate any adulteration by anything not fully itself. It has to be in-itself, for-itself and by-itself, uniquely raised independently above all negative relativism. As Eddington says, "The Absolute may be defined as a relative which is always the same no matter what it is relative to."

Negative relativism, epistemologically understood, is what is referred to as Maya. It results from a double negation of the double assertion implied in fully attaining the Absolute. It is the perfect Self of all things without any rivals. It lives in the world of pure reason as against the phenomenal world. Possible antinomies and antithetical factors add further complications which resist analysis. This is true especially of the negative implications lodged at the core of the Absolute which have to be dissolved in graded fashion by penetrating criticism.


It is therefore natural to begin at the very core where paradox is most subtle and most elusive, rather than where paradox has harsh outer properties in a completely horizontalized form. Within these two limits there are also other gradations. Narayana Guru is able to analyze all these grades in this chapter. The Absolute then emerges to full view to receive normalization with its own counterparts as we shall see in the fifth Chapter. Only after this is accomplished will the full normative character of the Absolute stand revealed.



Discursive philosophy is too often verbose and polemical with rival schools of thought both claiming to possess the truth. Sometimes philosophy is judged on the basis of a single battle between two such rivals. Long drawn out battles occur over larger periods in which many and varied skirmishes take place. The final results often remain vague and lost to humanity. It is not rarely that we find serious works on philosophy filled with verbosity, hairsplitting, and logic-chopping, the benefit or even the meaning of which, nobody really knows. Wrong patronage is sometimes the cause for the production of fat volumes supporting this or that special philosophy. Libraries often get filled in this way and, as Sankara says, "the magic of words makes a great forest where one becomes mentally dizzy." We shall not here cite any specific examples but only speak of general principles.

A unified Science of the Absolute when structurally conceived, with an inner consistency and a uniform theory of knowledge is alone the answer to the present sad plight of philosophical speculation. Hegel's statement above foreshadows such a possibility in the name of the Absolute as an idea (begriff).


Although Hegel attained to such a high point of vantage in being able to conceive of a philosophy that covered all philosophies whether idealist or realist, we know that he unfortunately got lost somehow in pan-Germanic enthusiasms. Wordy speculations cannot control or regulate the final course that speculation leads to, because we cannot expect outer forces to enter the fray and hold the hands of writers when they deviate from correct lines of thought. We have to depend on some kind of control being exercised from within science and philosophy itself. In this connection, mathematics has attained to the full status of a self-contained discipline. So in an extrapolated sense what has proved true in mathematics can also apply to other disciplines inclusively and in genera. There could thus be a science of philosophy, a philosophy of science or a unified science of all sciences.


If we now change our analogy and think in terms of games to clarify certain other implications of correct method, we can visualize a tennis match between two rival players. Or we can think of a whole tournament consisting of many matches until the finalists face each other. Each game is interesting enough, and what we have to note is that each game is played in the same court and under the same rules. There are no separate rules for each game or for only one player as against another. What is more important in each game is that the two contestants have approximately some kind of equality of status sufficient to make the match interesting. Here we touch on the principle of samanadhikaranatva (homogeneity of content).


If a certain philosopher wants to be a realist, the game he plays must be with an idealist; otherwise the game will be absurd. Furthermore, it goes without saying that one game cannot be played with the rules of another game. Such matters are self-evident, yet many philosophies violate the rules of the game with impunity. We have only tried to explain here the need for both inner and outer consistency whether in philosophy, science or any other discipline.


In the previous chapters we have passed through three definite visions of truth, each having its own frame of reference. Each chapter is to be respected as a self-consistent grade of epistemology and methodology. In this fourth chapter, we are still on the negative side of the situation. The positive aspects have been treated as far as was required in the very first chapter dealing with cosmology and theology by postulating a God in a positivistic context. Within each chapter there is a reduction and application of the principle of Occam's Razor  (22) to get rid of the extraneous as quickly as possible, so as to reduce the discussion to its most important and essential elements.


