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The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Vedānta

Bloomsbury Research Handbooks in Asian Philosophy Series Editors Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, Lancaster University, UK Sor-hoon Tan, National University of Singapore Editorial Advisory Board Roger Ames, Professor of Philosophy, University of Hawai’i, USA; Doug Berger, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Southern Illinois University, USA; Carine Defoort, Professor of Philosophy, KU Leuven, Belgium; Owen Flanagan, James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy, Duke University, USA; Jessica Frazier, Lecturer in Religious Studies, University of Kent, UK; Chenyang Li, Professor of Chinese Philosophy, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Ronnie Littlejohn, Professor of Philosophy, Director of Asian Studies, Belmont University, USA; Evan Thompson, Professor of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, Canada Bringing together established academics and rising stars, Bloomsbury Research Handbooks in Asian Philosophy survey philosophical topics across all the main schools of Asian thought. Each volume focuses on the history and development of a core subject in a single tradition, asking how the field has changed, highlighting current disputes, anticipating new directions of study, illustrating the Western philosophical significance of a subject, and demonstrating why a topic is important for understanding Asian thought. From knowledge, being, gender, and ethics, to methodology, language, and art, these research handbooks provide up-to-date and authoritative overviews of Asian philosophy in the twenty-first century. Available Titles The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Chinese Philosophy and Gender, edited by Ann A. Pang White The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Chinese Philosophy Methodologies, edited by Sorhoon Tan The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Philosophy, edited by Michiko Yusa The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Early Chinese Ethics and Political Philosophy, edited by Alexus McLeod The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art, edited by Arindam Chakrabarti The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Ethics, edited by Shyam Ranganathan The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Philosophy and Gender, edited by Veena R. Howard The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Philosophy of Language, edited by Alessandro Graheli

The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Vedānta Edited by Ayon Maharaj

Table of Contents Notes on Contributors Acknowledgments Note on Sanskrit Transliteration Introduction: The Past, Present, and Future of Scholarship on Vedānta Ayon Maharaj Chapter Summaries Part 1 Classical Vedānta 1 Contemplating Nonduality: The Method of Nididhyāsana in Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta Neil Dalal 2 Soul and Qualifying Knowledge (Dharmabhūtajñāna) in the Later Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta of Veṅkaṭ;anātha Marcus Schmücker 3 Vyāsatīrtha’s Nyāyāmṛta: An Analytic Defense of Realism in Mādhva Vedānta Michael Williams 4 Accomplishing the Impossible: Jīva Gosvāmī and the Concept of Acintya in Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta Ravi M. Gupta Part 2 Modern Vedānta 5 Sri Ramakrishna’s Philosophy of Anekānta Vedānta Jeffery D. Long 6 Sri Aurobindo’s Psychology of a “Psychic Being” in Support of a Metaphysical Argument for Reincarnation Stephen Phillips 7 Debating Freud on the Oceanic Feeling: Romain Rolland’s Vedāntic Critique of Psychoanalysis and His Call for a “New Science of the Mind” Ayon Maharaj Part 3 Key Themes, Concepts, and Debates in Vedānta 8 Making Space for God: Karma, Freedom, and Devotion in the Brahmasūtra Commentaries of Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Baladeva Andrew J. Nicholson 9 Vedāntic Approaches to Religious Diversity: Grounding the Many Divinities in the Unity of Brahman Ankur Barua

10 Nondual Philosophies in Dialogue: The World and Embodied Liberation in Advaita Vedānta and Pratyabhijñā Klara Hedling Part 4 Hermeneutic Investigations 11 Seeing Oneness Everywhere: Sri Aurobindo’s Mystico-Immanent Interpretation of the Īśā Upaniṣad Ayon Maharaj 12 On the Style of Vedānta: Reading Bhāratītīrtha’s Vaiyāsikanyāyamālā in Light of Mādhava’s Jaiminīyanyāyamālā Francis X. Clooney, S.J. Śaṅkaradigvijaya: A Narrative Interpretation of Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta Daniel Raveh Part 5 Cross-Cultural Explorations 14 A New Debate on Consciousness: Bringing Classical and Modern Vedānta into Dialogue with Contemporary Analytic Panpsychism Anand Jayprakash Vaidya 15 Mystical Experience as a Skeptical Scenario: Śrīharṣa’s Skeptical Advaita in the Khaṇḍanakhaṇḍakhādya Ethan Mills 16 Dream and Love at the Edge of Wisdom: A Contemporary Cross-Cultural Remapping of Vedānta Arindam Chakrabarti Index

Notes on Contributors Ankur Barua’s primary research interests are Hindu studies and the comparative philosophy of religion. He teaches and researches at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, various historical, philosophical, and conceptual aspects of the Hindu traditions as they have developed in the Indian subcontinent. In recent years, he has also been investigating how somewhat divergent ideas of “Hinduism” as a “world religion” were formulated, interrogated, and articulated during the colonial centuries in British India, and how some of these ideas were received, repackaged, and reconstituted in Britain and Europe. Further, an integral part of his academic research is the comparative study of religions: in particular, the question of whether Christian terms such as “grace,” “creation,” and “God” have any Hindu analogues, and Hindu terms such as dharma, karma, and saṃsāra have any Christian equivalents. Arindam Chakrabarti did his doctoral work in philosophy of language at Oxford under Sir Peter Strawson and Sir Michael Dummett. Since 1984, he has taught at the University of Calcutta, the Asiatic Society Calcutta, University College London, University of Washington Seattle, University of Delhi, and at the University of Hawaii Manoa for twenty-two years. In 2018 he joined the Stony Brook Philosophy Department as the first occupant of the Nirmal and Augustina Mattoo Chair of Indic Humanities. He is the author of Denying Existence: On the Logic of Singular Negative Existential Sentences (Synthese Library Series, 1997) and Realisms Interlinked: Objects, Subjects and Other Subjects (Bloomsbury, 2019). He has also recently edited the Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art. Apart from more than a hundred articles in journals and anthologies, and six Bengali monographs on philosophy, he published the first Sanskrit book on modern Western theories of knowledge in 2005. He has supervised fifteen successful PhD students in the past twenty years in the areas of comparative philosophy of the body, epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind. Francis X. Clooney, S.J. is the Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology at Harvard Divinity School. His primary areas of scholarship are theological commentarial writings in the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions of Hindu India, and the developing field of comparative theology, a discipline distinguished by attentiveness to the dynamics of theological learning deepened through the study of traditions other than one’s own. He has also written on the Jesuit missionary tradition, particularly in India, and the dynamics of dialogue in the contemporary world. Professor Clooney is the author of numerous articles and books, including most recently His Hiding Place Is Darkness: An Exercise in Interreligious Theopoetics (Stanford, 2013), The Future of Hindu-Christian Studies: A Theological Inquiry (Routledge, 2017), and Reading the Hindu and Christian Classics: How and Why Deep Learning Still Matters (University of Virginia, 2019). During 2010–2017 he was Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard

Divinity School. He has received honorary doctorates from the College of the Holy Cross (2011), the Australian Catholic University (2012), Heythrop College, University of London (2017), and Regis College, University of Toronto (2019). In 2010 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. Neil Dalal is Associate Professor of South Asian Philosophy and Religious Thought at the University of Alberta. He received his PhD in Asian Cultures and Languages from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MA in East-West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. Dalal’s interests include philosophy of mind, contemplative psychology, and meditation practices found in classical South Asian yoga systems. His current research focuses on the intersections of contemplative practices, textual study, and embodiment in Advaita Vedānta. He is the codirector of Gurukulam (The Orchard/Sony Pictures), and coeditor of Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics (Routledge Press, 2014). Ravi M. Gupta is the Charles Redd Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Religious Studies Program at Utah State University. He is the author or editor of four books, including The Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta of Jīva Gosvāmī (Routledge, 2007). He has completed an abridged translation of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (with Kenneth Valpey), published in 2017 by Columbia University Press. Professor Gupta received his DPhil at Oxford University and subsequently taught at the University of Florida, Centre College in Kentucky, and the College of William and Mary. He has received four teaching awards, a National Endowment for the Humanities summer fellowship, three research fellowships at Oxford, and a book award. He is a permanent research fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and a past president of the Society for Hindu Christian Studies. His current research focuses on the Bhāgavata Purāṇa’s Sanskrit commentaries, and he codirects the international Bhāgavata Purāṇa Research Project. Klara Hedling, originally from Sweden, has studied abroad completing all of her degrees (BA, MA, MPhil) in Scotland, Canada, and England. She completed her BA at the University of Glasgow, where she majored in philosophy. Having become increasingly interested in the philosophical and spiritual traditions of India, she pursued her MA in Indian philosophy at Brock University, Canada. Most recently, Klara graduated with an MPhil in classical Indian religion and Sanskrit from the University of Oxford, where she specialized in Śaivism and the tantric traditions. This year Klara is beginning her PhD studies at the Department of Philosophy of the University of New Mexico, where she will continue working on the nondual Śaivism of Kashmir, particularly Abhinavagupta and the Pratyabhijñā school. Jeffery D. Long is Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Elizabethtown College, where he has taught since receiving his doctoral degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School in the year 2000. He is the author of A Vision for Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism, Jainism: An Introduction, and the Historical Dictionary of Hinduism, as well as the editor of Perspectives on Reincarnation: Hindu, Christian, and Scientific and the coeditor of the Buddhism and Jainism volumes of the Springer Encyclopedia of Indian Religions. He edits the Lexington Books series Explorations in Indic Religions: Ethical, Philosophical, and

Theological. In 2018 he received the Hindu American Foundation’s Dharma Seva Award for his work to promote accurate and sensitive portrayals of Hindu traditions in the American education system. His forthcoming projects include Hinduism in America: A Convergence of Worlds and Indian Philosophy: An Introduction, both of which are to be published by Bloomsbury. Ayon Maharaj (Swami Medhananda) is Assistant Professor and Head of the Program in Philosophy at Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute in West Bengal, India. He is also a monk of the Ramakrishna Order. His current research focuses on cross-cultural philosophy of religion, Vedāntic philosophical traditions, Indian scriptural hermeneutics, and the philosophies of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and Sri Aurobindo. He received his BA (2002) and PhD (2009) from the University of California at Berkeley. He was also a Fulbright Fellow at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (2006–7) and a visiting student at Oxford University (2000–1). He is the author of two books, Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality: Sri Ramakrishna and Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion (Oxford University Press, 2018) and The Dialectics of Aesthetic Agency: Revaluating German Aesthetics from Kant to Adorno (Bloomsbury, 2013). He is currently writing a book entitled Swami Vivekananda’s Vedāntic Cosmopolitanism as well as editing a special issue on “Vedāntic Theodicies” for the International Journal of Hindu Studies. He has published over two dozen articles in such journals as Philosophy East and West, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Journal of Religion, History of European Ideas, and Journal of World Philosophies. Ethan Mills is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, USA. He is the author of Three Pillars of Skepticism in Classical India: Nāgārjuna, Jayarāśi, and Śrī Harṣa (Lexington, 2018) as well as articles in journals including Philosophy East and West, Asian Philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, and The International Journal for the Study of Skepticism. He is coediting, with Matthew Dasti, a volume called Skepticism in India (Brill). He teaches courses including Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, Asian philosophy, philosophies of India, world philosophy, skepticism East and West, personal identity, and popular culture and philosophy. Andrew J. Nicholson is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies and Department of Philosophy at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He is the author of two books and numerous articles on Indian philosophy, global intellectual history, and the philosophy of religion. His book Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History (Columbia University Press, 2010) won the American Academy of Religion’s prize for Best First Book in the History of Religions. His second book is Lord Śiva’s Song: The Īśvara Gītā (SUNY Press, 2014), a translation from Sanskrit of an eighth-century philosophical work. His current research interests include the history of Bhedābheda Vedānta philosophy, Hindu traditions of theistic and anti-theistic argumentation, the history of yoga, and Indian ethical and political thought. Stephen Phillips is Professor of Philosophy and Asian Studies at the University of Texas at

Austin (appointed 1982), and has been visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Hawaii, Manoa (1995), and Jadavpur University, Kolkata (2008). He received a PhD from Harvard University (1982) after having attended Harvard College (AB 1975) and the Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education, a yoga ashram school in South India. Author or coauthor of eight books, including Aurobindo’s Philosophy of Brahman (Brill, 1984) and Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy (Columbia University Press, 2009), he has more recently written Classical Indian Epistemology: The Knowledge Sources of the Nyāya School (Routledge, 2012). With Matthew Dasti, he published The Nyāya-sūtra: Selections with Early Commentaries (Hackett, 2017). Phillips teamed with N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya to translate and explain in 750 pages the perception chapter of the monumental fourteenth-century Tattva-cintā-maṇi by Gaṅgeśa (American Institute of Buddhist Studies, 2004 and Motilal Banarsidass, 2008); a translation of the entire text, in three volumes, is under contract with Bloomsbury (London), and is scheduled to appear in 2020. A short text on Vedāntic and Naiyāyika natural theology will also appear soon, coauthored with Nirmalya Guha and Matthew Dasti. Phillips is editor or coeditor of several anthologies and has published more than sixty papers in scholarly journals. Daniel Raveh is Professor of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of three books: Exploring the Yogasūtra: Philosophy and Translation (Continuum, 2012), Sūtras, Stories and Yoga Philosophy (Routledge, 2016), and Daya Krishna and Twentieth-century Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury, forthcoming). Raveh’s articles on Vedānta, classical and modern, include “Ayam aham asmīti: Self-consciousness and Identity in the Eighth Chapter of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad vs. Śaṅkara’s Bhāṣya” (2008), “Silence or Silencing? Revisiting the Gārgī-Yājñavalkya Debate in Chapter 3 of the Bṛhadāraṇyaka-Upaniṣad” (2017), “That in the Martyā which is Amṛta: A Dialogue with Ramchandra Gandhi” (2018), and “Sri Aurobindo: Translator of the Ineffable” (2019). Marcus Schmücker is a senior researcher at the Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna. He studied Indology, philosophy, and Islamic studies at the University of Hamburg and Vienna. From 1992 to 1995, he was a research fellow at the Institute for Theology of Religions at the University of St. Gabriel (Mödling, lower Austria). In 1997, he completed his doctoral thesis, “Neither Determinable as Being nor as Non-Being: Vimuktātman’s Doctrine of the Reality of the World” (Vienna, 2002). Since 1996, he has been doing research at the Institute for Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Working at the intersection between theology and philosophy, he is interested primarily in the traditions of Advaita Vedānta and Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta. In the past few years, his research has focused especially on the works of Veṅkaṭ;anātha (aka Vedāntadeśika) written in Sanskrit and Maṇipravāḷa. His forthcoming publications include “Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa: Changing Forms and the Becoming of a Deity in Indian Religious Traditions” (Studies in Hinduism, vol. 5, edited by Marcus Schmücker), and “God and Time: An Interdisciplinary Approach,” edited by Marcus Schmücker and Michael Williams.

Anand Jayprakash Vaidya is a professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Comparative Philosophy at San Jose State University in Northern California. His research focuses on the analytical, cross-cultural, and empirical study of the mind, ways of knowing about reality, critical thinking, and social justice. At present he is working on the relation between classical Indian epistemology and philosophy of mind in relation to contemporary work in analytic and phenomenological philosophy. Michael Williams studied Sanskrit and Indian philosophy at the universities of Oxford and Cardiff. He is currently a research associate at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna where he works on the project “Religion and Reason in the Vedānta Traditions of Medieval India.” He has previously worked on a project to critically edit the Nyāyabhāṣya of Vātsyāyana at the University of Vienna, and has taught Sanskrit and philosophy at the University of Manchester. His publications have focused particularly on the philosophical theologies of Vaiṣṇava devotional traditions in South India, innovation in Hindu intellectual traditions, the influence of Navya-Nyāya on philosophers in early modern India, and metaphysical debates between philosophers during the early modern period.

Acknowledgments The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Vedānta was a group effort from start to finish. I am grateful to all the contributors for writing such excellent chapters and for carefully revising their chapters in light of extensive peer review feedback. I would also like to thank all the anonymous peer reviewers, who wrote detailed reports on each of the chapters. For help with certain aspects of this handbook, I benefited from conversations and email exchanges with Michael S. Allen, Peter Heehs, Signe Cohen, Paolo Magnone, Swami Vedarthananda, and Palash Ghorai. I am very grateful to Colleen Coalter, my commissioning editor at Bloomsbury, for her unfailing support, wise guidance, and kindness throughout the process. Becky Holland, the editorial assistant, also helped in numerous ways. Judy Napper deserves special thanks for her meticulous copyediting of the entire manuscript. I dedicate this book to my revered Ācāryas—Swami Bhajanananda, Swami Nityasthananda, Swami Atmapriyananda, and Swami Sarvapriyananda—who live and breathe Vedānta.

Note on Sanskrit Transliteration Throughout this handbook, Sanskrit words have been transliterated using the standard International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration scheme. As this handbook aims to be useful to specialists while also being accessible to nonspecialists, several stylistic policies have been adopted. Sanskrit terms are generally italicized and in lowercase, with the following exceptions. Names of philosophical schools (e.g., “Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta”) and names of deities (e.g., “Rāma,” “Kṛṣṇa”) are capitalized but not italicized. Likewise, the terms “Brahman” and “Ātman,” which refer to the ultimate reality, are capitalized and not italicized. However, when the term “ātman” refers to the jīvātman (i.e., the individual soul), it is italicized and in lowercase. All Sanskrit book titles (e.g., “Bhagavad-Gītā”) are italicized, with the exception of Vedic scriptures (e.g., “Ṛg Veda,” “Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad”), which are not italicized. Sanskrit compound words—such as “dharma-samanvaya”—are sometimes hyphenated in order to facilitate comprehension. Whenever an author refers to a plural Sanskrit noun in an English sentence, an italicized “s” is added to the end of the word. For instance, when an author refers to more than one jīva, the word will be written as “jīvas,” even though the final “s” is not part of the Sanskrit word. The rationale behind this policy is that nonspecialists may have difficulty recognizing the grammatically correct plural forms of Sanskrit terms. Throughout the handbook, titles of Sanskrit texts are given in Sanskrit first, and then an English translation of the title is provided in parentheses after the first occurrence of the title in a given chapter. Finally, I have asked contributors to supply in the endnotes of their chapters the original Sanskrit passages of cited Sanskrit texts that are not widely available or known, such as Vyāsatīrtha’s Nyāyāmṛta and Bhāratītīrtha’s Vaiyāsikanyāyamālā.

Introduction The Past, Present, and Future of Scholarship on Vedānta Ayon Maharaj “Vedānta,” which means the “end” or “culmination” (anta) of the Vedas, originally denoted the Upaniṣads, the ancient Vedic texts which concern the ultimate reality, Brahman/Ātman, and the means to attain salvific knowledge ( jñāna) of this ultimate reality.1 The Upaniṣads declare that our true transcendental Self (Ātman) is intimately related to, or in some sense ontologically akin to, the divine reality Brahman. We are ignorant of our true nature as the divine Ātman due to our attachment to worldly pleasures, which leads us to identify with the superficial body-mind complex. Therefore, according to the Upaniṣads, we must renounce sense pleasures and worldly attachments, and engage in meditative practices, in order to break our identification with the body-mind complex and attain knowledge of our true divine nature.2 Eventually, the term “Vedānta” widened in meaning to encompass the “three pillars” (prasthānatrayī) of Vedānta: namely, the Upaniṣads, the Bhagavad-Gītā, and the Brahmasūtra. The Gītā (c. 200 BCE–100 CE), perhaps the most popular and influential scripture in India’s history, embeds Upaniṣadic doctrines within a broad philosophicotheological framework that strives to harmonize the paths of jñāna and bhakti (theistic devotion) and emphasizes the spiritual value of unattached action.3 The Brahmasūtra (c. 300 BCE–400 CE) is a compilation of 555 highly laconic aphorisms (sūtras) which attempt to reconcile the various teachings of the Upaniṣads.4 These foundational Vedāntic scriptures, in turn, were interpreted in a variety of ways, leading eventually to the emergence of numerous competing schools or sects (sampradāyas) within the broader philosophical tradition of Vedānta. Vedānta has been, without a doubt, one of the most dominant and influential traditions in the history of Indian philosophy. Indeed, the importance of Vedānta extends far beyond its pivotal role in shaping Indian intellectual life for at least a millennium. For many present-day Hindus, Vedānta furnishes the philosophical basis of their religious beliefs and practices. Vedānta has also had a far-reaching impact on Indian society, culture, and politics.5 Major nineteenth-century social and religious reformers—including Rammohun Roy, Debendranath Tagore, and Keshab Chandra Sen—justified their progressive agendas by drawing upon Vedāntic ideas. Some of the leading figures of India’s cultural renaissance, including Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Rabindranath Tagore, articulated their worldviews and artistic visions on the basis of Vedānta. Twentieth-century political leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Bipin Chandra Pal, in their fight to end British rule in India, also found inspiration in Vedāntic thought. As several scholars have shown, Vedānta has even permeated Western thought and culture in various ways, especially since Swami

Vivekananda first spread the message of Vedānta in America and England in the final decade of the nineteenth century (Goldberg 2010; Long 2014). Not surprisingly, then, Vedānta has taken center stage in both past and present scholarship on Indian philosophy. This pioneering research handbook brings together sixteen chapters by leading international scholars on key topics and debates in various Vedāntic traditions. All but one of the chapters were newly commissioned for this volume.6 The handbook has three distinguishing features. First, while Indian and Western scholarship on Vedānta since at least the 1700s has been overwhelmingly dominated by the study of Advaita Vedānta, this collection highlights the full range of philosophies within Vedānta, including not only Advaita but also Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita, Dvaita, Bhedābheda, Acinytabhedābheda, and numerous modern Vedāntic configurations. Second, it emphasizes that Vedānta, far from being a static tradition, is a dynamic and still vibrant philosophy that has evolved significantly in the course of its history. Third, this handbook explores the broader significance and contemporary relevance of Vedāntic philosophy by bringing it into dialogue with other Indian philosophical traditions as well as Western philosophies. A comprehensive history of the voluminous scholarship on Vedānta since the early centuries of the Common Era would be a valuable but immensely ambitious project spanning several books. For the modest purposes of this introduction, I will sketch in four sections a very brief—and necessarily selective—survey of some of the main trends and phases in the history of scholarship on Vedānta up to the present. This high-altitude historical survey will help us discern both continuities and discontinuities between past scholarship and contemporary approaches to Vedānta. As we will see, the entire history of Vedāntic scholarship reflects a shifting and complex dialectic between what Bradley L. Herling (2006) calls “myth” and “logos.”7 That is, in both Indian and Western interpretations of Vedānta, the use of rational methods of exegesis, analysis, and argumentation has tended to be intertwined with various ideologically driven agendas and myths. In the fifth and final section of this introduction, I will explain the organization and aims of this handbook.

I.1 The Emergence of Competing Vedāntic Sampradāyas Scholarship on Vedānta can be said to have begun in the first few centuries of the Common Era, when early Indian thinkers established competing schools (sampradāyas) of Vedānta by articulating and defending a particular systematic interpretation of the Vedāntic scriptures. Some of the earliest Vedāntins, including Bhartṛprapañca, seem to have been proponents of the Bhedābheda school, which propounds the simultaneous “difference and non-difference” between the individual soul (jīva) and Brahman (Nicholson 2010: 28–30). Another early Vedāntic commentator was Gauḍapāda (c. 500 CE), who composed a verse commentary on the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad defending the standpoint of Advaita Vedānta. Śaṅkara (c. 700–800 CE), who belonged to the Advaitic lineage of Gauḍapāda, wrote massively influential commentaries on the entire prasthānatrayī and attempted to refute the Bhedābheda interpretation of Bhartṛprapañca. Meanwhile, Bhāskara, who was an approximate contemporary of Śaṅkara, defended a Bhedābheda interpretation of the Brahmasūtra in explicit opposition to Śaṅkara’s Advaitic interpretation.

Such polemical infighting among commentators within the Vedāntic fold only intensified in subsequent centuries. By the sixteenth century, numerous Vedāntic sampradāyas were established. Four of the most important traditional Vedāntic sampradāyas8 are as follows, with their founder(s) or earliest known exponent(s) listed in parentheses: 1. Advaita Vedānta (Gauḍapāda, Śaṅkara) 2. Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita (or Śrīvaiṣṇava) Vedānta (Rāmānuja) 3. Mādhva (or Dvaita) Vedānta (Madhva) 4. Bhedābheda Vedānta (Bhartṛprapañca) (a) Aupādhika Bhedābheda (Bhāskara) (b) Svābhāvika Bhedābheda (Nimbārka) (c) Acintyabhedābheda/Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism (Caitanya) (d) Śuddhādvaita/Puṣṭ;imārga (Vallabha)

These Vedāntic sampradāyas diverged on a number of doctrinal points, including the nature and interrelationship of Brahman, the individual soul (jīva), and the universe (jagat); the nature of liberation (mukti); and the spiritual practices (sādhanas) necessary for attaining liberation. It should be noted that the four subschools of Bhedābheda Vedānta also differed on various points of doctrine, though they all accepted the simultaneous difference and nondifference of the jīva and Brahman.9 Exponents of different Vedāntic sampradāyas defended their views as the only correct ones, insisting that their sampradāya alone represented the one and only true Vedānta. Consequently, prior to the medieval period, Vedāntins of different sampradāyas did not actually see themselves as belonging to a common school or tradition known as “Vedānta” (Nicholson 2010: 3). During the medieval period, however, all of these Vedāntic schools, in spite of their numerous doctrinal differences, were grouped under the broad label of “Vedānta” or “Uttara Mīmāṃsā” and were distinguished from other major Vedic schools of Indian philosophy, especially Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, and Pūrva Mīmāṃsā. Pūrva (“Earlier”) Mīmāṃsā was a philosophical school that provided both a methodology for interpreting Vedic injunctions regarding rituals and a philosophical justification for the beliefs on which ritualism was based (Chatterjee and Datta 1939: 313–40). According to this school, those who correctly perform the Vedic rituals will reap the fruits of these rituals in this earthly life as well as in heaven after the death of the body. The Vedānta school was also known as Uttara (“Later”) Mīmāṃsā, not only because it accepted, adapted, or developed many Pūrva Mīmāṃsā doctrines but also because it went beyond Pūrva Mīmāṃsā by emphasizing the transiency of the fruits of Vedic ritualism and the superiority of the knowledge of Brahman, which affords eternal liberation from the cycle of rebirth. It is well beyond the scope of this introduction to discuss all the doctrines of the various Vedāntic sampradāyas and their subschools. The first four chapters of this handbook provide detailed discussions, respectively, of Advaita Vedānta, Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta, Mādhva Vedānta, and Acintyabhedābheda Vedānta. Here, I will only outline very briefly the views of some of the major Vedāntic schools on six key points of doctrine.10

I.1.1 The Nature of Brahman

Advaita Vedānta is the only Vedāntic school that holds that Brahman is ultimately devoid of all attributes (nirguṇa). According to this school, the personal God (īśvara) is the same attributeless Brahman associated with the unreal “limiting adjunct” (upādhi) of lordship. Hence, for Advaita Vedāntins, the personal God is real from the empirical (vyāvahārika) standpoint but unreal from the ultimate (pāramārthika) standpoint.11 All of the other Vedāntic schools are theistic, in that they hold that Brahman is essentially personal and endowed with attributes (saguṇa) such as omniscience and omnipotence. It should be noted, however, that these theistic schools of Vedānta sometimes differ in subtle ways regarding which precise attributes Brahman possesses. Moreover, many of these theistic Vedāntic schools—including Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita, Mādhva Vedānta, and some Bhedābheda subschools like Acintyabhedābheda and Śuddhādvaita—conceive saguṇa Brahman specifically as Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa. Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta, Mādhva Vedānta, and many (but not all) schools of Bhedābheda Vedānta maintain that Brahman is exclusively personal. The theistic schools of Śuddhādvaita and Acintyabhedābheda are unique in accepting the impersonal (nirguṇa) Brahman as a real but minor aspect of the Supreme Person Kṛṣṇa Himself. According to Caitanya’s Acintyabhedābheda school, the impersonal Advaitic Brahman of the Upaniṣads is the “peripheral brilliance” (tanubhā) of Kṛṣṇa.12 Similarly, Vallabha’s Śuddhādvaita holds that the “akṣara” Brahman contemplated by jñānīs is nothing more than Kṛṣṇa’s “foot” (caraṇam), from which the entire universe emerges.13 These schools thereby turn the tables on Advaita Vedānta, which ontologically privileges nirguṇa Brahman over the ultimately unreal īśvara.

I.1.2 The Ontological Status of the World Advaita Vedānta is the only Vedāntic school which holds that the world does not exist from the ultimate standpoint. All the other Vedāntic schools take the world to be real, though some of them—such as Bhāskara’s Aupādhika Bhedābheda—consider the world to be, in some sense, less real than Brahman.14 Interestingly, Vallabha’s follower Giridhara was the first to designate Vallabha’s school of Bhedābheda as “Śuddhādvaita” (“pure nondualism”) in polemical contrast to what he perceived to be the incomplete nondualism of Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta, which—he claimed—compromised the nonduality of Brahman by positing māyā, the source of this unreal world appearance, as a power apart from Brahman.15

I.1.3 The Relation Between Brahman and the World All Vedāntic sampradāyas grapple in various ways with the problem of explaining how the perfect, pure, and infinite Brahman can relate to an imperfect, impure, and ever-changing world. Advaita Vedānta is unique among Vedāntic traditions in explaining Brahman’s relation to the world by appealing to a dual-standpoint ontology. From the empirical standpoint, both īśvara and the world are real, and īśvara is both the material (upādāna) and the efficient (nimitta) cause of the world. However, from the ultimate standpoint, nondual Brahman alone

exists, so there is no world and, hence, no relation whatsoever between Brahman and the (nonexistent) world. Accordingly, Advaitins subscribe to vivartavāda, the doctrine that the world is an illusory appearance (vivarta) of Brahman. In contrast to Advaita Vedānta, both Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita and Bhedābheda subscribe to pariṇāmavāda, the doctrine that Brahman, or some aspect of Brahman, actually transforms into the world. Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita and all the various schools of Bhedābheda agree that Brahman is both the efficient and material cause of the world. However, each Vedāntic school explains the precise relationship between Brahman and the world in a subtly different way. For instance, according to Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita, Brahman stands to the world as the soul (śarīrī) to the body (śarīra), with the latter being entirely dependent for its continued existence on the former. According to Bhedābheda Vedānta, Brahman is both different and non-different from the world. The Śuddhādvaita subschool of Bhedābheda upholds the paradoxical doctrine of avikṛta-pariṇāma, the view that Brahman transforms into the world while somehow still remaining unchanged (avikṛta). According to Acintyabhedābheda, the world is a transformation of Kṛṣṇa’s energy (śakti), which is both different and non-different from him.16 Mādhva Vedānta is the only theistic school of Vedānta that rejects pariṇāmavāda. According to Mādhva Vedāntins, there is an ontological difference (bheda) between Brahman and the world, and Brahman is the efficient but not the material cause of the world. Brahman alone is independent (svatantra), while the world is entirely dependent upon Brahman for its existence and preservation.

I.1.4 The Relation Between Brahman and the Individual Soul Advaita Vedānta holds that the individual soul (jīva) is absolutely identical with Brahman but appears to be a limited entity apart from Brahman because it is associated with an unreal limiting adjunct (upādhi). All schools of Bhedābheda maintain that Brahman is both different and non-different from individual souls. Bhedābhedavādins explain the relation between Brahman and individual souls as the relation of a whole and its parts, invoking analogies like fire and its sparks and the ocean and its waves. Interestingly, the Aupādhika Bhedābhedavādin Bhāskara appears to come close to Śaṅkara in maintaining that the individual soul is, in its essence, identical with Brahman but is limited and subject to suffering when it is associated with limiting adjuncts (upādhis). Crucially, however, while Śaṅkara takes these upādhis to be unreal, Bhāskara takes them to be real and, hence, holds that the individual soul is actually subject to suffering and bondage until its upādhis are removed. In Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta, individual souls, like the world, relate to Brahman as the body stands to the soul, with the former being intimately connected with, yet entirely dependent on, the latter. Mādhva Vedānta holds that individual souls are “reflections” (pratibimbas) of Brahman in that they depend entirely on Brahman for their existence and remain eternally different from Him.

I.1.5 The State of Salvation Most Vedāntic schools agree that our salvation consists in attaining liberation (mukti) from the suffering-filled cycle of birth and death. However, followers of Acintyabhedābheda hold that the supreme salvation is not mukti but bhakti, the supreme love of Kṛṣṇa, which nonetheless entails mukti as an “incidental by-product” (tuccha-phala) (Nelson 2004: 349). Vedāntic schools often differ on two key soteriological questions. First, what is the precise nature of salvation? Second, is it possible to attain jīvanmukti, the state of liberation while living? Regarding the first question, there are only two schools of Vedānta—namely, Advaita Vedānta and Aupādhika Bhedābheda—that hold that no sense of individuality remains in the liberated state. According to Advaita Vedānta, liberation consists in knowledge of our identity with nondual Brahman, which entails that our sense of being an individual—which is itself a product of ignorance—does not remain in the state of liberation. According to the Aupādhika Bhedābheda of Bhāskara, Brahman becomes individual souls through upādhis, and since liberation consists in the total eradication of these upādhis, the liberated soul would be one with Brahman and no longer an individual. Again, it should be noted that the key difference between Advaita Vedānta and Aupādhika Bhedābheda on this issue is that the latter, but not the former, takes upādhis to be real. All the other Vedāntic schools hold that individuality remains in the liberated state. For most theistic schools of Vedānta, the highest salvation for an individual soul consists in residing eternally in a superterrestrial realm—conceived variously as Vaikuṇṭ;haloka, Viṣṇuloka, or Goloka—with a nonphysical body, blissfully serving, and communing with, the personal God (Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa). While Mādhva Vedānta maintains that the liberated soul remains eternally distinct from God, other theistic schools of Vedānta posit a more intimate relationship between the liberated soul and God. Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedāntins, for instance, hold that the liberated soul becomes “one with God in knowledge and bliss but not in power” (Tapasyānanda 1990: 59). We can now briefly consider the second question regarding the possibility of jīvanmukti. Advaita Vedānta is well known for accepting the state of jīvanmukti. For Advaitins, all that is necessary for liberation is knowledge of our identity with nondual Brahman, which seems to be compatible with bodily existence. Nonetheless, as Lance E. Nelson (1996) and Klara Hedling (Chapter 10 in this volume) have shown, the metaphysics of Advaita Vedānta makes it difficult, if not impossible, to accept fully the possibility of jīvanmukti. Since this world and our embodied existence are a product of ignorance, the liberating knowledge of Brahman —which is tantamount to the removal of ignorance—seems to be logically incompatible with continued bodily existence. Hence, many post-Śaṅkara Advaitins hold that even the jīvanmukta has a “trace of ignorance” (avidyā-leśa), which is responsible for the prārabdhakarma (the karma that has not yet fructified) that sustains his physical body. Non-Advaitic schools of Vedānta adopt a variety of stances toward jīvanmukti. For instance, Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins as well as followers of Nimbārka’s Svābhāvika Bhedābheda reject outright the possibility of jīvanmukti. Nonetheless, Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins do accept the possibility of attaining the high spiritual state of a sthitaprajña (a person of settled knowledge) while

still in the body, and they maintain that complete liberation is assured for the sthitaprajña after death. Similarly, Madhva rejects the possibility of jīvanmukti but accepts the possibility of attaining the direct and immediate knowledge of God (aparokṣa-jñāna) while still in the body, which is a precondition for full liberation after death. The later Mādhva thinker Vyāsatīrtha complicates matters, however, by explicitly equating aparokṣa-jñāna with jīvanmukti (Sheridan 1996: 107). Meanwhile, followers of Caitanya’s Acintyabhedābheda fully accept the possibility of jīvanmukti. A key source text in this tradition is Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu 1.2.187, which defines the “jīvanmukta” as “one whose activities are performed with body, mind and speech in servitude to Hari” (Gosvāmin 2003: 59).

I.1.6 Scheme of Spiritual Practices Since the various schools of Vedānta hold differing conceptions of both Brahman and salvation, they naturally differ on which spiritual practices lead to salvation and the relative priority of these practices. It is also important to note that while many Vedāntic schools use the same terms to refer to certain types of spiritual practice—especially the terms bhakti-yoga (the practice of devotion), karma-yoga (the practice of unattached action), jñāna-yoga (the practice of knowledge), and dhyāna-yoga or simply yoga (the practice of meditation)—these schools often characterize these practices quite differently. For instance, while Advaita Vedāntins understand jñāna-yoga as a practice involving reflection and meditation on Upaniṣadic statements about the identity of the individual soul with nondual Brahman, Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedāntins understand jñāna-yoga as the practice of meditating on one’s own eternal individual soul and discriminating between the soul and the body-mind complex. According to Advaita Vedānta, jñāna-yoga is the only direct path to liberation. Nonetheless, karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga may lead indirectly to liberation by purifying and concentrating the mind, thereby making one eligible to practice jñāna-yoga, which alone leads to liberation. For Advaitins, then, karma-yoga and jñāna-yoga cannot be practiced at the same time, since they are meant for different grades of spiritual aspirant. Other schools of Vedānta—including many Bhedābheda schools and Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita—reject this Advaitic position, advocating a combination of jñāna-yoga and karma-yoga (jñānakarma-samuccaya). Within the Bhedābheda tradition, there is a considerable diversity of views regarding spiritual practice. For instance, while Bhāskara’s Aupādhika Bhedābheda gives no importance at all to bhakti-yoga, Caitanya’s Acintyabhedābheda maintains that bhakti-yoga is the highest spiritual practice. According to Acintyabhedābheda, bhakti-yoga alone leads to the highest salvation, while other practices like jñāna-yoga and karma-yoga may be helpful at a preliminary stage but are by no means necessary (Kapoor 1976: 178–9). According to Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta, the simultaneous practice of karma-yoga and jñānayoga in a devotional spirit eventually culminates in the spiritual realization of one’s eternal soul and its utter dependence on God (ātmāvalokanam), which in turn makes one eligible to practice bhakti-yoga—that is, constant meditative recollection of God—which, by God’s grace, leads directly to salvation.17 Within the Vedāntic tradition, there is also a wide range of views concerning the question

of whether, and the extent to which, God’s grace is necessary for salvation. Devotional schools of Vedānta like Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita, Śuddhādvaita, Acintyabhedābheda, and Mādhva Vedānta strongly insist on the necessity of God’s grace for attaining salvation. Other Vedāntic schools, such as Bhāskara’s Aupādhika Bhedābheda, do not emphasize God’s grace at all. While it is often assumed that Advaita Vedānta accords no importance to God’s grace, Malkovsky (2001) has shown that Śaṅkara, at numerous places in his commentary on the Brahmasūtra, explicitly states that the grace of īśvara is necessary for liberation. It should also be noted that Vedāntic schools are by no means monolithic, and it is often the case that different thinkers and traditions within a particular Vedāntic school hold differing views on a variety of issues. For instance, in medieval India, two subschools emerged within Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita—namely, the Teṅkalai and the Vaḍagalai—which took different stands on the “grace versus works” question, with the Teṅkalai school arguing that God’s grace alone is sufficient for salvation, and the Vaḍagalai school arguing that God’s grace must be combined with self-effort (Mumme 1988).

I.2 Vedāntic Doxographies in Medieval India It would be misleading to suggest that sectarian polemics among the various Vedāntic sampradāyas was restricted to an early period in India’s history. In fact, such polemical disputation among Vedāntins has continued unabated even up to the present, especially among traditionally trained Indian pundits belonging to different Vedāntic lineages. However, during India’s medieval period, a new doxographic methodology emerged within Vedāntic thought—one that played a decisive role in paving the way for modern formations of “Hinduism” and “Vedānta” as broad, syncretic worldviews encompassing and harmonizing innumerable philosophical and theological systems (Nicholson 2010: 144–65; Halbfass [1981] 1988: 349–68; Barua, Chapter 9 in this volume). Vedāntic doxographers, instead of rejecting outright philosophical traditions other than their own, reconceived these traditions as inferior stages in elaborate hierarchical schemas culminating in their own preferred Vedāntic system. Most of these medieval Vedāntic doxographies were developed by Advaitins such as Mādhava and Madhusūdana Sarasvatī. Non-Advaitic medieval doxographies include the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitin Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s Paramatabhaṅga (Refutation of Other Views) and the Acintyabhedābhedavādin Baladeva’s Tattvadīpikā (An Illumination of Reality).18 The Advaitin Mādhava’s (1978) highly influential Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha (A Compendium of All Philosophies; c. fourteenth century) presented a hierarchical schema of sixteen philosophical schools beginning with the materialist philosophy of Cārvāka and the non-Vedic schools of Buddhism and Jainism and culminating, predictably, in Advaita Vedānta. For Mādhava, non-Advaitic schools were not so much wrong as they approximated, to varying degrees, the one perfect and absolutely true philosophy of Advaita. Significantly, while we might expect Mādhava to place Rāmānuja’s Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta and Madhva’s Dvaita Vedānta just below Advaita Vedānta, he actually placed these schools much lower in his schema, just after Jainism and before the theistic traditions of the Pāśupatas and the Śaivas. Mādhava’s relegation of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita and Dvaita to inferior positions suggests that

he considered these schools to pose the greatest threat to Advaita Vedānta (Nicholson 2010: 160–1). The Caturmatasārasaṃgraha (A Synopsis of the Essence of Four Schools), composed by the Śaiva-influenced Advaita Vedāntin Appaya Dīkṣita (1520–93) (Appaya Dīkṣita 2000), is a unique doxographical account of four Vedāntic schools arranged hierarchically: Dvaita, Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita, Śivādvaita, and Advaita. Unlike Mādhava, Appaya viewed Vedānta as a unified philosophical tradition encompassing four major schools, which have varying degrees of truth (Duquette 2014; Pollock 2004: 769). Appaya’s doxography, although much less influential than Mādhava’s, is nonetheless historically significant, since it anticipated the hierarchical accounts of Vedāntic traditions presented by modern Vedāntins such as Swami Vivekananda and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan centuries later. Medieval Vedāntic doxographies had two major historical consequences. First, these doxographies helped establish Vedānta as a dominant and influential Indian philosophical tradition by casting non-Vedāntic schools such as Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Yoga, and Sāṃkhya as inferior approximations to Vedānta. Second, as we will see shortly, since earlier generations of Western Indologists and Indian thinkers often relied heavily on Advaitic doxographies such as Mādhava’s Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha, these doxographies played a major role in establishing the hegemony of Advaita Vedānta in scholarship on Vedānta since the late eighteenth century (Nicholson 2010: 160–1).

I.3 1740–1890: Advaita, Monotheism, “Pantheism,” and the Beginnings of Western Indology In the eighteenth century, scholarship on Vedānta began to evolve considerably for at least two main reasons. First, European scholars and missionaries started to study Vedāntic texts in the original Sanskrit and to translate them into Western languages. Second, many indigenous Indians—especially those belonging to the newly formed Brāhmo Samāj—drew upon Vedāntic ideas in order to reform and modernize Hinduism from within and to develop a bulwark against the increasingly strident criticisms of Christian missionaries (Halbfass [1981] 1988: 197–216; Hatcher 2008). As we will see, early interpretations of Vedānta in both India and the West reflect a complex intertwinement of myth and logos: the increasing reliance on sophisticated historical and philological methods often went hand in hand with theological biases and ideological agendas of various sorts. One of the earliest Western accounts of Indian philosophical systems is contained in a 1740 letter of the French Jesuit missionary Jean François Pons, which was widely read by European scholars as soon as it appeared in a volume of missionary writings in 1743 (AiméMartin 1843: 642–8).19 In this letter, Pons provided a synopsis of the “school of Vedânta” (l’école de Vedântam) and claimed, tellingly, that “Sankrâchâry” was its “founder” (AiméMartin 1843: 646). He noted further that the vast majority of Brahmins and sannyāsins in India subscribe to Śaṅkara’s school. According to Pons, the Vedānta school maintains that “nothing exists” apart from the nondual “I or Self” (Aimé-Martin 1843: 646). He added, “The key to the salvation of the soul is contained in the words that these false sages must ceaselessly repeat with a measure of pride surpassing Lucifer’s: ‘I am the Supreme Being.—

Aham ava [eva] param Brahma’” (Aimé-Martin 1843: 646). Pons’s ideological agenda becomes evident here: by conflating the entire “school of Vedānta” with the Luciferian doctrine of Advaita Vedānta and taking it to be the metaphysical foundation of the Hindu religion as a whole, he sought to justify fledgling missionary efforts to convert Hindus to Christianity.20 In 1784, the British philologist Sir William Jones founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal, thereby inaugurating the discipline of Indology, the historico-philological study of Indian texts in the original Sanskrit (Halbfass [1981] 1988: 62–4). As we will see, however, early British interpretations of Vedānta, far from being ideologically neutral, were shaped heavily by Christian theological commitments and Advaita Vedānta. In 1785, Charles Wilkins published the first English translation of the Bhagavad-Gītā, claiming in his preface that the scripture upholds the monotheistic doctrine of the “unity of the Godhead” and rejects the “polytheism” of the Vedas (Wilkins 1785: 24). In 1794, Jones presented the first sustained exposition of Vedānta in English (Jones 1807: 229–52).21 Relying on late medieval Advaitic doxographies, Jones presented “Védánta” as one of the six Vedic philosophical traditions—alongside Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, and Pūrva Mīmāṃsā—and contrasted these traditions with “heterodox” (i.e., non-Vedic) philosophies such as Buddhism and Jainism (Jones 1807: 234–5).22 Jones mentioned that he studied the Brahmasūtra, along with Śaṅkara’s commentary, under the guidance of a traditional Indian pundit in the Advaitic tradition (1807: 235). Tellingly, instead of acknowledging the existence of non-Advaitic commentaries on the Brahmasūtra, Jones took the “incomparable” Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta to be the authoritative and right understanding of Vedānta as a whole (1807: 239). However, Jones’s supposedly Śaṅkaran understanding of Vedānta is, in fact, highly idiosyncratic. Influenced by the philosopher George Berkeley, Jones interpreted Vedānta as a theistically grounded subjective idealism. The “fundamental tenet” of Vedānta, according to Jones, is that matter “has no essence independent of mental perception, that existence and perceptibility are convertible terms, that external appearances and sensations are illusory, and would vanish into nothing, if the divine energy, which alone sustains them, were suspended but for a moment” (1807: 238–9). Venturing into comparative philosophy, he then noted that this Vedāntic view has been defended “in the present century with great elegance” by Berkeley, who famously maintained that esse est percipi (Jones 1807: 239). Jones’s interpretation of Vedānta, then, was based on two highly tendentious interpretive moves. First, like Pons before him, Jones uncritically accepted Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta as the authoritative interpretation of Vedānta and did not even acknowledge alternative interpretations. Second, he (mis)interpreted Śaṅkara’s philosophy in a Berkeleyan manner as a “system wholly built on the purest devotion” (1807: 239–40)—that is, as a subjective idealist philosophy grounded in a monotheistic faith in the “supremacy of an all-creating and all-preserving spirit, infinitely wise, good, and powerful” (1807: 250). In 1811, the Baptist missionary William Ward published a book on “the philosophical systems of the Hindoos,” which included the first English translation of the Vedāntasāra, a fifteenth-century text outlining the philosophy of Advaita Vedānta. He claimed that the Vedāntasāra expresses in condensed form the Vedāntic philosophy of the Brahmasūtra and the Gītā (Ward [1820] 2009: 171). Like Pons and Jones, Ward simply conflated Vedānta with

Advaita Vedānta and did not so much as mention non-Advaitic traditions of Vedānta. Ward, like Jones, also interpreted Advaita Vedānta as a subjective idealist philosophy that takes the world to be an “illusion” (Ward [1820] 2009: 183–7). However, while Jones claimed that Śaṅkara’s subjective idealist system (like Berkeley’s) is grounded in monotheism, Ward explicitly criticized Vedānta—by which he meant Advaita Vedānta—for conceiving the ultimate reality as a mere impersonal “abstraction” rather than as the supreme personal God (Ward [1820] 2009: xxxiii). While Ward simply may not have been aware of non-Advaitic traditions of Vedānta, his conflation of Vedānta with Advaita Vedānta also served his ideological agenda. By claiming that no Indian philosophical system accepted the supreme monotheistic God, Ward was able to justify Christian missionary efforts in India. Since the “Hindoo can have no idea that the Almighty is accessible,” Christian missionaries like Ward himself had a sacred duty to save the benighted Hindus by bringing them into the Christian fold (Ward [1820] 2009: xlvi). In 1827, the British Sanskritist H.T. Colebrooke delivered an important and influential lecture on Vedānta at the Royal Asiatic Society. Notably, unlike Ward and Jones, Colebrooke acknowledged that there are “several sects” of Vedānta, the most prominent of which is Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta (Colebrooke 1829: 2). While Colebrooke relied on Śaṅkara’s commentary in his exposition of the Brahmasūtra, he also noted that there are many other commentaries in non-Advaitic traditions of Vedānta, including the commentaries of Rāmānuja, Vallabha, Bhaṭ;ṭ;a Bhāskara, Madhva, Nīlakaṇṭ;ha, and Vijñānabhikṣu (Colebrooke 1829: 7–8). Interestingly, Colebrooke, in stark contrast to Pons, Ward, and Jones, claimed that the notion that “the versatile world is an illusion (máyá) … does not appear to be the doctrine of the text of the Vedántá” (1829: 39). He found “nothing which countenances” subjective idealism “in the sūtras of VYÁSA nor in the gloss of S´ANCARA” (1829: 39). According to Colebrooke, the subjective idealist interpretation of Vedānta was a “later growth” found in the “minor commentaries” and “elementary treatises” of postŚaṅkara Advaitins (1829: 39).23 Colebrooke, then, was one of the first scholars not only to acknowledge non-Advaitic traditions of Vedānta (if only in passing) but also to champion a non-illusionistic interpretation of both the Brahmasūtra and Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta.24 Śaṅkara also loomed large in indigenous Indian expositions of Vedānta during this period as well as in contemporary Christian missionary responses to these expositions. The great Indian socioreligious reformer Rammohun Roy (c. 1774–1833) sought to reform Hinduism by clarifying its rational basis in the Vedānta of the Upaniṣads and purging Hinduism of what he perceived as its inauthentic and pernicious elements, particularly polytheism, idol worship, and rituals (Hatcher 2008: 19–32; Green 2016: 79–81). In his Bengali and English writings, Rammohun argued that the Brahmasūtra and the Upaniṣads propound a rational monotheism. In his Translation of an Abridgment of the Vedant (1816), he summarized the Brahmasūtra and claimed that its main purport is to establish the “unity of the Supreme Being, and that He alone is the object of propitiation and worship” (Ghose 1901: i). Rammohun also translated several Upaniṣads into English. Tellingly, in the titles of his English translations of the Upaniṣads, he indicated that he followed “the Commentary of the Celebrated Shankar-Acharya” (Ghose 1901: 85), even though his interpretations of the Upaniṣads actually deviated quite significantly from Śaṅkara’s Advaitic commentaries. For

Rammohun, the main aim of the Upaniṣads was to inculcate worship of the formless personal God. Hence, in implicit contrast to Śaṅkara, Rammohun maintained that the Upaniṣads affirm the reality of the world and do not teach that renunciation of the world is necessary for salvation (Killingley 1981). Recognizing the enormous intellectual and cultural prestige of Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta, Rammohun tacitly reinterpreted it as a world-affirming theology of monotheism. Founding the influential Brāhmo Samāj in 1828, he sought to undermine the conversion efforts of Christian missionaries in India by recasting Hinduism as an ancient Vedāntic monotheism rivaling Christianity (Halbfass [1981] 1988: 197–216). Several charismatic individuals, including Debendranath Tagore (1817–1905), helped make the Brāhmo Samāj a formidable cultural and religious force in nineteenth-century Bengal.25 Debendranath, following in Rammohun’s footsteps, organized widely attended meetings for Brāhmos and propagated the monotheistic message of Vedānta through various channels (Hatcher 2008: 33–48). However, in contrast to Rammohun, Debendranath and his followers contrasted the monotheistic, world-affirming doctrine of the Upaniṣads with what they perceived to be Śaṅkara’s world-negating philosophy of Advaita Vedānta. According to Debendranath, the true and original Vedānta of the Upaniṣads propounds a non-pantheistic monotheism, according to which we are all “servants and worshippers” of the Supreme Lord, who is the efficient but not the material cause of this very real world (Tagore [1849] 1928: 57–8). Not surprisingly, Christian missionaries perceived Vedāntically inspired reform movements such as the Brāhmo Samāj as a major threat to their conversion efforts. In response, missionaries strived to show that the increasingly popular monotheistic interpretation of Vedānta was mistaken and newfangled. For instance, in a polemical tome published in 1839, the Protestant missionary Alexander Duff argued that Hinduism is nothing but a “stupendous system of pantheism” (Duff 1839: 37). Duff, like many of his contemporaries, understood the Vedāntic basis of Hinduism in terms of Advaita Vedānta. Accordingly, he argued that Vedānta is nothing but the blasphemous pantheistic doctrine that we are all one with Brahman, a “frigid passionless abstraction” (Duff 1839: 63) devoid of any “moral attributes” (Duff 1839: 58). Like the missionaries Pons and Ward, Duff portrayed Vedānta as a “pantheistic” Advaitic system in part as a means of justifying Christian missionary efforts to bring Hindus into the Christian monotheistic fold. The nineteenth-century German reception of Vedānta had two major strands which ran in parallel: first, a tendency to interpret Vedānta through the lens of “pantheism”; second, a tendency to equate Vedānta with the subjective idealism of Advaita Vedānta. Between 1785 and 1789, numerous European philosophers—including G.E. Lessing, F.H. Jacobi, and Moses Mendelssohn—became embroiled in what came to be known as the Pantheismusstreit (“pantheism controversy”), revolving around the question of Spinoza’s alleged pantheism and the philosophical and religious implications of pantheism more generally (Beiser 1987: 44–91). In 1808, Friedrich Schlegel published Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (On the Language and Wisdom of the Indians), a pioneering comparative study of Sanskrit and German, toward the end of which he discussed Indian philosophy. Schlegel, a fresh convert to Catholicism writing in the wake of the Pantheismusstreit, claimed that Vedānta— embodied in the doctrines of the Bhagavad-Gītā—is nothing but “pure pantheism” (1808:

148), a doctrine “as destructive to morality as even materialism” (1808: 152).26 Friedrich Schlegel’s brother, A.W. Schlegel, soon became interested in Indian thought as well. More committed to philological rigor than his brother, A.W. Schlegel learned Sanskrit thoroughly and in 1818 was appointed chair of Indology at the University of Bonn. In 1823, A.W. Schlegel published a Latin translation of the Bhagavad-Gītā, which marked a significant hermeneutic advance from his brother’s approach. In the preface to his translation, Schlegel emphasized the need for careful and patient study of Indian textual sources and cautioned against premature attempts to determine the “spirit” of India, be it pantheistic or otherwise (Herling 2006: 157–202). Building on A.W. Schlegel’s Latin translation, the philologist and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt published a sophisticated article in 1826, in which he engaged in a technical linguistic analysis of the original Sanskrit verses of the Gītā and generally refrained from making the kind of value judgments to which Friedrich Schlegel and others were prone (Herling 2006: 264–78). A year later, the famous philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, who had no knowledge of Sanskrit, published a lengthy polemical critique of Humboldt’s essay on the Gītā and argued—in the vein of Friedrich Schlegel—that the Gītā, and Indian thought more generally, propounded a philosophically crude form of “pantheism” (Hegel [1827] 1970). On the basis of this caricature of Indian philosophy, Hegel felt justified in banishing Indian thought from the “history of philosophy,” which he claimed originated in Greece (1971: 121). As numerous scholars have shown, Hegel played no small role in promoting Orientalist dismissals of Indian philosophy and the subsequent neglect of Indian philosophy in Western academia.27 In stark contrast to Hegel, the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was profoundly impressed with Vedāntic thought and even incorporated elements of it into his own philosophical system, which combines subjective idealism with a metaphysics of will. Schopenhauer had no knowledge of Sanskrit, so his initial acquaintance with Vedānta was based on his reading of the Oupnek’hat (1802), the French Indologist Anquetil-Duperron’s Latin rendering of Prince Dara Shikoh’s Persian translation of the original Sanskrit Upaniṣads. Anquetil’s work was also a pioneering contribution to comparative philosophy, since he attempted to demonstrate conceptual affinities between Vedānta and the ideas of numerous Western philosophers such as Kant and Spinoza (Halbfass [1981] 1988: 64–8). Unbeknownst to Schopenhauer, the Oupnek’hat also contained passages from Śaṅkara’s commentaries on the Upaniṣads and did not clearly distinguish Śaṅkara’s text from the original Upaniṣads (App 2014: 140–1). As a result, Schopenhauer thought that the Upaniṣads themselves propounded the Advaitic doctrine of the unreality of the world. Tellingly, in the very first section of his masterpiece Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (The World as Will and Representation) (1818), Schopenhauer claims that the “basic truth” of subjective idealism—that the “world is my representation”—is the “fundamental tenet of the Vedanta philosophy,” citing as evidence the passage from William Jones’s 1787 essay quoted earlier ([1818] 1969: 3–4). Many later nineteenth-century accounts of Vedānta reflect a similar pattern of equating Vedānta with Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta and then either condemning it (like Hegel) or embracing it (like Schopenhauer). The German philosopher F.W.J. Schelling (1775–1854), in lectures delivered between 1845 and 1846, praised the Indian philosophy of “Vedanta”—by

which he meant Advaita Vedānta—for its doctrine of “Maja,” according to which “the world is an illusion” (Schelling 1857: 482). At the same time, Schelling, from his Christian standpoint, faulted Vedānta for lacking a truly “positive” monotheistic conception of God’s “factuality” (Halbfass [1981] 1988: 105). In The Philosophy of the Upanishads (1882), the British scholar A.E. Gough argued, against Colebrooke, that Śaṅkara was a subjective idealist and that Śaṅkara’s interpretation of the Upaniṣads is the “natural and legitimate” one (Gough 1882: viii). Referring approvingly to Hegel’s dismissal of Vedānta as a crude “pantheism” (1882: 6 n1), Gough made the sweeping verdict that Western thought is far superior to Indian thought, which has “little intellectual wealth” (1882: xii). In Das System des Vedânta (1883), the influential German Indologist Paul Deussen followed Gough in defending what he took to be Śaṅkara’s subjective idealist interpretation of the Brahmasūtra. While Deussen acknowledged the existence of non-Advaitic commentaries on the Brahmasūtra, he admitted that he had not studied any of them because they were not available to him ([1883] 1906: 28). Nonetheless, he confidently asserted that Śaṅkara, with rare and very minor exceptions, is “nowhere in contradiction to the Sûtra’s” ([1883] 1906: 28; my translation). According to Deussen, Vedānta holds that the attributeless (nirguṇa) Brahman is the sole reality and that “the whole world is only an illusion (mâyâ)” ([1883] 1906: 466; my translation). However, unlike Gough, Deussen followed Schopenhauer—his favorite philosopher—in embracing the subjective idealist philosophy of Vedānta and noting its affinities with Kant’s philosophy ([1883] 1906: 57). At the same time, Deussen was pioneering in his efforts to develop a rigorous historicophilological method for studying the Vedāntic scriptures. As Nicholson notes, Deussen’s “attempt to establish the chronology of the different Upaniṣads was ambitious and largely successful; his periodization is accepted by scholars today, with a few modifications” (2010: 137). Moreover, instead of adopting a monolithic view of the Upaniṣads, he traced the development of ideas from the earlier to the later Upaniṣads—a project still pursued by contemporary scholars. In sum, then, scholarship on Vedānta between 1740 and 1890 exhibited both a strong bias toward Śaṅkara’s Advaitic interpretation of Vedānta28 and a complex dialectic between an incipient scholarly method aiming at rigor and objectivity and a persistent tendency to interpret Vedānta in the service of various ideological agendas. Interestingly, however, scholars defended numerous different interpretations of Śaṅkara’s Advaita philosophy—as monotheistic and world-affirming (Roy), as realist (Colebrooke), and as subjective idealist (Pons, Jones, Gough, Deussen, among others). At the same time, the influential Brāhmo Samāj—under the leadership of Debendranath—militated against the prevailing tendency to conflate Vedānta with Advaita Vedānta, explicitly contrasting the monotheistic doctrine of the Upaniṣads with the nontheistic and world-denying philosophy of Advaita Vedānta.

I.4 1890 to the Present: Modern and Contemporary Trends in the Study of Vedānta Some nineteenth-century approaches to Vedānta persisted until about the first half of the twentieth century. For instance, scholars like Deussen (1905: x, 1908), Richard Garbe (1895),

and Robert E. Hume (1921) continued to defend Śaṅkara’s nondual illusionistic interpretation of the Upaniṣads. Christian missionaries and writers also continued to write about Vedānta, though they tended to move away from the polemical stance of earlier Christian missionaries to a more inclusivist understanding of Vedānta as a presentiment of, and preparation for, Christianity.29 Not to be outdone, some modern Vedāntins like Swami Vivekananda (CW8: 214–19) and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1927: 32) turned the tables on Christian missionaries by incorporating Christianity into their own broader Vedāntic frameworks.30 Moreover, beginning in the final decade of the nineteenth century, several radically new approaches to Vedānta began to emerge. The Indologist George Thibaut’s pioneering and still widely cited English translations of both Śaṅkara’s and Rāmānuja’s commentaries on the Brahmasūtra appeared in three volumes from 1890 to 1904 (Thibaut 1890, 1896, and 1904). Thibaut’s remarkable 128-page introduction to his 1890 translation was one of the first attempts in the history of Vedānta scholarship to employ a sophisticated historicophilological method in order to determine the original meaning of the Upaniṣads and the Brahmasūtra (Thibaut 1890: ix–cxxviii). Notably, Thibaut sided with Rāmānuja against Śaṅkara in arguing that neither the Upaniṣads nor the Brahmasūtra upholds Śaṅkara’s Advaitic “distinction of a lower and a higher Brahman” or his doctrine of māyā as a “principle of illusion” (Thibaut 1890: xci, cxiii–cxxvii). Thibaut helped inaugurate an independent scholarly approach to the Vedāntic scriptures that has become a major strand of scholarship on Vedānta. In the wake of Thibaut, numerous scholars have attempted to discern the original meaning of the Upaniṣads,31 the Gītā,32 and the Brahmasūtra 33 on the basis of careful historical and philological analysis. Notably, while interpretations of the Vedāntic scriptures prior to 1890 tended to be biased toward Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta, these later scholarly studies often challenge Śaṅkara’s interpretations, pointing out where he seems to read his own Advaitic views into the texts. For instance, Chapter 11 by Ayon Maharaj in Part 4 of this handbook shows how Sri Aurobindo developed an original and hermeneutically sophisticated interpretation of the Īśā Upaniṣad in explicit opposition to Śaṅkara’s Advaitic interpretation. The Indian monk Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902), who delivered popular lectures on Vedānta in the United States and England between 1893 and 1901, was also pivotal in ushering in new approaches to Vedānta. Contemporary scholars have tended to assume that Vivekananda did little more than champion a modernized form of Advaita Vedānta as a kind of universal religion.34 It is certainly true that Vivekananda often presented a hierarchical account of Dvaita, Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita, and Advaita as progressive stages in Vedāntic thought.35 This dimension of Vivekananda’s thought can be seen as reviving the medieval Advaitin Appaya Dīkṣita’s doxographic approach to various Vedāntic schools in Caturmatasārasaṃgraha. Vivekananda’s doxographic presentation of Vedānta anticipated twentieth-century Vedāntic doxographies of various sorts. For instance, as Ankur Barua notes in Chapter 9 of this handbook, Radhakrishnan (1927: 32) presented a broad Advaitic doxography that encompassed all the world religions, viewing theistic religions as valid but inferior stages toward the summit of nonduality.36 By contrast, Satis Chandra Chatterjee ([1963] 1985: x)

rejected the Advaitic doxographic approach in favor of a nonhierarchical presentation of the various Indian philosophies as “complementary”—and therefore equally valid—perspectives on one and the same “many-faced” Reality. In a Vivekanandan vein, Chatterjee then argued that all the classical Indian philosophies find their reconciliation in the expansive Vedāntic philosophy of Sri Ramakrishna ([1963] 1985: 77–152). However, Advaitic doxography was only one dimension of Vivekananda’s multifaceted approach to Vedānta. In fact, I will make the case that Vivekananda helped pave the way for five key developments in Vedānta scholarship from the twentieth century up to the present. First, Vivekananda, like Thibaut, called for the study of Vedāntic scriptures “from an independent and better basis than by blindly following the commentators” (CW3: 233). Indeed, he anticipated later scholars in observing that “all the great commentators … were at times ‘conscious liars’ in order to make the texts suit their philosophy” (CW7: 36). Adopting an “independent” hermeneutic approach, he suggested new and provocative interpretations of passages from the Upaniṣads, the Gītā, and the Brahmasūtra (Maharaj 2020). Second, Vivekananda challenged mainstream interpretations of key concepts in Advaita Vedānta—arguing, for instance, that the Advaitic doctrine of māyā should be understood not as a principle of “illusion” but as a “statement of facts—what we are and what we see around us” (CW2: 89). Taking Vivekananda’s lead, numerous scholars since the twentieth century have adopted new approaches to Advaita Vedānta, often arguing against the common interpretation of Advaita as a world-negating and quietistic philosophy that leaves little scope for theistic devotion or ethical action.37 Meanwhile, other scholars—including Hedling, in Chapter 10 of this handbook—have taken a more critical stance toward Advaita Vedānta, identifying philosophical problems and aporias in fundamental Advaitic doctrines such as avidyā and jīvanmukti.38 Third, Vivekananda was prescient in challenging the hegemony of Advaitic interpretations of Vedānta, reminding us that “it would be wrong to confine the word Vedanta only to one system which has arisen out of the Upanishads” (CW3: 324–5). He was one of the first to promote the in-depth philosophical study of non-Advaitic traditions of Vedānta, which has become a prominent strand in Vedānta scholarship.39 Since the early twentieth century, scholars have begun to study in detail a wide range of Vedāntic traditions, including Dvaita,40 Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita,41 Bhedābheda,42 Śuddhādvaita,43 Acintyabhedābheda,44 and Śivādvaita.45 Numerous contributions to this handbook focus on key figures and texts in non-Advaitic traditions of Vedānta, including the chapters on the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitin Veṅkaṭ;anātha (Schmücker, Chapter 2), the Mādhva Vedāntin Vyāsatīrtha (Williams, Chapter 3), the Acintyabhedābhedavādin Jīva Gosvāmī (Gupta, Chapter 4), and the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitin Rāmānuja in comparison with the Acintyabhedābhedavādin Baladeva (Nicholson, Chapter 8). Fourth, contrary to the common view that Vivekananda was essentially a follower of Śaṅkara, several recent scholars have argued that Vivekananda actually developed a sophisticated and original philosophy of “practical Vedānta”—based on the teachings of his guru Sri Ramakrishna—that differs from Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta in significant respects, particularly in its emphasis on serving God in humanity and its expansive conception of God as the impersonal-personal Infinite Reality.46 Vivekananda’s creative reconfiguration of

Vedānta paved the way for the original Vedāntic syntheses of prominent twentieth-century Indian thinkers such as K.C. Bhattacharyya (1909 and 1956), Sri Aurobindo ([1940] 2005), Radhakrishnan (1932), and Rabindranath Tagore (Barua 2018). For instance, the philosophermystic Sri Aurobindo, who was strongly influenced by Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, developed an original Vedāntic worldview that contrasted sharply with Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta, which he saw as world-denying and philosophically untenable. According to Sri Aurobindo, this world is a real manifestation of the impersonal-personal Saccidānanda, so we should not strive to escape the world but to accelerate its evolution toward the spiritual consummation of the divinization of all life.47 The chapters in Part 2 of this handbook examine respectively the modern Vedāntic outlooks of Sri Ramakrishna (Long, Chapter 5), Sri Aurobindo (Phillips, Chapter 6), and Romain Rolland (Maharaj, Chapter 7). Fifth, like Anquetil-Duperron before him, Vivekananda—who studied Western philosophy at Scottish Church College in Kolkata—frequently compared Vedānta with various Western views, including the philosophies of Schopenhauer, Kant, and Hegel and the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin. Even more significantly, Vivekananda was one of the first to critique Western thought from a Vedāntic standpoint. He argues, for instance, that Schopenhauer’s doctrine of the will has fatal flaws at the level of both ontology and soteriology that could have been avoided if Schopenhauer had adopted a consistently Vedāntic position (Maharaj 2017). Likewise, Vivekananda argues that a complete theory of the “causes of evolution” has to take into account not only Darwin’s principles of natural selection and the survival of the fittest but also the spiritual principle of the progressive manifestation of the inherent divinity of all creatures (CW7: 151–7).48 Vivekananda’s forays into comparative philosophy and religion as well as his Vedāntic critiques of Western theories were prescient. The twentieth century witnessed a proliferation of studies comparing Vedānta not only with Western thought but also with non-Vedāntic traditions within Indian philosophy such as Nyāya, Cārvāka, and Buddhism.49 Most of these studies compared Advaita Vedānta with Western philosophy, theology, and religion. However, in the past few decades, scholars have significantly widened their comparative horizons, focusing on non-Advaitic traditions of Vedānta as well.50 Three chapters of this handbook are comparative in nature, bringing Vedāntic traditions into dialogue with Jainism (Long, Chapter 5), the nondual Śaiva tradition of Pratyabhijñā (Hedling, Chapter 10), and Pūrva Mīmāṃsā (Clooney, Chapter 12) respectively. Very recently, some scholars of Vedānta have begun to participate in a movement away from comparative philosophy and toward “cross-cultural” or “global” philosophy (Mills 2009; Ganeri 2016). Instead of simply comparing Vedānta with Western philosophy, these scholars attempt to illuminate cross-cultural philosophical problems by drawing on the conceptual resources of both Indian and Western traditions. Evan Thompson (2015), for instance, sheds new light on the self and its relation to the brain by combining the latest neuroscience research with insights from both Advaita Vedānta and Buddhism. In a similarly cross-cultural vein, Ethan Mills (2018) expands the global canon of philosophical skepticism by examining the original skeptical positions of Nāgārjuna, Śrīharṣa, and Jayarāśi. The three chapters in Part 5 of this handbook are interventions in cross-cultural philosophy, discussing

Vedāntic traditions in the light of key themes in Western philosophy, including panpsychism (Vaidya, Chapter 14), mystical experience and skeptical scenarios (Mills, Chapter 15), and dream-skepticism (Chakrabarti, Chapter 16). There are two other features of recent scholarship on Vedānta that should be mentioned. Since about the 1940s, numerous scholars have engaged in detailed historiographical and ethnographic investigations of both classical and modern Vedāntic traditions. Among the earliest historiographers were Hajime Nakamura and Paul Hacker. While Nakamura ([1950– 6] 1983) was one of the first to examine the history of early Vedānta up to the Brahmasūtra, Hacker (1953) argued, on the basis of historical and philological evidence, that Śaṅkara’s philosophical views evolved from the quasi-realist position of Upadeśasāhasrī to the fullblown māyāvāda of his later commentaries on the Vedāntic scriptures. Moreover, Hacker wrote several controversial, but highly influential, articles arguing that “Neo-Hindus” such as Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo defended Vedāntic positions that were tacitly shaped by Western values and ideals (1978: 510–608).51 Taking Hacker’s lead, numerous scholars have examined how Vedānta was received, interpreted, and often critiqued by the West in the course of history, and conversely, how the self-articulations of modern Hindu figures were shaped in part through a complex process of assimilating, and critically responding to, Western ideas and values.52 In a similar vein, Herling (2006), Robinson (2006), Nicholson (2010), and Adluri and Bagchee (2014) have uncovered the ideological assumptions informing various Western interpretations of Vedānta. Very recently, scholars have also begun to turn their attention to what Michael S. Allen (2017: 294) has called “Greater Vedānta”—that is, Vedāntic texts and sources beyond the canonical Sanskrit philosophical texts through which the various Vedāntic traditions have been studied and passed down. Instead of focusing exclusively on the Sanskrit scriptural commentaries of the founding ācāryas of different Vedāntic traditions, contemporary scholars are beginning to examine a much broader range of Vedāntic texts, including narratives, songs, and dramas as well as “vernacular” Vedāntic works composed in local languages such as Hindi, Bengali, or Tamil.53 Daniel Raveh’s contribution to this handbook (Chapter 13), for instance, focuses on Śaṅkaradigvijaya, a classic biography of Śaṅkara not usually studied alongside his philosophical commentaries. The study of a “greater” Vedāntic corpus, which is still in a nascent stage, promises to yield deeper insight into how Vedāntic traditions have evolved in the course of history and how they have impacted local and global cultures through a wide variety of channels. The brief history of Vedānta scholarship sketched in these sections should not be read as a simplistic narrative of progress from the interpretive benightedness of early scholars to the enlightened, ideology-free approaches of contemporary scholars. Of course, there are numerous respects in which scholarship on Vedānta has progressed a great deal, especially in terms of historico-philological sophistication, our vastly greater knowledge of Vedāntic textual sources, and our increasing attentiveness to the ways that various ideological commitments and prejudices have informed past interpretations of Vedānta. At the same time, we should not commit the presentist fallacy of assuming that our own contemporary scholarly methods are free from distorting prejudices or straightforwardly superior to earlier methods in every respect. Rather, as Hans-Georg Gadamer has taught us, all interpretations

of texts—including our own—are informed by Vorurteile (“prejudices” or, more literally, “pre-judgments”) ([1960] 2006: 271–2). From a Gadamerian perspective, we make interpretive progress not by overcoming or eliminating all our pre-judgments—which is, in any case, an impossibility—but by becoming progressively aware of our own pre-judgments and by striving to distinguish the distortive pre-judgments from those that are hermeneutically fruitful. Contemporary scholars of Vedānta, therefore, would do well to turn their critical scrutiny on themselves and to historicize and interrogate their own methods.

