The Pra?nopani?at – Part 15
Continuing the Mantra 6.3, here is the discussion focused on the refutation of the S??khya doctrine by the Ved?ntin.
The Ved?ntin replies: No, just as the sentient and immutable Self of the S??khya is a bhokt?, experiencer of fruits of karma, so also is admissible, on the authority of the Veda, the creatorship of the Self of the Ved?ntin.
Objection by the S??khya: Since the Ved?ntin admits the creatorship of the Self, the defects of impermanence, impurity, multiplicity, etc. are inevitable to the Self which transforms into the world (in creation). On the other hand, in our case there is not any defect as the Self is a bhokt? within itself with only that much transformation.
Ved?ntin: No such defect accrues to the Ved?ntic ?tman. For, we admit the difference between the two states of the presence and absence of the avidy?-based name-form up?dhis for the non-dual ?tman. Indeed we admit this difference, created by avidy?, to account for the scripture-posited parlance of bondage and liberation. In the absolute plane, however, the ?tman that is ever free of any avidy?-born up?dhis, One only, is to be admitted. This Ved?ntic ?tman that is unborn, partless and auspicious, is beyond the reach of all the logicians (t?rkika). In that plane there is no doership, enjoyership or the distinctions such as action, agents and fruits of action since all beings are truly non-dual. The S??khyas, however, imagine doership, action, agents and fruits of action in the sentient being, the Puru?a, since they (the S??khyas) are outside the range of the Veda. Frightened by the Ved?ntic position, they admit the enjoyership, bhokt?tvam, for the Puru?a on absolute terms. By imagining that the pradh?na (the inert cause of the world as per the S??khyas) is an ontologically real entity distinct from the Puru?a, the sentient entity, they fall in line with the other sophists such as the t?rkikas and fall from their own supposedly unique position. So do the other sophists (fall) by siding with the S??khyas. Thus, akin to the carnivores fighting for a piece of flesh, these v?dins take up mutually opposing positions and end up treading far away from the Ved?ntic truth.
Hence, the true aspirants of liberation who are intent on realizing the Advaitic truth, should give up allegiance to such wrong philosophies and turn to the blemishless truth taught by the Ved?nta. The defect in the method of the sophist is stated by Shankara solely with a view to guide these aspirants and not like the sophists who swear to undermine the Ved?ntic method of enquiring and realizing the truth. It is said in relevance to the above point:
‘Let us assign the cause of the disputes to the disputants themselves and having perused the outcome of such disputes (amongst the dualists), the non-dualist, the Ved?ntin, rests in peace.’
Also, the distinction sought to be made by the S??khya between the transformation pertaining to the enjoyership (bhokt?tvam) and doership (kart?tvam) is also untenable. What is that distinct transformation that is unique to the bhokt? (enjoyer) which is different from the kart? (doer), based on which the puru?a (j?va) is admitted to be a bhokt? alone and not the kart? and the pradh?nam is kart? alone and not the bhokt??
Reply by the S??khya: Have we not said already that the puru?a is just consciousness and he, while as the self, transforms, and while experiencing (joy and misery) he does not transform into any distinct form? On the other hand the pradh?nam transforms into distinct entities and thereby it is manifold, impure, inert, etc. The puru?a, however, is different from it.
Ved?ntin: The above is not any distinction but a mere claim. Your thesis is thus constructed: The puru?a is pure consciousness prior to the arrival of bhoga. If the attribute of bhokt?tvam is to arise when the bhoga arises and vanish upon the end of bhoga restoring the puru?a to its native state of pure consciousness, no distinction can be established of the puru?a from the pradh?na. The nature of the pradh?na as per your thesis is: the pradh?na transforms into the entities such as the mahat and divorcing from that returns to its native state (of pradh?na). In this thesis there is no real distinction between the transformations of the pradh?na and the puru?a excepting a mere claim to a distinction.
S??khya: What if we maintain that the puru?a remains his native pure consciousness even during bhoga, experiencing the joys and sorrows?
Ved?ntin: Then it is to be admitted that the puru?a does not really have bhoga. (That is, the bhoga is a mere appearance).