One has to distinguish the delicate thread of argument running through the whole, having its negative initial direction in a God who is alone given, at the beginning, a pure and thin mathematical status. He becomes a real God and the source of a real creation by the tenth verse of the first chapter. The other chapters, as we have already explained, refer to more negative or subjective factors like caitanya (vital consciousness), manas (mind), and sankalpa (willing).


Relativity attains to its culminating status in this chapter. The reader has now to distinguish the many grades of relativity enumerated and included within the scope of this same chapter. Negativity as a principle is not acceptable to the positivist or the realist. Nonetheless philosophizing, as Bergson points out, is "to invert the habitual direction of the work of thought" (23). In the Upanishads this approach through the negative way is called neti neti (not this, not this), where one passes from one degree of negativity to a lower and profounder degree of negativity. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (III.9.26) this is most vividly brought out by the Guru Yajnavalkya:

"That Soul (atman) is not this, it is not that (neti, neti). It is unseizable, for it is not seized. It is indestructible, for it is not destroyed. It is unattached, for it does not attach itself. It is unbound. It does not tremble. It is not injured." (24)

This same method was employed by Dionysius the Areopagite and is known as the via negativa. This method is also implied in Spinoza and Leibniz. Because negativity is not acceptable to the positivist and realist, one is obliged, as is Hegel, to start from the other extreme pole or zero point of origin where negativity hides at the core of the Idea as the Absolute. At its origin it has a pure epistemological status in terms of knowledge and not in terms of being.


Existence and Being belong to the world manifested through a nature that is phenomenological in status. Before entering into the text of the present chapter we have to bear in mind its proper delimitations and the scope of its contents. What has already been covered under phenomenology should not be expected to be repeated here, where we pass from a phenomenological order of things to the new epistemological domain of reason.


The reference to the three gunas (nature modalities), of pure (sattva), passionate (rajas), and dark (tamas) qualities, within the limits of this chapter, marks the point to which the scope of the chapter extends. Here we have to explain that the three gunas are not treated as realistic modes of change, but are meant to suggest the structure and modus operandi behind Nature, only revealing its abstract dynamism. This principle, derived from the Samkhya (rationalist) philosophy, is one of the greatest contributions ever made to Indian philosophical speculation. Because of the rationalism in the Samkhya philosophy, Vedic orthodoxy, which relies on belief, has a light regard for this contribution to thought. The Bhagavad Gita, however, has given to Samkhyan structuralism and categories a high position in Vedanta, and it has itself relied on this structuralism in the final chapter dealing with the unitive way in behaviour patterns. On the other hand, the Brahma Sutras do not accept the gunas completely, nor any other aspect of the Samkhya philosophy and structure. Nonetheless, the principle of the gunas has firmly entrenched itself in both the philosophy and common belief of India.


Even in India today one hears the expressions " sattvik food" familiarly used in popular language. This error is the same in its type of mistake as in the statement one often hears: "I do not believe in Maya; the world is real." Maya refers to a methodological device for the use of philosophy. It is not to be treated as an article of religious belief nor disbelief. The same holds true for the three gunas. We also hear the common expression, "I eat sattvik food to become spiritually sattvik". This is absurd. Sattva, rajas, and tamas are to be used diagnostically for recognizing psychological types. To compare food with spirituality in this manner is as absurd as saying that if a man wore a red coat he would become rajasik (passionate).


