Science of the Absolute Chapter 4 - Epilogue








The two-sided epistemological status of this chapter is of primary importance for us to discuss, before we can enter directly into the spirit of the individual verses. We have already pointed out that the key concept of this chapter is cidatma or the reasoning Self. This double expression is meant to serve a definite purpose. The ontological Self of the third chapter was coloured by a thick shade of darkness or falsehood. In this chapter it appears less deep in its darkness. We are still, however, on the negative epistemological side in the context of the Absolute.

The darkness here is just enough to be a kind of "clear-obscure" twilight accommodating the kind of error which makes the mother-of-pearl seem like bright silver. There is a subtler contrariety or contradiction (or both) of an epistemological order, implied in other examples like the snake-rope confusion. This involves a more basic gullibility or predisposition to error than is normal to the robust commonsense attitude of a realist and a practical man of the world. We have also pointed out that this whole chapter is outside the usual scope of Vedanta. The content of Maya is not only analyzed into its components, but its subtler ambiguity or ambivalence is more fully revealed as a two-sided negative and irrational factor. By introducing the concept of cidatma the Guru gives a revised locus to the particular kind of irrationality intended by Maya. In doing this he is able to meet the objections of those who are against the Maya principle of Sankara and accommodates their viewpoints within the scope of this or the previous chapter avoiding all possible lacunae.






In his short commentary, Narayana Guru raises cidatma by equating it to the status of the Absolute. On the other hand it is also suggested that the same concept can be equated horizontally with where the vital principle (jiva) is inserted or implied. This is a two-sided mechanism participating on the plus and minus sides both vertically and horizontally. We have used the analogy of a smoky quartz crystal. Here the smokiness is so translucent that the crystalline nature is able to show itself, sometimes becoming quite evident, as on the plus side. This is indicated by the slight retouchings of Narayana Guru in the commentary, whereby the notion of Maya is raised fully even to the unitive status of an Absolute. It could be said to represent the vertical negative aspect. This is not accomplished in violation of the spirit of the whole work.


Each of the Darsanas is meant to be not only treated in the light of the Absolute, but also with the normative Absolute implied in each verse. All are meant to be interchangeable with any other notion given a central place and unitive treatment in each chapter. Just as the names Narayana, Vishnu, or Hari are meant to refer to the same Absolute when used by Ramanuja or Madhva, so it is not the names that matter so much as the meaning and intention behind them. Plato has used such concepts as Beauty and Truth, and it is quite permissible to treat any significant value as having a fully absolutist status. In the attitude of Karl Jaspers we have seen already how a modern thinker accepts this.





In Vedantic literature generally the term Maya is used as an all-inclusive or blanket expression to cover many items of errors of judgment and value in human life. Ambiguity, ambivalence, irrationality, absurdity, as well as more delicate errors of judgment, as also more fundamental ones due to optical illusion and the like, are all jumbled together and made to be included under the overall term Maya. We find in the Maya Darsana a healthy departure from this usual and confusing approach. The important items making for the evil of Maya as an overall negative principle of error are reviewed and presented in a methodical order with a clear definition of each element. Maya has also already been referred to in passing in previous chapters where ontology or methodology had primacy. It was not necessary in the earlier chapters to cover the same ground. This is the reason why the present chapter has a more epistemological status in the context of reason. We see, however, some axiological references made in the commentary or gloss where it is concerned with the effects of a lack of Self-knowledge and where Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, is quoted.


In certain matters this chapter anticipates future chapters and what is more important, prepares the way for the next Darsana. All these delicate distinctions have to be fully appraised and appreciated by anyone wanting the full benefit of the minute workmanship of Narayana Guru. The same linking thread runs through the entire length of the Darsana Mala, as in the forward and backward movements of the "homeostasis" found in modern cybernetics. There is a gentle negativity and also a similar positivity found here. In thermodynamics, where the notions of entropy and negentropy are referred to, the same principle is involved. Also the processes of endosmosis and exosmosis found in biology can be helpful in understanding the mutual participation of essences here where negativity still dominates.






If the objectors to Maya could see the great effort made by Narayana Guru to agree with them, in that he gives to error an absolutist status almost equal to the positive Absolute, they might come down from their anti-Maya positions. Likewise the principle of contradiction is still retained in the favourite example of mother-of-pearl and silver, where the error is of an epistemological order and not to be explained away by any new kind of khyativada (principle of finding the attribution of error to some aspect of total fact, substance, or value).


The first verse refers to the overall category of error and negativity characterizing the concept of Maya. Error primarily refers to something having no raison d'être of its own. By underlining this aspect and giving it the very first place in the treatment of the subject, Narayana Guru has shown that the seven objections of Ramanuja have no sound basis. Having totally and emphatically denied the reality of Maya, his objections are fully accepted in principle by Narayana Guru. Yet this does not mean that one should not discuss its epistemological implications. Even to reject a false notion one has to use some critical judgment. When a National Bank resorts to elaborate accounting to cancel old notes and issue new ones, all calculations would be muddled if the cancellation department did not function correctly. The same is true for the Absolute, which can only emerge fully into view when the last vestiges of paradox have been abolished or made so transparent and thin that the paradox itself is dissolved into the core of the fully non-dual notion of the pure Absolute. Maya refers simply to the negative vertical parameter which needs normalization with reference to its own positive counterpart. Both positive and negative are then to be cancelled out in favour of a fully neutral and normal Absolute.







The magic of words can be alluring, so let us attempt to give precision to the variety of terms found in the present chapter.


The word "Maya "has already been used in Chapter 1, Verse 1; Chapter 2, Verses 3 and 7; and Chapter 3, Verse 8. In each chapter it has had a slightly different connotation or denotation. Even within the limits of this chapter the content of the term is held between two limiting factors which refer to wonder and fecundity. Also it is important always to keep in mind Sankara's definitions of Maya (see page 488).


We can now see how Narayana Guru is able to improve the situation by giving a clear definition of Maya in the present chapter. This helps to clear up the confusing meanings of some of the terms, such as jiva (vital principle) and brahman (the Absolute), both related to Maya. It will be profitable for us at this point to prove the advantages of the geometrical or schematic way of thinking. In the first and last verses there is an indication of the element of wonder and the all-surpassing and all-comprehensive fecund nature of Maya. Maya is meant to have an absolutist status of its own and its overall character of negativity or nothingness is the only point on which it differs from the fully perfected and purified notion of the Absolute. The Absolute can be thought of as that which is absolute among all that is relative, or the Relative of all relatives. When cancelled out against its own counterpart, we then have the Absolute of all absolutes, unnamed, formless and fully in-itself, for-itself and by-itself, with no duality nor rivalry. We will come to this complete unrivalled position at the end of the next chapter. In this chapter, however, a slight epistemological and methodological asymmetry is permissible and expected to be taken as normal.





In the first verse of this chapter there are two ambivalent pairs called vidya-avidya (science-nescience) and para-apara (transcendence-immanence), as well as three other items: prakriti or nature, pradhana or prime potent power and tamas or darkness. All these three have their ambivalence absorbed within themselves. They occupy a more central position in the scheme and are each placed at some point on the vertical parameter.


At this stage we shall try again to make clearer the implications of the schematic language we are using. First of all, there is a horizontal line of demarcation between the world of percepts and the world of concepts. If one writes the word "red" with a red pencil or alternatively proves the redness by making a red line or scribble, in this simple manner, the conceptual (invisible) and perceptual (visible) aspects are brought into clear distinction.

This distinction has been the subject of metaphysical speculation from most ancient times. In the Republic (Book VI), Plato resorts to the division of a vertical line into two parts with further subdivisions. The first broad division refers to this same distinction called the visible and the invisible (1), also called elsewhere the intelligible. The further sub-divisions depend upon the clarity of the ideas they represent. For our purposes we distinguish the two divisions more simply as the world of percepts or perceptibles and the world of concepts or conceivables.