S??khya: The transformation of the pure consciousness (puru?a) during bhoga is absolute (real) and thus the bhoga is indeed for the puru?a.
Ved?ntin: Not so. In that case since the pradh?na too undergoes transformation during bhoga (of the puru?a), the attribute of bhokt?tva is inevitable (for the pradh?na).
S??khya: Both the transformation as well as the bhokt?tvam are for the puru?a, the pure consciousness alone.
Ved?ntin: In that case there would be no reason to hold that fire, etc. which are endowed with the unique attribute of heat, etc. are not bhokt?-s. [The idea is: If the puru?a who is admitted to be of the unique nature of pure consciousness is also admitted to undergo transformation and is also a bhokta, then fire that is uniquely endowed with heat can also be a bhokta.]
S??khya: The pradh?na and the puru?a are both simultaneously endowed with bhokt?tvam .
Ved?ntin: No; it would then be wrong on your part to hold that the pradh?na is there to serve the interests of the puru?a. Just as two lamps (lights) cannot be held to be illumining each other, the two bhokt?-s (puru?a and pradh?na) cannot be held to be mutually an overlord and subordinate.
S??khya: Bhoga is an attribute of the mind which is of the nature of sattva. The arising of the reflection of consciousness in that mind constitutes the bhoga of the immutable puru?a. This is what is bhokt?tvam.
Ved?ntin: Not so. If the puru?a is non-distinct (from the pradh?na), the admitting of bhokt?tva to him (alone) is futile. If the puru?a is devoid of the malady of the form of bhoga owing to the eternally unattributed nature of his, then what is it that is aimed at being removed for which the means in the form of the doctrine is composed?
S??khya: The doctrine is relevant as it aims at dispelling the malady of sams?ra superimposed by avidy?.
Ved?ntin: If such is the case, then the accepting, in your doctrine, of the puru?a to be a bhokt? alone in reality and the pradh?na to be the kart? alone and completely distinct from the bhokt? the puru?a, is outside the scripture, devoid of any utility and without any cause, and therefore not to be resorted to by aspirants after liberation.
Objection: Even if unity of the Self, ekatvam, is admitted, the endeavor involved in composing the doctrine (on non-duality), etc. is a waste.
Reply: No. Only in the presence of a proponent of the doctrine, the aspirant intending the fruit of the study of the doctrine, etc. as distinct from the Non-dual Self, will the question of whether the propounding of the doctrine is useful or useless arises. Indeed there are no proponent, etc. as distinct from the non-dual ?tman and hence such an objection as the above has no place in Ved?nta.
The Ved?ntin summarizes the upani?adic position:
The states of bondage and liberation are clearly demarcated by the Upani?ad thus: The truth of liberation, the absolute state of Brahman-realization, is stated thus: ‘When to the knower of Brahman everything has become the Self, then what should one see and through what?’ (B?.Up.2.4.14). The realm of ignorance is also specified by that very Upani?ad, with a view to contrast the two states, thus: ‘Because when there is duality, as it were, (then one sees something), etc. (Br.Up. 2.4.14). Also, the Mu??akopani?ad 1.1.4 has set apart the two states by teaching the two vidy?-s, knowledge-s, the means of the bound and the realized states, as the lower and the higher. The unassailable Ved?ntic vision and the Truth verified by it cannot be ever set aside by any amount of logic. No logician can penetrate into the impregnable fortress of the Ved?ntic Truth. From this well established Ved?ntic position it can easily be seen that there is no defect in the construct that Brahman, the fundamental cause, does not need any external factor to be the cause of the creation constituted by the avidy?-born name-form duality and the differences caused by the various powers that lie superimposed in Brahman. Also is set aside the objection: ‘The Ved?ntic construct is defective in the sense that it portrays the author of creation, Brahman, as inflicting pain/bondage on itself.’ When it is realized that there is absolutely none other than Brahman, the only sentient entity, that appears, owing to m?y?, as the j?va in sams?ra, there arises complete satisfaction and total rest, nay, freedom from the plethora of what would appear to be an eternal seeking-finding race.