Narach Philosophy

THE ESSENCE OF THE EPIC: UDYOGA PARVA


Man has been established in Vedanta, while his opponents hold to Buddhism as before. He now demands that his claim be recognized, or else a general discussion be held. This is the idea of preparations for "War" or a general "debate."

Krshna Assists Both Sides: Buddhism does not deny the existence of God. In the Hinayana school it either gives a small place to him as creator, or holds that he is a spectator of the work of Prakrti. In the Mahayana school, on the other hand, it agrees that God and Nature are joint creators of life, only the share of God is less than that of Nature. Hence Duryodhana, the exponent of Buddhism, feels that he is entitled to have (the correct idea of) God on his side; and so he seeks the assistance of Krshna. Vedanta holds that God is the sole Creator of the universe; and so Arjuna, the Soul in Man, seeks Krshna's assistance too.

As the idea of God is included in both the opposing systems of thought, Krshna must assist both of them; and so he does. But Buddhism gives the first place to Nature, while Vedanta to God and so Krshna gives all the strength of Nature (or his armies) to Duryodhana, and assigns himself to Arjuna; and both of them are pleased. They have that which they believe to be the Truth.

Balarama's Neutrality: Balarama personifies Breath or Prana in its physical aspect, as the energy of strength and action, associated with the Mind. In the region of the Mind it is allied to the Vaiesika, the basis of the Mahayana school of Buddhism; while, as the vehicle of the Soul, Prana. Or Breath is associated with Vedanta. Balarama, therefore, feels that he must remain neutral, for he cannot divide his character like Krshna, and yet he is connected with both.

The Embassies: The two systems, now preparing for "War," meet on the common ground of the Mind or the Vaiesika, thus:

Creative Energies Soul Buddhi Mind Senses of Knowledge Senses of Action
Systems of Philosophy Vedanta Yoga Vaisesika Nyaya Sankhya
Vaisnavism (Pandavas) Vedanta Yoga Vaisesika Nyaya  
Buddhism & Jainism (Kauravas)     Vaisesika Nyaya Sankhya

As it is the function of ambassadors to bring the combatants together and establish a common ground of peace, embassies pass between Man, established in Vedanta, and his opponents, professing Buddhism and Jainism.

The Advice of Vidura; the Discourse of Sanat-Sujata: Vidura personifies the Mind in all the three principal systems of thought. As the "combatants" too meet in this common ground, he tries to persuade Dhritarashtra to admit the point of view of Man. The king is convinced and converted, and begins to believe that God and Nature are joint creators of life and the share of God is greater than that of Nature. This is the idea of the Mind as the lower limit of Vaisnavism (Vedanta-Yoga-Vaisesika); and this is the advice of Vidura and the discourse of Sanat-Sujata.

The Mission of Krshna: As Buddhism gives a certain place to God as creator, Krshna himself goes on a mission of peace to the Kauravas, and tries to persuade them to concede the point of Man. But Buddhism cannot do so without abandoning its own character; and so Duryodhana, the chief of this faith, is unable to agree.

Duryodhana's Resolve; the Capture of Krshna: Buddhism holds that God has only a certain share in the creation of life, and it is less than that of Nature or Prakrti. It believes that this is the Truth; and so Duryodhana desires to "capture" Krshna while he is in their midst, to prove that he (Duryodhana) has caught the true idea of the nature of God.

The Divine Form of Krshna: But Buddhism does not embrace the full idea of God, and so Duryodhana cannot "capture" Krshna. The latter then shows his true divine form as the sole supreme Creator of the universe, which the people tremble to behold. But Dhritarashtra, having been converted to faith in God, is blessed with a vision, and sees Him as He is.

Krshna's Return: Buddhism cannot be easily converted to Vedanta; and Man has yet to prove that his idea of God is true and so Krshna (God) returns to the Pandavas (Man) without securing peace.

The Field of Kurukshetra: The whole problem must therefore be debated anew; and the simplest way of dealing with it is to divide the whole range of thought into two parts, each opposed to the other. In the one we may hold that God is the supreme Creator of life, and, if Nature exists, it is either a spectator of His work, or has, in any case, a smaller share in the work of creation than God. In the other we might hold that Nature is the supreme creator of life, and, if God exists, He is either a spectator of Nature's work, or has, in any case, a smaller share than Nature. Again, as all systems of Philosophy may be rendered in terms of Knowledge and Action, we may examine them in their light.

This is Kurukshetra "the Field of the imperative necessity of Action." We have observed that the Kauravas are Buddhists, who admit that it is necessary to perform actions as a Sacrifice, but the final goal of life is Knowledge; while the Pandavas, believing in Vaisnavism or Vedanta, hold that all life is Action from beginning to end, performed as a Sacrifice; and it is twinborn with Knowledge, both being characteristic of Prana or self-conscious Breath, the vehicle of the Soul. Thus both sides agree that Action, performed as a Sacrifice, is necessary; and so they meet in Kurukshetra, "the Field of the imperative necessity of Action ."

