Narach Philosophy

THE ESSENCE OF THE EPIC: SABHA PARVA


Man is now established in Saivism or principal Yoga, and we see a picture of it in the Assembly Hall of Yudhisthira. He has risen to this stage by means of the Sacrifice of the Mind; and so he performs a Rajasuya Sacrifice to commemorate his confirmation in it.

The Death of Jarasandha: The essential idea of Saivism or principal Yoga (Yoga-Vaisesika-Nyaya) is that God and Nature are joint creators of life, and it excludes the pure Sankhya which denies him, as well as that aspect of Sankhya-Nyaya or Jainism which makes of him only a spectator of the work of Nature or Prakrti. The exclusion of these systems is described in the death of Jarasandha, without which the Sacrifice cannot be performed.

The offer of Arghya to Krshna: As the idea of God as chief creator is essential to Saivism or principal Yoga, specially with reference to Buddhi as its chief creative energy, the highest place of honour is to be given to God himself in this Sacrifice. Hence Bhima, who represents Nyaya as the lower limit of principal Yoga (Yoga-Vaisesika-Nyaya), agrees that the Arghya or mark of honour should first of all be given to Krshna, the supreme Creator of the universe.

The Death of Sisupala: But this idea of God means the death of the Pure Sankhya; and so Sisupala, who personifies it, is slain in the presence of all.

The Sacrifice: After this it is possible to perform the Rajasuya or the Sacrifice of the Mind without any hindrance.

The Chagrin of Duryodhana: Duryodhana personifies Buddhism or Nyaya-Vaisesika; and he now sees Man publicly established in a higher system of thought, viz., Saivism or principal. Yoga (Yoga-Vaisesika-Nyaya) But he is unable to do anything, for he realizes that his own system is included in it. Hence his chagrin.

The Proposal of Sakuni: But while Buddhism or Nyaya-Vaisesika is included in Saivism, Jainism, or Sankhya-Nyaya is not; and one aspect of it, viz., the pure Sankhya or the Digambara school is entirely outside the range of Saivism. The connection between these systems may be represented as follows:

Creative Energies Soul Buddhi Mind Senses of Knowledge Senses of Action
Systems of Philosophy Vedanta Yoga Vaisesika Nyaya  
Saivism   Yoga Vaisesika Nyaya  
Buddhism   Yoga   Nyaya  
Jainism       Nyaya Sankhya

Sakuni, who represents the Jaina system of thought, proposes that there should be a debate between him and Yudhisthira, who claims that he has accepted Saivism in the light of Buddhi or pure reason for he represents Buddhi himself; and he is sure that he (Sakuni) would be able to overthrow the Pandava prince. Man, born in Jainism, the pure Sankhya or Sankhya-Nyaya, claims to have risen to Saivism or principal Yoga in the light of reason; let him establish his claim in an open debate. Sakuni will take up the pure Sankhya position, viz., that there is no place for God in the scheme of the universe. Let Man accept this at first and prove, in the light of his Buddhi or reason, that God not only exists, but has a substantial share in the work of creation.

The Hall of the Kauravas: As the Hall of Yudhisthira is a picture of Saivism or principal Yoga, even so we get a picture of the principal Sankhya or Buddhism and Jainism combined in the Hall of the Kauravas.

The Game of Dice; Sakuni and Yudhisthira: We have now a debate between Saivism or principal Yoga (Yoga-Vaisesika-Nyaya) on the one hand, and Jainism or Sankhya-Nyaya on the other. It is played between the representatives of the two systems. Duryodhana cannot play himself because he represents Buddhism which is included in Saivism, and so would be easily defeated. Yudhisthira is reluctant to engage in this debate, but he cannot refuse the challenge, for he claims to have risen from Sankhya-Nyaya or Jainism to Saivism, and must show how, in the light of reason, that can be done.

The Rules of the Game: Before the discussion begins, they lay down their rules of debate. Yudhisthira is not to presume that God exists or has a share in the creation of life for that is the very thing that he is called upon to prove. Then the final conclusion is to be examined in the light of Knowledge or Action as the final goal of life. If Yudhisthira succeeds, it will be agreed that the end of life is Action, for God would be an actor himself. But if Sakuni wins, the conclusion will be that the goal of life is Knowledge and the renunciation of Action.

The Deceit of Sakuni: Starting in this way, Man is unable to prove in the light of reason that God exists and creates; and so Sakuni presses his conclusion that the end of life is the renunciation of Action. This is the deceit of Sakuni by means of which Yudhisthira loses the game.