Those who attack the philosophical negativity implied in Maya very often forget that it has its own epistemological raison d´être. Maya is never to be viewed as an entity or reality in itself to be denied or asserted. Its only positive reality consists in its name. Its content denotes a negativity empty of all reality. We have here another interesting quotation from Bergson adding support to what we have already said about this negative principle:

"It is therefore something negative, or zero at most that must be added to Ideas to obtain change. In that consists the Platonic non-being, the Aristotelian 'matter' - a metaphysical zero which, joined to the Idea, like the arithmetical zero to unity, multiplies it in space and time. By it the motionless and simple Idea is refracted into a movement spread out indefinitely. In right, there ought to be nothing but immutable Ideas, immutably fitted to each other. In fact, matter comes to add to them its void, and thereby lets loose the universal becoming. It is an elusive nothing, that creeps between the Ideas and creates endless agitation, eternal disquiet, like a suspicion insinuated between two loving hearts" (25)

This comes the nearest in modern philosophy to expressing the negativity of the Idea of the Absolute between zero and –1, within the structure of the normative and neutral Absolute.



Many western Indologists have been reasonably puzzled to find differences of opinion on basic philosophical tenets in the same body of Vedantic thought based on the prasthana trayam (the three basic source books, viz., Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, and Brahma Sutras). Brahman as implied in the mahavakyas (great sayings), whose purpose is to abolish the duality between cosmology, theology, and psychology as doctrinal dicta, is acceptable to both orthodoxy and heterodoxy. Yet, there nonetheless emerge diametrically opposed religious and philosophical points of view amongst followers of certain schools of thought in spite of their common allegiance to these great dicta.


It is easy to understand how a stranger to Indian thought is not fully able to enter into the spirit of such subtle doctrines and philosophical points of view as represented by the principle of Maya. This doctrine, if we may call it so for convenience, is the result of the slow and steady growth of speculation over a period of thousands of years. What are called the six systems of Indian philosophy took many centuries to pass through their various formulations, restatements, and revaluations.


The tree of Indian wisdom is an old one and it sometimes puts out new shoots at unexpected levels while some roots or branches last beyond their proper season.


The source of all the trouble in interpreting Vedanta and Maya correctly seems to be located in the peculiar lingua mystica of the Upanishads, which have further been elaborated in the itihasas (legends), puranas (epics), and dharma sastras (texts on social ethics and behaviours). When we add to this complicated situation the numerous bhashyas (commentaries), tikas (commentaries on commentaries), vrittis (glosses), of different grades of acceptability to orthodoxy and heterodoxy, we arrive at a very complex situation which puzzles and offers a challenge to any scholar or student of Indian wisdom. Yet we do find scholars like Lacombe masterfully bringing to bear on the situation their penetrating powers of analysis and criticism of the inherent contradictions found in the Vedanta of Sankara and Ramanuja. A scholar like Thibaut showed his open preference for Ramanuja mainly because of his love of a personal God. This attitude closely resembles what such scholars themselves were nourished on in the form of Christianity. In his introduction to his translation of the Vedanta Sutra of Sankaracarya, Thibaut, while showing the difference between the interpretation of the Sutras by Sankara and Ramanuja; almost always agrees with the view taken by Ramanuja. Apparently only what had a prophetic touch could be palatable to him. Ramanuja's own view or vision of Brahman, whom he calls Narayana or Vishnu, is found in the following:

"The Brahman knowable through the Vedas is Narayana who is antithetical to all evil, transcendent and unique. In his substantive nature, he is infinite knowledge and bliss. He is an ocean of countless hosts of auspicious attributes, inherent and unlimited in their excellence .... His supreme glory is infinite and beyond thought in its nature and attributes. He has as the means of his sport the entire universe, consisting of multitudinous kinds of countless sentient and non-sentient entities." (26)


Later scholars like Paul Deussen were able to appreciate Sankara through the eyes of Plato, Parmenides, and Kant.
He says:

"You see the concordance of Indian, Grecian and German metaphysics; the world is Maya, is illusion, says Sankara; it is a world of shadows, not of realities, says Plato; it is appearance only, not the thing-in-itself, says Kant. Here we have the same doctrine in three different parts of the world." (27)