I.5 The Structure and Aims of This Handbook Since the philosophical tradition of Vedānta—with its many schools and subschools—is vast, no handbook of Vedānta can pretend to be truly comprehensive. Nonetheless, this handbook does strive to highlight the sophistication, depth, and complexity of a wide range of Vedāntic traditions. As this is a research handbook, each of its sixteen chapters not only provides an accessible overview of a particular figure, text, or topic within Vedānta but also makes an original and in-depth contribution to the existing scholarship. As a result, many of the chapters are somewhat longer than is typical of chapters in philosophical companions and handbooks. Since there is a separate “Chapter Summaries” section written by the contributors themselves, I will not discuss the chapters in detail here but only explain briefly the organization and underlying rationale of the handbook. This handbook is divided into five parts, each of which not only represents the state of the art in scholarship on particular traditions or themes within Vedānta but also points the way toward the future of Vedānta studies. The chapters in Parts 1 and 2 concern traditions in classical Vedānta and modern Vedānta respectively. This periodization into “classical” and “modern” Vedānta is meant to be taken in a very rough and strictly nonnormative sense. It is, of course, difficult—if not impossible—to demarcate precisely where “classical” Vedānta ends and “modern” Vedānta begins. At the same time, there are a number of salient differences in the language, style, methodology, and focus of earlier Vedāntins like Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Vyāsatīrtha and nineteenth- and twentieth-century Vedāntins like Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, and Sri Aurobindo. These differences, I believe, justify at least a rough historical division into classical and modern periods of Vedānta. Part 1 on “Classical Vedānta” spans almost a millennium, with chapters respectively on four major Vedāntic schools. Each of these four chapters first provides a brief nontechnical overview of the main doctrines of a particular Vedāntic school and then examines a key theme in that particular school in greater depth. Neil Dalal (Chapter 1) carefully examines the nature and status of the contemplative practice of nididhyāsana in Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta. Marcus Schmücker (Chapter 2) provides an in-depth discussion of the concepts of soul and qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna) in the later Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta of Veṅkaṭ;anātha. Michael Williams (Chapter 3) discusses the Mādhva Vedāntin Vyāsatīrtha’s analytic defense of realism in the Nyāyāmṛta. Finally, Ravi M. Gupta (Chapter 4) examines the philosophical and theological nuances of the concept of acintya in Jīva Gosvāmī’s Acintyabhedābheda Vedānta. Obviously, there are many schools and subschools of classical Vedānta that are not covered in Part 1, including the Bhedābheda schools of Nimbārka and

Vallabha, the Śivādvaita school of Śrīkaṇṭ;ha and Appaya Dīkṣita, and many others. The hope is that the in-depth discussions in Part 1 of key figures in four of the major classical Vedāntic traditions will encourage scholars to continue to work collectively toward examining the full range of classical Vedāntic traditions in all their depth, complexity, and richness. Part 2 on “Modern Vedānta” contains three chapters on innovative Vedāntins of the modern period. Jeffery D. Long (Chapter 5) sheds new light on the harmonizing Vedāntic philosophy of Sri Ramakrishna by examining it from the perspective of the Jain doctrine of anekānta. Stephen Phillips (Chapter 6) reconstructs Sri Aurobindo’s metaphysical argument for reincarnation in The Life Divine and finds the basis of Sri Aurobindo’s argument in his novel psychology of a “psychic being.” Ayon Maharaj (Chapter 7) discusses the French writer Romain Rolland’s fascinating early twentieth-century debate about mystical experience with Sigmund Freud, in which Rolland explicitly draws upon the Vedāntic ideas of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. It is worth noting two points about this section of the handbook. First, there are countless other modern Vedāntins that could have been discussed in this section, including Swaminarayan (1781–1830), Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888–1975), Swami Prabhupada (1896–1977), Saccidānandendra Sarasvatī (1880–1975), Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950), and Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī (b. 1953). As with Part 1, Part 2 should be seen as paving the way for future scholarly work on the vast landscape of modern Vedāntic thought. Second, each chapter in Part 2 consciously resists the still common tendency to label modern Vedāntin thinkers as “Neo-Vedāntins.” Recently, a number of scholars have argued that the catch-all label “Neo-Vedānta” is misleading at best and pernicious at worst, not only because it fails to capture the nuances of the specific philosophical views of modern Vedāntins but also because it is indelibly colored by Paul Hacker’s polemical use of the term (Hatcher 2004; Madaio 2018; Maharaj 2018: 45–50; Nicholson 2020; Long, Chapter 5 in this volume). According to Hacker (1995: 251), “NeoVedāntins” like Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo clothed what are essentially Western principles and values in superficially Indian garb in order to promote Indian nationalism. Militating against Hacker’s thesis, each chapter in Part 2 strives to demonstrate the depth and sophistication of the thought of modern Vedāntins, highlighting their efforts to draw upon the resources of indigenous Indian traditions. Part 3 of the handbook contains three chapters on “Key Themes, Concepts, and Debates in Vedānta.” The chapters by Nicholson (Chapter 8) and Barua (Chapter 9) examine how key themes and concepts have been discussed and debated across multiple Vedāntic traditions. Nicholson compares the differing approaches to karma, freedom, and devotion in the Brahmasūtra commentaries of the Advaitin Śaṅkara, the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitin Rāmānuja, and the Acintyabhedābhedavādin Baladeva. Barua examines a variety of approaches to doctrinal and religious diversity in a vast range of classical and modern Vedāntic traditions. Klara Hedling (Chapter 10) discusses embodied liberation (jīvanmukti) and the ontological status of the world in the two nondual Indian traditions of Advaita Vedānta and Pratyabhijñā. The aim of Part 3 is to encourage scholars of Vedānta to explore further the rich diversity of views on various themes and concepts not only within a particular Vedāntic school, but also across different Vedāntic schools, and across Vedāntic and non-Vedāntic philosophical traditions.

Part 4, “Hermeneutic Investigations,” has three chapters which pay careful attention to the nuances and challenges involved in reading and interpreting various texts in the Vedāntic tradition. Of the three texts comprising the prasthānatrayī, the Bhagavad-Gītā has received by far the most scholarly attention. To begin to redress this imbalance, the chapters by Ayon Maharaj and Francis X. Clooney focus on the two other textual “pillars” of Vedānta. Maharaj (Chapter 11) closely examines Sri Aurobindo’s unique interpretation of the Īśā Upaniṣad, while Clooney (Chapter 12) discusses the hermeneutic and stylistic nuances of Bhāratītīrtha’s Vaiyāsikanyāyamālā, a virtuosic summation of the Brahmasūtra from the standpoint of Advaita Vedānta. Daniel Raveh adopts a fresh approach to Śaṅkara’s Advaita by examining it through the narrative lens of Śaṅkaradigvijaya, the famous medieval biography of Śaṅkara. These chapters remind us of the centrality of textual interpretation in Vedānta and pave the way for further hermeneutic work on the dizzying array of Vedāntic texts in a wide variety of genres, including scriptural commentaries, independent philosophical treatises, plays, poems, biographies, and songs. Part 5, “Cross-Cultural Explorations,” has three chapters which engage Vedāntic ideas from global philosophical perspectives. Anand Jayprakash Vaidya (Chapter 14) demonstrates the relevance of the Vedāntic views of Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Sri Ramakrishna to contemporary debates about consciousness and panpsychism in analytic philosophy of mind. Ethan Mills (Chapter 15) argues that the Advaitin thinker Śrīharṣa’s somewhat surprising appeal to nondual mystical experience is best understood as a “skeptical scenario” in the contemporary analytic sense. Finally, Arindam Chakrabarti (Chapter 16) examines from a cross-cultural standpoint the themes of dream, māyā, and love in the Vedāntic thought of Śaṅkara, Vivekananda, and K.C. Bhattacharyya. These chapters should encourage philosophically minded scholars of Vedānta to venture beyond mere philosophical comparison and to adopt a more cosmopolitan method that aims to address philosophical problems by drawing upon the conceptual resources of both Vedāntic and global traditions. The sixteen chapters of this handbook interact, and sometimes overlap, with each other in fruitful and interesting ways. To aid the reader in drawing connections among the chapters, each contributor has referred to themes and arguments in other chapters wherever they deemed appropriate. An attentive reader of the handbook will notice certain recurring themes in the handbook, three of which I will note here. First, apart from Dalal’s and Raveh’s chapters on Śaṅkara, almost all the other chapters also engage, to a certain extent, the Advaita Vedānta of Śaṅkara and his followers, often as a philosophical foil against which various thinkers—including Rāmānuja, Veṅkaṭ;anātha, Vyāsatīrtha, Jīva Gosvāmī, Baladeva, Abhinavagupta, Sri Ramakrishna, and Sri Aurobindo—developed their own positions. Second, numerous chapters examine different approaches to the ontological status of the world and its relationship to the ultimate reality, with Advaitins like Śaṅkara and Śrīharṣa denying the ultimate reality of the world and other thinkers, both classical and modern, defending the reality and divinity of the world. Third, besides Long’s chapter on Sri Ramakrishna, parts of numerous other chapters also discuss Sri Ramakrishna’s views on issues like the problem of evil (Nicholson, Chapter 8), religious pluralism (Barua, Chapter 9), consciousness (Vaidya, Chapter 14), and the world (Chakrabarti, Chapter 16). Several chapters also discuss Sri Ramakrishna’s influence on other thinkers—namely, Vivekananda

(Chakrabarti, Chapter 16), Rolland (Maharaj, Chapter 7), and Sri Aurobindo (Maharaj, Chapter 11). The recurring presence of Sri Ramakrishna at various points in this handbook, though not planned, is nonetheless serendipitous, since it highlights one of the many ways that contributors have sought to bring classical and modern Vedāntic figures into productive dialogue. The future of Vedānta scholarship looks bright, and it is our hope that this research handbook will serve as a resource and guide for both scholars and students interested in exploring the riches of one of India’s most important philosophical traditions.

Abbreviation CW Vivekananda, Swami ([1957–97] 2006–7), The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda: Mayavati Memorial Edition, 9 vols. Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama.

Notes I am grateful to Michael S. Allen, Ankur Barua, and Ravi M. Gupta for their very helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this introduction. For elucidation of some aspects of Vallabha’s philosophy, I am grateful to Sharad Goswami and Maitri Goswami. For attempts to date the Upaniṣads, see Chapter 2 of Cohen (2018) and Nakamura ([1950–6] 1983: 9–44). See Witz (1998: 196–207) for a helpful discussion of the various meditative practices taught in the Upaniṣads—namely, upāsanās, vidyās, and dhyāna. Malinar (2007: 15) suggests 100 CE as the approximate date of composition of the Gītā, though other scholars suggest date ranges extending into one or two centuries BCE. See Nakamura ([1950–6] 1983: 435–6) for an approximate dating of the Brahmasūtra. For in-depth discussions of the impact of Vedānta in India, see Nakamura ([1950–6] 1983: 1–4), Halbfass (1988), Hatcher (2008), and Nicholson (2010). Chapter 7 (Maharaj’s essay on Romain Rolland) is a revision of a previously published article. Herling builds on Lincoln (1999), which first developed this dialectic between myth and logos. One of the schools I do not discuss here (for lack of space) is the Śivādvaita Vedānta of figures like Śrīkaṇṭ;ha and Appaya Dīkṣita. Scholars have only recently begun to examine this school. See, for instance, Duquette (2014 and forthcoming). For a helpful overview of Bhedābheda Vedānta and its various subschools, see Nicholson (n.d.). For the ensuing doctrinal overview of various Vedāntic schools, I have relied primarily on Srinivasachari (1934), Sharma (1962), Kapoor (1976), Lipner (1986), and Tapasyānanda (1990). For Śaṅkara’s views on īśvara, see his commentary on Brahmasūtra 2.1.14. See Caitanyacaritāmṛta 1.3. See Vallabha’s Prakāśa autocommentary on verses 98 and 102 of the second chapter (“Sarvanirṇayaprakaraṇam”) of his Tattvārthadīpanibandha. For discussion of this point, see Nicholson (n.d.). See verse 28 of Giridhara’s (2000) Śuddhādvaitamārtaṇḍaḥ. It is not widely known that Vallabha himself never used the term “śuddhādvaita,” preferring instead to refer to his school as “Brahmavāda.” For details, see Gupta’s contribution to this volume (Chapter 4). For a helpful discussion of the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitic approach to spiritual practice, see Lipner (1986: 99–119). Nicholson (2010: 39–66) provides an illuminating discussion of the Bhedābhedavādin Vijñānabhikṣu’s doxographic method. Pons’s letter is discussed in App (2014: 125–6) and Rocher and Rocher (2012: 188). As Halbfass ([1981] 1988: 39–42) notes, an even earlier account of Vedānta is contained in the Jesuit missionary Roberto De Nobili’s Latin treatise Informatio de quibusdam moribus nationis indicae (1613), where he summarizes Śaṅkara’s, Rāmānuja’s, and Madhva’s sects of Vedānta. See also Halbfass ([1981] 1988: 44–53) on the early Jesuit reception of Vedānta. As Halbfass ([1981] 1988: 63) notes, Jones also published the first English translation of an Upaniṣad—namely, the Īśā Upaniṣad—in 1799 (Jones 1799: 423–5). See Nicholson (2010: 166–84).

Colebrooke may have had in mind, among others, Prakāśānanda (fl. 1505), who defended a subjective idealist form of Advaita Vedānta in his book Vedāntasiddhāntamuktāvalī. For further details on Colebrooke, see Rocher and Rocher (2012). Another highly influential later Brāhmo figure, whom I do not have the space to discuss here, is Keshab Chandra Sen (1838– 84). For a detailed treatment, see Stevens (2018). For discussion, see Herling (2006: 117–56) and Halbfass ([1981] 1988: 74–8). For discussions of Hegel’s reception of Indian thought, see Halbfass ([1981] 1988: 84–99), Bernasconi (2003), Herling (2006: 203–54), and Rathore and Mohapatra (2017). For a thorough discussion of the sociohistorical context in which Advaitic scholarship began to flourish in early modern India, see Minkowski (2011). See, for instance, Slater (1897) and Urquhart (1928). See further references in Halbfass ([1981] 1988: 51–2). For discussions of modern Vedāntic responses to Christianity, see Paradkar (1969), Halbfass ([1981] 1988: 52–3), and Coward (1987). See, for instance, Aurobindo ([1920] 2012: 3–98, [1924] 2011: 3–91), Radhakrishnan (1923: 106–220), Thieme (1965), Richard H. Jones (1981), Clooney (1994), Cohen (2018), and Maharaj’s contribution in Chapter 11 of this volume. See Aurobindo ([1922–8] 1997), Mainkar (1969), Zaehner (1969), Minor (1982), Malinar (2007), and Maharaj (2015). See Dasgupta (1922: 36–46), Modi (1943–56), Nakamura ([1950–6] 1983: 404–532), Ghate (1981), Adams (1993), and Maharaj (2020). For reductive views of Vivekananda, see Frazier (2015: 2) and Neevel (1976: 54–5). See, for instance, CW1: 393–404. For non-Śaṅkaran interpretations of Vivekananda’s “ladder theory,” see Maharaj (2020) and the section on Vivekananda in Barua’s contribution to this handbook (Chapter 9). See also Deussen (1908), who not only translated into German Mādhava’s Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha but also explicitly concurred with Mādhava that Advaita Vedānta is the pinnacle of Indian philosophical thought (191). See Radhakrishnan (1926: 445–658), Hacker (1978: 59–292), Malkovsky (2001), and De Smet (2013). See also Dalal (Chapter 1, this volume) and Raveh (Chapter 13, this volume). See Chapter 10 by Hedling in this handbook as well as Aurobindo ([1940] 2005: 20–8, 428–98), Ingalls (1953), Das (1954), Nelson (1996), Framarin (2009), and Rao (2011). For more comprehensive bibliographies of the scholarship on various Vedāntic traditions, see Karl Potter’s online bibliography ( See, for instance, Glasenapp (1923), Sharma (1960–1), Mesquita (1997), Sarma (2005), McCrea (2015), Williams (2017 and Chapter 3 in present volume). Srinivasachari (1928), Lipner (1986), Bartley (2002), Freschi (2015), and Schmücker (Chapter 2 in this volume). See Srinivasachari (1934) and Nicholson (2010: 24–66). Glasenapp (1934) and Narain (2006). Elkman (1986), Gupta (2007, Chapter 4 of this volume), Edelmann (2012), and Okita (2014). Duquette (2014) and McCrea (2014). See Rambachan (1994), Chatterjee (1995), Dasgupta (1999), and Maharaj (2019). See Phillips’s (Chapter 6) and Maharaj’s (Chapters 7 and 11) contributions to this volume. For a helpful discussion of Vivekananda’s views on evolution, see Brown (2012: 131–54). See Deussen (1917), Raju (1937), Radhakrishnan and Raju (1960), Clooney (1993), Gupta (1998), and Mills (2018). See, for instance, Barua (2009), Edelmann (2012), and Clooney (2013). For an English translation of these articles, see Hacker (1995). See Halbfass ([1981] 1988), King (1999: 118–42), Hatcher (2008), and Nicholson (2010). See Dobe (2015: 182–222), Allen (2017), Steinschneider (2017), and Raveh’s contribution to this volume (Chapter 13).

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Chapter Summaries Chapter 1 Contemplating Nonduality: The Method of Nididhyāsana in Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta Neil Dalal The threefold process of listening (śravaṇa), logical reflection (manana), and contemplation (nididhyāsana) is central to Advaita Vedānta’s method of learning, and designed to lead the Advaitin toward liberating knowledge; however, relatively little is known about the contemplative method of nididhyāsana. This chapter explores the structures and practices of nididhyāsana. It analyzes how Śaṅkara, the eighth-century systematizer of Advaita Vedānta, grounded nididhyāsana in a method of language and a particular trajectory of philosophical inquiry. The study isolates several elements of continuity as well as subtle differences in Śaṅkara’s understanding of nididhyāsana practices, as reflected in his interpretations of key passages in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad and the Bhagavad-Gītā as well as in his own Upadeśasāhasrī. These case studies show that nididhyāsana is fundamentally different from meditation practices of controlling the mind or other contemplative practices that presuppose a dichotomy of theory and practice. They further demonstrate that an accurate reading of Śaṅkara cannot attribute any independent epistemological function to nididhyāsana wholly separate from Upaniṣadic study.

Chapter 2 Soul and Qualifying Knowledge (Dharmabhūtajñāna) in the Later Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta of Veṅkaṭ;anātha Marcus Schmücker Through an examination of the Sanskrit and Maṇipravāḷa works of Veṅkaṭ;anātha (1269– 1368), a famous representative of the tradition of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta after Rāmānuja, this chapter shows how Veṅkaṭ;anātha develops a cognitive model that tries to mediate between the eternal individual self (jīvātman) and the changeable world by means of a knowledge called “qualifying knowledge” (dharmabhūtajñāna). The ontological and temporal dimensions of this mediating qualifying knowledge, which is an attribute of the self, are explained in a series of steps and with the help of some examples. After describing the concepts of substance (dravya) and state (avasthā), the author explains in what sense the individual self (ātman) is an eternal substance (dravya) and how it is related to its outwardly directed knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna), which is also defined as a substance, albeit as a qualifying substance of the basic individual self (ātman). Presupposing this basic ontology and having highlighted the interdependence of these two substances, the author demonstrates how, for Veṅkaṭ;anātha, the self is able to reflect diachronically on its own states as they happened in the past, or on possible states in the future. Accordingly, Veṅkaṭ;anātha argues that knowledge of unawareness during sleep is merely knowledge of a particular state of

being unaware—that is, knowledge of the “prior absence” (prāgabhāva) of knowledge. The final section examines Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s account of why, and how, God Himself has the same kind of knowledge (namely, dharmabhūtajñāna) as the individual soul.

Chapter 3 Vyāsatīrtha’s Nyāyāmṛta: An Analytic Defense of Realism in Mādhva Vedānta Michael Williams This chapter focuses on the thought of the sixteenth-century Mādhva Vedānta philosopher Vyāsatīrtha. In his highly influential work, the Nyāyāmṛta, Vyāsatīrtha defended the reality of the world of everyday experience against the nondualistic (Advaita) stream of Vedānta philosophy. So far as Vyāsatīrtha is concerned, the world of our everyday experience is real; our perceptions reveal to us a pluralistic world of objects that truly exist, and neither metaphysical inferences nor scripture have the power to contradict these perceptions. In this chapter, the author provides an analysis of Vyāsatīrtha’s treatment of the central Vedāntic concept of “existence” (sattva), based on his own translations of the Nyāyāmṛta. This part of the Nyāyāmṛta shows Vyāsatīrtha at work as an analytic thinker, developing an original theory of existence and nonexistence that can provide a robust challenge to the thesis of the Advaita Vedāntins that the world of our everyday perceptions is simply an illusion.

Chapter 4 Accomplishing the Impossible: Jīva Gosvāmī and the Concept of Acintya in Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta Ravi M. Gupta This chapter traces the concept of acintya, inconceivability, through the writings of Jīva Gosvāmī (c. 1517–1608), an early expositor of Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta. After outlining the life and work of Jīva Gosvāmī as well as the foundational tenets of Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism, the author argues that acintya is used in two related ways: to describe the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and His energies (śakti) as well as to describe Kṛṣṇa’s confounding activities (līlā). The former usage serves to resolve the tension in scriptural statements that alternately affirm difference (bheda) and nondifference (abheda) between God and the world, while the latter usage of acintya has the effect of deepening the devotee’s wonder and devotion for the Lord. The chapter also discusses debates surrounding the concept of acintya and distinguishes it from the Advaita notion of anirvacanīya.

Chapter 5 Sri Ramakrishna’s Philosophy of Anekānta Vedānta Jeffery D. Long This chapter aims to shed new light on the Vedāntic worldview of the Bengali mystic Sri Ramakrishna (1836–86). The author argues that the central features of Sri Ramakrishna’s

Vedānta are its worldview pluralism (dharma-samanvaya) and its rootedness in direct experience (anubhava) of the nature of ultimate reality. As a thoroughgoingly pluralistic philosophy, Sri Ramakrishna’s thought could be designated with the term Anekānta (or pluralistic) Vedānta. The use of the term anekānta to designate this philosophy should bring to mind, for those familiar with classical Indian thought, the Jain position of anekāntavāda: that is, the Jain doctrine of the complex (literally, “non-one-sided”) nature of existence. The use of this term here is not intended to suggest either that Sri Ramakrishna was influenced directly by Jainism, or that his philosophy amounts, substantively, to a traditional Jain view of reality. Jainism affirms a pluralistic realism—“pluralism” here referring not to the diversity of worldviews, but to the ontological claim that reality consists of a variety of diverse types of entity. There is, in fact, no evidence, at least of which this author is aware, that Sri Ramakrishna engaged deeply with Jain thought; and Sri Ramakrishna’s worldview, while certainly having affinities with that of Jainism, is also different enough from the view of this tradition so as not to be confused or conflated with it. The use of the term anekānta, though, is intended to draw attention to affinities between Sri Ramakrishna’s pluralism and a similar stance developed by Jain thinkers throughout the centuries: a stance highlighted by modern Jain thinkers (and other modern Indian philosophers, like Bimal Krishna Matilal) who have advanced the idea that anekāntavāda amounts to an expression of “intellectual ahiṃsā,” that is, of nonviolence applied to the realm of philosophical discourse.

Chapter 6 Sri Aurobindo’s Psychology of a “Psychic Being” in Support of a Metaphysical Argument for Reincarnation Stephen Phillips This chapter argues that in The Life Divine (1940), the philosopher-mystic Sri Aurobindo puts forth a novel argument for reincarnation, an argument not countenanced in the classical Indian schools. The argument supplements a claim found in the Yogasūtra and elsewhere which Sri Aurobindo endorses—namely, that through yogic practice one can develop the power (siddhi) to remember past lives. The argument also depends on yogic or mystic experience to warrant its first and most important premise, but overall the reasoning is highly abstract. The premises are: first, Brahman the Absolute is saccidānanda, “ExistenceConsciousness-Bliss”—which is supposed to be a mystical claim backed up by Sri Aurobindo’s own special experience along with that of Upaniṣadic rishis, other yogins and yoginis, and so on; second, if Brahman is saccidānanda, our world has to be meaningful; third, if there is no individual survival of death, then our world cannot be meaningful; and fourth and finally, reincarnation is the best mechanism for individual survival such that a theory of reincarnation is better than any other candidate (four of which are surveyed). This chapter scrutinizes these premises as well as other ideas surrounding Sri Aurobindo’s conclusion that rebirth is real, especially the notion of a “psychic being,” that is, of a developing, reincarnating individual soul. The author expounds the occult psychology proposed by Sri Aurobindo, detailing its resonances with tantric and Vedāntic views. The chapter opens with a summary of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy and the importance of the

concept of the psychic being, and closes with the argument summarized and evaluated.

Chapter 7 Debating Freud on the Oceanic Feeling: Romain Rolland’s Vedāntic Critique of Psychoanalysis and His Call for a “New Science of the Mind” Ayon Maharaj This chapter examines the largely neglected Vedāntic dimension of the thought of the celebrated French writer Romain Rolland (1866–1944) by focusing on his fascinating epistolary debate with Sigmund Freud concerning the nature and value of mystical experience. In a 1927 letter, the French writer Romain Rolland asked Freud to analyze the “oceanic feeling,” a religious feeling of oneness with the entire universe. I will argue that Rolland’s intentions in introducing the oceanic feeling to Freud were much more complex, multifaceted, and critical than most scholars have acknowledged. To this end, I will examine Rolland’s views on mysticism and psychoanalysis in his book-length biographies of the Indian saints Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, which he wrote just after he mentioned the oceanic feeling to Freud in 1927. I will argue that Rolland’s primary intentions in appealing to the oceanic feeling in his 1927 letter to Freud—intentions less evident in his letters to Freud than in his biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda—were to challenge the fundamental assumptions of psychoanalysis from a Vedāntic perspective and to confront Freud with a mystical “science of the mind” that he felt was more rigorous and comprehensive than Freud’s psychoanalytic science.

Chapter 8 Making Space for God: Karma, Freedom, and Devotion in the Brahmasūtra Commentaries of Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Baladeva Andrew J. Nicholson This chapter examines the portrayal of God (īśvara) and God’s relation to karma in the Brahmasūtra (BS) and in the commentaries by Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa. BS 2.1.33 famously asserts in response to an objection from an anti-theist that God’s creation is just play (līlā), a spontaneous activity that lacks any objective beyond itself. However, BS 2.1.34 states that God is dependent (sāpekṣa) on karma. This seems to be a contradiction. How can a spontaneous and free activity be restricted by karma? How can God be dependent on something outside of Himself? Does this mean that the God of Vedānta is not omnipotent? Though Śaṅkara and Rāmānuja approach this aporia only indirectly, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa (eighteenth century CE) explicitly attempts to reconcile the tension between these two sūtras. He goes well beyond earlier Vedānta commentators’ portrayal of God’s activity by arguing that God does at times disregard worshippers’ karmic histories, and that in fact His willingness to disregard karma should be considered a virtue, not a defect.

Chapter 9 Vedāntic Approaches to Religious Diversity: Grounding the Many

Divinities in the Unity of Brahman Ankur Barua A central preoccupation of Vedāntic thought is the interrogation of competing systems of metaphysics and epistemology which are, in turn, pivoted around soteriological concerns. Vedāntic worldviews, across their divergent formulations, point to the indivisible reality in and beyond worldly multiplicity, and therefore the question of the location of the doxastic others—what we might today label religious others—becomes vitally significant. In premodern Vedāntic schools, a variety of standpoints were developed to subsume doctrinal rivals within one’s own exegetical universe. Thus, foundational figures such as Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and others, and broader devotional traditions such as Vaiṣṇavism and Śaivism, developed a range of exegetical-conceptual tools through which they sought to encompass rival standpoints from within the perspective of their own Vedāntic system. Some influential figures associated with Hindu modernity have creatively reworked these classical materials to articulate their distinctive visions of the transcendental significance of the religious traditions of humanity. Thus the modernist reconfigurations of figures such as Swami Vivekananda, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and others represent Hinduism, conceived through Vedāntic prisms, variously as the quintessence of human spirituality, an embodiment of universal moral values, or as a pointer to the transcendental source of all religions. The author’s study of these conceptual maneuvers indicates certain deep continuities between the “traditional” and the “modern,” as well as some marked shifts over the longue durée of Hindu religious history.

Chapter 10 Nondual Philosophies in Dialogue: The World and Embodied Liberation in Advaita Vedānta and Pratyabhijñā Klara Hedling This chapter provides a comparative study of the doctrine of jīvanmukti (embodied liberation) in Advaita Vedānta and the Pratyabhijñā system of the nondual Śaivism of Kashmir. It argues that since Advaitins take the world to be an illusory manifestation (vivarta) of Brahman, the notion of jīvanmukti appears to be a logical contradiction. Neither Śaṅkara nor the post-Śaṅkara Advaitins were entirely successful in resolving the contradiction and, as a result, they struggled to uphold a coherent doctrine of jīvanmukti. The Pratyabhijñā philosophers, on the other hand, regard the world as a real manifestation (ābhāsa) of Consciousness. Hence, their metaphysical framework fully supports the notion of jīvanmukti both as a logical possibility and as the highest goal. In the Pratyabhijñā, we find a logical justification of jīvanmukti that is grounded in the ontology of the world. Nonetheless, there are also certain aspects of the Pratyabhijñā doctrine that stand in apparent tension with the view that jīvanmukti is the highest goal.

Chapter 11 Seeing Oneness Everywhere: Sri Aurobindo’s Mystico-Immanent

Interpretation of the Īśā Upaniṣad Ayon Maharaj This chapter examines the Bengali philosopher-mystic Sri Aurobindo’s highly original and sophisticated commentary on the Īśā Upaniṣad—which was first published in 1924—and brings him into dialogue with both traditional and modern commentators. Militating against the reductive view that he simply read his own mystical experiences into the Īśā Upaniṣad, the author argues that Sri Aurobindo consciously strove to avoid eisegesis by adopting a “hermeneutics of mystical immanence.” According to Sri Aurobindo, the fundamental principle of the Īśā Upaniṣad is the reconciliation of opposites. This chapter makes the case that Sri Aurobindo’s distinctive reading of the Īśā Upaniṣad in the light of this principle provides new ways of resolving numerous interpretive puzzles and difficulties that have preoccupied commentators for centuries. Drawing on the hermeneutic insights of HansGeorg Gadamer and Francis X. Clooney, the author demonstrates that Sri Aurobindo combines a traditional commitment to the transformative power of scripture with a historicophilological method favored by recent scholars. On this basis, the author contends that Sri Aurobindo’s unduly neglected commentary on the Īśā Upaniṣad deserves a prominent place in contemporary scholarly discussions.

Chapter 12 On the Style of Vedānta: Reading Bhāratītīrtha’s Vaiyāsikanyāyamālā in Light of Mādhava’s Jaiminīyanyāyamālā Francis X. Clooney, S.J. The Vaiyāsikanyāyamālā of Bhāratītīrtha (fourteenth century) is a manual in the Advaita Vedānta tradition, distinguished stylistically by its great succinctness and by its commitment to the summation of each adhikaraṇa of the entire Brahmasūtra (BS), adding nothing extraneous to the set of adhikaraṇas first proposed by the sūtrakāra Bādarāyaṇa. It thus articulates a version of Advaita realized only by way of close attention to the 192 adhikaraṇas of BS, rather than by way of generalizations on Ātman and Brahman, avidyā and māyā, and so on. As a scholastic treatise, the Vaiyāsikanyāyamālā presents a clear mode of study of the Vedānta, commendable by virtue of its fidelity to the structure of BS and to case-reasoning as a distinctive form of Vedānta thinking. Yet it also suffers the possible drawbacks of a narrowness of focus and a refusal both to generalize its tenets and to return directly to the Upaniṣads, the ostensible original source of Advaita. Brilliant as a small treatise, it therefore also raises large questions about what ought to be counted as “real Advaita.” The chapter compares this distillation of BS with the Jaiminīyanyāyamālā of Mādhavācārya (also fourteenth century, possibly a bit later than Bhāratītīrtha), which similarly distills the 900 adhikaraṇas of Jaimini’s Mīmāṃsāsūtra. Through this comparison, we take note of the different ways in which dharma and Brahman, two very different objects of study, are nevertheless studied by treatises of the same style.

Chapter 13 Śaṅkaradigvijaya: A Narrative Interpretation of Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta Daniel Raveh This chapter rereads and rethinks the Śaṅkaradigvijaya (SDV), a premodern hagiography of Śaṅkara written in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. The author focuses on two pivotal episodes of the SDV, the episode of Śaṅkara in the king’s body (and the debate with Maṇḍana and Ubhaya-bhāratī that precedes it), and Śaṅkara’s poignant encounter with an “untouchable” caṇḍāla on a narrow lane leading to the river Gaṅgā. Both episodes raise questions about identity and identification, embodiment and disembodiment, borders and border-crossing, knowledge of body and body of knowledge. The author reads these episodes opposite Śaṅkara’s own texts, namely the Brahmasūtra-bhāṣya and his commentaries on several Upaniṣads and the Bhagavad-Gītā, thereby creating a dialogue between two Śaṅkaras, the philosopher-commentator and his namesake, the protagonist of the hagiography. The first episode, the author argues, elucidates the intriguing concept of jñānaniṣṭ;hā—“steadfastness in knowledge,” or more literally “being within knowledge,” which occurs in Śaṅkara’s commentary on the Bhagavad-Gītā. The second episode, i.e., the canḍāla episode, adds a social dimension to Śaṅkara’s metaphysical notion of advaita. The author’s analysis draws on the writings of contemporary theorists Daya Krishna and Mukund Lath.

Chapter 14 A New Debate on Consciousness: Bringing Classical and Modern Vedānta into Dialogue with Contemporary Analytic Panpsychism Anand Jayprakash Vaidya One of the most salient questions in cross-cultural philosophy concerns the nature of consciousness: What is consciousness and where does it come from? This chapter examines panpsychism, a theory that maintains that everything is consciousness. Panpsychism is an old view of consciousness that can be found in both Western and Eastern philosophy. Recently the position has gained new attention within Western analytic philosophy. The author’s goal is to draw Western analytic philosophy into conversation with three Vedāntic traditions: Advaita Vedānta, Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta, and Sri Ramakrishna’s Vijñāna Vedānta. It is argued that contemporary work in analytic philosophy focusing on panpsychism can benefit from engaging with Indian philosophy, and vice versa. In particular, by drawing these two traditions into conversation, the author articulates a new debate about the nature of consciousness. The new debate focuses on the question: Which illusion, if any, should we accept? On the one hand, one can hold that the self is real, but that consciousness is an illusion. On the other hand, one can hold that the self is an illusion, but that consciousness is real.

Chapter 15 Mystical Experience as a Skeptical Scenario: Śrīharṣa’s Skeptical

Advaita in the Khaṇḍanakhaṇḍakhādya Ethan Mills Noting that the Advaita Vedānta philosopher Śrīharṣa (c. twelfth century CE) has been read as a skeptic, this chapter focuses on one of his distinctive contributions, particularly concerning the relation between his mysticism and his skepticism. In his philosophical masterpiece the Khaṇḍanakhaṇḍakhādya, Śrīharṣa refers to his own mystical experiences of nondualism, which fit William James’s characterization of mystical states as ineffable and having a noetic quality (i.e., they seem to be states of knowledge). Śrīharṣa’s experiences also possess another characteristic often attributed to mystical experience: a feeling of oneness. But his appeal to these experiences does not form any part of a philosophical argument in favor of dogmatism about nondualist metaphysics. Nor does Śrīharṣa straightforwardly accept scripture (śruti) as a means of knowledge. Rather, the author argues that for Śrīharṣa, the possibility of nondual mystical experiences functions as a skeptical scenario meant to dislodge confidence in one’s everyday metaphysical assumptions. Much like skeptical scenarios in contemporary Western epistemology involving dreaming, computer simulation, or brains-in-vats, Śrīharṣa’s point is that the possibility of nondualism leads us to question the ultimate truth of everyday dualistic beliefs. Śrīharṣa’s work became an impetus for Navya Nyāya and it remains a source of philosophical treasures that can still enrich us.

Chapter 16 Dream and Love at the Edge of Wisdom: A Contemporary CrossCultural Remapping of Vedānta Arindam Chakrabarti Could each of us, a self with a sense of individual identity and free will, actually be illusory, a no-one? Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) thought that our sense of individual selfhood is riddled with contradictions and is the root of our suffering. He praised Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because it imaginatively disrupts our smug “scientific”/“practical” confidence in the reality of the external world. This chapter unpacks the Advaita Vedāntic concept of māyā that primarily applies to the contents of dreams, hallucinations, and illusions. We rehearse the classical Indian metaphysical debate between (Buddhist) antirealists and realists around the ineliminable possibility that any current waking experience is actually part of a dream, if not my dream, possibly the dream of a collective mind or God. Śaṅkara’s refutation of Buddhist idealism makes his position compatible with empirical realism. We then analyze Vivekananda’s and K.C. Bhattacharyya’s (1875–1949) totally different, but equally modern and original, approaches to the concept of māyā. Moving from metaphysics to ethics, the chapter ends by discussing Sri Ramakrishna’s and Vivekananda’s philosophically complex notion of selfless love (prema) as the only way out of the “prisonhouse” of māyā, tracing the roots of this notion to the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad. The enlightened living liberated person, instead of denigrating or dismissing the world as unreal, may end up loving—even worshipping—the world of plurality as a real manifestation of

God, just as Sri Ramakrishna’s “vijñānī” does.

Part One Classical Vedānta

1 Contemplating Nonduality: The Method of Nididhyāsana in Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta

Neil Dalal Advaita Vedānta articulates a philosophical position of radical nondualism based on the Upaniṣadic formulation of absolute reality (Brahman). Advaitins understand Brahman as transcending individuality and empirical plurality. They seek to establish that the Self (Ātman) is in reality nondual Brahman by tying a metaphysics of Brahman to a theory of personal consciousness. This endeavor depends upon systematized theories of language and epistemology and specific methods of teaching and contemplative practice intended to culminate in liberating nondual knowledge. Surprisingly, it is difficult to provide great detail on Advaita’s contemplative method known as nididhyāsana without reconstructive speculation. Even though nididhyāsana ostensibly plays a pivotal role in Advaita praxis, detailed discussions of how to do it are mostly absent in early Advaita literature, such as Śaṅkara’s commentaries, and rare even in the most prolix of later texts. The scarcity of contemplative instruction in early Advaitin texts is conspicuous, different from similar traditions like Pātañjala Yoga or Mahāyāna Buddhism, and likely an intentional omission. There are a few likely reasons. The śāstra genre, sacred literature dealing with specialized traditions of learning, along with its commentaries, often does not give detailed instruction for practice, assuming the teacher will provide it through oral instruction. Second, nonduality is already present and innate according to Advaita Vedāntins. Construing contemplation as a practice by which one gains liberation or achieves nondual experiential states depends on presuppositions—such as that liberation is distant—which contradict the innateness of nonduality. Such presuppositions also contradict Advaita’s view of the Upaniṣads as a means of knowledge. As I will argue below, Advaita’s method collapses the dichotomy of theory and practice that is intrinsic to both ritual practice and yogic meditation methods. The question of “how to do contemplation” is thus inherently problematic. Third, the doctrine of nididhyāsana has a number of ambiguities, tensions, and paradoxes. Advaita’s liberation (mokṣa) is ultimately indeterminable—receding just out of reach of the horizon of reason and words. Mokṣa resists verbalization or objectification. There is a metaphysical uncertainty about it, for on the one hand a liberating cognition may be able to remove selfignorance, but on the other it is problematic to reduce ever-present liberation to a cognition which is a product and a temporal event. If nididhyāsana is the penultimate precursor to this liberating knowledge or identified as this knowledge itself, then it shares some of the same obscurities. Thus, articulating a contemplative process that cultivates or maintains self-

knowledge is difficult at best. Yet ironically, language provides the key for understanding nididhyāsana because Śaṅkara holds the counterintuitive position that words, in the form of key Upaniṣadic passages, are the sole means of recognizing Brahman. Though a handful of academic publications discuss nididhyāsana, none systematically examine Śaṅkara’s understanding of the practice across his commentaries.1 This study fills this gap by analyzing how Śaṅkara idiosyncratically grounds nididhyāsana in a method of language and a particular trajectory of philosophical inquiry. The chapter further isolates several elements of continuity as well as subtle differences in textual expressions of nididhyāsana practices. These case studies show that nididhyāsana is fundamentally different from meditation practices of focusing or controlling the mind, and that an accurate reading of Śaṅkara cannot wholly separate nididhyāsana from Upaniṣadic study or attribute any independent epistemological function to it. Deciphering nididhyāsana requires an adequate understanding of Advaita’s philosophy and method. This chapter thus begins with a brief historical sketch of Advaita Vedānta and then provides a philosophical introduction to Advaita philosophy for the nonspecialist through a case study of one “great sentence” (mahāvākya) from Taittirīya Upaniṣad (TU) 2.1.1—“Brahman is existence, consciousness, and limitless” (satyaṃ jñānaṃ anantaṃ brahma). The following section explains Advaita’s foundational verbal methods for indicating Brahman, which form the architecture underlying nididhyāsana. The chapter then analyzes case studies of nididhyāsana, focusing on Śaṅkara’s interpretations of key passages in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (BṛU), Upadeśasāhasrī (US), and the Bhagavad-Gītā (BhG). Together these case studies provide the main elements to reconstruct nididhyāsana according to Śaṅkara. Despite continuities across these case studies, the precise relationship between nididhyāsana and immediate self-knowledge in terms of causation and chronology remains ambiguous in Śaṅkara’s writing. The final section explains these ambiguities and provides an overview of contentious differences that post-Śaṅkara Advaitins developed about the nature of nididhyāsana. The conclusion summarizes the method of nididhyāsana and argues that an accurate understanding of Śaṅkara’s nididhyāsana from the inside out requires us to expand our assumed boundaries of Upaniṣadic texts.

1.1 A Brief Historical Overview of Advaita Vedānta Advaita Vedāntins trace their lineage back through Bādarāyaṇa (c. first century BCE), the author of the Brahmasūtra (The Aphorisms on Brahman), to the individuals in Upaniṣadic narratives, and ultimately to īśvara (roughly “God”) as Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa or Dakṣiṇāmūrti, a teaching form of Śiva. The historical record of Advaita Vedānta, however, is obscure prior to Gauḍapāda (sixth century CE), who was Advaita’s earliest extant author. He composed the Gauḍapādakārikās (Verses of Gauḍapāda), which explain the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad. According to tradition, he was the teacher of Śaṅkara’s teacher named Govinda. Gauḍapāda is well known for his theory of ajātivāda (that the world is never actually born), his disputes (and potential similarities) with Mādhyamika Buddhism, and his meditative “yoga of noncontact” (asparśayoga) based on the idea that the mind has no contact with external objects.2 The tradition finds its most sustained early philosophical articulation in the works of the

preeminent eighth-century Advaitin, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya (hereafter Śaṅkara), and his elder contemporary Maṇḍanamiśra. Maṇḍanamiśra composed an important text titled the Brahmasiddhi (The Proof of Brahman). Śaṅkara composed our earliest extant commentaries on the Upaniṣads, Brahmasūtra, and Bhagavad-Gītā, which constitute Advaita’s triple canon, as well as an independent work, the Upadeśasāhasrī (A Thousand Teachings). Śaṅkara attempted to establish his philosophy of nondual Brahman and to systematize Advaita exegesis by reconciling the diverse passages of Upaniṣadic texts. His work is the most influential for Advaita’s teaching tradition and monastic lineages. Śaṅkara’s direct disciples, particularly Padmapāda and Sureśvara, expanded upon his commentaries. Two important subschools of Advaita eventually emerged in the post-Śaṅkara tradition: the Vivaraṇa subschool, a moniker derived from Prakāśātman’s (1000 CE) Pañcapādikāvivaraṇa (Elucidation of Five Parts), a subcommentary on Padmapāda’s Pañcapādikā (Five Parts), and the Bhāmatī subschool named after the famous polymath Vācaspati Miśra’s (950 CE) Bhāmatī (The Lustrous) subcommentary on Śaṅkara’s Brahmasūtra commentary. These two subschools agreed for the most part, but diverged on several subtle issues, such as the precise relationship of consciousness to the cognizing individual, conceptions of īśvara, whether the individual is the locus of ignorance, and the epistemological importance of nididhyāsana. From the twelfth century onward, a technical body of Advaita literature arose in dialogue with other Indian philosophies. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Advaitins such as Śrīharṣa (1150 CE) and Citsukha (1220 CE) disputed with Naiyāyika logicians, whose realist metaphysics (which affirms the reality of distinctions) and theory of consciousness as a nonintrinsic property of one’s Self, threatened to undermine the nonduality of Advaita’s Brahman. In the following centuries, Advaitins such as Vidyāraṇya, Dharmarājādhvarin, Nṛsiṃhāśrama, Madhusūdana Sarasvatī, and Appayya Dīkṣita flourished and composed numerous independent works and commentaries. These Advaitins were versed in the analytical method of Navya-Nyāya, the school of New Logic. From the sixteenth century their primary opponents were dualist Vaiṣṇava philosophers. Madhusūdana’s Advaitasiddhi (The Proof of Nonduality) was a powerful riposte to such critiques, and perhaps the most influential Advaita text of that period. Other Advaita texts in these centuries, like Madhusūdana’s Gūḍhārthadīpikā (Illuminator of the Hidden Meaning of the Gītā), include more robust constructions of devotional practice (bhakti) to īśvara. In other cases, texts such as Vidyāraṇya’s Jīvanmuktiviveka (The Discrimination of Liberation-in-Life) incorporate yogic doctrines that emphasize nondual states of absorption and the elimination of mind and latent memory traces. Śaṅkara purportedly established the Daśanāmī (Ten Names) renouncer orders and four monasteries (maṭ;has). These monasteries and several smaller ones continue to flourish today. In the modern period, Advaita Vedānta has expanded far beyond its orthodox confines. Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902), for example, popularized Advaita in India as the basis for an inclusive Hindu identity, and in North America as an Indian grounding for American metaphysical traditions and New Age movements. He formed the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, and emphasized multiple paths to liberation, universal inclusivism, and nondual experience. Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950), an Advaitin saint and mystic known for his

penetrating questioning of self-identity, continues to inspire contemporary Advaitins. Other teachers, like Swami Chinmayananda (1916–93), brought Advaita around the world. Recent decades have also witnessed the rise of nontraditional Advaitins in North America who teach nonduality with less emphasis on the textual tradition. Advaita Vedānta is not static. Its streams of thought continue to evolve due to the encounter with different philosophical, theological, and sociopolitical contexts; yet the tradition as a whole demonstrates a significant degree of philosophical continuity from past to present.

1.2 Defining Brahman: Existence, Consciousness, and Limitless Advaita Vedānta is traditionally viewed as a body of knowledge and teaching methodology leading to liberation. The qualified teacher employs particular methods to reveal the wisdom of the Upaniṣads to the student (śiṣya). The subject matter of Advaita deals with the relationships between the individual (jīva), the universe (jagat), God (īśvara), and nondual Brahman. The jīva, jagat, and īśvara all depend upon Brahman for their existence. The fundamental thrust of Advaita is that the Self (Ātman) is Brahman, the sole reality of all things. It is one (ekam) without a second (advitīyam), nondual (advaita), infinite existence, and pure consciousness. At face value, nonduality conflicts with an individual’s limited self-identity—an individual is certainly not the whole. Advaitins reconcile this contradiction by analyzing the individual as an unreal product of primal ignorance (avidyā). In his commentary (bhāṣya [bh]) introducing the Brahmasūtra (BrSū), Śaṅkara outlines a theory of mistaken self-identity due to a foundational epistemic failure. One mistakes the non-self, consisting of the body-mind complex, for the true Ātman and the Ātman for what is not Self. This mutual superimposition projects subjective agency and veils one’s fundamental nondual nature. Śaṅkara compares the way the Ātman, as pure consciousness, takes on the non-intrinsic attributes of mind and body to a crystal assuming the color of a flower behind it.3 Like the crystal, the mind-body is a conditioning adjunct (upādhi) that provides a locus of individuation, but it is a false construct and a source of suffering and fear due to its intrinsic limitations.4 Individuals strive to reach an unlimited state of wholeness through known ends like material gains, social status, and fleeting pleasurable experiences, yet always fall short due to misunderstanding their selfidentity. One discovers wholeness only through liberation (mokṣa)—the direct understanding of one’s Self as Brahman. Advaitins claim this knowledge negates primal ignorance, superimposition, suffering, and the karmic cycle of rebirth. Brahman is notoriously difficult to conceptualize because it lacks distinction and properties, but Śaṅkara employed key Upaniṣadic sentences to define Brahman. One such sentence, “Brahman is existence (satyam), consciousness (jñānaṃ), and limitless (anantam)” (satyaṃ jñānaṃ anantaṃ brahma) from Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.1.1, provides a concise threefold definition. According to Śaṅkara, what is real (satyam)5 “does not change the nature that is ascertained to be its own; and a thing is said to be unreal (anṛtam) when it changes the nature that is ascertained to be its own.”6 The primary distinction here is change. What is genuinely real exists in past, present, and future without negation. A classic Advaita illustration of this, based on Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.1.4, is a causal substance such as clay

shaped into new names and forms, like a pot or plate. The latter effects arise and resolve back into their cause. They have no existence apart from their metaphysical ground, the persisting clay content. Clay is therefore the reality (satyam). Not only does the clay possess more reality than either the pot or the plate because it continues through each form, but the individual existence of either artifact is entirely ontologically dependent upon its clay content. The clay is analogous to Brahman which is the underlying existence of the universe. For Śaṅkara, each temporal artifact is simply a name (nāma) and form (rūpa), and unreal because it can be reduced to its cause. The term “limitless” (anantam) in combination with satyam defines Brahman as limitless existence. To explain this the Advaitin may extend the analysis of causality in the clay-pot illustration to the universe in order to isolate its metaphysical ground. This entails questioning the possibility of isolating the universal of existence, the essential being-ness underlying all changing forms. Through several eliminative trajectories, such as the inability to isolate pure existence through mereological reductions—the process of reducing wholes to their parts—Advaitins conclude that existence is formless and not limited by macro-forms, small indivisible atomic entities, or by space and time. This pure existence is the substantive, which appears to take on transient qualifying properties of names and forms. In this way Advaita reduces qualified existence to Brahman, which is irreducible nondual existence. Anantam also negates any limitation of time on Brahman. Brahman is the underlying reality of time without temporal limits and undergoes no change whatsoever. Brahman’s intrinsic nature as pure existence resists any duality, causality, properties, or qualification, and thus entails a type of infinitude. Brahman is therefore not an object because all objects are limited and within duality. Despite this, all objects are within Brahman. To exclude anything from Brahman would place a limit on it, contradicting its nature as anantam. As the limitlessness of satyam and jñānaṃ, anantam is this very wholeness which one seeks. The later Advaita tradition tends to identify anantam with ānanda, the complete ever-present fullness of one’s Self which is not lacking in any way.7 For Advaitins, names and forms like the pot or plate, or more broadly the empirical world, present an ontological difficulty. These effects are unreal in that they don’t exist independently like Brahman and are not a second thing apart from Brahman, yet are not nonexistent like the horn of a hare or self-contradictory like a square circle. Furthermore, they are not subjective illusions because we perceive these effects with intersubjective agreement. In several contexts, Śaṅkara describes the empirical world of names and forms as holding a unique ontological position as “indeterminable as that (Brahman) or something else (other than Brahman)” (tattvānyatvābhyām anirvacanīya).8 He claims that this is analogous to the relationship of foam and water. The foam is not water yet is not different from water.9 The existence of the phenomenal empirical world alongside that of nondual Brahman is in fact an illusory false reality; but its indeterminable appearance sets up a two-truths (or twotiered) system of reality: (1) the empirical world of transaction and intersubjective agreement (vyāvahārikasattā); and (2) absolute nonduality (pāramārthikasattā). The world and Brahman possess an asymmetrical relationship—the world is dependent upon Brahman for its existence, yet Brahman has no dependence on the world even though immanent within it. Post-Śaṅkara Advaitins identified this indeterminable world appearance as māyā and

expanded the māyā doctrine by equating it with beginningless ignorance (avidyā).10 Even though most Advaitins are realists regarding the empirical world, in that it exists independent of one’s mind, they argue that absolute nonduality undercuts the world’s reality. From the nondual standpoint the world is unreal, simply an appearance (vivarta). Ultimately there is only Brahman, which never undergoes genuine transformation (pariṇāma) into the world. Māyā is also the cosmic causal creative power wielded by īśvara. Advaitins theorize īśvara as Brahman with attributes (saguṇa brahman).11 Īśvara is both the material and efficient cause of the universe. The world, whether manifest or unmanifest, is therefore not other than īśvara, resulting in a form of panentheism (from the empirical standpoint). Īśvara is also the “knower of the field” (kṣetrajña)—the core of subjectivity present in all living beings which is Brahman.12 Advaita’s primary intention, however, is to establish nonduality, not to analyze the world as illusory or to provide a cosmogonic story of world causation, because an adequate causal account for a less-than-real world is unlikely. One may view māyā as a postulate by elimination to account for the world’s ontological inexplicability, intended to direct one toward the unity of reality. In Advaita’s final philosophical position, there is only Brahman without any parts or attributes (nirguṇa), and without any real causation for the world’s emergence.13 The term jñānaṃ in Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.1.1 rules out the possibility that nondual Brahman is either an inert entity like clay or a distant mediate entity. Jñānaṃ generally refers to mental cognition and presupposes an individual knower; however, if Brahman is an agent of knowing it must be subject to time and change. Here, anantam and satyam intervene to negate any finite nature of jñānaṃ. According to Śaṅkara, jñānaṃ does not refer to cognition or mind, but to pure non-intentional consciousness (cit). As pure consciousness, jñānaṃ is unchanging (satyam) and infinite (anantam). It is not a known object nor affected by causal relationships. As the essential nature of Brahman, consciousness is not dependent on anything else for its existence. It is self-established (svataḥ siddhaḥ) and self-illuminating (svaprakāśaḥ)—the invariable satyam of the knower underlying every phenomenological experience. Advaitins position consciousness as the presupposition of all epistemological knowing and the true locus of one’s subjective being.14 Consciousness is the witness (sākṣin) of cognition. This consciousness is different from the inner instrument, the mind, which assumes the forms of objects in cognition. The sākṣin allows all cognition, from sensory perception to internal mental states like pleasure and pain, to be known without the mediation of another mental mode. It is transparent, pre-reflective, and immediate. Advaitins contend that consciousness cannot become its own object yet does not require a second- or higher-order cognition to reveal itself. Consciousness is self-illuminating in all cognition. In other words, it is always experientially immediate while simultaneously remaining the non-object of knowledge—a position of intrinsic reflexivity. As a non-object, it resists qualification and eliminative reduction. Furthermore, consciousness cannot admit its own absence. One cannot deny that one is conscious because the dismissal of consciousness presupposes its very existence. Advaita’s direct-access theory of consciousness accounts for the immediacy of cognition. Advaitins argue that if cognition is not immediately revealed by the sākṣin, then it would

need a second cognition for the first to be known; but the second would need a third, leading to a fallacy of an infinite regression of mental modes. Advaitins contend that consciousness is constant through all experiences occurring in the three states of waking, dreaming, and deep dreamless sleep. Consciousness continues even in deep dreamless sleep where the ego resolves into ignorance and subject-object distinctions collapse. The absence of cognition and agency in sleep does not entail the lack of consciousness, insofar as consciousness, on the Advaita view, is not intrinsically intentional. It can exist without representing a cognitional object. Advaitins view this non-intentional and unchanging consciousness as not only the ultimate essence underlying the individual, one’s self-existence, but as the single Self (Ātman) of all sentient beings from a blade of grass to īśvara. They further equate this consciousness with nondual Brahman.15 This forms the basis of Advaita’s soteriological project. Brahman’s existence is not distant, but immediate and intrinsic to every phenomenological experience as the Ātman. As I will explain below, nididhyāsana targets this first-personal ontology of consciousness.

1.3 A Contemplative Grammar: Nididhyāsana’s Underlying Method Śaṅkara and his disciples are ambivalent about yoga practices. They strove to undermine the importance of action as an independent methodology for liberation because nonduality is not a distant entity to be attained or reached.16 One is already eternally free but unaware of that fact. That being said, Śaṅkara accepted the importance of yogic practices, and ritual actions to a lesser degree, as providing the necessary conditions for knowledge to take place.17 Śaṅkara places these actions in a specific category of cultivating mental purity (antaḥkaraṇaśuddhi), which provides students the proper qualification (adhikāra) for liberation. Just as one may have to open her eyes and turn her head to perceive an object, the Advaitin must possess a prepared mind to recognize Brahman; though, in theory, if a student is already sufficiently qualified, they need not undergo any practice. The ideal qualified student possesses a fourfold set of qualities (sādhanacatuṣṭ;aya) consisting of: (1) discrimination (viveka); (2) dispassion (vairāgya); (3) the sixfold wealth (śamādiṣaṭ;kasaṃpatti) of mental control (śama), control of the organs of action and perception (dama), withdrawal (uparati), fortitude (titikṣā), focus (samādhāna), trust (śraddhā); and (4) the desire for liberation (mumukṣutva).18 Yogic practices like meditation, the yoga of action (karmayoga), and upāsana are part of these preliminary practices. Upāsana is an umbrella term for various conceptual meditations that incorporate complex homologies and identities to practice visualized meditations on īśvara. It employs intentional superimposition to establish conceptual and embodied identities with īśvara. Meditating on such identities often acts to ritually deify the Advaitin.19 Karmayoga is a sophisticated devotional practice derived from the Bhagavad-Gītā by which the Advaitin learns to gracefully accept the results of actions by seeing them within the greater ritual order of cause and effect that is īśvara.20 Through the practice of karmayoga, one performs action as an offering (arpaṇa) to īśvara and accepts the results of action as īśvara’s grace (prasāda).21 These two pillars of karmayoga, described as skill in action (BhG

2.50) and evenness of mind (BhG 2.48), cultivate internal renunciation and freedom from suffering caused by desire.22 This psychological orientation extends inward so that one’s inner mental life, neuroses and all, are also included in īśvara’s ritual order. It also extends outward to ritualize life by recognizing īśvara as manifest in all actions and results. Through karmayoga the Advaitin develops acceptance and equanimity regarding their self, mundane activities, and intersubjective relationships. Even though rituals, devotion, and meditation may develop requisite qualifications such as concentration, detachment, equanimity, and ethical virtues, they inherently fall short as independent means to generate self-knowledge. They are only indirectly instrumental and fundamentally separate from knowledge itself. The natural but mistaken assumption that liberation is distant encourages action, but the more one attempts to gain liberation the further it recedes. Action, whether ritualistic or yogic, is superfluous because it cannot reveal the Self and cannot produce something infinite. This quagmire is not intractable, though, because both bondage and liberation are just figurative—no change occurs in reality. One becomes Brahman simply by knowing Brahman.23 A continuous theme in Śaṅkara’s accepted works is the inability of most means of knowledge (pramāṇas) to negate ignorance of Brahman. Perception (pratyakṣa) presupposes a subject-object duality and cannot grasp Brahman because the sense organs only see outward. Other means of knowledge such as inference (anumāna), postulation (arthāpatti), non-cognition (anupalabdhi), and comparison (upamāna) are all dependent on perception to reveal new knowledge according to all schools that accept such knowledge sources. They require duality and therefore also fail to reveal Brahman. Extraordinary mystical experiences (anubhava or samādhi), imagination (vikalpa), and memory (smṛti) also fall short because they are not independent means of knowledge.24 The only remaining option is testimony (śabda) in the form of the Vedas. According to Śaṅkara, the Vedas are eternal and authorless texts; however, he formulates a break in the Vedic literature reflecting his distinction of knowledge and action. The first portion (karmakāṇḍa), including the mantra and brāhmaṇa sections, elaborates ritual action. The second portion (jñānakāṇḍa), comprising the Upaniṣads, reveals ultimate knowledge. For Śaṅkara, the eternal and authorless Upaniṣads alone possess the capacity to generate direct knowledge of Brahman. The Upaniṣads ostensibly reveal Brahman unlike the way they describe rituals and their results or the karmic repercussions of conduct, which all rely on injunctions and a theory–practice dichotomy—an orientation that considers the texts a map for reaching a goal or a recipe to produce a result. The Upaniṣads instead generate direct understanding of Brahman akin to visual perception without requiring further action. Advaita’s emphasis on Upaniṣadic testimony as a means of knowledge is counterintuitive because language is incapable of directly designating the infinite and indescribable reality of Brahman; however, Upaniṣads can reveal direct knowledge because Brahman is already immediately known as one’s Self and simply misapprehended or unrecognized. They simply remove misapprehensions of one’s Self so that it stands self-revealed as nondual. Śaṅkara embraces particular verbal methods crystallized in pithy Upaniṣadic sentences that affirm nonduality, which post-Śaṅkara Advaitins identify as mahāvākyas (great sentences).25

Mahāvākyas act as highly condensed mnemonic devices and are the foundation of nididhyāsana. An analysis of their internal structure is necessary to understand nididhyāsana because their structure constitutes nididhyāsana’s architecture.26 But mahāvākyas are difficult to understand and require methodological keys to unlock their language and reveal their hidden content. The most important methods Śaṅkara employs include continuity and discontinuity (anvaya and vyatireka), secondary indication (lakṣaṇā), and negative language (neti neti). Śaṅkara does not clearly codify these methods, but it may be most accurate to describe his (and Sureśvara’s) primary method as continuity and discontinuity.27 PostŚaṅkara Advaitins often discuss this method as lakṣaṇā instead; however, for the sake of this brief discussion, I argue below that we consider all three as part and parcel of a single continuous method. Anvaya and vyatireka is a method of discriminative reasoning to determine the relationship of what persists and what does not persist between two things. It reveals whether one term is independent of another. For example, in the analogy of the clay and its forms above, we can see that when a particular form of clay (such as a pot) occurs, then clay occurs (anvaya). And when that particular form (pot) is absent (vyatireka) after being shaped into a plate, then clay still occurs. One may apply this method, for example, to consciousness and mental states. Consciousness is continuous through the discontinuous states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep and never subject to its negative instance of vyatireka. Mahāvākyas like “I am Brahman” (ahaṃ brahmāsmi) or “You are that” (tat tvam asi) are identity statements that form an equation consisting of two or more co-referential terms that are in grammatical apposition. The equation’s lack of logical congruence—identifying the limited I (aham) with nondual Brahman, or you (tvam) with that (tat) universe (or īśvara) for example—prods the reader to use the anvaya and vyatireka method to resolve the equation. In the case of tat tvam asi, tvam negates the mediacy of tat as existence external to one’s Self.28 And tat negates any subjective limitations to the consciousness referred to in tvam. The apposition thus restricts what does not persist between the two terms to reveal what is continuous and numerically identical—namely, pure consciousness and undifferentiated existence. When properly understood, the sentence generates a single partless cognition of self-identity as Brahman. Lakṣaṇā employs a theory of metonymy which distinguishes between literal denotative meanings (mukhyārtha or vācyārtha) and implied connotative meanings (lakṣyārtha). The identity statement’s contradictory juxtaposition triggers a particular form of secondary implication termed jahadajahallakṣaṇā, in which a portion of the primary meaning is rejected while another part is retained.29 The prominent Advaita example is “This (person that you see now) is that Devadatta (whom you knew in the past)” (so ’yam devadattaḥ).30 Here, the primary referents of “this” and “that” cannot be identical because “this” and “that” refer to different locations and times; Devadatta in the past somewhere else and Devadatta here and now. The two Devadattas are not completely identical because of their relationships to time and place, nor are they completely separate. The import of the sentence creates a cognition of a single Devadatta substantive that is not connected to a specific time or place. Advaitins may read mahāvākyas like tat tvam asi or satyaṃ jñānaṃ anantaṃ brahma

through this method.31 The particular form of implication (lakṣaṇā) in which words mutually restrict each other’s meaning is similar to (if not the same as) anvaya and vyatireka and negative language (neti neti). Neti neti strips away all qualifications to personal identity and the external world.32 Negative language cannot lose all reference, however, otherwise it lapses into nihilism or infinite regression. Textual instances of negation usually follow positive statements about Brahman which provide an explicit positive proposition of continuity.33 Lakṣaṇā and anvayavyatireka similarly depend on negation through mutual restriction, but simultaneously indicate the intrinsic nature of Brahman without falling into total nihilism. We may thus view all three as different iterations of a unified method despite their nuanced differences.34 This method threads the needle of indicating Brahman’s presence without making it an object. We may conceptualize it as the “contemplative grammar” that structures the process of nididhyāsana.35 Nididhyāsana is the epistemological practice of recognizing the meaning of mahāvākyas through this method.

1.4 The Root Text of Nididhyāsana in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad Śaṅkara only occasionally mentions nididhyāsana specifically by name and does not employ other terms for contemplation with regularity. The case studies in the following sections take nididhyāsana as a relatively narrow category of contemplation with common overlapping features. Śaṅkara encounters several other terms that intimate contemplative processes, but usually opts to retain these terms in his commentary instead of reducing them to a single systematic term like nididhyāsana. Comparing and contrasting the degree to which the methods underlying these terms overlap with nididhyāsana is beyond the scope of this chapter. Yet it is important to note them in order to have a sense of the potentially far richer contemplative landscape of Śaṅkara’s Advaita. These terms include repetition (āvṛtti),36 continuous flow of recognition (smṛtisantāna or smṛtisantati),37 practice/repetition of knowledge (jñānābhyāsa or abhyāsayoga),38 restraining the mind (manonigraha),39 “yoga of non-contact” (asparśayoga),40 absorbed contemplation (saṃrādhana or samādhi),41 repeated contemplation (parisaṅkhyāna),42 unwavering yoga of devotion (ananyayoga bhakti),43 meditation (dhyāna)44 or yoga of meditation/contemplation (dhyānayoga),45 deep meditation (ādhyāna),46 yoga of the Self (adhyātmayoga),47 remembering (anusmaraṇa),48 thinking over (anucintaṇa),49 always contemplating self-knowledge (adhyātmajñānanityatva),50 and forms of the verbs upa-√ās or pari-upa-√ās. 51 The root passage for nididhyāsana occurs in the Yājñavalkya and Maitreyī dialogue of the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad. Maitreyī questions Yājñavalkya about the means to attain immortality. He gives the following response: Oh Maitreyī, the Self should be seen, should be heard, should be reflected on, and should be contemplated upon. By seeing the Self by listening, reflecting, and contemplating, all this is known. (BṛU 2.4.5)52

This passage forms the root text for Advaita Vedānta’s threefold learning methodology composed of listening (śravaṇa), logical reflection (manana), and contemplation (nididhyāsana).53 They are to culminate in seeing (darśana) the Self and understanding the world. Śaṅkara provides the following commentary on the passage (italics refer to the source text): Therefore, the Self, my dear should be seen—deserves to be seen, should be made an object of seeing (knowing). First it should be heard—from the teacher and the Vedas. Then it should be reflected upon according to reasoning. Then it should be contemplated —it should be meditated on with certainty. Indeed, in this way, by the means of listening, reflection, and contemplation, it [the Self] is seen. When these [three] have become as one, then correct knowledge of the oneness of Brahman becomes clear, not otherwise by listening alone. (BṛUbh 2.4.5) The triple process derived from BṛU 2.4.5 appears to be an established set of soteriological methods by Śaṅkara’s time.54 He often cites the passage or refers to it in an abbreviated form as “listening, etc.” (śravaṇādi).55 Śravaṇa is listening to the Upaniṣads taught by a qualified teacher. It appears to consist of exegetically investigating those texts with a teacher. Manana consists of reflecting on those texts through forms of logical inquiry, such as inferential reasoning and logical fallacies, that are in keeping with the Upaniṣads. Logical reflection strengthens the teaching of the Upaniṣads by negating doubts about the possibility of nonduality, particularly when there is conflict between what is determined by the Upaniṣads and some other means of knowledge. Based on the case studies below, I propose a general definition of nididhyāsana as the repeated contemplation of nondual knowledge refined by śravaṇa and manana. It is a process of pulling the mind away from external objects to metaphorically rest on Brahman. This process provides stability in holding the vision of nonduality in all circumstances by reducing dispositional patterns that contradict nonduality. This stability ostensibly allows deeper experiential access to the benefits of self-knowledge. Śaṅkara simply glosses nididhyāsitavyaḥ as “to be contemplated on with certainty (niścayena dhyātavyaḥ).” This pithy remark points out the basic derivation of nididhyāsana, from the desiderative form of the verb root √dhyai (to meditate, to think about), reduplicated with the prefix ni. The desiderative form of the verb expresses a strong desire or committed intention to contemplate. The prefix ni indicates certainty (niścaya).56 His commentary also implies a chronology or relationship of dependency between the three, with listening as the initial and primary activity, followed by reflection and contemplation of what was heard. The last line of his commentary, that all three are to be approached as one, underscores the importance of contemplation as part of the process, yet rules out viewing it as a completely separate means of knowledge.57 After telling Maitreyī the triple method for knowing Brahman in BṛU 2.4.5, Yājñavalkya describes the process with a series of analogies such as the sounds of a drum (BṛU 2.4.7), a conch (BṛU 2.4.8), and a vīṇā (a stringed musical instrument) (BṛU 2.4.9). The various sounds that each emit when played are not distinguishable from the instrument in that one cannot capture the sound without capturing its source. These analogies explain the inherence

of Brahman in all things manifest in the world. They describe the manifestation of the world, and exemplify how all objects in the world exist due to Brahman and have no existence apart from Brahman. They are simply modifications of Brahman, their source. Yājñavalkya provides another series of analogies in BṛU 2.4.11 which identify Brahman, conceived as the source remaining even after cosmic dissolution, with Brahman conceived as the source of the individual: It is like this. As the ocean is the point of convergence of all the waters, so the skin is the point of convergence of all sensations of touch; the nostrils, of all odours; the tongue, of all tastes; sight, of all visible appearances; hearing, of all sounds; the mind, of all thoughts; the heart, of all sciences; the hands, of all activities; the sexual organ, of all pleasures; the anus, of all excretions; the feet, of all travels; and speech, of all the Vedas. (BṛU 2.4.11)58 In his commentary on BṛU 2.4.11, Śaṅkara uses these analogies to outline a contemplative process mirroring world dissolution in which one resolves experience back into the Self: Moreover, the world is Brahman not only during its manifestation and preservation alone because of nonexistence apart from consciousness, but also in the time of dissolution—like water bubbles, foam, etc. do not exist apart from water. In this manner, name, form, and action which are the effects of that [i.e., Brahman] do not exist apart from consciousness even when resolving into it. Therefore, Brahman is to be accepted as one only, nothing but consciousness, and homogenous. Thus [the text] provides an example for explaining dissolution. The meaning is that, just as the ocean is the one point of convergence, one meeting point, single dissolution, undivided union of all the waters—rivers, reservoirs, ponds, etc., likewise, so too this example, as skin is the one point of convergence of all touch such as soft, hard, rough, slippery, etc. which are belonging to air. The word “skin” refers to the universal of touch which is the tactile field. The particulars of touch enter into it [skin] like water into the ocean. They become nonexistent apart from it. Indeed, they are only mere forms of it. So too, that universal of touch denoted by the word “skin” [converges] in the intention of the mind, in the universal of mental objects, like particulars of touch in the tactile field. Skin becomes nonexistent apart from that convergence [in mind]. So too, mental intention also converges in the universal of the sphere of the intellect. It becomes nonexistent apart from it. Having become only consciousness alone, it [the intellect] resolves into the higher Brahman which is nothing but consciousness like the water resolves into the ocean. In this way, when by a succession of steps, sounds, etc., along with their instruments of perception, resolve into pure consciousness; then Brahman, which is pure consciousness, homogenous, without end, boundless, and constant, remains like a lump of salt [dissolved in water] because there is no conditioning adjunct. Therefore, the Self alone is to be accepted as one without a second. (BṛUbh 2.4.11) Śaṅkara explains that one must resolve or converge the particular into the universal which

is its locus, the place from which it arises and returns. This process begins with the sense objects. All touch is non-separate from the universal sense organ, skin. So too, all sounds merge into the ear, all smells into the nose, etc. Each sense organ perceives its respective objects, in all their variety, while remaining one and the same. Objects are unified in what perceives them, namely the sense organ, which remains changeless with reference to the changing sense objects. The mind perceives all the sense organs, along with all their changes, such as when the eyes are blind, blurred, or clear. Therefore, the mind is the locus of the sense organs and one should resolve the senses into it. If the mind does not perceive the senses, then they would be a nonentity. The higher intellect perceives the mind in its various forms, such as desire, resolve, doubt, and emotions. Therefore, one merges the mind into the higher intellect. Finally, the intellect is merged with Brahman. All cognition is dependent on Brahman, as pure consciousness, for their existence. Through this process one is left only with Brahman, the ultimate locus and untouched source of all things. These successive steps negate all conditioning properties until only nondual consciousness remains. The second portion of the mantra recommends a similar contemplative process to the organs of action: grasping, procreation, excretion, walking, and speech. One is to merge the organs of action in prāṇa, which constitutes the subtle body. Prāṇa is then merged in Brahman. How exactly one accomplishes this merging is not clear.59 It looks to be an embodied analytical knowledge process by which one focuses on the higher object through understanding its higher hierarchical position or deeper ontological reality in phenomenal experience. Concentrating on the higher object naturally excludes the lower particular, yet simultaneously includes the particular within the larger underlying universal signified by the higher object. This method does not clearly entail a yogic process of withdrawing cognitions by one’s meditative willpower; however, it is plausible that the analytical process naturally neutralizes cognition as it ascends through the hierarchical schema. Śaṅkara does not identify this process as specifically nididhyāsana, perhaps because it is not fundamentally separate from śravaṇa. The underlying method of anvaya and vyatireka, evident here in the process of merging, is the same for both. To posit a sharp distinction between the two is artificial and may grant too much epistemological independence to nididhyāsana. However, in my reading, the deepening contemplative process in this passage, and its culmination of resolving all objects so that only consciousness remains, is more aptly described as nididhyāsana with its aspect of certainty.

