By Nataraja Guru




I. The background, origin and a new approach - P1

II. The three categories of Reality – P11

III. The problem of transition from Existence to Subsistence – P23

IV. The Absolute as word-value significance – P33

V. Semantic polyvalence of Vedantic thought – P45

VI. Two Certitudes for the same truth – P54

VII. The integrated knowledge-situation of Vedanta – P67

VIII. The double domain of the Word – P81

IX. Varieties of Vedantism – P91

X. Favourite examples in Vedanta – P100

XI, Schematic protolinguism in Vedanta – P114

XII. A summarized running review – P128

Index – P139



To a newcomer, India is a land of enigmas and wonders. Besides its mountains, rivers and seas, its people present such a variety of types, dress and language, and such a wide range of beliefs and behaviour patterns as to puzzle him.

Prevailing cults, doctrines and dogmas present a confused tangle. Their time-honoured customs and manners challenge and baffle the researches of the most penetrating of inquirers. The Indian sub-continent may thus be said to present to him the aspect of a veritable museum, with an endless variety of interesting features.

Exaggerations and superlatives are normal in this land of rolling plains and snow-capped mountain peaks. The pitch-dark nights alternate with days when sunshine manifests more colourfully what was absorbed within the womb of Nature. Enjoying comparative isolation by natural frontiers, this land has preserved something of its ancient personality, surviving those cross-breezes of time that have more easily ruffled the atmosphere of neighbouring regions.


More like a weed than a garden plant, humanity in South Asia shows striking contrasts as between high and low, rich and poor, Brahmin and Pariah, who segregate themselves in toil or in leisure, assorted into groups with distinct traits, or in an almost amorphous matrix or mixture.



The major portion of the submerged masses is inarticulate and dumb-driven by the stark necessities of life. Castes and tribes have thus persisted, with their distinguishing names and special outer marks, graded between static and closed groupings and more open and dynamic ones.
The Indian mind has an accentuation of subjectivism. The historical sense in respect of the actual dates of facts is poorly developed. This is due to the seven, five, or at least two thousand -five hundred years to which memory has to be stretched backwards to find the sources of secular or spiritual life. Errors have to be allowed in terms of centuries, not decades, and sometimes even in terms of millennia, in respect of many important events, or of the dates of important books. Often too, a contemplative geography takes the place of one in which longitude and latitude are valid. India is spoken of as a Jambu Dvipa, an “Island of Berries”, in certain Sanskrit books; and there is a vast submerged continent called Tamilakam to which it belonged, as spoken of in ancient Tamil literature.

Epochs are referred to in terms of yugas, each of them having a duration of a million years. Speculation has gone on un-bridled through the ages on the Indian soil. There abound specific and generic personalities, half-real and half-mythological, such as a Brihaspati vying with a Dakshinamurti; a Visvamitra with a Vasishta; and a Vyasa with a Valmiki. We are offered a gallery of figures about whose lives we know next to nothing.

Scepticism and belief, reason and sentiment, like bright and dark strands, have crossed over from one side to the other, changing between what was considered orthodox at one time into what was heterodox at another: and so on, many times over, during the long history of Indian thought. It is like a rope with many strands, whose individual fibres take up the continuity, one after another.

Such are some of the background aspects into which we have to fit our study of Vedanta which is a revaluation of the Veda that went before it. We can think of this situation as a tree of Wisdom which has put forth its best blossoms through a period of about five thousand years, as Dr. Paul Deussen has described it.



We have to think of this cultural expression as a process of dialectical revaluation and restatement, taking place imperceptibly and in infinitesimal gradations through decades, centuries, even millennia: resulting in what is even now recognisable as present-day Vedanta. Alive even to this day, it may be said to be its culminating expression. Much of present-day Vedanta, however, having become overcovered with the debris of latter-day Indian scholasticism, stands in need of restatement, after being correctly revalued in the light of a correct Vedantic methodology, epistemology and axiology, in order to give it a normalized scientific status, balancing both scepticism and belief, and applying the instruments of reason, criticism, and intuition to the total knowledge-situation implicit in it.

This is the task which we shall undertake, in a running fashion, in the pages that follow. Empty "Lord-Lord-ism”; harsh exclusiveness; wrong loyalty to the dead letter rather than to the spirit; partial preferences and the lack of a resultant firm justice; a misplaced sense of value; and errors of judgement which spell disasters, big or small; are some of the evils sought to be mitigated by our present inquiry.



India was already civilised before the Aryans came with their Vedic religion. Until the significance of the Indus Valley civilisation was recognized, Indian historians invariably began their first chapters with reference to the Vedas as the source of Indian spiritual life. But the excavations at Mohenjo Daro and Harappa in the Indus Valley and at sites such as Lothal in Gujarat, have opened a backward vista of a couple of millennia more in which a pre-Aryan civilisation existed. When the Aryans came, they had to face the challenge of an order of things that existed before, and to respond to the new situation.

The Vedas, which began by reflecting a simple, natural and fully human sense of wonder about the phenomenal aspects of life, based on a vague belief in the Absolute, had to be subjected to several revisions, revaluations, and restatements, after this contact with the previous civilisation.



The result is discernible in the various grades of wisdom-literature, of which the three Vedas, the Rik, Sama and Yajus stand apart as a group in themselves, by the primitive purity of their style and subject matter. They are filled with a sense of the numinous. They represent the first lispings of the awakened self of man at the dawn of the history of India.

If prose is suited for practical purposes, and poetry for purer or spiritual purposes, the language of the Veda may be said to excel in the latter; and whatever reference there might be to action in the hymns, chants and liturgies of the Vedas, refers to the context of burnt sacrifices to propitiate the pantheon of personifications of cosmological and phenomenal aspects of the Absolute. Their status in theology or psychology may be questioned, but their high proto-linguistic and poetic value in the context of the wonder of the adorable Absolute is beyond question. They must be subjected to their own innate standards of criticism, as has been done by Jaimini, and then they become a body of wisdom which can hold its own against any philosophy in the world, including the Vedanta, which itself in many respects has to presuppose the anterior and more antique of the two disciplines, the Veda and the Vedanta.

The challenge and response, or the blast and counter-blast aspects as they prevailed in India when the Aryans came into contact with the pre-Aryans, known by whatever name, has to be visualized somewhat as follows.



The green pastures and fields attracted the invaders in small groups as they penetrated inward from the north-west through a period of centuries; or of the millennium between two- thousand five hundred to one thousand five hundred years ago, roughly speaking - if we are permitted to guess between controversial dates. They had their cattle and horses too, and were formed somewhat like a city-state, with three groups which tended to segregate themselves by their natural functions as priests, soldiers, and traders; to which they added a fourth group which was not within the fold, but could come and go as servants.



The Aryans seem to have brought neither servants nor enough women, judging from cases such as that of Dronacharya, who was a preceptor of archery to the Pandavas and who took Kripi for wife.

The origins of Vyasa and his father Parasara sufficiently reveal the state of intercourse prevailing between the originals and the newcomers. The story of the Pandavas and the circumstances of their birth and parentage show that some complexity, promiscuity, and polyandry was normal in those days, as with many prehistoric peoples the world over. Vyasa, otherwise called Veda-Vyasa, the central figure of Indian spirituality looked at from any angle or point of view, had a fisher-damsel for mother, and had for father Parasara, who was born of a Pariah woman, as stated in the beginning of the Mahabharata itself.

The settlers soon created for themselves pockets of influence, and as between those who joined the side of the newcomers and those who were of the original group, whether by loyalty or blood, two blocs developed in and around Hastinapura or Ayodhya (modern Delhi and Oudh respectively), not necessarily at the same epoch. The story of the clan of Raghu (or Rama) had the latter city for its epicentre; and the Pandavas under Krishna, who were of the Mahabharata context, had the former.

About the activities of both of these groupings, we have ample literature on which to base our broad guesswork in the two great epics of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The Ramayana has a story that moves from the north to the south, bringing a revalued culture, not necessarily all Aryan, to put law and order and some refinement into the peoples of the South. This may be recognized as an expression of the "blast" side of the situation in which challenge and response must be distinguished, if we are to place Veda and Vedanta in their proper perspectives.

The Mahabharata episode moves from the prehistoric pre-Aryan context to an Aryan heaven which the eldest of the Pandavas refuses to enter if his dog is not admitted, and where his enemies are already fully acceptable persons holding responsible offices.



The Bhagavad Gita episode itself states the way in which Vedic relativism and Samkhya dualism are revalued and restated in terms in keeping with Vedantism. Elsewhere we have given to these matters fuller space already, and we are only referring to this aspect here in passing, to show that Veda and Vedanta are to be looked upon as counterparts, Vedanta being the revaluation of the Veda.



If Veda belongs to the orthodoxy of the Brahmin priest, Vedanta was in the possession mainly of kings like Janaka; or of men of lowly social status like Raikva, the cart driver with itches on his body, who as custodian of Vedantic Wisdom, would not readily impart it even to superior people such as the Brahmins. Similar references elsewhere in the Upanishads, which are not at all few, point in the same direction.

Vedanta is the result of the interaction of primitive and crude Vedism - which latter was vitiated by the acceptance of cruel and unclean animal sacrifices and a harsh, exclusive priesthood, who would not allow a Sudra (the servant who necessarily belonged to the rival group) to study the secrets of its wisdom - with a form of higher Wisdom of the Absolute, which grew up from the meeting of the twin philosophical and critically revalued spiritual traditions called the two mimamsas, (critiques): the purva, (former) and the uttara, (later), this last being closer to Vedanta proper.

The subtle dialectical relation between these two critical schools will be examined by us later. Suffice it to say that Vedanta combines and reconciles Veda with the critical and philosophical aspect of wisdom, into Brahma-vidya, as a Science of the Absolute. How this was made an accomplished fact is what we have to explain.

Within the limits of belief in the Vedas and a full-fledged agnosticism, scepticism, and even atheism, at its core, the tree of Indian wisdom presents to us many problems, requiring, for full justice, a large treatise.



In this present study we shall content ourselves with the revision, restatement, and revaluation of some aspects of Vedanta that interest us; particularly in the light of modern developments in scientific and philosophical thought; and pertaining also to the philosophy of Narayana Guru, which may be said to mark the culmination of revalued Vedantism in the India of recent times. The structural, subjective, and selective features pertaining to the notion of the Absolute, as we shall see, are shared by Vedantic thought also, and it is exactly this aspect that is of interest to us, as these features are evidenced also in the writings of Narayana Guru.



Strictly speaking, the distinction between what is known as the Veda and its dialectical revaluation into Vedanta is one of the most central and difficult problems to be faced.

For this purpose, we have to draw first the preliminary distinction between Vedism as it manifested itself in its primitive form as a natural and actual historical occurrence, and critical Vedism, as it was subjected to later additions and amendments. Mere elaboration of the raw material of the Veda is one thing, and its subjection to dialectical revaluation is another. Both have gone on abreast in respect of the Veda, as it passed through the stages of Agamas, (traditions), Brahmanas, (commentaries) and Aranyakas, (forest teachings), forming various sakhas, (branches) tending to be more critical, rational or philosophical; from mere ritualistic beginnings, supplemented by hymns, chants or mantras, (evocative sound-spells).
The four stages in a man's life may be said to correspond to the stages of the historical development of Vedic thought itself, as it passed through simple sacrificial acts, with their connected gestures and chants, into more elaborated forms of ritual and mutterings, suited for various occasions and circum-stances, and on to non-ritualistic pure wisdom.

Various Rishis (seers), Gurus (wisdom preceptors), or Munis (quietists), who lived in the forests away from society, had their own favourite or particular Vedic traditions and chants, each with a form of ritual belonging to it, which made them into distinct units of Vedic schools, some of whom specialised in Vedic exegetics, semantics or grammar.



In this way, a complex situation arose in which Vedism underwent a drastic modification of context as well as content.

Thus, if Veda is the tail end of a knowledge situation, we have to think of the Vedanta as belonging to the front pole, where it gets more finalised by ever-greater dialectical revaluations.

The intermediate literature presents a region where speculation thrives both ways as in a no-man's land between two contending armies. Each of the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita represents the various permutations and combinations possible in this dialectical revaluation, pertaining to the categories of Existence, Subsistence and Value in Vedanta philosophy. (As we have devoted a volume to the unravelling of the intricacies of the Bhagavad Gita it is not necessary to linger here on this subject any longer).

The two mimamsas, (critiques) called the pracina, (antique) or the purva, (anterior), and the uttara, (posterior or more finalised), have between them a subtle dialectical affinity, based on an apparent opposition. It is to explain this affinity that the subtlest polemical, logical, exegetic, and semantic powers of great teachers like Jaimini and Badarayana have been lavishly expended in their writings. When one is understood in terms of the other, reciprocally both ways, with all their subtle epistemological and axiological implications; cosmologically, psychologically, and eschatologically; we can consider ourselves to have touched the core of our subject.
There are three canonical texts, which have been accepted for this purpose in Vedanta: namely, the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita.

Between these three we can reasonably expect all Vedantic doctrines to have been touched upon in one context or another. When these texts are treated together with the Mahavakyas (the great dicta of the Vedanta); if properly explained and understood with their significance and position in the body of knowledge; we can rest satisfied that we have given some definiteness of content to the complex and multi-apartmented mansion of what is vaguely referred to as Vedantic Wisdom




The totality of Indian spirituality of the Vedic context may be broadly divided, as is already conventionally accepted, into the jnana kanda (section on pure reason) and the karma-kanda (section on practical, ritualistic or other action), respectively.

When both of these exist together, they enter into conflict with each other if non-dialectically handled; or, when they are dialectically treated, they are absorbed without contradiction into a middle ground which is inclusive of both, where both contradiction and paradox are transcended.

There are thus two methods and two distinct epistemological positions possible: the one that admits the principle of contradiction and the other that does not do so.

Advaita (non-duality); visishta-advaita (non-duality admitting some difference between quality and the qualified Absolute); and dvaita (accepting the duality of ambivalent poles within the structure of the Absolute); are all possible varieties of Vedanta. Each of these finds justification in the three canonical texts referred to above, without violating the requirements of the great dicta and the spirit of Vedanta as a whole. They represent grades in which the Absolute Idea or Norm can transcend paradox or bypass the principle of contradiction and excluded middle, in giving differing accentuations to the value-factor of the content of the Idea from the theological, psychological or purely epistemological angles.

Ritualism and gnosis, which are rival factors involved in Vedanta, either enter into conflict horizontally, or absorb one another when vertically treated. Herein is the secret of Vedanta on which the author of the Gita has put his finger with precision and certitude when he says:



"On what is action and what is inaction, even intelligent men here are confused. I shall indicate to you that action, on knowing which you will be emancipated from evil. One has to understand about action and understand about wrong action. Again one has to have a proper notion of non-action. The way of action is elusively subtle (indeed)! The one who is able to see action in inaction, and inaction in action - he among men is intelligent, he is one of unitive attitude (yogi) while still engaged in every (possible) kind of work." (IV 16-18)

In the last of these verses we have the paradox of action and inaction most squarely faced, and the dialectical solution suggested without contradiction of their rival claims. When dialectically treated, the paradox is resolved; but when treated from the point of view of ordinary logic, which excludes the middle ground and accepts the principle of contradiction, the conflict stares us in the face - and so to treat jnana and karma together would be unjustified. We shall have more to say on this kind of dialectical methodology of the Vedanta as occasions present themselves in this study.

Meanwhile, these quotations from the Bhagavad Gita, which is perhaps the most central authority for Vedanta; being repeatedly cited in the Brahma-Sutras of Badarayana, which latter is perhaps its only possible rival, if any; suffice to show that the gnostic and the ritualistic traditions in the Vedanta need not divide the wisdom of Vedanta into two water-tight compartments (as popular opinion might want us to believe), when viewed in the context of the higher wisdom that Vedanta is meant to represent.

What Sankara refers to as the evil of promiscuously mixing up wisdom with action (jnana-karma-samucchaya) can thus be avoided when the dialectical methodology proper to Vedanta is fully explained and understood: since samanvaya (dialectical agreement or "harmony" as often translated) can replace the samucchaya (mixing up) which would spell wrong Vedantism.

At the core of Vedantic wisdom there is lodged a paradox which we have approached frontally here, to get started on our subject. As we go along, some of the points or aspects still left obscure in the Vedanta philosophy will perhaps be cleared up. Vedanta transcends paradox by the postulation of an over-all normative notion of the Absolute as an Existent-Subsistent-Value.




All philosophy and science stand for certitude through thinking. Logic and mathematics lay down the methods by which certitudes are reached when mere thought, unsupported by methods or calculations, involves varying degrees of doubt about the steps of thinking or research.

Vedanta philosophy or Brahma-Vidya (the Science of the Absolute), as it is more correctly named, is no exception to the rule. It seeks certitude about absolute Existence, Subsistence, or Value, comprised in one notion called Brahman. (Brahman should not be confused with Brahma, the four-headed god of the Hindu pantheon: it represents the Absolute when used as a neuter and not as a masculine.)



To reveal the nature of the Absolute in poetic, figurative, or other convincingly authorised or valid language, is what the Upanishads, the most important body of literature of canonical status for Vedanta, have as their principal task.

The Absolute, being by nature a mystery and a wonder, means that the teaching of the Upanishads refers to a kind of philosophy that tends to be esoteric. However, when it has been subjected to more critical, rational, and intuitive treatment in the Brahma-Sutras of Badarayana (which is universally recognized as the second canonical text of Vedanta); and in the third similar canonical text called the Bhagavad Gita (which, however, is sometimes referred as a smriti - a code of obligatory duties of secondary importance); the subject matter of these three authoritative texts attains to a fully philosophical status, both from esoteric and exoteric norms of thought.



Both a priori and a posteriori means of valid reasoning are employed in Vedanta to arrive at the four great dicta (or maha-vakyas) which define the finalised finds or (lakshya) of Vedantic research or inquiry.

Expressed by the first, second, or third personal or impersonal pronouns as referring to the Self or ultimate Reality, they read: "Pure consciousness is the Absolute"; "That existent is the Absolute"; "This Self is the Absolute"; or "That thou art". In whatever grammatical or syntactical form they may be put, they represent an equation between two aspects of the Absolute, one which is visible and the other which is intelligible, whether in the context of the cosmological, the psychological, or the theological orders of reality.

The great dicta may be said to be answers to the two most generalized problems of all philosophical inquiry; two grand problems arising ever and everywhere in the human understanding, and contained in the questions: "who am I?" and "how came this world?" These two questions are fundamental and basic to all philosophical inquiry on the part of any man endowed with natural curiosity to know about his environment and himself, as together making a sensible whole in the Absolute.

Vedanta follows such wholesale lines of inquiry and boldly claims to hold the answer for these questions, which is more than the most intrepid of modern analytic philosophers dare to claim.

There are modern philosophers who tend to believe that wholesale answers to globally or totally conceived problems are no longer justified, and that the scientific spirit pertains to the piecemeal annexation of one fact after another to the total store of human knowledge by demonstrable steps of trial and error. They are thus sceptical empiricists or pragmatists, confined to the instrumental or the operational world of probabilities, with a partial epistemology, methodology, and axiology.



Vedanta, on the other hand, is rather a bold, wholesale, frontal, and a priori approach to ultimate realities of the most generalized order; and its natural starting point is belief rather than scepticism.



The other valid means of certitude, such as what is demonstrable and given to the senses, such as the eyes, etc. (pratyaksha), are not omitted; but are given a revised epistemological and subjective status in Vedanta. They are fitted into an overall scheme with a transparency or homogeneity in the common medium of participation, which is neither mind nor matter, but something with a neutral status in the Absolute.

Vedanta is thus a complete philosophy of the Absolute; with a rather subjectively-biased epistemological status; with a methodology which admits of all valid means of certitude, from empiricism, through rationalism, criticism and intuitionism; with an importance also attached to semantic considerations; and referring to a high human value or goal to be reached for all mankind.

Although often mistaken for pantheism, pessimism, solipsism, eclecticism, idealism, or syncretism; none of these terms can be considered sufficient to cover the character of Vedanta, which is an integrated philosophy, a psychology, a cosmology, and a theology in its own right at one and the same time. It is often legitimately or illegitimately used as a surrogate of religion.

Although some aspects of Vedanta stand in need of revision or clarification in the light of modern norms and standards in philosophy, there is no gainsaying the verity that it represents a monument of the heights to which speculation in the human mind can attain. Progress in modern times tends rather to confirm Vedanta rather than discredit it or put it into cold storage. When properly restated, it can even offer the basis for a one-world philosophy or a unified science of tomorrow.

The much-misunderstood Purva Mimamsa will be seen, on closer study, to be nothing but semantics, offering the frame of reference for a language of unified science. Schematicism, structuralism, subjectivism, and a selective epistemology: all lie at the basis of Vedanta, in which not only the Vedas but the six systems of Indian philosophy, all of which have gone into disuse and mistrust at the present day, have been successfully integrated already into one body of unified Wisdom.



The normative notion of the Absolute is the factor giving unity and organic coherence to the various elements of philosophy or science, logic, or mathematical discipline, that have contributed, or should legitimately be taken to have contributed, to this body of unitive wisdom called Advaita Vedanta, of which the other varieties, such as Dvaita (duality) and Visishta-Advaita (non-duality with Value), are only as corollaries to axioms.



There are both points of contact and difference between Vedanta and modern Western philosophy. Having reviewed some of the significant aspects of such thought in another study, we have here to keep the matter in mind again, so as to enable us to see Vedanta in its revised perspective, noticing agreements and disagreements between the two extremes of Eastern and Western ways of thinking, widely separated as they are.

We have already seen how the official or academic philosophers of Europe, even up to the time of Hegel, treated Eastern philosophy and Indian speculation generally, as unworthy of any notice. Exceptions to the rule, such as Schopenhauer, Schelling, Schlegel and others, besides Max Müller and Paul Deussen, were those who admired it, as we have seen, almost as partisans in its favour.

It is the mean between the two attitudes of disadoption and adoption that we have to strike, to arrive at the normal view in this matter. The sceptical and the empirical standpoints have great credit at present in modern Western thought. This is due partly to the reaction against the extreme dogmatism of the Middle Ages and the rise of the scientific spirit after the Dark Ages had passed into the Age of Enlightenment and Reason.

From the paradoxes of the Eleatic philosophers, and the hylozoism of the pre-Socratic animists and nature philosophers who speculated about the reality of the elements of water or fire in a scheme of existent realities, to the extreme idealism of a Hegel, we have one sweep of the story of human speculation in the West, which we can keep in mind in order to see the highlights and contributions of each new development, insofar as these are likely to be of interest to us in placing Vedantic thought in its proper perspective in the context of human understanding and the lines of its speculation, as natural to man at any time and anywhere.



A perennial and world background, in which normal human speculation naturally thrives, when once properly visualized, will help us to rid ourselves of the parochial or mental barriers of the language or customs of different regions or times. We can then seek that central scientific notion common to both philosophy and science; and clarify it for the thought of the one world of tomorrow, in which the idea of one language too would have full relevancy; as helping to avoid confusion of tongues, which a scientific language alone can be expected to solve - as it has to some extent already done. A Russian and an American scientist can now communicate in the language of formulae and equations, with letters of the Greek alphabet: and so it becomes punishable to pass on any information in such a language from one side of a frontier to another.

Philosophy too, when rid of linguistic or cultural frontiers, will tend to bring humanity together in a more real sense than in the case of the Tower of Babel, which left the question of a common language outside its scope.

Integrated Wisdom must accommodate existential laws, logical rules, and critical methods, and give full scope to intuition. Modern phenomenology and existentialism also have their contributions, which we have to notice so that we get a total or global view of speculation as a whole, as normal to man anywhere and at any time.

What is often referred to as perennial philosophy, at present tends to come near to mysticism rather than to the philosophies of the present time, which are referred to as analytic. This distinction itself will be seen to be arbitrary, when we have examined the whole field of speculation and understanding in the light of a normative notion of the Absolute. We cannot here attempt a thorough or systematic study of these aspects, but only a summary review of the whole position in a sweeping and general way.




The Vedanta examines absolute reality under the three categories of sat (Existence), which is philosophically the domain of ontology; chit (Subsistence which results from abstract reasoning) which is the domain of the ratiocinative or rational aspect of philosophical inquiry; and ananda (which refers to the world of Value, whether moral, aesthetic, or of higher contemplation), with the good and the beautiful coming under this division, which has recently been named axiology.

Ontology, epistemology and axiology may be said to cover roughly these three zones or degrees of speculation. Often these divisions overlap or presuppose each other until they become merged into one central, neutral, normative notion, called the Absolute. The actual, the logically true, and the beautiful, or the good as summum bonum, may be said, in a more popular way, to cover the same divisions.

The cosmological, psychological, and theological versions of the same have been recognized in Vedanta as the adhibhautika, the adhyatmika and the adhidaivika aspects of the Absolute, which is yet another way of dividing up the total field of speculation, based on the "subject matter" or "object matter" to which it refers. Sometimes too, both subject and object matters are treated together more unitively, as in keeping with the non-duality of approach.

Although, strictly, Vedanta adheres to ajata-vada (the theory of non-creation), yet there is in popular Vedantic works, under a chapter known as utpatti prakarana (chapter on genesis), some reference to how, in the beginning, the world originated. Thus some aspects of genesis are included in Vedanta as also its inevitable counterpart, eschatology, which treats of matters pertaining to the soul after its departure from here, or refers to the end as pralaya (general finality).

Theories of reincarnation and the survival of the soul in various regions have been variously worked out in Vedantic texts. A total subjective and absolutist way of approach, giving primacy to the mind rather than to matter; which is of the essence of spirituality, as against mere one-sided materialism; characterises Vedanta on the whole - although the rejection of the materialist standpoint from its scope altogether is not intended by Vedanta, strictly speaking. Mind and matter in Vedanta may be said to be treated as counterparts with equal claims, as in the standpoint of neutral monism postulated by William James and approved by Bertrand Russell.



As a result, empirical evidence (pratyaksha) occupies a respectable position side by side with sabda (a priori validity based on authoritative texts) in Vedantic methodology. When the story of creation and the survival of the soul, with its progress in the spiritual world, are brought into the scope of philosophy, it begins to resemble theology or religion.



Indians have had no reason to divorce religion from philosophy to the same extent as Europeans had to do because of the extremes and excesses of the dogmatism of the Middle Ages. The horrors of the Inquisition that haunted the conscience of the West were a nightmare which can vie only with the cruelty and injustice of the caste system that has persisted in India. Both have tended to drive a wedge between aspects of spiritual life which, without them, should have belonged together to one discipline or expression of aspiration for Truth or Freedom. As a perennial philosophy, Vedanta tries to steer free of historical and other considerations, and thus has a global, integral, and unitively comprehensive character of its own, with its own necessary methodological, axiological and epistemological peculiarities.

Though coloured somewhat by Vedism in its origin, it is not to be mixed up and thought of in terms of any genetic fallacy of its origin and growth on the Indian soil. Advaita Vedanta or more simply Advaita Philosophy, when revalued and restated, can give us the norm and reference, both theoretical and practical, of a way of life and a certitude that can claim a fully scientific status, while being a complete philosophy in its own right.

Partial philosophical growths or expressions which have gained the foreground in various epochs in the history of the world, can all be given their proper places as aspects of such a Philosophy of philosophies or science that Vedanta has claimed to represent, even from Upanishadic times.