Max Müller, who was Paul Deussen's teacher, admits that sometimes Sankara's speculative methods make him feel giddy, yet his keen appreciation of the Advaita of Sankara is unmistakable:

"Such speculations are apt to make us feel giddy, but whatever we may think about them, they show at all events to what a height Indian philosophy had risen in its patient climb from peak to peak, and how strong its lungs must have been to be able to breathe in such an atmosphere." (28)


In Lacombe we also find a keen appreciation of this "doctrine" of Maya. We see how he is able to penetrate into its fullest implications and never wanders from the spirit of the texts of Sankara whom he profusely quotes in support of almost every one of his own appraisals or assertions. He can be credited with having taken up the challenge in full earnestness. But even so it is not impossible to discern a certain preference for Ramanuja whom he credits with "robust common sense" when he refutes Maya in his Sribhashya.


How Indians who are familiar with their own background of thought should become antagonistic to Maya is a deeper challenge confronting us. Certain modern interpreters of Vedanta share a great deal of mistrust towards Sankara and his principle of Maya, going so far as calling it not a principle of error but "a concept of explanation". However much one may attempt to explain away Maya the deeper aspects of this challenge still need to be faced squarely and openly. Ramanuja has no use for Maya and rejects it outright with a certain vehemence. In refuting the position of the Advaita of Sankara and his followers he says:

"Nor can our opponent urge against this that, owing to the denial of plurality contained in other passages this last text refers to something not real; for it is an altogether laughable assertion that Scripture should at first teach the doctrine, difficult to comprehend, that plurality, as suggested by perception and the other means of knowledge belongs to Brahman also, and should afterwards negate this very doctrine!" (29)


Ramanuja also enumerates seven anupapattis (non-conclusive arguments) against Advaita (30). He has no sympathy for the semantic polyvalence of Sankara who postulates the principles of vakyartha (direct meaning) and lakshanartha (indirect meaning). Instead Ramanuja prefers to be unambiguous, avoiding all the deeper aspects of Vedanta. He is definitely in favour of theism or deism with an adorable personal Vishnu lifted as high as possible. Here he makes Vishnu correspond to the Brahman of the Upanishads. He does this without going beyond the needs of ordinary pious devotion of simple believers.


In the same way as Sankara was influenced by Buddhism, particularly the Madhyamika Philosophy of Nagarjuna and others, Ramanuja, in his insistence on a personal God with prophetic tendencies, seems to have been influenced by Islam, which was the dominant ruling power in India during his time. Ramanuja wants a real God to worship with a corresponding real world, without any room for contradiction. entering in to divide his God from the world. It is Sankara's acceptance of the principle of contradiction and its outright rejection by Ramanuja that constitutes the basic difference between their respective viewpoints.



It is neither necessary nor possible to enter here into a detailed and comparative examination of all the peculiarities of the theory of knowledge and method that make Sankara and Ramanuja take the rival positions that they do. We have already elsewhere devoted some pages in a passing manner to such a study in connection with the various types of Vedanta (31). Now we are particularly interested in the principle of Maya. The seven items enumerated by Ramanuja wherein he rejects the position of Sankara have already been enumerated.


Ramanuja, as a realist, prefers clarity and common sense above everything else. He is also a believer in the full plenitude, bounty and perfection of God and at every point is able to support himself. Added to this is his loyalty to the Vedic scriptures that are never to be questioned at all, even when glaring contradictions are found.


