Science of the Absolute Introduction to Part 2 (b)







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