On the basis of this distinction, the total knowledge-situation when thought of as a globe or circle has a horizontal line passing through its centre, serving as a schematic reference. Above, it consists of the conceptual elements of knowledge, while below it are the corresponding perceptual elements. Vedanta also recognizes this division by a nama-rupa or name-form distinction. Such a way of thinking is not foreign to Indian wisdom, and we find a masterful passage in the Bhagavad Gita (XIII. 34) where this kind of schematism is fully evident: 
"Those who by the eye of wisdom perceive the difference between the field and the knower of the field (its bearing on) elements-nature- emancipation - they go to the Supreme." (2)

 It is to the principle of the Cartesian coordinates that this new way of thinking in terms of analytical and geometrical forms has been a great improvement. It is not hard to recognize how Vyasa in the Bhagavad Gita, as well as Sankara and Narayana Guru, had the same type of structuralism in their minds, in spite of the fact that one of them tried to give, as we are doing in this present work, an elaborate protolinguistic form to the possibility of such a language Let us now take the first pair of ambivalent factors in Verse 1 called vidya-avidya. This pair is meant to have a superior epistemological status, higher up on the vertical axis than the para-apara pair. The alternating circulatory process involved in the domain of science and nescience takes place around a centre placed at a higher level on the vertical axis.






The figure-of-eight representing the alternatives as a living process takes place in a purer and more verticalized sense when the two antinomies or ambivalent factors are involved. The second pair which are para-apara have a horizontalizing tendency a little more accentuated than the former pair. Here the transcendent-immanent more closely approximates to the distinction of the field (kshetra) and the knower of the field (kshetrajna) as found in the above quotation from the Gita.


We have also to note that in the context proper to the first pair of antinomies the question of happiness (sukha) and suffering (dukha) does not occur. In the context of knowledge conducive to liberation on the one side and bondage on the other, sukha and dukha become one degree more vitalistically real as an alternating process at the lower level with a central locus placed in the vertical axis, where this process takes place between the plus and minus sides of the total knowledge-situation. When Narayana Guru points out that the vital principle (jiva), also a vitalistically conditioned self, is caught in a certain type of confusion, imagining itself to be alternately happy and suffering, such duality is abolished by merely stating, as he does soon after, "In truth there is nothing at all". (See Verse 6). Such a statement can be justified with the help of our schematic language when we say that the horizontal, which is the function of Maya, can be overcome by a philosophically trained mind which, by its better understanding, refuses to recognize the horizontalized value-implications where vital tendencies incline the Self to horizontalized interests. By a full verticalization of these tendencies one transcends the duality of the ambivalent interests. When this is done such interests become less and less accentuated, as if by a lighter and lighter coloration and become finally absorbed in terms of a pure mind-stuff (cid) in the purer vertical parameter. This process is already foreshadowed in Chapter 3, Verse 2, where it is seen clearly that real interests have a merely schematic status in the mind of a philosopher.







The general overall setting of the dynamism of Maya is found in Chapter 1, Verse 2. The Lord is endowed with a vague and mysterious attribute, and is able to create things from himself and at the same time exist outside his own creation. In the Bhagavad Gita (II, 28) it is further shown how all things remain unmanifested at the beginning and the end, and manifested in the middle state: 
"Beings have an unmanifested origin and manifested middle states, 0 Arjuna, and again unmanifested terminations. Where is there room for plaint herein?" (3) 


In this chapter we also find in Narayana Guru's gloss on Verse 6 happiness and suffering referred to alternately with reference to the jiva or vital principle. The factor affecting such alternation is Maya, which has a dynamism proper to itself and is capable of being accentuated or intensified, with a dualism between the pure and practical aspects where it pulsates or alternates in a continuous succession. When such attenuated pulsations are very fast, as in the case of electromagnetic pulsations, they tend to get fully absorbed into the vertical, and this horizontal conflict becomes unnoticeable. Life, when viewed in a perfectly verticalized context abolishes events such as birth and death, absorbing both into a one-dimensional continuum. Such an interpretation is justified in the Gita where it shows the two alternative views one may adopt.  




In Chapter II, 12 everything visible is seen to be abolished forever: 
"Further never was I non-existent, nor you nor these chiefs of men; neither shall we, all of us, ever cease becoming hereafter." (4)


While in Chapter II, 26 an alternating process is presented: 
"Or again if you should hold This to be, constantly ever-born or as constantly ever-dying, even then, 0 Mighty Armed (Arjuna), you have no reason to regret it." (5)


Such passages show the pulsations of Maya as an alternating process accentuated along a verticalized or horizontalized reference. The states of happiness or suffering can alternate very quickly or become evident within longer amplitudes of the time factor. Maya is therefore recognizable at the basis of such an alternating process, where expansion or contraction of tendencies takes place. In Chapter 2, Verse 7 of the Darsana Mala further light is seen to be shed on the implication of the Maya factor with the term maya-viduragam, or "as something banishing Maya far away."


We can divide into minute atoms, using a descending method of dialectics reaching the microscopic world of nuclear physics, or we can alternately ascend to the macroscopic world of astronomical plenitude. In both cases Maya is transcended and left behind. Although this double-sided dynamism does not seem to be possible according to Sankara's commentary on the Brahma Sutras, nonetheless it is accepted by Narayana Guru. He gives the analytic as well as the synthetic an equal status. The former belongs to the world of the perceptibles in the domain of physical science and the latter belongs to the world of concepts in the domain of metaphysics.






In the second part of this work we shall examine the lopsided view taken by Sankara on this matter. For the present, it will suffice to visualize clearly the double-sided dynamism at the basis of its functioning at the core of the reasoning Self (cidatma).


From the pair of antinomian factors held together in the epistemological context where vidya (science) and avidya (nescience) belong, we can pass vertically downwards to the more ontological colour domain of the immanent and transcendent similarly held together. Finally in the analysis of the components of Maya, we pass on to the next important serialized item called tamas (darkness). We have already pointed out how this darkness is not so thickly laid on as in the previous chapter. We see the error for which the typical example adopted is the analogy of the mother-of-pearl and the silver appearance instead of the rope-snake appearance. This latter analogy explains the fuller perversion of values when nescience treats the non-Self as the Self, and thus epistemologically the principle of contradiction is more fully admitted for logical purposes. The milder example of the mother-of-pearl and silver appearance is used by Narayana Guru where the visual mistake does not contain the same epistemological elements of contrast or contradiction between them. In mistaking the Self for the non-Self, resulting in this perversion of values, the error is more serious. Narayana Guru´s position in his epistemology and methodology resembles the attitude of Sankara himself. In more real and ontological terms of pleasure and pain he is satisfied with the mother-of- pearl example favoured by Ramanuja. Duality can exist in mild or accentuated, subtle or gross forms. Logical duality implying contradiction cannot be explained away, but ontological duality is capable of being transcended by the mind.


The difference in this matter between Sankara and Ramanuja is thus capable of being reconciled by a more scientifically revised absolutist methodology and epistemology.







We can recognize a gradation between the various factors making up the plus or transcendental side of the vertical axis of consciousness in the quasi-ontological context of the second ambivalent pair. The indriyas or sense organs which constitute a positive factor with the organs of action (karmendriyas), as their corresponding negative counterparts, represent values where the afferent and efferent tendencies of the mind neutralize or cancel each other out in terms of real interests capable of being located at various structural levels.


The mind, the focal meeting point of the interests treated together, when fully passive does not make any choice between alternative interests. When reasoning enters more actively into the context, there is discrimination between two alternative interests presenting themselves at the same time. This element of discrimination gives to the passive mind a deeper seat in the pure consciousness of the cidatma (reasoning Self). The interests themselves depend upon still more deeply-seated vital tendencies where organs of action and organs of knowledge neutralize each other at the seat of motor tendencies at a still deeper level of vitalistic urges. Between the vital tendencies known as pranas (explained in the short commentary to Verse 5 in this chapter) and the intellectual interests found at a higher level of the senses, we have a reciprocity and ambivalence. We see here a gradation in a descending order at successive points in the vertical axis, tending to be more and more gross.