How far the various philosophies of the Western world can, by their light, confirm and not discredit some of its primary methodological, epistemological, or axiological postulates in yielding more certitude to Vedanta as a complete philosophy in itself, is what we shall try to show in the pages that follow. For purposes of orderliness, we shall adopt the Vedantic categories of sat, chit and ananda (Existence, Subsistence and Value) as aspects of the Absolute, to establish points of contact or contrast between Western philosophy and Eastern philosophy as represented by the Advaita Philosophy of the Indian soil.



We have the experience of existing things. This experience is the natural starting point of all inquiry of truth, whether scientific or philosophical. The mysterious universe of Jeans, or the "all things wonderful" that the Lord God made, of the children's hymnbook, refer to the existential order of things.

This aspect of reality refers to what is observed by the naked eye, or when aided by instruments like the microscope or the telescope. Particle physics or bacteriology reveal one side of the existing universe; while the galaxies of the expanding universe refer to the other pole: these are known as the microcosm and macrocosm respectively.

We have to distinguish, however, the metaphysically existent from the ontologically existent. In scholastic philosophy, as opposed to existence there is essence, which has also to be noted. Brute actuality based on sensation is called the sensum: when removed one degree subjectively or secondarily, it has more of the status of a percept, rather than that of a sensum. Conceptual and nominal abstractions of the existent are also possible to abstract from the given actuality of a situation.

Significant existences have to be separated, as coloured by degrees of interest in things that exist. Epistemological realism and idealism are both possible in modern philosophy. Materialism itself has no definite meaning, especially in modern days where matter and energy are becoming interchangeable terms.
When we look for support in the history of Western Thought in fixing the connotation of what exists, we have to hearken back to the pre-Socratic hylozoists to find any firm philosophically valid ground.




Sat (ontological reality), as understood in Vedanta, has no metaphysical limits put on it as in the West, where ontology is excluded from the purview of epistemology. Physical sat, ontological sat, and axiological sat are all comprised in Vedanta under an over-all epistemology. All these have metaphysical presuppositions implicit in them, so that when Vedanta speaks of something as sat, it is to be a significant aspect of reality, rationally, critically, or intuitively understood. It is also good, morally and aesthetically too, in the context of the Absolute; which is the highest of significant values in the Self.

An actuality that exists in the most primary of senses has to be given to the senses, especially to the sense of sight and touch. Lightning and thunder, though related as cause and effect, are not as actual as a stone that we can see and touch; although the former, too, enter our consciousness directly, though separately through hearing and sight. Weight is a reality that is not so directly given to the senses as colour. The outside colour of the room in which we might be sitting at night, as seen during the day, is not an actuality - to the extent that memory has to support perception. Thus, when closely examined, empirical ontology referring to material existence, which is treated as if it had apodictic certitude, has no such simple status. The position of neutral monism, which treats of reality as consisting of neither mind nor matter, comes very near to the concept of sat as used in Vedanta.

Sat is one of the three possible categories under which the Absolute can be viewed. It comprises the truth of the dictum cogito ergo sum of Cartesianism and the esse est percipi of Berkeley; and holds them both together by means of the ultimate notion of the Absolute, which is the basis of them both; and which could not be conceived by human understanding if it did not exist in the pure sense of sat as used in Vedanta.

A verse in the Bhagavad Gita stresses this all-encompassing philosophical character of the notion of sat sufficiently to bring out the three grades in which existence is to be understood:



"This (term) sat (the real) is used in the sense of existence and also of goodness, and likewise 0 Partha (Arjuna), to all laudable actions, the expression sat is usually applied." (XV.26)

Immanent, empirical, transcendental, and even value aspects are comprised in the notion of sat in Vedanta. How this is made possible in Vedanta will become clearer as we proceed. It is an inter-subjective and trans-physical value-factor in the Absolute Self.



It is in the hylozoism of the pre-Socratic philosophers that we find anything near to the notion of sat in the history of Western philosophy.

Thales of Miletus gave to water the status of the source of all things; and Anaximander spoke of the original material substance as the 'principle' of all things. He is said to have described the soul as aeriform.

Heraclitus assumes ethereal fire as the substantial principle of all things. He at once identifies it with the divine spirit which knows and directs all things. The process of things with him is twofold, involving the transformation of all things into fire and then of fire into all things. This latter movement is styled the 'way downward', which leads from fire (identical with the finest air), to water, earth, and so to death. The former movement is the 'way upward from earth and water to fire and life'. Both movements are everywhere intertwined with each other, all identical and not identical. We step down a second time into the same stream and yet not into the same stream etc.

Indian philosophy may have been influenced by Egyptian thought and Egypt might have had affinities with India. Which-ever might have been the earlier, it is here in the hylozoist absolutism, which speaks in terms of flux and of ascent and descent of the substance treated as a pure principle, that we must establish, if at all, a point of contact between existential aspects of the Absolute of Eastern or Western philosophy.

Modern phenomenology has borrowed this way of looking at the world of things or elementals from the pre-Socratics.



The Phenomenological epoché which, as an entity non--theoretical in status but still referring to no single predicable thing in the world; arrived at by a 'bracketing' and 'disconnecting' from the natural 'world about one' which Husserl tries to distinguish; comes near to the notion of sat of the Vedanta.

In Bergson the flux or process of becoming of matter that is non-mechanically conceived under a schéma moteur, as a cross-section of fluid reality, has also points of similarity with the notion of sat in Vedanta.

The quantum mechanics of modern physics, which tends to make matter a mere wrinkle in space, vectorially understood, would also suggest the pure notion of sat as understood in Indian philosophy. Plato's reference to 'the mobile image of eternity' and Aristotle's idea of the mind that 'becomes all things' touch the same entity or notion that sat represents.

In Vedanta, sat is an extreme philosophical abstraction, and we shall not enter more elaborately into its epistemological validity here. For the present, we must content ourselves by indicating where the points of contact lie in the Western world of speculation for the notion of sat to be understood in its proper philosophical perspective.



Brahman, or the Absolute, is the highest of human values in Vedanta, and if existence is to be thought of as belonging to the context of the Absolute, the notion of existence must, by implication, indirectly at least, have reference to this high value. Anything non-significant and inconsistent with the highest aims of man becomes ipso facto non-existent in principle, although it might be an actuality in the merely empirical context, having no reference to the Absolute.

This way of interpreting the meaning of existence is supported by the theory of indirect meaning that Sankara accepts and adopts, when explaining the three attributes of satyam, jnanam, anantam brahma (the Absolute is existent, knowing and infinite). The connotation of one of these is to be looked upon as modifying the other, till they refer to the Absolute in a total meaning-content.



This semantic principle of indirect meanings (laksanartha) applied to one Absolute, without any contradiction between component terms, is one of the secrets of Vedantic exegesis. This same way of giving significance of reality to sat (existence) is seen employed and explained, in the Bhagavad Gita:
"Whatever is sacrificed, given or done, and whatever austerity is gone through, without faith, it is called asat (non-existent, no-good) 0 Partha (Arjuna): it is not (of value) here or hereafter." (XVII. 28)

All truth, reality, or fact must satisfy the three tests of (1) being a significant value in human life here or hereafter; (2) being valid according to reason; and (3) being conceivable as existent; at one and the same time. This will apply equally to actions, gifts, things, or properties dealt with in transactions between man and man. Vedantic methodology, epistemology and axiology have thus to be treated together in order to yield the integrated unitive wisdom which it is meant to represent.





How the mind is inserted into matter; how the body is articulated to the mind; and how there is participation between the subjective and the objective aspects of reality - are questions pertaining to one and the same problem. This problem has puzzled and eluded philosophers, theologians, as well as scientists, everywhere up to the present.

Whichever term is used, the link which enables psycho-physical interaction can be conceived only by what the terminology of Vedanta describes as samana-adhikaranatva (homogeneity of ground, context, or medium).

When different metals have to be soldered together there has to be a special medium or flux to hold them together effectively, intimately, and strongly. Water or air can each mix with their own kind most intimately without any difficulty. Sounds and colours can blend imperceptibly with degrees of clashing or lack of harmony. Through participation, it is not hard to infer from common experience; as also from the syntactical and semantic requirements of the grammar of any language - that the law of homogeneity is a common matrix in a fully intimate blending, where there is perfect harmony.

When participation itself is possible, it is thus legitimate to infer from common experience the presence of a common medium or a matrix in which that possibility exists. Conversely, consciousness, which is homogeneous and absolute, without any internal contradiction or conflict within itself, provides for participation between any apparently heterogeneous factors or elements, whether they are concrete or abstract.



The notion of the non-dual Absolute can be taken here as an a priori postulate; or we can arrive at this common ground as an inductive hypothetical inference where mind and matter stand on neutral ground. Thus we see that the law of homogeneity holds good, not only in physics, but also in logic, language, mathematics or metaphysics.



How can the two laws of contradiction and of homogeneity both be accommodated within the Absolute as the common ground of reality, truth or value, on which basis alone these laws can even be conceivable? This is the next problem that we come up against.

This problem has been the source of much difference of opinion in the rival philosophies of non-duality, qualified non-duality, and duality, each of which has held its ground successively in the Vedanta. Duality can be accepted mildly, or in a stronger sense within the heart of the notion of the homogeneity of the matrix of reality, which is none other than the Absolute.

In the transition from the world of existence to that of subsistence (which depends for its reality on the mind and its power of reasoning), we have to face the implied paradox of having to think of the possibility of these laws as being together in one and the same medium, matrix or basis.

Philosophers usually attempt to get over this difficulty like the performer on the flying trapeze. At a certain stage in their argument, they let go of their hold on existence and catch up with a reality of a different order. Theologians also skip over this same difficulty when they pass from the reality of the world to that of God. Scientists confront this same problem by trying to distinguish between the relativistic and the absolutist approaches and end up with speculative subtleties as puzzling as those of the scholastic metaphysicians whom they look down upon.

The law of homogeneity cannot be accommodated alongside that of the inner contradiction in reality without transcending the implied paradox. In order to transcend this paradox, each philosopher resorts to some favourite pairs of expressions such as the distinction between the immanent and the transcendent, the practical and the pure, or the visible and the intelligible.



Modern scientific philosophers may prefer the terms "observables and calculables". Whichever the terms used, we always find that there are two of them, having a polarity, an ambivalence, a dichotomy, or an antinomy implicit between them. The phenomenal and the noumenal; the worlds of appearance and reality; the relatively and the absolutely real - are other twin terms implying contrast, contrariety, or contradiction of various degrees in different philosophies, whether of the East or the West. Transcending paradox is the main difficulty that the magic of words is meant to accomplish.



Thought circulates in an existent, subsistent, and value world, whether in science, logic, or philosophy. The thinking mind is guided by interests; and each life-interest gives some satisfaction to the self. Like a bird who might light on the branch of a tree, subjective interests settle for a moment on the ramifications of rival interests claiming attention at a given time and place in the subjective-objective world. The subjective and objective counterparts of the existent-subsistent-value-factor tally for a moment and attain the real: but they are soon dissolved, like a bubble that bursts in rainwater.

According to alternating inner dispositions and urges, such as those of appetite or sex, there can be imagined an alternating circulation in the global consciousness of every man and of all men treated together. When value attaches itself to Platonic intelligibles, culminating in the summum bonum, we have what might be visualized as ascending dialectics. When the reverse process takes place, thought lingers on values that are "of earth earthy" - the prime matter in the unmoved mover, where pure acts reside and where Aristotelian entelechies become possible.

In between these ambivalent poles of the supreme good and the essentially actual, in the circulatory amplitude of thought, we have other possibilities, too numerous to classify.



This is the domain of Maya's uncertainty of value in the context of absolute reality. We should think of this intermediate negative zone differently from its positive counterpart. The transcendent and the immanent change sides here. Cause or effect, subject or object, the specific or the generic, prevail in interest or significance alternately. There can be no rule of thumb to determine which has real value significance, and therefore existence or reality. So it is in between the plus and minus factors that all becomes unpredicable in this zone which is both intermediate and negative in its content. The Sanskrit word anirvachaniya (unpredicable) refers thus to the over-all Maya, the most generalized category of error possible in the fullest context of absolutism.

When Maya is eliminated, all uncertainty finally vanishes: and then, by double assertion prevailing over what is discarded by double negation, the Sun of truth-value dawns. This notion of Maya thus corresponds to the negativität of Hegel. But Hegel's positive Absolute lost its way in pan-Germanic enthusiasms of which Vedanta was innocent. The bright sun of the high value that was fully absolutist, reached by double positive assertion, was given its due importance in Vedanta. It is here that Vedanta scores over Hegelian absolutism, indicating a clear and normative philosophy as well as a correct way of life.



To complete the methodology of the Vedantic Absolute, we have therefore to recognize three distinct zones, each having its own kind of reasoning. Because thought is, as it were, refracted as it passes through a transparent prism, there prevail here certain structural peculiarities, which give a complicated innate structure to the total field of Vedantic inquiry.

The level of existence is the bottom stratum where human inquiry begins. From natural curiosity about actual single objects of interest, the understanding penetrates into more generalized and abstracted situations, with memories and anticipations of past or future possibilities or probabilities colouring the relation. Sense data assume an ontological compactness and, directed by life interests, there is ascent or descent in the scale of possible human values.



The object prevails and looms large at one moment; and then at another moment the subject is the centre of interest. Life tendencies give both content and direction to these relational interests as they move in a time or space field within normalized consciousness, which is neither inside nor outside.

After existent aspects have been sublimated, the bipolarity passes into the indeterminate zone of maya's domain where there is a confusion of indeterminate values which attract and repel in alternation or together at a given moment.

On rising above this level there is a steady betterment in a world of values which are free of sensual, perceptual, or even of conceptual content. All are of a purely nominal significance. Even naming is finally abandoned when descending dialectics is used to remove the over-positive tones of values which do not refer fully to the Self or the Existent.

Thus existent, subsistent and value factors correct the exaggerations of each other and of one another. Finally, pure being attains to self-awareness in the Absolute.

It will suffice here to indicate that, in this dynamic structure of the circulation of thought, there is an upward and downward movement between the a priori and the a posteriori; and between the synthetic and the analytic aspects of thought as it circulates between the plus and minus poles, within whose amplitude of dialectical reasoning or intuition Vedantic reasoning lives and moves.

In order to show that such structuralism is present and fully recognized in Vedanta, we give here two references from “L'Absolu selon le Vedanta” by Prof. O. Lacombe. He writes:

"One sees also that the aspect of abundance of being, so dear to Bhartrprapancha, who sacrificed in it the first and most fundamental of strictly ontological requirements, the principle of contradiction, was not less dear to Sankara. It decomposes, however, in traversing the prism of non-being, into two coupled notions, one of which is altered in relation of the other."

The reference to the prism of non-being, through which ontological abundance passes, indicates in complicated language that structuralism which we have already examined.




Writing about the alternation of immanence and transcendence, the same author not only deals with this kind of structuralism but even of a kind of osmotic process that takes place between these aspects of the self. After saying that the 'order of emanation' has priority over the 'order of return to the absolute principle', when viewed from the side of the relative, Lacombe describes the circulation as follows:

"On arrival as on departure, at the very core of the dizzy unevenness marked by the opposition; transcendence-immanence, where the osmosis that is infinitely subtle and gentle, of their correlation plays; there reigns the infrangibility of their equalising movement."

These extracts will suffice to show the outlines of a structuralism and of a process which have to be imagined as abiding at the core of the notion of the absolute as viewed from the side of the relative.

Such ideas are not fancifully conceived by the professor, but are fully justified in Vedantic texts. In the Gaudapada Karika of the Mandukya Upanishad, whose authority is by no means negligible, there is the analogy of the fire-brand that is moved, a comparison intended to bring out the relationship between the thing in itself as the Absolute and its own relativistic aspect:

"A fire-brand, when set in motion, appears as straight, crooked, etc. So also consciousness, when set in motion, appears as perceiver, the perceived and the like"

In the writings of Narayana Guru we find that this circulation in consciousness is referred to more pointedly and clearly in his “Atmopadesa Satakam”:

"Awareness in order to know its proper state
Itself the earth and other manifestations became;
And in inverted state, now mounting, now changing,
Like a circulating faggot of fire, it keeps turning round."
(Verse 33)"



The Bhagavad Gita too has this idea of circulation and alternation:

"The Lord dwells in the heart-region of all beings, 0 Arjuna, causing all beings to revolve through the principle of appearance (maya) (as if) mounted on a machine."
(XVI. 61)

The alternating process is more expressly indicated by Professor Lacombe in the same paragraph already quoted:

"At the time of manifestation, the accent weighs more and more on immanence; at the time of re-absorption it refers more and more to transcendence. Never, however, is either the one or other term ever sacrificed."

If we were to put the matter in our own words as a circulation taking place with a dialectical ascent and descent, we would describe the process as follows:

The chain of associations flits from one object of interest to another and is regulated by value considerations. Between cognition and conation, as psychologists would put it, there is an analytic and synthetic alternation in the phases of reasoning, which can be ratiocinative at a given moment and emotionally coloured at another. Circulation of thought normally takes place in the mind's search for certitude. Each certitude has a corresponding element of interest on which it rests, before passing on to the next element where it can find satisfaction momentarily or more enduringly as the case may be. Absolute happiness is the highest of satisfactions, where the movement of the circulating fire faggot is quenched to put it in the language of the Mandukya Karika. Happiness would thus result from a form of finalised certitude which Vedanta promises.

When value factors predominate, experimental and formed reasoning gives place to more intuitive and dialectical reasoning. Existential aspects alone demand experimental demonstrations. These are based on the a posteriori approach. Full a priorism prevails when dialectical intuition comes to be employed, where value factors are more significant. Intermediate between these we have syllogistic forms of reasoning which depend on the universal or the particular alternately; yielding certitude and the satisfaction that goes with it.



Thus descent and ascent in the circulation of thought, based on interest alternating with intelligence, takes place all the time within human understanding, as it seeks greater and more significant certitude in life's problems and interests, great or small.



There is a feat, like that of the leap of the trapeze athlete, involved in the transition of the process of human inquiry, as it proceeds normally in graded order from one subject of interest-significance to another; if we can imagine the process on the lines outlined above, with the gift of some intuition added to mechanistic reasoning. This transit is necessary if we are to follow further along the path of contemplative philosophy that Vedanta really represents. .

Thus between existence (sat) and reason (chit) in the contemplative and absolutist context of Vedanta, there is a deep chasm where brute actuality is left behind and nature or substance, both immanent and transcendent at once, is attained.

The participation of the existent with the subsistent does not take place on even ground. When one has been left behind, the other is attained by human understanding, after consciousness itself attains to a certain degree of lucidity in the awareness of the Self, however dim in the beginning.

Transcendence belongs more intimately to the absolutist context, while immanence leads directly to the world of multiple relativistic values. The localised and pluralistic items that demand our attention minute after minute, which have been compared by Narayana Guru to a group of small fancy-feathered birds pecking at fruits and changefully roving in the branches of a tree, have to be brought down so that they are abolished and absorbed in the bright self-awareness of general human understanding in purer consciousness.




The case of absolute truth has suffered from ancient times, and still suffers, because three steps of thought remain undistinguished and promiscuously mixed up.

When we formulate a law such as 'action and reaction are equal and opposite', as in the mechanics of the Euclidean and Newtonian order, we have an epistemology and methodology that go together with such a statement. On the other hand, when we say that 'the entropy of the universe is tending towards zero', we generalize and state a more subtle universal law where observables enter weakly, and calculables are treated in a purer or higher mathematical fashion.

Although both statements are capable of being expressed by equations, one refers to the mechanistic and the other to the purer world given to mathematical intuition. When we pass on higher still into the domain of pure value and try to equate items such as 'pure reason' with the 'summum bonum'; intuition comes into play more strongly, and thought proves itself by its axiomatic content.

The laws of physics, the truths of logic and higher and purer equations of the value world require different treatments for verification or demonstration. In actual practice it has been taken for granted till recently that science relies on the first kind of reasoning only. This, however, has now definitely been given up. In order to mark the latest position in this all-important question of the relation between the 'mind and the machine' let us examine extracts from an authority on the subject. Writing in “The Listener”, London, of Oct. 17, 1963, P.G.M. Dawe of Oxford University, says:

"To interpret the results of elementary mind-body experiments in vocabularies appropriate to the engineer, such as those of information theory, entropy, or computer technology or in terms of models, may sometimes be theoretically interesting and even elegant, but has had limited psychological significance…It is now clear that the discoveries and theories of the scientists always directly involve developments of their imagination or mind and otherwise of the story of their subject. The concepts of physics, or the invention of a machine are therefore to be fully understood only in terms of a story relating to the lives of individual men and women, and not vice-versa."

The latest tendency in scientific psychology is thus in favour of considering thought-processes as non-mechanistic and as coming nearer to living intuitionism rather than being empirically rational. We have to let go our hold on brute facts and even of the language appropriate to mechanics to describe or understand the inner workings of the mind, even in everyday matters of utility values. When more idealistic or spiritual values are involved in individual or collective human behaviour, the accent has to be placed on the fully transcendental aspects. Between the poles of what Kant has called the a priori synthetic in transcendentalism, and the analytic or aesthetic, there is a subtle movement which, as we have seen above, has been compared to an osmosis between the two aspects of the Absolute of Vedanta.

What interests us directly here is the fact of the transition from the existent (sat) to the subsistent (chit). The subject on which we shall focus our attention next is how the value factor, named ananda, enters subtly into the sat and chit; and how they fuse or combine by subtle osmosis, and thus help to give content or significance to the Absolute as understood in Vedanta.




Fact, truth or reality must have some significant value-content. If this is absent it becomes empty and cannot do any good to man who might have mere intellectual certitude about it. Man is the measure of all things, and the self which seeks certitude through science or metaphysics must have a resting place in utility or a final good that works and makes the man happier and better in one sense or another.

Thus the value-factor is an inseparable counterpart of what is merely true mathematically or logically. A tautology is a statement of truth which leaves the man who believes in it unaffected: while a mere contradiction when discovered helps only to reject wrong but not to accept any truth or value.

The charge against metaphysics by positivists of the present day holds good in so far as metaphysics often exults in mere verbosity; relying on mere tautological a priorisms of synthetic transcendentalism; without relating truth operationally to the working or living world of human significance, whether at the utilitarian or real level. In short, the truth must make man free and supply the bread with the freedom for which man hungers, at one and the same time.

Thus it is that the third category of the Absolute Reality called ananda (value interest) enters into a complete philosophy such as Vedanta claims to be. Ananda is often translated 'bliss', which would suggest the trance of a yogi. It is to be understood, however, in revised and restated terms as that axiological factor which, side by side with existence and subsistence, is an integral part of all true philosophising when it is not limited merely to abstract metaphysical speculation.



The three categories of Existence, Subsistence, and Value have to fuse together by a sort of osmosis or interaction between them; cancelling one-sided exaggerations possible at each level before a significant notion of the Absolute can emerge to view. Thus it is that the Self and the non-Self cancel out into a high value in oneself, which becomes fully significant.



The value element has to enter into the composition of the two other categories of existence (sat) and reason or subsistence (chit) in a very intimate manner of inherence or samanvaya, before the alchemy of the absolute Value can emerge at every level of life. Just as a mechanical mixture and a chemical compound are distinguished in science, so the intimate manner whereby existence is modified by attributes to substance in terms of chit requires the exercise of the subtlest form of intuition to grasp.

The Substance and Attribute of Spinoza's philosophy have natures which make for 'thinking substances'. There is nature which is still in the process of becoming something else by attributes (natura naturans); and there is nature that has become an existent thing in a more actual sense (natura naturata). This is a philosophical subtlety which, like the paradox of the participation of mind and matter, is a major one that philosophy has had to face whether in the East or the West.

Metaphysical speculation, whether in the East or in the West, has lingered long on this subtle distinction between material evolution (parinama) and purer change or becoming (vivarta) in a more vital sense, as intuitively and non-mechanistically understood as in Bergson.

Pure becoming is referred to as change in prakara or mode of expression by Ramanuja, while Sankara would call it a mere eidetic phenomenon, calling it vivarta (specific cognizable aspect of the same absolute substance), in which both kinds of change have to inhere.



Samyoga and samanvaya are two relations in absolute Substance: the former based on mere contiguity in space, and the latter in continuity in mental associations. Potassium nitrate, sulphur, and carbon placed contiguously in space do not enter into intimate contact with each other as when gunpowder actually explodes. Being and becoming have to be conceived as twin aspects of the same relationship: one vertical and the other horizontal. The 'blue lotus' inheres in the class 'lotus', understood without its specific colour, and vice versa, very intimately; while a 'blue' lotus in wood painted blue has its substance and attribute merely horizontally associated by samyoga, which is accidental or incidental. Thus there are vertical and horizontal specifications to which existent and subsistent realities are subject in the context of Absolute Reality as understood in a complete philosophy of life.



The Absolute of Vedanta is given a priori and then confirmed a posteriori. Axioms and postulates are valid at one end; and at the other pole of the knowledge-situation, visual or experimental demonstration has its place, though only inductively. If we admit now that any truth that has no value-significance to the Self or to man cannot be treated seriously by any philosophy worth the name, we come to the position that a thing of no value is equivalent to being false or non-existent.

Existence, Subsistence and Value have to fall in a certain vertical line, giving to each object, truth, or interest, its place in an absolute scheme under the aegis of an overall normative notion of the Absolute. The Absolute is the highest of value-references available to philosophical speculation; and when the Absolute, Self, and Value are all thought of together as one giving meaning to the other; abolishing possible unilateral error or exaggeration; we succeed in giving content to the otherwise empty word called the Absolute.

The sat, the chit, and the ananda aspects or categories have all to be fitted into a common scheme as comprised in the notion of the Absolute as the reality of highest significance to life. Metaphysics otherwise would be verbose nonsense.



In order that this may not be so, philosophers of the East and the West have depended on the magic of words to clear the situation finally. Cause and effect; the generic and the specific; the analogically understandable relationship of semantics of higher mathematics, algebraic as well as geometrical - have all been already explored to find a proper frame of reference, where speculation could cohere and make sense. Syntactics and semiotic processes have not been omitted, either in India or in Europe, by ancients as well as moderns. We can enter only very cautiously into this domain where stalwarts like Sankara, Panini, and others have trodden the ground with confidence and ease. All we can say generally here is that the magic of words has been freely employed by Sankara and others.

Modern thinkers too give increasing importance to such questions as 'the meaning of meaning.' It is here that Vedanta stands on common ground with the most advanced of modern thought. Works like Vedanta Paribhasha, Bhasha Paricheda, Vakya Vritti and other advanced texts of Vedanta and allied disciplines, call for greater recognition in order to show that the world has a central place in revealing the final nature of the Absolute.

If Sankara, the greatest of Vedantins, gives primacy to the word and its direct and indirect meanings (calling them vachyartha and lakshanartha respectively) in revealing the final nature of Truth as the highest Good, the reason is that sabda or word is our final epistemological reference for ultimate certitude.

Thus, ranging from pratyaksha (given to the senses) through anumana (inference), arthapatti (hypothetical postulation), anupalabdhi (negative certitude), and sabda (word), the valid means of knowledge become acceptable to the Vedantin at one and the same time.

At one pole we have verification of existence by means of pratyaksha (observable demonstration), and, at the other extreme, we have sabda (word) which is fully a priori and synthetic in status. Pratyaksha is empirical, analytic, positive, and a posteriori; while sabda is the other pole where axiomatic validity prevails.




The structure of the relation between these means of testing truth is complex and needs reduction to simplicity by Vedantic thought. The net result is that we can arrive at simplification by a process where sat, chit and ananda inhere and specify each other to result in the full notion of the Absolute of Vedanta. What is too vague and generalized here can only be explained step by step as we examine items of method, epistemology or value, one after another.



