स यथोर्णनाभिस्तन्तुनोच्चरेत्, यथाग्नेः क्शुद्रा विस्फुलिङ्गा व्युच्चरन्ति, एवमेवास्मादात्मनः सर्वे प्राणः, सर्वे लोकाः, सर्वे देवाः, सर्वानि भूतानि व्युच्चरन्ति; तस्योपनिषत्—सत्यस्य सत्यमिति प्राणा वै सत्यम्, तेषामेष सत्यम् ॥ २० ॥
इति प्रथमं ब्राह्मणम् ॥
sa yathorṇanābhistantunoccaret, yathāgneḥ kśudrā visphuliṅgā vyuccaranti, evamevāsmādātmanaḥ sarve prāṇaḥ, sarve lokāḥ, sarve devāḥ, sarvāni bhūtāni vyuccaranti; tasyopaniṣat—satyasya satyamiti prāṇā vai satyam, teṣāmeṣa satyam || 20 ||
iti prathamaṃ brāhmaṇam ||
20. As a spider moves along the thread (it produces), and as from a fire tiny sparks fly in all directions, so from this Self emanate all organs, all worlds, all gods and all beings. Its secret name (Upaniṣad) is ‘the Truth of truth.’ The vital force is truth, and It is the truth of that.
This is illustrated thus: As in the world a spider, which is well known to be one entity, moves along the thread which is not different from itself—and there is no other auxiliary to its movement but itself— and, as from one homogeneous fire tiny sparks, little specks of fire, fly in different ways, or in numbers; as these two illustrations show activity even in the absence of any difference regarding auxiliaries, as also natural unity before the activity starts, just so front this Self, i.e. from the real nature of the individual self before it wakes up, emanate all organs such as that of speech, all worlds such as the earth, which are the results of one’s past actions, all gods such as fire, who preside over the organs and the worlds, and all living beings, from Hiraṇyagarbha down to a clump of grass. If the reading is, ‘All these souls,’ then the meaning will be, ‘Souls with particular characteristics manifested owing to connection with limiting adjuncts.’ It is the Self from which this moving and unmoving world continually proceeds like sparks of fire, in which it is merged like a bubble of water, and with which it remains filled during existence. The secret name (Upaniṣad) of this Self or Brahman, etc. ‘Upaniṣad’ means ‘that which brings (one) near’ (Brahman), that is, a word denoting It (a name). That this capacity to ‘bring near’ is a speciality of this particular name is known on the authority of the scriptures alone. What is this secret name? The Truth of truth. Since this secret name always has a transcendental import, it is difficult to understand. Therefore the Śruti gives its meaning: The vital force is truth, and It is the Truth of that. The next two sections will be devoted to explaining this sentence.
Question: Granted that the next two sections will be devoted to explaining the secret name. The text says, ‘Its secret name.’ But we do not know whether it is the secret name of the individual self, which is the subject under discussion, which awoke through pushing, is subject to transmigration, and perceives sound etc., or whether it refers to some transcendent principle.
Reply: What difference ‘does it make?
Question: Just this: If it refers to the relative (transmigrating) self, then that is to be known, and by knowing it (identity with) all will be attained; further it alone will be denoted by the word ‘Brahman,’ and the knowledge of it will be the knowledge of Brahman. But if the transcendent Self is meant, then the knowledge of It will be the knowldege of Brahman, and from that identity with all will be attained. That all this will happen we know on the authority of the scriptures. But according to this view (if the individual self and Brahman are different) the Vedic texts that teach their identity, such as, ‘The Self alone is to be meditated upon’ (I. iv. 7) and Tt knew only Itself as, “I am Brahman”’ (I. iv. 10), will be contradicted. And (if they are identical) there being no relative self different from the Supreme Self, spiritual. instruction will be useless. Since this (unity of the self) is a question that has not been answered and is a source of confusion even to scholars, therefore in order to facilitate the understanding of passages that deal with the knowledge of Brahman for those who seek It, we shall discuss the point as best as we can.
