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verses, with a commentary.* The Vedanta is contained in the Sutras, the Upanishads, and especially the BrahmaSutra attributed to Vyasa.t The Nyaya is to be found in the Sutras of Gotama and Canade.
These three systems of Hindoo philosophy, the Sankhya, the Nyaya, and the Vedanta, reach far back into a misty twilight, which leaves it doubtful when they began or who were their real authors. In some points they agree, in others they are widely opposed. They all agree in having for their object deliverance from the evils of time, change, sorrow, into an eternal rest and peace, Their aim is, therefore, not merely speculative, but practical. All agree in considering existence to be an evil, understanding by existence a life in time and space. All are idealists, to whom the world of sense and time is a delusion and snare, and who regard the Idea as the only substance. All agree in accepting the fact of transmigration, the cessation of which brings final deliverance. All consider that the means of this deliverance is to be found in knowledge, in a perfect knowledge of reality as opposed to appearance. And all are held by Brahmans, who consider themselves orthodox, who honor the Vedas above all other books, pay complete respect to the Hinduism of the day, perform the daily ceremonies, and observe the usual caste rules. The systems of philosophy supplement the religious worship, but are not intended to destroy it. The Vedantists hold that while in truth there is but one God, the various forms of worship in the Vedas, of Indra, Agni, the Maruts, etc., were all intended for those who could not rise to this sublime monotheism. Those who believe in the Sankhya maintain that though it wholly omits God, and is called “the system without a God,” it merely omits, but does not deny, the Divine existence.
* The Sánkhya-Káriká, translated by Colebrooke. Oxford, 1837.
$ The Religious Aspects of Hindu Philosophy: A Prize Essay, by Joseph Mullens, p. 43. London, 1860. See also Dialogues on the Hindu Philosophy, by Rev. K. M. Banerjea. London, 1861.
# Mullens, p. 44.
Each of these philosophies has a speculative and a practical side. The speculative problem is, How did the universe come? The practical problem is, How shall man be delivered from evil ?
In answering the first question, the Vedanta, or Mimansa doctrine, proceeds from a single eternal and uncre ated Principle ; declaring that there is only ONE being in the universe, God or Brahm, and that all else is Maya, or illusion. The Sankhya accepts two eternal and uncreated substances, Soul and Nature. The Nyaya assumes THREE eternal and uncreated substances, — Atoms, Souls, and God.
The solution of the second problem is the same in all three systems. It is by knowledge that the soul is emancipated from body or matter or nature. Worship is inadequate, though not to be despised. Action is injurious rather than beneficial, for it implies desire. Only knowledge can lead to entire rest and peace.
According to all three systems, the transmigration of the soul through different bodies is an evil resulting from desire. As long as the soul wishes anything, it will continue to migrate and to suffer. When it gathers itself up into calm insight, it ceases to wander and finds repose.
The Vedanta or Mimansa is supposed to be referred to in Manu.* Mimansa means "searching.” In its logical forms it adopts the method so common among the scholastics, in first stating the question, then giving the objection, after that the reply to the objection, and lastly the conclusion. The first part of the Mimansa relates to worship and the ceremonies and ritual of the Veda. The second part teaches the doctrine of Brahma. Brahma is the one, eternal, absolute, unchangeable Being. He unfolds into the universe as Creator and Created. He becomes first ether, then air, then fire, then water, then earth. From these five elements all bodily existence proceeds. Souls are sparks from the central fire of Brahma, separated for a time, to be absorbed again at last.
Brahma, in his highest form as Para-Brahm, stands for the Absolute Being. The following extract from
Duncker, I. 205. He refers to Manu, II. 160.
the Sáma-Veda (after Haug's translation) expresses this : "The generation of Brahma was before all ages, unfolding himself evermore in a beautiful glory ; everything which is highest and everything which is deepest belongs to him. Being and Not-Being are unveiled through Brahma.”
The following passage is from a Upanishad, translated by Windischmann:
“How can any one teach concerning Brahma ? he is neither the known nor the unknown. That which cannot be expressed by words, but through which all expression comes, this I know to be Brahma. That which cannot be thought by the mind, but by which all thinking comes, this I know is Brahma. That which cannot be seen by the eye, but by which the eye sees, is Brahma. If thou thinkest that thou canst know it, then in truth thou knowest it very little. To whom it is unknown, he knows it; but to whom it is known, he knows it not."