1.5 The Parisaṅkhyāna Contemplation in the Upadeśasāhasrī The Upadeśasāhasrī’s prose section (gadyabandha [USG]) consists of three chapters, which appear to parallel the triple process of śravaṇa, manana, and nididhyāsana. They are rare textual instances where Śaṅkara details the advice he would share with a student. The first chapter describes the qualifications of the ideal student and the proper teacher, and explains the primary intention of the Upaniṣads, including the means to liberation and the identity of the individual and Brahman. The second chapter narrates a discussion between teacher and student. It describes the student’s process of philosophical reflection through his questions and the teacher’s resolution of his doubts. The third chapter details a form of contemplation

named parisaṅkhyāna.60 In the first passage of Chapter 3 (USG 112), Śaṅkara claims that the parisaṅkhyāna contemplation destroys merit (puṇya) and demerit (pāpa). He explains that ignorance causes faults (doṣas), which in turn cause activity of the mind, speech, and body. The fruit of this activity is desirable and undesirable results of karma. Śaṅkara presents the parisaṅkhyāna contemplation as a means to destroy karmic results, thereby releasing one from karma. Parisaṅkhyāna neutralizes afflictive effects of prārabdha-karma (karma that has begun). The Advaitin requires parisaṅkhyāna when afflicted by situations or objects even after studying the Upaniṣads.61 Śaṅkara does not identify parisaṅkhyāna as a basic form of meditation nor does he discuss any mental states, experiences, or worship as part of the process. The basic premise behind the contemplation is discriminating between the perceiver and perceived or the Self and notSelf, and the repeated recognition of the perceiver as Brahman in reality. The first two chapters detail this discrimination, which is then pithily contained in words like “non-object” and “unconnected” in the passage below. The corollary of this affirmation is the impossibility of any connection of the Self with mental afflictions and their causes. In USG 114–15 Śaṅkara specifies the following contemplation: The wise person who is afflicted by sounds, etc. which are being experienced should repeatedly contemplate in the following manner. (USG 114) Sound, whether sound in general or particular forms such as musical notes, pleasing and favourable praise, etc. and disagreeable speech which is untrue, disgusting, insulting, and abusive, cannot touch me and make me its object because I am unconnected. I am of the nature of the seer, unconnected, without change, unmoving, imperishable, fearless, absolutely subtle, and not an object. Words are thus not the cause for gain or loss. Therefore, what can sound, whether praise, blame, pleasing or unpleasing, etc. do to me? Pleasing words may make a person who lacks discrimination thrive and unpleasing words may destroy him because he takes words as his Self. But for me, who possesses discriminative knowledge, it is unable to make even a hair’s breadth [of difference]. (USG 115) The contemplator understands that sounds cannot affect him or her by recognizing the Self as free and unattached. As the witness, consciousness must be other than the objects of experience. The Advaitin cannot gain or lose anything from objects or perceptions because the Self is intrinsically whole. Śaṅkara proceeds to repeat this teaching for each type of sense perception through the remainder of USG 115. Touch manifests as sickness, pain, hot or cold, etc., vision as pleasurable and ugly sights, taste as pleasant and unpleasant tastes, and smell as pleasurable or disgusting. All have no effect on the Self. In USG 116 he writes: Moreover, sound and other sense perceptions and external [objects] take the form of the body, and the form of the ear and other sense organs which apprehend them, and the

form of the twofold inner instrument [mind and intellect] and their objects, because they are mutually connected and combined in all actions. That being so, for me who am a wise person, there is no enemy, friend, or indifferent person. Sounds and other external objects, including their associated pains, pleasures, and their impressions, are transformed into the body and sense organs and have the mind and higher intellect as their locus. Thus, they are of the mind and not the true Self. There is no friend or foe for the wise man, and no one can connect the wise man with anything pleasant or unpleasant or with any results of action in the form of merit or demerit. The wise person understands that he is free from old age, death, and fear because nothing exists outside the Self. In the conclusion of USG 116, the final passage of the chapter, Śaṅkara affirms the dependence of parisaṅkhyāna on the Upaniṣads, stating that “All the Upaniṣadic sentences concerning the nonduality of the Self should be contemplated in depth because duality is not real.” The purpose of Śaṅkara’s parisaṅkhyāna is to neutralize mental affliction through a novel method of intentionally pointing to one’s self-nature, rather than using willpower to withdraw the mind from its sources of affliction. Parisaṅkhyāna shifts one’s focus toward the Self, which automatically dismisses or negates objects of perception. Mental afflictions naturally cease to disturb the practitioner who makes this vision unshakeable. The Advaitin may take any thought, emotion, or experience to direct their intention toward that which witnesses the experience—the awareness underlying every cognition. This is particularly effective when directed toward afflictive states like anger, pain, or destructive desires. Śaṅkara discusses a similar method in his commentary on Kena Upaniṣad 2.4, which states, “[Brahman] is known when known in every cognition. Indeed [by that knowledge] one gains immortality.” He writes that, By the word bodha are meant the cognitions acquired through the intellect. The Self, that encompasses all ideas as its objects, is known in relation to all these ideas. Being the witness of all cognitions, and by nature nothing but the power of consciousness, the Self is indicated by the cognitions themselves, in the midst of cognitions as pervading them. There is no other door to its awareness. Wherever the mind wanders, the contemplator recognizes consciousness as revealing the cognition. Through this process, the objects, along with the emotions associated with them, such as attraction, aversion, grief, and anger, cease to disturb the contemplator because the contemplator learns to transform such distractions into contemplative supports.

1.6 Dhyānayoga: The Bhagavad-Gītā’s Yoga of Meditation Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad-Gītā contains a contemplation emphasizing yogic meditation with epistemological insight.62 Kṛṣṇa’s discourse is not perfectly chronological, moving back and forth between preparation, the nature of contemplation, and its results. The early verses of Chapter 6 explain the subsidiary limbs for contemplation. The contemplator should be a

karmayogī in order to cultivate a controlled and peaceful mind which does not obstruct itself. BhG 6.10–13 describe meditation fundamentals such as residing in a solitary location, constructing one’s seat, bodily posture, keeping the eyes steady, and focusing the mind. This meditation is not secular, however. The contemplator should fix his or her mind on Kṛṣṇa (BhG 6.14–15). Śaṅkara interprets Kṛṣṇa here not as an individual deity or the cause of the world but as the Highest Lord (parameśvara), synonymous with nondual Ātman.63 BhG 6.18–19 and 6.24–26 elaborate the contemplation: When the restrained mind abides in the Self alone, then the person who is without attachment to all desires is called absorbed. (BhG 6.18) Like a lamp placed in a windless spot does not flicker—such is the simile said for a yogin whose mind is controlled and who practices contemplation of the Self. (BhG 6.19) Having totally given up all desires produced from mental intention and completely restraining the field of senses with the mind; (BhG 6.24) One should gradually withdraw with a steadfastly held intellect. Having made the mind abide in the Self he should not think of anything else. (BhG 6.25) Wherever the skittish unsteady mind wanders, he should restrain it and bring it under control of the Self alone. (BhG 6.26) Like all forms of meditation, the contemplator must restrain the mind from distraction and fix it on a particular object without deviation, like a steady flame. The key point in BhG 6.18–19 is the mind abiding single-pointedly on the Ātman, not any other object. Verses 6.24–5, which should be read together, further explain the contemplation. BhG 6.24 reiterates the preliminary steps of (1) renouncing desires and (2) withdrawing the group of sense organs (from their sense objects). BhG 6.25 provides two additional steps comprising contemplation itself: (3) with the intellect endowed with steadiness one should slowly withdraw; and (4) having made the mind abide in the Self, one should not think of anything else. A close reading of BhG 6.25 provides further clues. The first two quarters have three key phrases, “gradually” (śanaiḥ), “one should withdraw” (uparamet), “with a steadfastly held intellect” (buddhyā dhṛtigṛhītayā). Śaṅkara glosses śanaiḥ as “not all at once” (na sahasā). The contemplation is a gradual process taking time with a sequence of steps.64 Unlike the ability to prevent the mind from becoming distracted in BhG 6.24, the withdrawing (or resolving) in BhG 6.25 by which the mind is fixed in the Self is a higher knowledge process through the intellect, similar to iterations of nididhyāsana above in the BṛU and USG.65 On BhG 6.26, Śaṅkara explains that to make the mind abide in the Self, one should recognize each distraction as an appearance by ascertaining their true reality. Śaṅkara’s reference to objects as appearances is the direct recognition that their existence depends on unqualified Brahman. He identifies this contemplative process earlier in BhG 6.23 as knowing through negation (saṃjñitaṃ viparītalakṣaṇena). This contemplation

deconstructs all phenomena by recognizing what remains unchanging.66 Seeing objects as non-separate from their ultimate substratum is the recognition of undifferentiated existence, and entails seeing the existence of objects as one’s own self-evident existence, which is selfluminous consciousness. This epistemic perspective shift is analogous to realizing the unchanging gold content of a variety of ornaments. In each case one withdraws from sense objects by progressively resolving the mind, with all its components, into the Self so that it is finally “fixed on the Self.” The Advaitin should practice it continuously. When fully absorbed in this knowledge there are no more boundaries to circumscribe either undifferentiated being or self-luminous consciousness. Then there is nothing other than the Self. BhG 6.20–3 describe the results of this contemplation. By seeing the Self, one rejoices in the Self (BhG 6.20). He knows infinite happiness beyond the senses and intellect and does not deviate from reality (BhG 6.21). He is not shaken by calamity when established in the Self (BhG 6.22). And this yoga breaks all association with suffering (BhG 6.23). These verses describe one who has assimilated knowledge through contemplation. He is of firm insight (sthitaprajña) and possesses stability in nondual knowledge (jñānaniṣṭ;hā) even in calamitous experiences. Śaṅkara does not describe the phenomenology of this limitless happiness. It is beyond the sense organs (not objective), though the intellect grasps it. Śaṅkara interprets it as anantam, the intrinsic fullness of Brahman, rather than a blissful but transient mental state. Śaṅkara does not specify whether the BhG’s contemplation is experientially nondual. Even if it hypothetically culminates in a nondual state, the focus is not mental cessation but seeing the Self. Total cessation may contradict verses 6.29–31, which articulate a way of appreciating self-knowledge by maintaining the “vision of sameness everywhere” (sarvatra samadarśanaḥ). Samadarśana is the fruit of knowledge, but also a kind of contemplative practice of holding nonduality within empirical experience. This is compatible with perceiving objects and maintaining one’s understanding within dualistic experience. For Advaitins the BhG’s intention is epistemological and metaphysical, an understanding that the basis of all objects and beings is the same Brahman. It is not primarily a phenomenological endeavor to attain nondual experiences. Verses 6.30–1 add a theological perspective by bringing īśvara back into contemplative practice. They point out the non-difference of īśvara and all objects and that īśvara is the Self of all beings. Śaṅkara elevates devotion (bhakti) to a form of nididhyāsana in the context of understanding īśvara as Brahman and one’s Self. This type of contemplation, also known as the unwavering yoga of devotion (ananyayoga bhakti), is knowledge-dependent rather than emotion-dependent.67 Its primary focus is not emotional attachment or surrender to īśvara because that entails duality. For Śaṅkara, this bhakti is the highest devotion because it unifies īśvara, Brahman, and the individual.68

1.7 The Chronology of Nididhyāsana: Some Ambiguities Śaṅkara’s conception of nididhyāsana leaves several unresolved ambiguities and potential problems. For example, Śaṅkara does not clarify the placement of contemplation within a

chronology of Advaita disciplines involving textual study and gaining self-knowledge. The question is whether to see contemplation, or a particular form of it, as occurring before or after the rise of correct knowledge. Is nididhyāsana a means to knowledge of Brahman, the culmination of that knowledge itself, or something used to stabilize that knowledge after the fact? Is it for the one desirous of liberation or one already liberated-while-living? If prior to knowledge, then how does it differ from śravaṇa and manana? If after knowledge, then what purpose can it have for a liberated person? Across his commentaries, he appears to endorse both chronological positions, albeit reluctantly in some contexts.69 Epistemologically it makes more sense for Śaṅkara to downplay the importance of nididhyāsana and to position it prior to liberation; yet he cannot totally discount the problem of continuing problematic dispositions for the jīvanmukta, especially if perfect qualification (adhikāra) is virtually unattainable prior to liberation itself.70 He is ambivalent on these questions though, and is perhaps intentionally reticent to avoid imposing a precise chronology of liberation, which presupposes an indirect and direct knowledge distinction—a distinction that threatens the authority of the Upaniṣads and loses sight of Brahman’s ever-present reality.71 Textual instances where Śaṅkara accepts contemplation after self-knowledge, even if tentatively, complicate the common assumption that nididhyāsana is a means and therefore prior to self-knowledge; however, Śaṅkara does not explicitly position nididhyāsana before or after a liberating cognition. He is also ambiguous about who exactly requires nididhyāsana. Perhaps attempting to systematize nididhyāsana’s chronology with reference to a liberating cognition is a misguided endeavor, though, if Śaṅkara locates the immediacy of knowledge in textual study. He may even claim that the Advaitin gains immediate (aparokṣa) knowledge the first time the teacher unfolds a mahāvākya, even though that immediacy remains obstructed and seemingly distant. This position of locating aparokṣa knowledge in śravaṇa resists vexing questions about nididhyāsana’s precise epistemic positionality by undermining any emphasis on a sudden epistemological event of immediacy produced by nididhyāsana. I suspect that Śaṅkara’s ambiguity about the process of liberation is intentional. Underlying nididhyāsana’s chronological dilemma is that Advaita’s mokṣa is not wholly compatible with a causal epistemology. Just as self-illuminating awareness is not a result to be accomplished, so too one does not accomplish self-knowledge. Liberation’s seeming leap to nonduality is merely the return to one’s intrinsic nature. Mokṣa, in the form of brahmavidyā, is independent of any world-based causal processes. Yet while Śaṅkara agrees that there is no problem in reality, he accepts the intersubjective fact that individuals do not know themselves as liberated and, hence, experience suffering. Śaṅkara thus holds a seemingly paradoxical position that the individual is liberated yet ignorant of this fact. The Advaitin thus requires an arduous process of removing ignorance of Brahman to solve a lessthan-real problem. Toggling between empirical and absolute perspectives underlies this indeterminability of liberation. In theory there must be epistemological and experiential changes in the Advaitin’s maturation of knowledge; however, Śaṅkara likely resists emphasizing this process because it encourages the fallacy that Brahman is distant and to be gained. The Advaitin who attempts to assess how close she is to mokṣa or who seeks an impartite nondual cognition of Brahman has already undermined her study process by

making liberation distant. Śaṅkara is clearly critical of contemplation after correct verbal knowledge, if this position assumes that contemplation produces a new immediate knowledge. An epistemology of new knowledge vitiates the Upaniṣads as a pramāṇa and implies two types of self-knowledge, indirect verbal knowledge and directly occurring self-knowledge. As part of verbal testimony, nididhyāsana is not a mode of action like meditation, visualization, worship, or ritual, and does not create any new unique knowledge distinct from textual knowledge. Śaṅkara thus undermines any temptation we may have to assume a fundamental difference between indirect propositional knowledge from śravaṇa, which is simply conceptual and theoretical, and direct nonpropositional knowledge from nididhyāsana, which is immediately experienced; however, we may distinguish knowledge with obstacles from stable knowledge without obstacles. This distinction validates a process of study and knowledge that takes time and is experiential in some sense. There is some change in the state of one’s self-knowledge with repeated contemplation. Nididhyāsana’s purpose is to neutralize problematic psychological dispositions. This process of maturating clarity establishes an epistemic resilience toward afflictive situations that might otherwise vitiate one’s vision of nonduality. An accurate understanding of Śaṅkara cannot conflate this deepening clarity with an epistemological parokṣa (direct)/aparokṣa (indirect) distinction. Nididhyāsana cultivates clarity of self-knowledge by removing subconscious saṃskāras and/or neutralizing their virulence so that self-knowledge is not subject to disruption. Dispositions will not interfere with an individual’s steadfastness in self-knowledge when nididhyāsana disempowers the dispositions from reinforcing notions of duality. In this way nididhyāsana brings self-knowledge alive, so to speak, without any obstruction or obstacles. This negative dialectic is the most favorable reading of Śaṅkara. The texts provide immediate knowledge of Brahman from the beginning in śravaṇa. Then manana and nididhyāsana remove epistemic and psychological obstructions to the immediate availability of that knowledge. This conceptual trajectory is compatible with sudden liberation, which aligns with the innateism of nonduality; but it allows for a more gradual view of liberation as maturing clarity. Gradualism aligns with the possibility that the mutual superimposition of not-Self onto Self produces several layers of self-identity and varied memory impressions that the Advaitin deconstructs over time through repetition. The student’s qualification or lack thereof provides the variable factor that determines the speed of knowledge assimilation. The ambiguities we find in Śaṅkara are endemic to Advaita as a whole, and led to differences among post-Śaṅkara Advaitins who held differing views on the relative relationships among listening, reflection, and contemplation. Are all three equal? Is nididhyāsana a mode of textual study or is textual study a mode of nididhyāsana? Which is principle and which is subsidiary? Advaitins probe these questions through Mīmāṃsā’s hermeneutical theory of mode (aṅga) and mode-possessor (aṅgin), which attempts to untangle principal and subordinate rituals. In the Advaita case, however, what criteria should constitute the principal (the aṅgin) is disputed. On one hand, it could be epistemic dependency, which privileges listening as the root cause of the others. On the other hand, one could assert nididhyāsana as principal because of its temporal primacy as penultimate or

coterminous with liberation, or due to epistemic primacy if it awakens the immediate intuition of Brahman. We may chart a spectrum across early Advaitin philosophers based on the degree to which they grant agency to either testimony or nididhyāsana (and other yogic practices). Sureśvara was perhaps the most conservative early Advaitin with regard to yogic practice. He grants full instrumentality to the Upaniṣads, and focuses more on śravaṇa and manana. Sureśvara tends to identify nididhyāsana as culminating knowledge itself and, in some cases, rejects any need for nididhyāsana, especially after liberating knowledge.72 Padmapāda and the Vivaraṇa tradition also focus on the authority of the Upanishads, making them principal and nididhyāsana subsidiary.73 On the other side, Advaitins like Maṇḍanamiśra and Vācaspatimiśra emphasize the individual’s mind as instrumental. This instrumentality of mind grants more agency to nididhyāsana as a yogic technique to establish an immediate cognition of Brahman (brahmasākṣātkāra), thereby diminishing the independent capacity of śravaṇa to culminate in liberation. Even though they accept the authority of Upaniṣadic testimony, they view testimony as limited to indirect knowledge. This position extends to greater acceptance of a parokṣa/aparokṣa distinction of knowledge.74 Even though much has been made of this difference, Maṇḍanamiśra and Vācaspatimiśra are still quite close to Śaṅkara.75 Like Śaṅkara, they argue for the importance of negation and claim that nididhyāsana is not subject to original injunctions for action, is not a form of imagination, and does not deal with unseen objects or future results. Vācaspati also links contemplation with the anvaya and vyatireka method. Their immediate cognition of Brahman is still just the removal of ignorance and not a new product.

1.8 Conclusion: Summarizing Śaṅkara’s Contemplative Method Across these different iterations of nididhysāsana, Śaṅkara pursues what is continuous, constant, and therefore real within self-identity or external objects by distinguishing it from what is unreal and transient. These contemplations move through particular conceptual directions that employ distinctions such as particulars and universals, subjects and objects, dependency, causality, subtlety, permanence, or pervasiveness. As a knowledge contemplation, nididhyāsana is wholly dependent on understanding the Upaniṣads first. For Śaṅkara the Upaniṣads alone convey nondual knowledge through the anvaya and vyatireka method. This sophisticated form of discriminative reasoning, pithily contained in mahāvākyas, determines the relationship of what persists and what does not persist between two things. Tellingly, in each case study above, a process of anvaya and vyatireka in the root text or Śaṅkara’s commentary precedes engaging nididhyāsana. The sentence meaning uncovers the nondual nature of Ātman. Only then can the contemplator return to the Ātman in nididhyāsana by revisiting the sentence meaning. In accurately reading Śaṅkara, we cannot separate nididhyāsana from the Upaniṣads or attribute any independent epistemological function to it, though it is true that some other Advaitins grant nididhyāsana greater independence. Nididhyāsana’s process seeks to isolate the core of subjective experience, one’s most intimate sense of existence, through the logic that in any given experience, what one

objectifies is other than the subject of experience. This phenomenological investigation of discriminating the seer from the seen ostensibly leads to the Ātman as pure consciousness, that which witnesses and illumines all cognition and which has no locus or boundaries. Alternatively, in approaching external objects, the Advaitin recognizes the objects’ dependent ontological nature which points to pure existence. The student should not stop at this point, but employ the anvaya and vyatireka method to identify nondual existence as numerically identical with self-illuminating consciousness. Either direction of contemplation, internal or external, leads to an equation—the indiscernible identity of Ātman and nondual Brahman. This makes one limitless (anantam). Evident in this method is a gradual process of hierarchically subsuming particulars into their higher sources. This widening process negates conceptual self-identities in approaching the Ātman. The process is both exclusive and inclusive. Each sequential step leaps to a broader, more universal source, which negates the previous more particular one consisting of dependent effects yet includes it within the larger universal which is its cause. This thereby excludes all identities as independent entities but simultaneously includes them as ultimately non-separate from one’s Self, which is Brahman, the absolute universal. Through this knowledge, the Advaitin maintains a contemplative recognition of nonduality so that Brahman is immediately available even in the face of afflictive experiences and mental disturbances. If distracted and carried into an external object, the contemplator should shift perspectives by recognizing the reality of Brahman making up the object and its cognition. This turns the tables on distractions by allowing them to point back to their substratum. One can thus harness the distraction’s power to lead the mind back to the Ātman, resolving the distraction in the process. Each object, situation, emotion, etc., becomes a contemplative link—a means to deconstruct subjective and objective realities and to see oneself as unqualified Brahman. This metacognitive reframing transforms objects, distractions, and afflictions into contemplative supports. Properly understanding Śaṅkara’s nididhyāsana may come down to reconsidering our own notions of what constitutes a text. We tend to view texts as static even if changing over time, and bound by the written word. However, we may better understand Śaṅkara if we drop our presuppositions about what binds a text. For Śaṅkara, the boundaries of the text appear to expand beyond fixed written words to include listening, logical reflection, and nididhyāsana. Textual knowledge infuses every aspect of the Advaitin’s phenomenological life, even liberation itself. This is possible because Śaṅkara views the texts from both a conventional and absolute perspective. All empirical textual expressions are not different from the text. The absolute perspective identifies Upaniṣads with their self-knowledge content, as Brahman itself. An accurate understanding of Śaṅkara challenges us to expand our culturally conditioned notions of texts, and to collapse presupposed dichotomies of text and practice or theory and method. For Śaṅkara, the Advaitin’s experience of texts may naturally expand as he or she studies and contemplates self-knowledge. Early stages of study may mistakenly presuppose a distinction between texts and contemplative practice, but this boundary should recede the further one progresses. In nididhyāsana, only text-sparked knowledge of Brahman remains.

Abbreviations bh bhāṣya BhG Bhagavad-Gītā BrSū Brahmasūtra BṛU Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad TU Taittirīya Upaniṣad US Upadeśasāhasrī USG Upadeśasāhasrī gadyabandha

Notes For other studies that shed light on nididhyāsana, see Halbfass (1983, 1991), Satchidanandendra (1997), Bader (1990), Rambachan (1991), Suthren Hirst (1996, 2005), Nakamura (2004), and Dalal (2009, 2016). For a discussion of asparśayoga, see King (1992). King argues that asparśayoga denotes both a particular set of meditative practices and a state of realization. For further reading on Gauḍapāda, see Cole (1982), King (1995), Isayeva (1995), and Comans (2000). See BrSū 1.3.19. Advaitins further divide the mind-body complex into its gross physical body (sthūlaśarīra), its subtle body (sūkṣmaśarīra), and a causal body (kāraṇaśarīra) composed of ignorance. The subtle body is further divided into the five organs of action (karmendriyas), five organs of perception (jñānendriyas), physiological functions (prāṇas), and the mind (composed of intellect, ego, mind, and memory). The term satyam includes the meanings of “real” and “existence.” Taittirīya Upaniṣad bhāṣya 2.1.1. All translations are by the author unless otherwise noted. Later Advaitins often identified Brahman as reality, consciousness, and fullness/bliss (saccidānanda or asti, bhāti, and priyam). See, for example, Pañcadaśī Chapter 13. Śaṅkara does not tend to identify ananta and ānanda, perhaps due to the possibility of attributing positive characteristics to Brahman or conflating liberation with a transient blissful mental state. For that reason, I translate ānanda as fullness rather than bliss. We may also view ānanda as freedom from fear, desire, and suffering to avoid any positive attribution. See Fort (1988) for a discussion of ānanda in Śaṅkara. See BrSū 2.1.14 and 2.1.27. There is some debate about how to interpret tattvānyatvābhyām in Śaṅkara’s writing. The more common later Advaita phrase is “indeterminable as real or unreal” (sadasadbhyām anirvacanīya). See Hacker (1995) for a discussion of this phrase and its connections to māyā and nāma-rūpa. See BṛU 2.4.10, BṛU 1.4.7, and USG 1.19. For further discussion see Comans (2000: 239–46). Advaita’s philosophical opponents often label Advaitins as māyāvādins—those who espouse the doctrine of māyā; however, the term does not play a pivotal role for Śaṅkara. He usually uses it to refer to something illusory, like a magic trick, and to indicate that the magician is untouched by the trick. In other cases, he interprets it as the creative power (māyāśakti) of īśvara. See Hacker (1995). However, it is important to note that Śaṅkara often does not clearly differentiate īśvara from Brahman. See Bhagavadgītā Chapter 13. See the chapters by Williams (Chapter 3), Gupta (Chapter 4), and Chakrabarti (Chapter 16) in this volume for discussions of anirvacanīya and māyā. For a detailed discussion see Gupta (1998). See Chapter 14 by Vaidya in this volume for a discussion of Vedānta and pansychism. ṅkara, for example, on BrSū 3.3.1 and 1.1.4 argues that none of the four types of action, which include production, modification, purification, and gaining/reaching, result in liberation. For the sake of clarity, I use “yoga” as signifying preliminary practices like meditation and distinguish it from nididhyāsana. For a discussion of Śaṅkara’s acceptance of yoga, see Sundaresan (2003). Yogic meditation or similar practices like Upaniṣadic upāsanas are forms of action that, for Śaṅkara, must always remain subsidiary to knowledge and are unnecessary for the well-qualified student. We can broaden the semantic range of “yoga” to include Advaita (as well as Buddhism) in a wider discourse of yogic soteriologies, or to nididhyāsana more specifically with its meditational aspects; however, I avoid this label here so the reader does not conflate the knowledge and action dichotomy in the Advaita context.

Furthermore, some scholars like Fort (1998) use “Yogic Advaita” (in contrast to “traditional” or “classical” Advaita) to refer to medieval Advaita texts like the Jīvanmuktiviveka that intentionally incorporate elements of Pātañjala Yoga to a far greater degree than Śaṅkara does. ṅkara lists these early in his commentary on BrSū 1.1.1 as the prerequisites implied by the word “thereafter” (atha), the first word of the first sūtra (athāto brahmajijñāsā). Later Advaita Vedāntins standardized this list. See Śaṅkara on BrSū 3.4.27–8 for the importance of ritual and mental purification for the emergence of knowledge. Upāsana’s use of superimposition without the negation of that superimposition, and its dependency on the agent rather than the object of meditation, distinguish it from nididhyāsana. See Dalal (2016) for further discussion of these differences. This doctrine is derived from BhG 3.9–16, which discusses a cosmogonic sacrificial wheel and its economy of food between deities and ritual agents. See Malinar (2007: 81–90) for further discussion. The term prasāda is difficult to translate. The contemporary practice of consuming ritually sanctified food, termed prasāda, helps to makes sense of the term in karmayoga. Just as an orthodox Hindu is to consume prasāda in a temple free from aversion (dveṣa) and attraction (rāga), so too should one accept the results of action which are authored by īśvara. Karmayoga is another way of reconciling the apparent contradiction between action and knowledge. Like removing a thorn with another thorn, karmayoga subverts action by reconceiving it as a means of renunciation by removing attachment to karmic results. It is important to note that karmayoga is, at its core, a type of devotional practice. Śaṅkara, unlike most modern interpreters, makes no distinction between karmayoga and bhaktiyoga (yoga of devotion) in his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gītā. See Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 3.2.9 as well as BṛU 4.2.4 and 4.4.25 in support of this. There is scholarly debate about how to translate anubhava in the Advaita context and what role it plays in Śaṅkara’s soteriology. Some translate anubhava as “experience,” and may interpret it as a transcendent nondual experience akin to Patañjali’s nondual absorption with no object (asamprajñāta-samādhi). The debate mostly revolves around Śaṅkara’s use of anubhava in BrSūbh 1.1.2, and whether it is a means of knowledge independent of the Upaniṣads. Arvind Sharma (1992, 1993), for example, argues for this position. I believe this idea is unwarranted and lacks a basis in Śaṅkara’s commentaries. Anubhava is more likely the culmination of knowledge from the Upaniṣads—immediate self-knowledge—rather than the instrument or source of knowledge. Furthermore, for Śaṅkara, it is more likely that if nondual states occur then they are simply byproducts of this knowledge. For further reading see Rambachan (1986, 1994), Halbfass (1988, 1991: 389–90), Michael Comans (1993, 2000), and Dalal (2009: 308–22). For a discussion of anubhava in Ramakrishna’s Vedānta see Chapter 5 by Long in this volume. There are four primary mahāvākyas, one from each of the four Vedas: Aitareya Upaniṣad 3.5.3: “Brahman is knowledge” (prajñānaṃ brahma); BṛU 1.4.10: “I am Brahman” (ahaṃ brahmāsmi); Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.8.7: “You are that” (tat tvam asi); and Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad 1.2: “This Self is Brahman” (ayam ātmā brahma). ṅkara specifically points to contemplating the knowledge-content of statements such as Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.7.8: “You are that” (tat tvam asi) and TU 2.1.1: “Brahman is existence, consciousness, and limitless” (satyaṃ jñānaṃ anantaṃ brahma) as nididhyāsana. For example, see Śaṅkara on Brahmasūtra 1.1.4 and 4.1.1–2. Anvaya and vyatireka can also be translated as “presence” and “absence” or “positive” and “negative concomitance.” Śaṅkara also employs other similar Sanskrit terms like vyabhicāra (variable) and avyabhicāra (invariable), and adhyāropa (superimposition) and apavāda (de-superimposition). For other discussions of anvaya and vyatireka see Cardona (1981), Halbfass (1991: 162–77), Mayeda (1992: 51–8), Comans (1996: 59–63), and Satchidanandendra (1997). Tat has its antecedent as “existence” (sat) earlier in the chapter in Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.2.1. Śaṅkara elaborates his interpretation of tat tvam asi in Chapter 18 of his US. The secondary meaning in Advaita’s jahadajahallakṣaṇā is part of the word’s direct reference, unlike other forms of lakṣaṇā. Jahadajahallakṣaṇā does not bring a new meaning, as in the case of suggestion (dhvani), but negates aspects to reduce word meaning to the most basic referent. See Kunjunni Raja (1969: 251–54) and chapter 4 of Vedāntaparibhāṣā for more discussion. There is a scholarly debate whether Śaṅkara employs lakṣaṇā in his exegesis of satyaṃ jñānaṃ anantaṃ brahma in part due to his use of the ambiguous compound “lakṣaṇārtham.” Breaking the euphonic combination of the compound yields either lakṣaṇa (definition) or lakṣaṇā (secondary indication). The question then is whether Śaṅkara actually takes recourse to the metaphorical (secondary sense) aspect of lakṣaṇā or defines Brahman by employing characterizations as a form of negation to distinguish Brahman from all else. For the first view see Lipner (1997). For the latter view see Bartley (2002: 111–23) and Suthren Hirst (2005: 145–51). My argument for a single method focuses on anvaya-vyatireka and neti neti rather than the use of metaphor, and is therefore more in line with Suthren Hirst’s argument. One may, however, question to what degree jahadajahallakṣaṇā depends on metonymy and a secondary denotative sense like other forms of lakṣaṇā if it only negates elements from the basic referent. ṅkara clearly emphasizes negative language as the method of understanding Brahman and finds numerous supporting

examples throughout the Upaniṣads, such as Kaṭ;ha Upaniṣad 1.3.15, Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.1.6, and BṛU 2.3.6. The phrase neti neti, “not (this), not (this),” occurs in BṛU 2.3.6, 3.9.26, 4.4.22, and 4.5.15. For example, the immediate verses preceding neti neti in BṛU 2.3.6 speak of Brahman as the subtle and gross bodies. They are then negated, yet Brahman still remains as the “real of the real” (or “truth of truth”—satyasya satyam). Similarly, in BṛU 4.5.15, the negation (almost verbatim to 2.3.6) is preceded by a discussion indirectly pointing to the meaning of tvam. Yājñavalkya then describes this Self as unperceivable. It is the absolute essence and source of all things yet it is also beyond duality and a pure mass of undifferentiated awareness without interior or exterior. One cannot “know” this source, the knower behind the knower, but it is obliquely indicated through negation. ṅkara views neti neti and anvaya and vyatireka as functioning synonymously. See US 18.188–95, for example. Also see Śaṅkara’s commentaries on Gaudapāda Kārikā 3.26, BrSū 3.2.22, and BṛU 4.4.25. As explained in note 31, the case of lakṣaṇā is less clear and there is scholarly disagreement about equating lakṣaṇā with anvaya and vyatireka. See Cardona (1981: 94–6) and Comans (1996, 2000: 289–91), who argue that lakṣaṇā and anvaya and vyatireka are the same method. Others, such as Mayeda (1992: 55), interpret lakṣaṇā as different from anvaya and vyatireka. Dalal (2016). BrSū 4.1.1. ṛU 1.4.7 and 1.4.10. BhG 6.35, 8.8, 12.9; and Śaṅkara on Gaudapāda Kārikā 3.31. Gaudapāda Kārikā bhāṣya 3.41–2. Gaudapāda Kārikā 3.39 and 4.2. BrSū 3.2.24, Gaudapāda Kārikā bhāṣya 3.37, and BhGbh 6.19. Śaṅkara often uses the related term samāhita, a synonym for yukta, in his BhGbh as a description of the yogin engaged in contemplation. USG, Chapter 3. BhG 13.10. BhG 13.24, Kaṭ;ha Upaniṣad 2.2.1, and US 13.17. BhG Chapter 6 and 18.52. BrSū 3.3.14. ṭ;ha Upaniṣad 1.2.12. BhG 8.9, Gaudapāda Kārikā bhāṣya 3.43. BhG 8.8. BhG 13.11. See BṛU 1.4.7 and BhG 12.3 for examples. This passage is repeated almost verbatim in BṛU 4.5.6, but the last line there is slightly different: “When the Self is seen, heard, reflected on, and contemplated, all this is known.” ṅkara associates a handful of Upaniṣadic sentences as paralleling the root text for nididhyāsana. These include BṛU 1.4.7, 1.4.15, 3.5.1, 4.4.2, Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.7.1, and Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 2.2.6 and 3.2.9. For example, see BrSūbh 1.1.4. and BrSūbh 4.1.1, where Śaṅkara groups the passages together within the view of an opponent who critiques contemplation as an action. Also see BrSūbh 2.3.39. For example, in BṛUbh 2.5.1 Śaṅkara refutes Bhartṛaprapañca’s idea of identifying sections of the text with each part of the triple process. For examples, see BrSūbh 1.1.4, 3.2.21, 4.1.1, US 18.203–5, 18.210, 18.213, BṛU 3.5.1, Kaṭ;ha Upaniṣad 1.2.20, and Śaṅkara’s introduction to the Īśā Upaniṣad. ṅkara’s interpretation of ni is his own speculation. This prefix possesses numerous possible meanings. The term niścaya is itself ambiguous here. I translate niścayena dhyātavyaḥ as “It should be contemplated with certainty” but niścayena could be “ascertained,” “with conviction,” “resolutely,” “steadfastly,” or “unswervingly.” One dividing line is that translations such as “certainty” suggest that the Advaitin has already gained knowledge and has a sense of epistemological certification, while those such as “resolutely” stress the yogic focus and quality of the mind in meditation and may suggest that knowledge is not yet attained (see Suthren Hirst 1996: 63). In commentating on the almost verbatim passage in BṛU 4.5.6, Śaṅkara does not use the term nididhyāsana and immediately labels it with its parallel word “known” (vijñāte). He glosses vijñāte as “ascertained as this and not otherwise” (vijñāte—evam etat nānyatheti nirdhārite). This gloss, and the parallel use of vijñānena (or vijñāte) in the last line of the root text, suggests “certainty” and an identity of nididhyāsana with selfknowledge itself rather than a means to knowledge. Also see Śaṅkara on BṛU 1.4.2, BrSū 1.1.4 and BrSū 4.1.1. Olivelle (1996: 29). In a similar passage the Kena Upaniṣad 1.3.13 states, “The wise person should withdraw speech into the mind. He should withdraw that [mind] into the knowledge self [the intellect]. He should place that intellect into the mahān [universal

intellect]. He should place that [mahān] into the tranquil Self.” Śaṅkara glosses yacchet (the third-person singular optative of the verb root √yam) with upasaṃharet, niyacchet, and saṃyacchet. These verbs share the meanings of placing, restraining, excluding, withdrawing, and controlling. Though often used in the contexts of meditation, they connote a type of analytical knowledge here as well. Parisaṅkhyāna literally means enumeration. It may also denote exclusion, as in the case of an exclusionary injunction (parisaṅkhyāna vidhi). Śaṅkara occasionally uses the term parisaṅkhyāna in the context of a parisaṅkhyāna injunction but it is not clear whether this meaning is intended here. See Bader (1990: 78–80), who makes a connection between the parisaṅkhyāna vidhi and anvaya-vyatireka because exclusion is common to both. Also see Sundaresan (1998). For further discussion of this contemplation see Dalal (2009: 233–45) and Mayeda (1992: 88–9). ṅkara is ambiguous whether this contemplator has gained knowledge and is liberated. He refers to the one doing parisaṅkhyāna as “one desirous for liberation” (mumukṣu) in USG 112, but as a wise person (vidvān/viduṣaḥ) in USG 114. The contemplator is a qualified student, but it is unclear what degree of intellectual clarity about Brahman he or she possesses. The term mumukṣu implies knowledge is absent, whereas the vidvān could be living-while-liberated. ṅkara’s introduction to BhG Chapter 6 states that the chapter develops the contemplation presented aphoristically in BhG 5.27–8. Sometimes Śaṅkara identifies Brahman in the BhG as parameśvara (the Highest Lord) who may be either with attributes (saguṇa) or without attributes (nirguṇa). He is ambiguous with regard to interpreting the Brahman mentioned as the higher or lower—with or without attributes—using them synonymously. In his commentary on BhG 6.28 Śaṅkara states that the process is a sequence (krama). ṅkara glosses dhṛti only with the related and not very helpful word, dhairyeṇa. Similar to the term niścaya in BṛU 2.4.5, dhṛti may refer here to yogic effort and perseverance or clarity of knowledge required to maintain a contemplation of unity in the face of duality. Though Śaṅkara’s process in BhG 6.26 focuses on perceptions of external objects, “resolving” potentially follows the trajectory of various metaphysical teaching models Advaitins derive from the Upaniṣads, like the five sheaths (pañcakośa), three bodies (śarīratraya), and three states (avasthātraya). See BhGbh 13.10–11. On BhGbh 7.17, for example, Śaṅkara describes the devotion of a knower of reality as exclusively focused on īśvara because īśvara is his own Self, nondual, and therefore the only appropriate locus of bhakti. See Suthren Hirst (1996: 65–6) for a similar argument. It is perhaps for this reason that, as Suthren Hirst (1996: 61) explains, Śaṅkara prefers the pairing of scripture (śāstra) and reason (yukti). This pairing, which maintains a focus on Upaniṣadic testimony and the anvaya and vyatireka method as principal means, may reflect his ambivalence toward nididhyāsana by bypassing its philosophical difficulties. Yet this pairing does not contradict a conception of nididhyāsana as reducible to anvaya and vyatireka. Halbfass’s (1983: 54) claim that the triple method is not significant in Śaṅkara’s writing may be overstated. This implies the insignificance of nididhyāsana because śāstra and yukti only parallel śravaṇa and manana. Yet Śankara often employs the phrase “śravaṇa etc.” (see note 54) which includes nididhyāsana. He also emphasizes contemplative practices in several instances and identifies nididhyāsana with several key Upaniṣadic sentences. Nididhyāsana continues to be significant in later Advaita interpretations of Śaṅkara when we view the tradition as a whole. For related discussions in this volume, see Chapter 10 (Hedling) for a critique of Advaita Vedānta’s theory of jīvanmukti and Chapter 13 (Raveh) for a discussion of jñānaniṣṭ;hā. For example, see verses 217–19 and 232–3 of Sureśvara on the Yājñavalkya Maitreyī dialogue (Hino 1991). Sureśvara also departs from Śaṅkara’s interpretation of the sentence “Having known just that Self, the wise brāhmin should obtain insight. He should not ponder over many words, for that is wearying of speech” (BṛU 4.4.21). Instead of admitting contemplation after knowledge like Śaṅkara, Sureśvara reduces the knowledge process to śravaṇa and manana, and identifies nididhyāsana as stable knowledge and liberation. Sureśvara spends 268 vārttikas on this line, and appears to take his position to negate Maṇḍanamiśra. Padmapāda discusses this in the ninth varṇaka of his Pañcapādikā (see Venkatramiah 1948: 295–332). Also see Prakāśātman’s Pañcapādikāvivaraṇa Chapters 58 and 59 (verses 402–23) in Gupta (2011: 480–7). Readers may consult Gupta’s (2011: 91–106) summary of differences between Vivaraṇa’s and Bhāmatī’s paths to liberation. Maṇḍana makes several statements in his Brahmasiddhi about the indirect nature of verbal knowledge and the necessity of contemplation. See Sastri (1937: 12, 35, and 134). For further discussion of Maṇḍana see Balasubramanian (1983), Thrasher (1993), and Dalal (2009: 116–28). See Vācaspati on BrSūbh. 1.1.1 (Sastri and Raja 1992, 75–9). See Rao (1984) for further discussion of Vācaspati and some of his differences with the Vivaraṇa school and Sureśvara. They hold somewhat of a middle ground between Śaṅkara and pre-Śaṅkara philosophers like Bhāskara, Bhartṛprapañca, Brahmānandin, and Brahmadatta who combined knowledge and yogic action (in some form of meditation or contemplation)

and knowledge. These philosophers were Śaṅkara’s adversaries and fall outside of mainstream Advaita Vedānta subschools. See Nakamura (1983).

References Bader, Jonathan (1990), Meditation in Śaṅkara’s Vedānta, New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Balasubramanian, R. (1983), A Study of the Brahmasiddhi of Maṇḍana Miśra, Varanasi: Chaukhamba Amarabharati Prakashan. Bartley, C.J. (2002), The Theology of Rāmānuja: Realism and Religion, London: RoutledgeCurzon. Cardona, George (1981), “On Reasoning from Anvaya and Vyatireka in Early Advaita,” in D. Malvania and N. J. Shah, eds., Studies in Indian Philosophy. A Memorial Volume in Honour of Pandit Suklaji Sanghavi, Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute of Indology, 79–104. Cole, Colin A. (1982), Asparsa-yoga: A Study of Gaudapada’s Mandukya Karika, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Comans, Michael (1993), “The Question of the Importance of Samādhi in Modern and Classical Advaita Vedānta,” Philosophy East and West 43.1, 19–38. Comans, Michael (1996), “Śaṅkara and the Prasaṅkhyānavāda,” Journal of Indian Philosophy 24.1, 49–71. Comans, Michael (2000), The Method of Early Advaita Vedānta, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Dalal, Neil (2009), “Texts Beyond Words: Contemplation and Practice in Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta,” PhD dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin. Dalal, Neil (2016), “Contemplative Grammars: Śaṅkara’s Distinction of Upāsana and Nididhyāsana,” Journal of Indian Philosophy 44.1, 179–206. Fort, Andrew (1988), “Beyond Pleasure: Śaṅkara on Bliss,” Journal of Indian Philosophy 16, 177–89. Fort, Andrew (1998), Jivanmukti in Transformation: Embodied Liberation in Advaita and Neo-Vedānta, Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Gupta, Bina (1998), The Disinterested Witness: A Fragment of Advaita Vedānta Phenomenology, Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Gupta, Bina (2011), Consciousness, Knowledge, and Ignorance: Prakāśātman’s Elucidation of Five Parts, New York: The American Institute of Buddhist Studies. Hacker, Paul (1995), “Distinctive Features of the Doctrine and Terminology of Śaṅkara: Avidyā, Nāmarūpa, Māyā, Īśvara,” in Wilhelm Halbfass, ed., Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Vedanta, Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 57–100. Halbfass, Wilhelm (1983), Studies in Kumārila and Śaṅkara, Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik, Monographie 9, Reinbeck: Dr. Inge Wezler. Halbfass, Wilhelm (1988), India and Europe: An Essay in Philosophical Understanding, Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Halbfass, Wilhelm (1991), Tradition and Reflection, Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Hino, Shoun, trans. (1991), Sureśvara’s Vārtika on Yājñavalkya Maitreyī Dialogue, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Isayeva, Natalia (1995), From Early Vedanta to Kashmir Shaivism, Albany, NY: SUNY Press. King, Richard (1992), “Asparśa-Yoga: Meditation and Epistemology in the Gauḍapādīya-Kārikā,” Journal of Indian Philosophy 20, 89–131. King, Richard (1995), Early Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism: The Mahayana Context of the Gaudapadiya-Karika, Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Kunjunni, Raja K. (1969), Indian Theories of Meaning, Chennai: Adyar Library and Research Centre. Lipner, Julius (1997), “Śaṅkara on satyam jñānaṃ anantaṃ brahma,” in P. Bilimoria and J.N. Mohanty, eds., Relativism, Suffering and Beyond: Essays in Memory of Bimal K. Matilal, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 301–18. Malinar, Angelika (2007), The Bhagavadgītā: Doctrines and Contexts, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mayeda, Sengaku, trans. (1992), A Thousand Teachings: The Upadeśasāhasrī of Śaṅkara, Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Nakamura, Hajime (1983), A History of Early Vedānta Philosophy: Part One, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Nakamura, Hajime (2004), A History of Early Vedānta Philosophy: Part Two, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Olivelle, Patrick, trans. (1996), Upaniṣads, New York: Oxford University Press. Rambachan, Anantanand (1986), “Śaṅkara’s rationale for śruti as the definitive source of brahmajñāna: A refutation of some contemporary views,” Philosophy East and West 36.1, 25–40. Rambachan, Anantanand (1991), Accomplishing the Accomplished, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Rambachan, Anantanand (1994), “Response to Arvind Sharma,” Philosophy East and West 44.4, 721–4. Rao, Seshagiri V. N. (1984), Vācaspati’s Contribution to Advaita Vedānta, Mysore: Samvit Publishers.

Sastri, K., ed. (1937), Brahmasiddhi by Ācārya Maṇḍanamiśra with Commentary by Śaṅkhapāṇi, Madras: University of Madras. Sastri, S. and Raja, C. K., eds. (1992), Bhāmatī of Vācaspati, Madras: The Adyar Library and Research Centre. Satchidanandendra, Swami (1997), The Method of the Vedanta, trans. A. J. Alston, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Sharma, Arvind (1992), “Is Anubhava a Pramāṇa according to Śaṃkara?” Philosophy East and West 42.3, 517–26. Sharma, Arvind (1993), “Accomplishing the Accomplished: The Vedas as a Source of Knowledge in Śaṃkara by Anantanand Rambachan,” Philosophy East and West 43.4, 737–44. Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (1998), “On Prasaṃkhyāna and Parisaṃkhyāna: Meditation in Advaita Vedānta and Pre-Śaṃkaran Vedānta,” Adyar Library Bulletin 62.1, 51–89. Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (2003), “Yoga in Śaṅkaran Advaita Vedānta,” in I. Whicher and D. Carpenter, eds., Yoga: The Indian Tradition, New York: Routledge, 99–129. Suthren Hirst, Jacqueline (1996), “Strategies of Interpretation: Śaṃkara’s Commentary on Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.1, 58–75. Suthren Hirst, Jacqueline (2005), Śaṃkara’s Advaita Vedānta: A Way of Teaching, New York: RoutledgeCurzon. Thrasher, Allan (1993), The Advaita Vedānta of Brahmasiddhi, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidsass. Venkatramiah, Devandahalli, trans. (1948), The Pañcapādikā of Padmapāda, Baroda: Oriental Institute.

2 Soul and Qualifying Knowledge (Dharmabhūtajñāna) in the Later Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta of Veṅkaṭ;anātha

Marcus Schmücker The doctrine of the individual soul’s various types of cognition is central to the tradition of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta. This chapter will focus on how this doctrine was developed in the work of the early medieval Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita philosopher and theologian Veṅkaṭ;anātha. Before discussing Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s ideas, I will first provide a brief overview of some of the main tenets of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta.

2.1 A Philosophical Overview of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta: Ontology and Theology In order to introduce the main ideas of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita1 Vedānta briefly, I will use the central terms “ontology” and “theology.” Against their background, I will describe certain key concepts that are deeply interconnected and indispensable for understanding this important tradition of theistic Vedānta. Whatever exists, i.e., what there is, is categorized either as material being (i.e., insentient, acit), as individual soul (i.e., sentient being, cit), or as the Highest Being (i.e., God). These three are the three principal realities (tattvatraya). The Highest Being is said to be inseparably connected to everything, i.e., sentient and insentient beings. This doctrine of God’s inseparability (apṛthaksiddhi) from what He supports and directs is grounded in the view that all sentient and insentient entities are consistent elements of His body (śarīra). God’s greatness, perfection, excellency (atiśaya), and so on—which are characterized by the fact that He is always and has always been connected to everything—are possible only if what He is connected to also exists eternally. “Inseparable” (apṛthak) means that God always exists in relational unity with everything. But if the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta tradition links what God supports and directs to the concept of change, how is “eternity” to be understood? If everything is accepted as having always been in unity with God, would not all things that are directed and supported by Him have to be, in their essence (svarūpa), just as eternal as God Himself is? How can God change and yet also be connected to something eternally? The Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitic solution is that nothing God directs can be assumed to be a new creation, since a new creation would emerge from nothing.2 Moreover, what God supports (ādheya) and directs (niyamya) never completely passes away. Nonetheless, it must be able to change

without God Himself being relativized in His eternal Being (svarūpa). For the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta tradition the ontological implication is that the existence of an absolute nonbeing (atyantābhāva) is unacceptable. If such a nonbeing were to exist, God would have had to create what He supports and directs out of nothing, before the creation of the world—without any relationship to anything. God Himself is Being and thus is the root of all that can be determined as being or nonbeing. There is nothing that can exist outside of such a Being. Believing in a God who is all-encompassing and all-pervading is only possible if one takes Him to be imperishable Being. And it is such a Highest Being in which the individual soul takes refuge (śaraṇāgati) and toward which it cultivates devotion (bhakti). At the beginning of a new aeon (kalpāntara), i.e., a new creation (sṛṣṭ;i), God remembers what existed in the past aeon. What He remembers is retained in His memory, and what He subsequently promulgates becomes manifest through His articulation (uccāraṇa). Even if it is stated that something which disappeared has now reappeared, God does not manifest this in a way other than how it existed in the past aeon (kalpa). This is because just as perfect and allencompassing as God is, so, too, does He preserve the Veda perfectly. If something disappears—because disappearance and reappearance are necessary conditions of perpetual transformation (pariṇāma)—it still exists in a subtle (sūkṣma) form in God’s knowledge (īśvarabuddhi). This is why Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins maintain, for example, that the unchangeable Veda can be promulgated in the beginning of a new aeon (kalpa) again by God.3 The next principal reality, i.e., the individual soul, is an agent referred to by the word “I” (aham). In contrast to God, it is limited to the size of an atom (aṇu). It is defined as a “knower” (jñātṛ) to which consciousness is added. Nevertheless, the ātman here is not identical to some kind of empirical “I.” This ātman is denoted by the word “I” (aham), but it cannot be proven by any means other than itself. Yāmuna was one of the first Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins to use the term ahamartha, the referent of the word “I.” The self is defined as selfilluminating (svayaṃprakāśa); it has the form of being conscious, but is at the same time qualified by consciousness (Śrībh I 153.5: ātmā cidrūpa eva caitanyaguṇakaḥ). The third and final principal reality, i.e., insentient matter, encompasses, on the one hand, the empirical human body (śarīra)—which is the “prakṛtic psycho-physical complement”4 for the spiritual principle, i.e., the self—and, on the other hand, all kinds of matter, for which primeval matter (prakṛti) also provides the basis. It is important to note that these three principles are not entirely independent of one another. Rather, even matter, like the human body, is ensouled by the individual ātman, which is carried and present in the heart of the human being; in the same way, God Himself ensouls matter (prakṛti) and the human bodies (śarīra) of the souls (ātman). Concerning these three principal realities, I will examine one of the central topics of the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta tradition—namely, that of the individual self (or soul) as it was developed after Rāmānuja, especially in the work of Veṅkaṭ;anātha.5

2.2 Soul and Qualifying Knowledge (Dharmabhūtajñāna) in Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s Thought: An Overview With regard to the central topic of the individual soul in the tradition of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita

Vedānta, a number of studies have been written specifically on Rāmānuja’s concept of soul and his doctrine that the individual self is endowed with qualities (dharmas).6 Veṅkaṭ;anātha followed Rāmānuja in further developing this notion of both the individual self and the Highest Self (God) being endowed with qualities. However, scholars have not yet examined Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s philosophically sophisticated views on these issues in the depth and detail they deserve.7 Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s thinking not only demonstrates a historical development in the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita school’s view about concepts of knowledge but also provides valuable insight into how the school came to reconcile an outer world of change and temporality with an eternal self.8 What, according to Veṅkaṭ;anātha, is the individual self?9 Before answering this question in detail, I will briefly outline several key features of his concept of the individual self. These begin with his ontological presuppositions about the fundamental concepts of substance and state, without which the flow of cognitions—that is, the states of the self’s basic qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna ) and its reflection on past and future events—would not be understandable. Equally important is the inseparability of self (consciousness) and qualifying knowledge—of the subjectivity denoted by the word “I” and its relation to the world through outwardly directed knowledge. The individual self could not have any access to the outer world without the mediating principle of qualifying knowledge. Section 2.3 describes the concepts of substance (dravya) and state (avasthā), which are fundamental to Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s ontological thought. It is demonstrated that he not only explains how properties of objects change, but even examines how the self’s qualifying knowledge can change and, thus, how the self is able to cognize things that undergo transformation, like clay being shaped into a pot. But what exactly is qualifying knowledge? Can the individual self, which is eternal, be brought together with change? How is this opposition between the eternal self and change coordinated in the flow of cognitions? To begin to answer these questions, Section 2.4 explains in what sense the individual self (ātman) is an eternal substance (dravya) and how it is related to its outwardly directed knowledge, which is also defined as a substance, albeit as a qualifying substance of the basic individual self (ātman). Presupposing this basic ontology and the interdependence of these two substances, Veṅkaṭ;anātha presents an argument for the continuity of the self as denoted by the word “I” (ahamarthānuvṛtti). Through its own qualifying knowledge, the self is able to reflect diachronically on its own states as they happened in the past, or on possible states in the future. As we will see in Section 2.5, since Veṅkaṭ;anātha presupposes the continuity of one and the same self at different times, he holds that cognition of unawareness during sleep is merely cognition of a particular state—that is, the state of being unaware. In opposition to the Advaita Vedāntin’s doctrine of a timeless, supraindividual Pure Consciousness, Veṅkaṭ;anātha argues that the self’s qualifying knowledge, in the process of cognition, is able to refer not only to the outer world, i.e., objects with alternating properties, but also to what happened to the self itself at an earlier time. A past state can be recollected, because it had existed in the past. Thus, in Section 2.6, I argue that for Veṅkaṭ;anātha, cognition of having been unaware is, in fact, cognition of “prior absence” (prāgabhāva). Against this

background, we can explain why Veṅkaṭ;anātha, like Yāmuna and Rāmānuja before him, accepts yogyānupalabdhi—the non-cognition of something that is capable of being known— as a valid means of cognition. In the discussion with the Advaitin, Veṅkaṭ;anātha can therefore make clear that, for example, the knowing agent (jñātṛ) and nonbeing do not contradict each other. In this context, Veṅkaṭ;anātha repeatedly uses an argument that is essential in describing the cognitive process, but is also of decisive importance for other substances. What is meant is that each substance grounds itself, but is also grounded by something else (svaparanirvāhaka). If the criterion is fulfilled that something is established by itself and at the same time by something else, then also in the present, something can be recognized that is at the same time absent, like a past event (atīta). For a means of knowledge (pramāṇa) to be valid, it is therefore not necessary for its object to be simultaneously present. In a present cognition, a present state (avasthā) of dharmabhūtajñāna, we can become aware again that we have, or have not, recognized something in the past. It is also made clear at this point that Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s reflections are related to the issue of time (kāla), without whose beginningless continuity it would not be possible to fall back on the past but also predict something for the future. Finally, in Section 2.8, we will find that even though Veṅkaṭ;anātha clearly accepts the difference between the plurality of individual selves and the one Highest Being (called Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa, the Highest Self [Paramātman] or Brahman), he nonetheless maintains that this Highest Being has the same kind of qualifying knowledge (namely, dharmabhūtajñāna) as the individual soul. The difference between the Highest Being and the individual soul lies in His being omniscient (sarvajña) and all-pervading (vibhu). I will conclude Section 2.8 by comparing Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s concept of eternity with that of the Naiyāyika Udayana. I will also examine Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s detailed account of God’s qualifying knowledge in the course of his refutation of Udayana’s position. According to Veṅkaṭ;anātha, God initiated the creation of the world in the order of the different states of qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna)—cognition (jñāna), will (icchā), and effort (prayatna).

2.3 What Exists and What Does Not Exist I will begin with a more precise description of the above-mentioned key doctrine developed in Rāmānuja’s work: that the universe of sentient and insentient beings (cidacidvastu) constitutes the body (śarīra) of the Supreme Brahman, which is the Self and Inner Ruler (antaryāmin) of this universe. Whatever forms Brahman’s body (śarīra) qualifies Brahman. While transformation (pariṇāma) is accepted for Brahman’s body, which passes from a causal state (kāraṇāvasthā) to an effected state (kāryāvasthā), Brahman itself does not change. Thus, even if the body-possessor (śarīrin), i.e., Brahman/Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa, and the body (śarīra) are different, they cannot be realized separately (pṛthaksiddhyanarha). The difference between the states, with one being present, i.e., being manifest, and the other not, is the difference between subtle (sūkṣma-) and gross states (sthūlāvasthā). When a state is present, another state that can specify the same base is in a subtle state (sūkṣmāvasthā) and

not present. Thus, change is in fact only a transformation of the same base through different states (avasthā). Rāmānuja defines the relation of cause and effect as a change between two different states, i.e., a causal state (kāraṇāvasthā) and the effected state (kāryāvasthā), holding that the fundamental base, i.e., Brahman, “assumes another state” (avasthāntarāpatti). If a state is not present, it nonetheless exists in a subtle state (sūkṣmāvasthā). If a state is present, it is in a manifested state (sthūlāvasthā). This fundamental alternation between two states implies a beginningless (anādi) and infinite (ananta) sequence of states (avasthāsantāna). There is no possibility of one of these states being the first or the last state. In other words, the states (avasthā/dharma) of a substance are alternating. If states are alternating, they follow one another. Thus the same substance (dravya) can have states that differ from each other and follow in a sequence, a sequence that in itself is beginningless (anādi) and endless (ananta). Like Rāmānuja, Veṅkaṭ;anātha uses the term pravāha, “flowing along,” for a sequence (santāna); this flow implies that neither a single state of a substance can exist as its only state, nor can different states (avasthā) exist simultaneously. He also speaks of the “beginningless flowing along” (anādipravāha) or the “beginningless and endless flowing along of the states [of a substance]” (e.g., NyP 306.11: avasthāpravāhasyānādyananta-tvāt). Here he describes transformation (pariṇāma) by referring to substances. This is like Rāmānuja’s phrase, “assuming another state” (avasthāntarāpatti). Ātreyarāmānuja, Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s teacher, appeals to the same idea when advocating the identity of cause and effect,10 which he claims involves a substance transforming from one state into another. Such a transformation does not imply the nonbeing of the effect: before it becomes manifest or visible, it is in a subtle state (sūkṣmāvasthā).11 Thus, Veṅkaṭ;anātha explicitly characterizes substance (dravya) as a material cause (upādāna).12 Whenever another state (avasthāntara) appears, the material cause is transformed—not in its essence (svarūpa), but in its alternating states. In verse 58 (7.13) of the Tattvaṭ;īkā (TṬ) he says, “Being the material cause [means] being connected with another state” (avasthāntarayogitvam upādānatvam).13 The subsequent sentence—āgantuko ’pṛthaksiddho dharmo ’vasthā—is often repeated in Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s works:14 The state [of a substance] is a quality that is temporally limited15 [and] not established as something separate [from its respective substance]. Thus, for Veṅkaṭ;anātha, a material cause is an entity that is qualified by sequential states: the earlier state of a sequence is followed by a subsequent state. An example is the substance clay, which changes when it is qualified by another occurring state such as “potness” (ghaṭ;atva), which follows the state of being a lump (piṇḍatva).16 Each state is actualized at the moment it becomes present,17 as for example through an instrumental cause (nimittakāraṇa)—in this case, the potter. Before the moment of its actualization, the state cannot be absolute nonbeing (atyantābhāva). When it ceases to be, a substance also assumes another state; once again, the state that is abandoned is not absolute nonbeing either.

Whatever appears is therefore not something that comes into existence anew; it is the result of transformation, which is described as the substance assuming another state (avasthāntarāpatti). But how exactly does Veṅkaṭ;anātha describe the process of transformation from nonbeing to being? Instead of saying that a substance is absolute nonbeing, which would be contradictory, he defines substance as being in the state of “prior nonbeing” (prāgabhāva) or in the state of “later nonbeing” (pradhvaṃsābhāva). Referring to the above example, one can say that “prior nonbeing (prāgabhāva) of a pot is only another state of the substance clay (mṛt).” Veṅkaṭ;anātha applies this concept of substance in many ways. For instance, he describes perception in an analogous manner: if one perceives clay in its state of being a lump (piṇḍatva), such a cognition is at the same time a yogyānupalabdhi of another state of clay, like the following state of being a pot. We should recall that yogyānupalabdhi is “the noncognition of something that is capable of being known.” The pot, which is capable of being known, is not known at present, but will be known in the state following that of being a lump (piṇḍatva). Analogously, by means of yogyānupalabdhi, an individual self is diachronically able to know another state of itself that is not actually present.18 This is the case with “prior nonbeing” (prāgabhāva), which is for Veṅkaṭ;anātha not only applicable to something material like the nonbeing of the substance clay, but also to the cognition of having been nonaware in an earlier state, such as deep sleep. It is knowable for the individual that his/her deep sleep existed at an earlier time, namely, as the state of being non-aware. So far, we can summarize Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s view as follows: his theory of the individual self (ātman) and its qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna) is based on his ontology of substance and state just outlined. Just as the different states of clay (mṛt)—namely, as a lump (piṇḍa), as a pitcher (ghaṭ;a), or as a bowl (kapāla)—do not contradict each other, or different units of time of the substance time (kāla) do not contradict each other, different states of the qualifying knowledge of the individual self do not contradict each other. Even if mutually opposing states occur at different times, Veṅkaṭ;anātha sees no contradiction in the claim that qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna) serves as the basis, i.e., as a substance (dravya), for countless states of cognition.19 In fact, he considers cognition through perception (pratyakṣa) or inference (anumāna), as well as effort (prayatna) and enjoyment (bhoga), to be states (avasthā) of dharmabhūtajñāna (cf. RTS [Rahasyatrayasāra], Chapter 5, 103, 4–6).

2.4 Basic Features of the Individual Self (Jīvātman) and its Qualifying Knowledge For Veṅkaṭ;anātha, the states of qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna)20 of an individual self, even if they take place at different times, do not exist in an unrelated manner, but follow continuously in succession (santāna). All cognitions, be they past, present, or future, are based on one and the same substance—the qualifying knowledge of the individual self (ātman). The different states of this knowledge require an intermediary and individualizing factor. Therefore, the self as “I” facilitates the recognition of mental states, even if they are unconscious, as in deep sleep. What is permanent is the subject—the knower (jñātṛ), i.e., the

ātman. The subject is aware of its own experiences at particular times through its own qualifying knowledge. But even if the meaning of “I”—understood as the last point of reference—is clear, the question remains: how can the self-illuminating self, which is denoted as “I” and is said to shine only for itself and therefore to be nonrelational and without the possibility of self-reflection, remember itself, and, as a consequence, imply in a present state a relation to a past state of one’s own self? This question seems justified, because reflection presupposes temporality, i.e., the acceptance of a temporal interval based on time. How does Veṅkaṭ;anātha address this problem? He postulates that the two inseparable substances (ātman/ahamartha; dharmabhūtajñāna) are involved in the process of knowing something that happened in the past. To this end, he appeals to his fundamental concepts of substance and state in order to establish the necessary difference between an earlier event—that is, an earlier state—and the present state. Before I go on to examine the case of deep sleep, which for Veṅkaṭ;anātha is in fact cognition of “prior nonbeing” (prāgabhāva), it is first necessary to understand some features of these two substances, i.e., the self (ātman/ahamartha) and its qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna).21 First of all, the individual self, which is an eternal substance (dravya), consists, in its essence, of consciousness, which is expressed as self-luminosity (svayaṃprakāśa). Its essence (svarūpa) is referred to by the word “I” (aham). Self-luminosity, which is never affected by karma, is what characterizes both the individual self and the self of God. Veṅkaṭ;anātha identifies self-luminosity and essence (svarūpa) in Chapter 5 (Tattvatrayacintanādhikāra) of the RTS (103, 23–104, 1) in the following words: The essential nature of all souls in the form of the individual self and God is selfluminosity for itself. For the illuminating essence of the dharmin,22 there is at no time contraction or expansion [due to karma], including for the bound souls.23 Other important features of the individual self that it shares with God’s self are “being conscious” and “being inward,” as denoted by the first-person “I.” In the same chapter (RTS 99, 3–6), Veṅkaṭ;anātha states: Being conscious and being inward are common characteristics of all groups of the self, which have the form of individual self and of God. Being conscious is the basis for knowledge. The definition of inwardness is that it appears for itself. Then it appears as “I,” independent of qualifying knowledge.24 Inwardness (pratyaktva) of the self implies independence. But there are also other qualities that define the individual self’s essence. Veṅkaṭ;anātha explains these as svarūpanirūpakadharma, “qualities that define the essence,” which stand in contrast to the quality called nirūpitasvarūpadharma, “a quality of the essence, which is defined [by the svarūpanirūpakadharma]” (cf. RTS [Chapter 5] 98, 8–10). These include, for example, its being atomic (aṇutva), its being subordinate to God (śeṣatva), and other qualities.25 All of these essential qualities are eternal and have no relation to any alternating states of the substance. It is clear from the internal structure of the self-illumination of the self that no

modification is possible, nor is any relation to the outer world.26 What kind of independent “I” does Veṅkaṭ;anātha have in mind? The reference to the self by the word “I” does not imply—in contrast to the concept of ahaṃkāra—any reification of consciousness, that is, the self. Indeed, in the PMBh (Jīvatattvādhikāra 57, 4–5) Veṅkaṭ;anātha questions the use of “I” in the statement “Even if there is in this way being conscious, is it proper [to have] I-ness? Have the śāstras not said that I-ness is to be abandoned?” (ippaṭ;i cetanatvam uṇṭ;āṉālum ahantvam kūṭ;umō? ahaṃkāram tyājyam eṉṟaṉṟō śāstraṅkaḷ colluvatu?). In the next sentences, he gives six reasons for identifying self (ātman) and ahamartha: The self is [identical with] the referent of the word “I,” because (1) all people who define the self agree that the soul has the form of inwardness; because (2) being inward is impossible for that which is not the referent of the word “I”; because (3) the expression “giving up I-ness” has the meaning of [not] mistaking the body for the self and [the giving up of] pride, etc.; because (4) among the special tattvas, the word ahaṃkāra produced knowledge of “I” as something different from the referent of “I” [i.e., the self]; because (5) it is pronounced; because (6) of separating the self from the body by the knowledge of “I” as different from the body, which relates to the word “this,” as said through I-knowledge in the sentence: “This [body] is mine.”27 The six reasons Veṅkaṭ;anātha lists here underline the inwardness (pratyaktva) of the self as “I” (aham). What is inward can only be the self as indicated by the word “I.” It cannot be known in the same way that the senses perceive an object. Whatever is directed to the exterior side of the body (śarīra) refers to the false concept of “I,” that is, the ahaṃkāra. But this kind of I-ness does not give rise to knowledge of the self. This is why Veṅkaṭ;anātha distinguishes (cf. TMK 2.3; NSi 186, 1ff.) the self from the senses, the body, the mind (manas), and the breath (prāṇa). None of these are identical with the “I” that denotes the self. Thus, in order to relate the self to the external world, the individual self is specified by qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna). This is also defined as a specific substance, but it cannot exist independently, even if it is different from its substrate. While the light of the inner self shines for itself (svasmai), the self’s qualifying knowledge, which reveals all of the objects in the world, is likewise defined as self-luminous, but it shines only for something else (parasmai), that is, its substrate. In the case of the individual self (rather than of God), the clarity of its cognitions—i.e., the states of the qualifying knowledge—depends on its individual karma. The less accurately the individual self recognizes itself due to its own karma, the more limited (saṃkucita) is its cognition through qualifying knowledge. The less the self’s knowledge is influenced by karma, the more openly (vikāsita) it shines. He explains the dharmabhūtajñāna of different eternal souls, as well as of the Highest Soul (i.e., the Lord), as follows:28 This qualifying knowledge is for its own base self-illuminating when it is in the state of illuminating objects. This [dharmabhūtajñāna] is eternally present for the eternal souls and for the Lord.29 For other souls [i.e., baddhas], the [dharmabhūtajñāna], according

to their karma in the state of Saṃsāra, is manifoldly contracted or expanded; in the state of being released, it is all-pervading, because it only expands.30 In the same chapter of the RTS (Chapter 5), Veṅkaṭ;anātha describes the differences between the self and qualifying knowledge as well as their common features. In this passage, he repeats again that being conscious and being self-illuminating are common to both substances. The self is defined as inward and independent; this means that the result of selfillumination is only the self itself and nothing else. In contrast, qualifying knowledge is characterized by an object and it illuminates something else. For its own substrate (i.e., the self), this dharmabhūtajñāna is self-illuminating, while it makes other objects appear. Thus, the understanding of both substances—namely, dharmabhūtajñāna and the self—reflects a complex relation between the soul and the world: on the one hand being inward for the self, and on the other hand being outward for its qualifying knowledge, which is illuminating an object and dealing with that object through the use of language in daily life. Even though both substances are characterized in different ways, they form a unity in the process of knowledge. This unity is a necessity if one and the same self is defined both as knowing about past events and as relating, through cognition, to the outside world. Veṅkaṭ;anātha explains the different functions of the self and its qualifying knowledge, which depend on each other in the process of cognition, in the following passage of the RTS (Chapter 5, 104, 1–10): The qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna) of each self is self-illuminating for its own substrate, at the time of illuminating the objects [in the world]. Being conscious and being self-luminous are common to dharma [i.e., the dharmabhūtajñāna] and dharmin [i.e., the self]. The differentiating quality of qualifying knowledge is its being endowed with an object. The differentiating quality of the essence of the self, which has the form of the dharmin, is to be inward. As for knowledge, it is to illuminate something, i.e., make the use of something fit for language, that is its own or something else. The definition of self-illumination is illuminating itself, independently of other knowledge that is connected with something that has an object. As for being characterized by an object of the dharmabhūtajñāna, it is to illuminate something other than itself. The definition of being inward for the self is to shine for itself. That is (atāvatu): it means that the self itself is the result of its self-illumination.31 Remarkable in this context is Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s distinction between shining or illuminating only by itself and illuminating for something else. A substance like the self is unable to have any relation to the world; it can only perceive the world through something else, such as the qualifying knowledge by its cognitions. The qualifying knowledge, in turn, is similarly selfilluminating, but it too is illuminated by something else; in this case, the different states are caused by whatever can be known. Veṅkaṭ;anātha demonstrates this double aspect for each kind of substance. It can be applied from different perspectives: On the one hand, each substance illuminates itself (svatas), but on the other hand, the substance is also illuminated by something else (paratas). The self is

only illuminated by itself, but can gain knowledge by means of something else, such as the dharmabhūtajñāna, which in turn, as a substance, has states and is related to the world. To explain this double aspect, one must look more closely at the relationship between the self (ātman), which is inward, and qualifying knowledge, which shines for the self while being directed toward the outer world.32 Again one still must ask how, according to Veṅkaṭ;anātha, the two substances interact despite their different functions, on the one hand illuminating for the (singular) other (parasmai), i.e., for the self, but on the other hand, illuminating for the outer world (arthaprakāśa).33 How does Veṅkaṭ;anātha explain that qualifying knowledge through which one knows that one has known or that one has not known? How can knowledge be known through another knowledge without contradicting the concept of self-illumination? Veṅkaṭ;anātha discusses this issue in many places, especially when he refutes the Advaitic position, which strictly denies that what is self-illuminating can in turn be illuminated. In the Śatadūṣaṇī, he criticizes the Advaitic position by arguing that it is impossible for the Advaitin to explain how something that is defined as self-illuminating can be objectified. To illustrate these difficulties, let us turn to a passage in the PMBh (57, 17–58, 3), where Veṅkaṭ;anātha explains that something defined as self-illuminating (svayaṃprakāśa)—that is, independent of another knowledge—can again become the object of knowledge. In this context, he argues that using a valid means of knowledge (pramāṇa) implies that such knowledge has an object of knowledge. If it establishes something as self-illuminating, it is exactly that self-illumination which is objectified by this kind of valid means of knowledge. Therefore, Veṅkaṭ;anātha holds the view that whatever is self-illuminating must also be an object of knowledge. Defending his view against the Advaitin, who refutes the possibility of recognizing what is able to illuminate itself, Veṅkaṭ;anātha corroborates his view with the following arguments: Some [i.e., Advaitins] say that self-illumination is not possible for the object of knowledge. [We say:] It can be said to be self-illuminating, since it is shining also independently of another knowledge, even if it is an object of another knowledge. For the dharmabhūtajñāna, too, the case is the same. It is not possible to establish by any means of knowledge something that is not an object of knowledge as self-illuminating. The dharmin appears for itself; the dharmabhūtajñāna appears for its own base [i.e., the dharmin] while illuminating an object.34 For Veṅkaṭ;anātha, something can be self-illuminating, but it can also become an object of another knowledge without losing that self-illumination. As an example, he alludes to two concepts he mentioned in earlier works (NSi, TMK); in both works he denies that selfillumination is given up if it becomes an object (viṣayīkaroti) of knowledge. The possibility of being omniscient for a Highest Being can only be accepted if each particular knowledge can be perceived. Thus, an omniscient being35 is able to know each particular knowledge of its own whether or not it has been realized. Again, the main idea here is that every substance is not only by itself and illuminative of something else (parasya), but must also necessarily be known by something else. Accordingly, Veṅkaṭ;anātha uses the

compound svaparanirvāhaka, “grounding itself and for/by something else,” when he refers to substance. This double aspect of being by itself and likewise being by and for something else (parasya/paratas) is not only the case for an individual self, it is also applicable to the unity of self and its qualifying knowledge: even if both substances are characterized differently, they form a unity. Such a unity, consisting of a qualified (dharmin) and a qualifier (dharma), that is, the self and its qualifying knowledge, implies at the same time a relationship between the interior self and the outer world, as well as the capability of being cognized from an outer perspective: “Even if these two, i.e., qualifier and qualified, are selfilluminating, they are cognizable by another knowledge, because they have a form that is qualified by a special quality, such as being eternal, etc.” (RTS [Chapter 5] 104, 14–15).36 For Veṅkaṭ;anātha, each substance has this kind of “inner perspective” and at the same time, an “outer perspective.” For example, the self as “I” shines for itself, but in its individuality is cognizable from the outer perspective as “thou” (cf. SAS [473, 7–8] on TMK 4.1; cf. Schmücker 2011: 332ff.; 2020). Thus, on the one hand, there is access to the world, because the dharmabhūtajñāna relating to objects in the world still qualifies the individual self; contact with the outward world would not be possible if the self alone, which is only selfilluminating, were to exist. On the other hand, and for the same reason, it is also possible for the soul to be known from the outside, that is, by another soul’s outward-directed dharmabhūtajñāna. In order to show how he presents the same topic in his Sanskrit works, I will examine in detail two verses (5–6) of the second chapter (jīvasara) of the Tattvamuktākalāpa (TMK) that illustrate how Veṅkaṭ;anātha explains the relationship between these two self-illuminating substances. First, he reiterates that these two substances have different functions: while the self illuminates only for itself, its knowledge shines for something else. In this passage, Veṅkaṭ;anātha also sees both substances as inseparable in the mind, although in the process of cognition, each has its own way of functioning. They are different but at the same time cannot exist independently, since otherwise no cognition would be possible. Verse 5 of the second chapter of the TMK (230, 6–9) contains an explanation of the utter difference between these two substances: Concerning this topic (iha), the authoritative source declares that the self is knowledge, but does not declare mere qualifying knowledge as being [identical with the] self. Qualifying knowledge illuminates the object when the instigation is followed by the effervescence of a perception, etc. The individual self still experiences the complete attainment only for itself. Qualifying knowledge, however, experiences complete attainment for itself and for the other [i.e. the self].37 In TMK 2.6 (232, 1–4) Veṅkaṭ;anātha explains the different functions of the two substances, but also mentions the dependency of the cognitions of knowledge on each other if both the self and its knowledge are defined as knowledge (jñāna). In this context, Veṅkaṭ;anātha also mentions the possibility of recollecting an earlier state, such as remembering that it was oneself who slept, even though one had no waking consciousness while deeply asleep. In this context, the act of remembering is the proof that continuity is

preserved. Such a recollection (pratyabhijñā) would not be possible without the individual “I,” since otherwise one could not remember past experiences as being one’s own. The self, as one and the same “self,” has various cognitions at different times through the qualifying knowledge and is therefore able to be aware of what it cognized earlier: The self, in itself, is exclusively established by the word “I,” because it is said to be selfluminous by the authoritative sources. Even in deep sleep, in the case of the self being self-established, the recognition “I slept well” is unimpaired. In contrast, the mind in [its] cognitions is not independent from something else. Furthermore, through the exemplification of Vedānta [passages], the self, whose improvement is for itself, independent of qualifying knowledge, which has its own object, is like knowledge, because of being knowledge.38 Here Veṅkaṭ;anātha applies his key concepts of eternal substance and the transforming states of the individual self (ātman) and its qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna). He is able to unite the differences between various times of cognition into one and the same basis due to the fact that the underlying self-illuminating substance and its knowledge exist eternally: they also existed in a past time and, hence, prior to the present time. Time (kāla), which plays an important role in Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s work, brings about the continuation of the two transforming substances. As mentioned above, time itself is also defined by Veṅkaṭ;anātha as a substance having a series of states, namely, the chronological sequence of states of the eternal and all-pervading substance (vibhudravya) “time.” This allows Veṅkaṭ;anātha to use temporal terminology when describing the sequence of states of other substances as well, such as qualifying knowledge. Even if time pervades other substances (dravya) that are defined as self-illuminating, they do not cease to be self-illuminating because of this pervasion. When describing the cognitive process of the individual self, Veṅkaṭ;anātha is thus not only interested in proving the eternal self-illumination of the self, but also its continuity in the process of cognitions through qualifying knowledge. The self, denoted as “I,” is able, through recollection (pratyabhijñā), to know itself as having been in a previous state. Moreover, objects are again recognizable, even if a period of time has elapsed. Veṅkaṭ;anātha argues that this is possible because, according to him, eternally lasting identity (expressed by the self-illuminating “I” [aham]) belongs inseparably to transformation (expressed by the sequence of states, i.e., cognitions, of qualifying knowledge). Recollection is possible because a past state of qualifying knowledge can still be recognized. Finally, it is important to point out the double aspect of interior (svatas) and exterior (paratas): as a substance, qualifying knowledge is for itself (svatas) but at the same time it is for something else (parasya/paratas). This is because it is possible both to know something different, such as the world, and, if speaking temporally, to know that something which happened earlier is happening in the present, or will happen in the future. Every substance has these two aspects—as does, in this context, the process of knowledge. I will demonstrate this in the following section by focusing on the example of deep sleep, which can be remembered as a state of having been unaware.