The question that a modern man will ask naturally about this taking refuge in subtleties like "the meaning of meaning" for proving the reality of the Absolute would be: "Why take so much trouble when the visible, demonstrable, practical world in which we live is sufficient for man for all ordinary purposes?"

This is quite true, if bread here was all that we needed for life. Man, however, does not live by bread alone; he craves for freedom too and, as homo sapiens, he is a thinking animal. This means that he must solve problems big or small to fulfil his life purpose. Speculation steps into the breach inevitably.

Philosophy would be superfluous if building bridges or developing a country for gaining bread were all that man wanted. Man wants to live in security, free from fear. Fear of calamities, avoidable or inevitable, comes from various sources. Doubts from within cause discontent in every man. The mystery of life itself causes alternate fear or wonder in all normal men who do not wilfully live in a fool's paradise, whether they are considered primitive or civilised, however much the latter may deny it in their pride. Wars and pestilences, famines and genocides, due to fanaticisms or idolatries, need effective remedies which wisdom alone can give. Truth must make man free.

Such are some of the implications of a full philosophy which tend to get overcovered by extraneous considerations brought about by some technological triumph of man in modern times. Vice and crime cannot be corrected merely by technical skill or space conquest. Problems of divorce and delinquency cannot be overcome by a mechanistic approach.



The problem of evil or suffering is as much within human nature as in nature outside. As even Russell would admit, there are realities, both mental and physical, which belong to the two domains of two distinct dictionaries, the empirical and the mental, at least as Berkeley saw it. The form of logic, the structure of thought and language, conceptualism, subjectivism, structuralism, and other aspects of what is ultimately real, occupied and are occupying the minds of fully qualified scientists such as Eddington and Schroedinger, even in this age of science. Vedanta, though an ancient discipline, is no exception here.



The three categories of Existence, Subsistence, and Value have to be approached with the methods and theories of knowledge proper to each, so that their dynamism and inter-relationships within the core of the Absolute can be understood.

On the Indian soil, philosophical speculation has gone on unbridled through the ages; and different points of view of the Absolute have taken shape, all having some common basis of method or value significance.

India has had its sceptics and empiricists in the Charvakas and the Lokayatikas, before Vedantic thought began to evaluate them in more absolutist terms. In European thought scepticism came late and persists with force even to the present. Belief and scepticism are in reality two poles of the same knowledge-situation, when understood globally, completely, and in the light of the structure of thought as a whole. There is no physics without mathematics; and there is no proof without reliance on axioms. Observables and calculables have to go hand in hand to yield worthwhile or workable certitudes.

When the total structure of the absolute knowledge situation is taken in by the mind, we can clearly visualize the subtle dynamism, the osmosis, the semiotic processes or apperceptions taking place within consciousness when viewed in its proper epistemological perspective. There are thoughts or truths that are transparent to some, and others which have an ambivalent polarity between them, repelling one another. There are thoughts more essential than others, and relationships that are more eminent.



Full-flooded generosity prevails at the core of the Absolute. Thoughts are reflected and refracted at certain planes or levels, and in the insertion, participation or articulation of certain aspects of thought elements, there is osmotic interchange of plus or minus, existence or essence. There is neutralization of existence and essence.

Finally, thought processes circulate, making figures-of-eight within consciousness; changing inter-physically and trans-subjectively, as when two people converse. There is a change-over from synthetic to analytic; from the a priori to the a posteriori; from the positive to the negative - at different ontological or teleological levels where phenomenological epochés take place. Here we are only using terms current in modern philosophical literature to indicate that Vedanta too has its time-honoured methodology and axiology in its dynamically, though perhaps tacitly, understood schematic representation of the Absolute consciousness in which all philosophy has to live and move.

Schematism and structuralism of a subjective status, in which mental events are isolated and studied to be put together into a global whole, are notions that are all becoming more and more acceptable to modern thinkers who are philosophers of science or scientific philosophers. Some of them tend to be classed as sceptics while others are believers. Whether classified as one or the other, they have necessarily to belong together as seekers of truth, fact or high value, if they are philosophers at all.

It is here that Vedanta steps in with its contributions which, when re-examined and restated, would help a global philosophy or an integrated science to evolve. It is in the structure of thought, which itself lies at the basis of the spoken word, that the details of thought processes can best be studied. Linguistic usage, semantics, syntactical peculiarities, and the pragmatics of language are looked upon more and more to give up the secrets -that have remained closed to speculation until recently.

Quantum mechanics and logistic, vectorial or projective geometry, are all making their contributions. Vedanta too, in the days of Sankara, entered into subjects such as the semantic polyvalency of words to reveal the final nature of that Absolute which, instead of being a mere tautological verity or a contradiction within itself, would help to relate fruitfully for thinking man the two limbs which pertain to it - the world on the one hand and the self of man on the other.



When Vedanta is revalued and restated in the light of modern knowledge, especially of the physical world as seen by modern philosophers of science, a Science of the Absolute may reasonably be expected to emerge.



The notion of the Absolute in Vedanta recedes from the concrete actual facts of the pluralistic phenomenal world presented to the senses by distinct stages of perceptualism, conceptualism, and nominalism, into the core where it can meet on common homogeneous ground its own counterpart of the pure noumenal aspect.

Thus when negatively focussed through these stages, it reaches the world of the word and its meaning, where 'the meaning of meaning' gains full reality. And so, when we take the leap from the empirical to the transcendental, we cross a deep chasm separating aspects of word-meaning to where the neutral notion of Absolute Reality abides as the common ground of the physical and mental worlds.

The semantic polyvalency of words thus gains primacy when we begin to analyse the notion at this inner subtle core, where the Absolute thinking substance, with its accidents and attributes, makes existence and essence meet eminently in its status of pure philosophical relationship.

After reaching the core by this kind of negative abstraction and generalization, we can travel along a deflected direction of the same light that has taken us to the core of the substance and follow up positively and analytically the conceptual and nominalistic attributes of the thinking substance in its process of becoming and not merely being.

Ascending and descending dialectics are possible in this circulation, as is evident in many parts of Sankara's commentaries of the Gita, the Brahma Sutras or the Upanishads. Taking refuge in semantics, when speculation on rational lines fails, is not a new way whose originality goes to the credit of Sankara.



Jaimini, the author of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras, relied on semantics to a fuller extent in order to serve his philosophy based on the exegetics of Vedism. Sankara, having to establish his conclusions on the anterior position taken by Jaimini, had necessarily to refute them, using similar weapons.

Thus it is in the semantic analysis of word-content that Vedantism gains full validity. Not only the scriptures are relied on unquestionably, but even popular usage, belonging to the pragmatics of language rather than to pure semiotic processes, is relied on by Sankara to refute a successive range, sometimes of as many as five purva pakshins or graded opponents, set up by himself as representing wrong positions, each one of whose opinions he first states in his own words, before refuting them by his retort beginning 'iti-chet-na' ('If you say that, no').

On final analysis, his own position, when all others who seem sufficiently intelligent are refuted in succession, is some preciously subtle stuff which is like foam picked up on the seashore, leaving almost nothing but an absolute meaning-content notion, bitter or sweet, as a residue. Before the last bubbles burst, we find that it is on semantics that his Vedanta largely relies.

We cannot do better here than to give an instance of how all is finally viewed in semantic terms by Sankara, following the purva mimamsa (anterior critique) which showed him the way in this matter.




Veda means wisdom, and its reference to the four Vedas of the Aryan tribes as they entered India, is only its secondary meaning. Vedas were distinguished as sruti, or that which is heard from a rishi (seer) or fully qualified authority in teaching wisdom. .

Wisdom is largely a collection of axiomatic a priori verities and, like the axioms and postulates of algebra and geometry, these are infallible in the certitude-quality they contain. There are other Vedas equal to the Indian Vedas, such as the Pentateuch of the Jews. When wisdom is said to be "revealed", it only means that it is not the work of any single individual like a chariot made by a chariot-builder.



A priori truths exist by themselves, mathematically valid, as it were, in the sky or something corresponding to the sky in vectorial space or pure space, understood as the basis of both algebra and geometry. The truth of the Pythagoras Theorem is not in actual space nor in theoretical space, but in both.

Language lives and moves in a space where all descriptions become valid, whether treated as perceptual or conceptual. Thus the ultimate notion of the Absolute, when understood in most general and abstracted terms as a thing-in-itself, can belong only to the world of the word.

"The Word was in God and it was God"- such biblical statements refer to the Absolute as the Logos, which is nothing new; and when Vedanta reduces all into the syllable AUM, as in the Mandukya Upanishad, it only recognizes the same verity.

It is in this sense that Sankara reduces the Absolute into its purest form by a semantic analysis which is at least as valid as logical or mathematical proof. The practical proof and the theoretical proof join in the Pythagorean Theorem as a central verity combining both into one certitude in knowledge. Similarly, the Absolute of Sankara is neither empty of all content nor filled with the multiple entities of the phenomenal world.

As genus and species can be made to refer to one unique genus in universal terms, it is possible to reduce by a semantic negative process and reach the unique class of all classes in the Absolute. Sankara avoids both leaning on the side of pantheistic pluralism and favouring the theory of emptiness (sunya) in arriving at the Absolute of the Upanishads. He does this masterfully by his approach through semantic analysis of a text in the Taittiriya Upanishad, which deserves careful scrutiny on our part. Sankara excels and succeeds in making his several rivals in polemical duels thoroughly vanquished and silenced before his sledgehammer arguments.



Taking the text, satyam jnanam anantam brahma (Brahman, the Absolute, is Reality, Knowledge and Infinity) of the Brahmananda Valli of the Taittiriya Upanishad, Sankara first makes it clear that these attributes have to be treated as 'indirectly' applicable and not 'directly'.



The latter, which would be literal, treating the words as they are understood ordinarily, he distinguishes as vachyartha; while the former, which is based on analogy, and has the notion of the universal and unique genus of the Absolute to reveal, he calls lakshanartha, where the attribute refers backward to help us to see the unique nature of the Absolute; distinguishing it negatively from any other specified object in the universe. In his own words in his Bhasya, we read:

"Brahman is Reality, Knowledge and Infinity" is a sentence which indirectly distinguishes the Absolute Brahman. Reality and others are verily three terms qualifying Brahman, which is the qualified.

(If it be said) that because of being specified by attributes indirectly, they refer (positively) to the qualified aspects, there is no such defect. Why? Because the attributes give primacy to the indirectly qualified (subject), rather than giving primacy to the attributes themselves, (If it be asked) where there is the specification as between sign and thing signified, quality and thing qualified, we say it is to distinguish between objects of the same genus that attributes are used; but the indirectly qualified (subject) however, is as in the definition of space as that which gives its room to every other thing, to be distinguished from everything else in the universe. It is (this kind of) indirect meaning that has to be given (to the text in question)"

Answering further in the same commentary to the objection whether by applying the negative method of 'not this, not this', (neti-neti) the Absolute would not itself vanish into nothingness, Sankara relies again on a semantic argument, and says that the words "Reality" etc., would not have any function at all if they referred to nothing. Since grammatically they are meant to have a function in the scriptures, they must at least specify the subject, Brahman, by excluding negatively those which are in conflict with the attribute mentioned, thus delimiting the function of each attribute such as Reality etc.



Sankara's own sentence on this last point of saving the notion of the Absolute from falling into the nothingness (sunya) of the Buddhist reads:

"'Meaning of Reality etc' in effect, however, would (still) delimit the meaning of Brahman, the qualified, by excluding those attributes whose function would be in conflict with what is proper to it."

The word-content of the Absolute is finally underlined by Sankara in the third part of the same comment, as follows:

"The word Brahman, by its proper meaning, has force of 'signification'". (brahma sabdo' pi svarthena arthavan eva).

Existence, Subsistence and Value thus inhere in the notion of the Absolute, giving it content and significant value all together and each by each, negatively and indirectly, by analogy. These discussions above have necessarily to remain complex and subtle at present. We have to bring in the structure of thought schematically in order to simplify and clarify the position here. This we shall tackle presently.




The history of Indian philosophic thought is related to the Upanishads either by agreement or by difference. Rationalism and ritualism have played rival roles. Scepticism and belief have alternated, as also the primacy of existential or subsistential aspects, which have invited attention alternately.

The course of this alternation has been referred to as the 'white and black' onward paths in the Gita (VIII.26), giving such an alternation a perennial status in the context of the progress of thought in the world anywhere. When the a priori is stressed and the scripture respected by a believer, the white pole of abs-tract ideas is touched. On the other hand, when the pendulum swings to the other end of the scale of values, we have rank scepticism, empiricism, stress on the visible at the expense of the invisible world, and naturally too, an a posteriori approach to where demonstrably and operationally valid verity takes the field as a high pragmatic or utilitarian value in the world of the conquest of factors such as space. Time and eternity do not belong to this pole, and tend to have decreased significance.

The absolute knowledge situation has to be clearly visualized before we can see Vedanta in its proper perspective and context. It is neither orthodox nor heterodox; sceptical nor believing; immanent nor transcendent; ontological nor teleological; pure nor practical - but combines both matter and mind on its own neutral ground. Vedanta, when it gives importance to the validity of what is given to the senses (pratyaksha), tends to keep company with the heterodox; and when it gives primacy to the word or the validity of scripture (sabda), it tends to be uncompromisingly and even harshly orthodox.



An examination of the further implications of the semantic polyvalence, side by side with the structural implications, of Vedantic thought, supported by Sankara or the Upanishads, would therefore help us very much to clarify our position. In the first instance, it will help us to see clearly that Vedanta is neither a rival philosophy nor a religion; but a correct attempt to integrate all Indian thought under one methodological, epistemological and axiological discipline.



We have already scrutinized the semantic subtleties implied in the three attributes of brahman (the Absolute) in the words satyam (existent), jnanam (rationally subsistent), and anantam (infinite) (which last attribute was meant to cover anandam (bliss or value factor), where we have noted the distinction between vachyartha (literal or direct meaning and lakshanartha (indirect meaning by analogy). The negative specification has also been noted.

Another semantic analysis of the great dictum (mahavakya) of the Vedanta, tat-tvam-asi (That thou art), will give us a clearer perspective which will serve as a stepping-stone for us to see the schematic or structural features of thought as an integrated global unity or whole, where word and meaning cling together in the central context of the notion of the Absolute.

The indirect meanings possible in any context have been divided into jahat (losing its original meaning) and ajahat (not losing) as a further subdivision of the indirect. In modern language we can distinguish these subdivisions as those based on a metonymical one. Ajahat can be called quantitative or analytic, and jahat qualitative and synthetic. The familiar examples, used by Sankara in his Sarva-darsana-siddhanta-sara-samgraha (verses 733-751) to bring out this subtle semantic distinction, are two in the first instance: (1) "A milk-village in the Ganges" (gangayam-ghoshah); and (2) 'The piebald runs' (sono-dhavati). In the first case the defect of meaning is corrected by treating it as a metonymy with an inner logical relation, while in the latter example the figure of speech to be employed is a synecdoche. When the two instances are thus still understood figuratively and not literally in two different ways, we can paraphrase them as: (1) 'The village where milkmen live is on the border of Ganges', and (2) 'The piebald horse is running.'



In the first instance, the defect to be corrected is of a mere relational nature in description; while in the second instance quantitative ideas of part and whole enter. This distinction in the two semantic or meaning-worlds is a fundamental one, and if we decide to label the second quantitative significance as 'horizontal' we would be justified in calling the relational one 'vertical'. The horizontal is near to the pragmatics of language while the vertical would correspond to a purer semantic process.



Sankara resorts to a third example before he comes to the "That thou art" formula, to which he wishes to lead us. This example is the phrase so-ayam-Devadatta (He is this Devadatta). Here there is a combination of vertical and horizontal factors required to make sense. One of the words "he" or "this" has to shed part of its vertical or horizontal significance in order to avoid any inner contradiction standing in the way of the phrase making full sense.

Sankara himself, following the precedent of more ancient linguistic experts before him, calls this third way of making sense out of indirect figurative language, bhaga lakshana (partial indirect usage). The relevant verse, translated as it stands, reads:

"When that part which is opposed, having been rejected, non-contradiction is indicated. That is called partial indirect usage (bhaga lakshana) by those experts who understand signs."

This last or third variety of figurative or indirect meaning is what Sankara recommends when analysing the dictum "That thou art".



The scriptures that repeat this formula cannot be wrong and have to make sense somehow. This being a given position for Sankara, by this partial indirectness (bhaga lakshana), resulting in the rejection of what is not agreeable in the two expressions "that" and "thou", as referring to God and man respectively in ordinary non-figurative language, we have to understand that they must be neutralized or cancelled out reciprocally.

One expression is thus made to correct the asymmetry of the other, and this corrected meaning is sometimes spoken of as the bhaga-tyaga-lakshanartha (meaning arrived at by the rejection of the part that is incongruous).

Thus we see that for giving significant content to the Upanishadic formula referring to the Absolute, and saving it from the danger of nihilism, Sankara is so hard put to it as to resort to subtleties of grammar, rhetoric, syntactics, semiotic processes, and pragmatics in the structure and mechanics of language and usage, in reasserting the validity of the Vedantic position. Vedanta thus becomes a complex affair; and but for the life of the Sannyasins in India who conformed to the Vedantic way of life, the whole school must have killed itself by now; and like European Scholastic hair-splitting, must have died a natural death by over-specialisation.

Fortunately we find, however, that in modern India teachers of Vedanta like the Guru Narayana, whose writings we have examined elsewhere, are able to simplify the position again, and thus keep Vedantism still alive in the land of its birth. Modern mathematics, logic and semantics only help to give it a further lease of life instead of letting it become outmoded.



To simplify the position which, as we have seen, is too complicated for the ordinary man, and even for an expert in any one aspect, Narayana Guru has reduced the whole problem in his “Atmopadesa Satakam” (Verses 36-42 inclusive) and, side by side with the examination of the structure of thought processes as such, he also makes use of semantics to clarify the powers of thought, by taking two typical propositions: (1) "This is a pot" and (2) "This is knowledge,"



Both these move semiotically from the general and virtual to the particular and specific: one in the domain of the practical, and the other in the domain of the pure world of meanings. If one is distinguishable as a horizontal movement towards the plus side, the other may be said to be a vertical movement to the plus side which could be also thought of as a negative specification of a pure notion such as that of the Absolute Self. Reduced to two such axes of reference, and making them cross at right angles so as to indicate the principle of contradiction or contrariety implied as between a mediate and immediate process of semiosis, treated together as a unitive whole, with a subtle osmotic reciprocity at the point where they participate with each other on homogeneous ground - we have for our use a schematic and structural plan of the interaction of the two sets of processes.

The content of the sentence 'This is a pot' being given immediately to the senses, and the movement resulting in positive specification of the pot as against any other object in the visible world, is an exclusive one that rejects many possibilities in favour of a single specific fact. The content of the sentence 'This is knowledge' has to be understood through the mediation of many examples which have to be thought of together as coming under the category of knowledge inclusively; and the synthetic process is further to be accentuated negatively or in a priori fashion to arrive at the certitude that the pure self of man alone can offer as a firm ground. Negative inclusion leads to certitude of the unique Self, which is no other than the Absolute.



The Bhagavad Gita (II.16) states the nature of the implied paradox between two aspects of the absolute Reality in the following words:

"na 'sato vidyate bhavona' bhavo vidyate satah
ubhayrapi drishtontastvanayos tattvadarsibhih

"What is unreal cannot have being and non-being cannot be real;
The conclusion in regard to both these has been known to philosophers."



The osmosis of the subtle thought process takes place in the semantic world of the meaning of meaning of words. Within this paradoxical core of the knowledge-situation understood unitively, globally, and integrally, is the context of the normative notion of the Absolute. The whole of this has to be intuitively understood as belonging structurally, schematically, and subjectively to the background aspect of human understanding, where thoughts circulate and trace their courses. Some attempt to justify this view has been made elsewhere in our examination of modern thought. Here it is our object to give evidence in passing only, for the present, that even in Vedanta the same peculiarities are valid in its methodology and epistemology.



We have already seen how the ontology of Vedanta has a notion of Existence (sat) which has neither an immanent nor transcendental, empirical nor idealist, material nor mental status, epistemologically understood. It has a subjective status of its own.

We shall try to fix more definitely here the ontology of Vedanta, where Existence (sat) is to be understood schematically and intuitively in the context of absolute Self-consciousness.

If we can think of space philosophically as a generalized abstracted notion, both existing and subsisting, as Kant recommends, we shall have got near to the schematic status that is meant here. Sankara himself, as we have seen at the end of the last section, relies on the definition of space as: "that which is not a thing itself, but gives room to all things within it". He defines it as Aristotle would himself have done, when he says it is avakasa datr (that which gives room), which is the same as Aristotle's definition of space as "that without which bodies could not exist, but itself (space) continuing to exist when bodies cease to exist". When space exists horizontally as static and fixed space in extension, it can be called space spatialised, and when vertically conceived as successively capable of giving room for other bodies to occupy it, we have space spatializing.




Thus space, when intuitively scrutinized, yields two axes of reference: one in which bodies refuse to give room to others as in the property of impenetrability of matter, known to physics textbooks; and the other, in which space is still in the dynamic flux of becoming (bhava rupa).

Aristotle explains further this aspect of space, in the same context of his definition given above: "for in case it (space) were a body, then two bodies would exist in the same place."

Thus we can think of inclusive space and exclusive space, the former vertical and the other horizontal. As many vessels of graded sizes can be telescopically fitted into one another, many objects can occupy the same space: but the same vessels arranged on the table horizontally would each represent a space exclusive of every other. Space can thus be of two kinds: as that which rejects another; and at the same time, as that which includes all at different times or at once. Space can thus be specified negatively or positively, vertically or horizontally. We have seen how Sankara himself makes use of such a frame of reference to bring out the negative specification of the Absolute by defining it by attributes.

To bring out more clearly than hitherto that it is such a schematically conceived factor that Sankara has in mind when he thinks of absolute Existence (sat), we shall give an example here of his way of refuting a series of anterior questioners, in the following quotations:

(The questioner argues; if causes as well as effects such as clay and pot, being transitory, were to be considered unreal, would not such a procedure in reasoning abolish everything? To this Sankara answers):

"No: for we are conscious that all our experience consists of a double notion: the notion of being, the real; and the notion of non-being, the unreal."

(Here Sankara pauses a moment to explain the bipolar relation in terms of thought between what is said to exist (sadbuddhi) and its object in thought (sadbuddhi vishaya).



They have their reality established on functional co-ordination (samanadhikaranatva). On the homogeneous ground as between them, Sankara explains that the attribute, as object, being transitory, is alone abolished, but not that of being, and consequently, the object of the pot is unreal, by reason of the transitory character of that thought, but not the object of the thought (sad-buddhi-vishaya), because this latter does not pass).

"Sankara: No. For one perceives the thought of being in respect of cloth also. It is the thought of being which has the object for its attribute.
Q: Like the thought of being, the thought of pot also is conceived by relation with another pot?
S: No. Because it is not conceived in respect of a cloth, etc.
Q: But the thought of being also, when the pot has disappeared, is not known either.
S: This is not valid, because there is no corresponding subject. The thought of being is related to the attribute; because it cannot, in the absence of the subject, have any attribute; how could it have anything to refer to at all in such a case? But this is not because there is no objective reality corresponding to the thought of being.
Q: If the subject - the pot for example - is not real, the unity of the functional reference of the two notions is not justified.
S: The objection is not valid. Because in the case of mirages and the like, we judge 'this is water,' although one of the two terms is not real, we recognize this coordination.
"In consequence, from the unreal - body, etc., coupled with their contraries and their causes - there is no passage to being; and, similarly, from the Real - the Self - there is no cessation of being, in existence, for at no time does the thought of the Real pass away, as we have said."



We have expressly indulged in this fairly long quotation from Sankara, the greatest perhaps of the representatives of Vedantic thought, as he, with his characteristic insistence, presents here in fully critically philosophical form, acceptable even to moderns, a point of view which will reveal itself to be schematic in status.

The distinction between a pot as a single object actually sensed, and the 'thought of a pot' as a subjective counterpart of something that has being, is a point vital to his argument. The latter is an abstraction and a generalization, which the mind makes so that in the homogeneous ground of the Absolute, both the pot as such and the being as such can meet on common ground. Horizontal attributes can be substituted, but both the pure subject and the object of being subsist, at least schematically and structurally, within the very core of the notion of the Absolute, eternally. The Absolute is thus saved from nihilism on one side and from pluralism on the other.




The truth of the Pythagorean Theorem is one while the certitude in regard to it is derived in two different ways.

In the lower classes of high school, pupils are asked to cut out of paper the squares on the two sides of a right-angled triangle, and to divide them into convenient bits so as to fit them correctly into the square on the hypotenuse. When the bits fit the latter correctly without overlapping we arrive at a form of certitude which we call a practical proof.

The same certitude or proof can be approached by descending from mathematical axioms of algebra, irrespective of all quantitative or visible implications, as when the teacher of the higher classes of the high school proves the theorem on the blackboard. Thus two different approaches lead to the same neutral or central truth which is neither merely practical, nor merely theoretical. The visibles and the calculables come together to yield a unitive certitude in the heart of the Absolute itself.

These two approaches to one certitude thus envisaged have been at the basis of much polemic in Vedanta; giving rise to different schools, some tending to accept contradiction and others passing beyond it. If we think of the Buddhist Nihilists as taking a very extreme leftist position in this matter; and those like Bhartriprapancha, who incline towards the other extreme of pantheism, as taking the rightist position; we can fit the intermediate schools in graded fashion between them - putting Sankara as the one next and nearest to the Nagarjuna school of Madhyamika Buddhists (so­-called Nihilists), and Nimbarka or Madhva at the other extreme.



We have to remember, however, even here, that a duality in the name of epistemology is not the same as a duality in the name of axiology. Ramanuja and Madhva, thinking as they do in the name of one adorable Absolute, belong to the context of axiology in their Absolutism. Sankara's position is more tenable epistemologically than axiologically.

As in the case of photographic prints, some of which might have more contrast or more faintness of outline; these possible gradations do not intrinsically affect the absolutist content of any of them. A magic lantern, when focussed in a certain way, might show structural details which might get faint or effaced when over- or under-focussed. The circle of white light could represent a neutral state between what shows structure and what is merely understood theoretically in terms of axiomatic truth.

Vedantic literature abounds in such terms as saguna brahman (the Absolute still within the scope of the three qualities) and nirguna brahman (the unqualified Absolute) which are the apara and para brahmans, sometimes also distinguished as the lower or the higher brahmans, respectively. Whatever its implications, the lower brahman is supposed by philosophers like Sankara or Ramanuja to lead to different grades of salvation. Others think that one implies the other, and still others say that, judged by the effect on the votary or contemplative, both are the same.

G. Thibaut, in his Introduction to the Brahma-sutra Bhashya of Sankara, gives a complete account of the possible prevailing differences:

"Among the passages where diverging views of those teachers are recorded and contrasted, three are of particular importance: firstly a passage in the Fourth Pada of the Fourth Adhyaya (Sutras 5.7) where the opinions of various teachers concerning the characteristics of the released soul are given and where the important discrepancy is noted that, according to Audulomi, its only characteristic is thought (chaitanya), while Jaimini maintains that it possesses a number of exalted qualities and Badarayana declares himself in favour of a combination of these two views. The second passage occurs in the Third Pada of the First Adhyaya (Sutras 20-22) where the question is discussed: why, in a certain passage of the Brihadaranyaka, Brahman is referred to in terms which are strictly applicable to the individual soul only.