Prīnia facie view: The transcendent Supreme Self is not meant, for the text states the origin of the universe from a self which awoke on being pushed with the hand, which perceives sound etc., and which is possessed of a distinct state (profound sleep). To be explicit: There is no Supreme Self devoid of the desire for food etc., which is the ruler of the universe. Why? Because the Śruti, after introducing the topic, ‘I will tell you about. Brahman’ (II. i. 15), then mentioning the rousing of the sleeping man by pushing with the hand—thereby showing him to be the per-ceiver of sound etc.—and describing his transition through the dream state to that of profound sleep, shows the origin of the universe from that very self possessed of the state of profound sleep, by the two illustrations of sparks of ñre and the spider, in the passage, ‘So from this Self.’ etc. And no other cause of the origin of the universe is. mentioned in beUveen, for this section deals exclusively with the individual self. Another Śruti, the Kauṣītakī Upaniṣad, which deals with the same topic, after introducing the beings who are in the sun etc., says, ‘He said: He, O Bālāki, who is the maker of these beings, and whose ‘handiwork this universe is, is indeed to be known’ (IV. 19). This shows that the individual self roused from sleep, and none other, is to be known. Similarly by saying, ‘But it is for one’s own sake that all is loved’ (II. iv. 5; IV. v. 6), the Śruti shows that that self which is familiar to us as being dear is alone to be realised through hearing, reflection and meditation. So also the statements made while introducing the topic of knowledge, such as, ‘The Self alone is to be meditated upon’ (I. iv. 7), ‘This (Self) is dearer than a son, dearer than wealth,’ etc. (I. iv. 8), ‘It knew only Itself as, “I am Brahman,”’ etc. (I. iv. 10), would be consistent if there were no Supreme Self. It will also be said further on, ‘If a man knows himself to be the Self’ (IV. iv. 12). Moreover, in all Vedānta it is the inner self which is put forward as the entity to be known, as ‘I (am Brahman),’ and never any external object like sound etc., saying, ‘That is Brahman.’ Similarly in the Kauṣītakf Upaniṣad, in the passage, ‘Do not seek to know about speech, know the speaker,’ etc. (III. 8 etc.), it is the agent (the individual self) using speech etc. as in-truments, which is put forward as the entity to be known.
Objection: Suppose we say that the individual self in a different state is the Supreme Self? It may be like this: The same individual self which perceives sound etc. in the waking state is changed into the transcendent Supreme Self, the ruler of the universe, on getting into the state of profound sleep.
Tentative answer: No, this is contrary to experience. We never find anything having this characteristic outside of Buddhist philosophy. It never happens in life that a cow standing or going is a cow, but that on lying down she becomes a horse or any other species. It is contrary to logic also. A thing that is known through some means of knowledge to have a certain characteristic, retains that characteristic even in a different place, time or condition. If it ceases to have that characteristic, all application of the means of knowledge would stop. Similarly the Sāṃkhyas, Mīmāṃsakas and others who are skilled in logic adduce hundreds of reasons to prove the absence of a transcendent Self.
Objection: Your view is wrong, for the relative self too lacks the knowledge of how to effect the origin, continuity and dissolution of the universe. To be explicit: The position you have advocated so elabor ately, viz. that the same relative self which perceives sound etc. becomes the ruler of the universe when it attains a different condition, is untenable. For everybody knows that the relative self lacks the knowledge, power and means to effect the origin, continuity and dissolution of the universe. How can a relative self like us construct this universe in which the earth etc. are located, and which it is impossible even to think of with the mind?
Tentative answer: Not so, for the scriptures are in our favour. They show the origin etc. of the universe from the relative self, for example, ‘So from this Self,’ etc. (this text). Therefore our view is all right.
Objection: There is a transcendent Supreme Self, and It is the cause of the universe, for such is the verdict of the Śruti, Smṛti and reason. Witness hundreds of Śruti passages such as, ‘That which knows things in a general and particular way’ (Mu. I. i. 9 and II. ii. 7), ‘That which transcends hunger and thirst’ (III. v. 1), ‘Unattached, It is not attached to anything’ (III. ix. 26), ‘Under the mighty rule of this Immutable,’ etc. (III. viii. 9), ‘That which living in all beings…. is the internal ruler and immortal’ (III. vii. 15), ‘(That Being) who definitely projects those beings…. and is at the same time transcendent’ (III. ix..26), ‘That great, birthless Self’ (IV. iv. 22 etc.), ‘It is the bank that serves as the boundary to keep the different worlds apart’ (Ibid.), ‘The controller of all, the lord of all’ (Ibid.), ‘The Self that is sinless, undecaying, immortal’ (Ch. VIII. vii. 1, 3), ‘It projected fire’ (Ch. VI. ii. 3), ‘In the beginning this universe was only the Self’ (Ai. I. 1), ‘It is not affected by human misery, being beyond it’ (Ka. v. 11). Also the Smṛti passage, ‘I am the origin of all, and from Me everything springs’ (G. X. 8).
Tentative answer: Have we not said that the text, ‘So from this self,’ shows the origin of the universe from the relative self?