2.5 A Discussion of “I Slept Well” (Ahaṃ sukham asvāpsam) Prior to Veṅkaṭ;anātha, there had been a long tradition of debating the validity of the concept of the eternal permanence of an individual self in contrast to that of pure consciousness. Veṅkaṭ;anātha, who argues for an “I”-consciousness, i.e., an individual consciousness, offers a strong and extensive criticism of the Advaitic position, which upholds the existence of a non-egological, eternal, and self-illuminating consciousness. Veṅkaṭ;anātha demonstrates that the “self” remains constant throughout the various time modes. His opponent, who clearly represents the Advaitic position, argues that the “individual self” cannot continue to exist in deep sleep and, thus, also does not continue to exist when redeemed. According to this Advaitic opponent, the “self” consists in a state of being ignorant. When the saṃsāric existence of an individual self passes away, so does ignorance. The assumption that the individual self continues to exist leads to conflicting conclusions. The presumed notion of the eternity of the individual self is relevant for Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s (and even Rāmānuja’s) understanding of redemption insofar as the individuality of the self (ahamartha) persists in redemption. Individuality is not something that can be abandoned.39 For Veṅkaṭ;anātha, it is one and the same self that recognizes itself in the past and in the present. If neither the individual self nor its qualifying knowledge were to continue in deep sleep, the identificatory link between past and present would not be possible.40 The opponent, the Advaitin, for whom Pure Consciousness also exists eternally and is unchanging, requests another means of cognition, since it is possible that the self is not ascertainable through illumination when sleeping. Thus, the Advaitic opponent asks: “What is the means of valid cognition for the self’s continuity, even if it is not shining at that time?” (ŚDū 121, 29 [vāda 26]: tadānīm aprakāśe ’pi tadanuvṛttau kim pramāṇam). In response, Veṅkaṭ;anātha refers to recollection. Recollection is enabled by continuousness, which is only acceptable when time is presupposed. In fact, Veṅkaṭ;anātha takes time (kāla) to be a substance that persists through itself (svatas). The individual self, together with its qualifying knowledge, can be distinguished from a time in the past, because an intermediate time or an interval (madhyakāla) has passed. This is why the individual self, with its knowledge, exists through different times; it persists from an earlier time and continues through an intermediate time as a carrier of memory, which becomes present in the present time. Veṅkaṭ;anātha replies to the opponent with the following argument providing the background of his theory: This is not the case, because its continuing is assumed even for the intervening period by virtue of the memory of the self, which exists at earlier and later points in time— [specifically] to the extent that its [continuous] illumination is possible even if it can be distinguished at the present time from a time in the past, as in the case of determining “I slept,” on the assumption of an interval that is distinguishable from an earlier and a later time (pūrvottarakālāvacchinnamadhyakālakalpanena), and because, assuming that the [self] did not exist during such an interval, no carrier of a mental impression would be present, and because the undesired consequence [then] occurs that there is no longer an identificatory linkage.41

As we were able to see in the explanation of substance and state, even when one and the same substance is eternal, it transforms because its states are alternating. The case here is the same: the “I” continues while states of the dharmabhūtajñāna transform through the flow of states. It is therefore possible to be aware of past states, including a state of unawareness. Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s argument is again that the individual self continues and, through its qualifying knowledge, can recollect what happened in the past. He supports the notion that a temporal reference to the past presupposes individuality, offering the thesis that no one else can carry out the recollecting act for the individual self. This is not just any past, but the past of the particular individual self, which exists inseparably from its qualifying knowledge. This allows Veṅkaṭ;anātha to avoid the contradiction of equating the past and present. Rather, the self continues (anuvṛtti) as substance throughout its transformation through the flow of the states of its qualifying knowledge, which as a substance also continues, thus establishing the connection between a past and a present state.

2.6 Cognition of “Prior Non-Being” (Prāgabhāva) How does Veṅkaṭ;anātha explain the cognition that one had no consciousness at another, earlier time? This is another way of putting the question posed earlier: how is cognition that there is no cognition possible? If there is no object present, such as when one is in deep sleep, how can one become conscious at a later point in time of not having recognized anything in that earlier sleeping state? One passage that discusses these questions is the twenty-first vāda (saṃvidanutpattidūṣaṇavāda) of the Śatadūṣaṇī, in which Veṅkaṭ;anātha elaborates the eternal continuity of the self’s qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna, for which, here, the term saṃvit is used) and counters the opponent’s rejection of transformation (pariṇāma). Veṅkaṭ;anātha holds the view that the individual self can determine that no cognition was available to it at an earlier point in time. This does not mean that there was no self at that earlier time; it shows, rather, that it is possible to remember that one did not recognize something, such as while in the state of deep sleep. The next discussion with the Advaitin clarifies that the latter’s arguments present an insurmountable difficulty when combining nonbeing with eternal being. In this context, Veṅkaṭ;anātha examines the problem of temporally successive states of qualifying knowledge with regard to the individual self. To ensure dharmabhūtajñāna, which has different states occurring at specific periods of time, he again applies his basic concept that a substance is not only by itself (svatas), but also by something else (paratas). In this context he explains that knowledge is not only by itself (svatas), but can also be spontaneously proven by something else (paratas), namely, the cognizable state of nonbeing. The Advaitin opponent first argues that the suggestion of an earlier absence of cognition is contradictory, because this requires maintaining that a prior nonbeing (prāgabhāva) is actually recognized at the present point in time. For the Advaitin, the possibility of an earlier nonbeing and the assumption of an agent of knowledge are mutually exclusive: if there is somebody who knows, such as an agent, then it is contradictory to accept nonbeing. Conversely, if there is nonbeing, then it cannot be assumed that there is an agent who knows.

Moreover, there is no qualifying knowledge without an object being simultaneously known, because it is contradictory to accept something not present as an object of knowledge. The opponent thus holds that it is not possible for both, i.e., nonbeing and an agent, to occur simultaneously. Moreover, appealing to a succession of states does not resolve this contradiction. According to the opponent, it is contradictory to consider earlier nonbeing (prāgabhāva) to be an earlier state of a continuing yet transforming substance. Finally, the opponent argues, it is impossible for something that is by itself (svatas) to become the object of another knowledge (saṃvidantaraviṣayatvāyogāt). This is precisely the thesis affirmed by Veṅkaṭ;anātha: (Objection:) First, for knowledge, there is no cognition of its own nonbeing, because if one’s own former nonbeing persists, there is no one who recognizes it, and hence knowledge of previous nonbeing is not possible, because, by contrast, the prior nonexistence (tad) cannot be cognized [at present] precisely due to the absence of the object [i.e., prior nonexistence] when it is gone. Also, no knowledge is possible by means of another cognition, because knowledge of nonbeing is not possible without a corresponding object. And because it is not possible that knowledge, which is the counterpart [of the prior nonexistence] and established by itself, is the object of another knowledge.42 With regard to the last sentence, one can point out that for Veṅkaṭ;anātha the cognition of prior nonbeing is indeed possible, because an earlier nonbeing does not mean complete nonbeing (atyantābhāva). It is still a perceptible state, even if it happened at another time; otherwise it would not be cognizable. This further means that one can use a non-cognition of something which is capable of being known, a yogyānupalabdhi, to prove this kind of unawareness. And this also implies that for such cognition, it is possible to have an object that is not present. Veṅkaṭ;anātha responds to the opponent by pointing out that the expression “by itself” (svatas) means through the qualifying knowledge that is a substance by itself. Recollection has as its object the state of not being aware. Because of its object, recollection is concurrently “through/by something else” (paratas). For the cognition of an earlier nonbeing, there is no contradiction between the past and present, because the knowing substance— namely, qualifying knowledge—persists through all three times (past, present, and future): [Answer:] This is not the case, for its apprehension occurs through itself and through others. For the cognition which occurs through itself [in thought]—“For some time, I recognized nothing”—also apprehends, in a general way, its own nonbeing at an earlier time. And one should not ask, “How is it possible for one to make an object of a prior nonbeing [of cognition] that has [already] passed?” because in cognitions, which are different from sense-cognitions like ours, etc., something is also apprehended that is found in all three time periods (trikālavartinām).43

2.7 The Temporal Aspect of the Cognition of “Prior Nonbeing” (Prāgabhāva)

How does Veṅkaṭ;anātha relate such a cognition of “prior nonbeing,” i.e., a state of the basic qualifying knowledge of the individual self, to time? What has been recognized earlier does not vanish; if it did vanish, then it could not be remembered. But again, one can point to the temporal aspect, which was discussed when substance and state were introduced: every state has its own time in which it has its being, and this state is cognizable because of the fact that it has existed or does exist. If one perceives something from the past, it is not the case that that means of cognition is invalid (apramāṇatva) (cf. ŚDū 113, 15 [vāda 21]: na cātītasyāsato grahaṇād apramāṇatvam). It is indeed possible to cognize something that one calls nonbeing, because it is something in the past, insofar as even something that has vanished existed in its own time, i.e., the past (atītasyāpi svakāle sattvāt). In this context, Veṅkaṭ;anātha states that the validity of a means of cognition does not require that an object and its cognition exist simultaneously. The absence of an object of cognition does not mean the absolute nonbeing of that object. If this were the case, it would not be possible to say that a cognition of something which is absent is possible. As in the case of the perception of something that happened in the past, perception can be a valid means of cognition since only non-presence was negated, but not the fact that something was recognized by perception. Here, Veṅkaṭ;anātha makes the absence of the opposite the sole condition of cognition. Cognition, therefore, has an object through qualifying knowledge; this is what makes it a valid cognition. However, the simultaneous coexistence of knowledge with its object is not necessary. The absence of consciousness is known by the cognition of another state, just as the non-cognition of a pot is the cognition of an earlier state of what will become a pot, namely the state of being a lump of clay (piṇḍatva): This is because the validity of a means of cognition consists exclusively in the absence of oppositionality while being perceived (gṛhyamāṇavaiparītyābhāva); it does not require that cognition and object coexist. Otherwise, you would be teaching that the silver fallacy, which exists at the same time as the indeterminate silver, is also a valid means of cognition. [If one objects,] “What, then, is this means of cognition that apprehends the earlier nonbeing of knowledge?” [then the answer is that] it is only that which apprehends the absence of a pot, etc.44 The absence of a pot would not have existed without the precondition of its existence— just as the nonbeing of awareness is not possible without the precondition of being aware. If the nonbeing of consciousness is also a state of qualifying knowledge, continuity is assured by the mental impression (saṃskāra) that survives the phase of the state of the absence of waking consciousness. The mental impression continues to exist and is not negated or destroyed by another state of qualifying knowledge of the individual self. If this were not the case, no continuity could be assured. For even after deep sleep or after periods of time that are not experienced in full consciousness, it is possible to recognize things exactly as they had existed earlier:

And deep sleep, etc., do not eradicate any mental impressions (saṃskārocchedakāḥ), because if this were the case you would not remember something that was perceived the previous day. If one objects that the memory of it occurs in its clarity due to a memory impression, the basis of which is the object, then this is not the case, because a memory is observed with regard to mere things that are perceived in the darkness, etc. Therefore, the cognition of its prior nonbeing (tatprāgabhāvaḥ) is explained as [a cognition which is cognized] by itself. But, inasmuch as cognition can be recognized, the [same] cognition of its prior nonbeing (tatprāgabhāvaḥ) is demonstrated by something that is something else.45 Again Veṅkaṭ;anātha refers in this context to the double character of the qualifying knowledge. On the one hand, knowledge occurs by itself, but on the other hand, it is manifested by something else, that is to say, a state like the “prior nonbeing” (prāgabhāva) of cognition. These assumptions must also be understood against the background of Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s basic ontological presuppositions. Just as the past still exists—because, as a past state, it does not vanish completely—something cognized also does not fade away completely. It may be known again as something that was cognized. It is also noteworthy that in these contexts, he always reflects on the question of time. Indeed, the eternity of the substance “time” (kāla) is also proof that nothing is lost completely, even if something is not perceptible or does not exist in the present time. But the flow of time, i.e., the fact that time passes, implies equally that one can remember in the present something of the past that existed in its own time (svakāla). Referring to memory, Veṅkaṭ;anātha affirms that a thing is remembered in just the way it was cognized at an earlier time: Therefore, the cognition of the earlier nonbeing of the cognition of future things by virtue of a non-cognition of something which is capable of being known (yogyānupalabhyā) develops in this way; however, for past things (atītasya), [a cognition] develops by means of memory, inference, etc. For future things, too, it occurs exclusively by means of inference, etc. Therefore, the earlier absence (prāgabhāvaḥ) of knowledge is proven on the one hand by itself and on the other hand by something different.46 Because knowledge is proven in two ways, through itself (svatas) and through something else (paratas), the self is also able to have knowledge of time (kāla), even though time itself is not temporal. The fact that one does not know what will occur at a particular time does not mean that no cognition is possible at all, but rather that the non-cognition of something which is capable of being known (yogyānupalabdhi) determines that something does not exist at present. Let us briefly summarize Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s explanation of how one and the same sentient being, i.e., the individual living soul (jīvātman) and the Highest Soul identified as Brahman or Viṣṇu/Nārāyaṇa, can have by their qualifying knowledge, as a basic substance, cognitions that refer to earlier states (for example, states of having been non-aware). The notion of being

qualified by knowledge refers to the basic fact that whatever is qualified is also knowable as being objectified. Qualifying knowledge, when affected by the outside world (paratas), results in a special state of cognition.

2.8 God’s Qualifying Knowledge According to Veṅkaṭ;anātha, God’s qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna) is also a substance (dravya). It is a substance that is defined as a quality (dharma) of God’s self and as having beginningless and endless states (avasthā). The act by which God starts the manifestation of the world and by which He introduces a new world period (kalpa) is repeated as many times as the time periods start and end, i.e., the succession of the universe’s creation (sṛṣṭ;i), preservation (sthiti), and dissolution (pralaya). It is through His own will (icchā) that God repeatedly manifests what already exists. The manifestation of the universe is thus not unique, but is a series or succession of willing acts (icchāsantāna) of God, who desires to create. These acts, which involve the change from a non-manifested state to a manifested one, have continued from the beginningless past and will continue into the endless future. The world that undergoes this endless recurrence is, according to Veṅkaṭ;anātha, the same in name and form in each world period. God’s having an eternal will means that the eternity of God’s will consists in the eternal will of a succession (santāna/santati) of what has existed in the past, should exist in the present, and will exist in the future. Each wish requires a previous wish and a following wish. According to this view, God’s flow of the different states of His dharmabhūtajñāna neither has a beginning nor is a finite act. God’s own will (icchā)47 is, in fact, one of the important states of His qualifying knowledge. Thus, Veṅkaṭ;anāṭ;ha establishes God’s creation based on the concept of the beginningless transformation of substance and conceives divine qualifying knowledge, like the qualifying knowledge of the individual self, in terms of a succession of states. In this section, I will compare the concept of eternity in the Nyāya tradition with that of the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta tradition. The debate between the two schools was based on different understandings of causation. For the Naiyāyika, the universe is inferred as an effect (kārya) and must have been produced by an agent or a creator called īśvara. An agent that is the cause of the universe must be endowed with knowledge and the capacity to create; it cannot be subject to the karma of souls. The views of the two schools differ especially with regard to the challenging question of God’s creation. The debate centers on the question of whether an eternal agent could produce a non-eternal effect. Before explaining Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s understanding of how an effect arises, I will briefly discuss the Naiyāyika Udayana’s explanation of creation. In what sense does Udayana understand God’s cognition to be an eternal cognition, and how does he try to establish its eternality? He shows that God’s cognition, being eternal, has neither a before nor an after, but is “an ever-existing single act that embraces all objects of cognition” (Chemparathy 1972: 174). Such an act negates the plurality of acts in cognition, but contains all objects of cognition and is therefore defined as omniscient. This all-encompassing cognition is said to be uninterrupted since it is always in conjunction with its objects, an idea that is intimately related to the concept of the oneness of God’s act of cognition. Thus, for Udayana, the

eternity (nityatvam) of the cognition of God follows from the fact that it is not produced and remains unaffected by whatever could imply manifoldness or non-eternity, as, for example, time. While time is an eternal substance, it is divided by modes of time: Nor does that [single] cognition [of God] cease to be valid through the differences of time; for it does not cease to be independent. Or, if it were nevertheless invalid, then the application of the principle would be too wide.48 Udayana demonstrates here that God’s cognition, which is accepted as valid, cannot lose its validity at another point of time, since it is independent of any time factor, indeed, independent of all causes. But how is it possible to arrive at an effect from the independence of cognition? How does Udayana relate the next act, i.e., effort, to cognition and what is to be created? He first posits a complex relationship between cognition and effort (prayatna). If God’s cognition is independent, then what is effort? Effort implies an activity that would be meaningless if it were not directed toward something. If cognition is eternal, effort should be as well. If effort is non-eternal, cognition is likewise. Udayana thus says that effort does not depend on cognition, but nevertheless, that cognition is accomplished by effort. Effort ceases to exist if cognition ceases to exist. This would also be the case if cognition were not to depend on itself, but on an object (viṣaya): And effort does not depend on cognition, which serves only for grasping itself [and not a physical object], because it would be dependent, if it serves also to grasp an object. Therefore, it is stated at length elsewhere that cognition is accomplished very well through effort, and the ceasing of effort is accomplished due to the ceasing of cognition. But due to the ceasing of cognition as an effect, effort ceases as an effect and is not eternal. And if effort is eternal, cognition takes place eternally and is not non-eternal, because through this [cognition] no grasping of an object of this [effort] is possible.49 The difficulty with Udayana’s concept of eternity is that if one act is eternal, all the others are eternal too. Conversely as well, if one act is non-eternal, all others are non-eternal. If these acts are non-eternal, cognition is produced in dependence on senses and objects, but if they are eternal, no effect can be produced. Therefore, independence from an object is tenable only if all three are eternal. So again the question arises: How, then, is the creation of a non-eternal pot possible? And here is where the next question arises. If God starts to create, He must be related to the bad and good karma (adṛṣṭ;a) of the souls. How is this possible, if everything remains in eternity? He must give a reason for the universe coming into being. The eternity of cognition, will, and effort thus stand in clear contradiction to God’s guiding the creation of the universe, because the universe is dependent not only on time and space, which are universal causes, but also, and especially, on the merits and demerits of souls. As a matter of fact, Udayana tries to give a solution when he says that effort, but not cognition, involves an inclination toward an object (viṣayapravaṇaḥ). An effort that is not directed toward a determinate object is inconceivable. Hence, even though the effort of God is eternal, it requires cognition, also eternal like God Himself, in order for His effort to be

inclined toward a determinate object. I will now consider Veṅkaṭ;anāṭ;ha’s view of dynamic eternity, whereby he develops a concept of creation based on completely different presuppositions—in particular, the concept of the beginningless transformation of substance. Veṅkaṭ;anāṭ;ha begins his refutation of Udayana by pointing out that cognition, which is considered necessary for an effort, needs senses and a physical body. This is why, for Udayana, the acceptance of karma is inevitable, because it is only karma that causes a body. This may be countered—as we now know—with the argument that since God’s cognition is eternal and capable of comprehending everything, it is therefore not dependent on sense faculties. Against this, Veṅkaṭ;anātha asks for a reason—based on inference and common experience—to believe that eternal cognition is present in the agent. With respect to an agent, we can refer only to our common experience, and here we only find cognitions that are nonpermanent. The Naiyāyika can only prove that effort is required for an agent who causes an effect, but it cannot be established that this agent possesses eternal and uncaused knowledge. How does Veṅkaṭ;anātha respond to Udayana’s view as outlined above? For this, we find an example in verses 17 and 18 of the third chapter (nāyakasara) of the Tattvamuktākalāpa (TMK) and also in the Īśvarapariccheda section of the later Nyāyasiddhāñjana. In a dialogue with an opponent, Veṅkaṭ;anātha argues that God cannot produce an effect without a body. His opponent holds the view that neither the senses nor an object are necessary to produce an effect. Veṅkaṭ;anātha argues that his opponent must accept an object of knowledge in order to avoid admitting an unproduced contact (ajasaṃyoga) by which God is eternally connected to sentient and insentient beings. The objection and response in verse 3.17 are as follows: [Objection:] What is necessary [for the origin] of an effect, this should here be enough; wherefore [do we need] something else? [Response:] This is not the case, because the senses, etc. are necessary [for the origin of an effect], even if there is, when knowledge, etc. arise, a restriction of the object of knowledge. [Objection:] Knowledge of the All-pervading [i.e., God] is eternal. It has no object, which is restricted. Therefore something else is not necessary. [Response:] This is not the case, because knowledge [is for you] non-eternal. How else could you refute the unproduced contact?50 In his autocommentary on this verse, the Sarvārthasiddhi, Veṅkaṭ;anātha arrives at the conclusion that the object of cognition is restricted by a causal complex. He argues that different acts should be understood as states of a single divine knowledge. He understands these acts as successive states that are dependent on each other without being contradictory to one another. Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s description of the process starting from a cognition conditioned by a causal complex and leading to an effort prompted by the wish to act is thus exactly the opposite of Udayana’s. Veṅkaṭ;anātha justifies his view by appealing to empirical evidence:

For an effort is restricted to an object (viṣayaniyamaḥ) due to the desire to create. And this [desire to create] is at first [restricted] by cognition, which is caused by the activity of getting something agreeable or avoiding something uncomfortable; and the cognition has an object that is restricted by such a causal complex. How is it possible that cognition has an object, if it is without a causal complex restricted by an object? And what else is desired, if it has no object? And why should somebody, who does not desire something, make an effort?51 Against the background of what has been said about the dharmabhūtajñāna and its different states, one can say here that a divine act does not determine a subsequent divine act. Each act as a state of the dharmabhūtajñāna is a kind of precondition for what is given and what will follow. Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s opponent, in contrast, holds that anything preceding God’s act of dharmabhūtajñāna would contradict His eternity. In response to his opponent, Veṅkaṭ;anātha explains that accepting an object whose cognition is uncaused is useless. His opponent, in accordance with his strict concept of eternity, claims that an eternal being cannot be limited by either a causal complex or an object. Again we see two directly conflicting concepts of eternity. According to Udayana, only eternal cognition is possible. According to Veṅkaṭ;anātha, the beginninglessness of the flowing along (anādipravāha) of different states of an eternal substance—in this case, God’s knowledge—is necessary. Also in verse TMK 3.18, which is directed against Udayana, Veṅkaṭ;anātha demonstrates that effort can have an object and refutes the view that effort is necessarily independent. Only effort is capable of producing an effect. In this case, effort will not become a cognition, even if the effort is directed toward an object: Why do you accept cognition and will? To be restricted to an object, both are accepted, but effort does not need both [i.e., icchā/dhī]. Cognition [of God] should be accepted as without a cause. In the same manner you should accept that effort, by its very nature, has an object. If it is said that effort, by its very nature, has an object, then it would be cognition. Where it is observed, let it be, because cognition does not cause an effort, which is eternal. How is it possible for cognition to regulate effort?52 Veṅkaṭ;anātha elaborates on the topic of this verse 3.18 of TMK in his later work Nyāyasiddhāñjana (NSi 326, 2–328, 1), where he explains that effort can itself grasp an object, but the dependency does not relativize the effort. Without being limited by adṛṣṭ;a, undesirable consequences occur, which Veṅkaṭ;anātha again enumerates when he says that without any limitation all effects would happen simultaneously, because God’s eternal cognition, His will, and His effort would always have the totality of objects as their content. God’s basic qualifying knowledge, which also contains happiness and anger about every individual soul, cannot itself be connected to the individual karma of each soul. Therefore all souls would be released simultaneously without effort, because God could neither reward nor punish. At least no effect of God’s qualifying knowledge would exist. But an effect would be necessary to create/manifest the world again.

2.9 Conclusion Even prior to Veṅkaṭ;anātha, philosophers in the tradition of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta conceived the individual self as a living being in the world—an agent (kartṛ) as well as an enjoyer (bhoktṛ) and a knower (jñātṛ). During its stay in saṃsāra, the individual self is caught in a saṃsāric body and, after release, it resides in eternal Vaikuṇṭ;ha in a divine body. The individual self, which is accepted as being eternal, not only lives in the painful world from which it seeks liberation, but also in a world of manifold changing material objects (acit) together with other selves (cit). This idea was taken up by Veṅkaṭ;anātha, who strove to harmonize the opposition between the eternality of the individual self, on the one hand, and the changeful nature of worldly objects, on the other. As we have seen, Veṅkaṭ;anātha not only tries to relate the eternal being of the self to temporality by explaining how diachronic experiences are possible, but also takes the plurality of individual selves into account and considers how they are able to communicate with each other in daily life. To demonstrate this, I have pointed out how Veṅkaṭ;anātha makes use of the key concepts of substance (dravya) and state/quality (avasthā/dharma) in order to prepare the way for a proper understanding of the individual self (jīvātman) and its qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna). This chapter has not only situated the topic of the individual self in a broader context within Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s work, but has also provided some insight into a few of his fundamental ontological presuppositions—above all, his explanation of the relation between an eternal being, represented by the concept of substance (dravya), and its transformation (pariṇāma), represented by a series of states (avasthāsantāna). As I have shown, Veṅkaṭ;anātha elaborated on a crucial question that had been the object of debate in several philosophical schools before him, the question of whether the self can be established independently—that is, by itself/for itself (svatas/svasya)—while also being referred to across time and related to objects in the world and to other selves. The apparent opposition between an eternal being and its transformation raises the difficulty of proving that a self-illuminating self, which Veṅkaṭ;anātha frequently characterizes as appearing or illuminating exclusively for itself (taṉṉakku tāṉ toṉṟum/svasmai svayamprakāśa), can nevertheless be relational, i.e., form a relational unity like body and soul (śarīraśarīribhāva). Referring, by remembering, to knowledge that was gained in the past is only one example through which he explains the relation between the individual self’s eternality on the one hand, and its ability to experience on the other. Based on these arguments, Veṅkaṭ;anātha also illuminates how the Highest Self (God) is related to the world and how He repeatedly starts His creation/manifestation through a sequence of states of His qualifying knowledge.

Abbreviations NKus Nyāyakusumāñjali, Udayana (1957), The Nyāya Kusumāñjali of Śrī Udayanāchārya with Four Commentaries, Kāśi Sanskrit Series 30, ed. Sri Padmaprasāda Upādhyāya and Sri Dhuṇḍirāja Śāstri, Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office. NSi Nyāyasiddhāñjana, Veṅkaṭ;anātha (1976), Veṅkaṭ;anāthārya Vedāntadeśika

viracitaṃ Nyāyasiddhāñjanam, ed. Śrīnivāsatātācarya, Madras: Ubhayavedāntagranthamālā. NyKul Nyāyakuliśa, Ātreya Rāmānuja (1938), Nyāyakuliśa or the Lightning-shaft of Reason by Ātreya Rāmānuja, Philosophy Series, ed. R. Ramanujachari and K. Srinivasacharya, Annamalai: Annamalai University. NyP Nyāyapariśuddhi, Veṅkaṭ;anātha (1978), Nyāyapariśuddhi by Sri Vedantadesika with a new commentary, ed. Uttamūr Śrīvātsya Vīrarāghavācārya, Madras: Ubhayavedāntagranthamālā. PMBh Paramatabhaṅga, Veṅkaṭ;anātha (1979), Paramatabhaṅgaḥ (vaibhāṣikabhaṅgādhikārāntaḥ prathamo bhāgaḥ); with the commentary of Vātsya Śrīnārāyaṇa, Madras: Rathnam Press. RTS Rahasyatrayasāra, Veṅkaṭ;anātha (2000), Śrīmadrahasyatrayasāra, ed. Ramadesikacaryar Swami, Srirangam: Sri Marutthy Laser Printers. ŚDū Śatadūṣaṇī, Veṅkaṭ;anātha (1940), Veṅkaṭ;anātha, Śatadūṣaṇī, ed. Aṇṇaṅgarāchārya. Conjeevaram: Śrīmadvedāntadeśikagranthamālā. Śrībh Śrībhāṣya, Rāmānuja (1967), Bādarāyaṇapraṇīta-Brahmasūtrākhyaśārīrakamīmāṃsābhāsyaṃ Rāmānujaviracitaṃ Śrībhāṣyam SudarśanasūriviracitaŚrutaprakāśikākhyavyākhyāsamudbhāṣitam, 2 vols. [each volume with separate pagination: I contains Śrībhāṣya 1.1 to 1.2; II contains 1.3 to 4.4)], Madras: Ubhayavedāntagranthamālā. TMK/ Tattvamuktākalāpa, Veṅkaṭ;anātha (1973), Srimad Vedanta Desika’s SAS Tattvamuktakalapa and Sarvartha Siddhi with Sanskrit Commentaries, ed. Uttamūr Śrīvātsya Vīrarāghavācārya, Madras: Ubhayavedāntagranthamālā. TṬ Tattvaṭ;īkā, Veṅkaṭ;anātha (1941), ed. Śrīkāñcī Prativādi-bhayaṅkaraḥ Aṇṇaṅgarācāryaḥ, Conjeevaram: Śrīmadvedāntadeśikagranthamālā.

Notes It should be pointed out that the term “Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita” has to be translated as “the nonduality of qualified/differentiated Brahman” and not, as is still frequently the case, as “qualified monism.” Moreover, the more general rendering of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita as “Panentheism” is inappropriate (cf. Lipner 1986: 142). Numerous scholars have rightly contrasted the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita “doctrine of creation” with the Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. See, for instance, Bartley (2002: 74) and Barua (2009: 97). Lipner (1986: 83) likewise speaks of the “existential ‘umbilical cord’ between the originative cause (Brahman) and the finite,” which is incompatible with Christian creatio ex nihilo. Whatever is understood as language in this tradition is represented as Vedic language, i.e., the Veda as the totality of all words (vedākhyaḥ śabdarāśiḥ). As such, the Veda is not a separate reality alongside what exists as sentient (cit) and non-sentient (acit) entities, but is inseparably connected to them. Thus, only that which is expressed in the language of the Veda, and nothing beyond that, is accepted as having existence. For this tradition, the eternity of the Veda, with its beginninglessly existing words, sentences, etc., demonstrates that Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa is the supreme God. The ultimate evidence for the existence of God is the insight that the unchangeability of Vedic words and sentences is as eternal as God Himself; this then also governs the important yet paradoxical assertion that God, who promulgates the Veda, is Himself promulgated in the Veda. Not only does the Veda presuppose an imperishable being with which God is inseparably connected, this is also recognized with the help of the Veda and not by any other means of knowledge. Cf. Lipner (1986: 39). The following is based on Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s works written in both Sanskrit and Maṇipravāḷa. Roughly the development of the

theistic tradition of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta and especially Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s work was influenced from several directions. Three of the most important textual influences were the Nālāyirat Tivviyappirapantam, the “Four-Thousand Divine Compositions” of the Śrīvaiṣṇava canon, composed by twelve Āḻvārs (sixth–ninth centuries); the Viṣṇupurāṇa and the Pāñcarātra tradition; and above all, the tradition of the Upaniṣads. Topics in the Nālāyirat Tivvyappirapantam were read from the perspective of Rāmānuja’s philosophy. The thinker Parāśarabhaṭ;ṭ;a wrote in both Sanskrit and Maṇipravāḷa, but there were also a series of commentaries on the Tiruvāymoḻi written only in Maṇipravāḷa by a succession of two teachers and their disciples (Nañcīyar, Nampiḷḷai, Vaṭ;akkuttiruvīti Piḷḷai, Periyavāccāṉ Piḷḷai). Thus, there were two important strands in the tradition, one writing in Sanskrit, the other, in Maṇipravāḷa. Certain representatives of the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta wrote in Sanskrit, examining topics that had been discussed by Rāmānuja. Since both strands were important, he not only used Sanskrit when arguing with other traditions and expounding his own doctrines, but he also composed works in Maṇipravāḷa. Here I examine two of Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s most famous works, the Paramatabhaṅga (Refutation of Doctrines of Other Schools) and the Rahasyatrayasāra (The Essence of the Three Secrets). The three secrets refer to the three mantras, i.e., the Tirumantra, the Dvayamantra, and the Caramaśloka (Bhagavad-Gītā 18.66). See, for example, Lipner (1986: 49–62) (chapter on “The essential self”); (1986: 63–79) (chapter on “The contingent self”). See also Bartley (2002: 7–68) (chapter on “Rāmānuja on Realistic Metaphysics and Epistemology”) and Oberhammer (2008). An exception is Mumme (1988: 38–69) (chapter on “The Nature of Soul”). It should be pointed out that some Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins after Rāmānuja differed from Veṅkaṭ;anātha in their understanding of qualifying knowledge (dharmabhūtajñāna). Oberhammer (2018: 486–98), for instance, discusses Meghanādārisūri’s different understanding of dharmabhūtajñāna. The jīvātman is a major topic in Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s philosophical-theological and polemical works: cf. the jīvapariccheda (Chapter 2), and the buddhipariccheda (Chapter 5) of the Nyāyasiddhāñjana (NSi); the jīvasara (Chapter 2) and the buddhisara (Chapter 4) of the Tattvamuktākalāpa (TMK) with the Sarvārthasiddhi (SAS); the jīvatattvādhikāra (Chapter 2) of the Paramatabhaṅga (PMBh); Śatadūṣaṇī (ŚDū), especially the vādas 20–27, which deal with his own view of the individual self in opposition to the Advaita Vedāntic doctrine of consciousness; several passages in the Rahasyatrayasāra (RTS). I focus here only on Chapters 3 (pradhānapratitantrādhikāra) and 5 (tattvatrayacintanādhikāra). NyKul 143, 8–9: “The cause-substance itself, having assumed another state, is the effect-substance.” kāraṇadravyam evāvasthāntarāpannaṃ kāryadravyam. Cf. NyKul, chapter on the satkāryavāda, 147, 3ff. NSi 7, 2: upādānaṃ dravyam. avasthāśraya upādānam. Cf. the same expression in NyP 312–13 (Chapter 5, first part of the prameyādhyāya): avasthāntarayogitvam eva hy upādānatvam; tad eva hi dravyalakṣaṇam. tathāpi na guṇatvahāniḥ, apṛthaksiddhaviśeṣaṇatvātiriktaguṇatvādarśanāt. Cf. NSi 357, 5–6; SAS to TMK V 2, p. 681, 8; 705, 8; ŚDū 203, 15 (vāda 53). But see also the same meaning in his Maṇipravāḷa work RTS (Chapter 5) 106, 5: ivvaḷavu avasthāntarāpatti vikāridravyattukku virudham aṉṟu. I prefer to translate āgantuka, which literally means “accidental,” as “temporally limited” because of the alternating of states, which also includes a time aspect such as the earlier state, later state, etc. Cf. NSi 357, 6–358, 2. Here, Veṅkaṭ;anātha describes the sequence of states of a material cause as follows: “In particular, in regard to the essence (-svarūpāpekṣayā), which is characterized by each following state (uttarottarāvasthā), this entity, which is qualified by an earlier state (pūrvabhāvyavasthā-) and restricted by a following (state), is the material cause/base. In the same way, regarding the clay-substance (-mṛddravya-), which is characterized in each case by the subsequent state of potness, this substance which is (earlier) characterized by the state of being a lump (of clay) is (the material cause).” viśeṣatas tūttarottarāvasthāviśiṣṭ;asvarūpāp-ekṣayā tadanugataniyatapūrvabhāvyavasthāviśiṣṭ;aṃ tad eva vastūpādānam, yathā ghaṭ;atvāvasthāviśiṣṭ;amṛddravyāpekṣayā piṇḍatvāvasthāviśiṣṭ;aṃ tad eva dravyam. Rāmānuja’s and Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s understanding of the effect (kārya) as a transformation into another state is not equivalent to the Sāṅkhyan satkāryavāda. The difference consists in the ontological status of the effect in Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita thought: before an effect arises, i.e., another state of the substance becomes manifest, it is in a subtle state (sūkṣmāvasthā), which means not completely nonexistent; it is not as real as the effect, which is—according to the Sāṅkhya view—identical with its cause. The decisive point is that nonbeing is still being for Veṅkaṭ;anātha; he explains this with bhāvāntarābhāva; cf. NyP 300, 12: “According to our view, non-being, by contrast, has the nature of another being.” abhāvas tv asmanmate bhāvāntarātmā. More information on this issue can be found in Ātreyarāmānuja’s NyKul 143–52, the eighth chapter on satkāryavāda. Cf. the definition in Sudarśanasūri on Śrībh 1.1.1; Śrībh I 137.21–22: “What is defined as the non-cognition of something that is capable of being known is the cognition of another state which has the form of being. In particular the cognition of being a lump etc. is the non-cognition of the pot which is capable of being known [as a later state of being a lump].” yogyānupalabdhir nāma bhāvarūpāvasthāntaropalabdhiḥ. piṇḍatvādyupalabdhir eva hi ghaṭ;asya yogyānupalabdhiḥ. The reader should have in mind that the relation between cognition and qualifying knowledge corresponds to the relation of state and basic substance. There is always a flow of cognitions like the previously mentioned avasthāsantāna, while the

basic substance is eternal; nevertheless, just as one says that Brahman transforms, even qualifying knowledge transforms from one state, i.e., cognition, into another. The literal translation of dharmabhūtajñāna is “knowledge as (or which functions as) a property.” The term is often translated as “attributive knowledge/consciousness.” Nevertheless, I choose to translate dharmabhūtajñāna as “qualifying knowledge,” i.e., knowledge that qualifies something else—in this case, the self (ātman), i.e., to whom one refers by the word “I” (ahamartha). For an overview of Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s theory of the individual self and its qualifying knowledge, see Chari ([1988] 2004: 140– 57) (Chapter 4, “The Theory of Knowledge”) and Chari ([1988] 2004: 187–249) (Chapter 6, “The Doctrine of Jīva”). The formal term dharmin denotes in this context the individual or God’s self; it is also defined as dharmibhūtajñāna. Of course, dharmin can also refer to every base for properties/states (dharma/avasthā). jīveśvararūparāṉa ātmākkaḷ ellāruṭ;aiyavum svarūpam svasmai svayaṃprakāśam. it dharmisvarūpaprakāśattukkup pattarukku muḷpaṭ;a orukālattilum saṃkocavikāsaṅkaḷ illai. jīveśvararūpamāṉa ātmavarkkattukku ellām potuvāṉa lakṣaṇam cetanatvamum pratyaktvamum. cetanatvam āvatu jñānāśrayam ākai. pratyaktvam āvatu taṉakkut tāṉ tōṟṟukai. appotu dharmabhūtajñānanirapekṣam āka nāṉ eṉṟu toṟṟum. See also the sentence in NSi (Chapter 2) 199, 1: aham iti pratyaktvaikatvaviśiṣṭ;atayā tu svaprakāśatā sarvadā. The enumeration of the essential qualities of the jīva differs in Veṅkaṭ;anātha’s works. RTS (Chapter 5) 98, 16 mentions jñānatvam, ānandatvam, amalatvam, aṇutvam; but PMBh (Chapter 2) 31, 3 only enumerates ādheyatva-vidheyatvaśeṣatva-aṇutva. Raju (1964: 339–400) points out that prior to Veṅkaṭ;anātha, Ātreyarāmānuja expressed clearly in his NyKul 74, 11–12 that there is no relation between the self and empirical reality: prakāśaḥ sarvabhāvānāṃ saṃbandho vyavahārakṛn naiśa svātmani tatkartum prakāśāntaram īkṣate. “The revealing of all objects is a relation due to empirical activity. But such an activity or relation of revealing cannot be said to hold in the case of the self. No other illumination (i.e., no revealing of this self-revealing of the ātman) is needed.” (I quote Raju’s translation, cf. Raju 1964: 404.) PMBh (Chapter 2) 57, 6–11: ātmā pratyagrūpaṉ eṉṟu adhyātmanirūpakar ellārum icaikaiyālum, ahamartham allātataṟku pratyaktvaṃ kūṭ;āmaiyālum, ahaṅkāratyāgavacanaṃ dehātmabhrama-garvādiparityāgaparamākaiyālum, tattvaviśeṣattil ahaṅkāraśabdam ahamartham allātatilē ahambuddhiyai janippikakaiyālē; prayuktam ākiṟatākaiyālum mamedaṃ eṉṟu idaṅkāragocaramāṉa śarīrattiṟ kāṭ;ṭ;il ahambuddhiyālē ātmavaipa pirikkaiyālum ahamarthamē ātmā. We find the same idea also in his polemical work Śatadūṣaṇī (vāda 23), where the same concept is mentioned: “Qualifying knowledge, even if it is eternal, is divided into contracted and expanding knowledge with regard to the individual objects according to its respective karma. For this reason, various acts and their respective involvements are correct, by nature depending on the different transformations that likewise are subject to karma.” ŚDū 118, 11–13: nityāpi saṃvit tattatkarmānurūpaṃ teṣu teṣu viṣayeṣu saṃkocaṃ vikāsaṃ ca bhajate. tataś ca karmānurūpatattadviṣayīkaraṇavikāraviśeṣāpekṣayā svarūpata eva kriyābhedaḥ pratiniyataviṣayatā ca yujyate. RTS (Chapter 5) 102, 20: it tarmapūtajñānaṃ viṣayaprakāśatacaiyilē svācrayattukku svayam prakācamāy irukkum. itu īcvaraṉukkum, nityarukkum nityavibhuvāyirukkum. RTS (Chapter 5) 103, 1–3: maṟṟuḷḷōrukku samsārāvastaiyil karmānurūpam āka bahuvidhasaṅkocavikāsavattāy. muktāvasthaiyilē ekavikāsattālē piṉpu yāvatkālaṃ vibhuvāyirukkum. sarvātmākkaḷuṭ;aiyavum dharmabhūtajñānaṃ viṣayaprakāśanavēḷaiyilē svāśrayattukku svayaṃprakāśam āyirukkum. jñānatvamum svayaṃprakāśatvamum dharmadharmikaḷukku sādhāraṇam. dharmabhūtajñānattukku viṣayitvam ēṟṟam. dharmiyāṉa ātmasvarūpattukkup pratyaktvam ēṟṟam. jñānatvam āvatu kasya cit prakāśatvam atāvatu taṉṉuṭ;aiyav ākavum ām vēṟ oṉṟiṉuṭ;aiyavākavumām ētēṉum oṉṟiṉuṭ;aiya vyavahārānuguṇyattaip paṇṇukai. svayaṃprakāśatvam āvatu taṉṉai viṣayīkarippatoru jñānāntarattāḷ apekṣayaṟat tāṉē prakācikkai. dharmabhūtajñānattukku viṣayitvam āvatu taṉṉaiy oḻinta toṉṟaik kāṭ;ṭ;ukai. ātmākkaḷukkup pratyaktvam āvatu svasmai bhāsamānatvam. atāvatu ta prakācattukku tāṉ phaliyāy irukkai eṉṟapaṭ;i. In the beginning of Chapter 5 of the NSi 399, 2–3 about the dharmabhūtajñāna, Veṅkaṭ;anātha explains the “double nature” of the dharmabhūtajñāna as sakarmakāvabhāsatvam, “its shining/becoming manifest while being characterized by an object,” and as sakartṛkāvabhāsatvam, “shining/becoming manifest while having an agent (i.e., the self).” For the meaning of arthaprakāśa, see Śrībh II 189.1–2: prakāśo hi nāma svasya parasya ca vyavahārayogyatām āpādayan vastuviśeṣaḥ. cilar jñānaviṣayattukku svayaṃprakāśatvam kūṭ;āteṉparkaḷ. jñānaviṣayam āṉālum jñānāntaranirapekṣam ākavum prakāśikkaiyālē svayaṃprakāśaṉ eṉṉalām. itu dharmabhūtajñānattukkum tulyam. jñānaviṣayam allāta toṉṟai oru pramāṇattālēyum svayaṃprakāśam eṉṟu sādhikkav oṇṇātu. dharmi taṉakkut tāṉ tōṟṟum dharmabhūtajñānaṃ viṣayaprakāśakālattilē svāśrayattukku tāṉē tōṟṟum. This concept of knowing other knowledge of one’s own is explained in NSi 401, 1–3 in the following two verses (102; 103): svadhīviśeṣaṃ sarvajño ’py adhyakṣayati vā na vā; ādye siddhā svatas siddhiḥ anyatrāsarvaveditā (102). jñānaṃ astīti

vijñānaṃ svātmānaṃ sādhayen na vā; pūrvatra svaprakāśatvaṃ sarvāsiddhir ato’nyathā (103). This is Mikami’s unpublished translation (Mikami n.d.: 255): “Can an omniscient [person] perceive even his own particular knowledge or not? In the former case, [his] self-manifestedness is established. In the latter, he would not be omniscient. Is knowledge that knowledge exists concerned with [the knowledge] itself or not? In the former case, [knowledge] is self-luminous. In the latter, everything could not be established consequently.” it tarma tarmikaḷiraṇṭ;um svayaṃprakāśam āyiruntālum nityatvādidharmaviśeṣaviśiṣṭ;arūpankaḷālē jñānāntaravedyankaḷum ām. Cf. also this inner/outer perspective for the individual self in NSi 198, 1–2: svasya ca asya svayamprakāśatvam. parasya tu tajjñānaviṣayatayaiva prakāśate. svasyāpi pramāṇāntarāvaseyāṇutvaśeṣatvaniyāmyatvanityatvādiviśiṣṭ;arūpeṇa jñānaviṣayatvam asty eva. jñānatvaṃ vakti puṃsaḥ śrutir iha na punar buddhimātrasya puṃstvaṃpratyakṣādeḥ prakopād anugatakathane jñānaṃ arthaprakāśaḥsvasyaivātmā tu siddhiṃ matir anubhavati svānyayos siddhibhāvaṃ ātmā svenaiva sidhyaty aham iti nigamair yat svayaṃjyotir uktaḥsvāpe ’py asya svasiddhāv aśayiṣi sukham ity akṣatā pratyabhijñācetaś cānyānapekṣaṃ matiṣu na hi bhavet kiṃ ca vedāntadṛṣṭ;yājñānatvād eṣa dhīvat svaviṣayadhiṣaṇānirvyapekṣasvasiddhiḥ. This is clear from the following passage of his ŚDū 122, 29–123, 3 (vāda 26): “Even in the case of redemption, the continuity of the referent of ‘I’ (ahamarthānuvṛttiḥ) will be observed by virtue of the authoritative tradition (śrutivaśād) … And if the [self], during redemption, which is the object of the word ‘I,’ were no longer to exist, [then] there would be no one to study the instructions on release (mokṣaśāstra). For a sane person does nothing to kill himself. And for the [self], which is the referent of the word ‘I,’ you assume complete disappearance (atyantavināśo) in the process of redemption. If one were to argue [from your point of view] that [one] acts, because one does not distinguish between knowledge and self, then one would [also] assume, in the case of his own destruction, the disappearance of the principle of cognition and would certainly not act by thinking: ‘[Redemption is my] own destruction (svavināśa).’” muktāv apy ahamarthānuvṛttiḥ prāg eva śrutivaśād darśitā. … yadi ca mokṣe ’hamartho na syāt mokṣaśāstrasyādhikāryabhāvaḥ syāt. na hi svavadhāya svayam eva buddhipūrvakārī pravartate. ahamarthasya cātyantavināśo mokse bhavadbhir iṣyate. saṃvidātmanaḥ svasya ca vivekāgrahāt pravartate iti cet, tarhi svavināśe saṃvido vināśam abhimanyeta. sa ca svavināśa eveti manyamāno na pravartetaiva. ŚDū 121, 26: suṣuptau tāvad ahamarthānanuvṛttau punaḥ pratisandhānānupapattiprasaṅgaḥ. ŚDū 121, 29–122.2 (vāda 26): pūrvottaravartyahamarthapratisandhānabalād eva madhye ’pi tatkalpanāt. pūrvottarakālāvacchinnamadhyakālakalpanenāsvāpsamitīdānīṃtanakālānusandhānavad idānīm atītakālāvacchinnāhamarthasyāpi prakāśopapatteḥ, madhye cāhamarthābhāve saṃskārādhārābhāvāt pratisandhānābhāvaprasaṅgāc ca. ŚDū 113, 9–11 (vāda 21): nanu na tāvat saṃvidā svaprāgabhāvagrahaḥ, svaprāgabhāvasthitau saṃvidanutpattyā grāhakābhāvāt. tadapakrame tu viṣayābhāvād eva tadgrahaṇāyogāt. nāpi saṃvidantareṇa tadgrahaḥ, niṣpratiyogikābhāvagrahaṇāyogāt pratiyoginyāś ca saṃvidas svatas siddhāyās saṃvidantaraviṣayatvāyogād iti. ŚDū 113, 11–13 (vāda 21): naivam, svataḥ parataś ca tadgrahopapatteḥ. svatas tāvad etāvantaṃ kālaṃ na kiṃ cid aham ajñāsiṣam iti yo ’yaṃ pratyayaḥ, sa hi sāmānyataḥ pūrvakālavartinaṃ svātmābhāvam api gṛhṇāti. na cātītasya prāgabhāvasya kathaṃ viṣayīkāra iti vācyam, asmadādipratyakṣajñānavyatiriktajñāneṣu trikālavartinām api grahaṇāt. ŚDū 113, 15–17 (vāda 21): gṛhyamāṇavaiparītyābhāva eva hi prāmāṇyam, na punar grāhyasya grahaṇasamakālatvam. anyathā bhavanmatenānirvacanīyarajatasamakālavartinyā rajatabhrānteḥ prāmāṇyaprasaṅgāt. saṃvitprāgabhāvagrāhakaṃ kim idaṃ pramāṇam iti cet, yad ghaṭ;ādyabhāvagrāhakaṃ tad eva. ŚDū 113, 20–114, 1 (vāda 21): na ca suṣuptyādaya eva saṃskārocchedakāḥ, tathā sati pūrvadinādyanubhūtasyāsmaraṇaprasaṅgāt … viṣayāśrayollekhād vaiśadye tatsmṛtir iti cet, tad api na, vaiśadyam antareṇāpy andhakārādyanubhūtavastumātrādiṣu smṛtidarśanāt. tad evaṃ svatas tatprāgabhāvagraha upapāditaḥ. parato ’pi tatprāgabhāvagrahaḥ saṃvido vedyatvasamarthanād eva siddhaḥ. ŚDū 114, 2–114, 3 (vāda 21): tad evaṃ svasmin vartamānasya bhaviṣyatsaṃvitprāgabhāvasya grahaṇaṃ yogyānupalabdhyā jāyate, atītasya tu smaraṇānumānādinā. paragatasyāpy anumānādinaiva. ataḥ svataḥ parato ’pi siddhaḥ saṃvidaḥ prāgabhāvaḥ. Cf. RTS (chapter 3) 52, 12–13: ippaṭ;i sarva vastuvum īśvarasvarūpāśritamumāy īśvarecchādhīnamum āyirukkum. “All entities are based on the essence of God and depend also on the will of God.” Translation is quoted from Chemparathy (1972: 173): NKus 459, 1–2: na ca tad eva jñānaṃ kālabhedenāpramāṇam, anapekṣasyāparāvṛtteḥ, tathāpi vā aprāmāṇye ’tiprasaṅgād iti. NKus 292, 5–293, 2: na ca prayatna ātmalābhārtham eva matim apekṣate, viṣayalābhārtham apy apekṣaṇāt. tataḥ prayatnād buddhiḥ tannivṛtteś ca prayatnanivṛttiḥ siddhyaty eveti vistṛtam anyatra. kāryabuddhinivṛttyā tu kārya eva prayatno nivartate, na nityaḥ. nitye ca prayatne nityaiva buddhiḥ pravartate, nānityā. na hi tayā tasya viṣayalābhasaṃbhavaḥ. TMK 3.17 (359, 16–360, 1):yat kāryasyopayuktaṃ tad iha bhavatu naḥ kiṃ pareṇeti cen na,jñānāder udbhave

tadviṣayaniyamane ’py arthanād indriyādeḥ.nityaṃ jñānaṃ vibhos. tan na niyataviṣayaṃ. tena nānyārthanaṃ cen.nānityasyaiva dṛṣṭ;eḥ. tava katham ajasaṃyogabhaṅgo ’nyathā syāt. SAS (360, 6–8) zu TMK 3.17: prayatnasya viṣayaniyamaś cikīrṣayā; tasyāś ca priyāpriyaprāptiparihāravyāpārakāraṇena tāvad buddhyā, sā ca tattatsāmagrīniyataviṣayeti viṣayaniyame sthite sāmagrīśūnyaṃ jñānaṃ kathaṃ saviṣayam? nirviṣaye ca tasmin kiṃ cikīrṣeta? acikīrṣuś ca kutaḥ prayateta? TMK 3.18: kiṃ vā dhīcche, gṛhīte viṣayaniyataye, te hi yatno ’tra necchen. nirhetus tatprameṣṭ;ā bhavatu viṣayavān eṣa. tadvat svatas te prokte yatne svabhāvād viṣayavati sa dhīḥ syād itīdaṃ kva dṛṣṭ;aṃ yad vā dhīs taṃ hi nityaṃ na tu janayati te sā kathaṃ tanniyantrī?

References Bartley, Christopher (2002), Theology of Rāmānuja, London: Routledge. Barua, Ankur (2009), The Divine Body in History: A Comparative Study of the Symbolism of Time and Embodiment in St. Augustine and Rāmānuja, Religions and Discourse 45, Bern: Peter Lang, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften. Chari, S.M. Srinivasa ([1988] 2004), Fundamentals of Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita Vedānta: A Study Based on Vedānta Deśika’s Tattvamuktā-Kalāpa, Delhi: Motilal. Chemparathy, George (1972), An Indian Rational Theology: Introduction to Udayana’s Nyāyakusumāñjali, Vienna: De Nobili Research Library. Lipner, Julius (1986), The Face of Truth: A Study in Meaning and Metaphysics in the Vedāntic Theology of Rāmānuja, Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Mikami, Toshihiro (unpublished), Nyāyasiddhāñjana of Vedāntadeśika. An Annotated Translation, University of Tokyo. Mumme, Patricia Y. (1988), The Śrī Vaiṣṇava Theological Dispute: Maṇavālamāmuni and Vedānta Deśika, Madras: New Era Publications. Oberhammer, Gerhard (2008), Der Ātmā als Subjekt in der Theologie Rāmānujas. Materialien zur Geschichte der RāmānujaSchule IX, Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Oberhammer, Gerhard (2018), “Meghanādārisūri’s Doctrine of the Jīva as the Subject of Knowing: A Conceptually Critical Reflection on the Traditional Teaching,” Rudn Journal of Philosophy 22.4, 486–98. Raju, P.T. (1964), “The Existential and the Phenomenological Consciousness in the Philosophy of Rāmānuja (Svarūpajñāna and Dharmabhūtajñāna),” Journal of the American Oriental Society 84.4, 395–404. Schmücker, Marcus (2011), “Zur Bedeutung des Wortes ‘Ich’ (aham) bei Veṅkaṭ;anātha,” in Gerhard Oberhammer and Marcus Schmücker, eds., Die Relationalität des Subjektes im Kontext der Religionshermeneutik. Arbeitsdokumentation eines Symposiums. [SbÖAW 696 = Veröffentlichungen zu den Sprachen und Kulturen Asiens 70]. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Wissenschaften, 309–40. Schmücker, Marcus (2020), “Vedāntadeśika,” in Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro, eds., Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Religion, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

3 Vyāsatīrtha’s Nyāyāmṛta: An Analytic Defense of Realism in Mādhva Vedānta

Michael Williams This chapter is primarily about the ideas of the Mādhva philosopher Vyāsatīrtha. I will give a general overview of the Mādhva tradition of Vedānta, before examining Vyāsatīrtha’s defense of realism in his Nyāyāmṛta.

3.1 An Overview of Mādhva Vedānta This chapter focuses on the thought of a Vedānta theologian named Vyāsatīrtha who lived in South India from 1460 to 1539. Vyāsatīrtha was one of the leading intellectuals of the Mādhva tradition of Vedānta. The Mādhvas are also widely known as the “Dvaita” (Dualist) school of Vedānta. The school was founded by a philosopher who is usually known as “Madhva” or “Ānandatīrtha.” According to our best dates, Madhva lived from 1238 to 1317.1 He was born into a Brahmin family on the west coast of South India near a town called Udupi. As a teenager, Madhva renounced the world and began training as a monk in a local monastery. Madhva’s leading biography, “The Conquest of Madhva” (the Madhvavijaya), tells us that he was initially trained in Advaita Vedānta. However, the young philosopher naturally rebelled against this school’s ideas and began to develop an alternative system of theistic realism centered on the worship of the Vedic god Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa. Madhva debated fiercely with his teacher, Acyutaprajña, about some of the classic works of Advaita philosophy. He eventually won out and converted his teacher to his views. Madhva is considered by tradition to have been taught in the Himalayas by the compiler of the Vedas, Veda-Vyāsa himself. After a tour of North India, Madhva began to disseminate his commentaries on the Brahmasūtra and the Bhagavad-Gītā and continued to develop his own system. His works draw extensively not only on the Vedic corpus, but on the Sanskrit epics, the Purāṇas, and the Pāñcarātra Saṃhitās. Madhva’s writings were strikingly original but also laconic and highly enigmatic. His ideas came to be systematized by his fourteenth-century commentator Jayatīrtha, a nobleman who converted to the Mādhva tradition. Later Mādhva intellectuals generally accepted Jayatīrtha’s interpretation of Madhva as standard. Vyāsatīrtha himself was born in a town called Bannur in modern-day Karnataka to a humble but pious Mādhva family. Under his leadership, other philosophical traditions began to engage with them seriously, and the

Mādhvas became a central fixture of the Indian intellectual world. Vyāsatīrtha composed over ten works in Sanskrit, and many devotional poems in the Kannada vernacular. The primary concern of Mādhva theologians is to prove that the Veda and its ancillary texts have a single purpose, that is, to disclose the supremacy of Viṣṇu. For the Mādhvas, Viṣṇu is a being of infinite auspicious qualities, who is simultaneously free from all flaws. Viṣṇu takes on a variety of earthly descents (avatāras), including Gopāla Kṛṣṇa, the Rāma of the Rāmāyaṇa, and the compiler of the Vedas, Veda-Vyāsa himself. Unlike other devotional traditions such as the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins and the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, the Mādhvas consider these various avatāras to be on a par with one another. The Advaitin philosophers that the young Madhva read had argued that the world of our senses is an illusion mistakenly superimposed on Brahman. Madhva, in return, argued that the world is in fact a real effect of Viṣṇu. The world is certainly inferior to Viṣṇu in multiple ways, but it is nonetheless real; it can never be the object of the radical sort of sublating judgment that the Advaitins believe will show us that it is an illusion. Nevertheless, the world is dependent on Viṣṇu, whereas Viṣṇu is an entirely independent (svatantra) being. Advaitin philosophers had developed arguments to show that difference is an illusion, but Madhva argued that it is, in fact, the very nature of things to be differentiated from one another. He famously argued that there are five different types of difference in reality: the difference between (1) God and the individual souls; (2) God and insentient entities; (3) the various sentient beings themselves; (4) sentient beings and insentient entities; and (5) the various insentient entities themselves.2 Like all the classical Hindu schools, the Mādhvas believe that the individual souls are (at least in some cases) eligible to obtain liberation from transmigratory existence (saṃsāra). A distinctive Mādhva doctrine that may have been influenced by Jaina philosophy3 is that the inherent nature (svabhāva) of an individual soul determines its ultimate fate. At several points in his works, Madhva says that there are three types of selves: gods, men, and demons. All gods are eligible for liberation and demons reside in hell, but the situation with human beings is more complex. The best of us are eligible for liberation, while those of middling character can look forward to an eternity of wandering in transmigratory existence. The worst among us can only look forward to hell, and, like liberation, hell lasts forever. Mādhva thinkers hold that, even in the state of liberation, the individual souls enjoy different amounts of bliss in accordance with their essences. This notion of eternal damnation and the idea that one’s ultimate salvific destiny is determined by factors outside of one’s control have led to some comparisons with Calvinism, although modern Mādhva philosophers have rejected these observations.4 Their distinctive position on the hierarchy of the individual souls became a major topic of debate between the Mādhvas and the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins in the sixteenth century.5 Like the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins, Madhva and his followers recommend devotion (bhakti) to Viṣṇu as the only way to obtain liberation. When writing on the Sanskrit epic the Mahābhārata, Madhva said that it is Viṣṇu who ultimately bestows liberation, but bhakti serves to precipitate His grace. Madhva defined bhakti as “intense affection that is preceded by a knowledge of the majesty [of God], and which supersedes anything else.”6

All Mādhva philosophers accept that human beings can gain knowledge of the external world through three means of knowledge (pramāṇas): perception (pratyakṣa), inference (anumāna), and verbal testimony (āgama).7 All the further means of knowledge theorized by the other schools of Indian philosophy can be reduced to one of these three. Knowledge itself involves a sort of correspondence between cognitions and objects. A mental judgment is true or false according to whether it is like/corresponds to its object.8 The Mādhvas are empiricists in that they place emphasis on the importance of perception in grounding inference and scripture. Vyāsatīrtha himself argues that perception is innately stronger than the other means of knowledge, and that inference and scripture depend upon it; if inference and scripture conflict with perception, then we must abandon those inferences as faulty and revise our interpretations of scripture so that they are consistent with what perception teaches us.9

3.2 Vyāsatīrtha and the Nyāyāmṛta This chapter focuses on Vyāsatīrtha’s Nyāyāmṛta (Nectar of Reasoning). The Nyāyāmṛta is a debate text (vāda-grantha) that comprises a kind of sustained critical meditation on a single part of scripture, namely Brahmasūtra 1.1.2: “From which [there is] the origin and so on of this world” (janmādy asya yataḥ).10 According to Vyāsatīrtha and the Mādhvas, the main thing that this sūtra tells us is that the world is a reality that depends in various ways on Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa. As a Mādhva, Vyāsatīrtha accepts that the world is very much a real domain dependent on Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa, and this obviously contradicts the Advaitin’s theory that the world is a mere illusion. The vast text is dedicated to criticising the Advaitin’s thesis that the world is an illusion, although Vyāsatīrtha turns his attention also to the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins when discussing liberation. The Nyāyāmṛta is a highly analytical vindication of Mādhva philosophical positions against the arguments of the Advaita school. The intellectual quality of Vyāsatīrtha’s work, as well as his deep engagement with the ideas of the Navya-Naiyāyika Gaṅgeśa Upādhyāya, undoubtedly prompted philosophers who had previously ignored the Mādhvas to engage with their ideas seriously. Leading Advaitin intellectuals like Madhusūdana Sarasvatī and Appayya Dīkṣita became deeply interested in Vyāsatīrtha’s work, and Madhusūdana wrote a line-by-line critical commentary on the Nyāyāmṛta. The recent publication by members of the Mādhva tradition of two previously unpublished commentaries apparently written in the eighteenth century on the Nyāyāmṛta, both of which explore Vyāsatīrtha’s thought in the light of the Bengali tradition of Navya-Nyāya, will help us to understand how the debate continued to unfold in this period.11 The philosopher in question is usually known as Vyāsatīrtha, although he has also been called “Vyāsarāja” or “Vyāsayogi.” Our best dates for Vyāsatīrtha suggest that he was born in 1460 near the South Indian city of Mysore, and that he died in the capital city of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire in 1539.12 Among specialists today, Vyāsatīrtha is widely regarded as being the most outstanding Mādhva thinker, and a leading philosopher in India’s intellectual history as well. There has recently been a newfound interest among scholars not only in

Vyāsatīrtha’s work as a philosopher, but also in his historical role as a religious leader in the Vijayanagara Empire. Recent work by Valerie Stoker which draws on Vyāsatīrtha’s leading biography, the Vyāsayogicarita (Deeds of Vyāsayogi), as well as epigraphical evidence from South India, has explored his status as a political figure during the reigns of the emperor Kṛṣṇadevarāya and his successors in the third dynasty at Vijayanagara. Vyāsatīrtha’s actions as the head of a monastic learning institution and a state agent in the empire helped to establish his tradition as a major intellectual and political force in the South. He clearly wielded considerable economic power, and was responsible for funding water irrigation projects and redistributing land to Brahmin groups.13 Throughout this period, the Mādhvas were competing for influence and resources with the other major Vedānta traditions in South India, particularly the Advaita Vedāntins and the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins. In response to the philosophical arguments of these opponents, Vyāsatīrtha wrote three major works: the Nyāyāmṛta (Nectar of Reasoning), the Tātparyacandrikā (The Moonlight Illuminating the Meaning [of the Vedas]), and the Tarkatāṇḍava (The DeathDance of Logic). In this chapter I will focus on the Nyāyāmṛta. It was primarily written as a reply to the Advaitins who had held a position of prominence at Vijayanagara since the empire’s inception. However, the text also provides a critique of the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins14 and was deeply influenced by the Navya-Nyāya philosophy of Gaṅgeśa Upādhyāya (fl. 1350).15 The Nyāyāmṛta was probably the most influential work written by a medieval Mādhva philosopher, and it had a wide-reaching impact on sixteenth-century Vedānta philosophy. Prior to Vyāsatīrtha, the Mādhvas had largely been overlooked as a philosophical school in India.16 However, the Nyāyāmṛta attracted a critical commentary from the celebrated Varanasi-based scholar of Advaita Vedānta Madhusūdana Sarasvatī (fl. 1555). A dispute ensued around these works which involved over a dozen philosophers and lasted for over two-and-a-half centuries.17 Despite its influence on Vedāntic thought in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Nyāyāmṛta has never been translated into a modern European language.18 In this chapter I would like to give readers a window into Vyāsatīrtha’s work by discussing one of the central problems of Vedānta philosophy: What is “existence” (sattva)? There had already been a rich tradition of realist, idealist, and pragmatist theories of existence in the history of Indian thought, but the sixteenth century witnessed the emergence of original ideas about the nature of existence and nonexistence that threw these older concepts into question. My primary goal in this chapter is to explain one part of the Nyāyāmṛta, which has come to be known as the Sattvanirukti (“Analysis of Existence”) chapter. In this part of the text Vyāsatīrtha unveils his own explanation of what existence is. This requires quite a bit of philosophical background, so I will begin by giving an overview of the main features of Vyāsatīrtha’s analytical method, before outlining how he developed his realism as a response to Advaitic monism. I will then give an overview of two rival definitions of existence that weigh heavily in the philosophical discussion of the Nyāyāmṛta: those of the Naiyāyikas and the Advaita Vedāntins. I will then examine Vyāsatīrtha’s own theory of existence in the Nyāyāmṛta by providing a close analysis of the Sattvanirukti based on my own translation of the text.

3.3 Vyāsatīrtha as an Analytic Theologian Using contemporary terms to characterize a medieval thinker like Vyāsatīrtha is necessarily fraught with difficulties, but in this chapter I would suggest that if we were to describe his intellectual project in modern terms, perhaps the most apt title would be “analytic theology.” Vyāsatīrtha was primarily a theologian whose central concern was to show how a correct interpretation of scripture can lead us to knowledge of God, who is for him the Vedic god Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa. Scripture for Vyāsatīrtha and the Mādhvas includes the Vedas, as well as the Pāñcarātra Saṃhitas, the epics, the Purāṇas, and the Brahmasūtra (Mesquita 2001: 53). God is the only truly independent (svatantra) being and he is infinitely superior to all other things. Nevertheless, God and the world belong to the same ontological level, in the sense that both can be said to “exist.” As Vyāsatīrtha says in the Nyāyāmṛta, “May the world enjoy whatever sort of ‘existence’ it is that pertains to Brahman.”19 So Vyāsatīrtha is primarily a theologian who wants to understand things about God from scripture. However, Vyāsatīrtha’s systematic exegesis of the Veda inevitably leads him deep into questions that would today be included under the rubric of “philosophy.” It is clear from his writing that he regards philosophical reasoning as a subtask of the overall project of interpreting scripture,20 but it is an indispensable one and philosophical discussions occupy a very large part of Vyāsatīrtha’s work. Throughout his oeuvre Vyāsatīrtha writes extensively on questions that would be today included under the philosophies of knowledge, metaphysics, mind, and language. Vyāsatīrtha’s was a highly philosophical theology. What does it mean to characterize Vyāsatīrtha’s work as a philosophical theologian as “analytic”? The word “analysis” comes from the Greek word analusis, meaning to “loosen up” or “dissolve.” Vyāsatīrtha’s work in the Nyāyāmṛta is certainly characterized by the practice of using conceptual and logical analysis to deconstruct rigorously the core concepts and arguments of the leading Advaitin philosophers of his day. He uses this conceptual analysis to demonstrate that all the leading interpretations of these concepts lead the Advaitins into insurmountable problems. His primary task in the Nyāyāmṛta is to use his analytic method to show that the philosophical arguments of Advaitins like Ānandabodha (fl. 1150) and Citsukha (fl. 1295) are incoherent, riddled with recognized logical fallacies, and incompatible with the things that perception teaches us about the world. More specifically, I would identify five features of Vyāsatīrtha’s approach to philosophizing that make him stand out as an analytic thinker. They are not meant to be exhaustive, but I hope to demonstrate most of them in the analysis of the Sattvanirukti: 1. A deep attention to the conceptual analysis of the key terms involved in the philosophical discussions. 2. The use of new logical terms such as “determiner” (avacchedaka), “describer” (nirūpaka), and “pervasion” (vyāpti) to quantify relations precisely. 3. The extensive use of concepts from the Mādhva and Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika theories of the natural world in philosophical discussions. 4. The ubiquitous use of rigorous formal arguments (anumāna) to prove philosophical theories. 5. The evaluation of these inferences using a stock list of formal fallacies.