The Nature of the Conflict: All conflict pre-supposes some common ground of agreement, without which there can be no debate. If the combatants have nothing in common between them, no discussion can arise; but a debate becomes possible if there is something upon which; they both agree. Both the Kauravas and Pandavas hold that it is necessary to perform essential actions, and as a Sacrifice; and both of them believe that God and Nature come together in the creation of life. Starting from this common ground; the Pandavas (Man) have to prove that God is the chief Creator of the universe, and Nature is but a spectator of his work; while their opponents have to show that Nature is the chief creator of life, and God is but a spectator of its work, or has, at best, a smaller share in the work of creation than Nature. The conflict may now be represented in terms of systems of Philosophy as follows:

Creative Energies Soul Buddhi Mind Senses of Knowledge Senses of Action
Systems of Philosophy Vedanta Yoga Vaisesika Nyaya Sankhya
Pandavas (Man) Vedanta Yoga Vaisesika Nyaya  
Kauravas     Vaisesika Nyaya Sankhya

The conflict is thus between Vaisnavism on the one hand, and Buddhism and Jainism on the other. The primary opposition is between Vedanta. Or its first manifestation, Yoga, on the one hand, and Vaisesika and Nyaya the basis of Buddhism or the Kauravas, on the other; but the latter may take such assistance from the pure Sankhya as they legitimately can, without assuming that there is no place for God in the economy of the universe.

The Commanders of the Kauravas: The three systems sponsored by the opponents of Man, viz., Vaisesika, Nyaya, and Sankhya, may be examined separately as well as jointly; and in the latter case we may combine them as Sankhya-Nyaya and Nyaya-Vaisesika. Thus we get five different ways of examining these systems; and they correspond to the five commanders-in- chief of the Kuru hosts who take the field one after another in turn. Bhima, the first, personifies Nyaya; Drona, who comes next, Vaiesika; Karna, who follows, the Sankhya in its bearing on the creative character of Food, which, as it is transformed into vital seed, forms the basis of this system. Then, after these systems are separately examined, we have Sankhya-Nyaya, personified by Salya, the fourth commander-in- chief and he is followed by Duryodhana who personifies Nyaya-Vaisesika or the Buddhist system of thought.

The Forces of the Combatants: We have observed that the Pandavas (Man) hold to Vedanta and believe that God is the sole supreme Creator of the universe. But, Vedanta is, for practical purposes, identified with Yoga, even as the Soul is with Buddhi. In other words, we may hold that Nature co-exists with God, but is a mere spectator of His work, and He alone creates; and this will be as good as pure Vedanta in this world of manifest life. That, in this contest, is the point of view of the Pandavas, and so they may be said to hold to Yoga as the first manifest form of Vedanta. The Kauravas, on the other hand, are Buddhists, believing in the Vaisesika-Nyaya; but they are at liberty to seek such assistance from the pure Sankhya as they legitimately can. In other words, they cannot assume that there is no place for God in the scheme of life; but they can attempt to establish the Sankhya point of view in the light of the creative character of Food, the basis of this system.

Now we have explained that Nyaya is based on the creative character of the senses of Knowledge, and we have five such senses; while the Vaisesika is based on the character of the Mind which, coming after the senses of Knowledge, may be represented by the number six. Thus the Kauravas, holding to Nyaya-Vaisesika, may be represented by the number eleven, composed of five and six; and even so we are told that they had eleven Aksauhinis or divisions of forces. In the same manner Yoga is based on the creative character of Buddhi; and coming after the Mind, it may be represented by the number seven. As the Pandavas hold to Yoga or Buddhi, they are said to have brought seven Aksauhinis on the battlefield.

Dhrstadyumna's Command: The essential idea of Vedanta is based on Sacrifice; and so the chief commander of the Pandavas is Dhrstadyumna, who represents the Sacrifice of the Mind and the senses. In. other words, the Pandavas (Man) agree to establish their position in the light of the idea of Sacrifice and such evidence as would be acceptable to the Mind and the senses.

A SUMMARY OF UDYOGA PARVA:
  1. Man has been established in Vedanta, while his opponents adhere to Buddhism.
  2. Vedanta is based on the unmanifest energy of the Soul; but, as for practical purposes Buddhi is identified with the Soul, Yoga, based on Buddhi, may in the same manner be identified with Vedanta. Man is, therefore, willing to accept the position of Yoga as the first manifestation of Vedanta. That is to say, he is prepared to agree that Nature or Prakrti co-exists with God, but as a mere spectator of His work.
  3. Buddhism, the creed of the Kauravas, holds that Nature is the chief creator of life, and God, if He exists, is either a spectator of the work of Nature, or, in any case, His share of creation is smaller than Nature's.
  4. As both sides have a place for Nature and God, an attempt is made to bring about an agreement between them.
  5. As, however, there are fundamental points of difference between them, the attempt fails.
  6. Both parties prepare for a great debate, and the whole problem is to be discussed in the light of the necessity of Action, in whose terms we can render all systems of Philosophy and Religion.
  7. Both sides agree that it is necessary to perform actions as a Sacrifice; and, starting from this position, Man proposes to prove that God is the sole Creator of life, and Nature, if it is a separate entity, is but a spectator of His work. He promises to offer such evidence as would satisfy the Mind and the senses.
  8. His opponents hold that they are free to combat this position of Man in the light of the Vaisesika and Nyaya systems of thought, with such assistance from the pure Sankhya as they legitimately can have. They are also at liberty to combine the arguments of these systems in such manner as they choose. In other words, they can offer evidence according to Vaiesika, Nyaya, Sankhya, Sankhya-Nyaya, and Nyaya-Vaisesika.