Brahmasrii Dr K C Varadachari
The principle of Bhara-nyasa on the other hand is more integral, and direct approach and is the easiest and safest path. But even here we may ask whether and if so how the divine avoids the transference of Karma to Himself or abolish it. The divine is supremely pure, sukram, akayam, avranam, apahatapapmanam, one who immediately destroys the papa or sin of whomsoever he comes into contact with and so of the bhara transferred to Him. It is perhaps to show this immediate destruction of the sins, the Arcavatar of
Srinivasa on the Hills has an incurable hurt on the chin1, which is daily filled in with medicated camphor. The Lord shows the daily acceptance of burden and the transference of the sickness and diseases of His devotees on to Himself and how He annihilates them. The Lord is praised as the Ausadha, The absolute cure of all diseases and karmas; it is well known that those who visit Tirupati get cured of diseases.
1 The story in the Venkatesa Mahatyam is that God prevented the axe-blow from falling on the Cow by receiving it on Himself, a very suggestive Bhara-grahana act of Sri Venkatachala Mahatyam: Bhavisya U.P. Ch. 3
Srinivasa is known more as Vengadavan or Vengadanatha. The term Vengadam refers to the Hills. Vengadam is explained in the traditional commentary on the Tiruvaymoli (III iii.6) Idu. as comprising vem and kata. Kata means the triple rnas or debts and Vem means that which removes these three debts to rishis, devas and pitris. A visit to Vengadam accordingly secures the complete repayment of debts and one is thereafter free from debts. Debts have been at all times held by Hindus to be oppressive and difficult to repay. This meaning of course does not get any sanction from any other source. Apparently the term is Sanskrit but Tamilised. And we do not get this meaning from the term Venkata in Sanskrit. In Sankrit the term Kata means excess. It is used along with aksa in kataksa: grace-glance. Kata thus means grace. Ven is the word that denotes worshippability. It means: to recognize, to
reflect, to praise or worship (cf. A.Fick’s Worterbuch Indo-Germaniscen Sprachen P.415 Vol. I). Thus Vengadam rightly means the place of ‘excess of worshippability’. The Lord Srinivasa is the presiding deity of the Hill. It is through His presence on the hills that the Hills get their sanctity and worshippability. It is most so because Srinivasa is the supreme Lord as intimated in the great verses of the Alvars and Sri Ramanuja. Rightly also we find that Sri Venkatanatha (Sri Vedanta Desika) sings of the Lord as the Dayanidhi and Vengadam as the sugar-candy of Grace of the Lord (iksusarasrsvantaiva yan murtya sarkarayitam), almost bearing in mind this meaning of Vengadam. The Lord on the Hills is of the form of Grace, as all avatars are but manifestations of the never-exhaustible Grace of the Lord to the creatures. Archa typifies the fullest possibility of Grace to all man kind. Srinivasa is a svayamvyakta form, not invoked and got by any seers or sages. Thus rightly has the Lord himself been called Vengadam, and his Hill by transferred epithet is known as Vengadam.
Another name by which the abode of the Lord Srinivasa is known is Vaikuntha. He also called Vaikuntha. The Santiparva (Mahabharata ch. 279, 29) states that Vaikuntha means “One who brings together all creatures”. The Tiruvaymoli(II.vi.1) states that kuntha is a weapon used in by the Lord to destroy sins. The word however is used in a different sense by Kalidasa (Kumarasambhava III. 12; Vikramorvasiya, I.14) to mean blunt, or dull and it is also meant to refer ‘to hide’. ‘Vi-kuntha means the reverse of kuntha or to hide. That is, it is the opposite of all that kuntha means. Vaikuntha is the place of utter freedom, completest light and knowledge. There no darkness or limitations which hide can exist. It is the world of transcendental perfection. Vaikuntha is the parama-pada of Srinivasa, even as Vengadam is the archa-padam of Srinivasa. There perfection resides. Here grace pervades. By these two words the nature of God Srinivasa is perfectly comprehended. The world of Grace is what the human seeks, the world of Perfection is what ultimately will be led to by the Lord Himself. The Lord is the granter of all the four Purusharthas, but only one must seek the feet of the Lord. Grace calls when the world around is dark
and sorrowful and terrible. Humbled man should seek the feet of Grace. The glory of the Archa is to lead men through the path of grace to the paths of light.
