Science of the Absolute






In seeking certitude in the name of a Science of the Absolute covering at one and the same time the subject-matter of physics and the object-matter of metaphysics, we have traveled over five chapters. These chapters had their starting point in the problem of the visible world presented to a thinking person. Such a world is "out there" and cannot be present without some cause. Both philosophy and science agree in trying to explain mere appearances by delving into causes immediately or remotely implied in the phenomenal world of effects. Colours have vibrations as their causes, and different kinds of vibrations might be explanations for the varied colourful appearance. As a universal phenomenon given to the senses even this colourful appearance has to be included within the totality of any reality in a complete Science of the Absolute.


This colourful world presented to us can be subjected to deeper and deeper research. Travelling from apparent effects to causes imagined to lie one behind the other and treated as a whole, the world presented to us can have one cause. When cause is equated with effect and when the limbs of such an equation are considered interchangeable we have a form of absolutist enquiry which properly pertains to the context of the first chapter. When cause and effect are directly related as dialectical counterparts we have a process and a method of reasoning which, starting from extreme effects consisting of essences of a mathematical order, proceeds negatively by stages to the inclusive notion of a material cause for the whole phenomenal world. Cause and effect are treated as belonging together to one and the same context of the Absolute. There is here a transition to be noted between the positive side represented by effects and the negative side represented by the total cause.


The end of the first chapter marks the absolutist status of an overall cause for phenomena in general. It also attained to an ontological and negative status. Such a cause is treated as a factor equal to the notion of God as the origin of all material manifestations, wherein every manifested object can be explained. Thus it is a negative method or research into a total cause that was undertaken in Chapter One. The common man whose curiosity about the visible world takes the form of wonder and mystery is initially and summarily answered for the time being, within the limits of this chapter. A theological God "sitting" in heaven as well as an ontological God who like sprout from seed is the material cause, are both comprised within the scope of the chapter and given their legitimate position on the Omega and Alpha points of a vertical axis. The plus and minus and neutral structural ambivalent implications have also been recognized at the centre of this chapter.


In the next four chapters we see how this negative reduction of effects into causes is further continued systematically. This reduction of multiplicity into unity is accomplished in the second chapter along lines acceptable to mathematics and science. Deeper and deeper seats of negative causes of a global or total order are revealed at the end of the third, fourth and fifth chapters, until we reach the terminating notion of the fifth chapter where the ontological Self is given a fully absolutist status of its own. The negative movement in the overall plan of this work attains its limit here, and from Chapter Six onwards a reversal of methodology occurs.




A unified or complete philosophy cannot subscribe to any partial or prejudiced standpoints. The True, the Good and the Beautiful are triple expressions generally treated together. In Vedanta the inseparable aspects of sat-cit-ananda (existence-subsistence-value) similarly belong together in a unified Science of the Absolute. Pure ontological existence has an added significance only when it is proved to be lasting and not transient. A correction is thus applied by reason to what is given to the senses as a simple datum. Even a lasting thing cannot be significant to human life just because it endures. It has to enter into human life as some item that is helpful in making life happy or at least free from avoidable suffering. Philosophers who refuse to treat value-judgment as part of philosophy only show their partiality. To do this in the name of science preferring logical norms to anything flavouring of sentimental preference such as the god of a certain religion or ethics is a mistake.


We have examined elsewhere how this prejudice had its origin in the excesses of the Inquisition. The history of Christianity, ever since it parted company with pagan wisdom and philosophy, is marked with the opposition that developed between Church dogma and scientific and pagan belief. Besides having carefully to accept or reject dogma and heresy, even certain mystics like Eckhart, Tauler, Ruysbroeck and St. John of the Cross were persecuted by the Church authorities. The story of such a development is a long and tortuous one to follow. Value-judgments were incorporated into Church dogma during the Middle Ages. Yet outside the official Church the mystics somehow managed to keep up a tradition of their own. This is where we find absolutist values free from narrow dogma, preserved intact, presenting a surprising richness and variety. After being excluded from philosophy for a long time we find a tendency recently to revive both axiology and epistemology.


The Good of Plato is found in classical philosophy and the idea of the Christian God depends on this supreme axiological factor if it is to go beyond a Semitic interpretation. In order to mark out this idea of goodness so fundamental to Christian values, it must be remembered that first of all Plato was revalued in a revised version by the pagan philosopher Plotinus who also had a tremendous influence on Christianity. Another interesting pagan philosopher was the Emperor Julian, called an apostate by the Church, although he never formally belonged to it during his adult life. Julian depended largely on Plato and his highest value was Helios or the Sun. He conceives of Helios in three ways, first as transcendental, secondly as Helios-Mithras, and thirdly as the visible Sun.
We read as follows:

"Accordingly his light has the same relation to the visible world as truth has to the intelligible world. And he himself as a whole, since he is the son of what is first and greatest, namely, the Idea of the Good, and subsists from eternity in the origin of its abiding substance, has received also the dominion among the intellectual Gods those things of which the Good is the cause for the intelligible Gods.

Now the God is, I suppose, the cause for the intelligible Gods of beauty, existence, perfection and oneness, connecting these and illuminating them with a power that works for good. These accordingly Helios bestows on the intellectual Gods also since he has been appointed by the Good to rule and govern them, even though they come forth and came into being together with him, and this was, I suppose, in order that the cause which resembles the Good may guide the intellectual Gods to blessings for them all, and may regulate all things according to pure reason.

But this visible disc also, third in rank, is clearly for the objects of sense perception the cause of preservation., and this visible Helios is the cause of the visible Gods of just as many blessings as we mighty Helios bestows on the intellectual Gods." (1)


While God or the Good can absorb all values of different hierarchical gradations, such a notion was definitely Platonic and during the scholastic period Plato, Plotinus and perhaps even Julian exerted great influence on a few of the Church Fathers as well as scientists like Galileo and Copernicus and scientific philosophers like Bruno. These latter were called pantheists and disbelievers and labeled anti-Christian and heretics by the Church authorities. Their story makes a dreary history of the battle between the Church and free-thought. Scepticism and science were compelled by historical necessity to go hand in hand and believers were obliged thus to seek their salvation separately. It was Newton who, although a believer, said in a scientific spirit that God is not good but goodness.


The idea of God not sitting "above" in heaven, but residing in the hearts of men as a central guiding consciousness, is sufficiently reiterated in the writings of some of the mystics. Thus, when orthodoxy and dogmatism are abolished and not allowed to prejudice our minds, we find the same perennial philosophy flourishing throughout the ages in all climes. Meister Eckhart and William Law are two good examples of this high type of mystical wisdom.


We read Eckhart first:
"I have often said before that there is an agent in the soul, untouched by time and flesh, which proceeds out of the Spirit and which remains forever in the Spirit and is completely spiritual. In this agent, God is perpetually verdant and flowering with all the joy and glory that is in him." (2)


William Law, the 17th Century English mystic, has a "triune of Life, Light and Love". This comes very close to the Vedantic notion of sat-cit-ananda.
We read as follows:
"But now, all that is Divine, great, glorious and happy in the Spirits, Tempers, Operations and Enjoyments of the Creature, is only so much of the Greatness, Glory, Majesty and Blessedness of God, dwelling in it, and giving forth various Births of his own triune Life, Light and Love, in and through the manifold Forms and capacities of the Creature to receive them, that we may infallibly see the true Ground and Nature of all true Religion." (3)

Philosophy in India has not had the same disadvantage because there was never an Inquisition breathing down one's neck. Nonetheless orthodoxies are found and still persist in the name of Vedism and Aryan supremacy. A close examination of these features reveals to us the basic fact that human nature is capable of cruelty and exclusiveness anywhere in the world.


The identification of goodness with truth is fully recognized in the famous dialogue between Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi, found in the "Brihadaranyaka Upanishad" (IV 5.1-h), where what is dear or of high value is identified with the same ontological Self, which is the basic reality as a final reference within the consciousness of everyone.
We read as follows:

"Now then, Yajnavalkya had two wives, Maitreyi and Katyayani. Of the two, Maitreyi was a discourser on sacred knowledge (brahma-vadin) ; Katyayani had just (eva) a woman's knowledge in that matter (tarhi).

Now then, Yajnavalkya was about to commence another mode of life.
"Maitreyi." said Yajnavalkya, Lo, verily, I am about to wander forth from this state.
Behold! Let me make a final settlement for you and that Katyayani.'

Then spoke Maitreyi: 'If now, sir, this whole earth filled with wealth were mine, would I now thereby by immortal?'

"No, no!" said Yajnavalkya. 'As the life of the rich, even so would be your life be. Of immortality, however, there is no hope through wealth".

Then spake Maitreyi: 'What should I do with that through which I may not be immortal? What you know, sir - that, indeed, explain to me.'

Then spake Yajnavalkya: 'Though, verily, you, my lady, were dear to us, you have increased your dearness. Behold, then, lady, I will explain it to you. But, while I am expounding, do you seek to ponder thereon.'

Then spake he: 'Lo, verily, not for the love of a husband is a husband dear, but for the love of the soul (atman) a husband is dear,

Lo, verily, not for the love of a wife is a wife dear, but for the love of the soul is a wife dear, Lo, verily, not for the love of all is all dear, but for the love of the soul all is dear.
Lo, verily, it is the soul (atman) that should be seen, that should be hearkened to, that should be thought on, that should be pondered on, o Maitreyi." (4)


Whether in the East or West the inseparable association of value with existence is fully recognized. A complete Science of the Absolute will not violate any basic or perennial tradition when it treats existence-subsistence-value unitively. In order to show how Western philosophical thought also treats of these three categories, we refer to Brentano who represents this in his "intentionality"
We read the following about his philosophy:

"According to him the 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". (5)

Other philosophers who incorporated axiology in their philosophy under a separate heading are: Spinoza (voluntarism), Epicurus (pleasure), Bentham (hedonism), Kant and Royce (formalism) Dewey (instrumentalism), Plato and Hegel (a unitive gradation of values) and Schleiermacher and Otto (religious or numinous). (6)


Humanity is obliged to seek happiness in a world of values. Its sufferings can be traced as coming from the world of existent things, as well as from inner conflicts and doubts. Whether in the course of choosing an action or in avoiding one, it is still caught between the two. The third category of the source of suffering comes from the world of chance where good and bad luck enter into its state of satisfaction or peace of mind. Religion is a consolation where humanity in its suffering relates to various celestial beings like angels, etc. or value factors reaching the value represented by a most high God. We have to place humankind in the abstract and in an equally abstract world of values before we are able to enter into the second half of this work wherein we see the progress of a man intelligently guiding himself to his supreme goal of liberation and peace through affiliation to high and higher values.

There is a type of abstraction long recognized in Vedanta by Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva in their elaborate systems of philosophy. They begin with such considerations as human suffering and its remedy, resulting in happiness, bliss, liberation, emancipation or extinction as the word nirvana might imply. European philosophers, when they find Eastern philosophers assuming suffering for their starting point, too readily classify them as pessimists. They fail to recognize that every philosophy has to have certain starting assumptions. Sin is the starting point for Christian philosophers and missionaries who want to convert everyone to their religion.

If the mention of sin and Satan were prohibited more than half of Christian literature would be consigned to the flames. For Buddhism on the other hand it is enough to deny there is suffering in this world for the Buddhist to become confused in systematically developing his polemics. Likewise the Communist can also be confused in his effort to convert others if one should refuse to recognize an exploited proletariat.


A Hindu might be confounded by someone refusing to recognize the self (atman). Philosophical Hindu thought has always recognized three factors wherein spiritual progress could have its grounds. They are called adhibhautika (what refers to the elementals, i.e. cosmological), adhidaivika (what refers to the gods, i.e. theological) and adhyatmika (what refers to the Self, i.e. psychological). It goes without saying that the location of suffering in these three zones has the corresponding possibility of happiness countering it. One has to seek in the elementals a remedy for the suffering caused by them, and from God what consolation or blessing he is able to bestow on a believer. Likewise the Self when wrongly treated can be its own enemy, but when correctly understood without any duality or conflict between different aspects, it is one's best friend. The Bhagavad Gita in Chapter 6, Verses 5 and 6 points this out:

"By the Self the Self must be upheld, the Self should not be let down; the Self indeed is (its own) dear relative; the Self indeed is the enemy of the Self. The Self is dear to one (possessed) of Self by whom even the Self by the Self has been won; for one not (possessed) of Self, the Self would be in conflict with the very Self, as if an enemy." (7)


We have seen how Schroedinger has suggested a possible epistemological revision for scientific thought along Vedantic lines. There is a special type of abstraction and generalization adopted in his methodology presupposing a certain type of epistemology.


We have to think of man first as conforming to an abstract principle or phenotype and a universalized concrete entity with none of his peculiarities effaced or eliminated, insofar as they are universal and lasting in character. All men are always caught between the alternation of darkness and light, whether in terms of our own planet or in the larger context of astronomy. In the world of logic man belongs to his own universe of discourse wherein the seeks happiness and avoids suffering through reason and intuition. The world of things presents obstructions or impediments to happiness. One has to avoid accidents on the highway or the forest path. The elementals do affect human life directly. Those who gamble on horse racing are supposed to have some kind of prayerful attitude towards a god of good luck. The possibilities for such are unlimited and angelic hierarchies or Vedic and Pagan gods fill the bright world of concepts or intelligibles where their number is legion. Each tradition has innumerable grades of such entities who control providence, chance or good luck. All these three kinds of factors have to be kept in mind at one and the same time if one is to clearly visualize what is often referred to as spiritual progress.

These items can be broadly divided into two categories: those belonging to the world of intelligibles and those belonging to the world of visibles. More simply they can be called conceptual or perceptual values. The Good of Plato belongs to a world of intelligibles while the Nous of hylozoisin refers directly to the perceptible order of reality. Paganism is distinguished from Christianity by its adherence to hierophanies rather than to a one-and-only God excluding all others. In India the Vedic world of the devas with its emphasis on mantras (sacred utterances) is full of rich conceptual content. Elementals also enter into the Vedic world of ritualistic sacrifice (yajna) where each phenomenal aspect has its corresponding hypostatic divinity and its elemental counterpart of a hierophantic sacredness.


The equation or interaction between these two sets of values is supposed to yield beneficial results to man, carrying him through a series of values ranging from earth to heaven. Vedic values are limited to the three worlds and are characterized as hedonistic rather than fully absolutist and spiritual. When Vedism is revalued and absolutist factors enter into the system of values within which man is concerned he is promoted from relativistic Veda to an absolutist Vedanta resulting from a dialectical revaluation of the former. The Bhagavad Gita (11.46) points out the inferiority of the Vedas in this striking passage:

"There would be as much use for all the Vedas to a Brahmin of wisdom as there could be for a pool of water when a full flood prevails all over." (8)

Hedonistic values are replaced by pure absolutist values intended to yield final liberation and happiness instead of mere heavenly pleasures of a non-absolutist nature. Liberation in the fullest sense is the prerogative of Vedanta alone and not of the Vedas. Such considerations fall outside the scope of western speculation except in the strict Christian context where its own cosmology and eschatology have heavenly values meant for the good and faithful. Even within Vedanta there are different schools where heavenly values somehow are included with the scope of its own eschatology. The vaikuntha is where Vishnu lives in all his glory. Such a value world pertains to the Ramanuja school of Vedanta. In the Saivite context there is Siva's abode called kailasa. Other Vedantins like Madhva have svarga or heaven, described as very spacious in the Bhagavad Gita (IV.21).


The soul of man circulates between these value worlds, alternately going from one to the other according to the kind of mental or physical sacrifice (yajna) he performs.


Before the alternating movements between these value worlds can be imagined it is desirable to get a complete picture of the double-sided hierarchy of values. One set is rooted above in heaven while the other has its source in the here-and-now world of religious and ritualistic actions. The word karma in Vedanta primarily means such ritualistic action. Even outside the Vedic world all acts of piety and works can be included under this category of karma where religious obligations remain rooted in human behaviour anywhere in the world. The world of values belonging to Vedism is graphically pictured in some detail in the Bhagavad Gita (XV.1-4.)
We read as follows:

"They speak of an unexpended (holy) fig tree (asvattha) with roots above and branches below, whose leaves are sacred verses; he who knows it is a Veda-knower.

Below and above spread its branches, nourished by the modalities of nature (gunas), sense-values its buds, and downwards also there are ramified roots which bind to action in. the world of men.

Nor is its form here comprehended thus (as stated), nor its end, nor its beginning, nor its foundation. Having sundered this holy fig tree with strongly-fixed roots with the weapon of decisive non-attachment.
Then (alone) that path is to be sought, treading which they do not return again (thinking) I seek refuge in that Primordial Man from whom of old streamed forth active manifestations." (9)

What is attempted to be clarified by the above verses is the structural complexity presented by the world of values. In the first instance there is reference to Vedism deriving its values from the world of the bright gods (devas). Those who do not believe in propitiating Indra or Varuna, the representatives of phenomenal or elemental forces in nature, fail in making appropriate ends and means tally in their worlds where actions are meant to bring such ends and means together so as to yield a satisfactory benefit.


This world of values has its roots above the domain of the intelligibles or the shining ones. The bright light of the visible sun, as well as the symbolic light of an invisible Sun, belong to the same context. All the great undertakings of men become enriched and strengthened in their striving for spiritual progress always present as an urge in man when properly turned to this high purpose. In the Bhagavad Gita (III.10) the idea of sacrifice is held as a high principle or purpose in life. Mankind was supposed to have been created by Prajapati the first progenitor of mankind, together with sacrifice:

"In ancient times, having created the peoples with sacrifice as pertaining to them (necessarily) Prajapati (the Lord of the peoples) said: "By this shall you grow and multiply: let this be to you the milch-cow of all desires." (10)


All spiritual striving anywhere in the world is meant to be comprised under this master-notion of sacrifice. It is the same in Vedic ritualism and in the sacrificial offering by Agamemnon of his daughter Iphigenia to Artemis. Everything with good as an end has to involve some kind of sacrifice as a means. Nothing is gained without risk of some sort, and sometimes one risks all to gain all. These are basic notions in spirituality. When man undertakes sacrificial works of various kinds to attain high or low ends in the world of values, some sacrifices are superior to others and imply an intelligent understanding of both the phenomenal and noumenal counterparts in the world of the elementals or the gods.


Both the elementals and the gods however should be understood as implicit in the Self of man who projects these worlds of value from within himself. It is in the Self that ends and means are finally cancelled out in terms of final liberation or emancipation. Such are some of the leading ideas to be kept in mind before analyzing and fully understanding the implications of the above-quoted verses.


The world of Vedic values has first of all to be distinguished as the first verse of Chapter 15 of the Gita requires us to do. The branches spreading upwards as well as downwards, where the Vedic verses are the leaves, are to be understood as representing a hierarchy of free, sacred or holy value-elements. The upward-spreading branches evidently refer to hypostatic values while the lower ones refer to presences of the world of elemental things like the sacred earth referred to in an earlier chapter (VII.9). After recognizing these two ambivalent value-factors related to spiritual effort, we have now to think of the means to be adopted. These means consist of establishing relations between tangible entities in the world of action and God. This world of action is compared to tangled roots capable of holding in their clutches all men attached to sacrificial or religious works of one kind or another. The tangled lower roots bind and enslave all men in this world through the spiritual intentions necessarily shared by them all. We have specially to take note of here how the sacred and holy have their roots above and yet, judged by their effects, are capable of binding men down below in their ramifications.. Although each verse of the Veda is compared to a leaf, the branches nourish them with the three nature modalities (gunas) so as to make for fresh values sprout.

Clothed in allegorical language this image of the asvattha tree actually taking nourishment through its aerial and terrestrial roots has clear structural implications which can be analyzed in the light of what we have developed in the foregoing pages.


The principle of sacrifice found in the heart of all men can be considered as the vertical parameter joining ends and means in this two- sided world of values ranged at different levels of the double tree or hierarchy. In conclusion it is most important to note that the whole of this structural edifice must finally be abolished before the path of really genuine absolutist spirituality could emerge. The person who does this thinks in terms of an emancipation so final and lasting that he will never again be taken in by the bondage of cyclic phenomenal alternation between values here in life or those of a "hereafter". It is the sword of detachment and renunciation cutting the hard roots of entanglement whereby final emancipation results. Vedic relativism can only be fully transcended by a radical absolutism.





The gap between the two sets of values found in the foregoing section must somehow be bridged. Here the problem is similar to finding a unified field theory applicable to all physics. Vedic values tend to be based on an emotional appreciation of pleasure or pain. The taboos and interdictions in Vedic literature have their counterparts in the notion of the sacred or the holy. To attain this there are strict obligatory injunctions to observe.

The sacred and profane constitute a pair of dual factors giving to the spirituality of the Vedas a character based on vidhi (obligatory rule) and nisheda (prohibition).


The Samkhya philosophy is a discipline representing the rational approach to emancipation. If Vedism is orthodox, the Samkhya is heterodox. The age of the Samkhya is referred to in the Bhagavad Gita  (XVIII.13) as dating back to the krita yuga or the pre-historic age. In another reference (VIII.26) the two rival disciplines, one giving primacy to intelligence and the other to emotions, are referred to as sukla-krishna-gati or the bright and dark paths.


Samkhya and Yoga are also contrasted on a similar basis in Chapter 2 where Yoga covers Vedism and Samkhya, its rational counterpart. The dark or black and white paths can also apply to the paths of light and darkness. The dark or black path refers to the way of the ancestors (pitriyana), while the white or bright path refers to the way of the gods (devayana). No complete Science of the Absolute can accommodate within its scope two rival realities or values. To reduce them into unitive terms is therefore the first and foremost task to be accomplished. It is precisely this task the Gita undertakes in all of its 18 chapters. The whole of the Gita is an attempt to dialectically revalue the complete range of religious and philosophical thought in India.


Whether we think of the duality of Samkhya and Yoga or of devayana and pitriyana, the basic methodology applied by the Gita is to reduce unitively the black and white aspects. Spiritual progress concerns itself with universal values belonging to human life and cannot tolerate any duality. Absolutism has to belong to one and the same axiological, epistemological or real context. When counterparts of a given situation are cancelled out, as in Hegelian dialectics, there is a synthesis. This is like the "moving image of eternity" found in Plato's Timaeus, yielding in every case a synthetic factor, whether real, rational or axiological. This kind of revaluation can be applied in various ways, taking counterparts belonging to different departments of spirituality. In the same way Plato is able to abstract the value of Beauty from actual instances on the one hand and Beauty thought of in the abstract on the other. All existent, subsistent and value factors yield their own central absolutist notion. The very possibility of the ten darsanas in the Darsana Mala is founded on such a possibility. Cause and effect when cancelled out yield an absolute Cause.


Similarly, ruler and ruled can be cancelled out into a central notion of good citizenship. Likewise both father and son can have the same relationship whether filial or paternal. The value is not subject to change when viewed from whichever side. The quality of Son found in Jesus belongs to such an absolutist order The various hypostatic entities of the Bhagavata religion with the four hypostasies of Vishnu or Vasudeva represent a scale of adorable values for the devotees. In the world of holy presences the same hierarchy of values is spread tree-like in many possible ramified sets. The Sacred Yggdrasil of Scandinavian mythology must be included in this picture found in the "Prose Edda" of Snorri Sturluson. Chapter 10 of the Gita is devoted to such absolute positive values called vibhuti. One is able to recognize what value factors are to be considered unique and absolutist as against those of mere relativist worth.


All these matters of methodology and axiology are masterfully treated throughout the Gita and it is not necessary to go into the matter in any great detail. The whole of the Gita can be treated as concerned with a dialectical revaluation along the basic lines of yajna (sacrifice), dana (gift) and tapas (austerity). These items are not treated for their own sake but in the light of unitive reason or buddhi-yoga. We have only to refer to the various chapters where long enumerated items are found in contexts such as daivi-sampat or divine values (see XVI.5), where there are several such graded items given referring to real, rational and value factors.




Just as a ship has to be charted correctly by latitude and longitude in order to continue on an intelligent course, so the Self of man also has to guided in relation to its proper orientation belonging to contemplative life. Trouble is avoided and favourable courses are sought through the establishment of active bipolar relationships. Even when we have understood how to reduce the Self to its proper proportions, to recognize the true from the false and to distinguish what is scientific from what is only mythologically real, by eliminating extraneous factors so as to recognize oneself as one really is in the context of contemplation, it is most necessary to guide oneself objectively or positively in a world of values such as those outlined above.


There are values which are undesirable and others conducive to better contemplation leading to the desired result of liberation In this matter of progress in spirituality the inner world has to come into agreement with the outer. For this purpose the whole of absolute reality or truth has to be treated as belonging to two main categories. A world of things, not as actual but as representing values treated together with an abstract world of interests, belongs to the bhogya-visva or enjoyable universe. This has its counterpart in the bhokta-rupa or the form of the enjoyer or the Self. When these aspects come together such an enjoyable Self benefits from contemplation. Without postulating these two main divisions and without understanding their dynamism no spiritual progress can be imagined.


We have already covered the question of the orientation of the Self in relation to the phenomenal world. The full noumenal and ontological status of the Self has been fixed by us at the end of the fifth chapter. Everything extraneous to the pure Self was eliminated by a negative method of reduction. Now we are entering into a process of construction where the direction of the ship is to be oriented to more and more positive and vertical values. Normalization will also take place within the limits of the remaining chapters.


We are thus naturally brought to think of the structure of the ship and how it is to guide itself through a "sea of troubles" as Shakespeare called the pluralistic and relativistic world. Just as a properly built ship with good floating capacities is necessary for sailing, so we have to think of the Self with its innate structure and constitution as essential for spiritual progress. It is in this sense that some kind of structural unit is to be thought of as a global psycho-physical entity representing the Self as a universal concrete factor. This factor is dynamically related to the vertical and horizontal aspects of life-values at one and the same time.


Contemplative texts like the "Vivekachudamani" (Verse 96) have attempted to formulate such an entity, calling it either linga sarira (symbolic body) or sukshma sarira (subtle body) comprising eight cities where some components are treated as sets of pentads. We have to remember that such a symbolic and structural construction is not to be thought of as fully interchangeable with the absolute Self. Such a structural image is merely meant to help thought and language. In Vedanta we find a great variety of such constructed wholes comprising psycho-physical elements treated unitively as corresponding to value counterparts in the outer world.


We know in the world of psycho-physics of the subtle regulating laws associated with Weber, Fechner and Wundt. Here, the observer is able to appreciate that a stimulus producing a ray of light and the event he observes have a special relationship where logarithmic factors enter. The Weber-Fechner law relating stimulus to its observability or appreciation is not regulated to mere arithmos, but has to go hand in hand with a more subtle mathematical factor called logos. Logarithmic proportions or harmonies extend from the world of sounds to colour and light in general, where the observer and the observed enter into a qualitative relationship at one and the same time.


The Vedas refer to the gods as the enjoyers of sacrifices by men caught in the world of mere arithmetical things and actions. In such a participation a subtle dialectical interchange of values occurs and is to be thought of as belonging to spiritual progress or regression. If we use the terminology of the Samkhya philosophy instead of Vedism the same case is stated where prakriti or nature is the agent in action and purusha or spirit is the enjoyer of the benefits. This applies with equal force to both meritorious and prohibited actions. When the duality between these counterparts is progressively abolished in favour of a total absolutism we find the enjoyer and the enjoyments belonging to one and the same context with lesser and lesser duality implied between them.

In the Bhagavad Gita (XIII.20) we read the following:

"In what concerns agency for cause and effect the motivating factor is said to be nature; in the matter of the experiencer of pleasure and pain, the motivating factor is spirit." (11)


This same kind of revaluation of duality is seen in almost every chapter of the Gita. This process begins directly in the fifth chapter in verses 4 and 5 and concludes there with the categorical statement that he who sees the unity of Samkhya and Yoga alone truly sees. The purushottama or paramount person of Chapter 15 results from the two other subordinate purushas being brought together into revalued unity. Such a purusha is represented as the masculine bijaprada or bestower of the seed and the feminine yoni or source or womb. Both these are identified with the same person in an androgynous fashion as we find in (XIV.3,4):


"My womb is great Brahma (supreme deity); in that I place the germ; thence is the birth of all beings, 0 Bharata (Arjuna).Whatever tangible forms are produced in all the wombs, 0 Son of Kunti (Arjuna) great Brahma (supreme deity) is their (common) womb and I am the seed-bestowing Father." (12)

The objection against the duality of the Samkhya is remedied here by having recourse to an androgynous analogy instead of retaining the duality of the two sexes. We cannot say the artificiality implied in the duality is completely abolished even here. On final analysis the notion of the Absolute cannot tolerate even a shadow of duality if it is to be given its fully normalized status. Within the limits of discourse such analogies are used as aids for linguistic purposes only.


In the Brahma Sutras (II 4.1-19) we come across a series of aphorisms dealing with very delicate structural implications between the function of the senses, mind, ego and the vital tendencies all unitively belonging together. This is to make the contemplative relate himself correctly to the world of values where his choice lies at any given moment. These Sutras, together with Sankara's hairsplitting and logic-chopping commentary makes difficult reading. Sometimes one is even tempted to leave the matter altogether. The vagueness of the arguments usually reveals some valid standpoint in speculation in such a way that one is reminded of a giddy mountaineer groping his way up a misty peak, as Max Muller himself once remarked.


In going through the pages of the Brahma Sutras we have to keep in mind some of Sankara's presuppositions, however vague, regarding structuralism and even mathematical ideas like ensembles and one-to-one correspondence.



As there are many pages of such delicate logic we cannot within the limits of space here examine each of the structural aspects implied in his notion of a symbolic body (linga sarira). As the Brahma Sutras are also called sariraka-mimamsa or a critique based on the agent within the body, these structural analyses of the components of the panchapranas or five vital tendencies immediately implied in the notion of the living body have a special importance in the Science of the Absolute. It is not therefore out of place for us to refer to Sankara's commentary dealing with both the subtle body and the vital tendencies. This will give the reader a rough idea of what is presupposed by Sankara. He formulated the notion of the sukshma sarira or subtle body, only to have it made into a fetish for worship by his later followers, who could hardly see the schematic or structural status intended by Sankara. The vagueness of Sankara here is in reality preferable to the cut-and-dried and ready-made versions of later disciples who so easily used it as a cliché. We read first in II.3.47 where the seventeen-fold aggregate is referred to. This aggregate is "the subtle body consisting of the ten sense-organs, the five pranas, manas, and buddhi." (13)

Sankara begins his commentary on this as follows:

"Vyasa and others state in their smritis that the highest Self is not afflicted by the pain of the individual soul, "That highest Self is said to be eternal, devoid of qualities, nor is it stained by the fruits of actions any more than a lotus leaf by water. But that other Self whose essence is action is connected with bondage and release- again and again it is joined with the seventeen-fold aggregate." On the ground of the particle 'and' (in the Sutra) we have to supply 'and scripture also records that.' So for instance, 'One of them eats the sweet fruit, the other looks on without eating and 'The one Self within all things is never contaminated by the misery of the world, being himself without' (Ka.Up.11.5.11)." (14)


In II.4.5. Sankara says there is no conflict because different Upanishadic passages list a different number of pranas: from seven to thirteen depending on the Upanishad. Sankara says there are seven pranas plus additional ones, basing this on the Brahma Sutras and their reference to the Upanishads. He does agree that more than seven are mentioned as he says in II.4.6:

"In addition to the seven pranas scripture mentions other pranas also, such as the hands, etc., 'The hand is one graha and that is seized by work as the atigraha ; for with the hands one does work.' (Bri.Up.111.2.8), and similar passages. And as it is settled that there are more than seven, the number seven may be explained as being contained within the greater number. For wherever there is a conflict between a higher and a lower number, the higher number has to be accepted because the lower one is contained within it; while the higher is not contained within the lower." (15)


The categories belonging to the living self are seen here to be structurally scrutinized.

 This same section of the Brahma Sutras dealing with the vital tendencies covers over twenty sutras. Sometimes the discussion is meant to bring out the relative importance of the various senses or vital tendencies as in the example of the well-known "colloquy of the gods" where Indra is the most superior god, but not superior to the Absolute which is more directly related to the senses and their functioning. Without the Absolute none of the senses can. function.


Thus the pentads of the eight-fold city have an inner structural unity between them depending directly on the Absolute and independent of other pentads. When we think of the vital tendencies there is sometimes the question whether they existed before general creation or only came into being as effects after creation had begun. Even after deciding this delicate matter there still remains the question of the distinction, dignity and importance of the chief vital tendency and how it is to be treated. Sankara in II.4.8. treats the chief vital tendency as more important than the other vital tendencies. To support his point he quotes from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad as follows:

"Then Breath was about to go off. As a large fine horse of the Indus-land might pull up the pegs of his foot-tethers together, thus indeed did it pull up those vital breaths together. They said: 'Sir, go not off! Verily we shall not be able to live without you!" (16)


The Breath is the same as the chief vital tendency in the above quotation. Whether the usual pranas and the chief prana belong to the same order or not is another question. Similar distinctions are made between the elementals, sometimes treated in a threefold fashion as earth, fire and water, Even so their perceptual and conceptual status is a matter of discussion. The whole section therefore has to be read together and understood so as to reconstruct a string of pentads or other unitary elements belonging together and representing a psycho-physical entity referring to the Self. This Self here is not to be mixed up with other descriptions found in other Upanishads. It is meant specially to reveal a mechanism underlying the taking of bodies and discarding them. Of the two sides involved in such a process the dual treatment of matter and mind is not acceptable to the spirit of the Upanishads. Both matter and mind become so pure that the material elements follow the spiritual ones in the process of attaining one body from another.


This question of taking fresh bodies touches one of the most central and subtle of problems found in the Upanishads.


The Bhagavad Gita (XV.10) points out this as one of the most difficult questions to visualize and says "this the foolish cannot see; the wisdom-eyed can see." In the next verse it points out that one must be a person of perfected works or a kritatma in order to see the subtle mechanism involved. All this reveals the double-sided nature of the entity we are concerned with. It should not be confused with the libido, ego, id or subliminal self of Western psychology. Neither should it be confused with other graphic portraits of the same entity found in other sections of the Upanishads, such as the image of the chariot and horses found in the Svetasvatara Upanishad (II.6) etc. The change from body to body, if assumed to be taking place, has to do so at the very core of absolute reality where duality exists in a most pure and schematic form, before even the emergence of name and form. In other words it has to belong to a context where algebra and geometry cannot be thought of separately.

This neutral matrix of consciousness where forms crystallize and names are conceived touches the deepest stratum of reality and fully participates in the Absolute. Each of the various pentads has to belong to the same neutral order and all of them have to be strung together as pearls before the eight cities can cover all the value-factors belonging to the contemplative context of spirituality. Only then can they enter into homogeneous relationship with their own objective counterparts in the enjoyable world. Both the enjoyer and the enjoyed have to belong to the same context and each pentad is a level ranging from cognition to emotion, where every symbolic Self consisting of eight pentad cities works out its own salvation. There are two references to the higher and lower nature of the Absolute and the eight fold structure of the contemplative Self.


The first found in the Bhagavad Gita (VII.4) says:

"Earth, water, fire, air, sky, mind, reason also, and consciousness of individuality, thus here is divided My eightfold nature." (17)


In Sankara's "Vivekachudamani " (Verse 96) we find this eightfold structure referred to as eight cities:

"The five organs of action such as speech, the five organs of knowledge such as the ear, the group of five Pranas, the five elements ending with the ether, together with Buddhi and the rest as also nescience, desire and action - these eight cities, make up what is called the subtle body." (18)



The direct reference to the eight cities or eightfold nature constituting the Absolute is the result of the cumulative effect of all references to such matters found in the various Upanishads. Although the versions in the Upanishads vary considerably, Sankara in his Brahma Sutra commentary shows how a general consensus of statements can be gleaned for purposes of discourse. The same purpose is the guiding one in the Bhagavad Gita when it refers to the higher and lower nature of the Absolute. The lower nature refers to existential aspects while the higher is transcendental. The lower eightfold nature has the earth as its first item. It is not the physical earth which is to be thought of but rather a revised epistemological version of the same. There is a subtle reversal of order here, whereby what is perceptual is treated as conceptual. The primacy given to these items becomes changed over. These are subtle methodological and epistemological considerations difficult to explain without going into great details of discussion.


There is an objectivity and a subjectivity to be supposed at the first instance between the vertical and horizontal aspects of reality.

There is also a deeper division between the essences of what is objective and subjective within the scope of the vertical axis itself. This complex situation requires penetrating analysis in the light of an absolutist epistemology, where subjectivity and objectivity belong together without any traces of duality at the core of the normative notion of the Absolute. Narayana Guru in Arivu (Knowledge, or the Epistemology of Gnosis) has attempted such an analysis using the same four-fold structure with a double implication brought fully and analytically to view.


A careful reading of this text (see pages 722-724) will help at least to show that the paradox involved is capable of unitive or contemplative analysis according to a method and theory proper to the subject. The reader should notice how we have avoided as far as possible even the use of technical terms known to special schools of psychology or philosophy. Even the word "gnosis", most suitable from the philosophical angle, is avoided in the text so that it may not be confused with any school of gnosticism hitherto known. To speak of Gnosis would go against the thorough absolutism of the knowledge treated of in these verses, as Verse 8 must show in particular.


The division into six and two in Verse 14 seems justified because objectivity is implied in desire and in action, the last two items of the series of sub-divisions of knowledge referred to above by Sankara. These are all to be remembered as lying in the two sets, what is subjective in one series yielding place to the objective, or vice versa, as seen from the two poles involved, that of knowledge or of the known. The central gnosis covering unitively and differencelessly the other aspects enumerated, whether on the plus or the minus side, is really what represents the Absolute as Knowledge itself.


The following peculiarities of the tacit method implied in this composition may also be noted here while we are at this elusive subject: 
(a) We find that knowledge "there" and known "here" are juxtaposed and dialectically examined. Mere mechanistic logic cannot be expected to yield unitive thinking in such a problem;

 (b) We find secondly the argument consisting of a series of rhetorical questions making them absurd and implying a unitive reality lurking behind the absurdity suggested in each question.

Although there is something Socratic in the method here, more positive confirmations are here and there interspersed in the composition especially after Verse 11. The beginning is ontological but the concluding verses are neither ontological nor teleological, immanent nor transcendent, material nor spiritual, but neutrally unitive.

Knowledge as a central personal experience of the human being is related to the Platonic world of the Intelligibles on the one hand, and to the material world of prime matter or the entelecheia of Aristotle on the other. Alternating ascending and descending dialectics are very deftly employed by the author, making this composition a masterpiece of contemplative workmanship, unrivalled in literature anywhere.

Due allowance must be made by the English reader for any slight originality or concession made for the sake of English idiom; this has been kept at a minimum as far as possible. Lastly, the principle of double negation employed in Verse 7 (marked by an asterisk) is to be noticed. Intellectual straining, it must be borne in mind, will not make for definiteness of meaning here. The verses must be read in a contemplative mood in order to enter into the full spirit and meaning intended by Narayana Guru.



(The Epistemology of Gnosis)

This which is known here, is none other
On reflection, knowledge it becomes;
As knowledge is one with this ever,
Nought else there is but knowledge alone.

Without knowledge this could not be,
Even granting the known to have reality;
Should but this one knowledge be wanting
What knowing could there be for knowledge; none such we can know.

Beyond the measure of knowledge, whatever we can know
As knowledge even that too shines;
As within consciousness here, dream abides.
So comprised in knowledge is all that is there.

If knowledge be all-filling,
Non-knowledge, where could it abide?
Going after knowledge from here,
As knowing that there, where could it reside?

If from knowledge no fading out could be
And knowledge alone is, to where could all this descend?
Knowledge is not known. here
When known both become one and the same.


Prior to knowledge "What?" if we should ask
Other than knowledge nothing here is found;
The unknowing, what limitation could it have?
And as for knowledge, there is nothing here to see.

Of knowledge we are aware; of its absence
We have no awareness here; which in which abides
Though known here; not as knowledge do we un-know
When we ourselves should here regard.

Even from the day that knowledge ever was, this too has been; (But) how Could this stand if knowledge alone was real?
Of knowledge no disjunct category there is;
(And) whatever could there be if but knowledge were not?

There is a habitation for knowledge
None distinct there is for the known;
If there is knowledge as an item distinct
How could the known enter thereinto?

Consumed by the known, all will be gone.
What in knowledge is it that is not known?
And as for knowledge, how could it arise at all?

As the knower of knowledge, what makes known here
That we do become; if this is conceded
What kind of knowledge, and how comes
The known; and what kind could it be?


Yourself is what is known as knowledge;
By putting down your own knowledge, it becomes the known.
The known is thus twofold: one conscious of knowing
And the other not conscious of the same.

Knowledge too, likewise in its turn proceeding
Became reflected in the knower once again
And one spark of knowledge falling into this the known
Into five shreds it became split up.

If one could still be cognizant of oneself
As the knower of knowledge, still knowing knowledge to be all,
The one that is knowledge and the one that is the knower
Within that which is known, six and eight, too, they become.

Corresponding likewise with this known
Knowledge too seven and one makes eight;
Knowledge is thus specifically distinguished
As also the known, when separated one from one


It will be noticed in the above analysis of consciousness into duplicate eightfold items, Narayana Guru does not make any attempt to fill it with any ontological or value content. After all the variety of realistic imagery or suggestions contained in the various Upanishads, as well as in the Brahma Sutras, dealing more picturesquely with the implications of the items for careful scrutiny, it is sufficiently clear that this epistemological analysis is meant merely to serve as a structural and categoric reference. The Bhagavad Gita (XIII.4) makes pointed reference to the great variety of literature extant on such a subject.


When we add to this the commentaries of Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva is easy to see how even the broad outlines of what makes for wisdom become overlaid with too many alternative considerations enumerating merits, virtues or qualities within the scope of a wholesale philosophical vision.


Narayana Guru avoids this complexity by being satisfied with merely numbering the items, whether in the Self as the knower or the non-Self as the known. Knower and known are brought together as belonging to the same context of neutral and absolute understanding. Filling such a framework with some contemplative value-factors is left an open matter as it can be done in endlessly various ways according to each contemplative or mystical tradition.


Of all the texts attempting to fill this outline frame of reference with recognizable value contents what is found in xiii, 5-11 of the Bhagavad Gita seems to be of remarkable interest. The field (kshetra) and the knower of the field (kshetrajna) refer to the same Self and non-Self aspects in turn referring respectively to knowledge (jnana) and the known (jneya). The contents enumerated under knowledge, corresponding to the knower of the field are more than eight, and what is more refer to complex contemplative attitudes of the mind. We can just recognize the eight items in Verse 5 where the knower of the field is dealt with. When we try to do the same with the field (kshetra) the richness of thought and the complexity of the items make their enumeration difficult. The verses (5-11) are now quoted for ready reference to show how they answer roughly to the same double series outlined as a frame of reference as found in Narayana Guru's "Arivu".


"The great elements, ego-sense, reason, and also the Unmanifest, the ten senses, and the one (mind) and the five conceptual aspects of the senses, Wish-dislike, pleasure-pain, the organic aggregation, vital intelligence, firmness: this in brief, is the field, with modifications named. 
Freedom from conventional pride, unpretentiousness, non-hurting, non-retaliating forbearance, straightforwardness, loyal support of the teacher, purity, steadfastness, and the state of self-withdrawal;

Detachment in respect of sense-interests, absence of egoism, insight regarding the pain. and evil of birth, death, old age, and disease:

Without clinging to, (and) without intensely involved attachment to, (relations such as) sons, wives (and property such as) houses, and having a constant neutral mental attitude in respect of desirable and undesirable happenings.

