Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Publisher's Note

Something About Late Shri V.R. Gandhi
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



(b) The non‑ enlightened soul is unable to look through and beyond Maya, which like a veil hides from it its true nature. Instead of recognizing itself to be Brahman it blindly identifies itself with its adjuncts Upadhi ‑ the fictitious off springs of Maya, and thus looks for its true self in the body, the sense‑organs and the internal organ Manas, i.e., the organ of specific cognition. The soul, which in reality is pure intelligence, non-active, infinite, thus becomes limited in extent, as it were, limited in knowledge and power, an agent and enjoyer. Through its actions it burdens itself with merit and demerit, the consequences of which it has to bear or enjoy in series of future embodied existences, the Lord‑as retributer and dispenser‑allotting to each soul that form of embodiment to which it is entitled by its previous actions. At the end of each of the great world periods called Kelp, the Lord retracts the whole world, i.e. the whole material world is dissolved and merged into non‑distinct Maya while the individual souls, free for the time from actual connection with Upadhi, lie in deep slumber as it were. But as the consequences of their former deeds are not yet exhausted they have again to enter an embodied existence as soon as the Lord sends forth a new material world, and the old round of birth, action, death begins anew to last to all eternity as it has lasted from all eternity.


(c) The means of escaping from this endless Sansara, the way-out of which can never be found by the non-enlightened soul, are furnished by the Veda. The Karmkand indeed whose purport it is to enjoin certain actions cannot lead to final release, for even the most meritorious works necessarily lead to new forms of embodied existence. And in the Gyankand of the Veda also two different parts have to be distinguished, viz. firstly those chapters and passages which treat of Brahma in so far as it is related to the world and hence characterized by various attributes, i.e. of Ishwar or lower Brahma, and secondly, those texts which set forth the nature of the highest Brahma transcending all qualities and the fundamental identity of the individual soul with that highest Brahma. Devout meditation on Brahma as suggested by passages of the former kind does not directly lead to final emancipation; the pious worshipper passes on his death into the world of the lower Brahma only, where he continues to exist as a distinct individual soul although in the enjoyment of great power and knowledge‑until at last he reaches the highest knowledge and through it final release. That student of the Veda, on the other hand, whose soul has been enlightened by the texts embodying the higher knowledge of Brahma, whom passages such as the great saying 'That art thou' have taught that there is no difference between his true self and the highest self, obtains at the moment of the death immediate final release, i.e. he withdraws altogether from the influence of Maya and asserts himself in his true nature which is nothing else but the absolute highest Brahma. This is the teaching of Shankara.


4.   According to Ramanuja, on the other hand, the teaching of the Upanishads is a little different.

           (a)        a. He says: There exists only one all‑embracing being called Brahma or the highest self or the Lord. This being is not destitute of attributes but rather endowed with all imaginable auspicious qualities. It is not intelligence as Shankara maintains but intelligence is its chief attribute. The Lord is all‑ pervading, all‑powerful, all knowing, all merciful; his nature is fundamentally antagonistic to all evil. He contains within himself whatever exists. While according to Shankara, the only reality is to be found in the nonqualified homogenous highest Brahma which can only be defined as pure being or pure thought, all plurality being a mere illusion, Brahma according to Ramanuja's view comprises within itself distinct elements of plurality which all of them lay claim to absolute reality of one and the same kind. Whatever is presented to us by ordinary experience, viz. matter in all its various modifications and the individual souls of different classes and degrees, are essential, real constituents of Brahma's nature. Matter and souls Achit and Chit constitute according to Ramanuja's terminology the body of the Lord, they stand to him in the same relation of entire dependence and subservience in which the matter forming an animal or vegetable body stands to its soul or animating principle. The Lord pervades and rules all things which exist‑ material or immaterial‑ as their Anteryamee the fundamental text for this special Ramanuja's tenet‑ which in the writing of the sect is quoted again and again‑ is the so called Anteryamee Brahman, which says that within all elements, all sense organs and lastly within all individual souls there abides an inward ruler whose body these elements, sense organs an individual souls constitute. Matter and souls as forming the body of the Lord are also called modes Prkar of him. They are to be looked upon as his effects, but they have enjoyed the kind of individual existence, which is theirs from all eternity and will never be entirely resolved in Brahma. They however exist in two different periodically alternating conditions. At some time they exist in a subtle state in which they do not possess those qualities by which they are ordinarily known, and there is then no distinction of individual name and form. Matter in that state is non-evolved Avyakt individual souls are not joined to material bodies and their intelligence is in a state of contraction Sankoch.


This is the Prley State, which recurs at the end of each Kalpa, and Brahma is then said to be in its causal condition Karn.avastha. To that state all those Vedic passage refer which speak of the Brahma or self as being in the beginning one only without a second. Brahma then is indeed not absolutely one, for it contains within itself matter and soul in a germinal condition; but as in that condition they are so subtle as not to allow of individual distinctions being made, they are not counted as something second in addition to Brahma. When the Prley state comes to an end, creation takes place owing to an act of volition on the Lord's part The primary non-evolved matter then passes over into its other condition; it becomes gross and thus acquires all those sensible attributes, visibility, tangibility and so on, which are known from ordinary experience. At the same time the souls enter into connection with material bodies corresponding to the degree of merit or demerit acquired by them in previous forms of existence; their intelligence at the same time undergoes certain expansion Vikas. The Lord together with matter in its gross state and the expanded souls is Brahma in the condition of effect Karyavstha. Cause and effect are thus at the bottom the same; for he effect is nothing but the cause, which has undergone a certain change Parin.am. Hence the cause being known, the effect is known likewise.


