BY ĪŚWARA KṚISHṆA.
the injurious effects of the threefold kinds of pain (arises) a desire to know the means of removing it (pain). If, from the visible (means of removing it), this (desire) should seem to be superfluous, it is not so, for these are neither absolutely complete nor abiding.”1
The first distich gives the chief, if not the sole, purpose of Kapila’s philosophy. It is to relieve mankind from the suffering of pain. It is founded on the gloomy view of human life which is generally accepted by Hindū writers. They assert an absolute pessimism. Our present life is not a blessing; it is only a wearisome burden, which is finally cast off when the soul has become free from all contact with matter. The soul then gains, according to Kapila, an absolute independence, a self-existence, which is not affected by any subsequent changes in the outer material world; or it is absorbed, according to the theistic system of Pataṅjali, into the essence of the One Supreme Being (Brahmă).
The three kinds of pain are explained by the commentators to be—
1. The natural and intrinsic, both bodily and mental (ādhyātmika).
2. The natural and extrinsic (ādhibhautika).
3. The divine or supernatural (ādhidaivika).
The first includes bodily disease and mental infirmity or suffering. The second includes all pain derived from external causes of every kind. The third, as Gauḍapāda interprets it, may be either divine or atmospheric; “in the latter case, it means pain which
proceeds from cold, heat, wind, rain, thunderbolts, and the like.” This, however, belongs to the second division. According to Vāchaspati Miśra, the third kind is “from the influence of the planetary bodies, or by being possessed by impure spirits, such as Yakshas, Rākshasas, &c.” But, in old time, the gods of a higher class, and not demons merely, were supposed to afflict men with disease and pain. In the Rig-Veda (ii. 33, 7), Gritsamada prays to Rudra that he may be freed from his bodily pains, which he affirms to have been sent by the Devas or gods (daivya
The visible remedies for pain, such as medicine or earthly enjoyments, are not absolute or wholly complete, nor are they eternal; for they do not procure that entire separation of the soul from matter which is an absolute condition of its perfect deliverance from pain.
2. “The revealed (means) are like the visible (i.e., inefficient), for they are connected with impurity, destruction, and excess. A contrary method is better, and this consists in a discriminative knowledge of the Manifested (forms of matter), the Unmanifested (Prakṛiti or primeval matter), and the knowing (Soul).”
By “revelation” the Vedas are meant, which were supposed to have been heard by wise men (ṛishis
) as a divine communication, and hence were called Śruti
In the judgment of Kapila the Vedic system was not perfectly efficient; for (1.) it was impure. It required sacrifice, and thus the blood of animals was shed, often to a great extent. In the Aśwamedha (horse-sacrifice) more than a hundred horses might be sacrificed at one time. According to the Brāhmans, this would avail “to expiate all sin, even the murder of a Brāhman,”2
and would confer supernatural power; but to Kapila all such rites were impure. (2.) It was connected with destruction. The Vedic system could not give that final exęmption from all material conditions without which there must still be a destruction and renewal of bodily life. (3.) It was excessive or unequal, for all men are not wealthy enough to offer costly sacrifices to the gods, and thus the rich man may have more and the poor man less than is due to his individual merit. The Vedas say indeed that there is “no return (to bodily life) for one who has attained to the state of Brahmă;” but in the school of Kapila this blessedness is reserved for those who may attain in the heaven of Brahmā to a discriminating knowledge of soul and matter.3
This is the leading principle of Kapila’s system. The complete and final blessedness of the soul, which consists of an absolute self-existence, cannot be gained by any religious rites. It is obtained by knowledge, and yet not by every kind of knowledge: it can only be gained by a knowledge of philosophy (which Kapila expounds), and
this treats of existence in three forms—(1.) Manifested or developed matter (Vyakta
); (2.) the Unmanifested or primal matter, called Prakṛiti or Pradhāna (Avyakta
and (3.) the knowing Soul (Jna
This theory of being is unfolded in the following distich and the 22d, which may be brought together for a full exhibition of the system:—
3. “Nature (Prakṛiti
), the root (of material forms), is not produced. The Great One (Mahat
or Intellect) and the rest (which spring from it) are seven (substances), producing and produced. Sixteen are productions2
(only). Soul is neither producing nor produced.”
Matter in its primal form (Prakṛiti) is eternal and self-existing. From it all things emanate, except Soul, which has an independent existence, and is eternal, both a parte ante and a parte post
From Prakṛiti proceed: (i.) Intellect (Mahat
), the substance or essence by which the soul obtains a knowledge of external things. It is material,3
of the subtlest form of matter. In the system of Kapila, everything connected in function with sensuous objects is as material as the objects themselves, being equally an emanation from Prakṛiti. The soul exists as a pure inward light,1
without any instrumentation by which it can become cognisant of the external world. This instrumentation has been supplied, but it is as foreign to the soul, and as objective to it, as any other form of matter.