Objection: Not so, for since in the passage, ‘The Ākāśa that is in the heart’ (II. i. 17), the Supreme Self has been introduced, the text, ‘So from this Self,’ should refer to the Supreme Self. In reply to the question, ‘Where was it then?’ (II. i. 16), the Supreme Self, denoted by the word ‘Ākāśa,’ has been mentioned in the text, ‘It lies in the Ākāśa that is in the heart.’ That the word ‘Ākāśa’ refers to the Supreme Self is clear from texts such as: ‘With Existence, my dear, it is then united’ (Ch. VI. viii. 1), ‘Every day they attain this world that is Brahman, but they do not realise this’ (Ch. VIII. iii. 2), ‘Fully embraced by the Supreme Self’ (IV. iii. 21), and ‘Rests on the Supreme Self (Pr. IV. 7). That the Supreme Self is the topic further appears from the use of the word ‘Self’ with reference to the Supreme Self, which has been introduced in the passage, ‘In it there is a little space’ (Ch. VIII. i. 1). Therefore the passage, ‘So from this Self,’ should indicate that the universe springs from the Supreme Self alone. And we have already said that the relative self has not the power and knowledge to project, maintain and dissolve the universe.
In the passages, ‘The Self alone is to be meditated upon’ (I. iv. 7), and ‘It knew only Itself as, “I am Brahman”’ (I. iv. 10), the topic of the knowledge of Brahman was introduced, and this deals with Brahman as its subject. This section too opens with sentences such as, T will tell you about Brahman’ (II. i. 1), and ‘I will teach you about Brahman’ (II. i. 15). Now the transcendent Brahman, which is beyond hunger etc. and is eternal, pure, enlightened and free by nature, is the cause of the universe, while the relative self is the opposite of that; therefore it would not (in its present state) perceive itself to be identical with Brahman. On the other hand, would not the inferior relative self be open to censure if it identified the Supreme Self, the self-effulgent ruler of the universe, with itself? Therefore it is unreasonable to say, “I am Brahman.”
Hence one should wish to worship Brahman with flowers, water, folding of the palms, praises, prostration, sacrifices, presents, repetition of Its name, meditation, Yoga, etc. Knowing It through worship one becomes Brahman, the ruler of all. But one should not think of the transcendent Brahman as the relative self; it would be like thinking of fire as cold, and the sky as possessed of form. The scriptural passages too that teach the identity of the self with Brahman should be taken as merely eulogistic. This interpretation will also harmonise with all logic and common sense.
Advaitin’s reply: That cannot be; for from Mantra and Brāhmaṇa texts we know that the Supreme Self alone entered. Beginning with, ‘He made bodies/ etc. (II. v. 18), the text says, ‘The Supreme Being entered the bodies’ (Ibid.), ‘He transformed Himself in accordance with each form; that form of His was for the sake of making Him known’ (II. v. 19; R. VI. xlvii. 18); ‘The Wise One, who after projecting all forms, names them, and goes on uttering those names’ (Tai. Ā. III. xii. 7)—thus thousands of Mantras in all recensions show that it is the transcendent Īśvara who entered the body. Similarly Brāhmaṇa texts such as, ‘After projecting it, the Self entered into it’ (Tai. II. vi. 1), ‘Piercing this dividing line (of the head) It entered through that gate’ (Ai. ill. 12), ‘That deity (Existence), penetrating these three gods (fire, water and earth) as this individual self,’ etc. (Ch. VI. iii. 3, 4), ‘This Self, being hidden in all beings, is not manifest,’ etc. (Ka. III. 12). Since the word ‘Self’ has been used in all scriptures to denote Brahman, and since it refers to the inner Self, and further the Śruti passage, ‘He is the inner Self of all beings’ (Mu. II. i. 4), shows the absence of a relative self other than the Supreme Self, as also the Śruti texts, ‘One only without a second’ (Ch. VI. ii. 1), ‘This universe is but Brahman’ (Mu. II. ii. 11), ‘All this is but the Self’ (Ch. VIII. xxv. 2), it is but proper to conclude the identity of the individual self with Brahman.
Objection: If such is the import of the scriptures, then the Supreme Self becomes relative, and if it is so, the scriptures (teaching Its transcendence) become useless; while, if It is (identical with the individual self and yet) transcendent, then there is this obvious objection that spiritual instruction becomes redundant. To be explicit: If the Supreme Self, which is the inmost
Self of all beings, feels the miseries arising from contact with all bodies, It obviously becomes relative. In that case those Śruti and Smṛti texts that establish the transcendence of the Supreme Self, as also all reason would be set at naught. If, on the other hand, it can somehow be maintained that It is not connected with the miseries arising from contact with the bodies of different beings, it is impossible to refute the charge of the futility of all spiritual instruction, for there is nothing for the Supreme Self either to achieve or to avoid.
To this dilemma some suggest the following solution: The Supreme Self did not penetrate the bodies directly in Its own form, but It became the individual self after undergoing a modification. And that individual self is both different from and identical with the Supreme Self. In so far as it is different, it is affected by relativity, and in so far as it is identical, it is capable of being ascertained as, ‘I am Brahman.’ Thus there will be no contradiction anywhere.