It is the true that the Alvars and Acharyas of Vaishnavism have held that Vaikuntha is Vengadam itself1. But for a proper understanding of the two-fold worlds of God, both are to be accepted. The Acharyas and Alvars felt that service here is of equal merit and enjoyment as service or rather enjoyment there in the Paramapada. Vaikuntha refers to the transcendent nature of God, whereas Vengadam refers to the immanent and dynamic father-mother nature of God. As the Upanishad states it, we must worship God in both ways and attain to the fullest perfection in service and realization of God.
1 One may perhaps fancifully deduce from Vaikuntha: Vainkutha Vainkuta, Venkuta, Venkata, Vengada.
INDIAN PHILOSOPHICAL SYSTEMS AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS
The aim of all philosophical systems excepting the Carvaka materialist is moksa or liberation of the individual soul from the bondage to the world of manifestation and society, for these are fields of misery rather than of freedom, fields or pleasure trailed by pain.
So the pratijna of each system, Vaisesika, Nyaya, Samkhya, Yoga, and the Vedanta appears to be escape from misery by knowing the truth about nature, soul, and all relations which is that they are binding and abridging man’s consciousness or existence. Karma Mimamsa which promises the enjoyment of the yonder world and also of this world by performing yajnas and other sacrifices finally tells us that such enjoyments of heaven etc. are not permanent but transitory though very much prolonged than the instantaneous perishing
events of the material world (ksanika). Buddhism is definitely world-negating; so too Jainism. As it was pointed out the only school that tried to make the best out of this world was Carvakas who did not run out of the world because the things of this world are momentary and misery producing. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
The social organization accordingly was biased towards escape form the world to the permanent world beyond or even to nothingness if it meant that.
The four purusarthas are graded in such a way as to lead to renunciation or moksas. The four asramas are, though natural, also directed towards exalting the renunciation of the world as the goal. Education is motivated towards the nisreyas and moksa values as against the values of life.
Thus this world is not the home but the yonder world of God or Brahman is the home of each individual soul, and of all souls
The four varnas or orders of society and the duties pertaining thereto are essentially to serve this trans-earthly life. Whether it is trans-social beyond is secondary. Further each individual soul has to make its own effort to be free from the bondage to the world.
It appears therefore that pessimism is the reigning attitude to life. No one tries to make the world a better place to live in even during the period of precarious sojourn in it, but it should be said every effort is made to make life here miserable, more miserable than it is, so that one could strive to escape from it even before the allotted span. Life is hard and made more hard, and for the spiritual man these are previous indications that he is beloved of God: they are boons and gifts of God ripening his wisdom towards renunciation-vairagya and jnana.
Even Yoga or God-union is said to be impossible except through sannyasa. This leads to detachment from all attachments and produces a person who acts impersonally on the basis of the law of dharma or renunciation of fruits if not of all karma
A Second Approach can be made.
The Vaisesika world-view is pluralistic. There are infinite number of souls and they have to live together. They adopted the fourfold society as well as the four asramas. A pluralistic society is based on the acceptance of the atomistic world with all its aggregating and disintegrating processes. The permanent souls have to liberate themselves from this eternal process-chance or adrsta works all though. But it is human will that should aim at dharma or law and create it however temporarily. Nyaya system reveals how this could be done by reasoning and discovery of concomitances and helps using them.
Pluralism is also the philosophy of individualism and democracy. However it also tends to get over the hard process of self-government by giving up or renouncing the job of government to a leader either by a covenant or by a convention or by just a course of habit of disinterestedness in the affairs of the world into the hands of a monarch or a living God who is a delegate of God the cosmic creator or any clique or coterie. As Svami Vivekananda pointed out in a speech
he made in U.S.A., India loves monarchy. It cannot give up that. Pluralism that surrenders individual rights of freedom to govern oneself is pretty difficult to accept. We have disowned monarchs in this twentieth Century; pluralism exalts the finite individual by almost apotheosizing him into a God. And every one could become a God, but maintain a world of peace.
The individualist conception of society provides for the equal growth of every individual. His society must provide for growth and not merely for the preservation of the abstract liberty of each individual.