In connection therewith the Sutras quote the views of three ancient teachers about the relation in which the individual soul stands to Brahman. According to Asmarathya (if we accept the interpretation of the views given by Sankara and Sankara's commentators) the soul stands to Brahman in the bhedabheda relation, i.e., it is neither absolutely different nor absolutely non-different from it, as sparks are from fire. Audulomi, on the other hand, teaches that the soul is altogether different from Brahman up to the time when, obtaining final release, it is merged in it: and Kasakritsna finally upholds the doctrine that the soul is absolutely non-different from Brahman, which in some way or other presents itself as the individual soul"

Within the span of a compact paragraph, the above quotation, when carefully re-read and scrutinized, will help to show us where in the methodology, epistemology, or the axiology of Vedanta, is to be located the divergence of views in respect of the notion of the Absolute that all claim to derive from the common source of the Upanishads.

To this list of ancient Vedantins or philosophers of allied disciplines who are mentioned in the Brahma Sutras such as Atreya, Asmarathya, Audulomi, Kasakritsne, Jaimini, and Badari, we could add Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Vallabha and Nimbarka, whose versions of the final doctrine of the Upanishads have been recorded as different. Prof. Max Müller aptly compares this common Upanishadic source of ancient Indian thought to the Himalayas; and the various schools or systems, (more correctly called darsanas or "visions of the Absolute") of Indian thought to the great rivers that have their common source in the snowy heights, but flow in divergent directions. Though poetically sublime, this analogy does not reconcile the contradictions which, if viewed rather in an overall context of the Absolute, might perhaps be better reconciled and resolved unitively as we shall presently show.





If the word brahman is meant to refer to the Absolute, as it is evidently intended, then it goes without saying that it cannot refer to any notion outside itself for its meaning. If there are two absolutes, one must either contradict the other, and, if so, either or both fail to be absolutes, or the relation between them must be merely tautological in status.

Thus strictly speaking, terms like the lower or the higher brahman or Absolute cannot be epistemologically justified, although for methodological or axiological considerations such could find legitimate use. There would then be at least four different notions of the Absolute: one that is positively so, and another that is only negatively so. Also, tautologically speaking, we could have one Absolute really so and another only virtually (or falsely) so, when viewed while admitting the contradiction of ordinary logic that excludes the middle ground. An Absolute other than its relative counterpart of the same will thus result; and an Absolute more positive than the other; the former with an outer contradiction excluding the middle ground, and the latter which includes all within its middle ground, though nominally distinguishable as more positive or negative. A vertico-horizontal frame of reference is implied here. The neutral Absolute would find its place at the point of intersection of these two references on a ground common to both, in which the two aspects participate. A complex of possible Absolutes would thus lead to much confusion.

If mathematics reflects logic, as modern symbolic algebra and logistic imply; if language admits the principle that double negation is an assertion; if algebraic convention accepts two minuses multiplied making a plus; two pluses remaining the more so, etc.; and if an arithmetical quantitative negative and positive are different from a qualitative positive or negative in terms of the vertical and horizontal correlates of Descartes - it would not be totally unwarranted for us here to think of a neutral Absolute which is the Absolute of all absolutes, and of a pair of quantitatively or arithmetically conceived relatives - a plus and a minus horizontally; and also of a pair of unitively or qualitatively conceived absolutes - the negative of which could be called a relative Absolute and the other a positive Absolute on the vertical axis of reference. The Absolute of absolutes would be the normative one whose two sets of certitudes meet in a central conviction of all.



Another way of visualizing degrees or kinds in the context of absolutism would be to view it semantically, or through linguistic usage, reflecting the thinking process that must be supposed to underlie all language; as when we say, "I do not deny that the statement is false", which can only confirm the untenability of the statement in question all the more. Something could be "more so" qualitatively or quantitatively. A fully absolute notion of the Absolute could fall on the other side of the horse as with an over-alert rider, or not reach the saddle at all. The notion of the Absolute has to emerge in its full absolutist status by transcending its horizontal alternatives as well as its own inner contradictions with its full import of Absolutism itself. The notion of the Absolute has somehow to transcend all paradox, and even suggestive vestiges of it. This is an utterly necessary position, epistemologically speaking. Ultimate truth cannot be thought of as having a rival or be ranged against itself. That Vedanta does recognize this ultimate absolutist status for its Reality, Truth or Value is evident from the 7th verse of the Mandukya Upanishad, which reads:

"Not inwardly cognitive (anta-prajna), not outwardly cognitive (bahih -prajna), not both-wise cognitive (ubhayata -prajna), not a cognition mass (prajnana-ghana), not cognitive (prajna), not non-cognitive (a-vyavaharya) ungraspable (a-grahya), having no distinctive mark (a-lakshana), non-thinkable (a-chintya), that cannot be designated (a-vyapadesya), the essence of the assurance of which is the state of being one with the Self (ekatma­pratyaya-sara), the cessation of development (prapanchopa­shama), tranquil (santa), benign (siva), without a second (a-dvaita) - such they think is the fourth. He is the Self (atman). He should be discerned."

Here, except that there is an implied equation between the Self and the notion of the Absolute and that it is calm, benign and non-dual in content, no specific positive qualities are attributed to it.



Vedanta here attains to a status as near as is possible to that of the sunya-vada of the Buddhist philosophy of the Middle Way (Madhyamika). The other extreme position may be represented by the so-called dualists such as Madhva.



An electric light might burn bright or dim and have still the same light involved. Between the limits, the function of electrical energy can vary, giving us innumerable intermediate gradations. What the infinitesimal calculus recognizes is just this variability; not in quantitative arithmetical terms but in integral or differential terms sometimes expressible in rationally denumerable numbers. When a bulb is supplied with weak light, the filaments inside it are visible, but as the intensity is increased we pass through intermediate stages where the duality between light and darkness is fused and they absorb each other till mere light, stunning and all-inclusive, remains. The vertical stages of the same light might permit degrees of duality till full unity prevails. Between the vijnanavada (idealism) of the Buddhists, through the saguna brahman (conditioned Absolute) of Vedanta, we have to allow for an epistemology which recognizes dualities of various degrees, till double negation makes the vision fully positive and non-dual. Over-focussed, we can get our own images as meditators into the picture; and when under-focussed, relativistic networks of ramified entities, perceptual or conceptual in status, can fill the field of vision. Laws, logical necessities and intuitive certitudes can be seen to occupy the gamut of visions of the absolute Value, the subjective capacity for the vision being neutralized at each level by the counterpart that meets it, as it were, descending from above.

Several grades of hypostasies and hierophanies can be accommodated within the scale of values thus visualized, the plus always cancelling and neutralizing the minus, to yield a vision in terms of a neutralized Absolute. Variability, viewed within such a pure mathematically conceived function, and moving between pure fundamental variables of the human spirit, may rise or fall or trace figures-of-eight that alternate within the four limbs of the complex quaternion of the Absolute.



From the radiant Vishnu to the humble tulsi plant (the Indian basil), the amplitude of the range of possible values is sometimes spoken of by Vaishnava schools of thought as taratamya (graded scale of values). They cover the vertical range within which sacred values can oscillate. Sometimes stabilized at one level, sometimes at another, according to corresponding human capacities, the living vision of the Absolute reigns like the eternal cosmic dance of Nataraja. The right focus is the one that knocks down and stuns the onlooker to an utter forgetfulness of his individuality. He then experiences union with the Absolute - an experience "beyond all thought or word", as the Upanishads prefer to put it in the mildest of terms.

There is nothing humanly impossible here, as empirically-minded or conditioned moderns might seem to think. If such a vision is the prejudice of the believer, the rejection of the same is open to a similar charge of scepticism from the opposite pole of the same knowledge-situation. To keep the middle or neutral ground is what lends scientific status to such matters. A scientist holds the balance between scepticism and belief.



Significant certitudes in such a contemplative approach to Truth will at first be experienced as an alternation and changing over within the complex of actualities or virtualities in reference either to the vertical or horizontal axes.

Like a firebrand making figures-of-eight in darkness when waved round, without having a fixed content at any point, we have to imagine significant values in life emerging at different levels of positive or negative actuality or virtuality. The totality is spelt out in terms of a phenomenological epoché of which the substratum is always the same neutral Absolute. Vedantic methodology and epistemology have retained the trace of this graphic plotting of the points of value-reality as implicitly outlined on the basis of the Brahma Sutras by master-minds such as Sankara.



Much of what the great Sankara said has now become incomprehensible even to his nearest disciple-interpreters such as Padmapada and Vachaspati Misra who, in the Panchapadika and the Chatussutri respectively, have tried to interpret him. A careful scrutiny of such comments, especially as they refer to the last three verses of the Sankara-Bhasya on the four first sutras treated as a unit (as do these two, the Vivarana and the Bhamati respectively), reveals to the modern student differences of interpretation and innate structural discrepancies which become the fecund causes of further possible schisms in the subsequent schools that have grown round Sankara's first great exposition.

It would be highly worthwhile for us to slow down our pace of discussion, so as to take a closer look at the implication of the three concluding verses with which Sankara chooses to sum up his position.

Epistemologically and methodologically these three verses, which are not Sankara's own, but come down from well-known Vedantic tradition anterior to him, give us a clue into the structure of thought adopted by thinkers of those days and known to Indian thought generally. They yield for us a sort of master key to all Indian thought generally, beginning from the syad­vada of the Jainas and culminating in the semantic implications of Vedanta itself in its latest form.



Vedantic methodology and epistemology must yield scientific certitude. If it fails here, Vedanta can at best be considered merely as an appendage to theology and to the mythology that goes with it. Apodictic or dialectical certitudes must conspire in Vedanta to give it philosophic validity. How this is guaranteed by protagonists of Vedanta as a full-fledged philosophy or even science as Sankara intended it to be, is revealed to us in his three concluding verses, summing up his position as follows:

"gauna mithyatmano, satve putra dehadi badhanat
sadbrahmaham ityevam bodhikaryam katham bhavet;
anveshtavyam atmavijnanat prak pramatrvam atmanah
anvishtah yad pramataiva papma doshadi varjitah
dehatma pratyayo yadvat pramnatvena kalpitah
laukikam tadvad evedam pramanam tu atmanischayat



"As son and body etc. are nullified, being relative or non-valid, how can the knowledge result such as: I am the existent Absolute?"

"Before what is to be inquired into as Self-knowledge, there is inquirer-hood for the Self; even when inquired into, this inquiring agent itself is free from all sin or evil".

"Just as in worldly matters the terms 'body', 'soul', etc. are used for purposes of certitude, so too is this a valid instrument of reasoning for certitude regarding the Self. "

The reader should concentrate his attention here for a while and, if possible, try to be guided alternately by the Bhamati and the Panchapadika, closely following the Sanskrit explanations, if he is to discover if there is a structural pattern in the mind of Sankara, without which no precise meaning can be gathered from the actual words of the comment. There is a subtle interplay between the measurer and the measured aspects of the Absolute in terms of the Self. The pramanas or instruments of valid reasoning are the measuring instruments; and the absolute Self within the subject is the object to be determined by measurement by the valid measuring of pramana. The immanent and the transcendent selves change places from one side of the knowledge-situation to the other; as between subject and object, the immanent and the transcendent: and as a result, the sense eludes the common reader, however penetrating his merely analytic scrutiny of the text may be.

One feels like a dog chasing its own tail in following the guiding thought process underlying the line of argument adopted by Sankara here. One is tempted to give up the inquiry altogether if one is not oneself armed with the same schematic notion that Sankara must have had in his mind. To resort to structuralism is as good as a semantic device, serving as a master key for the clarification of the subtle intricacies of Vedantic thought.




The above text can be read and re-read. Different commentators will give diverging interpretations to make the meaning clear and final. Some will necessarily have a frame of reference different from others, and when they elaborate or try to make more explicit what is implicitly suggested in the text, the arthavada or exegetics employed might carry them too much in one direction or the other, depending on their own innate predilections, tastes, or past conditionings. The result is the plethora of meanings diverging between the Vivarana and the Bhamati schools with their various sub-schools; each laying stress on one aspect as against its rival one. Such ramifications prove endless in their possibilities, leaving us no wiser than when we started with the text itself.

Is there a way out of such an impasse? What we have always suggested here and elsewhere in our writings is the way of bringing the protolinguistic approach into close juxtaposition with the metalinguistic one. The distinction between the two approaches has first to be clearly visualized. There is a primitive and pure structure of thought implicit in all wisdom-literature, especially in the Vedas. The Purva-Mimamsa's thought and language, which relies much on semantics, participates in the same underlying structural elements of absolute consciousness, as it were, from two opposite poles of the total knowledge-situation.

Vedanta treats of this global or total situation, without an idea of which, like a book that has lost its binding strings, the thoughts that give it unity fail to hang by the same peg. Analysis and synthesis, the a priori and the a posteriori, have to find in the Self the unifying factor. When thus correlated with the notion of the Self and equated with the non-Self, its own dialectical counterpart, we attain, by tallying one with the other, a degree of certitude that attains to an apodictic status.

Axiomatic certitude meets experimental or observable certitude and when both these fuse, the resultant certitude gains a fully scientific status. The verity of the Pythagorean Theorem can be confirmed in two ways: through blackboard explanations by the teacher as well as by the actual cutting and pasting of squares on triangles by the students themselves - the two approaches lending weight to the resultant certitude. Similarly here, the clarifications of Sankara's disciples can be verified in both of the two possible ways: protolinguistically and structurally, or by the more theoretical approach which we can call metalinguistic.




In analysing the content and import of the three verses, let us divide this task up into three parts as represented by each verse as it stands.

The first verse has, in its very first line, four items put in relation.
There is on one side the reference to (a) 'son' and to one's own (a') 'body'. As applicable to each of these respectively we have the terms (x) gauna (a relative value) and the body as (x') mithya (false). When we give the symbols to the four items as (a) and (a') for the first pair, and (x) and (x') for those qualifying them, it is possible to arrange all four in a horizontal line, as in figure A below.

In the second verse there is reference backward to the Self or subject which is here treated as the measuring subject of truth. Instead of the inquiry pointing its arrow forward towards the non-Self, as is usual with ordinary scientific inquiry in the empirical world of relations or values, the reversal in the process of research is indicated.

In the third verse the transcendental status of the observer or researcher of the absolute Self is brought out. The Self is taken to be already endowed with attributes of sinlessness and purity. The Self and its counterpart in the non-Self are here brought into dialectical relation for purposes of certitude through research.

By an analogy established between the laukikam (earthy, empirical) approach and that of the transcendental; in Verse 3 the distinction between a positive and negative line of research into the true content of the self is established. The steps of reasoning can be graphically explained in the diagrams shown here.

The first verse asserts in schematic mathematical language that relativistic and false values existing objectively are abolished when a backward reference is made in terms of value to the Self. The very cancelling of counterparts effectively abolishes them.

In the second verse, after reversing the inquiring process, it passes from the empirical (horizontal) order of value to the transcendental (vertical) by pointing out a subject free from all evil or sin.



In the third verse the Self and its counterpart are brought together and neutralized one by the other; thus pushing the same process of negative reasoning to its utmost limit, when finally the subjective and objective traits are absorbed in the non-dual unity of the Absolute. It is easier now to see the following clear features emerging out of the three verses:











(1) Vedantic inquiry is a negative process and goes from actual objects of interest such as "son" or "body" to its corresponding virtual neutral counterparts, passing from sensation thus to perception.



(2) When we go still deeper into consciousness we find the subject gaining further primacy over its own non-Self counterpart. What we seek as a thing to be measured becomes itself a measuring rod that is already perfect and free. This reversal of direction and catching up with the transcendental, letting the empirical go, is all-important for the methodology of Vedanta, which thus differs from its own twin school of Purva Mimamsa which comes closest to it.
(3) The measure-measured which is the non-Self and the measure-measuring which is the Self, give certitude to each other till they merge into absolute unity and no question of measurement then arises at all.

Thus we see that, when structurally reviewed, the three verses attain a degree of certitude that remained elusive for us in mere 'metalinguistic' language. We can see now how Sankara followed strict lines of thought, not only in the choice of examples, but in the progressive via negationis that he maintained till all positive and negative values were finally neutralized in terms of the Absolute Self.

Just as the two possible proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem, one abstract and in terms of calculables, and the other in terms of visibles, have each their contribution to the scientific certitude arrived at, so we can make use of the structure of thought reflected in protolinguistic semantics to arrive at apodictic clarity in Vedantic matters. Sankara must have had in his mind this semantic structural scheme, taking account of the total knowledge-situation, when he wrote his great commentaries, and which therefore make them stand out as unique, both for theoretical and practical veracity and value.




No less an authority in Vedanta than the great Sankara himself clearly had in mind a methodological approach, which was both rational in the ordinary sense of accepting contradictions, and fully dialectical in its more final stages; with counterparts to be cancelled in favour of a central and neutral notion of the Self as a high human value in the context of the Absolute. The principle of contradiction gave place to a higher way of dialectical reasoning, which absorbed its counterparts synthetically without an excluded middle ground between the two limbs or terms of the reasoning process. We developed our own protolinguistic or schematic pictorial language, which we found very useful in bringing out into clear relief the structural aspects of the reasoning process.

Vedanta uses both logic and dialectic according to the existent, subsistent, or value aspects of the reality under discussion, passing from the syllogistic way to the higher way in which thesis and antithesis are absorbed into a synthesis, as known in Hegel. Even Aristotelian syllogisms are employed in Vedanta in the light of the absolute Value, to whose determination all Vedantic reasoning is always directed. The transition between the logic that accepts the principle of contradiction, and the one that includes the middle ground without contradiction, is gentle, and may be said to take place with a differential and infinitesimal principle between the counterparts. To use the terminology developed by us and already employed at the end of the last section, we can say there are two sets of counterparts: one, the horizontal, which refers to the empirical values in life of the work-a-day world; and the other the vertical, which is transcendental in status, where the counterparts are more fully absorbed and cancelled out synthetically at a higher value-level.



Even in the empirical world of values, the more negative absorbs and includes the less negative as we proceed, following the via negationis of neti neti, which the Upanishads recognize as the method proper to Vedantic thought as a whole. To arrive at the full notion of the Absolute, the paradox that life presents as between appearance and reality has somehow to be transcended by any philosophy that seeks final truth. Vedanta faces the total knowledge-situation with Freedom or Emancipation as its goal for man. The methodological and epistemological peculiarities of Vedanta are therefore its own, and have to the studied for their own sake.



Vedanta treats of Ananda (Value), Atma (the psychological Self), and Brahman (the Absolute), as interchangeable terms in. the context of full Absolutism. In other words: epistemologically, a certain degree of subjectivism is its basic starting point. Without being open to the charge of solipsism or syncretism; or of degenerating into mere eclecticism; Vedanta attempts to integrate and hold together unitively different branches of knowledge such as the psychological, the cosmological and the theological, with a scheme of reference of its own. The dynamic aspects which are inevitable components of Truth, understood in living terms, are fitted into one picture with process and reality, being and becoming, envisaged as a total dynamic knowledge-situation.

When philosophy generalizes items of reality into categories, the philosopher adopts a selective process. When, as with Kant, these selected categories are fitted organically into a scheme, we have a static picture of reality. When Bergson speaks of improving on the schema of Kant, or of a schéma moteur in terms of the élan vital as involved in a process of becoming, we have a more living dynamic picture of reality.



When each dynamic unit in a system of units is conceived as partaking of pre-established harmony, with both plurality and atomic simplicity, irrespective of size; we have the monadological version of the same, which supplements the partial picture we have been able to build up, without the principles of "sufficient reason", "petites perceptions", and "the best of all possible worlds" being added to complete the vision of Truth.

All this has to live and move in the Self, and the Self itself has, epistemologically at least, its own non-Self aspect; and between the two there is a subtle osmotic interaction. Fichte and Hegel have developed their philosophy on these lines. These notions, when formed in Vedanta, should not therefore be considered utterly strange. Modern phenomenology also has its contribution, giving its touches to complete the knowledge--situation as a whole, which Vedanta keeps in mind, implicitly or explicitly.

The colourful world of effects, having simple physical causes like the colours of the spectrum, is a peripheral epiphenomenon merely, which Vedanta deprecates in favour of some value it calls nitya (lasting). Although mountains and waves are in a sense anadi (without beginning); when they enter the world of human values, the pleasures they yield have no firm or stable basis, de-pending on moods that alternate from period to period, and as between people of different ages or sexes. The changeless and lasting values lie deep in the Self of man. Introspection there-fore reveals the world that belongs to Vedanta, which proposes to put an end to suffering. Mere pleasures are therefore discountenanced in Vedanta, and affiliation to the Absolute as the summum bonum is recommended.



A philosophical treatise normally develops its subject item by item in a certain order. If the order is based on logic, we call the treatise systematic in presenting a certain overall view-point in philosophy, which it examines with all its implied pros and cons. Indian philosophical systems, so-called, are not so much dependent on logical sequence, as on the total vision of the knowledge-situation on whose basis they derive their degree of clarity or certitude. Such global or total visions of truth are called darsanas, and the logical reasoning element that enters into the fabric of the system would seem from Western standards to be deficient or weak.


Analogies, when they are telling and based on common knowledge, often take the place of experimental demonstrations. At the other pole of the knowledge-situation where axiomatic a priorism is justified, speculation in Vedanta relies on what is called sabda pramana (a priori validity of the reliable heritage of human knowledge called scripture). Although in India the Vedas are normally considered to constitute such authoritative scriptures, we need not, in our time and with our freer outlook, limit ourselves to any one body of scripture, Eastern or Western. When both the poles of the knowledge-situation are treated together; and when the highest of human values called final emancipation is kept in view - the resultant philosophy might resemble theology. Psychology, cosmology, eschatology, science, and religious practices: all come within the purview of an integrated or complete concept of 'philosophy,' which uses experience, reason, and intuition as means for arriving at total certitude. The truth thus revealed is, or should be for Vedanta, worthwhile or significant to man at all places and for all times. In this connection, let us pause again for a moment to scrutinize an accepted Vedantic text to make sure that in this matter we are not straying away from data available in recognized canonical texts of Vedanta.

The two opening verses of the eighth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, devoted to what it calls Akshara Brahma Yoga, consists of seven questions put together by Arjuna, for reasons of his own, to Krishna, who gives a total or wholesale answer to all of them, without circumlocution and as directly as possible in the three verses immediately following.
The seven questions and their answers by Krishna are:

"What is that Absolute?
What is the principle of the Self?
What is action?
What is said to be the principle of existence,
And what is spoken of as the principle of divinity?
Here in the body what and how is to be understood the principle of sacrifice?
Again, how are you to be known by self-controlled persons at the time of going forth from this body?" (VIII. 1 and 2)

The answers come like a sledgehammer as directly as the questions themselves:



"Unexpendable, the Absolute Supreme, its own nature, the principle of the Self is called;
The creative urge, the cause of the origin of existent beings, is designated action.
The principle of existence is the transient aspect,
And spirit is the principle of divinity,
What pertains to sacrifice is myself here in the body, 0 most superior among bearers of the body.
He who goes forth thinking of Me alone, attains my being" (VIII.3-5)

Without reading more into these words either of the questioner or the answerer, who is Krishna himself, let us try to match the corresponding counterparts in each of the questions.

The questions have an inner structural unity of their own with which the answers are also meant to tally in a one-one relationship.



One should note, in the first place, the repeated reference to the body in the last verse; not only with reference to Krishna, but also in reference to Arjuna. It is not the gross and inert mass of flesh or matter which is here understood as the inhabitant of the body, but something more purely existential, subsistential and of high value. It is a concrete universal which is under reference.

In this sense the body-bearer called Arjuna is the dialectical counterpart of the body of Krishna as representing the essence of the Absolute. In the second verse of the questioner quoted above, one notices a reference to the body, which is qualified by two requirements. It has to be the body of a man of self-control and again it must be that of one who is about to pass from the present life to the life beyond. If the questioner's body represents the thesis aspect of the dialectical situation; Krishna as the embodied Absolute principle is its counterpart, representing the antithesis. The synthesis of these two counterparts will result in the akshara brahman (the Absolute that is unexpended, that knows no change).

Where do the elemental existences that are components of the two bodies, whether of Krishna or of Arjuna, fit into the Scheme? That would be the next natural question to be asked.



This question occurs in the words, "What is the principle of existence?" of the first verse, to which the answer is given in the fourth verse as follows: "The principle of existence is the transitory aspect as opposed to the enduring." These two are at the basis of the paradox that life presents, consisting of the permanent and the passing aspects of ultimate value.

The word karma (action) is given the most central of positions in the scheme, as being creative and implying the urge of the élan vital at the very core of the life of an organism. As pure act this creative urge has a horizontal aspect and a vertical one, the latter referring to the purer process of becoming, where the past and the future meet in abstract and general terms. Although the transient aspects are not outside the Absolute, it is in the pure sense that action could refer to becoming in the context of fuller absolutism. This pure becoming is thus to be thought of as being traced along the vertical axis, while the creation of existence may be said to be its horizontal concomitant.

Krishna is both divine and the Absolute to which any idea of sacrifice known to religions in the world may be said to refer. The Vedic religionist would think in terms of divinity while the rational Samkhyan would use the word Purusha (Spirit) in its place. Both of these tend to fall on the plus side of the vertical axis.

All these factors implied in the seven questions are comprised in the nature of the Self (svabhava), which is the ground of all the other items. The Self and Nature are here meant to be interchangeable terms. The self of Arjuna would be nearer to Nature and the self of Krishna to the Spirit or Purusha, which is the receiver of all sacrifices. The two differ in that their centres are at different levels in the vertical axis. The divine Self is an extrapolated version of the lower Self. The values that the higher Self is attached to are nobler and brighter than those of the lower, which is steeped in necessary and dark levels of life here on earth. The neutralized and normalized Absolute occupies a central position in the total knowledge- situation, of which these are symmetrical expressions, each with a penchant or slant of its own. As between the normalized and centralized Absolute and its other versions, there are different degrees of participation, some being more transparent than others.



When there is perfect homogeneity between the lower and higher selves, there is perfect participation on a fully transparent basis. Other degrees of participation between opaque and transparent aspects of the Self can be imagined as being implied between any two of the endless gradations of possible selves, all having their centres in the vertical axis. A refraction and reflection of tendencies can also be added to the general scheme thus built up where existential and nominal values meet from opposite poles, implying the counterparts of Self and non-Self. Verbose speculation would fail us here because the possible gradations are infinite.

The active consciousness in its centre is the richest part of the whole knowledge-situation, and is the seat of pure apperceptions between the Self and the non-Self aspects, which are ever taking place. Such are some of the further implications of the picture that this chapter of the Gita tries to present, whose structural implications it will be profitable for us to examine.



The volley of seven problems raised together by the disciple and answered equally together by short answers has the purpose of showing how these problems and their answers hang together in the total absolutist knowledge-situation. It is the innate structure at the core of the notion of the neutral Absolute that makes even such an interpretation possible. That the author of the Vedantic text had such a structure in his mind when he made Arjuna frame his questions in such a form that they could be conveniently answered by the teacher Krishna here, is evident and will become more evident when we have presently examined more closely the details of the structural implications. We shall take one question after another as they have been put and answered, and indicate marginally the structural implications; taking care that we do not read more into it than was actually meant by the author himself.