(1) involves the practice of giving formal definitions (lakṣaṇas) of all of the key terms in the debate. Vyāsatīrtha lists practically all the major definitions given by Advaitin

philosophers of their key philosophical terms in the earlier sections of the Nyāyāmṛta. His usual method consists in adducing the most promising definitions, analyzing them using grammatical and ontological concepts, and then showing that, however they are construed, they all lead to unacceptable philosophical problems. Indian philosophers had long since been concerned with formally defining their key concepts, but Vyāsatīrtha’s work stands out in particular because of how thoroughgoing it is. One gets the impression that he really was attempting to close the debate by showing that all the conceivable interpretations of the main arguments of Advaitin philosophers are failures. As the scholar Lawrence McCrea (2015) has observed, we see in Vyāsatīrtha’s works an unprecedented comprehensiveness and attention to explicitly identifying historical opponents and representing their views accurately. The second aspect of Vyāsatīrtha’s method is to a large extent derived from his encounter with the Navya-Nyāya school, including the works of Gaṅgeśa and Gaṅgeśa’s followers in Mithila, particularly Yajñapati Upādhyāya (fl. 1460), Jayadeva Pakṣadhara (fl. 1470), and Jayadeva’s leading students. Precise logical analysis became increasingly important as the Navya-Nyāya school developed in the centuries after Gaṅgeśa. Vyāsatīrtha seems to have been the first South Indian intellectual to have left a record of deep engagement with Gaṅgeśa’s works (Williams 2014: 130–3). The most important innovations in Navya-Nyāya language involve the use of certain technical terms to express precisely relations between things in the world that would otherwise be difficult to quantify in normal Sanskrit. Scholars such as Ingalls, Potter, Matilal, and Wada have all compared these developments to modern quantificational logic.21 We do not see in Vyāsatīrtha the mind-bending compounds in later thinkers like Gadādhara and Mathurānātha, but he does make liberal use of terms like “limiter” (avacchedaka) and “describer” (nirūpaka) in his works. These tendencies are perhaps more accentuated in the Tarkatāṇḍava, where Vyāsatīrtha shows deep thinking about these sorts of expressions. In the earlier sections of the Nyāyāmṛta, Vyāsatīrtha frequently uses the term avacchedaka to specify the scope of the relational abstracts involved in inference (the “limiter of probandumness,” sādhyatāvacchedaka, the “limiter of subjectness,” pakṣatāvacchedaka, etc.). Vyāsatīrtha’s commentators, particularly Vyāsa Rāmācārya and Ānandabhaṭ;ṭ;āraka, make even more extensive use of these expressions when evaluating the inferences of Advaitin philosophers.22 Vyāsatīrtha, following Madhva and Jayatīrtha, was also a deep thinker about ontology and the natural world. He developed many of these ideas in his earlier works, particularly his Mandāramañjarī commentaries on Madhva’s Daśaprakaraṇas. He developed his ontological ideas in close conversation with the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika system, and often disagreed with the school’s established theories. Vyāsatīrtha takes these scientific discussions seriously in the Nyāyāmṛta. In the Sattvanirukti, for instance, he clearly argues that the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika theory about how contact (saṃyoga) occurs between substances, as well as its ideas about the sound-conducting substance known as the “ether” (ākāśa), are wrong, and premises his definition of existence on these arguments. However, in the Nyāyāmṛta, he is often willing to take account of specifically Navya-Nyāya theories when formulating his arguments. In the earlier portions of the text, for instance, he frequently makes use of formal inferences that Gaṅgeśa had adduced to prove certain aspects of the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika theory of substances

(Williams 2011: 107–29). The Nyāyāmṛta is replete with formal inferences deployed to prove philosophical theories, some of which will be discussed below. Vyāsatīrtha sometimes presents his own inferences in the text, but more frequently he is concerned with showing that the formal inferences developed by the Advaitins to prove their anti-realist stance about the world do not succeed. Indian philosophers had evolved a set of formal fallacies for evaluating these inferences, and Vyāsatīrtha applies them throughout the Nyāyāmṛta. Vyāsatīrtha was deeply influenced by his study of Gaṅgeśa’s Tattvacintāmaṇi in this regard, and he often draws implicitly on Gaṅgeśa when evaluating Advaitic inferences in the Nyāyāmṛta (Williams 2014).

3.4 An Outline of the Dispute between the Mādhvas and the Advaitins The bulk of Vyāsatīrtha’s Nyāyāmṛta is dedicated to using this type of critical analysis to refute the anti-realist philosophy of the Advaita Vedāntins, and he develops his theory of existence largely in the context of his critical response to Advaitic philosophy. According to the Advaitins, the world of our everyday experience, including inanimate objects and the conscious beings that become aware of them through the means of knowledge (pramāṇas), is an illusion. In reality it is nothing but Brahman: immaculate, self-luminous consciousness, impersonal, free from qualities and ultimately identical with the innermost self of conscious beings (Ātman). A deep understanding brought about by studying the Upaniṣads with a competent teacher will eventually dispel the world illusion. But precisely what does it mean to say that the world is an “illusion”? One way in which the Advaitins explained the “illusoriness” of the everyday world was the concept of “indeterminacy” (anirvacanīyatā). For the Advaitins, mundane perceptual illusions (I see a length of rope in the dark but somehow come to believe that it is a snake, for instance) serve as the prototype for the illusoriness of the empirical world. From the Advaitin’s point of view, the mystery of perceptual illusions is that we have vivid, perceptual-like cognitions of something when there is ostensibly no corresponding external object to stimulate them. The “snake” I see in the darkness is clearly not real, because then I could not later realize “This is not a snake but a length of rope.” But then again it cannot be completely nonexistent either. In that case, how would I experience it at all? How could I be duped into recoiling and running away in fear? The world of our experience is much like this. It might be “more real” than everyday illusions like the rope/snake confusion, but ultimately it too will be sublated by Brahman. So the world is indeterminate from an ontological point of view: it is neither existent nor nonexistent. (In the Nyāyāmṛta, Vyāsatīrtha usually uses the expression “the locus of neither existence nor nonexistence,” sadasattvānadhikaraṇatvam.)23 In response, the Mādhvas argued that this statement is as contradictory as the claim that “This circle is square.” The problem is that existence and nonexistence, so far as Mādhva philosophers are concerned, are what would be called “fully contradictory” properties in the Aristotelian tradition. They are mutually exclusive (nothing can both exist and not exist). They are also jointly exhaustive: everything must either exist or not exist. Vyāsatīrtha holds that existence and nonexistence are “each identical with the absence of the other.” Thus if I claim, “This thing is not nonexistent,” I am actually claiming, “This thing is existent.”

Conversely, if I claim, “This thing is not existent,” then I am just claiming, “This thing is nonexistent.” So when all is properly analyzed, the assertion of the Advaitin that “This thing is neither existent nor nonexistent” amounts to nothing more than the (contradictory) claim that “This thing is both existent and nonexistent.”24 All Mādhva philosophers disagree with the Advaitins that the world is somehow illusory or unreal. The world may be inferior to God, but that does not undermine its status as existent. Vyāsatīrtha is a realist about the world. His realism is deeply grounded in an empiricist approach to knowledge. The world really is as it appears to us in our everyday perceptions. Our sense perception, so far as Vyāsatīrtha is concerned, reveals to us a pluralistic world of discrete objects that truly exist. His primary aim in the Nyāyāmṛta is to show that this perceptual understanding of reality is not at all undermined by the metaphysical arguments that Advaitin philosophers had developed. Proper analysis shows that the Advaitin’s inferences cannot counteract this basic insight that our perceptions give us. Vyāsatīrtha’s argument for realism in the Nyāyāmṛta largely flows from two premises. The first is an epistemological premise that states that perception is epistemically stronger than inference. Inference depends on perception because the data we use to make inferences come from our perceptions in the first place. In case the two come into an irresolvable conflict we must reject the conclusions of inference in favor of perception. The second premise is a phenomenological premise about what perception tells us about the objects it presents to us. Jayatīrtha, Madhva’s most important commentator, had actually claimed that all our perceptions tell us that their objects are real (Williams 2017a). When, for instance, I perceive this computer in front of me, I not only perceive that it is a substance with certain qualities, I also perceive that it “exists.” This may be explicit (the judgment might somehow attribute existence to the thing in question) or it may be somehow implicit. But in the end our perceptions always tell us that their objects exist. If perception is stronger than inference as a means of knowledge, and if our perceptions tell us that their objects exist, then the Advaitin’s argument is clearly in trouble. Both of these premises are, of course, highly controversial, and the Advaitins had counterarguments for both. In this chapter I am ultimately concerned with examining the second, phenomenological, premise. If our perceptions tell us that their objects “exist,” this raises the questions: What does it mean to say that something “exists,” and how can we perceive “existence”? Conversely, what does it mean to say that something does not exist? And even if we do perceive a certain sort of “existence” belonging to objects in our everyday perceptions, is this necessarily at odds with the Advaitin’s anti-realist stance about the empirical world? Advaitin philosophers argued that none of the realist definitions of these key terms can undermine their philosophical arguments. The Nyāyāmṛta is primarily a critical work, aimed at deconstructing the Advaitins’ anti-realist stance toward the empirical world through rigorous analysis of their key philosophical concepts. In the end, however, Vyāsatīrtha feels compelled to advance his own definition of existence. And it is one of his most original contributions to Vedānta philosophy.

3.5 What Is “Existence”? The Theories of the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika and Advaita Schools While they disagreed widely as to how to define it, Indian philosophers in general treated existence (sattva, sattā) as a sort of property that is present somehow in at least certain things. It is impossible to understand Vyāsatīrtha’s arguments in the Nyāyāmṛta without understanding the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika view of these matters. The standard Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika view is that existence is a special sort of jāti—a “universal” or “natural kind”—that is related by the inherence relator (samavāya) to the things that belong to the first three Vaiśeṣika categories (padārthas): substances, tropes (or “qualities”), and motions. The individuals belonging to the remaining four categories (universals, ultimate particularizers, inherence, and absence) do not instantiate universals, and they therefore lack the property of existence. The Naiyāyikas postulated existence primarily to explain a certain class of judgments we make about the world. We have judgments like “This pot exists,” “This cow exists,” “The tree exists.” These are what the Naiyāyikas called “consecutive” (anugata) judgments. They attribute the same predicate (“exists”) to numerous distinct subjects. The most economical way to explain the identity of the predicate across these judgments is to postulate that there is a singular, recurring property that is somehow connected with the subject in each case, and this property is the universal known as “existence.”25 Vyāsatīrtha and the Mādhvas were also deeply influenced by the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika idea that the absence of something from some location is a separate type of entity in its own right (a separate padārtha).26 Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika philosophers argued that there are two main types of absence (abhāva): “mutual” and “relational” absence. Mutual absence is simply the difference of two things from one another (e.g., “This penguin is not a polar bear”). Relational absence, on the other hand, is necessary to explain statements such as “There is no pot in this room,” or “Devadatta is not in the temple,” for instance. Relational absences are usually temporally quantified in Nyāya thought: there is prior absence (the absence of something before it comes into existence), posterior absence (the absence of something after it comes into existence), and constant absence (the eternal absence of something from some location). Mādhva philosophers largely followed the Naiyāyikas on these points. They too recognized that absences are part of reality (tattva), just as positive entities are. In two of his works on ontology, the Tattvaviveka and the Tattvasaṅkhyāna, for instance, Madhva argued that all real entities other than God can be divided most fundamentally into positive and negative things. Like Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika philosophers, Madhva accepted that relational absences are either prior absences, posterior absences, or constant absences.27 In the sixteenth century, the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika view that absence and existence are two separate things had been called into question by the radical Bengali Naiyāyika, Raghunātha Śiromaṇi (fl. 1510). Raghunātha and Vyāsatīrtha were almost exactly contemporaries, but they do not seem to have been familiar with each other’s works.28 However, they both reached similar conclusions about existence. In his “Determination of the Truth about the Categories” (Padārthatattvanirūpaṇa), a critique of the classical Vaiśeṣika theory of reality,29 Raghunātha argues as follows:

Existence is not a single, perceptually established universal that occurs in substances, tropes, and motions, because, since merit[, demerit, God and so on] are beyond the scope of the sense-faculties, [existence] cannot be perceived in them. Moreover, we speak about universals (jātis) as “existing.” And the use of the word “existent” in respect of pot and so on is based on [the pot’s] property of occurring (vartamānatva). No, [existence] is “being-present” (bhāvatva). And [being-present] is being-other-thanwhat-is-absent. Or, it is being-absent (abhāvatva) that is an indivisible imposed property that is established on the basis of consecutive judgments, or else being-present is [such an] indivisible imposed property.30 What is crucial here is that Raghunātha does away with the age-old Vaiśeṣika idea that existence is a sort of universal, and instead identifies it with “being present” (bhāvatva). So far as Raghunātha is concerned, the term “existence” really says nothing more than is contained in the term “presence.” As we will see below, Vyāsatīrtha makes a similar move in the Nyāyāmṛta, although he will argue that there is still an important semantic distinction between the terms, because existence is only definable in terms of an absence that has been further temporally and spatially quantified. For the Advaitins, on the other hand, the world does, in fact, enjoy some kind of existence. However, this is only a provisional, “transactional” existence, or vyāvahārika-sat. From the point of view of our everyday perceptions, the world has a certain sort of “reality” relative to mundane illusions. The table in front of me is “more real” than, say, the “snake” I shrink away from in fear when what I am actually observing is a piece of rope in dim light. Nevertheless, this reality can eventually be supplanted (“sublated”) by a superior awareness of Brahman, the supreme truth, which alone can be said to “exist.” Advaitins like Madhusūdana therefore favored the definition of ultimate existence as “non-sublatability” (abādhyatva), or some specified version of this term.31 What exists is precisely that which is eternally incapable of being sublated by a deeper awareness of the way reality ultimately is. Our everyday perceptions of the world can be sublated by the deeper awareness of Brahman and therefore, from the ultimate point of view, they do not exist. However, there is no deeper truth that can sublate the self-reflexive awareness of Brahman itself. Consequently, according to Advaitin philosophers, Brahman alone can ultimately be said to “exist.”

3.6 Vyāsatīrtha on Existence in the Nyāyāmṛta With this background in mind, we can now look at Vyāsatīrtha’s arguments in the “Analysis of Existence” (Sattvanirukti) chapter of the Nyāyāmṛta. Vyāsatīrtha presents his theory of existence primarily in the context of a critique of leading Advaita Vedāntins like Śrī Harṣa, Ānandabodha, and Citsukha. At the very beginning of the Nyāyāmṛta, he presents a number of inferences that were intended to prove that the world is an illusion. I will here present one of the main ones which originated with Ānandabodha as a sample: The world is illusory, because [it is] perceptible; just like the example of the “silver”

[superimposed on] shell. (jagat mithyā, dṛśyatvāt; śuktirūpyavat.)32 A standard inference according to the Naiyāyikas seeks to prove that some quality (the probandum, or sādhya) is present through some relationship in a certain location (the subject, or pakṣa) because some other quality (the reason, or hetu) is also present there. The standard example is the case where we infer that there is fire on a mountain because we perceive that smoke is present on the same mountain. We are able to make this inference because we know that the probandum (fire) “pervades” the reason (smoke); that is, that fire is invariably present where smoke is present. According to Ānandabodha, in other words, by analogy to perceptual illusions, the entire world is an illusion, because like perceptual illusions it can be perceived by an external observer. Brahman on the other hand is pure, self-reflexive (svayaṃprakāśa) awareness, and it cannot be “perceived” in such a way. The Mādhvas found problems with every aspect of this inference. One of these problems, which Vyāsatīrtha presses in the Nyāyāmṛta, is that it is “contradicted by perceptions” (pratyakṣabādhita) like “The pot exists” and “The table exists.” So just what is “existence” according to Vyāsatīrtha? Vyāsatīrtha’s challenge is to formulate a definition of existence that meets several criteria. First, it must be perceptible. The Mādhva claim is that we perceive existence, and that these perceptions contradict the Advaitin’s inferences. So existence needs to be the sort of property we can actually perceive. Second, the existence we perceive in such perceptions needs somehow to be directly contradictory to the Advaitin’s claim that the world is “illusory.” Third, in order to validate the Mādhva claim that indeterminacy is simply a contradiction, Vyāsatīrtha needs to show that existence and nonexistence are fully contradictory properties: they must be both mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive. Vyāsatīrtha begins the Sattvanirukti by giving voice to an imagined Advaitin opponent who critically reviews earlier ideas about existence in a bid to show that, upon analysis, perception does not actually contradict Ānandabodha’s inferences. This hypothetical Advaitin philosopher follows Vyāsatīrtha’s own method for refuting an argument. He gives what he takes to be an exhaustive account of the different definitions of “existence” that had been put forward by earlier philosophers of various different persuasions. He then analyzes each definition in turn and critically evaluates them. Every definition is found wanting in some way, and, in the end, existence itself is shown to be a hopelessly intractable concept. (Mādhva): And [the reasons you, the Advaitin, have given in your inferences,] perceptibility[, insentience and finiteness,] are contradicted by perceptions such as “The pot exists” and so on. Objection (Advaitin): Just what is this “existence,” which is [putatively] established by perception? Is it— (1) the highest natural kind or, (2) The state of being different from what does not exist or, (3) Practical efficacy or, (4) Being the object of an episode of knowledge or, (5) Having the capacity to be an object of [an episode of knowledge] or, (6) Not being an object of an episode of error

or, (7) [Something’s] not being the counterpositive33 of a negation that occurs in that thing’s own locus and at that thing’s own time or, (8) Non-sublatability?34

The first definition of existence Vyāsatīrtha considers is “the highest universal” (para-jāti). This, as we have seen, is the definition of existence usually favored by Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika philosophers. The second definition states that existence consists simply in “being different from what is nonexistent” (asat-vailakṣaṇya). The third definition Vyāsatīrtha considers, “practical efficacy” (artha-kriyā-kāritva), ultimately stems from the work of the Buddhist philosopher Dharmakīrti. As Vyāsatīrtha interprets it, it states that existence is simply a matter of practical efficacy. Vyāsatīrtha’s hypothetical Advaitin opponent dismisses these first three definitions summarily by citing the formal charge that they “prove what [I, the Advaitin] already accept” (siddha-sādhana).35 The definition of existence given must obviously truly contradict the Advaitin’s claim of illusoriness. Advaitin philosophers often accepted the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika view of reality as a provisionally valid description of the empirical world. As such, from the point of view of vyāvahārika-sat at least, the world has the “existence” defined as the “highest universal.” Similarly, Advaitin philosophers also agreed that the world illusion is different from what is nonexistent. According to the doctrine of indeterminacy, the world is not completely nonexistent, like the proverbial hare’s horn or the flower that grows in the sky. They also accept that the world has a kind of practical efficacy: we can interact with its objects and speak about them as we might do with the objects in a dream, even if, like all dreams, it must eventually come to an end. So the first three definitions fail to contradict the Advaitin’s thesis that the world is an illusion. The next three definitions that Vyāsatīrtha considers all define existence by reference to cognitive concepts. The first of these three definitions that Vyāsatīrtha proposes is “being the object of an episode of knowledge” (pramā-viṣayatva). Something exists, in other words, if we have a true cognition that involves it. For instance, if I make the true mental judgment “There is a pot on the floor,” the pot has become an object of knowledge, and thus could be said to “exist.” Vyāsatīrtha gives a second variant on this, “having the capacity to become an object of an episode of knowledge” (pramā-viṣaya-yogyatva). This modification is perhaps intended to anticipate the objection that there are things we will never have true judgments about but which we would still want to say exist (distant stars and planets, for instance). The major problem with both these definitions is that, according to Vyāsatīrtha and the Mādhvas at least, even nonexistent things can, in fact, become objects of knowledge.36 It is a signature Mādhva philosophical position that even nonexistent (asat) things like hares’ horns and the sons of barren women can somehow instantiate certain properties, including nonexistence itself.37 It seems to follow from this that they can therefore be the object of at least certain true judgments. For instance, they can be the objects of true negative-existential judgments, e.g., “The sky-flower is nonexistent.” Therefore, even nonexistent things can be said to be “objects of knowledge.” Both the fourth and fifth definitions proposed for existence therefore apply to nonexistent things as well as to existent ones, and they therefore

fail to define existence specifically. (Technically, both these definitions suffer from the flaw of being “overly extensive,” that is, there is ativyāpti). Vyāsatīrtha also argues that we could say that nonexistent things become the objects of episodes of knowledge in the case of apperceptive awareness (anuvyavasāya), that is, in the case of cognitions about other cognitions. Vyāsatīrtha’s commentator, Śrīnivāsatīrtha, gives the example of the introspective awareness “I am cognizing the silver superimposed upon shell” (ahaṃ śuktirajataṃ jānāmi). Here I am having an episode of knowledge (assuming that it is true that I am currently having such a cognition), and that awareness involves something which is, from the Mādhvas’ point of view, nonexistent: the “silver” mistakenly superimposed on mother-of-pearl.38 One solution to these objections would be to specify that the episode of knowledge in question must attribute the property of existence to its object. A nonexistent entity clearly cannot be the object of a true judgment that attributes existence to it. The judgment “The son of a barren woman exists” will never be true. However, the problem is that the definition now contains a reference to “existence,” which is the very thing we are seeking to define, and it therefore suffers from the flaw of self-dependency (ātma-āśraya). The sixth definition runs along similar lines to the fourth and fifth. It states that existence is nothing more than “not being an object of error” (bhrama-aviṣayatva). Existent things, in other words, are existent precisely because they can never be the objects of erroneous judgments. However, this is clearly a nonstarter because existent things too can become the objects of error, as, for instance, when a Buddhist believes mistakenly (from the point of view of brahmanical philosophers!) that the self does not exist. Vyāsatīrtha considers two modified versions of this definition which might avoid this problem. Both attempt to save the definition by specifying the property the episode of error attributes to its object (its prakāra, or “predication content”). The first is “Not being an object of an episode of error that has existence for its predication content” (sattva-prakārakabhrama-aviṣayatva). The idea is that the definition would now apply only to things that would properly be considered existent, because only an existent entity can fail to be the object of an episode of error that attributes existence to it. What is nonexistent, by contrast, can mistakenly be attributed with existence. For instance, a child who has never seen a hare might mistakenly believe that “Hares’ horns exist.” Hence the definition seems to apply to what is existent and not to what is nonexistent. However, here again there is the flaw of selfdependency (ātma-āśraya), since the definition itself mentions existence! Someone defending the definition might try to get around this by switching around the negations in this modified definition. One might try to define existence as “not being the object of an episode of error that does not have nonexistence for its predication content” (asattva-aprakāraka-bhrama-aviṣayatvam). Something exists, in other words, if, and only if, it can never become the object of a false judgment which does not attribute nonexistence to it. This applies to existent things because only something that is existent can be the object of an episode of error that attributes nonexistence to it—“The self does not exist,” for instance. What is nonexistent, by contrast, can be the object of an episode of error that does not have nonexistence for its predication content (“The son of a barren woman exists,” for instance). The problem with this revised definition is that it leads to the flaw of “mutual dependency”

(anyonya-āśraya) between existence and nonexistence. Existence must now be defined in terms of nonexistence, but nonexistence must, in turn, be defined in terms of existence. So this strategy does not work either.39 The seventh definition which Vyāsatīrtha considers is “[something’s] not being the counterpositive of an absence that shares that thing’s own locus and time-frame.” This verbose definition ultimately defines existence in terms of absence (abhāva). It says that in order to be existent, something must not be absent from the very location and time-frame to which it properly belongs. To understand why Vyāsatīrtha needs to specify the absence as such, imagine that we had simply defined existence as “not being the counterpositive of an absence” (niṣedha-apratiyogitva). In this case, the definition would fail to apply to things we would want to consider existent—pots, tables, chairs, and the like—because those things are all absent from places and times that are other than the ones they occupy. The chair I am sitting on is present in the region of space that it occupies in the present moment, but it is absent from the street outside my office and will presumably be absent from the location it currently occupies a hundred years from now.40 One problem with this definition is that it fails to accommodate parts of the traditional Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika theory of the natural world. The Naiyāyikas took it that “contact,” for instance, is a quality (guṇa) that fails to pervade its entire locus. Suppose a monkey stands on top of a tree. We would say that the monkey is in contact with the tree, but clearly the monkey is not in contact with the whole tree, but only one part of it.41 Hence, since contact is never fully present in its locus, it is absent from the remaining part of that locus. Assuming that contact is such a “non-locus-pervading” quality, it can be meaningfully said to be “the counterpositive of an absence that shares its own locus and time-frame.” Without further parsing, therefore, the definition fails to apply to contact. Given that realist philosophers took it that contact is very much part of the real world, it seems that the definition fails to encompass everything that we should want to term “existent.” What is perhaps a more significant challenge for this definition is that it seems to apply to cases where it should not (again, technically this is the flaw of “over-applicability,” ativyāpti). Perceptual illusions such as the “silver” superimposed upon mother-of-pearl and so on have no locus at all, because they are simply nonexistent (from the Mādhva point of view at least). Hence they could be said to lack the property of being the counterpositive of an absence in their respective times and places, since they lack a locus altogether.42 Finally, Vyāsatīrtha gives the Advaitin’s own definition “nonsublatability” (abādhyatva). Variants on this definition were subsequently defended by Madhusūdana when responding to Vyāsatīrtha in the Advaitasiddhi.43 Something exists, in other words, if, and only if, it can never be the object of a sublating judgment. The problem with this definition is that, upon analysis, it seems again to lead to mutual dependency. What exactly is “sublation”? Vyāsatīrtha’s hypothetical opponent argues that sublation is nothing but the omnitemporal negation of existence in the very substrate where the thing in question was previously taken to exist.44 Clearly, however, this definition of sublation contains a reference to existence itself, and we are left once again with the flaw of mutual dependency between the definitions of existence and sublation.

3.7 Vyāsatīrtha’s Final Definition of Existence Vyāsatīrtha’s imagined Advaitin opponent thinks he has shown that all the major definitions of existence proposed by Indian philosophers either suffer from fatal flaws or fail to really contradict the inferences of Advaitin philosophers. So far as this hypothetical Advaitin philosopher is concerned, he has demonstrated that existence cannot be defined in a way that actually undermines the inferences formulated by Ānandabodha and Citsukha. In response, Vyāsatīrtha must show that existence can be defined in a way that is both conceptually coherent and which does justice to the thesis at the centre of Mādhva realism: that perceptions tell us that their objects exist. However, his initial reaction is to argue that he is not obliged to define existence at all. The Advaitins are in the same boat, after all! They too seem to need to formulate a definition of existence in developing their philosophy, because they accept the claim that Brahman or the self is “existent” (or at least, that it “exists by essence”). Vyāsatīrtha thus argues that, strictly, he is under no obligation to give a definition of existence: It is said—Precisely that “existence” that is present according to you[, the Advaitin,] in the Self is present for me in the world. For, it has been said, “Whatever sort of existence belongs to Brahman, let that be present in the world also.” If [the existence you hold is present] there[, in Brahman,] is beyond determination (anirvācya), then let it be the same in the world also. For, even if there can be no determination of existence, [the world] might enjoy the highest reality (pāramārthya) by essence, just like [Brahman does, according to you, the Advaitin]. And if the “existence” [belonging to Brahman] is nothing more than the exclusion of what is false, or being by essence unsublated; and if “sublation” consists in “the omnitemporal negation in the very thing that was taken for [its] substrate,” or “cancellation by knowledge” (in which case there is no mutual dependency); then let the same apply to the world also, out of regard only to [the world’s] equality with Brahman.45 However, Vyāsatīrtha continues to grant that, in a “spirit of friendship” (sauhārde), he will give a positive definition. Here is Vyāsatīrtha’s definition of existence: But in a spirit of friendship—“Existence” is said to be: “Not being the counterpositive of an absence belonging to all times and all places”; what is superimposed and what is completely nonexistent both are the counterpositives of [such an absence]. He continues to explain this definition as follows: “Existence” is “not being the counterpositive of an absence belonging to all times and places.” [This definition of existence] does not fail to apply to [contact], since [I hold that] if contact is present in a region determined by something else, then its constant absence is not present in the region determined by that thing. Since it has been stated that even the constant absence of the ether and so on also are not universally present properties, [the definition of existence] does not fail to apply to the ether and so on.

Since it has been stated that both what is nonexistent and what is superimposed are the counterpositive of the absence [I have just] described, [the definition of existence] is not overly applicable to those cases. If [one] is of the opinion that, in judgments like “Cowness is never present in a horse” and the like, it is only the connection [with cowness] that is denied, the word “place” may be disregarded. Others, however, hold that “existence” is either (1) the absence of that illusoriness that is favored by [our Advaitin] opponent, (2) not being superimposed while being different from what is nonexistent, (3) being, [at least] at some point, the direct object of an episode of knowledge in which “being-ness” (astitva) is the predication content, or (4) being connected with time. And “being-ness” (astitva) is “being present” (vartamānatva). [And this definition would not fail to apply to past and future entities because] even something that belongs to the past or [in the future] exists at some point. Something that is superimposed, on the other hand, is made known by the sublating cognition to not be connected with any of the three times: hence there is no fault.46 So Vyāsatīrtha has defined existence by the universal quantification of absence (abhāva) across space and time. To say that something “exists” is to say that it is present in at least one location at some point in time. To say that something does not exist, on the other hand, is to say that it fails to be present in any location at any time. Each entity, in other words, has a “location-range,” a set of locations in which it is present. This range is extended temporally, as well as spatially. According to Vyāsatīrtha, something is existent if it has a non-null location-range. Something is existent, in other words, if it is present in just one location at a single point in time. To be nonexistent, on the other hand, is simply to have the absence of this: something is nonexistent if it has a null location-range. In other words, something is nonexistent if it is never present in any location at any time. Vyāsatīrtha and Raghunātha Śiromaṇi do not seem to have been aware of each other, but there is a certain similarity in their positions. Like Raghunātha, Vyāsatīrtha proposes that “existence” and “nonexistence” can ultimately be explained in terms of the concept of absence. However, unlike Raghunātha, who seems basically to collapse the conceptual distinction between existence/nonexistence and presence/absence, Vyāsatīrtha here argues that we need to quantify further the concept of absence temporally and spatially to account for our perception of existence. Does this definition of existence accomplish everything that Vyāsatīrtha needs it to? Both the Mādhvas and the Naiyāyikas accept that absences can be perceived (Sharma 1981: 135), so it seems to satisfy the requirement that existence is a perceptible property. Of course, Madhusūdana has a comeback to this argument. In the Advaitasiddhi, he argues that existence defined as such cannot be perceptible because its counterpositive (i.e., nonexistence) is not perceptible. It is a widely accepted principle in Indian thought that for an absence to be perceptible, its counterpositive (i.e., the absentee itself) must be perceptible. Existence is nothing more than the absence of nonexistence, given Vyāsatīrtha’s definition. However, Madhusūdana points out that it is difficult to believe that we can perceive the state of being the counterpositive of an absence that occurs in all times and places. Perception

only reveals to us what is spatially and temporally proximate; our sense-faculties simply cannot come into contact with the incalculably large domain of objects necessary for us to perceive such an absence.47 Vyāsatīrtha’s definition does seem to do justice to the Mādhva position that existence and nonexistence are fully contradictory properties. The same thing cannot be present in at least one time and place and not be present in any time or place, and the same thing must either exist in one place or no place at all. Existence and nonexistence, as Vyāsatīrtha has defined them, are both mutually exclusive and mutually exhaustive. Any attempt to deny that they both occur in the world, under Vyāsatīrtha’s definitions, seems to lead to a contradiction. Of course, Madhusūdana proposes his own definitions of existence and nonexistence in the Advaitasiddhi. In the earlier passages of that text, Madhusūdana argues that existence and nonexistence might well be mutually exclusive, but they are not mutually exhaustive, if we define them correctly.48 In return, Mādhva philosophers like Vyāsa Rāmācārya and Ānandabhaṭ;ṭ;āraka argued that Madhusūdana’s definitions were conceptually implausible and incompatible with the basic assumptions of Advaita philosophy (Sharma 1994: 20–2; Williams 2011: 92–100).

3.8 Conclusion Vyāsatīrtha’s Nyāyāmṛta marks the beginning of a debate that led both Mādhva and Advaitin thinkers to reexamine the basic philosophical positions of their traditions in the light of the work of Navya-Nyāya philosophers in Mithila and Bengal. The nature of existence and nonexistence was very much at the heart of this dispute. The leading philosophers who are known to have written contributions to the debate all returned to these questions time and again in their discussions. Vyāsatīrtha’s definition of existence is one of his most original contributions to Mādhva philosophy. Previous Mādhva philosophers like Jayatīrtha had hinted at a definition, and Vyāsatīrtha clearly drew inspiration from the works of these philosophers when developing his theory about existence.49 Nevertheless, it was Vyāsatīrtha who took these scattered remarks and turned them into a fully fledged theory. Through his definition of existence, Vyāsatīrtha established a definite position for his tradition on this central matter of metaphysics, and posed a challenge for Advaitin thinkers like Madhusūdana who sought to defend the concept of indeterminacy. The Sattvanirukti shows Vyāsatīrtha at work as a rigorous analytic thinker. His definition of existence is given in the context of showing that the formal inferences proposed by the Advaitins are subject to a long list of fallacies recognized by Indian philosophers. His discussion in the Sattvanirukti leads him deep into the systematic conceptual analysis of the key terms involved in the dispute. He concludes by showing how the careful quantification of absence can yield definitions of existence and nonexistence that render them fully contradictory properties. Throughout the Sattvanirukti he pays close attention to showing how his definitions can accommodate the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika and Mādhva theories of the natural world. The Advaitins had largely ignored the Mādhvas until the turn of the sixteenth century, but

Vyāsatīrtha’s work as a philosopher as well as his tradition’s ascendancy to a new position of influence in the Vijayanagar Empire ensured that Advaitin philosophers could no longer ignore their Mādhva opponents. Even though Vyāsatīrtha was one of Advaita philosophy’s fiercest critics in the early modern period, his work helped to draw out an entirely new side to Advaitic thought. His work in the Nyāyāmṛta forced some of the leading Advaitin philosophers of the subsequent two centuries to reevaluate the classical works of Advaita in the light of his own analytic method and the philosophy of Navya-Nyāya.50 There has been a tendency among modern scholars to regard philosophers working in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly those writing on or influenced by NavyaNyāya philosophy, as intellectually conservative and concerned more with style than substance.51 This sample of Vyāsatīrtha’s work shows that an analytic approach and originality are not mutually incompatible. Far from merely repeating old arguments in new garb, Vyāsatīrtha uses the resources of his tradition to draw together a genuinely new theory of existence. His work on existence helped ensure that the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a time of soul-searching for Vedānta philosophers, whether they were Mādhvas, Advaitins, or Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins. Contrary to scholars who have dismissed this period as one which witnessed the triumph of style over substance, the sixteenth century was an exciting one for Vedāntic thought in India, and it surely deserves more attention than it has of yet been paid.

Notes Sharma (1981: 77–9). See, for instance, Madhva’s Anuvyākhyāna: 1, 4.111. See Zydenbos (1991) for an argument for the influence of Jaina philosophy on Mādhva thought. See Sharma (1981: 289–99) for a discussion of this Mādhva doctrine in relation to Calvinism. See Stoker (2016: 73–106) for a discussion of the intellectual relationship between the Mādhvas and the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins in the Vijayanagara Empire. Mahābhāratatātparyanirṇaya, 1.85. See, for instance, Madhva’s Pramāṇalakṣaṇa, 39. See, for instance, the Pramāṇalakṣaṇa, 19. See, for instance, the Nyāyāmṛta, 276–7. See Williams (2011: 43–9). Throughout this chapter I have used the edition of the Nyāyāmṛta published in Bangalore by the Dvaita Vedanta Studies and Research Foundation in 1994 by the Mādhva scholar K.T. Pandurangi. The new edition of the Nyāyāmṛta and its commentaries where K.T. Pandurangi also served as the main editor was published in 2014, by the Vidyādhīśa Snātakottara Saṃskṛta Śodhakendraḥ, a publishing house based in Bangalore. The new edition is not yet complete, and a further three volumes are scheduled to be released. It contains all the commentaries found in the 1994 edition, and further includes the Nyāyāmṛtasaugandhya of Vanamāli Miśra (fl. 1700), the Nyāyāmṛtamādhurī of Mannāri Kṛṣṇācārya (fl. 1770), and the Nyāyāmṛtakalpalatā of Kūrmanaraharyācārya (date uncertain). Both Mannāri Kṛṣṇācārya and Kūrmanaraharyācārya were deeply acquainted with the works of the Bengali Navya-Naiyāyikas Raghunātha Śiromaṇi and Gadādhara Bhaṭ;ṭ;a, and their ideas featured heavily in their commentaries. These are the dates supplied by the Mādhva scholar B.N.K. Sharma (1981: 286–96), largely on the basis of the poet Somanātha’s biography of Vyāsatīrtha, the Vyāsayogicarita. See Stoker (2011, 2015, 2016) for an analysis of Vyāsatīrtha’s role in the Vijayanagara Empire. See also Sharma (1981: 276– 96) for an overview of Vyāsatīrtha’s life and historical impact. See Stoker (2011) for a discussion of the historical relationship between the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita and Mādhva traditions during Vyāsatīrtha’s lifetime. See also Stoker (2016: 73–105) for a discussion of Vyāsatīrtha’s treatment of the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins in the final chapters of the Nyāyāmṛta.

See Williams (2014) for a discussion of Vyāsatīrtha’s relationship to Gaṅgeśa and the Mithila-based Navya-Naiyāyikas of the fifteenth century. A conspicuous exception is the fourteenth-century summary of philosophical systems written by Mādhava-Vidyāraṇya, which contains an entire chapter on the “Philosophical System of Pūrṇaprajña [i.e., Madhva]” (Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha: 128–60). There are also references to Mādhva philosophy found in the works of the thirteenth-century Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitin philosopher Veṅkaṭ;anātha. See, for instance, the Maṇipravāḷa work the Paramatabhaṅga, where Veṅkaṭ;anātha refers to the view of the Mādhva school that there is a “hierarchy of bliss” (ānandatāratamya) enjoyed by the individual souls in their liberated state (Paramatabhaṅga 71–4). A comprehensive textual bibliography and historical study of this complex dispute has yet to be undertaken. Sastri, who partially edited the Nyāyāmṛta and Advaitasiddhi and their leading commentaries in a single volume, has a good overview of the major works in his introduction to his edition of the Nyāyāmṛta and its commentaries. See also Sharma (1981: 348– 91) for observations on this literature. B.N.K. Sharma, however, published an English-language summary of the work which contains an overview of the main arguments presented in the Nyāyāmṛta and its Mādhva commentaries, as well as the Advaitasiddhi (see Sharma 1994). Ganganath Jha (1917) translated some of the earlier sections of the Advaitasiddhi. Nyāyāmṛta 1: 249. See note 44 for a full translation of the passage in which this quote is found. See, for instance, Williams (2011: 39–49) for a discussion of how Vyāsatīrtha uses the benedictory verses of the Nyāyāmṛta to embed his work in the overall task of interpreting the Brahmasūtras. See Ingalls (1951: 44–52), Matilal (1968: 71–81), and Wada (2007: 24–35) for a description of the Navya-Nyāya language. See Williams (2011) for a study of some passages of the commentaries of Vyāsa Rāmācārya and Ānandabhaṭ;ṭ;āraka on the early portions of the Nyāyāmṛta. See Schmücker (2001) for a discussion of the doctrine of indeterminacy in the work of the Advaitin philosopher Vimuktātman. See also Ram-Prasad (2002) for a discussion of indeterminacy in the work of Vācaspati Miśra. For instance, in his critique of the doctrine of indeterminacy, Vyāsatīrtha argues as follows: madabhimatayoḥ rāhityavivakṣāyāṃ tu mayā lāghavād āvaśyakatvāc *ca sattvābhāva evāsattvam* iti svīkārāt, dvau nañau prakṛtam arthaṃ sātiśayaṃ gamayata iti nyāyenaikataraniṣedhasyānyataravidhirūpatvāt, mātā vandhyeti vad vyāghātaḥ | (Nyāyāmṛta 2: 568). *The edition gives the alternative reading: cāsattvābhāva eva sattvam. “If, however, what is meant are the absences of [existence and nonexistence] as I accept them, then since [I] accept that, out of parsimony and necessity, nonexistence is identical with the absence of existence [and vice versa], then, according to the maxim, ‘Two negations doubly affirm the thing in question,’ the negation of one or other [of existence or nonexistence] is identical with the affirmation of the other; hence [your position entails] a contradiction, just like saying, ‘[My] mother is a barren woman!’.” All translations of Sanskrit works are my own, as is all punctuation given in the Sanskrit texts. See Matilal (1968: 82–6) for a description of the theory of consecutive properties and its relationship to the principle of parsimony. For some historical background on absence as a category in the classical Nyāya/Vaiśeṣika traditions, see Matilal (1968: 99– 103). For instance, in the Tattvasaṅkhyāna, Madhva writes, “Reality (tattva) is accepted as being twofold: the independent and the non-independent. The independent is the Blessed Lord Viṣṇu; the rest is of two sorts: positive and negative. Absence is said to be of three sorts, since it is either prior-[absence], posterior-[absence] or eternal-[absence]” (Tattvasaṅkhyāna 60). See Siauve 1968: 189–206 for a discussion of absence and negation in the Mādhva tradition. However, Vyāsatīrtha’s commentator in the Tarkatāṇḍava, Rāghavendratīrtha, who was writing in the seventeenth century, was aware of the work of Raghunātha and alludes to it on three occasions in his Nyāyadīpa commentary (Williams 2014). See Ganeri (2011) and Williams (2017b) for an overview of Raghunātha’s new metaphysics in the Padārthatattvanirūpaṇa. sattā ca na dravyaguṇakarmavṛttir ekā pratyakṣasiddhā jātiḥ, dharmādīnām atīndriyatvena tatra pratyakṣāyogāt; jātyādāv api sadvyavahārāc ca | ghaṭ;ādau sadvyavahāraś ca vartamānatvanibandhanaḥ | kiṃ tu bhāvatvaṃ tat | tac cābhāvānyatvam | abhāvatvam eva vānugatapratyayasiddho ’khaṇḍopādhiḥ; bhāvatvaṃ vākhaṇḍopādhiḥ | (Padārthatattvanirūpaṇa 48–9.) See Williams (2011: 89–92) for a discussion of Madhusūdana’s definitions of existence and nonexistence. See also Pellegrini (2011) for a discussion of Madhusūdana’s views on existence in the Advaitasiddhi. Nyāyāmṛta 1: 24. Cf. Ānandabodha’s Nyāyadīpāvalī 1. “Counterpositive” (pratiyogin) is a technical term Vyāsatīrtha derives from Navya-Nyāya philosophy. The counterpositive of some absence is the absentee itself. For instance, if we were to refer to “the absence of a pot,” then the counterpositive of the absence in question is the pot itself. san ghaṭ;a ity ādipratyakṣabādhitāś ca dṛśyatvādayaḥ | nanu kim idaṃ sattvam, yat pratyakṣasiddham—(1) parajātir vā? (2) asadvailakṣaṇyaṃ vā? (3) arthakriyākāritvaṃ vā? (4) pramāviṣayatvaṃ vā? (5) tadyogyatvaṃ vā? (6)

bhramāviṣayatvaṃ vā? (7) svasamānādhikaraṇasvasamānakālīnaniṣedhāpratiyogitvaṃ vā? (8) abādhyatvaṃ vā? (Nyāyāmṛta 1: 248.) K.T. Pandurangi’s 1994 edition of the Nyāyāmṛta here reads nādyaḥ, siddhasādhanāt (“The first [definition of existence] is not tenable, because [it] proves something that is already established”) (Nyāyāmṛta 1: 248). This seems to be faulty because Vyāsatīrtha in that case presents no objection to the second and third definitions of existence proposed here. I have followed the reading nādyāḥ, siddhasādhanāt (“The first [three definitions of existence] are not tenable, because [they] prove something that is already established”) found in Sastri’s 1934 edition of the Nyāyāmṛta (629). This reading seems to be confirmed by Śrīnivāsatīrtha (Nyāyāmṛtaprakāśa 1: 272). na cathurthaḥ, asati pramāṇāpravṛttyā tadviṣayatvāt prāk sattvasya vaktavyatayā, tasya sattvād anyatvāt | asato ’pi vyavasāyadvārā sākṣāc cāsattvaprakārakapramāviṣayatvāc ca | sattvaprakārakapramāviṣayatve cātmāśrayāt | asattvāprakārakapramāviṣayatve cāsattvasya sattvanirūpyatvenānyonyāśrayāt | (Nyāyāmṛta 1: 248). “The fourth [definition of existence] is untenable, because, since the means of knowledge do not function in regard to what is nonexistent, [one] must refer to ‘existence’ prior to the state of being an object [of the means of knowledge], and hence it [i.e., ‘being an object of an episode of knowledge’] is something other than existence. And [the fourth definition is wrong] because what is nonexistent too can be the object of an episode of knowledge that predicates nonexistence [to it] either through introspection or directly. Moreover, [the definition fails] because, [even] if [the definition is modified to be,] ‘Being an object of an episode of knowledge that has existence for its predication content,’ then there is the flaw of self-dependency. Moreover, [the definition fails] because [even] if [the definition is modified to be,] ‘Being an object of an episode of knowledge that does not have existence for its predication content,’ then since nonexistence itself must be defined through existence, there is mutual dependency.” These are technically termed “locus-free” qualities, or qualities whose locus is nonexistent (asadāśrayadharma). The concept of locus-free qualities is already present in the works of Jayatīrtha (see below, note 45), but Vyāsatīrtha developed this concept significantly in the Tarkatāṇḍava, in response to Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika arguments about empty terms. See Siauve 1968: 189–206 for a discussion of empty terms in the Mādhva tradition. śuktirajatam ahaṃ jānāmīti vyavasāyadvārāsato ’py anuvyavasāyaviṣayatvād asaty ativyāptiḥ | (Nyāyāmṛtaprakāśa 1: 272.) “By means of the apperception, ‘I am cognizing the shell-silver,’ even what is nonexistent can be the object of apperception; hence [the definition of existence as ‘being the object of an episode of knowledge’] is overly applicable to what is nonexistent.” na ṣaṣṭ;haḥ, sato ’py asattvaprakārakabhramaviṣayatvāt | sattvaprakārakabhramāviṣayatve cātmāśrayāt | asattvāprakārakabhramāviṣayatve cānyonyāśrayāt | (Nyāyāmṛta 1: 248.) “Nor is the sixth [definition of existence] tenable, because what is existent too can be the object of an erroneous judgment that has nonexistence for its predication content. Moreover, [the sixth definition of existence fails] because [even] if [existence is defined as] ‘not being the object of an erroneous judgment that has existence for its predication content,’ there is the flaw of self-dependency. Moreover, [the sixth definition of existence fails] because [even] if [existence is defined as] ‘not being the object of an erroneous judgment that has nonexistence for its predication content,’ there is the flaw of mutual dependency.” My reconstruction here is based largely on Śrīnivāsatīrtha’s explanation of this passage. Cf. Nyāyāmṛtaprakāśa, 1: 272. Technically, contact is said to be “the counterpositive of a constant absence that is collocated with [its own] counterpositive” (pratiyogisamānādhikaraṇātyantābhāvapratiyogin). See Ingalls (1951: 73–4) for a discussion of how the Navya-Naiyāyikas treat qualities of “incomplete-occurrence” (avyāpyavṛttidharmas). na saptamaḥ, saṃyogādāv avyāpteḥ | śuktirūpyāder adhikaraṇādyabhāvenātivyāpteś ca | (Nyāyāmṛta 1: 248.) “Nor is the seventh [definition of existence as ‘something’s not being the counterpositive of a negation that occurs in that thing’s own locus and at that thing’s own time’] tenable, because it fails to apply to contact [and other non-locus-pervading properties]. And [it] is overly applicable to the silver superimposed on shell and other [illusory objects] since they lack a locus and so on.” For instance, in his defense of the concept of indeterminacy early on in the Advaitasiddhi, Madhusūdana defines existence as: omnitemporal-non-sublatability (trikālābādhyatva). See Nyāyāmṛta 1: 54. nāpy aṣṭ;amaḥ | bādhasya pratipannopādhau traikālikasattvaniṣedhatvenānyonyāśrayāt | (Nyāyāmṛta 1: 248.) “Nor is the eighth [definition of existence as ‘non-sublatability’] tenable. For, since sublation itself consists in ‘the omnitemporal negation of existence (sattva) in what was taken for [its] substrate,’ there is the flaw of mutual dependency.” ucyate tavātmani yat sattvam, tad eveha mama | uktaṃ hi—yādṛśaṃ brahmaṇaḥ sattvam, tādṛśaṃ syāj jagaty api / iti | tatra tad anirvācyaṃ ced, ihāpi tathāstu | sattvānirvacane ’pi tad vad eva svarūpapāramārthyopapatteḥ | yadi ca tatrānṛtavyāvṛttimātram, abādhitasvarūpaṃ vā sattvam; bādhaś ca pratipannopādhau traikālikaniṣedhaḥ, jñānena nivṛttir veti nānyonyāśrayaḥ; tarhīhāpi tathāstu, brahmasāmyasyaivāpekṣitatvāt | (Nyāyāmṛta 1: 249.) suhārde tu—trikālasarvadeśīyaniṣedhāpratiyogitā / sattocyate ’dhyastatucche taṃ prati pratiyoginī // sarvadeśakālasambandhaniṣedhāpratiyogitvaṃ sattvam | yadavacchinne saṃyogaḥ, tadavacchinne tadatyantābhāvo neti

na tatrāvyaptiḥ | gaganāder apy atyantābhāvaḥ kevalānvayī nety uktatvān na gaganādāv avyāptiḥ | tuccham adhyastaṃ coktapratiṣedhapratiyogīty uktatvān nātivyāptir api | aśve gotvaṃ kadā cid api nāstīty ādau tatsaṃsarga eva niṣidhyata iti mate deśapadam anapekṣitam | ke cit tu— parābhipretamithyātvābhāvo vā, asadvilakṣaṇatve saty anāropitatvaṃ vā, astitvaprakārakapramāṃ prati kadā cit sākṣādviṣayatvaṃ vā, kālasambandhitvaṃ vā sattvam | astitvaṃ ca vartamānatvam | atītādir api kadā cid vartata eva | āropitaṃ tu kālatrayāsambandhitvena bādhabodhitam iti na doṣa ity āhuḥ | (Nyāyāmṛta 1: 249.) Vyāsatīrtha is here elaborating considerably on remarks about existence by Jayatīrtha. For instance, in the Tattvoddyotaṭ;īkā, Jayatīrtha argues: “Objection (Advaitin): … If the word mithyā does not refer to what is indeterminate, then [you] must specify what it means. Reply (Mādhva): True enough! We say [that it means] “nonexistent.” Objection (Advaitin): In that case it follows that [the word mithyā] is meaningless! For [one] cannot [say] “What is nonexistent exists” (asad asti), because [that is] contradictory. And if [the word mithyā] is meaningless, then it cannot be a word at all. Reply (Mādhva): Wrong! Because there is nonexistence in the form of “being the counterpositive of a constant absence.” For, the statement “[It is] mithyā” does not mean “[It is] a hare’s horn” or so on. For then [one] would not [say] “The hare’s horn is mithyā.” So what [does it mean]? “It does not exist.” And so the [sublating judgment] “The silver is in fact mithyā” (mithyā eva rajatam) means “There is the constant absence of silver.” Objection (Advaitin): How can something that itself is nonexistent have the quality of being a counterpositive? Reply (Mādhva): Why do you ask “how”? For, unlike [the trope] color and so on, the state of being a counterpositive does not depend on the existence of its locus. For, “being a counterpositive” is nothing more than “being an object of a cognition that is conducive to a cognition of an absence.” And we shall demonstrate [later in this work] that there can be a cognition even of what does not exist. nanu … anirvacanīyasya yadi na mithyāśabdo vācakas tarhi tadvācyaṃ vācyam | satyam | asad iti brūmaḥ | evaṃ tarhi nirarthaka iti prāptam | na hy asad astīti sambhavati, vyāhatatvāt | nirarthakatve ca padatvavyāghāta iti cet, maivam | atyantābhāvapratiyogitvalakṣaṇasyāsattvasya vidyamānatvāt | na hi mithyety asya śaśaviṣāṇādikam ity arthaḥ | tathā sati śaśaviṣāṇaṃ mithyeti na syāt | kiṃ nāma? tan nāstīti | tathā ca mithyaiva rajatam ity asya nāsti rajatam, rajatātyantābhāvo ’sti ity arthaḥ | svayam asataḥ kathaṃ pratiyogitvam iti cet, kim iha katham? na hi pratiyogitvaṃ rūpādivad dharmisattāsāpekṣam, abhāvajñānopayogijñānaviṣayatāmātrasya pratiyogitvatvāt | asato ’pi pratītim upapādayiṣyāmaḥ | (Tattvoddyotaṭ;īkā 32). In the Advaitasiddhi, Madhusūdana argues as follows: “If it is argued [that ‘nonexistence’ can be defined as ‘being the counterpositive of an absence that occurs in all times and places,’ and ‘existence’ can be defined as not being the counterpositive of such an absence] then [you are] wrong! For the visual faculty and [the other sense-faculties] cannot apprehend existence so-defined, consisting as it does of so many things that are not accessible to the visual faculty and [the other sense-faculties]. For, something’s being the counterpositive of an absence that (1) belongs to all places and times, (2) has something that occurs [in at least one other thing] for its counterpositive, and (3) which occurs completely [in its locus] is never perceptible, by virtue of which its absence would be perceptible. For, even if we get rid of the qualifications ‘has something that occurs [in at least one other thing] for its counterpositive’ and ‘occurring completely [in its locus,’ which are attached to the word ‘absence’ in the definition], the properties of occurring in all places and occurring in all times are not accessible [to the sense-faculties].” iti cet, na; cakṣurādyayogyānekapadārthaghaṭ;itatvenaitādṛśasattvasya grahaṇe cakṣurāder asāmarthyāt | na hi sarvadeśīyatraikālikavṛttimatpratiyogikavyāpyavṛttiniṣedhapratiyogitvaṃ kasyāpi pratyakṣam, yena tadabhāvaḥ pratyakṣo bhavet | vṛttimatpratiyogikatvavyāpyavṛttitvaparityāge ’pi sarvadeśīyatvatraikālikatvayor ayogyatvāt | (Advaitasiddhi 1: 251.) See, for instance, Advaitasiddhi 1: 54. See note 45. See Sastri’s 1934 edition of the Nyāyāmṛta (89) for more on the life and education of the Advaitin philosopher Gauḍa Brahmānanda. See, for instance, Jonardon Ganeri’s study of Raghunātha Śiromaṇi’s new metaphysics (Ganeri 2011).

References Primary Sources in Indic Languages Advaitasiddhi of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī (1994), in Nyāyāmṛtam of Vyāsatīrtha, ed. K.T. Pandurangi, 3 vols., Bangalore: Dvaita Vedanta Studies and Research Foundation. Anuvyākhyāna of Ānandatīrtha [= Madhva] (1969), in Sarvamūlagranthāḥ, vol.1: Prasthānatrayī, ed. Bannanje Govindacharya, Udupi: Akhila Bhārata Mādhva Mahā Maṇḍala. Mahābhāratatātparyanirṇaya of Madhva (1891), ed. Uddhavācārya Aināpure & Vāsudevācārya Aināpure, Mumbai:

Gaṇapatakṛṣṇājī Mudrālayam. Nyāyadīpāvalī of Ānandabodha (1907), in Nyāyamakaranda: A Treatise on Vedānta Philosophy with a Commentary by Chitsukh Muni, Pramāṇamālā and Nyāyadīpāvalī, ed. Balarama Udasina, Benares: Vidyavilasa Press. Nyāyāmṛta of Vyāsatīrtha (1994), in Nyāyāmṛtam of Vyāsatīrtha, ed. K.T. Pandurangi, 3 vols., Bangalore: Dvaita Vedanta Studies and Research Foundation. Nyāyāmṛta of Vyāsatīrtha and Advaitasiddhi of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī (1934), Nyāyāmṛta & Advaitasiddhi with Seven Commentaries, ed. Anantakrishna Sastri, Calcutta: Metropolitan Printing and Publishing House. Nyāyāmṛtaprakāśa of Śrīnivāsatīrtha (1994), in Nyāyāmṛtam of Vyāsatīrtha, ed. K.T. Pandurangi, 3 vols., Bangalore: Dvaita Vedanta Studies and Research Foundation. Nyāyāmṛtataraṅginī of Vyāsa Rāmācārya (1994), in Nyāyāmṛtam of Vyāsatīrtha, ed. K.T. Pandurangi, 3 vols., Bangalore: Dvaita Vedanta Studies and Research Foundation. Padārthatattvanirūpaṇa of Raghunātha Śiromaṇi (1915), in Padārthatattvanirūpaṇa of Raghunātha Śiromaṇi, ed. V.P. Dvivedi, Varanasi: Maha Mandalayantralaya. Paramatabhaṅga of Vedānta Deśika (1979), in Paramatabhaṅga, ed. V. Narayanacarya, Madras: Rathnam Press. Pramāṇalakṣaṇa of Ānandatīrtha [= Madhva] (2013), ed. Śoṣagiri Ācārya, Bangalore: Pūrṇaprajñasaṃśodhanamandiram. Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha of Sāyaṇa Mādhava (1978), in Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha, ed. Vasudev Shastri Abhyankar, Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Tattvasaṅkhyāna of Ānandatīrtha [= Madhva] (1974), in Sarvamūlagranthāḥ, vol. 5: Saṅkīrṇagranthas, Prakaraṇas, Ācārya Granthas and Stotras, ed. Bannanje Govindacharya, Udupi: Akhila Bhārata Mādhva Mahā Maṇḍala. Tattvoddyotaṭ;īkā of Jayatīrtha (1999), in The Tattvoddyota of Madhvācārya, ed. D. Prahlada Char, Bangalore: Lavanya Mudrana. Vyāsayogicarita of Somanātha (1907), in Śrī Vyāsayogicarita: The Life of Śrī Vyāsarāja by Somanātha Kavi, ed. Venkoba Rao, Bangalore: Mrs Śrīnivāsa Murth.

Secondary Sources Ganeri, Jonardon (2011), The Lost Age of Reason: Philosophy in Early Modern India 1450–1700, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ingalls, Daniel H.H. (1951), Materials for the Study of Navya-Nyāya Logic [reprint], Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Jha, Ganganath (1917), The Advaitasiddhi of Madhusūdana Sārasvatī Translated into English, Allahabad: Belvedere Steam Printing Works. Matilal, B.K. (1968), The Navya-Nyāya Doctrine of Negation: The Semantics and Ontology of Negative Statements in NavyaNyāya Philosophy, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. McCrea, Lawrence (2015), “Freed by the Weight of History: Polemic and Doxography in Sixteenth Century Vedānta,” South Asian History and Culture 6.1, 87–101. Mesquita, Roque (2001), Madhva’s Viṣṇutattvanirṇaya: Annotierte Übersetzung mit Studie, Vienna: Sammlung de Nobili. Pellegrini, Gianni (2011), “Analysis of the Second and Fourth Definitions of Mithyātva in the Advaitasiddhi of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī,” Journal of Indian Philosophy 39.4/5, 441–59. Ram-Prasad, Chakravarti (2002), Advaita Epistemology and Metaphysics: An Outline of Indian Non-Realism, New York: Routledge. Sharma, B.N.K. (1981), The History of the Dvaita School of Vedānta and its Literature, 2nd edn., Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Sharma, B.N.K. (1994), Advaitasiddhi vs. Nyāyāmṛta: An up to Date Critical Re-Appraisal, Bangalore: Ānandatīrtha Pratiṣṭ;hāna. Schmücker, Marcus (2001), Weder als Seiend noch als Nichtseiend Bestimmbar: Vimuktātmans Lehre von der “Realität” der Welt, Vienna: Publications of the De Nobili Research Library. Siauve, Suzanne (1968), La Doctrine de Madhva, Pondicherry: Institut Francais d’Indologie. Stoker, Valerie (2011), “Polemics and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Vijayanagara: Vyāsatīrtha and the Dynamics of Hindu Sectarian Relations,” History of Religions 51.2, 129–55. Stoker, Valerie (2015), ‘Darbār, Maṭ;ha, Devasthānam: The Politics of Intellectual Commitment and Religious Organization In Sixteenth-Century South India,” South Asian History and Culture 6, 130–46. Stoker, Valerie (2016), Polemics and Patronage in the City of Victory: Vyasatirtha, Hindu Sectarian, and the Sixteenth-Century Vijayanagara Court, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Wada, Toshihiro (2007), The Analytic Method of Navya-Nyāya, London: Brill. Williams, Michael (2011), “Mithyātva on Trial: A Mādhva Critique of Advaitin Metaphysics,” PhD dissertation, University of

Manchester. Williams, Michael (2014), “Mādhva Vedānta at the Turn of the Early Modern Period: Vyāsatīrtha and the Navya-Naiyāyikas,” International Journal of Hindu Studies 18.2, 119–52. Williams, Michael (2017a), “Jayatīrtha and the Problem of Perceptual Illusion,” in J. Ganeri, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy, New York: Oxford University Press, 559–76. Williams, Michael (2017b), “Raghunātha Śiromaṇi and the Examination of the Truth about the Categories,” in J. Ganeri, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy, New York: Oxford University Press, 623–42. Zydenbos, Robert (1991), “On the Jaina Background of Dvaita Vedānta,” Journal of Indian Philosophy 19.3, 249–71.

4 Accomplishing the Impossible: Jīva Gosvāmī and the Concept of Acintya in Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta

Ravi M. Gupta “In the beginning, son, this world was simply what is existent—one only, without a second” (Olivelle 1998: Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.2.1). So begins one of the most famous passages of the Upaniṣads—Chapter 6 of the Chāndogya. With a brevity that is typical of the Upaniṣads, the above sentence is packed with significant philosophical ideas, but we shall note only three. First, the Chāndogya asserts that there was something at the beginning. Creation does not come from nothing,1 and the remainder of the passage says as much. Second, whatever existed at the beginning (the text calls it sat, a synonym for Brahman, the ultimate reality) is eternal; existence is its primary attribute. And finally, all things come from this one ultimate reality. In other words, everything—the world and its living beings—has a unified origin. The Upaniṣads are convinced that deep down, under all the labels, names, and categories that we use, reality is in fact unified. Indeed, this same section of the Chāndogya gives a striking metaphor for this unity. A father is teaching his son, Śvetaketu, about the nature of reality, and to demonstrate his point, he asks his son to place a chunk of salt in a glass of water. After some time, he asks Śvetaketu to retrieve the salt, but he cannot, because it has dissolved. Then the father asks his son to sip the water and tell him what it tastes like. Śvetaketu sips the water from a different side of the glass every time, and every time his response is the same—the water tastes salty, although he cannot see the salt. In the same way, the father concludes, the Self, although invisible, is present in all beings, animal and human: The finest essence here—that constitutes the self of this whole world; that is the truth; that is the self (ātman). And that’s how you are, Śvetaketu. (Olivelle 1998: Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.13.3) This picture of perfect unity, however, is soon interrupted—just a few lines after the sentence with which we began this essay: In the beginning, son, this world was simply what is existent—one only, without a second … And it thought to itself: “Let me become many. Let me propagate myself.” (Olivelle 1998: Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.2.1, 3) Here we learn more about the ultimate reality that is the Self in all beings: it is conscious,

with the capacity to know. But equally significant is the fact that it possesses desire—the desire to multiply. In other words, not only unity but also multiplicity is embedded in the nature of reality; the movement from singularity to diversity is enshrined in the text. Indeed, even in the salt metaphor, multiplicity is not destroyed: after Śvetaketu tastes the salt, his father asks him to pour out the water and return a while later. When he returns, the water has presumably evaporated, leaving the salt behind, and so the boy realizes that the salt “was always right there” (Olivelle 1998: Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.13.2). The water could not dissolve the salt entirely; unity cannot destroy difference and diversity. And therein lies a fundamental paradox of the Upaniṣads: How do we account for both the unity and multiplicity that is present in the world, in ourselves, and indeed, in God himself? Some Vedānta philosophers have privileged unity at the expense of multiplicity, arguing that the variety of the world is only a reflection, an illusory transformation of an ultimate reality that is fundamentally simple, formless, and undifferentiated. The most famous nondualist of this sort was the eighth-century theologian Śaṅkara. Other Vedāntists, such as the thirteenthcentury Madhva, have argued that duality is the fundamental nature of reality; there are ontological differences between God, the world, and living beings. Vedānta has been the dominant stream of theistic philosophy in India for over a thousand years, and such debates continue even today. In this chapter, we will examine the philosophical ideas of a tradition that has attempted to hold together the competing imperatives of unity and multiplicity, difference and nondifference, simplicity and diversity. This tradition, Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism, developed a remarkable theory—“inconceivable difference and non-difference”—that attempted to synthesize the positions of earlier schools, and to balance rigorous philosophical reflection with ecstatic devotion to Kṛṣṇa. The architect of this balance was the theologian Jīva Gosvāmī, in the generation immediately following Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya (1486–1534), the founder of the tradition. Thus, we begin here with a brief introduction to Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism and Jīva Gosvāmī, before diving into questions of self, God, world, and their relationship to each other.

4.1 An Overview of Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Theology “Let us inquire into the Supreme Truth, the origin of this world.” With this thought begin two great classics of the Indian religious traditions—the Brahmasūtra and the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. The former is a collection of some five hundred succinct aphorisms that have become the subject of a vibrant tradition of philosophical debate and commentary known as Vedānta.2 The latter, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, is a marvel of devotional poetry that tells the life story of Kṛṣṇa, the playful, bluish deity who spoke the Bhagavad-Gītā and is worshipped as the Highest Lord by Vaiṣṇavas.3 The Bhāgavata Purāṇa offers a sophisticated theology of bhakti that has served as inspiration for works of literature, art, and architecture throughout the Indian subcontinent. Some five hundred years ago, in Kṛṣṇa’s village of Vṛndāvana, the Caitanya Vaiṣṇava tradition brought these two texts together. Emerging from a period of intense devotional activity in North India, the Caitanya tradition attempted to weave a theology that provided a

secure intellectual foundation for ecstatic devotional practice. The materials for this enterprise came from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, which Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas regard as both the highest source of valid knowledge (pramāṇa) and the fount of all rasa—the intensified emotions shared between God and the devotee. On the basis of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, Caitanya Vaiṣṇava theologians have described divinity as consisting of three aspects: Bhagavān, the supreme personal deity who is none other than Kṛṣṇa; Paramātmā, a form of Bhagavān who enters the material creation, guiding all beings from within their hearts; and Brahman, the formless, attributeless, all-pervading reality that has been best described by the Advaitins.4 While all three aspects comprise a single reality, Bhagavān Kṛṣna is the highest divinity and the appropriate object of bhakti. For followers of Caitanya, Kṛṣṇa’s preeminence does not lie only in his majesty, opulence, or power, nor do these awesome attributes provide enough reason to love him. The Supreme Deity is above all the Lord of sweetness—a blue-hued cowherd boy who charms his friends and family with his beauty, sweet words, and the sound of his flute. For Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas, this boy Kṛṣṇa is the imperishable Brahman described by the Upaniṣads, the Supreme Self of the Yogasūtra, the creator of the universe, and the origin of innumerable divinities. Yet he is concerned with one primary task—to enjoy relationships of love with his devotees. Every individual has a unique and personal relationship with Kṛṣṇa—as a servant, friend, parent, or lover. The exemplars of service in these relationships are the residents of Vṛndāvana, whose love for Kṛṣṇa springs not from regard for his majesty, but from spontaneous attachment. The greatest of these devotees is Śrī Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa’s beloved consort and personal energy, who is inseparable from him. Kṛṣṇa possesses infinite energies (śaktis), by which he creates and enjoys all that exists. Kṛṣṇa and his energies are inconceivably one and different from him, a relationship known technically as acintya-bhedābheda. These energies are pervaded by him, coexistent with him, dependent upon him, and controlled by him. They are the source of all the variety and splendor found in both the phenomenal and spiritual worlds, and they are inseparably associated with the Lord. In other words, there is no time or place where Kṛṣṇa exists without his abode, devotees, or attendant paraphernalia. Moreover, the energies of God are dynamic and eventful; they make the divine world a realm of activity, relationships, and freshness. It is the aspiration of devotees to reestablish their personal relationship with Kṛṣṇa and recover their natural service to him. This becomes possible by the careful execution of daily devotional practice according to rules laid down in scripture. Five types of practice are considered most important for developing loving devotion (bhakti): associating with devotees, singing Kṛṣṇa’s name (saṅkīrtana), studying the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, living in Vṛndāvana, and worshipping the sacred icon (mūrti).5 The devotee who faithfully performs these activities gradually awakens his or her dormant love for Kṛṣṇa and reenters the divine realm of Kṛṣṇa’s līlā. The Caitanya Vaiṣṇava tradition (sampradāya), also known as Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism due to its Bengali origins, was founded in the early sixteenth century by Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. Within a period of forty-eight years, Caitanya spread a wave of devotion to Kṛṣṇa through much of India, particularly in the regions of Bengal, Odisha, and Vṛndāvana. Although he left little by way of written work, the movement he inspired produced an astonishing array of poetical,

philosophical, and ritual literature dedicated to Kṛṣṇa. Much of the school’s early literature was composed by the six gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, who were asked by Caitanya to systematize and expound his teachings.6 They did this exclusively in Sanskrit, despite the increasing use of the vernaculars during their time. However, their ideas were articulated in Bengali by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja in his Caitanya-caritāmṛta, which soon became the canonical biography of Caitanya.

4.2 Jīva Gosvāmī Of the six gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, the youngest and most prolific was Jīva Gosvāmī (ca. 1517–1608). To the community of Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas, Jīva Gosvāmī has epitomized—from his own time to the present day—the highest ideal of devotional erudition used in the service of Kṛṣṇa. Indeed, teachers and scholars of Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism have used superlatives freely in describing his accomplishments. S.K. De calls Jīva Gosvamī “the highest court of appeal in doctrinal matters so long as he lived” (1986: 150); Melville Kennedy, “probably the greatest theologian of the Brindaban group” ([1925] 1993: 137); Stuart Elkman, “an unusually versatile and prolific writer” (1986: 23); A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, “the greatest scholar of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam” (1987: 2.9.32); and Janardan Chakravarti, “one of the greatest of philosophers that India ever produced” (1975: 59). Jīva Gosvāmī’s reputation derives largely from his versatile and vigorous pen. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja estimates the size of his writings as 400,000 verses.7 Jīva’s student Kṛṣṇadāsa Adhikārī provides a list of twenty-five works by his teacher, which Brzezinski has classified into four types: treatises on theology and philosophy, commentaries on other works, manuals on grammar and poetics, and poetic compositions (2007: 63).8 The most well–known works in each category are the Bhāgavata-sandarbha, the Durgama-saṅgamanī commentary on Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, the Hari-nāmāmṛta-vyākaraṇa, and the Gopālacampū, respectively. Depending on the nature of the work, Jīva draws on a range of Upaniṣadic, Purāṇic, commentarial, or technical literature in his writing. Naturally, his immediate sources are the older gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, especially his uncles Rūpa and Sanātana, to whom he offers obeisance at the beginning of most of his works. Nevertheless, Jīva Gosvāmī’s importance for the early Caitanya movement was not limited to his literary output. Almost from the time he arrived in Vṛndāvana to assist his uncles (no later than 1541), Jīva was involved in securing the future of the fledgling movement, in terms of both its physical and theological assets. His name is recorded in several legal documents relating to land for the gosvāmīs’ temples. The most significant of these is an edict dated 1568, wherein the Mughal Emperor Akbar gives official recognition to the custodians of the Madana Mohana and Govinda Deva temples at the behest of the Rajput king, Toḍarmal, who in turn made his request on behalf of Jīva Gosvāmī (Brzezinski 2007: 56). It seems that Rūpa Gosvāmī had already passed away by this time, leaving legal responsibility for the temples in the hands of Jīva. Jīva also worked to maintain the theological unity and vitality of Caitanya’s movement. Ramakanta Chakrabarty notes that differences of opinion arose within the Bengali Vaiṣṇava community after Caitanya’s departure due to the lack of any “comprehensive theological and

ritualistic structure” (1985: 207). Jīva worked to provide this structure, not only by writing theological treatises such as the Bhāgavatasandarbha, but also by training the next generation of Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas, most notably Śrīnivāsa, Narottama, and Śyāmānanda. Through them, he sent the Gosvāmī literature to Bengal and Orissa around 1570, and guided the development of the movement in those regions. A seventeenth-century work called Karṇānanda, for example, mentions a letter sent by Jīva in response to a query from Narottama and other Bengali devotees. There, Jīva clarifies a matter of devotional practice (sādhanā), by stating that the regulated physical practice of bhakti should continue even when the devotee is performing more esoteric, meditative practice—a view that became standard in later tradition (Delmonico 1999: 97). Brzezinski writes, Jiva Goswami … evidently had a strong hold on both the emerging and established leaders of the post-Caitanya Vaiṣṇava movement in Bengal, as is evident through numerous visits made by not only the above-mentioned trio and their disciples, but by other important figures. Most prominent amongst these was, no doubt, Jahnava Devi [the wife of Nityānanda], who went to Vṛndāvana with a large group of disciples at least twice. (2007: 58–9) Conscious of his responsibilities until the very end, Jīva left a will detailing how the gosvāmī temples, libraries, and other assets should be managed and perpetuated in his absence. The manuscript, signed by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja and other noteworthy Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas of the time, is the earliest extant document of its kind in India (see Mukherjee and Wright 1979). The most important of Jīva’s writings for our purposes is the six-part Bhāgavatasandarbha (A Treatise on the Bhāgavata Purāṇa),9 where he offers a systematic and comprehensive exposition of Caitanya Vaiṣṇava theology, engaging in Vedāntic discourse while also building a foundation for ecstatic devotion to Kṛṣṇa. In the Bhāgavata-sandarbha, Jīva pushes at the boundaries of Vedānta in several ways: Purāṇa to Vedānta: The Bhāgavata Purāṇa lies at the very heart of Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism, and Caitanya regarded the Purāṇa as the perfect and natural commentary on the Brahmasūtra. The Bhāgavata is indeed replete with Vedāntic themes, and because it enjoys undisputed preeminence among followers of Caitanya, it provided an excellent bridge for the community to enter the realm of Vedānta (Gupta 2007: 25). In the Bhāgavata-sandarbha, Jīva provides a commentary on the first five aphorisms of the Brahmasūtra, which is likely the first Purāṇa-based commentary on the Brahmasūtra. Syncretic sources: Not only does Jīva blur boundaries of genre in his work, he also intentionally crosses lines of difference between earlier Vedāntic teachers. Jīva employs terminology, concepts, and themes from Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Madhva, the founders of three prominent schools of Vedānta, and when he sees that a particular argument has already been made well elsewhere, he simply directs the reader accordingly. He often brings these diverse thinkers into dialogue, even on issues of disagreement.10

Vedānta to Prema: For followers of Caitanya, the goal of all philosophy and practice is to cultivate unmotivated, spontaneous love for Kṛṣṇa (prema). The traditional Hindu aims of religion, wealth, pleasure, and even liberation are subsumed under a fifth and final goal, namely, prema. Thus, for Jīva, the traditional purpose of Vedāntic study is transformed, for now its main function is not to provide liberation from the cycle of rebirth. Instead, through the study of Vedānta one gains an acceptable, scriptural foundation for the experience of pure love. Unity in difference: Jīva Gosvāmī was the first to expound systematically the Caitanya Vaiṣṇava doctrine of acintya-bhedābheda, the view that God and His energies are paradoxically both different and non-different from one another. The term acintyabhedābheda is not widely used as the official name of Caitanyaite Vedānta in the early literature of the school, although both the elements (acintya and bhedābheda) are ubiquitously discussed and frequently juxtaposed. For example, Alessandro Graheli (2007) has demonstrated the presence of these ideas in the Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, an early narrative work by Sanātana Gosvāmī. The clearest statement of nomenclature is found in the Sarva-saṃvādinī, where Jīva Gosvāmī lists the names of different teachers and their schools of Vedānta, and then concludes by saying that his view is acintyabhedābheda.11 Confluence of traditions: Jīva Gosvāmī was situated on the cusp between a solid, timetested heritage of Sanskrit Vedāntic exegesis and a fresh yet powerful tide of devotion to Kṛṣṇa, much of which was being expressed in vernacular languages. His writing crosses what one might today call “disciplinary boundaries,” for he brought into dialogue four major streams of classical Hinduism: the various systems of Vedānta, the ecstatic bhakti movements, the Purāṇic commentarial tradition, and the aesthetic rasa theory of Sanskrit poetics. With training in, and commitments to, all of these traditions, Jīva Gosvāmī was able to tie them together with considerable ingenuity and yet still produce a distinctly Caitanya Vaiṣṇava system of theology. Jīva’s impact on the sampradāya is significant, and later authors engage profusely with his work. Of particular relevance for us is the eighteenth-century theologian Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, who wrote Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism’s first and only complete commentary on the Brahmasūtra, called Govinda-bhāṣya. Baladeva was closely familiar with Jīva’s work, as demonstrated by his commentary on the first part of the six-part Bhāgavata-sandarbha. Nevertheless, Baladeva developed a Vedāntic system that was distinct from Jīva’s in important ways. This was due in part to Baladeva’s former affiliation with the Mādhva sampradāya, along with the need to respond to the political demands of the Rājput Kachvāhā court under Jaisingh II (r. 1700–43). Kiyokazu Okita has provided an excellent study of the theology and historical context of the Govinda-bhāṣya (2014b), and he has also drawn some points of comparison between the theologies of Jīva and Baladeva (2014a). Nevertheless, a full intellectual history of Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta is greatly needed and yet to be written.

