THE GREAT PÛRVAPAKSHA.
THE ONLY REALITY IS BRAHMAN.
Brahman, which is pure intelligence and opposed to all difference, constitutes the only reality; and everything else, i.e. the plurality of manifold knowing subjects, objects of knowledge, and acts of knowledge depending on those two, is only imagined on (or 'in') that Brahman, and is essentially false.
'In the beginning, my dear, there was that only which is, one only without a second' (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 1); 'The higher knowledge is that by which the Indestructible is apprehended' (Mu. Up. I, 1, 5); 'That which cannot be seen nor seized, which has no eyes nor ears, no hands nor feet, the permanent, the all-pervading, the most subtle, the imperishable which the wise regard as the source of all beings' (Mu. Up. I, 1, 6); 'The True, knowledge, the Infinite is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. II, 1); 'He who is without parts, without actions, tranquil, without fault, without taint' (Svet. Up. VI, 19); 'By whom it is not thought, by him it is thought; he by whom it is thought knows it not. It is not known by those who know it, known by those who do not know it' (Ke. Up. II, 3); 'Thou mayest not see the seer of sight; thou mayest not think the thinker of thought' (Bri. Up. III, 4, 2); 'Bliss is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. III, 6, 1); 'All this is that Self' (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 7); 'There is here no diversity whatever' (Bri. Up. IV, 4, 19); 'From death to death goes he who sees any difference here' (Ka. Up. II, 4, 10); 'For where there is duality as it were, there one sees the other'; 'but where the Self has become all of him, by what means, and whom, should he see? by what means, and whom, should he know?' (Bri. Up. IV, 5, 15); 'the effect is a name merely which has its origin in speech; the truth is that (the thing made of clay) is clay merely' (Kh. Up. VI, 1, 4); 'for if he makes but the smallest distinction in it there is fear for him' (Taitt. Up. II, 7);--the two following Vedânta-sûtras: III, 2, 11; III, 2, 3--the following passages from the Vishnu-purâna:
[paragraph continues] 'In which all difference vanishes, which is pure Being, which is not the object of words, which is known by the Self only--that knowledge is called Brahman' (VI, 7, 53); 'Him whose essential nature is knowledge, who is stainless in reality'; 'Him who, owing to erroneous view, abides in the form of things' (I, 2, 6); 'the Reality thou art alone, there is no other, O Lord of the world!--whatever matter is seen belongs to thee whose being is knowledge; but owing to their erroneous opinion the non-devout look on it as the form of the world. This whole world has knowledge for its essential nature, but the Unwise viewing it as being of the nature of material things are driven round on the ocean of delusion. Those however who possess true knowledge and pure minds see this whole world as having knowledge for its Self, as thy form, O highest Lord!' (Vi. Pu. I, 4, 38 ff.).--'Of that Self, although it exists in one's own and in other bodies, the knowledge is of one kind, and that is Reality; those who maintain duality hold a false view' (II, 14, 31); 'If there is some other one, different from me, then it can be said, "I am this and that one is another"' (II, 13, 86); 'As owing to the difference of the holes of the flute the air equally passing through them all is called by the names of the different notes of the musical scale; so it is with the universal Self' (II, 14, 32); 'He is I; he is thou; he is all: this Universe is his form. Abandon the error of difference. The king being thus instructed, abandoned the view of difference, having gained an intuition of Reality' (II, 16, 24). 'When that view which gives rise to difference is absolutely destroyed, who then will make the untrue distinction between the individual Self and Brahman?' (VI, 7, 94).--The following passages from the Bhagavad-Gîtâ: 'I am the Self dwelling within all beings' (X, 20); 'Know me to be the soul within all bodies' (XIII, 2); 'Being there is none, movable or immovable, which is without me' (X, 39).--All these and other texts, the purport of which clearly is instruction as to the essential nature of things, declare that Brahman only, i.e. non-differenced pure intelligence is real, while everything else is false.
The appearance of plurality is due to avidyâ.