Q. What is that Brahman?
A. Unexpendable (aksharam) is the Brahman Supreme (the Absolute Most High).


Fig. 1

Problem 1

Notes and Legend:
The Absolute is one and eternal, and has its own cosmological, psychological, and theological implications. It is a neutral and abstracted notion, covering existential, subsistential, and value aspects of total reality in terms of knowledge.

The total situation comprised by the Absolute, with an arrow that is vertical and pointing upward, represents the unexpended, enduring positive notion of the Absolute with three limits: (A), (B) and (C), marking the existential, subsistential and value levels. The inner zone "I" is the psychological; while the larger zone "II" comprises the cosmological and theological; with "IIIA" as hypostatic and "IIIB" as hierophantic values of religion.


Q. What is adhyatma (that which pertains to the Self) ?

A. Svabhava (one's proper nature).



Fig. 2

Problem 2

Notes and Legend:
As Value, Self, and the Absolute are treated as interchangeable terms in Vedanta, this question becomes relevant. It is put next in importance as the second problem. The larger cosmological aspect is omitted and the Absolute is viewed in terms of Self-consciousness. The individual self, when contemplatively tuned, takes a central place. The jiva (living self), small "a", and the collective Self, capital "A", of humanity are both comprised in the adhyatma here.

The arrow indicates the verticalized positive orientation of the spirit as conducive to spiritual progress. The horizontal tendencies are not abolished in "A" but remain secondary and incidental. Nothing is really omitted from the former, but everything is retained in the form of an intuition of actuality, more mentally or in terms of subjective consciousness. The non-contemplative jiva has a horizontal orientation.




Q. What is karma (action)?
A. The creative urge that originates in the past and refers to the future as a process of becoming.




Fig. 3

Problem 3

Notes and Legend:
The eternal flux and becoming by which at every moment, as life pulsates, the future becomes transformed in terms of the past, creatively, as a force ever moving or active in a pure or practical sense, alternating and participating in both these aspects in cycles, is referred to as action (karma), as coming within the scope of the most comprehensive of definitions of action or motion in the core of life or in the Absolute. Its psychological implications as a perception and its cosmological dynamism in the general process of becoming have to be understood intuitively on the lines which Bergson's philosophy has elaborated.

The ambivalent alternation of activity in the core of a living organism has a spatial aspect and a time aspect referring to the past and the future. The space involved here is not actual space measured by a yardstick, but an intuition of space schematically understood, irrespective of big or small. The pulsation which takes the form of a figure-of-eight has been elaborately justified elsewhere in our writings. The line indicates the psycho-physical motor dynamism at the basis of all activity, participating in both the vertical and the horizontal aspects at once.




Q. What is adhibhutam (what pertains to the elementals)?
A. It is the transient aspect.



Fig. 4

Problem 4

Notes and Legend:
The elementals are the basis of the material manifestations of the physical universe. They are not lasting values because they do not hold the field of human interests uniformly, independently of time or place. Although the concrete universals implied in the physical world may be considered lasting (anadi) or beginningless, in the world of interests or value, axiologically, they change and pass according to particular conditions.


The more lasting is the more real. All values that are subject to change are thus absorbed and included in the more universal and eternal values of life and thus nullified (badhita).

When a man is attached to his body and thinks of being fat or strong, or when he treats his son as a high value for the guidance of his life, the tendencies in the Self are said to refer to the horizontalized world of elemental or material values here. The contemplative of Vedanta minimises such values but fixes his mind on perennial values in the vertical, whether in a divinity or in the Absolute. The vertical in the figure is secondary, and the horizontal gains primacy. The smaller circle 'b' shows in aggregate a unit value, like a son or a body.


Q. What is the theological or divine object?
A. Purusha (Spirit) is the divine object.






Fig. 5

Problem 5

Notes and Legend:
This question is relevant because there are religious-minded people who are not fully affiliated to absolutist values, but belong to the same general context with some positive aims that are good as far as they go. The particular case of a devotee to a divinity is acceptable to an absolutist votary only as far as the value comes within the scope of the more universal and eternal when brought fully under the aegis of the Absolute. The lesser and more relativistically understood gods are covered by the greater, as a well within a lake or flood, as the Gita puts it in II. 46.

The concept of the Purusha of the Samkhyas is a rational, philosophical version of the verticalized positive value open to the same objection as the divinity of the believer.



Thus three values in life, viz.: worship of divinities, treating dualistically the spirit as real, and full-fledged absolutism, are stages in verticalized tendencies. Pitryana (ancestor-worship) is altogether discountenanced as falling on the negative side with only regret for reward. The rational goal, as well as heaven, are both covered by the smaller circle as value (b). Horizontal values do not figure here.


Q. In the body, how and who is the factor of sacrifices?
A. I myself am the factor of sacrifice in the body.



Fig. 6

Problem 6

Notes and Legend:
The Vedic sacrifices are directed to the propitiation of gods like Indra and Varuna. In Vedanta or in the Gita however, it is Krishna as the Absolute Value factor who is the acceptor of all sacrifices.
Sacrifice can be treated as an attitude or as a principle. The 'how' and the 'who' in the text cover both the body (as a universal concrete) as well as an attitude or aspiration more abstractly understood. The question-side has further the condition of a man of self-control as the subject (see question 7 below). Such a man would alone be fit to have absolute emancipation as the result of his sacrifice. Others might reach relativistic intermediate goals.

A bipolarity between the sacrificer (a) and the acceptor of all sacrifices (b) is the condition required for the abolition of the duality in the neutral Absolute. It is here a two-way process of osmosis between (a) and b), resulting in the normalized neutrality of the Absolute in (X), which is the goal finally envisaged in Vedanta. The double arrowheads show this two-way osmosis.




Q. How are you to be known by self-controlled persons at the time of going forth?
A. (The answer comes in Verse 5.) He who at the time of death, thinking of Me alone, leaves the body and goes forth, reaches my being, etc.


Fig. 7

Problem 7

Notes and Legend:
This refers to the final abolition of duality between subjective and objective selves in the Absolute, setting the limit to the spiritual progress understood in Vedanta, for which the clarifications above were preparatory.
The total knowledge-situation and the limit of spiritual progress on the part of a contemplative are schematically summed up, and the various stages involved marked out succinctly in graphic form for the guidance of seekers. Wisdom is finally to be noticed as a means as well as an end in itself.
The heterogeneous collections of questions purposefully put with an integrated scheme in Arjuna's own mind, make it possible here for the wisdom teacher, Krishna, to resolve a plethora of secondary problems which would have made the answers unnecessarily verbose and complicated.

The sacrifices to the Absolute Value, and Absolute Value as the personal or impersonal principle to which (or to whom) the sacrifices refer, tend to merge here into one. The principle of sacrifice itself is covered by an intuitive or mystically contemplative attitude of yoga (union) which establishes a bipolar relation between the subjective and the objective aspects of the same Self. When the osmosis is complete there is full transparency on both the sides of: (a) the subjective aspirant, purified by self-control and ready to understand the wisdom implications of the situation; and the counterpart of the same Self, on the side of the knowable (jneya) indicated as (b).



The spiritual status of one or the other becomes one of non-difference as the bi-polarity is more firmly established. They attain tadatmya (that-same-selfhood) or sayujya (union). The vertical line itself is the sacrificial principle here.

The reference to leaving the body by a self-controlled man means that he is to raise his status vertically by aspiration to that of the aspired one in terms of knowledge of the Absolute (x).



The modern revolt against metaphysics is based on the objection that it is too verbose. This is justified to some extent. When teaching a magical sleight-of-hand trick it is far easier to be guided by watching someone doing it than to learn it from a book which describes the index finger and thumb in such and such positions, dorsal, ventral etc. The latitudes and longitudes on a map help to place the position of a location such as Cape Comorin, which ancient maps for many centuries placed some-where near where Korea ought to be. The latitudes and longitudes as schematic versions of visible landmarks help to eliminate verbosity and all its ambiguities. A nurse can read the graph of a fever more easily than a statistically presented version, which the doctor, perhaps, could more easily read. As in the Pythagorean Theorem, one way lends certitude to the other. The central reality of the Absolute is neither here; nor in the Self; nor in the non-Self; neither there, nor in this or that; but in the Absolute itself which has a status in reality of its own. The possibilities of graphic representation in philosophy to avoid the bane of verbosity, is a field that has been so far only poorly explored or utilised. Vedantists have been aware of its possibilities, as indicated in the Upanishads, the Jaimini Sutras, the Vasishta and even the Panchadasi, to which we shall direct our in one of the sections to follow.




Let us think as before of sitting facing the white circle of light shed on a white screen by an optical projector. The projector could be over-focussed, and would then shed a blurred image of anything on the slide interposed between the light and the screen. The same result happens when under-focussed: there are thus different possible perspectives.

When correctly focussed, the white light represents the notion of the Absolute; when slightly out of focus, whether on the plus (objective) or minus (subjective) side, the structure of the object or of the subject, respectively, will be revealed.

The neutral Absolute is independent of either perspective, whether objective or subjective, and it is therefore said to transcend duality, either from the side of the phenomenal or of the noumenal aspects. Such is the Advaitic view of the Absolute, which necessarily resembles the position of those who think in terms of vacuity - the Sunyavadins of Madhyamika Buddhism, represented by the school of Nagarjuna.
Sankara, however, fills this seeming vacuity with the content of an Absolute Substance such as Spinoza defines. The Absolute Substance is where thought and matter meet, as if from opposite poles, to cancel themselves out in favour of the central neutral notion of the Absolute. In other words, at such a neutral point where names and forms meet without being distinguished as one or the other, the subject and the object coalesce in the homogeneous matrix of pure word-content.

That there cannot be two truths without contradiction or tautology involved; and that varying grades of perspective of the same truth are possible; is the justification for the above assumptions.



Further, the neutral point where non-duality must reside, while participating in both plus and minus overtones or undertones of the same truth, must remain homogeneous to both. These aspects have been elaborated elsewhere.



Having fixed the white circle of light as representing the Absolute, one has to go one step further in order to distinguish the double domain implicit schematically and structurally at a certain zero degree of subjectivity in consciousness. We have to put, imaginatively, a thin line cutting the circle into two halves: the top half having a more conceptual or nominal status; and the bottom half a more perceptual, actual, or epistemological status.

We thus arrive at the domain of the Word, consisting of two distinct dictionaries, such as Bertrand Russell would distinguish. The line separating the two domains of the Word is of a semantic order only; like the mesh of lines that Spinoza would place before a circle; or like the schematic version of space and time of which Kant would speak.

In Vedantic parlance, the line of demarcation, which is real only as a reference, is the line that would separate nama (name) from rupa (form). The visibles and the intelligibles of Plato and the matter and form of Aristotle imply the same thin line of demarcation at the core of Absolute Reality, which is independent of all differences, internal or external, and free from all contradictions or relationships of part and whole, big and small, one and many; etc.

The perceptual side would loom large when the projector sheds its light under-focussed; and the nominal when over-focussed. Between the plus and the minus, the Word resides both as the symbol of the thing or as the thing of the symbol. Perfect reversibility and interchangeability of the two aspects should be granted. The former would represent the words of the dictionary conceived by Bishop Berkeley's philosophy, and the latter would correspond to the empiricism of Locke's secondary qualities. Both are to be schematically understood as participating homogeneously in one and the same word-matrix where the word-units of both dictionaries range the two domains in crypto-crystallized or amorphous forms, before being fully actualised in crystalline forms.



Such a domain of the Word was meant by the word logos of the Greeks as used by Philo the Jew of the Neo Platonic Alexandrian context, and even in the pre-Vedantic context as we shall presently see.



The above schema of the domain of the Word, with its two compartments, has to be given a living dynamic status, if the picture we have drawn is to be understood without static fixation. There is an alternating semantic exchange of content in a process of semiosis which, like osmosis between cells, goes on in the mutually transparent double domain of the Word that we have distinguished above. Thought breathes and circulates with life itself.

These might sound like over-statements to persons unfamiliar with the full implications of Vedantic thought. Vedanta recognizes that the whole of reality is covered by nama (name) and rupa (form). This is the same as saying that the universe of reality is none other than relations or relata, which are either nameable as concepts, or visible as forms, as percepts.

Nama and rupa can both become merged into the Absolute Substance that Brahman represents. When interest and action are introduced into such a relation-relata complex of concepts and percepts, thought circulates analytically or synthetically, or culminates horizontally in some action. Like the beating of the heart, action and will, both pure and practical, circulate and pass over from one side to the other of the two worlds of the Word that we have distinguished. The psychostatic picture becomes changed into a psychodynamic one, in which there is an osmotic ebb and flow between the poles of thought, and which is always solving problems for some desirable action of flight or attack. One has to supply, by imagination and intuition, this living picture of the ambivalent, alternatingly rotating process, taking place within orbits of interest of greater or lesser time duration. Bergson's philosophy would greatly help here.
Having devoted other works to the elaboration of such a dynamism in thought we need not linger here long.



That Vedantic thought too runs along these lines is what we would like to stress here. In this matter we cannot appeal to a better authority than Prof. Max Müller, who was a full-fledged Western philosopher in his own right, and one of the best authorities on Vedanta combined; and who at least cannot be charged with saying something he knew nothing about. In his third lecture delivered before the Royal Institute of London in 1894 on "Vedanta Philosophy" he said:

"The word is the manifestation of thought; every word, we must remember, expresses a concept, not a percept: "Tree" is not meant for this or that tree; it is the general concept of all trees: and if every individual thing is the realization of an ideal type of thought or word; if every man, for instance, is the realization of the divine thought or word of man or of mankind - we need not be startled when we find in India as well as in Greece a belief that God created the world by the Logos, or by the Word, or by the many words, the logoi, the ideas of Plato, the species or types of modern science."

Although the dynamic aspects of semantic word-circulation and the two distinct domains of the Word are still only vaguely conceived by Prof. Max Müller in this quotation, it contains sufficient evidence to show that the theories of the Logos and that of nama-rupa which Vedanta accepts, had early beginnings in divergent geographical and cultural contexts in the history of human speculative thought.

Both in the Vedic and in the Greek or Hebrew contexts, it is necessary for us to rid the theory of its mythological implications, and view each in terms of simple semantic processes understandable in the light of the modern science of semantics. We should further think in terms of a schematisation based on subjective structuralism, so that implications of form as against name may not be omitted. Prof. Max Müller himself refers to the three contexts in which the theory of the Word was developed by the ancients, from which we glean the following:




We read, in Max Müller´s words:

"Thus we find in the Rig Veda, 3.6.8 a hymn placed in the mouth of Vach or speech, who had become not only one of the many deities, but a kind of power even beyond gods, a kind of Logos or primeval wisdom. There speech says of herself:

"I move along with Rudra, the God of storm and thunder; with the Vasus; with the Adityas; with the Viswedevas. I support both Mitra and Varuna; the two Asvins; Indra and Agni.
I am the Queen, the gatherer of treasures. I am intelligent; the first of those who deserve sacrifice; the gods have made me manifold, standing in my places, entering into many things.
I stretch the bow of Rudra to kill the enemy of Brahman; I cause war for men. I stretch out heaven and earth.
I breathe like the wind, holding to all things; beyond the sky; beyond this earth. Such a one am I by my power."

Continuing, Max Müller says:

"Such expressions seem to me to presuppose in the distant past the conception of Speech or the Word as a creative power, though possibly in the vague character of the Jewish Wisdom (Sophia) rather than in the more definite form of the Greek Logos."



In Proverbs VIII, 22 et seq., as Max Müller again points out, wisdom personified speaks as follows:

"22. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning or even the earth was.
25. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth.
27. When he prepared the heavens, I was there, when he set a compass upon the face of the depth.
30. Then I was by him, as one brought up with him and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him."



The opening verses of the Gospel of St. John are highly reminiscent of the above words of the Old Testament Proverbs, and give the Word a central place prior and more fundamental than creation or God.



The Maitrayana Upanishad (VI. 22) reads:

"Two Brahmans have to be meditated on, the Word and the non-Word.
By the Word alone is the non-Word revealed."

Prof. Max Müller has this to say on the double aspect here under reference:

"Here we have again the exact counterpart of the Logos of the Alexandrian schools. There is, according to the Alexandrian philosopher, the Divine Essence, which is revealed by the Word, and the Word which alone reveals it. In its unrevealed state it is unknown, and was by some Christian philosophers called the Father: in its revealed state it was the Divine Logos or the Son.
From all this it seems to me that we are driven to admit that the same line of thought which after a long preparation found its expression in Philo and later on in Clement of Alexandria, was worked out in India at a much earlier time, starting from very similar beginnings and arriving at very similar results. But there is nothing to indicate borrowing on one side or the other."



We have expressly lingered here somewhat at length, relying largely moreover on the speculations connected with Word-­wisdom in Vedanta stated by no less an authority than Prof. Max Müller, with the object of showing that the semantic and schematic approach to the notion of the Absolute in Vedantic thought is nothing strange, nor a novelty originating in ourselves here. Widely divergent contexts in philosophical speculation have dealt with the same or almost the same fundamental idea. From Vedic, Greek and Hebrew antiquities the Word and the Absolute have been thought of together and often treated as interchangeable terms.



'The Word was God' etc. of St John is a startling statement by itself, treated casually and taken for granted by the Christian devotee and by-passed by the common man. When understood in the context of word-wisdom, where the word and the non-­word cancel each other out into the neutral Absolute, we shall begin to see the same in the light of the analysis of Vedantic dicta like 'That thou art' etc., as masterfully accomplished by Sankara and other Vedantins in books such as the Vakya Vritti, wholly devoted to the analysis of semiotic processes both direct and indirect; i.e. syntactical and semiotical, as modern semantic experts would distinguish them. By cancelling the plus and minus, or indirect meanings of the expressions 'That' and 'Thou', the neutral notion of the Absolute is arrived at. Even the word "Brahman", as used in the Vedantic context from most ancient times, goes to justify this interchangeability.

The Satapatha Brahmana (XI. 2. 3), which is next only to the Vedas in antiquity and in canonical status, is nearer to Vedanta than to the Vedas, and further elaborates the role of the Word in relation to the notion of the Absolute, more vividly than in the Vedas that we have already examined. We read:

"Brahman was all this in the beginning. It sent forth (created) the Gods, and having sent them forth, it established them over the worlds: Agni (fire) over the earth; Vayu (wind) over the air; and Surya (Sun) over the sky... As to the worlds above these, Brahman established over them the deities who are above the former deities. And as these worlds are manifest and their deities, these worlds and their deities are manifest where he established them... Then Brahman went to the half (which was not manifest) beyond, and having gone there he thought: 'How can I get into these worlds?' and Brahman got into these worlds by two: by forms (rupa) and words (nama)."

The double domain of the Word is unmistakably clear in the above quotation which we could hardly resist from quoting, especially because it reveals schematic details which deserve careful scrutiny. Further, what is more important for us here is to note that the two branches put together, those of name and form, can be equated to Brahman itself interchangeably, as when we write: Absolute = name + form.




Vedic, Vedantic and Purva Mimamsic speculation has relied tacitly or overtly on an approach to truth based on the recognition of the Word. While neutralized between subjectivism and objectivism - more in favour of the former than the latter, if at all - Vedantic speculation has relied on the meaning-content of the Word to arrive at the supreme synthesis of all speculative aspects.

We have quoted freely from ancient scriptures, relying on Max Müller, who was the first of Vedantic exponents to put his finger on the word-content aspect of Vedantic thought, and was bold enough to bring its importance to light. He pointed out that in words like Vachaspati (Lord of language) and Brahmanaspati (Lord of the World - All or Absolute), the Word (vak) was used interchangeably with the notion of the Absolute. Both the Chandogya Upanishad (1.2.11) and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1.3.20) support this view.

The semantic analysis of "That thou art" and other dicta thus come to occupy the core of Vedantic speculation. To recognize this enables us to avoid irrelevant verbosity passing by the name of Vedantic philosophy. Let us therefore glean from the above, and from what we have so far said generally, the following points, so as to enable us to build on them further in the few studies of this series that remain for us.



1.0 Vedanta is concerned with a neutral normative notion of the Absolute.

1.01 Vedantic speculation is poised between subjectivism and objectivism. Actualities of the non-contemplative mechanistic world are outside its scope.

1.02 As with Bergsonian metaphysics, Vedanta speculates, as it were, from inside the total knowledge-situation instead of taking disjunct outside views of it.

1.03 The dialectical approach of Zeno and Parmenides, as further elaborated by Bergson and Hegel, where counterparts are cancelled out into pure notions in the context of the Absolute, is natural to Vedanta. Bipolarity, ambivalence, alternation, circulation between positive and negative, are normal notions to Vedantic speculation. Phenomenology and existentialism too share much speculative ground in common with Vedanta.

1.1 Vedanta has its own ontology and epistemology where immanent and transcendental aspects are treated unitively. It cannot be strictly called idealistic or materialistic. When the crudely empirical sense-expressions of life are eliminated and consigned to the limbo of error, the remaining transcendental-cum-immanent content of consciousness is where Vedantic speculation lives and moves.

1.2 Vedantic speculation gives primacy to the material cause over the three others: instrumental, formal, or final.

1.3 It follows the negative way of the via negationis.

1.4 For Vedanta word and thought are related.

1.5 There is a schematism, structuralism, and semantics properly recognized in Vedantic speculation.

1.6 The domain of the Word, which is at the core of the notion of the Absolute, consists of two halves: one made up of what is revealed and the other of what is not. These have a reciprocal osmosis or circulation of thought-elements always taking place between them.

1.7 All general species, classes, sets, groups, whether of percepts or concepts, form ramifications in the two halves of the content of consciousness as relations or relata: one set appearing as a reflection of the other, forming the two dictionaries of Word-content. The tree of Porphyry is only one version of these two possible trees. (Being concerned with predicables, it confines itself to concepts, and leaves out 'animals' etc., as subaltern genera).



1.8 Vedanta, which is a culmination of the Vedas and the Brahmanas, as we shall see when we come to structuralism, schematism, and subjectivism, as found in the Upanishads, the Gita and Brahma Sutras, revels in revealing the correlations of cosmological, psychological, and theological values or factors. What we have studied in the present section forms the background of such further elaborations of structuralism etc., to be undertaken before we terminate these studies.

1.9 The possible varieties of speculation in Vedanta, such as those of Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva, all thrive side by side without conflict in Indian Vedantic tradition, because they are all capable of being treated as different perspectives of the same Absolute. Some give an over-focussed version, while others give an under-focussed version. Some stress methodology; others epistemological correctness; while still others pin their faith on value factors such as piety, etc.

2.0 Epistemology, methodology, and axiology have to be treated separately in any Vedantic revaluation that attempts to disentangle Vedantic thought in scientifically revalued and restated terms.
For our next study we shall reserve the further examination of the structural implications that have already become evident in the pre-Vedantic literature that we have cited above, when we come to examine the same phenomenon in Vedantic literature proper, such as the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.




Scientifically speaking, there cannot be more than one Vedanta, if by Vedanta we mean, as we ought to mean, the wisdom of the Absolute. In fact, however, it has become a common practice, both in the religious and philosophical contexts, to speak of kinds or schools of Vedanta or Vedantisms.
Vedanta can be so degraded and distorted as to refer to mere credos and cults, as we often see; and many kinds of deistic and theistic outlooks flourish today under Vedantic labels. Even under the names of single Vedantic teachers like Sankara, many apartments and anterooms are at present accommodated in the mansion of Vedanta, some of which, at least, have questionable claims.

Much lukewarmness and indifference passes for virtues such as tolerance or pious or generous broadness of outlook. Some call it Hindu, while others claim true Vedanta to be that or this or other orthodoxy or heterodoxy; observance or belief; giving primacy to one or other tenet, god or goddess of the Hindu pantheon. Saivite and Vaishnavite Vedantas thus flourish as rivals side by side with those that are based on Mother worship.

Each has an accent, stress, doctrinal colouration or tint, distinguishing it from its rivals, and many polemical battles are fought over subtle implications of the teaching to this day, most of which make little or no sense even to the educated Indian. One pretence hides another and silent oracles nod in knowing assent over articles of faith where close examination of claims will often reveal empty jargon. Vedism, Rationalism, or Yoga change sides from the left side of heterodoxy to the right side of orthodoxy.



Puerile forms of faith find place within some modern brands which, claiming to be pure, integral or non-attached, make of Vedanta a jumble like bits of paper in a waste-basket, hardly attaining to coherence even as a mosaic.

The votaries of Vedanta are so varied at the present day that it has become a blanket term to hide all that is vaguely, eclectically, syncretically or solipsistically understood; and even popular superstition cannot effectively be excluded from what the term Vedanta must strictly connote or denote. The Brahma­ Sutras themselves would exclude Yoga and treat Vedanta as the closed preserve of persons of certain castes alone. Even sitting or standing postures gain delimiting significance in Vedanta, and rank superstitions sometimes pass muster without the scrutiny of healthy standards of criticism.



All these are marks of decadence in Vedanta, which has become goody-goody or namby-pamby, lending itself to be used to pamper to spurious spirituality and sometimes even to supporting charlatanish religions, occult growths or expressions.

Vedanta, when properly recognizable as such, must have such a radically unmistakable ring of the Absolute, and such strict norms and standards of thought, that it will not tolerate cant within its domain.
We often notice too that Vedanta is used as a surrogate for closed religions, and statically made to support the dead letter and hidebound attitude of orthodoxy. Like salt that has lost its savour, such Vedanta loses its fundamental quality by being compromised with relativistic values. Like pure milk in a dog-leather container, there is nothing one can do about such varieties of Vedanta but to cast them out of the window.
Vedanta, like mathematics, is a sastra (science text) as the Gita claims at the end of each chapter, and its open and dynamic character is so categorical and unequivocal as to make Krishna, as the true Vedantic Guru of the Gita, declare its character by saying:

"As each chooses to approach Me, even accordingly do I have regard for them. My very path it is, 0 Bharata (Arjuna) that all men do tread from every (possible) approach." (iv. 11)



Such a categorical denial of any closed and static outlook, taken together with the other well known Upanishadic dictum that 'he who sees plurality wends from death to death' (Katha Upanishad IV.12), must be enough to dispel any vestige of doubt in the matter of the unity demanded in one voice by the canons of Vedanta. Even those like such an eminent modern authority as Dr. Radhakrishnan, who says that the Upanishads 'speak with a double voice'; or that they have two distinct philosophies to teach, do great injustice to this subject, which is perhaps the proudest monument of Indian wisdom, so apt not to be fully understood in the light of modernist speculation of the West, which cannot truly penetrate deep enough to the core of the unity with whose voice Vedanta has always spoken.

There might be overtones and undertones in the voice of Vedanta: but to say that two voices hide within it is to detract from the highest wisdom- heritage of India its essential character and value. Absolute truth cannot ever be dualistically conceived; and if it has been apparently so constructed, as with the Dvaita (Dualism) and Visishtadvaita (Qualified Non-dualism) of Madhva and Ramanuja respectively - the unity of the Absolute has not really been marred. This is because it is the structural perspective and not the content as such that has been at the bases of those "varieties" in Vedanta, so called. Vedanta and Vedantisms should never be mixed up in the mind.



No comparison is thinkable except on the basis of a common ground on which differences can be established. Vedanta, considered as the culmination of the ritual of the Vedas; and as the integrated and finalized version of the philosophical tradition of the Indian soil anterior to it, whether orthodox or heterodox; must offer a common basis justifying the Vedantas of Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva as possible varieties of Vedanta.