4.3 Unity in Difference With this overview of Jīva Gosvāmī and the early Caitanya Vaiṣṇava tradition, let us now return to the paradox with which we began this essay. In the history of theistic Vedānta, one can observe two opposing forces constantly at play with each other: unification and separation of the Lord and his creation. Vedāntic writers ensure that the world has no existence separate from the Lord, and then take care to distance the two so as not to compromise his perfection. They emphasize the Lord’s role as the cause of the world, while insisting that its fluctuations and miseries have nothing to do with him. On the basis of scripture, they establish that the world is dependent upon Brahman, and that the world proceeds from Brahman. This constant struggle between unity and difference that characterizes the inquiry into ultimate reality has been regarded by Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas as characteristic of the very nature of that reality. The Supreme Lord, Bhagavān, and his creation are closely related, like fire is to its light, or the sun to its rays. The creation and its inhabitants are the energy (śakti) of the Lord, and the relationship between Bhagavān and his energies is bhedābheda—simultaneous difference and non-difference. According to Jīva, both oneness and difference are equally reasonable, supported by scripture, and necessary; therefore, both must be held together. However, this contradiction is beyond human reason, and so the relation of bhedābheda is called acintya, inconceivable.12 In this chapter, we will examine the Caitanya Vaiṣṇava theory of acintya-bhedābheda, paying special attention to the concept of acintya, for it lies at the heart of Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta. There has been a paucity of recent sustained scholarship on acintya, with the exception of a few authors whom we engage in this chapter.13 I will argue that acintya is used by Jīva Gosvāmī in two related ways: to describe the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and his energies (śakti) as well as to describe Kṛṣṇa’s confounding activities (līlā). The former usage serves to resolve the tension in scriptural statements that alternately affirm difference (bheda) and non-difference (abheda) between God and the world, while the latter usage of acintya has the effect of deepening the devotee’s wonder and devotion for the Lord. We begin here with the ontological usage of acintya that describes the relation between Kṛṣṇa and his śakti. The analogy of fire and its light is used repeatedly in Jīva Gosvāmī’s writings and in Caitanya Vaiṣṇava texts in general.14 First and foremost, the analogy is used to argue for the innate (svābhāvika) nature of Bhagavān’s śakti. Just as fire and its radiance are invariably coexistent, and radiance emanates from fire without any extraneous endeavor on the fire’s part, so the śakti of the Lord is inseparable from the Lord, and proceeds from him as a result of his own nature. In Jīva Gosvāmī’s writings, we find a persistent emphasis on the naturalness of the Lord’s śakti, for his concern is to preserve the unity and simplicity of the Supreme. The most important scriptural proof-text in this regard comes from the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad, which says, “It is known that [his] śakti is supreme, manifold, and part of his very nature.”15 Just as Rāmānuja argued that the body is included in the self, Jīva reminds us that any concept of Bhagavān must include his śakti. Once Bhagavān and his śakti have been so intimately associated, the Vedāntist is immediately faced with the problem of the world and its vagaries. Surely, this material world

of change and suffering cannot be included within the immutable and blissful Brahman. How can a pure and transcendent entity produce, or even be associated with, something that is so opposed to its nature? The analogy proves useful here as well: the light of a fire does not possess many of the attributes of fire, such as the power to burn or provide warmth.16 Still, the question remains as to the locus of the phenomenal world, since too much proximity with Brahman would undermine his perfection. And so, after the initial unification of Bhagavān and his śakti, they must be distanced again. It is here that Jīva Gosvāmī employs the doctrine of manifold śakti. Although the unity of śakti must still be upheld, distinctions need to be introduced depending on the distance of powers from Bhagavān’s essential nature (svarūpa). Again using the Viṣṇu Purāṇa as their source text, Caitanya Vaiṣṇava theologians have divided śakti into three: internal (antaraṅgā), external (bahiraṅgā), and marginal (taṭ;asthā, “on the shore”).17 The internal energy, also called svarūpa-śakti, is the power through which Bhagavān acts in his personal affairs. This energy is of the same transcendent nature as Bhagavān, and so is responsible for manifesting everything directly related to him, such as his form and abode.18 The external energy, on the other hand, manifests the temporary phenomenal world of matter. Because of the inferior nature of this śakti, known also as māyā, Bhagavān sets it into motion but remains distant from its activities. Bhagavān is both the efficient and material cause of the universe, but only indirectly, through the agency of the external energy. Jīva Gosvāmī thus identifies two parts to this śakti—the qualitative or efficient energy (guṇa- or nimitta-māyā) and the substantial energy (upādāna-māyā).19 These two perform the creative functions on Bhagavān’s behalf and are therefore the immediate cause of the living beings’ bondage and delusion. Finally, the living beings themselves are the marginal energy of Bhagavān, for they can move within either the internal or external śaktis, although they are essentially part of the superior energy. Now, the analogy of fire and its light ceases to be useful at this point, since it does not provide much scope for introducing degrees of difference between an object and its powers. Instead, Jīva Gosvāmī shifts to the analogy of the sun and its splendor.20 Here, we can distinguish four levels of distance from the sun: the sun god or sun globe, the fiery radiance within the sun’s orb, the rays that proceed outward from the sun, and the sun’s reflection (on water or a polished surface). The sun god is like the Lord himself in his original form (svarūpa), Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa, the source of all śaktis. The powerful radiance most closely associated with him is the internal energy, by which all the opulence of his realm, Vaikuṇṭ;ha, is manifested. The living beings, on the other hand, are like the sun’s rays; they possess the same nature as the brilliance within the sun, but with less intensity, and they stand somewhere between the sun and the world of reflection.21 The sun’s reflection, with its multi-colors and shapes, is the external energy, the world of matter. The reflection is produced by the sun and depends on the sun for its existence, yet its uncertainties and fluctuations cannot disturb the sun. In this brief description of the Caitanya Vaiṣṇava concept of śakti, we have seen two forces pulling in opposite directions: unification and separation of the Lord and his energies. We described Bhagavān and his śaktis as identical in nature, and then distanced the two to

preserve the Lord’s transcendence. Indeed, the relationship between the Lord and his energies is bhedābheda—simultaneous difference and non-difference. This is because, as we have seen, the Lord’s śakti is natural to him (svābhāvikī) and fully dependent on him; at the same time, a comfortable distance between them must be maintained, so as to not impinge upon the Lord’s transcendence. Thus, both difference and non-difference are seen by Jīva as equally reasonable and necessary characteristics of the relationship between the Bhagavān and his śaktis. Both are equally supported by scripture and therefore must be held together and accepted as they are. The coexistence of difference and non-difference, of course, is inconceivable to the human mind, and so the relation of bhedābheda is called acintya, inconceivable. Now, this understanding of acintya rests on an important assumption about the nature of scripture, namely, that all scriptural statements about Brahman—those affirming difference and those affirming non-difference—must be given equal weight and taken in their direct sense. Even the contradictions arising from reasoning about the nature of Brahman—that Brahman is unique yet diverse, aloof yet involved, changeless yet creative—are dependent on scripture, for it is scripture that tells us that Brahman must have all these opposing qualities. Thus, if the tension in scriptural statements were to be removed in some other way, we would not arrive at inconceivability (acintya). Advaita Vedāntins, for example, do find another way; they employ a complex hermeneutical method in which they bestow overarching importance on a few scriptural passages concerning the nature of Brahman, naming them “great statements” (mahā-vākyas). All other statements are then interpreted in light of them. The great statements invariably stress nonduality and the absence of attributes, allowing Advaitins to relegate statements of difference and quality to the realm of pragmatic reality (vyāvahārika-sattā). The perfect and infinite Brahman is so far beyond the realm of finite and determinable reality that words, even the words of scripture, have no direct access to it. Rather, they can only indirectly indicate it: “Even the great saying, ‘He is the Self; that thou art,’ can only be applied to the supreme Self in a subtly indirect sense” (Lott 1980: 31). Later Advaita writers such as Sureśvara have distinguished between the chief or direct meaning (mukhya-vṛtti) and the secondary or implied meaning (lakṣaṇā-vṛtti) of a sentence. Statements such as “That thou art” (tat tvam asi) are to be read in accordance with the secondary meaning.22 This way of interpreting scripture, of course, is unacceptable to Vaiṣṇava Vedāntins, to whom scriptural statements describing Brahman’s manifold attributes are as important as assertions of his nonduality, since the former statements provide the basis for a devotional relationship between the Lord and the devotee. In a conversation with Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, Caitanya accuses him of covering the self-evident meaning of scripture by resorting to indirect interpretation. “You have given up the simple meaning of the Brahmasūtra,” he says, “and instead provided an imaginary interpretation based on the indirect meaning.”23 The syllable “om,” he argues, is the great statement and essence of the Upaniṣads, whereas “That thou art” is only a limited or partial understanding.24 For a complete understanding, one must also accept the statements of difference found in scripture, and be ready to hold both in tension with one another, without relegating either one to a trivial status. As Gerald Carney puts it, “the transformation of the Lord’s powers is

unthinkable [acintya] but is not a relative truth perceived differently from finite or transfinite standpoints. Instead the operation of divine powers is unthinkable because it must be perceived as both different and identical, as manifest and unmanifest, from the same standpoint” (1979: 107). It is here that the Caitanya Vaiṣṇava concept of acintya must be distinguished from the concept of anirvacanīya (indeterminable) in Advaita Vedānta. The differences between the two concepts are not difficult to recognize, but they must be pointed out in order to prevent any simplistic attempt to assimilate one into the other. The two ideas arise for very different reasons. In the case of anirvacanīya, the fundamental quandary is the ontological status of the world. Is the phenomenal world real (sat) or unreal (asat)? It cannot be real, because through knowledge one comes to realize its deceptive nature—that it is not what it seems to be. That which is real can never be negated in this way. On the other hand, the world cannot be unreal, for it is initially cognized as real, and that which is unreal can never be an object of cognition. The world cannot be both real and unreal, for the same reasons that it cannot be either one of the two. The world must therefore be admitted as neither real nor unreal. Such a state is naturally anirvacanīya, indeterminable.25 The favorite Advaita metaphor of a snake and rope makes the situation clear: When one sees a snake in the rope one cannot say whether the snake here is real or unreal. As long as one does not realise the illusion the snake exists; it is sublated only when one realises that it is a rope and not a snake. Thus the status of the snake here cannot be called real as it disappears when the real rope is seen; but it is not totally false for the one who saw it reacted to it as he would have on seeing a real snake. An unreal object like a round-square or a horse’s horn cannot be a matter of experience. (Rukmani 1991: 12)26 Once the concept of anirvacanīya is established, it gains a metaphysical status of its own in Advaita Vedānta, as a category distinct from both the real and unreal, and all objects of experience in this world are placed in the category of anirvacanīya. This is, as Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad calls it, a “major move, which generalises to a metaphysical conclusion about the world” (2002: 114–15).27 The move from epistemological uncertainty to ontological category does not take place in the case of acintya, for the simple reason that the question at stake here is not an ontological one. The ontological status of the world is not under debate, for both Bhagavān and his śaktis are fully real, and so too is their relationship. Bhagavān and his śaktis are identical—and they are different. The difficulty arises in cognising these two facts simultaneously, and the inability to do so leads to acintya. And this inconceivability arises necessarily, for a contradiction is inaccessible to the intellect in principle. Thus, acintya addresses a different problem altogether. Furthermore, anirvacanīya is the reverse of acintya in regard to the method that is used to arrive at it. When faced with the problem of the status of the world, Advaita Vedānta chooses to avoid a direct contradiction, namely, that the world is both real and unreal, and instead selects a negative approach: the world is neither real nor unreal. On the other hand, when

faced with the problem of the relation between the Lord and his śaktis, Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism prefers to assert their simultaneous difference and non-difference, instead of avoiding both. The first approach leads to indeterminacy, since the world cannot be said to be either real or unreal. The second approach leads to inconceivability, since Bhagavān and his śaktis are fully real, but their relationships (and activities, as we shall see) produce many contradictions that defy the rules of logic.28

4.4 Where Does Acintya Apply? Although we have been comparing the concepts of anirvacanīya and acintya specifically in terms of what they say or do not say about the status of the world, we should remember that the scope of acintya extends far beyond the realm of the external energy to the relation between the Lord and his śakti everywhere. The relationship between Bhagavān and his internal energy, for example, is equally inconceivable, despite the fact that the internal energy has the same nature as the Lord. This is due to the fact that the function of a śakti is irrelevant to its basic relationship with the Lord (although the distance of that relationship is affected). As we saw in the fire analogy, inconceivability arises simply from the fact that both difference and non-difference are in some way true. The clearest and most important example of this relation at work outside the phenomenal world is the relationship between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Rādhā, who is the personification of the Lord’s internal energy. Rādhā is nondifferent from Kṛṣṇa’s very nature (svarūpa), because she is his svarūpa-śakti. Kṛṣṇa cannot exist without Rādhā, for Rādhā is the Lord’s very power of existence. And Kṛṣṇa cannot act without Rādhā, for as his energy of bliss, she provides the very impetus for activity. Yet Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa eternally separate themselves for the purpose of play (līlā). She is the energy and he is the possessor of energy, and thus they are different. At the beginning of Caitanya-caritāmṛta (1.1.5), Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja eloquently describes the play of unity and difference between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa: Rādhā is the transformation of Kṛṣṇa’s love and his energy of bliss. Therefore, although Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are one person, they have taken different bodies in the world from the beginning. Now, the two have again united and appeared as Caitanya. I bow down to that Caitanya who is Kṛṣṇa himself, adorned with the sentiment and luster of Rādhā.29 This verse epitomizes the mood and impetus behind bhedābheda in Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism. How an eternal unity can exist as an eternal duality and then reunite again is truly inconceivable. Yet, for the Gauḍīyas, this is the view of scripture and a matter of personal experience in the person of Caitanya. It is the very nature of the Supreme. The mystery of simultaneous difference and non-difference is embedded in every aspect of divinity. Indeed, it is embedded in the nature of existence generally. The concept of acintya does not need to be limited to Bhagavān and his śaktis. In the Bhagavat-sandarbha, Jīva Gosvāmī points out that the relationship between any object and its energy is inconceivable to the mind. He quotes yet again from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.3.2): “O best of ascetics, the śaktis of all beings are outside the range of reasoned knowledge. Therefore Brahman’s natural śaktis,

such as creation, are also such—just like the heat of fire.”30 Kapoor explains: We cannot think of fire without the power of burning; similarly, we cannot think of the power of burning without fire. Both are identical. Fire is nothing except that which burns; the power of burning is nothing except fire in action. At the same time, fire and its power of burning are not absolutely the same. If they were absolutely the same, there would be no sense in … saying “fire burns.” It would be enough to say “fire.” “Fire burns” would involve needless repetition, for “fire” would mean the same thing as “burns.” Besides, if there were no difference between fire and its power, it would not be possible to neutralise the power of burning in fire by means of medicines or mantra, without making fire disappear altogether. (1977: 153) Thus, two contradictory relations can be shown at once: fire is identical to its power of burning, and it is distinct. The same reasoning could be applied to any object and its power— the cooling effect of water, the sterilizing ability of the sun, or the power of the atom. In his commentary on this Viṣṇu Purāṇa verse, Śrīdhara Svāmī offers the example of powerful gems and mantras.31 What, then, is distinctive about the powers of Bhagavān? Is he too like an object of this world? Certainly, we cannot infer the nature of the Lord’s śaktis from the śaktis of material things, for the Lord is transcendent and therefore unlike anything in the temporal world. Indeed, the Brahmasūtra makes it clear that the nature of Brahman is accessible only through scriptural testimony (śabda), and not by logic (tarka) or inference (anumāna). We have already noted that it is the statements of scripture that provide the contradiction necessary to arrive at acintya. Yet, the question still remains as to whether the Caitanya Vaiṣṇava concept of acintya is in some way uniquely applicable to Bhagavān. The answer to this question has been a source of some disagreement between two respected Gauḍīya scholars, Radha Govinda Nath and O.B.L. Kapoor. On the strength of the Viṣṇu Purāṇa verse quoted above, Nath (2000) believes that acintya-bhedābheda applies in general to the relation between any object and its śakti. Kapoor, by contrast, argues that this general application is only a secondary extension of acintya-bhedābheda, which applies primarily to Brahman’s śakti. He gives two reasons for his claim: Firstly, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmin has expounded the doctrine of Acintya-bhedābheda in the context of the problem of relation between God and the world, and not in the context of the problem of relation between objects and their powers in general … Secondly, if the doctrine of Acintya-bhedābheda was taken to imply the Acintya-śakti of objects in general, the relation of difference and non-difference between God and the world would no doubt proceed as a deduction from the general rule. But the problem of preserving God’s purity in spite of His relation with the world would still remain unsolved … It is only the acintya-śakti of God that can reconcile transcendence with immanence. (1977: 158) The issue does not settle itself so easily, however. While it is true that Jīva Gosvāmī’s

primary concern is the relation between Bhagavān and his śaktis, there is nothing to rule out the possibility that he sees that relation as a particular instance of a more general relational inconceivability. Certainly, such a broader view would not have detracted from his main thesis regarding Bhagavān’s śakti. Regarding Kapoor’s second argument, we may recall that it was precisely in an attempt to preserve Bhagavān’s purity in the face of a changing world that the relation of bhedābheda arose. The inconceivable character of this relation provides for both transcendence (difference) and immanence (non-difference), in as much as fire is both different and non-different from its light. I do not find enough evidence in Jīva Gosvāmī’s writings to rule out either Kapoor’s or Nath’s views on the ontological scope of acintya. There is, in fact, strong support for the view that Bhagavān’s śaktis are unique, but in a way that is quite different from what Kapoor or Nath were seeking. Through much of Caitanya Vaiṣṇava literature, Bhagavān’s śaktis are regarded as unique because of their extraordinary function or operation. The Lord’s energies are inconceivable because they are inconceivable in their working: they produce wondrous creations, accomplish herculean tasks, and display endless variety. This seems to be a usage of acintya that is very different from what we have been exploring so far. Indeed, in Caitanyaite literature, acintya is used much more often to describe the workings of Bhagavān’s śakti than to describe the relation between śaktis. A survey of the Caitanyacaritāmṛta reveals that around 90 percent of references to inconceivable energy (“acintyaśakti” or “acintya-prabhāva”) have to do with the Lord’s ability to perform wonderful feats. There is an element of contradiction here too, but it is the impossibility of the Lord’s activities and character, which defy the rules of logic and the limits of human comprehension. A good illustration of this usage of acintya is in relation to the person of Caitanya, who is regarded as Kṛṣṇa himself, but in the mood of his devotee, Rādhā. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja makes note of the paradox: Thus, the Lord himself accepts the sentiment of the cowherd maidens (gopīs) and addresses Kṛṣṇa, “O lord of my life!” He is Kṛṣṇa; he is a gopī—this is a great contradiction. The inconceivable character of the Lord is very difficult to comprehend. One should not apply logic or have doubts in this regard. It is the inconceivable śakti of Kṛṣṇa—this is my verdict. The joyful activities of Kṛṣṇa Caitanya are inconceivable and amazing. Wonderful is his mood! Wonderful are his qualities! Wonderful is his behavior! That sinful person who does not accept this due to logic will cook in the Kumbhīpāka hell. For him there is no deliverance.32 Kṛṣṇadāsa next quotes a verse from the Mahābhārata that is used by both Rūpa Gosvāmī and Jīva to explain the concept of acintya: “Indeed, one should not apply logic to those things that are inconceivable. The characteristic of the inconceivable is that it is beyond the material elements.”33 In this sense, the transcendent, non-material nature of inconceivability makes it an attribute that can be properly applied only to Bhagavān.

4.5 Making the Impossible Possible

An example of acintya being used in relation to the impossible activities of the Lord is found in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja 1996: 2.13), which describes Caitanya’s ecstatic dancing at the chariot festival in Jagannātha Purī. Caitanya divided his devotees into seven groups of singers, musicians, and dancers to accompany the parade. Then, in a similar vein to Kṛṣṇa’s dancing in the rāsa dance, Caitanya multiplied himself to dance simultaneously in all seven groups. Devotees in each of the groups thought that the Lord was favoring them alone, but some close devotees could see the entire situation. They understood it as the play of the Lord’s acintya-śakti, which makes all things possible. Indeed, Jīva Gosvāmī defines inconceivability as the condition of accomplishing what is difficult or impossible to accomplish (durghaṭ;a-ghaṭ;atvam), and Bhagavān’s śakti as that which has the ability to do so (asambhava-sambhāvayitrī).34 He quotes two sūtras of the Brahmasūtra to substantiate his point: śrutes tu śabda-mūlatvāt (2.1.27) and ātmani caivaṃ vicitrāś ca hi (2.1.28). Both aphorisms occur in the Brahmasūtra’s second chapter, which raises and puts to rest various possible objections to the Vedāntic standpoint. The Brahmasūtra is difficult to translate without accompanying commentary, because each sūtra is so terse and relies on surrounding sūtras for context. Nevertheless, the above sūtras can be approximated in English as follows: “The basis [of knowledge about Brahman] is scripture, and scripture supports [contradictions within Brahman]” (2.1.27); “Therefore, diversity [i.e., wonderful, contradictory attributes] exists within the Self [Brahman]” (2.1.28). According to Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Madhva, the problem being addressed in these two sūtras is the fact that Brahman is a simple whole without any parts (anavayava) and at the same time the creator of the world. B.N.K. Sharma explains the general quandary facing these Vedāntins: “If Brahman is wholly transformed into the world, it would exhaust its being in the world of effects and there will be no Brahman left outside the realm of effects [for us] to seek, contemplate and realize. If it transforms only in part it would mean that Brahman is divisible into parts which would ruin its integrality” (1986: 394). The problem sounds quite similar to others we have encountered: one of Brahman’s essential attributes is put into jeopardy by the transformation of the world. The solutions offered in the two sūtras also follow the trend of our previous discussion. Both Rāmānuja and Madhva agree on the basic interpretation of the two sūtras. The first, śrutes tu śabda-mūlatvāt, asserts that inference or logic has no access to Brahman, who is knowable only through scripture. The second, ātmani caivaṃ vicitrāś ca hi, reminds us that Brahman possesses wonderful powers that can accomplish all things. The thrust of both sūtras is that Brahman’s utterly transcendent nature—in both epistemological and ontological terms—puts it beyond the reach of man-made means of knowing. B.N.K. Sharma expounds the Mādhva interpretation of the sūtras in language that is quite amenable to the Caitanya theology of śakti: Seemingly contradictory attributes can, therefore, be reconciled in Brahman where and when borne out by the Śrutis—without any difficulty … We hear of Agastya drinking off at a draught the mighty ocean whose other shore is beyond our ken. Why should it surprise us if God should have powers which are incomprehensible to our understanding and by which he could accomplish what is unaccomplishable by human standards? …

The mysterious powers of God are invoked here only to explain what are observed or borne out by Pramāṇas [means of valid knowledge] which nevertheless seem to be incompatible or defy explanation. (1986: 387) This is precisely the second sense in which acintya is used in Caitanya literature: the inconceivable power of the Lord to accomplish the impossible. This fact is not lost on Jīva, who quotes these two sūtras in the Tattva-, Bhagavat-, and Paramātma-sandarbha, as well as in the Sarva-saṃvādinī, usually in the context of discussion about the Lord’s inconceivable energies.35 Looking forward to the eighteenth century, we find that Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa uses acintya in a similar fashion in his commentary on Brahmasūtra 2.1.36, discussed by Nicholson in Chapter 8 of this volume: Since it has been proven that the Lord of all, whose nature is paradoxical, possesses all contradictory and noncontradictory attributes, the wise consider even His favoritism toward His devotees to be a virtue. For example, He is by His very nature knowledge, yet He possesses knowledge; He is dark-hued, yet He is without form or color; He is just, yet He shows favor to His devotees. (Dasa 1965: 112–13)

4.6 Conclusion Thus we have seen two applications of inconceivability in Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism—one to describe the relation between Bhagavān and his śaktis, and the other to describe the operation of those śaktis. The two usages are quite disparate, for there is no entailment from one to the other. They work together, however, in pointing to the greatness of Bhagavān. Indeed, the definition of Bhagavān given by Jīva Gosvāmī at the beginning of the Bhagavat-sandarbha comfortably holds together the different meanings of acintya: “Bhagavān possesses inconceivable, multifarious, and unlimited energies that are of his own nature and he is the ocean of unlimited, mutually contradictory qualities, such that in him both the attribute and the possessor of attributes, the lack of differences and varieties of difference, formlessness and form, pervasiveness and centrality—all are true” (Gupta 2007: 33). It is the very nature of the Supreme to bestow truth or reality on all that is related to him. Since he is the single, ultimate resting place of everything, and the varieties of existence are endless, we are sure to find endless, incompatible truths at rest in him. This diversity leads to the defeat of mental abilities, but also to the possibility of endless relationship between the soul and Bhagavān. Indeed, for followers of Caitanya, the concept of acintya-bhedābheda lies at the very heart of bhakti itself. Graham Schweig puts it well: The synthesis of unity and diversity in its most evolved and exalted form is indicated in the Sanskrit word bhakti. Bhakti derives from the verbal root bhaj, meaning “to share” and “to divide.” In the relationship between God and the soul there is difference (bheda) by virtue of the individuality which each maintains eternally. Simultaneously, there is always a “sharing” or oneness (abheda) between the soul and God … Bhakti is based on the principle of sacred harmony which simultaneous difference and oneness,

individuality and union, alone can achieve. (1987: 426–7) And it is here that we encounter the most profound role of acintya for followers of Caitanya: the inconceivability of Kṛṣṇa’s nature, qualities, and activities creates a sense of wonderment in devotees’ hearts, thus nourishing their bhakti. The mystery, incomprehensibility, and even bewilderment created by Kṛṣṇa’s śakti gives human beings ever more reason to love him, for it enhances the joy of līlā and intensifies the emotions of both the Lord and the devotee. This affective dimension of acintya merits further study, but we must leave it for another day.36 Nevertheless, it seems fitting to conclude with a verse from Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Padyāvalī that returns us to the same place we began this chapter, namely with thoughts of the Upaniṣads. This time, however, we meet those revered texts in a very different light (Lutjeharms 2019: 386): rasaṃ praśaṃsantu kavitā-niṣṭ;hā brahmāmṛtaṃ veda-śiro-niviṣṭ;hāḥ vayaṃ tu guñjā-kalitāvataṃsaṃ gṛhīta-vaṃśam kam api śrayāmaḥ Skilled poets may praise rasa, those rapt in the Upaniṣads the immortal bliss of Brahman. But we seek refuge in someone who wears earrings of guñjā berries, who holds a flute.37

Notes See Chapter 8 in this volume by Nicholson for a discussion of creation ex nihilo and its rejection by Vedānta philosophers. Each of the Vedāntists mentioned above—Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Madhva—has written a commentary on the Brahmasūtra. (See Sharma 1986, Rangacharya and Aiyangar [1899] 1988, Rāmānuja 2000, and Hirst 2005.) The first four aphorisms of the Brahmasūtra are regarded as the most important, for they give definitions and establish methodology for the entire text. These sūtras are rich in suggestive power and broad in scope—in a total of ten words, they indicate the nature of ultimate reality, the origin of creation, the means of acquiring knowledge about ultimate reality, the qualifications of a person seeking that knowledge, and the proper method of scriptural interpretation. As one would expect, commentaries on these sūtras are detailed and demanding; they serve as concise yet complete statements of their schools’ philosophical standpoints. For a study and abridged translation of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, see Gupta and Valpey (2017). The key verse in this regard, cited repeatedly by Caitanya Vaiṣṇava writers, is Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.2.11: “Knowers of reality declare that reality to be nondual consciousness, called ‘Brahman,’ ‘Paramātmā,’ and ‘Bhagavān.’” Furthermore, in the second part of his Bhāgavata-sandarbha, Jīva Gosvāmī assembles a wide variety of verses from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa to establish the concept of the threefold Godhead and the supremacy of Bhagavān. See Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja’s (1996) Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.22.129 and Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (Haberman 2002: 1.2.225–44). The six gosvāmīs are Rūpa, Sanātana, Raghunātha Dāsa, Raghunātha Bhaṭ;ṭ;a, Gopāla Bhaṭ;ṭ;a, and Jīva. Rūpa and Sanātana were the most senior; once they had settled in Vṛndāvana, the others were sent at different times to join them. bhāgavata-sandarbha-nāma kaila grantha-sārabhāgavata-siddhāntera tāhāṅ pāiye pāragopāla-campū nāma grantha sāra kailavraja-prema-līlā-rasa-sāra dekhāilaṣaṭ; sandarbhe kṛṣṇa-prematattva prakāśilacāri-lakṣa grantha teṅho vistāra karila“He wrote the Bhāgavata-sandarbha, the essence of scriptures. There, we find the limit of the conclusions of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. He [also] wrote the Gopāla-campū, the essence of scriptures. There, he showed the essence of the rasa found in the loving pastimes of Vraja. In the Ṣat-sandarbha [Bhāgavata-sandarbha], he revealed the truth of love for Kṛṣṇa. Thus, he composed a vast literature of 400,000 verses” (Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja 1996: 3.4.229–31).All translations from Sanskrit and Bengali sources are my own, unless noted otherwise.

For a thorough and well-researched overview of Jīva Gosvāmī’s life, see Brzezinski (1990). The six parts of the Bhāgavata-sandarbha are as follows: Tattva-, Bhagavat-, Paramātma-, Kṛṣṇa-, Bhakti-, and Prītisandarbha. For reliable editions of the Sandarbhas, see Jīva Gosvāmī (1953, 1984, 1990, 1999). For a discussion of Jīva’s use of these earlier thinkers, as well as the Bhāgavata Purāṇa commentator Śrīdhara Svāmī, see chapter 3 of my Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta of Jīva Gosvāmī (2007). Alessandro Graheli (2007: 184–5) provides the text and translation of this fascinating passage from Jīva’s Sarva-saṃvādinī. Graheli argues that the term acintya should be translated as “paradoxical,” rather than “inconceivable,” because Caitanya Vaiṣṇava authors “do not negate conceivability altogether, rather they deny the possibility of conceivability by means of humanly instruments of knowledge, i.e. perception and inference” (184). I find Graheli’s argument for “paradoxical” convincing insofar as acintya describes the relationship between God and his energies. However, the word “paradox” is less suitable for another frequent usage of acintya in Caitanya Vaiṣṇava texts—namely, the wondrous, amazing, confounding play of God’s energies. (We shall examine this usage later in this chapter.) The word “paradox” simply does not convey that sense of wonder; indeed, Graheli himself translates acintya as “not conceivable” when it is used in this sense (184). As we attempt to trace the usage of acintya in Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta, it would be counterproductive to change the word’s translation halfway through the chapter. Nevertheless, in acknowledgment of Graheli’s argument, let me specify that I use “inconceivable” in this chapter particularly in the sense of “beyond the grasp of human perception and inference,” with perhaps the additional sense of “impossible to imagine,” thus provoking wonder and delight. Regardless of the English term that we use to translate acintya, I hope that the sense of the word will become clear as we encounter its various uses through the course of this chapter. See, for example, the work done by Schweig (2002), Graheli (2007), and Okita (2014b), all discussed at various points in this chapter. Caitanya Vaiṣṇava authors frequently quote a verse from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.22.54) that compares Brahman’s all-pervading śakti to a fire’s ability to fill a space with light. This verse is cited in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (2.20.110), Bhagavat-sandarbha (16), thrice in the Paramātma-sandarbha (70, 71, and 106), and in Sanātana Gosvāmī’s Digdarśinī commentary on the Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (Graheli 2007: 197), among other places. The analogy of fire and its energy is also found in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (3.28.40–1), which compares Bhagavān to fire and the living beings to sparks. The two verses are commented upon by Jīva Gosvāmī in anuccheda 68 of Paramātma-sandarbha. na tasya kāryaṃ karaṇaṃ ca vidyate na tat-samaś cābhyadhikaś ca dṛśyateparāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca“One cannot find in him either an obligation to act or an organ with which to act; neither can one see anyone equal to him, let alone someone who surpasses him. One hears about his highest and truly diverse power, which is part of his very nature and is the working of his knowledge and strength” (Olivelle 1998: Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.8). Jīva Gosvāmī makes a careful study of causality in the Paramātma-sandarbha, arguing in support of commonly held Vedāntic views on the subject. See, for example, anuccheda 70, where he makes use of the fire analogy. The Viṣṇu Purāṇa, however, gives different names to the śaktis:viṣṇu-śaktiḥ parā proktā kṣetra-jñākhyā tathāparāavidyākarma-saṃjñānyā tṛtīyā śaktir iṣyate“Viṣṇu’s [personal] energy is called parā [superior], the second energy is known as kṣetra-jña [knower of the field], and the third is named avidyā-karma [ignorance and activity]” (6.7.61). The sandhi in “tathāparā” can be resolved as “tathā aparā” or “tathā parā.” The second option would give us “the energy called kṣetrajña is also parā (superior).” This meaning is consistent with Bhagavad-Gītā 7.5, where Kṛṣṇa calls the jīvas his parā prakṛti, and also with Caitanyaite theology, which regards the jīvas as essentially part of the internal energy. The internal energy has three aspects (sandhinī, saṃvit, and hlādinī), which correspond to the Lord’s threefold nature as eternity, knowledge, and bliss (sac-cid-ānanda). This further tripartition is again found in Viṣṇu Purāṇa 1.12.68. Verse 6.8 of the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad (quoted above) is also cited in support of the partition. There, the Lord’s inherent śakti is described as jñāna-bala-kriyā, “consisting of knowledge, strength, and activity.” Knowledge corresponds to saṃvit, strength to sandhinī, and activity to hlādinī. Each part is further subdivided according to māyā’s various functions. See Paramātma-sandarbha, anucchedas 53 to 55 for a detailed analysis with supporting evidence from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. See Bhagavat-sandarbha, anuccheda 16:ekam eva tat parama-tattvaṃ svābhāvikācintya-śaktyā sarvadaiva svarūpa-tad-rūpavaibhava-jīva-pradhāna-rūpeṇa caturdhāvatiṣṭ;hate. sūryāntarmaṇḍalastha-teja iva maṇḍala-tad-bahir-gata-raśmi-tatpraticchavi-rūpeṇa . … śaktiś ca sā tridhā antaraṅgā bahiraṅgā taṭ;asthā ca. tatrāntaraṅgayā svarūpa-śaktyākhyayā pūrṇenaiva svarūpeṇa vaikuṇṭ;hādi-svarūpa-vaibhava-rūpeṇa ca tad avatiṣṭ;hate. taṭ;asthayā raśmi-sthānīya-cidekātma-śuddha-jīva-rūpeṇa bahiraṅgayā māyākhyayā praticchavigata-varṇa-śāvalya-sthānīya-tadīya-bahiraṅgavaibhava-jaḍātma-pradhāna-rūpeṇa ceti caturdhātvam. Jīva Gosvāmī uses the jīva-ray analogy in a more restricted way in the Tattva-sandarbha:yathā janma-prabhṛti kaścid gṛhaguhāvaruddhaḥ sūryaṃ vividiṣuḥ kathaṃcid gavākṣa-patitaṃ sūryāṃśu-kaṇaṃ darśayitvā kenacid upadiśyate eṣa sa iti etat tad-aṃśatvaṃ ca tad-acintya-śakti-viśeṣa-siddhatvenaiva paramātma-sandarbhe sthāpayiṣyāmaḥ.“Suppose someone

who has been shut in a dark room of the house since birth desires to know the sun. Someone shows him a tiny ray of sunlight that has somehow come in through a hole and says, ‘This is the sun.’ In the Paramātma-sandarbha, we will show that the jīva is similarly a portion of Brahman, for his existence is due to a particular aspect of Brahman’s inconceivable śakti” (Elkman 1986: anuccheda 52). This parable describes the pedagogical method used by the Upaniṣads to reveal the nature of Brahman. The Upaniṣads point to the individual jīva and say, “This is Brahman.” However, phrases such as “tat tvam asi” should not be taken as statements of absolute identity, but only as indications of similar natures. Their purpose is to give an idea of Brahman’s nature to those born in the darkness of ignorance, who only have themselves as reference points. For a discussion of the Advaita interpretation of tat tvam asi, see Murty (1959: 91–3). ei mata prati-sūtre sahajārtha chāḍiyāgauṇārtha vyākhyā kare kalpanā kariyā (Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja 1996: 1.7.133). praṇava’ se mahā-vākya vedera nidānaīśvara-svarūpa praṇava sarva-viśva-dhāmasarvāśraya īśvarera praṇava uddeśa‘tat tvam asi’ vākya haya vedera ekadeśapraṇava mahāvākya tāhā kari’ ācchādanamahāvākye kari ’tat tvam asi’ra sthāpana“The praṇava (oṃkāra) is the mahāvākya and the essence of the Veda. It is the form of the Lord and the abode of the entire universe. Praṇava is the meaning intended by the Lord who is the refuge of all. ‘Tat tvam asi’ is only one aspect of the Veda. Praṇava is the mahā-vākya. Obscuring that, you have established ‘tat tvam asi’ as the mahā-vākya.” (Caitanyacaritāmṛta, 2.128–30). This argument, leading to anirvacanīya, comes originally from Vācaspati Miśra’s Bhāmatī, the celebrated commentary on Śaṅkara’s Brahmasūtra-bhāṣya, and it is further developed by later Advaitins. Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad has provided a rigorous study of Vācaspati’s notion of anirvacanīya, along with relevant citations from Vācaspati’s writings, in Advaita Epistemology and Metaphysics (2002: 95–132). I follow Chakravarthi in translating anirvacanīya as “indeterminable,” rather than the usual “indescribable” or “inexpressible.” Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad puts the argument like this: “So, neither the claim that the object exists, nor the claim that it does not, are free from being contradicted by relevant principles. The object is not existent; it is not non-existent. It cannot both exist and not exist, for that is a contradiction. The superimposed object of erroneous cognition is existentially only indeterminable (anirvācyameva āropaṇīyam). This then is the anirvacanīyakhyāti (the indeterminacy of cognition) thesis” (2002: 114). “The crucial move here is a generalisation to the world from particular objects of cognition that are elements in that world. The key idea regarding such objects is that they are ‘indeterminate’ as to their ontological status” (Ram-Prasad 2002: 95). O.B.L. Kapoor makes a similar observation in The Philosophy and Religion of Śrī Caitanya: “The concept of Anirvacanīya is born out of respect for the Law of Contradiction. We refuse to describe an object and call it Anirvacanīya when it seems to violate this law. The concept of acintya is born out of respect for scriptural authority, which ignores the law of contradiction. The former is based on logic, the latter on Śrutārthāpatti.” (1977: 157). At some level, however, both concepts are attempts to deal with the problem of contradiction. Acintya deals with it after the contradiction has surfaced, whereas anirvacanīya tries to avoid it beforehand. rādhā kṛṣṇa-praṇaya-vikṛtir hlādinī śaktir asmādekātmānāv api bhuvi purā deha-bhedaṃ gatau taucaitanyākhyaṃ prakaṭ;am adhunā tad-dvayaṃ caikyam āptaṃrādhā-bhāva-dyuti-suvalitaṃ naumi kṛṣṇa-svarūpam (Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja 1996: 1.1.5)This verse is part of the auspicious invocation (maṅgalācaraṇa) of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta. According to the author, this and the following verse state the purpose of Caitanya’s descent. śaktayaḥ sarva-bhāvānām acintya-jñāna-gocarāḥyato ’to brahmaṇas tās tu sargādyā bhāva-śaktayaḥbhavanti tapatāṃ śreṣṭ;ha pāvakasya yathoṣṇutā (1.3.2).The compound acintya-jñāna-gocarāḥ is difficult to interpret. Śrīdhara Svāmī (quoted in Bhagavat-sandarbha 16) gives two options: “The śaktis are accessible by knowledge that is inconceivable, i.e., knowledge that does not give in to logic (tarkāsaham). Or else: inconceivability means that the śaktis cannot be conceived of as either different or non-different, and so are accessible only through knowledge gained by arthāpatti.” To allow for both possibilities, I have translated cintya-jñāna as “reasoned knowledge” and applied the negation to the entire compound. Also, I have taken “bhāva-śaktayaḥ” as “svabhāva-śaktayaḥ,” following Śrīdhara Svāmī. It could also be translated as “śaktis having to do with becoming (i.e., creation),” but that would cause an overlap in meaning with its qualifier “sargādyāḥ.” See Bhagavat-sandarbha anuccheda 16, where Jīva Gosvāmī quotes at length Śrīdhara Svāmī’s commentary on Viṣṇu Purāṇa 1.3.2. ataeva āpane prabhu gopī-bhāva dhari’vrajendra-nandane kahe “prāṇa-nātha” kari’sei kṛṣṇa, sei gopī, parama virodhaacintya caritra prabhura ati sudurbodhaithe tarka kari’ keha nā kara saṃśayakṛṣṇera acintya-śakti ei mata hayaacintya, adbhuta kṛṣṇa-caitanya-vihāracitra bhāva, citra guṇa, citra vyavahāratarke ihā nāhi māne yei durācārakumbhīpāke pace, tāra nāhika nistāra (Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja 1996: 1.17.303–307). acintyāḥ khalu ye bhāvā na tāṃs tarkeṇa yojayetprakṛtibhyaḥ paraṃ yac ca tad acintyasya lakṣaṇam(Mahābhārata [Bhīṣma-parva] 6.5.22, quoted in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 2.5.93, Tattva-sandarbha 11, Sarva-saṃvādinī p. 53, and Caitanya-caritāmṛta 1.17.308). See Bhagavat-sandarbha 16 and 42. In the Sarva-saṃvādinī (p. 57), Jīva defines Bhagavān’s śakti as asambhava-

sambhāvayitrī dustarkā svabhāvikī—natural, difficult to grasp by logic, and that which makes the impossible possible. See Tattva-sandarbha 11, Bhagavat-sandarbha 15, Paramātma-sandarbha 58, and Sarva-saṃvādinī p. 57. The latter work is a supplement to the first four Sandarbhas wherein Jīva highlights issues of particular concern and discusses them in greater depth. Graham Schweig (2002: 439) has made a fascinating application of acintya to the realm of ethics: “Therefore, in the Bhāgavata [Purāṇa], dharma is preserved and simultaneously transcended without conflict, clearly demonstrating the acintyabhedābheda philosophy as applied to ethics: God, being omnipotent and ‘omnivalent,’ is capable of embracing and transcending at the same time (‘acintya’). This acintya ethics is observable in the duplicitous, teasing words of Krishna to the Gopīs, entreating them to both stay in the forest with him and to leave. The double-entendre of Krishna’s words is not merely a literary device to convey flirtatious affections to the Gopīs; rather, the double-entendre is engaged in by Krishna, according to the traditional commentators, in order to demonstrate the simultaneous embracing and transcending of dharma.” Rembert Lutjeharms explains this and other such verses from the Padyāvalī as follows: “We can discern two seemingly conflicting views of the role of Vedānta and of the importance of studying the Upaniṣads. On the one hand, there is a close engagement with Vedānta, particularly but not exclusively in the writings of Jīva Gosvāmī. On the other hand—elsewhere— there is an explicit rejection of Vedānta and the Upaniṣads, or at least an indifference to them … [T]hese two attitudes towards Vedānta are related, and where the Chaitanya tradition expresses its indifference to Vedānta, it does so precisely on the basis of an engagement with Vedānta, which builds extensively on the thoughts of older Vedāntists. Vedānta is thus both a means to link the fledgling Chaitanya Vaishnava tradition with the past, and a means to set itself apart from the very same traditions that constitute it” (2019: 383). Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism’s rejection of Vedānta is grounded on an understanding of Vedānta as fundamentally Advaitin. For a discussion of the complex relationship between Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism and Advaita Vedānta, see the above excellent article by Lutjeharms (2019).

References Bhāgavata Purāṇa (1965), Śrīmad Bhāgavata Mahāpurāṇam, ed. Kṛṣṇaśaṅkara Śāstrī, Ahmadabad: Śrībhāgavatavidyāpīṭ;h. Contains the following Sanskrit commentaries: Śrīdhara Svāmī’s Bhāvārthadīpikā, Śrī Vaṃśīdhara’s Bhāvārthadīpikāprakāśa, Śrī Rādhāramaṇadāsa Gosāmin’s Dīpinī, Śrīmad Vīrarāghava’s Bhāgavatacandrikā, Śrīmad Vijayadhvaja Tīrtha’s Padaratnāvalī, Śrīmad Jīva Gosvāmin’s Kramasaṃdarbha, Śrīmad Viśvanātha Cakravartin’s Sārārthadarśinī, Śrīmad Śukadeva’s Siddhāntapradīpa, Śrīmad Vallabhācarya’s Subodhinī, Śrī Puruṣottamacaraṇa Gosvāmin’s Subodhinīprakāśaḥ, Śrī Giridharalāla’s Bālaprabodhinī. Brzezinski, Jan (1990), “The Gopālacampū of Jīva Gosvāmin,” PhD dissertation, No. 1735, School of Oriental and African Studies, London. Brzezinski, Jan (2007), “Jīva Goswami: Biography and Bibliography,” Journal of Vaishnava Studies 15.2, 51–80. Carney, Gerald T. (1979), “The Theology of Kavikarṇapūra’s Caitanyacandrodaya, Act II,” PhD dissertation, Fordham University, New York. Chakrabarty, Ramakanta (1985), Vaiṣṇavism in Bengal 1486–1900, Calcutta: Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar. Chakravarti, Janardan (1975), Bengal Vaisnavism and Sri Chaitanya, Calcutta: Asiatic Society. Dasa, Krishna, ed. (1965), Śrībrahmasūtragovindabhāṣyam of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, Kusuma Sarovara: Gaura Hari Press. De, Sushil Kumar (1986), Early History of the Vaiṣṇava Faith and Movement in Bengal from Sanskrit and Bengali Sources, Calcutta: Firma KLM Private. Delmonico, Neil (1999), “Trouble in Paradise: A Seventeenth Century Conflict in the Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Tradition,” Journal of Vaishnava Studies 8.1, 91–101. Elkman, Mark Stuart (1986), Jīva Gosvāmin’s Tattvasandarbha: A Study on the Philosophical and Sectarian Development of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Movement, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Graheli, Alessandro (2007), “Narration and Comprehension of Paradox in Gauḍīya Literature,” Rivista Di Studi Sudasiatici 2, 181–208. Gupta, Ravi M. (2007), The Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Vedānta of Jīva Gosvāmī: When Knowledge Meets Devotion, London: Routledge. Gupta, Ravi M. and Kenneth R. Valpey (2017), The Bhāgavata Purāṇa: Selected Readings, New York: Columbia University Press. Haberman, David, trans. (2002), The Bhaktirasāmṛtasindhu of Rūpa Gosvāmin, Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and Motilal Banarsidass. Hirst, Jacqueline G. Suthren (2005), Śaṃkara’s Advaita Vedānta: A Way of Teaching, London: Routledge.

Jīva Gosvāmī (1953), Sarvasamvādinī with Commentary Cūrṇikā by Jīva Gosvāmī, ed. Purīdās, Vrindavan: Haridās Śarma. Jīva Gosvāmī (1984), Tattvasandarbha (with the Commentary of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa and Gopālatoṣaṇī Commentary of Śyāmdās), trans. (Hindi) Śyāmdās, Vrindavan: Vrajagaurav Prakāśan. Jīva Gosvāmī (1990), Bhagavatsandarbha (with the Gopālatoṣaṇī Commentary of Śyāmdās), trans. (Hindi) Śyāmdās, Vrindavan: Vrajagaurav Prakāśan. Jīva Gosvāmī (1999), Paramātmasandarbha (with the Gopālatoṣaṇī Commentary of Śyāmdās), trans. (Hindi) Śyāmdās, Vrindavan: Vrajagaurav Prakāśan. Kapoor, O.B.L. (1977), The Philosophy and Religion of Sri Caitanya: The Philosophical Background of the Hare Krishna Movement, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. Kennedy, Melville T. ([1925] 1993), The Caitanya Movement: A Study of Vaishnavism in Bengal, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. ṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja (1996), Caitanya-Caritāmṛta of Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, trans. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, 9 vols., Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. ṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja (1999), Caitanya Caritāmṛta of Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja: A Translation and Commentary, trans. Edward C. Dimock and Tony Kevin Stewart, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Lott, Eric (1980), Vedāntic Approaches to God, London: Macmillan. Lutjeharms, Rembert (2019), “Why Do We Still Sift the Husk-Like Upaniṣads? Revisiting Vedānta in Early Chaitanya Vaishnava Theology,” in Tyler Williams, Anshu Malhotra, and John Stratton Hawley, eds., Text and Tradition in Early Modern North India, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 382–412. Mukherjee, Tarapada and J.C. Wright (1979), “An Early Testamentary Document in Sanskrit,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 42.2, 297–320. Murty, K. Satchidananda (1959), Revelation and Reason in Advaita Vedānta, New York: Columbia University Press. Nath, Radha Govinda (2000), Śrī Caitanya Sampradāya (Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya), trans. Nityānanda Dāsa, Vrindavan, India: Śrī Harināma Saṅkīrtana Maṇḍala. Okita, Kiyokazu (2014a), “Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism on Trial: Continuity and Transformation in the Eighteenth Century,” in Ravi M. Gupta, ed., Caitanya Vaiṣṇava Philosophy: Tradition, Reason and Devotion, Surrey: Ashgate, 75–112. Okita, Kiyokazu (2014b), Hindu Theology in Early Modern South Asia: The Rise of Devotionalism and the Politics of Genealogy, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Olivelle, Patrick, trans. (1998) The Early Upaniṣads: Annotated Text and Translation, New York: Oxford University Press. Prabhupāda, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, trans. (1987), Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, 18 vols., Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Rāmānuja (2000), The Brahmasūtra-s (Śārīrakam) of Bhagavad Bādarāyaṇa with the Gloss Śrībhāṣya (Śārīrakamīmāṃsābhāṣya) of Śrī Rāmānuja with Its Commentary Śrībhāṣyabhāvacandrikā by Sri. U. Ve. P.M. Chakravarty Acharya Swamy, vol. 1, ed. Sri. U. Ve. Dr. P. Narasimhan, Chennai: Sri U. Ve. S.V.S. Raghavan through Śrī Nṛsiṃhapriyā Trust. Ram-Prasad, Chakravarthi (2002), Advaita Epistemology and Metaphysics: An Outline of Indian Non-Realism, Abingdon: RoutledgeCurzon. Rangacharya, M. and M.B. Vardaraja Aiyangar, trans. ([1899] 1988), The Vedāntasūtras with the Śrībhāṣya of Rāmānujācārya, vol. 1, Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. Rukmani, T.S. (1991), Śaṅkara: The Man and His Philosophy, New Delhi: Indian Institute of Advanced Study and Manohar. Schweig, Graham M. (1987), “Synthesis and Divinity: Śrī Caitanya’s Philosophy of Acintya-Bhedābheda-Tattva,” in T.D. Singh and Ravi Gomatam (eds), Synthesis of Science and Religion: Critical Essays and Dialogues, San Francisco: The Bhaktivedanta Institute, 420–9. Schweig, Graham M. (2002), “Humility and Passion: A Caitanyite Vaishnava Ethics of Devotion,” Journal of Religious Ethics 30.3, 421–44. Sharma, B.N.K. (1986), The Brahmasūtra and Their Principle Commentaries: A Critical Exposition, 3 vols, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. Śrīdhara Svāmī (1999), Bhāgavata Purāṇa of Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa with the Sanskrit Commentary Bhavārthabodhinī of Śrīdhara Svāmin, ed. J.L. Shastri, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Part Two Modern Vedānta

5 Sri Ramakrishna’s Philosophy of Anekānta Vedānta

Jeffery D. Long Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–86) is a pivotal figure for contemporary Vedānta. In his thought, one can discern a distinctive intertwining of both philosophical and soteriological elements of what some have characterized as “classical Vedānta” and “modern Vedānta,” as well as elements from the thought-world of traditional India more generally and the thought-world of modernity. One also finds an at least implicit challenge to the dominant materialism of the modern world—“materialism” being meant here both in the sense of a worldview that conceptualizes reality as being essentially material in nature, as well as in the sense of a general attitude toward life which gives maximum importance to sensory pleasures and what could broadly be called worldly values. This does not mean Ramakrishna engaged directly with the scientific-philosophical materialism predominant in the modern world, for he did not, but rather, that he viewed a materialist mindset itself as, at best, reflective of a preliminary stage of spiritual evolution, and, at worst, as an obstruction to such evolution. For Sri Ramakrishna, renunciation of the material—and, more fundamentally, of the ego that craves for the material—is essential to the spiritual life.1 Finally, though, and most significantly for our reflections here, one finds in Ramakrishna’s thought an alternative to the exclusivism that typically characterizes adherence to any religious or philosophical worldview. Ramakrishna advances the idea that the belief that one’s own view alone is wholly correct or able to capture the truth in its fullness is deeply inadequate to the nature of reality. In the place of such exclusivism, Ramakrishna offers instead a radical worldview pluralism that constitutes the central principle of his philosophy. Ramakrishna offers this pluralism not so much as a formal teaching; for, as we shall see, he was not a philosopher in a conventional, formal sense. Ramakrishna, rather, embodied his pluralism through his sādhanas, or spiritual practices, which drew from numerous traditions. His worldview pluralism is thus deeply experiential, and is more focused on the efficacy of diverse spiritual practices than on the truth of the belief systems that sustain and are sustained by these practices. This is not to say that Ramakrishna did not think that matters of truth were irrelevant. For Ramakrishna, however, truth claims exist in the service of paths, ways of life, aimed at realizing truth directly. Sri Ramakrishna’s pluralism is radical in part because it is counterintuitive. Clearly, it is a quite natural thing, and perhaps even a logical tautology, to say one believes that one’s own view is true. If one did not believe one’s view were true, it would cease to be one’s view, since believing a view to be true—assenting to it—is essentially what it means to hold a

view. And if one were to come to the conclusion that the view one had been holding until that point was not, in fact, true, then that view would logically be replaced with another, or with a general skepticism toward all views (although it could be argued that this stance, itself, constitutes a view, or at least a transitional state between holding one view and holding another).2 In short, we tend to think of ourselves as being capable of holding only one worldview at a given time. We can, of course, as an imaginative exercise, entertain other worldviews as possibilities. But until we are convinced otherwise, it is normally the case that we tend to think that one thing is true, and not another: that the truth of X rules out the possibility of the truth of not-X. Ramakrishna’s philosophy, however, advances a pluralism that enables one to hold one’s view in a way which allows for the truth of other views, as well as the effectiveness of the practices associated with these views. Indeed, this philosophy focuses primarily upon the efficacy of these practices. It thus affirms a deeper harmony beyond all apparent disagreement. For many of its adherents, the philosophy of Sri Ramakrishna offers hope to a world rent by conflict among the adherents of differing views: interreligious conflicts, as well as conflicts between specific religious views and either secular or scientific views. In numerous places in the written accounts of his teachings, Ramakrishna asserts that each system of belief is a path to the realization of ultimate truth. To draw a term from another Indic tradition—the Jain tradition—reality is anekānta. It is complex and multifaceted. It is thus amenable to a variety of interpretations and approaches. This chapter shall argue that the central features of Ramakrishna’s Vedānta are its pluralism (dharma-samanvaya) and its rootedness in direct experience (anubhava). As a thoroughgoingly pluralistic philosophy, Ramakrishna’s thought could be designated with the term Anekānta (or pluralistic) Vedānta. The use of the term anekānta to designate Ramakrishna’s Vedānta should immediately bring to mind, for those familiar with Indian philosophy, the Jaina or Jain position of anekāntavāda: the Jain doctrine of the complex (literally, “non-one-sided”) nature of existence. The use of this term is not intended to suggest either that Ramakrishna was influenced by Jain thought, or that his philosophical position amounts, substantively, to a traditional Jain view of the nature of reality. Jainism affirms a pluralistic realism—“pluralism” here referring not to the diversity of worldviews, but rather to the ontological claim that reality consists of a variety of diverse types of entity. In fact, I am not aware of any evidence that Ramakrishna engaged deeply with the Jain tradition.3 And Ramakrishna’s worldview, while certainly having affinities with that of Jainism, is also different enough from the view of this tradition so as not to be confused or conflated with it. The use of the term anekānta, though, is intended to draw attention to affinities between Sri Ramakrishna’s pluralism of worldviews and a similar stance developed by certain Jain thinkers throughout the centuries: a stance highlighted by modern Jain thinkers who advance the idea that anekāntavāda is an expression of “intellectual ahiṃsā,” or of nonviolence applied to the realm of philosophical discourse (Matilal 1981: 6; Cort 2000; Long 2009: 154– 71).4 The most prominent historical figure who can be seen as first bridging the gap between,

and linking, these two philosophies in regard to worldview pluralism5 is Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948), an admirer of both Ramakrishna and his preeminent disciple, Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902). Gandhi was also deeply influenced by Jain thought, even proclaiming himself an adherent of anekāntavāda, not in the technical philosophical sense, but rather in an applied, or practical sense, as a corollary of his well-known commitment to ahiṃsā (Long 2009: 165–70). The point of drawing attention to the affinities between Ramakrishna’s approach to truth and that of Jain philosophy is to begin to address a common objection to religious belief: that the great diversity of religious belief systems counts as evidence against the truth of religion. The idea here is that, if religious beliefs were true, they would tend to converge on a shared body of claims, just as the scientific method has led to a convergence and a general agreement among the world’s scientists, regardless of cultural backgrounds or other commitments, about the outlines of a shared scientific worldview. If, however, it could be shown that there are cases of significant convergence, in which persons starting from different religious orientations reached shared conclusions, one could begin to make an argument for a gradually emerging convergence among religious, as well as scientific, worldviews. The methods involved in religious knowledge being different from those deployed in science, and its subject matter being far more elusive in terms of a shared human experience analogous to the sensory experience upon which science is built, this convergence is emerging far more slowly. But significant agreement among religious thinkers from different traditions on certain topics suggests, I would argue, that these thinkers are onto something.6

5.1 Did Ramakrishna Even Have a Philosophy? Issues in Interpreting Ramakrishna’s Thought In order to argue that Ramakrishna’s philosophy can appropriately be dubbed “Anekānta Vedānta,” several points need to be established. There is, first, the question of whether it is proper even to speak of Ramakrishna as having a philosophy at all. Indeed, Ramakrishna was certainly not a philosopher in a traditional, technical sense. That is, he did not study philosophy formally, although he listened avidly to philosophical texts read aloud (Maharaj 2018: 24). Although he has been characterized as “virtually illiterate” (Rajadhyaksha 2007: 6), this is probably an exaggeration, and downplays the importance of orality in traditional Indian learning, if it is taken to imply that he was simply ignorant. He was a serious thinker. But his thought, in the extant works in which it is recorded (the Śrīśrīrāmakṛṣṇakathāmṛta and the Śrīśrīrāma-kṛṣṇalīlāprasaṅga),7 is not presented formally or systematically, but through dialogues which employ metaphor, humor, and imagery from the daily life of a typical villager of nineteenth-century Bengal, and exhibits, all throughout, a deeply religious and devotional sensibility, rather than the detached tone of a philosophical study. This does not mean, however, that philosophy is absent from Ramakrishna’s thought, nor that it is impossible to discern a subtle and sophisticated system of thought underlying the stories, jokes, and personal interactions recorded in the works on his life and teachings. Indeed, the history of philosophy would be greatly impoverished if philosophy were taken

only to include systematic, analytic philosophical writing, excluding such genres as poetry, dialogue, and aphorism. While there are those scholars who do not discern any systematic philosophy in the thought of Sri Ramakrishna (e.g., Sil 1997, Sen 1999), others (e.g., Tapasyananda 1993, Chakrabarti 1994, Bhajanananda 2010, Maharaj 2018) have not only discerned such a philosophy but have engaged with it substantively, though these latter have varied among themselves about how, precisely, to characterize this philosophy, with many identifying it with the nondualist, or Advaita, system of Vedānta. Objectively, the scholarly verdict would appear to be that the presence or absence of a philosophy in the thought of Ramakrishna is in the eye of the beholder. The best argument, it seems, for the presence of a system of philosophy in the thought of Ramakrishna is to present and engage with that system as one discerns it in the writings that contain it. Whether the resulting system is truly being discerned within Ramakrishna’s thought or is being projected upon it by the author must remain up to the judgment of the reader.

5.2 How Vedāntic Is Ramakrishna’s Thought? If it can be agreed, at least for the sake of the argument, that Sri Ramakrishna does, indeed, have a philosophy, the next question is whether it can be called a form of Vedānta. The objections to this assertion are, to some extent, restatements of the already mentioned objections to the idea of his having a philosophy at all. He is not a Vedāntic ācārya in a traditional sense. He did not compose Sanskrit commentaries on the Upaniṣads, the Brahmasūtra, or the Bhagavad-Gītā in the manner of such figures as Śaṅkara and Rāmānuja. Ramakrishna’s Vedānta is of an intuitive and experiential variety, being rooted in his spiritual practices and in the altered states of consciousness he is said to have experienced, often in tandem with these practices, and is expressed in the language of those philosophies with which he came into contact through his conversations with adherents of a wide range of schools of thought current in Bengal during his time. Scholars, though, have arrived at a wide array of views regarding how to characterize Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings in terms of the school of thought into which it best fits. It has been argued that he is a Vaiṣṇava, a Tāntrika, an Advaita Vedāntin, or a combination of two or more of these (e.g., Zimmer 1951: 560–2; Neevel 1976: 53–97; Matchett 1981: 176). Each interpreter of his thought seeks to fit his varied teachings into that author’s chosen system. To be sure, Ramakrishna did draw upon all these schools of thought, and others, when he expressed his views. Does this fact point to confusion and lack of systematicity in his thought, as those who deny that he had a coherent philosophy at all would claim? Or was he really an adherent of one of these schools of thought, meaning his references to, and use of, examples and terms from the others are to be read through the lens of the system that, in the end, claimed his loyalty? The first approach would seem to ignore and downplay the consistency that does exist—or at least that many scholars have perceived—in Ramakrishna’s teachings. The second, though, would seem to require a fair amount of intellectual gymnastics in order to fit Ramakrishna’s thought consistently into the mold of a

single school of thought. Is there another way to approach this question? Indeed, there is. As Ayon Maharaj points out: In light of Sri Ramakrishna’s catholic attitude and his unique syncretic method, a number of commentators—beginning with Sri Ramakrishna’s direct disciples, Swami Vivekananda and Svāmī Turīyānanda, as well as Sri Aurobindo—have adopted a third approach to Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophy that avoids the pitfalls of the other two interpretive approaches. At the end of the nineteenth century, Vivekananda suggested that the nonsectarian and harmonizing spirit of Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophical teachings is best captured not by any particular philosophical school but by the original nonsectarian Vedānta of the Upaniṣads and the Bhagavad Gītā, which sought to harmonize a variety of apparently conflicting philosophical views. In a remarkable Bengali letter written in 1919, Svāmī Turīyānanda pointed out the deep affinities between Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophy and the nonsectarian Vedānta of the Gītā and claimed that Sri Ramakrishna accepted the validity of all spiritual philosophies and religious doctrines. In a similar vein, Sri Aurobindo declared in 1910 that the “teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda” provide the basis for a “more perfect synthesis” of the Upaniṣads than Śaṅkara’s world-denying philosophy of Advaita Vedānta. (Maharaj 2018: 15) Ramakrishna’s philosophy, in other words, is Vedāntic in a sense similar to the sense in which the Upaniṣads and the Bhagavad-Gītā are Vedāntic. This is a nonsectarian Vedānta. In the case of the Upaniṣads and the Gītā, one can say, historically, that it is a pre-sectarian Vedānta. The basic contours of Vedānta philosophy are established in these texts and, as Maharaj and his sources point out, these texts themselves are pluralistic in the sense that they draw together and seek to harmonize various systems of thought that were current in India when they were composed. One can find in them elements of Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Mīmāṃsā, Jain, Buddhist, and even materialist Lokāyata schools of thought. In some cases, these elements are brought into the text in order to be refuted, or relegated to a lower level of truth than the thesis being presented in the text (like in the eighth chapter of the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, in which the Lokāyata doctrine is presented as the confused and incomplete view of the āsura, or “demon,” Virocana, who takes the reflection of his body that he sees in a pool of water to be a true reflection of the Self). But there are many other places in which the Upaniṣads and the Gītā clearly draw upon and integrate ideas from a variety of traditions, such as in the extensive use of the Sāṃkhya and Yoga language of the three guṇas, puruṣa, and prakṛti, found throughout these texts, as well as the ideal of renunciation of the fruits of action (karma-phala-tyāga) that is central to the Gītā, but that has close affinities with Buddhist ideals of nonattachment. These texts also take ideas and terms from other traditions and give them a new or more elaborated meaning, such as when the Gītā coins the term brahma-nirvāṇa, drawing upon the Buddhist term nirvāṇa to indicate that into which one is absorbed when one attains this state (Bhagavad-Gītā 2.72). Like the Vedānta of these early foundational texts of all the later systematic forms of this philosophy, the philosophy of Ramakrishna has certain broad contours that place it in this

tradition, and which make it fair to characterize his thought as Vedāntic. He affirms basic Vedāntic teaching, such as the idea that this world has emerged from Brahman, that we are all on a quest for realization of the inherent divinity within each of us, that this involves a cycle of rebirth from which we seek liberation. But this is not the Vedānta of any particular system. It is not classical Advaita, for Ramakrishna does not deny the reality of the world, nor does he affirm the Advaitic vivarta doctrine that the world merely appears to emerge from Brahman, but that nothing is ever truly created or destroyed. In some ways, the Vedānta of Sri Ramakrishna seems akin to Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita and other bhedābheda systems, which affirm the reality of both oneness, for all is ultimately Brahman, and of difference, for the world is not unreal. But at the same time, Ramakrishna does affirm, like a classical Advaitin, the ideas of an absolute and a relative truth: a sense of Brahman as, in and of itself, eternal and beyond time, space, and causation, and a sense of the world as this infinite Brahman’s relative manifestation. Unlike the classical Advaitin, though, he does not, again, take “relative” to mean “unreal.” He could be seen as like a Dvaitin, or dualist, Vedāntin in his emphasis on bhakti and the relationality that bhakti requires. But, again, he is a monist, not a dualist. Duality occurs in the relative realm; but this does not make it unreal. As Arindam Chakrabarti points out in Chapter 16 of this volume: The vijñānī, according to Sri Ramakrishna, realizes that “it is Brahman that has become the universe and its living beings” (K 50–1; G 103–4). Hence, the vijñānī looks upon the world not as a snare of deception and a woeful trap of fakery but as a vibrantly real “mansion of mirth” (majār kuṭ;i) (K 479; G 478). The world, the vijñānī realizes, is, in fact, ultimately real insofar as it is indistinguishable from God, the only reality, natura naturans of Spinoza, where prakṛti and puruṣa, consciousness and the dynamic dancing power of plurality projection, become one because they are one at the source. In short, Ramakrishna’s Vedānta contains elements of each of the existing systems of Vedānta. It is a pluralistic Vedānta which is able to integrate elements of all of these, and of other systems of thought as well. Indeed, some in the modern Vedānta traditions based on Ramakrishna’s teachings have taken to referring to this way of thinking as an “Integral Vedānta,” not unlike Sri Aurobindo’s “Integral Yoga,” for which Sri Ramakrishna’s thought is arguably foundational (e.g., Bhajanananda 2010; Gayatriprana 2012). It integrates nonduality and duality, absolute and relative.

5.3 The Pluralistic Character of Ramakrishna’s Vedānta That Ramakrishna’s thought can certainly be characterized, broadly speaking, as Vedāntic is evident from the fact that he repeatedly asserts the central Upaniṣadic teaching: “All is Brahman” (sarvaṃ khalvidaṃ brahma) (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 3.14.1). In Ramakrishna’s words, rendered into English by Swami Nikhilananda, “Nothing exists except the One. That One is the Supreme Brahman. So long as He keeps the ‘I’ in us, He reveals to us that it is He who, as the Primal Energy (Ādyāśakti), creates, preserves, and destroys the universe” (Gupta 1942: 242). This sounds very much like classical Advaita Vedānta, except that Brahman’s

being the sole reality does not mean, for Ramakrishna, that the world must be unreal. “All is Brahman” means, for Ramakrishna, that Brahman has indeed become this whole world. Ramakrishna’s Vedānta could be seen not as affirming an “illusionist” nonduality, but rather, a panentheist nonduality. Brahman subsists in and as all things, as well as beyond all things, rather than instead of all things, although one of the valid paths to realization is to see Brahman alone, without a second. The fact that Ramakrishna’s thought can also be characterized as nonsectarian and pluralistic is evident from the ways in which he discusses Brahman in relation to other concepts of ultimate reality from the various systems of philosophy (including, but not limited to Advaita) and from his affirmation of the validity of many paths to the highest realization. Ramakrishna’s identification of Brahman, for example, in the passage just cited, with “the Primal Energy,” or Śakti, is significant, for it draws the strongly Advaitic assertion that “nothing exists except the One” together with a Śākta, Tāntric sensibility, in which it is the Mother Goddess, Śakti, who is the ultimate reality. However, rather than seeing Advaitic and Tāntric perspectives as opposed, Sri Ramakrishna draws them together pluralistically, as reflecting different facets of truth. “That which is Brahman is also the Primal Energy … Brahman and the Primal Energy at first appear to be two. But after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman one does not see the two. Then there is no differentiation; it is One, without a second—Advaita—non-duality” (Gupta 1942: 242). Interestingly, although in this passage the way in which Ramakrishna draws together the Tāntric and Advaitic perspectives would appear to subordinate the Tāntric view to the Advaitic, identifying the Advaitic view with the way one perceives only “after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman,” in many other places, Ramakrishna affirms dualistic perspectives as also having value, either putting nonduality and duality on the same level as simply different ways of perceiving the same ultimate reality, or even celebrating duality as a joyful state in which the loving relationship of bhakti can be enjoyed, and thus taking it to be superior to nondualistic realization. He equates the two, for example, when he says: Thus Brahman and Śakti are [inseparable].8 If you accept the one, you must accept the other. It is like fire and its power to burn. If you see the fire, you must recognize its power to burn also. You cannot think of fire without its power to burn, nor can you think of the power to burn without fire. You cannot conceive of the sun’s rays without the sun, nor can you conceive of the sun without its rays … Thus one cannot think of Brahman without Śakti, or of Śakti without Brahman. One cannot think of the Absolute [nitya] without the Relative [līlā], or of the Relative without the Absolute. (Gupta 1942: 134) For Ramakrishna, philosophical perspectives are essentially ways of orienting the mind for the particular type of spiritual practice to which it is best suited. Different types of practice, and their correspondingly different philosophies, are thus appropriate for different people. As he elaborates: He who is called Brahman by the jñānis [literally “knowers”; followers of jñāna yoga; adherents of Advaita Vedānta] is known as Ātman [Self] by the yogis [those who follow

rāja yoga, the path of meditation] and as Bhagavān [Lord; Blessed One] by the bhaktas [devotees; adherents of theistic religiosity, such as Vaiṣṇavas and Śāktas]. The same brāhmin is called priest, when worshipping in the temple, and cook, when preparing a meal in the kitchen. The jñāni, sticking to the path of knowledge, always reasons about the Reality, saying, “Not this, not this.” Brahman is neither “this” nor “that”; It is neither the universe nor its living beings. Reasoning in this way, the mind becomes steady. Then it disappears and the aspirant goes into samādhi [a state of meditative absorption]. This is the Knowledge of Brahman. It is the unwavering conviction of the jñāni that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. All these names and forms are illusory, like a dream. What Brahman is cannot be described. One cannot even say that Brahman is a Person. That is the opinion of the jñānis, the followers of [Advaita] Vedānta philosophy … But the bhaktas accept all the states of consciousness. They take the waking state to be real also. They don’t think the world to be illusory, like a dream. They say that the universe is a manifestation of God’s power and glory. God has created all these—sky, stars, moon, sun, mountains, ocean, men, animals. They constitute his glory. He is within us, in our hearts. Again, He is outside. The most advanced devotees say that He Himself has become all this—the twenty-four cosmic principles, the universe, and all living beings. The devotee of God wants to eat sugar, not to become sugar. (Gupta 1942: 133) The last portion of this passage, “The devotee of God wants to eat sugar, not to become sugar,”9 is widely taken as Ramakrishna’s statement that, while the Advaitic, nondualist path of realizing Brahman as the sole reality is a valid path, the path of devotion is no less valid, and indeed a more desirable and effective path for many, who see the world not as a mere appearance, or māyā, but as the beautiful play of the divine creativity. One is the attitude of the jñānī, or knower, the other, the attitude of the bhakta, the devotee. Neither is superior to the other. Both lead to the ultimate goal of infinite bliss, of salvation from bondage to materiality, with all of its many limitations. In affirming that both these paths can lead to the ultimate realization, Ramakrishna echoes the teaching of the Bhagavad-Gītā, which similarly contrasts these two paths, but ends up affirming them both. In this text, Sri Krishna, the Supreme Being, instructs his friend and disciple, Arjuna: I consider them to be the best disciplined who focus their minds on me, who, constant in their discipline, worship me with the greatest faith. But those who worship the imperishable, the unmanifest, which is beyond words, which is found everywhere and is inconceivable, sublime on the mountaintop, unmoving and firm, who have gained complete control over the senses and equanimity toward all beings, rejoicing in the welfare of all beings, they also attain to me. There is greater distress for those who have set their thoughts on the unmanifest, because it is difficult for those who are embodied to reach a goal that is itself unmanifest.