The social consequences of the illusionistic philosophy have already been stated in the sec.I. (approach). So long as the social four order arrangement is not seriously threatened, it does not matter what a man seeks or does or strives after. Once liberty is secure so long as one does not break the laws of the conventional society built up on the principles of society order, truth, justice, non-violence, chastity, and other virtues of Indian ethical or social life, no one is bothered about society. The yamas of Yoga are not only for the mumuksu but also for the bubhuksu.
Let us turn to the collectivistic view that might be developed out of the Advaita view or the Absolutistic view.
The Absolutist does not recognize the diversity and as such does not accept the liberty of each individual unless it be of the highest spiritual consciousness. A realized individual is already integral to the whole or the Absolute and his consciousness would be super consciousness. But no one can say except perhaps oneself whether he has arrived at that superconscious state and is permitted to legislate for all other individuals less endowed than himself. But the individuals of the whole would have already begun to lose their individual separateness, would participate in the super consciousness. The moksa of one individual would entail the moksa of every other individual, and vice versa, if the individuals do not feel moksa, no one has been liberated so far.
The rational version of liberty as rationality solves certain problems whilst raising some others. The hierarchy of rationality even like consciousness levels
would hinder the collectivist hypothesis as satisfactory to the social dynamism of evolution.
The only view that may help to solve the social evolution and flexibility or freedom would be the organic view of the mutually complementary opposites or polar opposites operating continuously to maintain a dynamic growth along with equilibrium of what today passes for homeostatis. The world and the individuals interlocked in polar opposition are dynamically modifying each other, in releasing the divine potentialities of matter or nature and the divine potentialities of each individual soul under the concept of the one divine immanent in booth as their self or Ideal. They have been thrown together to bring out the cosmic meaning of being, the inherent freedom in all the three. This solves the problems of pluralism as well as holism. It cannot be said that this has been worked out in the context of a politico-social organization but it was verily worked out by Ramanuja in the context of temple organisation and his hierarchy of God-hood or statuses of God-as transcendent, as cosmic, as heroic, as inner ruler, and as the loving image or icon of infinite radiation in Matter.
A temple centered culture has more significance for social dynamics than perhaps the modern temple, the industrial estate. But then all arts and sciences could be moulded to bring out the eternal significance of liberation and freedom not only here but also beyond. If in the past the freedom was sought beyond because of its richness in infinite measure, in the present it has to be sought here for this too is the necessity in God’s Universe.
Every philosophy as a view of reality entails a practical aspect. Some Philosophies deny a practical aspect for they affirm their ‘contemplative’ attitude as all-sufficient. They however accept a practical aspect for attaining the contemplative state and all social institutions are serviceable to engender this practical process or ethic to promote the theory of contemplation or dhyana or meditation which is said to promote the disengagement from Nature and promote liberation.
There are others who hold that after one attains a philosophy the practical may be said to be the
consequence of the theory. It is the technique or art that expresses the freedom-this is the concrete freedom, a freedom in and not a freedom from, a freedom in and though. Society as a vale of soul making is one view, society as the ksetra of freedom or gnostic yoga is another. They however are not contradictory though both cannot be practiced by the same person. The individuality of any individual lies in his different fitness or adhikara.
The self-finding of this adhikara is very difficult at the early stages. The social organization in ancient times did provide guide lines. Since that organization has undergone sea changes what is needed is a rethinking on institutions today all over the world. Vedanta has shown three major lines, the pluralistic, absolutistic and the organistic and they could be synthesized where there is a will towards freedom and flexibility.
Social meliorism and humanistic work was said to be canalized towards spiritual upliftment of the individuals comprising the society or community by the sannyasi leaders-leaders who have arrived at the
vrddha or maturity or old age having renounced personal attachments of all kinds. In one sense they are said to have renounced artha, wealth and power, kama, desire for progeny or love of them, and have taken to the way of dharma, righteousness completely, impersonally.
The Buddhist Monk was one who had dedicated himself to possessionlessness, who had shaken himself off from all social contact, but even he later on was asked to help every thing on its upward way. Compassion was the quality of the bhikku, a non-possessive compassion.
Jains also discarded society and social concerns were not theirs. Though all sannyasis in a sense were dependent on the lay society and prescribed duties for the householders to help these monks, sannyasins, avadhutas, bhikkus, they have been prescribed only the duty to live an unattached life of purest virtues of satya, ahimsa, aparigraha, asteya and brahmacarya and rigid observance of these, though they had also to renounce all lay duties of dharma.