Devotion to Me to the exclusion of everything extraneous, and never straying from the (direct) path, preference to dwell in a place apart, distaste for crowded living;

Everlasting affiliation to the wisdom pertaining to the Self, insight into the content of philosophical wisdom - this is declared to be wisdom; whatever is other than this is ignorance." (19)



Axiology has its many laws sometimes treated as tenets, dogmas, doctrines or articles of faith. When they are concerned with the sacred and the profane, the sinful and the meritorious, they could be theologically or mythologically treated with figurative language referring to various possible value-systems belonging to heaven, hell or earth. Theological and eschatological notions pertaining to this aspect of spiritual or contemplative life are so complex that anyone with a scientific attitude has to be wary of the beliefs or behaviour patterns they recommend. Axiology has to be treated in its bare outlines only if it is to reveal its main structural outlines and comprehensive laws.


To enter fully into its ramifications jeopardizes the degree of scientific certitude we are attempting to maintain. There are however some overall laws to be stated without actually entering any questionable domain of religious belief. Fanaticism and orthodoxy are unscientific prejudices always acting in ways detrimental to Truth or to the good of all. What is taboo in one religious observance is often accepted or condoned in another. Scientific axiology has thus to steer clear of such prejudices.


As we see in the last three chapters of the Darsana Mala, axiology comes into the discussion only in its barest outlines and broadest generalities. In Chapter 8 the Self when it contemplates itself is taken to comprise bhakti or devotion. When the two aspects of the Self are more subtly equated we have the subject-matter of Chapter 9 where contemplation matures and becomes meditation. The last chapter refers to liberation and is meant to cover all forms of emancipation or salvation. Here the equation between the Self and the non-Self takes place in such a way that a positive direction is maintained in terms of spiritual progress. The last remnants of reciprocity or differences between the Self and the non-Self tend to be gradually absorbed.


In the sixth and seventh chapters axiology does not enter in so directly, although the Self and the non-Self are still treated in a global and conceptual manner. The reasoning Self is an instrument or organon. The instrumental status of the citendriyatma (the Self of pure reason and the senses) of the sixth chapter, is imperceptibly graded into the purer and global concept of the Self as a reasoning entity in the seventh.


Reason is here a positive process of ratiocination. The consciousness structurally examined with its duplicate implications in the fifth chapter had only a passive status where the will was not yet pronounced. This justifies another chapter where reason operates actually.


Before leaving the limits of the seventh chapter we must first state that a man's spiritual aspirations must correspond to the total situation where he finds himself. As the Bhagavad Gita (XVII.3) says, a man's faith determines the man himself. This corresponds to similar sayings like "birds of a feather flock together," and "the dress makes the man." When water finds its level it is obeying an overall law of nature. There are absolute laws holding good in spiritual life. A solid floats on water in a manner in keeping with its specific gravity which is an inner factor cancelled out finally in relation with the outer factor of the water displaced. A law of reciprocity holds good here as in spiritual life. These overall ways stated in forms such as "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be" are broad axiological assumptions familiar to religious thought. What is spoken of as karma in religious doctrine can be expressed in plain language by the dictum "whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap". This is like action and reaction being opposites in Newtonian mechanics and time and space having a more verticalized status in the theory of Relativity.


Selfishness is bad because it cuts out the totality of human beings from its thought and attitude. Theories of ethics are not always conceived along universal and absolutist lines. When ethics is considered relatively it offers endless varieties or schools. It is only by giving to ethics a normative absolutist reference that it can be brought under the aegis of a unitive scientific discipline.


Utilitarian ethics belonging to closed and static groups are not scientific. We are therefore not tempted to enter into the divisions and subdivisions of human conduct and belief. It is however safe to state as an overall law that spiritual aspiration must always be wholehearted and wholesale without limited peculiarities and preferences. Clans, classes, castes, tribes and nations represent closed and static loyalties and have to be finally discarded in favour of an open and dynamic way of life.


As a human being each person belongs to the total axiological situation in which he is placed. His aspirations must always be guided by universal considerations without fear or favour. Looked at in this way prayer can be considered as a clarification of the relation between an individual in the world of plurality and relativity and the universal totality of the situation where he happens to be placed. A true prayer is not one asking God to bestow partial favours on one individual at the expense of another. It should always apply to humanity as a whole. Heaven and earth have to be equated. The essences of the one have to be transferred to the other. Heaven really exists "inside". Prayer in this contemplative sense is a relation between the Self and the non-Self where both are finally cancelled out in favour of a neutral and fully absolutist Self. As happiness underlies all prayer it is in scientific terms of the axiological context that we have to understand what a prayer finally means.


All prayers of closed and static groups addressed with unilateral aims in favour of their private interests and against rival groups are of no scientific value, although for institutional religious purposes they might have to be tolerated. The God invoked in any prayer must correspond to a high value for the benefit of the general good and the good of all.


If the generous outlook implied in a prayer embraces life in general, such a prayer is of a superior kind. For atheists and others who do not pray at all it is not harmful to have a form of prayer whose interests lie only in fixing and affirming the day-to-day relations binding man with his fellows. It is an. axiological bipolar relationship bringing solidarity which is of utmost importance here.


The word "God" has already found its place in all the world's dictionaries, and we are still free to revise and re-define the meaning of the term in the improved dictionaries of the future. As long as there is not a definite reason to discard this most convenient and universal term, it should not be discredited. It seems hardly possible to speak with normal emotions without finding oneself using the name of God. There is no need to throw this idea overboard. In trying to substitute it one might merely end up by adding just another word for God to the dictionary. As each culture has its own names for the high gods or God, the connotations and denotations are too numerous to mention. A God who is not locally fixed and is instead a universally valid notion for all time has a fully scientific character. The Absolute is in fact what the word is meant to cover, as the word God in practice is limited in its general use to theology and religion. Other terms like Dharma, Tao, or the names of the Most High in every religion or culture should be considered equally interchangeable with the term God. Pure water which called by any other name is still good for use. It is totally unscientific to speak of "my God" or "your God". Prophetic religions place God hypostatically at the top of the Omega point in the vertical axis. Non-prophetic and hylozoist religions tend towards animism or pantheism and have sacred presences treated as hierophanies at the Alpha point of the vertical axis. When understood unitively, both belong to the same Absolute.


When treated in this way a scientific prayer about the absolute Principle is not unthinkable or impossible. When rid of all parochialisms and confusions of language a simple prayer to God should be acceptable to all scientists when there is nothing detracting from its fully universal absolute character. As we have said it is the relation of the person or persons who pray to the larger context of high universal values that should be considered the core of any prayer. Further, if prayer respects and conforms to the normative structural requirements of the Self of one in relation to the Self of all, such a prayer has a further enhanced scientific status.


We have seen how Narayana Guru in "Arivu" analyses and presents a structural framework of relationships between subject and object in terms of pure consciousness. This frame of reference by itself may not serve some of the emotional requirements of prayer treated as a normal human necessity for the common man and woman. High and dry abstractions do not appeal to most humans, and it is not fair to leave the generality of mankind out of consideration without their emotional appetites being properly catered to. By being highly philosophical one should not lose the common touch. It must have been with these considerations in mind that Narayana Guru by special request composed the prayer reproduced below. We are not recommending it for adoption by any specific group or individual. Our present interest is to show merely how a scientific prayer is possible to compose. What we wish to draw the reader's attention to is the bipolar relation it succeeds in establishing between two reciprocal aspects of the same Self through values such as generosity, open-mindedness and adoration properly belonging to prayerful human nature. It is particularly interesting to examine closely the structural implications of this prayer.


The reader should scrutinize the verses and understand them for himself. By way of indication however we can point out that God and his greatness as a high value is placed above in a schematic sense in the first half of the prayer. In the second half it ends aptly by referring to happiness hereunder as meant to sum up the meaning of the prayer as a whole. In the middle we find the meaning-content narrowing down to a thin point where the Word is treated as equivalent to God. This is where the Logos and the Nous meet in a kind of hourglass-like conic structure. The cones are inverted and placed apex on apex here. It should be noted in Verse 4 how Narayana Guru had in mind a definite fourfold structural frame.


These and other subtle implications follow from what we have explained already in various sections. Here the structural implications have a general axiological background fitting into the notion of the Absolute. This should be treated as merely another attempt to fill the otherwise seemingly empty content of the Absolute when treated as knowledge. This is done in order to help man in his spiritual life to achieve inner peace and happiness. It must also be remembered that in this prayer God and the Absolute are interchangeable terms. We now present in full Narayana Guru's "Daiva Dasakam" translated from the Malayalam.



(A Prayer for Humanity)

O God, as ever from there keep watch on us here,
Never letting go your hand; You are the great Captain,
And the mighty steamship on the ocean,
Of change and becoming is Your foot. 


Counting all here, one by one,
When all things touched are done with,
Then the seeing eye (alone) remains,
So let the inner self in You attain its rest. 
Food, clothes, and all else we need
You give to us unceasingly,
Ever saving us, seeing us well-provided.
Such a one, You, are for us our only Chief. 
As ocean, wave, wind and depth
Let us within see the scheme
Of us, of nescience,
Your glory and You. 
You are creation, the Creator,
And the magical variety of created things.
Are You not, 0 God,
Even the substance of creation too!


You are Maya,
The Agent thereof and its Enjoyer too;
You are that Good One also who removes Maya too,
To grant the Unitive State! 
You are the Existent; the Subsistent and the Value-Factor Supreme
You are the Present and the Past,
Add the Future is none else but You.
Even the spoken Word, when we consider it, is but You alone.
You state of glory that fills
Both inside and outside
We for ever praise!
Victory be, 0 God, to You! 
Victory to You! Great and Radiant One!
Ever intent upon saving the needy.
Victory to You, perceptual Abode of Joy!
Ocean of Mercy, Hail! 
In the ocean of Your Glory
Of great profundity
Let us all, together, become sunk,
To dwell there everlastingly in Happiness!



Thoughts take place within consciousness. They are mental events intended primarily to solve various problems presenting themselves for solution for the purposes of yielding certitude in taking decisions. Thoughts also belong to the world of discourse where scientific as well as scriptural literature belong. Probabilities and possibilities belong together to a universe of total discourse where certain things or events are considered probable and other events can only be more generally thought of as possible. It is also to be noted that the improbable is not necessarily impossible. The latter contains the a priori, while the former belongs to the a posteriori. Problem solving is a function common to both of them. Such problems must have some sort of utilitarian or idealistic significance to be able to help in making life easier or to offer overall consolation. Such is the total situation of contemplative spirituality to be kept in mind, especially in the second part of this book which deals with choices between higher and everyday values for the sake of inner peace and happiness.


In order to bring out the structure of absolute or pure consciousness where probabilities and possibilities exist together, let us put together at random a series of questions and try to answer them. Let us say a modern man is asked the question: do you believe in science? His answer will be 'yes'. If you then ask, are you also a believer? The answer will most likely be 'no'. The reason for this is because scepticism belongs to scientific inquiry where doubt is given primacy over belief. There is a contradiction here wherein even the scientist is caught.


If we now ask a pious Christian if he believes a cosmonaut found heaven while he was in outer space, he will say that no such thing is possible because it is not mentioned in the scriptures. The religious man is essentially a believer, but he becomes a thorough sceptic in certain situations when he feels he is his own authority.


If you further ask him if God is a fact of direct experience, he might say it is so to some mystics, but he is satisfied in being just a believer in God. God is not a fact but rather an article of faith required by commandments or injunctions.


When we think of a simpler case of asking a man who is called John Brown if he believes he is John, Brown, or John Brown and what the factual correspondence is between the names and his person, a structural difficulty of another nature comes into view. His surname belongs generically to his ancestors and can be anything from a colour to an object while his Christian name is specific and particular as the choice made by his parents. It often belongs not to a factual context but to a scriptural one. Wittgenstein has dealt in detail with these kinds of word-games in his "Philosophical Investigations". In Eastern countries the convention about names might be the other way around, but the total structural implications between the nominal and factual aspects remain the same.

If we now take Eddington´s example of four men sitting on four different chairs understood as belonging to the four different structural orders, it is evident that a heavy man cannot sit on an abstract chair. Likewise a nominal chair requires a nominal man to sit on it without absurdity. Similarly a perceptual man belonging to the world of science has to have his own physical chair if he is to avoid a major or minor catastrophe. Thus facts and beliefs have to be structurally matched in duplicate quaternion fashion. If this law of structural composability or compatibility is violated we have unscientific literature, whether in physical science or religion. What is true in a laboratory may not be true in a seminary, but each can be made into a nominalizing factor for the other so that the scientific certitude required for a unified Science of the Absolute might result.


The following random statements are meant to reveal the structural implications vital to any unified Science of the Absolute where axiology is also an organic part:

1. A subjective, selective and structural world where modern physical theories exist without contradiction must be the common ground for heaven and hell to belong together through the intermediary of death as a neutral dividing point.

2. Prejudices of part and whole, one and many, big and small, secondary and primary, etc. have all to be revised and fitted into a homogeneous context where visible figures and the language of signs meet to help certitude. A full normalization is to be expected here.

3. Spirituality refers directly to the Self and must be understood in terms of the mind or some external factor corresponding to it in its structure. A neutral normative ground is to be assumed.

4. As Bergson points out, one must take an inner view of reality. He also points out the importance of a double effort and double correction in opposite directions.

5. Experiment and immediate experience are two certitudes meeting in the conscious Self. A negative reduction and positive construction is here implied.

6. Kant's schematismus contains a secret ground, where, from two sides conceptual and perceptual factors come together in the Absolute.

7. When the conceptual and the perceptual are unmixed but treated under a unitive method, superstition becomes revalued and revised.


9. Allegories, fables and myths have an indirect language. They can be improved by a mathematical language derived from axiomatic convention or from scientific experience.

10. What is visible is not always infallible although causes and effects must belong together as double aspects of the same reality.

11. Partial and absurd arguments as when a man says one-half of a hen can be killed and eaten and the other half can be kept for laying eggs violates the unitive totality where all truth belongs. In the Science of the Absolute there is no piecemeal approach.



While we are on the subject of happiness and in the context of the Daivadasakam of Narayana Guru, a union of reciprocal counterparts of the Self is indicated as possible in. Verse 6. The question arises naturally whether happiness is limited by physical death or exists irrespective of death. This question brings us to the borderline of physical science. Questions such as the survival of the human personality after death are still being discussed by various psychic organizations without a final answer in sight. Earlier scientific thinkers and writers like F.W.H. Myers, Conan Doyle and Pierre Janet have been responsible for much literature on this subject, attempting to bring such a question within the purview of scientific thought.


We are here on very refined or thin epistemological ground. The possibility of survival after death is itself a question calling for an epistemological decision. Happiness is the central subject-matter here. It refers to a real inner experience known to every person while he is alive. Everyone is concerned with this and the question of whether this happiness comes to an abrupt end on the event of death is always present. Such a thought could make him unhappy even here and now. Unless there is a definite reason for happiness beyond death all hope would be out of place. It is not fair to deny this possibility although it may be doubtful as a probability. Happiness as a human value need not have a physical content nor termination.


When we say that the truth shall make one free, the freedom referred to is a value and implies the happiness resulting from getting rid of bondage. Here we are on very subtle ground. Much more so than at the end of the first part of the work where we ended on the note of reciprocal interaction between two aspects of pure consciousness. There we were still within the limits of neutral consciousness. What lives beyond experience as a more subtle essence as against ontological existence is the concept of value. Values are just notions mathematically present at the core of absolute substance holding together as its ambivalent antinomies both existence and essence. After dealing with ontological and existential aspects we are now passing beyond the borders of the physical to the metaphysical. As in the case of Bergson's sense of a unique time given to common sense in the form of an inner and immediate intuitive experience so there are some overlapping features within the reach of human understanding. Values cling to this intuitive experience, having a reality alternatively bringing happiness or unhappiness. All human beings experience such an alternating circulation of values taking place in a psycho-physical entity finer than any consciousness involving a duality between percepts and concepts. An osmotic interchange of values following certain delicate lines of alternation and circulation between compensatory aspects of consciousness can still be imagined. Reasoning belongs to such an order when it moves between analysis and synthesis, the a priori and the a posteriori, the pure and the practical, and the noumenal and the phenomenal.


Almost every religion in the world tacitly recognized such a possibility of alternating states within the soul or the Self. The soul or Self is subjected to reward or punishment at the hands of a person or by some abstract philosophical principle such as karma as known in Buddhism.


What is involved here is a compensation of values. How this actually operates and what kind of ground it has for such compensatory operations of the subtle dynamism regulating punishment or rewards, are questions often left unexplained in most discussions. God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Some overall value factor covering the need for religion is always involved here whether in theology or eschatology. A sinner must beware of punishment and a virtuous person can expect to be happy with rewards. The former goes to hell or purgatory, experiencing different degrees of suffering depending on the degree of sin. There are also graded heavens in certain religions. The promise of rewards and punishments is one of the main functions of popular religion and the day of judgment is a natural corollary belonging to such a total situation.


All kinds of promises are made by rival religions and it is impossible for a man of scientific learning to find his way through the many alternate theories. The only step the scientist can take is to apply Occam's Razor ruthlessly and cut away all extraneous and uncertain matter. We shall see how Narayana Guru in the following chapters cultivates this great virtue and refuses to be brought into any discussion about secondary details of an eschatological nature. He speaks elsewhere of good reputation as a value left behind by a kindly man after his death. This is a broadening streak or line tracing itself on some real and persisting substance where a high absolutist life like the Buddha's has influenced the conduct of men for over two thousand five hundred years. A man may wish to resemble the Buddha as a living motive within his real consciousness, whether such consciousness on final analysis has a physical, metaphysical or neutrally normalized status. We are on thin ground where possibilities and probabilities meet and neutralize each other. The Absolute is neither nothing, something, nor both. It belongs to an independent epistemological category of its own.


In an extended sense and at least for purposes of discussion, the osmotic exchange or circulation of subtle value-factors cannot be ruled out from the scope of a unified Science.


Heavens, hells and purgatories of great variety are mentioned in various religions. They are too numerous to be referred to exhaustively. They have however one and the same structuralism whether understood as a verticalized positive series of worlds of favourable values or as a similar unfavourable negative series, as in Mahayana Buddhism. Dante's "Divine Comedy" and Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Goethe's Faust also have a similar hierarchy of value-worlds. The Parsi heavens resemble the Vedic ones in certain respects. Ascending and descending angels representing scales of values are found in the Biblical Ladder of Jacob. The extremity of such a scale has feeble or pronounced antinomies meant to be purified in a central fire implying death as a generalized principle of control.


The word yama in Sanskrit not only means "gathering together" or "controlling", but also death as a trial for the soul. Passing through death is a fire test purifying the soul both in its ascent and descent. Horizontal aspects are conferred afresh on the soul by death as implying life. Vertical aspects become more pronounced in their ascent. In an ambivalent scale of values, the alternate goings and comings of the soul take place along a vertical axis. In certain feeble cases of alternation it follows a figure-of-eight where the upward and downward paths have gyroscopically regulated points of participation or non-participation of matter or mind factors. No quantitative factor must be attributed to such a process conceived only in pure schematic terms. When we use the word "point" we should not think of an actual stoppage but only of fluid points in a process of flux or pure becoming. As the process becomes further purified the verticalization becomes thinner and more pronounced. Approximating to more absolutist values even the pure vertical parameter is abolished and when their mutual absorption is perfect all duality between subject and object vanishes. Such are some of the guiding thoughts to keep in mind trying to follow some of the subtler implications relating to the subject of alternating pleasure or pain or rewards and punishments.


When the equation of the Self with the non-Self is complete the question of reward and punishment does not arise. Even the gods are abolished. The question of reincarnation also does not arise. Before such a culmination is supposed it is still legitimate to think of a value-circulation between two poles representing good and evil in the context of the Absolute.


The alchemy involved in life and death involves a complex process of interchanges between existences and essences. Double distillation, evaporation, crystallization and sublimation at different levels of neutralization are here involved together as a process. Essences can be condensed at levels of purification. In various Upanishads are described in greater or lesser detail the processes whereby the soul reaches the regions of the sun or moon and returns by different paths of smoke or cloud to be eaten in the form of grains or other food by procreating humans. This imagery is full of suggestive indications calling to be put in proper order by those endowed with a certain scientific intuition. To do this one has to reduce all complexities to simple terms. Terms like "sublimation" and "repression" as well as the formation of complexes remaining in the subconscious are familiar as the technical terms of what is also called analytical psychology. Such terms belong to the same context as the ones we have tried to elaborate above. In revealing this psycho-physical dynamism we have only tried to substitute mathematical language for the fabulous and the mythological. What remains now is to distinguish more clearly, though still cryptically, the horizontal and vertical versions of structuralism. This we can do when we think of a man with a plough looking for his bullocks to help him with his work. The plough and the bullocks belong to the horizontal axis of action.


A Vedic brahmin on the other hand, sitting before a lighted sacrificial fire and offering sacrifices, also has ends and means like ploughs and bullocks, but belonging to the world of the gauna (relativistic) and apurva (unexpected). The Vedic brahmin belongs to a finer world of actions where his ends and means are the object of sacrifice and religious utterances (mantras). Both these (action and chant) together are meant to have the effect of exalting his soul through the gates of death where it undergoes certain value adjustments or modifications and gives consolation. It rises further when the essences are sublimated. This yields pleasures of a hedonistic or absolutist order, depending upon the intensity of the element of sacrifice involved. Some merits are richer and more lasting than others in their power to yield either mere pleasures or true and lasting happiness. Throughout the Upanishads the same pattern persists and both the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras give us the gist of these processes. When further clarified by Sankara´s commentary on the Brahma Sutras one can see that he is not a total stranger to the structural way of thinking. Some residual outlines of this way of thinking in the departments of axiology and eschatology can be clearly seen. Ethics and aesthetics are also axiological and can be fitted into the same frame of reference.


The general life-process of ordinary plants and animals presents a horizontal process of Darwinian evolution. This evolution is mechanically conceived. Where higher intentions are capable of being attributed to superior human beings such as homo sapiens, there is a vertical or creative evolution. Creative evolution is in fact a spiritual process taking place in terms of self-consciousness, attaining to a high degree of perfection in the case of the attributes of God. Values can adhere in a more earthy and simple manner as in the case of the holy tulsi plant in the axiology of the Vaishnavas where it is considered a counterpart of Vishnu in a descending scale of values. Kalidasa´s drama "Vikrama-Urvasiya" represents a similar descent of a goddess to the status of a simple plant in a valley.


All these ideas are vague and only suggestive. Still we are able to extract all that remains scientific by way of a structural dynamism and pattern as seen through myth or figure or speech. Science can only be interested in the schematic and structural clarity found in this complex process and must leave higher and subtler imagination in eschatological exegetics to experts or to esoterics. We now quote four verses from the Bhagavad Gita relevant to this subject and having sufficient clarity.
We read in order from IX, 20-21 and VIII, 24-25:

"Knowers of the three (Vedas), soma-drinkers, purified from sin, worshipping by sacrifices, pray of Me the way to heaven; they, attaining the holy world of Indra (Lord of Gods) enjoy divine feasts in heaven.
They, having enjoyed that expansive heaven-world then, on their merit exhausted, they enter the world of mortality, thus conforming to the righteous notions implied in the three (Vedas), desiring desirable objects they obtain values which come and go.

Fire, light, daytime, the bright fortnight, the six months of the (summer) northern solstice, going forth on that (cosmological) occasion, those people who can understand the Absolute reach the Absolute.

Smoke, night, the dark fortnight, the six months of the (winter) southern solstice, on that (cosmological) occasion, the yogi attaining the lunar (relativist) light, return" (20)


The Brahma Sutras with Sankara´s commentary give further perspectives on the same theme. Sankara explains the basic division in III.I.17 as follows:

"...knowledge and works are under discussion as the means for entering on the road of the gods and the road of the fathers. The clause, "those who know this," proclaims knowledge to be the means whereby to obtain the road of the gods; the clause "sacrifices, works of public utility, and alms," proclaims works to be that by which we obtain the road of the fathers" (21)

The two divisions of the vertical axis are here clearly indicated. In III.1.13 the neutral ground of origin belonging to Yama, the god of death, where everything is re-melted and reshaped by fire is now referred to. The ascending and the descending paths are also sufficiently indicated.
We read the following:

"The latter descend to Samyamana, the abode of Yama, suffer there the torments of Yama corresponding to their evil deeds, and then again re-ascend to this world. Such is their ascent and descent ... For a scriptural passage embodying Yama´s own words declares that those who die without having offered sacrifices fall into Yama´s power. The other world never rises before the eyes of the careless child deluded by the delusion of wealth. This is the world, he thinks, there is no other; thus he falls again and again under my sway.' (Katha Upanishad I.2.) (22)


Further too some of the interesting sidelights tending towards a schematic rather than an actual view of the process seem to find support in the following remarks of Sankara in III.1.4. The metaphorical is in essence the same as lakshanartha (indirect or figurative meaning). The distance between the metaphorical and schematic is not very great.
We read as follows:

"The entering of speech, etc. into Agni is metaphorical, because we observe no such entering in the case of the hairs of the head and body. For although the text says that 'the hairs of the body enter into the shrubs and the hairs of the head into the trees,' still we cannot understand this to mean that the hairs actually fly away from the body and enter into trees and shrubs. On the other hand, the soul could not go at all if we denied to it the limiting adjunct formed by the pranas, and without the latter it could not, in the new body, enter into the state of fruition. Besides, other passages distinctly declare that the pranas go with the soul. From all this we conclude that the passage about speech, etc. entering into Agni, metaphorically expresses that Agni and other divinities who act as guides of the pranas and co-operate with them, stop their co-operation at the time of death"  (23)

Next we find a subtle equation of three distinct concepts called water, faith and man established in a passage of Sankara. He appeals to the syntactical coherence of the text and also relies on a semantic unity. The lakshanartha (indirect meaning) argument is also appealed to in the case of a man as valiant as a lion being himself called a lion. We see here that even nominalism is resorted to in the example of men standing on a platform. Here man is only qualitative and faith and water are related by association of cause and effect in the context of Vedic ritual.


In any case the literal meaning is avoided by Sankara as it is a qualitative relational connection that counts in an overall schematic context. 
We read in III.1.5:

"To this view of the purvapakshin (anterior questioner) we demur, because, in the case of the first fire, the word sraddha (faith) is to be taken in the sense of 'water'. - On what ground? - On the ground of fitness. For on that explanation only beginning, middle, and end of the passage harmonize so that the syntactical unity of the whole remains undisturbed ... Moreover, water, when forming the seed of the body enters into the state of thinness, subtlety, and herein again resembles faith, so that its being called sraddha is analogous to the case of a man who is valiant as a lion being himself called a lion.- Again, the word sraddha may fitly be applied to water, because water is intimately connected with religious works (sacrifices, etc.) which depend on faith; just as the word 'platform' is applied to men (standing on the platform). And finally the waters may fitly be called sraddha, on account of their being the cause of faith, according to the scriptural passage, 'Water indeed produces faith in him for holy work" (24)

The schematic status of the process is further evident by the use of the term "conjunction" in the following quotation (III.1.26) pertaining to the same process of a descent of the soul reaching from the moon to plant life. Although schematism requires a homogeneous ground where classes of entities belong together, many layers of such schematic abstractions, some more concrete than others, are epistemologically permissible. The jump from one layer of abstraction to another is negligible, because it is meant merely to explain what is concrete in terms of the abstract as both belonging to the same Absolute.


Conjunction is a relational factor belonging to schematism. Sankara stresses the overall importance of this relational and qualitative feature. It is in vectorial terms that this kind of schema can be understood. While waking entities exist in actual Euclidean or Newtonian space, dreams exist in a vectorial or qualitative space. Both are real in their respective contexts.
We read as follows:

"Hence we must interpret the passage to mean only that the soul enters into conjunction with one who performs the act of generation; and for this we again infer that the soul's becoming a plant merely means its entering into conjunction with a plant" (25)

In respect of the negative vertical aspect of values we have this interesting reference to the seven hells in III.1.15-16. To avoid any contradiction or duplication it is best to place them in a negative scale on the vertical axis as seven points of stability in the value-world. Chitragupta who is in charge of one of these hells called Raurava is not a rival to Yama, but as Sankara points out, he is a superintendent in a lower place in the hierarchy. Sankara also approves of such a schematic treatment.
We read as follows:

"Moreover, the purana-writers record that there are seven hells, Raurava, etc., by name, which serve as abodes of enjoyment of the fruits of evil deeds. As those who do not sacrifice, etc. go there, how should they reach the moon? - But, an objection is raised, the assertion that evildoers suffer punishments allotted by Yama is contradicted. Smriti mentions different other beings, such as Chitragupta etc. who act as superintendents in Raurava and the other hells. This objection the next Sutra refutes:

"There is no contradiction, as the same Yama is admitted to act as chief ruler in those seven hells. Of Chitragupta and others Smriti merely speaks as superintendents employed by Yama." (26)



Rich and antique deposits of highly suggestive axiological wisdom are found in Greek drama. This serves as a living source for psychology. Concepts such as catharsis and nemesis used in modern psychology stem from ancient Greek sources. From Greek tragedy and myth psychology has coined the terms Oedipus Complex, Narcissism, Electra Complex, etc.

In the regions around the Mediterranean where oriental caravans and Phoenician traders met for many centuries it is not surprising to find ideas of equal axiological importance. We have already contributed several essays related to such cultural aspects. The dialectics of Romance and Tragedy are not limited to the Romantic movement resulting from the Renaissance, but reach back to the days of the great tragedies of Sophocles, Euripides, and others, Even before this era of drama there were the mysteries of Eleusis and the Satyr-dramas where Dionysos was represented. This great god of frenzy refuses to belong to the respectable side of life and the dithyramb or poem in free style accords better with his life of abandonment. Pure vertical values come into interplay here, implying a double-sided expression divided by the principle of Death. Rising from the dead is also found at the basis of Christian dogma and it derives its support from the same double-sided life-values found in Dionysos.


The great tragedies of the Greeks were performed annually at a festival in honour of Dionysos. His personality is what is respected in the three unities of time, place and action in the structure of Greek Tragedy. These unities and other structural features of tragedy can all be treated as an attempted analysis of the Absolute Self. Having already examined these matters in some detail it is hardly necessary to go into them once again. (27)


Besides Vedism, from which a rough outline of axiological dynamism is derived, we are able to find further clarification of the same subject in a form more ready for use in modern thought than the cryptic and esoteric statements of the Vedas, Puranas etc. Greek drama presents in a tragic setting punishments and rewards issuing from the Self for or against itself. Ideas such as nemesis and catharsis are sung by the Greek chorus supplementing each tragic scene. This gives depth and suggestive significance to the situation directly affecting both the minds of the actors and the spectators alike. Human beings, gods, and dignitaries having their realm in the nether world all represent in their interplay and action the various aspects of axiological structuralism in the Self of man. Alcestis is brought back to life with the help of Herakles and without the help of Zeus who sits in high heaven. This angry god with his thunderbolt is primarily a punishing deity who did not assist in the restoration to life of Alcestis.


Prometheus, who is on the side of human beings, is chained to a rock and exposed to a vulture who in the daytime consumes his liver, which is restored each night.


These are telling images which have entered into modern language as inevitable idioms never to be discarded. Prometheus' own brother Epimetheus is retrospective and negative, while Prometheus is prospective and positive. When the natures of the two are fused together we get the suggestion of structure resembling the function of Dionysos. This function is called dithyrambos, meaning "double-doors". The drinking bouts and Bacchanalian revelries of Dionysos have had great influence on latter day European culture. The pure tragedy belonging to the context of absolutism was progressively watered down and diluted by dramatists like Shakespeare and Victor Hugo. Tragi-comedies dualistically conceived replaced pure Greek tragedy, relaxing also the rule of the three unities of time, place and action.


Shakespeare's "Othello" is a mild imitation unable to attain the stature of Greek drama. The axiological structuralism at the core of the Absolute is the most important contribution of Greek tragedy. The interplay of punishment and reward and other factors in spiritual progress, which mark off humanity from mere animals, are elaborately worked out in the tragedies of Euripides, Sophocles and others. Modern critics have unearthed precious indications helpful as a guide.
We read the following from a modern student of Greek drama:

"The disappearance of Persephone, taken to Hades and carried away to the inferno, represents the descent of the soul into the world of generation; Dionysos torn into pieces by the Titans is the soul made multiple by becoming present in different parts of the body; Prometheus attached to a rock and the Titans who devour Dionysos, who is consumed with avidity in Tartarus; that means the soul attached to the body which is itself attached to the earth; Hercules engaged in many tasks; that is the soul which prepares itself for its deliverance; Apollo the god who purifies and Athena the goddess who saves, permit the soul to gather once again its strength; Demeter brings back the soul to its first source." (28)


The complexity of the structure implied in the above might be considered detrimental to its fully scientific character. The following from the "Bacchae" by Euripides simplifies the matter because only two factors are brought in.
We read as follows:

"There are two powers, young man, which are supreme in human affairs: first, the goddess Demeter; she is the Earth - call her by what name you will; and she supplies mankind with solid food. Second, Dionysos the son of Semele; the blessing he provides is the counterpart of the blessing of bread; he discovered and bestowed on men the service of drink, the juice that streams from the vine-clusters; men have but to take their fill of wine, and the sufferings of an unhappy race are banished, each day's troubles are forgotten in sleep - indeed that is our only cure for the weariness of life, Dionysos, himself a god, is poured out in offering to the gods; so that through him mankind receives blessing." (29)


In principle Dionysos represents a verticalized version of axiology. There is a complementary horizontalized version to go with this, represented by Apollo who is social and orderly. Nietzsche in "The Birth of Tragedy" has beautifully brought out this difference.
We read as follows:

"If we at all conceive of it as imperative and mandatory, this apotheosis of individuation knows but one law - the individual, i.e. the delimiting of the boundaries of the individual measure in the Hellenic sense. Apollo, as ethical deity, exacts measure of his disciples, and to this end he requires self-knowledge. And so, side by side with the esthetic necessity for beauty, there occur the demands "know thyself" and "nothing overmuch"; consequently pride and excess are regarded as the truly inimical demons of the non-Apollonian sphere, hence as characteristic of the pre-Apollonian age, that of the Titans; and of the extra-Apollonian world - that of the barbarians. Because of his Titan-like love for man, Prometheus must be torn to pieces by vultures; because of his excessive wisdom, which could solve the riddle of the Sphinx, Oedipus must be plunged into a bewildering vortex of crime. Thus did the Delphic god interpret the Greek past.

Similarly the effects wrought by the Dionysian seemed "titan-like and barbaric" to the Apollonian Greek; while at the same time he could not conceal from himself that he too was inwardly related to these overthrown Titans and heroes. Indeed, he had to recognize even more than this: despite all its beauty and moderation, his entire existence rested on a hidden substratum of suffering and of knowledge, which was again revealed to him in the Dionysian.
And Lo! Apollo could not live without Dionysos! The "titan-like" and the "barbaric" were in the last analysis as necessary as the Apollonia" (30)


The morality of the Upanishads also differs from ordinary social duties in the same way. Good works of social utility are, strictly speaking, outside the scope of the way of life found in the Upanishads. Siva's frenzy is the same as that of Dionysus. The relation between the Apollonian and the Dionysian is clearly one involving the vertical and the horizontal values in life.


In no other context are all the structural implications more clearly worked out than in the triple tragedy of Oedipus. In Sophocles´ "Oedipus Rex" the two daughters, Antigone and Ismene, represent complementary and vertical values. Ismene is more negative while Antigone is positive and wilful. They have their horizontal counterparts in their two battling brothers who in the end are killed. Oedipus has incestuous relations with his mother Jocasta and in the agony of self-reproach and guilt commits suicide to abolish the inner contradiction of the situation. Oedipus plucks his eyes out and is faithfully attended to by his daughter Antigone. The ambivalent implications of the horizontal and the vertical aspects of absolutist axiology cannot be made clearer than in these great dramas.
Even when there happen to be two heroes, or a hero and a heroine as in works not tragically conceived in the classical sense but in a more liberalized version, the interest has to be centered on both of them unitively enclosed in brackets if drama is to fulfil its high role as it did in the hands of the great classical masters of Greece. Hugo's "Hernani" has Dona Sol, the heroine, as his dialectical counterpart and the interest centers round these two personalities taken together. They are to be looked upon as the obverse and reverse of the same soul. When the midnight hour strikes in the last scene of the last act we find Don Ruy Gomez rising to truly tragic heights representing Fate or Providence standing for the Absolute in the lives of men. The requirements of a tragedy, which Aristotle referred to in his definition, apply equally to this part of Hugo's creation as to the best examples of Greek tragedy. Aristotle's definition of tragedy is given in his "Poetics" (6:25-30) as follows:

"A Tragedy, then, is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind brought in separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions." (31)



In the second half of this work we pass from reduction to construction. In other words instead of equating the non-Self with the Self, we now equate the Self with the non-Self. This latter equation has to be kept in mind if the significance of the last five chapters is to be fully understood. This is especially true of Chapters 6 and 7 where instrumentalism and reason are found.

On first sight these appear to have nothing to do with axiology and its circulation in consciousness, but on closer examination it is seen that knowledge has a high value. The means of attaining knowledge through reason is therefore to be included under the overall title of axiology. The different kinds of reasoning processes used by the thinking Self in attaining the Absolute also come within its scope. This is exactly what Chapter 7 is concerned with. The Self is treated as something corresponding to the notion of an organon, the title given by Aristotle's disciples to his treatises on logic. Such an organon is treated as a reasoning instrument, consisting of some kind of absolute thinking substance having its counterpart in abstract and general thought processes.

The Self can thus be understood as corresponding to the notion of an organon in the context of various reasoning processes reviewed in the seventh chapter. It is also justified and in keeping with the nature of this work as a whole to call the Self of the sixth chapter an instrument belonging to action in a generalized sense.


The Self is an organ. of action, and instrumentalists like Bergson and Dewey treat the human agent as an instrument even for reasoning purposes. There is thus some overlapping of functions in the sixth and seventh chapters. Thinking is a subtler process than acting. Brute action is mechanistic, but the dynamic and creative activity of the élan vital presupposes a thin and fluid matrix. When the mechanistic implications of action are stressed too much, there is a horizontalized version of action and reaction taking place as equal and opposite forces in a Newtonian world of machines.

When pragmatic thought builds bridges and skyscrapers the brute aspect of action gains ground and we move away more and more from a verticalized world of values into a horizontalized one of technological processes. Narayana Guru does not treat instrumentalism in this way, but is more in line with Bergson who concluded at the end of his "Two Sources of Morality and Religion" that "the universe is a machine for the making of gods." This is a verticalized version of instrumentalism. John Dewey also accepts this position, but goes further in the same direction - perhaps more than is really justifiable. The rational processes of thought, according to Dewey, should have no metaphysical implications at all, but instead should have a backward reference to the instrument. In a certain sense, this attitude is justifiable, but it can be exaggerated as Dewey has done.
Dewey writes:

"Modern philosophic thought has been so preoccupied with these puzzles of epistemology and the disputes between realist and idealist, between phenomenalist and absolutist, that many students are at a loss to know what would be left for philosophy if there were removed both the metaphysical task of distinguishing between the noumenal and phenomenal worlds and the epistemological task of telling how a separate subject can know an independent object. But would not the elimination of these traditional problems permit philosophy to devote itself to a more fruitful and more needed task? Would it not encourage philosophy to face the great social and moral defects and troubles from which humanity suffers, to concentrate its attention upon clearing up the causes and exact nature of these evils and upon developing a clear idea of better social possibilities; in short upon projecting an idea or ideal which, instead of expressing the notion of another world or some far-away unrealizable goal, would be used as a method of understanding and rectifying specific social ills?" (32)

Narayana Guru's position on this is one of action on the lines of a pure act having its source in Aristotle´s unmoved mover. The Self has the double possibility of saying to itself at one and the same time, "I act," or "I do not act". The paradoxical status of the thinking substance understood in the context of the Absolute is retained by Narayana Guru. This permits an intelligent discussion of action to take place. Instrumentalism is not to be understood in its gross or mechanistic sense, nor in a too subtle sense as understood by Dewey. The two chapters have to be kept apart and understood as belonging to two distinct orders of absolutist values where ends and means come very close. Bergson's position on instrumentalism is much closer to Narayana Guru's:

"... instinct perfected is a faculty of using and even of constructing organized instruments; intelligence perfected is the faculty of making and using unorganized instruments. The advantages and drawbacks of these two modes of activity are obvious. Instinct finds the appropriate instrument at hand: this instrument, which makes and repairs itself, which presents, like all the works of nature, an infinite complexity of detail combined with a marvelous simplicity of function, does at once, when required, what it is called upon to do, without difficulty and with a perfection that is often wonderful ... The instrument constructed intelligently, on the contrary, is an imperfect instrument. It costs an effort. It is generally troublesome to handle. But, as it is made of unorganized matter, it can take any form whatsoever, serve any purpose, free the living being from every new difficulty that arises and bestow on it an unlimited number of powers." (33)

The Self as the organon covers the requirements of both instrumentalism and reason, because it can be thought of as a living and conscious instrument.



Whether we think in terms of an organon or an instrument of thought, there is an interplay between two aspects of consciousness when any activity, however subtle, or any thought, however weak, takes place within the spirit of man. This neutral ground or spirit is none other than the common universal consciousness already examined in the fifth chapter. Even in the world of cybernetic information both actions and retroaction are conceivable with a party of status between them.


Consciousness is neither mental nor material, inside nor outside. It can be said to be both or neither. This neutral ground has been named "substance" and it was Spinoza who defined it so as to give it an absolute status. In the world of information, action and retroaction resembling thought take place with a perfect reciprocity between the ambivalent, complementary, compensatory and even cancelable aspects of the twin factors involved in the situation. The double-sidedness is always capable of being cancelled out or neutralized into the unitive terms of the Absolute. This is like cancelling out the numerator against the denominator in fractions. If one is a thesis, the other is an antithesis, and the result is a unitive value, or an existential or rational entity. The cancellation occurs in consciousness.


In order to see how it takes place in an almost experimental manner, let us imagine a Greek tragedy being acted in an amphitheatre filled with thousands of spectators. The nemesis present on the stage when the tragedy is being acted out produces a corresponding catharsis in the minds of the onlookers who have similarly to enter into the spirit of the acting as well as its effect. When unitively put together the situation is an ennobling one. Such high cultural values coming within the direct experience of a large public exalt the human spirit. The appreciation of the same tragedy under similar circumstances in any part of the world and throughout the centuries has a degree and quality of conviction equal to apodictic scientific certitude. A two-sided inner experience meets to normalize certitude within consciousness. The truth of the values, feelings or passions involved in the tragedy is proved by its corresponding echo in the heart of each of the spectators. Thus outside the laboratory we have a fuller scientific truth than what is derived from the feeble trial-and-error methods of experimentalism. Even in ordinary life when a man pulls out his watch and says it is five minutes past two, corrections are involved in the situation. One depends on a comparison with other watches while the other has its source in an immediate and inner individual experience. A Science of the Absolute has to respect both corrections. In fact scientific thinking already tacitly accepts such a double correction. Observations and calculations enter into scientific thinking by equal right.