Instead they are to be justified even when they state the opposite of what is given to common sense. His ability to explain without difficulty any philosophical or religious problem is accomplished by simple realistic commonsense. The world as the creation of God is real because it is clearly perceived. If there are varieties in creation God is still one. Ramanuja finds no difficulty in explaining this discrepancy and only says that the omnipotence and omnipresence of God is capable of making one thing seem manifested in many forms or prakaras. Error such as in the appearance of silver in mother-of-pearl offers no difficulty to him because since silver is seen and even if it is not actually present, some potential or essential element of it must be present in the universe as in the mother of pearl. This is because in God´s world, which is a unity, all things participate in all other things, and perception is the proof of essence. Maya does not find a place within the plenitude of reality, as we can see from the following:

"A declaration that the appearance of mother of pearl as silver is founded on error surely does not imply that all the silver in the world is unreal!" (32)

In respect of the third feature of Ramanuja's way of speculating as compared with Sankara's we must turn to the Brahma Sutras (II.1.27) where the differences at once become apparent. This sutra brings in the question of treating contradictory passages where they occur in the Vedas. Sankara is satisfied to say that if there are two alternative injunctions of a contrary nature it is permissible to adopt the one that is natural to the believer.


If one school, for example, says that the shodasin cup is to be taken in he hands and another says it should not be taken, Sankara says it is permissible to act according to the circumstances of the time. Ramanuja's loyalty to scripture goes further than this. We notice that his range of scriptural quotations in support of his doctrine is much wider than Sankara's. He does not hesitate to bring in the Vedas and a number of smritis (obligatory traditional texts). Ramanuja includes them all within his scope of scriptural authority. He even refers to the Vishnu Purana on many occasions. His Pancaratra and Bhagavata background permits him to give to Vishnu every imaginable as auspicious quality called kalyana-guna. The following quotation from the Sribhashya under the sutra referred to above reveals how he goes further in the direction of accepting even contrary and impossible injunctions whenever they are stated in the scriptures. We read as follows:

"Scripture declares on the one hand that Brahman is not made up of parts, and on the other that from it a multiform creation proceeds. And in matters vouched for by Scripture we must conform our ideas to what Scripture actually says - But then Scripture might be capable of conveying to us ideas of things altogether self-contradictory; as if somebody were to tell us: sprinkle water with fire! - The Sutra therefore adds 'on account of its being founded on the word.' As the possession, on Brahman's part, of various powers (enabling it to emit the world) rests exclusively on the authority of the word of the Veda and thus differs altogether from other matters (which fall within the sphere of the other means of knowledge also), the admission of such powers is not contrary to reason. Brahman cannot be either proved or disproved by means of generalizations from experience." (33)


Neither contraries nor contradictions offer any difficulty to Ramanuja. The plenitude of God's creation and His perfect bounty justify anything. This does not however mean that Ramanuja does not indulge in close speculative argumentations. His versatility and familiarity with the Vedas and Sastras and his freedom with the polemical language of Vedanta, as also his deep knowledge of Sanskrit grammar and syntactical rules make him a real match for the followers of the Advaita of Sankara.


We see how Ramanuja settles the question of contraries by relying on scriptural authority. Contraries exist at the inner core of the total knowledge-situation, while contradictions become evident in the more phenomenological zone. When the former duality is abolished it is the contradictions in the full foreground of realism that still remain to be abolished. In the name of complete realism and common sense, even this outer contradiction is abolished by Ramanuja. The principle of the omnipresence of God sees to it that what is abolished at one particular place or time is always asserted at other places and times. This means in principle that nothing is really abolished at all. Such is the main trend of the close argumentation adopted by Ramanuja in refuting the mayavada of Sankara. While Sankara gives full validity to both the contraries and the contradictions that contribute to the paradox implied between appearance and reality, Ramanuja recognizes no error or paradox as possible. The question of Maya therefore does not arise for him. Ramanuja replaces anirvacaniyakhyati (the principle of unpredicability) with akhyati (no error at all). Likewise, the problem of evil is of minor import and treated merely as tuccha or insignificant. Since God is endowed with the power of lila (purposeless sport), He cannot be charged with an evil intent.