The five vital tendencies function by expansion and contraction of sensory or motor organs, and have among them a chief vital tendency called mukhya-prana. Such a reduction is recognized even by Sankara in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras II.1.20), where we read: 
"Nor must the vital airs, on account of their being divided into classes, be considered as something else than vital air; for wind (air) constitutes their common character." (6) 


Further too, we see in his Viveka Cudamani (Verse 96), these vital airs included by him as one of the eight component items of the sukshma sarira (subtle body).



We have now to take particular note of the functioning of the immanent aspect of the second pair of ambivalent factors (i.e. para-apara). The transcendent has just been disposed of and now we shall refer to the apara or immanent. The immanent is described in Verse 7 as adhyatma-sthula-sankalpa-na-mayi, or as "what in the context of the Self is the basis therein of all gross presentiments of the will".


The first point to notice is that such a presentiment, though concrete, is not outside the scope of the Self. It still enjoys here the full and dignified status of a Concrete Universal as found in Hegel's philosophy. Vedantic philosophy generally dismisses anything not made of pure mind-stuff, calling it inert (jada) and unintelligent (acit). Ramanuja calls it mecha or insignificant, while Sankara, at least in his Brahma Sutras Commentary treats it as belonging to materialistic philosophy as represented by Kanada and Kapila.






To such thinkers he will not give any credit at all in what he conceives as constituting the proper domain of brahmavidya, the Science of the Absolute. (See II.2.1-18 of Sankara´s Commentaries for a serial refutation of the Samkhya (rationalist) philosophy of Kapila and the Vaiseshika (atomist) philosophy of Kanada.)


Some later Vedantins, however, make amends for such wholesale bypassing of all knowledge based on perception (pratyaksha). In this connection it is interesting to find the work of the 17th Century South Indian Vedantin, Dharmaraja Adhvarin. His Vedanta Paribhasha treats of all the pramanas (instruments of knowledge) found in the epistemology of Vedanta. The first pramana is perception, and it receives full epistemological recognition. We read as follows (1.1 and 1.18, respectively): 
"Of these, that which is the distinctive cause (karana) of valid perception (pratyaksha) is the pramana - pratyakshaHere, just as the water of a tank, going out through a hole and entering fields through channels, comes to have, even like those (fields), a quadrangular or other figure, similarly, the internal organs too, which are of the nature of light, going out through the sense of sight, etc., and reaching to the locality of contents like pot, is modified in the form of contents like a pot. This same modification is called a psychosis (vritti)." (7) 
Concrete things are not to be altogether dismissed from the scope of a complete Vedantic epistemology. Even the colourful implications of the universal concrete, given to generalization and abstraction, as is natural to any complete philosophy, is not to be considered outside the scope of the immanent aspect of the veiling and projecting power of Maya as a principle behind the presentiments of the will.






Such presentiments consist of the very stuff of the will, as indicated by the term sankalpamayi. We have also seen how Bergson presents a corresponding colourful version of prime matter subjected to movements of continuity or difference existing together in his notion of the schéma moteur.



There are many grades of indeterminism or uncertainty, from simple optical illusions to subtle errors of an epistemological order. The propositional calculus and logistics reveal a series of conditional grades of truth alternating within the limits of tautology and contradiction. This produces many varieties of incertitude. Logic-truths also add to this complexity. When appearances and realities cling closely together in such a way that one easily mistakes one for the other it becomes important to definitely fix the locus of error.


In India this attempt to locate error as belonging intrinsically or extrinsically to its proper grade, to be placed in the total situation where error is possible is called khyativada (the principle of finding the source of error). One thing is taken for another and the basic aspect where error is possible is the seat of such wrong or right 'reputation' or imputation called khyati. In order to give a discussion some kind of definitiveness, Vedanta and allied schools of thought make use of the example of the mother-of-pearl and silver appearance. Here the visible silver has to be taken as real as Ramanuja does when he says (in I.1.1): 
"Those who understand the Veda hold that all cognition has for its object what is real; for Sruti and Smriti alike teach that everything participates in the nature of everything else." (8) 




But from the ontological side, when the effect from the mother-of-pearl is treated as false and when both cause and effect factors are given equal status we arrive at a paradox. This paradox suits the purpose of transcending paradox by Sankara through his epistemology and his postulation of anirvacaniyakhyati (the principle of unpredicability). Other varieties of error have only a milder form of ambiguity, where one or the other of the two aspects is true. This is atmakhyat, favoured by the Buddhist Vijnanavadins (subjective idealists) who say: 
"It is established that the three worlds are representation only (ideation only).... the three worlds are only mind. Mind, thought, consciousness, discernment are all different names .... 'only' excludes external objects; it does not do away with mental associates." (9) 


Realists tend to treat error as outside the scope of the Self and idealists place it in the subjective Self. Error does not arise at all with some other philosophers who put it in an intermediate position. These latter khyatis do not involve any paradox or ambiguity factor of a deep epistemological order.


Two other khyatis, called anyathakhyativada (basis of error located elsewhere) and anirvacaniyakhyativada (the principle of impredicability), have the paradoxical being-non-being status of the Absolute or the Self at their basis. The former anyatha khyati is found in the Nyaya (Logical) school of philosophy. We read the following: 
"What is set aside by true knowledge is the wrong apprehension, not the object." (9) 


The latter khyati is found in Sankara´s epistemology.




This position of anirvacaniyakhyati has been quoted once before, on p.389. In trying to give precision to the principle of uncertainty Narayana Guru has his own definition, where he consciously relies on the classical example so dear to Indian speculation. This definition is in Verse 8 of the fourth chapter: 
"As the ignorance about the mother-of-pearl
The basis of the silver presentiment becomes
So, too, what in the Self is the basis (of the world)
That is known as darkness (tamas)."


This definition has no vagueness at all about it. There is a delicate interplay of two uncertainties, one of an ontological order and the other of a conceptual order. The two move alternatively as it were between the two poles located in the Self. A certain ignorance is said to be the basis of the wrong appreciation of value involved. Thought moves between two alternating errors: the first, not appreciating fully the ontological basis of the mother-of-pearl; and the second, being too easily carried away by the glamorous silvery appearance. There is not much to choose between these errors. For the purposes of this chapter, Narayana Guru allows a slight primacy in favour of ontology when he says that the locus of the error can be traced to the lack of full knowledge about the mother-of-pearl as an ontological reality. So, the error is a kind of ambiguity between two alternative positions where the negative is given slight primacy over the positive. This is done so as to remain consistent within the frame of reference of this chapter. This slight asymmetry will be balanced at the end of the next chapter and the anirvacaniya position fully dealt with.






Sankara's position gives full credit to paradox where both being and non-being, and neither being nor non-being, are equally valid. This corresponds to the full status of the Absolute as a pure schema or idea emerging to view only when the plus and minus factors are fully cancelled out against each other. When this is done the position of the Absolute is almost empty of content and even the attempt to name it would be wrong. This position is in the same spirit as that of the Tao Teh Khing, where it is said that the Tao (Absolute) that can be named is not the lasting and eternal Tao. This is also found in the concluding passage of the Mandukya Upanishad describing the fourth state (caturtham) of consciousness where all predicability is denied to the absolute Self. This tallies with the finalized version not yet attained in this chapter, where we are still within the reach of a negatively poised ambiguity.


At this stage of our discussion we will now attempt a schematic definition of Maya promised at the beginning of the analysis of Verses 1 to 8. The two other remaining items to be analyzed are pradhana and prakriti. Together they constitute reciprocal aspects of the same principle of Maya. The first phase of our definition is tentatively enunciated as follows: Maya implies a descending and horizontalizing specificatory or negative tendency while still retaining a subtle epistemological paradox at its core.



Both the terms pradhana and prakriti have the prefix pra- meaning "more so." When they are interpreted as prakasa the element of splendour or wonder is added. Prakarshena means in a wonderful manner". The two suffixes are meant to indicate a reciprocity between their respective operations within the creative functioning of Maya.