(b) Owing to the effects of their former actions the individual souls are implicated in the Sansara, the endless cycle of birth, action and death, final escape from which is to be obtained only through the study of the Gyankand of Veda. Compliance with the Karmkand does not lead outside the Sansara. But he who, assisted by the grace of the Lord, cognizes and meditates on him in the way prescribed by the Upanishads reaches at his death final emancipation, i.e. he passes through the different stages of the path of the Gods up to the world of Brahma and there enjoys an everlasting blissful existence from which there is no return into the sphere of transmigration. The characteristics of the released soul are similar to those of Brahma; it participates in all the latter's glorious qualities and powers, excepting only Brahma's power to emit, rule and retract the entire world.


5.   The chief points in which the two systems agree on the one hand and diverge on the other are these: Both systems teach Advaet i.e. non‑duality or monism. There exist not several fundamentally distinct principles, such as Prakriti and Purush of the Sankhya, but there exists only one all‑embracing being. While, however, the Advaet taught by Shankara is a rigorous, absolute one, Ramanuja's doctrine has to be characterized as Vishishtadvaesh i.e. qualified non‑duality, non‑duality with a difference. According to Shankara, whatever is, is Brahma, and Brahma itself is absolutely homogeneous, so that all difference and plurality must be illusory. According to Ramanuja also, whatever is, is Brahma, but Brahma is not of homogeneous nature, but contains within itself elements of plurality, owing to which it truly manifests itself in a diversified world with its variety of material forms of existence and individual souls is not unreal Maya but a real part of Brahma's nature, the body investing the universal self. The Brahma of Shankara is in itself impersonal, a homogeneous mass of objectless thought, transcending all attributes; a personal God it becomes only through its association with the unreal principle of Maya, so that, strictly speaking, Shankara's personal God, his Ishwar, is himself something unreal. Ramanuja's Brahma, on the other hand, is essentially a personal God, the all‑powerful and all wise ruler of a real world permeated and animated by his spirit. There is thus no room for the distinction between a Pram Nirguna.  And Apram Saguna Brahma, between Brahma and Ishwar. Shankara's individual soul is Brahma in so far as [it is] limited by the unreal Upadhi due to Maya. The individual soul of Ramanuja, on the other hand, is really individual soul of Ramanuja, on the other hand, is really individual; it has indeed sprung from Brahma and is never outside Brahma, but nevertheless it enjoys a separate personal existence and will remain a personality for ever. The release from Sansara means according to Shankara the absolute merging of the individual soul in Brahma, due to the dismissal of the errouneous notion the soul is distinct from Brahma; according to Ramanuja it only means the soul's passing from the troubles of earthly life into a kind of paradise where it will remain for ever in undisturbed personal bliss. As Ramanuja does not distinguish a higher and lower Brahma the distinction of a higher and lower knowledge is likewise not valid for him; the teaching of the Upanishads is not two fold but essentially one, and leads the enlightened devotee to one result only.


6.   As Shankara's views are mostly considered to be true, we will follow him in some details as to what he says in his comments on the Vedanta aphorisms. The whole work is divided into four parts, each part containing four parts, each part containing four chapters. We will deal with them in order.1


(a) In the first chapter he deals with certain passages from Upanishads referring to the word Brahma. We will consider only that part wherein the word Brahma is defined. Brahma is that from which the origin, subsistence and dissolution of this world proceed. Shankara explains this definition by saying that omniscient omnipotent cause from which proceed the origin, subsistence and dissolution of this world‑ which world is differentiated by names and forms, contains many agents and enjoyers, it the abode of the fruits of actions, these fruits having their definite places, times and causes, and the nature of whose arrangement cannot even be conceived by mind‑that cause is Brahma.2


(b) Vedanta philosophy then rests on the fundamental conviction of the Vedantistss that the Soul and absolute Being or Brahma is one in their essence. In the old Upanishads this conviction rises slowly; but when once it was recognized that the Soul and Brahma were in their deepest essence one, the old mythological language of the Upanishads was given up; for instance the passage representing the soul as travelling on the road of the fathers Pitryan or the road of the Gods Devyan. We read in the Vedanta aphorisms that this approach to the throne of Brahma has its proper meaning so long only as Brahma is still considered personal and endowed with various qualities but that when the knowledge of the true, the absolute and unqualified Brahman, the Absolute Being, has once risen in the mind these mythological concepts have to vanish. " How would it be possible," Shankara says, " that he who is free from all attachment, unchangeable and unmoved, should approach another person, should move or go to another place? The highest oneness, if once truly conceived, excludes anything like an approach to a different object or to a distant place."