Thus no major difficulty hinders Ramanuja in his speculation. To see how his way of reasoning works, we quote at length from Lacombe's L'Absolu Selon le Vedanta, where he first discusses the differences of Sankara and Ramanuja and then translates at length a part of the Sribhashya of Ramanuja:

"The arguments which Sankara claims to prove in his thesis are far from having the value he attributes to them: It is for him a sort of experimental proof of the unreality of the multiple world that the localized character of different things have their existence according to space and time in a certain place and within a certain duration exclusive of their simultaneous existence at all other places and in all other times.


Being in itself is said to have a vigorous omnipresence. It is the contradiction between diversity and becoming. Although attenuated and never to be confounded with each other, let us repeat that with a contradiction that is pure and simple like the inanity of a square circle, it is a contradiction all the same that this incessant flux of evanescent conditioning and of deaths succeeding births, could make room for other births. The robust common sense of Ramanuja will not let itself be disarmed:


"All this is the product of an error by default in the matter of recognizing the differences which distinguish the relation between the thing to suppress and the factor of suppression on the one hand, and that of impermanence to permanence on the other hand. In effect when there is contradiction between two knowledges it is the relation-thing to be suppressed, the factor of suppression which is valid, and there is only impermanence of that which is suppressed. But here, in what concerns jars, pieces of cloth, etc., from the fact that they occupy times and places that are distinct, there is no contradiction. If from that which we know the state of actual existence (sad-bhava) at a certain time and at a certain place, we come to understand for the same time and place non-existence (abhava), there is contradiction between the two knowledges and as a consequence the knowledge that is stronger suppresses the other and so suppressed knowledge ceases to exist.


But when the one perceives (pratiti) the absence (abhava) at another time of that which is known in connection with such time and place, there is no contradiction. How (could one apply) in this case the relation-thing to suppress the factor of suppression, or how (could one say) that a thing is not present in such a time and place which is not present in another time and place?


In the case of the rope and the snake; because one perceives (the existence and) non-existence in connection with one and the same given place and time, there is contradiction, an act of suppression and cessation of existence.


But one could in no way assert that the fact of ceasing to exist (vyavartamanatva) at a certain time and place should be for a thing which one sees as existing in another time and place as necessarily accompanied by the character of falseness and as a consequence the simple impermanence (vyavartamanatva) is not a reason for unreality." (34)



In passing we now refer to the sister school of the Vedanta of Madhavacarya, in order to see how these two teachers of Vedanta, while resembling each other in their rejection of Maya and accepting Vishnu as a substitute for the purer and more neutral notion of Brahman, yet have different ways of bridging the epistemological gap necessarily existing between their ontological and teleological positions. Both Ramanuja and Madhva insist on the difference between the individual soul as an aspirant and the Supreme Soul as the goal to be attained, whether in bhakti (individual devotion with dependence on Vedic injunctions) or prapatti, freer individual devotion. On the other hand when it comes to the content of devotion they both depend on ananda, (bliss) as belonging to the Absolute. This is conceived in terms of the Self or atma as svarupa (one's own true form). Thus we have a transition from ontology to teleology, the latter having a full axiological status in the context of abstract philosophy reconcilable only with inner ideals rather than with any outer positivism.


This gap which is more evident in the case of Ramanuja who by his visishta-advaita (non-duality accepting difference) is able somehow to transfer to Vishnu all auspicious attributes, arriving at the reciprocal factor of bliss in the Self of the devotee. The world is wholly real to Ramanuja.


This difficulty is better solved in the dvaita (dualistic) philosophy of Madhva. The world is not real as such to him. It is only so according to the tattvas (first principles) he postulates. In other words, he relies on epistemology rather than ontology in order to relate the devotee with the highest Vishnu called Hari. In his own terminology, this relationship between the Supreme Hari and the humble devotee is based on a scale of spiritual values called svarupananda-taratamya (a gradation based upon the degree of bliss in the Self). Regarding this gradation we read the following:

"As the subject of moksha-ananda and svarup-ananda pertain largely to the domain. of mysticism, students and critics of Madhva's doctrine of svarupananda-taratamya of souls, in Moksha, should not fail to take due note of the mystic inwardness of this doctrine, however strange and unfamiliar it may seem to them at first sight. Viewed in the light of an expression and an interpretation of the mystic joy of self-realization, in moksha its contribution to the philosophy of mysticism itself will be seen to be quite remarkable." (35)

Ramanuja is able to bypass all problems of evil or error by merely removing them from the horizontalized aspect to that of a fully perfected and verticalized version of Vishnu and crowning the same with all auspicious and generous attributes, making Him more perfect. In doing this, he is able very easily to make the transition from ontology to teleology. Madhva, on the other hand, has to resort to his own new theory of error called abhavavanyath-akhyati (a new basis of error located elsewhere).


While we cannot go into any details regarding this theory, a short quotation will suffice to throw some light on this subject:

"The Madhva theory of perceptual illusions is a bold and dexterous combination of the salient features of the asat-khyati and the anyatha-khyati views. Madhva defines illusions as the contrary appearance of an unreal, non-existent object as real and existent and vice-versa ...

Madhva therefore holds that, notwithstanding the unreality of 'the silver in the shell,' it is through contact with the real piece of shell that the sense-organ, vitiated by defects, gets a distorted apprehension of it as a piece of silver." (36)

The historical climate of India at the time of both these teachers was roughly the same, and we find that in spite of philosophical divergences found amongst the believers and followers of these two South Indian spiritual teachers, their followers nonetheless went to the same places of pilgrimage, forgetting their theoretical differences. Instead they stood together as common enemies of Sankara's Mayavada. They must have surely responded to the historical conditions of their times accommodating their spiritual life and Vedantic outlook to the altered tempo of the public mind. By giving primacy to the tattvas rather than to cosmological reality Madhva bears perhaps a slight kinship to the Jaina influence clearly evident near and around his headquarters at Udipi (on the west coast of Mysore State in South India), where remnants of an elaborate Jain vasti (religious establishment) and a giant statue of a tirthankara (one of the Jain spiritual teachers from antiquity) are still present.


When we examine closely the cosmology and theology of Ramanuja and Madhva, the former´s way of thinking finds a place in the very first darsana of the Darsana Mala. It is true however that the cosmology presented by Ramanuja is not rigid but rather one in which an interchange of essences takes place from all parts of the universe. This is accomplished in a refined or attenuated manner more in keeping with the universe of the Red Shift referred to in the first chapter. The further fact that God is able to think in terms of the famous dictum from the Upanishads, "let Me be many", shows a certain fluidity in Ramanuja's cosmology. Still the element of the real strongly persists as given to human cognition. Some of Ramanuja´s cosmological ideas must therefore be included in the second chapter where the representative mind enters more negatively into the context. There are delicate matters to clarify convincingly. Ramanuja´s own idea of the union of the devotee's Self with the Supreme Self finds a legitimate place in the Bhakti Darsana. This darsana again implies a positive attitude. When thus distributed, the soundness of Ramanuja's position remains unquestioned, but the gap in the method remains still evident.


As for Madhva, he finds a place in any darsana where positivistic logic and dialectical reasoning have their natural place. The sixth and seventh chapters perhaps best accord with him. Also his emphasis on bhakti finds a place in the eighth chapter.


We have gone into a comparison and criticism of these two schools of thought in order to bring to light the methodological and epistemological gap existing at the core of their teachings. It is by introducing a series of concepts proper to each chapter that Narayana Guru accomplishes the transition between each separate chapter.


In the first chapter, we have the supreme Lord (paramesvara) in a positivistic and empirical context as the key notion. Vital consciousness or caitanya replaces this in the second chapter. A fully accredited mind or manas takes the place of caitanya in the third and in this chapter the concept of cidatma or reasoning Self, (a double-sided expression helping in the transition from ontology to teleology) replaces manas.