Both philosophy and religion; materialism and idealism; Jaina and Buddhist heterodox speculation; and those that toe the orthodox line; Samkhya rationalism and Yoga discipline - find in the three canons of Vedanta, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and the Brahma Sutras, their natural point of revalued and restated integration.



Vedanta represents the integration and "the finest blossom on the tree of Indian wisdom", as Paul Deussen would say. Nothing significant is lost nor any crowning crest-jewel of doctrinal conclusiveness omitted or bypassed by Vedanta.

The Great Dicta express its doctrinal conclusion unequivocally. Theological, cosmological, psychological, and eschatological values are preserved here and discussed by the various teachers with a methodology, epistemology and axiology all its own. The contributions of the six systems or "visions" (Shad Darsana), as well as the content of Vedism, are together retained in Vedanta. In short, Vedanta can claim to represent an earnest attempt at formulating an integrated wisdom of the Absolute; holding out the freedom or salvation that contemplative spirituality anywhere in the world offers as the highest hope and consolation of man. These claims of Vedanta have always been recognized and hardly need reiteration here.



Sankara had Buddhistic nihilism as his background; while Ramanuja had the Bhagavata Religion of the Pancharatra, with Jainism and Buddhism too playing their part. With Madhva the Jaina background and also the presence of Islam as a social force determined the shape of his Vedanta.
These genetic and objectively evident social actualities, doctrinal peculiarities and practices need not concern us here primarily, because it is the core or content of Vedanta as such that will give us the surest key. A scientific comparison and contrast of standards, such as the sat-karana-vada and the approach by giving primacy to cause over effect, are of methodological import; while others like the stress on escaping rebirth, etc. are axiological or eschatological in import. The intuition or logic employed by the kind of Vedanta under consideration would have to be based on epistemology.

These then form the first broad basis for a scientific classification of the varieties of Vedanta.



Sankara excelled in epistemology; while Ramanuja was axiologically more sound. Madhva, for his part, was strong in tattva (principles of reasoning), as can be judged by what is called abhinava-anyatha-khyati-vada (a new way for accounting for error) and his svarupananda taratamya (a graded scale of self-bliss), etc.

The total knowledge-situation, the word and its structure stemming from pure semantics, have always belonged to Vedanta as its very core. The subjective, selective, perennial, structural, and schematic inherence of Vedantic speculation has to be recognized by us in comparing the varieties of Vedanta. Dialectical counterparts and antinomies have to be discovered as distinguishing features of Vedantic speculation.

From the seven categories (sapta padartha) of the Nyaya -Vaisesika; through the duality underlying prakriti (Nature) and purusha (Spirit) of the Samkhya -Yoga; to the twin schools of the Mimamsas, where semantic considerations gain ground fully to give an underlying unity of schematized structure for all or any variety of Vedantic thought, the common basis must be clearly visualized.

Then alone can the specific and the generic varieties of the family of Vedantic thought, its affinities and contrasting traits, be scientifically discussed.

At present Vedantic speculation has lost its way in the maze or tangle of Vedantic texts, commentaries, and glosses, variously called bhasyas, vartikas, vivaranas or tikas, resulting in a veritable forest of speculation, in which even an expert of the present day in India or an adept of the West can easily lose their way.

Besides the six systems that have nourished speculation, there are the various sakhas (branches), with samhitas (compendia) derived from different orthodox or heterodox traditions that have flourished on the soil of India during several millennia. These can help us to separate the distinguishing traits of Vedanta that existed before books like the Gita finally attempted to integrate all Vedantic thought into one body.

The Bhagavatas and the Pancharatras, which are centred upon supreme persons with the status of demiurges raised to Absolutism, such as the Purusha Narayana mentioned in the Satapatha Brahmana in relation to the Pancharatra Sattra; besides the Vedic and Upanishadic background largely relied on by Sankara - will reveal to future research traits valuable in grading and classifying all Vedanta under one integrated schematically homogeneous structural pattern.



How Vedantic speculation hangs together by one and the same unifying peg can be revealed also by certain features common to all of them. In Section VII of this series we have examined the structural unity underlying the total knowledge-situation as understood in the Gita, where a volley of seven problems are raised at one stroke by Arjuna as questions to his Guru Krishna. In order to get started with a grip on the main problems involved, we shall here first examine an old Sanskrit verse in which the distinguishing traits of Madhva's variety of Vedanta are reviewed, before passing on to Ramanuja and Sankara. Nimbarka, Vallabha, and Chaitanya being less familiar, we shall pass them over for the present.

"srimad madhvamate harih, paratarah, satyam jagat tattvatah
bhedo jivaganah hareranucharah nichochhabhavamgatah
muktir naijasukhanubhutir bhaktistu tat sadhanam
hyakshadi triyanam pramanam sakalam naikyavedyo harih."

"In the doctrine of Srimat Madhva, Hari (Vishnu) is the most ultimate; the world is real in principle; differences (there are) among classes of created living beings, the devout followers of Hari (Vishnu), having attained to low or high status; salvation (consists of) one's proper (capacity) for (attaining) happiness (in the self), and devotion (bhakti) is the means thereof; the three tests of truth are the three such as perception; (and) what is given as the result of knowledge derived from all scriptures (taken together) is Hari (Vishnu or the Absolute) ".




1. Madhva considers the world as real in principle and not as an actuality.

2. This principle or tattva is to be understood as of two categories: svatantra and paratantra (self-controlled or under other control), while both these are united in an eternal flux or process which is called pravahato anadi (beginningless as flowing).
The Absolute of Madhva derives its name from the Vaishnava tradition where it is conceived as a supreme Person (Purusha), Hari, or Krishna.

3. There is a scale of spiritual values at the core of the Absolute in relation to which all beings could be classed or graded. This doctrine is referred to by the Sanskrit term svarupananda taratamya (graded stages in self-realization).

4. Salvation is the experience of the bliss of self-realization and the means for such is pure devotion (to the Ultimate).

5. Reasoning is based on three methodological principles, beginning with: (a) perceptual verification, together with
(b) inference and
(c) reliance on the a priori, which is called sabda pramana.

6. The Absolute (named Hari, Krishna or Vishnu for traditional reasons) is the content of all wisdom texts. He is to be known through their study as being the content of the totality of their teachings taken together.

Under these six items all the components that go to make Madhva's variety of Vedanta distinguishable, are in the main, conclusively comprised.



Vedanta as understood by Ramanuja is different from that of Madhva only in verbal versions of doctrine. The frame of reference in both cases remains basically the same. The former is called a Visishta Advaitin (one who stands for a non-duality that admits of specific predicates of the Absolute), while the latter is popularly known as a Dvaitin (a dualist).

These labels are misleading to the extent that they refer to the primacy or stress given to methodological or epistemological aspects. The general frame of reference adopted by both, however, remains fundamentally the same. We shall enumerate here first the broad doctrinal peculiarities of Ramanuja's Vedanta, before trying to establish the similarity of the frame of reference common to both.



The following extracts are taken from the original work of Ramanuja himself called Vedartha Samgraha
"The Vedas in their totality teach us the nature of Narayana, the Supreme Brahman (231).

When words are used in the pre-established Vedic order, they carry their original significance: otherwise they are different in significance (233).

The Brahman knowable through the Vedas is Narayana who is antithetical to all evil, transcendent, and unique. He is an ocean of hosts of auspicious attributes. His supreme glory is beyond thought in its nature and attribute. He has as the means of his sport the entire universe, etc. (234).

Brahman himself, qualified by all entities as his modes, is signified by all terms which are applied to him by way of co-ordinate predication (samanadhikaranatva) (235).

The supreme Brahman resolved by himself to take up many modes and thought, 'Let me become many' ...He caused the individual selves to enter them as principles of their animation. He then brought into being the whole of the gross world out of these elements, animated by the conscious principles through mutual permutations and combinations (bahuprakaram). Then the supreme Brahman entered into all these entities as their ultimate Soul. Thus he exists in the state of effect as the supreme Self with all existence constituting his body. He exists characterized by these modes (prakaras) (236).

The Great Elements (mahabhutas) in their primeval subtle condition constitute what is Prakriti (nature). The sum total of individual selves (bhoktrvarga samuha) is called Purusha (Spirit)... Thus the Paramatman himself designated by the terms Prakriti (nature) and Purusha (Spirit)
…Remaining the real, he became the real and the unreal (Taittiriya Upanishad 11. 6).



The means for the attainment of Brahman is para bhakti which is of the nature of meditation which has acquired vividness of clearest perception (visadatma pratyakshata)…The term bhakti signifies a particular kind of love (priti). Love is a particular kind of cognition (238).

But love is the same thing as joy (sukham) (239). The cognition of that object is itself the joy in question (tad-vishaya jnanameva sukham) (240).

Entities other than Brahman can be objects of such cognitions of the nature of joy only to a finite extent and for limited duration. Since the form of cognition as joy is determined by its object, Brahman itself is joy (241).

When Brahman becomes the object of one's contemplation, he (the meditator) becomes blissful (242)."
A careful scrutiny of these two varieties of Vedanta will help us to see their common epistemological, methodological, and axiological frame of reference. As for Sankara, we have already incorporated his frame of reference into many discussions of aspects of Vedanta in general. We shall complete them in due course, when we take up the examination of the structural implications of Vedanta generally at closer quarters in the next section.




Science seeks certitude through experiments. Mathematics relies on proofs capable of being expressed in the form of equations. The Pythagoras Theorem, as we have seen, is capable of two proofs that meet to give one certitude which is neither abstract nor concrete exclusively. Vedanta too has its favourite method of arriving at certitude. When common experience vouches for truths in everyday life, experiments conducted under elaborate laboratory conditions become unnecessary. Language enshrining the common experiences of mankind in the form of proverbs or just common-sense can be relied on to give us certitude on many problems of importance in life.

Parables, fables, and figures of speech have taken a large place in lending support to speculation all over the world. Such a source of certitude, when properly rid of the extraneous, is not to be discredited, and should be considered as valid at least as proofs in Euclid, which derive their certitude from axiomatic a priori truths. When such truths are called postulates, theorems, riders, corollaries or lemmas, insofar as they are derived from self-evident verities acceptable to all, they have the same value as proofs or demonstrations. Experience can substitute for experiment in many cases. The falling of an apple cannot be called an experiment conducted by Newton to afford a basis for his theory of universal gravitation. Even non-scientists know that bodies are attracted towards the ground and not towards the sky. The rest of Newtonian theory has the status only of calculation or speculation or both.



If Sankara and Jaimini give a large place to sabda pramana (scriptural authority) to arrive at certitude in respect of over-all philosophical problems such as the nature of the Absolute, it is not their weakness but rather their strength.



Language is most ordinarily used to describe objects or simple events. When intentions and interests enter into the world of events and relations between man and man; and when actions, single or in chains, further complicate the situation; the importance of the visible is slowly superseded by what is unquestionably accepted through language as representing the consensus of knowledge in respect of the experience of mankind.

Scriptures, therefore, have legitimately relied on parables, -fables, analogies and simple figures of speech like metaphor and simile. Works like the “Tao Te Ching” teach through simple anecdotes. The myths of nations contain secrets that the intuitive mind can grasp. The Bible lives by its parables.

Vedanta too is no exception to this general rule which applies to all scriptures anywhere, except perhaps in one respect which has specially interested us in the present series of studies which have been primarily intended to revalue and restate the whole field of Vedanta, highlighting more especially those aspects which rely on the inner structure of thought itself.

It is here that Vedantism excels in its use of its favourite examples, analogies, and pictorial language. These have more of a proto-linguistic slant and have such a telling apodicticity that throughout Vedanta's long history of two or three thousand years, they have tenaciously retained their place in its literature.
Even a modern Vedantin desiring to change the time-honoured examples of Vedanta, such as the pot and the clay, the wave and the sea, the snake and the rope, and the silver and the mother-of-pearl, would feel exasperated to do without these favourite literary devices which have struck root at the core of all Vedantic speculation.



The reason for the wilful persistence of such examples as so dear to Vedantists at every time and everywhere; and which might even be said to be the distinguishing characteristic for recognising Vedantism as it prevails even today - this can only be attributed to the fact that they contain some elements inevitable to the Vedantic speculator for clinching his main issues and findings.

Certitude for the Vedantist is not to be understood as consisting of a predication about truth. The doctrines of Vedanta are not articles of faith, understood as enumerable in a series, as in the case of metaphysical or religious speculation common in the West. The Vedantist prefers to call what he believes as truth a 'vision', rather than the components of a 'system' or school of thought. Each school, if it could be so called, has a central vision or darsana, often cryptically and briefly expressible in the form of a dictum implying in each such case an experience of the speculator, meditator, or contemplative concerned. His certitude is often referred to as aparoksha anubhuti (non-transcendental personal experience). Such experience has to be so compact and concrete as a karatala amalakam (a gooseberry held in one's palm). Verbose predications of philosophical findings are discredited by Vedantins in favour of the certitude of the Yogi in whom the vision and the visionary attain to compact unity.

It is because Vedanta aims at a certitude that is felt inside as well as known to be yonder, at one and the same time, that the peculiar examples, analogies and pictorial language that we are going to discuss here become all-important. The Upanishads are replete with instances of picture-language: some elaborate, some more compact, which latter could be called ideograms.

Analogies are variously woven into the fabric of the Vedantic texts and the suffix iva (like) is very profusely relied on, as any page of the Upanishads would reveal. More complex literary devices with the scientific purpose of bringing out structural, schematic, or subjective subtleties are masterfully employed by the rishis (seers) who were the authors of the Upanishads. They all tend to minimize metalinguistic verbiage.

When these fables, anecdotes or parables are somewhat elaborate they become distinguishable as vallis, like the Brahmananda Valli and Bhrigu Valli, etc. of the Taittiriya Upanishad, or Kandas as of the Chandogya Upanishad.



When examined with structuralism kept in our mind, even these anecdotes, such as the Bhrigu Valli, reveal to us peculiarities of composition which cannot be explained otherwise than by the theory that the rishis themselves had the same structuralism in their minds.

It is when such features become evident to the student that he can rest convinced that he has himself come to some kind of sure understanding of the purpose or the gist of Vedanta as a whole.
Let us fix our attention on some of the favourite examples of Vedanta.



All philosophical inquiry presupposes distinctions between truth and falsehood, fact and fiction; or more generally speaking, between what is apparent and what is behind appearance. Fact-finding, truth-seeking, and problem-solving are all meant to avoid nuisible situations in life, and to seek progress to happiness. Unhappiness is never a recognized end of philosophical inquiry. If all that glitters were gold, there would have been no need for any philosophizing at all. Thus two over-all categories are implied in all philosophizing. If there are more than two, they could all at least be included under these two as clauses. Absolute Truth is what can make man free. It is the value-pearl of great price, and is potent in leavening the whole lump of life. Even a little of Truth or Wisdom can save man from great fear, as the Gita prefers to put the same biblical verity.

Further, these two categories of appearance and reality, with which as presuppositions philosophy itself becomes possible, have between them an implied principle of paradox. The nature of this paradox is subtle and the complexion of the same can vary in degrees of possible differences between the two aspects involved, ranging from full contradiction at one extreme, grading into non-contradiction when purer pairs of opposites or antinomies are involved.

Each such pair can be said to belong together to a psycho-physical grade or order of its own. Contrast, contradiction, or contrariety belong to each ambivalent, reciprocal, or dichotomous couple of poles in the total knowledge-situation, with degrees of duality regulating their bipolarity.



When there is full accentuation of the differentiating principle, we live in a horizontal world of values, with plus and minus separating each pair of the same grade. When, on the other hand, the polarity is less accentuated, contradiction tends to cancel differences between pairs of counterparts by one term cancelling out the other term. The former has a horizontal or arithmetical status, while the latter has a vertical or geometrical status.

The three examples that we shall scrutinize, which are, by acceptance or by rejection, equally favourite to Vedanta, will reveal further the structural pattern we have just tried to trace, together with the dynamism natural to it.


1. The Water and the Waves

Perhaps the most common example in Vedanta that we should consider first is that where appearance is compared to waves on the ocean, and reality is compared to the material cause of each wave, qualitatively understood, which is none other than the water without which waves become unthinkable.

If the waves refer to the visible aspect of reality, water refers to its intelligible cause. Schematically, the former could be called the horizontal aspect of the absolute reality, and the latter its projected vertical counterpart. The multiplicity of waves on the ocean has nothing to do with the dimension of depth of the water in a pure qualitative sense. Between the qualitative and the quantitative there is an implied paradox, when understood in the light of a neutral epistemological subjectivism proper to Vedantic speculation, as we have already pointed out.

Thus the wave and the water example, so dear to Vedantins, affords a frame of reference in order to correlate appearance with reality. There is a participation between these two only at a common neutral zero point of the total or absolute knowledge-situation. Body and mind, spirit and matter, meet centrally and diverge peripherally.

Philosophy consists of delving into the depths of the material cause of effects that are apparent and given directly to the senses. When the cause is distinguished we get to a relationship between cause and effect which will afford the first over-all frame of reference for clarifying the relation between true and false values in life.



Accepting the principle of contra-diction fully at the initial stages of reasoning; but tending to absorb contradiction unitively in the final stages of philosophical inquiry; this two-sided example of a wave with water as its real cause beneath it affords the Vedantic speculator two intersecting or correlating axes, constituting a frame of reference which can be used to great advantage in avoiding the bane of verbosity in metaphysics.

Both wave and water, when understood as actualities, imply full contradiction, but when understood intuitively or in pure terms, they tend to merge in the common epistemological heterogeneous matrix of thought. How this is to be understood has been explained by us elsewhere when treating of the schematismus of Kant, the schéma moteur of Bergson, and the structuralism of Eddington.


2. The Rope and the Snake

The second example we have selected is not used with the same purpose by all Vedantins. It is used with full favour by those who belong to the non-dual (Advaita) school, which is perhaps the most important of all Vedantic schools, to which the great name of Sankara lends its support.

This example is particularly suitable in contrasting favourable and fearful or unfavourable value-factors in respect of what is good to man in distinguishing appearance from reality. Both snake and rope are contrasted on the basis of an axiologically based epistemology. Knowledge about the real abolishes the fear implied in the world of relativistic appearances. The weak man of ignorance sees a fearful snake where there is only a harmless rope. The snake is an eidetic or phenomenological presentiment. The rope represents truth in itself or in its simplest form of existence (sat).

If the phenomenon of the snake were treated as a horizontal aspect by us here, the reality of the rope would represent the vertical on which the snake is a mere supposition or superimposition (adhyasa). The contrast between appearance and reality here is not as strictly and symmetrically maintained as in the previous example which we have analyzed.



Moreover, the aspect of evil is made to loom disproportionately larger than its dialectical counterpart of reality represented by the rope.

The Charvakas, who correspond in India to the Epicureans of the West, have rightly objected that failure to appreciate the intrinsic goodness or value of the world and rejecting it totally as of no value, as when the snake is abolished by right knowledge - as this favourite example of Vedanta would imply - means that nothing significant to human life in the remaining reality would be left over as residue. There is here a subtle structural violation of symmetry between the plus and minus value factors involved in the example.

Ramanuja and Madhva too have protested in their own ways against this disproportionate exaggeration of the aspect of evil in the world. In doing so, however there is room to think that they themselves have fallen into an opposite error by, seemingly at least, recognising ordinary everyday values such as the decorations and embellishments with which Vishnu is represented. In their eagerness to overthrow the theory of Maya, which would imply the falsehood of the phenomenal world, they have permitted puerile values to enter the domain of spirituality, by the backdoor as it were. True, the comparison of the world to a snake makes it insignificant as well as insipid to the common man. A flavourless reality may not satisfy even a normal saint who would like the salt to have its own quality of savour. None can enjoy mere tastelessness.

In recent years Narayana Guru, who revalued and restated Vedanta, reconciling all the above schools, applied the corrective revision to this favourite example by substituting a flower garland for the rope. Both appearance and reality regain, by this corrective touch, a more symmetrical status, where some residual value is retained in favour of both aspects; thus bringing them under one axiological treatment.



3. The Pot and the Clay

The example of the pot and the clay, which we shall take next, together with the kindred examples of the thread and the cloth, and the ornament and the gold, are used in Vedanta in connection with establishing the importance of upadana karana (the material cause) over all the other causes, which are all horizontal in their implication. These latter kinds of causes are incidental, occasional, or less important.

Ramanuja and Madhva too recognize the necessity to give primacy to the upadana karana, which has its reference in the vertical axis, in their analyses of causes and effects. However, they do so without recognizing the contradictions between appearance and reality. But they try to minimise contradiction in favour of a vertical unity in diversity, treating these two aspects with more or less internal duality, each in its own way.

For Vedanta as a whole, when we do not think of its later schools, what is most important to derive from this example consists in the primacy given to the vertical axis of reference. Duality between plus and minus inside the vertical axis itself might be resolved by the differing dialectics employed by each of them: Ramanuja stressing the unity between samanya (general) and visesha (specific); and Madhva bracketing each life value into subjective and objective groups in an ascending scale, culminating in Vishnu, who would thus correspond to the Monad of monads of Leibniz.

We have to concede that there are two kinds of connection, firstly, a necessary and more intimate connection, continuity (samavaya) and, secondly, juxtaposition mechanistically understood and called samyoga sambandha by Vedantins. The potter using lumps of clay in a vertical series, one after another, can, within some time, spread the floor with many and different kinds of pots or pans. When spread out horizontally, they can be referred to as multiple effects of the potter's work. In the process of the manifestation of the universe, the potter would represent the creator and the pots horizontally spread out would represent creation. The colour of the potter's stick is only incidentally related to his work; while he himself could change places with his wife or son without altering the total situation of the potter's shop. As against this contingent, secondary, or attributive nature, accidental or incidental to the total situation, the clay has a necessary, inner, intimate, vertical link with its effect. We cannot think of getting the effect by substituting it by anything other than just that kind of clay that the potter selects and prepares for the success of his art of pottery.



The relationship is more intimate. It is both existent and unsubstitutable or non-interchangeable. We can easily see here how useful this favourite example is to bring out the distinction between vertical and horizontal cause and effect, with one or the other of which the whole of the phenomenal or the noumenal world may be said to be filled.

Sankara makes capital of this distinction by insisting on it in great detail, as we have seen. He wonders why clay alone can give rise to a pot; why gold alone can give rise to gold ornaments; and milk alone can produce curds. A Western philosopher might consider this problem too simple to be worth answering. He would simply turn away, refusing to treat it as a problem of philosophy at all, muttering perhaps to himself "of course the tree is known by its fruits". Although very simple as a problem, the subtle vertical relationship that exists between causes and effects of this particular order changes the complexion of philosophizing altogether and tilts it in favour of Vedantic methodology. Vedanta leans largely on this simple vertical axis of reference, and to tamper with this would be to endanger the whole of its multi-storeyed superstructure. Like the mysterious letter "h" used in Max Planck's quantum mechanics, this example refers to the most fundamental key to all varieties of Vedanta, and gives us its chief distinguishing feature in one item.



The Mother of Pearl and Silver: Besides these very favoured examples, there is a whole range of others, some more frequently used than others. We cannot here enumerate or examine all of them. But we shall select a few more which have structural implications particularly interesting to us in our present study.
By far the most important is the example of the sukti-rajatam (mother of pearl and silver). The calcium carbonate of the shell is the material basis which represents sat or reality on which there is silver, silveriness or the presence of silver established or superimposed. This silver-semblance, according to modern biology, is only an opalescent iridescence due to the polarization of light in the nacreous layer inside the shell. We are to treat the example here only as meant by Vedantins, over-looking these scientific aspects.



This example, moreover, happens to be unlike example No. 2 above (the rope and the snake), and one that is equally a favourite with Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva.

The reason is that by its very structure and actual constitution, this example lends itself admirably to be used to reveal subtle aspects of error and judgement about appearance and reality at one stroke; instead of having to treat them in disintegrated fashion and in separate abstruse paragraphs referring to each of these aspects, as is more usual in verbose philosophical treatises.

Many arguments get clinched together into a compactly conceivable knowledge-situation by this one example.

While Ramanuja would say that the silveriness that is seen as an actuality refers to silver present here or somewhere else in the universe, on the basis of esse est percepi; Sankara would tend to dismiss the silver-semblance altogether as an error of judgement, admitting full contradiction between good and bad, right and wrong, existent and non-existent. Madhva, who is well-known as an anyatha khyativadin (one who locates error elsewhere) has his own brand of the theory of error, outside the five classical ones, which is called abhinava (new) anyatha-khyati.

This is not the place to enter into a full discussion of his theory of error and right judgement. Suffice it for us to state in passing that, unlike Ramanuja, Madhva looks at error as taking place between two ambivalent counterparts in one and the same vertical axis. His duality resembles the duality between two monads as understood by Leibniz, where they range vertically from simple monads to the Monad of monads through the best of possible worlds, corresponding to actuality. All that we want to underline here is that this example yields us a structural basis for discussing different epistemological aspects of different Vedantins that no other example that we can readily think of affords. Ontology, epistemology and axiology can refer to the same content of right or wrong judgement by virtue of this example. The value of such an example alone is what has made it such a favourite with Vedantins.



We can glean the following structural peculiarities from this one example itself:
Appearance is supposed or superimposed on a basic existent reality, separable vertically into two poles. The lower half or the minus pole is represented by the material of the shell. The silveriness belongs to the positive pole of the vertical axis, whether it is treated as actual illusion, semblance, or half-truth: to be valued or to be considered valueless, according to the temperament of the philosopher concerned. If other examples like that of the snake and the rope help us initially to reject outright what is evil and implied in the visible world, admitting full contradiction between good and evil - here these two cling more closely and subtly together, so as to reveal thought contradictions or different grades of value-relationships available to man in his life here.

Horizontal values and actualities enter more into the vision of life as envisaged by Ramanuja. Madhva prefers to sink deeper into the world of tattvas or elemental categories where his scale of values can find full amplitude to swing between the poles of his svarupananda taratamya (scale of values in terms of self-bliss), by which the holy tulsi (basil) plant and Hari (Vishnu) as the highest Absolute, get linked vertically in living terms for the guidance of the devout seeker of wisdom of the Absolute. We have said enough for the present to show how this example is precious to Vedanta.



While we are on this subject we might profit as well by a short reference to various theories of error and right judgement prevailing in Vedanta which make maximum use of this mother-of-pearl-silver semblance. A Sanskrit verse sums up for us all the theories of locating error:
atmakhyatirasat khyatir
akhyatih khyatiranyatha
tatha anirvachaniya khyatir
ityetat khyati panchakam



The sense of these words, translated freely, reads as follows:
"Self as manifested, non-existence as the base of phenomena, non-manifestation, manifestation of something else, and indeterminability of manifestation - such are the five kinds of phenomenal presentiment."
Relating these presentiments with our own example we find that:

1. The first named, which is the position of the Buddhist idealist, locates the source of phenomena in the inner self or in the will, as with Schopenhauer. The whole pearl would thus be located inside.

2. The second position mentioned corresponds to the Buddhist nihilists, so-called, who deny the validity of existence altogether. They would refuse to take notice of both silver and mother-of- pearl.

3. The third position refers to that of Purva Mimamsakas who would tend to treat both appearance and reality on a par of equality, admitting no error. The silveriness would not confuse them.

4. The fourth position is that of Syad-vadins who would allow alternative truth either in the silver or in the mother-of-pearl.

5. And finally the fifth position is that of a Vedantin proper, like Sankara, who would postulate impredicability of truth either in the mother-of-pearl or in the silver.

