Narach Philosophy

THE ESSENCE OF THE EPIC: SALYA PARVA


We have so far examined the character of Nyaya, Vaisesika and Sankhya separately; and now it is necessary to examine these systems as combined with one another, as Sankhya-Nyaya and Nyaya-Vaisesika, on which the two schools of Jainism and Buddhism are based on these Salya personifies Sankhya-Nyaya, and so he is the next commander-in-chief. But as these systems have separately been examined, our task is easy now; and so Salya is defeated without difficulty and slain.

Duryodhana's Command: Finally we have to examine the character of Nyaya-Vaisesika, which forms the basis of Buddhist thought, and that is personified by Duryodhana and so he is the next commander-in-chief.

Duryodhana in the Lake: Duryodhana holds that God and Nature are joint creators of life, but the share of God is smaller than that of Nature; and at the end of the debate it is easy to show that this is an erroneous view. We have seen that both parties had agreed that God and Nature are joint creators of life, but in varying degrees; and no one had assumed that there is no place for God in the scheme of the universe. That is the pure Sankhya point of view, the very reverse of Vedanta; and on this assumption there could be no debate. Duryodhana, finding that it is impossible for him to argue on the basis of Buddhism which he personifies, makes an attempt to abandon all the premises that had been settled at the commencement of the debate, and to revert to the pure Sankhya, and take up the same position that Sakuni had done in the "Gambling Match." That is the significance of his hiding himself in a lake of cold and solidified water which, as we have shown, symbolizes Nature or Prakrti.

The Challenge to Duryodhana: But Duryodhana cannot be allowed to break away from the premises of the debate in this way; and so he is challenged to come out of his pure Sankhya position (the lake of water), and carry on the discussion or fight. He realizes that he represents Nyaya-Vaisesika or Buddhism, and cannot take up the pure Sankhya position; and so he comes out of the lake and takes up the challenge thrown out to him.

The Club Fight: We have explained that the Nyaya is based on the creative character of the senses of Knowledge, and the Vaiesika on that of the Mind; and both of these are personified by Duryodhana. Again, we see that we rise from Nyaya to the Vaisesika through the Sacrifice of the senses; and to understand the truth of this system, we have to examine the character of the Sacrifice of the senses of Knowledge. Duryodhana desires that the truth and not the error of his system be explored; and so he wishes to argue in the light of the Sacrifice of the senses of Knowledge, and calls upon his opponents to dislodge him from his position. In other words, he holds that when the senses of Knowledge are controlled and act creatively and in the name of God, they are under the direction of the Mind more than any other energy; and he asks his opponents to examine the matter in the light of the character of the Mind and to show where the error lies. And, as Bhima personifies the Mind of Man (Pandavas), the fight is between Duryodhana and him. They have to fight with the Club or Mace, which symbolizes the idea of the Sacrifice of the senses of Knowledge.

The Blow On the Thigh; the Death of Duryodhana: As we have pointed out, we have to examine the idea of the Sacrifice or creative and selfless function of the senses of Knowledge; and Duryodhana maintains that it is the Mind that controls them. Man, established in Vedanta, holds on the other hand, that it is the Soul that acts through all the energies of life, including the senses. This is the idea of Krshna's suggestion and Bhima's blow on the thigh of Duryodhana, as a result of which that hero is overthrown.

The Result of Duryodhana's fall: Vedanta has won its victory now, and according to it all life is conceived as created by God alone. Nature is an aspect of his energy, and it is he who creates Nature-himself and so it is said that, as a result of Duryodhana's fall, all forms of Nature (Women) appeared like forms of God (Men), and vice-versa. In other words the distinction between Nature and God or Purusha and Prakrti vanished, for all of them were believed to be of God.

The Burning of Arjuna's Car: Vedanta has come out victorious indeed. But it is based on the character of Prana or vital Breath as the vehicle of the Soul, and the two are usually identified. But we have to admit that Prana partakes of the element Air as well; and when the idea of God or Soul is absent, it has little to do with the latter, and may be regarded as a physical energy, to be referred to the element Air. This is the idea of the burning of Arjuna's car, after both he and Krshna alight from it at the end of the "battle" or debate.

The Survivors of the Kauravas: We have seen that the chief premises of the debate were that God and Nature are joint creators of life, and that necessary actions should be performed as a Sacrifice. But the whole idea may be examined in terms of Action. Three systems of thought Sankhya, Nyaya, and Vaisesika, were under debate; and they were opposed by Vedanta or, its first manifestation, Yoga; and each of the three had admitted to the necessity of Action. This, as we have seen, is the position of Jainism and Buddhism, based on Sankhya-Nyaya and Nyaya-Vaisesika respectively. As each of the three systems accepts the necessity of performing actions, there are three survivors of the Kaurava hosts : Krpa representing the idea of Action in the light of the Sankhya; Krtavarman in the light of Nyaya; and Asvatthaman in the light of the Vaisesika and these alone survive.

A SUMMARY OF SALYA PARVA:
  1. After having examined separately the three systems under debate, it is necessary to examine them jointly as Sankhya-Nyaya and Nyaya-Vaisesika which form the basis of Jainism and Buddhism respectively and after what has been done, the problem is easy enough.
  2. The most interesting point in this connection is the relation between the Mind and the senses of Knowledge; and we see that, more than the Mind, it is the Soul that controls the senses.
  3. The debate ends in the victory of Vedanta, as a result of which we realize that all that is of Nature i really of God, and it is God who creates Nature or Prakrti.