'Falsehood' (mithyâtva) belongs to what admits of being terminated by the cognition of the real thing--such cognition being preceded by conscious activity (not by mere absence of consciousness or knowledge). The snake, e.g. which has for its substrate a rope or the like is false; for it is due to an imperfection (dosha) that the snake is imagined in (or 'on') the rope. In the same way this entire world, with its distinctions of gods, men, animals, inanimate matter, and so on, is, owing to an imperfection, wrongly imagined in the highest Brahman whose substance is mere intelligence, and therefore is false in so far as it may be sublated by the cognition of the nature of the real Brahman. What constitutes that imperfection is beginningless Nescience (avidyâ), which, hiding the truth of things, gives rise to manifold illusions, and cannot be defined either as something that is or as something that is not.--'By the Untrue they are hidden; of them which are true the Untrue is the covering' (Kh, Up. VIII, 3, 1); 'Know Mâya to be Prakriti, and the great Lord him who is associated with Mâya' (Svet. Up. IV, 10); 'Indra appears manifold through the Mâyâs' (Bri. Up. II, 5, 19); 'My Mâya is hard to overcome' (Bha. Gî. VII, 14); 'When the soul slumbering in beginningless Mâyâ awakes' (Gau. Kâ. I, 16).--These and similar texts teach that it is through beginningless Mâyâ that to Brahman which truly is pure non-differenced intelligence its own nature hides itself, and that it sees diversity within itself. As has been said, 'Because the Holy One is essentially of the nature of intelligence, the form of all, but not material; therefore know that all particular things like rocks, oceans, hills and so on, have proceeded from intelligence 1 But when, on
the cessation of all work, everything is only pure intelligence in its own proper form, without any imperfections; then no differences--the fruit of the tree of wishes--any longer exist between things. Therefore nothing whatever, at any place or any time, exists apart from intelligence: intelligence, which is one only, is viewed as manifold by those whose minds are distracted by the effects of their own works. Intelligence pure, free from stain, free from grief, free from all contact with desire and other affections, everlastingly one is the highest Lord--Vâsudeva apart from whom nothing exists. I have thus declared to you the lasting truth of things--that intelligence only is true and everything else untrue. And that also which is the cause of ordinary worldly existence has been declared to you' (Vi. Pu. II, 12, 39, 40, 43-45).
Avidyâ is put an end to by true Knowledge.
Other texts declare that this Nescience comes to an end through the cognition of the essential unity of the Self with Brahman which is nothing but non-differenced intelligence. 'He does not again go to death;' 'He sees this as one;' 'He who sees this does not see death' (Kh. Up. VI, 27); 'When he finds freedom from fear and rest in that which is invisible, incorporeal, undefined, unsupported, then he has obtained the fearless' (Taitt. Up. II, 7); 'The fetter of the heart is broken, all doubts are solved and all his works perish when he has been beheld who is high and low' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 8); 'He knows Brahman, he becomes Brahman only' (Mu. Up. III, 2, 9); 'Knowing him only a man passes over death; there is no other path to go' (Svet. Up. III, 8). In these and similar passages, the term 'death' denotes Nescience; analogously to the use of the term in the following words of Sanatsugâta, 'Delusion I call death; and freedom from delusion I call immortality' (Sanatsug. II, 5). The knowledge again of the essential unity and non-difference of Brahman--which is ascertained from decisive texts such as 'The True, knowledge, the Infinite is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. II, 1); 'Knowledge, bliss is
Brahman' (Bri. Up. III, 9, 28)--is confirmed by other passages, such as 'Now if a man meditates on another deity, thinking the deity is one and he another, he does not know' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 10); 'Let men meditate upon him as the Self (Bri. Up. I, 4, 7); 'Thou art that' (Kh. Up. VI, 8, 7); 'Am I thou, O holy deity? and art thou me, O holy deity?'; 'What I am that is he; what he is that am I.'--This the Sûtrakâra himself will declare 'But as the Self (scriptural texts) acknowledge and make us apprehend (the Lord)' (Ve. Sû. IV, 1, 3). Thus the Vâkyakâra also, 'It is the Self--thus one should apprehend (everything), for everything is effected by that.' And to hold that by such cognition of the oneness of Brahman essentially false bondage, together with its cause, comes to an end, is only reasonable.
