Narach Philosophy

INTEGRATION OF ANCIENT THOUGHT


We thus see that the nine points of view of the three groups of ideas, which give us the three great systems of religion, of Brahma, Siva, and Vishnu with three forms of each are all distributed among the five systems of philosophy; for the sixth the Mimansa, as we have explained, has no place in the construction of the systems of religion. Of these the Sankhya and Vedanta, at the two extreme ends of thought, have but single point of view, the one holding that it is Prakrti, and the other that it is Brahma, who is the supreme creator of life The Sankhya, indeed, gives a separate place to the soul, but does not explain its origin.

Similarly, Nyaya and Yoga have two points of view each and are opposed to each other. The one holds that the chief creator is Prakrti; and God, if He exists is either a spectator of its work, or has, at best, but a small share in it. Yoga on the other hand, maintains that the chief creator is God and Prakrti is either a spectator of His work, or has, at best but a small share in it.

Between these two groups of opposites lies the Vaiseshika which serves as a connecting link between them. It is base on the character of the mind, which, as we have explained, is characterized by electric energy and has its positive and negative charges.

As these may be said to correspond to the idea of Purusha and Prakrti, the Vaiseshika may be said to b based on the idea that God and Nature are joint creators of life, but we cannot say who is the greater of the two. We may, therefore, consider their relation from three points of view, the share of God being more than that of Nature, a the share of Nature being more than that of God, or the two being equal. These are the three aspects of the Vaiseshika corresponding to the three forms of electric energy that we know, one static, and two dynamic with their direct an alternating currents of electricity.

Special character of the Vaiseshika: The Vaiseshika accordingly serves as a connecting link between the great systems of religion. We find that the two great systems of Brahma and Vishnu exclude each other, the one holding that Prakrti, and the other that Purusha is the sole, chief, or major creator of life; and there is no point of contact between them. Between them lies the system of Siva or Mahadeva, which maintains that Purusha and Prakrti are joint and equal or almost equal creators of the universe; and this is the point of view of the Vaiseshika too; and it is this that gives it its special position, signified by its own name in the ancient scheme of thought.

Systems of philosophy and religion: We can now correlate the main ideas of the great systems of religion with those of the corresponding systems of philosophy.

There are three aspects of the system of Brahma, based on the character of Nature as the supreme, chief, or major creator of things; and these correspond to the basic conception of the Sankhya, the first aspect of Nyaya, and the first aspect of the Vaiseshika respectively, the first aspect of Nyaya being that God is but a spectator of the work of Prakrti, and that of the Vaiseshika that He creates, but has a smaller role to play.

Similarly, there are three aspects of the system of Mahadeva, based on the idea of God and Nature being joint creators of life, and the share of the God may be more than that of Nature, or the two may be equal, or the share of Nature may be more than that of God; and these correspond to the second point of view of Nyaya, the second point of view of the Vaiseshika, and the first point of view of Yoga.

In the same manner there are three aspects of the system of Vishnu, the opposite of the system of Brahma based on the idea of God as the supreme, chief, or major creator of the universe, the monistic, qualified monistic, and dualistic schools of this system; and corresponding to these we have the basic conception of Vedanta, the second point of view Yoga, and the third point of view of the Vaiseshika.

Thus we see how the points of view of the Vaiseshika extend to Nyaya on the one hand and to Yoga on the other, and connect together the two opposing groups of ideas and their corresponding systems of religion, those of Brahma and Vishnu. The position of the system of Mahadeva is identical, for it is based essentially on the idea of Purusha and Prakrti as joint creators of life, and that is also the basic conception of the Vaiseshika in its relation to the character the mind.

Ascending scale of thought: This enables us to und stand how all the great systems of philosophy and religion are connected together and are but parts of one great whole. We have already explained how that is true of the system of philosophy; and it is not difficult to see that there is t same attempt at integration in the systems of religion too.

We have seen how we can rise from the Sankhya to Vedanta by means of a gradual process of thought and the idea sacrifice, or action characterized by goodness, intelligence and joy, and meant for the benefit of all. But, even as we find in the concluding portions of Vedanta, we can conceive the soul and its problem of freedom only in the light of our intellect; and, as it is Yoga that is based on the character of the intellect, Vedanta and Yoga, conceived in this special light, may, like the soul and the intellect, be, for practical purposes, identified. We find that the same line of thought applies to the systems of religion too.