But those who surrender all of their actions to me and who are focused on me alone, who meditate on me with yoga, and worship me, I lift them up out of the ocean of the cycle of death and rebirth, Arjuna, once they have set their thoughts on me. (BhagavadGītā 12.2–7)10 The Gītā thus affirms the validity and effectiveness of both the nondual path of knowledge and the dualistic path of devotion, in which divinity and devotee remain distinct, although in a loving union. This is an example of the Gītā’s pluralism, which can also be found in such passages as 4.28, where Krishna says of the followers of various paths: Some sacrifice material objects, others practice austerities, and still others practice yoga. Some sacrifice through their knowledge and their study of the Vedas. These are all devout men committed to keeping their sacred vows. (Bhagavad-Gītā 4.28) The principle of divine grace which underlies the Gītā’s pluralism is expressed by Krishna when he says: In whatsoever way human beings approach me, thus do I receive them. All paths, Arjuna, lead to me. (Bhagavad-Gītā 4.11) Krishna’s boundless love, his divine grace, is sufficiently abundant that all spiritual aspirants, of all paths, are able to experience salvation. Krishna receives them all. Sectarian affiliation is finally irrelevant to one’s attainment of the ultimate goal. This last verse, significantly, is cited by Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna’s preeminent disciple, in his famous “Sisters and Brothers of America” welcome address, delivered in 1893 at the Chicago World Parliament of Religions, reflecting, as it does, the same basic pluralistic view as taught by his master, with its rejection of sectarianism (which Vivekananda goes on to denounce in this same address) (Vivekananda [1907] 1979: vol. 1, 3–4). Ramakrishna’s pluralism is perhaps most famously expressed when he states that: the Reality is one and the same. The difference is only in name. He who is Brahman is verily Ātman, and again, He is the Bhagavān. He is Brahman to the followers of the path of knowledge, Paramātman to the yogis, and Bhagavān to the lovers of God … It is like water, called in different languages by different names, such as “jal,” “pāni,” and so forth. There are three or four ghāts on a lake. The Hindus who drink water at one place, call it “jal.” The Mussalmāns [Muslims] at another place call it “pāni.” And the English at a third place call it “water.” All three denote one and the same thing, the difference being in the name only. In the same way, some address the Reality as “Āllāh,” some as “God,” some as “Brahman,” some as “Kāli,” and others by such names as “Rāma,” “Jesus,” “Durgā,” “Hari.” (Gupta 1942: 134, 135) Ramakrishna’s mention here of Muslims and Christians (“the English”) and of names for divinity such as Āllāh and Jesus is especially significant because it shows that his

nonsectarian, pluralistic Vedānta encompasses not only various Hindu traditions, identified with various types of spiritual practice—like the jñāna of Advaita Vedānta, the bhakti of the Vaiṣṇava, Śaiva, and Śākta traditions, the Yoga traditions, and so on—but also Islam and Christianity (and, in principle, other traditions as well). Indeed, the idea that Ramakrishna’s pluralistic attitude would be bounded—that it would apply only to Hindu traditions—would seem to contradict the breadth and depth of that attitude, and the understanding of Brahman as a universal reality, dwelling in all beings as their very Self, and so, in principle, available to all. Swami Vivekananda, who describes his own philosophy as “my own interpretation of our ancient books, in the light which my Master shed upon them,” similarly connects the diversity of the yogas, the paths to divinity, with the diversity of religions, seeing both as an effect of the varied temperaments and characters of human beings, and the particular needs of each in advancing along the spiritual path (Vivekananda [1907] 1979: vol. 5, 186). In his words: Every man must develop according to his own nature. As every science has its methods, so has every religion. The methods of attaining the end of religion are called Yoga by us, and the different forms of Yoga that we teach, are adapted to the different natures and temperaments of men … These are all different roads leading to the same centre—God. Indeed, the varieties of religious belief are an advantage, since all faiths are good, so far as they encourage man to lead a religious life. The more sects there are, the more opportunities there are for making successful appeals to the divine instinct in all men. (Vivekananda [1907] 1979: vol. 5, 292) The diversity of Yogas and the diversity of religions arise from the same source: the diversity of human natures and temperaments, as each of us strives for the realization of our divinity. And divinity itself, being infinite, is amenable to infinite paths to its realization (Maharaj 2018).

5.4 The Experiential Character of Sri Ramakrishna’s Pluralism Ramakrishna’s Vedānta, and that of Vivekananda and the subsequent tradition built upon their thought, is often characterized as a modern form of Vedānta. One sometimes sees it referred to as “Neo-Vedānta,” though this usage is largely eschewed by this tradition’s adherents, given that it was developed with a pejorative intent, to suggest that this form of Vedānta is in some sense illegitimate or inauthentic because it does not simply replicate the Advaita Vedānta of Śaṅkara, or any other “classical” system of Vedānta (Maharaj 2018: 45– 50). What is the distinction between modern and classical Vedānta? Is there even a distinction to be made? And where does Sri Ramakrishna’s thought stand in relation to this issue? Certainly, as does any ancient and widespread tradition of thought, the Vedānta tradition as a whole exhibits both continuity and change, sameness and difference, over time and across the various schools of thought which constitute it. There are core themes and concepts which are

continuous from the Upaniṣads to the present, and that occur in all forms of Vedānta: Advaita, Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita, Dvaita, Bhedābheda, and so on. And there are discontinuities across time, and certainly across systems of thought, as each system develops and new insights are drawn from the ancient Vedāntic sources. One could well argue that, vis-à-vis the systems of Vedānta that preceded it, each such new system to emerge is a “Neo-Vedānta.” The divide, such as it is, between Ramakrishna’s thought and earlier forms of Vedānta lies, it seems, in two of its central features, both of which are also widely taken to be features of modern, in contrast with premodern, traditional, or “classical” thought. These are its worldview pluralism and its emphasis on the priority of experience as a guide to the truth. This divide can, of course, be exaggerated. As has already been demonstrated, a worldview pluralism can be found in the Bhagavad-Gītā itself—certainly a premodern text— as can an emphasis on the priority of direct experience over book-learning. As the Gītā says in one passage: As useful as a water tank when there is flooding in all directions, that is how useful all of the Vedas are for a Brahmin who has true insight. (Bhagavad-Gītā 2.46) As Rambachan and others have argued, however, there is clearly a stronger emphasis in classical or traditional Vedānta upon the text of the Vedas as essential for knowing Brahman (Rambachan 1994). As the śabda-pramāṇa, or verbal foundation of knowledge, the Vedas are the primary source from which one learns the nature of Brahman, including the core truth that Brahman is one’s very Self. This is the purport of such “great statements,” or mahāvākyas of the Upaniṣads, as tat tvam asi and ahaṃ brahmāsmi. The proper source of the knowledge that these statements convey, on this account, is these statements themselves, not a mystical experience such as samādhi. We have already seen, though, that Ramakrishna does not base his philosophy upon textual study. There are, of course, many ways to learn other than reading. “Text” can mean not only a written book, but also a text that is transmitted orally. Indeed, oral communication was the chief medium through which the Vedas themselves were transmitted for many centuries, and remains the preferred medium for learning of the Vedas in traditional Vedāntic settings, such as the maṭ;has established by Śaṅkara. Similarly, Ramakrishna, by all accounts, listened to texts being read and also engaged in conversation with learned persons who visited the Dakshineshwar Kālī temple at which he served as a priest for most of his life. The Gospel also clearly demonstrates that he was conversant with the terminologies and concepts of many Hindu traditions of his time. The chief source, though, upon which Sri Ramakrishna clearly draws for his knowledge of divine matters is his own experiences, which he pursued assiduously by cultivating a wide array of spiritual practices throughout the early years of his time at Dakshineshwar. For Ramakrishna, mastery of a system of thought did not mean studying its texts, but practicing it until achieving an altered state of consciousness: a direct insight into the nature of reality as provided by whatever particular tradition he was practicing at the time, often including a visionary experience of God as conceived in that tradition—as Rāma, as Krishna, as Kālī, as Jesus, and so on.

One could of course debate the priority of text over experience or of experience over text endlessly. It is a “chicken or egg” type of argument, in which it is gradually shown that neither of the elements in question can exist independently of the other. A committed textualist in a tradition such as, for example, Advaita Vedānta, can argue that no coherent experience is possible without a prior conceptual framework as a condition for its occurrence. This is the view, for example, of the philosopher of religion John Hick, who argues that all experience of reality is “experience-as”: For in the recognition of objects and situations as having a particular character, setting up a particular range or practical dispositions, the mind/brain is interpreting sensory information by means of concepts and patterns drawn from its memory. When we recognize what is before us on the table as a fork, or what is lying on the desk as a pen, or the object over there as a building and more specifically as a house, or the figure moving toward us as a human being and more specifically as the postman, we are experiencing an object as having this or that character or meaning: that is, as a reality in relation to which we are prepared to behave in a certain range of ways appropriate to its being the kind of thing that we perceive it to be. (Hick 1989: 140) Hick, drawing upon the work of William Alston, extends this idea to religious experience. Alston develops the idea of “doxastic practices”: belief-forming practices which predispose us to perceive our reality in a particular way, based upon the set of beliefs on which these practices are based and which they, in turn, support (Alston 1993). To put the matter simply, an adherent of Advaita Vedānta, for example, is educated into a system of ideas, drawn from the text of the Vedas as interpreted by prior teachers, such as Śaṅkara, and into a system of practices aimed at realizing the truth of these ideas through a direct perception of their truth. In the Advaita tradition, the process is typically described as a threefold one which involves first, śravaṇa (“hearing”), hearing the teachings of the tradition as contained in the authoritative text; second, manana (“thinking”), reflecting logically upon these teachings, including examining them critically, until one has come to understand them fully; and finally, nididhyāsana (“meditative reflection”), in which one comes to perceive the truth of these teachings directly. Experience is thus not unimportant in a traditionalist framework. Indeed, it is the ultimate goal of traditional practice. But it is “experiencing-as.” One does not simply have an experience and then commit to a worldview. Rather, one develops a worldview, based on a tradition (and on a text, whether written or oral), and that worldview shapes the experience that results from the doxastic practice based on that worldview. Importantly, traditions and texts provide a check on experience, to establish whether a given experience is veridical or if it is, in fact, delusory. To take an extreme, but far from impossible, example, what if a person were to claim, on the basis of an experience of what that person believed to be God, that they had been commanded to lead their community into committing genocide against another group of people? On the other hand, however, the tradition and its texts had to come from somewhere. In the orthodox Vedānta tradition, it is said, following the Mīmāṃsā tradition, that the Vedas are

not, in fact, products of human composition, but are apauruṣeya: eternal and not man-made. Even with this view, though, it is admitted that the Vedas were, at some point, revealed to and through human agents: namely, the ṛṣis—the seers and sages who composed the Vedic texts at a particular point in time and history. These ṛṣis, logically, must have had an experience which prompted them to articulate the eternal Vedic wisdom in the form in which it has been received. How were their experiences cultivated? By what doxastic practices? Clearly, then, in seeking to determine the priority of text over experience or experience over text, we are in a chicken-or-egg situation. Texts shape experience, and serve as an important check upon, or a test of, experience, in order to determine whether a given experience is a veridical experience of divinity or a delusion. But texts also arise from experience and come to have authority because, presumably, their claims resonate with the experiences of those who receive and preserve them.11 One could say that experience is historically or temporally prior to tradition, for it is experiencing human beings who generate traditions, but that tradition is hermeneutically prior to experience, being the form of life which is a condition for the possibility of experience.12 Modernity, as a mode of thought, privileges experience over tradition. The paradigmatic model of modernity is the scientific method, in which the authority with which a claim is made counts for less than the ability to verify that claim through direct observation or experimentation. So if a sacred text states that the planets have no moons, and one can observe the moons of Jupiter through one’s telescope, one trusts the verdict of one’s own observation over that of the sacred text. In the philosophies of Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, direct experience is similarly the final criterion by which truth is to be determined. In this sense, the Vedānta of Ramakrishna is a modern form of Vedānta. To be sure, this is not to say that classical Vedānta, with its emphasis on textual study, is a dogmatic and anti-rational philosophy. On the contrary, Śaṅkara teaches, for example, that śabda-pramāṇa must be interpreted in a way that is consistent with other pramāṇas—other foundations of knowledge—such as sensory perception (pratyakṣa) and logical inference (anumāna). An Advaita Vedāntin, then, confronted with Galileo’s observations of the four large moons of Jupiter would not have any difficulty interpreting any portions of the Vedas that might appear to contradict this observation as symbolic, or as meant to illustrate some other point, and so on.13 Again, to posit a vast gulf between modern and premodern Vedānta is neither accurate nor productive. It is not an entirely inconsequential difference, though, given that there are contemporary Advaitins, such as Rambachan, who are not completely comfortable with Ramakrishna’s approach, and find it to be a departure from Vedānta as they understand it. Clearly connected with the experiential character of Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophy is his worldview pluralism, which arises not from textual study—though, again, a pluralistic current can be found in such traditional Vedāntic sources as the Bhagavad-Gītā—but from his multireligious spiritual practices. This pluralism is also modern, in the sense that it encompasses not only other systems of Hindu thought, but is truly universal, encompassing all religions of which Ramakrishna was aware. That it is not limited only to these either, but applies, in principle, to all religions and worldviews, is suggested by the fact that his disciple

Vivekananda thus interprets it, famously saying: I accept all religions that were in the past, and worship with them all; I worship God with every one of them, in whatever form they worship Him. I shall go to the mosque of the Mohammedan; I shall enter the Christian’s church and kneel before the crucifix; I shall enter the Buddhistic temple, where I shall take refuge in Buddha and in his Law. I shall go into the forest and sit down in meditation with the Hindu, who is trying to see the Light which enlightens the heart of every one … Not only shall I do all these, but I shall keep my heart open for all that may come in the future. Is God’s book finished? Or is it still a continuous revelation going on? … We stand in the present, but open ourselves to the infinite future … Salutation to all the prophets of the past, to all the great ones of the present, and to all that are to come in the future! (Vivekananda [1907] 1979: vol. 2, 374) Ramakrishna is, of course, preceded in Indian history by other thinkers who embraced, for example, both Hinduism and Islam as ways to the divine, such as the renowned Sānt Kabīr (1440–1518) and Guru Nānak (1469–1539), the founder of the Sikh tradition. Other Vedāntic thinkers, such as Appaya Dīkṣita (1520–93), had expressed inclusivist views regarding many traditions, under what would today be called the umbrella of Hinduism, as being paths to truth, though typically seeing these as steps on the way to the thinker’s own perspective (in Appaya Dīkṣita’s case, Advaita Vedānta) (Barua, this volume). But Ramakrishna appears to be the first, or among the first, to be located in a Vedāntic perspective whose pluralism also embraced non-Indic traditions, and which was a true pluralism, and not a hierarchical inclusivism.

5.5 Ramakrishna’s Multireligious Sādhanas The experiences which led to and which undergird Ramakrishna’s worldview pluralism are controversial in several respects. First, the question can always be raised as to whether his many experiences, as attested in the accounts of his life, were veridical or delusory. This, of course, is a point already made in regard to the question of the priority of experience or text. A textual tradition can certify or validate a putative claim of experience of the divine, or it can refute it. A skeptic of a traditionalist bent could claim that the very pluralistic nature of Ramakrishna’s experiences is a reason to doubt them. That is, a conservative adherent of any tradition could argue that her home tradition, whatever it may be, is sufficient, and perhaps even necessary, for the attainment of the ultimate aim of human existence, however her tradition may conceive of it. Religious traditions throughout the world are full of claims to their own sufficiency or necessity for salvation, and also of polemics directed at the views and practices of the religious other. A conservative Christian, for example, might argue that Ramakrishna’s diverse experiences were satanic delusions. Or a conservative Jain might argue that the Jain path alone teaches the rigorous practice of ahiṃsā, of nonviolence in thought, word, and deed, required to purify the jīva of its karmic accretions, and that Ramakrishna’s experiences were merely preliminary glimpses of the true experience of total

freedom and omniscience found in kevala-jñāna, the absolute knowledge of a Jina. A skeptic in a wider sense could also clearly question if Sri Ramakrishna might have been suffering from some psychological or neurological disorder that led to his vivid visionary experiences. Indeed, this question was raised during Sri Ramakrishna’s lifetime. His family, fearing for his sanity, arranged his marriage in the hope that a conventional, worldly life would ground him and lead him back to normalcy (Saradananda 2003: 245). Finally, the question can be raised as to the depth and extent of Ramakrishna’s sādhanas and their ability to serve as a kind of “proof” of the truth of pluralism. Ramakrishna, for example, did not convert to Christianity in any sense that an orthodox Christian would typically recognize. He was not baptized and he did not join a church, or recite any creed. He seems, rather, in a Hindu fashion, to have taken Jesus, temporarily, as his chosen deity, or iṣṭ;a-devatā, meditating upon him lovingly until attaining a vision of him. It could thus be argued that, even while practicing the outward forms of many traditions, Ramakrishna never did step out of the basic framework of his nonsectarian Vedāntic worldview. Even if one takes all these objections seriously, the story of Ramakrishna’s multireligious sādhanas is a remarkable one in the history of mystical experience. When he took up a spiritual path, he did so with a complete, single-minded devotion, often placing himself under considerable pressure, both psychological and physical, in order to achieve his goal. His initial effort to achieve a direct vision of divinity was his quest for a vision of the Goddess Kālī, in whose temple he served as a priest. Feeling it would be hypocritical to serve as the priest of a goddess whose existence he might doubt, he wanted to see Kālī for himself, praying for many days with profound intensity and becoming deeply emotional with every passing day in which he did not have a vision of the Divine Mother. He finally reached a point where he was tempted to take his own life if he did not have this divine vision: There was an unbearable pain in my heart because I could not have a vision of Mother. Just as a man wrings out a towel with all his strength to get the water out of it, so I felt as if my heart were being wrung out. I began to think I should never see Mother. I was dying of despair. In my agony, I asked myself: “What’s the use of living this life?” Suddenly my eyes fell on the sword that hangs in the Mother’s shrine. I decided to end my life then and there. Like a madman, I ran to the sword and seized it. Then I had a marvelous vision of the Mother and fell down unconscious. Afterwards what happened in the external world, or how that day and the next passed, I don’t know. But within me there was a steady flow of undiluted bliss that I had never before experienced, and I felt the immediate presence of the Divine Mother. (Saradananda 2003: 212) After this experience, Ramakrishna wanted to realize divinity in as many ways as he could. A female teacher called the Bhairavī Brāhmaṇī came to Dakshineshwar and recognized in him a profound spiritual aspirant. She trained him in a variety of Tāntric disciplines, and in each of these, as when he longed for Kālī, he eventually had an experience of the divine. Subsequently, he also followed several Vaiṣṇava disciplines, even to the point of dressing and behaving as a woman to have the experience of the gopīs, the cowherd women who are regarded as the ideal devotees of Krishna in the Bhāgavata tradition of Vaiṣṇavism.

Whatever path he followed, he committed to it completely. After all these deeply emotional, personalistic experiences of theistic bhakti, Ramakrishna came under the tutelage of Totāpurī, a wandering monk of the Advaita Vedānta tradition, and had the experience of nirguṇa Brahman, beyond all qualities, and his perception of the world vanished entirely for a period of six months (Saradananda 2003: 313). After exhausting the Hindu traditions that were available to him, Ramakrishna devoted himself, in succession, to Christian and to Islamic practice, each of which culminated in a vision, respectively, of Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad (Gupta 1942: 33–4). On the basis of these experiences, Ramakrishna became, according to the tradition founded on his teachings: a Master who could speak with authority regarding the ideas and ideals of the various religions of the world … Without being formally initiated into their doctrines, Sri Ramakrishna … realized the ideals of religions other than Hinduism. He did not need to follow any doctrine. All barriers were removed by his overwhelming love of God … “I have practiced,” said he, “all religions—Hinduism, Islam, Christianity—and I have also followed the paths of the different Hindu sects. I have found that it is the same God toward whom all are directing their steps, though along different paths. You must try all beliefs and traverse all the different ways once. Wherever I look, I see men quarreling in the name of religion … But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Śiva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Āllāh as well—the same Rāma with a thousand names.” (Gupta 1942: 35)

5.6 Anekānta Vedānta and Anekāntavāda: Ramakrishna’s Thought and Jain Philosophy Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophy is thus, in brief, a nonsectarian Vedānta in which a variety of religious beliefs and practices can coexist as ways of transforming the consciousness of their adherents. This worldview is Vedāntic in that it takes as foundational the belief that everything is ultimately Brahman: the infinite Being-Consciousness-Bliss—anantaraṃ satcit-ānandam—that is the source and ultimate end of all existence. This Brahman, though, can be experienced from an absolute perspective, as it is in and of itself, through the practice of nondualism, or it can be experienced from a relative perspective as an infinite loving Supreme Being who is available to each aspirant in whatever form that aspirant chooses to devote herself. This is not a pluralism in which all doctrinal issues have been worked out in a systematic fashion, though Ramakrishna is not insensitive to doctrinal differences. Ramakrishna affirms, for example, the Vedāntic teaching of reincarnation (Gupta 1942: 153; Saradananada 2003: 316–17, 360). The fact, however, that Christians and Muslims typically reject the concept of reincarnation does not inhibit him from taking up Christian or Islamic devotional practice. Even if a system of practice is mistaken on one topic or another, this does not prevent it from being a valid path to God, so long as it results in the needed transformation of the person from an egocentric state to what John Hick calls a “Realitycentered” state (Hick 1989). “Every religion has errors … It is enough to have yearning for

God” (Gupta 1942: 112). Vivekananda points to a possible response to the question of doctrinal incompatibility in a lecture titled “The Way to the Realization of a Universal Religion” (Vivekananda [1907] 1979: vol. 2, 359–74). Raising the question of how many religions making different claims can all be, in some sense, true, he says: I believe that they are not contradictory; they are supplementary. Each religion, as it were, takes up one part of the great universal truth, and spends its whole force in embodying and typifying that part of the great truth. It is, therefore, addition, not exclusion. That is the idea. System after system arises, each one embodying a great idea, and ideals must be added to ideals. And this is the march of humanity. Man never progresses from error to truth, but from truth to truth, from lesser truth to higher truth— but it is never from error to truth. (Ibid: 365) It could be argued that Vivekananda’s suggestion of a hierarchy of “lesser truth” and “higher truth” is not something with which Ramakrishna would necessarily have been entirely comfortable, given his tendency to see the absolute and the relative simply as different modes of perception, and not viewing one as “higher” and the other as “lesser,” or vice versa. But the basic idea that there is a central core value that each tradition embodies, and that these central core values of traditions need not be in conflict, but can, in fact, supplement one another, seems a good attempt to give logical cohesion to Ramakrishna’s pluralism. Vivekananda also suggests that the adherents of different religions would do well to learn from and absorb one another’s core values: The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant, it develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant … Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth. (Vivekananda [1907] 1979: vol. 1, 24) This approach to the diversity of worldviews can well be called “Anekānta Vedānta” in the sense that, like the anekānta doctrine of the Jain tradition, it affirms the multiplicity of the possible ways in which truth may be articulated and pursued, while yet also affirming a deeper unity of the nature of existence that leads to this multiplicity. In this way, both systems avoid what theologian Alan Race has famously called a “debilitating relativism,” meaning an affirmation of diversity that leads to an inability to affirm anything definite about the nature of reality (Race 1983: 78, 90). Anekānta-vāda, the Jain doctrine of the irreducible complexity of existence, is rooted in a different ontology than Ramakrishna’s nonsectarian Vedānta, which is ultimately monistic in its affirmation that all is ultimately Brahman. Jainism, on the other hand, affirms an ontological pluralism. According to Jain thought, the cosmos is composed of five types of

entity, or astikāya. These are called dharma (the principle of motion), adharma (the principle of inertia or rest), ākāśa (space), pudgala (matter), and jīva (soul or life-force). The Digambara Jain tradition adds a sixth entity, kāla, or time, to this list. In contrast to Ramakrishna’s monistic view that all is ultimately Brahman, Jain philosophers maintain that reality consists of many fundamental entities. So dynamism is not reducible to inertia, space, matter, life-force, or time. Inertia is also not reducible to dynamism, space, matter, life-force, or time. And so on. Each of the six basic entities is just that: basic. None is reducible to the others. Similarly, individual instances of these six basic types of entity are truly distinct from one another. They are not forms or aspects of a more fundamental reality, such as Brahman. The manifold jīvas, for example, do not make up a “supersoul,” like the Upaniṣadic Paramātman, though they do share a singular essence. Its eschewing of monism, of reducing many ontological factors to one, is why one can say Jainism has a pluralistic ontology. This pluralistic ontology, though, translates into a worldview pluralism that has resonances with Ramakrishna’s worldview pluralism. Anekānta-vāda states that reality is, in keeping with the basic Jain ontology, complex: that no phenomenon can be reduced to a single truth. Reality has many dimensions. Being complex and many-sided (anekānta), it defies simplistic, reductionist characterizations. This follows from the nature of the soul, which includes both stable, unchanging characteristics and states of being that change from moment to moment. Each entity, like the soul, has many aspects, is both living and nonliving, and so on. Related to this Jain idea of the complexity of reality is a corresponding doctrine of knowledge, or epistemology. Naya-vāda, the doctrine of perspectives, states that, for every aspect of an entity, there is a perspective from which it can be viewed. From the perspective of its intrinsic traits, the soul is unchanging. From the perspective of its changing states, the soul is ephemeral, and so on. Each perspective captures a real aspect of the complex nature of the entity. This epistemology of perspectives gives rise to a distinctive Jain doctrine regarding how one should formulate philosophical propositions. Rather than stating absolutely either that the soul is eternal and unchanging or that it is ephemeral and varying from moment to moment, it is necessary to specify the perspective from which such assertions are made. A statement is true, not absolutely, but syāt—in a certain sense, or from a certain point of view. An Advaitin might say that a view of reality as irreducibly complex reflects not the absolute perspective that one holds when one attains “the Knowledge of Brahman” (Gupta 1942: 242), but rather, the relative perspective of the realm of space and time. For Ramakrishna, though, the absolute and the relative are, again, simply different modes of perceiving reality. One is not to be subordinated to the other. This enables him, like the Jains, to affirm the validity of differing modes of perception, such as, in Ramakrishna’s case, those of the jñānī, the yogī, and the bhakta. The method of syādvāda, in fact, fits quite well with Ramakrishna’s pluralism, for it enables one to say even that views that appear to be in conflict are, in fact, complementary, or as Vivekananda would later say, “supplementary.” Seemingly conflicting statements do not necessarily contradict, so long as one stipulates the conditions under which each statement is being made. The clashing claims of the blind men describing the elephant, in the classic parable often used to illustrate Jain pluralism, and also

frequently cited by Ramakrishna, are not really incompatible. Each system of thought, or “blind man,” is describing a different part of the elephant, and the elephant includes the many facets that each blind man is experiencing. It is not that one part of the elephant is the “true” elephant and that the rest are delusions. The elephant incorporates all that the various blind men can conceive of it, and is also much more: just as, for Sri Ramakrishna, Brahman exists within and as and beyond all relative existence. If we think of Ramakrishna as operating with a revised version of the Advaitic “two truths” doctrine, that affirms the distinction between the absolute and the relative, but does not subordinate one to the other, one can see the multiplicity of views elaborated and systematized in Jain teaching as belonging to the relative realm. In certain respects, one can find echoes of the thought of the Digambara Jain master, Kundakunda, in Ramakrishna’s approach to the diversity of paths and worldviews. Kundakunda also affirms the distinction between relative truth, or the “conventional perspective” (vyavahārika-naya) and final, or absolute, truth (niścaya-naya). For Kundakunda, the Jain doctrines of relativity, such as syād-vāda, function in the relative realm. Interestingly, though, he does not simply identify the absolute perspective with Jain teaching. The niścaya-naya is the experience of the jīva that has realized that it is entirely distinct from the karmic matter that has, prior to this realization, occluded its true nature, obscuring its inherent omniscience (Kundakunda 1930: 151). Even Jain doctrine, and indeed, any teaching that can be put into words, operates in the relative realm. If we think of Ramakrishna’s thought in these terms, even the absolute perspective of the jñānī, once it is put into words and rendered into a doctrine, becomes part of the realm of relative truth, while the path of the jñānī becomes one of many valid paths to realization. This is also akin to the two-truths doctrine of the Buddhist sage Nāgārjuna, in which ultimate truth cannot, finally, be put into words, but must be experienced directly. Even the teaching of Buddhism has the character of śūnyatā, or “emptiness,” which is Nāgārjuna’s term for the relativity that characterizes the conceptual realm. Absolute truth is not to be identified with any single system of thought and practice, even one’s own. Otherwise, one risks mistaking the map for the territory: the conceptual system with the experiential practice it is meant to sustain and embody and the realization in which this practice is intended to issue. As for both Kundakunda and Nāgārjuna, for Ramakrishna, it is the experience that finally matters. Words and concepts are but the rungs of the ladder that lead to the roof of the “house” of realization. As Ramakrishna says: God can be realised through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up a bamboo pole … Each religion is only a path leading to God, as rivers come from different directions and ultimately become one in the one ocean. (Gupta 1942: 111, 265)

5.7 Conclusion It is possible to discern a philosophy in Ramakrishna’s teaching, and this philosophy can well

be characterized as “Anekānta Vedānta”—a nonsectarian, pluralistic Vedānta that affirms, at least on the relative plane of existence, where diversity is present to one’s consciousness, that there are many valid ways of describing, perceiving, and approaching ultimate reality. There is also an absolute perspective, in which relative reality vanishes. Verbally conceptualizing this point of view, however, renders it, also, one more relative perspective, and a path to realization based on this perspective, one more way of approaching infinite reality. Infinite reality presents itself to us in infinite forms, each of which corresponds to a path to its realization.

Notes The centrality of the renunciation of materiality to Ramakrishna’s thought is reflected in his frequent use of the term kāminikañcana, or lust and greed, to refer to the main obstructions to the spiritual life. The Mahāyāna Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna (second–third century CE) famously claims to hold no view. There are no references, for example, to Jainism in the Kathāmṛta. Swami Nikhilananda states in the introduction to his translation of this text that Ramakrishna “showed great respect for the Tirthankaras, who founded Jainism” (Gupta 1942: 34). There are relatively few Jains in Bengal. There is the Sarak community, dating back to the ancient period, and, during the nineteenth century, there was an influx of Marwari merchant communities into Bengal, which included many Jains (Kudaisya 2009: 88.) Ramakrishna had Marwari devotees, and some of his conversations with them are recounted in Gupta (1942: 161–2, 179–80, 578–90, 637–42). From these references, though, it appears that Ramakrishna’s Marwari devotees were primarily Vaiṣṇava in their religious orientation. No mention is made of any of them being Jain. Cort rejects the claim that this interpretation of anekāntavāda accurately reflects the intent of premodern Jain thinkers who developed this doctrine, and who indeed used it polemically in order to show that the views of other schools of thought were only partially true, rather than reflecting the total truth presented in Jainism. He does, though, chronicle the development of the idea of anekāntavāda as intellectual ahiṃsā in the writings of modern interpreters of Jainism. I use the term “worldview pluralism” rather than the more common “religious pluralism” to highlight the fact that this approach to diversity does not apply only to religious traditions, but that it encompasses nonreligious perspectives as well. To be sure, Sri Ramakrishna, as far as we know, applied his approach only to religious paths and practices, so it would not be improper, when speaking solely of Ramakrishna’s approach as applied by him during his lifetime, to refer to it as a religious pluralism. As an approach to reality, though, available in principle to anyone who becomes aware of and is persuaded by it, Ramakrishna’s methodology can be applied, for example, to modern science, as Swami Vivekananda, indeed, does (Raghuramaraju 2016). One could argue that the worldview of Ramakrishna, as a Hindu, will certainly have significant areas of overlap with a traditional Jain worldview, as, whatever their differences, both arise from the same Indic milieu and thus share quite a few assumptions from the start, such as the ideas of karma and rebirth. This is a fair point. Another case which I have made elsewhere is that there is also significant convergence between the worldviews of both Ramakrishna and the Jain tradition and the process thought of British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead: overlap which can be less easily attributed to cultural similarity. Bengali works translated, respectively, as The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (translated by Swami Nikhilananda) and Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play (translated by Swami Chetanananda). Swami Nikhilananda translates Ramakrishna’s Bengali term abhed in this passage as “identical.” However, as the analogy that Ramakrishna gives in the sentences that follow suggests, a better meaning here is “inseparable.” Fire is not identical to its power to burn, or the sun with its light. But “fire” and “sun” are inseparable from their qualities of being able to burn or giving light. I thank Ayon Maharaj for pointing out this better way to translate this important passage of the Kathāmṛta (personal communication). This is a line from a song of the celebrated Bengali bhakti singer and poet Ramprasad (1718–75). All citations from the Bhagavad-Gītā in this chapter are from Thompson (2008). For an elaboration upon this “chicken or egg” issue in regard to text and experience in the Advaita Vedānta tradition, see Sharma 2000. I owe this phrasing, with many thanks, to an anonymous reviewer of an earlier draft of this essay. The point is not that medieval Christians were lacking in analogous conceptual equipment for differentiating between secular cognition and spiritual insight. Indeed, Thomistic thought involves a similar division of labor between reason and faith as

that between pratyakṣa/anumāna on the one hand and śabda-pramāṇa on the other.

References Alston, William P. (1993), Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Bhajanananda, Swami (2010), “Philosophy of Sri Ramakrishna,” University of Calcutta Journal of the Department of Philosophy 9, 1–56. Chakrabarti, Arindam (1994), “The Dark Mother Flying Kites: Sri Ramakrishna’s Metaphysic of Morals,” Sophia 33.3, 14–29. Cort, John (2000), “‘Intellectual Ahiṃsā’ Revisited: Jain Tolerance and Intolerance of the Other,” Philosophy East and West 50.3, 324–47. Gayatriprana, Pravrajika (2012), “Ramakrishna’s Realization and Integral Vedanta,” American Vedantist, May 4, (accessed September 7, 2018). Gupta, Mahendranath (1942), The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, trans. Swami Nikhilananda, New York: RamakrishnaVivekananda Center. Hick, John (1989), An Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Kudaisya, Medha Malik (2009), “Marwari and Chettiar Merchants, 1850s–1950s: Comparative Trajectories,” in M. Kudaisya and C. Ng, eds., Chinese and Indian Business: Historical Antecedents, Leiden: Brill, 85–120. Kundakunda (1930), Samayasāra: The Soul-Essence, trans. J.L. Jaini, Lucknow: The Central Jaina Publishing House. Long, Jeffery D. (2009), Jainism: An Introduction, London: I.B. Tauris. Maharaj, Ayon (2018), Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality: Sri Ramakrishna and Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion, New York: Oxford University Press. Matchett, Freda (1981), “The Teaching of Rāmakrishna in Relation to the Hindu Tradition and as Interpreted by Vivekānanda,” Religion 11, 171–84. Matilal, Bimal Krishna (1981), The Central Philosophy of Jainism (Anekānta-vāda), Ahmedabad, India: L.D. Institute of Indology. Neevel, Walter G. (1976), “The Transformation of Śrī Rāmakrishna,” in B.L. Smith, ed., Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions, Leiden: Brill: 53–97. Race, Alan (1983), Christians and Religious Pluralism, London: SCM Press. Raghuramaraju, A. (2016), “Perspectives on the Relation between Science and Religion in India,” in Yiftach Fehige, ed., Science and Religion: East and West, New York: Routledge, 88–103. Rajadhyaksha, Vasant G. (2007), The Life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa for Children, Mumbai, India: Popular Prakashan. Rambachan, Anantanand (1994), The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda’s Reinterpretation of the Vedas, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Saradananda, Swami (2003), Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play, trans. Swami Chetanananda, St. Louis: Vedanta Society of St. Louis. Sen, Amiya (1999), “Universality and Sri Ramakrishna: An Historical and Philosophical Reappraisal,” Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences 6.1, 79–100. Sharma, Arvind (2000), “Sacred Scriptures and the Mysticism of Advaita Vedānta,” in Paul Davies, ed., Mysticism and Sacred Scripture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 169–83. Sil, Narasimha P. (1997), “Is Ramakrishna a Vedantin, a Tantrika, or a Vaishnava? An Examination,” Asian Studies Review 21.2, 212–24. Tapasyananda, Swami (1993), Sri Ramakrishna’s Thoughts in a Vedantic Perspective, Mylapore, India: Sri Ramakrishna Math. Thompson, George (2008), The Bhagavad Gītā: A New Translation, New York: North Point Press. Vivekananda, Swami ([1907] 1979), The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Mayawati Memorial Edition, Mayawati, India: Advaita Ashrama. Zimmer, Heinrich (1951), Philosophies of India, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

6 Sri Aurobindo’s Psychology of a “Psychic Being” in Support of a Metaphysical Argument for Reincarnation

Stephen Phillips Commonly referred to as Sri Aurobindo, or in academic circles simply as Aurobindo, Aurobindo Ghose was born in Kolkata in 1872. He spent fourteen years in England from the age of seven until completing studies at King’s College, Cambridge University. He died surrounded by disciples in Pondicherry in South India in 1950. Aurobindo was a leading nationalist at the beginning of the twentieth century despite his thoroughly Western education, becoming a Vedāntin upon returning to India by learning Sanskrit (which he began to study at Cambridge) and reading on his own, mainly the Upaniṣads and the Bhagavad-Gītā, with, probably, at least in many instances, the commentaries of Śaṅkara. In his early career, he was a politician of some renown. Later, he retired from politics to pursue yoga and a spiritual life. He founded a new-style yogic ashram in Pondicherry and wrote prolifically (in English and a little in Bengali) on mysticism and yogic practice. He was also a poet who crafted an enormous epic poem, Savitri (1950–1), based on a legend from the Mahābhārata. He claimed not to be adept at philosophy, but he wrote a 1,000-page-plus tome of speculative spiritual metaphysics, The Life Divine (Aurobindo 1973a), where he defends a Vedāntic concept of Brahman, the “Absolute,” and tries to interpret the major features of our universe—including, of course, science—in its light. Aurobindo fashions an entire worldview that has its sources, he tells us, in his readings of early Upaniṣads and the Bhagavad-Gītā, but not so much, at least in terms of direct influence, in the classical Vedānta of the Brahmasūtra and Sanskrit commentaries.1 In other words, Aurobindo sets out to fashion a new system of ideas intended to reflect both science and Upaniṣadic teachings, in a free and fresh reading, along several dimensions of philosophy—epistemology, metaphysics, psychology, ethics—in an “integrative” worldview. Informing his cosmological thinking is evolutionary theory, not so much evolutionary biology as that is understood today but the idea that life and mind in our world are the result of an evolutionary process. Aurobindo finds the fundamental nature of matter to include—for metaphysical reasons—an “evolutionary nisus” that ensures the emergence of individuals capable of mystic experience in which the supreme reality, Brahman, is revealed. Aurobindo’s metaphysics is thoroughly realist: there is an essential God or Brahman (the two terms are with him roughly synonymous) and physical objects that exist independently of our experience. There is also much that is “intermediate” to these two “poles of being.”

The realism is supported, he tells us, by a thoroughly empiricist epistemology: the Upaniṣads themselves have authority as records of, and speculations based on, special yogic experience. Aurobindo defends an epistemic parallelism between the indications of sensory and mystic experiences, with the latter carrying most of the weight regarding the existence and nature of Brahman. He does also, however, present variations of traditional teleological, cosmological, and other arguments of rational theology, probably more like arguments from Plato and company than India’s own rich tradition of arguments for the existence of God and their critiques. Our modern Vedāntin also endorses a range of possibilities of mystic experience, including Buddhist “enlightenment” as well as theistic bhakti experiences of devotion and love. His claims about Brahman’s nature are said to be founded in a wide range of mystic experience and intuition but also to tread the hazardous ground of hypotheses about matters, as he himself says, that cannot be perfectly known. Throughout The Life Divine, Aurobindo articulates a view of a “self-manifesting Brahman” with close attention to an overall coherence of theory. Brahman, in essence perfect Being, Consciousness-Force, and Bliss (this is how Aurobindo renders a classical characterization of Brahman as saccidānanda), involutes aspects of itself, i.e., contracts or hides from itself certain aspects of itself so that other, finite possibilities can emerge, a process that is presumed to have an outer limit in the “inconscient” energies of matter. Such apparent inconscience cannot remain, however, because it is nothing but Brahman. Conceivable universes that are incompatible with Brahman’s essential nature are strictly impossible. Thus conscious beings with material bodies are destined to evolve. In other words, God works within limits, and could not, for example, make 2 + 3 = 7. God cannot create an entirely insentient world since God is constrained by the metaphysical law ex nihilo nihil fit (“nothing from nothing”) to create out of God’s own nature of Consciousness and Bliss. Thus this world is destined to evolve sentient material beings and eventually a divine life conceived as a society where many have direct experience of Brahman. With this overview as background, I proceed to take up two important details of Aurobindo’s philosophy, his endorsement of reincarnation and his articulation of a mystic psychology in which the concept of a “psychic being” is central.

6.1 Aurobindo’s Defense of Reincarnation In a late chapter of The Life Divine (742–64), entitled “The Philosophy of Rebirth,” our yogin puts forth a novel argument for reincarnation, an argument not countenanced in any of the classical schools so far as I am aware. The argument supplements a claim found in the Yogasūtra and elsewhere that Aurobindo endorses, namely, that through yogic practice one can develop the power (siddhi) to remember past lives.2 The metaphysical argument also depends on yogic experience to warrant its first and most important premise, but overall its reasoning is highly abstract. The premises and their main lines of support are: first, that Brahman is saccidānanda, which is supposed to be primarily a mystic or yogic claim backed up by his own experience along with that of Upaniṣadic rishis, other yogins and yoginīs, and so on, but is also supported by certain cosmological and teleological considerations, he

reasons; second, that if Brahman is saccidānanda, our world has to be meaningful, since Brahman is both its material and efficient cause (from premise one); third, if there is not individual survival of death, then our world cannot be meaningful, since individuality is too important in our world to have such an abrupt end and limited flourishing; and fourth and finally, that reincarnation is the best mechanism for individual survival, since a theory of reincarnation is better than any other proposal (he surveys four). The conclusion is the reality of reincarnation. I want to focus first on the fourth premise, or, more precisely, the positive portion of the claim that a theory of reincarnation ties in well with the metaphysics of personal survival, that is to say, Aurobindo’s theory of a developing “psychic being,” and in nontechnical language one’s “soul.” Then in later sections, I survey the other premises as well as the argument as a whole, tackling the large question of its strength in overview. Especially in the first part, I draw on material from my Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth (Phillips 2008), where I lay out Sri Aurobindo’s argument but do not elaborate, at least not so well as here, either the concept of the psychic being or the argument as a whole. I am glad to have the opportunity to focus more exclusively on the teaching of Sri Aurobindo.

6.2 The Psychic Being Books should be written on the topic of the psychic being, and so here brevity has to be the byword as I try to bring out some of the rich background in ancient and classical Indian thought for Aurobindo’s concept of an individual soul as well as the broad lines of his theory. Although the term “psychic being” was suggested to him by Mirra Alfassa (the “Mother” of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry), it is tantric occult psychology with which the theory of Aurobindo connects better than any other predecessor, Western or Eastern, in my opinion, and we shall begin with that and then add the Vedāntic notion of a secret self (ātman) first articulated in early Upaniṣads. It seems Aurobindo began with his own mystic discovery and used tantric and Vedāntic ideas to interpret it and work it into his own philosophic and yogic teachings. The tantric ideas I find reworked by Aurobindo are funneled to us primarily by the great scholar, himself a tantric, Sir John Woodroffe (a.k.a. Arthur Avalon), but now also by a host of academics and tantric teachers (the publications of Swami Satyananda Saraswati and his Bihar School of Yoga, which are influenced by Aurobindo and therefore modern and not so traditional, are nevertheless helpful for acquiring a basic picture). According to tantrics, Vedāntins, and others, our consciousnesses are more than what we know as ourselves on the “surface,” and more than our embodied ego-identity in everyday life. Unlike some in the West in particular, Aurobindo and company find not dark but angelic sides of our fuller selves. Our central selves are special, “psychic” formations of “Divine Energy,” śakti, not of material or life energies, although metaphysically Divine Energy is said to transfigure into mental energy (“thought and emotion,” citta), “life energy,” prāṇa, as well as material energy at its lowest end (Aurobindo 1973a: 186).3 This teaching is prefigured in the Taittirīya Upaniṣad’s theory of five “ātmās,” or “selves,” five bodies that we inhabit simultaneously. But psychologically Aurobindo’s view develops a little more directly from a

tantric theory of a series of “chakras” or occult centers of consciousness connected by a Central Channel called suṣumnā (Aurobindo 1973b: 528: “the mystic stream which joins/The viewless summits with the unseen depths”). Now the chakras are thought to have cosmological dimensions, each connecting with a peculiar range of energy or substance or vibrational frequency, depending on the otherworlds conception of the particular tantric philosophy. In wider perspective, all this is similar to Vedāntic cosmologizing about, let me repeat, a subtle body consisting of four selves or ātmās beyond the physical body or “food” self as taught in the Upaniṣads: we live in five embodiments simultaneously—physical (annamaya), vital (prāṇamaya), lower mental (manomaya), higher mental (vijñānaṃaya), and spiritual (ānandamaya)—a schema also employed by Aurobindo and other tantrics as well as of course by Vedāntins both classical and modern (Aurobindo 1973a: 801). Aurobindo assimilates both the “five ātmās” and chakric occult psychological pictures to a theory that centers on an individuating principle, the “psychic,” in a word, although, as I said, among precursors the chakric seems to me to be predominant. There is a true individual that forms its own personality and karma through choices over a series of lives, developing talents underpinned by psychological dispositions (saṃskāras) that inhere in and etch our nonphysical bodies as well as the physical and the brain. Thus a reincarnating individual—the “psychic being”—comes to possess all sorts of differentiating features in a long process of “soul-making,”4 concretely figured as chakric formations, a complex “subtle body,” sūkṣma-śarīra (Aurobindo 1973a: 259–60 and elsewhere). Aurobindo places the individuator, the “psychic entity,” in a “secret cavern” behind the heart chakra (e.g., 1973a: 845; 1973b: 74, 501, 690, 706; 1973c: 568–70). More about this cave image, which is Vedāntic, below. The seven principal chakras are, beginning with the lowest or “root” chakra: (1) mūlādhāra, “root-support,” or the gateway to the “subtle physical,” in the terminology of Aurobindo, (2) svādhiṣṭ;hāna, the “self-established,” connecting with sexual energies and so located; (3) maṇipūra, the navel center, the “city of jewels,” another life-world center and the beginning of the Central Channel in some Buddhist tantric systems; (4) anāhata, the heart center where the “unstruck” sound is heard, where bhakti is felt (“Godward emotion,” in Aurobindo’s phrase); (5) viśuddhi, the throat center, the “pure,” connecting with voice and artistic expression; (6) the third eye, ājñā, corresponding to the middle of the forehead, the “command center,” the center of higher mentality; and finally (7) sahasrāra, the “thousandspoked [wheel],” (also known as sahasra-dala, the “thousand-petaled [lotus]”), the Divine center, the center of enlightenment, which is said to be located just above the crown of the head and connected occultly with the brahma-randhra, the cranial cleft through which runs the Central Channel, suṣumnā. Aurobindo finds a secret soul, the “psychic entity,” living behind the heart center projecting itself in psychic formations on all the levels, from the subtle physical to what Aurobindo calls Higher Mind, Overmind, and Supermind. These are very lofty areas of Divine consciousness that, although extremely important in Aurobindo’s overall psychological teaching, have minimal relevance to our eventual focus on his metaphysical argument for reincarnation, and reluctantly we pass them by.5 Historically, there is wide diversity of opinion in classical sources about a jīvātman, an individual consciousness, especially in its relationship to Brahman or God, throughout the

many centuries of classical Indian thought, in all the different schools—a very wide diversity indeed even in just the Vedic schools (thus excluding Buddhism and Jainism). But there is also interesting commonality, at least among those that endorse yoga and meditation. All yoga traditions teach that the intention to practice yoga is a wedge of light coming up from our truest self or consciousness, turning us toward other right attitudes in life as well as to our longer-term self-interest, that is to say, our self-interest considering postmortem survival and reincarnation. Thus, amidst great diversity of opinion about an individual self or soul, there is a common theme of yoga as a tool of, let us say, psychic transformation, following the coinage of Aurobindo. Aurobindo weaves a theory of psychic transformation into a Vedāntic/tantric philosophy overall, and has much to say about an occult individual in or “behind” the heart. In The Life Divine (1973a: 238), he characterizes this “secret soul” within us as the “psychic entity”: The true secret soul in us—subliminal, we have said, but this word is misleading, for this presence is not situated below the threshold of waking mind, but rather burns in the temple of the inmost heart behind the thick screen of an ignorant mind, life and body, not subliminal but behind the veil—this veiled psychic entity is the flame of the Godhead always alight within us, inextinguishable even by that dense unconsciousness of any spiritual self within which obscures our physical nature. It is a flame born out of the Divine and … the inner light or inner voice of the mystic. It is that which endures and is imperishable in us from birth to birth, untouched by death, decay, or corruption, an indestructible spark of the Divine. As he goes on to explain in The Life Divine (1973a: 239), the “psychic entity” develops a psychic personality, which he calls the “psychic being,” over the course of lifetimes of embodiment, incorporating transformed mental and prāṇic energies and dispositions into an enduring individual complex that survives the death of the body. Similarly, in the chapter of The Life Divine called “The Triple Transformation” (1973a: 922–52), psychic transformation figures prominently as the first of three wholesale psychological reworkings envisaged for a human personality: On this ignorant surface we become dimly aware of something that can be called a soul as distinct from mind, life, or body; we feel it not only as our mental idea or vague instinct of ourselves, but as a sensible influence in our life and character and action. A certain sensitive feeling for all that is true and good and beautiful, fine and pure and noble, a response to it, a demand for it, a pressure on mind and life to accept and formulate it in our thought, feelings, conduct, character is the most usually recognized, the most general and characteristic, though not the sole sign of the influence of this psyche. (Aurobindo 1973a: 926) Now although theoretically all may be “Divine Energy” (Śakti), in Aurobindo’s worldview (1973a: 84, 325) as in other tantric and Vedāntic worldviews, when it comes to an individual’s yogic experience and the soul-making process that we are engaged in (“All Life is Yoga,” reads the epigraph to Aurobindo’s [1973c] The Synthesis of Yoga), we have to

distinguish a purer Śakti—an evidently much more conscious and spiritual Divine Energy— from the material and other energies that engulf us in our everyday lives. In any case, a second kind of current or energy is said to flow in the Central Channel, a “Shakti” that originates in the highest center or level of consciousness, imaged by Aurobindo (and others) as the “Divine Mother” (1973a: 102–3, 184, and so on). According to Aurobindo, descending Śakti will, with each of us, inevitably connect when the time is right with an ordinarily sleeping form of Herself called kuṇḍalinī, “Serpent-power,” a Divine Energy, or more divine in contrast with prāṇa, the energy of life and breath. Some tantric texts say summarily that the point of yoga is to replace prāṇa with Śakti in the Central Channel. Aurobindo’s system embraces such teachings but his own yogic emphasis is on “descending Shakti,” and surrender to the Divine Mother, the sādhaka becoming a vessel. Such top-down yoga teaching, śakti-pāta, “descent of Shakti,” has classical precedent, which is however not entirely evident in the old texts, partly because the term can be and is interpreted as a matter of formal initiation by a guru. In Aurobindo’s yogic teaching, Divine Energy is supposed to flow down—and can be felt even in the “surface consciousness”— from the thousand-petaled lotus above the head enlivening the Central Channel and eventually the lower centers of consciousness, in the end awakening the kuṇḍalinī energy—a union of Lover and Beloved in the manifestation of Brahman as Perfect Individual. Of course, this picture is only a common blueprint. Divine individuals are not all alike. They are individuated (or are in the process of becoming individuated) by the different ways distinct psychic entities—“spark souls”—project themselves in personal formations—“psychic beings”—through a series of soul-making lives. “God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep” (Aurobindo 1973b: 55, from the canto, “The Secret Knowledge”). In the final analysis, Aurobindo has to be counted a monist and modern Vedāntin in metaphysics, but with a tantric and individualist twist: he asserts that there is a translife, progressively manifesting and developing individual. It is as though there are bare spiritual particulars, all exemplars of the chakric form which is like a mold within which the Divine Mother breathes life into—blows into full actuality like a glassmaker—the personalities assumed. Historically, it seems to me (following the lead of Professor Arabinda Basu, a longtime elucidator of The Life Divine at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education in Pondicherry) that the ideas most similar to this appear in Kaśmīri Śaivism. The main thesis of the Spanda-kārikā is that the world is a Tremor, Vibration, spanda of Śiva, the Divine, an out-breath followed by an in-breath of enlightenment. The in-breath does not destroy but enlightens. The world is manifestation, arranged from above, not below. The main difference is that it is “progressive” manifestation for Aurobindo, whereas for classical tantrics nothing like that is stressed, although it is commonly thought that one can make spiritual progress over a lifetime or stretch of lifetimes, resulting eventually in “liberation.”6 At the end of the Kaṭ;ha Upaniṣad, we find an image which recurs throughout subsequent literature as a symbol of the individual soul: “thumbsized,” a conscious being (puruṣa) who survives death is seated in a “secret cave” located in or behind the heart. Kaṭ;ha Upaniṣad 6.17 runs as follows: “The inner self (ātman) is a conscious being (puruṣa), thumbsized, forever dwelling in the heart of creatures./It is to be extracted from the body patiently, with diligence, like the cane shaft from the muñja reed./The bright, the immortal, it should be

known. The bright, the immortal, it should be known.”7 Similarly, Kaṭ;ha Upaniṣad 2.12 reads: “That one that is difficult to know, hidden, immanent, set in the cavern [of the heart], resting in the depths,/A wise man realizing it through knowledge of yogic method with respect to the self leaves behind joy and grief.” There are many similar images deriving from early Upaniṣads, notably the haṃsa (e.g., Kaṭ;ha 2.2, Śvetāśvatara 3.18, and other passages), which is the logo of the Ramakrishna Mission, the Bihar School of Yoga, and other modern institutions, which, despite sometimes being depicted as a swan, is, I hazard, the Siberian crane, a bird that flies over the Himalayas each spring from India where it winters to summer in Siberia (a great symbol for the transmigrating soul, considering the mountains’ massiveness). There are several other metaphors and symbols appearing in early Upaniṣads that might be mentioned: the texts have as one of their great themes the nature of the true self or soul, the jīvātman, being probably in large part responsible for the great diversity of views on the topic of the jīvātman’s relation to Brahman or God in the subschools of classical Vedānta. (There are more than a dozen distinct views articulated in the classical literature, and subschools for the most part receive their classical epithets according to the position taken on the issue of the individual self: Advaita, Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita, Bhedābheda, and so on.) For centuries yogic and tantric teachers used Upaniṣadic images and symbols in connection with the practices outlined such that, although in metaphysics there is probably even more diversity in tantric texts than in Vedāntic, what we may call a mainstream tantric psychological picture emerges. In Kundalini Tantra (1983: 164), Swami Satyananda writes about the heart chakra (anāhata), for example: “In the center of the pericarp of the lotus is an inverted triangle, within which burns the akhanda jyotir, unflickering eternal flame, representing the jivatman or individual soul.” Aurobindo, a realist about matter who also affirms that all is Brahman, uses the evocative image of “Fire burning on bare stone.” Indeed, Aurobindo devotes many lines of his epic poem Savitri to a “secret soul.” In the canto, “The Book of Yoga,” messengers say the following to Savitri (501): There in the silence few have ever reached, Thou shalt see the Fire burning on the bare stone And the deep cavern of thy secret soul.

Another especially memorable passage is an extended conceit that runs for four or five pages in the canto entitled “The Secret Knowledge” (69–73): This is the sailor on the flow of Time, This is World-Matter’s slow discoverer, Who, launched into this small corporeal birth, Has learned his craft in tiny bays of self, But dares at last unplumbed infinitudes, A voyager upon eternity’s seas. …

One could go on. There are divergences, of course, in the literature, in the literally hundreds of classical tantric texts and in the now additional hundreds in English and other modern languages. But having surveyed the broad lines and some historical precursors of the “mechanism,” so to

say, of Aurobindo’s reincarnation conception, let us move on to look at all the premises in his argument. There are many good questions about rebirth. (For instance, it is commonly asked, “Is there soul population growth?” The standard response, I take it, would be that the psyches of animals provide the stock for a growing human population.) And there are good questions about details of the “mechanism” in Aurobindo’s and other theories. But we should now have a handle at least on how rebirth is taken seriously by him as well as in yogic and tantric traditions in general. For details as well as overview, there is to my mind no better publication than The Psychic Being (Aurobindo and the Mother 2008), A.S. Dalal’s compilation of Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s explanations of the psychic being. In sum, Aurobindo posits a psychic entity that over the course of many incarnations develops a translife personality on different levels of our collective reality ranging from the physical through life and mind worlds to a being that is essentially Divine, that is, to God or Brahman, whose nature is Saccidānanda. To the theology we now turn.

6.3 The Heart of Sri Aurobindo’s Argument Here again is the argument, which has at its core, as I see it, a tension between a presupposition bearing on life’s meaningfulness and the nature of God, premises B and C below. (A) Brahman is Sachchidananda (Aurobindo’s anglicization). (B) If Brahman is Sachchidananda, then life has to be meaningful. (C) Life would not be meaningful without persistent individuality. (D) Persistent individuality in our world demands rebirth as machinery. Therefore: (E) Rebirth is real.

The most controversial premise is doubtless (A) Brahman is Sachchidananda (ExistenceConsciousness = Force-Bliss), which is to be taken as implying that Brahman (God) is real. For us non-mystics, yogic testimony—Aurobindo’s but also others’—is the principal evidence or reason to entertain A, as when someone you trust tells you about something that they have experienced but you haven’t. The epistemology of yogic and mystic testimony is another topic that deserves a book or more. But in the interests of a quick purchase of the genius of Aurobindo here, let us assign to premise A for the moment simply a minimal credence awaiting elaboration of the concept of Sachchidananda and the epistemology of yogic testimony. For the heart of the argument is, to my sensibilities, the tremendous divergence Aurobindo felt between the wondrousness of his own special experiences and the malaise of the world. In other words, the force of the argument is that the gloriousness of consummate yogic experience, which in contrast makes everyday life with its miseries seem even worse than it is—according not only to Aurobindo’s testimony but that of numerous saints and mystics from traditions all over the globe— means that life in our physical world has to have meaning. Otherwise, the gap between the value of the extraordinary experiences and that of our everyday-life experiences would be too great, and we would have to judge both—in the manner of an existentialist—absurd. The world is not absurd, according to the philosophy of Aurobindo, but has to have deep meaning, connecting with what is revealed in the heights of yogic experience, although that meaning is not apparent.

Premise A is obviously a lot to swallow, since it asserts the reality of something like the mainstream Western concept of God, although Brahman, unlike the “God” of Christianity, is thought to include matter within its reality. In support of the premise, I should like to stress Aurobindo’s own insistence on its connection with his, and others’, mystic experiences. But close readings of the most relevant chapters of The Life Divine for the thesis that Brahman is Sachchidananda (Book 1, Chapters 9–12, and Book 2, Part 1, Chapter 1) show complex cosmological argumentation in favor of a single Existent (sat), who is conscious and creative or self-creative (cit or cit-śakti), as well as blissful in itself and the source of value (ānanda). In my view, the “cosmological argument” is alive and well in contemporary philosophy.8 Richard Swinburne (1979), Robert Koons (2008), William Lane Craig, James D. Sinclair (2009), and others have championed versions whose basic outline is not so different from Aurobindo’s reasoning, against, in my judgment, less than blistering critiques (Gale 1991, for example, and others harkening back to Hume and Kant, although Gale apparently later changed his mind). If we side with Aristotle, Proclus, and company, against Buddhists and others who hold that an infinite series of causes is possible, we are left with the options of the universe as uncaused or caused by a being who is uncaused (alternatively, “self-caused”). The main argument in favor of the latter (Swinburne 1979: 131–2) seems to be that it is more intuitive that God, or Brahman, be uncaused than that the universe be somehow a “brute fact.” (Brahman is said to be svayambhū in early Upaniṣads, the “self-existent” or “selfcreated.”) “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Robert Nozick (1981: 120) urges that there is a presupposition to Heidegger’s famous question, namely, that there should be nothing, that nothing is the “natural state,” and so any adequate explanation of the universe would have to appeal to an original nothingness. This is what makes the question appear misformed, it seems to me. For, there is obviously something existent. And so I would like to ask: How, given existence, can we even imagine that there be nothing at all? A long line of metaphysicians, both East and West, argue that “nothing comes from nothing,” ex nihilo nihil fit.9 (“How did we get here?” From our parents, and they from their parents, and so on. Surely, not from nothing.) The real question is the nature of the “primordial,” to use a Whiteheadian term (Whitehead 1969). Aurobindo’s contribution can be viewed as concluding that there is a first cause, not only in the sense of a material cause but also in the sense of Aristotle’s three other types of cause or causal explanation, the efficient, formal, and teleological.10 The argument in focus here has most to do with the teleological dimension of Brahman, and, unfortunately, we cannot begin to cover all the considerations that Aurobindo brings to bear on our premise A. Suffice it to say, our Vedāntic philosopher is able to see purpose in nature’s workings, arguing that an essentially formless Divine has to be considered rich enough in its acosmological reality to account for the emergent cosmos. In this way, both cosmological and teleological considerations would not be irrelevant when it comes to the question of God’s nature. Premise C involves a claim about individuality and the meaning of life. Here the point is quite simple. Individuality is a primary feature of our lives as persons, and it is hard to think of anything more valuable to us than our individual destinies. This is the great theme of existentialism, a theme sounded too by Aurobindo. He expands on it by arguing that the accomplishments of high yogic experience require perhaps the loss of individual identity in

some sense but also extremely strong-willed and well-etched personal character. It is not the weak figure who has the qualities necessary for climbing yogic mountains of self-discovery. Death, however, seems to cancel individuality. If it does, life is absurd and cannot be explained with respect to the indication of the consummate yogic experience, which is—back now to premise A and, especially, Aurobindo’s mystic testimony—the experience of Brahman as Sachchidananda. In brief, individuality is so important in our universe, including for yogic accomplishment, that without survival of death it seems to Aurobindo that it would be impossible to explain our universe in relation to Brahman. Accordingly, Aurobindo reasons in Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 20 of The Life Divine (755–6), that there has to be reincarnation: The immense importance of the individual being, which increases as he rises in the scale, is the most remarkable and significant fact of a universe which started without consciousness and without individuality in an undifferentiated Nescience. This importance can only be justified if the Self as individual is no less real than the Self as cosmic Being or Spirit and both are Powers of the Eternal. It is only so that can be explained the necessity for the growth of the individual and his discovery of himself as a condition for the discovery of the cosmic Self and Consciousness and of the supreme Reality. If we adopt this solution, this is the first result, the reality of the persistent individual; but from the first consequence the other result follows, that rebirth of some kind is no longer a possible machinery which may or may not be accepted, it becomes a necessity, an inevitable outcome of the root nature of our existence.

6.3.1 Competitors Of course, there are other views of continuity, or its lack, in connection with the question of life’s meaningfulness. In Chapter 16 of Book 2, Part 2, “The Aim of Life, Four Theories of Existence,” Aurobindo rehearses four, three plus his own (1973a: 667ff.): (a) the supracosmic, (b) the cosmic and terrestrial, (c) the supraterrestrial or other-worldly, and (d) “the integral or synthetic or composite” where he places his own view. His own view may be said to be a modern variety of Vedāntic and tantric monistic theism, a world-affirming metaphysics of Brahman in which traditional Vedāntic views converge with a yogic and tantric “transformation” theory of a developing individual. Against (c), the other-worldly, Aurobindo supposes that a string of earthly identities is more valuable and significant than a string of cross-world identities. The idea of Western religion that a life here is followed by life in heaven or hell or purgatory with no return is precluded, he argues, by the value of cultural and life solidarities and other lines of continuity unavailable to a merely heaven-bound soul. In other words, lines of earthly persistence are intrinsically valuable. The idea is that through rebirth we perfect peculiarly human virtues and contribute again and again to a communal life and history. Thus his criticism of the “other-worldly” views connects directly with the reincarnation argument. If, as in mainstream conceptions of major Western religions, in particular Christianity and Islam, the meaning of life in this world is paid out in another world, a

heaven or hell or purgatory, as the case may be, then there is much more of a break in individual continuity than there would be according to a theory of reincarnation, which has us human beings coming back—such would seem to be the default rule—as human beings, to the same world, our good green planet, as that in which we have developed our psychic selves in this and in previous lives. So along the scale of the value of preservation of individuality, a reincarnation theory is superior to one that is other-worldly. (Reincarnation theory also provides a motive of self-interest to adopt sound ecological policies and just institutions.) Similar problems are pointed out for Buddhist philosophy and Advaita Vedānta, both with individuality in general and the more delicate matter of spiritual individuality, neither of which is emphasized in Advaita Vedānta or in Buddhism (by and large, and according to Aurobindo’s understandings), in the two ancient belief systems that he, by the way, takes as his principal adversaries when it comes to metaphysical reasoning.11 Against what he sometimes calls their illusionism, he argues that individuality is central to our lives as human beings. Not only is it presupposed throughout our everyday affairs as commercial agents, but it is central to our cultures, our literatures and arts, and, indeed, to yoga practice and accomplishment, in his conception, as we have pointed out. Nevertheless, there is much agreement with his Advaita and Buddhist adversaries, in that Aurobindo holds that yogic, and more broadly meditational, practices can lead to a spiritual enlightenment and the emergence of a “spiritual individual.” But practices, he stresses, are carried out through the effort of single persons, not groups, and it is individuals who become enlightened in the mystic experience that is their aim and result. It is also the individual who is, he says, capable of undergoing a radical transformation in the direction of what he calls divine life. Thus individuality cannot be illusory or so transitory as to end with death (this is the argument in another context). And, indeed, rebirth is traditionally taught in both Buddhism and Advaita to be the destiny of the unenlightened who get future chances beyond any single life and death. To be sure, Aurobindo, in agreement with his assumed adversaries, identifies elements in ourselves—including what he calls egoism—that are, if not illusory, at least distortional, hindering our spiritual progress. But individuality itself cannot be all false, he emphasizes, lest there be none to become enlightened or spiritually transformed. Furthermore, throughout The Life Divine, Aurobindo argues that our world is ideally suited for spiritual evolution, because the pain and suffering that life involves spur aspiration to spiritual transformation. What he calls “typal worlds,” which do not evolve, such as the “heaven” of Christianity and Islam, do not have a mixture of pleasure and pain, birth and death, and so on through a host of familiar “dualities,” and are thus unsuited for evolution and personality development. We may call this Aurobindo’s “soul-making” theodicy, which is in line with an argument espoused by Sri Ramakrishna and many others in the “Hindu renaissance” (Maharaj 2018). However, C.J. Ducasse (1951, 1961), a former president of the American Philosophical Association, defends the possibility of reincarnation by positing a kind of “psychic heaven.” He argues that we may think of a deeper substratum of personal identity—what he calls individuality, as opposed to a more superficial stratum he calls personality—as surviving death and determining talents and proclivities in a future lifetime. Only the former could

survive, Ducasse reasons, since there is a bodily component to personality. Individuality, in contrast, is entirely psychological, consisting of “instincts, dispositions, and tendencies” formed by choices and actions in this and previous lives. Ducasse maintains that if rebirth is to be a real possibility, there must be an interval between death and birth where recollection of past lives is normal. Memory, according to him, would underpin the identity of an individual across lives, though previous lives need not be accessible except in the death-birth interval. Aurobindo’s theory, too, demands such an interval, in a “psychic heaven,” so to say, by Ducasse’s reasoning. Thus other worlds, or at least an other world, would appear to be crucial to his theory. And this is posited indeed (right after our chapter in focus are two entitled “The Order of the Worlds” and “Rebirth and Other Worlds” respectively). Thus Aurobindo himself appears to depend on an “other-worldly” conception in arguing for reincarnation. Still, his points about earthly continuity, etc., would seem to hold. Why is individuality valuable from Brahman’s perspective? Why should the One become the Many? And why, in particular, should Brahman value the lasting but also developmental individuality that Aurobindo champions in The Life Divine? Personally, I think the question is unanswerable. But Aurobindo writes in an early chapter of The Life Divine, Book 1, Chapter 11 (91): we have yet no answer to the question “Why should Brahman, perfect, absolute, infinite, needing nothing, desiring nothing, at all throw out force of consciousness to create in itself these worlds of forms?” … it can be only for one reason, for delight. And then in the next chapter, Chapter 12 (110), he provides a description of our universe that brings out how “the One Existence should take delight in such a movement,” a description he defends at much greater length in Chapter 23 of Book 2, Part 2, where he speaks of a “metaphysical objection” to his theory of spiritual evolution. Aurobindo views the meaning of our world to be development of psychic beings, spiritual individuals who come to know Brahman in yogic experience, along with collective progression to “divine life”: All exists here, no doubt, for the delight of existence, all is a game or Lila; but a game too carries within itself an object to be accomplished and without the fulfillment of that object would have no completeness of significance. A drama without denouement may be an artistic possibility—existing only for the pleasure of watching the characters and the pleasure in problems posed without a solution or with a forever suspended dubious balance of solution; the drama of the earth evolution might conceivably be of that character, but an intended or inherently predetermined denouement is also and more convincingly possible. Ananda is the secret principle of all being and the support of all activity of being: but Ananda does not exclude a delight in the working out of a Truth inherent in being, immanent in the Force or Will of being, upheld in the hidden selfawareness of its Consciousness-Force which is the dynamic and executive agent of all its activities and the knower of their significance. (1973a: 835) A good plot has to have a telos, has to have direction, insists Aurobindo. The direction of earth evolution is divine life, which is conceived as a world of psychic beings conscious both

of their individuality and Brahman.12 This then provides meaning to the long “becoming.” The deep idea here seems to be that of Brahman’s “dynamic perfection,” denying the presupposition (apparently due to Plato) “Where there is will, there is want,” such that Brahman’s cosmic perfection—as opposed to, or in addition to, Brahman’s transcendent perfection—includes the dynamis of the development of spiritual individuality in our world. We might also point to Aurobindo’s idea of Divine Love and Compassion that condescends, so to say, to emanate such a difficult creation as our universe.13 I also like the idea that given the essential unity of Brahman, it is a challenge to create autonomous individuals, especially materially embodied individuals capable of knowing Brahman. But this whole line of questioning seems to me not to have the highest relevance to our appreciation of Aurobindo’s argument for reincarnation, since it is pretty evident to us as individuals that individuality is valuable (and for it we are grateful, I dare say). We too are Brahman, and our values count. Our pains and sufferings are instrumental to the development of divine life. As indicated, this is a major theme of The Life Divine. It is true that on the very last page of the book Aurobindo seems to leave open the possibility of total dissolution in Brahman for some souls: “or, if its end as an individual is to return into its Absolute, it could make that return also—not through a frustration of life but through a spiritual completeness of itself in life” (1070). And so despite the insistence on the importance of individuality, Aurobindo makes room in his philosophy for a total nirvāṇa for the individual soul. However, note that he also implies that that would be an enormous accomplishment, for an individual.

6.3.2 The Argument Summarized and Evaluated Let us return now to the most controversial premise of the four sketched, the first, premise A, which assumes the reality of Brahman or God as well as that God’s nature is “Sachchidananda.” As mentioned, here the support includes, most prominently according to our philosopher, mystic experience and mystic propositions as the result of a kind of mystic empiricism, at least for people who like Sri Aurobindo have the special experiences. For the rest of us, there is their testimony, along with, as mentioned, various cosmological and teleological considerations familiar to anyone versed in natural theology (I believe a cosmological argument carries some real weight; surely Aurobindo does, rehearsing a Vedāntic version as indicated). Now in Aurobindo’s telling, yogic and more broadly mystic testimony on this score is overwhelming. But even if we accept that there is something real and objective that mystic experiences indicate—even if we have the Vedāntic “over-belief,” to use the wonderful term of William James in his classic study of world mysticism ([1900] 1982: 389), that there is a Brahman—there are surely differences of opinion about the nature of the Absolute in classical Vedānta and its modern successors. All the more is this true in yogic traditions, some of which are flatly dualistic, much less to consider, like James, mystic experience worldwide. It is crucial to Aurobindo’s argument that Brahman be saccidānanda, but premise A is controversial within the very yogic traditions he purports to draw on. His response is to criticize what he sees as limited posits based on yogic experience, arguing that many apparently have generalized hastily on the basis of minor experiences or even major experiences of a transcendent Divine but in all cases have not pushed on long and hard

enough to an “integral” experience of a “Divine Reality.” It is, of course, hard to know how to evaluate from the outside differentiation and criticism of the profundity of different yogic and mystic experiences. Another response to the problem of mystic diversity that Aurobindo provides shows more promise for philosophy, it seems to me: Brahman conceived as the Infinite (Aurobindo 1973a: 323 and 329–42, in particular). Mount Everest looks a lot different from the Tibetan side as opposed to the Nepali. The idea is that there is a single object of a variety of mystic experiences, an object so grand that we should expect very different finite, human experiences of it. Aurobindo cites (1973a: 331) a classic story of five blind people and an elephant, “each of the blind inquirers touched a different part and concluded that the whole animal resembled the part of which he had the touch.” Surely, Aurobindo’s idea of a “logic of the Infinite” (1973a: 337) is worthy of exploration, but the theological work required to remove the tensions—not to say outright contradictions—in mystic testimony worldwide would have to be, I daresay, prodigious. What then, precisely, does Aurobindo mean by “Sachchidananda?” Well, that, too, is a good question, the answer to which is a long story. But to appreciate our metaphysical argument, I think the key idea is that God is Bliss. The topic of how God creates through a process of self-concealing is for another occasion (here Aurobindo seems to develop the Vedāntic theology of Vallabha and company, although I am not at all sure that he was aware of the Sanskrit texts). Nevertheless, we can appreciate the central move without probing further into the Divine attributes of sat and cit (alternatively, cit-tapas). All we need focus upon is the idea that Brahman or God is Bliss (ānanda), that is to say, that God is the locus of supreme value. Thus a less elaborate description of Brahman or God may be all that is required to appreciate the argument. We might, for example, substitute for “Sachchidananda” a favorite Divine attribute in Western theology, God’s “lovingness.” Thus: (B′) If Brahman is loving, then life has to be meaningful. And now the argument looks pretty good, clear, and cogent, given A, which of course remains a lot to grant. But perhaps for B′ we need only mystic testimony and not all the cosmological and teleological argumentation to boot. Also, that God or Brahman would be omnibenevolent seems intuitive. From another perspective, we might say, as was suggested, that premise A is the starting point for Aurobindo’s development of classical Indian theodicy, using rebirth to defend God’s goodness. Finally, let me try to state a full-blown version of the argument using the rich terminology employed by Aurobindo himself in his speculative masterpiece, that is, putting it more in language that he himself uses. Brahman, i.e., God, working through Divine Śakti, suffuses the universe as “Sachchidananda,” Being-Consciousness = Force-Bliss. Brahman “selfmanifests” this nature for the purpose of delight and self-discovery in a long evolutionary process. Life would not have meaning if the individual did not in some way survive, and such meaninglessness in the self-manifestation of Brahman would be metaphysically discordant and is thus impossible. Rebirth is the necessary “machinery” for the persistence. Such is the

gist of the reasoning.

