Narach Philosophy

THE PLAN OF THE MAHABHARATA


We have explained the different systems of Hindu Philosophy and Religion, and their connection with one another. Suppose we were to construct, for the first time, a Story to describe these systems and their connection and conflict, making use of all forms of expression we legitimately can. Proceeding from the known to the unknown, we might perhaps begin with the pure Sankhya, and show how Man, believing that it is Nature (Prakrti) alone that creates, and so holding that the end of life is the renunciation of all action born of Prakrti, which makes for sorrow and death comes to understand the idea of Sacrifice, and rises from Sankhya to Nyaya, and thence gradually to Vaisesika, Yoga, and Vedanta.

Or, inasmuch as the pure Sankhya, with its utter negation of Action, and so of God, can never be acceptable to a thinking mind, we might begin with the principal Sankhya (Sankhya-Nyaya-Vaiesika) instead. We might start at its lower extreme, Sankhya-Nyaya or the Jaina system of religion, and show how we can rise to Nyaya-Vaisesika or Buddhism; and thence to principal Yoga or Saivism, (Yoga-Vaisesika-Nyaya) ending finally in principal Vedanta (Vedanta-Yoga-Vaisesika) or Vaisnavism. This would perhaps be a more satisfactory course, for the three principal systems cover a certain common ground, which gives us the basis of both agreement and conflict; and it is more easy to understand their transition from one to the other in this way. As we have observed, there can be no debate without a common ground, and there can be no Story without a conflict of some kind. The resultant systems of Philosophy have little in common between them. Each of them is based on a definite idea related to a creative energy of life; and, within the limits of this idea, it appears complete in itself. But the principal systems cover a certain common ground and are, for this reason, more suited, for purposes of comparison and contrast; and so on further consideration we would probably be inclined to base our Story on the conflict of the three principal rather than the five resultant systems of thought.

The Mind as a Meeting Place: We have, explained that the character of the Mind is common to all the three, principal systems of Philosophy, and if we decide to construct our Story in their light, we shall have to begin with the Mind; and, starting from this common ground, proceed to show how we can accept principal Yoga (Yoga-Vaisesika-Nyaya), or go down to principal Sankhya (Sankhya-Nyaya-Vaiesika), or rise to principal Vedanta (Vedanta-Yoga-Vaiesika) in other words, seeing how the world of manifest life, especially in its higher forms, eg. Man, is created out of the union of the male and the female, for this is the philosophical idea based on the character of the Mind or the Vaiesika system we have to find out whether it is the Supreme Male or God alone, who is the sole creator of life; or whether he is associated with the Supreme Female or Prakrti; or it is the Supreme Female or Prakrti who alone creates. These are the three main points of view of the three principal systems as we have explained.

THE PLAN OF THE MAHABHARATA:

The Lunar Line: As we shall presently see, this is exactly the plan of the Mahabharata. We have to begin with the Mind; and, as we have explained, the Moon is the presiding deity of the Mind. As all principal systems meet in the Mind, the chief characters of the Epic, the Kauravas and Pandavas, as well as Krshna and his people, are said to belong to the Lunar race.

Principal Yoga or Saivism: Of the three principal systems, principal Yoga or Saivism (Yoga-Vaisesika-Nyaya) occupies the central place, and so we have to begin with it and see how we can go up to principal Vedanta or Vaisnavism (Vedanta-Yoga-Vaisesika) or down to principal Sankhya (Sankhya-Nyaya-Vaisesika), or Buddhism and Jainism. This, as we have pointed out, can be done through the idea of Sacrifice or its negation in our actions in the world.

Principal Sankhya: But the real Story must begin with principal Sankhya (Sankhya-Nyaya-Vaisesika) or Buddhism and Jainism, for we have to show how Man can rise from the bottom of the scale to the highest point of thought. Now we have explained that the principal Sankhya has two divisions, Sankhya-Nyaya and Nyaya-Vaisesika, corresponding to which we have Jaina and Buddhist systems of Religion. We have to place Man at the lowest point of thought, and that is Sankhya-Nyaya or Jainism; and, for convenience sake we must place his opponents in Nyaya-Vaisesika or Buddhism. This will give us the first conflict between them; but the two, being parts of the same principal system, will soon be reconciled, and Man will easily be able to rise from Jainism to Buddhism.

Pandavas and Kauravas: As we shall see, the five Pandava brothers are but five parts of one Man, and they are placed first of all in Sankhya-Nyaya or Jaina system of thought. Their opponents, the Kauravas, are conceived as Buddhists, believing in the Nyaya-Vaisesika; and so we get the first connection and conflict between them.

The Problem: And so the conflict begins. We have observed that the problem before us is to see how Man, placed in Jainism or Sankhya Nyaya, can rise to higher forms of thought. His opponents belong to Buddhism or Nyaya-Vaisesika; and, in order to understand the whole idea clearly, it is necessary that, while Man may rise from one system to another, his opponents should remain in the same system throughout.

Sankhya-Nyaya and Nyaya-Vaisesika: We have explained that the first conflict between Man and his opponents is between Jainism and Buddhism; and since the two are part of the same principal system, Man can easily rise from one to the other and accept the latter for his creed.

Sacrifice and God; Draupadi and Krshna: We rise from a lower to a higher system through the idea of Sacrifice, which contains the idea of God as inherent in it. Man (Pandava brothers) has risen from a lower to a higher system, and so is wedded to Draupadi or Yajnaseni, the embodiment of Sacrifice, and at the same time makes his first acquaintance with Krshna, the supreme Creator of the universe.