The North and South Poles of the globe were not explored at the same time. Greenland looks bigger in Mercator's projection than it actually is. When a ship is sailing towards the North Pole the structure of space involved is the consensus of the opinions of experts in physiography and allied subjects. Here the totality of the globe with its latitudes and longitudes at the North and South Poles is largely a matter of convention and not of experimental reality. Catharsis and nemesis also structurally belong together to the same knowledge-situation. The analysis of such an interdisciplinary structure as well as its global understanding as a whole is one of the most important prerequisites for any Science of the Absolute. Consciousness and nothingness too are included under "substance" or dravya. It is one of the seven categories of the real (sapta-padartha) of the Nyaya-Vaiseshika philosophy. Thus physics and metaphysics already have much common ground. Terms like transubstantiation and consubstantiality show that this notion is known to Christian theology . The latter term "consubstantiality" is supposed to have been used by the Emperor Constantine while settling a Christian theological dispute in connection with the Trinity in 325 A.D. The notion of substance was later clarified by Descartes who attributed to it thought and extension as existing together at its core. Although he was later charged with dualism, Descartes did not himself admit any such paradoxical element. This was because he was able to put both factors together as conjugates or correlates, having them coexist without contradiction in the notion of an absolute substance. The absolute substance has to transcend paradox to be absolutist at all, and all philosophers have tried in their own way to transcend paradox in order to attain the Absolute.


The natura naturans and natura naturata of Spinoza are correlated aspects of the thinking substance in his philosophy. Leibniz´s mixed monadology also implies the same two factors, though less overtly, in his principles of sufficient reason and pre-established harmony. Kant's pure and practical reason have the same structural unity. All these philosophers have used the notion of absolute substance in almost the same way at least when looked upon from a structural standpoint.

What we wish to establish here is how consciousness, even in the context of axiology, retains the same structural features within itself when referring to the Self and the non-Self. Between the Self and the non-Self there is a reciprocity, a complementarity, a compensatory relation and even a relation of cancelling both factors into a unitive and absolute consciousness. For the purposes of the sixth and seventh chapters the reader would do well to retain in his mind this reciprocal duality between instrument and action or the organ or thought and its reasoning. In the last three chapters it is recommended to keep in mind a more intimate and subtle complementarity between the two aspects involving the Self and the non-Self. Complementarity may be said to apply to Chapter 8 and compensation to Chapter 9. In the final chapter the cancellation of counterparts attains to mathematical abstraction and generalization. The purity of value increases as we approach the final verses of the text until it is self-absorbed absolutely. If we should now try to give precision to the notion of substance in the Vedic context we find how any idea of materiality is rejected. Appreciation of bright divinities is the main characteristic of the subject-matter of Vedism. If it errs at all it will be on the side of spirituality. It is in the so-called heterodox schools of philosophy that support is found for concepts resembling materiality. The Charvakas or Materialists were outside the pale of Vedic orthodoxy. The revaluation of the various Vedic gods into one god under the inclusive name of sarva-devah took place by slow stages fit after the historic role of Vedism was beginning to be played out. Through intermediate concepts such as Brihaspati, Brahmanaspati and Aditya, the slow change into the notion of the Absolute took a long time to be formulated and defined.


Nearly one half of the Brahma Sutras consists of denunciation of such notions as the pradhana (prime potent power) of the Samkhya and the primary atom (paramanu) of the Vaiseshikas. The charge of inertness (jadatva) is sufficient enough to condemn any reality on the ground that it is an unintelligent principle that is proposed as the cause of the universe. After many hesitant steps by Sankara, such ambiguous factors as maya (negative principle), karanasarira (causal body) and lingasarira (subtle body) were made acceptable. We also find that no notion with a fixed locality corresponding to substance is countenanced in the Brahma Sutras.

But a belated recognition of the claims of a notion resembling substance is found in III.2. 7,11 and 15 of the Brahma Sutras. The ambiguity is only abolished with great difficulty by Sankara as we can gather after carefully reading his commentary.


The Absolute is the final reality on which substance has to depend. This is unequivocally described in the Upanishads as cinmatra (pure mind-stuff). The difficulty in relating it to anything of a local fixed character is understandable. The Upanishads fall into two distinct groups, namely those recognizing an Absolute with form (saguna or sarupa) and those an Absolute without form (nirguna, arupa). The nearest concept corresponding to the notion of substance is the Vedantic one of kutasthatma (the "rock-fixed Self" or "one established on a rock"). One of the meanings of such a Self is that it consists of a changeless substance. The Self of man in its comings and goings between life and death or between waking, dreaming and deep sleep is supposed to have its locus in the nadi (centre of vitality).


These nadis are not necessarily multiple but rather belong together qualitatively, as Sankara explains in the analogy of when we say of a man "he sleeps in the palace, he sleeps on the couch", it is the same as to say: "he sleeps on the couch in the palace". Furthermore the space of the nadis can be interchanged with that of the heart. Although the Self in the body is of a minute size it is not to be confused with the paramanu.


Like a drop of water taken from a lake and having an individuality of its own, the question of the identity of the Self is left open and can be interpreted either way. A series of notions of different grades of materiality or finiteness is treated as if these differences did not matter in fixing the nature of the subtle substance of the Self. Thus we have the nadi spoken of by Sankara as identical with the pranas (vital tendencies), the Self and the Absolute. Sometimes such a Self is compared to a bright immortal person who is both within the earth and the human body. Such an entity is to be distinguished by its limiting adjuncts or upadhis. They are not tangible or extrinsic like the ones found in a red flower placed under a clear crystal and seeming to colour the crystal. The limiting adjuncts here belong intrinsically to the substance and whatever outlines the substance has, giving it definiteness as an entity, come only from nescience (avidya) lodged within the notion of the Absolute.


These are some of the considerations about substance to be kept in mind when following the line of thought in the following quotations from Sankara´s commentary on the Brahma Sutras. Regarding the state of deep sleep we read in III.2.7 and in many quotations from the Upanishads presented by Sankara to support his view:

"When a man is asleep, reposing and at perfect rest so that he sees no dream, then he has entered into those nadis." (Chandogya Upanishad VIII.6.3).

"Through them (i.e. the nadis) he moves forth and rests in the surrounding body." (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad II.1.19).


"In these the person is when sleeping he sees no dream. Then he becomes one with the prana alone." (Kaushitaki Upanishad IV.20).


"That ether which is within the heart in that he reposes." (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.4.22).

"Then he becomes united with that which is; he is gone to his Self." (Chandogya Upanishad VI.8.1).

"Embraced by the highest Self (prajna) he knows nothing that is without, nothing that is within." (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.3.21) (34)


From the above we can note the gradation beginning with the nadis and ending with the Self. They are treated by Sankara as if they were interchangeable. In the same sutra we have the notion of breath and existence being linked together along similar lines. They are also treated as alternatively interchangeable seats for substance. Once again Sankara quotes from an Upanishad for support:

"For in the complementary passage the text states that the soul desirous of rest enters into the Self, 'Finding no rest elsewhere it settles down on breath' (Chandogya Upanishad VI.8.2); a passage in which the word 'breath' refers to that which is (the sat). (35)

The qualitative nature of the space intended to be fixed is accomplished by an appeal by Sankara to semantics and syntactics The distinction between the space in the nadis or elsewhere such as the heart is treated as having no importance when space is looked at qualitatively:


"We on the contrary see that one and the same case is employed even where things serve different purposes and have to be combined; we say, e.g. 'he sleeps in the palace, he sleeps on the couch'. (Where two locatives are to be combined into one statement, 'he sleeps on the couch in the palace.' So in the present case also the different statements can be combined into one, He sleeps in the nadis, in the surrounding body, in Brahman." (36)

The limiting adjuncts of substance are only of an epistemological order and intrinsically attributable to nescience which is not a reality. Thus the purely schematic status of substance is fully established by Sankara in III.2.15:

"What is merely due to a limiting adjunct cannot constitute an attribute of substance, and the limiting adjuncts are, moreover, presented by Nescience only." (37)
"The crystal, e.g. which is in itself clear, does not become dim through its conjunction with a limiting adjunct in the form of red colour; for that it is pervaded by the quality of dimness is an altogether erroneous notion. In the case of Brahman the limiting adjuncts are, moreover, presented by Nescience merely. Hence (as the upadhis are the product of Nescience) if we embrace either of the two alternatives, we must decide in favour of that according to which Brahman is absolutely devoid of all difference, not in favour of the opposite one." (38)


The paradox is now fully transcended by Sankara although he took many hesitant steps in arriving at it. The two hierophanies or lower perspectives where the Self as related to the human body and earth as sacred presences or principles are indicated in contrast to the Person located in the Sun. Sankara in III.2.12. quotes from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (II.5.1) in order to establish the non-connectedness of Brahman with the limited adjuncts:

"This bright immortal person in this earth, and that bright immortal person incorporated in the body; he indeed is the same as that Self." (39)

Finally the schematic status of substance is described clearer than the above when Sankara uses two analogies of sunlight. The first found in III.2.15 deals with sunlight and its crookedness when touching an object. The second analogy in III.2.20 deals with sunlight and its reflection in water. When put together these two analogies help to reveal the schematic status of substance. Its smallness, bigness or outline form are irrelevant and are to be eliminated from the central notion.
We read:

"Just as the light of the sun or the moon after having passed through space enters into contact with a finger or some other limiting adjunct, and, according as the latter is straight or bent, itself becomes straight or bent as it were: so Brahman also assumes, as it were, the form of earth and the other limiting adjuncts with which it enters into connection. Whenever two things are compared, they are so only with reference to some particular point they have in common. Entire equality of the two can never be demonstrated; indeed if it could be demonstrated there would be an end of that particular relation which gives rise to the comparison." (40)


The purpose of these two analogies in referring to two kinds of participation, one by reflection as of the sun in water (III. 2.20) and the more direct participation as when a finger in water appears bent without being so (III.2.15) is not clear. In the text in question Sankara refers to reflection in water because there is nothing to correspond to the water. He however explains this objection away by saying analogies are only to be treated for the purpose they serve and any inconsistencies can be waived aside. It appears the two analogies referring to sunlight have a complementary structural relation between them. The sunlight from above indirectly clarifies outlines of things, as in reflections; while knowledge from below directly reveals the form of things. The bimba-pratibimba-nyaya (argument by image and reflection) belongs to the dualistic philosophy of Madhva, where two-fold structuralism is more clearly recognized. Ramanuja's ubhaya-linga-adhikarana (section devoted to the double aspect of something) can better accommodate the analogy of the sun and its reflection. Some kind of vague complementarity seems to be present in the mind of Sankara here between the effect of light directly produced and the reflected images.


The distinction between. cit (reasoning) and cidabhasa (reflected reasoning) is implied here. Direct clarification of light and reflection by the appearance of light suggests a structural reciprocity between conceptual and perceptual aspects of consciousness. In Sankara's Dakshinamurti-Stotram (Praise to the Lord Facing South) there is direct reference to the same mirror reflection in a more structurally complete form. (Verse 1, our translation):

"To that sacred presence of the Guru
Who, like a mirror-reflected city sees within
The universe, through Maya as in sleep
And who in wakeful state understands as presented
To the senses, his own non-dual Self
To such a south-facing form of Dakshinamurti
I do now prostrate."


Dream and waking presentiment are here brought under one non-dual Self.



The last vestiges of duality and paradox refusing to be dissolved by reasoning have to be finally abolished. When duality is abolished the paradox is dissolved by itself. This is the final operation of the pure Self implying the abolition of this plurality of substance. All pluralities have to be brought under the two correlates of bhogyavishva (the universe of enjoyment) and bhoktarupa (the form of the enjoyer). These are the two correlates where duality and paradox reside, and which dissolve themselves into the Unitive Absolute.


The notion of absolute substance is schematically arrived at in the previous section. This corresponds to the Vedantic notion of kutastha (rock- fixed) and has many rival notions all representing the absolute Self in one context or another. We shall enumerate some of them in order to eliminate them or give them secondary place in, an overall scheme of correlation.


We first take the cosmological concepts virat-purusha (Outer Cosmic Man), vaisvanara (Inner Wakeful Universal Man) and hiranyagarbha (The Golden Gem). The first concept pertains to the personified universe. The second is the same seen from the universal perspective of a person eating or digesting food. The third applies to creation and passes from the existential to the subsistential aspect of absolute reality, representing a high value as suggested by the word hiranya or golden.


The next pair are jivatma (living Self) and paramatma (the Supreme Self). The Supreme Self refers to the pure Self on the plus side of the vertical axis. The living Self is subject to horizontal conditionings and can be placed at the point of origin where the two correlates intersect. The jivatma gives rise to many varieties of Selfs depending on the six bhavas (stages of becoming) which are:


1. asti (being); 2. janma (birth); 3. vriddhi (growth): 4. parinama (change): 5. apakshaya (decrease); and 6. vinasa (extinction).
These are all secondary and are merely generalizations of many possible stages in the process of becoming more fundamental and occupying the negative vertical axis are the prajna (the intelligent Self), karana (the causal Self) sutratma (serially conceived Self) and the subtle body known under the names of lingasarira or sukshmasarira. These last two entities referring to the subtle body are composed of the senses (indriyas), mind (manas), intelligence (buddhi) and the five pranas (vital tendencies). This combination forms the subtle body and is found in different contexts of this present work.

We have also the five grades or distinctions applied to the Self. They refer to existential, subsistential and value factors usually connected with the five kosas (sheaths) all having an absolutist status of their own, They are: annamaya (comprised of food), pranamaya (comprised of the vital tendencies), manomaya (comprised of mind stuff), vijnanamaya (comprised of pure reason) and anandamaya (comprised of value). These five kosas can be structurally conceived as forming inner and outer sheaths for purposes of description only. This can be done without degrading any one of them in respect of the other in the matter of dignity in the context of he Absolute.


Some Vedantic writers use other expressions for the purpose of discussion. Narayana Guru is seen to make the distinct reference to cidatma (reasoning Self) and cittendriyatma (the Self of pure reason and the senses.) He also refers to kutastha (rock fixed) in its own special context. We shall examine these later in connection with the text.


The dreaming Self is referred to as taijasa (pertaining to light) and has an intermediate position between the vertical plus and minus aspects. It is given this name because it is capable of illuminating objects of dream. Because of its virtuality it can be given a place in the negative side of the horizontal axis. These various entities are subject to changes belonging to the central notion of kutashta representing absolute substance.


By methodological reduction ambivalence, duality or paradox can progressively be abolished. The next step to abolish consists of the horizontal factors of secondary importance such as the mind, body-sense etc. Like the plus and minus quantities of arithmetic they nullify each other because of their transience or changefulness. On further reduction negatively we can imagine them as absorbed or implied in the more general and abstract plus or minus sides of the vertical axis. Names and forms could cancel each other in terms of a neutral certitude. When further reduced into two counterparts we arrive at the notion of a lower Absolute (apara brahman) and a higher para brahman. Even the Upanishads speak of these two Absolutes as we can see from the Brihadaranyaka (II.3.1-3):

"There are, assuredly, two forms of Brahman: the formed (murta) and the formless, the mortal and the immortal, the stationary and the moving, the actual (sat) and the yonder (tya).

This is formed (Brahman) - whatever is different from the wind and the atmosphere. This is mortal; this is stationary; this is actual. The essence of this formed, mortal, stationary, actual (Brahman) is (yonder) (sun) which gives forth heat, for that is the essence of the actual.

Now the formless (Brahman) is the wind and the atmosphere. This is immortal, this is moving, this is the yon. The essence of this unformed, immortal, moving, yonder (Brahman) is the Person in that sun-disk, for he is the essence of the yonder." (41)

The postulation of these two Brahmans so openly referred to has offered a major challenge to composers of sutras like Jaimini and Badarayana and commentators like Sankara. In spite of the combined efforts of these teachers the relation between these two Brahmans has remained a major puzzle.


Even careful scholars like George Thibaut show their puzzlement: 
"Among the passages where diverging views of those teachers are recorded and contrasted, three are of particular importance. Firstly, a passage in the fourth pada of the fourth adhyaya (Sutras 5-7), where the opinions of various teachers concerning the characteristics of the released soul are given, and where the important discrepancy is noted that, according to Audulomi, its only characteristic is thought (caitanya), while Jaimini maintains that it possesses a number of exalted qualities, and Badarayana declares himself in favour of a combination of these two views. The second passage occurs in the third pada of the fourth adhyaya (Sutras 7-14), where Jaimini maintains that the soul of him who possesses the lower knowledge of Brahman goes after death to the highest Brahman, while Badarayana - whose opinion is endorsed by Sankara - teaches that it repairs to the lower Brahman only. Finally, the third and the most important passage is met with in the fourth pada of the first adhyaya (Sutras 20-22), where the question is discussed why in a certain passage of the Brihadaranyaka Brahman is referred to in terms which are strictly applicable to the individual soul only."(42)

The question is not only puzzling to the author of the sutras but Sankara also seems not quite sure about establishing a unity between the two Brahmans and abolishing the paradox. We read the following in III.2.22:

"It is impossible that the phrase, 'Not so, not so!' should negate both, since that would imply the doctrine of a general Void. Whenever we deny something unreal, we do so with reference to something real; the unreal snake, e.g. is negated with reference to the real rope." (43)


It is easy to see here how Sankara is afraid to agree at all with the sunyavada (the principle of the Void) of the Madhyamika school of Buddhism. Sankara maintains that if the snake as well as the rope aspects are both abolished emptiness of the Void results. This fear is unfounded when we follow the method adopted by the Isa Upanishad (11 & 14) where two pairs of conjugates similar to the snake and rope are dialectically treated:

"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." (44)

In the above passage ubhayam-saha (both taken together or conjointly) is a methodological indication of primary importance. The higher and lower Brahmans, when subjected to the same method, will not be abolished in favour of emptiness. Instead a unitive absolute value results from the cancellation of the two factors. In mathematics four divided by four is not zero but one. It is this vertical operation that matters in the context of the Absolute.


The duality we are finally faced with between the higher and lower Brahman is graphically brought out in the Upanishads, where a golden person is found in the orb of the sun as well as in the lotus in the heart of man. The same golden person was located earlier, as we have seen, in the earth and the body of man. We now read from the Maitri Upanishad (VI.1):


"For thus has it been said: 'Now, that golden Person who is within the sun who looks down upon this earth from his golden. place, is even He who dwells within the lotus of the heart and eats food." (45)

We should not be carried away by the colourful nature of the description. What is important from a scientific standpoint is to be able to recognize the mathematical equation between two aspects of the absolute Self. Such an equation is meant to be unitively understood, yielding one final certitude. So when the paradox drops by cancellation of counterparts and when duality vanishes we arrive at the notion of a pure neutral Absolute.



We have quoted from Sankara above in connection with the analogy he uses in bringing out the nature of the changeless Self in relation to its own changeful manifestations in actual experience (see page 766). The double-sided structural implications are only vaguely foreshadowed by Sankara. It is sufficiently clear however that he had some kind of double structuralism in his mind. His commentaries on later sutras unfortunately only heighten the difficulty instead of making the implicit structuralism clearer. Taking the analogy of sunlight, helping to clarify conceptual and perceptual representations of the Self, we will see the two Selfs distinguished by their activity or function. (The translation of the word karmani should be "function" and not "activity"). This reference to the two Selfs and their respective functions is the same as the two aspects of natura naturans and natura naturata. Similar distinctions we have tried to explain already. There is a conceptual as well as a perceptual Self to be clearly distinguished before the implied paradox between them can be abolished. When the commentary refers to ether uniformly pervading space and as present even. in a hollow visible object, some kind of material and imponderable entity must be in the mind of Sankara.


Sunlight on the other hand is more like thought than matter. When these two factors are put together we arrive at a structural pattern resembling a thinking substance. The Self can be examined under two different perspectives, the first existential and the second subsistential. They both refer to the double-sided structural aspect required in any notion of two Selfs. Just as pure ether is independent of the conditionings of lines or shapes of objects, pure sunlight is independent of its own varying and reflected forms. Water itself is extraneous to the analogy as Sankara explains in a quotation cited above (p.747) whereby it (water) is taken as equal to faith, for syntactical reasons. What results from all these considerations is a residue of a two-sided structuralism bringing together matter and mind. As structuralism is treated by us as an important integrating link between the various darsanas the following examination of the implied structuralism in Sankara is not superfluous. We first quote the actual sutra (III.2.25) composed by Badarayana:

"And as in the case of (physical) light and the like, there is non-distinction (of the two Selfs), the light (i.e. the intelligent Self) (being divided) by its activity; according to the repeated declarations of scripture." (46)

As we shall now see in Sankara's commentary on this sutra, there is no mention of karmani (function or activity) found in the original sutra. He depends on a purely schematic distinction based on ignorance as an adjunct.


"As light, ether, the sun and so on appear differentiated as it were through their objects such as fingers, vessels, water and so on which constitute limiting adjuncts (here a footnote by Sankara reads: Light is differentiated as it were by the various objects on which it shines; the all-pervading ether is divided into parts as it were by hollow bodies; the sun is multiplied as it were by its reflections in the water.), while in reality they preserve their essential non-differentiatedness; so the distinction of different Selfs is due to limiting adjuncts only, while the unity of all Selfs is natural and original." (47)

To this Thibaut adds the following penetrating footnote:

"It certainly looks here as if the Bhashyakara did not know what to do with the words of the sutra. The 'karmani'... is as good as passed over by him" (48)


Anandagiri and Govindananda by their further explanations referring to the function of the two Selfs hardly succeed in making Sankara's position any clearer. The gap left open is only normal because a complete structuralism using modern mathematics cannot be expected in full and finished form from Sankara. It is however highly laudable how Sankara was able to approximate to some kind of schematic pattern of thinking at least in this particular commentary.


Before we pass on to other normative notions found in the six darsanas of Indian philosophy let us point out that insofar as we are able we shall try to fit all such normative notions into the same pattern of an integrated Science of the Absolute. We shall include all important schools of thought as far as it is possible. We shall also have occasion to come back to the Brahma Sutras with Sankara's commentary. This is the most valuable source-book for speculation about the Absolute in the context of the Upanishads. We hope to achieve a structural unity and this in turn will give to our Science of the Absolute an integrated and unitive status.



[1] W. Wright (trans.), "The Works of Julian the Apostate", London, 1913-1923. For a history of Julian and a short commentary to "King Helios", see articles 26 and 26 of the series "Pagan Europe," by John Spiers, Values, Vol.Xll, Nos.2 and 3 (November-Dec,1965).


[2] R. Blankney, "Meister Eckhart", New York, 1957, p.209


[3] "The Works of William Law", Vol.IX, (privately printed for G. Moreton, 42, Burgate Street, Canterbury, 1893), p.6.


[4] Hume, pp. 144-5


[5] Runes, p.41


[6] See Runes, pp.32-33 for a more detailed account.


[7] Bhagavad Gita, pp.286-287.


[8] Bhagavad Gita, p.150.


[9] Bhagavad Gita, pp.598-699.


[10] Bhagavad Gita, p186


[11] Bhagavad Gita, p.557


[12] Bhagavad Gita, p.556-557


[13] Ved. Sut Comm. Sank., Vol.II, p.65n.


[14] Ved.Sut Comm. Sank., Vol.II, p.65


[15] Ved. Sut Comm. Sank., Vol.II, p80


[16] Hume, p.159


[17] Bhagavad Gita, p-322.


[18] Sankara's "Vivekachudamani", Verse 96


[19] Bhagavad Gita, pp. 343-348


[20] Bhagavad Gita, p.400 and pp.375-376, resp


[21] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., Vol II, p.124


[22] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., Vol II, p.122-3


[23] Ved. Sut. Comm.Sank., Vol .II, p.106.


[24] Ved. Sut. Comm.Sank., Vol .II, p.107-108


[25] Ved. Sut. Comm.Sank., Vol .II, p.132


[26] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank.,Vol.III, p.123.


[27] See our "Dialectics of Romance and Tragedy" (two parts), Vol.III Nos.10-12 (July-September 1958).


[28] V. Magnien, "Les Mysteres d'Eleusis", Paris, 1940. Our Trans.


[29] P. Vellacott (tr.), "The Bacchae and other plays of Euripides", London, 1954, p.190.


[30] F, Nietzsche, "The Birth of Tragedy", tr. C. Fadiman, in The Philosophy of Nietzsche, New York, 1952, pp.966-967.


[31] R.McKeon (ed), "Introduction to Aristotle", New York, 1947, p.531


[32] J.Dewey, "Reconstruction in Philosophy", New York, 1951, p.107


[33] Bergson, "Creative Evolution", p.155.


[34] Ved. Sut Comm. Sank., Vol. II, p. 141


[35] Ved. Sut Comm. Sank., Vol. II, p. 142


[36] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank. Vol. II, p. 143


[37] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank. Vol.II, p. 156


[38] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank. Vol.II, p. 153


[39] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank. Vol.II, p. 154


[40] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank. Vol.II, p. 156 and 159, resp.


[41] Hume, p.97


[42] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank. Vol.I, p. xix (intro.)


[43] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank. Vol.II, p. 168


[44] Hume, p.364


[45] Hume, p. 424


[46] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., Vol. II, p. 172.


[47] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., Vol. II, p. 172.


[48] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., Vol. II, p. 172-173






Having now located, even in the writings of Sankara, some indications of the structural way of speculation in respect of the Absolute, it is legitimate to review some of the other viewpoints of Indian philosophical thought. Before entering into such a review, which has to be brief and limited in its scope, we wish to point out the two ways whereby the nature of the Absolute can be clarified. Sankara is probably the most uncompromising philosopher, taking his stand on the Absolute without admitting any attributes in his finalized version of Brahman. Yet he still admits that the Upanishads approach the problem from two different or opposite points of view. (1) Some modern interpreters like S. Radhakrishnan go so far as to assert, on the basis of this inevitable two-sidedness of philosophical approach, that the Upanishads speak with a "double voice". If one and seven could be treated as having the same sense, Sankara could plead here that two can mean one.

How two philosophers like Ramanuja and Sankara can both be justified in their interpretation of the Upanishads has been a puzzle to many students of Vedanta. The word visesha refers to attributes and when applied to the notion of the Absolute, a way of speculation is revealed presenting the character of the Absolute through many and varied attributes, held together by this normative notion


If primacy is given to this normative notion, the attributes tend to be abolished and absorbed within it. The source of all the trouble in Indian speculation is located in this two-fold possibility admitted by both Sankara and Ramanuja. The "double voice" that we imagine to be present in the Upanishads is therefore an error that can be abolished easily when we admit that in any philosophy these two approaches are both possible and inevitable. One can say with equal conviction that all this is Brahman or that Brahman is all this. The position is not fundamentally changed when we proceed from attribute to substance or from substance to attribute. If a man says the woman who adopted him is his mother and she in turn calls him her son, they have said nothing new between them. In mathematical language we can state the same verity by the reversibility of the terms of an equation.


The Nyaya-Vaiseshika school of philosophy derives its name from this distinction by giving primacy to the attributes of the Absolute. Unlike the Brahma Sutras it does not give to Brahman a first place originating from the sastras (texts). Thus we see the Nyaya-Vaiseshika philosophy coming under heavy fire in some of Sankara's commentaries of the Brahma Sutras. In respect of orthodoxy however, we cannot see how Gautama and Kanada (the so called founders of Nyaya and Vaiseshika respectively) tend to minimize at all the claims of the Vedas nor the need for emancipation through true wisdom. The only reason why each is treated as a persona non grata by Sankara and other Vedantins must be because they give primacy to the attributes of the Absolute as their starting point for purposes of philosophical speculation. This approach from the known to the unknown is however more natural and in keeping with a scientific spirit.


The work we are primarily concerned with here has been called by its author a "garland of visions" of the Absolute. The six darsanas of Indian philosophy pay homage to the Vedas and salvation in the same way as Vedanta does.


For this they may be considered as deserving our full respect and attention in spite of the fact that the Brahma Sutras seem to cast unmistakable aspersions on the claims of all other darsanas except Vedanta. Sometimes the Brahma Sutras even descend to the level of summarily dismissing them without a fair hearing. They are spoken of as being in the same category as the so-called materialist or Charvaka philosophy. The Buddhist and Jain schools of thought are also most uncharitably treated in parts of the Brahma Sutras and receive only scant and stepmotherly attention, even when some notice is taken of their points of view. The six darsanas that have been handed down have each a precise text-book of aphorisms strung together as sutras. They are all deserving of much more respect than they seem to be given by Badarayana, Sankara and other Vedantins. Most of the technical terms used in Vedanta up to the present day such as abhava, padartha, visesha, guna and many others like mahat, avyakta, purusha, etc. are traceable to definitions found in the various non-Vedantic sutras. Besides the categories, the methods and structural implications even of Sankara´s Vedanta are seen to be directly derived from other schools than Vedanta itself. These are the Nyaya-Vaiseshika of Gautama and Kanada, the Sankhya-Yoga of Kapila and Patanjali and the two more finalized twin schools of Purva and Uttara Mimamsa of Jaimini and Badarayana. The last two form twin schools more intimately interdependent than the other pairs whose interdependence as complete systems or visions of truth require more careful scrutiny and explanation. Some of them excel in methodology, while the others excel in structuralism or in the enumeration. of their basic categories.


The Nyaya, sometimes called "logic" because it gives more space to methods of discussion or argument, reveals on closer scrutiny that it also has its own fully enumerated and correctly defined fundamental categories. The reason for bracketing the Nyaya and Vaiseshika together does not seem to us to be valid, except for the vague requirement of latter-day authors who seem to think one is incomplete without the other. The only justification for their being bracketed together must be that they have the basic attributes of the Absolute known to all men as the starting point for their speculative constructions.


As we have just now said this should be no objection but rather a qualification for a true philosophy. Even the Charvakas are not strictly speaking materialistic as understood in the West. All Indian philosophy can be called "idealist" in the Western sense because even the atom or anu of the Vaiseshikas is more like a geometrical point without any dimensions. They are materialists only in so far as they use as their starting point ultimate non-material particles. Their position is not unlike that of Leibniz´s Monadology or Aristotle's anima, Vedanta also is sometimes described as an idealist view of life. This is not justified when we find that ontology referring to substance is not outside its scope. Idealism or materialism are therefore both wrongly applied to any of the six darsanas of Indian philosophy.


We find Narayana Guru speaking of ten darsanas instead of only six. It is therefore a legitimate question to ask how such an expansion and increase of numbers on his part can be justified. A careful scrutiny of his ten darsanas reveals the various positions implied in the original six darsanas are still retained intact within the scope of the ten revised and rearranged darsanas of the Darsana Mala. We find terms like pradhana (prime potent power) of the Samkhyas in the section called Maya Darsana. The vasanas (incipient memory factors) acting as a negative drag on contemplation are referred to in the Yoga Darsana and in Chapter I, Verse 2.


The notion of abhava (reciprocal non-existence), which is one of the categories of the Nyaya-Vaiseshika added on by later writers, receives full recognition in another context. Nature or prakriti is also a basic concept recognized and made use of by Narayana Guru at the end of the Maya Darsana. Thus on careful scrutiny we are able to recognize that Narayana Guru has not discarded any of the valuable elements or methodological features of the six darsanas inherited by Brahma Vidya. As a composer in a hand-set printing press redistributes the type in the cases in a methodic fashion, Narayana Guru employs a unitive methodology, epistemology and axiology respecting an overall structure at each stage, integrating the whole series of visions. He presents the same picture in a more orderly form, relegating to each technical term its proper place in its own legitimate context. As we travel from the known to the unknown it is possible to think of six, ten, or any other number of halting places from which to take snapshots at a moving target, as Bergson writes. One has to mentally immobilize oneself for a split second before taking a well-calculated shot. Each shot then results in a darsana which each philosopher is free to take up as long as he is careful in defining his own terms. In presenting ten darsanas instead of six Narayana Guru is thus not violating any principle of methodology or epistemology.



We are now going to undertake a running review of the six darsanas of Indian philosophy. The purpose in doing this is to enable the reader to relate the work of Narayana Guru correctly to its own natural background, so that the implications of certain terms used by him in his own revalued and restated form may not be misunderstood. This review will rather reveal the overall pattern of thought persisting throughout the long history of the Indian philosophical tradition.


This tradition has been compared to an ancient tree of wisdom which flowers now and then, sometimes at intervals of centuries, in unexpected parts of India. It always shows the same distinguishable characteristics. Judgments and syllogisms are not natural to the Indian mind, as Croce has justly pointed out. There are many other peculiarities revealing certain important structural features underlying all the darsanas. Like the structure of space in modern physics there is a tacitly understood structure of thought giving unity and precision to the various schools, however seemingly divergent they might appear. When viewed scientifically and metaphysically at once, however, these differences melt away as mere prejudice and instead reveal a substratum of precise structural thought. Structuralism is a secret known to Indian thinkers which modern thought is in the process of rediscovering, as it were, through the recent post-Einsteinian philosophy of science.


Our review will further try to bring into relief the same structure underlying the operation of the paramanus of the Vaiseshikas and the gunas of the Samkhyas. The semantic polyvalence and structuralism implied in the Purva Mimamsa and completely adopted by Badarayana and Sankara in the Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta) also has the same structuralism. We shall try to clarify all this when dealing with each darsana separately.


Each school has its own categories clinging together with an implied structuralism between their elements. The tryanuka (threefold atom) of the Vaiseshikas is an example of this. It is highly reminiscent of the three dimensions of space recognized in the world models of modern physics. The careful and thoughtful reader must look for other less evident structural implications so as to be able to appreciate how these philosophies build up rather than demolish each other. What results is the final synthesis of Brahma Vidya as a complete Science of the Absolute. This is perhaps best represented by the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita.


We will begin our review with a summary of the Nyaya darsana. We will give some pertinent details about this darsana and the reader is expected to study this further to get a deeper and richer understanding.



In order to correctly and justly appraise the Nyaya philosophy we first have to shed the usual prejudices against it arising out of religious orthodoxy and the love of Vedism for its own sake. There is a tendency everywhere to cultivate closed and static loyalties in the name of any traditional cultural, religious or philosophical growth. Judeo-Christian orthodoxy is a case in point. It is therefore natural that many Western philosophers have had to point their fingers suspiciously at Indian philosophy as a whole, charging it with dogmatism, lack of realism and rational or speculative inquiry, and as deficient in any critical standards.


It is true that such an impression can somewhat be justified when one takes such works as the Brahma Sutras as representing Indian philosophy in general. The fault however is not that of Indian philosophy. It is mainly to be laid on the shoulders of those who do not take the trouble of looking at all the classical schools of thought with the care they deserve. Lack of proper historical records can also be used as an excuse. Modern Indian scholars have been misled into minimizing the importance of a philosophy like the Nyaya, finding it sufficiently puzzling to their prima facie estimate and their lack of correct appraisal of its full-fledged status as a complete discipline. It must be for this reason that they have hastily tried to bracket it with the Vaiseshika school, although the approach and starting point to ultimate truth is different in the two philosophies. Even the best scholar is not able to see in the Nyaya "system" or rather "vision" (darsana) all the limbs that must pertain to a self-sufficient school of thought.


The most striking feature of the Nyaya is its methodological and logical character. This does not mean that other necessary counterparts or aspects that make up a complete philosophy are lacking. It is true that realistic categories referring to manifested aspects of the visible world are not enumerated by Gautama in his sutras. This might seem to superficial critics to be a serious omission on his part, and must be another reason why they bracket Gautama with Kanada who had his complete list of realistic categories. In their haste to find kinship in the "twin schools" of Gautama and Kanada the generality of scholars have fallen into the error of treating the Nyaya and Vaiseshika together as a materialistic school of philosophy. Even the Samkhya philosophy which is more fully and critically philosophical has been looked down upon with a certain degree of repugnance by orthodox Vedism for the reason that it dares to enumerate and systematically set forth their categories. The word "Samkhya" means what pertains to counting or enumerating. It is too philosophical to suit the merely religious or orthodox mind which loves getting lost in a forest of exegetics. If we now add to this the voluminous commentaries on the Brahma Sutras by Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva, it is seen that the case for Indian philosophy can be lost altogether in the modern context by its impossible excesses in hairsplitting, logic-chopping and exegetics based on semantics and syntactics. The modern student is therefore not altogether to be blamed.


In the light of these considerations it is consoling to a modern researcher to find emerging from antiquity the figure of Gautama who is said to have lived almost at the same time as the Buddha. In spite of the lapse of 2,500 years the meagre descriptions of his personality reaching us in the present generation describe the characteristics of a world philosopher. Gautama, as we shall see, is highly reminiscent of the pre-Socratic thinkers of Greece.


We read the following:

"The founder of the Nyaya was Gautama (Gotama) who is frequently referred to in the literature as Akshapada, 'Eye-footed', and Dirghatapas, 'Long-penance'. It was customary to call one by a name which gave a descriptive characterization of the individual. In this instance, Gautama probably received these names from his long penances during his periods of study and from the fact that he was customarily seen with his eyes directed towards his feet when walking, which is a natural way to carry the head when contemplating during the course of a stroll. In fact, it is the way one is trained to walk." (2)

Gautama is supposed to have lived around 560 BC About his influence and life, Bernard says:

"According to tradition, Gautama, the founder of the Nyaya, was born at Gautamasthana, and each year a fair is held in this village in his honour on the 9th day of the lunar month of Caitra (March-April). The village is located 28 miles northeast of Darbhanga. Two miles east is a village called Ahalyasthana where a stone slab lies between two trees which is believed to mark the resting place of his wife, Ahalya. Gautama is said to have spent most of his life with his wife Ahalya, in a hermitage situated on the banks of the Kshirodadhi River on the outskirts of the city of Mithila, the modern Darbhanga in North Bihar." (3)

About the age of the Nyaya philosophy we read:

"Before the time of Gautama, the principles of the Nyaya existed as an undifferentiated body of philosophical thought bearing on things that can be known and on the means of acquiring such knowledge. Gautama merely formulated the generally accepted principles of the time ... Gautama was the first to reduce the principles for the examination of truth into their present form; therefore, he is considered as the father of the Nyaya." (4)


We have already pointed out that a philosophy of the Absolute is in the form of an equation operating in two ways. One way is reaching from the Relative to the Absolute and the other way is reaching from the Absolute to the Relative. The position is not changed in the least by either approach. When one keeps in mind the philosophy of Descartes, where method and structural aspects come into full evidence, it is possible to give the Nyaya philosophy a similarly full status as a methodical and critical school. Systematic doubt is the essence of Cartesianism, whose basic starting postulate is cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am). The Nyaya bases itself on nothing other than the same kind of cogitation.


In the Nyaya such cogitation, however, clearly takes place between two sets of fully enumerated entities or categories called mana (measure) and meya (measured). The whole of reality is supposed to be comprised within the scope of these two. Applying the measures or norms of thought to the problems that have to be measured by the mind, so as to arrive at certitude in all possible problems and thereby gain release or liberation, is the scope of speculation as known to the Nyaya. There is nothing dogmatic or uncritical here, and a fully scientific philosophy cannot be expected to do anything better, especially when science has now come to be sometimes defined as "measurement". Modern propositional calculus and logistic have the same function as the Nyaya. A scrutiny of the items of correct or futile reason enumerated in the Nyaya Sutras is seen to be even more complete than those recognized by modern logistic. Both positive and negative items are included in a manner revealing an underlying structural symmetry.


Between the instruments of knowledge (pramana) and the items of entities to be measured (prameya) we also find a principle of reciprocity fully recognized as existing subjectively in the mind. There is the constant interaction of the Self with the non-Self which is expected to succeed in solving major or minor problems as life proceeds from values here to values hereafter. This is accomplished by the interaction between reciprocal counterparts of the total knowledge-situation. The complete self-consistency and self-sufficiency of the Nyaya philosophy is quite evident.


When we enter into the enumerated items we can take firstly the subjective norms of measurement of truth, which are four in number, i.e. as based on: pratyaksha (perception), anumana (inference), upamana (analogy) and sabda (a priori verbal testimony), Here it has been the unfair fashion in text books on Indian philosophy to condemn those philosophies like the Charvaka who only used pratyaksha as a means of knowledge, and somehow calling both the Charvaka and Nyaya schools materialistic or empirical, while ignoring the fact that the Nyaya philosophy also used sabda.


The Charvakas were condemned because they only thought in terms of pratyaksha. This is an inexcusable caricature and distortion of the truth. As in the case of Epicurus who was also summarily condemned, the Charvakas, whose philosophy closely resembles his, also suffered a disrepute that was not fully deserved. Epicureans were supposed to eat only the ripe side of an apple, while the Charvakas were supposed to have had the attitude of getting indebted so as to be able to eat ghee (clarified butter). Yet anybody who reads Epicurus, or for that matter a proper text on the Charvaka philosophy, can easily be convinced that they too propounded complete philosophies worthy of respect for being fully scientific in approach. One has to rise above the prejudices created by mere nicknames or such easy characterization as, for example, when it said the Pythagoreans hated beans!


We notice in the above four categories belonging to the Nyaya that the last of the pramanas is sabda, as in the Vedanta. Yet Vedanta also recognizes two other subsidiary pramanas which are arthapatti (postulation) and anupalabdhi (impossibility).


Narayana Guru in the Darsana Mala will be seen in Chapter 7 (jnana-darsanam) to use strictly speaking only four items which are pratyaksha (perception), taken together with aparoksha (self-evident reasoning), anumiti (inferential data) and upamiti (certitude by analogy). These four cover roughly the same ground as in the Nyaya. Narayana Guru does not specifically refer to sabda (a priori verbal testimony) because upamiti covers the requirements without prejudice in favour of mere Vedism.


If we now pass on to the corresponding counterparts of the items measured (meya), we find that no empirically understood categories are even touched upon in the Nyaya. (The materialistic schools must have been more interested in the empirical aspects of reality as positively or objectively given to the senses.) Scrutinizing the items of the corresponding categories of the Nyaya we find abstract problems enumerated instead of tangible realities. This is because philosophy must be primarily concerned with life's problems and not with mere sense-data. This position is quite correct although much misunderstood. The systematic doubting of Descartes is similarly concerned with solving problems and reaching certitude where graded doubts prevail about generally significant abstract ideas. The list of items to be measured and solved are enumerated in the Nyaya Sutras I.1.9:

"The objects of right knowledge (prameya) are the soul (atman), body (sarira), senses (indriya), objects (artha), intelligence (buddhi), intellect (manas), activity (pravritti), fault (dosha), re-birth (pratyabhava), fruit (phala), pain (duhkha), and release (apavarga)."(5)


It is seen that in Nyaya the problems refer to man, in keeping with the dictum of Alexander Pope: "The proper study of mankind is man". This does not mean that the problems exist subjectively. They rather present themselves from outside and face the intelligent person in the same way as outside categories might be said to stare the philosopher in the face, demanding their own particular solution. In the name of structural compatibility between the Self and the non-Self, the Nyaya prefers to conceive of problems arising from categories and as conforming to the same structural pattern as the subjective Self when called upon to solve problems. There is thus seen in Nyaya the recognition of a one-to-one correspondence between subject and object. When this correspondence is violated different degrees of futility in reasoning results. The extreme limits of such incompatibility are marked by what is called (1) "semblance of reason", hetuabhasa, which is outside the scope of compatibility in reason. Impossibility of reasoning is touched here. (2) Futility (Jati) and (3) disagreement in principle (nigraha sthana) are defined in the Nyaya Sutras (I.2.18-19) as follows:

"Futility (jati) consists in offering objections founded on mere similarity or dissimilarity.