Scripture is of greater force than Perception
But, an objection is raised--how can knowledge, springing from the sacred texts, bring about a cessation of the view of difference, in manifest opposition to the evidence of Perception?--How then, we rejoin, can the knowledge that this thing is a rope and not a snake bring about, in opposition to actual perception, the cessation of the (idea of the) snake?--You will perhaps reply that in this latter case there is a conflict between two forms of perception, while in the case under discussion the conflict is between direct perception and Scripture which is based on perception. But against this we would ask the question how, in the case of a conflict between two equal cognitions, we decide as to which of the two is refuted (sublated) by the other. If--as is to be expected--you reply that what makes the difference between the two is that one of them is due to a defective cause while the other is not: we point out that this distinction holds good also in the case of Scripture and perception being in conflict. It is not considerations as to the equality of conflicting cognitions, as to their being dependent or independent, and so on, that determine which of the two sublates the other; if that were
the case, the perception which presents to us the flame of the lamp as one only would not be sublated by the cognition arrived at by inference that there is a succession of different flames. Wherever there is a conflict between cognitions based on two different means of knowledge we assign the position of the 'sublated one' to that which admits of being accounted for in some other way; while that cognition which affords no opening for being held unauthoritative and cannot be accounted for in another way, is the 'sublating one 1.' This is the principle on which the relation between 'what sublates' and 'what is sublated' is decided everywhere. Now apprehension of Brahman--which is mere intelligence, eternal, pure, free, self-luminous--is effected by Scripture which rests on endless unbroken tradition, cannot therefore be suspected of any, even the least, imperfection, and hence cannot be non-authoritative; the state of bondage, on the other hand, with its manifold distinctions is proved by Perception, Inference, and so on, which are capable of imperfections and therefore may be non-authoritative. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that the state of bondage is put an end to by the apprehension of Brahman. And that imperfection of which Perception--through which we apprehend a world of manifold distinctions--may be assumed to be capable, is so-called Nescience, which consists in the beginningless wrong imagination of difference.--Well then--a further objection is raised--let us admit that Scripture is perfect because
resting on an endless unbroken tradition; but must we then not admit that texts evidently presupposing the view of duality, as e.g. 'Let him who desires the heavenly world offer the Gyotishtoma-sacrifice'--are liable to refutation?--True, we reply. As in the case of the Udgâtri and Pratihartri breaking the chain (not at the same time, but) in succession 1, so here also the earlier texts (which refer to duality and transitory rewards) are sublated by the later texts which teach final release, and are not themselves sublated by anything else.
The texts which represent Brahman as devoid of qualities have greater force
The same reasoning applies to those passages in the Vedânta-texts which inculcate meditation on the qualified Brahman, since the highest Brahman is without any qualities.--But consider such passages as 'He who cognises all, who knows all' (Mu. Up. I, 1, 9); 'His high power is revealed as manifold, as essential, acting as force and knowledge' (Svet. Up. VI, 8); 'He whose wishes are true, whose purposes are true' (Kh. Up. VIII, 1, 5); how can these passages, which clearly aim at defining the nature of Brahman, be liable to refutation?--Owing to the greater weight, we reply, of those texts which set forth Brahman as devoid of qualities. 'It is not coarse, not fine, not short, not long' (Bri. Up. III, 8, 8); 'The True, knowledge, infinite is Brahman' (Taitt. Up. II, 1); 'That which is free from qualities,' 'that which is free from stain'--these and similar texts convey the notion of Brahman being changeless, eternal intelligence devoid of all difference; while the other texts--quoted before--teach the qualified Brahman. And there being a conflict between the two sets of passages, we--according to the Mîmâmsâ principle referred to above--decide that the texts referring to Brahman as devoid of qualities are of greater force, because they are later in
older 1 than those which speak of Brahman as having qualities. Thus everything is settled.
The text Taitt. Up. II, 1 refers to Brahman as devoid of qualities.