Maya is still a negative factor in the context of the Absolute. It has a purer and more dignified status than manas in the phenomenological and ontological sense, and therefore requires for its unitive treatment a newly-coined double-sided concept which is cidatma. The ambiguity of the subject-matter is reflected in the term itself. We shall see how the whole of this present chapter turns round this concept.




[1] Hegel, p. 148


[2] Hegel, p. 103-104


[3] Kant, pp. 410-411 (B:644)


[4] Kant, pp. 411 (B:646)


[5] Kant, pp. 412 (B:646)


[6] Kant, pp. 412 (B:647)


[7] Kant, pp. 464 (B:739)
[8] Kant, pp. 420


[9] Fuller, p. 295-296


[10] Fuller, p. 296


[11] Fuller, p. 299


[12] Lacombe, pp.6 6-67,our translation


[13] Vivekachudamani, p. 39.


[14] Vivekachudamani, p. 39.


[15] P. Deussen, 'The Philosophy of the Upanishads', T. Clark, 1906, pp. 236-237.


[16] P. Deussen, p. 226-227


[17] B. Heimann, 'Facets of Indian Thought', London: Allen & Unwin, 1964, p.172.


[18] R. Reyna, 'The Concept of Maya from the Vedas to the 20th Century', Bombay: Asia Publ. House, 1962, p.52.


[19] A.Schopenhauer, 'The World as Will and Idea', & J. Kemp, London: 1907-1909, p.39.


[20] 'Encycl. Of Phil.', G.E. Mueller, Phil. Libr. Inc., NY,1959, p.71


[21] Hegel, p.68


[22] This is the principle that entities are not to be multiplied unnecessarily.


[23] Bergson, 'Intro. Meta.', p.52.


[24] Hume, P. 125.


[25] Bergson, Cr. Ev., p. 344


[26] Vedanta-Samgraha of Ramanuja, trans. S.S. Raghavacar,Mysore: Ramakrishna Ashrama, 1966, pp.181-182, Verse 234.


[27] Deussen, 'The Philosophy of the Vedanta', Madras: Theosophical Publ. House 1930, P.11.


[28] F. Max Muller, 'The Vedanta 'Philosophy', Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1960, p.92.


[29] 'Vedanta-Sutras with Ramanuja's Sribhashya', trans. G. Thibaut, ('Sacred Books of the East', Vol.48) Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1904; Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass ed., 1962, p.85.


[30] Ramanuja's seven anupapattis are: I.asrayanupapatti, non-conclusive argument on interconnectedness; therefore Maya cannot have seat in Jiva or Brahman (the Absolute); 2.tirodhananupapatti, non-conclusive argument on hiddeness, therefore Maya cannot hide in Brahman; 3.svarupanupapatti, non-conclusive argument on self- nature, therefore one does not know where Maya belongs as existing or non-existing; 4.anirvacaniyanupapatti, non-conclusive argument on impredicability, therefore maya must be cognized as a thing and impredicability is not a legitimate escape; 5.pramananupapatti, non-conclusive argument on means of knowledge, therefore no necessity compels us to postulate maya; 6.nivartakanupapatti, non-conclusive argument on the cause of turning back, therefore Maya has no real negative effect, and; 7. nivrittyanupapatti, non-conclusive argument on what is negative, therefore if Maya was a reality, moksha (liberation) would be impossible, so one must reject the concept as it hinders the-purpose of gaining liberation.


[31] See our ninth article of the series 'Vedanta Revalued and Restated' entitled 'Varieties of Vedantism,' Values, Vol.9, no.12 (Sept. 1964).


[32] Ved. Sut. Ram. Sri.,P. 91 .


[33] Ved. Sut. Ram.Sri . pp.474; the word 'sprinkle'is ours


[34] Lacombe, pp.90-92,our translation


[35] B.N.K. Sharma, 'The Philosophy of Sri Madhvacarya', Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1962, pp.345-346


[36] Sharma, pp.132 & 133, resp.