 Disagreement in principle arises when one misunderstands (nigraha sthana) or does not understand at all" (6)


Under "Futility" (jati) there are twenty-four kinds and under "Disagreement in Principle" (nigraha sthana) there are twenty-two occasions for disagreement. The twenty-four kinds of futility are:

"Balancing the homogeneity, balancing the heterogeneity, balancing the addition, balancing the subtraction, balancing the questionable, balancing the unquestionable, balancing the alternative, balancing the reciprocity, balancing the co-presence, balancing the mutual absence, balancing the infinite regression, balancing the counter-example, balancing the non-produced, balancing the doubt, balancing the controversy, balancing the non-reason, balancing the presumption, balancing the non-difference, balancing the non-demonstration, balancing the perception, balancing the non-perception, balancing the non-eternality, balancing the eternality, balancing the effect." (7)


The twenty-two occasions for disagreement are:

"Hurting the proposition, shifting the proposition, opposing the proposition, renouncing the proposition, shifting the reason, shifting the topic, the meaningless, the unintelligible, the incoherent, the inopportune, saying too little, saying too much, repetition, silence, ignorance, non- ingenuity, evasion, admission of an opinion, overlooking the censurable, censuring the non-censurable, deviating from a tenet, the semblance of a reason." (8)

In both these sets enumerated above it is not hard to see that the tallying of two aspects in one-one correspondence is important for Nyaya reasoning.



A sufficiently penetrating scrutiny of the above sets of enumerated items will reveal an underlying pattern of thought having the same frame of reference and structural implications. The section referring to jati (futility) has nothing in common with caste or species as understood in other contexts of Indian spirituality. It is clear from the nature of the items that jati resembles rather the ensembles or classes of modern mathematical theory. They have meaning only when conceived in such a light. Compatibility of classes is a very important law underlying the all mathematical operations. Without such compatibility the one-to-one correspondence between classes would be defeated in its purpose of effectively solving significant problems. Just as ten oranges and ten apples cannot give either apples or oranges, but only fruit in general, class or jati has to be respected.


These rules of compatibility based on the theory of ensembles are foreshadowed in the enumerated categories above. Problems must pertain to significant human values and this is where correct logic naturally enters, so as to be inserted into a general philosophy of life. Vedanta is seen later on to accept this intimate relationship between Self-knowledge (atma-vidya) and cosmological knowledge of the Absolute (brahma-vidya). We can also add ananda-vidya (wisdom in respect of significant values) as another important concept to be treated on a par with atma-vidya. The Cartesian method, Kantian criticism and Bergsonian intuition are Western schools of philosophy rising above mere empirical data into the world of reciprocal relationships between the Self and non-Self. The Nyaya philosophy compares favourably with them and even holds its own ground with advantage in point of clarity and precision when compared with the two Mimamsa philosophies, which are more concerned with Vedic exegetics. This plus the introduction of endless complications in arthavada have succeeded at the present time in making these two Mimamsa schools go almost totally out of commission.


What is interesting for us to note here is how the Nyaya has anticipated and set the standard for almost the whole of later Vedantic speculation. If we are asked to point out what the Nyaya philosophy lacks when compared with Vedanta we are obliged to refer to only two items: the first is in not being over-religious and orthodox and the second is in not exalting the demands of sabda-pramana above the other three pramanas.


Reciprocity that respects correspondence or disagreement between classes is not fully recognized in the two Mimamsas, nor is structuralism so evident nor kept so consciously in mind as in the Nyaya. What is more, the two Mimamsas suffer from being over-weighted with endless semantic and syntactic considerations. Such complications could have been avoided if they had respected structuralism and dialectical reasoning a little more. We have to admit however that Sankara had some inklings of these two demands as is evidenced by his favorite analogies in different parts of his commentaries.



We find in the Nyaya a way of avoiding error and its consequent evil a certain order, implying a tacit sequence that evidently presupposes a fourfold structuralism.
We read the following:

"By the cessation of the flow of this chain of consequences will we be freed. The way to break this chain is to obtain a fuller understanding of the true nature of things. When this has been accomplished the faults which consist of a delusion causing us to like and dislike a thing will no longer exist. When this disappears, there will no longer be any desire, which is the stimulus for action. It is claimed that this will free us from rebirth, the cause of all sorrow and suffering, and enable us to achieve the supreme end of life.

This exalted goal is said to be attained by thoroughly realizing the four subjects established in the Nyaya Sutra, namely: (1) the thing to be avoided (i.e. pain), (2) its cause (i.e. desire and ignorance), (3) absolute avoidance, (4) and the means of such avoidance (i.e. true knowledge) which is to be secured. These four steps are considered the prime prerequisites for the attainment of life's highest reward." (9)


It is unmistakable that this fourfold approach to salvation through the avoidance of error cannot but imply the fourfold correlates. How this fourfold quaternion principle has entered Vedantic thought, as so evidently referred to in the Mandukya Upanishad, has already been discussed (see pages 625-627). It is easy to see that the first subject, the thing to be avoided (i.e. pain), refers to the horizontal plus. The second, its cause (i.e. desire and ignorance) which is virtual and more subjective, as explained in the Bhana Darsana, refers to the horizontal minus.


The third, absolute avoidance, belongs to a purer and more immanent-transcendental context and refers to the vertical minus, while the fourth, the means of such avoidance (i.e. true knowledge) belongs to the vertical plus side, because knowledge is the thing to be sought.

The presumption in the last item that knowledge accomplishes absolute avoidance of suffering is one which is fully valid, intuitive and dialectical in its import. It is not ratiocinative nor discursive. Socrates in the "Philebus" also points out there is a state beyond mere pleasure and pain.
We read:

"Socrates: Then we have a third state over and above that of pleasure and pain?
Protarchus: Very true.
S: And do not forget that there is such a state; it will make a great difference in our judgment of pleasure whether we remember this or not.
And I should like to say a few words about it.
P: What have you to say?
S: Why, you know that if a man chooses the life of wisdom, there is no reason why he should not live in this neutral state.
P: You mean to say that he may live neither rejoicing nor sorrowing?
S: Yes; and if I remember rightly, when the lives were compared, no degree of pleasure, whether great or small was thought to be necessary to him who chose the life of wisdom and thought." (10)


In concluding this section we can add that Vedanta, at least as seen in the Brahma Sutras, is not thankful for what it has inherited from Gautama, who, by his reputation is equal to any rishi or spiritual authority. But Vedic orthodoxy is more partial to brahma-rishis (sages who come from the Vedic context) than to rajarishis of a political context. This is evidenced in many puranas reflecting the historical animosity between wise brahmins and equally wise kshattriyas. Kapila is another example of a sage of great renown, who is respected in both the Svetasvatara Upanishad and the Bhagavad Gita, but is discredited and degraded in the Brahma Sutras. These historical prejudices have to be brushed aside by us in our attempt to restate the wisdom of the Absolute in a scientific form. Vedanta has reason to be thankful to the Samkhya, Nyaya and the other philosophical schools and to denounce them as many do is, to say the least, very unscientific and in bad taste.



The search for specificity in the context of absolute reality is what distinguishes the Vaiseshika Philosophy from the Nyaya, who are satisfied with filling the Absolute with logical or psycho-physical entities where reasoning finds its full play. The Vaiseshikas go one step further in making the content more real, specific and colourful. In a true scientific spirit they adhere to the dictum esse est percipi. Continuing on the same broad outlines drawn by the Nyaya they bring together essences and perception into a reciprocal schematic relationship. They maintain their allegiance to the Upanishads and are fully conscious of the importance of attaining final release for the soul of man.


This darsana was founded by an equally venerable leader of thought whose words, have, by their very persistence through time, proved their value and authority. We must again point out that none of the main tenets of Vedanta are violated by Kanada even though the Brahma Sutras treat him with scant respect. (See Brahma Sutras (II.2.11-17). The word "Kanada" means "atom-eater", but unfortunately this nickname has been used in a disparaging manner.


We read the following valuable though meagre biographical sketch about him:

"The founder of the Vaiseshika was Kanada, also known as Kanabhuj or Kanabhaksha. These names are merely descriptive of his accomplishment, for his real name appears to have been Kasyapa. The name Kanada is derived from kana, "atom" and "ad", "to eat", literally, the "atom-eater". He is so named because he resolved reality to its smallest possible division, which is called anu in Sanskrit and commonly translated as 'atom'.

 The system has also been called Auluka which comes from uluka, 'owl'. This name is said to be descriptive of Kanada's habit of meditating all day and seeking his food during the night like an owl. It is the common. practice of yogis to sleep by day and practice by night; so it is quite possible that Kanada followed this routine of living." (11)


About the origin of the Vaiseshika we read the following:

"Kanada is not the originator of these teachings, for they have existed in the minds of the enlightened ones from time immemorial; however, he is credited with having given us the first systematic account of them. There is little available historical information on the personal life of Kanada, and there is much speculation as to when he actually lived. The weight of authority places him in the third century B.C." (12)


Kanada was not merely an "atom-eater" but one who fully recognized the claims of akasa (ether) side by side with those of the ultimate particles or atoms (anus). He considered the atoms to be co-eternal with pure space or ether. These two antinomian principles are outside the scope of the ponderability of matter. The atom is something like a dimensional point in geometry; a position without material content. Pure space or ether (akasa), though qualified by its capacity for conducting sound waves or even light waves, remains as extension without position and materiality. Ponderable matter applies only to the four manifested elements (i.e. earth, water, fire and air) that enter into perceptual experience.


These have a one-to-one correspondence with the four special qualities or properties (visesha) of odour, flavour, form and touch. These correspond by the interaction of the subjective and objective counterparts to earth, water, fire and air. In. this way the effects are called bhutas or "what has come to be", i.e. the elementals.

The specificatory factors have an ascending relational gradation, with all four factors being present in earth and only one (touch) in air. When the Bhagavad Gita (VII.8) refers to water as having the characteristic of sapidity or taste, it unmistakably recognized this structural feature. Another expression in the Gita (VII.9) is "I am the holy fragrance of the earth". This too shows a recognition of the Vaiseshika point of view.

Sound (sabda) is the specific characteristic element of the fifth bhuta which is akasa. In an extended sense electromagnetic phenomena including light waves are another characteristic of akasa. Wave propagation is a factor common to light and sound, and in an extrapolated sense, although the Vaiseshikas did not actually say so, light may be said to be the very essence of akasa, because it is independent of all ponderable media.

The atom and akasa, one with parts to be eliminated and the other with its dispersion to be countered by the mind, belong together on final synthesis. Narayana Guru suggests this in Verse 96 of the Atmopadesha Satakam when he says, "The atom and the infinite as being and non-being loom from either side". What is important for us to note here is the reciprocity between these two bipolar or antinomian non-material and eternal factors. The intermediate specificities of the other elementals exist in a graded ambivalent fashion within these two limiting cases. This reveals a unitive structural pattern for all the elementals treated together, while remaining capable of being equated with the senses as well as with the mind and the Self behind the senses.


Subject and object are intended to be brought into a one-to-one relationship. When understood in this way we find it stated in the Vaiseshika Sutras (I.1.4) that instead of the full knowledge of truth as the Nyaya prefers to put it, supreme good results. An element of value or joy is thus brought into the Vaiseshika philosophy. The colourful world has its counterpart in the joyful Self. When cancelled out they result together in total emancipation. These ideas can nowhere be shown to be repugnant to the general spirit of the Upanishads, and Sankara and others have no valid reason to object to this darsana. In fact to judge Sankara by his own words; in the Vivekachudamani (Verse 6) he states that emancipation depends upon wisdom alone and not on rituals, sacrifices, the worshipping of gods and the mechanical reading of holy scriptures. Yet in his commentary of the Brahma Sutras (II.2.11.17) he seems to allow other questionable and compromising orthodox considerations to vitiate his philosophical standpoint.


Before passing on we should note that the Nyaya fits into the first chapter of the Darsana Mala and the Vaiseshika correctly corresponds to the third chapter on phenomenology. Phenomenology takes account of phenomena without being materialistically minded and the stand of the Vaiseshikas is much the same. The mind and the Self are legitimately included within the scope of the Vaiseshika categories as we shall presently see.



Vaiseshika texts refer to two sets of categories. The first is called padartha, literally "word-meaning (pada) meaning (artha)" and sometimes translated as predicables (e.g. Theos Bernard) and sometimes as categories (e.g. Max Muller). Whether they are called categories or predicables with a more conceptual status than the dravyas (substances), whose status is more perceptual, there is no basic conflict. Between these two sets of conceptual and perceptual categories the Vaiseshikas construct a double-sided vertical series of units in which we have to discover for ourselves the two broad divisions of res cogitans and res extensa. In other words the padarthas have a purely relational character along a vertical axis or logical parameter.

Abhava (non-being), which has been added as the seventh category by later Vaiseshika philosophers, is at the upper limit of the vertical axis while dravya is at the lower. In the Vaiseshika Sutras (I.I.4) we find the categories stated, except for abhava:

"The Supreme Good (results) from the knowledge, produced by a particular dharma, of the essence of the predicables (padarthas), substance (dravya), attribute (guna), Action (karma), genus (samanya), species (visesha), and combination (samanvaya), by means of their resemblances and difference." (13)


All existing things must have some specific quality called guna. This specific quality must make an impression somewhere and such an impression is called karma (action). It can also be called dharma (functional or operative specificity). The series of categories under dravya (substance) are all sub-divisions of something existent. They are found enumerated in the Vaiseshika Sutras (1.1.5) as follows:

"Earth (prithvi), water (apas), fire (tejas), air (vayu), ether (akasa), time (kala), space (dik), soul (atman) and mind (manas) (are) the only substances (dravyas)." (14) 


Although these should not be considered as a merely horizontal series of categories the Vaiseshikas intend the horizontal principle of extension to be present in each of the items, in juxtaposition with the vertical series. This means that two aspects of extension and cogitation (i.e. perceptual and conceptual factors) co-exist in each item constituting substance. Thus there is a series of entities like those in the Monadology of Leibniz where sufficient reason. (which is vertical) neutralizes pre-established harmony (which is horizontal) or, as in the thinking substance of Spinoza or Descartes, two factors are together involved as reciprocal conjugates of the Absolute substance.


The atman is the starting point in the analysis of the visible world. Such a monadic notion is therefore not without justification. When we come to entities of the second series of categories such as the mind or the Self, their non-materialistic status becomes fully evident, An inner experience of values has to be substituted for an outer experience of existent things. When we take time (kala) mentioned in the series, inner and outer experience neutralize each other yielding a simultaneity or succession. The Vaiseshika notion of time is very similar to Bergson's as we see from the Vaiseshika Sutras (11.2.6):

"'Posterior' in respect of that which is posterior, 'simultaneous', 'slow', 'quick': such cognitions are the marks of time." (15)


There is space with structure and space without a structure. The former is a verticalized version of the latter. The first is Einsteinian in character while the latter is Newtonian. Time and Space are capable of being treated as implying spatial and temporal dimensions by their mutual relationship. This is similar to the transformations of Lorentz and also to Bergson who talks about time and space mutually devouring each other.



Aristotle's animism implies an atomism which is the same as the findings of particle physics in its essential features. The resemblances with the Vaiseshikas are striking also, as we can see from the following:

"Logical necessity showed the ancient thinkers that it was not plausible to go beyond the concept of anu, otherwise a small thing, such as a grain of rice, would be of the same dimension as a large thing, such as Mount Everest, for both of them would possess an infinite number of parts. And since by logic it is impossible for something to come out of nothing, it was necessary to stop with some existent Reality; so the logical conception of paramanus was postulated. By definition it is without parts, which means that it was not produced, and cannot be destroyed, since destruction involves the separation of parts; therefore, it is eternal. For the same reason it has no magnitude; therefore, it does not occupy any space and has no inside or outside. It is super-sensible, that is, transcendental in the same way that light is beyond the range of smell; therefore, it can be conceived only by the mind." (16)


For a more detailed account of the atom in its binary and ternary forms the reader is referred back to pages 587-588.



The soul (atman) is not a vague or indefinite entity in the Vaiseshika philosophy. It is to be recognized by distinct and specific functions or attributes. This does not mean however that these attributes are to be considered as specific effects of something undefinable. As in the case of every item of cognition nothing becomes known unless specific attributes are isolated by the elimination of attributes that do not belong to it. There is a positive and negative set of attributes and when they are tallied or juxtaposed they reveal the soul. If we keep this double-sided reciprocity in our minds while reading the definition of the atman in the Vaiseshika Sutras (III.2.4) we shall see that the soul is not a one-sided effect without being neutralized by its own counterpart in its own cause:


"The ascending life-breath (prana) the" descending life-breath (apana), the closing of the eye-lids (nimesha), the opening of the eye-lids (unmesha), life (jivana), the movement of the mind (manogati), and the affections of the other senses (indriyantaravikarah), and also pleasure (sukha),pain (dukha), desire (icca), and volition (prayatna)are marks (lingani) (of the existence) of the soul (atman). (17)


This definition vouches for a fully scientific definition of the soul in functional and operational terms. One has to notice that these functional items have in most cases their reciprocal counterparts which allow for a natural interaction. What emerges from this interaction is the soul. A unilateral view is not intended. Narayana Guru in his writings accomplishes the same cancellation of counterparts in the Atmopadesa Satakam (Verses 10-11) by conducting an experiment where two people speak to each other in a dark room and where the Self of one is the non-Self of the other. Their mutual cancellation of what is extraneous to the common Self of both sufficiently determines the specific character of the Absolute Self common to both.


Insofar as the definition does not depend upon anything extraneous to the situation and of a non-experimental character it must be considered scientific. The same applies to the definition of atman found in the Vaiseshika Sutras, although a double-sided control is not resorted to. The attempt in the sutra however, is fully scientific as it depends upon visible functional characteristics of the soul.


When we come to be question of salvation as understood by the Vaiseshikas, we find it is not accompanied by any religious practices at all. It is the simple and direct result of scientific or philosophical understanding. Here again the attitude is such that it should receive the full approval of even Sankara if we judge him by his own philosophical writings. Sankara also has his own theory of pancikarana (quintuplication of the elementals) like the Vaiseshikas. He too tries to explain scientifically the manifested world resulting from the elementals. He must have derived this theory, in part at least, from previous schools of philosophy. In both cases there is nothing in either theory that goes against the spirit of the Upanishads. If later Vedantins have condemned the Vaiseshikas it must be because they attributed to them a unilateral approach giving more importance to effects than to causes. They are often called asambhavadins and satkaryavadins both terms meaning "giving primacy to effects over causes". The actual sutras when scrutinized do not seem to justify any such unilateralism. In formulating their definitions they only insisted on specific characteristics (lingas). This insistence on a diagnostic approach has been misunderstood as implying a primacy of effect over cause.


When we apply the same attitude to the question of salvation we find again that they have been misunderstood.


To clarify their position we once again quote from the Vaiseshika Sutras (1.1.4.) because of the importance in setting this matter straight:

"The Supreme Good (results) from the knowledge, produced by a particular dharma, of the essence of the predicables (padarthas), substance (dravya), attribute (guna), action (karma), genus (samanya), species (visesha), and combination (samanvaya), by means of their resemblances and differences." (18)

We can see that a relationship between specific and generic attributes is what is important here. Such authentic definitions need a lot of scrutinizing before they will reveal all their subtle implications. With the imponderable atoms and the two sets of categories reviewed above it is just possible to see a resemblance to Monadology. The Monad of monads is always present side by side with the atomic units. Their common relations have to reveal a unitive pattern resulting from the two sets of antinomies when cancelled against each other. It is true that such an operation is complicated, but if the operation can be performed by the Vaiseshika philosophy it will reveal the true nature of the Absolute by cancellation of counterparts. The Upanishads declare that a knower of the Absolute becomes the Absolute. In the light of such a bold claim, emancipation, according to the Vaiseshikas, is also a corollary of the dicta, "knowledge is power", and "the truth shall make you free". There is nothing in the Vaiseshika philosophy therefore to be either scorned or laughed at.



We shall now consider one of the most important darsanas of India. Throughout the ages the Samkhya has held its own against all other schools of philosophy. Much speculation in India, even to the present day, is directly or indirectly influenced by the Samkhya pattern of thought. The philosophical tradition of India centres around the long history of this school, having many source books distributed into epochs at intervals of centuries. It is difficult in this age to restate the complete Samkhya position in a finished and finalized form. The Samkhya Karika and Samkhya Sutras are the two best known sources for commentators on this philosophy.

It is usual to speak of the Samkhyas as believers in tattvas (first principles). The two antinomian first principles of purusha (spirit) and prakriti (nature), with various degrees of duality or reciprocity, are basic to this school. The other important feature is the dynamism of the three gunas (nature modalities) called sattva (pure-clear), rajas (active-passionate) and tamas (inert-dark). This is one of the greatest contributions made by the Samkhyas to the rest of Indian philosophy. The gunas are both evolving and evolved, and have a virtuality and an actuality that is difficult to fix. It is by their dynamism and interaction that the manifested world can be traced. This dynamism seems to imply further both an expansion and contraction as well as centripetal and-centrifugal tendencies.


Nature or prakriti represents the centrifugal, while pradhana (prime potent power) represents the centripetal. There is also a subtle form of reciprocity between nature (prakriti) and spirit (purusha) which is complementary and fully cancelable. The duality between them is sometimes considered its strong point, while the Vedantins, who give a central position to the absolute Self, generally look down upon even the slightest vestige of duality. The Brahma Sutras do not accept any notion of pradhana, even if it is only indirectly considered as the source of the manifested world. They find this notion so repugnant that almost half the work is devoted to denouncing it and other Samkhya features. In striking contrast to the Brahma Sutras, however, the Bhagavad Gita, an equally if not more important Vedantic text, approves of the fivefold structure of the Samkhya philosophy.


In the Bhagavad Gita (XVIII. 13-15) we read:

"O Mighty-Armed (Arjuna), learn from Me these five causes for the accomplishments of all actions as stated in the Samkhya at the end of the age called Krita:

The basis and actor, and also the various (mental) instruments, the several and varied movements (activities), and fifth, the divine factor;

Whatever action a man undertakes by the body, speech and mind, justifiable or the opposite, these five are its causes." (19)

Elsewhere in the Gita a whole chapter (XVIII) is devoted to a dialectical revaluation of the Samkhya. This attitude on the part of the author of the Gita shows he might have been trying to answer those holding this view or who were at least the forerunners of the point of view of the Brahma Sutras. The Gita honours the Samkhya again by devoting a whole chapter to the three gunas and their mode of operation. prakriti and purusha are also brought more intimately together, to abolish any objectionable duality between them. They are retained for purposes of reference. All this shows that we are treading on highly controversial ground. The jig-saw puzzle refuses to fit together into a coherent whole. This must be because of the heterogeneous origin as such of the tattvas.

The tattva, mahat (the principle of all-comprehensive intelligence), refuses to take its place under the evolving or evolved principles of natura naturans and natura naturata. It represents all-comprehensive intelligence, but sometimes it is spoken of as an "evolute" of prakriti. As a principle it has a very subtle logical status and as such could belong to the context of a darsana or vision wherein high abstractions and generalizations exist together, giving it some consistency or homogeneity. Such a schematic version alone can accommodate a general intelligent principle as mahat. We have a feeling that this principle in order to participate with the totality at all must refer to an overall ground for both purusha and prakriti.


Being intelligent it comes nearest to the Absolute of Vedanta. Some textbooks dealing with the Samkhya like the Sarva-Darsana-Samgraha suggest that the avyakta (the unmanifested) of the Samkhya corresponds to the brahman (Absolute) of the Vedanta. avyakta and mahat could be names applicable to the matrix or ground of the notion of the neutral Absolute.


The Gita (II.28) refers to the avyakta as both the source and the end of the world. The Brahma Sutras, however, merely refute the pradhana. This however does not seriously injure Samkhya philosophy as a whole which has other basic concepts like mahat and avyakta. These two seem not to be repugnant to other Vedantins. The Brahma Sutras (I.4.28) also pointedly mention that the refutation already accomplished applies to all other doctrines which need not be demolished in detail after their protagonist the pradhana doctrine has been completely disposed of. They seem to gloat over such a triumph in too easy a manner. All we want to say here however is that the claims of the Samkhyas can never be overlooked by those interested in an integrated Science of the Absolute. Samkhya agrees more with science and philosophy than with mere theological dogma.



The Samkhya Karika clearly reveals the dynamism of the three gunas. (A still clearer statement is however found in Chapter XVIII of the Bhagavad Gita). Narayana Guru in the Maya-Darsanam gives the gunas their proper functional position. The notion of the pradhana also finds its place in the same darsana, as also that of prakriti. In both the Atmopadesa Satakam (Verse 4) and the Daiva Dasakam (Verse 9) the term mahat is used.


Concerning the Samkhya notion of the nature modalities we read the following in the Samkhya Karika (Verses 11-13):

"The manifested (vyakta) has the three modes (guna). It is indiscriminating, objective, generic, irrational, and productive, So also is pradhana. Soul (i.e. purusha) in these respects, as in those (previously mentioned), is the reverse.

 The modes 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.

Goodness (sattva) is considered as light (or subtle) and enlightening (or manifesting); passion or foulness as exciting and mobile; darkness as heavy and enveloping (or obstructive, varanaka). Their action, for the gaining of an end, is like that of a lamp." (20)



Kapila's personality stands out unmistakably in bold and original outlines, asserting itself through the ravages of time.
We read the following:

"The founder of the Samkhya was Kapila. Very little is known of this renowned sage and there is much controversy as to his actual date; however, the weight of authority places him in the sixth century BC According to tradition his father's name was Kardama, and his mother's name was Devahuti. His father was a Rishi (inspired sage), but Kapila is believed to have learned the rudiments of philosophy and the nature of the soul from his mother. A likeness of Kapila is carved in the cave temple of Anuradhapura in Ceylon. The latter part of his life was passed on an island called Sagara, situated in the mouth of the Ganges River, ninety miles from Calcutta. Each year on the last day of the Hindu month of Magha (January-February) thousands of devotees visit the place where Kapila meditated and gave the fruits of his meditations to his disciples. In this manner the tradition of his life is still kept. Throughout India the memory of Kapila is worshipped as a Great Sage and Philosopher." (21)


Kapila is neither a sceptic nor an unbeliever as the general impression about him in orthodox circles takes for granted Every philosopher must have scepticism or methodic doubt to be a philosopher at all. Only to this extent is Kapila a sceptic. Yet the will to believe cannot be entirely excluded from his philosophical outlook. He does not merely believe in the principle of inert manifested nature. He takes care to give due place to the claims of the spirit. Even. the most orthodox Vedantins give a position to Isvara (the Lord) only within the scope of the cosmic illusion of maya. Therefore they cannot claim to be better than the Samkhyas as "believers" in a spirit controller who enjoys the universe.

In the Samkhya Karika (Verses 17 & 19) we read the following:

"Because an assemblage (of things) is for the sake of another, because the opposite of three modes and the rest (their modifications) must exist; because there must be a superintending power; because there must be a nature that enjoys; and because of (the existence of) active exertion for the sake of abstraction or isolation (from material contact), therefore soul (i.e. purusha) exists And from that contrariety (of soul) it is concluded that the witnessing soul is isolated, neutral, perceptive, and inactive by nature." (22)



We have just now admitted the difficulty of solving the jigsaw puzzle of the schematic pattern emerging to view when the twenty five tattvas of the Samkhya are given their proper places. Strictly speaking, the tattvas belong to one darsana. In the Maya Darsana, Narayana Guru has succeeded in giving the main items of these tattvas their legitimate functional positions. Isvara roughly corresponds to the purusha. In the Bhagavad Gita (XIII.20 these two main points of the Samkhya are brought together in a revalued form.


It is important to note that in the definition of purusha the capacity to enjoy is one of the factors that makes this notion justifiable. Kapila reveals himself to be a believer without renouncing his position as a scientific philosopher. According to our schematic language purusha represents the whole of the vertical axis as a pure, actionless, neutral reference. On the other hand prakriti represents the whole of the horizontal axis.


The "evolution" of purusha, if any, belongs to the Bergsonian context of creative evolution, while the "evolution" of prakriti might perhaps be considered Darwinian, or even better still in keeping in line with a theory of transformation. Here we see how each of the serially enumerated items have to find their position on one or other of the axes of reference. As the Samkhya system had many exponents through centuries it is not easy to work out more exact details.



The word "Yoga" means union or communion. Such a union cannot make any meaning in philosophy or spirituality unless thought of in a psycho-physical context. The idea of such a union between two aspects of the personality is familiar in the context of Christian, Sufi, Buddhist and other mysticism. It is a kind of marriage of the soul in which the high value of God and man participate together in a state of spiritual bliss. The notion of satori found in Zen Buddhism suggests a similar kind of union.
The word "Yoga", however, belongs to the context of Indian spirituality. It dates back to the time of the Siva-yogi or Pasupati of the Indus Valley civilization where such a figure was found on some of the steatite seals discovered in Mohenjo-Daro. It is clearly seen that a man is sitting cross-legged under a tree surrounded with the anima ls of the jungle. This is the prototype of the Yogi. Such an ideogram has persisted throughout history all over the world, leading to the dhyanibuddha (meditating Buddha) figures and perhaps even to the Biblical reference by Jesus to a man sitting under a fig tree being the one who taught him.


From India to South East Asia, stone images representing the contemplative Yogi lost in introspection, sometimes with a smiling or sometimes with a sad face, are found all over the countryside. There are hundreds of temples in Cambodia alone where this figure is found. The great temple at Angkor is the most famous. The Yogi is thus a favourite time-honoured model persisting in the subconscious spiritual pattern of thought all over the Orient.


Patanjali, the so-called "founder" of Yoga is the one name standing out prominently in India. Even the meagre outlines of his personality and life are not visible. No details are given about him and his date is not precisely known. He is sometimes even mistaken for a person of the same name who is the author of a grammatical commentary in Sanskrit. Images of Patanjali are seen in the Madurai temple in Tamil Nadu. We find his image standing side by side with an equally enigmatic figure called Vyagrapada, "tiger-footed one". Patanjali is even said to have lived on the island of Ceylon. We are hardly able to think of him except as the person who gave tangible literary form to the vague and ancient discipline of Yoga, which must have been little more than a word filled with various meanings until he put order into it. Whoever he might have been, he certainly deserves our gratitude because of his clear formulation of Yoga in a scientific form, without fear or favour of any particular religion be it orthodox or heterodox.


The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali contain no difficult esoteric doctrines, yet have reference to the supernatural possibility of attaining psychic powers or siddhis. The goal of Yoga is called kaivalya or aloneness and it is superior to all psychic powers. In fact, on final analysis, Patanjali says psychic powers are impediments to proper emancipation.


We read in the Yoga Sutras (III.36): 
"te samadhavupasarga vytthane siddhaya
They, the siddhis (intense powers of the psyche in the progressive establishment of peace (samadhi) have a counter-effect."


Although Chapter III of the Yoga Sutras is devoted to psychic powers (siddhis), it is kaivalya that is the final goal and is of paramount importance. We find it defined in the end of Chapters III and IV. There is no mistaking, therefore, that the spirituality of Patanjali is fully absolutist in character. For the purposes of discussion however, it is natural to concede to him a dual treatment of ends and means for Yoga. Such an acceptance of duality does not mean that his philosophy is vitiated with a belief in two separate truths. He uses terms like purusha, isvara (Lord) and jiva almost interchangeably. His discussion is independent of such notions used only for psychological, cosmological or theological purposes in order to satisfy the minds of those who see truth in such a light. In Chapter I, Verse 23, this is revealed where he permits the disciple to meditate on Isvara but does not make it compulsory:

"isvarapranidhanad va
or, (alternatively) by surrender to the Lord (Isvara)."


It is up to the religious believer to think of an Isvara or not. Patanjali remains above such religious needs and this impartial and fully scientific attitude is reflected in Chapter I, Verse 35, where he says that full and bipolar interest or attention applied to an object even of a sensuous character is capable by mutual cancellation of yielding a high state of spiritual experience:

"vishayavati va pravrittirutpanna manasah sthitinibandhini
Although attached to sense objects they steadily fix the mind, which has its basis in activity."


Joy cannot exist in inert matter. Two dead lovers cannot enjoy each other. Therefore whatever interest an essential object might have belongs by necessity to the domain of the spirit. This is recognized in Yajnavalkya's famous words to his disciple-wife Maitreyi, when he says in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV.5.6) that the Self is dear and not the husband or wife. Narayana Guru also recognizes this in the Bhakti-Darsanam in Verse 7. The taboo of the forbidden fruit is absent in both Yoga and Vedanta spirituality. This does not mean however that a life of truthfulness and chastity is not fully recommended for a Yogi. Austerity (tapas), the study of the source books (svadhyaya) and surrender (pranidhanani), as well as critical discussions (vitarka) and inquiries (vicara) all go together in the attitude of the spiritual aspirant. This is pointed out in the various sutras dealing with the prerequisites for full unitive peace (samadhi) and aloneness (kaivalya). We shall not quote them all, but content ourselves with only two references. The first is found in Chapter I, 42, and the second reference is from Chapter II,1:

"tatra sabdarthajnanavikalpah sankirna savitarka somapattih
There is the choosing together of (the separate) willful ideation of word object and meaning, being put together while retaining the argumentation quality.

tapahsvadhyayesvarapranidhanani kriyayogah
Austerity, self-study, surrender to the Lord is Kriya-Yoga."


Let us now examine some of the sutras contained in the four chapters. In the first chapter called samadhi-pada (section dealing with unitive peace) we select two representative aphorisms (verses 27 and 33):

"tasya vacakah-pranavah
The word representing it is Aum (pranavah)
Maitrikarunamuditopekshanam sukhaduhkhapunyagunyavishayanam bhavanatascittaprasadanam
The tranquil mind results from the understanding of friendship, kindness and joyful equanimity in respect of the qualities of pleasure pain and virtue-vice."

It is easy to see how these are preliminary and preparatory prerequisites for Yoga. Tranquility of mind is the basis of all spirituality and all chants or invocations and with the word, " Aum, santih, santih, santih !" ("Aum, peace, peace, peace!"). Here the mystic syllable Aum stands for the ultimate goal of yogic meditation and the Sutra states clearly that meditation consists of repeating this mystic syllable and meditating on its meaning. Besides the idea of peace, the most important single condition for Yoga is mentioned in the second verse of Chapter 1:

Yoga is restraining (the outgoing) activities of the mind"

This sutra is meant to define Yoga as a whole. The key word is nirodha, "to hinder, obstruct, or control". Many people fall into the error of thinking that one must control all psychic activities, because citta-vritti means "the activity of the mind". Here a subtle distinction and a clarification has to be made. Narayana Guru makes this in the first verse of the Yoga-Darsana. The verticalized activities of the mind should not be obstructed but instead must be allowed free scope, with vitarka (criticism) and vicara (inquiry) as functions. It is the outgoing tendencies or horizontal activities of the mind that produce dissipation of interests. It is only on the horizontal level that control is necessary.


Mere brute unilateral control is not to be thought of: 
"paramanuparemamahatatvanto'sya vasikarah
The mastery of this ranges from the atom to the great ultimate"

The ideas of nirodha (controlling afferent tendencies by efferent ones) and samyama (total control) are of special interest in revealing the techniques of Yoga. A law of opposites prevails here. It says in chapter 2.37 that by refusing to steal, one comes to possess, in principle at least, whatever is priceless and desirable. By practising samyama there is a certain psycho-physical functioning which gives intuitive understanding. These claims may appear strange, but they are fully rational and understandable when the structural mechanism of action and reaction are clearly imagined in its totality of subtle and possible implications. In the Yoga Sutras (III.26.31) we read:

"candre taravyuhajnanam
(By samyama) on the moon (results) the knowledge of the formation of the stars.

dhruve tadgatijnanam

(By samyama) on the Pole Star (results knowledge of the cause of the stars.

nabhicakre kayavyuhainanam
(By samyama) on the navel plexus (results) the knowledge of physiological factors.

kantakupe kshutpipasanivrittih
(By samyama) on the gullet (results) mastery of hunger and thirst."


It should here be noted that although Yoga has incorporated within it certain psycho-physical practices it does not minimize the importance of reasoning and knowledge. The three pramanas of the Samkhyas are also used by Patanjali. We have pointed out the last of them, sabda or agama in this case, which is also recognized as aptavacanam (the authoritative word), in Vedanta.


But Vedanta also has in addition arthapati (postulation) and anupalabdhi (impossibility).

These last are important only in the context of guesswork on which mimamsa, (exegetics) has largely to depend. Analogy (upamana) is covered here by agama, because the authoritative texts mostly speak in this figurative language. Thus there is no fundamental difference in the methodology of Yoga and Vedanta. Even so, the Brahma Sutras (II.1.3) seem to have a low regard of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras when it says "If it be said that these smritis (i.e. The Yoga Sutras) also assist, by argumentation and proof, the cognition of truth, we do not object to so much, but we maintain all the same that the truth can be known from Vedanta texts only." (23)
Reference to kaivalya (aloneness), the final goal of Yoga is unmistakably found at the end of Chapters III and IV.
We read as follows:

"sattvapurushayoh suddhisamya kaivalyam
Aloneness results from the equality of purity between the spirit and the pure principle of existence.

purusharthasunyanam guna nam pratiprasavah kaivalyam svarupapratishta va citisaktiriti 
The inverse becoming of the qualities of life's positive aims is aloneness which is the establishment of the process in. its own true state, or the power of the mind."

These definitions are highly reminiscent of Plotinus' flight of "the alone to the Alone", Molina´s "Interior Science," and Chuang Tzu´s, "the stillness of the sages".



The study of the Mimamsas presents major difficulties. Much literature is available about them, yet in spite of those who have tried to focus their attention on the nature of these twin schools they still present many basic problems to be solved.


The nature of the Purva Mimamsa or "earlier critique" of Jaimini strangely resembles the Uttara Mimamsa or "latter critique" of Badarayana. The Uttara Mimamsa is usually called Vedanta and is considered by most to be more philosophical than the Purva Mimamsa.


The Vedanta or Uttara Mimamsa is concerned with an inquiry into the nature of the Absolute (brahman). In spite of the interchangeability of the terms "Vedanta" and "Uttara-Mimamsa", the contrast between the attitudes of the two accepted Vedantic tenets, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita are great enough to question whether their teachings cover the same ground. At least it can be said of the Uttara Mimamsa that it stands on firm ground in respect of its general scope or subject-matter. It is easier to understand the nature of its earlier twin counterpart when we place ourselves on the firm ground of the latter. If this is not done even an approximate idea of the Purva Mimamsa will be difficult to ascertain.


Trained philosophers and well known Orientalists such as Max Muller have applied their penetrating powers in order to attempt to understand the Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini. Muller is not satisfied with this work and says it does not reveal any character that can be truly called philosophical in the Western meaning of the word. He takes refuge under the names of Plato and Kant and says they would not be able to understand the Purva Mimamsa if they read the sutras of Jaimini. One of the reasons for this is that many writers on this darsana have glossed over the first problems that should have been clarified before proceeding to subtler details. Both punditry in India and academic scholarship in the West have not succeeded in satisfactorily clarifying the Purva Mimamsa.


The first aphorism of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras reads: athato dharmajijnasa or "Now, therefore, an inquiry into dharma ".
The term dharma is usually questionably translated "duty". We never know whether obligatory and social duties are meant, or duties of a different nature. The second sutra very correctly answers this question by defining dharma in the most precise manner. We read:
codanalakshano artho dharmah.
The translation of this is usually most unconvincing in respect of what Jaimini presents in his Mimamsa. Before coming to our own translation we will first try to clarify the basic terms of this sutra.

In the various translations in English, Indian or other languages, the enigma seems to deepen rather than get resolved. It is too easily stated by most translators that the book treats merely of Vedic ritualism and is directly concerned with brute action or karma. They describe this darsana as belonging to karma-kanda, the section treating of action in the context of Vedic ritualism. Jaimini in the next twenty-nine sutras, following his definition of dharma, does not treat of anything even remotely connected with the action, materials and their arrangement, as is proper to Vedic ritualism. Instead he is concerned with profound and subtle aspects of semiotic, semantic and syntactic processes intimately connected with linguistic theory. Why this is so has not been so far satisfactorily explained. To our knowledge it remains a mystery.

The tendency is to take for granted the prevailing popular fashion of all too easily dividing Vedic philosophy into two broad divisions of wisdom (jnana) and works (karma). It is just possible to justify such a standpoint by supposing the term dharma to mean action or works. Yet in the Purva Mimamsa Sutras such a simple interpretation is not suggested. Instead, Jaimini goes into difficult linguistic problems and by his own definition the term dharma refers to something having "the mark of inquiry" or codanalakshana. The term codana comes from the root cud, which, according to Monier-Williams, means, "to impel, incite, animate, to request, petition, ask, question, inquire after." (24)


Such a term is evidently meant to have an object of interest (artha). This object is dharma, according to Jaimini. Such an interpretation is compatible with the overall name of mimamsa, derived from man, "to think, inquire criticize." (25) In the same way jijnasa means "desire to understand". This word is used in the first sutra of the Brahma Sutras by Badarayana, who is supposed to be the teacher of Jaimini. The reverse of this can also be true, as is seen from the fact that both occasionally quote each other as an authority to support their own views. Mimamsa therefore means, like jijnasa, "a desire to critically delve into a problem".


If we take a book on physics and find in it no actual experiments but only theories, should we for this reason call it theoretical rather than experimental? Such a question seems pertinent in respect of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras, where the desire to know and inquire is of paramount importance rather than brute ritualistic action as such. The contents moreover do not support any claim that Jaimini treats only of the performance of ritualistic acts. A critique of action is not the same, by any stretch of the imagination, as mere brute action. The former activity is intellectual and should not be mixed up with physical activity. Common sense demands such a distinction. If this distinction was not important then it would be correct to say that a man lifting a book for purposes of reference or study is only a manual labourer because of his action. Such an error is absurd and non-excusable. This mistake of mixing action with intellectual criticism has unfortunately cast its shadow on the whole of the later literature on both the Purva and Uttara Mimamsas.


The vagueness in respect of the Jaimini Darsana is so thick that it becomes a hardly task for a single writer to undertake to solve with any degree of impunity. It is therefore with some reservations and hesitation that we enter here into a study of the Purva Mimamsa.



