Narach Philosophy


The second "category" refers to the objects to be known; and, in this connection, we must understand how an object can be perceived. Then we must know the nature of the soul, the body, the senses, and the objects of the senses, the first four of the objects to be known.

An object of sense: An object of sense is commonly perceived by means of sight and touch; but it is not always so. We are able to perceive it because of its sphere of activity, and the existence of the soul.

The soul and the body: The existence of the soul is proved by the fact that there is no sin in burning a dead body, whereas we cannot burn a living body even though we believe that the soul is eternal. Indeed, he who ventures to do so is punished with death himself.

The senses: When the left eye sees an object, it is grasped by the rest of our faculties, because there is recognition. But this recognition does not lie in the eye, for there is another entity that perceives it too, and that refers to our own self; and it is this that makes for unity of perception.

Whenever there is perception, the senses undergo some kind of change; but this change is not due to memory, even though it be regarded as an attribute of the soul.

While thinking of the problem of perception, it is not necessary to bring in the soul, because we have the mind; and the main point is that there should be a knower and, so far as perception is concerned, it is a mere matter of name whether we call it mind or the soul. We know that there is a knower, because of the experience of memory, joy, fear, and sorrow; but the knower does not change from time to time like a flower.

Desire is inborn within us, as we find from the desire of a new-born child drawn to its mother's breasts; and this act is natural like the attraction of iron towards a loadstone. Indeed, a child is born with its own characteristics like any other object that can be made, and it is possible to know its inherent qualities. Similarly, we can say that a body consists of earth, water, and fire from a perception of these qualities in it. It is in this manner that a body is said to consist of four or five "elements".

As there is perception with as well as without eyes, there is a doubt in regard to the idea of the perceiver. We can grasp things both great as well as small, even an atom in this manner. An atom is perceived by means of a special close contact of a ray of light with an object; and even if we are unable to perceive it by means of our senses, it does not mean that it does not exist; for its existence can be inferred. This principle of perception is based on the knowledge of the nature and attributes of an object.

The essential feature of human effort is that there is an orderly arrangement of the senses brought about by action. This is necessary for the removal of obstacles, both internal and external, that may lie in our way. A number of things can be seen or inferred in this way, and it would be irrelevant to deny their use.

The object of the senses: The objects of the senses are of five kinds; and there is an identity between the senses and the objects to which they correspond. There are five properties of the "elements", smell, taste, form, touch, and sound. Of these the first four, from smell to touch, are the properties of Earth; the properties of Water are taste, form, and touch; of Fire form and touch, and of Air touch only; and of Ether only sound.

It may be argued that this is not so, on the ground that our senses tell us that each "element" has but one attribute. But this is really not so; for our senses tell us that Earth and Water have each more than one property, only one of them is the most important, and predominates over the rest; and we believe that it is its only property because of its preponderance. This is also due to the fact that we perceive these properties by means of our senses, and only one of them can function at a time. There is, however, an exception in the case of sound; but that is due to heterogeneity in the different qualities of things.

The next three objects to be known are the intellect, mind, and activity. We must know the character and functions of the intellect; the character and functions of the mind; and the connection between them and activity.

A case of doubt: There may be a doubt in regard to the perception of sound, because Ether and Air have similar properties. At the same time they have their own special spheres of action, and so we do not perceive it (sound) arise in both simultaneously.

The function of the intellect: Perception occurs in regular succession, and not simultaneously; and absence of perception arises not so much because of pre-occupation with something else, as because of absence of a proper method of approach to an object. We do not judge as we see; and when we see that one thing is produced out of another and a different one; it is really a case of inference arising out of the disappearance of the first substance.

Even when an object disappears or is destroyed, knowledge remains; and, in any case, there is no destruction of the mind, for there is no simultaneous perception of objects, which is due to the existence of the mind. Even if knowledge be regarded as an attribute of the soul, our conclusion remains the same, namely, that it cannot be destroyed.

Absence of knowledge arises from inability to understand the cause of a thing. If we do not perceive the cause of the destruction of an object, and if it continues to exist, we may say that it is permanent; but when we recognize a state of impermanence, it means that one kind of perception is cancelled by another.

The function of the mind: The mind functions not in association with the soul, but within the body. It is characterized by quick motion, and so does not come into conflict with the function of the soul, which has memory for its attribute, but no fixed time for remembrance. The action of the soul consists in those forms of knowledge which are spontaneous and do not require any special association with anything; and there is no simultaneous recollection because there is no simultaneous attention or any other expression of any other form of knowledge.

There is commencement and cessation of action because of desire and aversion on the part of the knower; and the cause of desire and aversion is not the mind, but the soul.

Memory belongs to the soul because of its own nature as knower; and it arises from contemplation, intentness on an object, repeated study, awareness of characteristic marks, name, resemblance, possession, vicinity, dependence, association, sequence of things, performance of the same work, opposition, pre-eminence, occurrence, cessation, pleasure, pain, desire, aversion, fear, making a request, activity, love, and good deeds and evil deeds. It arises because we can, as it were, seize action, which is transient, in this way. When we remember a thing in this manner, we admit its existence which might otherwise have been denied.

There is no doubt about the character of a substance when we perceive its qualities as well as the qualities of other substances, and compare and contrast the two.

The mind and its activity: There is only one mind because there is no simultaneity of knowledge. It may sometimes appear as though we can perceive a number of actions simultaneously; but the perception of these actions is really like the sight of a circle of light made by a moving firebrand; and we imagine that they are simultaneous because of the quick movement of the mind. The mind is minute like an atom; and its origin lies in its connection with the result of previous action, and is not due to the character of the parents of the child or to food. Were it to arise in this manner, it could not be governed by a law, unless we admit that the origin of the body itself, like the origin of the union of the parents of the child, is action. This union is deliberate, and cannot be effected by some unseen Power; for, were it so, the same Power should bring about emancipation too. This union is brought about by the activity of the mind; and, as it cannot be destroyed, it would appear as though birth must continue without end, and death itself become irrelevant, and it should be possible to conceive of an eternal state of existence. But it is not possible to argue in this manner, because we know that there is no such state.