We have to begin with the system of Brahma, extending from the Sankhya to Nyaya and the Vaiseshika. We begin with the Sankhya, and find that its theory of a total renunciation of action is an impossible one, for it means that we cannot live; and so we pass on to the next system, Nyaya.

But even that does not satisfy us, for it lays special stress on the necessity of controlling all desires, and permits us only just to exist. We, on the other hand, wish not only to exist, but also to propagate the species; and so we pass on to the next system, the Vaiseshika; and this concludes the range of this system of religion. It is in this manner that we pass from the Sankhya to Nyaya and thence to the Vaiseshika, and rise correspondingly to their respective ideas of God, as one who has no place in the scheme of existence, as one who is a mere spectator of life, and as one who has a minor part in the creation of things.

But when we reach the topmost point in the system of Brahma, we find that we are at the bottom of the system of Mahadeva, with its range extending from Nyaya to Vaiseshika and thence to Yoga. We begin with the idea that God has but a small part to play in the world; and, as the idea of God is co-extensive with that of sacrifice, it means that there is but a small measure of goodness, intelligence and joy in life. But this does not satisfy us, and so we pass on to the next system, Vaiseshika, which tells us that the share of God and Nature can be equal too; that is to say, there is an equal measure of good and evil, or joy and sorrow in the world. But even this does not satisfy us, and so we pass on to the next system, Yoga, which tells us that the share of God is more than that of Nature, or that there is more of goodness and joy than evil and sorrow in life; and this completes the whole range of this system of religion.

When again we reach the topmost point in the system of Mahadeva, we find that we are at the bottom of the system of Vishnu, with its range extending from the Vaiseshika to Yoga and Vedanta. We begin with the idea that there is more of goodness and joy than evil and sorrow in life for that is the point of view of the Vaiseshika in this system. But we find, on further reflection, that it gives us n satisfaction to believe that good and evil, joy and sorrow are relative terms, and evil itself can be changed to good and sorrow to joy; and so we pass on to the next system Yoga. After this the next stage in our evolution is that there is nothing but goodness, intelligence and joy in the world, and that is the real meaning of God as the sole supreme creator of the universe in Vedanta. And so we rise to topmost point of human thought in Vedanta in the system of Vishnu. But we find that it is difficult to understand idea of universal goodness, intelligence and joy in life; and so are content to drop down to the earlier point of view of Yoga, namely, that good and evil, joy and sorrow are relative terms, and that evil can be changed to good, sorrow to joy.

Thus we see that, as intellect and soul and Yoga and Vedanta may, for practical purposes, be identified, the pre-monistic conception of the system of Vishnu may, in same manner, be identified with its qualified monistic view; and this is as far as it is possible for the human mind to go.

Descending scale of thought: This is how man can rise from the lowest to the highest conception of life in t ascending scale of thought; and when he does so, he in be said to have attained to perfection. This is what possible for him to achieve in life; but there is also the fact of death, for there is no one who can live forever. And after achieving the height of perfection in the world life, man must also prepare for death; and so he comes down from his Yoga conception of life to that of the Vaiseshika and then to Nyaya, believes that it is Prakrti that rules below, and, leaving his body behind to be reduced to its elemental form, lets his soul depart, to live in some unknown world, till its time comes again to renew its course of existence on earth.

The Sankhya, as we have seen, is based on its own conception of Nature; and the real quest of man, having a bearing on the actual facts of his life, begins with Nyaya; but, having attained to perfection through Yoga or Vedanta, he comes down to Nyaya again. He begins with an attempt to control the activities of his senses; and, having completed the whole cycle of human thought and experience, finds that he is unable to use them, and so ends where he begins. This is the story of human life on earth; but there are other worlds too, and they have also their own stories to tell.

Original and existing ideas: This, in brief, is the main idea of the great systems of Hindu religion, as they are to be found in the sacred books, and they have the same relation to one another as the corresponding systems of philosophy. Their modern forms and practices, however, appear to be very different; but it is not difficult to understand how their original idea, along with that of the corresponding systems of philosophy, has been lost through the passage of Time. But the sacred books still remain; and their text, when properly interpreted, tells us what their ancient conception really was. Indeed, even in the midst of this great wreckage of Time, it is still possible, through the many forms, observances, laws, customs, and traditions that yet survive, to discover traces of their original idea, and re-construct the ancient fabric again. But this demands a separate treatment, and is outside the scope of the present work.