Frustrated in an attempt to find at least some leading indications concerning the scope and purpose of the Purva Mimamsa as a system and method of philosophy, it is good to read the definition given by Monier-Williams:

"... the Purva Mimamsa forms one of the six systems of philosophy and is attributed to Jaimini; it is really an interpretation of the text of the Veda, and is generally called the Mimamsa, the term Vedanta being applied to the Uttara Mimamsa; though scarcely a system of philosophy, yet in the course of its critical explanation of the Vedic text, the Purva-Mimamsa discusses various philosophical questions, one of its speculations being the doctrine of the eternity of sound or of an eternal sound underlying all temporary sound and by some identified with Brahma." (26)


The last part of the above quotation gives us the clue to what we intend to say ourselves. Sabda (sound-word) is a central reality in Jaimini´s philosophy as clearly evidenced by the first place he gives it in his systematic treatment of fundamental topics. The beginning, middle, and end of a treatise are the most important. This is a law according to Jaimini's own rules and the general rules of rhetoric. It is also pointed out in the Bhagavad Gita (X.32) that these are the places to look when one wants to determine the main subject-matter of a text.

The whole of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras is concerned with Vedic exegetics based on rhetoric, logic, dialectic, and semantics. These have also been subjects of interest to the ancient Greek philosophers. But in terms of pure cultural interest and value, decadent modernism has neglected such seemingly non-utilitarian branches of inquiry and reasoning. Aristotle knew about logical forms, but later logicians like Baine and J.S.Mill took little interest in this.


It is only in recent years that logical form has gained some importance amongst positivists, empiricists and mathematical logicians like Russell. The full structure of thought is only now beginning to be recognized once again. 
Dialectics, the two-sided method used by the ancients, is now a term generally used disparagingly and hardly ever correctly employed. Any subtle or deep discussion whose purpose is not factually evident is usually looked down upon as mere dialectics. In India, Yoga, as a variety of dialectics, is used in the methodology of the Bhagavad Gita. This we have pointed out in our own commentary on the Gita.

In respect of the appraisal of the Purva Mimamsa, the use of dialectics is one of its key features. The true character of the Purva Mimamsa would be evident if viewed from the point of view of logical or modern mathematical structuralism. In this way we shall see how even this Vedic discipline could belong to an integrated Science of the Absolute. The Indian mind has throughout history at least tacitly treated both Mimamsa philosophies as having a complementarity between them implying a doubled-sided structuralism in their approach to ultimate truth. This is true whether viewed under the perspective of sabda (sound-word), as the absolute implicit in the Vedas or more explicitly as more directly referring to the Absolute (brahman) found in the Upanishads. Whether considered as a word-sound or as the Absolute, the difference for the person interested in unitive and integrated thinking is negligible. In such a perspective we have to presuppose the subtle reciprocity persisting at the core of the two disciplines The fact that the Mimamsas are a "twin school," of philosophy is recognized by very few people. Max Muller seems to understand this when he says:


"Some Indian philosophers go so far as not only to call both systems, that of Jaimini and Badarayana, by the same name "Mimamsa", but to look upon them as forming one whole. They actually take the words in the first Sutra of the Vedanta philosophy "Now then a desire to know Brahman," as pointing back to Jaimini's Sutras and as thereby implying that the Purva Mimamsa should be studied first, and should be followed by a study of the Uttara-Mimamsa." (27)


Prof. O. Lacombe also brings out the same possibility of a close and original interdependence between the two schools. Likewise, Prof. M. Hiriyanna makes a passing reference to the same. Research in this direction would be full of promise in revealing the true character of both Mimamsas when treated together or independently.



Prof. M. Eliade, lately Professor of the University of Bucharest, once boldly generalized and said that the history of religion consisted always of dialectical revaluations of something previously existing. Applying this view to the context of the revaluation of Vedism, it is not difficult to concede that the Mimamsas represent two different ways of dialectical revaluation. In this way the notion of the Absolute, necessarily implicit in however a nascent or crude form in any spiritual expression, is subject to the revision, restatement and revaluation of its implications. Religions and spirituality in general are natural urges and according to Indian tradition they are planted in the heart of man by Prajapati. This is suggested in the Bhagavad Gita (III,10), where this principle is referred to in terms of sacrifice or yajna.


Crude Vedism, in its beginnings, had sacrifices involving the killing of anima ls and other impure acts like Soma drinking bouts by the then bacchanalian Brahmins. This is easily verifiable from the ancient Vedic texts themselves. These well-fed and happy-go-lucky fellows of the age of "Aryan enlightenment" naturally, began to call themselves the chosen children of immortality. Discovering within themselves some vital human urge, they even figuratively imagined a great bull tied to a stick, fretting and fuming, with roaring sounds through which the brutish urges within its full-blooded and well-nourished body found outlet for absolute self-expression. The bull as a symbol has figured in many pre-historic representations of spirituality. It was definitely known to primitive man as evidenced by the pre-Vedic Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa excavations.


This primitive picture of the spiritual situation representing Vedic India is fully recognized by Jaimini. He probably used it himself as the most natural structural starting point for all his later subtle speculations. He faces squarely the objections against the Vedic way and openly and dynamically revalues them on lines more philosophical in order to remedy their relativistic shortcomings. In the Purva Mimamsa Sutras we find nine objections raised regarding the use of mantras (formulas uttered at rituals).


We read in Chapter 1, Section 2, Sutras 31-39 the following objections:

"31. Because of scriptural directions in connection with those (mantras). (Mantras) cannot be meant to be significant of any meaning.
32. Also because the order of sentences (in the mantras) is irrevocably fixed.
33. Because there are directions addressed to one who already knows.
34. Because of the mention of such thing as do not exist.
35. Because of their being addressed to insensate things.
36. Because of contradictions in the signification.
37. Because there is no mention (of the meaning) as there is of the verbal text.
38. Because it is unintelligible.
39. Because of the mention of transient things, the mantras cannot be regarded as conveying any meaning".


In the next nine sutras Jaimini answers all these objections. Sutras 40 to 43 are an answer to Sutra 31. We read:

"40. But there is no difference in the signification of sentences (of the Veda and those in ordinary parlance).
41. The repetition is for purpose of qualification.
42. There is an exclusion.
43. Or it may be an arthavada." (29)

The next three sutras are answers to sutras 32 to 34:
"44. The assumption would not be incompatible
45. As regards the directions, no objection can be taken on the basis of reproach attaching to the signification; because it serves the purpose of adding to this qualification.
46. Being significant, the mantra is regarded as an arthavada." (30)


Apparently the answer to Sutra 35 has been omitted by the translator, so we shall once again depend on. Theos Bernard who also treats of these nine objections and replies.
He writes: 
"Jaimini says this is to extol the sacrifice and induce the adherent to practice it." (31)

Returning to the sutras once again, those numbered 47 to 50 by the translator are answers to Sutras 36 to 30. We read: 

"47. In as much as the expression is figurative there is no contradiction.
48. That the studying (of the mantras) is not mentioned (in the Vedic texts laying down Vedic study) is due to the fact that it (the knowledge of the meanings of mantras) has no connection (with the actual performance of sacrifices).
49. Moreover, there is ignorance (of the meaning) which is there all the same.
60. And the mention of transient things (in Vedic mantras) has already been explained." (32)


Jaimini concludes this section on the importance and meaning of mantras with this interesting semantical consideration:

"51. The mention of mantras by indicative names also (proves that the mantras are significant) because such is the signification of those names." (33)
Crude Vedism which properly belongs to the karma-kanda (section dealing with brute action) is vitiated by the hurting and killing of animals. This should not be confused with the Purva Mimamsa of Jaimini. In the light of the Absolute in the context of sabda, he revalues dialectically this crude and non-spiritual practice by laying down the dictum, "A man without right conduct is not sanctified by the Vedas."


He further distinguishes between brute Vedism and his own revalued form when he speaks about sauca or cleanliness and ahimsa (non-killing) being part of Vedism. These are two different forms of spirituality to be kept strictly apart, although orthodoxy will occasionally borrow from Jaimini to add on to their own Vedism. This only favours a promiscuous mixing of an absolutist Vedic way with a hedonistic and relativistic Vedic way. Such confusions favours the exploitation in many ways of the innocent and gullible masses of India. David Hume would have called such exploiters, as he did school men, "bandits lying in wait for wary travelers in the forest". The picture is much the same whether in Europe, America or India. Charlatans always thrive on innocent and easy believers. In a certain sense such innocents deserve to be exploited.


Ignorance must go down and wisdom prevail as surely as a heavy object must tend to sink or fall. It is true that this is a social problem which should not directly concern the pure philosopher. But when he sees that even in the Brahma Sutras (III.1.25) Sankara and Badarayana condone the sacrificing of animals in Vedic ritualism, nor only calling it "holy" but go further and approve in I.3.38 the mutilation or torture of innocent sudras (the fourth caste, or workers), quoting directly from Manu to support such practice we cannot but remark that such references deserve to be expunged as early as possible to avoid discrediting spiritual literature itself. Such an attitude would seem to applaud a type of philosopher lacking in warmth and fellow feeling which are traits so basic to spiritual life. Fortunately on this question of caste we find in contrast to the exclusive attitude of the Brahma Sutras a very interesting remark by Jaimini in (I.2.3l):

"On account of the failing of the woman (there can be no certainty of caste); specially as the son is often found to belong to the father" (34)

The phenotype called man when we speak of a brahmin or sudra is seen from their structurally conflicting positions to be quite another matter in a scientific sense from an actual member of a caste. Even Sankara disapproves of bahyabrahmanatva (objective brahminhood). There is a strange error here supporting caste in India because of the two-sided interference between inner and outer standards that the popular mind cannot keep from getting mixed up. Narayana Guru has clarified the way in which jati (kind, genus or caste) is to be understood in his composition called "Jati Mimamsa".


We have alluded to the above in passing so as to come to another more important aspect of the Purva Mimamsa. This is the charge of atheism leveled against Jaimini by many of his opponents. Kumarila Bhatta, a follower of Jaimini is said to have come forward later on the make amends for this shortcoming in his own presentation of the Purva Mimamsa. On the other hand, Prabhakara, another disciple, openly stated the Purva Mimamsa was godless. Max Muller seems to apologize for both of them at once when he says that the intention of the Purva Mimamsa was just to relieve God of being responsible for the evil in the world, and Jaimini never denied the existence of God.


Although the Purva Mimamsa belongs to a Vedic background having a thickly populated pantheon of gods and lesser divinities, Jaimini at one stroke manages to abolish them all including Indra, the leader. Jaimini does not feel the need to include gods in his system and takes the position similar to the Bible when it says: "The Word was God". What this means is that Jaimini does not need God because he does not want to have two things representing the same high value. Godlessness is therefore a charge with no force when applied to a highly scientific philosophy like the Purva Mimamsa. Vedism in the absolutist context is again evident when Jaimini says, "A Brahmin desirous of heaven should offer sacrifices". This implies that those who desire real Emancipation, need not follow the lead of the Brahmin meant here.


Jaimini understands that obligations of a relativistic context apply to the typical hedonist brahmin of ordinary Vedism. This statement of Jaimini's does not compromise his own absolutism because in the light of the structure of the Absolute word-sound, sabda, the usual brahmin desirous of heaven is replaced by an absolutist aspirant who wishes only to attain the ultimate and unseen absolute value called apurva. This is how we understand the difference between crude hedonistic Vedism and the dialectically revalued Vedism of Jaimini. The primitive picture of Vedism revalued in the light of the Absolute is accomplished in a fully structural manner as is seen by Jaimini's use of the Catvari Sringa.


Because of the importance of this quotation from the Mimamsa Sutra (XXX), we refer to it for a second time:

"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 chandas (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."

The structure and Vedic values have to be thought of together bilaterally if Jaimini is to be understood.



In order to reveal the scope and method of the Purva Mimamsa we have first to think of the primitive meaning of the roaring of the Vedic bull referred to above. We have to recognize in the situation common structural and semantic factors, though only in a crude form. Knowledge of this will give us the key to the strange language and method used by the Purva Mimamsa. The other extreme limiting situation is the pure word-sound (sabda), as understood in its own structural implications. It contains the same essential elements as the roaring Vedic bull.


The technique of the Purva Mimamsa is to imagine a number of anterior sceptics, used as a literary device, through whom the author finds it easy to expound his more finalized teachings in a graded fashion. One is allowed to have as many anterior sceptics as one wishes. This is to enable some of the aspects of a problem to be cleared away before a fuller and subtler discussion is undertaken. This is why we find in both the Purva and Uttara Mimamsa certain arguments appearing to be puerile and commonplace and hardly necessary.


Thus the Purva Mimamsa, through a series of dialectical revaluations of anterior positions in terms of posterior doctrine, is able to establish its own clear conclusions. Each time the revaluation takes place at a higher point in a vertical logical parameter. The technical terms of the Purva Mimamsa depend upon the possibility of several value levels found in Vedic spirituality. The challenge of the Purva Mimamsa is to reduce everything into unitive terms, leaving the choice of higher or lower values entirely to the spiritual aspirant.


The word apurva can be placed at any point on a sliding scale of values whether hedonistic, Vedic or absolutist and devoid of all passion and emotional coloration. Jaimini is not directly interested in the personal desires of the aspirant. Primarily he wants to present Vedism in a revised and critical light, making it conducive to all aspirants seeking the world of ultimate absolute values. For reasons of clarity and definiteness he prefers to remain as near as possible to the primitive Vedic structural model of values. This must be the reason why he does not touch upon the wisdom texts of the later Upanishads. It is sufficient for his purposes to include only the Brahmanas (intermediary literature arising from the Vedas) where certain nascent forms of speculation are offered for study.


Besides the primitive Vedism of the roaring bull, an intermediary platform for his revaluation in order to attain the upper limit of absolutism. The three Vedas offer him this platform. They belong to the necessary world where natural laws have to be respected. There are certain obligatory sequences in the order of relativistic Vedic practices. One does not strike a match to light a fire if the fire is already burning. Such a consideration is already binding on the situation. To do otherwise would be absurd. Even the wisest man has to obey the laws or rules for the correct performance of rituals indicated in the Vedas. In this matter one is to obey and not ask questions. This is how vidhi or obligation comes in.


In the higher platform of Vedic values found in the Brahmanas one is permitted to ask any question relevant to the subject under discussion. This is the domain belonging properly to Vedic exegetics or arthavada. Both vidhi and arthavada are important and belong to the total situation of Vedism understood as a whole. The first consideration is the desire for a result. If there is no desire for a result there is no purpose in the ritual. Thus we find mentioned, as the first item under vidhi, the technical term utpattividhi (the circumstance of origination). Without the desire for a result the ritual cannot arise at all. The last of the series of technical terms refers to the man who performs the sacred ritual. This is called adhikaravidhi and means the necessary rule of personal fitness. A drunken and unclean man cannot be considered fit for a sacrifice. Between those desiring the fruits of ritualistic action and the person fit to perform the ritual, Jaimini enumerates the conditions necessary for fulfilment. Even here some sort of inner structural order is found.


There are also negative obligations or prohibitions called nishedha. Here again a logical connection between the plus and minus sides of the situation is fully recognized and respected. The value of the Purva Mimamsa depends on such details of correctness and this feature is what justifies its claim to be a philosophy or even an exactly conceived science of spirituality.


The other technical terms we wish to explain are gauna and apurva. First we deal with gauna. This term is often explained as referring to a matter of secondary importance, whether to a thing or a simple visible action. Ritualism consists of both in the eyes of the ordinary man who is usually incapable of thinking in more subtle ways.


Relativistic values attach naturally to lower desires of the visible world. One eats or drinks the offerings after a sacrifice. Such are the visible fruits of ritual. They stand in need of no arthavada which is their contingent conceptual counterpart.


While treating of apurva it is also necessary to bring in another technical term of importance called adrishta. What is non-visible is adrishta. Whether what is non-visible is in heaven or elsewhere. Vedic ritual must have some mental, individual or social reaction. To whatever order the results might pertain they come under the unseen principle of adrishta.


The other term, apurva, refers to fruition of action where the vertical time axis and not horizontal visibility is the correlative principle. Apurva literally means, "never before". while adrishta, in the context of Purva Mimamsa can mean, "never seen". The arrow of apurva points forwards towards the world of ultimate values such as salvation. The brahmin desiring heaven may perform ritual proper to such a desire without knowledge of the full implications of his own symbolic act. When the symbolic act is fully understood by the brahmin he will be promoted to higher and more ultimate levels of "never before".


Two other terms of technical importance are mantras and namadheya. The first belongs to the context of simple Vedism outlined above. It contains necessary and binding directives. When understood in the freer context of the Brahmanas it applies to names that require to be respected as much as the things to which they refer. One should not confuse one thing with another through wrong naming. Nomenclature is what namadheya means. Conceptual and nominalistic considerations belonging to the freer and more open world of Vedic texts like the Brahmans allow alternative interpretations whenever the condition arises. One should not mix up different schools of sacrifice with their correct practices, nor think metaphoric references are meant to be actual ones. One should call a spade a spade if the understanding of ultimate values for purposes of salvation is to result.


The Vedas are supposed to have come in a perennial form and their message to be eternal. For this reason they are called apaurusheya (not originating in any specific human being). This does not mean however that Jaimini calls the Vedas, "revealed by God" in the way the Bible and Quran do. The extra-human origin referred to rather belongs to a non-prophetic context of religion. Just as a cock crowing might be said to crow naturally without purposely willing it, likewise Jaimini wants to underline only the perennial quality of Vedic wisdom. When he states that the Vedas are of ultra or infra-human origin he does not mean they come from God in any manner whatsoever. This is not possible for Jaimini, who is fully scientific and does not mean God at all, even as an ideological figure. Ultimate apurva and God can coincide in the mind of the critical Mimamsa philosopher, but even this choice is left completely open.


It is often taken for granted that the Purva Mimamsa adopts the same categories as the first four darsanas (viz. Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Samkhya and Yoga). On the other hand it anticipates the Vedanta by postulating an ultimate apurva instead of an ultimate Absolute (brahman). The Purva Mimamsa acts as a kind of two-sided coupling-link between later Mimamsa and the structuralism and dynamism of the previous schools. To understand the Purva Mimamsa of Jaimini is therefore a necessary integrating factor for understanding in a unitive manner the complete philosophy of the six darsanas. Neither of the twin schools should be admitted as valid on account of favour or prejudice. Certain methodological, epistemological and structural features are common to all the darsanas and the same vertical correlating parameter runs through every one of them.


If we find the same pramanas "instrument of knowledge) in all six darsanas it is only to be expected. The Purva Mimamsa continues the tradition started by these earlier schools of philosophy. They all owe their allegiance to the common fund of wisdom found in the Vedas and Upanishads.


It is the structural protolinguism of the Vedas that is important even if it is sometimes considered hedonistic, crude and impure. The Vedanta on the other hand excels in subtle argument but also employs to great advantage protolinguism side by side with metalinguism. A double-sided structuralism linking physics with metaphysics underlies the whole series of Indian philosophical systems. The Purva Mimamsa adopts the same double-sided structural and logical form by reducing it to reciprocal and simplified proportions critically clipping off all that is extraneous.


We find works such as Manameyodaya, a work on logic of the school of Kumarila Bhatta. This is a basic text for Purva Mimamsa. The normative measuring rod is mana and meya is its counterpart to be measured. Between these counterparts, when tallied, certitude is supposed to come to the critical Mimamsa philosopher. Both Kumarila Bhatta and Prabhakara devote much space to the analysis of language. Like modern linguistic experts they also use syntactics, pragmatics and semiotics. Sankara also shows how he is an expert in manipulating some of the subtlest features of linguistic structure. He is able to do this to his own advantage in his polemics against those holding opposite views.


We shall now examine the implied structuralism of the concept sabda as presented in the Purva Mimamsa Sutras. Jaimini deals with this subject in the first chapter of his treatise. After this we shall give a striking example from the Brahma Sutras, clearly bringing out the mutual indebtedness of the two schools of Mimamsa.



The Logos is the eternal Word, representing a pure act of the mind. The notion of the nous supports it from the perceptual side. As a continuator of the Vaiseshika tradition, the Purva Mimamsa fits more naturally into the concept of sabda or word-sound. It is a Verb of verbs, and represents some sort of activity in a virtual sense. Sabda is the essence of word meaning and like sphota of the Panini Darsana, belongs to the eternality of the Absolute. While Jaimini accepts sphota the Brahma Sutras (I.3.28) reject it.


The living word and the dead letter are vertical and horizontal aspects of one and the same absolute reality. The purport of the Vedas, treated as a whole, comes under the same notion of the eternal. When purified of all horizontal meaning or value, the pure word-sound emerges as a tangible reality. To understand the pure notion of the Vedic word-sound having absolute wisdom for its content, one has to recognize all its structural implications, at least in the abstract. This is because the pure word-sound content stands out in its transparent glory as a true concrete and universal object. In this sense Jaimini is a realist. This does not detract from his scientific attitude, but rather heightens it. The dynamic analysis of such a word-sound content is of prime importance to him.


Let us now focus our attention on the sutras dealing with sabda in order to see evidence, however slight, of a definite geometrical structuralism. We are able to discern such a structure in its first outlines. Even if the reader is not convinced about these outlines, indirect confirmation can be found in the quotations from the Brahma Sutras shortly to follow. In these sutras once again structuralism is more in evidence and in bolder outlines.


Regarding the Purva Mimamsa Sutras (I.1.6-23), the purvapakshin or anterior sceptic questioner is seen used by Jaimini for his initial purpose of revealing the eternal word-sound in all its possible implications. The questioner has his say in sutras 6 to 11.


Jaimini's siddhanta or final answer is found in Sutras 12 to 17. Further clarifications independent of the purvapakshin's arguments are found in Sutras 18 to 23. We now quote the questioner´s six objections and Jaimini's answers with our brief comment on each pair:

"6. Some people hold that the word is caused (non-eternal), because we find it is perceptible only after an effort."
Jaimini's answer is:
"12. In both cases the (momentary) perception (of word-sounds) is equal."


The first question raises the objection that the utterance of words require physical effort and cannot be eternal. As we can see, Jaimini's answer is that when this is completely understood horizontally and vertically the same word-sound results. There is no need to think only of horizontal effort. The sceptic-questioner says:

"7. "Because it does not persist."

Jaimini answers:

"13. It is of that (word) which already exists that there is non-perception at other points of time (before and after the utterance); and this is due to the fact (at such other points of time) there is no operation (of the manifestive agency) with regard to the object (word-sound)."

Here the objection raised is that the uttered sound does not make a lasting impression. Jaimini agrees that the horizontal sound does not exist but also says that semiotic processes extend vertically with reference to a time axis.
The next objection is:

"8. Because of the use of the word produces (utters) (with reference to words)."


Jaimini answers:

"14. (As for the use of the word 'produces') that refers to the utterance (of the sound)."

The objection raised here is that the produced character of sound is a brute action and therefore not eternal. Jaimini's answer consists in pointing out how the actual sound produced is only the objective counterpart of a virtual and qualitative semiotic process taking place in consciousness.


The next objection is:

"9. Because the word is found (to be pronounced) by (many persons) and in (many places) simultaneously."

Jaimini answers:

"15. The simultaneity (of perception by many persons) is as the case of the sun."

The fourth objection says that with many people horizontally distributed and with the simultaneity of time quantitatively changed, the word-sound content by increase or decrease in volume proves its non-eternity. Jaimini answers that the simultaneous horizontal distribution is negligible when the vertical relation between the word-sound compared to the sun is taken into account. The sun schematically viewed as a universal concrete comprises all its plurality of images or reflections in water, etc. Here the structural implications are clearly evident.


The fifth objection is:

"10. Also because of their having original and modified forms."

Jaimini's reply is:

"16. It (i.e. the change produced by the conjunction of letters) is a different letter; it is not a modification (of the original word)."


Here the objection states that when letters combine they basically change the word-sound content. In answer to this Jaimini says the meaning always remains an integrated whole, independent of the actual letters. There is nothing like a half-word.

The final objection raised by the sceptic-questioner is:

"11. Also because a multiplicity of persons uttering the word brings about an increased magnitude (in the word sound)."

Jaimini replies:

"17. The great increase of magnitude belongs (or is inference) to the tone. (not to the word itself)."

This final objection that there is increase of word-sound when the number of persons utter it at the same time is answered by Jaimini by referring to the qualitative aspect of the word-sound and not the quantitative. Quality is vertical while quantity is horizontal.

 After scrutinizing the above questions and answers it is not wrong to say that at least two structural correlates are implied in each of the question-answers treated together. Structuralism is recognized in both the counterparts at once as the physical and metaphysical. The methodology of Bergson will be helpful here and should be kept in mind.

 We now pass on to Sutras 18 to 23. Here Jaimini goes into deeper and more general problems about the eternality of the word-sound. In this case no sceptical questioner is needed, because Jaimini relies on the a priori and axiomatic methods of reasoning. In other words, he uses sabda-pramana to prove his contentions.


The first Sutra reads:

"18. On the other hand (word) must be regarded as eternal; specially because the utterance is for an altogether different purpose."

Here Jaimini points out that the eternality of the word-sound is merely asserted, because the wordy purpose of it is different from its unwordy purpose.

"19. Because in the case of all (words) there is simultaneity or unanimity (Of recognition)."

What Jaimini means here is that all possible words can be merged differencelessly into the eternal context of the word-sound. The possibility of a full verticalization and normalization of the word-sound is implied.

"20. Also on account of the absence of number."

The non-discreteness of the word-sound is here brought out. Just as all seconds, minutes, etc. merge into pure time as a process of becoming, so the pure word-sound also has no divisions in its unbroken continuity.

"21. Because of the absence of cause."

Jaimini now refers to the absence of cause for the word-sound. This is like the eternal unmoved mover of Aristotle and the causeless cause in the Vivekachudamani of Sankara. Both presuppose an absolute reality, and likewise the uncaused word-sound is the absolute and eternal word-sound, or the Verb of verbs.

"22. Also because what is perceptible (by the ear) is not what is spoken of (in the Vedic declaration "the air becomes the word")"

Here a distinction is made between the spoken word in ordinary life and the word-sound in the context of the Vedas, which has a different intention and purpose. The former is the horizontal datum given to the senses, while the latter is vertical in character. Jaimini relies solely on the a priori method here,.


"23. Also because we meet with texts indicative (of eternity) of words."

In the final Sutra, Jaimini refers to the authority of the Vedas for the eternality of the word-sound. The a priori method of reasoning here meets its limit, because Jaimini relies solely on the authority of the Vedas.

This scrutiny of Jaimini further reveals the fundamental structural features in his philosophy. It is a fact that the Vedas are seen to assert the eternality of the word-sound. As a fact is not questionable on final analysis, though the argument refers to the negative a priori of existential facts, still it could be axiomatically valid as when we say, "This is this". An existential self-evident truth or fact has its counterpart on the vertical plus side in the notion of apurva or unseen fruit of all actions resulting from all pure acts.



We have selected two important sutras from the Brahma Sutras (III.3.43 & 55) to be quoted so as to reveal the reciprocal affinities linking the two Mimamsas. Jaimini and Badarayana complement each other and the case of the pure Absolute is scientifically established from the sides of physics (i.e. the perceptual) and metaphysics (i.e. the conceptual). Together they adopt one single frame of reference. Protolinguistics meets metalinguistics, as it were, from two a priori or axiomatic poles of the same knowledge-situation. The first is of earth earthy, as with the prime matter of Aristotle, while the second comes from the world of the word-sound where all Vedic gods fuse into one absolute purushottama, or Paramount Person.


In spite of this polarity, it is possible to establish a perfect reciprocity between the two schools. This is exactly what the Brahma Sutras on occasion accomplish. The Dharma Jijnasa of Jaimini deals with the function of the Word of the words, This complements the Brahma Jijnasa of Badarayana. The first refers to an intelligible knowledge of pure function (dharma). The second refers to an intelligible knowledge of the Absolute (brahman). Together they lend certitude to each other, making for one double-sided discipline. As we can see from Sankara´s commentary on Sutra 55, there is an explicit structural extrapolation between different Vedic vidyas (disciplines). The student is advised to keep in mind all that we have so far explained in respect of dialectical revaluation and the dynamic aspect of the Kantian schematismus. As we have often pointed out, the globe is left untouched by the lines of latitude and longitude marked on it. Schematic analysis, therefore, should never be mixed up with the reality of the Absolute. This ultimate Reality results when the final philosophical paradox is resolved. We now quote from the Brahma Sutras (III-3-43,44 and 55). The extracts for the most part speak for themselves. We take Sutra 44 first, to clarify the schematic status given to "fire-altars":

"44. On account of the majority of indicatory marks (the fire-altars built of mind, etc. do not form elements of any act); for this (i.e. the indicatory mark) is stronger (than the general subject-matter); this also (has been explained in the Purva Mimamsa Sutras)."


Sankara comments on this verse:

"In the Agnirahasya of the Vajasaneyins in the Brahmana beginning 'for in the beginning indeed this was not existent.' we read with reference to mind (manas),

"It saw thirty-six thousand shining fire-altars, belonging to itself, made of mind, built of mind."

And further on the text makes similar statements about other fanciful fire-altars built of speech, built of breath, built of sight, built of hearing, built of work, built of fire. A doubt here arises whether these fire-altars built of mind and so on are connected with the act (i.e., the construction of the fire-altar made of bricks), and supplementary to it, or whether they are independent, constituting a mere vidya.


Against the prima facie view that those agnis (fire-altars) are connected with the sacrificial act under whose heading the text records them, the Sutra maintains their independence, 'on account of the majority of indicatory marks.' For we meet in that Brahmana with a number of indicatory marks confirming that those agnis constitute a mere vidya ; e.g. the following passages: 'What ever these beings conceive in their minds, that is a means for those fire-altars and 'All beings always pile up those fire-altars for him who thus knows, even when he sleeps,' and so on. And that indicatory marks (linga) are of greater force than the leading subject-matter (prakarana) has been explained in the Purva Mimamsa (III,3,14)" (36)

Sutra 44 establishes horizontal schematic equality of fire-altars. A vertico-horizontal correlation is accomplished in Sutra 43:

"43. As in the case of the offerings, (vayu and prana must be held apart). This has been explained (in the Purva Mimamsa-Sutras)."


Sankara comments on this sutra:

"The sutra compares the case under discussion to a parallel one from the karmakanda, by means of the clause, 'as in the case of the offerings.' With regard to the ishti (i.e. the sacrifice) comprising three sacrificial cakes, which is enjoined in the passage, Taittiriya Samhita II,3,6, 'A purodasa on eleven potsherds to Indra the ruler, to Indra the over-ruler, to Indra the self-ruler,' it might be supposed that the three cakes are to be offered together because they are offered to one and the same Indra, and because the concluding sentence says, "conveying to all (gods) he cuts off to preclude purposelessness. But as the attributes (viz. 'ruler' and so on) differ, and as scripture enjoins that the yaya and anuvakya mantras are to exchange places with regard to the different cakes, the divinity is at each time a different one according to the address, and from this it follows that the three offerings are also separate. Thus, in the case under discussion, vayu and prana, although fundamentally non-different, are to be held apart as objects of meditation, and we have therefore to do with two separate meditations. This is explained in the Sankarasha-kanda, 'The divinities are separate on account of their being cognized thus.

But while in the case of the three purodasas the difference of material and divinity involves a difference on the part of the oblations, we have in the case under discussion to do with one vidya only; for that the text enjoins one vidya only we conclude from the introductory and concluding statements. There is contained, however, in this one vidya a double meditative activity with regard to the bodily organs and the divinities, just as the agnihotra which is offered in the morning as well as in the evening requires a double activity. In this sense the Sutra says, 'as in the case of the offerings." (37)


We now come to Sutra 56 where the structural extrapolation between different Vedic vidyas is made evident:

"55. But the (meditations) connected with members (of sacrificial acts are) not (restricted) to (particular) sakhas, according to the Veda (to which they belong).


We meet the different sakhas of each Veda with injunctions of vidyas connected with certain members of sacrificial acts, such as the udgitha and the like. e;g.:
"Let man meditate on the syllable Om (as) the udgitha" (Chandogya Upanishad 1.1.1); "Let a man meditate on the fivefold Saman as the five worlds" (Chandogya Upanishad II.2.1); 'People say: 'Hymns, hymns!" the hymn is truly this earth' (Aitareya Aranyaka II.1.2.1); 'The piled up fire-altar truly is this world'  (Satapatha Brahmana X.5.4.1).
A doubt here arises whether the vidyas are enjoined with reference to the udgitha and so on, as belonging to a certain sakha only, or as belonging to all sakhas. The doubt is raised on the supposition that the udgitha and so on differ in the different sakhas because the accents, etc. differ." (38)


Sankara now introduces a sceptical questioner who maintains the vidyas are enjoined only with reference to the udgitha belonging to the particular sakha of the particular vidya. He supports his opinion by relying himself on vidhi or injunction. Sankara answers:

"... the direct statements of the text about the udgitha and so on enounce no specification. For to such general injunctions as 'Let a man meditate on the udgitha ' which say nothing about specifications, violence would be done if, on the ground of proximity we restricted them to something special belonging to its own sakha, and that would be objectionable because direct statement has greater weight than proximity. There is, on the other hand, no reason why the vidya should not be of general reference. We therefore conclude that, although the sakhas differ as to accents and the like, the vidyas mentioned refer to the udgitha and so on belonging to all sakhas, because the text speaks only of the udgitha and so on in general." (39)


The content of both Mimamsas taken as a whole consists essentially of a rhetorical, logical and semantic analysis from two dialectically reciprocal standpoints. The rice cake offerings mentioned in Sutra 43 are intended for three vertically serialized Indras.


This is an unmistakable indication of the reciprocal structuralism at the basis of both Mimamsas. In Sutra 55 interdisciplinary structuralism and extrapolation are revealed. The only legitimate position we can give the Purva Mimamsa of Jaimini in Narayana Guru's Darsana Mala is to place it between the Karma and Jnana Darsanas, because of the dialectical logical, semantic and structural reciprocity in the process of instrumentalist operation or function, in the context of the apurva standing for the Absolute as the Vedic Word.



Vedanta and Brahma Vidya (the Science of the Absolute) are the same. The Bhagavad Gita calls Brahma Vidya a yoga-sastra or a scientific text of dialectical union. Non-duality or Advaita characterizes this unitive outlook. All plurality is repugnant to it. Its source is not the Vedas but the Upanishads. Though the Upanishads originate in the Vedas they are capable of turning their back on them, because in essence they represent a bold, open and dynamic outlook on life.


It is normal to read in the Upanishads of a father asking his young son to conduct a simple experiment, like putting a bit of salt in water and after it dissolves to taste it, so that it would be experimentally shown how the salt passed from its local and fixed state to an all-pervasive one because every part of the water has the same salt taste. The result of this experiment is compared to the Absolute pervading all things.


Once the son has understood the results of this simple experiment, the father goes on to convey to him some of the most epoch-making teachings contained in the-words, tat tvam asi or "Thou art that." This simple dictum characterized and distinguished Vedanta because of its experimental reasoning based on direct experience.


This experiment culminating in tat tvam asi is fully scientific. This major dictum (mahavakya) in its different forms, gives to Vedanta a character, an individuality and a self-consistency as a darsana (complete vision. of the Absolute). The other major dicta are interspersed in various parts of the Upanishads. Although they are stated in different syntactical forms, referring to the first, second or third person, they all imply the same basic equation at the core of Vedantic teaching. Some of the other mahavakyas are aham brahmasmi, "I am the Absolute", and prajnanam brahma. "Consciousness is the Absolute". The boldness of such wholesale assertions and the dignity they bestow on humanity, implying a spiritual freedom irrespective of master or slave, man or woman, brahmin or sudra, young or old, etc., has led Max Muller make the following remark:

"With us unfortunately such questions can hardly be discussed in a calm philosophical spirit, because theology steps in and protests against them as irreligious and blasphemous, just as the Jews declared it blasphemy in Christ to teach that He was equal to God, nay that He and the Father were one. Tat tvam asi. If properly understood, these Vedanta teachings may, though under a strange form, bring us very near to the earliest Christian philosophy, and help us to understand it, as it was understood by the great thinkers of Alexandria." (40)


We need not refer to other admirers like Sir William Jones, Schopenhauer, Schlegel and moderns like Schrodinger and C.G. Jung. Having already written profusely on this subject, it is not necessary for us to go into all the characteristics of Vedanta in detail. (41) We are more directly concerned with Vedanta as a darsana of the six major darsanas of Vedic philosophy. It is, as we have said, a twin school agreeing in many respects with Jaimini's Purva Mimamsa.


Although the dates of Jaimini and Badarayana do not seem to tally and in spite of the fact that Jaimini is supposed to be the disciple of Badarayana, it should be pointed out that when it comes to exact details Indian thought is historically non-factual and timeless. The only places where details of this nature can be found are in purely traditional sources. Scholars like H.T. Colebrooke and M. Winternitz have attempted to give some precise dates and facts, but such efforts have only so far succeeded in scratching the surface. The major problems are still unresolved. Thus we see Badarayana identified with Veda Vyasa, the author of the Gita and the arranger of the Vedas. The Mahabharata is also supposed to have been written by him. Some say there is more than one Vyasa, and the mythical Krishna Dvaipayana, which means "Black Sleeper of the Island of Jambudvipa" or Berry Island (another name for India) is not without its claims. We reach backwards from history through pre-history to timeless myth. This should not be thought surprising as far as India is concerned.


For purposes of nomenclature we accept Vedanta as a philosophy taught by a man by the name of Badarayana. His Brahma Sutras exactly duplicate in many respects the Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini particularly in rhetoric and style. In spite of the fact that the Sutra period belongs to 200 to 600 CE. Badarayana has a much older date. He is supposedly the teacher of Jaimini, but here too the dates for both of them are not in complete accord. There is much confusion on this subject and we shall not attempt to resolve such problems, as at best we can only add our own theory on to an already long list. We shall merely treat both the Mimamsa philosophies as forming a "twin school".


Besides the mahavakyas, Vedanta recognizes three authoritative text books. One is a voluminous source consisting of more than 100 Upanishads. About a dozen of them are treated as major works. They are the following: Brihadaranyaka, Chandogya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Kaushitaki, Kena, Katha, Isa, Mundaka, Prasna, Mandukya, Svetasvatara and Maitri. The great body of Vedantic wisdom contains many cryptic statements in. a highly figurative form. Claiming to be derived from this vast fund of perennial and contemplative philosophy of the Absolute are two other recognized source books, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is sometimes degraded by orthodoxy to the status of a smriti or a traditional text, refusing to give it the status of sruti or heard wisdom teaching. The reason must be because the srutis are within the preserves of brahmin orthodoxy, while the smritis are texts open to all human beings regardless of sex or caste. It is high time that Vedantic wisdom was expunged of these closed features. This is a matter we have already written about in our commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. The Brahma Sutras seem to have been produced as an orthodox religious counterattack to the open, non-religious, scientific and casteless teaching that Jaimini's Purva Mimamsa may be said to represent.


What is strange is how the position has become reversed. In the prevailing popular opinion and even in that of almost every scholar, Jaimini has become the symbol of Vedic orthodoxy.


It is forgotten how he had no use for the Vedic gods to whom sacrifices were offered. He also considered the Vedas to be ultra-human. Orthodoxy and heterodoxy change sides many times as Indian thought passes through the narrow corridors of its long history. Referred to as the black (krishna) and the white (sukla) traditions or paths in the Bhagavad Gita (VIII.26), the orthodox ritualism of the Vedas has been substituted for the philosophical tendency of the Samkhyas. According to the Gita (XVI-1), three main strands of spirituality known as tapas (austerity), yajna (sacrifice) and dana (gifts), are seen to change sides like the strands of a rope.


Religion and Philosophy, like the black and white strands, are twisted together so firmly with other yogic disciplines that it is difficult to distinguish the different schools of thought. Brihaspati is supposed to be the author of some of the Vedas yet is sometimes considered heterodox. As with Thomas Aquinas and Dionysius the Areopagite in Europe, in India too there is room for pseudo-and real claimants for orthodoxy and heterodoxy. Dakshinamurthi (the guru-figure facing south) is also a rival guru of the gods, (devaguru). The blemish of creed and closed orthodoxy present in the Brahma Sutras under a section called apasudradhikarana (section directed against sudras) does not directly concern us here, where we are instead interested mainly in the philosophical teachings. A vital glow of justice however is not outside the scope of a true absolutist philosophy. The claims of the Brahma Sutras as an authoritative text for Vedanta cannot however be denied.



We have already said enough about how the Purva Mimamsa Sutras and the Brahma Sutras copy each other. Jijnasa, a term used by both of them, means "a desire to know", and no amount of contrary explanation can take away the descriptive and conceptual status that has to be conferred on both Mimamsas. Neither of them is interested in Vedic ritual as such.


A philosophy of physics cannot be less theoretical than a philosophy of metaphysics. As A.S. Eddington said, "it is the concept that matters". It is incorrect to think of Jaimini as interested only in karma (action) and Badarayana in jnana (knowledge). Thought and its representation are two different things. When a hand moving from A to B is understood from the inside, where the actual horizontal movement is not visualized, there will be no movement at all in terms of pure inner vertical motion. Likewise the Purva Mimamsa takes an inside view and does not regard action merely as horizontal motion. It is for this very reason that we quoted the example found in the Brahma Sutras. We wanted to show how a close overlapping of the method and structure of the two Mimamsas is accomplished.

It is almost impossible to treat the Mimamsas separately as two completely independent schools of thought. The Purva Mimamsa relies on the Vedas while the mahavakyas of the Upanishads give Vedanta its inspiration. Vedanta also completely relies on sabda-pramana (the validity of the word) disregarding other norms of thought such as mana and meya, found in the Purva Mimamsa. Both schools claim to arrive at the truth which saves man from suffering and makes him free. This is the aim of all six darsanas as we have already pointed out.


It is also a mistake to say the Purva Mimamsa believes in heavenly values as the ordinary orthodox brahmin does. The apurva of Jaimini does not include any relativistic or hedonistic values. What Jaimini does is to leave the door open for the aspirant to attain the Absolute through the discipline of pure acts understood as functions in Vedic sacrifices. Such functions are lifted to the status of an eternal and absolute value called the word-sound (sabda).


The movement of the Purva Mimamsa is from the existential to the subsistential, finally reaching to the world of pure unpredicable eternal values. On the other hand the axiomatic and a priori truth inherent in the mahavakyas is accepted in advance by Vedanta as the starting point. Aristotle's "Unmoved Mover" and Plato's "Highest Good" come very close to both the Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta. The position here seems to be inverted when we transfer the thought of classical Greece to the thought of Jaimini and Badarayana.


Jaimini does not need a god, as we have already pointed out. The pantheon of Vedic gods rises tier on tier in surpassing excellence, where one Indra supersedes another in the world of heavenly light, until the purusha (Person) of the Upanishads becomes a radiant Person with a golden beard found in the centre of the sun (Chandogya Upanishad I-IV-6), who has his counterpart equally radiant in glory in the cavity of the heart of man and in the pupil of the eye. Both counterparts are always to be treated as aspects of the purushottama or Paramount Person. Such are some of the points that will help us to see the common ground covered by the Mimamsas.