The Stake of Draupadi: The conclusion now reached is that all actions, of whatever kind, must be renounced; for God has no place in the universe which is created by Prakti alone, and we can escape from its toils only by renouncing all kinds of action and here a question is asked whether acts of Sacrifice too must be renounced. It seems a fair question and a debate about the character of Sacrifice is believed to be necessary. This is the stake of Draupadi, who personifies the Sacrifice of the Mind and the senses.

Draupadi in the Assembly Hall: The idea of God is inherent in Sacrifice. But this very thing was excluded from the debate. Draupadi therefore holds that she cannot be properly brought into the Hall or this debate, for she cannot fit in with the scheme of the discussion. But her opponents hold that a debate on the character of Sacrifice is perfectly legitimate; and so Draupadi is dragged into the Hall (debate) by force and against her will.

The Unrobing of Draupadi: Sakuni and some others hold that the conclusion to which Yudhisthira has been forced is that even acts of Sacrifice must be renounced; and so, since all life is now admitted to have been created by Prakrti, acts of Sacrifice can have nothing to do with the idea of God. This is the "unrobing" of Draupadi in the presence of all.

Krshna to the Rescue: Draupadi protests and points out that when we are afflicted with sorrow and grief, we instinctively remember God, and that in itself is a proof , which even the senses, on which Jainism is based, cannot ignore, that there is God. Were it not so, how could we think of God at the time? Her opponents admit the force of this argument; and that is the idea of Draupadi's remembering Krshna in her anguish. He comes to her rescue and the attempt to "unrobe" her fails.

Further Insult to Draupadi: But while her opponents admit the point she has made, they are not convinced, and still they hold that, in the light of their discussion, the idea of God as a creator has not been established, and so even acts of Sacrifice must be renounced and so further insults are heaped on Draupadi even after she is "rescued" by Krshna.

Dhritarashtra's Intervention: But now the tables are turned on her opponents. If acts of Sacrifice must also be renounced, the position of Buddhism or Vaisesika-Nyaya itself becomes untenable, and the only true and logical creed is of the Jainas and so king Dhritarashtra and his Sons must also renounce their own faith; for Buddhism admits the necessity of Sacrifice; and if the latter must be abandoned, there is no place whatever for Buddhism too and so the King, seeing what turn the debate has taken, is forced to intervene . He admits the necessity of performing acts of Sacrifice; and with that the idea of the existence of God is restored, and Man is allowed to hold to the faith of his choice, viz., Buddhism or Saivism, at will. This is the idea of the restoration of the Pandavas to their kingdom through Draupadi.

The Second Game: But Man has succeeded in retaining his position indirectly, and not by direct evidence. This is hardly a satisfactory proof of the idea of God; and so he is required to discuss the question once more. That is the second Game.

The Exile of the Pandavas: But Man has no fresh proof to offer and so he loses the game once more. But this time he promises to study the question more carefully, after which he would hold a further debate if he can and so the Pandava brothers, accompanied by Draupadi, go into exile for thirteen years.

A SUMMARY OF SABHA PARVA:
  1. 1. Man is now established in Saivism or principal Yoga, and renounces Jainism. He publishes his creed and invites all to examine it.
  2. Buddhism and Jainism, the two divisions of principal Sankhya, publish their own creed, and invite a discussion with Saivism.
  3. Then Jainism challenges Saivism to prove its position, and show how Man can rise from pure Jainism to Saivism. He must begin with the admission that God has no place in the scheme of life, and then prove in the light of Buddhi or reason, offering evidence satisfactory to the senses, that God not only exists but has a large share in the work of creation.
  4. Man is unable to show, on these premises, that God exists and creates. In the circumstances he has to accept the conclusion that it is Prakrti that creates, and so all actions must be renounced.
  5. The next question is whether acts of Sacrifice must also be renounced. In the light of this discussion Man must agree that such actions too must be abandoned.
  6. But if that be so, the only logical conclusion is that we must accept the creed of the pure Sankhya and hold that the only true faith is the Digambara school of Jainism.
  7. Thus the position of Buddhism itself becomes untenable. But this the Buddhists, the chief opponents of Man, cannot accept; and so it is agreed that acts of Sacrifice must be performed, for life has to be carried on.
  8. This restores Man to his original point of view, viz., that God exists and creates; for the idea of Sacrifice embodies the idea of God.
  9. But Man has not proved his position by means of direct evidence; and so he must examine the whole question once more and discuss it afresh when he is more fully prepared.