Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Publisher's Note

Something About Late Shri V.R. Gandhi
Contents
Introduction
I - The Sankhya Philosophy
  II - The Yoga Philosophy
  III - The Naya Philosophy
  IV - Mimamsa
  V - The Vedanta Philosophy
  VI - Buddhism
  VII - Jainism
  Sanskrit Terms

V - The Vedanta Philosophy

 

 

V

THE VEDANTA PHILOSOPHY

 

1.   The whole Vedanta philosophy is based on the Upanishad portion of the Vedas. The Chhandogya Upanishad contains several allegories, which have become the starting point of the philosophy.

 

There is, for example, a dialogue in the Chhandogya Upanishad between a young student Shwetaketu and his father Uddalaka Aruni, in which the father tries to convince the son, that with all his theological learning, he knows nothing and then tries to lead him on to the highest knowledge, the Tatvmai or `thou art that'. The father said to him, "Shwetaketu, go to school, for there is none belonging to our race, darling, who not having studied, is, as it were, a Brahman by birth only.

 

He began his apprenticeship with a teacher when he was 12 years of age. He returned home when he was 24, having then studied all the Vedas‑ conceited, considering him well- read and very stern. His father said, to him, " Shwetaketu, as you are so conceited, considering yourself so well read and so stern, my dear, have you asked for that instruction by which we hear what is not audible, by which we perceive what is not perceptible, by which we know what is unknowable." "What is that instruction, Sir?" he asked. The father replied,� My dear, as by one clod of clay all that is made a clay is known, the difference being only a name arising from speech, but the truth being that all is clay; and as, my dear, by one nugget of gold all the is made of gold is known, the difference being only a name arising from speech, but the truth being only a name arising from speech, but truth being that all is gold; and, as my dear, by one pair of nail scissors all that is made of iron is known, the difference being only a name arising from speech, but the truth being that all is iron. Thus, my dear, is that instruction." The son said, "Surely those venerable men (my teachers) did not know that. For if they had known it why should they not have told it me? Do you, Sir therefore, tell me that."

 

The father said, "In the beginning, my dear, there was that only which, is, one only without a second. Others say, in the beginning there was that only which is not, one only without a second; and from that which is not, that which is was born. But how could it be thus, my dear? How could that which is be born of that which is not? No, my dear, only that which is, was in the beginning, one without a second. It thought, may I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth fire. That fire thought, may I be many, May I grow forth. It sent forth water. Water thought, may I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth. It sent forth fire. That fire thought, may I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth water. Water thought, may I be many, may I grow forth. It sent forth earth (or food). Therefore whenever it rains anywhere, most food is then produced. From water alone is eatable food produced. As the bees, my son, make honey by collecting the juices of descant trees and reduce the juice into one form, and these juices have no discrimination, so that they might say, I am the juice of this tree or that tree, in the same manner, my son, all these creatures when they have become merged in the true (either in deep sleep or death) know not that they are merged in the true. Whatever these creatures are here, whether lion or a wolf or a boar or a worm or a midge or a gnat or a mosquito, that they become again and again. Now that which is the subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the true. It is the self, and thou, O Shwetaketu, art it."

 

"Please, Sir, inform me still more", said the son. "Be it so, my child," the father replied. "These rivers, my son, run the eastern like the Ganges to the East, the western like the Indus to the West. They go from sea to sea, i.e., the clouds lift up the water from the sea to the sky and send it back as rain to sea. They become indeed seas. And as those rivers, when they are in the sea, do not know, I am this or that river, in the same manner, my son, all these creatures when they have come back from the true know not that they have come back from the true. Whatever these creatures are here, whether a lion or a mosquito, that they become again and again. That which is that subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the true. It is the self, and thou, O Shwetaketu, art it."

 

"Please, Sir, inform me still more," said the son. "Be it so, my child," the father replied. " If some one were to strike at the root of this large tree here, it would bleed but live. If he were to strike at its stem, it would bleed but live. If he were to strike at its tip, it would bleed but live. Pervaded by the living self that tree stand s firm, drinking in its nourishment and rejoicing. But if life (the living self) leaves one of its branches, that branch withers, if it leaves the whole tree, the whole tree withers. In exactly the same manner, my son, know this. This body indeed withers and dies when the living self has left it; the living self never dies. That which is that subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the true. It is the self, and thou, O Shwetaketu, art it."