In fact at one time and even now in certain sects, a Guru should be a Sannyasi-a renounced one. Svami Vivekananda held that they alone could carry out spirituality everywhere as torch bearers. Patriots also must be sannyasins dedicated to the winning of freedom, spiritually and morally.
Sri Ramanuja in his time had non-sannyasins as Gurus to preserve the spiritual work. He did permit sannyasa but he did insist on the non-sannyasi being equally fit to be a Guru to lead one on to the path of moksa. The gain was the Grhastha Guru was in sympathy with the Grhastha who has been a much maligned person. The temples were not only like the viharas for men sannyasins only but for all people of all asramas and all varnas and in some cases even for the avarnas. Sri Vaisnava sampradaya thus made a departure from the sannyasi-Guru governed society to install the householder lay spiritual man to be the Guru in a varnasrama Society. This change had far reaching consequences following from the omnipervasiveness of God and his five statuses of Icon, Antaryami Vibhava-Avatar, Vyuha and Para as enunciated by the
Pancaratra Idea of God with which Sri Ramanuja’s philosophy of religion is fundamentally entwined.
It is not to be compared with the Protestantism of Europe which permitted their ministers to marry as against the Catholic view.
A CRITIQUE OF DIALECTICAL ADVAITA
The Advaita is a very important school in the history of thought. It is the foremost institution about Reality. To comprehend the oneness of all Reality, to emphasize its reality and nature as one all through in the face of all empirical and logical evidence is one of the most important standpoints and it is not by any means idealistic, that is to say that it is just a fantastic postulation. It is known that one of the deepest insights into Reality begins to relate the unrelated and bring unity where there is difference and conflict. The grouping of diverse factors in perception which entails the apprehension of gestalt is itself one such efforts of the mind in perception; so too the casual linkage that we make naturally as a law of min or thought between antecendents and consequents and on the basis of similarity reveals the operation of this unification or Advaitic tendency in anumana whether deductive or
inductive and casual or dynamic. In fact so imperative and obligatory to all thought does this tendency to assume a one reality or system appear that it has been claimed to be the real criterion of Reality itself. In all fields of existence the search for oneness is not only an obligation of thought but also of living and acting. We are more efficient when we know the unified law or the unifying law or system or order whether imposed or natural. Thus the Advaita is a reality and all that we have to do is to find out what kind of Advaita is real, and ultimately satisfying.
In all branches of live we have the actual existence of manynesses and differences. The differences are so very marked and the identities so very minute and invisible that it has become necessary to assume the absolute distinguishability of the diverse which is the very contradictory of the Advaita or unity of oneness of all. In fact Advaita and Dvaita are contradictories and some ardent thinkers do not see any meeting ground between them. If the one is true the other must be false: the law of excluded middle is applied to this thesis and antithesis. Therefore Dvaita
rejects totally as unacceptable Advaita and Advaita reciprocates this attitude.
Unfortunately the law of negation (not contradiction) involves the dynamic instability of both these for one tends to pass over to the other at least logically and cannot exist apart from this counter-predication. They define themselves by their opposites and real Advaita is lost sight of. This is the debacle of dialectical procedures.
Thus any abstract Advaita is bound to be in difficulties even as any Dvaita is bound to come to some kind of compromise with Advaita. Thus we find Advaita assuming a second entity, maya, however much this term is abused by giving it the synonyms of illusion and avidya or ignorance, and thus settles down to the acceptance of dualism and pluralism also for one cannot stay at dualism but must wene all its way to pluralism – of course this pluralism can be abolished at the time of ultimate liberation. Similarly Dvaita or dualism which includes pluralism has to accept the oneness of the Ruler principle which is absolutely different from all the rest for establishing the oneness of
Reality or Rule. All become subordinate to this Absolute Single principle. Monotheism rescues pluralism from falling apart; it confers the unity of all as a universe. Thus monism and monotheism are reconciled though as it was clearly noticed monism is irreconcilable with monotheism in religion itself, the latter reconciles this in philosophy or ontology.
Thus we have any number of attempts to restore balance and unity to the outstanding conflicts between pluralism (unmitigated difference, dvaita) and monism.