To complete this list, we could here add the case of Ramanuja, who would say that the element of silver in some subtle form as present somewhere in the universe is the basis of silveriness. Thus nothing is false for him. As for Madhva, he would tend to put reality in a fluid scale of values arranged in series. Silver could thus change places with something lower of less value, or with something of higher value.



The total range of examples in Vedanta, if we could collect them from the Bhagavad Gita, the Brahma sutras or the Upanishads, even leaving out more recent works like the Yoga Vasishta, could fill pages. We shall select only a few because of their particular structural implications.



A lamp steadily burning in a windless place is mentioned in the Gita as representing the state of a person enjoying the peace of yoga or samadhi.

A tortoise that withdraws its limbs within its shell is compared to the verticalized attitude of a yogi in correct meditation, again in the Gita.

The Upanishads refer to a large fish swimming within a river, sometimes knocking against one bank and sometimes against the other, to represent spiritual progress through apt example.

A leech that progresses caterpillar-like, letting go its hold only after gaining a grip at the forward end; a snake that sheds its skin season after season; or a horse that can shake mud off its skin; are other examples bringing out aspects of the progress of the soul from the here to hereafter. Detachment while living in the world is compared to a lotus leaf that lives in water without being wet.

To establish the ambivalent yet unitive relationship between the plus and minus of the vertical axis, we have the example of a fire and the sparks that rise from it. These sparks are both non-different vertically, and different horizontally, from the fire.

The foam, the wave, and the bubbles of water in the ocean that pantheists would accept as all real at one and the same time, admitting an element of paradox, are abolished by Sankara by a stricter vertical treatment, by which the items like foam become mere water.

The wind that carries ships away from their normal courses is referred to in the Gita to represent the horizontal factor of evil or an anti-spiritual factor prevailing in the world. Phenomenalism is compared to wind in other places also.

The example of the spider and its web is also very advantageously put forward to show that the gross manifested world can have its origin in a god who need not be considered heterogeneously different from it.

We could go on in this manner multiplying examples, the most telling of which invariably reveal some subtle structural implications. The reader himself must stop to scrutinize them when he comes up against them in reading Vedantic texts, so as to extract from them the full benefit of their structuralism, discoverable in most cases. For this reason, Vedantic examples come to have a very telling and apodictic character.



Examples help to clinch subtle speculative issues by affording an almost tangible basis for them, which, in some cases at least, are as good as experiments, as far as certitude of a degree that can even be called scientific is concerned.



Vedantic speculation thrives both on a priori definitions and on apt examples taken from the world of a posteriori experience. One lends certitude to the other, and both together yield the required conviction. The use of metaphor or its principle of analogy is vital to Vedanta. We have examined the favourite examples of Vedanta in our previous study. It is the structural implications of the examples dear to the Vedantin that have made them inevitable to him through the ages. Similar is the case with some of its most striking analogies, in symbolically representative picture-language or its cryptic ideograms.
Here, instead of metalinguistics, it is protolinguistics that is so advantageously employed by the rishis (seers) who are the authors of the Upanishads.

Allegories, parables and anecdotes abound in metaphorical analogies, very often expressed in schematic protolinguistics or pictorial language, to save them from the tribulations of mere verbosity, which is the bane of the metaphysician.

Having done with typical and favourite examples in the last study, let us pass on here to some of the favourite schematic picture-devices employed in Vedanta.

In the picture-language of the Upanishads, we touch the most secret aspects of Vedanta. They read like conundrums, and the riddles that they have presented have set a Ramanuja against a Sankara and a Madhva against both, without anyone of them being wholly wrong.

We have already explained elsewhere in the present series or outside it, the implications of such terms as subjectivism, so that we need not linger here explaining them again.



A whole monograph has been written on the linguistic aspects, which must be enough to banish vagueness as far as could be done in respect of this aspect. With the deck thus cleared already, let us here go into the scrutiny of the implications of some of the pictorial enigmas found in Upanishadic literature.



The polemical storm-centre or trouble-spot in Vedanta is round the question of one reality, two realities or many realities in one. Under the section "Varieties of Vedantism" we examined some aspects of this question already. The great teachers of Vedanta have all accepted the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras as their canonical source books, and agree also in the great dicta or maha vakyas, which state succinctly the finalized doctrine (siddhanta) of Vedanta.

The sources and conclusions being thus firmly secure, it is not hard to agree that it is because of differing methodological, epistemological, or axiological accentuation that these teachers differ between themselves or from some other. The body of the Upanishads, which is the greatest of the sources of Vedanta, and perhaps the most final and also the most authoritative for any Vedantin, is the alpha; and the dicta, which sum up its conclusions, are the omega of the situation comprised by Vedanta as a whole. These must be taken together, making differences, if any, between these two poles as necessarily of only secondary importance.

If the tree and the fruit are the same, the histological peculiarities between tree and tree need not be given an importance disproportionate to the total purpose that Vedanta is to serve.

To take another example: if a son sees a photograph of his father, and recognizes him as such, the main purpose of the photograph may be said to have been served; although in choosing one copy from many prints of the photo, he might prefer a lighter or darker one, or choose between one in which recognition for him might be easy or be difficult due only to unimportant secondary considerations.



Even the Gita accommodates within its Scope multiplicity, duality or dichotomy and a universal unitive vision in Verse IX. 15.



We read in the Svetasvatara Upanishad (IV. 6):

"Two birds, fast-bound companions, clasp close the self-same tree,
Of these two, the one eats sweet fruit; the other looks on without eating".

Here we have one of the enigmas of the Upanishads. Some derive from this picture-language support for two distinct truths or realities, while there are others, like the followers of Dayananda Saraswati, for whom this gives justification for three realities: two represented by the birds and the third by the tree. The possibility of such differing theories is itself due neither to the inadequacy of the picture language employed nor to the inability of interpreters to grasp the secret or subtle implications of such a conundrum-like picture-language.

We tend to believe here that it is not the fault of the Upanishadic seers. The structurally understood protolinguism, which they employed to great advantage, has become a closed book to moderns who are only good at mechanistic logic, and ignore the subtler world given to intuitive understanding. Just as non-Euclidean geometry is only just being recognized, so the structural, schematic and epistemologically subjective aspects of the language of ancient seers remain mostly closed to the modern mind.
The following principles, however, can be derived from the scheme presented here in pictorial form:

1. The two birds belong to the same epistemological order and have parity between them.

2. They represent the ambivalence between the visibles and the intelligibles into which all reality can be divided, as in the world of the two dictionaries spoken of elsewhere by us.



3. To differentiate between these two as: one, the higher, without qualities (nirguna); and the other, the lower, with qualities (saguna); or even as the supreme and individual selves; are all partially true statements. They gain complete or consistent, unitive or total meaning, as belonging homogeneously together, only when schematically understood after the elimination of certain of the gross implications.

4. The bird that eats corresponds to factual or perceptual verity, while the bird that merely looks on belongs to the world of the concept or the logos. We have attempted to discuss this elsewhere in the section, "The Double Domain of the Word".

5. The notion of the Absolute, understood neutrally and centrally, cancelling out both the ambivalent aspects, is the common ground on which, at differing focuses, as it were, the two aspects participate or are inserted into each other, and thus articulate, as do mind and matter. The eating bird could be called the negative, and the bird that looks on could be placed on the plus side of the vertical vectorial space. There is a one-one similitude between them, not merely as between a thing and its mirror reflection, but also in a subtler form of reciprocity, as seen between the right and the left hands. There is reference in both cases to a neutral point of origin and a bilateral correspondence.

The feathered tribe of colourful plumage is to suggest that the homogeneity is to be understood in a manner admitting of the most concrete universalities known to the perceptual as well as to the conceptual orders at once.



In the context of the same Upanishad there are further indications given to justify the implied schematism which we tried to elaborate and by which we extracted the principles enumerated above. The immediately previous verse (5) reads:
"With the one unborn female, red, white and black, Who produces many creatures like herself,
There lies the one unborn male, taking his delight.
Another unborn male leaves her, with whom he has had his delight."



Here again, hasty interpretations are possible, as when it is said that the second unborn male is the individual experiencer (as suggested in a note by Hume on p. 403 in his translation). The first unborn male would then be the supreme father or God. Read together with Verse 7, which follows after the bird-picture quoted above, we can easily see that, although such explanations are all possible, it is the common structure underlying all these three different versions that the Upanishadic seer wants us to grasp at one view, with all its generalized and abstract schematic implications. As we say, the difference is like that between analytical and vectorial geometries. The latter is more schematic than the former. Here too, we can extract the following principles from the above:

1. The two unborn males represent the vertical plus and minus aspects of the Absolute, as the source of manifestation, as material as well as efficient causes. The one taking delight is the efficient, while the other is the positive material cause.

2. The female is the principle of Maya or becoming, as representing the verticalized phenomenal aspect in the heart of the Absolute. The three colours are white (plus-vertical); black (minus-horizontal); red, being the colour of passion, is in the middle region between these poles. Passion expresses itself as a horizontal factor of action or centripetal differentiation. The many creatures are the monadic units of the same, as we see in nature that is manifested between the plus and the minus and in a central band of passion.
Again, if we scrutinize Verse 7, it will help us to abstract the scheme better from the particularized and more concretized details of the scheme that must have been in the mind of the author. It reads:

"On the self-same tree a person sunken,
Grieves for his impotence deluded.
When he sees the other Lord (is) contented
And his greatness, he becomes freed from sorrow."

The intention of this last verse, on the self-same tree as that of the two birds of the immediately preceding verse, is quite evident.



The male who is still taking his delight is in the red region, while there is to be understood an even more negative zone of the vertical axis, represented here by the person sunken in impotence. This is the negative level of tamas (or black darkness) which can be banished by the plus side. It is neither the plus nor the minus that finally counts, but the one that transcends all three stages in a fully unitive notion of the Absolute.

The self-same tree persists in and through the graphic imagery of the three verses. It represents, structurally and schematically speaking, the vertical axis, with Isa or the Lord as the positive factor that can save one from the slough of despond into which man is ordinarily sunk deep.



There are other striking references to dual persons fitted into a similar ambivalent scheme. One of these, found in the (Chandogya vi. 6) is more picturesque than the other. Both are algebraic and geometric in implication at one and the same time. Let us examine them side by side to reveal the underlying scheme common to both. The Chandogya passage reads:

"Now sa is the white shining of the Sun; ama is the dark, the ultra-black. That makes saman.
Now that golden Person who is within the Sun has a golden beard and golden hair. He is exceedingly brilliant, all, even to the fingertips."

The structural ambivalence between the two sides or aspects of the Absolute Person becomes clearer when read side by side with a similar passage in the Maitri Upanishad (VI.1), which terminates strikingly with the following:

"Now that golden Person who is within the sun, who looks down upon this earth from his golden place is even He who dwells within the lotus of the heart and eats food."

When gold is referred to, we have to take it that it is some value-factor which is under reference. Such value fills the notion of the Absolute, not only in abstract terms but also in concrete universal terms, as the reference to the finger-tip above would suggest.



Another similar picture from the Katha Upanishad (III.1) avoids reference to gold, but puts the value factor more conceptually though schematically as follows:

"There are two that drink of righteousness (rta) in the world of good deeds. Both are entered into the secret place (of the heart) and the highest upper sphere.
Brahman-knowers speak of them as 'light' and 'shade'. And so do householders who maintain the five sacrificial fires; and those too who perform the triple Nachiketas fire."

The light and shade refer to the polarity in the structure of the Absolute where the soul lives, enjoying the two-sided fruit of good or bad deeds. The structuralism is not confined to the full knowers of the Absolute of Vedanta, but also to lesser men of wisdom such as those who adhere to Vedic values, not yet fully absolutist in status. This is clearly alluded to in the last part of the quotation.

What should interest us here is the fact that there are two involved in both the high place beyond and the secret place of the here and now. The two-sided structure characterizes both the enjoyer as well as the worlds of light or shade, enjoyed where they belong together.

The world of good deeds is one of axiological import. All knowledge or truth must have some significance in the world of values; otherwise it becomes tasteless or insipid. In the one world of values, two persons drink of the joy of the ultimate bliss of Wisdom. All good deeds do have this one and the same goal culminating in the Absolute, where duality becomes finally extinguished. The rest of the structural or schematic implications here must be sufficiently clear to one who has followed what we have had to say about such aspects of absolutism in this or the previous sections.




Structuralism is plainly revealed in full axiological terms in the Taittiriya Upanishad. The references to a colour scheme and to the anthropomorphic aspect of the Absolute are here fully shed, and one gets as nearly a neutrally focussed notion of the Absolute as is possible in the humanly significant world of values here. The neutral Absolute cannot be without meaningful content. If it had none such, it would not find a place in any dictionary. On the other hand, all languages have some word or other standing for the notion of the Absolute. Even the most so-called primitive peoples had some notion represented by a word in their spoken or written language. Homo sapiens has always had a vocabulary which found room for some such word.

As Prof. Max Müller has stated,
"There is hardly a tribe, however uncivilized and barbarous, which has not a name for "soul": that is, for something different from the body, yet closely allied to it and hard at work within it. It was but lately that I received from the Bishop of North Caledonia a new metaphor for soul. The Zhimpshian Indians have a word which means both soul and fragrance".

Max Müller treats this metaphor as being as good as that of the lyre and its music, which together form the two inseparable aspects of the Absolute, which Plato uses in his “Phaedo”.

On examining the quotation below, it is not hard to recognize the vertical and horizontal aspects of the same structure that underlies all significant or meaningful human notions of the Absolute. The fragrance is the vertical component of the soul considered as its existent horizontal basis. In the metaphor of the lyre, the instrument is horizontal and the music vertical.

Since all notions of the Absolute must have a significant content when all is said and done, it is only in axiological terms that we can give it any meaningful content at all in the human context to which all notions, however final, must necessarily belong. The following extract is a masterpiece conceived on these lines.



"Verily, other than within that one that consists of under-standing is a self that consists of bliss (ananda-maya). By that this is filled. That one verily has the form of a person. According to that one's personal form is this one with the form of a person. Pleasure (priya) is its head, delight (moda), the right side; great delight (pramoda), the left side; bliss (ananda), the body (atman); Brahma, the lower part, the foundation.
(Taittiriya Upanishad, II. 5)

In order to avoid confusion from scrutinizing the text too closely for too plain a meaning, one has to remember that in Vedanta the atman, the impersonal Brahman, and bliss, as a high value, are all to be looked upon as interchangeable in the context of the Absolute. The existent, the subsistent and the value aspects are treated together in Vedanta, and cosmology, psychology and theology mix beautifully and inseparably into a confection.

Then again, we have to take note of the two-sidedness of the structure: one that is strictly anthropomorphic and the other that is only structurally so. The one with the form of a person and its converse referred to above as "that one's personal form" to which another accords, are dialectical counterparts that can be interchanged. The foundation and the superstructure have a common pattern, which is neither personal nor impersonal. They both merely share in a certain schematism, which conforms to that of a person with a head, right and left sides, and a ventral or bottom side. Dorsal, lateral and ventral aspects thus complete the vertico-horizontal structuralism implied here. Which gives certitude to the other is a question that should not arise here when well understood.

The morphology of the axiological notion of the Absolute, cancelled out into a neutral status as between its own plus and minus aspects, cannot be carried by speculative language any further than is attained in this simple Upanishadic paragraph. Whether pure morphism presupposes anthropos, or the other way about, is not to be decided in the neutral light of the Absolute, which is pure consciousness, neither subjective nor objective. Such is the culminating point of Vedantic speculation enshrined in all the grand conclusions of Vedanta called the maha-vakyas.




Besides the above instance of interesting picture-language in the Upanishads, Vedantic literature generally respects structuralism or tacitly and sometimes even openly supports it; even as found in the Bhagavad Gita and the commentaries of Sankara; as also post-Sankara in the scholastically revised and restated forms of Vedanta such as are found in the Yoga Vasishta, the Panchadasi and the Vichara Sagara. .
The authors of these later Vedantic works are mostly anonymous, and even when they are known by name, such factual details as are available are very poor in information about their affiliations and life. Structuralism, however, has persisted to this day and it would be interesting for us here to follow out to its limits this protolinguistic tendency, which originated in the Panchagni Vidya of the Vedas, and which has persisted in characterizing pure Vedanta to the present day.

Narayana Guru himself, as we shall see, is no exception, and goes as far as trying to give a revised and restated, scientifically valid status to this tendency, in the interests of presenting an integrated picture of the total field of Wisdom under one structural scheme. Scrutinized in this light, his writings make valuable contributions of his own to this kind of language which, in an extended sense, could be adopted as the basis for a unified language of science in general, as we have suggested elsewhere more elaborately.

Sankara in his “Brahma Sutra Bhasya” under I. i.17, reveals his own schematism when he refers to how "the real juggler who stands on the ground differs from the illusive juggler who, holding in his hand a shield and sword, climbs up to the sky by means of a rope."




The most patent evidence of structuralism in the Absolute is found in the well-known Bhagavad Gita itself, in the beginning of Chapter XV. The implications of the picture-language employed and elaborated in the first four verses occupy an important position, rhetorically understood.

This picture-language is abandoned at the end of the same chapter, and repeated in more metalinguistic terms, as referring to the perishable and imperishable aspects of a pair of Persons, instead of in terms of the double-sided ramifications of a tree, such as that of the Tree of Porphyry in Verse 16, and spreads again over four verses before concluding.

The proto-linguistic structure is implied in the ramified double tree, and a theologically understood version of the same, stated in more meta-linguistic terms, is to be seen in Verses 16 to 19 inclusive. We need not go into the details of the implications here, as this has been covered in the commentary on the verses referred to in our full work on the Gita. Here we are more concerned with seeing the schematic and structural implications, so as to derive from the verses confirmation of our view that they are meant to be understood in the light of the mathematically and scientifically valid structuralism whose case we have tried to present in these studies, having even anteriorly prepared the ground, stage by stage, for its justification in all our writings. The outmoded language of parables has to give place to a fully valid scientific language for contemplative mysticism, if it is to be raised to the status of the science that Vedanta can claim to be, when properly understood in the light of modern thought.



A close scrutiny of the two sets of verses in the Gita, namely XV.1-4 and XV.16-19 will reveal to us the emphasis on a vertical principle which abolishes horizontal factors or values in life that tend to be dual and multiple. There is a 'one and the many' dialectics between them. Correlated properly in Cartesian and vectorial terms, as with space and number, the imagery of the tree turned upside down, implying hedonistic Vedic values which are to be effaced in favour of the neutral and full-fledged Absolute given to a detached mind, gives us a supreme instance of the use of schematic language in correct speculation.



Again, the cancellation of the two persons into the supreme Person; implying and transcending both of them as of equal status, as stated in Verse 18 as explicitly as could be, is a supreme instance of using picture-language for passing beyond the paradox implicit in the duality of the two persons.

The Absolute Absolute and the Relative Absolute cancel each other out in to the pure Neutral Absolute, which implies both without contradiction.

Such is the secret of Advaita, which the two-sided structuralism finally culminates in marking as the final point of Vedantic speculation. The epistemological status of such a neutralized Absolute has been explained by us at length elsewhere in the Dialectical Methodology and also in Section VI of the present study, entitled 'Two Certitudes for the Same Truth'. What is often referred to as the lower and the higher Absolutes: the Absolute with qualities (saguna); and the Absolute without qualities (nirguna) - have both to be abolished in favour of one neutral or central Absolute which is neither the higher nor the lower, but of a unique status by itself, and unrelated to anything outside it - as the meaning of the term Absolute must necessarily imply.

It is exactly here that much Vedantic scholasticism of later days has vitiated Vedantic literature down to the present. Sankara himself, although he cannot be suspected of ignorance of this final position, still left enough room in his writings for his followers to think that one or the other of the two possible versions of the Absolute was better than the other. The juggler's example above, though schematically conceived, leaves the juggler's real status vague. This has been the fecund cause of vain polemical duels between Sankara's followers and rival schools such as those of Ramanuja, Madhva, Vallabha, and others. The Syad-vadins who believed in the may-be-may-be-not ambiguity; the pantheistically inclined Bhedabheda vadins (difference-non-difference believers) such as Bhartrprapancha; the nihilists of Buddhism who emptied the notion of the Absolute of all value-content; and the Vijnana-vadins who tended to stress idealism at the expense of realism - all had to be discredited or inclusively understood by a finalized doctrine of Advaita Vedanta which Sankara tried to establish above all others.



His attempt can only be said to have nearly succeeded, because of the either-or alternative that he still seemed to lend support to when he should have more dialectically stood for 'both at once' (ubhayam saha). This methodological distinction is well explained in the Isa Upanishad, Verses 9 to 14.



In this allegory, the Vedic gods gazed at a certain space in which there was implied the principle of the Absolute (Brahman). In their ignorance, they at first took it to be a kind of wonderful being or Yaksha, a sort of mysterious spirit, unknown to their relative context of values. Each of the nature-gods pitched his powers at this mysterious factor, but all were confounded and defeated by its superiority. Finally, all of them appealed to Indra, their chief, in the following words:

"'Maghavan (Liberal), find out this-what this wonderful being is.'
'So be it.'
He ran into it. It disappeared from him. .
In that very space there came upon a woman exceedingly beautiful, Uma, daughter of the Snowy Mountain (Haimavati).
To her he said: 'What is this wonderful being?'
'It is Brahman,' she said. 'In that victory of Brahman, verily, exult ye:' (Verses, 24-26)"

The allegory terminates by saying that Indra, by this, got to know the Absolute, and next to him were Agni (fire), Vayu (wind) etc., who were raised above all other gods.

These details do not interest us here so much as how the space that was filled with nothing more than a mystery or wonder, became filled with the beauty of a feminine form. Efforts have been made to relate Uma to the Siva context, independent of the Vedic gods. As a feminine principle she is nearer to the visible notion of the Absolute, though more negatively than positively, as the source of the manifested world, which by its negation hides the full truth about the Absolute. The gods who were on the plus side of light, like Agni, could not represent or know the Absolute in its full neutral implication. We have italicized the phrase 'in that very space' in the quotation to show that it is the self-same space that can yield a neutral Absolute as well as a personified value of the same absolute status, as Uma is meant to represent.



If we understand this subtle schematism in the notion of the Absolute properly, as it ought to be; as when we understand the difference between vectorial and Euclidean space in modern mathematics, it will not be difficult for us to see the reason for accepting Vishnu as the supreme God on the plus side, as Ramanuja did, placing him even above Indra, in more intelligible, though not in visible terms. Vishnu is the knowable aspect, while Uma would be rather the known, or the aspect given to experience, and thus a posteriori in status.

Different versions of the Absolute can thus be understood and treated together unitively as one would recognize one's father's photograph in light or dark prints; or as implied in an indistinguishable one which would at best be a puzzle, a wonder or a mystery. Such a neutral Absolute alone, however, would enjoy a fully normative and scientific status, balanced as it is between the plus and minus sides of the total knowledge-situation.

The phrase above, 'in that very space', has been italicized expressly to enable us here, at this concluding stage of our discussion of the schematic language of the Vedic context, to insert an important indication about it which would give us the key to the use of protolinguism in connection with the lingua mystica anywhere in the world.

The doubting Thomas of the Bible had to see before he believed. At the very end of the Gita there is reference to Sanjaya, a figure of the epic context, actually seeing with his own eyes the dialogue taking place between Krishna and Arjuna (XVIII. 75). The Yoga Vasishta too speaks of a king who, under a magician's spell, imagined he was born in a low-class family and died in a certain known geographical region near the Vindhya Mountains. After the trance was over, he sent his messengers to see if any such place actually existed, and found his doubts confirmed by a woman weeping in a real place answering correctly to the place envisioned in the trance.

Further, if we read the Gita VIII.18, 19 we can see that this schematic approach is fully recognized by its author, where he speaks of pure space alternately filled by its own vertical or horizontal contents of night or day. Schematism is thus fully understood in Vedantic literature, and in clarifying the notion of the Absolute, it is most advantageously employed by Vedantins.



1.0 Vedanta claims to treat of the Truth of truths, the Light of lights or the Science of sciences, because it concerns itself with ultimate problems of knowledge or wisdom in the light of the Absolute. To avoid suffering in life and secure happiness that is everlasting, free from bonds of birth and the cyclic course of being and becoming, is its over-all aim.

1.1 Although the name Vedanta suggests the origin of this body of speculation as belonging to the context of Vedism and its later modifications, it is an attempt to steer clear of all hedonistic and relativistic values in the name of a full-fledged Absolutist outlook. It is, in fact, the resultant of the interaction of two opposing tendencies in Indian thought, represented by the Purva mimamsa (the anterior critique) and the Uttara mimamsa (the posterior critique); the dialectical revaluation of the two reaching in Vedanta proper its fully revalued status as the basis of a Science of the Absolute.



1.2 The four Vedas and the six Sastras (schools of philosophical discipline) have generally been associated with Vedanta as its background, and have contributed to it elements of methodological and epistemological import which inevitably became incorporated into Vedanta. However, the three fully recognized sources of Vedanta are the prasthana trayi (the three basic sources), namely: the large body of Upanishads; the Brahma Sutras (aphorisms), which try to systematise and sum up Vedantic doctrine in well-reasoned or argued terms); and the Bhagavad Gita, which presents the case of Vedanta finally in the form of a Science of the Absolute with all its dialectical implications, covering existential, subsistential and axiological aspects; with a methodology, epistemology and value factor kept correctly in mind; and not omitting the requirements of theology, with a cosmology and a phenomenologically revised psychology, if we may call it so.



1.3 An eschatology proper to Vedanta is found indicated here and there in the Upanishads. The philosophical attitude of neutral monism is normal to the Vedantin. An empiricism that is ontological in its presuppositions, and a full transcendentalism in which what is called idealism in the West becomes accept-able, are both comprised within the scope of Vedantism. The immanent and the transcendent values, truths, or facts, of life, are all inclusively and unitively comprised within the epistemology proper to Vedanta.

1.4 Mere ritualism and works give place to non-obligatory wisdom as Vedanta gains its final status.

2.0 The correct Vedantist is neither a sceptic nor a believer, but takes a neutral position between the two in the name of the Absolute, which can sometimes have a theological, a rational, or a purely subjective bias when stated by different Vedantic teachers. Brahma, the cosmological God of the Hindu pantheon; Vishnu, the hypostatic version of the Absolute; and Siva who represents the idea of the Absolute with all its force of change or becoming - all fit into a total scheme without contradiction in the over-all global scheme that Vedanta envisages.

2.1 Other gods, such as Apollo or Dionysius, can also be similarly fitted into the scheme; and the Bhagavad Gita (II.23) states that all mankind anywhere, already treads the path of Krishna, the Absolute, as correctly and scientifically meant to be understood.

2.2 Vedanta thus does not close its door against any religion but views all possible standpoints inclusively and unitively in an integrated fashion under the aegis of the high notion of the Absolute.

2.3 Vedanta is not meant to be a surrogate of any religion but, on the other hand, could advantageously be utilized for the correction of lopsided accentuations or one-sided exaggerations that might creep into any religion owing to strains or stresses of history or necessity.



3.0 Religious orthodoxies, heterodoxies, taboos, obligations, profanity, sin, holiness, or the sense of the holy or the sacred belonging to hierophantic or hypostatic contexts are all thus outside the scope of Vedanta proper. The Bhagavad Gita (v.18) indicates this unequivocally.

3.1 An open, dynamic, fully catholic attitude, in the true sense of the word, free from the conditionings to which the psyche is subject, is what Vedanta inculcates.