For the first time psychology and cosmology enter together into the scheme of speculation found in the Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta). The atman (Self) has a very prominent position here where ananda (value), atman (the Self) and brahman (the Absolute) are treated as fully interchangeable terms. They correspond to the three divisions of adhidaivika (what pertains to the gods), adhyatmika (what pertains to the Self) and adhibbautika (what pertains to the elementals). The Absolute is spoken of under the categories of sat (existence), cit (subsistence) and ananda (Value). These three inhere so closely together that a separation. of them even as categories is repugnant to the true spirit of Vedanta. The more philosophical schools owing their allegiance to the Samkhya and other rational disciplines number their categories. This division of discrete entities is not permissible to the strict unity of the spirit in the Self, as the Absolute. This is the unitive position taken by Vedanta and is found even in the dualistic approaches of Ramanuja and Madhva, who represent sub-varieties of Vedanta and speak of svarupananda (bliss in the form of the Self). This is where absolute values inhere and are capable of being reached in a descending or ascending scale. Unity is never violated in Vedanta because the Upanishads say that he who sees plurality goes from death to death. The categories of Vedanta are therefore not entities at all.


Although the mahavakyas (great dicta) properly belong to the Upanishads, Badarayana relies on very much them and rejects all other reasoning as inferior. He is thus able to make his case stronger when merely arguing against rational and other philosophical schools of thought. He is strongly opposed to the Buddhist and Jain philosophies and to Samkhya rationalism. If he had accepted a little more of the Samkhya methodology he would have been in a much better position when arguing with the Buddhists and Jains.


Furthermore, the complete structuralism of Jaimini is not favoured in the Brahma Sutras. This will become clearer when we compare it with the Bhagavad Gita.

Instead of trying to destroy other philosophies out of orthodox concern for self-preservation, it would have been better if the Brahma Sutras had followed the true spirit of Vedanta, welcoming all into its scope as is done in the Bhagavad Gita (XV-15):

"And I am seated in. the heart of all; from Me are memory and positive wisdom and its negative process: I am that which is to be known by all the Vedas; I am indeed the Vedanta-maker and the Veda-knower too." (43)

The weakest point of the Brahma Sutras is its ontology. In striking contrast to this is the Bhagavad Gita (XVII-26) where sat-bhava is given a basic position in a scheme of absolute Reality.
We read:

"This (term) sat (the Real) is used in the sense of existence and of goodness and likewise, 0 Partha (Arjuna), to all laudable actions, the expression sat is usually applied." (44)

As we have seen the Brahma Sutras depend more on a descending dialectical method, having no other cause then the "highest Lord" identified with the lower Absolute (apara-brahman) of the Upanishads. The highest Lord is adored by Sankara in his commentary under the name of Vasudeva, and more frequently referred to as paramatma (highest Self).


He treats both these terms as interchangeable.

The second Sutra of the Brahma Sutras refers to the beginning of the world and brings in the highest Lord. This presents a difficulty. Both the Brahma Sutras and Sankara, by adopting this methodology, are hard put to derive from it the reality of the manifest world with all its actualities. Somehow Sankara manages to resolve this by appealing to the Taittiriya Upanishad (III-1) where reference is made to the Absolute as being the source of the creation, preservation and dissolution of the world. Strictly speaking there are no such halting places in the eternal process of phenomenal becoming. They are rather images extracted from the context of mobile eternity, or as Plato referred to it in the Timaeus, "a moving image of eternity".


The Brahma Sutras do not tolerate any other factor interposed as cause between the highest Lord and his effects. Nonetheless we find Sankara introducing into his commentary such notions as karanasarira (causal body) and sutratma (serially conceived Self), where, from a lower structural level, the origin of the world is explained. He also introduces boldly his own critically revised notion of Maya in (II.1.37); though only to be absorbed and abolished by the fully absolute states of Brahman:

"Because, if that Brahman is acknowledged as the cause of the world, all attributes required in the cause (of the world) are seen to be present - Brahman being all-knowing, all-powerful, and possessing the great power of Maya, on that account, this our system, founded on the Upanishads, is not open to any objections." (45)


If Maya is admissible, other secondary notions constituting an intermediate hierarchy of concepts, linking the highest Lord with his manifestation should be equal right also be admitted.


The pradhana (prime potent power) of the Samkhyas can easily be given a similar position, though perhaps subordinate in such a hierarchical series. But any such suggestion along these lines was sure to be vehemently opposed by Sankara and Badarayana. There would be absolutely no violation of methodology or epistemology if Badarayana and Sankara adopted this course, but we do not find even a hint of this in the Brahma Sutras. Instead we find them wilfully excluding any such approach. By being open and generous this would mean including such schools of thought as the Charvakas, Buddhists, Jains, Samkhyans and others. It is most important for the Brahma Sutras to uphold at all costs the claims of the spirit against matter, and it must be for this reason that no other philosophy is approved.


In Vedanta, reality is reached by the descending method of eliminating what is not the Absolute. This is first posited as the starting point of all Vedantic speculation and is derived from the mahavakyas. The nature of the absolute Self is fixed by eliminating the non-Self.


This is a most important characteristic of Vedanta. As a corollary to this method it is easy to concede how the manifested world presents a paradox when the two conjugates of existence and value meet and cancel themselves into the indeterminism of Maya. Still, this principle is much favoured by Sankara in his Advaita (non-dualism) and Badarayana in his construction of the Brahma Sutras. Strictly speaking, this double-sidedness is not in keeping with its method of descending dialectics. Once again the principle of unpredicability (anirvacaniyakhyativada) gains prominence in Sankara's Vedanta and the Bhagavad Gita. This is another point of difference between greater Vedanta (inclusive of the Brahmavidya of the Gita) and the lesser or restricted Vedanta of the Brahma Sutras. Vedanta consists in establishing an Absolute whose complete definition is comprised within the scope of the technical term abadhita (unsublated), anadigata (never to be attained) and sajatiya-vijatiya-svagata-bheda-sunya (free from Self-contradiction and void of inner or outer difference). With the one and combined nimitta-upadana-karana (instrumental-cum-material cause), the Vedantic position is summed up.



The Bhagavad Gita (XIII-4) pays two compliments to the Brahma Sutras when it says it is a text full of "critical reasonings" (hetumad) and is "positively determined" (viniscitaih). The reason for these compliments is that the Gita itself wants to answer similarly basic problems such as that of the field (kshetra) and the knower of the field (kshetrajna) in a more fully philosophical spirit. It says first of all that Vedic literature is generally in the form of verses and songs and eludes precise analysis, whereas the Brahma Sutras abound in more precise speculation. The pace thus set is further elaborated by the Gita.


We know that the Brahma Sutras use the method of descending dialectics, having the most generalized and axiomatic notions of the Absolute for their starting point. From this hypostatic position it is impossible to have any really critical speculation. Descartes used methodic doubt as his starting point, with ontological self-consciousness placed at the bottom of the vertical axis and a teleological God at the top. Bergson covers the same range in a more scientific way from the side of ontology, without the need for any teleological God. The Brahma Sutras covers this ground in its own way and it is because of the intrinsic difficulty of the subject-matter that the Gita probably paid it the above compliments. In all likelihood it could pay it no more. There could even be an element of faint praise here. Whatever be the reason, it can not be denied that we are on very thin speculative ground in the Sutras.


The commentaries on the Brahma Sutras by Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva present to the careful student a source of irritation and frustration. When the commentaries of their own disciples are included it is no wonder that all attempts at putting systematic order into all this has so far failed.


Therefore a critical appraisal of the Brahma Sutras has to be undertaken with a certain degree of hesitation and caution. Without applying destructive criticism, which is always an easy way out, we hope to analyze into their main types the arguments used in the Brahma Sutras and in Sankara's commentary. The great length of his commentary precludes the possibility of entering into any exhaustive and detailed analysis. The main types of argument are as follows:

1. Impossibility or anupalabdhi. This relies on non-conclusive argument (anupapatti) so useful in the methods of Vedanta. More matter-of- fact schools of philosophy like the positive and logical Nyaya do not use this way of arguing. It is only speculative philosophy like the Vedanta dealing with general ideas which needs this argument so much. Ontological philosophy is better satisfied with probabilities and not with mere possibilities.

2. Postulation or arthapatti. A great amount of guessing and hypothetical construction is allowed when using this method of arguing. This means the philosopher is not on firm ground. When a priori and a posteriori methods meet here only a questionable certitude results, lacking in any apodictic finality.


3. The validity of the Vedic word or sabda-pramana. The Brahma Sutras and Sankara use this method frequently. They prefer to rely on the word, more than on the teachings of a particular man. When one asks why something should not be true, the answer invariably to be expected will be: "it is not stated in the Vedas". Sankara sometimes refers to an obscure Vedic source to meet an argument or present a point. (An example of this is found in I.3.33 where Sankara quotes from a little known work called the Shadvimsa Brahmana). By relying so much on sabda-pramana and going to out of the way sources in some obscure Purana or Brahmana, Sankara weakens his own arguments. His vagueness and ambiguity is evident in many places.

4. What is not seen, or na drishta. This is an appeal to common experience and has the same value as experiments in science. But on close scrutiny many of Sankara's examples are untenable from a strictly experimental point of view. In the Brahma Sutras, (II-1-26) Sankara says:

"the web of the spider is produced from its saliva which, owing to the spider's devouring small insects, acquires a certain degree of consistency".

He also remarks:

"the female crane conceives from hearing the sound of thunder"


"the lotus flower indeed derives from its indwelling intelligent principle the impulse of movement ... it rather wanders from pond to pond by means of its non-intelligent body".

In another section (II-2-24) he refutes the Buddhists, by claiming:

"the real existence of space is to be inferred from the quality of sound, since we observe that earth and other real things are the abodes of smell and the other qualities".

Finally, using the female crane as an example he says it "conceives without a male". (III-1-19)


In another section (11-1-29) Sankara says:

"In ordinary life too multiform creations: elephants, horses and the like are seen, to exist in gods, etc., and magicians without interfering with their ordinary being".


Everyone is assumed to be familiar with these examples and accept them without any argument. Modern philosophy and science can hardly be expected to see eye-to-eye with him on these questions.


Sometimes the Sutras insist on relying on actualities and at other times mathematical entities. In any case what is lost on one side is supposed to be gained on the other. Strangely enough, arguments based on inference (anumana) are rarely used, although we have just now referred to one such example. The reason for such little use made of inference is that the approach of the Brahma Sutras is wholesale and mainly a priori and Sankara does not find it easy to be positive, analytical or critically sceptic himself.

5. Perception or pratyaksha. This method, most important for an ontological philosophy, is only treated with lukewarm interest. It can be included, but the actual sensum as a datum given directly to the senses is treated not as an individual actuality of time and space, but rather as an epiphenomenal factor having its source in consciousness. In the Brahma Sutra (I-1-2) Sankara relies on perception for clinching an argument when he says:

"since we observe that (for the production of effects) special places, times, and causes have invariably to be employed".

6. Analogy or upamana. We find in the Brahma Sutras many of the analogies far-fetched and capable of being called superstitious.


In II-1-14 Sankara quotes from some text:

"If a man who is engaged in some sacrifice undertaken for some special wish sees in his dream a woman, he is to infer therefrom success in his work".

There is also reference I-2-7 and 14 to the salagram or holy ammonite found in the Himalayan riverbeds and resembling the discus or cakra of Vishnu. This salagram is regarded as holy and if one worships it one is supposed to enter into the heavenly world of Vishnu.


7. The sceptical questioner or purvapakshin. This is a device used by Sankara throughout his commentary on the Brahma Sutras. These imaginary sceptical questioners are sometimes multiplied one on top of another, and it is almost impossible in many cases to match the answers to the corresponding questions or to the philosophical school represented. At other times the question of a sceptic (purvapakshin) found in one chapter is again referred to and answered in a somewhat offhanded manner in a much later chapter. One hardly knows where one stands after all this. Some of the sceptical questioners even speak with the same voice as Sankara, suggesting leading lines of hair-splitting argumentation. This complicated type of method and argumentation are found all over the Brahma Sutras and no specific references are needed to point them out.


8. "If so, no" or "iti-cet-na". This device is often used to summarily dismiss a purvapakshin. Sometimes the argument of the questioner is sound and Sankara still resorts to this device merely to defeat his own postulated opponent. Perhaps in the domain of general ideas some of these defects are inevitable and one should not condemn them outright. After all, the same quality or degree of certitude expected from experimental science cannot be expected when a philosopher is obliged to be on fully speculative ground.


We are here in the domain of axiomatic and a priori thinking and the methodology pertaining to such thinking has hardly ever been developed except in the domain of philosophical speculation. We are therefore thankful for whatever we get in the way of enlightenment and certitude from the Brahma Sutras. While the text and commentary do not readily lend themselves to be treated as an integrated Science of the Absolute, the Bhagavad Gita (IX-2) takes up the challenge when it claims to be a:
"Royal Science, crowning secret, purificatory is this, superior, objectively verifiable, conforming to right living, very easy to live (and) subject to no decrease." (46)

Here in the Gita the experimental approach based on perception (pratyaksha) and right living (dharmyam) are together underlined as being the qualification of easy applicability in life. These are exactly the qualifications lacking in the Brahma Sutras, which, as a text claiming to represent the wisdom of the Upanishads, often leaves the reader in the dark because of its vague and hair-splitting way of reasoning.



It is a mistake to think that Vedanta as a whole is exclusively represented by the Brahma Sutras together with its commentaries and sub-commentaries. As we have said, all this taken together constitutes a veritable forest of words, and might have prompted Sankara to say in the Vivekacudamani (V.62) when he was in a less argumentative mood, that "the magic of words is a great forest conducive to mental confusion".

As one of the six Vedic darsanas, the Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta) has only a limited scope within a complete integrated Science of the Absolute. Badarayana compensates for the apparent "godlessness" of the Purva Mimamsa and this is why many theological references to Isvara (Lord) and the devas (gods) whether as godheads, deities, or demiurges are found in his work.


 Metaphysical and theological spirituality with a weak and passive ontology characterizes the Uttara Mimamsa, making it lopsided when compared to the totality and scope of the two Mimamsas treated in such a way that a normalized Vedanta results. Such is the position and role fulfilled by the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita. Each chapter is a revision of the Absolute having its own self-consistent methodology, epistemology and scale of absolutist values. This generous and sweeping study of the Absolute in all its aspects (intellectual, spiritual and mystical) boldly welcomes all creeds and religions anywhere in the world. Even the natural errors of popular religion are excused in the Gita (IX-23):


"Even those who, devoted to other gods, worship them with faith, they in fact worship Myself, 0 Son of Kunti (Arjuna), though not conforming to orthodox rules." (47)


In the context of imagistic worship the same liberality is declared in Chapter VII. 21:
"By whichever (particular) form such and such a devotee with faith wishes to worship, each to his own faith I confirm." (48)

The open character of the Gita is thus unquestionable. It is therefore not a darsana among darsanas but rather represents a point of view unitively including them all. The Gita, like the Darsana Mala, is a string of visions of the Absolute. There exist other works such as the Sarva Darsana Samgraha of Madhavacarya and the Sarva Darsana Siddhanta Sara Samgraha, questionably attributed to Sankara. In their own way these two works also undertake to present and integrate all possible darsanas and eliminate all elements of contradiction and conflict between them. In the light of a crowning Vedantic outlook both Sankara and Madhavacarya hope to accomplish this.


Not only has Vedanta little use for the ordinary method of ratiocination, but it also has a mistrust of closed Vedic ritualism based on love of the good life here and heavenly life hereafter. These two features are evident throughout the Gita. The whole of the second chapter is devoted to a dialectical revaluation of both the rationalism of the Samkhya and the practical and ritualistic implications of Yoga as understood in their primitive forms. Samkhya and Yoga as separate disciplines are treated as one by the Gita and dialectically unified under the same yogic discipline abolishing all duality. By the time we reach the fifth chapter the duality is completely abolished and both darsanas are treated unitively in unmistakable terms.


In V.4 and 5 we read:

"That rationalism (Samkhya) and self-discipline (Yoga) are distinct, only children say, not the well-informed (pandits); one well-established in any one of them obtains the result of both.

 That status attained by men of Samkhya (rationalist persuasion) is reached also by those of the Yoga (unitive-discipline-persuasion); Samkhya and Yoga as one, he who thus sees, he (alone) sees." (49)


We have noticed how the Brahma Sutras are not very enthusiastic about Yoga, nor about Samkhya. On the other hand the Gita respects both Kapila and Patanjali (This further distinguishes the open and dynamic Greater Vedanta, which is also Brahma Vidya or the Science of the Absolute, from its closed counterpart. The difference in attitude to caste is clearly shown between these two works. As we have shown Badarayana is closed on this subject whereas the Gita treated of it in an open and universal manner. We read in IX: 


"They too who resort to Me for refuge, 0 Partha (Arjuna), whoever they might be, (whether) women, workers (sudras) as well as farmer-merchants (vaisyas), (all) of sinful origin, (i.e. caught in necessity) they too attain to the supreme goal." (50)


The nasty marks of cruelty, racism and caste exclusiveness are all proper to a closed and static attitude and way of life. This does not in any way apply to the Vedanta of the Gita. The open and generous attitude of the Gita is the same as the one Narayana Guru wishes to continue with a properly re-ordered methodology, epistemology and a scale of values.


Values like God, the soul and what corresponds ontologically too the existent Prime Mover are all comprised with perfect symmetry and beauty within the scope of a garland of verses presented to us in the Darsana Mala. Vedanta is not only intellectual wisdom, but also a way of life. As a tree is known by its fruit, so Vedanta is known by its pattern of behaviour and the philosophical outlook of a perfected sannyasin (man of renunciation) who boldly takes his stand on the dictum, aham brahmasmi, "I am the Absolute".


As we have already devoted a number of articles on Vedanta we have no need to take more space than necessary to explain in broad outlines the fundamentals of the Vedantic attitude and teaching. Narayana Guru has composed five Sanskrit verses called Brahma Vidya Pancakam (Five Verses on the Science of the Absolute) where he sums up in his own way the main contents of Sankara's longer work of 580 verses, the Vivekacudamani. We now reproduce the Brahma Vidya Pancakam (our translation from the Sanskrit) as sufficient and fitting to sum up our position on the subject.




Even through the discrimination of the lasting from the transient
Attaining well unto detachment, the well-instructed one,
Duly adorned with the six initial conditions known,
Such as calmness, control and so on,
And keenly desirous of liberation here on earth;
He then greets with prostrations,
A knower of the Absolute superior,
Pleased and favourable by anterior attentions and service;
Thereafter should he ask of such a Guru:
"O Master, this 'I' here, what is it?
"Whence this world phenomenal?
"O teach me this, great one."


Thou art the Absolute, not senses, not mind
Neither intellect, consciousness, nor body;
Even life and ego have no reality, being but conditioned
By nescience, superimposed on the prime Self.
Everything phenomenal here, as object of perception, is gross
Outside of thine own Self, this manifested world is nought,
And Self-hood alone does shine thus
Mirage-like in variegated display.


What all things here, both moveable and immovable pervade
As the clay substance does the pot and jug,
Whose inward awareness even Self-hood here constitutes,
And whereunto resolved what still remains, instill with existence unborn,
And that which all else do follow
Know that to be the Real, through clear insight,
As that same which one adores for immortal bliss!


Nature having emanated, what thereafter, therein entry makes,
What sustains and gives life, both as the enjoyer
Of the divided objectivity outside,
As the "I'' of the deep subconsciousness of dreamless sleep,
Whose Self-hood even shines as the "I"
Within the consciousness each of the peoples too -
That same in which well-being stands founded firm at every step;
Such a plenitude of perfection; hear! "That thou art."'


Intelligence supreme, even That I am ! That thou art!
"That Brahman is the Self here!" singing thus full well,
And so established in peace of mind;
And reborn to pure ways of life by the dawn of the wisdom of the Absolute,
Where could there be for thee the bondage of action
Whether of the past, present or future?
For everything is but superimposed conditioning on thy prime Self
Thou art that existing, subsisting One of Pure Intelligence, the Lord.


As for the mystical and numinous, its natural fruit or product is found in five other Sanskrit verses called Municarya Pancakam (Five Verses on the Way of the Recluse).


This sums up the contemplative aspect of Vedanta in terms of behaviour helping us to better understand the last three chapters of the Darsana Mala. The five verses (our translation) are:




Will not his arm for him a pillow make
And the ground whereon his feet may fall,
Gaining sin-absorbing power, will it not
A veritable couch provide,
For that hermit free from all desires?
What other wealth for such is here?
Knower as he is of the import of "Thou art that!"
And other dicta, transcending all pleasures,
He enjoys supreme felicity!


Asking for nothing, being himself desireless,
Eating what providence might provide
Just for keeping the body, sleeping on the wayside,
Sorrowless, ever conscious of the self
Because of the unity of his own and other selves,
That everlasting and peerless state that shines
As his own, he attains, of existent, subsistent bliss!


The hermit may sometimes in eloquence excel,
While elsewhere be of sparing speech;
He may appear sometimes learned or be like
One ignorant, wandering, or seated or standing;
Having once obtained a body which is changeful
Still devoted to the total wisdom-state,
Untruncated by Time, he ever remains in the Ultimate.


Beyond the disputation of existent and non-existent, Unthinkable, ungraspable, atomic, unmutilated, whole and pure, Ultimate, steadily-established, erect and most high.
From here and there retracting interest,
The hermit attains the fourth state
In his aim to go beyond both the real and the unreal.


Whether living in his home or in the forest,
No matter, the yogis ever live with their minds
In the Absolute alone.
Treating everything here like a mirage on desert land,
The hermit ever enjoys bliss in the peerless Absolute Supreme:



Our object in this Introduction to the second half of Narayana Guru's work, is to prepare the mind of the reader for the correct understanding of the remaining five chapters of the Darsana Mala.


We have referred to instrumentalism as understood by John Dewey who, representing pragmatism, limits himself to the domain of action. Instrumentalism has a variety of interpretations. One of them can be conceived as the function of a pure organon in the Aristotelian context. Generally instrumentalism is conceived in a pragmatic manner and linked with the ideas of democracy and technocracy. The conquest of nature by destroying what is natural and re-building again is normal to the philosophy of America.


There are also instrumentalists like Bergson, who, using the same ideas in common with others, still remain instrumentalists in the truer and older philosophic Greek and European traditions, admitting of less overt practical programmes or missions. Pragmatism in the West is a fully modern way of thinking. It is characterized by optimism and a belief in progress. Bergson goes so far as to say that "the essential function of the universe is (of) a machine for the making of gods" (51)Furthermore his idea of mysticism is that "Complete mysticism is action" (52)


Mysticism as understood by William James does not stress action in the same way. It is natural for him to think of Walt Whitman as a mystic. He says this about the great American poet and nature-mystic:

"Walt Whitman owes his importance in literature to the systematic expulsion from his writings of all contractile elements. The only sentiments he allowed himself to express were of the expansive order; and he expressed these in the first person, not as your mere monstrously conceited individual might so express them, but vicariously for all men, so that a passionate and mystic ontological emotion suffuses his words, and ends by persuading the reader that men and women, life and death, and all things are divinely good." (53)

James also describes the essential features of the mystic under the term "Saintliness". They are:


"1. A feeling of being in a wider life than that of this world's selfish little interests….. 
2. A sense of the friendly continuity of the ideal power with our own life, and a willing self-surrender to its control.

3. An immense elation. and freedom, as the outlines of the confining self-hood melt down.



4. A shifting of the emotional centre towards loving and harmonious affections, towards "yes, yes", and away from "no", where the claims of the non-ego are concerned." (54)


Further on in his work he outlines the four marks of mysticism which he terms, "ineffability, noetic quality, transience, and passivity". (55)


Because of the difficulty of discussing mysticism in matter-of-fact language, poetry is generally more suited to it than prose. In order to keep ourselves strictly within the scope of a Science of the Absolute we have to take care not to get lost in effusions of language. We initially agree with the above versions of mysticism, but are obliged on final analysis to part company with them both, making a fresh start, independent of mere quietism as well as of instrumentalism as part of democratic and technological pragmatism. These latter concepts are limiting aspects to a fully unitive and complete mysticism which is normal and neutral and therefore scientific.


To start off let us think of a flame of fire or a musical melody. One cannot cut a flame with a knife. It will still burn on. A melody is similarly independent of its actual notes and the instruments producing it. Ontologically the instruments are more important than the melody, but the music itself although existing in a space is not without a reality of its own. It is impossible to break it up and examine it as an actual melody. It must at least be treated as a whole in terms of a configuration known in Gestalt Psychology. The continuity of a process within the mind as well as outside in the fluid world of phenomenological realities has to be postulated in order to accommodate such entities lending reality to melody. Mysticism is made of similar stuff and by its very fluidity of content resembles the mental operations and functions of a pure mathematician.


A red hot ball of iron is the meeting place of qualitative and quantitative factors, and when the redness of the heat becomes white there is still no change in the basic material of the iron ball. Instead the quality inherent in it becomes intensified. In this sense heat is an activity. The ordinary man is related to the world as a common worker when he has to build bridges and machines so as to promote national production. In the modern civilized context he cannot afford to have either a pessimistic or a quiet and contemplative attitude. The image of the yogi sitting under a tree does not naturally fit into technocratic positivism. Speaking of Yoga and mysticism it is therefore natural for Bergson to take this point of view:

"And it was industrialism, it was our Western civilization, which unloosed the mysticism of a Ramakrishna or a Vivekananda. This burning, active mysticism could never have been kindled in the days when the Hindu felt he was crushed by nature and when no human intervention was of any avail. What could be done when inevitable famine doomed millions of wretches to die of starvation? The principal origin of Hindu pessimism lay in this helplessness. And it was pessimism which prevented India from carrying her mysticism to its full conclusion, since complete mysticism is action ... For the complete mysticism is that of the great Christian mystics." (56)


The scope of mysticism cannot really be limited to one type only. It is true that Bergson prefers the active and glowing mystics full of energy and good works. James also talks about "healthy mindedness".


Bergson's notion of the ideal mystics are those who:

"Bracing themselves up for an entirely new effort, they burst a dam; they were then swept back into a vast current of life; from their increased vitality there radiated an extraordinary energy, daring, power of conception and realization. Just think of what was accomplished in the field of action by a St. Paul, a St. Teresa, a St. Catherine of Siena, a St. Francis, a Joan of Arc and how many others besides!" (57)


William James' definition of healthy-mindedness is as follows:

"Now the gospel of healthy-mindedness, as we have described it, casts its vote distinctly for this pluralistic view. Whereas the monistic philosopher finds himself more or less bound to say, as Hegel said, that everything actual is rational, and that evil, as an element dialectically required, must be pinned in and kept and consecrated and have a function awarded to it in the final system of truth, healthy-mindedness refuses to say anything of the sort." (58)

While accepting Bergson´s active mysticism and James' healthy- mindedness, it must be remembered that these are only grades of mysticism. It is possible to think of a graded series of types to be placed in an ascending scale where the essential mystical quality has an endless series of positions on a vertical axis. Like the iron ball, the red-heat is the lower limit and the white-heat the higher level. On the lower immanent level of red-heat, mysticism concerns itself with matter-of-fact aspects of "glowing" activity, while at the higher transcendental level of white-heat, mysticism produces various forms of emotional outpourings. Ultimately transcendence becomes absolute by a kind of double assertion, as it rises by a process of double negation


Our main concern here is with people who have risen above the humdrum everyday world. Artists, poets and lovers are specially gifted for this. From the beatnik and hobo to the madman and hero, we can lift our imagination to endless possibilities finally arriving at a complete and pure mysticism. Bergson prefers to call a complete mysticism something just beyond the red-heat, but refuses to go any further. James seems to prefer only the red-heat level of mysticism. Other pragmatists like John Dewey, if they have any attitude at all towards mysticism, would be lukewarm, judging from their main interest in horizontal and quantitative democratic technocracy. When we admit higher grades of mysticism as possible and within man's nature, we need not be limited to what Bergson calls "complete mysticism". We must transcend vitalistic elements of creative and evolutionary activity.


In a truly complete mysticism qualitative elements must be given primacy over quantitative ones. Even philosophers like Plotinus refer to the "flight of the alone to the Alone". Meister Eckhart also makes the distinction between quantitative deeds and the qualitative spirit of man:

"For this reason, deeds and time pass away. Bad and good they are all lost together, for they have no duration in the spirit, nor in their own right, nor have they a place of their own ... For the spirit is in the doing of good and is the good itself." (59)


Plotinus and Eckhart speak in the same way as the Upanishads, where transcending action is clearly recognized. The broad distinction of a man of action from a man of wisdom is clearly brought out in the Bhagavad Gita (VI-1). One can transcend works and discard ritual while still recognizing the value of action as something to be understood and transcended. Wisdom and works cannot be mixed, nor should they ever be rival disciplines. One must rise above this duality into the level of full emancipation. Once this highest level is reached the ladder (if any) is discarded. This is like removing the scaffolding from a building after it is complete.


The relation between wisdom and works has troubled even some mystics both in the East and West. We do not wish to enter into this subject in any detail, but rather take our position with the Gita, where both wisdom and action are given a unitive dialectical treatment. The theological controversy about original sin and baptism conducted between the Pelagians and the anti-Pelagians belongs more or less to this same domain. The Upanishads are categorical on this point of transcending all works in favour of a total mystical union with the Absolute. It is here that the human self and absolute non-self are cancelled out into the Self of the highest mystical experience.


By merely accepting the fact of human bondage or suffering one does not become a pessimist as is implied in Bergson's attitude A half-starved man is sometimes better fitted for pure mystical impulses than his well-fed counterpart.


His nakedness and thinness in contrast to the opposite excess of being over-fed is not a disqualification. Obesity has its own inconveniences which full-blooded vitalists seem to forget. If Napoleon and Joan of Arc inspire madmen and mystics as Bergson says, then a fully unitive and complete mysticism must transcend all action and move in the realm of pure thought. Such movement can normally take place in the fourth- dimensional vertical axis when the other three dimensions are absorbed into it.


In the chapters following the Karma-Darsana of Narayana Guru we have to part company with Bergsonian ideas of mysticism. Reason itself is a pure activity within consciousness. When harmonized and neutralized it is a global awareness having absolute truth for its content. The seventh chapter of the Darsana Mala answers to this type of mysticism, called by us "Contemplative Awareness of the Absolute through Pure Reason".


In the last three chapters we have mysticism in a more accentuated form and raised to an even higher degree of transcendence. The counterparts of the Self and the non-Self are retained intact for purposes of correct dialectical treatment. These two counterparts continue to persist even in the eighth chapter, where their perfect reciprocity is like two privileged systems making it possible to establish an osmotic interchange of free or blissful essences. Reciprocity and complementarity give place to the possibility of a unity between the Self the non-Self with a parity of dignity between them. Such a contemplative union is the highest and purest version of yoga as understood in India.


The final chapter treats of mysticism in terms of an absolutism free from all conditioning factors of the Self. This resembles the pure emptiness or sunya of Nagarjuna. It can be imagined as a kind of extinction of the flame where the dewdrop slips into the shining sea, to put it in the words of the Buddhist idea of liberation. This state of final liberation can be stated in many poetic or philosophical forms. In whatever way it might be expressed it marks the culminating point of all spiritual progress in the context of the Science of the Absolute.



There are as many definitions of mysticism as it has expressions. One of the most popular and least complicated is "the cultivation of the presence of God". Orthodox Scientists do not like the word God, because it reminds them too much of Church excesses like the Inquisition, heresy-hunting and witch-burning. This does not mean they are not mystical in their own way. We shall refer to this later.


Other definitions of mysticism try to include its various expressions based on nature, eroticism, quietism, activism, austere saintliness, and those rare mystics who use God and man as interchangeable terms. Freaks and abnormalities should also be included in this ascending scale of mystics. Charlatans, esotericists, as well as beatniks, angry young men, existentialist artists and poets, and even certain kinds of hobos, also have a place. All these types should be given due recognition with scientific impartiality.


It is not a question of taking sides but of putting in order the varied and numerous mystical expression. The best of mysticism rarely, if ever, produces abnormality. Both the Buddha and Vyasa represent the best of mysticism as expounders of absolute truth. Their intelligence really outshines all lesser forms of emotionalism and sentimentalism, while their imitators can be considered in certain ways freaks or quacks. The difference is brought out in the case of a man in a madhouse obsessed with the idea that he is Jesus Christ and trying to imitate him. This does not in any way detract from the real Jesus.


If we now turn to the known origins of Western mysticism we must go back to the time of the Dionysiac frenzies, Eleusinian mysteries, and the "harmony of the spheres" of Pythagoras. This is when the dialectics of the One and the Many as a paradoxical mystery began to be solved by philosophers. From this early source Plato derived much of his inspiration. The raising of the dead and the passion of Jesus also originally belong to this context where reality has a fluid rather than a rigid consistency. Mysticism melts matter within the matrix of time and space.


In much later times Descartes recognized this truth as implied in his correlates. Einstein, as a "continuator of Descartes" also has this in his theory of relativity. He is a mystic in a certain sense because his vision of the world is not static and fixed as treated by common sense, but is one where time and space could mutually encroach on each other.


Mysticism thrives in a world similar to the one of Einstein. The world of modern relativity is one that is indirectly understood through equations or graphs hypothetically supposing expansions and contractions of time and space. This is evidenced in the Red Shift and in electromagnetism where, due to the fine nature of the physical world, energies pass from one end of the known universe to the other in wavelike fashion without any material basis. We could even say that modern science itself is now tending towards mysticism.


A scientific definition of mysticism cannot afford to omit its new epistemological foundations. This involved the recognition of the same two counterparts, one referring to the physical world, where Bergson places a Peter in one of the fixed systems. The other refers to the world of metaphysics where he places a Paul. The conversion of Paul to a full philosopher takes place when he is put in dynamic relationship with the system of Peter. The two rival systems are finally cancelled out by Bergson into one absolute system. This method of cancelling counterparts he applied to the experience of Time. He considered Time a reality not based on any a priori belief in God and was able to accomplish for the first time in modern thought the unification of physics with metaphysics, without any theology involved.


Fundamentally, mysticism implies the same cancellation of counterparts through an equation of the Self with the non-Self. After cancellation it is only the Self that remains. Such is the gist of the speculation contained in the last five chapters of the Darsana Mala.


All varieties of mysticism fall within the scope of this equation where the Self comes into its own. William James also admits of such a definition in his attempt to treat mysticism and religion scientifically: 
"This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and the Absolute is the great mystic achievement. In mystic states we both become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness. This is the everlasting and triumphant mystical tradition, hardly altered by differences of clime or creed." (60)


Further on James advocates a critical Science of Religions:

"I do not see why a critical Science of Religions of this sort might not eventually command as general public adhesion as is commanded by a physical science. Even the personally non-religious might accept its conclusions on trust, much as blind persons now accept the facts of optics - it might appear as foolish to refuse them." (61)

We agree here completely with James as far as he goes, although we have our own reservations in respect of his pluralism and pragmatic approach. Instead of a too simple and common-sense definition of mysticism such as "cultivating the presence of God", we prefer to have side by side with this a more comprehensively scientific definition. Mysticism can only thrive in a non-rigid, thin and fluid world where processes of being and becoming could exchange places.


While the simpler definition may be more interesting, a scientific one is based on the final possibility of knowing the Absolute. This too in its own way is simple, and to some might seem to be too insipid. We have to explain that certitude is the most important consideration in any science. We hope to clarify this with the following two examples:
When a teacher writes on the blackboard A=A and a student stands up demanding proof on the grounds of scientific demonstration, the teacher has no alternative but to ask him to sit down or else leave the room.


If the same teacher should bring a globe into the classroom to show the position of the poles, equator, etc. and another equally clever student stands up and says he would never live in the North Pole, the teacher could only tell him that his personal preference has nothing whatever to do with the lesson.


The a priori method might be repugnant to many scientists, but this does not mean that axiomatic thinking has no place at all. In spite of this self-evident verity we nonetheless find otherwise sound scientific thinkers like Bergson preferring Christian mystics to Hindu or Buddhist ones.


For our part it is the scientific study of mysticism for the sake of a total Science of the Absolute that we are interested in. We are not recommending any one type of mysticism in preference to another type. We prefer to maintain an open attitude like the Bhagavad Gita. All mysticism worth the name has to find its place in a vertical scale of spiritual values. Within the amplitude of the axis we can imagine some nearer to the Self than others, and vice versa. A polarity is thus established between all types of mystical manifestations along a parameter.


Nature mysticism occupies a negative position within the amplitude of the vertical axis. We could also think of a normal mysticism having its place at the centre of the vertical scale of reference. Pure forms of philosophical mysticism which conform to the requirement of the mahavakyas (great dicta) of the Upanishads belong to the highest point attainable. This highest point is explained in the Mandukya Upanishad where the turiya or fourth state is discussed. Such a state is far removed from the reach of the full-blooded, vitalistic mysticism referred to by Bergson.


We shall have occasion in the last three chapters to make a further comparative study of mystical life and thought. Whatever the type it will find its place in the vertical scale of reference. Even "wrong" or inferior mysticism has to be given a place in this scale of possible spiritual life expressions. This is due to a subtle law of compensation and reciprocity referred to by Narayana Guru in the Atmopadesa Satakam (Verse 60):


" Even when knowledge to egoism is subject
And one is unmindful of the ultimate verity of what is said
Yet as with the truth, however ultimate, such knowledge
Can never fall outside the scope of the knowing self."


Judged in the light of this compensatory law or principle holding good in contemplative mysticism, it is possible to number and grade all mysticism, giving to each its position on a vertical scale. After examining the grades of reciprocity found in Bhakti (contemplation) and Yoga (mystical union), Narayana Guru, in the final chapter on Nirvana (emancipation) accomplishes the more difficult job of classification. To our knowledge, such a classification has never been attempted with scientific precision together with clear definitions of each, except perhaps in the anonymous Yoga Vasishta. We shall also refer to this interesting Vedantic work in later chapters. We now close this section and proceed with the prologue to the sixth chapter of the Darsana Mala.




[1] In Sankara's commentary on the Brahma Sutras (11.4.6) where he deals with the pranas (vital breaths) he quotes various Upanishads where prana is treated either as one or else enumerated as seven. He says: "Hence the word 'all' includes all pranas without exception. Nothing on the other hand prevents the enumeration of seven pranas being taken as illustrative only." Vedanta Sutras Vol.II, p.84. See also (111.3.18) pp.210-211, where Sankara says a difference of expression does not necessarily imply a difference of sense.


[2] Bernard, p. 35


[3] Bernard, pp. 35-36


[4] Bernard, p. 36


[5] Bernard, pp. 41-42.


[6] Bernard, pp. 55 and 56, resp;


[7] Bernard, pp. 55 - 56


[8] Bernard, pp. 56 - 57


[9] Bernard, p. 37


[10] "Philebus", from the "Dialogues of Plato", tr. by B. Jowett. New York. 1954.Vol. II


[11] Bernard, pp. 59-60


[12] Bernard, p. 60


[13] Bernard, p. 62-63


[14] Bernard, p. 63


[15] Bernard, p. 73


[16] Bernard, p. 64


[17] Bernard, p. 75


[18] Bernard, p. 62-63


[19] Bhagavad Gita, p. 665


[20] Samkhya Karika, pp.22-23


[21] Bernard, pp. 84-85.


[22] Samkhya Karika, p. 32 and p. 54, resp.


[23] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank.,Vol. I, pp.298-299


[24] Monier-Williams, p. 327


[25] Monier-Williams, p.780 for a complete definition.


[26] Monier-Williams, p. 592


[27] Muller, Indian Philosophy, Vol.II, pp. 98-99.


[28] "Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini", M. Ganganath Jha, Allahabad (India) 1916, pp. 44-47


[29] "Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini", pp. 49-50


[30] "Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini", pp. 50-51


[31] Bernard, p. 131


[32] "Purva Mimamsa Sutras", p. 51-53


[33] "Purva Mimamsa Sutras", p. 53


[34] "Purva Mimamsa Sutras", p. 31


[35] "Purva Mimamsa Sutras" (Sutras 6-17), pp. 9-14.


[36] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., pp. 259-260


[37] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., pp. 258-260


[38] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., p. 272


[39] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., p. 273


[40] Muller, "Indian Philosophy", Vol.II, P.12; also in "Six Systems of Indian Philosophy", London,1912, p.124


[41] See our twelve essays entitled: "Vedanta Revalued and Restated", Values,Vol. IX, No.2, Nov.1963-Nov. 1964


[42] Bhagavad Gita, pp. 17,19,23


[43] Bhagavad Gita, p. 609


[44] Bhagavad Gita, p. 650


[45] Ved. Sut Comm. Sank.,Vol. I, p. 362


[46] Bhagavad Gita, p .384


[47] Bhagavad Gita, p. 402


[48] Bhagavad Gita, p. 341


[49] Bhagavad Gita, p. 261


[50] Bhagavad Gita, p. 411


[51] Bergson,Two Sources, p. 317


[52] Bergson,Two Sources, p. 226


[53] W. James,"Varieties of Religious Experience", New York, 1929, p. 84.


[54] W. James,"Varieties of Religious Experience", New York, 1929, pp. 266-267


[55] W. James,"Varieties of Religious Experience", New York, 1929, pp. 371-372


[56] Bergson,Two Sources, pp. 226-22V.


[57] Bergson, Two Sources, pp. 227-228


[58] James, p. 130


[59] Blakney, p. 56


[60] James, p. 410


[61] James, p. 446






The Sanskrit title of this chapter is "Karma" and is generally translated as "action". In the Indian spiritual tradition, however, karma, on which depends the meaning of dharma as right action, has varied meanings belonging to the contexts of ritualism and even to theories like reincarnation. Past karma conditions future truth. Not only is it to be understood in its philosophical sense, but it must also be distinguished from jnana or wisdom. Wisdom and action can be treated with or without contradiction, according to the horizontalized or verticalized relation in which they are treated. These matters will be clarified in the Epilogue of this chapter.


We have chosen the word "instrumentalism" for the title of this chapter. This is because it comes as near as possible to the purpose and content intended by Narayana Guru. Pure instruments refer to a verticalized version of action and interaction between the Self and the non-Self. No crude mechanistic action is to be imagined here. Instead, something akin to the action of a man in meditation or even dream is what is meant. The first verse of the karma-darsana refers directly to this dream activity, suggesting a subtle kind of psycho-physical interaction rather than an overtly mechanistic and unilateral form of activity.


Instrumentalism is a fairly recent doctrine arising from the pragmatic outlook in the reconstruction of philosophy by William James, John Dewey and others. Both these men were inspired by the more penetrating and profound philosophy of Charles S. Pierce. This new outlook has not become established and in its own way is full of promise.


Note: The verses of Narayana Guru to which reference is made may be found on pp.912-920.



Philosophy and science can only merge into each other when this method is further perfected and prolonged into more truly contemplative and philosophical domains. It was because of the rare philosophical intuition of Bergson, who took up a more scientific line of thought, that a kind of counterattack was begun against the more classical ways of thinking. The implications of instrumentalism were worked out by Bergson so as to push it to the farthest limits of metaphysical speculation.

Bergson's own original impetus came from his revision and restatement of biological evolution, one of the all-absorbing subjects of his time. Darwin attempted to explain the origin of the species in terms of a mechanistic action and interaction between rival competitive forces. Bergson, on the other hand, thought in terms of "creative evolution", giving to the general theory a new and verticalized orientation. Evolution to Bergson meant a creative process taking place between forces inside living beings meeting their own counterparts from the outside world. According to him, the evolution of the eye in fish or animals results from the vital urges within interacting with the light coming from without. There is a subtle dialectical interaction between counterparts taking place, not in the field of visible movements but in a movement imaginable from inside in terms of a "schéma moteur". This is a verticalized version of actual movement without the contradiction of successive steps needed to accomplish movement from point to point. Paradox is here transcended by Bergson's process of creative evolution. Such a process is intuitively felt rather than discursively analyzed. Furthermore in creative evolution the interaction between the inside and the outside of a thing takes place on the levels of instinct and intelligence. Both these factors participate intimately in the process of evolution.