The Division of the Kingdom: We have explained that the first conflict between the Kauravas and Pandavas corresponds to that between Buddhism and Jainism; and it may be represented as follows:

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

Man, by understanding the idea of Sacrifice and of God, has been converted to Buddhism. But Buddhism is really included in Saivism, as we have explained and so Man finds it easy to pass into the latter system.

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

As there is no real conflict between Saivism and Buddhism the kingdom of thought can be divided between them; and this concludes the first episode of the Story of the Epic.

Saivism and Jainism the Gambling Match. But, while there is no conflict between Saivism and Buddhism, there is a lot of it between Saivism and Jainism, for the pure Sankhya part of this system is entirely outside the scope of Saivism.

Creative Energies Soul Buddhi Mind Senses of Knowledge Senses of Action
Systems of Philosophy Vedanta Yoga Vaisesika Nyaya Sankhya
Saivism (Pandavas)   Yoga Vaisesika Nyaya  
Jainism (Sakuni)       Nyaya Sankhya

And so it is possible to arrange a conflict between Saivism and Jainism. They have a common meeting ground in Nyaya, and yet there is nothing in common between two aspects of Saivism and one aspect of Jainism, the Digambara school, associated with the pure Sankhya, holding that all actions, of whatever kind, must be renounced, and that there is no place for God in the scheme of the universe, for it is Prakrti alone who creates.

This is the second conflict of the Epic, the Gambling Match. Man refuse to accept the challenge, for he claims to have risen from Jainism to Saivism, and is called upon to prove his position. Now the Digambara school of Jainism has no place for God in its scheme; and yet Man claims that he has risen from this very position to Saivism or belief in God as the chief creator of the universe. Let us, therefore, assume, in the light of the Digambara school of Jainism to which Man himself belonged at one time, that there is no place for God in the creation of life. Let Man now prove, not only that he exists, but that he has a major share in its creation.

Man agrees to argue on the basis that there is no God in the universe, and then attempts to prove his existence. As might be expected, he fails, for no one can convince the atheist in this way and so Man (Yudhisthira) loses all his possessions in the kingdom of thought, and is forced to agree that, if we believe that God does not exist, renunciation of all actions must be regarded as the final end.

The Character of Prana or the Soul: Man, having failed to maintain his position of Saivism, has to study the whole problem of life again. He has realised that Saivism is no match for Jainism, so that if a person is a confirmed atheist or agnostic, it is impossible to convince him by any arguments or ocular proof based on Buddhi, Mind, or the senses of Knowledge the range of Saivism. He feels that the whole question must be examined in the light of Prana or conscious Breath, the vehicle of the Soul, characterized by both Knowledge and Action, and not of Buddhi, Mind, and the senses of Knowledge. In other words, Saivism having failed against Jainism, he finds that it is Vedanta alone that can succeed, not only against Jainism but against the whole of principal Sankhya (Sankhya-Nyaya-Vaisesika), including both Buddhism and Jainism.

The Battle of Kurukshetra: And so Man studies the problem of life in the light of Prana or the Soul, the essence of Vedanta, after which he is prepared to try conclusions with the advocates of principal Sankhya, or Buddhism and Jainism, and its three resultant systems of Philosophy, viz., Vaiesika, Nyaya, and the pure Sankhya. This is the Battle of Kurukshetra, On one side we have Vedanta, represented by its first manifestation, Yoga, and the two are for practical purposes identified, and on the other we have the whole range of principal Sankhya, though the quarrel is more specially with Buddhism. The whole idea may be represented as follows:

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

Starting from the common meeting place of the Mind, according to which both sides admit that God and Nature are joint creators of life, Man has to prove that God is the sole supreme Creator of the universe; or, if Prakrti exists, it is only a silent spectator of his work. Thus he has to prove his position of Vedanta, or of Yoga as identified with it for all practical purposes, even as Buddhi, the basis of Yoga, is with the Soul, the basis of Vedanta. The opponents of Man, the Kauravas, are free to adhere to their Buddhist or Nyaya-Vaisesika point of view, and may introduce such aspects of the pure Sankhya as they legitimately can, without assuming that there is no place for God in the scheme of the universe.

The Result of the Battle: Man this time does not fail. His chief opponents are Buddhists and not Jainas and they admit that it is necessary to perform actions as a Sacrifice, and hold that God has a certain share in the creation of life and so the task of Man is more easy now, and he succeeds in showing that God is the sole supreme Creator of the universe. This is the result of the great debate or "Battle" of Kurukshetra.

The Descending Scale of Thought: We have seen how Man has risen from Jainism to Vaisnavism, or Sankhya Nyaya to Vedanta, in the Ascending Scale of thought and now, in order to complete the whole cycle of thought, we must see how he can decline from Vedanta to Sankhya Nyaya or Jainism once more. We have explained that Man rises from a lower to a higher system of thought by means of the idea of Sacrifice; and now we see that when he abandons this idea, he sinks to lower systems of thought ending in Nyaya or Sankhya-Nyaya, (Jainism) once more.

This, in brief, is the plan of the Story of the Mahabharata, the conflict of different systems of Philosophy and Religion through different stages in the Ascending and Descending Scales of thought. First of all we have a conflict between Jainism and Buddhism; then between Buddhism and Saivism; and we see that there can be no real difference between them. Then we have a second real conflict between Saivism and Jainism, in which it is Jainism that succeeds and finally we have a great conflict between Vaisnavism on the one hand and Buddhism and Jainism combined on the other; and the former succeeds. Then, in the end, we have the Descending Scale of thought as well, where Man is seen to slide back from Vedanta to Nyaya or Buddhism once more.