3.2 As all beings are to be looked upon as equal in value to the Self in Vedanta, it can safely be said to be based on universal brotherhood, extending to life in general as far as practicable.

4.0 God as the All-Maker and material source of the universe gives rise to two sets of notions about the Most High: one of which is philosophically equivalent to the Absolute, and the other which is more theological in status as the efficient cause of the universe.

4.1 Efficient and material causes operate together in manifesting the phenomenal world, to give it multiplicity of form and name.

4.2 The Absolute of Vedanta is thus finally referred to as the unsublated and unattained efficient-cum-material cause of phenomenal name-form couplets.

4.3 A theological, a cosmological, and a psychologically phenomenological God, equated to the Absolute as the Most High, is the Adorable Value of Vedanta, whether visualized in anthropomorphic terms as a personal deity, or thought of as the end or goal of all speculation or teachings of all scriptures taken together.

5.0 Vedantic cosmology, eschatology, and ethics have a higher and lower limit, when meant for the most intelligent, for the middling, or for the inferior aspirant in spirituality, irrespective of his particular religious group in society. These present necessarily, therefore, many and varied pictures of the progress of the soul, its origin and destiny through good or bad acts. Scriptures like the puranas and itihasas, as meant for the unintelligent, give graphic pictures of creation, genesis, presenting sacred or ritual-based life-values of obligatory sin-merit or holy-profane contexts of endless variety.



5.1 Pure Vedanta accepts no creation and adheres to the mental origin of the universe in the collective mind. When darkness or ignorance is banished, all birth, life here, gods and men, merge in the unified light of the Absolute. In this sense all evolution is only applicable to material substances, while the world has only a phenomenological reality as eidetic appearances.

5.2 Heavenly life and relativistic versions of life hereafter are all discredited in thoroughgoing Vedanta, although vestiges of such persist in lower Vedantic texts; always, however, in a mystical-cum-mythical, language capable of suggesting some of the highest secrets of Vedanta proper.

5.3 The much-talked-of theory of reincarnation and karma states the law of inner and outer agreements of rewards and punishments for the soul or self understood in its progress in life between the limits of the here and the hereafter.

5.4 The Yoga Vasishta presents perhaps the purest Vedantic version compatible with the theory developed in the Bhagavad Gita (xv. 8 ff.), whose further elaborations in more or less mythological form are found in the eighteen puranas that are commonly spoken of. "As thou sowest, so shalt thou reap" would roughly correspond to this law or theory in the context of the Bible. Rebirth could be abolished in favour of the life everlasting in God; or when merged in the Absolute; which state is the final union called sayujya.

5.5 Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva can be viewed as representing grades of realism in ideas of morality, devotion or salvation. The first admits full contradiction between good and evil, to transcend it later; and the others transcend duality in terms of a graded scale of values from the humblest to the most elevated, making due allowances for differences of types.



5.6 There is an integrated unitive or globally conceived methodology, epistemology, and axiology for Vedanta. One presupposes the other, and all together presuppose the neutral normative notion of the Absolute. Ontology and epistemology are not separable in Vedanta; and the distinction or duality of the immanent and the transcendental merge in an integrated unitive treatment in Vedantic speculation. This is the reason why moderns tend to think of Vedanta as religious or mystical rather than scientific.

5.7 The Self is the central unifying factor in all speculative analysis or synthesis, oscillating alternately between the a priori and the a posteriori poles of the total knowledge-situation. The Self could alternately refer to the enjoyer (bhokta) or subjective aspect within, and the enjoyed (bhogya) or the objective aspect without, both reducible to unity in homogeneous terms (samanadhikarana).

5.8 A four-limbed structure of the Self (atman) is clearly envisaged in the Mandukya Upanishad, which has been elaborated at length by Gaudapada, the forerunner of Sankara, in Vedantic speculation. In this Upanishad the gross, the subtle, the ontologically causal or immanent, and the fully transcendental aspects of the Absolute Self, diagnosed with reference to waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and fully contemplatively awakened states of consciousness, are studied analytically and synthetically at once, with their cosmological, psychological and theological implications.

5.9 This lays the foundations of a structural subjective selectivism of factors within the notion of the Neutral Absolute in Vedantic speculation. We could refer this structure to the correlates of Cartesian structuralism as now extended into the domain of vectorial analysis with useful results.



6.0 The Absolute has to have a living content, without which it is nothing more than a word without meaning in life. The content is the resultant of the meeting from two opposing sides, as it were, of physical and metaphysical factors, both reducible in terms of intuition into a common homogeneity. When so reduced into unitive terms there will be a mutual transparency and participation between matter and mind in a neutral matrix, with a constant osmotic interchange, like respiration, as mentioned in many of the Upanishads.

6.1 Action and inaction meet in such an alternating osmotic interchange that is both inter-subjective and trans-physical. This grand osmosis, which includes the macro-and-microcosms at once within consciousness, collective or individual, yields peace and joy without limit. Such are some of the high claims of Vedanta.

7.0 There are three zones, bands or stratifications that we have to distinguish in the immanent-transcendent vertical axis, made up of the material causes and their effects in the process of absolute flux or becoming.
The Bergsonian élan vital fits correctly into this context as representing one of the purest aspects of Maya or phenomenal becoming, understood in the subtlest context of Vedantic speculation. In philosophical significance this Maya or becoming, as a process within the Absolute, is next in richness only to the finalized notion of the normative Absolute. Maya thrives on names and forms, and causes and effects blend within its flux. This grand idea of flux is one of the major contributions of Vedantic speculation, at least as understood in the context of Sankara's Vedantism.

7.1 The existent or the ontological; the subsistent or the rational; and the axiological where value factors enter into the scheme - are the three vertical stratifications at the core of the notion of the Absolute - an empty notion otherwise. These are distinguished as the sat, the chit and the ananda zones, and these are referable to the corresponding asti, bhati and priya: the existing, the bright, and the beloved, respectively; within whose scope all reality or value must be comprised, whatsoever it be. Something has to exist; has to loom in consciousness; or be significant, for any philosophy worth the name to take account of it at all.



7.2 Corresponding to these three stratifications within the notion of the Absolute, we have to fit three types of reasoning.

The first resembles scientific reasoning, giving primacy to observation and to visible experimental demonstrations, coming under pratyaksha (given to the senses).
The second stratum refers to the rational and logical domain of calculations (pramana sastra), with inference (anumana) taking the central place, with inductive and hypothetical reasoning (called artha-patti) coming in between.

The final or third stage or step of reasoning is the intuitive or dialectical, which equates value concepts, indicating nominalistic factors of value significance according to axiological laws, or general ideas given a priori.

From experiment to dialectical intuition there are three main steps in the use of reasoning, of which the last attains to full absolutist status. Syllogistic reasoning is only of an inferior kind compared to this final ascent or descent through dialectics, which can attain the Absolute.

7.3 Methodologically, within such a three-zone stratification of the process of reasoning, Vedanta, or at least the methodology of Sankara's system, adopts a via negationis of reasoning from the given empirical fact to the most implicit of virtualities within the Self.

Vedanta discards or cancels out the more peripheral and positive in favour of the more internal and negative; horizontally at the first instance and then from the vertical negative entities of apperceptive intuition, such as the sapidity of the waters, to the positive values that are ranged as knowables in the vertical scale above the elementals; through the general concepts of ego (ahamkara), relational factor (chit), to intelligence (buddhi), and finally to the mind, which is the most peripheral factor that gets related to interests of ordinary passive life.

Thus passing through sense to percepts, and then jumping to the bottom of the conceptual factors to rise to pure nominals, is the process of progressive Vedantic reasoning, by which is attained the pure ever-present witness in the Self as representing the bliss of Absolute Freedom.

7.4 Sankara's comment on the first four sutras of the Brahma-sutras concludes with tracing how all proofs through valid reasonings get identified with the given self-evident Self, which comes to view as an ever-present reality for the Vedantic contemplative, without the aid of rituals or works, and without the aid of reasoning of the usual type.



7.5 Vedanta does not discard the use of pratyaksha (what is given to the senses) of the empirical reality in favour of a reality based on the validity of the Upanishads or the Vedas or the texts of the first order on which Vedanta finally relies to arrive at the Absolute Fact, Truth or Value, but adopts a revised ontology by which knowledge gained through the senses is given a homogeneously revised epistemological status equal to that of the validity of the scriptures.

7.6 The Vedantic scheme or frame of reference relies on the support of the visible as well as the intelligible, the a priori and the a posteriori, as belonging to a total knowledge-situation, schematically understood.

7.7 Vedanta is meant to be a philosophy with a way of life not necessarily leading to any religious group with closed attitudes or cults. It is meant to be open and dynamic. Tribalistic or other closed orthodoxies, and even heterodox denominations as such, have no place in a Vedantically awakened life. Castes, classes and creeds have no place in the Vedantic scheme.

7.8 Vedanta, first and foremost, is interested in finding a reply to such questions as 'Who am I?' and 'How does the world come to be?' These are answered squarely by the great dicta of Vedanta (the mahavakyas) which state 'You are That,' 'I am the Absolute,' 'Wisdom is the Absolute,' 'The Self is the Absolute,' etc.

7.9 The one central problem for all Vedanta is to equate the visible and the intelligible realities under the aegis of the Absolute, which is normative, central, or neutral; inclusive of all possible dualistic philosophical aspects, such as mind and matter, etc. The central idea of the Absolute of Vedanta has to participate on equally transparent ground with both the two limbs implied in the various great dicta.



8.0 The axiological Absolute can be viewed impersonally or as a theological entity. The usual attributes of God, such as omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence would go with such a concept of the Adorable Absolute, whether spoken of as Mother, Father or the Most High. God is referred to as generous and beneficent too, with glory or greatness attached to Him. When such a God is transferred philosophically as residing within one, He is the inner Controller (antaryamin) or the witness (sakshin). More ontologically, the Absolute is the Rock-Established One (the Kutastha). The Cave-Dweller of the Heart-Space and the sutratma are other notions equally capable of being accommodated within the scheme of the Vedantic notion of the Absolute. The Golden Germ (hiranya-garbha) and the Progenitor of People (prajapati) are also to be understood in the same context.

8.1 One could approach the Absolute and merge with it finally so as to attain salvation or freedom in various ways, all of which come under two heads: the way of wisdom and the way of works or action. Although the distinction between them is initially understood to be one of contradiction between the two, by treating both through the dialectical method proper to Yoga, one becomes understandable in terms of the other. Both finally merge in the unity of the Absolute. The various possibilities in this respect are elaborated most masterfully in the eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita.

8.2 The dialectical treatment of wisdom and works, so that one or other or both yield salvation or freedom, is the most secret doctrine of the Bhagavad Gita (iv. 18). In the light of this principle of reducing opposites into unitive terms dialectically, there are other important derived doctrines of Vedanta stated in the Bhagavad Gita, referring to ways of life, of which that of action dedicated to the wisdom of the Absolute (nishkama-karma), and that of not swerving from the path of life that is fully compatible with one's own past and future as correctly open to each person (svadharma), and that of keeping the spirit ever positively oriented to the Absolute, equalizing opposites at each stage within pure consciousness fully verticalized in yogic contemplation, of which the key-word is equanimity (samya), are some of the important corollaries derivable for understanding the Vedantic way of life, dedicated to the Absolute.



8.3 Vedantic speculation depends very much on the validity of the Word or the Logos which touches reality where percepts and concepts meet in pure nominalistic terms. Semantic analysis is fundamental to both the schools of the anterior and posterior critiques (mimamsas). Semiotic processes that imply a polyvalence in structure reveal a scheme shared by both visible and the intelligible aspects of the word, as together representing the Absolute.

8.4 The Logos and the Nous meet centrally in the double-sided domain of the Word, as we have more elaborately examined elsewhere. The word and its meaning contain all thought processes revealing the content of the Absolute. To know the Word with all its implications in pure form is to know the ultimate content of the notion of the Absolute.

8.5 The conceptual aspect of the Word represents the plus side of the vertical axis in the structure common to the plus and the minus aspects.

8.6 As long as we have to depend on language to express what we wish to say about the nature of the Absolute, this common structure as between the subject and the object, participating ambivalently either way, as in the syllable AUM that the Mandukya Upanishad glorifies, could be conveniently kept in mind as a two-sided reference for regulating verbose Vedantic speculations which are otherwise likely to go haywire.

8.7 Just as algebra gives precision to vectorial geometry and vice versa, there is a double-sided structuralism that can save Vedantic speculation from becoming too thin and airy. The Vedantic examples and analogies show that the ancients at least were fully aware to the possibilities of such a protolinguistic schematism.

8.8 Much scholastic hair-splitting has crept into Vedanta of the present day by which it becomes a question of great importance, for example, to decide whether there is salvation for humanity as a whole at one stroke, or if people enter heaven in a file.



8.9 Salvation in Vedanta, of whichever school, is to be understood in terms of svarupananda, final bliss or liberation in the realization of oneself. The minor scholastic questions such as the one above instanced, fade into insignificance when the problems of Vedanta and the solutions that it offers are viewed in their proper perspective.


9.0 YOU ARE THE ABSOLUTE. Such is the grand conclusion to which all Vedantic speculation leads each man or mankind. Although the world of practical workaday values is not totally abolished to make normal living impossible, in and through such a life Vedanta reveals a world of contemplative values understood under the aegis of the normative notion of the Absolute. Life here and life hereafter fall into one line of harmony when both are given their proper place in the total scheme of life. The perceptual values revealed by the senses with their attractions and repulsions, alternating in unstable equilibrium, give place successively to the world of deeper and deeper lasting interests, as grasped firstly by the mind, the intellect, the rational consciousness: then to unseen higher values of a conceptual or nominalistic order, culminating in the High Value of the Absolute. Vital energies support the meaning of life at different levels till sublimated instincts take us to the point where the visible and the intelligible aspects meet and fuse transparently with the osmotic interchange of the finest essences from both the sides of matter and of the mind. Duality then becomes abolished and immortal happiness gained in the wisdom of the Absolute. Such is the bold hope that Vedanta has attempted to hold up to view for every man, as representing in himself the Highest Absolute or the Supreme Lord.



Some words and phrases which occur very frequently in this book are not included in this index. The Absolute, dialectics, dialectical approach or methods, dialectical counterparts, dialectical relation, epistemology, methodology and axiology, cosmology, psychology and theology, vertical and horizontal axes of reference, frame of reference, a priori, a posteriori, existence, subsistence and value are some such words.

Absolute, Advaitic view of the, 81
     substratum, 60
     a unique genus, 42 f
     a value factor, 20, 35, 67,121
     consciousness, schematic representation of, 39
     content of the, 35,121,131 f, 137
     different visions of the, 59 f, 90, 127
     four notions of the, 57 f,
     normative notion of the, 15, 19, 35, 50, 53, 58, 88, 132 f
     personal and impersonal, 122, 126, 136
     Science of the, 6, 128
     Self, 66
     structure of the, 121 f
     the adorable, 55, 130, 136
     the, as existent, 18,
     the, in the Vedas, 3
     the neutral, 59, 121, 125, 127, 132 f
     three stratifications of the, 133
     to arrive at the, 87
     two aspects of the, 104
     two ways of approach,136
     unitive certitude of the, 54
Action and inaction, 10, 133
Actuality, grades of, 19
adhibhautika, 16
adhidaivika, 16
adhyatmika, 16
adhyasa, 105
advaita, 9, 14, 17, 24, 105
     secret of, 125
Agamas, 7
Ahamkara, 134
Ajallakshana, 46
Ajatavada, 16
Ananda, 16
Atma and Brahman, 122
Anaximander, 20
Anirvachaniya, 26
Anumana, 36, 134
Anupalabdhi, 36
Aparabrahman, 55
Aparokshanubhuti, 102
Appearance and reality, 103 f, 110 f
Aristotle, 50 f, 82
Arthapatti, 36. 134
Arthavada, 63
Aryans, 3 ff
Asti-bhati-priya, 133
Atmopadesa Satakam, 28, 30, 48
AUM, 42, 137

Being and becoming, 35, 40
Bergson, 21, 68, 76, 83, 89, 105,
Berkeley, 19 .
Bhagalakshana, 47 f
Bhagavad Gita, 6, 8 ff, 22, 29, 45, 49, 51, 69 f, 9O, 92, 95 f, 111 f, 115, 127 f, 130
     schematism in, 124 f, 129
     text analysed, 70 ff, 123
Bhagavata religion, 94 f
Bhamati, 61 f
Bhartriprapancha, 27, 54
Bhashapariccheda, 36
bhavarupa, 51
Brahma, 129
Brahman, para and apara, 57
Brahmanas, 7
Brahma Sutras, 8, 10 f, 55 f, 60, 90, 92, 94, 111, 115, 123,128                                                                 Brahmavidya, 6, 11
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 88
Brotherhood, 130
Buddhi, 134 .
Buddhist idealism, 59, 111, 125
     nihilism, 43 f, 48, 54, 59,111, 125

Cartesianism, 19, 57
Caste, 2, 17
Certitude, means of, 12 f, 61 f, 100
Chaitanya, 55
Chandogya Upanishad, 88, 102 119
Charvakas, 38, 106
Chit, 16, 134
Counterparts, two sets of, 67 f
Consciousness, double domain in, 82
Contemplative reasoning, transition in, 30

Dakshinamurti, 2
Darsanas, 56, 69, 102
Dawe, P.G.M., 31
Detachment, 112
Deussen, Paul, 2, 14, 94
Dialectical methodology, 6, 10, 125
     revaluation, 3
     in the Gita, 8
Dialectics, ascending and descending, 25, 27, 40
Drona, a representative of Aryans, 5
Duality, epistemological and methodological, 54 f, 59
Dvaita, 9, 14, 24, 93, 97

Eddington, 38, 105
Egyptian influence, 20
Eleatics, 14
Empirical ontology, 19, 129
Enjoyer-enjoyed duality, 120, 132
Epicureans, 106
Epistemological idealism, 18
     realism, 18
Epistemology of Vedanta, 13, 89, 94, 97, 104, 129
     axiologically based, 105
Error, theories of, 109 ff
Evil, 106, 112
Examples in Vedanta, 100 ff, 113
Existence and essence, 18, 40
      metaphysical and ontological, 18 f
      three grades of. 19 f
Subsistence and value, 8, 35, 38, 44, 67, 71, 129
      osmosis between, 34 f
Existence to Subsistence transition from, 23 ff, 30
Existentialism, 15, 89

Fear and philosophy, 37
Fichte, 69
Frame of reference, vertico horizontal, 57

Gaudapada karika, 28 f, 132
Generosity and the Absolute, 39

Hegel, 14, 26, 67, 69, 89
Heraclitus, 20
Hiranyagarbha, 136
Homogeneous matrix, 53, 105, 117, 133
Husserl, 21
Hylozoism, 14, 191

Idealism, 129
Indian spirituality, division of, 9 f
Indian thought, common basis of, 95
     master-key to, 61 f
     primacy to total vision in, 69
Indirect meaning, theory of, 21 f
Indus valley civilisation, 3
Inquiry, starting point of, 18
     structural peculiarities of, 26
Intuition, 134
Isa, 119
Isa Upanishad, 126

Jahallakshana, 46
Jaimini, 4, 8, 41, 80, 100
Jainism, 93 f
James, William, 17
Jiva, 75
Jnana and karma, dialectically treated, 9 f, 136
Jnana-karma-samuchaya, 10

Kant, 32, 50, 68, 82, 105
Karma, 131
two aspects of, 72, 74
Katha Upanishad, 93, 120
Kena Upanishad, text analysed, 126 f
Khyati-vadas, 110 f
Knowledge-situation, richest part of, 73
     structure of, 38, 45, 67 ff, 95 f, 132, 135

Lacombe, Prof. 0., 27 ft, 51
Lakshanartha, 36, 43, 46
Laws of contradiction and homogeneity within the Absolute, 24

Leibniz, 107, 109
Logic and dialectics, 10
Logos, 42, 83 f, 86, 136
Lokayatikas, 38

Madhyamikas, 54, 59, 81
Madhva, 54 f, 59, 90, 94, 106, 109 ft, 114, 131
Madhva's protest, 106
    Vedanta, 96, 110
Mahabharata, 5
Mahavakyas, 8, 11 f, 46, 115, 122, 135
Maitri Upanishads, 86, 119
Mandukya Upanishad, 28, 42, 58, 132, 137
Mantras, 7
Materialism has no definite meaning, 18
Matter in quantum mechanics, 21
Max Müller, 14,56,84, 88, 121
Max Planck, 108
Maya, as becoming, 118, 133
     defined, 25
Maya, domain of, 25 ff
     Ramanuja and Madhva against, 106
Metaphysics, charge against, 33
     verbosity in, 80, 105
Microcosm and macrocosm, 18
Mimamsas, dialectical relation between the, 6, 8
Mind and machine, 31
Matter, 16 f, 34, 133, 138

Nama-rapa, 82 ff, 87
Narayana Guru, 7, 28, 30, 48
      revaluation by,106, 123
      uses semantics, 48 f
Nataraja, cosmic dance of, 60
Neutral monism, 17, 19, 129
Nimbarka, 54, 56, 96
Nirguna brahman, 55, 117, 125
Nishkama karma, 136
Nitya, 69
Nyaya-Vaiseshika, 95

One-language, 15
One-world, 15
Ontology, schematic status of, 50
within epistemology, 19,89

Panchadasi, 80
Panchapadika, 61 f
Panini, 36
Parabrahman, 55
Paradoxes, transcending of, 24 f, 49, 58, 68, 104, 112
Parinama, 34
Parmenides, 89
Percept and sensum, 18
Perceptual and conceptual, 83
Perennial philosophy, 15, 17
Phenomenology, 15,20 f, 09, 89
Philosophy and religion, 17
     and Science, 15
     basic problems of, 12, 22, 103, 104 f
     divisions of, 15 f, 103
     graphic representation of, 80
Philo the Jew, 83
Pictorial language, 114, 116, 124
Plato, 82, 121
Pragmatists, 12
Prajapati, 136
Prakara, 34
Prakriti, 95, 98
Pralaya, 16
Pramana, 62
Prasthana-treyi, 128
Pratyaksha, 13, 17, 36, 45 134 f
Proof and axioms, 38
Proto-linguism, a closed book, 116
     and metalinguism, 62 f, 114
     in Vedanta, 114 ft, 124
Puranas, 131
Purusha, 72, 77, 95, 98
Purva Mimamsa, 41, 63, 111, 128
     misunderstood, 613,
Purva-Paksha, 41

Quantum mechanics, 21, 39, 108

Radhakrishnan, Dr. R, 93
Raikva, 6
Ramanuja, 34, 55 f, 90, 94, 106 f, 109 ff, 131
Ramanuja's protest, 106
Vedanta, 97 f, 110, 114
Ramayana, 5
Realitv, Categories of, 11 ff, 15, 19
Reasoning, formal and unitive, 29
      process of Vedantic, 134
      three types of, 134
      zones of, 26 f
Reincarnation, 16, 94, 131
Religion and Vedanta, 92
Revaluation, process of, 4 ff, 7
Revelation, meaning of, 42
Rita, 120
Russell, Bertrand, 17, 82

Sabda, 17, 36, 45, 70, 100
      axiomatic validity of, 36
Sacrifice, the principle of, 78 f
Saguna brahman, 55, 59, 117, 125
Saivism, 91
Sakshin, 136
Salvation, 138
Samadhi, 112
Saman, structural ambivalence in, 119                                                                                     

Samanadhikaranatva, 23, 52, 98,132
Samavaya, 34 f, 107
Samhitas, 95
Samkhya, 77, 93, 95
Samyoga, 35, 107
Sankara, 17, 34, 36, 9 ff, 46 ff, 51 f, 55 f, 61, 91 f, 93, 96,100, 105, 108 f, 114, 131, 134
Sankara's epistemology, 50 f, 55, 94
      method, 42 f
      schematism, 62, 66 .
      success, 42, 94
Sarva darsana siddanta sara sam-graha, 46
Sat, 15 19,50 f, 105
    affinities from the West, 20 f
    and Aristotle, 21
    Bergson, 21

Phenomenology, 21
Plato, 21

Quantum theory, 21
    value, 21 f
    epistemological validity of, 21
    subjective status of, 50

Satapatha Brahmana, 87, 95
Sat-chit-ananda, 34 f, 37
Sat-karana-Vada, 94
Sayujya, 80, 131
Sceptical empiricists, 12
Scepticism and belief, 38 f, 60, 129
Schematism, 13, 39, 50, 68
     not new, 86
Scholasticism Indian, 3, 125, 137
Schopenhauer, 14, 111
Schroedinger, 38
Science defined, 100
    function of, 60
Scientific certitude, 63
    psychology, 32
Scientists puzzling, 24
Selectivism, 13, 68, 115
Self, four-limbed structure of, 132
     lower and higher, 72
     the unifying factor, 63, 69, 73, 132                                                                                                              

     the witness, 134
Semantic analysis, 46, 88
Semantics use of, 40, 137
Semantic worlds, two, 47
Sense perception adopted, 135
Shad-darsanas, 94 f
Siddhanta, 115
Siva, 129
Smriti, 11
Space analysed, 51
     defined, 50
Spinoza, 31, 81
Sruti, 41
Structural analysis, 64 Structuralism, 13, 39, 50, 84, 89, 115
     in Vedanta, 27 f 123 f127
Subject-object duality, 79, 81, 88
Subjectivism, 13, 50,68, 114, 129
    of the Indian mind, 2
Substance, 34 f, 40
    the absolute, 81, 83
Sudra, 6
Sukti-rajata, structural peculiarities of, 110
Sunya, 42 f
Supersititions, 91 f
Svaddharma, 136
Svarupananda, 138
Svarupananda taratamya, 60, 95, 97, 110, 132
Svetasvetara Upanishad, 116
Syad-vada, 111, 125
Syllogism, in Vedanta, 67

Taittiriya Upanishad, 42, 98, 102, 122
    structuralism in, 121
Tao Teh Khing, 101
Tattva, 95, 110
Tat-tvam-asi, semantic analysis of, 46
Thales, 20
Thibaut, 55
Thought, axiomatic content of, 31
     circulation of, 25,29 f, 39,50,83
     mechanistic and intuitive, 31
     structure of, 37, 44, 49, 61
     two axes of reference, 49
Transcendentalism, 32 f, 129
Truth, tests of, 22, 120
     two certitudes for, 54 ff
     vision of, 69
Tulsi, 60, 110

Unity and diversity, 107
Universal concrete, 71, 76
Universe, material and efficient causes of, 130
Upadana karana, 107
Upanishads, teaching of the, 11
Uttara Mimamsa, 128

Vachyartha, 36, 43, 46
Vaishnavism, 91
Vakyavritti, 36
Vallabha, 56, 96
Values, two worlds of, 77, 104
Vedanta, a complete philosophy, 13, 17
     a corrective philosophy,129
     ananda in 33
     and creation, 131
     hedonism, 128
     modern thought, 14, 36,108 124,132
     semantic analysis, 41, 45
     theology, 17, 70, 94 ,
     the Vedas, 4 ff, 7 f
     an Integrated science, 68, 92, 93 f 95
     a philosophy with a way of life, 134 ,
     a revaluation of Vedas, 2f ,
     as a perennial philosophy,17
     a science, 17, 128 ,
     background of, 1 ff ,
     basis of polemics in, 54,115 ,
     canonical texts of, 8, 11 .
     characteristics of, 16, 68, 88, 95, 101 f, 108, 129 ff
     claims of, 12, 17,93 f 133 ,
     contributions of, 39, 133