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



(I) How the emanation of the world from Brahma is conceived in Vedanta philosophy is of small interest. It is almost purely mythological and indicates a very low knowledge of physical science. Brahma is not indeed represented any longer as a maker or a creator, as an architect or a potter. What we translate by creation Srishti means really no more than a letting out and corresponds closely with the theory of emanation. The Upanishads propose ever so many similes by which they wish to render the concept of creation or emanation more intelligible. One of the oldest similes applied to the production of the world from Brahma is that of the spider drawing forth, i.e. producing, the web of the world from itself. Another simile, which is meant to do away with what there is left of efficient‑ besides material‑causality in the simile of the spider which after all sill the throwing out and drawing back of the threads of the world, is that of hair growing from the skull. Nor is the theory of what we call evolution wanting in the Upanishads. One of the most frequent similes used for this is the change of milk into curds. The curds are nothing but the milk only under a different form. It was soon found however that this simile violated the postulate that the One Being must not only be one but that, if perfect in itself, it must be unchangeable. Shankara therefore offered a new theory. It is distinguished by the name of Vivart from the Parin.am or evolution theory, which is held by Ramanuja. Vivart of Shankara means turning away. It teaches that the Supreme Being remains always unchanged and that our believing that anything else can exist beside it arises from Avidya i.e. nescience. Most likely this Avidya or ignorance was first conceived as purely subjective, for it is illustrated by the ignorance of a man who mistakes a rope for a snake. In this case the rope remains all the time what it is, it is only our ignorance which frightens us and determines our actions. In the same way Brahma always remains the same, it is our ignorance only, which makes us see a phenomenal world and a phenomenal God. Another favorite simile is our mistaking mother‑of‑pearl for silver. The Vedantist says: We may take it for silver but it always remains mother‑of‑pearl. So we may speak of the snake and the rope, or of the silver and mother‑of‑pearl, as being one. And yet we do not mean that the rope has actually undergone a change or has turned into silver. After that the Vedantists argue that what the rope is to the snake the Supreme Being is to the world, They go on to explain that when they hold that the world is Brahma they do not mean that Brahma is actually transformed into the world, for Brahma cannot change and cannot be transformed. They mean that Brahma presents itself as the world or appears to be the world. The world's reality is not its own but Brahma's, yet Brahma is not the material cause of the world, as the spider is of the web, or the milk of the curds, or the sea of the foam, or the clay of the jar (which is made by the potter), but only the substratum, the illusory material cause. There would be no snake without the rope, there would be no world without the Brahma, and yet the rope does not become a snake nor does Brahma become the world. With the Vedantists the phenomenal and the nominal are essentially the same. The silver as we perceive and call it is the same as the mother‑of‑pearl; without the mother‑of‑pearl there would be no silver for us. We impart to mother‑of‑pearl the name and form of silver, and by the same process by which we create silver the whole world was created by worlds and forms.


(m) Besides, the Vedanta philosophy has its own theory as to the creation of the whole world out of Brahma and Avidya. The purport of the philosophy however comes to this: All being is Brahma, nothing can be except Brahma, while all that exists is an illusory, not a real, modification of Brahma and is caused by name and form. When the true knowledge arises, everything becomes known as Brahma only. We may ask, whence the names and forms and whence the phantasmagoria of unreality. The Vedantists has but one answer, it is simply due to Avidya. There is another simile. Indian jugglers knew how to make people believe that they saw two or three jugglers while there was only one. The juggler himself remained one, knew himself to be one only‑like Brahma; but to the spectators he appeared as many. But all these are similes only and with us there would remain the question whence this nescience. The Vedantists is satisfied with the conviction that for a time we are as a matter of fact nescient and what he cares for chiefly is to find out, not how that nescience arose but how it can be removed.


(n) What is the mode of removing this ignorance? Bharati Tirtha, a famous Vedantist, says: "Neglecting the unreal creation consisting of mere name and form, one should meditate on the Brahma and should ever practice internal as well as external concentration. Internal concentration is of two kinds, Sviklp, and Nirviklp. The first is the meditation of (on?) the subjective Atma as the witness of the mental world‑passions, desires etc. arising in the mind. The second is the fixing one's mind on the thought `I am Brahma', [Brahma] which is described in the Vedas as self-existent, eternal, all‑consciousness and pleasure, self‑illumined and unique in itself. That is Nirviklp in which, through the ecstasy of the pleasure consequent upon the knowledge of one's self, the sight as well as the world are both overlooked and the mind stands like the jet of a lamp burning in place protected from the slightest breeze. The separation in any external object of sight, of name and form from its original substratum Sat is Drishanuviddh external concentration. The meditation on the one, unique and Sachidanand Brahma as the only reality in the universe is Shabdanuvridh external concentration. The third nirvikalpa is, like the one described before, cessation of all thought, from the enjoyment of one eternal pleasure. One should devote one's time to these six kinds of Smadhi.3 The false identity of the material shell and the Universal Life being dissolved and the universal Atman being thoroughly realized, wherever the mind of the ascetic is directed there it naturally loses itself into one or other of these Samadhi. That limit of limits being seen, the knot of Ahamkar (egoism) is cut asunder, all doubts disappear, all actions cease to affect."4





1. Gandhi does not actually follow Shankara's Commentary chapter- wise though, of course, almost all the issues here taken up do occur in this Commentary


2. VS 1.2 and Shankara thereon.


3. To summarize, the six kinds of Samadhi are: (i) Drishyanuvidh internal, (ii) Shabdanuvidh internal, (iii) Nirvikalp internal, (iv) Drishyanuvidh external, (v) Shabdanuvidh external, (vi) Nirviklp external. As can be seen, (i), (ii), (iv) and (v) are Sviklp Samadhi ‑ because (iii) and (vi) are alone Nirviklp Samadhi.


4. It will be located in some text of Bharti Tirtha. Panchdashi, of course, says:


Shakyam jaitun manorajyam nirvikalpsmadhina

Sunspad krmat soapi sviklpsmadhina