Now, if the individual self be a modification of the Supreme Self, there may be the following alternatives: The Supreme Self may be an aggregate of many things and consist of parts, like the substance earth, and the individual self may be the modification of some portion of It, like a jar etc. Or the Supreme Self may retain Its form, and a portion of It be modified, like hair or a barren tract, for instance. Or the entire Supreme Self may be modified, like milk etc. Now in the first view, according to which a particular thing out of an aggregate of a great many things of the same category becomes the individual self, since this particular thing is only of the same category, the identity is but figurative, not real. In that case it would be a contradiction of the verdict of the Śruti. If, however, (as in the second view) the Supreme Self is a whole eternally consisting of parts inseparably connected together, and, while It remains unchanged in form, a portion of It becomes the relative individual self, then, since the whole inheres in all the parts, it is affected by the merit or defect of each part; hence the Supreme Self will be subject to the evil of transmigration attaching to the individual self. Therefore this view also is inadmissible; while the view that holds that the whole of the Supreme Self is transformed disregards all the Śrutis and Smṛtis and is therefore unacceptable. All these views contradict reason as well as Śruti and Smṛti texts such as, ‘(Brahman is) without parts, devoid of activity and serene’ (Śv. VI. 19), ‘The Supreme Being is resplendent, formless, including both within and without, and birthless’ (Mu. II. i. 2), ‘All-pervading like the sky and eternal,’ ‘That great, birthless Self is undecaying, immortal, undying’ (IV. iv. 25), ‘It is never born nor dies’ (Ka. II. 18; G. II. 20), ‘It is undifferentiated,’ etc. (G. II. 25). If the individual self be a portion of the immutable Supreme Self, then it will find it impossible to go (after death) to places in accordance with its past work, or else the Supreme Self will, as already said (p. 299), be subject to transmigration.
Objection: Suppose we say that the individual self is a portion of the Supreme Self detached from It like a spark of ñre, and that transmigrates.
Reply: Yet the Supreme Self will get a wound by this breaking off of Its part, and as that part transmigrates, it will make a hole in the assemblage of parts in another portion of the Supreme Self—which will contradict the scriptural statements about Its being without any wound. If the individual self, which is a part of the Supreme Self, transmigrates, then, since there is no space without It, some other parts of It being pushed and displaced, the Supreme Self will feel pain as if It had colic in the heart.
Objection: There is nothing wrong in it, for there are Śruti texts giving illustrations of sparks of fire etc.
Reply: Not so, for the Śruti is merely informative. The scriptures seek not to alter things, but to supply information about things unknown, as they are.
Objection: What difference does it make?
Reply: Listen. Things in the world are known to possess certain fixed characteristics such as grossness or fineness. By citing them as examples the scriptures seek to tell us about some other thing which does not contradict them. They would not cite an example from life if they wanted to convey an idea of something contradictory to it. Even if they did, it would be to no purpose, for the example would be different from the thing to be explained. You cannot prove that fire is cold, or that the sun does not give heat, even by citing a hundred examples, for the facts would already be known to be otherwise through another means ot knowledge. And one means of knowledge does not contradict another, for it only tells us about those things that cannot be known by any other means. Nor can the scriptures speak about an unknown thing without having recourse to conventional words and their meanings. Therefore one who follows convention can never prove that the Supreme Self really has parts or stands to other things in the relation of whole to part.
Objection: But do not the Śruti and Smṛti say, ‘Tiny sparks’ (this text), and ‘A part of Myself’ (G. XV. 7)?
Reply: Not so, for the passages are meant to convey the idea of oneness. We notice in life that sparks of fire may be considered identical with tire. Similarly a part may be considered identical with the whole. Such being the case, words signifying a modification or part of the Supreme Self, as applied to the individual self, are meant to convey its identity with It. That this is so appears also from the introduction and conclusion. In all the Upaniṣads first identity is broached, then by means of illustrations and reasons the universe is shown to be a modification or part or the like of the Supreme Self, and the conclusion again brings out the identity. Here, for instance, the text begins with, ‘This all is the Self’ (II. iv. 6), then through arguments and examples about the origin, continuity and dissolution of the universe, it adduces reasons for considering its identity with Brahman, such as the relation of cause and effect, and it will conclude with, ‘Without interior or exterior’ (II. v. 19; III. viii. 8), and This self is Brahman’ (II. v. 19). Therefore from that introduction and conclusion it is clear that the passages setting forth the origin, continuity and dissolution of the universe are for strengthening the idea of the identity of the individual self with the Supreme Self. Otherwise there would be a break in the topic. All believers in the Upaniṣads are unanimous on the point that all of these enjoin on us to think of the identity of the individual self with the Supreme Self. If it is possible to construe the passages setting forth the origin etc. of the universe so as to keep up the continuity of that injunction, to interpret them so as to introduce a new topic would be unwarrantable. A different result too would have to be provided for. Therefore we conclude that the Śruti passages setting forth the origin etc. of the universe must be for establishing the identity of the individual self and Supreme Self.
