Narach Philosophy

THREE PRINCIPAL SYSTEMS


We have explained that there are three principal ways of examining the problem of life as created by the male alone, or the female alone, or the union together of the two; and from the last we get two more, making a total of five. The first three points of view may, therefore, be regarded as principal, and the last two derived; and corresponding to this we may regard three systems of Philosophy as principal, and two resultant or derived.

In this connection we have observed that the three principal systems may be said to be Vedanta, Yoga, and Sankhya corresponding to which we have the three principal deities of the great Hindu Trimurti (Vishnu, Siva, and Brahma) and the great systems of religion associated with them, and we shall see in the course of these pages how far the connection between them can be clearly established.

The Range of Thought of Each Principal System: In order to grasp the connection between the different systems of Hindu Philosophy, it is necessary to understand the range of thought of the three principal systems. Principal Vedanta holds that God is the sole supreme creator of the universe. But, if it is forced to consider the question of Nature or Prakrti and its relation to God, it cannot, even for the sake of argument, assume that God does not exist or that, if Prakrti is associated with him, the latter's share is more than his. But while maintaining that God is the sole creator of life, it may, in order to clarify its own position, examine the following points of view as connected with its own: (1) that God is the sole creator of the universe; (2) that if Nature or Prakrti exists, it is only a spectator of his work; or (3) that even if the latter's share in the creation of life be more substantial, it is still less than that of God. These are the limits of the range of principal Vedanta, beyond which it cannot concede anything.

Similarly the second system, or principal Yoga, holds that God and Nature are joint creators of the universe; but there are three aspects of their union: (1) that the share of God is greater than that of Nature; (2) that the two have an equal share; and (3) that the share of Nature or Prakrti is greater than that of God.

In the same manner principal Sankhya has a threefold range. It is the very opposite of principal Vedanta; and, holding that Nature or Prakrti is the sole creator of the universe, it cannot, even for the sake of argument, allow that God is the sole creator, or that Nature is but a spectator of his work. But for the sake of clarifying its position it may, if it is compelled to consider the question of God, examine the following points of view, each maintaining the position of Nature as supreme: (1) that Nature is the sole creator of life; but (2) if God exists, he is only a spectator of Nature's work; or (3) if God's share is more substantial, it is still less than that of Nature or Prakrti.

Three Principal and Five Resultant Systems: Thus we see that each of the three principal systems has to take into consideration three points of view; and these, when correlated with one another, give us the interconnection between all of them. Principal Vedanta, by agreeing to consider the question of Nature or Prakrti, enters into the region of principal Yoga; and so does principal Sankhya by agreeing to consider the question of God and this gives the primary connection between the three principal systems.

Systems of Philosophy and Creative Energies: But the three principal systems give us two more derived ones, making a total of five, and there are five great creative energies of life. Thus we might say that each system of thought corresponds to a creative energy. We might apply the same line of argument to the three principal systems. Principal Vedanta is based on the creative energy of the Soul, but, as it has a threefold range, it may be said to extend to the Soul, Buddhi, and Mind. Similarly principal Yoga is primarily based on the idea of the Mind; but its threefold range extends to Buddhi, Mind, and the senses of knowledge. In the same way principal Sankhya is based on the creative energy of the senses of action; but its threefold character refers not only to the senses of action, but also of knowledge, and the Mind.

The connection between systems of Philosophy and creative energies may now be described to be as follows:

Creative Energies Soul Buddhi Mind Purushic Ether (Senses of Knowledge) Prakrtic Ether (Senses of Knowledge)
Principal Systems Vedanta   Yoga   Sankhya
Their Range:          
Vedanta Soul Buddhi Mind    
Yoga   Buddhi Mind Purushic Ether  
Sankhya     Mind Purushic Ether Prakrtic Ether
Resultant Systems   Buddhi Vaisesika Nyaya Sankhya

Thus we see how the three principal systems are connected with the five resultant ones Vedanta, Yoga, Vaisesika, Nyaya, and Sankhya based on the five corresponding creative energies of life Soul, Buddhi, Mind, the Senses of Knowledge and the Senses of Action respectively.

Principal and Resultant Systems: We should be careful to distinguish between what, for convenience, have called principal and resultant systems. The former have a range of thought connecting them with other systems, while the latter stand by themselves. As we shall see in the course of these pages, it is this connection as well as their individual character that is pictured in the different systems of Hindu religion as well as the story of the Mahabharata.

We should also note the difference between principal and resultant Yoga. The former is based on the idea of the Mind and extends to Buddhi on the one hand and the senses of knowledge on the other; whereas the latter is based on the idea of Buddhi only.

Different Points of View of Systems of Philosophy: This inter-connection between the principal and resultant systems of thought also gives us their different points of view in regard to the creative energies on which they are based. We notice that resultant Vedanta and Sankhya, at the two ends, are simple and unambiguous, and each has but a single point of view, bearing on the character of the Soul and vital seed respectively the one holding that God, and the other that Nature is the sole creator of the universe.

Between them each of the three remaining systems has more than one point of view in relation to its basic energy. Yoga, based on Buddhi, has two points of view, one its own, and the other associated with principal Vedanta; and according to the former Nature has a small share in the creation of life, while according to the latter it exists, but only as a spectator of the work of God. As Buddhi is the first manifest form of the unmanifest energy of the Soul, and the two are, for practical purposes, identified, Yoga may also be regarded as the first manifest form of Vedanta and, for practical purposes, identified with it. We shall see the significance of this idea in the story of the Mahabharata.

Similarly Vaisesika, based on the character of the Mind, has three points of view. We notice that all the principal systems of thought meet in the region of the Mind, and so the three aspects of the Vaisesika correspond to all the three principal systems. It holds that God and Nature are both joint creators of life; but, as the lower limit of Vedanta, it believes that the share of God is more than that of Nature; as the centre of principal Yoga, it holds that the two are equal; and, as the upper limit of principal Sankhya, it maintains that the share of Nature is more than that of God. We shall see how in the story of the Mahabharata the Vaisesika, with its three points of view, is the philosophical centre of the Epic, from where we can go up to Vedanta on the one hand and down to the Sankhya on the other.

In the same manner Nyaya, based on the character of the senses of knowledge, has two points of view. As the lower limit of principal Yoga, it holds that God and Nature are joint creators of life, but the share of Nature is much greater than that of God; out, as the centre of the principal Sankhya, it maintains that it is Nature that creates, and if God exists, he is only a spectator of its work.