The subtle implications of action taking place in Bergsonian evolution also forms the basis of Bergsonian instrumentalism. This type of instrumentalism, as we have said, must be distinguished from the ordinary instrumentalism based upon American pragmatism; the philosophy of a democratic technocracy reaching towards expansion and progress. The double-sidedness of Bergsonian instrumentalism is further evidenced by his reference to a "law of twofold frenzy". From this frenzy, Bergson's notion of mysticism arises. Bergson also traces, in his own imagination, the way the various stages of the vital impetus, as it passes from instinctive levels to contemplative ones and terminates in what he calls, "complete mysticism".

We read:
"Shaken to its depths by the current which is about to sweep it forward, the soul ceases to revolve round itself and escapes for a moment from the law which demands that the species and the individual should condition one another. It stops as though to listen to a voice calling. Then it lets itself go, straight onward ... Then comes a boundless joy, an all-absorbing ecstasy or an enthralling rapture; God is there, and the soul is in God.... The ecstasy is indeed rest, if you like, but as though at a station, where the engine is still under steam, the onward movement, becoming a vibration on one spot, until it is time to move forward again ... But though the soul becomes, in thought and feeling, absorbed in God, something of it remains outside; that something is the will, whence the soul's action, if it acted, would quite naturally proceed. Its life then is not yet divine. The soul is aware of this, hence its vague disquietude, hence the agitation in repose which is the striking feature of what we call complete mysticism: it means that the impetus has acquired the momentum to go further, that ecstasy affects the ability to see and, to feel, but that there is, besides, the will, which itself has to find its way back to God." (1)


There is no mistaking here that Bergson's speculation reaches a point beyond which it could not have reached unless he had adopted the role of a continuator of ordinary instrumentalism. Not only is God reinstated, but all the qualities characterizing a man of high spirituality are brought into this living picture of an active contemplative progress as understood in terms of modern biology. Before one can arrive at the basic intuitions of Bergson one must first understand in what sense his instrumentalism comes into the picture of evolution.

According to biology, man is a highly evolved animal. He is distinguished from the lesser animals by an intelligence meeting his individual urges in the form of consciousness coming from the species as a whole. The interests of the individual and the species form dialectical counterparts, as suggested by Bergson in the above quotation. A conception of God belongs to the context of the highest happiness or joy experienced in the form of "complete mysticism". Man is always striving along a vertical axis of spiritual progress to preserve his race and fulfill its purpose in life. From the side of God there is the opposite tendency where the love of man for God and the love of God for man are interchangeable terms.
Man's body is a kind of instrument of which actual machines are continuations. His hands and feet are meant for work and machines are supposed to aid in this same purpose. When the energy available from such natural products as coal and oil was finally utilized by humanity, a new horizontal expansion of opportunities for work began. This was due to humanity´s innovative and natural genius existing as an innate disposition from prehistoric times.


With the utilization of energy available from products like coal, oil, gas etc., the way was open for development of the present instrumentalist civilization.
Bergson further says:

"Man will rise above earthly things only if powerful equipment supplies him with the requisite fulcrum. He must use matter as a support if he wants to get away from matter. In other words, the mystical summons up the mechanical. This has not been sufficiently realized because machinery, through a mistake at the points, has been switched on to a track at the end of which lies exaggerated comfort and luxury for the few, rather than liberation for all ... The workman's tool is the continuation of his arm, the tool-equipment of humanity is therefore a continuation of its body ... We must add that the body, now larger, calls for a bigger soul, and that mechanism should mean mysticism. The origins of the process of mechanization are indeed more mystical than we might imagine. Machinery will find its true vocation again, it will render services in proportion to its power, only if mankind, which it has bowed still lower to the earth, can succeed, through it, in standing erect and looking heavenwards." (2)



Relating man to the machine and then presenting him in relation to his spiritual aspirations is a modern way of looking at spiritual problems. Narayana Guru adopts this way of looking at things in the "Daiva Dasakam" (Verse 1) when using the analogy of the steamship and its captain. It is surprising therefore to find Narayana Guru, from his remote corner of the world, in sympathy with Bergson and the progressive thought of both Europe and America. Bergson develops his own modern lingua mystica, relating it completely to the actualities of the time. His machine, vibrating and ready to take off at any moment, suggests the workings of the living and vital mind of modern man.


In the worlds of fuels and engines such a type of person has the possibility of using all the opportunities offered to him. Means and ends have to belong together somehow. The older mystical language of the Upanishads uses the image of the horse for a chariot to be drawn. The aptness of such an image has its own subtle implications and even Sankara in his comment on Brahma Sutra III, 4-26 says that a horse is suitable for drawing a chariot and not a plough; ends and means have to be matched, one as instrumental to the other. (3)
The relation between instrument and its action is a thin and pure one with Sankara who is a strict non-dualist who would not admit the slightest disunity between ends and means, not to speak of cause and effect, substance or attribute. He, however, sometimes speaks of a lower (apara) and a higher (para) Absolute (brahman). It is of special interest, therefore, for the careful student to scrutinize closely how he is able to comment on the Brahma Sutra III, 4-26, which reads:

"And there is need of all (works), on account of the scriptural statement of sacrifices and the like; as in the case of the horse."

It is the last clause here that is most intriguing for us. The horse is meant to draw or carry something forward. It could be a plough or a chariot. However, a plough is generally drawn by oxen and a horse is more suitable or compatible to a chariot. There must be some compatibility between ends and means. It is a delicate reciprocity, a complementarity, suitability or correspondence of a one-one order and not any duality or difference that Sankara approves when he explains the reference to the horse in the Sutra in question.


It is worthwhile to read carefully the argument in Sankara's own words:

"The phrase, 'as in the case of the horse', supplies an illustration on the ground of suitability. As the horse, owing to its specific suitability, is not employed for dragging ploughs but is harnessed to chariots; so the works enjoined on the asramas are not required by knowledge for bringing about its results, but with a view to its own origination." (Vedanta Sutras III ,26)


Referring to his law of dichotomy and more particularly to his "law of twofold frenzy", at two levels of this particular evolutionary process of the life-impetus, evolving from the quantitative to the qualitative, Bergson says:

"Now we must not make exaggerated use of the word "law" in a field which is that of liberty...So we will call law of dichotomy that law which apparently brings about a materialization, by a mere splitting up of tendencies which began by being two photographic views, so to speak, of one and the same tendency. And we propose to designate "law of twofold frenzy" the imperative demand, forthcoming from each of the two tendencies as soon as it is materialized by the splitting, to be pursued to the very end - as if there was an end!….The truth is that a tendency on which two different views are possible can put forth its maximum, in quantity or quality, only if it materializes these two possibilities into moving realities, each one of which leaps forward and monopolizes the available space while the other is on the watch unceasingly for its own turn to come. Only thus will the content of the original tendency develop .... And it is precisely when it imitates nature, when it yields to the original impulsion, that the progress of humanity assumes a certain regularity and conforms - though very imperfectly, be it said - to such laws as those we have stated." (4)


Bergson has already referred to mankind looking heavenwards only when the true implications of the machine are understood. The workings of instrumental mysticism take place schematically on two axes of reference. The will of God and the will of man are limiting points on the vertical axis. There is an alternating process of comings and goings involving quantitative and qualitative values. As we have said, we are interested in an Integrated Science of the Absolute and are not personally interested in the doctrines favoured by any philosopher. In Bergson as, quoted above, it is not hard to see how he has to coin new words and define them himself before he could explain his "twofold frenzy" in operation in the context of progress. It is here that the double-sided language found in our schema and scientific definitions could together serve the purpose of a thorough proto-cum-meta-language. This is the way we recommend to arrive at the scientific certitude that we seek.

Before leaving the subject of instrumental mysticism there are one or two more features of Bergson's philosophy that we wish to mention. The two limiting points of the vertical axis where mystical contemplation lives, moves and has its being have already been referred to. Bergson uses both Aristotle and Plato as clearly marking out these limiting points in the following manner:

  1. Why did Aristotle posit as first principle a motionless mover, "a Thought thinking itself", self-enclosed, operative only by the appeal of its perfection?
  2. Why, having posited this principle, did he call it God? But in the one case as in the other the answer is easy: the Platonic theory of ideas ruled over the thought of Greece and Rome ere ever it penetrated into modern philosophy." (5)




Tracing the known history of Western mysticism Bergson says:

"There is no doubt that the Dionysiac frenzy was continued into Orphism, and that Orphism went on into Pythagorism: well, it is to this latter perhaps even to the former, that the primary inspirations of Platonism goes back." (6)

Instrumentalism with Bergson is thus a double frenzy bridging the gulf between the mechanical and the mystical.



Conjugates and correlates enter into the complex expression of mystical life involving varying degrees of reciprocity, complementarity or cancellability of counterparts on the basis of a final equality of absolute status between them. From eroticism to saintliness there is a series of expressions of mysticism. There is an equally complex variety of mystical life presented to us between the limiting cases of its active or quietist expressions. To accommodate them all into an integrated Science of the Absolute involves bold schematization and generalization.

Having reached the point in Bergson's instrumentalism where he speaks of Aristotle and Plato as representing two polarities between the philosophical values where the twofold mystical frenzy is explained, we are now obliged to leave behind Bergson's own realistic and vitalistic picture of mysticism where he says, "complete mysticism is action". It is true that a philosopher has to deal with real things and not always with axiomatic abstractions.


Evolution, as understood by Bergson, has two levels: the closed or static and the open or dynamic, through which levels animal life such as that of the bee as well as human social organizations at different stages of history have to evolve. The closed and static is expected sooner or later to become the open and dynamic. The two levels represent a dichotomy between them. This implies also a fanlike expansion and is where the myth-making tendency finds its expression. The different levels are all legitimately to be given their places in one and the same picture of reality, explained by Bergson as a process of becoming. In accommodating all their ideas together Bergson proves himself a philosopher of unified science. We do not wish to speak either in terms of an abstract structuralism or in mere axiomatic language. From the beginning of this work we have explicitly and implicitly kept in mind such a unified outlook where physics and metaphysics could have between them a common structural link. By now this should be sufficiently self-evident to the reader. In Chapter 1 full realism was given to the cosmos, while in the second chapter it was subjected to a negative method of phenomenological reduction. Unreality as a further negative reference characterized the third, while a fuller and more generalized negativity was found in the fourth. In the fifth chapter the two counterparts with a negative ontological status marked the ultimate limits of philosophical realism. It was an existent non-metaphysical Self that was in reality involved in the transition from the existent to the present. Action is a reality given to all life. To deny it amounts to bypassing the real. That is why Narayana Guru refers to something like an active thinking substance where thought attains to a kind of action comparable to dream activity. This activity is looked upon as a by-product of the interaction of consciousness with the subconscious psyche, libido or Self. In speaking of the law of twofold frenzy between the limits of Aristotelian and Platonic values, Bergson does not basically differ from the scope of this chapter, although we have to admit he parts company here with older and deeper notions of mysticism such as that of Plotinus.


As a neo-Platonist it is true that Plotinus has a slant which tends to place him nearer to Plato than to Aristotle. Bergson might have had this slight asymmetry in mind when he denounced Plotinus as well as the rest of Greek thought on the question of complete mysticism. His own form of mysticism is closest to that of St. Theresa, St. Catherine of Siena, and other active mystics and, therefore, he can hardly find Plotinus and the Greeks very compatible in this matter, as we can see from the following:

"In short, mysticism, in the absolute sense in which we have agreed to take the word, was never attained by Greek thought. No doubt it would like to have come into being; as a mere virtuality it knocked more than once at the door. The door opened wider and wider, but never wide enough for mysticism wholly to enter." (7)

It is true that the 'virtuality.' referred to above is a negative quality of mysticism. Even as such it need not be characterized as defective when we think of integrating all types of mysticism under one normative notion. Absolute Realism itself, as against this virtuality is subject to four different perspectives, from which it could be viewed as revealed in the quaternion structure of complex numbers in mathematics. The realism of the electro-magnetic field is not the same realism as Newtonian mechanics or Euclidian space. These are new features of what is true, factual, real or significant that the realism of modern science is compelled to take into account. Eddington's reference to the four chairs and the four different men who have to sit on them (see page 119) brings out the perspective or reality that scientific epistemology will have sooner or later to accept. To understand mysticism in the same normalized structural context of selectionism and subjectivism does not mean one had to relinquish absolute realism at the expense of what if considered virtual. They belong together. We find a reference to an absolute central reality in the context of Mysticism in the following passage from Plotinus:


"This Absolute is none of the things of which It is the Source; Its nature is that nothing can be affirmed of It - not existence, not essence, not life - It transcends all these" (8)

Although there is thus a very slight asymmetry in Plotinus as a Neo-Platonist, and a gap between his mysticism and that of Bergson, he still adopts a fully scientific frame of reference. By refusing to predicate any unilateral attribute to the Absolute, Plotinus only comes closer to the more normative and slightly subjective approach of the Upanishads. This is the negative touch of the neti-neti (not this, not this). This method implies the notion of nothingness; while in truth nothing is abolished when cancelling out counterparts or refusing to affirm unilaterally the nature of the Absolute, whether as positive or negative. Plotinus thus deserves to be included as one of the finest expressions of a fully normalized version of mysticism. Although we fully agree with Bergson's own type of realism distinguishing his "complete mysticism'', we must again point out that it is only one of many other forms both Eastern and Western, all of which are equally valid. They could all be placed at points on a vertical parameter. Bergson's mysticism is not therefore the only form of complete mysticism. Activity should not be the only criterion nor an end in itself, but as Plotinus says below, all action must be "set towards contemplation" to be mystical in the correct sense:


"Action, thus, is set towards contemplation, so that even those whose life is in "doing" have "seeing" as their object; what they have not been able to achieve directly, they hope to arrive at by a circuitous path. They desire a certain thing to come about, they act for the sake of some good, to know it, to see it present before the mind, to hold the good of the action. This vision achieved, the acting instinct pauses; the mind is satisfied and seeks nothing further; the contemplation remains absorbed within as having acquired certainty to rest upon. The brighter the certainty, the more tranquil is the contemplation as having acquired the more perfect unity." (9)



Having done with the implications of Bergson's reference to the modern machine age of industrial production and technocratic civilization and his law of twofold frenzy, we now proceed to discuss the parity between the instrument and action. Cartesian occasionalism is not totally outside this kind of interaction between the instrument and its intellectual value. Humanity, as Bergson hopes, will one day stand erect looking heavenwards. Such a statement represents the same two-sided thinking substance as in Descartes. It is the divine medium where the vertical interaction between the parallel factors of psycho-physics bridges the gap between man and God. For the pure mystic like Eckhart such an interchangeability of the wills of man and God is not strange, although the ecclesiastical authorities of his time denounced him as a heretic, "sowing thorns and thistles amongst the faithful". Nonetheless, Eckhart was a great mystic, as we read in the following quotation where he remarks about the parity between man and God:

"When God laughs at the soul and the soul laughs back at God, the persons of the Trinity are begotten. To speak in hyperbole, when the Father laughs to the Son and the Son laughs back to the Father, that laughter gives pleasure, that pleasure gives joy, that joy gives love, and love gives the persons of the Holy Trinity, of which the Holy Spirit is one." (10)


Eckhart's subtle reciprocity between man and God is not unlike the divine linking element of Descartes, which is a substance comparable to water in a mechanical fountain. The pressure of the water at different levels, when made to subserve the horizontal laws of Nature, may be adjusted to work complex machines imitating a bathing Diana or an animal spouting water. (see page 100). The horizontal mechanistic variety is linked by a simple vertical principle of water pressure. This is how occasionalism works. It links the machine or instrument with its own resultant action. The instrument and action belong together to the context of pure occasionalism. When viewed vertically there is no duality, though implying full duality horizontally between counterparts of action accomplished by an instrument.


The horizontal and vertical correlation of which Descartes is the father is clearly in evidence here, and links the res extensa of space with the res cogitans of experienced time. Bergson also accents this structural relationship in his work "Durée et Simultanéité". In order for us to clarify the contents of the verses of the present chapter, it is necessary to underline this principle of parity between instrument and action. This must be viewed in its pure verticalized implications without being carried away by the horizontal references to industrialization and economic expansion. The instrument thus comes to resemble the Aristotelian organon while even agreeing closely with the élan vital of Bergson.

The cause of action and its effects are to be thought of as dialectically belonging together, in terms of absolute self-consciousness. It is in such a light that; the series of verses will become fully intelligible.


The organon can be conceived as acting in a pure sense, exercising its faculties which are the essence of logical thought. When we imagine the organon as action in this extended sense we transcend the limits of this chapter and attain the subject matter of the next chapter which deals with reason or awareness. The emergent resultant of an interaction between the two aspects of the intelligent Self is awareness. It resembles a white glow of wisdom or pure knowledge, which is not unlike a further and more intensified stage of mysticism when rid of its instinctive or emotional content which belongs to the physical rather then the mental side. This lower mysticism by comparison can therefore be said to represent a red glow of heat also naturally belonging to the Self.

As mysticism expresses different kinds of frenzy, agony or ecstasy between the limits of eroticism and saintliness, this emotional colouration of activity is true only at a certain level. Mysticism, as expressed by prayer and fasting as well as a plenitude of pious works is best expressed by St. Catherine of Siena. Bergson strongly approves of her and includes her in his list of "incomplete mystics". One can think of this kind of mysticism as one glowing with life and a warm eagerness to serve humanity piously. This service of humanity unfortunately has necessarily a local-fixed or closed character and in the present case is hemmed in by Christian patterns of behaviour not altogether favourable to persons with an open outlook. Anyhow, to the extent that this type of mysticism can be characterized as open and dynamic, the red glow of vitality that is eager to zealously affiliate itself to the requirements of a world of horizontally expanding values gives to such an expression the full character of being practical and realistic.


Let us say in advance that we are not going to attempt any classification of mystics into types so as to correctly pigeonhole them in their respective compartments. Such a task is as complex as trying to classify types of orphans or poverty-stricken people. If happiness is a criterion there are happy slum-dwellers and often much happiness is found in many down-and-out street urchins and destitute hoboes. Any scientific classification has to be undertaken in the light of grades of absolutism expressed in the lives of various mystics. Such a task is properly undertaken in the last chapter by Narayana Guru. The Gita in its last chapter (v.33-35) attempts a classification based on the gunas. It is not easy nor necessary to classify into cut-and-dried types under each chapter where the factors involved are too complex and numerous and the ground still vague and amorphous.

Psychological types such as extroverts and introverts also offer many varieties. General psychological types constitute a study which is vast in itself, as shown by C. G. Jung´s work on the subject. Yogis can be referred to as aspiring to eight different levels of attainment as found in Patanjali, and so can be fairly easily subjected to classification on such a basis in the present work. It is the manifestation of absolutism in the human personality that is the determining factor for any classification under each of the chapters: therefore we shall content ourselves with making passing references to a few selected instances of absolutist mysticism. We shall not attempt to be exhaustive nor adhere to any strict order in the treatment of each case referred to.

The same structuralism should be considered as relating and integrating all the individual chapters. In the present chapter we have to note that although the parity of instrument and action is in principle accepted, it is the instrument as an existent reality which is given priority over the ultimate principle of Good or God to whose love or understanding it is applied.


The position of the chapter, situated where experience and experiment meet, justifies such a standpoint. Bergson has said in many places in his writings that he has no desire to be a dialectician nor a metaphysician. This is because he wants to look at reality only as far as percepts and perceptibles could extend and absolutely no further. Bergson's instrumentalism belongs to the context of experimental or at least experienced science, and refuses to go beyond it into metaphysics proper. This asymmetry in favour of the perceptible is seen to be neutralized when we carefully scrutinize the verses of Narayana Guru. We can see how he does not depart from the overall context of action and actor considered in the abstract as neutrally belonging together with a parity and homogeneity between them. There is always the same reversible equation between the Self and the non-Self. Action, which is a basic function characterizing the Self in its living aspects, is not excluded by Narayana Guru from the scope of his absolutist outlook. In the last verse of the fifth chapter of the Darsana Mala, the non-Self representing the objective side of activity is a superimposition having no ontological reality of its own. Thus the instrumental mysticism of this chapter nourishes itself on the mere dreamlike airy nothingness of suppositions. It belongs to the same context as the absolute lover, madman and poet whose imaginative activity is more pronounced than their own subjective selves. The subject-matter and object-matter have both a mental or thin logical status as between an organon and its reason. Before concluding this section, let us add that a sense of well-being, called by William James 'healthy-mindedness,' is at the core of all mystical experience. The reference to joy or ananda will come into full evidence in the last three chapters. A negative state of agony also belongs to the same sense of healthy-mindedness. Most mystical states are induced by anterior states of ecstasy, agony or trance. These states are not in themselves aids to proper spiritual attainment of the Absolute.


In the last chapter all negative forms of mysticism are referred to as impure. The antinomies of healthy-mindedness and agony however belong together to the same context of happiness or joy. This explains why only the last three chapters refer to ananda (bliss) more intimately than the present, where activity is still within the bounds of reason.



Besides Bergson´s law of twofold frenzy there are other regulative considerations to guide us in recognizing normal and abnormal mysticism.
The second law which we propose is the law of reciprocity. All religious mysticism must imply the will of God and the will of man as interchangeable terms. Nature mysticism need not involve the will of God, but can substitute some greater will than that of ordinary man like that of a superman belonging to the negative side of Nature and not of God.
The third law is the law of compensation. All mystical experience is the result of an equilibrium between the two reciprocal factors mentioned above. When horizontal and vertical considerations are balanced, the resulting mystical expression is normal and stabilized within the personality of the mystic. When thus stabilized, we are obliged to treat all varieties as having an equal value between them.
The fourth law is the law of compensation. What is lost on one side is gained on the other. We have quoted a verse from Narayana Guru at the end of the Introduction (p.883) where this is brought out. We have also to think of a possible lack of balance resulting from undue stress on orthodoxy or heterodoxy, based on closed and static or open and dynamic tendencies. A cruel and exclusive brahmin and a pious saint who despises all non-Christians could hardly be said to have the proper mystical outlook, even when we could overlook some of their personal characteristics as extraneous to the situation. It is the verticalized link between counterparts that is essential.


Narayana Guru in Verses 62 and 63 of the Atmopadesa Satakam brings this out very clearly:

"Mere orthodoxy which says that one should not adopt
As one's own a doctrine belonging to the other side
How can it true knowledge bring? Lip service will not do;
One has earnestly to contemplate the supreme state.

That which is non-distinct from knowledge than knowing which knowledge
Straight away; here there is none other to know
As any ultimate knowing beyond, such the supreme secret
Of the most informed of men., who is there to know?"

Freak and abnormal expressions have a nuisance value in human life and cannot strictly be included under any type of scientific mysticism, although they could belong to the overall context of mysticism. Fanatics and certain martyrs also have disturbing effects on human affairs, though perhaps inevitably. The aesthetic instinct in man is also a form of mysticism. Oscar Wilde is perhaps a good example of this.
Patriotic and fanatical expressions also come under mysticism because of their bipolar affiliation of the inner man with outer values in group life. When a man thinks that a piece of art belongs to him he established a link, however feeble, between his Self and non-Self. This possibility belongs to the context of more specialized cases of mysticism. Narayana Guru points this out in Verse 48 of the Atmopadesa Satakam:

"The dweller within the body from its own status in pure being
In respect of each possible thing, treats all as "That is mine",
Or "This is mine", transcending bodily sense;
Any one becomes a realized man when we come to think in this way."


We shall, therefore, be very selective in choosing instances from some of the more familiar mystics of Europe and the Middle East. In the Epilogue we will include mystics belonging to the far Eastern context. We shall now begin with instances of mystics whom William James would call healthy-minded. In each case we shall try to give some personal traits or biographical details however meagre so as to make the mystic stand out as a real person. The cases that interest us are the ones revealing most clearly those structural aspects with the help of which we could refer them to a normalized type.



We have already spoken of Walt Whitman, whose mysticism stems from Nature and not from any religious exaltation or agony in the ordinary sense of the term. We could refer in this connection to the great English mystic Richard Jefferies (1848-87) as an example. Jefferies was the son of a farmer and during his lifetime was recognized as a writer of deep philosophical and mystical insight. He was accused on many occasions of atheism, because he never mentioned God in his writings, but always went straight to the source of his mysticism in Nature. The following passage is quoted from his spiritual autobiography, "The Story of My Heart":

"I was utterly alone with the sun and the earth. Lying down on the grass, I spoke with my soul to the earth, the sun, the air, and the distant sea far beyond sight. I thought of the earth's firmness - I felt it bear me up; through the grassy couch there came an influence as if I could feel the great earth speaking to me. I thought of the wandering air - its pureness, which is its beauty; the air touched me and gave me something of itself. I spoke to the sea: though so far, in my mind I saw it, green at the rim of the earth and blue in deeper ocean; I desired to have its strength - its mystery and glory. Then I addressed the sun, desiring the soul equivalent of his light and brilliance, his endurance and unwearied race. I returned to the blue heaven over, gazing into its depth, inhaling its exquisite colour and sweetness.
The rich blue of the unattainable flower of the sky drew my soul towards it, and there it rested, for pure colour is rest of heart." (11)


Other great nature mystics in the West are Rousseau, Shelley, Thoreau, Keats, Burns, Wordsworth and many other poets. Saint Francis also resembled a pagan in his personification of natural items like the Sun and elements. All of them in their own way express the same sentiments as Richard Jefferies in the above.



By way of contrast with Jefferies we take the instance of Joan of Arc, in whose case there is no mistaking that her patriotic motives were throbbing with mystical emotion and activity in a sublimated form of patriotism. Joan, the daughter of simple French peasants, left her family at the age of seventeen and in one month became a leader of the Dauphin's army. In 1431 she was tried by the Court of the Inquisition of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. The Court consisted of one cardinal, six bishops, thirty-two doctors of theology, sixteen bachelors of theology, seven doctors of' medicine, and one hundred and three other clerics. On Joan´s side there was only herself. The following short extract from her trial is sufficient to reveal her mystical state of mind:


"Questioner: Now did St.. Michael look when he appeared to you? Was he naked?
Joan: Do you think that, God has nothing to clothe him in?
Quest: Did he have any hair?
Joan.: Why would it have been cut off?
Quest: Does God hate the English?
Joan.: About the love or hate God may have for the English, I know nothing, but I do know that they will be driven out of France.
Quest: Did your hope of winning a victory rest upon your sword?
Joan: It lay in my Lord and nowhere else.
Quest: Is that all you wish to answer now?
Joan: I look to my judge - he is King of Heaven and Earth.
Quest: Do you mean to say you have no judge on this earth? Is not our Holy father the Pope your judge?
Joan; I will not answer further to that, I have A good Master - that is my Lord - to him only I look and to none other." (12)



One of the best instances of this type of mysticism is Henry Suso. Born in Germany (1295-1365), he was disposed towards asceticism. He was one of the most exuberant of Christian mystics, a disciple of Eckhart and well trained in philosophy and theology. One of his ascetic practices was to nail himself on a cross. This extreme form of asceticism he later denounced. The following speaks for itself:

"None can come to the sublime heights of divinity, said the Eternal Wisdom, or taste its ineffable sweetness, if first they have not experienced the bitterness and lowliness of My humanity. The higher they climb without passing by My humanity the lower afterward shall be their fall. My humanity is the road which all must tread who would come to that which thou seekest: My sufferings are the door by which all must come in." (13)


The sufferings of Boethius while in prison where he composed his "Consolations of Philosophy" belong to the same mystical context. St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross are also good examples of the mysticism of agony. Both were also very active in their lives and their mysticism was frowned upon by the Church orthodoxy of their time but in later years they became saints. Boethius lived from 470 to 525 and was strongly influenced by neo-Platonism, St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross lived in the 16th Century. Their lives are well known and we need not go into any detail.



When we come to philosophic mysticism we can include such names as Jacob Boehme, William Law, Meister Eckhart, John Ruysbroeck and John Tauler. We will quote briefly from each of the above mentioned. Many other mystics can be included in this list, even though they have not been philosophical in the strictest sense of the word. Such mystics are St. John of the Cross, Henry Vaughan, the Cambridge neo-Platonists, the Port Royal quietists, St. Bonaventura, the unknown authors of the Theologia Germanica and the "Cloud of Unknowing", Nicholas of Cusa and in modern times, the great American visionary, Thomas Merton. For lack of space we simply cannot include them all, so we must content ourselves with the first five mentioned.

Jacob Boehme, (1575-1624) considered by many to be the greatest mystic-philosopher of the Protestant tradition, was a shoemaker by profession and a mystic by temperament. His writings, though in many places difficult to comprehend, had a great influence on the German philosophy of later years. Boehme knew none of the great mystical writings of his time. He derived much of his inspiration from Nature, the Bible and the alchemist philosopher, Paracelsus.


The following is from "Six Theosophic Points":

"Nor have I ascended into heaven, nor have I seen all the works and creations of God, but heaven has revealed itself within my spirit in such a way that I therefore recognize the divine works and creation. By my own powers I am as blind as the next man, but through the spirit pierce all things". (14)

William Law (1686-1761) was greatly influenced by the writings of Jacob Boehme. Law stressed an individualistic Christianity, along with a mysticism guided by Boehme. Law was a brilliant stylist and was able to express in much clearer terms the more obscure parts of Boehme. It is fair to say that in Law we find the best continuation of Boehme. Up to that time Boehme's name was usually associated with the unbalanced aspect of mysticism and many people thought he was just an occultist indulging in mediumistic phenomena and wild visions. This was due to the misrepresentation and misunderstanding of his teachings. In the following passage, Law not only displays his mystical vision but also his great humanity and universality.
Regardless of a man's religion, salvation comes when the desire of the soul turns to God:

"Now there is but one possible way for man to attain this salvation or life of God in the soul. There is not one for the Jew, another for a Christian, and a third for the heathen. No; God is one, human nature is one, salvation is one, and the way to it is one; and that is, the desire of the soul turned to God. When this desire is alive and breaks forth in any creature under Heaven, then the lost sheep is found and the shepherd has it upon his shoulders.... See how plainly we are taught that no sooner is this desire arisen and in motion towards God, but the operation of God´s Spirit answers to it, cherishes and welcomes its first beginnings. Thus does this desire do all, it brings the soul to God and God into the soul, it unites with God, it cooperates with God, and is one life with God". (15)

Meister Eckhart, to whom we have previously referred, has influenced not only mystics like Tauler and Suso, but even philosophers like Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. We read the following from Eckhart:


"The just man lives in God and God in him, for God is born in him and he in God. With each virtue of the just person, God is born and made glad, and not only with each virtue, but with each deed, however trifling, done out of virtue and justice, and resulting in that there is nothing in the core of the Godhead that does not dance for joy! Ordinary persons can only believe this; but the enlightened know it." (16)

John Ruysbroeck (1293-1381) was one of the greatest of Flemish mystics. Indebted to both Augustine and Eckhart, he used the latter's philosophy as a foundation for his own highly personal mysticism. Ruysbroeck's influence on later generations was great and his disciple Gerard Groot founded the contemplative Brotherhood of the Common Life. Among others Ruysbroeck had great influence on Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) and the "learned and holy Platonist", Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464). The following is from "The Adornment of the Spiritual Life":

"But he who is united with God, and is enlightened in this truth, he is able to understand the truth by itself. For to comprehend and to understand God above all similitudes, such as He is in Himself, is to be God with God, without intermediary and without any otherness that can become a hindrance or an intermediary." (17)

John Tauler (1300-1361) was a friar-preacher in Strasbourg. He was a great teacher who, like Eckhart combined theological learning with mystical insight. Tauler was highly critical of Church orthodoxy and had a wide humanity. His influence spread all over Europe and, although a Roman Catholic, he was influential in an indirect way in the Protestant Reformation that followed.


The following is from Tauler's "Sermon for Septuagesima Sunday":

"His spirit is as it were sunk and lost in the Abyss of the Deity, and loses the consciousness of all creature-distinctions. All things are gathered together in one with the divine sweetness, and the man's being is so penetrated with the divine substance that he loses himself therein, as a drop of water is lost in a cask of strong wine. And thus the man's spirit is so sunk in God in divine, that he loses all sense of distinction ..." (18)



To the Sufi Mystic, God is eternally beautiful. Many great mystics have been Sufis. Probably the most well known is Jalal ud´din-Rumi (1207-1275) whose Ma'thnawi is one of the most popular works among Sufi followers. The following is from his poem, "Love in Absence":

"0 Thou Whose Soul is free from 'we' and 'I',
0 Thou, Who art the essence of the spirit in men and women,
When men and women become one, Thou art that One,
When the units are wiped out, lo, Thou art That Unity.
Thou didst contrive this "I" and "We" in order to play the game of worship with Thyself
That all "I" ´s and "Thou´s" might become one soul and at last be submerged in the Beloved" (19)

There have been many other great Sufi mystics such as Hafiz, Jami, Ansari of Herat, Al-Hazily, Attar, Fazil etc.


As space does not allow us to give a full picture of Sufi expression, we have decided to use Jami´s great "Poem on Beauty". It is one of the greatest mystical poems found anywhere in the world:

"In solitude where Being sinless dwelt,
And all the Universe still dormant lay
Concealed in selflessness, One Being was
Exempt from "I" or "Thou" – ness and apart
From all duality; Beauty Supreme,
Unmanifest, except unto Itself.
By Its own light, yet fraught with power to charm
The souls of all; concealed in the Unseen,
An Essence pure, unstained by aught of ill.
No mirror to reflect its loveliness,
Nor comb to touch Its looks; the morning breeze
Ne´er stirred Its stresses; no collieries,
Lent lustre to Its eyes nor rosy cheeks,
O'er shadowed by dark curls like hyacinth,,
Nor peach-like down were there; no dusky mole
Adorned Its face; no eye had yet beheld
Its image. To Itself it sang of love
In wordless measures,. By itself it cast
The die of love.

Beware! Say not, "He is All-Beautiful,
And we His Lovers" Thou art but the glass,
And He the Face confronting it, which casts, its image on the mirror.
He, alone is manifest, and thou in truth art hid."
"Pure Love, like Beauty, coming but from Him,
Reveals itself in thee. If steadfastly
Thou canst regard, thou wilt at length perceive He is the mirror also –
He alike The Treasure and the Casket.
"I" and "Thou" Have here no place, and are but fantasies
Vain and unreal. Silence! for this tale
Is endless, and no eloquence hath power
To speak of Him. This best for us to love,
And suffer silently, being as naught." (20)


The beauty of the above references, particularly the excerpts from Jami should not carry us away from our main line of interest which is to accomplish the scientific integration of all spiritual and religious expressions. What is important in the above quotations is their adherence to a fourfold structural scheme.

We hope to include in the last three chapters some more Western mystics and this is one of the reasons why such people as St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa and others have not been included in this chapter.




[1] Bergson, pp.230-231.


[2] Bergson,Two Sources, pp. 309-310


[3] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., Vol. II, p.306


[4] Bergson, Two Sources, pp. 296-297


[5] Bergson, Two Sources, pp. 242


[6] Bergson, Two Sources, p. 219


[7] Bergson, Two Sources, p.221


[8] McKenna, p.116


[9] McKenna, pp. 111-112


[10] Blakeny, p.245.


[11] R. Jefferies,"Story of My Heart".


[12] Joan of Arc, from the chapter on her trial


[13] H. Suso,  "Little Book of Eternal Wisdom", tr. London, 1910, by C.H. Mckenna


[14] J.Boehme, "Six Theosophical Points", tr. By Nicolas Berdyaev, Univ. of Michigan, 1958


[15] Happold, "Mysticism", London, 1963, pp-351-352.


[16] Blakney, p.246


[17] J.Ruysbroek, "The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage", tr. by Maurice Maeterlinck, Brussels,1900.


[18] S. Winkworth (trans), "The History of Life of the Rev. Doctor John Tauler", London, 1906, p.253.


[19] "Selections from the Ma'thnawi", trans. R. Nicholson, London, 1950


[20] E.Browne, "Poems from the Persian", London.








1. atmaiva mayaya karma karoti bahurupadhrk asangah svaprakaso'pi nidrayamiva taijasah
It is indeed the Self, though self-luminous
And detached, that through negativity
Does action bearing many forms,
Like the dream-agent in sleep.
ASANGA SVAPRAKASAH-API, although detached and Self-luminous,
NIDRAYAM TAIJASAH IVA, like the dream-agent in sleep,
ATMA-EVA BAHURUPADHRIK, the Self itself, bearing many forms,
MAYAYA KARMA KAROTI, by means of its negative principle does action
Because the Self, like the sky, is without taint and because it is Self-luminous like the sun, it cannot be reasonably thought of as capable of any action. In reality the Self does not do any action. If we now examine what it is that acts, we have to say it is Maya, because it is of the order of inert matter. It is not capable of any action independent of the Self. Therefore, because it is only capable of acting by the presence of the Self and is not different from the Self, and because for accomplishing any action there is nothing else, what effects all the various forms of action is the Self. That is to say, it is quite legitimate to think that it is the Self that effects all actions through Maya. In the state of sleep it is within everybody's experience that the subtle dream-agent is able to accomplish all action without possessing any outward organs of action. What the dream-agent accomplishes is experienced as if it is real, as long as the dream lasts. It becomes clear when coming out of the state of sleep that the work accomplished by the dream-agent is not real, but only apparent or virtual. The term bahurupadhrik (bearing many forms) is intended here to include within its scope all possible forms of action, the purport being that there is no action that is not attributed to the Self.

2. manye vadami grhnami srnomitiyadirupatah kriyate karma paramatmana cittendriyatmana

"I think, I speak, I grasp, I hear."
In forms such as these are actions accomplished
By the supreme Self, (which is also)
The Self of pure reason and the senses.
PARAMATMANA MANVE VADAMI GRIHNAMI, by the supreme Self  "I speak, I grasp",
SRINOMI-ITYADI RUPATAH," I hear", in such forms,
KARMA KRIYATE, actions are accomplished,
CITENDRIYATMANA, by the Self of pure reason and the senses (having the form of ego-sense with motor senses)
When action is accomplished it is the Self that remains and as the inner organs and the motor organs accomplishes all works. That is to say, it is the one Self as the reasoning Self (cidatma) that accomplishes acts of thought by saying to itself, "I think," and in the form of speech accomplishes the act of saying, "I speak", which is action in the form of the spoken word. As the Self of the hand accomplishes the action of taking which is of the form of grasping, and as the Self of hearing accomplishes the work in the form of "I hear." By reference to actions such as "I think" etc., we have to take it that all functions such as rising, falling, contracting, expanding and moving are also to be supposed. Because there is nothing other than the Self and because it is impossible that anything that is inert can accomplish any action, it is the ultimate Self (which is of the form of the reasoning Self with the senses), that accomplishes all actions, as expressly to be understood in this verse.

3. atmaivah karmanah purvamanyat kincinna vidyate tatah svenaiva karmani kriyante nijamayaya
Prior to action, it is the Self (that exists);
There is nothing else at all.
Through the Self, by its own negative principle,.
By itself are accomplished all actions.
KARMANAH PURVAM, prior to action,
ATMA-EVA VIDYATE, it is the Self that exists,
ANYAT KINCIT NA, there is nothing else at all,
TATAH, through it,
SVENA-EVA, by the Self itself,
NIJAMAYAYA, by its own negative principle,
KARMANI KRIYANTE, (all) action is accomplished
Prior to action there is only the Self and nothing else. Therefore it is that very Self which accomplishes all action through its Maya. Any action accomplished posteriorly cannot possibly arise from anything else. If we say that before the tree there was the seed, is it necessary to assert again that the seed caused the tree? The Upanishads also support such a view when they say that existence was what was there in the beginning. In other words this was in the beginning the pure Self.

4. saktirasyamanah kacid durghata na prthak svatah tayaivaropyate karma nikhilam niskriyatmani
From the Self, not different from itself
There exists a certain undefinable specificatory power
By that (power), all actions
Are falsely attributed to the actionless Self.
ATMANAH, from the Self,
SVATAH NA PRTHAK, not different from itself,
DURGATAH, an undefinable,
KACID SAKTIH ASTI, there exists a certain (specificatory) power,
TAYA-EVA, by that (power),
AROPYATE, is falsely attributed,
NIKHILAM KARMA, all action,
NISHKRIYATMANI, in the actionless Self
The Self has a specificatory power which is not different from itself and is undefinable. It is because of this specificatory power that all actions are attributed to the Self. Because the Self is actionless no action can be compatible with it. Then how is it we say the Self performs action? We are obliged to answer that Maya is the cause of all action and is the specificatory power of the Self. It is also incongruous to say that Maya, which is by itself non-intelligent, is the cause of action, because it is impossible that there is anything outside the Self. We are forced to admit that Maya is not different from the Self. On closer examination we see that it (i.e. Maya) is a non-existent principle. Thus when looked at in one way it has agency, and when looked at in another way it has not agency. When viewed in one sense it is existent and in another sense it is non-existent. On further analysis it is also seen to be indeterminate. When viewed in one way it is capable of occupying a place in the Self which cannot in principle give any place to anything outside it; and when viewed in another way it has no existence in the Self. In one way it is different from the Self, and in another way it is non-different from the Self taken as a whole as what is unpredicable and indeterminate. It is because of these qualities that it is undefinable and unpredicable. It is this very Self that attributes all actions to the Self which is actionless. It is also by this very Self remaining as desire (icca) wisdom (jnana) and action (kriya) that the Self is made to be an agent or non-agent of action capable of taking on all forms. When it is subject to desire the Self is the actor. In the form of wisdom it is actionless. When it is in action it can assume all forms.

5. sarvada'sanga evatma 'jnataya karma sangivat karoti na karomiti na jnah karmasu sajjate
The Self is always detached indeed.
One performs action as if attached due to ignorance.
The wise man, saying "I do nothing,"
Is not interested in action.
ATMA, the Self,
SARVADA, always,
ASANGA EVA, is detached indeed,
AJNATAYA, due to ignorance,
SANGIVAT, as if attached,
KARMA KAROTI, does the action,
JNAH, the wise man,
NA KAROM-ITI, saying "I do nothing",
NA KARMASU SAJJATE, is not interested in action
Here the word atma comprises both the living Self (jivatma) and the supreme Self (paramatma) without distinction. Like the supreme Self, the living Self is also always without attachment. It is because of ignoring the living Self as well as the supreme Self that it seems as if they participate in action. But wise men who have attained to true knowledge even when engaged in action know for certain that they are not performing any action at all. They never have any attachment to action. What has been praised in the Bhagavad Gita is the wise man who sees action in inaction and inaction in action. In reality there is no action at all in the Self. With those actions seeming to be present the Self has no relation. "But then where do these seeming actions exist? Who performs them? On what basis are they founded?" When such questions are asked, we say that because there is no possible place outside the Self there is no possibility of anything remaining outside it. We are obliged to admit that all actions merely seemingly exist in the Self and that the agency of all actions must be attributed to the Self. Furthermore the basis of all actions is the same Self and when it takes all possible forms it still remains as the great actor.