Regarding this teachers of Vedānta narrate the following parable: A certain prince was discarded by his parents as soon as he was born, and brought up in a fowler’s home. Not knowing his princely descent, he thought himself to be a fowler and pursued the fowler’s duties, not those of a king, as he would if he knew himself to be such. When, however, a very compassionate man, who knew the prince’s fitness for attaining a kingdom, told him who he was—that he was not a fowler, but the son of such and such a king, and had by some chance come to live in a fowler’s home—he, thus informed, gave up the notion and the duties of a fowler and, knowing that he was a king, took to the ways of his ancestors. Similarly this individual self, which is of the same category as the Supreme Self, being separated from It like a spark of fire and so on, has penetrated this wilderness of the body, organs, etc., and, although really transcendent, takes on the attributes of the latter, which are relative, and thinks that it is this aggregate of the body and organs, that it is lean or stout, happy or miserable— for it does not know that it is the Supreme Self. But when the teacher enlightens it that it is not the body etc., but the transcendent Supreme Brahman, then it gives up the pursuit of the three kinds of desire and is convinced that it is Brahman. When it is told that it has been separated from the Supreme Brahman like a spark, it is firmly convinced that it is Brahman, as the prince was of his royal birth.
We know that a spark is one with fire before it is separated. Therefore the examples of gold, iron and sparks of fire are only meant to strengthen one’s idea of the oneness of the individual self and Brahman, and not to establish the multiplicity caused by the origin etc. of the universe. For the Self has been ascertained to be homogeneous and unbroken consciousness, like a lump of salt, and there is the statement, Tt should be realised in one form only’ (IV. iv. 20). If the Śruti wanted to teach that Brahman has diverse attributes such as the origin of the universe, like a painted canvas, a tree, or an ocean, for instance, it would not conclude with statements describing It to be homogeneous like a lump of salt, without interior or exterior, nor would it say, ‘It should be realised in one form only/ There is also the censure, ‘He (goes from death to death) who sees difference, as it were, in It/ etc. (IV. iv. 19; Ka. IV. 10). Therefore the mention in all Vedānta texts of the origin, continuity and dissolution of the universe is only to strengthen our idea of Brahman being a homogeneous unity, and not to make us believe in the origin etc. as an actuality.
Nor is it reasonable to suppose that a part of the indivisible, transcendent, Supreme Self becomes the relative, individual self, for the Supreme Self Ì9 intrinsically without parts. If a part of the indivisible Supreme Self is supposed to be the relative, individual self, it is tantamount to taking the former to be the latter. If, on the other hand, the individual self be a part of the Supreme Self owing to some adventitious limiting adjunct of It, like the ether enclosed in a jar, a bowl, etc., then thinking people would not consider that it is really a part of the Supreme Self, deserving to be treated as something distinct.
Objection: We sometimes see that thinking as well as ignorant people entertain fanciful notions about things.
Reply: Not so, for ignorant people have false notions, whereas thinking people have notions that relate only to an apparent basis for conventional intercourse. For instance, even thinking people sometimes say that the sky is dark or red, where the darkness or redness of the sky has just the above apparent reality. But because of that the sky can never actually become dark or red. Therefore in ascertaining the true nature of Brahman, men of wisdom should not think of It in terms of whole and part—unit and fraction—or cause and effect. For the essential meaning of all the Upaniṣads is to remove all finite conceptions about Brahman. Therefore we must give up all such conceptions and know Brahman to be undifferentiated like the sky. This is borne out by hundreds of Śruti texts such as, “All-pervading like the sky and eternal,’ and ‘It is not affected by human misery, being beyond it’ (Ka. V. ii). We must not imagine the self to be different from Brahman, like a portion of fire, which is ever hot, being cold, or like g. portion of the effulgent sun being dark, for, as already said, the essential meaning of all the Upaniṣads is to remove all finite conceptions about Brahman. Therefore all relative conditions in the transcendent Self are only possible through the limiting adjuncts of name and form. Compare the Śruti Mantras, ‘He transformed Himself in accordance with each form’ (II. v. 19), and ‘The Wise One, who after projecting all forms names them, and goes on uttering those names,’ etc. (Tai. Ā. III. xii. 7). The relative conditions of the self is not inherent in it. It is not true, but erroneous, like the notion that a crystal is red or of any other colour owing to its association with limiting adjuncts such as a red cotton pad. Śruti and Smṛti texts such as, ‘It thinks, as it were, and shakes, as it were’ (IV. iii. 7), ‘It neither increases nor decreases through work’ (IV. iv. 23), ‘It is not affected by evil work’ (Ibid.), ‘Living the same in all beings’ (G. XIII. 27), ‘(Wise men are even-minded) to a dog as well as a Caṇḍāla, etc.’ (G. V. 18), as also reasoning establish only the transcendence of the Supreme Self. Hence, if we admit It to be indivisible, it will be particularly impossible for us to maintain that the individual self is either a part, a modification, or inherent power of the Supreme Self, or something different from It. And we have already said that the Śruti and Smṛti passages referring to the relation of whole and part etc. are for the purpose of establishing their oneness, not difference, for only thus will there be continuity as regards the import of those passages.