But--an objection is raised--even the passage 'The True, knowledge, infinite is Brahman' intimates certain qualities of Brahman, viz. true being, knowledge, infinity!--Not so, we reply. From the circumstance that all the terms of the sentence stand in co-ordination, it follows that they convey the idea of one matter (sense) only. If against this you urge that the sentence may convey the idea of one matter only, even if directly expressing a thing distinguished by several qualities; we must remark that you display an ignorance of the meaning of language which appears to point to some weakmindedness on your part. A sentence conveys the idea of one matter (sense) only when all its constitutive words denote one and the same thing; if, on the othcr hand, it expresses a thing possessing several attributes, the difference of these attributes necessarily leads to a difference in meaning on the part of the individual words, and then the oneness of meaning of the sentence is lost.--But from your view of the passage it would follow that the several words are mere synonyms!--Give us your attention, we reply, and learn that several words may convey one meaning without being idle synonyms. From the determination of the unity of purport of the whole sentence 2 we conclude that the several words, applied to one thing, aim at expressing what is opposite in nature to whatever is contrary to the meanings of the several words, and that thus they have meaning and unity of meaning and yet are not mere synonyms. The details
are as follows. Brahman is to be defined as what is contrary in nature to all other things. Now whatever is opposed to Brahman is virtually set aside by the three words (constituting the definition of Brahman in the Taittiriya-text). The word 'true' (or 'truly being') has the purport of distinguishing Brahman from whatever things have no truth, as being the abodes of change; the word 'knowledge' distinguishes Brahman from all non-sentient things whose light depends on something else (which are not self-luminous); and the word 'infinite' distinguishes it from whatever is limited in time or space or nature. Nor is this 'distinction' some positive or negative attribute of Brahman, it rather is just Brahman itself as opposed to everything else; just as the distinction of white colour from black and other colours is just the true nature of white, not an attribute of it. The three words constituting the text thus have a meaning, have one meaning, and are non-synonymous, in so far as they convey the essential distinction of one thing, viz. Brahman from everything else. The text thus declares the one Brahman which is self-luminous and free from all difference. On this interpretation of the text we discern its oneness in purport with other texts, such as 'Being only this was in the beginning, one only, without a second.' Texts such as 'That from whence these beings are born' (Taitt. Up. III, 1); 'Being only this was in the beginning' (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 1); 'Self alone was this in the beginning' (Bri. Up. I, 4, 1), &c., describe Brahman as the cause of the world; and of this Brahman the Taittirîya passage 'The True, knowledge, infinite is Brahman' gives the strict definition.
In agreement with the principle that all sâkhâs teach the same doctrine we have to understand that, in all the texts which speak of Brahman as cause, Brahman must be taken as being 'without a second', i.e. without any other being of the same or a different kind; and the text which aims at defining Brahman has then to be interpreted in accordance with this characteristic of Brahman, viz. its being without a second. The statement of the Khândogya
as to Brahman being without a second must also be taken to imply that Brahman is non-dual as far as qualities are concerned; otherwise it would conflict with those passages which speak of Brahman as being without qualities and without stain. We therefore conclude that the defining Taittirîya-text teaches Brahman to be an absolutely homogeneous substance.
But, the above explanation of the passage being accepted, it follows that the words 'true being,' 'knowledge,' &c., have to be viewed as abandoning their direct sense, and merely suggesting a thing distinct in nature from all that is opposite (to what the three words directly denote), and this means that we resort to so-called implication (implied meaning, lakshanâ)!--What objection is there to such a proceeding? we reply. The force of the general purport of a sentence is greater than that of the direct denotative power of the simple terms, and it is generally admitted that the purport of grammatical co-ordination is oneness (of the matter denoted by the terms co-ordinated).--But we never observe that all words of a sentence are to be understood in an implied sense!--Is it then not observed, we reply, that one word is to be taken in its implied meaning if otherwise it would contradict the purport of the whole sentence? And if the purport of the sentence, which is nothing but an aggregate of words employed together, has once been ascertained, why should we not take two or three or all words in an implied sense--just as we had taken one--and thus make them fit in with the general purport? In agreement herewith those scholars who explain to us the sense of imperative sentences, teach that in imperative sentences belonging to ordinary speech all words have an implied meaning only (not their directly denotative meaning). For, they maintain, imperative forms have their primary meaning only in (Vedic) sentences which enjoin something not established by other means; and hence in ordinary speech the effect of the action is conveyed by implication only. The other words also, which form part of those imperative sentences and denote matters connected with the action, have their primary meaning
only if connected with an action not established by other means; while if connected with an ordinary action they have a secondary, implied, meaning only 1.
Perception reveals to us non-differenced substance only
We have so far shown that in the case of a conflict between Scripture and Perception and the other instruments of knowledge, Scripture is of greater force. The fact, however, is that no such conflict is observed to exist, since Perception itself gives rise to the apprehension of a non-differenced Brahman whose nature is pure Being.--But how can it be said that Perception, which has for its object things of various kinds--and accordingly expresses itself in judgments such as 'Here is a jar,' 'There is a piece of cloth'--causes the apprehension of mere Being? If there were no apprehension of difference, all cognitions would have one and the same object, and therefore would give rise to one judgment only--as takes place when one unbroken perceptional cognition is continued for some time.--True. We therefore have to enquire in what way,
in the judgment 'here is a jar,' an assertion is made about being as well as some special form of being. These implied judgments cannot both be founded on perception, for they are the results of acts of cognition occupying different moments of time, while the perceptional cognition takes place in one moment (is instantaneous). We therefore must decide whether it is the essential nature of the jar, or its difference from other things, that is the object of perception. And we must adopt the former alternative, because the apprehension of difference presupposes the apprehension of the essential nature of the thing, and, in addition, the remembrance of its counterentities (i.e. the things from which the given thing differs). Hence difference is not apprehended by Perception; and all judgments and propositions relative to difference are founded on error only.