The radical -krit means "overt activity or doing", while -dhana means "to contain or hold together" in the manner of a receptacle holding the dispersing peripheral specificatory tendencies (11). We have to place this latter principle of decentralization at the extreme vertical negative point of the ontological or existent pole in the scheme so far developed. Manifestation negatively commences at this pole, as seen in the verses just quoted from the Bhagavad Gita where it is stated that the beginning is unmanifested (avyakta).


The Vaiseshika doctrine of ultimate atoms (paramanu) can also be consistently fitted into this prime ontological context where everything is contained in nascent form, referred to by Kanada as adrishta (12). This pole is also suggestive of the cup containing the essential materials used in Vedic sacrifices. It is a kind of receptacle where divergent tendencies meet together to fuse into a unique unity. The "inverted cup" already mentioned (see pages 495 to 497) is structurally its counterpart on the plus side of the vertical axis.






Having now fixed the position of the pradhana at the negative extreme limit, as the ontological source of Maya, and also revealing this structural paradox at the core of the Absolute, it is easier for us to fix the implications of prakriti. We have evidently to find a place for it at a level in our structure where the horizontalizing tendencies operate most strongly. Therefore prakriti finds its place at the zero point of the vertical correlate. Its function is pluralistic and centrifugal because of its specificatory creative urge expressing itself in the manifold colourful variety of the visible world. Although this variety is endless it has to presuppose the three nature modalities (tri-guna), called sattva (pure), rajas (active), and tamas (dark). The Gunas can be schematically represented in terms of the colour solid as follows: sattva belongs to the white tip of the top cone, rajas to the middle red zone where maximum specification prevails, and tamas to the black tip of the bottom cone where ontological necessity again gathers all tendencies together into its own unseen prior state. The red could be thought of as marking the same level as the neutral grey on the vertical parameter.


Having explained this much we now give the rest of the definition of Maya: From the extreme point of negativity in the vertical axis a reciprocal ascending movement of specificatory tendencies attains to a maximum horizontalization at the zero point in the centre. These two reciprocal processes can be viewed in terms of entropy or negentropy, or as endosmosis and exosmosis where they absorb each other. However, the reciprocity is not yet perfectly equalized because negativity prevails over the positive. At the end of Chapter 5 this will be correctly balanced. A double process has to be imaginatively visualized. This is a prerequisite for atmavidya (the Science of the Self) as Sankara points out in the Vivekacudamani, Verse 16.







In the second verse of this chapter the word abhava (non-existence) is found. This term, which is fundamental to the Nyaya-Vaiseshika methodology, is also approvingly adopted by Narayana Guru in his commentary (on page 548). In its revalued form the term is meant to clarify the position of the latter-day Nyaya-Vaiseshika philosophers who include abhava as a regular padartha (category) together with the six other categories. In Vedanta the term prag-abhava, or anterior non-existence, is used in relation to material substances such as clay, as the Guru Narayana himself does in this verse.


Philosophizing with matter as the starting point was repugnant to Socrates who openly objected to the hylozoists, whom he charged with being interested only in mud and stones, and not in the world of the intelligibles. In India this same contempt is revealed by Sankara in his Brahma Sutra Commentary. It is not difficult to discover, by carefully reading between the lines, how Sankara's philosophy is also tainted with this prejudice. A large part of his commentary contains a rather matter-of-fact polemical denunciation of the Samkhya and Nyaya-Vaiseshika approaches. He takes his stand quite rightly on the claims of sabda pramana (the validity of the scriptural texts), but his way of upholding the a priori and axiomatic method is not altogether scientific. In standing for the notion of the Absolute in all its independence and purity, Sankara never tires of stating again and again his objection to the ontological pradhana of the Samkhyas. He also summarily dismisses Buddhist philosophy and the paramanu (ultimate atom) doctrine of the Vaiseshikas.






No credit is given to the ancient rishis (sages); Kanada, and even the great Buddha are supposedly unable to counter the arguments of the Vedic lawgiver, Manu. The slightest criticism of the Vedic word, even when impossible and contradictory positions are found, is nonetheless endorsed by both Sankara and Ramanuja. This extreme intolerance in the name of orthodoxy unmistakably comes into evidence when the question of caste and Vedic orthodoxy are mentioned. In the apasudra-adhikarana (section denying Vedic rites, religion, etc., to the proletarian), the spiritual status of the sudra is discussed. This orthodox attitude denies any rights and dignity whatsoever to the common person. It is comparable only to the instances of slavery and lynching in America and the anti-Semitism of Europe and Hitler before and during the last World War. This section of the Brahma Sutras is a blot on human nature and genuine Indian spirituality should not be confused with it. We find mention of permission given to punish sudras by killing them if they happen to know the contents of any part of the Vedas. If they innocently happen to hear the Vedas being recited it is permitted to pour molten lead or wax in their ears. If the sudra is caught uttering any Vedic passage he is to have his tongue cut out. Although exceptions to this rule are mentioned and reluctantly approved using far-fetched and irrelevant arguments, as Max Muller pointed out, this section of the Brahma Sutras (I.3.34-38) sufficiently reveals the nature and intensity of the intolerance and exclusiveness of a group of orthodox Hindus. The claim of Hindu tolerance made by Swami Vivekananda in his famous Chicago Address seems very weak when viewed from this particular perspective.





That Sankara has no word to say against this in his commentary is rather strange because his position regarding caste is different in the Vivekacudamani, where in verse 297 he compares caste to a rotting corpse. Also in his Upadesasahasri (A Thousand Advices) in Verses 14 and 15 he tells the student it is wrong to think of himself as being a Brahmin. Whenever Narayana Guru met an orthodox person claiming to represent Vedanta, invariably the first question he put to him was whether or not there was any justice or kindness in the section of the Brahma Sutras dealing with the status or dignity due to sudras.


We have alluded to this section of the Brahma Sutras at some length merely to show how spirituality can degenerate into something closed and static. This tendency is evident in Sankara's commentary where he does not even succeed in covering up his intention of completely destroying all philosophical views different from those of the Brahma Sutras. He never accepts another's standpoint, but always clings tenaciously to his own. His conclusion found in II.2.17. regarding the Vaiseshika philosophy is summed up as follows: 
"It thus appears that the atomic doctrine is supported by very weak arguments only, is opposed to those scriptural passages which declare the Lord to be the general cause, and is not accepted by any of the authorities taking their stand on Scripture, such as Manu and others. Hence it is to be altogether disregarded by high-minded men who have a regard for their own spiritual welfare." (13)






 The only relieving feature of Sankara´s commentary is the extremely subtle nature of some of his speculation revealing delicate fencing tactics directed against a number of imaginary opponents. Unfortunately, many of these opponents are not true representatives of the schools of philosophy they are supposed to represent, but instead are mere caricatures. Sometimes they are even degraded to a lower position and presented as unintelligent. This device is used for the glory of Vedism and Vedanta. It appears that this work must have been written for the training of a group of Vedic Brahmins for use against their more philosophical and spiritual opponents. Fortunately the position of the Brahma Sutras is openly and dynamically revalued by the Bhagavad Gita.


In contrast the approach of the Bhagavad Gita is strikingly different to that of the Brahma Sutras. The Gita is strictly in accordance with scientific norms of thought and completely open and dynamic when it says in Chapter IV, Verse 11: 
""My very path it is, that all men do tread from every possible approach." (14) 


This open outlook is further evidenced when it says in Chapter IX, Verse 32, that sudras, women, and even those of sinful origin can attain to the supreme goal. (15)

The Samkhya philosophy also receives complete recognition in Chapter XVIII, Verses 13-16. (16) 
The purpose of the Gita is to revalue the restate both the orthodox and heterodox currents of thought of its time. In Chapter V, Verses 4 and 5 the emphasis is on complete equality of status between orthodox and heterodox disciplines. (17)
In Chapter IX, Verse 32, reference is made to five distinct levels or categories in the context of a philosophical analysis of the Absolute.