 

"Please, Sir inform me still more," The son said. "Be it so, my child," the father said. Place this salt in water and then wait on me in the morning." the son did as was commanded. The father said to him, "Bring me the salt which you placed in the water last night," The son having looked for it found it not, for of course it was melted. The son having looked for it found it not, for of course it was melted. The father said, "Taste it from the surface of the water. How is it?" The son replied, " It is salt." "Taste it from the middle, How is it?" "It is salt" "Taste it from the bottom. How is it?" The son said, " It is salt." The father said, " Now leave the vessel and sit by my side." He did so. The father asked, "Where is the salt? Do you see it?" The son said, " I do not see it but it is in the water." The father said, " Here also in this body you do not perceive the true, my son, but there indeed it is. That which is the subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the true. It is the self, and thou, O Shwetaketu, art it."

 

"Please, Sir, inform me more." "Be it so, my child. If a man is ill, his relatives assemble round him and ask‑ dost thou know me? Now as long as his speech is not merged in the mind, his mind in breath, his breath in heat, heat in the highest Godhead, he knows them. But when his speech is merged in his mind, his mind in breath, breath in heat, and heat in the highest Godhead, he knows them not. That which is the subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the true. It is the self, and thou, O Shwetaketu, art it."

 

2.   I told you last time that the Vedanta philosophy is based on the Upanishads. The ritual of the Vedas was considered the Karmkand or the work portion, the Upanishads constituted what is known as Gyankand or the knowledge portion in so far as it propounds a certain theory of the world. I also told you that Mimamsa was a system of ritualism which gave a correct interpretation of the ritual of the Veda and the solutions of doubts and discrepancies in regard to Vedic texts caused by the discordant explanations of opposite schools. Just as the ritualistic portion of the Vedas became object of comment by Jaimini, the author of the Mimamsa so did Badarayana comment on or rather composed aphorisms based on the Upanishads.

 

3.  The Vedanta philosophy has its two chief supporters Shankara and Ramanuja. Both of them rest their doctrines on the Upanishads. In Shankara's opinion the Upanishads teach as follows:

 

(a) Whatever is, is in reality one; there truly exists only one universal being called Brahma or Parmatman (the highest self). This being is of an absolutely homogeneous nature; it is pure being or, which comes to the same, pure intelligence or thought Chaetanya, gyan. Intelligence or thought is not to be predicated of Brahma as its attribute but constitutes its substance. Brahma is not thinking being, but thought itself. It is absolutely destitute of qualities; whatever qualities or attributes are conceivable can only be denied of it. But if nothing exists but one absolutely simple being, whence the appearance of the world by which we see ourselves surrounded and in which we ourselves exist as individual beings? The answer is that Brahma is associated with a certain power called Maya or Avidya. This power cannot be called 'being', for 'being' is only Brahma; nor can it be called' not‑being' in the strict sense, for it at any rate produces the appearance of this world. It is in fact a principle of illusion, the non-definable cause owing to which there seems to exist a material world comprehending distinct individual existences. Being associated with this principle of illusion Brahma is enabled to project the appearance of the world, in the same way as a magician is enabled by his incomprehensible magical power to produce illusory appearances of animate and inanimate beings. Maya thus constitutes the Upadan (the material cause) of the world, or if we wish to call attention to the circumstance that Maya belongs to Brahma as Shakti, we may say that the material cause of the world is Brahma in so far as it is associated with Maya. In this latter quality Brahma is more properly called Ishwar (the Lord).

 

Maya under the guidance of the Lord modifies itself by a progressive evolution into all the individual existences distinguished by special names and forms, of which the world consists; from it there spring in due succession the different material elements and the whole bodily apparatus belonging to sentient beings. In all those apparently individual forms of existence the one indivisible Brahma is present, but owing to the particular adjuncts into which (    ) has specialized itself it appears to be broken up‑it is broken up, as it were‑ into a multiplicity of intellectual or sentient principles, the so called Jeev (individual or personal souls). What is real in each is only the universal Brahma itself, the whole aggregate of individualizing bodily organs and mental functions, which in our ordinary experience separate and distinguish one Jeev from another, is the offspring of Maya and as such unreal.

 

The phenomenal world or world of ordinary experience Vyvehar thus consists of a number of individual souls engaged in specific cognition's, volition's and so on and of the external material objects with which those cognition's and volition's are concerned. Neither the specific cognition's nor their objects are real in the true sense of the world, for both are altogether due to Maya. But at the same time we have to reject the idealistic doctrine of certain Buddhist schools according to which nothing whatever truly exists but certain trains of cognition acts or ideas to which no external objects correspond for external things, although not real in the strict sense of the word, enjoy at any rate as much reality as the specific acts, whose objects they are.