Sankara himself seeks to arrive at his Advaita by an effort to seek the meeting points of the several darsanas. Starting from a fundamental dualism in sensory experience philosophers confront both the realms of objective material life and the subjective experience of it. Apparently subjective experience of the external work is the only evidence for the externality of the objective world. All experience in one sense is objective and is perceptive or sensory and as Berkeley put it to be is to be perceived, though he was equally certain that existence as a perceiver cannot be lost sight of. A subject is not perceived but experiences
perceiving which is of course different. The object is something ‘felt’ to be material and inert and inactive though here again we come to see that it is not necessary for it can stimulate the subject by such characteristics as striking quality, contrast and intensity. However though the object is an object because it is known by a subject and perhaps it may be claimed that the characteristics of an object are only subjective responses to it and not in the object as such as qualities or characteristics, the subject is important for without him there is not experience at all. Experience means the subjects’ experience, conscious apprehension of objects other than itself but yet not independently of it. Having divided the real of reality into two as subject and object it was easy to develop this dualism.
The objective considerations or where the object plays the most important part are the system of Nyaya-Vaisesika, Samkhya-Yoga and Purva-mimamsa. Their considerations are capable of being classified under the adhibhautika (material), adhyatmika (psychological) and adhidaivika (supra-psychological or transcendental). Plurality of elements and atomism of the Vaisesika, the
plurality of the souls, and dualism of the spiritual and the physiological-psychological of the Samkhya and Yoga and the pluralism of the gods and the dualism of the worlds of here and hereafter (svarga), are so much explained in these systems that they become problems of the Monism and contrary to Monism.
All these are relegated to the sphere of the maya, as products of maya, and are capable of being products of ignorance and are equally perceived only by the ignorant as such.
The problems are: (i) Dualism and pluralism.
(ii) Matter (object) and Spirit (subject).
(iii) Pluralism of souls and one world.
(iv) Evolution of the many from the one or diversification in Nature. Is it growth or mutation or illusion?
(v) What is the principal criterion of truth or pramana for Reality?
The Samkhyan system accepts dualism of Matter and Spirit; it accepts the plurality of souls; and it
accepts the oneness of prakrti and not many prakrtis for the many souls (purusas); it accepts the evolution and involution of prakrti without the active participation of the souls, and this means that the subtle condition of the object becomes diversified or gross or perceived by the purusa and then it once again regains its subtle state after the liberation of the purusa. Thus the cause contains the effect and the effect returns to its causal state. Thus differentiation of Nature leads to jnana and clarity of knowledge is the goal of all consciousness in experience. Finally it is the distinct and clear knowledge of prakrti that makes the purusa see its difference from prakrti with which he had identified and thus get liberation. This knowledge of difference is the liberator of the purusa or the withdrawal of the prakrti. It is intelligence that reveals this difference in its dispassionate and sovereign condition of knowledge.
Vaisesikas however hold that prakriti or nature or objects of knowledge are many, atomic, differentiated from one another. The souls are also many. The categories of manas (mind) are all individuated as instruments to each soul when it conjoins the grouping of the atoms and begins its organic life. The
Vaisesikadarsana does not accept the growth-theory but only composition-theory. Thus the effect is something that is new and novel, something produced – it does not matter by whom, it in fact seems to entertain the view that there are four causes as even Aristotle distinguished, namely the material cause (upadana), the efficient cause (agent or his instrument) (nimitta), the instrumental cause also comes under this category – things with which the effect is shaped or built, the formal cause (the pattern to be produced which is in the mind of the agent) which can be seen to have been given to the matter and as such distinguishes the cause from the effect materially considered and lastly, the final or purpose cause. These four are capable of being considered separately. In a sense the definition of cause as a totality of conditions or causes in the presence of which the effect occurs and in the absence of which the effect does not occur and as such is the fixed law of causation (niyata-purva-vritti) of effect is fully explained here. Thus we cannot speak of subtleness and grossness as the distinguishing features between cause and effect. Thus the effect is non-present in the cause in any condition taken formally
and therefore, the theory is called arambha-vada and asat-karya-vada.
The defect of this view is that it does not accept the identity of the material and efficient and formal and final causes which is claimed by the Advaita. This is against experience. Even the Samkhya cannot escape from this dilemma for it has atleast to accept the two causes, purusa and prakrti though the consciousness-reflection (pratibimba) in prakrti seems to do what consciousness directly can – a claim that is no where proved by experience as such.
Om Tat Sat