It is admitted in Vedanta that one and the same Absolute has three distinct aspects called satyam-jnanam-anantam (ontological truth or reality, wisdom, and infinity). Here a vertical series of distinct levels is seen passing from the existent through the subsistent and finally to the world of high values. Vedanta accepts ananda (value or bliss), atma (the Self), and brahman (the Absolute) as referring to the same Absolute. Such combined theological, psychological, and cosmological treatment does not refer to three different Absolutes. Anyone who is not able to understand such a unity is said in the Katha Upanishad to "wend from death to death". There is also the Vedantic toleration of different names, such as the Supreme, Vasudeva, Hari, Vishnu, or Narayana; all being accepted as referring to the same Absolute. Furthermore, we have to notice that the rules of Vedanta are not violated when the cause of the universe is traced to the Absolute or even to its secondary negative derivations or aspects such as Maya. We quite often read in Vedantic literature that Maya is the cause of the universe. Strictly speaking, this should not be permitted if the Brahma Sutras and Sankara's commentary are to be taken literally, because, according to them, the cause of the world cannot be anything but Brahman.


It must be permissible for a philosopher to interpose any number of intermediate notions considered as immediate or remote sources of the world. For example, in another context, the immediate source of colour is the vibrations behind the effect. This does not mean that the overall source of colour is denied. The orthodoxy reflected in the Brahma Sutras seems to insist vehemently that only brahman is the cause of the world. The consensus of the meaning of the text, as understood by its author. Badarayana, is the only reason required to prove the direct and unique causal relation between the phenomenal world and the Absolute. Thus the pradhana of the Samkhya philosophy is totally rejected.





In strictness the same objection can be applied to Maya as the cause of the world. Every philosopher, in making the transition between the world of appearances and the Absolute, has to overcome the paradoxical elements between them. At one or another epistemological grade of his discussion this can be done. For the purposes of necessity he can use as many intermediate concepts as might be needed for his system in order to bypass all contradiction and resolve paradox. This is permissible as long as he consistently explains his terms. Therefore it is not necessary for an open- minded and scientific philosophy to object to another's terminology when it is clear and precise. As we have just noted, much latitude already prevails in the matter of naming the Absolute and the three or five categories belonging to it, and it is not incorrect for a philosophy like the Samkhya to refer to a term like pradhana. The term pradhana only means "Prime Nature", as a receptacle similar to the notion found in Plato's "Timaeus".


In the Bhagavad Gita (XVIII.13,14) already referred to, there are the five categories called adhisthanam (basis or pedestal), karta (actor or doer), karanam (instruments of action), cesta (varied activity), and daivam (the divine principle). To bundle them all together under the term Maya is a much easier task for the non-critically minded metaphysician than to clearly and analytically number these categories. Instead of being a drawback in speculation, such analysis into categories should be welcomed. The Gita is therefore more critical, scientific, and methodological in its approach than the Brahma Sutras which generally takes its stand on the evidence found in the scriptures. Doing this only gives certitude to its highly orthodox beliefs.






The term adhisthanam found in the Gita (XVIII.14) is a reference of special importance, because it refers to the ontological aspect of the Absolute. When one finds there reference to the Samkhya philosophy, which is respected here rather than jeered at, the dialectical revaluation undertaken by the Gita is evident. We read as follows: 
"In what concerns agency for cause (hetu) and effect (karya) the motivating factor is said to be nature (prakriti) ; in the matter of the experiencer of pleasure and pain, the motivating factor is spirit (purusha)." (18) 


The duality of prakriti and purusha has been attacked by certain Vedantins on the grounds that the two factors involved are comparable in their relationship to a lame beggar with sight being carried by a blind beggar with strong legs. Such an example used in this way is not valid when prakriti and purusha are fitted into a fourfold structural context instead of only a twofold one. This is exactly what the Gita revaluation accomplishes when we carefully examine the implications found in the last quoted verse above. They are related to a deep seated and common basic cause (hetu). These two aspects of the same Absolute meet on a common epistemological ground called hetu, admitting neither contradiction nor tautology but accommodating both the twin aspects structurally, organically or functionally.


Material and psychological factors are seen to be attributes of both. Nature is viewed from its effect-side first and deep-seated causes are traced horizontally to their origin in the receptacle of prime matter or pradhana. The reference to the instruments of knowledge as experiencing pleasure and pain is given an intermediate position between the source and its manifestation. Spirit is related to the same material basis, corresponding to the notion of pradhana which is more of a potential than a kinetic aspect of Nature.






The main distinguishing feature of purusha (spirit) is that it has a consciousness capable of appreciating pleasure or pain. The enjoyable (bhogya) is the horizontal correlate of the vertical enjoyer (bhokta). Both belong to the same context of the Absolute. The justification for such an interpretation of this verse is found in the frequent references to these two aspects of Nature as bhogya and bhokta. Another verse of the Gita (IV, 32) is also highly suggestive of this same type of structure. The verse reads as follows: 
"Thus many and varied are the sacrifices spread in front of the Absolute. Know them all as originating in action. Thus understanding them you shall gain release." (19) 


Here 'sacrifices spread out' unmistakably has a horizontal Upanishadic reference.



In the Svetasvatara Upanishad, Kapila is referred to with honour. We read: 
"(Even) the One who rules over every single source,
All forms and all sources;
Who bears in his thoughts, and beholds when born,
That red (Kapila) seer who was engendered in the beginning" (20)


Next, we go to VI. 16 of the same Upanishad where concepts such as prime matter or pradhana (the potent aspect of nature), prakriti, (nature as manifested), and visvakrit, the maker of all, figure together in a delicately interwoven manner. We read as follows: 

"He who is the maker of all, the all-knower, self-sourced, intelligent, the author of time, possessor of qualities, omniscient, is the ruler of primary matter (pradhana) and of the spirit (kshetrajna), the lord of qualities (guna) the cause of reincarnation (samsara) and of liberation (moksha), of continuance and of bondage." (21)





What specially interests us here is the similarity to the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle as well as to the Prime Mover, which is the same when more abstractly viewed. Also "prius nobis" or what is prior in terms of knowledge corresponds to the adrishta of the Nyaya-Vaiseshika philosophy as a paradoxical notion of absolute substance, having its double aspects of natura naturans and natura naturata. All this is foreshadowed in the above quotation. It is not a teleological Absolute that is the source of all things, but rather an ontological one. The ontological Absolute forms the negative pole of the vertical axis while the Vedantic teleological Absolute forms the positive side. This is fully recognized in the Maitri Upanishad (VI.10) for the purpose of tracing the origin of the material world. Formal and material causes are thus equally in order in the light of the epistemology of this and other Upanishads.  

 It is not hard to recognize the notion of pradhana as corresponding to Aristotle's notion of entelechy. Purusha is the vertical positive correlate of prakriti and both meet at the negative vertical level of the Absolute. Prakriti and pradhana occupy their respective positions on this same negative side of the vertical axis. This is the reason why Narayana Guru refers to atma (the Self) instead of cidatma (the reasoning Self). When he treats of prakriti and pradhana he further proceeds in an epistemological manner towards the negative factors making up the totality of Maya. The study of Maya can be undertaken from two ends, which are those of prakriti when the three gunas or nature modalities are fully operative in it. This is the seat of the most delicate of paradoxes in consciousness and it is where all philosophy has its origin.  







The Nyaya (Logical) point of view of Gotama, the Vaiseshika (Atomist) point of view of Kanada, and the Samkhya (Rationalist) point of view of Kapila, are all seen to be woven into a set of unitive whole visions by Narayana Guru. On first appearance this may seem to be an artificial construction, but a fuller analysis of the Darsana Mala will dispel such an opinion. What will be revealed instead is the fine workmanship of all the chapters that go into making the single garland. It requires microscopic scrutiny to establish a link between non-existence (abhava) and the unseen principle (adrishta) implied in the atoms (anu) of the Vaiseshikas. We have to recall what has already been said in the attempt to link the ancient Greek concepts of Nous and Logos (see pages 84-37). Western pre-Socratic philosophers like Empedocles, Heraclitus and Anaximander have contributed much to hylozoist thinking where prime matter is treated in relation to a vital life principle.


