The following ideas are a summary of my understanding of Alladi Mahadeva Sastry’s ideas as expressed in his Introduction to the *Dakshinamurthy Stotra.
- It is the Vedas that tell us that there is something beyond this world as we normally experience through our senses.
- The orthodox schools of thought lead to the nyaya, vaiseshika, sankhya and yoga philosophies. These accept Vedas as a pramANa or standard.
- The heterodox schools of thought lead to the Buddhist and the Arhat (Jain) philosophies. These do not accept Vedas as a standard.
- There is no agreement in the conclusions about the First Cause of the Universe, at to the nature of Isvara and Atman, as to the cause of bondage, as to the nature and means of liberation.
The most ancient literature, the Brahmanas accept the Vedas as authority.
Tarkikas and Sankhyas :
- The Tarkikas (Naiyayikas and Vaiseshikas) hold that fine atoms (anu) of matter are acted upon by the Will of Isvara who knows all and is all powerful. The atman is devoid of feeling and consciousness till it unites with the manas, through which it becomes conscious and suffers pleasure and pain. It identifies with the body. Then it meditates on the object of right knowledge, and by divine grace knows truth and destroys ignorance. Then it becomes dispassionate, ceases activity and birth, pain gets destroyed, becomes free of the manas and that is bliss.
- Sankhyas have two views. According to one view, Pradhana is an insentinent (without consciousness) all pervading matter. Conscious Isvara is reflected in it and it that sense enters it. According to the other view, there is no Isvara and Pradhana evolves into the manifold universe. To me this looks like the modern scientific view of the universe that sentinent or conscious life just emerges from insentinent matter-energy.. given enough of time and the right conditions. Prakriti (Nature – Indian definition) and Atman (Purusha) together co-dependently result in srishti .. creation. Buddhi belongs to Prakriti, the atman identifies with buddhi and feels sad. Then it does dhyana and realises that it is Purusha and not Prakriti. Kaivalya is the separation of Pursusha and Prakriti which is bliss for the Purusha! Once separate Purusha can no longer see Prakriti.
- Both Nyaya and Sankhya accept the Vedas as Pramana (Revelation as a truth).
- (Consciousness is Purusha, everything else is Prakriti. Sometimes Purusha knows itself as Prakriti and feels pleasure and pain and sometimes remembers that is Purusha and feels no pain. The fun is that even if you- the Purusha separate from Prakriti here., the Purusha is joining Prakriti elsewhere – so what would be the point? What is interesting is that modern scientists see consciousness as an emergent phenomenon and the sankhyas see it as something separate. – Satya)
Heterodox Schools :
- Heterodox teachers like Buddha and Arhats (Jains), do not believe in the Vedas or in the Karmakanda (the ritual section of the Vedas).
- The Buddhists believe that there is no Isvara. Everything (even atman) is born of itself. It exists only for an instant. Not having existed before and not existing in the future. All is Pain. The bondage of the atman consists in looking upon the self and th universe as continually existent. This happens because of ignorance and consequent karma. Liberation is attained when the atman recognises the momentariness of itself and everything else. To attain this state the atman must meditate on the idea that all is pain, all is momentary and all is born of itself. Liberation consists in pure detached states of consciousness following one upon another in a continuous stream without being tainted by external perceptions, everything is a non-entity an absolute void. Density-wise this matches the modern scientific view.
- The Buddhists and Arhats replace the Vedas by the texts of pure morality delivered by all-knowing teachers.
- The Arhats (Jains) reject the momentariness of all things. They say the atman has a finite size neither big nor small. It does things now and reaps things in the future. They reject the Isvara, but accept the existence of faultless beings which have evolved to all-knowingness. Karma acts to make the universe out of the particles (anu). Everything has an eternal and temporary component. The cause of bondage is the assumption due to sin and false intution, that separate bodies occupy limited space. Liberation is release from all action, from decay of all causes of bondage and existence. The atman resides in the highest regions, absorbed in untainted bliss, with its knowledge unhindered. To get there, you need absolute faith in the teachings of an arhat, avoid actions tending to evil, and to practice right conduct.
- When reasoning is exclusively resorted to for guidance on matters which fall outside the sense organs, such variances in conclusions are natural. Religions based on Revelations require blind faith as well as following customs which over the ages have moved away from the Revelations. This also compounds the problem. Some systems behave as if by independent reasoning you can come to the same conclusions as the Revealed Truth (Vedas).
- The Mimamsakas, interpret the Vedas, trying to throw light on that part of knowledge only that cannot be gathered by the intellect and senses alone.
- The Purva Mimamsa deals with rituals.
- The Purva Mimamsa school hold that universe evolved out of particles acted upon by karma and salvation can be attained through the karma kanda of the Vedas. They deny the Isvara component of the Vedas and Upanishads. They treat Isvara as something to contemplate on to get bliss or Moksha.
- The Uttara or Saririka Mimamsa deals with the embodied atman. This is also known as Vedanta Sutras or Brahma Sutras.
- The Vedantins hold that only knowledge leads to eternal salvation. The Brahmavadins hold that the Upanishads inculcate the existence of the Brahman from which all has come into existence, and in which all pervades.
- The Vedantins can be further divided into Dvaita, advaita and visishtadvaita schools.
- The dvaitins believe that every atman and object and paramatma are all different from each other.
- The visishtadvaitins hold that God is present in the sentinent or conscious (purusha) as well as in the insentinent prakriti. They hold that Isvara controls all beings from within and that each person has their own individual atman and consciousness. Bliss is attained when the atman is freed from samsara bandha and devotes itself eternally to the sovereign Purusha.
- There are several other schools among the vedantins.
- The advaitins hold that there is only One Atman, and the universe is in the atman itself and it appears by the light of the atman alone. Liberation is the knowledge of this oneness and seeing the Self in All and All in the Self.
Which am I?
- I think consciousness is an emergent phenomenon. It emerged from nature.. For a match in Hindu symbolism : see Vatapatrasayi and Devi. So I am not one of the Tarkikas.
- I believe in continuity. I am not a Buddhist.
- I cannot have absolute faith in an arhat.. I am not a Jain.
- I can be a Mimamsaka.. in that I accept the Vedas, but I also accept Isvara in my head and heart.. so that would make me a Vedantin.
- I behave like a bit like a dvaitin, a bit like a visishtadvaitin and a bit like an advaitin.. but I think of myself as an advaitin.
* The Vedanta Doctrine of Sri Sankaracharya Essay in Book titled : Dakshinamorthi Stotra Sri Sankracharya.. Text and Translation by Alladi Mahadeva Sastry, Samata Books, 10 Congress Building, 573 Mount Road, Chennai 600 006. I got this book for Rs 150 at Vedanta Book House Malleswaram, Bangalore.
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