Difference--bheda--does not admit of logical definition
The Logicians, moreover, are unable to give a definition of such a thing as 'difference.' Difference cannot in the first place be the essential nature (of that which differs); for from that it would follow that on the apprehension of the essential nature of a thing there would at once arise not only the judgment as to that essential nature but also judgments as to its difference from everything else.--But, it may be objected to this, even when the essential nature of a thing is apprehended, the judgment 'this thing is different from other things' depends on the remembrance of its counterentities, and as long as this remembrance does not take place so long the judgment of difference is not formed!--Such reasoning, we reply, is inadmissible. He who maintains that 'difference' is nothing but 'essential nature' has no right to assume a dependence on counterentities since, according to him, essential nature and difference are the same, i.e. nothing but essential nature: the judgment of difference can, on his view, depend on counterentities no more than the judgment of essential nature does. His view really implies that the two words 'the jar' and 'different' (in the judgment 'the jar is different') are
synonymous, just as the words 'hasta' and 'kara' are (both of which mean 'hand').
Nor, in the second place, can 'difference' be held to be an attribute (dharma). For if it were that, we should have to assume that 'difference' possesses difference (i.e. is different) from essential nature; for otherwise it would be the same as the latter. And this latter difference would have to be viewed as an attribute of the first difference, and this would lead us on to a third difference, and so in infinitum. And the view of 'difference' being an attribute would further imply that difference is apprehended on the apprehension of a thing distinguished by attributes such as generic character and so on, and at the same time that the thing thus distinguished is apprehended on the apprehension of difference; and this would constitute a logical seesaw.--'Difference' thus showing itself incapable of logical definition, we are confirmed in our view that perception reveals mere 'Being' only.
Moreover, it appears that in states of consciousness such as 'Here is a jar,' 'There is a piece of cloth,' 'The jar is perceived,' 'The piece of cloth is perceived,' that which constitutes the things is Being (existence; sattâ) and perception (or 'consciousness'; anubhûti). And we observe that it is pure Being only which persists in all states of cognition: this pure Being alone, therefore, is real. The differences, on the other hand, which do not persist, are unreal. The case is analogous to that of the snake-rope. The rope which persists as a substrate is real, while the non-continuous things (which by wrong imagination are superimposed on the rope) such as a snake, a cleft in the ground, a watercourse, and so on, are unreal.
But--our adversary objects--the instance is not truly analogous. In the case of the snake-rope the non-reality of the snake results from the snake's being sublated (bâdhita) by the cognition of the true nature of the substrate 'This is a rope, not a snake'; it does not result from the non-continuousness of the snake. In the same way the reality of the rope does not follow from its persistence, but from the fact of its being not sublated (by another
cognition). But what, we ask, establishes the non-reality of jars and pieces of cloth?--All are agreed, we reply, that we observe, in jars and similar things, individual difference (vyâvritti, literally 'separation,' 'distinction'). The point to decide is of what nature such difference is. Does it not mean that the judgment 'This is a jar' implies the negation of pieces of cloth and other things? But this means that by this judgment pieces of cloth and other things are sublated (bâdhita). Individual difference (vyâvritti) thus means the cessation (or absence), due to sublation, of certain objects of cognition, and it proves the non-reality of whatever has non-continuous existence; while on the other hand, pure Being, like the rope, persists non-sublated. Hence everything that is additional to pure Being is non-real.--This admits of being expressed in technical form. 'Being' is real because it persists, as proved by the case of the rope in the snake-rope; jars and similar things are non-real because they are non-continuous, as proved by the case of the snake that has the rope for its substrate.
From all this it follows that persisting consciousness only has real being; it alone is.
Being and consciousness are one. Consciousness is svayamprakâsa.