If all the Upaniṣads teach that there is only the Supreme Self, why, it may be asked, is something contradictory to it, viz. the individual self, put forward? Some say that it is for removing the objections against the authority of the ritualistic portion of the Vedas: For the passages dealing with rites depend on a multiplicity of actions, their factors and their results, including the sacrificers, who enjoy those results, and the priests, who officiate in them. Now, if there were no separate individual self, the transcendent Supreme Self would be one. How under such circumstances would those passages induce people to do actions producing good results, or dissuade them from those that have bad results? Who again would be the bound soul for whose liberation the Upaniṣads would be taken up? Further, according to the view which holds that there is only the Supreme Self, how can instruction about It be imparted? And how can that instruction, bear fruit? For instruction is given in order to remove the bondage of a bound soul; hence in the absence of the latter the Upaniṣads will have nobody to address themselves to. Such being the case, the same objections and replies that apply to the advocates of the ritualistic portion of the Vedas, apply also to the advocates of the Upaniṣads. For, as owing to the absence of difference the ritualistic portion, being without support, falls through as an authority, so do the Upaniṣads. Then why not accept the authority of only the ritualistic portion, which can be interpreted literally? But the Upaniṣads may be rejected, since in accepting them as authority one has to alter their obvious import. The ritualistic portion, being authority once, cannot again cease to be authority. It cannot be that a lamp will sometimes reveal objects and sometimes not. There is also contradiction with other means of knowledge such as perception. The Upaniṣads that establish the existence of Brahman alone not only contradict their obvious import and the authority of the ritualistic portion of the Vedas, but they also run counter to such means of knowledge as perception, which definitely establish differences in the world. Therefore the Upaniṣads cannot be taken as authority. Or they must have some other meaning. But they can never mean that only Brahman exists.
Advaitin’s reply: That cannot be, for we have already answered those points. A means of knowledge is or is not a means according as it leads or does not lead to valid knowledge. Otherwise even a post, for instance, would be considered a means of knowledge in perceiving sound etc.
Objection: What follows from this?
Reply: If the Upaniṣads lead to a valid knowledge of the unity of Brahman, how can they cease to be a means of knowledge?
Objection: Of course they do not lead to valid knowledge, as when somebody says that fire produces cold.
Reply: Well then, we ask you, do not your words refuting the authority of the Upaniṣads accomplish their object, like fire revealing things, or do they not? If you say they do, then your words of refutation are means of valid knowledge, and fire does reveal things. If your words of refutation are valid, then the Upaniṣads too are valid. So please tell us the way out.
Objection: That my words mean the refutation of the authority of the Upaniṣads, and that fire reveals things are palpable facts, and hence constitute valid knowledge.
Reply: What then is your grudge against the Upaniṣads, which are seen directly to convey a valid knowledge of the unity of Brahman, for the refutation is illogical? And we have already said that a palpable result, viz. cessation of grief and delusion, is indirectly brought about by the knowledge of this unity. Therefore, the objections having been answered, there is no doubt of the Upaniṣads being authority.
You have said that the Upaniṣads are no authority,, since they contradict their obvious import. This is wrong, because there is no such contradiction in their meaning. In the ñrst place, the Upaniṣads never give us the idea that Brahman both is and is not one only without a second, as from the sentence that fire is both hot and cold we get two contradictory meanings. We have said this taking it for granted that a passage can have different meanings. But it is not an accepted canon of the system that tests passages (Mīmāṃsā) that the same passage may have different meanings. If it has, one will be the proper meaning, and the other will be contradictory to it. But it is not an accepted rule with those who test passages that the same sentence has different meanings—one appropriate, and the other contradictory to it. Passages have unity only when they have the same meaning. In the second place, there are no passages in the Upaniṣads that contradict the unity of Brahman. As to the conventional expression, ‘Fire is cold as well as hot,’ it is not a unitary passage, because part of it merely relates what is known through another means of knowledge (perception). The portion, ‘Fire is cold,’ is one sentence, but the clause, ‘Fire is hot,’ merely reminds us of what is known through another means of knowledge; it does not give us that meaning at first hand. Therefore it is not to be united with the clause, ‘Fire is cold,’ because its function is exhausted by its merely reminding us of what is experienced through another source of knowledge. As to the presumption that this sentence conveys contradictory meanings, it is but an error due to the words ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ being used as co-ordinate with the word ‘fire.’ But neither in Vedic nor in conventional usage does the same passage have more than one meaning.