This also is from Windischmann, from the Kathaka Upanishad: “One cannot attain to it through the word, through the mind, or through the eye. It is only reached by him who says, 'It is ! It is!' He perceives it in its
Its essence appears when one perceives it as it is.”
The old German expression Istigkeit, according to Bunsen, corresponds to this. This also is the name of Jehovah as given to Moses from the burning bush : “And God said unto Moses, I AM THE I AM. Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” The idea is that God alone really exists, and that the root of all being is in him. This is expressed in another Upanishad : “He WHO EXISTS is the root of all creatures; he WHO EXISTS is their foundation, and in him they rest."
In the Vedanta philosophy this speculative pantheism is carried further. Thus speaks Sankara, the chief teacher of the Vedanta philosophy (“ Colebrooke's Essays "): “I am the great Brahma, eternal, pure, free, one, constant, happy, existing without end. He who ceases to contemplate other things, who retires into solitude, annihilates his desires, and subjects his passions, he understands that
Spirit is the One and the Eternal. The wise man annihilates all sensible things in spiritual things, and contemplates that one Spirit who resembles pure space. Brahma is without size, quality, character, or division.”
According to this philosophy (says Bunsen) the world is the Not-Being. It is, says Sankara,“ appearance without Being; it is like the deception of a dream.” • The soul itself," he adds," has no actual being."
There is an essay on Vedantism in a book published in Calcutta, 1854, by a young Hindoo, Shoshee Chunder Dutt, which describes the creation as proceeding from Maya, in this way: “ Dissatisfied with his own solitude, Brahma feels a desire to create worlds, and then the volition ceases so far as he is concerned, and he sinks again into his apathetic happiness, while the desire, thus willed into existence, assumes an active character. It becomes Maya, and by this was the universe created, without exertion on the part of Brahma. This passing wish of Brahma carried, however, no reality with it. And the creation proceeding from it is only an illusion. There is only one absolute Unity really existing, and existing without plurality. But he is like one asleep. Krishna, in the Gita, says: “These works (the universe) confine not me, for I am like one who eth aloof uninterested in them all.' The universe is therefore all illusion, holding a position between something and nothing It is real as an illusion, but unreal as being. It is not true, because it has no essence; but noto false, because its existence, even as illusion, is from God. The Vedanta declares: “From the highest state of Brahma to the lowest condition of a straw, all things are delusion.'” Chunder Dutt, however, contradicts Bunsen's assertion that the soul also is an illusion according to the Vedanta. "The soul,” he says, “is not subject to birth or death, but is in its substance, from Brahma himself.” The truth seems to be that the Vedanta regards the individuation of the soul as from Maya and illusive, but the substance of the soul is from Brahma, and destined to be absorbed into him. As the body of man is to be resolved into its material elements, so the soul of man is to be resolved
into Brahma. This substance of the soul is neither born nor dies, nor is it a thing of which it can be said, “ It was, is, or shall be.” In the Gita, Krishna tells Arjun that he and the other princes of the world not.”
The Vedantist philosopher, however, though he considers all souls as emanations from God, does not believe that all of them will return into God at death. Those only who have obtained a knowledge of God are rewarded by absorption, but the rest continue to migrate from body to body so long as they remain unqualified for the same. “The knower of God becomes God." This union with the Deity is the total loss of personal identity, and is the attainment of the highest bliss, in which are no grades and from which is no return. This absorption comes not from good works or penances, for these confine the soul and do not liberate it. The confinement of fetters is the same whether the chain be of gold or iron.” “The knowledge which realizes that everything is Brahm alone liberates the soul. It annuls the effect both of our virtues and vices. We traverse thereby both merit and demerit, the heart's knot is broken, all doubts are split, and all our works perish. Only by perfect abstraction, not merely from the senses, but also from the thinking intellect and by remaining in the knowing intellect, does the devotee become identified with Brahm. He then remains as pure glass when the shadow has left it. He lives destitute of passions and affections. He lives sinless; for as water wets not the leaf of the lotus, so sin touches not him who knows God.” He stands in no further need of virtue, for" of what use can be a winnowing fan when the sweet southern wind is blowing." His meditations are of this sort: “I am Brahm, I am life. I am everlasting, perfect, self-existent, undivided, joyful.”
If therefore, according to this system, knowledge alone unites the soul to God, the question comes, Of what use are acts of virtue, penances, sacrifices, worship? The answer is, that they effect a happy transmigration from
* The Bhagavat-Gita, an episode in the Maha-Bharata, in an authority with the Vedantists.