But, our adversary objects, as mere Being is the object of consciousness, it is different therefrom (and thus there exists after all 'difference' or 'plurality').--Not so, we reply. That there is no such thing as 'difference,' we have already shown above on the grounds that it is not the object of perception, and moreover incapable of definition. It cannot therefore be proved that 'Being' is the object of consciousness. Hence Consciousness itself is 'Being'--that which is.--This consciousness is self-proved, just because it is consciousness. Were it proved through something else, it would follow that like jars and similar things it is not consciousness. Nor can there be assumed, for consciousness, the need of another act of consciousness (through which its knowledge would be established); for
it shines forth (prakâsate) through its own being. While it exists, consciousness--differing therein from jars and the like--is never observed not to shine forth, and it cannot therefore be held to depend, in its shining forth, on something else.--You (who object to the above reasoning) perhaps hold the following view:--even when consciousness has arisen, it is the object only which shines forth--a fact expressed in sentences such as: the jar is perceived. When a person forms the judgment 'This is a jar,' he is not at the time conscious of a consciousness which is not an object and is not of a definite character. Hence the existence of consciousness is the reason which brings about the 'shining forth' of jars and other objects, and thus has a similar office as the approximation of the object to the eye or the other organs of sense (which is another condition of perceptive consciousness). After this the existence of consciousness is inferred on the ground that the shining forth of the object is (not permanent, but) occasional only 1. And should this argumentation be objected to on the ground of its implying that consciousness--which is essentially of the nature of intelligence--is something non-intelligent like material things, we ask you to define this negation of non-intelligence (which you declare to be characteristic of consciousness). Have we, perhaps, to understand by it the invariable concomitance of existence and shining forth? If so, we point out that this invariable concomitance is also found in the case of pleasure and similar affections; for when pleasure and so on exist at all, they never are non-perceived (i.e. they exist in so far only as we are conscious of them). It is thus clear that we have no consciousness of consciousness itself--just as the tip of a finger, although touching other things, is incapable of touching itself.
All this reasoning, we reply, is entirely spun out of your own fancy, without any due consideration of the power of consciousness. The fact is, that in perceiving colour and
other qualities of things, we are not aware of a 'shining forth' as an attribute of those things, and as something different from consciousness; nor can the assumption of an attribute of things called 'light,' or 'shining forth,' be proved in any way, since the entire empirical world itself can be proved only through consciousness, the existence of which we both admit. Consciousness, therefore, is not something which is inferred or proved through some other act of knowledge; but while proving everything else it is proved by itself. This may be expressed in technical form as follows--Consciousness is, with regard to its attributes and to the empirical judgments concerning it, independent of any other thing, because through its connexion with other things it is the cause of their attributes and the empirical judgments concerning them. For it is a general principle that of two things that which through its connexion with the other is the cause of the attributes of--and the empirical judgments about--the latter, is itself independent of that other as to those two points. We see e.g. that colour, through its conjunction with earth and the like, produces in them the quality of visibility, but does not itself depend for its visibility on conjunction with colour. Hence consciousness is itself the cause of its own 'shining forth,' as well as of the empirically observed shining forth of objects such as jars and the like.
Consciousness is eternal and incapable of change.
This self-luminous consciousness, further, is eternal, for it is not capable of any form of non-existence--whether so--called antecedent non-existence or any other form. This follows from its being self-established. For the antecedent non-existence of self-established consciousness cannot be apprehended either through consciousness or anything else. If consciousness itself gave rise to the apprehension of its own non-existence, it could not do so in so far as 'being,' for that would contradict its being; if it is, i.e. if its non-existence is not, how can it give rise to the idea of its non-existence? Nor can it do so if not being; for if consciousness itself is not, how can it furnish
a proof for its own non-existence? Nor can the non- existence of consciousness be apprehended through anything else; for consciousness cannot be the object of anything else. Any instrument of knowledge proving the non-existence of consciousness, could do so only by making consciousness its object--'this is consciousness'; but consciousness, as being self-established, does not admit of that objectivation which is implied in the word 'this,' and hence its previous non-existence cannot be proved by anything lying outside itself.
As consciousness thus does not admit of antecedent non-existence, it further cannot be held to originate, and hence also all those other states of being which depend on origination cannot be predicated of it.
As consciousness is beginningless, it further does not admit of any plurality within itself; for we observe in this case the presence of something which is contrary to what invariably accompanies plurality (this something being 'beginninglessness' which is contrary to the quality of having a beginning--which quality invariably accompanies plurality). For we never observe a thing characterised by plurality to be without a beginning.--And moreover difference, origination, &c., are objects of consciousness, like colour and other qualities, and hence cannot be attributes of consciousness. Therefore, consciousness being essentially consciousness only, nothing else that is an object of consciousness can be its attribute. The conclusion is that consciousness is free from difference of any kind.