You have said that passages of the Upaniṣads clash with the authority of the ritualistic portion of the Vedas. This is not correct, because they have a different meaning. The Upaniṣads establish the unity of Brahman; they do not negate instructions regarding the means to the attainment of some desired object, or prevent persons from undertaking it, for, as already said, a passage cannot have more than one meaning. Nor do ritualistic passages fail to lead to valid knowledge regarding their own meaning. If a passage produces valid knowledge regarding its own special meaning, how can it clash with other passages?
Objection: If Brahman be the only reality, ritualistic passages are left without any object to apply to, and hence they cannot certainly lead to valid knowledge.
Reply: Not so, for that valid knowledge is palpable. We see it arising out of sentences such as, ‘One who desires heaven must perform the new and full moon sacrifices,’ and ‘One must not kill a Brāhmaṇa.’ The assumption that this cannot take place if the Upaniṣads teach the unity of Brahman, is only an inference. And an inference cannot stand against perception. Therefore your statement that valid knowledge itself cannot arise, is absolutely wrong.
Moreover, actions, their factors and their results are things we naturally believe in: they are the creation of ignorance. When through their help a man who desires to gain something good or to avoid something evil, proceeds to adopt a means of which he has only a vague, not definite idea, the Śruti simply tells him about that; it says nothing either for or against the truth of the diversity of actions, their factors and their results, which people have already taken for granted. For the Śruti only prescribes means for the attainment of desired ends and the avoidance of untoward results. To be explicit: As the Śruti that deals with rites having material ends takes the desires as they are— although they are the result of erroneous notions—and prescribes means for attaining them, and it does not cease to do this on the ground that desires are an evil, being the result of erroneous notions, similarly the Śruti dealing with the regular rites such as the Agnihotra takes the diversity of actions and their factors as they are—although they proceed from error—and enjoins rites such as the Agnihotra, seeing some utility in them, whether it be the attainment of some particular desired end or the avoidance of some particular untoward result. It does not refrain from enjoining them simply because the utility relates to something that is unreal, being within the domain of ignorance; as is the case with rites having material ends. Nor would ignorant people cease to engage themselves in those rites, for we see them doing it, as in the case of people who are swayed by desires.
Objection: But it is only those that have knowledge who are competent to perform rites.
Reply: No, for we have already said that the knowledge of the unity of Brahman militates against one’s competency to perform rites. This should also be taken as an answer to the charge that if Brahman be the only reality, there will be no scope left for instruction, and hence it can neither be received nor produce any result. The diversity of people’s desires, attachments and so forth is another reason. People have innumerable desires and various defects such as attachment. Therefore they are lured by the attachment etc. to external objects, and the scriptures are powerless to hold them back; nor can they persuade those that are naturally averse to external objects to go after them. But the scriptures do this much that they point out what leads to good and what to evil, thereby indicating the particular relations that subsist between the ends and means; just as a lamp, for instance, helps to reveal forms in the dark. But the scriptures neither hinder nor direct a person by force, as if he were a slave. We see how people disobey even the scriptures because of an excess of attachment etc. Therefore according to the varying tendencies of people, the scriptures variously teach the particular relations subsisting between the ends and means. In this matter people themselves adopt particular means according to their tastes, and the scriptures simply, remain neutral, like the sun, for instance, or a lamp. Similarly somebody may think the highest goal to be not worth striving after. One chooses one’s goal according to one’s knowledge, and wants to adopt corresponding means. This is borne out also by the eulogistic passages of the Śruti such as, ‘Three classes of Prajāpati’s sons lived a life of continence with their father, Prajāpati,’ etc. (V. ii. i). Therefore the Vedānta texts that teach the unity of Brahman are not antagonistic to the ritualistic scriptures. Nor are the latter thereby deprived of their scope. Neither do the ritualistic scriptures, which uphold differences such as the factors of an action, take away the authority of the Upaniṣads as regards the unity of Brahman. For the means of knowledge are powerful in their respective spheres, like the ear etc.
Nevertheless certain self-styled wise men (the logicians), following their own whims, think that the different means of knowledge are mutually contradictory, and also level against us the objection that if Brahman be the only reality, such Upaniṣadic texts contradict perception. For instance, objects such as sound, which are perceived by the ear and so forth, are observed to be different from one another. So those who hold that Brahman is the only reality’contradict perception. Similarly the relative selves that perceive sound etc. through the ear and so forth, and acquire merit or demerit through their work, are inferred to be different in different bodies. So those who hold that Brahman is the only reality also contradict inference. They also cite contradiction with the Śruti. For instance, in passages such as, ‘One who desires villages must sacrifice’ (Tā. XVII. x. 4), ‘One who desires animals must sacrifice’ (Ibid. XVI. xii. 8) and ‘One who desires heaven must sacrifice’ (Ibid. XVI. iii. 3), the objects desired such as villages, animals and heaven are known to be different from the men who apply the means of obtaining them.