From Intellect (Buddhi
) proceeds Consciousness2
or Egoism (Ahaṅkāra
); a consequence resembling that of Descartes: “Cogito, ergo sum.” Self-consciousness is not, however, in the system of Kapila, a corollary of thought, but inherent in it; or, as Sir W. Hamilton has expressed the same idea, “Consciousness and knowledge each involves the other.”3
It is the same thing in another form, for cause and effect are identical according to Kapila, as water issuing from its source is still the same in reality though not in form. By Ahaṅkāra
Kapila means a substance or ens
connected with thought (Buddhi), in which consciousness inheres. It is nearly equivalent to the “mind-stuff” which the late Professor Clifford assumed as the original ground of all being, i.e
., of all formal being; a synthesis of mind and grosser matter in which consciousness was produced, by which
the existence of conscious and unconscious beings was made possible, and was finally developed.
From Ahaṅkāra or Consciousness proceed the five subtle elements (tanmātra
) which are the primary forms or essences of gross material things, i.e
., of all formal life. This might seem to be as pure an idealism as that of Berkeley or Fichte; but there is no idealism in the system of Kapila. Both Consciousness and all existing external forms have a real objective being independent of the soul. In one respect he coincides with the views of Kant, for both agree that we have no knowledge of an external world, except as by the action of our faculties it is represented to the soul,2
and take as granted the objective reality of our sense-perceptions.3
In one respect
there seems to be in the Hindū theory a germ of the system of Hegel, in which subject and object are made one by an absolute synthesis; for the substratum of thought and consciousness and of the external world is the same in kind, since elementary substances issue from consciousness, and consciousness proceeds from intellect (Buddhi
). There would be some resemblance if the system of Kapila ended with Nature (Prakṛiti
). But there is still a dualism. The soul is different in kind from all material things, and will finally be severed from them by an eternal separation. When finally separated from matter, including intellect and all the forms or emanations of Prakṛiti, it will have no object, and no function, of thought. It will remain self-existent and isolated in a state of passive and eternal repose.
To the five subtle principles are given the technical names of sound, tangibleness or touch, odour, visibility or form, and taste.
From these primary essences proceed the five gross elements (mahābhūta). These are: (1.) ether (ākāśa), from the subtle element called sound; this fills all space and envelops all things; (2.) air (vāyu), from the element tangibleness; (3.) earth, from the element odour; (4.) light or fire, from the element visibility; and (5.) water, from the element called taste.
From Consciousness proceed also (6.) the five organs of sense (indriya
which are the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, and the skin; and (7.) the five organs of action; the voice, the hands, the feet, the anus, and the organs of generation. Lastly, it produces the manas
which is the receptive and discriminating faculty. It receives and individualises the impressions made by outward objects on the senses. These it submits to Consciousness, by which an attribute of personality is given to them, and through which they pass on to the Intellect (Buddhi
). By this last faculty the sense-perceptions are defined and represented in a full, distinct form. The soul beholds these presentations as objects are seen in a mirror, and thus has a knowledge of the external world.
(ii.) The next object of inquiry (the first in point of existence) is the primal source of these material existences, or the Unmanifested (Avyakta
This is the primordial matter, from which all material things have emanated or
have been evolved. It is eternal, universal, single, i.e
., without parts, invisible, and is inferred only by reasoning from present, actual existences, which must have a cause. It is not produced, but is productive, having within itself the potentiality of all being, except soul. The Vedān-tists incorporated it in their system, making it the Brahmī, or productive energy, of Brahmā.
(iii.) The soul, which is uncompounded and eternal, neither a product nor producing. The system of Kapila only recognises each individual soul, but the theistic Sānkhya asserts the existence of a supreme soul, the Lord (Īśwara) of all, the intelligent cause of the emanations from Prakṛiti (Nature).
These form the twenty-five principles, or categories of being, laid down in the Sānkhya system. They are the base of nearly all the philosophy of India.
In the following distichs the methods by which all true knowledge is obtained are determined, according to the judgment of Kapila.
4· “Perception, inference, and fit testimony are the threefold (kinds of) accepted proof, because in them every mode of proof is fully contained. The complete determination or perfect knowledge (siddhi
) of what is to be determined is by proof.”1
5. “Perception is the application1
(of the senses) to special objects of sense. Three kinds of inference are declared: it (an inference or logical conclusion) is preceded by a liṅga
(mark or sign = major premiss) and a liṅgi
(the subject in which it inheres = minor premiss). Fit testimony is fit revelation (śruti
6. “The knowledge of formal or generic existence is by perception; of things beyond the senses by inference; that which cannot be determined by this (method) and cannot be perceived must be determined by fitting means.”2
Perception results from the action of any of the organs of sense on its proper objects.
Inference (anumāna) is the process of reasoning. The conclusion that is drawn from it is anumiti (Tarka Sangraha, p. 30).
The Nyāya or Logical school admits four kinds of
proof: (1.) pratyaksha
(perception); (2.) anumāna
(inference); (3.) upamāna
(comparison or analogy); and (4.) śabda
(verbal testimony). To these the Vedāntic school adds arthāpatti
(presumption), an informal kind of inference; as, “Devadatta does not eat by day and yet is fat, it is presumed therefore that he eats by night;” and abhāva
(non-existence), a method of proof from an impossibility, or a reductio ad absurdum
, as, “There can be no flowers in the sky.”
By the latter part of Distich 4, Kapila limits all possible knowledge to his three methods of proof. He rejects all innate ideas, and all knowledge derived from pure consciousness. He does not admit any moral sense as inherent in the soul. This only knows or sees what Buddhi (intellect) presents to it. He ad...