The apparent difference between Consciousness and the conscious subject is due to the unreal ahamkâra.
From this it further follows that there is no substrate of consciousness--different from consciousness itself--such as people ordinarily mean when speaking of a 'knower.' It is self-luminous consciousness itself which constitutes the so-called 'knower.' This follows therefrom also that consciousness is not non-intelligent (gada); for non-intelligence invariably accompanies absence of Selfhood (anâtmatva);
hence, non-intelligence being absent in consciousness, consciousness is not non-Self, that means, it is the Self.
But, our adversary again objects, the consciousness which expresses itself in the judgment 'I know,' proves that the quality of being a 'knower' belongs to consciousness!--By no means, we reply. The attribution to consciousness of this quality rests on error, no less than the attribution, to the shell, of the quality of being silver. Consciousness cannot stand in the relation of an agent toward itself: the attribute of being a knowing agent is erroneously imputed to it--an error analogous to that expressed in the judgment 'I am a man,' which identifies the Self of a person with the outward aggregate of matter that bears the external characteristics of humanity. To be a 'knower' means to be the agent in the action of knowing; and this is something essentially changeful and non-intelligent (gada), having its abode in the ahamkâra, which is itself a thing subject to change. How, on the other hand, could such agency possibly belong to the changeless 'witness' (of all change, i.e. consciousness) whose nature is pure Being? That agency cannot be an attribute of the Self follows therefrom also that, like colour and other qualities, agency depends, for its own proof, on seeing, i.e. consciousness.
That the Self does not fall within the sphere (is not an object of), the idea of 'I' is proved thereby also that in deep sleep, swoon, and similar states, the idea of the 'I' is absent, while the consciousness of the Self persists. Moreover, if the Self were admitted to be an agent and an object of the idea of 'I,' it would be difficult to avoid the conclusion that like the body it is non-intelligent, something merely outward ('being for others only, not for itself') and destitute of Selfhood. That from the body, which is the object of the idea of 'I,' and known to be an agent, there is different that Self which enjoys the results of the body's actions, viz. the heavenly word, and so on, is acknowledged by all who admit the validity of the instruments of knowledge; analogously, therefore, we must admit that different from the knower whom we understand by the term 'I,' is the 'witnessing' inward Self. The non-intelligent
ahamkâra thus merely serves to manifest the nature of non-changing consciousness, and it effects this by being its abode; for it is the proper quality of manifesting agents to manifest the objects manifested, in so far as the latter abide in them. A mirror, e.g., or a sheet of water, or a certain mass of matter, manifests a face or the disc of the moon (reflected in the mirror or water) or the generic character of a cow (impressed on the mass of matter) in so far as all those things abide in them.--In this way, then, there arises the erroneous view that finds expression in the judgment 'I know.'--Nor must you, in the way of objection, raise the question how self-luminous consciousness is to be manifested by the non-intelligent ahamkâra, which rather is itself manifested by consciousness; for we observe that the surface of the hand, which itself is manifested by the rays of sunlight falling on it, at the same time manifests those rays. This is clearly seen in the case of rays passing through the interstices of network; the light of those rays is intensified by the hand on which they fall, and which at the same time is itself manifested by the rays.
It thus appears that the 'knowing agent,' who is denoted by the 'I,' in the judgment 'I know,' constitutes no real attribute of the Self, the nature of which is pure intelligence. This is also the reason why the consciousness of Egoity does not persist in the states of deep sleep and final release: in those states this special form of consciousness passes away, and the Self appears in its true nature, i.e. as pure consciousness. Hence a person who has risen from deep, dreamless sleep reflects, 'Just now I was unconscious of myself.'
Summing up of the pûrvapaksha view.
As the outcome of all this, we sum up our view as follows.--Eternal, absolutely non-changing consciousness, whose nature is pure non-differenced intelligence, free from all distinction whatever, owing to error illusorily manifests itself (vivarttate) as broken up into manifold distinctions--knowing subjects, objects of knowledge, acts of knowledge.
[paragraph continues] And the purpose for which we enter on the consideration of the Vedânta-texts is utterly to destroy what is the root of that error, i.e. Nescience, and thus to obtain a firm knowledge of the oneness of Brahman, whose nature is mere intelligence--free, pure, eternal.