It is important to note that in Verse 2 Narayana Guru adopts a fully dialectical methodology bringing in the concept of abhava. This term is explained in his short commentary to Verse 2 as belonging to the Nyaya school of philosophy. Abhava has for its further corollary the notion of ananyatva or non-otherness. This is advantageously used in Verse 2 where the material cause and its effect are treated as being perfectly interchangeable dialectical counterparts. This same methodology is consistently found throughout each chapter and it is this element that lends structural unity not only to the present chapter but to the work as a whole.






Abhava is treated as a padartha (category) in the Nyaya-Vaiseshika school of philosophy. It was added as a seventh category to the six others which are dravya (substance), guna (nature modality), karma (action), samanya (universal), visesha (specific) and samanvaya (mutual inherence). It is easy to see that abhava brings up the tail end of the overall epistemological series. Although it refers to non-existence, it is not meant to be empty of all content. We have to suppose a more basic and pure matrix or content on which the notion of non-existence can be fixed on some kind of neutral world ground. The possibility of an equation between this non-existence and its dialectical counterpart which is the Absolute, is sufficiently evident from the second half of Verse 2, where it says brahma hi, which is ("even the Absolute."). It might be now asked how a negative entity can be equated with the non-negative Absolute? This slight asymmetry is found consistent with the title of this chapter and its subject-matter. It will be progressively abolished and normalized by the end of the next chapter. For the present let us go one step further and recognize the vertical parameter relating abhava to the extreme point where the ultimate atom (paramanu) is distinguished in the context of the pradhana. The Samkhya revaluation of the pradhana justifies the association of the paramanu with the pradhana.

Kanada's view of the atom is as it were related to a vanishing point corresponding to the negative pole in our structural representation. Just as Euclidean points are without dimensions but merely have location in absolute space, the atom can be considered as linking existence with non-existence. There is reference in the Vaiseshika system to binary atoms called dhyanuka as well as triune atoms called tryanuka. There is also reference to a quaternion structure between two sets of atoms with unique specific qualities of their own.






They refer to the first four of the five elements and each corresponds to their respective sense organ in the human body. These atoms are not just physical "realities" to be looked upon as unilaterally objective in status. They are rather psycho-physical entities, where extension in space can meet with cogitation in subtle terms of essence. The intricacies of such a position are not easy to explain strictly in the light of the various philosophies attributed to this school. The variety of viewpoints found within the Vaiseshika developed from pre-Upanishadic times makes it difficult to fix any particular period or school as final in such matters. We also find this account on ontology in the Vedanta, where as late as the 17th century, the author of the Vedantaparibhasha, Dharmaraja, already quoted, added his important contribution. Indian wisdom is a growth of thousands of years with an earlier and a later limit covering many centuries.. We can do no better therefore than to rely on the masterful summary and estimate of the Vaiseshika philosophy presented by Theos Bernard which reads as follows: 
"If science has shown us that matter is merely an extension of the invisible, the question arises, how can something of magnitude be produced from something without magnitude? This can best be illustrated by an example from mathematics, which deals in the realms of abstraction. Through a process of logical reason in the analysis of matter, we arrive at a place beyond which further division would involve us in the fallacy of regressus ad infinitum, which no reasonable person can admit. This ultimate position is designated a point, which is defined as that which has neither parts nor extent, but position only; therefore, it can be considered only from its position, which is a stress in the universal, all-pervading cosmic force out of which all things come. As such, it occupies no space, has no inside or outside; having no parts, it is not produced and cannot be destroyed, which involves the separation of parts; therefore, it is eternal, and it has no magnitude, that is, no length, breadth, or thickness. This positional reality is what is meant by the Sanskrit word anu and the superlative of the term, paramanu." (22) 





Bernard now shows how the prime atom takes on both a binary and ternary form. We read: 
"If, at least two points (anu) associate themselves in such a manner as to combine along a common axis, the resultant effect is classified as a binary or a form consisting of two variables. This form is described as a line which is defined as a series of related positions or association of points so coordinated As to have a single axis. In Sanskrit this binary form is known as dvyanuka
To produce the third element of thickness necessary for the creation of all visible phenomena having magnitude, it is necessary for at least three lines to associate themselves in such a manner that they will combine to form an integral whole, operating and functioning as a single system. This system is technically classified as a ternary form, that is a rational integral, homogeneous function of a set of three variables. In Sanskrit it is designated as a tryanuka or trasarenu." (23) 


We now read this interesting observation regarding the ternary atom:
"This combination of lines gives thickness to the former unit having only length and breadth, and thus produces all visible forms known to us in the objective world, varying only in the degree of intensity of the association forming either vaporous clouds or a glittering diamond." (24)






Bernard concludes as follows: 
"In this manner, all the objects of the phenomenal world are produced. So, in the last analysis, everything is but an appearance of an intangible reality; that appearance is the magnitude called mass, which is only a means of measurement and not an actual reality. These new forms act independently from their fundamental constituent parts in the same way that a gyroscope exerts its own influence when it is operating." (25) 


The affinities of this analysis of the atom with our four dimensions and our own two-sided conical structural model are easily recognizable. Each inverted cone has three dimensions where the extreme negative point at the bottom corresponds to the position occupied by the atom. The gyroscopic operation refers to the centrifugal and centripetal functions inherent in Nature. The reference to the indivisibility of the atom reminds us of Schrodinger's reference to the ultimate atom found in modern physics as non-material and as a mere image.


Both pradhana and prakriti are to be thought of together, though operating with a reciprocity at two different levels. They represent between them the two gyroscopic movements whose prakriti separates centrifugally the three qualities and centripetally fixes them together once again in a mutually transparent or invisible manner.


Non-existence (abhava) is always presupposed in the negative limiting notion of the paramanu which is itself eternal, unique and without dimensions. It also has the element of adrishta (unperceivability) as a synthetic a priori beyond in the negative direction, being based in an absolute neutral world-ground which is the amorphous matrix of all manifestation of names and forms.






The non-otherness (ananyatva) of abhava (nothingness), taken side by side along with the notion of the Absolute, is one of the subtle points in the second verse that fully deserves thus our recognition.



The one problem puzzling philosophers in both the East and the West is the question of the participation, insertion or articulation of mind with matter. The parallelism between them and the occasionalism where interaction takes place is well known in Western rationalism. In India the Vaibhasikas, Yogacaras and Vijnanavadins who believe in momentary appearance and disappearance have been examined by Sankara in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras. The simpler and more original Buddhist standpoint also receives more respectful recognition by him. Yet many of the arguments directed against these schools are seen not to be dignified enough and often full of childish objections not fully respecting the total setting where each theory has been set forth. One even sometimes wonders if the same Sankara is responsible for each and every comment on the numerous sutras. Here and there a superior and well-constructed critique emerges, but generally one becomes disgusted with the low order of argumentation used against anyone who is not in the orthodox Vedic camp.


In the Brahma Sutras (II.2.28) we have an example of a brilliant critique of certain Buddhist positions. This shows in itself that it did not come from an ordinary mind only capable of arguing in childish ways. We find in this critique the finalized Vedantic standpoint where the principle of negativity prevails in its two-sided ambiguity and incertitude.