6. jvalati jvalano vayurvati varsati varidah dharatma san dharati khalveko vahati vahini
The one (Self) alone as fire (it) burns,
As wind (it) blows,
As water (it) rains,
As earth (it) supports (and) as a river (it) flows.
EKAH KHALU, the one (Self) alone,
burns,VAYUH SAN VATI, as wind (it) blows,
VARIDAH SAN VARSHATI, as water it rains,
DHARATMA SAN DHARATI, as earth it supports,
VAHINI SAN VAHATI, as a river it flows
It is the one Self that takes the form of the five elementals, each manifesting itself as the gross object by means of which all actions are accomplished.

7. urdhvam prano hyadho'panah khalveko yati niskriyah nadyantarale dhamati krandoti spandati sthitah
The one (Self) alone, remaining actionless,
Moves (as) upward and downward vital tendencies
Within the nervous centres, indeed,
It beats, murmurs and pulsates.
EKAH KHALU, the one (Self) alone,
NISHKRIYAH STHITAH, remaining actionless,
PRANAH (SAN) URDHVAN, as upwards vital tendency,
APANAH (SAN) ADAH, as downward vital tendency,
YATI, moves,
NADYANTARALE, within the nervous centres,
DHAMATI KRANDATI SPHANDATI HI, indeed beats, murmurs and pulsates
Inside the body, although remaining in the form of vital tendencies which accomplishes organic actions such as breathing in and out, the Self remains one and actionless.

8. astijanmarddhiparinatyapaksayavinasanam sadbhavamiha yo yati sa nanyo'vikriyatmanah
Here (in this visible world), as what exists,
Grows, transforms, decreases and attains its end-
As subject to six forms of becoming-
(That) is no other than the actionless Self.
IVA, here (in this visible world),
YAH, what,
ASTI JANMAR ADHI PARINATYA PAKSHAYA VINASANAM, as what exists, is born, grows, is transformed, decreases, attains its end,
SHADBHAVAM, six forms,
YATI, what is subject to,
SAH, that,
AVIKRIYATMANAH, from the actionless Self,
ANYAH NA, is no other
All the things we see in the world are subject to six forms of becoming. All these things subject to transformation are also subject to destruction and therefore they are unreal. It is only because of the existence of a changeless Self composed of pure existence that there is a semblance of the reality of things and their transformations. It is by dependence on such a changeless Self that the six transformations are possible. If there is no Self there is no world. It is for this reason that it has been said the world consists of the Self with its six transformations.

9. svayam kriyante karmani karanairindriyairapi aham tvasangah kutastha iti janati kovidah
By means of the inner organs and the senses
Actions become Self-accomplished.
However, the wise man knows,
"I am the unattached, inner well-founded one"
KARANAIH-INDRIYAIH-API, by the means of the inner organ and the senses,
KARMANI SVAYAM KRIYANTE, actions become Self-accomplished,
KOVIDAH TU, however, the wise man,
AHAM ASANGAH KUTASTHA ITI JANATI, knows "I am the unattached inner well-founded one"
The Self does not act and, if we say it is the inner organ and the senses that act because they are inert, they cannot accomplish actions as they are only the means of action. But if we examine how actions originate, we conclude that they are beginningless and accomplished by the presence of the Self ; in reality the Self does not act at all. The Self remains apart and is well-founded. The man using the double process of dialectical reasoning (uha-apoha) knows this reality with certitude.

10. drsyatvadbhasyamaham apyato'ham suktirangavat adhyastameka evadya svopi sarvoparisthitah
Because of being an object of experience,
Even the "I" is a conditioning factor,
Superimposed like the mother-of-pearl gleam.
Above everything else, today and tomorrow one alone is.
AHAM API, even the "I",
DRISYATVAT, because of being the object of experience,
BHASYAM, is a conditioning factor,
ATAH, because of this,
SUKTI-RANGAVAT, like the silver gleam in the mother-of-pearl,
ADHYASTAM, is superimposed,
ADYA SVOPI, today and tomorrow (i.e. always),
SARVOPARI-STHITAH, fixed above all things,
EKAH EVA, even one (is)
What is the object of consciousness is superimposition. (This verity has already been explained.) In other words, all things that constitute objects of consciousness are unreal. Even when so considered they have their basis in something real in order to express the unreal. Here the example of silver in the mother-of-pearl is given. When there is the superimposition of silver on the mother-of-pearl, although there is no actual silver it seems to be there. In spite of this the unreal semblance of silver is really based on the reality of the mother-of-pearl. In a similar way all actions and the egoism causing them are superimposed on the supreme Self. It is the supreme Self that is alone real, remaining one and eternal. The whole world consisting of action seems to be merely a superimposition on the Self. By the expression "fixed above all things" it is indicated that the Self is pure and other-worldly, transcending time and space as well as pleasure and pain, and that it is superior to all things.






All intentional possibilities of action as an overall concept have to be kept in mind if we are to follow the methodology employed by Narayana Guru in this chapter. Although we have spoken in terms of instrumentalism in the Western context, there is a reversal of the terms of the equation when thought of in the context of Vedanta. The Absolute Self of Vedanta is never an actor but resembles the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle. Instead of a man looking heavenward it is the frenzy attributed to the Unmoved Mover descending into a reality representing the pure Self that is to be given primacy in Vedantic methodology. We are here touching upon the most subtle difference between karma (action) as understood in the Purva Mimamsa of Jaimini and karma as revalued by Badarayana in the Uttara Mimamsa (i.e. Vedanta) The subtlety of this problem has given rise to a vast volume of polemical literature in India. The ramifications of such literature has reached the point of impossibility. It is therefore that we must carefully and clearly discern the methodological and epistemological implications of this chapter.

There is a paradox to be transcended here with the help of maya (the principle of error). All negative and positive factors hiding the pure unity, simplicity and reality of the Absolute are attributed to this principle meant to cover all philosophical error. It was clearly recognized as a negative principle in the fourth chapter. Now some of its necessary, though relativistic, positive aspects have to be thought of in connection with this mysterious factor of indeterminism or unpredicability. Paradox cannot be transcended by philosophy without the help of some such notion and the use of the term "Maya" is only meant to effect without absurdity the transition through the a posteriori and a priori methods of reasoning.


In order to clarify the methodological and epistemological implications let us start by referring to a verse in the Bhagavad Gita (IV.18), where the paradoxical relation between action and inaction are brought out in most categorical and unequivocal terms:

"One who is able to see action in inaction
and inaction in action, he among men is intelligent;
he is one of unitive attitude (yogi)
while still engaged in every possible kind of work." (1)

The two sources of action referred to are not unlike the two-fold seat of frenzy employed by Bergson. Here, however, it is preferable to think of these two factors in terms of the Self. There is an acting Self which, as the unmoved mover is behind all action. Its counterpart would represent the non-Self aspect of the same, when thought of as a conceivable whole or unit entity comprising all intentional or possible actions. In fact, strictly speaking, we need to refer to four different orders of selves: two horizontal and two vertical. This is to serve the purposes of our discussion of the dynamism of the fourfold structure of the Self, and is fully acceptable to the Gita (VI.6) where this fourfold reference is used:

"The Self is dear to one (possessed) of Self,
by whom even the Self by the Self has been won;
for one not (possessed) of Self,
the Self would be in conflict with the very Self,
as it were an enemy" (2)


In previous chapters the ontological Self, though still negative, was revealed with its double set of counterparts in consciousness, giving primacy to the existent. In this chapter the accent is on the subsistent, but the reference to the existent is only to be abandoned in the verses that follow. The arrow between the equation of the Self and non-Self points upwards or downwards as required by each item of dialectical reasoning which the critical reader must recognize carefully for himself. Always the same central normalizing value in the Self is to be given primacy over all other rival selves.

Further we have to notice that actions are meant to resemble dream activity, belonging to the same subtle order. The monstrous actual world of machines cannot easily be accommodated into a world of dreams. Those dreams with more subjective yet horizontalized values involved, might be pleasant; but those with vertical yet objective values might be disturbing nightmares.


Mechanics normally refers to a horizontalized version of reality or value. In contemplation it is a verticalized world that gains primacy. A fanwise expansion in a world of ever-increasing opportunities is not to be kept in mind here. That would belong to a world of contemplative horizontal values. All actions are meant finally to narrow down into purer contemplative wisdom values, so as to take us to the subject-matter of the next chapter. The three dimensions of the structuralism referring to the laws of physics or logical thought tend to get absorbed thus into the pure vertical fourth dimension. This process has been described by Bergson as comparable to the river Rhone flowing into the Lake of Geneva at one end and emerging from it at the other. Bergson's lake analogy is broader or more pragmatic than what is kept in mind by Narayana Guru in this chapter. If we draw an imaginary line across the broadest part of the lake we could get two counterparts between which action and retroaction are constantly establishing homeostatic equilibrium. It is this equilibrium in the domain of rival activities that constitutes the central theme of this chapter.


It is this schematically subjective pair of selves of which are subjected to a backward and forward equation in view of a unitive Self. The central neutral Self is neither an effect nor a cause when certitude about it is finalized. Vedanta stands in no need of ratiocination as in the revalued Vedism of the Purva Mimamsa, where the apurva (a rare unseen value of action) is an effect of action.

The Vedantin wishes to verticalize and reverse this position, and to see the Self neither as a cause nor an effect, but rather as a central Absolute, combining existence, subsistence, and value without contradiction.

In the concluding words of his commentary on the first four sutras (called the catussutri) of the Brahma Sutras, we find Sankara masterly summing up the position of Vedantic methodology. We read in I.1.4:


"As (values such as) son and body, etc, are nullified, as being relative or non-valid, how can the knowledge result of such order as "I am the existent Absolute" ?

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

Just as in worldly matters the terms "body", "soul" etc. are used for purposes of certitude, so too is this a valid instrument of reasoning for certitude regarding the self." (3)

The reversal of methodology has to be carefully discerned in the above text. It will be seen that there is a purification and verticalization of two rival selves by Sankara, one of which is a referent and the other a reference, for arriving at a non-ambiguous certitude in respect of the non-dual Self. There are two sets of pramanas (instruments of knowledge) to be distinguished. The first is referred to as laukika (worldly), while the other equates the ontological and teleological selves in the same context as the Transcendental Aesthetic of Kant. Both the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle and the highest Good of Plato can be easily accommodated in this verticalized version adopted by Sankara .


The difference depends only on a double-sided correction to arrive at a neutral Self. Such a Self is both ontological and teleological at once, as a cause needing no other cause. Ascending and descending dialectics neutralize each other here. One is permitted to say that man is God and God is man. "This here" can be equated to "that there" or vice-versa. A further elaboration of this double-sided method is found in Sankara's commentary on the Brahma Sutras (IV.1.7). A thorough reading of this will be very helpful to the reader.



The position of this chapter is a very special one coming after Chapter 5 which is fully ontological and where the last verse is clearly a mahavakya in an inverse form: sad eva tat "that is existent".

There the ontological Self was purified of all unreality, but the existent character was still retained. In passing over from the ontological side to the domain of metaphysics a paradox has to be transcended. This paradoxical element is Maya hiding truth and is not only capable of producing errors horizontally, which can be finally negated by a negation of all negations, but also has a positive counterpart referring to knowledge (vidya), to be confirmed by double assertion.


Conceptualism through general ideas produces errors in the same way as negative perceptualism. Within the domain of physics the error is produced by horizontal conditionings called upadhis, while in metaphysics conceptual factors having an teleological status are called adhyasa or superimpositions. The Self and the non-Self of this chapter move on the plus side of the vertical axis with an equation indicating a slight descending dialectical reasoning between them for purposes of methodology and value appreciation. We find it definitely stated in the last verse of this chapter that the Self is of a superimposed order called adhyasa (conditioned). Altogether, there is a fourfold possibility of error or certitude, tending to make speculation very thin. The untrained person too much in love with the usual operations based on probabilities, as understood in modern science, is likely to remain unconvinced about the type of argument or evidence adduced here for arriving at certitude. Here we have a teleological self equated back to an ontological one.

We have already referred to the important verse in the Bhagavad Gita (IV.18) showing the method used by Vedanta in transcending paradox. It is Maya that presents the paradox with all its complications and dual implications. It has been therefore called the principle of unpredicability or incertitude.

This Maya principle is treated here as a rival specificatory power or factor, capable of attributing all actions to the actionless Self. It must refer to an abstract conceptual principle of error at the extreme limits of the non-Self. This non-Self and the real Self have a reciprocal interaction, resulting in a fan-like expansion of tendencies in the pure Self which is its own vertical counterpart. Thus, the four-fold limbs of the quaternion enter into interplay, producing desires, knowledge and action, resulting in apparent nominal manifestation by the meeting of counterparts. The fourfold structure of the Self and the non-Self of the previous chapter was equated upwards and ontologically absorbed at the end. Here the superimposed Self is to be equated down, though retaining its status as a positive reference.


The central Self which is the referring one, is itself as near to the neutral ontological and teleological Absolute as possible, allowing the transition from physics to metaphysics to take place. The argument here moves within impossibilities and probabilities as well as between possibilities and improbabilities. As a result much reliance has to be placed on self-sufficing reasoning (svayam-pramanata). We find for example in Sankara's commentary on the Brahma Sutras (IV.1.7) a typical argument by possibility to the question whether we should sit while meditating. Sankara says, "because of possibility it is better to meditate while sitting". Characteristically enough, he does not adduce cogent reasoning from actualities but merely states that sitting is a superior way of meditating to lying or standing because it is possible.
In the Indian logic used by Sankara and others, impossibility and even possibility of one instance under various probabilities, support arguments based on postulation (arthapatti) and impossibility (anupalabdhi). These are the best weapons in the hands of the Vedantin, to be used advantageously against all merely analytic or positive arguments advanced by any rival school of philosophy.
Although Vedanta recognizes other arguments it does not rely on them much. Although analogy is used everywhere in speculation by critical and non-critical philosophy, Vedanta does not use it that much either.
Although the certitude in this chapter is rather thin, it is nonetheless scientific because it transcends paradox through reason. The various attempts even by mathematicians to resolve paradox, including the magnificent case of the Russell Paradox left unconvincing, proves this difficulty of recognizing paradox, not to speak of attempting to solve it in any valid scientific manner.



From the scrutiny of the text of this chapter and Narayana Guru´s own elaboration of items of activity we notice first that they are meant to be conceived of on the basis of an interchangeability between instruments and action. The linking of mysticism with the machine, as found in Bergson's instrumentalism, makes such action as implied in the frenzy of a Joan of Arc, riding on a horse to fight a battle in obedience to the will of God, a truly laudable type of mysticism, understandable in the pragmatic context of technocratic civilization.
Mysticism can include such rare cases as exceptions proving the rule, but the rule has to belong to a more subdued contemplative context wherein expansive horizontalizing tendencies are still kept under reasonable limits, and pure acts can compensate them by their own innate verticalizing tendency. Viewed in such a homogeneous perspective, a Science of the Absolute can only accommodate within its scope milder forms of subjective activity referring to the spirit. In keeping with this treatment of activity the Bhagavad Gita (V.8-9) gives us a pure version of activity whose orientation is vertical rather than a horizontal one.
We read:

"'I do nothing at all' - saying this, he of unitive ways, who is a philosopher (too), should think and, (while) seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, going, sleeping, breathing, speaking, excreting, grasping, opening and closing the eyes, treating the senses to be (merely) related to their (corresponding) sense-objects." (4)

Narayana Guru says the three functions of the Self as an instrument are: desire, knowledge and activity, having a gradation occupying successively three points within the instrument in a positive series in the vertical axis.


When these three levels of the non-Self at the tip of the vertical axis are cancelled out by a one-to-one correspondence with their three counterparts on the negative side of the vertical axis, the resulting certitude characterizes the activity of the neutral Self as a pure Unmoved Mover.
Narayana Guru includes as typical instances such activities as thinking, speaking, grasping and hearing. They are to be viewed almost as automatisms possessed even by a new born babe. It should be noted that these activities are not to be looked upon unilaterally. They are referred to in the commentary in each case as applicable to their respective subjective agencies or selves, and are made to tally with the activities as concepts belonging to the plus side.

As for other examples of generalized activity in the context of the Self and non-Self treated together we refer to the five items in Narayana Guru's comment to Verse 2. They are rising, falling, contracting, expanding and moving. The structural implications of these five movements are easy enough to understand. The last item refers to this horizontal motion. All these activities have to be inside a circle and equated with the instrument also treated as a unit counterpart. The resultant is absolute action as a mystical value. The pure mystical content of the heart of a Joan of Arc, when thought of unmixed with any exaggerated religious or political implications, need not be considered as falling outside the scope of absolute activity as it is to be understood in this chapter.



In Verse 6 select aspects of phenomenal activity are under reference. They are evidently meant to have a coherence between them. It is openly stated that although these phenomenal functionings are seen as distinct expressions of the operation of natural laws, they have all to be understood as one. The unifying element is the Self or the "I'' sense in each person, more overtly referred to in Verse 5 as a concept rather than an inner experience.


Activities, however varied at any level of psycho-physical life, have to refer to the Self which holds them together as a unifying principle. The varied and expansive cosmological functions in nature are capable of being comprised within the scope of the absolute Self, at whatever level they might find a chance to operate. Fire that burns, wind that blows, water that showers, the earth that supports enabling rivers to flow on its surface, have between them a functional and schematic unity when related to consciousness. Each function can be justified only when thought of in terms of unique Self, as implied in the word dharatma or supporting Self.

The five functions seem to suggest a five-fold structure belonging also to the five elementals. The five functional units called pranas (vital tendencies) also conform to this fivefold structural pattern. Besides the overt phenomenal aspects of Verse 6, there is a similar reference to functions within the body which raise or lower and contract or expand horizontally.

From elementals to the highest of intelligible Platonic entities of the universe there are a number of possible functional sets or units. This idea seems to be directly supported by Narayana Guru. We find in the Upanishads many references to these pentads such as the pancagni or five-fold fires. Narayana Guru also accepts a double tired fivefold structure in his comparison of the Self to a revolving lamp hanging high and burning in shadow form.(See Verse 7 of the Atmopadesa Satakam).

The reference to functions inside the body could also be recognized as psycho-physical auscultations. In Verse 7 those activities are referred to as fundamental inner activities also capable being fitted into a structural pattern common to both physics and metaphysics. A schematism belonging to the whole series of verses, when recognized will be helpful in linking them under one master-discipline.


The highest point in the series is found in the ninth verse where the conceptual version of activity attains to a thin degree of abstraction still with the vertical axis for reference on the non-Self side. Kutastha, translated by us as "well-founded", strictly means "rock-fixed". This second meaning is more in keeping with what Narayana Guru means here. Even as a general concept comprising all forms of activity in a dreamlike manner, it is capable of being compared to the silverness of the mother-of-pearl which is a mere superimposed effect and not a basic cause. It belongs to the domain of Maya in its ultimate and positive implications. Although Maya taken as a whole has a greater part of its function on the negative side this positive aspect is also very important. This is because Maya can participate with the bright and dark sides of reality as a basic principle of ambiguity.

The exact number of pentads included in the series ranging from the function of the elementals to the highest intelligibles cannot be fixed even with the help of the Upanishads. Sankara, in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras (11.4.5) also mentions how in the Upanishads there are found differences in the exact number of pranas. In trying to solve this his reasoning is similar to the question one may ask of captain of a cricket team, "How many players do you have?" He can truthfully answer, "We have thirteen (including extras) but only eleven players at a time on the field". In the same way we can fix a higher number of pentads ranging from top to bottom and not fix the actual number. It will be sufficient to recognize the bottom items of the series as perceptual and operating within the body, while the top items are of a conceptual order operating within the universe. Both belong unitively together in the same scheme, with the absolute Self as the linking element. The numerical figures are better when not rigidly fixed.


The difference even between conceptual and perceptual units is not important when they are organically related to an overall structure. The distinction is nominal only. It will be noticed in the last verse that Narayana Guru takes care to put the "I'' in a direct form of speech. This is evidently to avoid the confusion between the rival wills of God and Man which has vitiated much of Western mysticism. In Vedanta it is not a sacrilege but a merit to say straight away, "I am God". There are no ecclesiastical authorities to persecute individuals, as in the cases of Descartes, Bruno, Spinoza, Eckhart and many others who had always to keep an eye open for inquisitional orthodoxy. This meant they could not always openly say what they wished.

Thus it is the "I" that links all grades of functional units of activity, from prime matter to the highest Good. This "I" runs through all mystical or spiritual values from the bottom to the top or vice-versa, eliminating the obnoxious distinction between obeying the "will of God" and one's own true will or voice within. In keeping with a unified Science of the Absolute they are treated here as interchangeable at all levels.



Every religious and philosophical expression in India promises spiritual emancipation and freedom from suffering. The Karma Darsana has also to be treated as implying the same promise. Of the Purva and Uttara Mimamsas this is also true. They both adopt the same frame of reference, technical terms, semantic principles and a similar though complementary methodology. The logic implied in both Mimamsas gives primacy to sabda-pramana (the validity of the word) although the Purva Mimamsa tends to be more realistic in emphasizing the importance of the material and visible world.


The logical way of criticism and speculation is of a more common-sense nature with the Purva Mimamsa. No principle of Maya is found in its method, but the subtle dialectics of structural units belonging to ritualism is employed by Jaimini. Ritual is intended to produce, as an effect, an unseen result (apurva). The ascent from gauna (the relativistic) to the highest point of the apurva at the top of the vertical axis is of the essence of spiritual progress according to the anterior critique of the Purva Mimamsa.

Instead of rejecting all these presuppositions we find Badarayana accepting them. He does not deny the apurva but instead himself postulates a brahman or Absolute for his descending dialectical method. This is also supposed to produce freedom from suffering and spiritual emancipation. Throughout the Brahma Sutras we find this methodology belonging to the same context of Vedic ritualism. Jaimini wholly approves of ritualism, while Badarayana and Sankara tolerate it as useful at times and inevitable in many cases. It is at this point of the meeting of the two tendencies that the equation of karma and akarma has its meaning as a double-sided process involving a verticalized equation between the Self and the non-Self.

If the reader admits such an outline as plausible it will not be difficult to see that in this chapter Narayana Guru has only purified and verticalized the double dialectics involved, fitting it into a unified darsana for his own purposes. This answers the question why Narayana Guru has no longer any use for what is often talked about in the context of Indian spirituality as karma-yoga. The requirements of such a discipline are already implied here and Narayana Guru is satisfied with making a passing reference to karma-yoga in the Yoga Darsana and also in the Nirvana Darsana. Action in spirituality is a necessary evil.


It is wisdom that has to triumph as a more scientific or higher principle. In these verses referring to Karma we read how it is to be transcended by one who follows a pure line of spiritual progress. The Bhagavad Gita (11.49-50), while devoting a chapter to Karma, still categorically states its inferiority:

"Far inferior is (the way of) action to the unitive way of reason 0 Dhanamjaya (Arjuna); resort to reason for final refuge; pitiable are they who are benefit-motivated.

Affiliated to reason one leaves behind here both meritorious and unmeritorious deeds. Therefore affiliate yourself to the unitive way (of Yoga); Yoga is reason in action". (5)

In the Gita, IV, 19 and 37, action is treated in the same way as in the Upanishads. The first verse refers to jnanagni or the fire of wisdom where all works are reduced to naught and the second verse refers to the fire of wisdom reducing all work to ashes.


We read:

"That man whose works are all devoid of desire and wilful motive, whose (impulse of) action has been reduced to nothing in the fire of wisdom, he is recognized as a knowing person (pandit) by the wise. Just as fire when kindled reduces to ashes the fuel, 0 Arjuna, likewise the fire of wisdom reduces all works to ashes". (6)

The Gita also develops a much misunderstood teaching of desireless action known as nishkamakarma. Any wish for results belongs to the Purva Mimamsa. The Gita (XV.3) elsewhere unequivocally says one should first cut down the asvattha, representing the tree of holy relativistic value-systems of the context of Vedism.


Transcending the level in which Karma is tolerated as a necessary evil so as to rise into the domains of pure freedom is a very delicate problem. One accents Karma and in a certain way also rejects it. In the Brahma Sutras (IV.1.18-19) the subtleties of this question are first brought out by Sankara in Sutra 18:
"By the 'power' of work we understand its capacity of effecting its purpose. We therefore accept as settled the following conclusion: all works of permanent obligation, such as the agnihotra (fire sacrifice), whether joined with or devoid of knowledge, which have been performed before the rise of true knowledge, either in the present state of existence or a former one, by a person desirous of release with a view to release; all such works act, according to their several capacities, as means of the extinction of evil desert which obstruct the attainment of Brahman, and thus become causes of such attainment subserving the more immediate causes such as the hearing of and reflecting on the sacred texts, faith, meditation, devotion, etc. They therefore operate towards the same effect as the knowledge of Brahman." (7)

Sankara now answers a question about works continuing after the death of an emancipated man:
"After the death of the body there no longer exists any cause for such continuance; while up to death there is such a cause, viz. the extinction of the remainder of works to be enjoyed." (8)


Replying to another question about a new aggregate of works causing a new enjoyment, Sankara replies:
"Not so, we reply; since the seed of all such fruition is destroyed. What, on the death of the body, could originate a new period of fruition, is only a new set of works, and works depend on false knowledge; but such false knowledge is completely destroyed by perfect intuition. When therefore the works whose effects have begun are destroyed, the man who knows necessarily enters into the state of perfect isolation." (9)

The final doctrine arrived at here no doubt leaves the modern reader gasping. What we would like to add by way of help, is that at least as a reference for the guidance of spiritual instincts the structural implications of Vedic ritualism need not be considered altogether superfluous. An attitude of respect for perennial values helps the aspirant in his superior affiliation to the Science of the Absolute. As we have already said there is a subtle principle of compensation and reciprocity between the counterparts of action and non-action.
Beginning with the elementals as a structural unit with their corresponding action there are endless states of spiritual stability, each one to be considered valuable to the person concerned. Emancipation is a stable form of happiness, resulting from the cancellation of the Self and the non-Self aspects. This personal value is very important to recognize because of the impossibility for anyone of thinking of anything they are not capable of understanding.
We might add in passing that vidhis (obligations) are also referred to by Narayana Guru. Vedanta is usually considered as free from obligations, but as long as wrong actions are possible vidhis have to be respected, as for example, when we say in the chemistry laboratory that one must not pour water into concentrated acids but the opposite is permissible. The obligation spoken of by Narayana Guru is not to be taken as part of Vedism. Looked at in this way, every vidhi has a nisheda (prohibition) belonging to it.


The present chapter also very easily accommodates Spinoza's notion of an "absolute thinking substance", giving it fully operational or functional status. In algebra a function is more of a concept than a percept, while in the physical sciences it is the reverse. In the context of an absolute thinking substance represented by the "I" of Narayana Guru, this pure functional notion need not be repugnant to the spirit of a revalued Vedanta. In fact in the very first verse of the Atmopadesa Satakam, Narayana Guru uses the word karu derived from kri (to do) which also suggests karana (instrument). The term karu as the locus of all activities also comes very close to the absolute thinking substance.
Just as crude ritualism, anterior to its revaluation by Jaimini, has no value as a science, so too, crude action without correct dialectical revaluation should fall outside the scope of karma-yoga. Yet we find in modern India the vogue of calling any active man, even mere politicians and engineers, by this high sounding term. Perhaps for laudatory purposes any meaningless title can be used. Much of what passes for Yoga does not deserve to be included in its scope as a discipline to be understood in a dialectical rather than a mechanistic ratiocinative context.



When placed in its proper perspective the special instrumental or operational point of view is not for us the determining factor. Bergson's analysis of the structure and dynamics of mysticism has also been helpful to us in developing our own point of view. But mysticism as understood in the Vedantic context makes an important distinction between what is called sattvik (pure-clear) action and just ordinary activity. In Vedanta it is a verticalized version of mysticism that is important. This type of mysticism is also found in Buddhism and Taoism. All other expressions are either rajasik (active-passionate) or tamasik (dark-inert) and are of an inferior non-spiritual order.


The mystical expression of Western Civilization with its "Christian charity" and its mystical expression does not correspond to the pure mysticism largely taken for granted in India. We cannot linger here for a comparative study of the two expressions. We can only say that, for the most part, Christian mysticism is a horizontalized version of the purer mysticism of the East. In the mysticism of Vedanta the key words are santih (peace) and ahimsa (non-killing because of a general love of all life). This is also true of Buddhism and Taoism. A horizontalized version of active mysticism, it is true, is more compatible with the progressive motives such as democracy and pragmatism characterizing the modern West. Compassion for all life is one of the key values in Buddhism and this value has been appreciated throughout India. When an Indian peasant finds that it is natural for a Christian priest or man of good works to take a gun on a Sunday afternoon and go out and kill animals for his table, the peasant loses whatever respect he had for such "Christian charity". Such cases as that of a father killing his son who went to hunt with a priest are not infrequent in India, as one such instance is known to the writer himself. Full-flooded generosity to all created beings is a sublimated form of pure action as in electromagnetics.
Without abandoning the analogy of the machine we can think of its apparently motionless spinning flywheel which combines motionlessness with the essence of motion. Narayana Guru in this chapter adopts the same technique of combining action and inaction, as belonging together to the same Self. There is no question of pessimism or asceticism here. Instead a higher conception of spiritual activity is presented which does not lose any of its essence when sublimated in term of higher contemplative standards.


Sattva refers to this higher mode of activity in the context of the three nature modalities of the Samkhya philosophy, completely accepted by Narayana Guru. In fact, this way of thinking is taken for granted in Indian philosophy and one is hardly able to question it at the present time. There is really no need to question it either, because we find that in other important respects Bergson's own law of two-fold frenzy conforms basically to the same frame of reference.
Mysticism is so deeply engrained in the life of the common people of India that it is not possible to find conspicuous examples of its striking expression, as is so easily done in the active and zealous context of Christian mysticism. The popular appeal of a Mahatma Gandhi is essentially mystical. Though, as Bergson suggests, Western influences might have operated in the case of Gandhi and perhaps even of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, whom he brackets together as exceptional examples of the new Christian-oriented mysticism of India, we on our part are more interested in the purer forms of mysticism as a contemplative activity where the red glow of human sympathy for all life characterizes the best of Eastern spirituality. Activity, pure reason, and the white glow of higher mysticism have all to be treated together. Absolutist mysticism cannot draw a line between human happiness and the happiness belonging naturally to the rest of life. The negative notion of non-killing is balanced with a positive notion of love of all life. Like moonlight spread equally on the huts of a quiet and peaceful sea-side village, it is the feeling and activity involved in the uniform spreading of sympathy to all life that is the essential element here. Understood under the aegis of the Absolute and under the guiding watchwords of santi and ahimsa, mystical activity and expression take the form of an absolutely open or generous outlook, for which intellectual awareness or reason or attitudes of behaviour are but natural corollaries. Instead of giving specific instances of Eastern mysticism as promised in the Prologue, we have decided to refer to two poems of Narayana Guru containing a graded examination of the sentiments of kindliness, generosity and love of all life, treated together as the proper mystical outlook for an absolutist way of life.


The first poem is called Anukampa Dasakam (Ten Verses on mercy):




Such Mercy that even to an ant
Would brook not the least harm to befall,
0 Mercy-Maker, do vouchsafe with contemplation
Which from Thy pure Presence never strays.

Grace yields blessedness, a heart Love-empty
Disaster spells of every kind.
Darkness as Love's effacer and as suffering's core,
Is seed to everything.

Grace, Love, Mercy - All the three -
Stand for one same reality - Life's Star.
"He who loves is he who really lives" Do learn
These syllables nine by heart in place of lettered charm.


Without the gift of Grace, a mere body
Of bone and skin and tissue foul is man,
Like water lost in desert sand,
Like flower or fruit bereft of smell.

Those phases six that life do overtake
Invade not wisdom's pure domain;
Likewise the Mercy quality, when human form has gone
In good reputation's form here endures.

That dispenser of Mercy, could he not be that reality
Who proclaiming words of supreme import, the chariot drives,
Or compassion's ocean, ever impatient for all creation
Or even he who in terms clear non-dual wisdom, expounds, the Guru?

In human form here is He not a God
Or perhaps the Law of Right living in sacred human form?
Is He the pure begotten Son of the Lord Most High?
Or kindly prophet, Nabi, pearl and gem in one.?

Is he that soul personified who with holy ashes once
Fever chased away and many wonders worked?
Or yet the other of psychic power who, wandering in agony
Allayed his ventral distress even with song?

Else is he that sage of crowning fame who uttered once again
That holy script already known and writ in Hara´s name?
Or he devoted to the value of the Lord Supreme
Who here departed bodily ere life here from him was stilled?


Dispensing bounty here on earth and taking human form
Is He not that Kamadhenu Cow of all-providing Good
Dispensing bounty here on earth and taking human form,
The Deva-Taru which to each its gifts bestows?



High scriptures meaning, antique, rare,
Or meaning as by Guru taught,
And what mildly a sage conveys,
And wisdom's branches of every stage,
Together they all belong,
As one in essence, in substance same.


In the above verses it should be noted that Sankara, who is supposed to be primarily an intellectual, is alluded to as, "Or who in terms of clear non-dual wisdom expounds ...." The second selection refers pointedly to ahimsa. One cannot claim to carry the Lamb of God as a Good Shepherd on one's shoulders and have it on the table the next night without some sense of emotional conflict or contradiction. Even children understand this by the way they act when a favourite cock of the barnyard is served on the table.


The second poem is called Jivakarunya-Pancakam (Five Verses on Kindness to Life):




All are of one Self-fraternity.
Such being the dictum to avow,
In such light, how can we take life,
And devoid of least pity go on to eat?

The non-killing vow is great indeed,
And greater still, not-eating to observe;
All in all, should we not say, O men of righteousness,
Even to this amounts the essence of all religions?

If killing came to be applied to oneself,
Who, as a favour, would treat such a dire destiny?
As touching all in equality, o ye wise ones,
Should that not be our declaration for a regulated life?

No killer would there be if no other to eat there was-
Perforce, himself must eat!
In-eating thus abides the cruder ill
In that it killing makes.

Non-killing makes a human good --
Else an animal's equal he becomes,
No refuge, has the taker of life,
Although to him all other benefits accrue.



In this chapter action or Karma is to be distinguished from gross activity. It is rather a process taking place between the counterparts of the Self and the non-Self belonging together to the context of the Absolute Self. The Self is nearer to ontological reality and is here compared to an instrument or an organ in less mechanistic terms. What results from such an interaction may be gross or subtle expressions of activity resulting from their bilateral interaction.

Instrumentalism puts the accent on the ontological side. When the balance is correctly struck between the two counterparts, the resulting activity will resemble various forms of contemplative Mysticism. Although its striking and overt expressions might help us to diagnose its true character, they do not directly indicate the content of its true absolutist activity. It is therefore contemplative activity of a subdued kind that we should think of in connection with the whole of this chapter. The non-Self is here compared to a silvery gleam superimposed on a mother-of-pearl.


The means of action is the instrumental Self, and the ends are marked by the high goal of absolutist essence or value. The relational link between ends and means which are not in reality distinct, is the uncertain and ambiguous notion of Maya. Although Maya has been treated in its negative implications in the fourth chapter, it is not without its positive side as uncertainty moves between being and non-being.

Besides these features to be kept in mind, we have to notice that several grades of the Self are implied. The supreme Self (paramatma), the Self of pure reason and the senses (cittendriyatma), and the living Self (jivatma) have their places in an ascending scale beginning with the living Self and ending with the supreme Self. On final analysis the multiplicity of Selfs are not to be recognized, but to be laid at the door of Maya still hanging over from the ontological side. Any vestiges of horizontalism in a merely relational sense is in principle due to Maya. By a descending equation of the Self with the non-Self, Maya is finally abolished and all are cancelled out in the pure absolute Self. Perfect verticalization between the various concepts of the "I'' establishes a link between them which also vanishes. Finally, the levels used for linguistic communication are transcended and this is when we attain the pure Absolute in this chapter as in every other chapter as an integrating norm. We now give a summary of the verses of this chapter.


Verse 1. The reference to taijasah (the dream-agent) indicates that the activity here is not of a gross, inert or mechanistic order. It is a verticalized version of contemplative activity, productive of pure mystical states of mind. A fine and fluid world of events is to be imagined here. The ontological Self has emerged as a concept in this chapter instead of being a percept as in the last chapter. Epistemology and ontology can be treated inclusively in an integrated Science of the Absolute. In every case it is a conceptual Self we have to think of after crossing the middle of the work where the neutral Self was implied. It is not a subject nor object of predication, and like the Tao its reality suffers even by being named. This neutral point is the normative reference for all spirituality, including the attaining of the Absolute indicated in the last chapter.

This first verse gives the central place to any nameable Self as a concept as soon as this chapter permits the author to take his position from the neutral to the positive one. The instrumental status of the Self is brought out by the reference to the multiplicity of actions as possible effects. All these effects are however supported by the instrumental Self as indicated from the expression bahurupadhrik (bearing many forms). Its self-sufficiency is underlined by the term svaprakasa (self-luminous), while its perfect aloofness or loneliness without any horizontal implications is like the Unmoved Mover and is underlined by the term asanga (detached). A pure verticalized version of the Self is thus indicated as a concept. This Self is to be equated with its counterpart as necessary to any discussion on contemplative activity.


Verse 2. Here the only point to be noted front Narayana Guru's own commentary is the sameness implied between the paramatma (Supreme Self) and the cittendriyatma (the Self of pure reason and the senses).


Verse 3. The relation between clay and pot or seed and sprout is a vertical one. This is the same as the cause-and-effect relationship of Vedanta. One is derivable from the other. It is permissible for the Nyaya and Vedanta philosophies to speak of the prior non-existence of a pot and the clay from which it posteriorly sprang. Cause and effect can be equated both ways and give the same reality. It is in this sense that we find the term purvam (prior) pointing to the ontological side of reality.


Verse 4. The ambiguous principle of incertitude necessarily acting as a link between the Self and the non-Self is found in this verse. It persists from the ontological side of negativity and encroaches into the domain of concepts.

The term aropyate (is attributed) suggests an agency on the part of Maya. This has to come from the side of the non-Self as a concept. It is a horizontalizing factor of nescience whose essence cannot belong to any other reality than the pure verticalized Self. The horizontal and vertical tendencies belong to the same Self, at least as references. It is this horizontal factor that is at the root of the multiplicity of things and their interactions. The vertical Self is always independent of such.


Verse 5. This verse refers to the attitude of the wise man (jnah) He has merely to recognize the verity of the fully verticalized status of the Self to be established correctly in the context of the Absolute. By this sort of detachment he remains without the blemish of pluralistic activities that might tarnish his pure Self, independent of all horizontal factors. The only impediment to such a pure state is the ignorance caused by Maya. Once this horizontal tendency is transcended, ignorance disappears.


Verse 6. In this verse phenomenal aspects of cosmology are brought together into a structural unity so as to be equated upwards to the world of pure intelligibles or downwards to the world of perceptual ontological events within the microcosmic counterpart of the universe, having the same structure as the macrocosmic. The laws of nature hold good here. Cosmological events are to be treated as pure algebraic functions so as to be held together by the same Self linking cosmology and psychology.

The one (ekah) referred to is no other than the absolute Self. Here the wind and the river with its flowing movements can be thought of as belonging to complementary structural aspects; the wind being nailed, as it were, to the sky, and the flowing river to the solid earth. The Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads faintly suggest such a structural elaboration.

The linking of the earth as supporter with the term atma is justified because of the rich ontological status of the earth in preference to the sky. Even the sky, when subjected to proper methodological reduction can be given a symmetrical parity with the earth as its negative counterpart.

Rain represents a central value as a beneficent quality blessing him that gives and him that receives. The Tirukkural of Tiruvalluvar also treats rain in this absolutist fashion independently of ends and means:

"Rain creates fit food for them that eat and is itself their food,
Should the sky run dry, there would be neither festivals nor worship (for the Gods) here." (10)


Verse 7. The inner vital tendencies in the most abstract conceptual terms referring to their distinguishing sound or directions are treated here in a unitive manner. When equated with the cosmological unit, the abolishing of the vertical difference imagined by ignorance takes place and the contemplation of the neutral Self is induced. The term sthitah (fixed or remaining) refers to the central one (ekah) which is at the centre of every structural unit, whether cosmological or psychological in the vertical series. Immobility is suggested by this word and points its arrow toward the ontological Unmoved Mover.


Verse 8. The cosmic process from a horizontalized perspective with its creation, subsistence and re-absorption going on eternally and cyclically is equated and abolished in favour of a verticalized version of the Self. Two spiral processes originating at the two poles should be imagined here. The term asti (is or exists) refers to the ontological, and vinasanam refers to the teleological. However this latter does not in reality refer to the Self.


Verse 9. This verse underlines the self-sufficiency and independence of the Self as conceived by a wise man (kovidah) standing independently, as it were, above all conceivable phenomena. The term kutastha (well-founded one, or rock fixed) clearly suggests this. The "I'' (aham) is really the supreme Self beyond all plurality found in the world of the intelligibles. As the supreme Self it represents the goal of all spiritual aspirations.


Verse 10. The second half of this verse finalizes the status of the Absolute understood on the plus side; while the first half detracts from its ontological reality. It is of the order of superimposition (adhyasa), in the sense that concepts are raised above sense data, revealing the empirical world. This high Self belongs to the metaphysical context which is repugnant to modern positivists and empiricists etc. and denounced as "nonsense". It is true that such a Self is not within the range of percepts but raised beyond even the plurality of concepts. Still its validity cannot be questioned if axiomatic thinking in which mathematics thrives is also acceptable to physicists for arriving at their laws and theories.


The Absolute cannot tolerate the duality of subject and object. The very fact of being the content of a concept detracts from the reality of the Self. It is, therefore, compared by Narayana Guru to the epiphenomenon or iridescence imagined in a mother-of-pearl shell.

The terms ekah (one) and eva (even), however, make amends for what has been taken away from the full absolute status of this highest Self. It is further underlined by the terms adya (today) and svopi (as also tomorrow) attesting to its eternal character. This verse finally equates the highest Self backwards to the full status of the central normative Absolute.

By way of conclusion let us add that there is no direct reference in the text to mysticism. As we have said, mysticism is a by-product of the interaction of the Self with the non-Self. When a machine runs smoothly because of intelligent handling and care, no throbbing vibrations are produced. The instrumentalism intended by Narayana Guru belongs to such an order of pure participation between the Self and the non-Self. The examples of mysticism we have given are meant only to clarify structural and other implications of the possible manifold activity between the Self and the non-Self. When finally merged, in principle no action is possible. Action however has to be understood as a reality that cannot be overlooked as existing as a reality outside the vision of the Absolute.



[1] Bhagavad Gita, p.236


[2] Bhagavad Gita, p.287


[3] Our translation


[4] Bhagavad Gita, pp.264-265.


[5] Bhagavad Gita, p.158.


[6] Bhagavad Gita, p.237 and p.,250, resp.


[7] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., Vol II, p. 362


[8] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., Vol II, p. 363


[9] Ved. Sut. Comm.Sank., Vol.II,p. 363.


[10] "Tirukkural", trans. M Rajagopala Aiyangar, 1950, (Madras, S. India) Verses 12 and 18, resp.