Our reply is that they are the scum of the Brāh-maṇa and other castes, who, with their minds poisoned by vicious reasoning, hold views about the meaning of the Vedas that are divorced from tradition, and are therefore to be pitied. How? To those who say that sound etc., perceived through the ear and so forth, contradict the unity of Brahman, we put this question: Does the variety of sound and the rest contradict the oneness of the ether? If it does not, then there is no contradiction in our position with perception. They said: The selves that perceive sound etc. through the ear and so forth, and acquire merit or demerit through their work, are inferred to be different in different bodies; so the unity of Brahman also contradicts inference. But we ask them, ‘By whom are they so inferred?’ If they say, ‘By us all who’are experts in inference,’ we would ask them, ‘But who really are you that call yourselves so?’ What would be their reply then? Perhaps they would say, ‘When dexterity in inference has been severally denied of the body, the organs, the mind and the self, we experts in inference should be the self joined to its accessories, the body, organs and mind, for actions depend on many factors.’ Our reply is: ‘If such be your dexterous inference, then you become multiple. For you yourselves have admitted that actions depend on many factors. Now inference also is an action, which, as you have also admitted, is done by the self joined to its accessories, the body, organs and mind. Thus, while saying that you are experts in inference, you virtually admit that each of you is multiple—the self joined to the accessories, the body, organs and mind.’ O the dexterity in inference shown by these bulls of logicians who lack only a tail and horns! How can a fool who does not know his own self know its unity or difference? What will he infer about it? And on what grounds? For the self has no characteristic that might be used to infer natural differences between one self and another. Those characteristics having name and form which the opponents will put forward to infer differences in the self belong only to name and form, and are but limiting adjuncts of the self, just as a jar, a bowl, an airhole, or the pores in earth are of the ether. When the logician finds distinguishing characteristics in the ether, then only will he find such characteristics in the self. For not even hundreds of logicians, who admit differences in the self owing to limiting adjuncts, can show any characteristic of it that would lead one to infer differences between one self and another. And as for natural differences, they are out of the question, for the self is not an object of inference. Because whatever the opponent regards as an attribute of the self is admitted as consisting of name and form, and the self is admitted to be different from these. Witness the Śruti passage, ‘Ākāśa (the self-effulgent One) is verily the cause of name and form. That within which they are is Brahman’ (Ch. VIII. xiv. 1), and also ‘Let me manifest name and form’ (Ch. VI. iii. 2). Name and form have origin and dissolution, but Brahman is different from them. Therefore how can the unity of Brahman contradict inference, of which It is never an object? This also refutes the charge that it contradicts the Śruti.
It has been objected that if Brahman be the only reality, there will be nobody to receive instruction and profit by it; so instruction about unity will be useless. This is wrong. For (if you contend on the ground that) actions are the result of many factors, (we have already refuted this point, henceì at whom is the objection levelled? (Surely not at us.) (If, however, your ground is that) when the transcendent Brahman is realised as the only existence, there is neither instruction nor the instructor nor the result of receiving the instruction, and therefore the Upaniṣads are useless—it is a position we readily admit. But if you urge that (even before Brahman is realised) instruction is useless, since it depends on many factors, we reply, no, for it will contradict the assumption of all believers in the self (including yourself). Therefore this unity of Brahman is a secure fortress impregnable to logicians, those first-rate heretics and liars, and inaccessible to persons of shallow understanding, and to those who are devoid of the grace of the scriptures and the teacher. This is known from such Śruti and Smṛti texts as the following, ‘Who but me can know that Deity who has both joy and the absence of it?’ (Ka. II. 21), ‘Even the gods in ancient times were puzzled over this’ (Ka. I. 21), and ‘This understanding is not to be attained through argument’ (Ka. II. 9), as also from those that describe the truth as attainable through special favour and grace, and also from the Mantras that depict Brahman as possessed of contradictory attributes, Such as, ‘It moves, and does not move, It is far, and near,’ etc. (Īś. 5). The Gītā too says, ‘All beings are in Me,’ etc. (IX. 4). Therefore there is no other entity called the relative self but the Supreme Brahman. Hence it is well said in hundreds of Śruti passages, ‘This was indeed Brahman in the beginning. It knew only Itself as, “I am Brahamn,”’ (I. iv. 10), ‘There is no other witness but This, no other hearer but This,’ etc. (III. viii. 11). Therefore the highest secret name of ‘the Truth of truth’ belongs only to the Supreme Brahman.