We are quoting from it because of its bearing on the reality both of the visible world and the mental world behind it. The real is not explained away but treated on a par with its own dialectical negative counterpart, resulting in anirvacaniya-khyati-vada or the principle of unpredicability. To use the term of Heisenberg, two "conjugates" are involved here. We are led to this line of inquiry because in the present series of verses we find in the commentary to Verse 3 that it is vidya or science that is able to bring emancipation. Let us now examine briefly Sankara's version of the dynamism behind the interaction between mind and matter. We see how his argument is in agreement with Narayana Guru's own standpoint. We read as follows: 
"The non-existence of external things cannot be maintained because we are conscious of external things. In every act of perception we are conscious of some external thing corresponding to the idea, whether it be a post or a wall or a piece of cloth or a jar, and that of which we are conscious cannot but exist .... Nobody when perceiving a post or a wall is conscious of his perception only, but all men are conscious of posts and walls and the like as objects of their perceptions. That such is the consciousness of all men appears also from the fact that even those who contest the existence of external things bear witness to their existence when they say that what is an internal object of cognition appears like something external. For they practically accept the general consciousness, which testifies to the existence of the external world, and being at the same time anxious to refute it they speak of the external things as like something external ...... If we accept the truth as it is given to us in our consciousness, we must admit that the object of perception appears to us as something external, not like something internal." (26) 





There are two sets of dynamisms clearly visible in the sixth verse of this chapter where the ambivalent aspects belonging to the cidatma (reasoning Self) are cancelled out into a neutral state between pleasure and pain. There is also another dynamism involved between prakriti and pradhana having a centripetal and centrifugal alternating implication. This takes place at a lower level where the positive reasoning faculty does not enter to the same extent into the situation as in the former. Verse 10 clearly indicates the dynamism immediately behind prime matter. There are unmistakable horizontalized implications herein, while the former dynamism between the transcendental and the immanent concerns the deep seat of alternating value appreciations. This latter alternation is reflected in the Isa Upanishad (Verses 11 and 14) where vidya-avidya (science-nescience) and sambhuti-vinasa (becoming-destruction) are represented as circulating in rapid alternation between the two poles which we could suppose as implying a figure-of-eight pattern of circulating movement (see pages 494-495). The other two dynamisms alternating at frequent or long intervals within the negative core of Nature have a motion similar to a gyroscope. There is always a quantitative division of cells and a qualitative continuity of chromosomes as in biology, as Schrodinger explains in his work.







As we have previously stated, Bergson in the "Two Sources of Morality and Religion" refers to the universe as "a machine for the making of gods." He is speaking here as an instrumentalist who is capable of attaining the idea of God from the functional or operative side of instrumentalism. The converse version of the same overall situation is found in the Bhagavad Gita (XVIII.6), where it states: 
"The Lord dwells in the heart-region of all beings, 0 Arjuna, causing all beings to revolve through the principle of appearance (Maya) (as if mounted on a machine.)" (27) 


In the Maitri Upanishad (VI.38) the Absolute is referred to as "of size of thumb or span within the body" (28). In the Darsana Mala there is the reference to the tendency of light and darkness not being able to coexist. All these are basic antinomies with their equivalents found in any serious philosophy. The Absolute is the only principle that can effectively abolish the paradox and in doing so it sets up a circulatory alternation of tendencies in consciousness. We have already referred to these as endosmosis-exosmosis and entropy-negentropy. In cybernetics there is also this functioning called action and retroaction (feedback) and also the idea of homeostasis (equilibrium). In the previous section reference was made by Theos Bernard to the gyroscope in dealing with the paramanu of the Vaiseshikas and now we see how the Bhagavad Gita treats all beings as revolving on a machine. Reference was made to these statements in order to show that Indian wisdom can also treat of the mechanistic world of the machine when it wishes to. In other writings of Narayana Guru we find this subtle bipolar mechanism lending itself to the paradox of Maya.






We read the following in Verse 33 the Atmopadesa Satakam (One Hundred Verses on Self Instruction): 
"Knowledge in order to know itself
The earth and other manifestations became.
In inverted manner thus now mounting, now changing over,
Like circulating fire-faggot it keeps turning round." (29)

The circulation of thought confirming to a figure-of-eight is clearly implied in Verse 17 of the same work where we are given a graphic structural image of a rotating hanging lamp consisting of two decks or tiers representing the conceptual and perceptual aspects of cognition. The two poles brought up respectively by the concepts of the atom and the Infinite (akhanda) is also referred to by Narayana Guru in the Atmopadesa Satakam, in Verse 96. We read:

"The atom and the infinite as being and non-being
Loom thus from either side; this experience too
Of being as well as non-being shall thereafter extinction gain,
And devoid of any basis, shall forever cease to be! (30)


The parameter uniting the Logos and the Nous has already been explained by us in various contexts. Mind and matter or name and form participate from two opposite sides instead of being graded one into the other as evolutionists and even certain creative evolutionists like T. de Chardin might imagine. Bergson speaks of such an approach as an error starting from the time of Plato.






According to him instincts meet intelligence at a point where they disperse each other. This meeting of antinomies resulting in world manifestation, described in Verse 33 of the Atmopadesa Satakam quoted above, makes it clear that such a meeting comes from opposite sides.


If we now think of the implications of such a structural double- sidedness regarding spiritual progress, it is true in the first instance that the desire for such progress points its arrow to the plus side of the situation. But philosophers like Nietzsche have also pointed out that thinking of what "was" is one of the greatest tribulations to the spirit. Dwelling on the past is a form of regret and dangerous to spiritual progress. This is why pitriyana (ancestor-worship) is degraded in the Vedanta and devayana or worship of the gods is at least tolerated as the next best, pointing the arrow in the right direction for normal spiritual progress. In this connection Narayana Guru does not rule out even the possibility of attaining the hidden treasure of the Absolute by digging into the negative and retrospective layers hiding it. Such a progress moving in this negative direction can attain in principle at least the ultimate atom (paramanu) and by this attain the light of the Absolute. We read in the Atmopadesa Satakam, Verse 64 the following:
"This which ever prevails, surmounting each interest item
One's proper retrospection alone can compromise.
By means of extremely lucid memory, however, the revealing
Of ultimate-wisdom-treasure is still not us unjustified." (31)






We conclude this section by pointing out that Kanada and Kapila should not be looked upon with contempt as is done in the Brahma Sutras. Both these philosophers have made large contributions to the Science of the Absolute. If ordinary pious and religious spiritual progress does not move in the same negative direction it should not to be thought wrong for more sturdy contemplatives to take this negative and more scientific approach. Viewed in this light the contributions to an integrated Science of the Absolute made by Kapila and Kanada remain monumental.



Although the title of this Chapter is Negativity, referring as it does to the principle of error, we have to remember we are still in the domain of ontology. At first sight ontology means existence (sat), but the status of the word sat is the same as the existing reality referred to in Chapter 1. Here the notion of sat in pure or absolutist epistemology belongs to a purer context in the negative vertical axis. The ontology implied in the previous chapter on phenomenology is where eidetic presentiments and tangible phenomena based on the mind were treated together.


We are now dealing with subtler forms of illusion. Verse 17 of the Atmopadesa Satakam refers to a lamp burning with a shadow as the basis of the visible form. In this light and shadow analogy the side that light represents stands for conceptual knowledge, understood as referring to the vidya or science found mentioned in the beginning of this chapter. The extreme negative limit is the all-comprehensive notion of negativity implied in the pradhana which attains its own dignity as the unique rival factor of the positive or normalized Brahman of the Sutras, or the Absolute.





In the concluding summary of the textual commentary Narayana Guru enumerates eight items, including Maya, (see page 555) and discusses each of them summarily, with Maya as an overall principle of negativity meant to cover a series of other graded aspects of ambiguity and error. These eight items can be regarded as boxes within a box. Yet such a view becomes incompatible when grades of error are themselves considered in the light of a purer epistemology where dignity or richness of content become homogeneous and equally transparent to the light of the one Absolute. The boxes need not be considered then as small or big or gross or subtle in size or nature. Prakriti, for example, with its strong dynamism cannot be enclosed in simple negativity. These grades have only a categorical or schematic status with an inner dynamism proper to the whole.


The proof that we are still in the domain of ontology is found in the accentuation placed on the ignorance of the mother-of-pearl in Verse 8. This can be contrasted with the same example in the last verse of Chapter 6, where the silver appearance seems to be given primacy. These are delicate aspects of Narayana Guru's detailed workmanship in the structure of this garland of verses.


Another such delicate point to be noticed is the definition of vidya as opposed to avidya. Here we find a high degree of transparency wherein this positive ambivalent aspect of nescience participates and reveals the Absolute as the basis of all apparent duality. The smokiness of the quartz crystal which is lighter than in the previous chapter, has here beginning at its tip a transparency and brilliance giving it the epistemological gradation which this chapter is meant to emphasize.






We now summarily review the verses: 
Verse 1. It is important to note that Maya is meant to cover all other negative concepts and its rival in dignity and status is the neutral Absolute itself, still to emerge into full view in later chapters. The inner contradiction involved in asking whether Maya is real or exists, or even bringing in the question of belief or non-belief, is revealed by the very first characteristic of Maya in the definition given in the very first verse. It is like a person shaking his head to say "no" when asked not to move his head by a doctor or barber or of writing the words 'this is a white pencil' with a black lead. There is an inner inconsistency in denying Maya which is itself based on a basic denial.


Verse 2. The non-otherness of what is unreal in connection with the Absolute requires careful examination. The non-existence of a pot contains the existence of the clay which is its material cause. This dialectical way of thinking is an accepted feature of Indian logic and fully valid in Vedanta, although properly speaking this method originated with the Nyaya (Logical) school of philosophy. Cause and effect thus belong to a context similar to a reversible reaction and together constitute a pure mathematical equation where the terms are interchangeable. In principle there is no harm in equating pure nothingness with the pure Absolute as is done by the Madhyamika school of Buddhism.

We have to suppose that the negative side of the Absolute is first absorbed into the pure nothing anterior to nothingness referred to here. By the very act of abolishing the negative, the positive Absolute evaporates because the positive and negative are dialectically interdependent. The paradox is to be solved thus by double negation and double assertion so that the neutral Absolute could be attained.






Verse 3. This verse begins with a double negation ("The non-Self is unreal ...) in order to doubly assert ("...the Self is real) the fully Absolutist ontological aspect of the Self. Here the Self belongs to the ontological or negative side because the appearance of the snake belongs to the conceptual non-Self side. A subtle inversion is present which is the basis of the appreciation of wrong values and which comes into evidence in the next verse where a simpler pair or ambivalent ontological factors is under consideration. Already in its germinal state nescience contains the element perverting normal values of intelligent life.


Verse 4. When the third verse is understood, the meaning of this verse becomes clear enough. This verse only states the converse position of the last .


Verse 5. Here the central notion is cidatma, a combination of pure reason and the Self. There is here both the horizontal and vertical aspects, brought into relationship with each other. This aspect of the Self as cidatma is subject to alternating pleasure and pain. Narayana Guru in his short commentary relates this with the jiva or vital principle and jiva (vital self) should be understood as the horizontal correlate of cidatma. There is also a reference in the commentary to the limbless Absolute with which cidatma can also be correlated. Such an Absolute is the verticalized version of the same. Besides the definitions contained in the verse, our structural analysis helps to fix these notions more precisely


Verse 6. When the structural mechanism of verse 5 is understood a full verticalization of the tendencies in the jiva would be found to abolish the ambivalent alternation of pleasure and pain At a higher level both get absorbed into the Absolute.






Verse 7. In the immanent (apara) aspect of the ontological, fully existential and negative Absolute there is the nuclear pattern of reality present as a universal concrete. This is compatible with our own idea of the colour solid. The universal concrete of Hegel tallies with this ontological aspect. When nature operates more fully this potential nuclear aspect of the concrete universal transforms itself kinetically from its inner epistemological status to a more manifest one.


Verse 8. The delicate interplay of ambiguity between the mother-of-pearl and the silver appearance rests on an ontological rather than a teleological or psychological basis. A fuller knowledge of the mother-of-pearl abolishes the error of the silver appearance. Negativity, when pushed further, abolishes duality by diminishing the possibility of error at the opposite pole. We have already pointed out how the position will be reversed in Chapter 6 when we pass from ontology to teleology employing an ascending dialectical reasoning.



Verse 9. In the second half of this verse an alternate meaning is given to the notion of pradhana or the negative "receptacle" at the bottom of the total situation. It has its counterpart in the inverted cup that we have alluded to in the third chapter. The pradhana is a notion referring to the negative pole of the vertical axis.


Verse 10. The terms trigunatmika (consisting of the three nature modalities) and prakritya-iva (by its inner nature) are meant to underline that nature is not to be considered extrinsic to the context of this chapter, which might suggest itself rightly or wrongly in the light of Samkhya duality to some critics.  


In concluding this chapter Narayana Guru indicates in his short commentary how it is possible to have many subdivisions of Maya. Items such as type-psychology, types of philosophy, religion, painting, music, literature and even diet can all be, discussed under the threefold modalities of Nature.





In Chapter 13 of the Bhagavad Gita some of these aspects are covered. The Gita as well as the Samkhya Karika also mention that when sattva predominates rajas and tamas are passive; when rajas predominates sattva and tamas are passive, and when tamas predominates sattva and rajas are passive. The last chapter of the Bhagavad Gita extrapolates and applies the principles of the three gunas in a variety of ways.


The further ramifications of the operations of prakriti found in the commentary are sufficiently clarified in the Gita. We have also to point out here how the chapter on phenomenology has certain aspects properly belonging to this chapter. Narayana Guru recognizes this apparent overlapping in his commentary in Verse 2 where he says Maya can also cover manas (mind) and sankalpa (willing), already treated in the previous chapter. Phenomenology and negativity have some overlapping aspects giving room for further ramified sub-divisions in this chapter. Strictly speaking, Einstein's restricted relativity can be included here. Even in nuclear fission it is the negative particle of the neutron that is most important. Thus the interjection ha is also suggestive of the horizontalizing power of the hydrogen bomb.







[1] Socrates, speaking in the "Phaedo", says: "We may assume then, if you please.... that there are two species of things, the one visible, the other invisible .... and the invisible always continuing the same, but the visible never the same". H.Cary (trans.), "Five Dialogues of Plato", London, 1947.


[2] Bhagavad Gita, p.570


[3] Bhagavad Gita, p.135


[4] Bhagavad Gita, p.120


[5] Bhagavad Gita, p.133


[6] Ved. Sutr. Comm.Sank, p.342


[7] "Vedantaparibhasha", pp. 9 and 13, resp., trans. S. S.Sastri Adyar (Madras, S.India) 1942, pp.9 & 13


[8] Ved. Sut. Ram. Comm; p.119.


[9] "Vimsatika" by Vasubandhu, from "Buddhist Mahayana Sutras", B.B. Cowell, trans. Oxford, 1894.


[10] "Gautama's Nyayasutras with Vatsyayana's Bhashya", Jaganatha Jha trans, Poona, 1939, IV.2.35.


[11] Monier-Williams, "A Sanskrit-English Dictionary", Oxford, 1873. See pp.245 and 453, resp., for a complete description of krit and dhana.


[12] It is interesting to note the fourfold scheme outlined by the Vaiseshikas; we read the following:

"By these four (i.e. earth, water, fire and air), we should not here understand the discrete things of common experience bearing those names, but their ultimate material causes which are supra-sensible - the atoms (paramanus) which are partless and eternal."

M. Hiriyana, "Outlines of Indian Philosophy", London, 1951, p.229. See also Bernard, pp.64 - 71, for a most interesting and detailed account of theatomic theory of the Vaiseshikas.


[13] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank., Vol. I, p.400


[14] Bhag. Gita, p.224


[15] Bhag. Gita, p.411


[16] Bhag. Gita, p.665


[17] Bhag. Gita, p.261


[18] Bhag. Gita, p.557


[19] Bhag. Gita, p.247


[20] Hume, p.406


[21] Hume, p.410


[22] Bernard, p.66


[23] Bernard, p.66-67


[24] Bernard, p.67


[25] Bernard, p.67


[26] Ved. Sut. Comm. Sank.,Vol.1, pp-420-421


[27] Bhag. Gita, p.702


[28] See our commentary on this verse in Narayana Guru's,"One Hundred Verses of Self Instruction", (Atmopadesa-Satakam), Varkala . (Kerala, S. India), 1969; and also in the article "The Philosophy of a Guru: III. Transcending Paradox", Values, Vol.X, No.7 (April, 1965), pp.571-572.


[29] See our commentary on this verse in Atmopadesa-Satakam; and also in the above article, p. 574.


[30] & [31] See our commentary on these verses in "Atmopadesa-Satakam"; and also in the above article, also in "The Philosophy of a Guru", Values Vol X, p. 571 & 572.