Notes I thank Debashish Banerjee for suggestions and comments, as well as Ayon Maharaj. In Chapter 11 of this handbook, Ayon Maharaj provides a detailed discussion of Sri Aurobindo’s novel interpretation of the Īśā Upaniṣad. The claim of memory of past lives has led Ian Stevenson, formerly a professor at the University of Virginia Medical School, now deceased, to explore the evidence for reincarnation and, in several books (1974, 1984, 1997), to conclude in its favor. Though the memory claim and other evidence—the xenoglossy that Stevenson documents seems particularly weighty—are less controversial than Aurobindo’s metaphysical argument, the overall case, I dare say, is a matter of convergent reasons. And there can be no convergence without as least a modicum of independent cogency. The first edition of The Life Divine (1914–19) was published serially, a chapter a month, approximately, and there is much repetition as our author brings his readers back up to speed, summarizing the thought of previous chapters. There is thus an abundance of citable passages for central propositions. It should not be thought that the references given here are to the only passages that express the ideas in focus, although I have tried to find text that is particularly germane. Some of the choicest expressions of Aurobindo’s psychological and even metaphysical theses are found in the poem Savitri, which was Aurobindo’s principal occupation in the later years of his life, and I often cite verses. To my sensibilities, letters to disciples are not particularly good sources in some instances since, in line with the Buddhist hermeneutical doctrine of “skill in means,” personal correspondence may be shaped by a teacher’s sense of what his or her interlocutor needs to hear more than by consistency. The Romantic poet John Keats (1795–1821) wrote in a letter that this world is not “a vale of tears” but rather “the vale of Soulmaking,” with pain and suffering necessary to form a soul and a personality. Cognate notions were prevalent throughout the Romantic movement; Hegel’s view of an Absolute evolving through a dialectic of history is probably the quintessential Romantic philosophy. John Hick, a philosopher and theologian at the University of Birmingham in England, took the Romantic idea and wedded it to views he found in Irenaeus (130–202 CE), a Greek Father of the Church, and developed a “soul-making” Christian theodicy (primarily in Evil and the God of Love [Hick 1977, first published 1966]) that has become prominent in philosophic discussions of evil and God since its appearance. Hick seems also to have read Aurobindo, and his theory and argumentation differ from Aurobindo’s mainly in positing other worlds where the soul continues its development after death as opposed to reincarnation. Strictly speaking, the “true individual” is not just the developing psychic being but also includes the soul’s “big brother” or “big sister,” so to say, a form of Brahman (“jīvātman,” in Aurobindo’s unusual use of the Sanskrit term) that does not incarnate but that looks after, as a secret divine guide, its incarnating and developing part within the material universe and elsewhere. However, since this is also said to be a “face of the One,” a person’s iṣṭ;a-devatā, uniqueness appears to be contributed by the psychic part. The topic, however, belongs more to the metaphysics of the Divine than to human psychology and reincarnation as conceived by Aurobindo, and is a little beyond our purview. The Buddhist ideal of the Bodhisattva becoming a perfect individual over the course of many lifetimes is perhaps the most striking example of a precedent for Aurobindo’s view of a developing “soul personality.” However, not development but rather dissolution—“liberation,” mukti—is the more prominent theme in classical Indian thought about rebirth, under whatever banner, Hindu or Buddhist. Nevertheless, spiritual progress is thought to be required to achieve mukti. In Aurobindo (1973b: 526), in the canto “The Finding of the Soul,” there are these lines: “As a mother feels and shares her children’s lives,/She puts forth a small portion of herself/A being no bigger than the thumb of man/Into a hidden region of the heart/To face the pang and forget the bliss,/To share the suffering and endure earth’s wounds/And labour mid the labour of the stars.” Bruce Reichenbach (2017) writes, “In short, contemporary philosophers continue to contribute increasingly detailed and complex arguments on both sides of the debate.” In India, the earliest expression of the principle appears to be Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.2.1–2, of approximately the time of the Buddha, that is, around 500 BCE: “‘In the beginning, good lad, this was being, one alone without a second. Some say, “In the beginning this was not-being, one alone without a second. From that not-being, being was produced.” But, good lad, how could that be?’ he said. ‘How could being be produced from not-being? In the beginning, good lad, this was being, one alone without a second.’” (Translation by Roebuck 2000: 172.) Particularly worthy of philosophic scrutiny, it seems to me, is Aurobindo’s filling out of the “formal” dimension of a “first cause,” in The Life Divine, Part 2, Chapter 1. Buddhist and Advaita views are alluded to in the chapter referred to on reincarnation (Aurobindo 1973a: 667–8, in particular),

but it is when one considers the treatise as a whole that these “supracosmic” adversaries stand out, along with materialism, as Aurobindo’s principal targets as he champions his view against what he sees as its chief competitors. With regard to the further reaches of Aurobindo’s speculations about the future, it is more accurate to say he envisages a world of “gnostic beings,” since he sees psychic individuals as going through further transformations to embody a superior instrumentality of consciousness that he calls “Supermind.” The last chapters of The Life Divine articulate what he calls spiritual “gnosis.” My essay, “God’s Last World” (Phillips 2008), proposes a solution to the theological problem of evil as specified by Leibniz’s worry that ours may not be the “best of all possible worlds.” It is that God’s intrinsic benevolence would result not only in the creation of the best of all possible worlds but also in beings “having their day in the sun” in worlds that are not the best possible but still valuable enough to create or manifest. Only gods and goddesses could inhabit the higher worlds, but God has let us mortals, too, exist, in what, given our mortality, etc., is far from the best world imaginable. Assuming theism, aren’t you glad that God didn’t make only the best of all possible worlds, but has been gracious enough to create our world, though flawed, in addition?

References Aurobindo, Sri (1973a), The Life Divine. Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, vols. 18 and 19, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust (first published 1914–19, revised and expanded 1939 and 1940). Aurobindo, Sri (1973b), Savitri. Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, vols. 28 and 29, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. Aurobindo, Sri (1973c), The Synthesis of Yoga. Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, vols. 20 and 21, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust (first published 1914–21). Aurobindo, Sri, and the Mother (2008), The Psychic Being [Selections from their writings compiled by A.S. Dalal], Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. Craig, William Lane and James D. Sinclair (2009), “The Kalām Cosmological Argument,” in William Lane Craig and James P. Moreland, eds., The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, London: Blackwell, 101–201. Ducasse, C.J. (1951), Nature, Mind, and Death, La Salle, IL: Open Court. Ducasse, C.J. (1961) A Critical Examination of the Belief in a Life after Death, Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas. Franco, Eli, ed., in collaboration with Dagmar Eigner (2009), Yogic Perception, Meditation and Altered States of Consciousness, Sitzungsberichte der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophische Historische Klasse, vol. 794. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Gale, Richard M. (1991), On the Nature and Existence of God, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hick, John (1977), Evil and the God of Love, San Francisco: Harper and Row. James, William ([1900] 1982), The Varieties of Religious Experience, New York: Penguin. Koons, Robert C. (2008), “Epistemological Foundations for the Cosmological Argument,” in Jonathan L. Kvanvig, ed., Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Religion, vol. 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 105–33. Maharaj, Ayon (2018) Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality: Sri Ramakrishna and Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion, New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. Nozick, Robert (1981), Philosophical Explanations, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Phillips, Stephen (2008), “God’s Last World: Sri Aurobindo’s Argument for Divine Life,” Jadavpur Journal of Philosophy 18.2, 1–12 (2008). Phillips, Stephen (2009) Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy, New York: Columbia University Press. Reichenbach, Bruce (2017), “Cosmological Argument,” in Edward N. Zalta, ed., The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (accessed January 4, 2020). Roebuck, Valerie (2000), The Upaniṣads, New York: Penguin. Satyananda Saraswati, Swami (1983), Kundalini Tantra. Munger: Bihar School of Yoga. Stevenson, Ian (1974), Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, 2nd edn., Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia. Stevenson, Ian (1984), Unlearned Language: New Studies in Xenoglossy, Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia. Stevenson, Ian (1997), Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect, Westport, CT: Praeger. Swinburne, Richard (1979), The Existence of God, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Whitehead, A.N. (1969), Process and Reality. New York: Macmillan.

7 Debating Freud on the Oceanic Feeling: Romain Rolland’s Vedāntic Critique of Psychoanalysis and His Call for a “New Science of the Mind”

Ayon Maharaj The fascinating letters exchanged between Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), the founder of psychoanalysis, and the celebrated French writer Romain Rolland (1866–1944) from 1923 to 1936 have been a fertile source of discussion and debate among scholars and psychoanalysts. In 1927, Freud sent Rolland a copy of his new book Die Zukunft einer Illusion (The Future of an Illusion), a polemical critique of religion from a psychoanalytic standpoint. In a momentous letter dated December 5, 1927, Rolland thanked Freud for sending his “lucid and spirited little book” and remarked: Your analysis of religions is a just one. But I would have liked to see you doing an analysis of spontaneous religious sentiment [sentiment religieux spontané] or, more exactly, of religious feeling [sensation religieuse], which is wholly different from religions in the strict sense of the word, and much more durable. What I mean is: totally independent of all dogma, all credo, all Church organization, all Sacred Books, all hope in a personal survival, etc., the simple and direct fact of the feeling of the “eternal” (which can very well not be eternal, but simply without perceptible limits, and like oceanic, as it were) [le fait simple et direct de la sensation de l’ éternel (qui peut très bien n’être pas éternel, mais simplement sans bornes perceptibles, et comme océanique)]. (Parsons 1999: 173; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 304)1 In the same letter, Rolland went on to claim that the “true subterranean source of religious energy” is none other than this “‘oceanic’ sentiment” (sentiment océanique) (Parsons 1999: 173; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 304). According to Rolland, while this oceanic feeling is “of a subjective character,” it is nonetheless “common to thousands (millions) of men actually existing” (Parsons 1999: 173; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 304). He confessed that he himself enjoyed this oceanic feeling as a “constant state” and had “always found in it a source of vital renewal” (Parsons 1999: 173; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 304). Rolland added, moreover, that the “rich and beneficent power” of the oceanic feeling is found both in the “religious souls of the West”2 and in the “great minds of Asia.”

Significantly, he singled out “two personalities”—the nineteenth-century Bengali saint Sri Ramakrishna (1836–86),3 and his chief disciple, Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902)—who not only experienced this oceanic feeling but also “revealed an aptitude for thought and action which proved strongly regenerating for their country and for the world” (Parsons 1999: 173; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 304). Indeed, Rolland was so fascinated by these two Indian spiritual personalities that he went on to write a three-volume work on them—Vie de Ramakrishna (1929), Vie de Vivekananda (1930), and L’Évangile universel (1930)—which he sent to Freud in 1930. Freud, in turn, read Rolland’s biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda and commented on them in a letter to Rolland dated January 19, 1930. Freud also sent Rolland a copy of his book Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (1930; Civilization and Its Discontents), the opening section of which investigates Rolland’s notion of oceanic feeling from a psychoanalytic standpoint. In this book, Freud interprets the oceanic feeling as a regression to a pre-Oedipal feeling of unity with the external world, and he argues—against Rolland—that the true source of religion is not this oceanic feeling but an infantile feeling of helplessness, which can be traced to the child’s need for the father’s protection (Freud 1930, [1930] 1961). While Jeffrey Masson (1980: 1–50) and David Fisher (1982) have defended Freud’s psychoanalytic interpretation of the oceanic feeling as a regression to an infantile state, numerous scholars—including Janette Simmonds (2006), William Meissner (2005), David Werman (1986), and William Parsons (1999, 2003)—have argued that Freud’s psychoanalytic understanding of mystical experience is reductive and inaccurate.4 Werman (1986), Parsons (1999), and Jussi Saarinen (2012) have also fruitfully explored the unique phenomenology of Rolland’s oceanic feeling. However, comparatively few scholars have investigated Rolland’s underlying motivations for asking Freud to analyze the oceanic feeling in his fateful 1927 letter. Fisher and Parsons, who are among the few to have addressed this issue, simply assume that Rolland was expecting from Freud a non-reductive psychoanalytic examination of mysticism.5 I will argue, however, that Rolland’s intentions in introducing the oceanic feeling to Freud were much more complex, multifaceted, and critical than scholars have generally assumed. In Section 7.1, I will examine Rolland’s biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, which provide essential clues to understanding the complex intentions behind his appeal to the oceanic feeling in his letter to Freud. In these biographies, Rolland not only polemicizes against psychoanalytic approaches to mystical experience but also encourages psychoanalysts to correct and deepen their superficial conception of the mind by taking seriously the mystical experiences of both Eastern and Western saints. I will argue that Freud’s attempts to rebut some of Rolland’s criticisms of psychoanalysis are largely unconvincing. In Vie de Vivekananda, Rolland calls for a “new science of the mind” rooted in the ancient Indian spiritual systems of rājayoga and jñānayoga. According to Rolland, this new science of the mind would incorporate some of the most valuable insights of psychoanalysis without succumbing to the reductionism prevalent in psychoanalytic approaches to mystical experience. With this background in place, I will contend in Section 7.2 that Rolland’s primary

intentions in appealing to the oceanic feeling in his 1927 letter to Freud—intentions less evident in his letters to Freud than in his biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda— were twofold: first, to challenge the fundamental assumptions of psychoanalysis from a Vedāntic perspective, and second, to confront Freud with a yogic “science of the mind” that he felt was superior to Freud’s psychoanalytic science. In Section 7.3, I will consider Parsons’s influential thesis that Rolland’s critical engagement with Freud anticipated what Parsons calls the “adaptive” and “transformative” psychoanalytic approaches to mysticism that emerged after Freud’s time. Drawing on the arguments of Sections 7.1 and 7.2, I will argue that Parsons’s genealogy of Rolland’s legacy is incomplete and somewhat misleading, since it downplays Rolland’s radical critique of psychoanalysis. Against Parsons, I will argue that Rolland’s pioneering criticisms of psychoanalysis from a Vedāntic perspective anticipated certain aspects of the critiques of psychoanalysis developed by twentieth-century spiritual thinkers as diverse as Sri Aurobindo, Swami Akhilananda, and Ken Wilber.

7.1 Rolland’s Views on Psychoanalysis and Mysticism in his Biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda Rolland’s biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda provide helpful insight into his complex views on both psychoanalysis and mysticism.6 Throughout Vie de Ramakrishna, Rolland conspicuously refrains from indulging in psychoanalytic interpretations of the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna.7 To mention just a few examples, Rolland approvingly refers to Sri Ramakrishna’s teaching that “[a]bsolute continence must be practiced if God is to be realized” (LR 153). While psychoanalytically oriented scholars such as Jeffrey Masson, Narasingha Sil, and Jeffrey Kripal have claimed that sexual repression plays a crucial explanatory role in Sri Ramakrishna’s behavior and spiritual experiences, Rolland explicitly rejects the psychoanalytic theory of repression in the case of mystics.8 According to Rolland, both Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda successfully observed absolute “sexual continence” in thought, word, and deed (LR 153). Indeed, Rolland claims that mystics, by means of the practice of perfect continence, are able to sublimate—rather than repress—their sexual energies and rechannel them toward spiritual ends.9 As Rolland puts it, “All great mystics and the majority of great idealists, the giants among the creators of the spirit, have clearly and instinctively realized what formidable power of concentrated soul, of accumulated creative energy, is generated by a renunciation of the organic and psychic expenditure of sexuality” (LR 152).10 Psychoanalytic scholars have had a field day with Sri Ramakrishna’s femininity and crossdressing, some going so far as to claim that he was a closet homosexual.11 Rolland, by contrast, refers several times to Sri Ramakrishna’s “femininity” (LR 9) and “feminine grace” (LR 6), but he views Sri Ramakrishna’s femininity not as psychoanalytic fodder but as a distinctive and charming personality trait. The psychoanalyst Masson (1980: 46 note 9) is clearly disappointed—even piqued—that Rolland did not consider Sri Ramakrishna to be a repressed homosexual: “It is astonishing that Romain Rolland could so overlook the blatant

homosexual concerns of Ramakrishna. On the contrary, he [Rolland] seemed to perceive these elements as a sign of deep psychological penetration.” Rolland’s reverential account of Sri Ramakrishna’s pure and utterly unworldly marriage to the young Sāradā Devī is equally devoid of any psychoanalytic agenda: “It was a union of souls and remained unconsummated … and later it became a beautiful thing. A tree must be judged by its fruits, and in this case the fruits were of God, pure and not carnal love” (LR 21). Moreover, in his discussion of Sri Ramakrishna’s first mystical vision of Kālī, Rolland quotes Sri Ramakrishna’s own vivid description of his vision, in which he reports that he “saw an ocean of the Spirit, boundless, dazzling” and that he “was conscious of the presence of the Divine Mother” (LR 15). Rolland notably refrains from psychoanalyzing Sri Ramakrishna’s oceanic experience, in spite of Sri Ramakrishna’s references to oceanic imagery and the “Mother,” which might seem to invite a psychoanalytic interpretation (as Rolland himself was well aware).12 Evidently, throughout his biographies, Rolland consciously refrains from invoking psychoanalytic theories and categories—such as sexual repression, the Oedipus complex, and latent homosexuality—to explain the behavior of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.13 Moreover, in the second appendix to his biography of Vivekananda, entitled “On Mystic Introversion and Its Scientific Value for Knowledge of the Real,” Rolland attacks psychoanalytic approaches to mystical experience and argues that “mystic introversion” is a valid scientific “method of experiment” (LV 284).14 The appendix focuses on Ferdinand Morel’s Essai sur l’Introversion mystique (1918), a psychoanalytic investigation of the mystical experiences of Pseudo-Dionysius and other mystics. Rolland not only points out the “weak points” in Morel’s arguments but also makes more sweeping criticisms of psychoanalytic approaches to mysticism in general, three of which are especially significant (LV 278).15 First, Rolland claims that psychoanalysts tend to lack the spiritual sensibility, sympathy, and open-mindedness needed for an adequate understanding of religious experience: The intuitive workings of the “religious” spirit … have been insufficiently studied by modern psychological science in the West and then too often by observers who are themselves lacking in every kind of “religious” inclination, and so are ill equipped for the study, and involuntarily prone to depreciate an inner sense they do not themselves possess. (LV 277) According to Rolland, psychoanalysts have tended to “depreciate” the mystical experiences of saints because they lack the “inner sense” necessary to have mystical experiences in the first place.16 Interestingly, in a letter to Rolland dated July 20, 1929, Freud admits, “To me mysticism is just as closed a book as music” (Parsons 1999: 175).17 Four days later, Rolland responds to Freud: “I can hardly believe that mysticism and music are unknown to you. Because ‘nothing human is unknown to you.’ Rather, I think that you distrust them, because you uphold the integrity of critical reason, with which you control the instrument” (Parsons 1999: 176; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 312). This epistolary exchange helps clarify Rolland’s understanding of Freud’s stance toward mysticism: in Rolland’s view, while Freud

does possess a capacity for mystical intuition, Freud’s “critical reason” makes him suspicious of this mystical “inner sense” both in himself and in others. In any case, Rolland’s main point is that if a psychoanalyst—for whatever reason—has a dogmatic prejudice against the validity of mystical knowledge, then the psychoanalyst’s analysis of mystical experience is doomed to be biased and unreliable. At various points in the appendix, Rolland makes the provocative suggestion that the psychoanalytic denigration of mystical experience stems from an abnormally extroverted tendency among psychoanalysts themselves. Morel, as Rolland notes, borrows the term “introversion” from Carl Gustav Jung but expands its meaning to encompass what he calls “mystic introversion” (LV 277 note 2). Rolland, in turn, departs from both Jung and Morel in accusing many psychoanalysts—including Freud, Morel, Pierre Janet, and Théodule Ribot— of “extroversion” in the normative sense of having a pathological aversion to, or incapacity for, introversion. According to Rolland, psychoanalytic extroverts dogmatically ascribe “the highest rank to ‘interested’ action and the lower rank to concentration of thought” (LV 279). Indeed, Rolland turns the tables on psychoanalysts by pathologizing their own tendency toward extroversion: “And this depreciation of the most indispensable operation of the active mind—the withdrawal into oneself, to dream, to imagine, to reason—is in danger of becoming a pathological aberration. The irreverent observer is tempted to say, ‘Physician, heal thyself!’” (LV 279). If psychoanalysts have tended to dismiss putative mystical experiences as pathological aberrations, Rolland suggests that the deep-seated aversion to introversion among many psychoanalysts is itself a “pathological aberration.” To illustrate this point, Rolland refers specifically to Janet’s privileging of the “function of the real,” the “awareness of the present, of present action, the enjoyment of the present” (LV 279). According to Rolland, Janet places the “whole world of imagination and fancy” at “the bottom of the scale” (LV 279). Rolland goes on to detect a similar denigration of introversion in the work of Freud and Eugen Bleuler and adds a revealing footnote in which he invokes Plotinus: “With quite unconscious irony a great ‘introvert’ like Plotinus sincerely pities the ‘extroverts,’ the ‘wanderers outside themselves’ (Ennéades IV, III [17]), for they seem to him to have lost the ‘function of the real’” (LV 279). Plotinus, in this passage from the Enneads, refers to people who are so obsessed with their physical body that they have forgotten their divine soul within (1984: 87–91). Rolland cleverly appropriates this passage from Plotinus in the service of a spiritual metacritique of psychoanalysis. Inhabiting Plotinus’s mystical standpoint, Rolland argues that psychoanalysts have a severely impoverished understanding of what counts as “real,” since they tend to dismiss transcendental entities such as the soul or God—which mystics such as Plotinus take to be the ultimate reality—as merely subjective imaginings.18 According to Rolland, the tendency among psychoanalysts to denigrate mystical experience stems from their pitiable—indeed, pathological—extroversion, which leads them to favor action in, and adaptation to, the external world over concentration, thought, and spiritual contemplation. Later in the appendix, Rolland suggests that another reason for the psychoanalytic denigration of introversion is the assumption of a false dichotomy between introversion and extroversion: many psychoanalysts wrongly assume that the mystic’s preoccupation with inward states comes at the expense of his or her adaptation to external reality. Rolland states:

If a scientist maintains that such a knowledge [i.e., the mystic’s knowledge] of psychic profundities teaches us nothing about exterior realities, he is really, though perhaps unwittingly, obeying a prejudice of proud incomprehension as one-eyed as that of religious spiritualists who set up an insurmountable barrier between spirit and matter. (LV 283) Once again, Rolland turns the psychoanalytic hermeneutics of suspicion against psychoanalysts themselves by diagnosing them with an unconscious “prejudice” that prevents them from recognizing the compatibility of mystic introversion with an ability to flourish in the external world. Rolland singles out Vivekananda as a perfect example of a great mystic who was fully capable of dynamic action in the world: A great “Introvert” will know at the same time how to be a great “Extrovert.” Here the example of Vivekananda seems to me to be conclusive. Interiorization has never led in principle to diminution of action. (LV 287) Rolland argues that the compatibility of introversion and extroversion finds its ultimate philosophical justification in the Vedāntic view—to which he clearly subscribes—that the Reality known through mystic introspection is identical with the Reality underlying the external world. As Rolland puts it, “The laws of the inner psychic substance are of necessity themselves those of outside reality” (LV 284). Hence, from Rolland’s Vedāntic perspective, the psychoanalytic denigration of mysticism is rooted in the erroneous metaphysical assumption of a dichotomy between inner and outer, which can itself be traced to a pathological aversion to introversion. After Freud read Rolland’s biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, Freud wrote a letter to Rolland dated January 19, 1930, in which he objects to Rolland’s use of the terms “introvert” and “extrovert”: “the distinction between extrovert and introvert derives from C.G. Jung, who is a bit of a mystic himself and hasn’t belonged to us for years. We don’t attach any great importance to the distinction and are well aware that people can be both at the same time, and usually are” (Parsons 1999: 176). Freud attempts to dodge Rolland’s criticisms of psychoanalysis by claiming that Jung, and not Freud himself, uses the terms “extroversion” and “introversion” and assumes a sharp dichotomy between them. Freud’s response to Rolland, however, is clearly beside the point, since Rolland quite deliberately expands the meaning of the terms “introversion” and “extroversion” well beyond Jung’s understanding of the terms. The metacritical thrust of Rolland’s appropriation of the originally Jungian terms is entirely lost on Freud. For Rolland, psychoanalysts as diverse as Freud, Janet, Morel, and Bleuler are “extroverts” in Rolland’s broader sense of the term, since they all tend to denigrate the epistemic and existential value of mystical experience. Rolland’s second criticism of psychoanalysis in the appendix, which is intimately related to the first criticism, is that psychoanalysts tend to adopt reductive views on mystical experience as a result of their preconceived ideas. Rolland declares: You, doctors of the Unconscious, instead of making yourselves citizens of this boundless empire and possessing yourselves of it, do you ever enter it except as

foreigners, imbued with the preconceived idea of the superiority of your own country and incapable of ridding yourselves of the need, which itself deforms your vision, of reducing whatever you catch a glimpse of in this unknown world to the measure of the one already familiar to you? (LV 283) According to Rolland, psychoanalysts enter the “boundless empire” of mystical experience as “foreigners,” because they are unable, or unwilling, to understand mystical experience on its own terms and instead analyze mystical experience in terms of their own stock psychoanalytic ideas and assumptions. From Rolland’s perspective, perhaps the most fundamental preconception among psychoanalysts is their borderline-pathological prejudice against introversion—targeted by Rolland’s first criticism—which leads them to dismiss or downplay the metaphysical and salvific claims of mystics. Another preconceived idea discussed at length by Rolland in the appendix is the idea of regression: Almost all psychologists are possessed by the theory of Regression, which appears to have been started by Th. Ribot. It is undoubtedly a true one within the limited bounds of his psychopathological studies on functional disorganization, but it has been erroneously extended to the whole realm of the mind, whether abnormal or normal. (LV 278) According to Rolland, the tendency among psychoanalysts to interpret mystical experience as a regression to an infantile state is highly questionable. While Rolland concedes that the theory of regression is often applicable to cases of psychological abnormality or pathology, he claims that psychoanalysts are not justified in applying the theory of regression to mystics, who do not generally exhibit pathological behavior.19 From Rolland’s perspective, psychoanalysts favor such a regressive explanation of mystical experience in part because of their own preconceived preference for the theory of regression. Interestingly, however, Rolland does admit that certain features of mysticism might appear to “add weight” to the psychoanalyst’s assumption that mystic introversion is “a return to a primary stage, to an intrauterine state” (LV 281). First, many of the “symbolic words” used by mystics such as Eckhart and Tauler to describe their spiritual experiences—such as “Grund,” “Urgrund,” and “Wurzel”—suggest, at least superficially, a return to a primordial condition. Second, the psychoanalytic explanation of mystical experience in terms of regression might help explain the “curious instinct which has given birth in Ramakrishna’s India to the passionate worship of the Mother, and in Christianity to that of the Virgin Mother” (LV 281). Rolland makes the subtle point, however, that while mystical experiences do undoubtedly bear a superficial resemblance to infantile states, there is, in reality, a world of difference between them phenomenologically. Accordingly, Rolland invokes the distinction first drawn by Henri Bergson’s disciple, Édouard Le Roy, between the prediscursive intuition of the infant and the post-discursive intuition of the mystic. Le Roy contrasts the “simplicity anterior to the discursive intricacy, belonging solely to the confused pre-intuition of a child” with the mystic’s “rich and luminous simplicity, which achieves the dispersion of analysis by surpassing and overcoming it” (LV 282 note 10). Misled by the

superficial similarity of these two entirely different states, psychoanalysts have tended mistakenly to reduce the post-discursive “simplicity” of mystical experience to the prediscursive “simplicity” of infantile experience. In his letter to Rolland, Freud protests: “our terms such as regression, narcissism, pleasure principle are of a purely descriptive nature and don’t carry within themselves any valuation” (Parsons 1999: 176). Once again, however, Freud’s attempt to sidestep Rolland’s criticisms proves to be unconvincing. First of all, at certain places in his work, Freud’s use of the concept of regression does have a strongly normative thrust. For instance, in Das Unbehagen in der Kultur, Freud’s brusque dismissal of religion as a regression to an infantile state is flagrantly normative: “The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality [so offenkundig infantil, so wirklichkeitsfremd], that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life” (Freud 1930: 20, [1930] 1961: 74). No wonder Rolland is so scathing in his attack on the scientific pseudo-objectivity of psychoanalysis: while psychoanalysts pretend to be objective and nonnormative in their diagnoses and explanations, their supposedly objective judgments often stem from profoundly subjective prejudices. Second, even if Freud’s concept of regression is nonnormative, it remains vulnerable to Rolland’s two basic criticisms: first, that the concept is extended illegitimately from abnormal cases to the cases of psychologically normal mystics; second, that infantile states and mystical experiences, in spite of certain superficial resemblances, are radically different states. Hence, it must be said that Freud’s response to Rolland’s criticisms of psychoanalysis is superficial and inadequate. In earlier letters written to the Swiss psychoanalyst Charles Baudouin (1893–1963) in 1922, Rolland repeatedly singled out for attack the psychoanalytic theory of infantile sexuality. In one letter, Rolland writes, “I’m speaking to you, my friend, in all affectionate candor: nothing seems more false and revolting to me than this obsession—not in the child but imputed to him—with sexual things” (Werman 1977: 230). In another letter, Rolland scathingly remarks, “Whatever he [the child] says, writes or draws, you are ready to reduce it to three or four motifs: Oedipus or Electra complex, sexual themes, etc … . But it is you, the psychoanalysts, who are obsessed with all this” (Werman 1977: 230). Although Rolland does not explicitly target the psychoanalytic theory of infantile sexuality in his second appendix on Morel, it is clear from his earlier letters that one of the “preconceived” ideas held by psychoanalysts that Rolland rejected is the theory of infantile sexuality, particularly the Oedipus complex. Rolland’s third fundamental criticism of psychoanalysis in the second appendix stems from his previous two criticisms. As a result of their bias against mystical experience, psychoanalysts have, at best, an incomplete knowledge of the workings of the mind. Rolland quotes a passage from Morel’s book that discusses Pseudo-Dionysius’s mystical experience of Unity: “Consciousness seems to gather itself together to confine itself within some unknown psychic pineal gland and to withdraw into a kind of center wherein all organic functions and all psychic forces meet, and there it enjoys Unity … nothing else” (LV 282). From Morel’s psychoanalytic perspective, Pseudo-Dionysius’s experience is purely subjective and hence has no metaphysical import: the “Unity” the mystic enjoys, according to Morel, is not a unity with God or the cosmos so much as a regression to a feeling of infantile

unity with the external world. Accordingly, Rolland faults Morel for failing to take seriously the metaphysical dimension of Pseudo-Dionysius’s mystical experience: “Nothing else?”—What more do you want? There, according to your own admission, you have an instrument for penetrating to the depths of functional consciousness, of subliminal life—and yet you do not use it in order to complete your knowledge of the whole activity of the mind. (LV 282) From Rolland’s perspective, the psychoanalytic understanding of the unconscious remains superficial, since it fails to acknowledge what Rolland takes to be the most archaic metaphysical layer of the unconscious—namely, the “Ocean of Being” which unites us all (LV 227). According to Rolland, since mystics have directly experienced this oceanic substratum of the unconscious, psychoanalysts stand to learn a great deal from the testimony of mystics. Hence, Rolland encourages psychoanalysts to leave off trying to psychoanalyze mystics and to attempt, rather, to learn from mystics in order to enrich and deepen their understanding of the psyche and its metaphysical depths.20 In fact, toward the end of the appendix, Rolland goes so far as to suggest that mystic introversion is a valid scientific procedure that grants the investigator access to aspects of the mind not detectable or measurable by any other empirical means. As Rolland puts it, “the judicious use of deep introversion opens to the scientist unexplored resources: for it constitutes a new method of experiment, having the advantage that the observer identifies himself with the object observed—the Plotinian identity of the seer and the thing seen” (LV 284–5). From Rolland’s perspective, the very fact that mystic introversion is “subjective”— far from making it unscientific—makes it especially suited to serve as a rigorously scientific “method of experiment.” There is less of a chance of investigative error or misinterpretation, Rolland argues, because the “seer” and the “thing seen” are identical in mystic introversion. That this remark is directed against psychoanalysts is abundantly clear from the context, since Rolland goes on to attack the “exclusive rationalists, and particularly … psychopathologists”—he even mentions Freud by name—who reject this “great effort” to incorporate mystic introversion into scientific investigation (LV 286). For Rolland, the positivistic rationalism of Freudian psychoanalysts leads them to adopt an unjustifiably narrow view of science, which dogmatically excludes the possibility that mystic introversion is a genuinely scientific method of gaining knowledge.21 In a long footnote at the end of his chapter “The Great Paths: The Four Yogas,” Rolland calls for a “new science of the mind” (une nouvelle science de l’esprit) which would be far better equipped than psychoanalysis to investigate the nature and existential value of mystical experiences: “How is it possible to estimate the value of such [religious] experiences? Perhaps by a new science of the mind, armed with a more supple, and finer instrument of analysis than the incomplete rough methods of the psychoanalyst and his fashionable descendants” (LV 212–13 note 120).22 Unfortunately, Rolland does not explicitly discuss this “new science of the mind” anywhere else in the book. Nonetheless, numerous passages from the long chapter in which this footnote occurs provide important clues as to what Rolland meant. In this chapter, Rolland summarizes Vivekananda’s account of the four main Yogas

(spiritual practices) that lead to spiritual realization: namely, karmayoga (the Yoga of Works), bhaktiyoga (the Yoga of Love), rājayoga (the Yoga of Concentration), and jñānayoga (the Yoga of Knowledge). At various points in this chapter, Rolland suggests that the disciplines and methods of rājayoga and jñānayoga in particular should serve as the basis for the “new science of the mind” he envisions. However, he also insists on the need to modify and update these ancient Indian yogic practices in the light of modern scientific findings—a project, Rolland believes, that was initiated by Vivekananda and continued by Sri Aurobindo.23 According to Vivekananda, rājayoga is the science of concentration based on the principles outlined in Patañjali’s Yogasūtra. Rolland elegantly defines rājayoga as “a minutely elaborated and experimental science for the conquest of concentration and mastery of the mind” (LV 184). Rolland goes on to summarize the “aṣṭ;āṅgayoga” (“eight-limbed discipline”), which lies at the heart of Patañjali’s system, as explained by Vivekananda: (1) yama (restraint), (2) niyama (observance), (3) āsana (physical posture), (4) prāṇāyāma (regulation of breath), (5) pratyāhāra (sense-restraint), (6) dhāraṇā (mental fixity), (7) dhyāna (sustained concentration), (8) samādhi (perfect concentration). Rolland specifies the five practices involved in the first stage of yama: (1) noninjury toward all creatures (which he calls the “great aim of Gandhi”), (2) absolute truthfulness in “action, word, thought,” (3) perfect chastity and purity, (4) absolute non-covetousness, and (5) purity of soul and absolute disinterestedness (LV 186). Rolland approvingly refers to these five preliminary ethical disciplines as a “fivefold ring of fire,” the “five indispensable conditions,” each one of which is “sufficient to make a saint” (LV 186). He notes that the third and fourth limbs of the aṣṭ;āṅgayoga—āsana and prāṇāyāma—are “exercises of a physiological nature … of great interest to medical science” (LV 191 note 73). Rolland then goes on to focus on the remaining four limbs of the aṣṭ;āṅgayoga, the “three first psychological stages in the concentration of the mind” (pratyāhāra, dhāraṇā, and dhyāna) which culminate in the coveted state of samādhi (LV 192). He is especially impressed with Vivekananda’s psychologically penetrating elaboration of the technique of pratyāhāra, by means of which—according to Rolland—the mind grows quiet “under the calm inner regard that judges it impartially” (LV 192). He quotes Vivekananda’s advice for calming the “monkey”-mind: “The first lesson then is to sit for some time and let the mind run on … Let the monkey jump as much as he can—you simply wait and watch … Many hideous thoughts may come into it; knowledge is power” (Cited in LV 192). Rolland then archly observes, “The ancient Yogis did not wait for Dr. Freud to teach them that the best cure for the mind is to make it look its deeply hidden monsters straight in the face” (LV 192). In the final footnote in his section on rājayoga, Rolland strikingly declares that “it has actually been proved [by rājayoga] that sovereign control of the inner life is able to put into our hands (partially if not entirely) our unconscious or subconscious life” (LV 194 note 79). Rolland refers approvingly to Vivekananda’s statement from his book Rāja-Yoga (1896): “Almost every action of which we are now unconscious can be brought to the plane of consciousness” (LV 194 note 79). According to Rolland, the ancient rājayogic method of detached mindfulness and mental concentration—especially as elaborated and amplified by the modern yogic master Vivekananda—is a much safer, more effective, and more ethically and spiritually beneficial means of discovering and dissolving one’s own unconscious

complexes than Freudian psychoanalysis. Moreover, Rolland clearly felt that modern psychologists like Freud could stand to learn a great deal from the psychological techniques of rājayoga: “I recommend it [rājayoga] to Western masters of the new psychology and of pedagogy, insofar as it is scientifically founded on the physiology of the mind” (LV 191). Rolland points out that the various disciplines of rājayoga should culminate in “absolute Concentration,” which he characterizes as the “most perfect instrument of scientific method” (LV 187). Rolland goes on to add: And in this we are all interested. Whatever may be the effect upon the mind produced by this instrument on the part of the Hindu seekers after truth, all seekers after truth, whether of the West or the East, are obliged to use that instrument; and it is to their advantage that it should be as exact and perfect as possible. There is nothing of the occult in it. (LV 187) Rolland makes abundantly clear here that the “new science of the mind” he envisions would have as its chief “instrument” the technique of mental concentration taught by the ancient Indian science of rājayoga. Indeed, Rolland seems to have Freud—among others—in mind when he encourages Western scientists to acquaint themselves with, and learn from, the rājayogic “methods of control and mastery” of the mind: It makes it all the more astonishing that Western reason has taken so little into account the experimental research of Indian Rāja-Yogīs, and that it has not tried to use the methods of control and mastery, which they offer in broad daylight without any mystery, over the one infinitely fragile and constantly warped instrument that is our only means of discovering what exists. (LV 189) From Rolland’s perspective, the ancient psychological science of rājayoga offers a far more sophisticated, comprehensive, and rigorously worked out account of the mind and its workings than even the most advanced Western psychologies, including psychoanalysis. In sum, I would suggest that three features of rājayoga in particular led Rolland to champion rājayoga as the basis for a “new science of the mind.” First, rājayoga insists on the development of a strong moral character and numerous ethical qualities—such as noninjury, sexual purity, truthfulness, and unselfishness—as an indispensable precondition for the practice of mental control and mastery. By insisting on the inseparability of scientific investigation from ethical living, Rolland counters the pervasive Western assumption that science and ethics are independent enterprises. Second, since rājayoga teaches psychological techniques that allow one to gain control and mastery of one’s own mind, it is far more empowering and strength-giving than Western psychological methods that depend heavily on the curative role of the analyst. Third, since the fundamental principles and techniques on which rājayoga is based were scientifically developed and empirically tested, Rolland believes that rājayoga is in perfect consonance with the modern Western scientific temper. Rolland credits Vivekananda with inaugurating the urgent project of updating and modifying the techniques and findings of rājayoga in the light of modern science:

While admitting, with no possibility of contradiction, that Yogist psycho-physiology uses explanations—and still more terms—that are both controvertible and obsolete, it should be easy to rectify them by readjusting (as Vivekananda tried to do) the experiments of past centuries to modern science. (LV 189) Moreover, Rolland credits Sri Aurobindo with going “one step further” (LV 204 note 104) than Vivekananda by incorporating “religious intuition” into “the strict limits of science” (LV 205 note 104). Hence, for Rolland, Patañjali, Vivekananda, and Sri Aurobindo—rather than Freud and other Western psychologists—were the true pioneers in the effort to develop a “new science of the mind.” Rolland claims, however, that the “practical methods” (LV 199) of rājayoga must be combined with the Vedāntic philosophical method of jñānayoga, the spiritual practice of selfinquiry that culminates in the realization of the “innermost core of the soul” (au noyau le plus intime de l’âme) (LV 203).24 Quoting Vivekananda, Rolland asserts that the jñānayogī realizes “an Abstract Essence underlying every existence,” which Rolland calls “one Unity” (LV 206). Crucially, since there is only one metaphysical Reality, the jñānayogī discovers “that at the innermost core of the soul” is “the center of the whole universe” (LV 203). Rolland provides here the Vedāntic rationale for his claim in the appendix on Morel—against psychoanalytic orthodoxy—that mystic introversion is compatible with dynamic action in the world. According to Rolland, the method of introversion employed in rājayoga and jñānayoga is not merely “subjective,” since the deepest core of our subjectivity is identical with the deepest core of the universe. For Rolland, it is precisely this fundamental Vedāntic insight into the unity of everything that provides the metaphysical basis for the “new science of the mind” he envisions (LV 214). Accordingly, Rolland claims that “Vedāntic Advaitism” is “so close to the aim of pure Science that they can hardly be distinguished” (LV 206). Rolland continues: The main difference is in the gesture with which the runners arrive at the tape: Science accepts and envisages Unity (l’Unité) as the hypothetical term for its stages of thought, giving them their right bearings and coordinating them. Yoga embraces Unity and becomes covered with it as with ivy. But the spiritual results are practically the same. (LV 206) For Rolland, while modern science is only able to posit “Unity” as a hypothesis that has not yet been conclusively proved, Vedāntic Yoga teaches the psychological and rational methods for attaining the direct spiritual experience of this Unity at the core of our being. In the following chapter, on “The Universal Science-Religion,” Rolland elaborates how this Vedāntic realization of the “Ocean of Being” (l’Être océanique) also serves as the basis of “the highest code of ethics: ‘Not me, but thou!’” (LV 227–8).25 As Rolland points out, both Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda experienced this oceanic feeling of the metaphysical Unity of everything. Rolland accordingly cites Vivekananda’s reference to “the vision of Self which penetrates all living beings” (LV 228). And in his biography of Sri Ramakrishna, Rolland interprets Sri Ramakrishna’s first vision of the Divine Mother Kālī as the spiritual

realization of the all-pervading “Ocean” of Being: “he saw nothing, but … he was aware of Her all-permeating presence. He called the Ocean by Her name” (LR 15). According to Rolland, great Indian mystics such as Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda—as well as numerous Western mystics, including Plotinus, Pseudo-Dionysius, and Angelus Silesius—realized the truth of metaphysical Unity in which both science and religion culminate: “At the basis of everything then is force, Divine Force (la Force Divine). It is in all things and in all men. It is at the center of the Sphere and at all the points of the circumference” (LV 231). The “new science of the mind” that Rolland envisioned—rooted in the ancient Indian systems of rājayoga and jñānayoga, and revitalized and updated by Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo—would provide a rigorous scientific method for penetrating to this oceanic “Force Divine” that unites all of us at the metaphysical core of our being.26

7.2 Revisiting the Rolland-Freud Debate on the Oceanic Feeling With this background in place, we are now in a position to explore the important question: What did Rolland have in mind when he invited Freud in 1927 to provide “an analysis of spontaneous religious sentiment or, more exactly, of religious feeling”? According to Fisher (1976: 44), “What Rolland expected from Freud … was an empirical psychoanalytic exploration of the various dimensions of the ‘oceanic’ sensation.”27 Parsons (1999: 14), in his richly informative book The Enigma of the Oceanic Feeling: Revisioning the Psychoanalytic Theory of Mysticism, arrives at a similar conclusion by placing Rolland’s 1927 letter to Freud in the broader context of his biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.28 Parsons (1999: 167) finds in Rolland’s biographies of these Indian saints strong evidence that Rolland’s primary motivation in appealing to the oceanic feeling was to enlist Freud in the creation of a “mystical psychoanalysis”—by which he means a non-reductive psychoanalytic investigation of mysticism. Parsons has undoubtedly enriched our understanding of the Rolland-Freud debate on oceanic feeling by taking into account Rolland’s biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. However, I will argue that Parsons’s interpretation of Rolland as the champion of a non-reductive psychoanalysis is based on a selective and inaccurate reading of Rolland’s biographies of the Indian saints. Parsons claims that the strongest piece of evidence in favor of his interpretation is Rolland’s reference to a “mystical psychoanalysis” in his biography of Sri Ramakrishna. Tellingly, Parsons cites this striking phrase out of context no fewer than ten times, but he fails to mention the original French phrase used by Rolland himself.29 In fact, “mystical psychoanalysis”—the phrase so frequently quoted by Parsons—is E.F. MalcolmSmith’s inaccurate English translation of Rolland’s (VR 239) original French phrase, “psychophysiologie mystique,” which would be more accurately translated as “mystical psychophysiology.” Moreover, the long footnote in which this phrase occurs makes clear that the “mystical psychophysiology” of which Rolland speaks has absolutely nothing to do with psychoanalysis, mystical or otherwise. In the course of describing Sri Ramakrishna’s extraordinary ability to stimulate spiritual experiences in his disciples by a “little thing” such as “a word, a look, a touch” (LR 167), Rolland adds a footnote in which he cites the

testimony of Swami Shivananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, who attested to Sri Ramakrishna’s ability to transmit to others “the energy of his own spirituality” (LR 167 note 41). Rolland then adds this significant remark: Let the learned men of Europe, who are preoccupied by the problems of mystical psychophysiology (psychophysiologie mystique) put themselves in touch with these living witnesses [such as Swami Shivananda] while there is yet time. I myself, I repeat, have little curiosity about such phenomena, whose subjective reality is not in doubt, and I believe it my duty to describe them; for they are hedged about by all possible guarantees of good faith and analytical intelligence. I am more interested in the fact of great religious intuition in that which continues to be rather than in that which has been, in that which is or which can be always in all beings rather than in that which is the privilege of a few. (LR 167 note 41) What Rolland means by “mystical psychophysiology” is the unique ability of mystics such as Sri Ramakrishna to stimulate or effect spiritual knowledge in others through physical proximity or contact. In other words, Rolland casts Sri Ramakrishna himself as a mystical psychophysiologist and encourages the “learned men of Europe” who are interested in such phenomena to investigate them further. Rolland adds that he himself has “little curiosity about such phenomena,” not because he is skeptical about them but because his primary concerns lie elsewhere. One might object, at this point, that while Parsons wrongly claims that Rolland used the phrase “mystical psychoanalysis,” Parsons may still be correct that Rolland more generally advocated a non-reductive psychoanalytic approach to mysticism. However, if Rolland had championed such a mystical psychoanalysis, then there would surely be signs of such an approach in his biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. Indeed, as we have seen in the previous section, Rolland not only refrains from psychoanalyzing Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda but also expresses his outright hostility toward psychoanalytic approaches to mysticism at various points in his biographies. In his biography of Vivekananda, Rolland repeatedly calls on psychoanalysts such as Freud and Morel to recognize the limitations and biases of psychoanalysis and to “complete” their knowledge of the whole mind by taking seriously the mystical experiences of both Western and Eastern saints. Contrary to Parsons, then, I would argue that Rolland does not champion a non-reductive psychoanalytic approach to mysticism anywhere in his biographies. Parsons (1999: 38) claims that “Rolland … wanted Freud’s help to scientifically establish the benefits of mystical introversion, what he would refer to in his biographies of the Hindu saints as a ‘universal science-religion’ and ‘mystical psychoanalysis.’” Here, it becomes clear that Parsons’s mistaken claim that Rolland advocated a “mystical psychoanalysis” has serious consequences for his overall argument about Rolland’s intentions in appealing to the oceanic feeling in his 1927 letter to Freud. While I agree with Parsons that Rolland sought to enlist Freud in the creation of a “universal science-religion,” Parsons wrongly equates this “universal science-religion” with a “mystical psychoanalysis.”30 As I have shown at length in Section 1, there is not a single reference to psychoanalysis in Rolland’s entire extended

account of the “universal science-religion” in his biography of Vivekananda. In fact, the universal science-religion envisioned by Rolland was based not on psychoanalysis but on the Indian spiritual systems of rājayoga and jñānayoga. Against Parsons, then, I would argue that there is virtually no evidence that Rolland wanted Freud to provide a non-reductive psychoanalytic examination of the oceanic feeling. In light of Rolland’s evident antipathy toward psychoanalytic approaches to mysticism, why did he ask Freud to provide an “analysis” of the oceanic feeling in his 1927 letter? I would suggest that Rolland appealed to the oceanic feeling as a direct challenge to Freud: the oceanic feeling, precisely because it is a genuine “contact” with metaphysical Reality attested to by countless people, is not vulnerable to Freud’s psychoanalytic debunking. In his letter to Freud, Rolland was calling not for any kind of psychoanalytic study of mysticism but for a mystically grounded Vedāntic “science-religion” that would replace psychoanalysis altogether. The somewhat veiled critical thrust of Rolland’s appeal to the oceanic feeling is confirmed by the remainder of his letter. Shortly after asking Freud to analyze the oceanic feeling, Rolland remarks that since the oceanic feeling “is common to thousands (millions) of men actually existing, with its thousands (millions) of individual nuances, it is possible to subject it to analysis, with an approximate exactitude” (Parsons 1999: 173; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 304). What kind of “analysis” did Rolland have in mind? I think Rolland answers this question in his biography of Vivekananda, where he calls for a “new science of the mind” that would subject mystical states to rigorous scientific analysis. Rolland believed that Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo were the true pioneers in this mystical scientific endeavor. Rolland applauds Vivekananda’s attempt to demonstrate that there is “no essential difference” between “science and religion” (LV 197). Rolland also approvingly mentions Sri Aurobindo’s efforts to incorporate “religious intuition” into “the strict limits of science” (LV 205 note 104). Hence, when Rolland remarks to Freud that it is possible to subject the oceanic feeling to “analysis,” I think it is plausible to assume that he had in mind not a psychoanalytic examination but a yogic-cum-scientific analysis of the oceanic feeling along the lines of what Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo had already begun to develop. This interpretation of Rolland’s letter to Freud would also be consistent with the many passages in his biography of Vivekananda where Rolland encourages psychoanalysts to learn from ancient Indian yogic science instead of engaging in reductive analyses of mystical phenomena. In the next paragraph of the letter, Rolland predicts that Freud would classify the oceanic feeling “under the Zwangsneurosen” (Parsons 1999: 173; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 304). (Rolland proved to be right, since Freud would go on to interpret the oceanic feeling in Das Unbehagen in der Kultur as a regression to a pre-Oedipal state.) In a canny move, Rolland preemptively rejects this psychoanalytic debunking of the oceanic feeling, insisting that both Western and non-Western mystics have experienced the “rich and beneficent power” of the oceanic feeling. Citing Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda as examples, Rolland adds that the oceanic feeling is perfectly compatible with the utmost “aptitude for thought and action” (Parsons 1999: 173; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 304). In the beginning of 1930, Rolland sent Freud his biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and

Vivekananda in the hope that Freud would step outside the narrow confines of psychoanalysis and try to learn from the mystical insights of Indian spiritual traditions and saints. Upon receiving the biographies, however, Freud confesses in a letter to Rolland dated January 19, 1930 that “it isn’t easy to pass beyond the limits of one’s nature” (Parsons 1999: 176). After responding briefly to Rolland’s criticisms of psychoanalysis in the second appendix to Vie de Vivekananda, Freud makes this significant remark: We seem to diverge rather far in the role we assign to intuition. Your mystics rely on it to teach them how to solve the riddle of the universe; we believe that it cannot reveal to us anything but primitive, instinctual impulses and attitudes—highly valuable for an embryology of the soul when correctly interpreted, but worthless for orientation in the alien, external world. (Parsons 1999: 177) It is clear from this remark that Freud rejects outright Rolland’s view that mystical intuition is a scientific instrument that can help us gain deeper insight into reality. Freud simply reiterates his position in Das Unbehagen in der Kultur that the oceanic feeling reveals nothing but “primitive, instinctual impulses.” Interestingly, after Rolland received and read Freud’s Unbehagen in der Kultur, Rolland wrote a letter to Freud dated May 3, 1931 in which he expresses disappointment with Freud’s psychoanalytic interpretation of the oceanic feeling as a regression to a pre-Oedipal state. Rolland implicitly challenges Freud’s psychoanalytic denigration of the oceanic feeling by insisting that his oceanic feeling is “a psychological fact, a vital trait of my character” and that it is “absolutely disinterested” (Parsons 1999: 178; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 349). Moreover, Rolland reiterates that he has received letters from people “from all corners of the earth” who have also experienced this oceanic feeling (Parsons 1999: 178; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 349). Rolland thereby implicitly responds to Freud’s claim in Das Unbehagen in der Kultur that the true source of religion is not the oceanic feeling but a childish feeling of helplessness and need for the father’s protection. Rolland clearly feels that Freud has trivialized the oceanic feeling, which is why Rolland issues the warning: “It would be dangerous for the philosopher and man of action to ignore” the many occurrences of the oceanic feeling throughout the world (Parsons 1999: 178; Vermorel and Vermorel 1993: 349). Rolland had sincerely hoped—perhaps naively—that his account of the mystical oceanic feeling and his biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda would lead Freud to accept the scientific validity of mysticism and to move beyond a narrowly psychoanalytic understanding of the workings of the psyche. Instead, Freud dug his heels in even further, reiterating his psychoanalytic dismissal of mystical experience and insisting that science and mysticism are worlds apart.

7.3 Rolland’s Anticipation of Later Mystical Critiques of Psychoanalysis Parsons, as we have seen, argues that Rolland’s primary aim in appealing to the oceanic feeling was to encourage Freud to adopt a sympathetic and non-reductive psychoanalytic

approach to mystical experience. According to Parsons, Freud adopted a “‘classic’ reductionist” approach to mysticism, since he dismissed the oceanic feeling as a regression to an infantile state.31 Rolland, by contrast, anticipated what Parsons (1999: 109, 2003: 92–3) calls the “adaptive” and “transformative” psychoanalytic approaches to mysticism which developed after Freud’s time. While the adaptive approach frames mysticism as a “healing enterprise,” the transformative approach goes even further by allowing “meta-psychological space for the deeper, transcendent claims of the mystics” (Parsons 2003: 93). In Parsons’s view, Rolland adopted an “adaptive-transformational” approach to mysticism, which paved the way for later non-reductive psychoanalytic approaches to mysticism (Parsons 2003: 93). I have argued, by contrast, that Rolland’s biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda reveal a skepticism toward psychoanalysis that is much more radical and farreaching than Parsons assumes. I would suggest, then, that Rolland’s true heirs are not postFreudian psychoanalysts who have explored non-reductive approaches to mysticism but twentieth-century mystics in both the East and the West who have highlighted the fundamental defects and limitations of psychoanalysis from a mystical perspective.32 To begin to make my case, I will briefly demonstrate how Rolland’s criticisms of psychoanalysis and his call for a new yogic “science of the mind” anticipated the sophisticated critiques of psychoanalysis provided by mystics as diverse as Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950), Swami Akhilananda (d. 1962), and Ken Wilber (b. 1949). Throughout his biography of Vivekananda, Rolland refers approvingly to, and cites numerous passages from, a variety of Sri Aurobindo’s works, including Essays on the Gita (1916), The Synthesis of Yoga (1921), and the numerous articles—published between 1914 and 1919—that were eventually revised and collected into the book The Life Divine (1939– 40). As we have already seen, Rolland especially applauded Sri Aurobindo’s efforts to integrate spiritual intuition into science and thereby to bridge the gap between Western rationalism and Indian spirituality. While the works of Sri Aurobindo with which Rolland was familiar do not contain any remarks on Freud or psychoanalysis, Sri Aurobindo wrote a number of letters to disciples in the 1930s—of which Rolland could not have been aware—in which he made numerous critical remarks about psychoanalysis. Unfortunately, I have not been able to determine whether Sri Aurobindo read Rolland’s Vie de Vivekananda. If he had, he may very well have been influenced by Rolland’s criticisms of psychoanalysis, especially those presented in his appendix on Morel.33 Setting aside this speculative issue of direct influence, I will briefly point out four striking affinities between Sri Aurobindo’s and Rolland’s respective critiques of psychoanalysis. First, Sri Aurobindo claims that Freud’s psychoanalytic theory stems from pathology. In a 1936 letter to Sri Aurobindo, one of Sri Aurobindo’s disciples made the following scathing remark about Freud: The extreme of ridiculousness is reached when Freud analyses Leonardo da Vinci to show how he was pathological, how he failed disastrously in his adaptation to life, how his artistic imagination was an aberration and a maladaptation. All poets, all imaginative people, all geniuses, all religious people were to Freud the result of aberration and maladaptation. (CWSA 27: 528)

In a response to this letter, Sri Aurobindo seconds the sentiment of his disciple: “Well, his [Freud’s] own theory is very clearly that, the result of aberration and maladaptation” (CWSA 27: 528).34 Rolland, as we have seen, claimed that the psychoanalytic “depreciation” of introversion of all sorts “is in danger of becoming a pathological aberration.” In a striking echo of Rolland, Sri Aurobindo turns the tables on Freud—or, perhaps more aptly, puts Freud on the couch—by claiming that Freud’s own tendency to pathologize artistic and religious geniuses stems from a pathological “aberration and maladaptation” (CWSA 27: 528). Second, Sri Aurobindo claims that psychoanalytic theories are false generalizations based on an incomplete understanding of the workings of the unconscious: The psychoanalysis of Freud is the last thing that one should associate with yoga. It takes up a certain part, the darkest, the most perilous, the unhealthiest part of the nature, the lower vital subconscious layer, isolates some of its most morbid phenomena and attributes to it and them an action out of all proportion to its true role in the nature. Modern psychology is an infant science, at once rash, fumbling and crude. As in all infant sciences, the universal habit of the human mind—to take a partial or local truth, generalise it unduly and try to explain a whole field of Nature in its narrow terms—runs riot here. Moreover, the exaggeration of the importance of suppressed sexual complexes is a dangerous falsehood and it can have a nasty influence and tend to make the mind and vital more and not less fundamentally impure than before. (Aurobindo [1936] 1981: 70–1) According to Sri Aurobindo, Freudian psychoanalysis mistakes the “darkest” and “unhealthiest” part of the unconscious for the unconscious as a whole and, on that basis, proceeds to make unjustified generalizations about how unconscious drives influence conscious behavior and activity. Moreover, just as Rolland found the psychoanalytic “obsession … with sexual things” to be “false and revolting,”35 Sri Aurobindo claims that Freud exaggerates the “importance of suppressed sexual complexes,” thereby hindering the patient’s recovery.36 Sri Aurobindo points out that Freud’s view of the unconscious is incomplete because it focuses exclusively on the “lower vital subconscious,” which is “no more than a restricted and very inferior portion of the subliminal whole” (Aurobindo [1936] 1981: 71). According to Sri Aurobindo, the “subliminal self” is in fact much vaster and its dynamics much richer and more complex than Freud assumes. Sri Aurobindo claims that the subliminal self also “opens to higher superconscient … ranges,” and he insists that true psychic transformation and purification can only be achieved by ascending to the superconscious plane: “If one wishes to purify and transform the nature, it is the power of these higher ranges to which one must open and raise to them and change by them both the subliminal and the surface being” (Aurobindo [1936] 1981: 71). While Sri Aurobindo and Rolland hold similar views on the limitations of the Freudian conception of the unconscious, they differ somewhat in their understanding of the ontological basis of mystical experience. Rolland, as we have seen, locates the oceanic feeling at the most archaic level of the unconscious. Sri Aurobindo, by contrast, claims that genuine spiritual experience takes place at the level of the

“superconscient,” from which one can begin the work of transforming both the conscious and the subliminal planes.37 Third, Sri Aurobindo argues that psychoanalytic explanations of spiritual experience are both crude and woefully inadequate because they are based on the false presupposition that the unconscious is “the true foundation of things”: I find it difficult to take these psycho-analysts at all seriously when they try to scrutinise spiritual experience by the flicker of their torch-lights … They look from down up and explain the higher lights by the lower obscurities; but the foundation of these things is above and not below, upari budhna eṣām. The superconscient, not the subconscient, is the true foundation of things. The significance of the lotus is not to be found by analysing the secrets of the mud from which it grows here; its secret is to be found in the heavenly archetype of the lotus that blooms for ever in the Light above. (Aurobindo [1936] 1981: 73) According to Sri Aurobindo, the fundamental mistake of psychoanalysis is the assumption that one can “explain the higher lights by the lower obscurities.” Spiritual experience, like the lotus in Sri Aurobindo’s metaphor, cannot be explained by analyzing the “mud” of the unconscious but by rising to a superconscient divine plane. Implicit in Sri Aurobindo’s remark is a critique of the dogmatic positivism underlying psychoanalysis: since psychoanalysts dismiss the very possibility of a superconscient plane of experience, they inevitably explain away mystical experience in terms of unconscious strivings. Fourth, Sri Aurobindo claims that his own “Integral Yoga”—which harmonizes and modernizes the ancient Indian systems of rājayoga, bhaktiyoga, jñānayoga, and karmayoga —provides a far more adequate psychological framework both for understanding the workings of the mind and for achieving spiritual fulfillment. Referring to psychoanalysts, Sri Aurobindo remarks: The self-chosen field of these psychologists is besides poor, dark and limited; you must know the whole before you can know the part and the highest before you can truly understand the lowest. That is the promise of the greater psychology awaiting its hour before which these poor gropings will disappear and come to nothing. (Aurobindo [1936] 1981: 73) Rolland, in his appendix on Morel, encouraged psychoanalysts to “complete” their “knowledge of the whole activity of the mind” by learning from the testimony of both Eastern and Western mystics. Several pages later, Rolland singled out “Aurobindo Ghose” as “one of the greatest thinkers of modern India” who was trying to develop the very yogic psychology that Rolland himself had in mind (LV 286). Sri Aurobindo himself was quite consciously developing his Integral Yoga as a “greater psychology” infinitely superior to the “poor gropings” of psychoanalysis. For both Rolland and Sri Aurobindo, the ancient Indian systems of Yoga were a far more promising basis for this “greater psychology” than psychoanalysis.

In his book Hindu Psychology: Its Meaning for the West (1948), Swami Akhilananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, also made numerous criticisms of psychoanalysis that are akin to Rolland’s. Indeed, early on in his book, Akhilananda refers approvingly to Rolland’s Life of Ramakrishna, so he might also have been aware of—and perhaps even influenced by —Rolland’s criticisms of psychoanalysis in the Life of Vivekananda.38 Here, however, I will set aside the question of whether Akhilananda was directly influenced by Rolland’s views and restrict myself to pointing out some parallels between Akhilananda’s and Rolland’s critical views on psychoanalysis. As I pointed out in Section 1, Rolland claims that psychoanalysts have “erroneously extended” the theory of regression, which is “undoubtedly a true one” in regard to cases of pathology, to “the whole realm of the mind, whether abnormal or normal.” Similarly, Akhilananda observes, “It seems that Freud and other psychoanalysts make unnecessary and uncalled-for generalizations from the study of pathological cases” (Akhilananda 1948: 7). Akhilananda claims that two of Freud’s theories in particular are based on such unjustified generalizations: first, Freud’s thesis that the “sex urge … is the most predominant instinct,” and second, Freud’s theory of the “death instinct” (Akhilananda 1948: 7). According to Akhilananda, “Hindu psychologists do not agree with the view that man has a basic destructive tendency. Suicide, war, and all other such destructive tendencies are not expressions of the normal mind” (Akhilananda 1948: 7). Moreover, just as Rolland claimed that Western psychologists have largely ignored or misunderstood mystic introversion because of their tendency toward “extroversion,” Akhilananda observes with regard to American psychology, “It should be noted here that great emphasis is given to ‘action’ in most of the schools of psychology in America … Consequently, the subjective element of mind is ignored. In fact, meditation and inner understanding are generally neglected” (Akhilananda 1948: 10). Like Sri Aurobindo, Akhilananda attacks the positivist attitude among many psychoanalysts which leads them to “make superficial remarks about the religious tendencies of man in terms of sex” (Akhilananda 1948: 18). Akhilananda traces the inadequacy of psychoanalytic explanations of spiritual experience to a positivist skepticism toward “supernormal” possibilities of the mind: “Actually, the supernormal minds function in a manner quite different from normal and abnormal cases. This is the reason that the unfortunate generalizations of many of the psychotherapeutists regarding spiritual experiences are extremely inaccurate and unscientific” (Akhilananda 1948: 18). Akhilananda also echoes Rolland in claiming that psychologists such as Freud, Adler, and Jung focus unduly on the unconscious at the expense of other equally essential aspects of the mind and human personality. Hindu psychologists, by contrast, “are primarily interested in the study of the total mind, as they feel that the different functions—including consciousness, superconsciousness, cognition, volition, and conation—cannot be really separated” (Akhilananda 1948: 16). By “Hindu psychology” Akhilananda means primarily Patañjali’s Yoga system, especially as developed and elaborated by Vivekananda. According to Akhilananda, the aim of Hindu psychology is “total integration of the mind” (Akhilananda 1948: 17), which is achieved through the combined practice of self-analysis, concentration, and meditation:

According to the Hindu view, not only must one analyze one’s own self but at the same time one must reconstruct his life … We observe that many disintegrated minds are synthesized by the combined methods of self-analysis and concentration. A mere discovery of mental conflict, by either the Freudian method of psychoanalysis, [Carl] Rogers’ insight, or self-analysis, does not integrate the mind. (Akhilananda 1948: 64–5) Like Rolland, Akhilananda insists that mental conflicts can only be fully dissolved through yogic practice, which integrates the mind as a whole. Akhilananda quite presciently emphasizes the psychological benefits of concentration: “Our experience proves it is the practice of concentration that brings out hidden mental forces which reconstruct and integrate the whole mind” (Akhilananda 1948: 65). In agreement with Sri Aurobindo, Akhilananda argues that the psychoanalytic method of treatment is, at best, partially or transiently curative and, at worst, dangerous and potentially counterproductive. Rolland also anticipated some of the insights and arguments of Ken Wilber, a prominent contemporary theorist and champion of transpersonal psychology. In light of space limitations, I will only mention one especially striking resonance between Rolland’s and Wilber’s respective critiques of psychoanalysis. Rolland, drawing on the work of the Bergsonian Édouard Le Roy, argues that the psychoanalyst mistakes the post-discursive state of the mystic with the pre-discursive state of the infant (LV 282 note 10). Strikingly, Rolland and Le Roy anticipated by over half a century Wilber’s now well-known notion of the “pre/trans fallacy.” As Wilber observes, “The essence of the pre/trans fallacy is itself fairly simple: since both prerational and transrational states are, in their own ways, nonrational, they appear similar or even identical to the untotored eye” (Wilber 1998: 88). Interestingly, Wilber specifically targets Freud’s psychoanalytic explanation of the oceanic feeling in terms of regression as a paradigmatic case of the pre/trans fallacy: “Genuine mystical or contemplative experiences, for example, are seen as a regression or throwback to infantile states of narcissism, oceanic adualism, indissociation, and even primitive autism. This is, for example, precisely the route taken by Freud in The Future of an Illusion” (Wilber 1998: 88).39 Moreover, Wilber astutely traces this reductive tendency among psychoanalysts to their dogmatic assumption that “rationality is the great and final omega point of individual and collective development, the high-water mark of all evolution” (Wilber 1998: 88). As Wilber argues, such a dogmatic rationalism necessarily entails the positivistic dismissal of the very possibility of transrational states: Since no higher context is thought to be real, or to actually exist, then whenever any genuinely transrational occasion occurs, it is immediately explained as a regression to prerational structures … The superconscious is reduced to the subconscious, the transpersonal is collapsed to the prepersonal, the emergence of the higher is reinterpreted as an irruption from the lower. All breathe a sigh of relief, and the rational worldspace is not fundamentally shaken. (Wilber 1998: 88–9)

Rolland’s Appendix on Morel, I would suggest, contains the seeds of Wilber’s provocative metacritique of the positivistic rationalism lurking at the basis of psychoanalysis. In that appendix, after applauding Sri Aurobindo’s attempt to “reintegrate generative intuition” into science, Rolland launches into a spirited attack on “exclusive rationalists” such as Freud who dogmatically reject the “great effort” of mystics like Sri Aurobindo (LV 286). The positivistic rationalism of psychoanalysts, according to Rolland, is based on nothing more than “prejudices” that have become “second nature” (LV 286). Wilber echoes Rolland in his sarcastic nod to the narrowly “rational worldspace” in which psychoanalysts have snugly— perhaps irrationally?—ensconced themselves. In the past few decades, many Western psychologists and psychiatrists have begun to incorporate Eastern meditative techniques into their treatment of patients suffering from various kinds of psychological problems and unhealthy addictions.40 Seen from this perspective, Rolland’s mystical critique of psychoanalysis and his call for a new Vedāntic science of the mind have proven to be both timely and enduring.

Abbreviations CWSA Aurobindo, Sri ([1939–40] 2005), The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, vols. 21– 21–2 22: The Life Divine, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. CWSA Aurobindo, Sri ([1914–48] 1999), The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, vols. 23– 23–4 24: The Synthesis of Yoga, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. CWSA Aurobindo, Sri ([1930–50] 2004), The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, vol. 27: 27 Letters on Poetry and Art, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. CWSA Aurobindo, Sri ([1927–50] 2012), The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, vol. 28: 28 Letters on Yoga I, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. CWSA Aurobindo, Sri ([1926–50] 2011), The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, vol. 35: 35 Letters on Himself and the Ashram, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. CWSV Vivekananda, Swami ([1907] 2007), The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda: 1 Mayavati Memorial Edition, vol. 1, Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama. LR Rolland, Romain ([1929] 2007), The Life of Ramakrishna, trans. E.F. MalcolmSmith, Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama. LV Rolland, Romain ([1930] 2008), The Life of Vivekananda and the Universal Gospel, trans. E.F. Malcolm-Smith, Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama. VR Rolland, Romain (1929), La Vie de Ramakrishna, Paris: Stock. VV Rolland, Romain (1930), La Vie de Vivekananda; et, L’évangile universel, Paris: Stock.

Notes This chapter is a substantial revision of my article, “The Challenge of the Oceanic Feeling: Romain Rolland’s Mystical Critique of Psychoanalysis and His Call for a ‘New Science of the Mind,’” published in the History of European Ideas

43.5 (2017), 474–93. Reprinted by permission of the publisher Taylor & Francis Ltd. All the relevant letters exchanged between Rolland and Freud between 1923 and 1936 concerning the oceanic feeling—written originally in French by Rolland and in German by Freud—were published in French in Vermorel and Vermorel (1993). Parsons (1999), in the appendix to his book (170–80), has provided an English translation of all these letters. Throughout this chapter, whenever I cite passages from Rolland’s letters to Freud, I first cite the page number from Parsons’s English translation, and then cite the page number of the original French passage in Vermorel and Vermorel (1993). For Rolland, these “religious souls of the West” include Pseudo-Dionysius (LV 299–318), Philo (LV 291), and Plotinus (LV 291). For a detailed discussion of Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophy, see Long’s chapter in this handbook (Chapter 5). See also Erikson ([1958] 1962), Dadoun (1976), and Kovel ([1976] 1983). See, for instance, Fisher (1976: 44), Parsons (1999: 14), and Saarinen (2012: 941). For biographical information about Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, Rolland consulted numerous people, including Swami Shivananda, Swami Ashokananda, Mahendra Nath Gupta, Josephine MacLeod, Dhan Gopal Mukherji, and Kalidas Nag (LR ix). Rolland drew heavily on two source texts on Sri Ramakrishna: Swami Saradananda’s, Sri Ramakrishna: The Great Master (1920), and Max Müller’s Ramakrishna: His Life and Sayings (1898). Rolland also consulted Sister Christine’s unpublished memoirs of Vivekananda (LR ix). Rolland’s second appendix to LV—which I discuss at length later in this section—indicates two main reasons why Rolland avoids a psychoanalytic framework when discussing Sri Ramakrishna. First, Rolland is generally skeptical of many of the key assumptions of psychoanalytic theory. Second, Rolland argues that a psychoanalytic framework is especially reductive when applied to mystics. See Masson (1980), Sil (1991), and Kripal (1995). Rolland’s understanding of the spiritual sublimation of sexual energy likely derives from the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. Rolland cites Sri Ramakrishna’s teaching that the long-term practice of continence results in the development of a “new nerve … called ‘the nerve of intelligence’” (LR 153). Rolland also carefully read Vivekananda’s Rāja-Yoga, which provides a detailed account of the yogic process by which “sex energy,” when “checked and controlled,” gets converted into “Ojas,” the source of spiritual strength and power. See CWSV 1: 169–70. For Rolland, these “great idealists” include Ludwig von Beethoven, Honoré de Balzac, and Gustave Flaubert (LR 152). See, for instance, Masson (1980), Sil (1991), and Kripal (1995). Rolland explicitly discusses the psychoanalytic interpretation of mystical tropes such as the ocean and the Mother in LV 281–2. In his preface “To My Eastern Readers,” Rolland indicates that throughout his biographies of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, he has adopted an attitude of hermeneutic sympathy and immanence tempered by critical judgment. As he puts it, “The only thing to which I can testify is the sincerity which has led me to make a pious attempt to enter into all forms of life. At the same time I must confess that I have not abdicated one iota of my free judgment as a man of the West” (LR xiii). As he points out, he sees in Sri Ramakrishna “a man and not an ‘Incarnation’ as he appears to his disciples” (LR xiii). Rolland also apologizes in advance for the “mistakes” he might have made in his biographies, acknowledging the extreme difficulties involved in a Westerner’s attempt to understand the mindset of Indian saints: “In spite of all the enthusiasm I have brought to my task, it is impossible for a man of the West to interpret men of Asia with their thousand years’ experience of thought; for such an interpretation must often be erroneous” (LR xiii). It is worth noting that Rolland exhibits greater awareness of the dangers of ethnocentric prejudice and bias than some contemporary scholars writing on Sri Ramakrishna—such as Kripal, Masson, and Sil—who do not reflect adequately on their own cultural situatedness. Throughout this chapter, I sometimes make slight modifications to E.F. Malcolm-Smith’s translations of Rolland’s biographies of Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna. One might ask how my analysis of Rolland’s criticisms of psychoanalysis differs from Parsons’s analysis in Parsons (1999: 61– 73). According to Parsons, Rolland was highly critical of what he took to be reductive psychoanalytic approaches to mysticism—such as those of Freud and Morel—but quite open and even sympathetic to non-reductive psychoanalytic approaches to mysticism. Indeed, Parsons is eager to show that Rolland did not harbor “active hostility toward psychoanalytic modes of investigation” (Parsons 1999: 156). By contrast, I will argue in this section that Rolland was actively hostile toward psychoanalytic investigations of mysticism. Moreover, I hope to show that Rolland’s criticisms of psychoanalysis are so fundamental and far-reaching that they undermine even the “adaptive” and “transformative” psychoanalytic approaches that Parsons thinks Rolland advocates. By “inner sense,” Rolland seems to mean a faculty for mystical knowledge. Je suis fermé à la mystique tout autant qu’à la musique. Rolland refers to Plotinus at various points in LR. See, for instance, pp. 144, 285, 315 n, 226 n, 297, and 311 n of LR. Most significantly, Rolland devotes four pages of Note III to a laudatory discussion of Plotinus’s mystical philosophy and its affinities with Indian thought (LR 295–9).

See also LV 151 note 19. Rolland seems to imply that psychoanalysts can learn especially from the testimony and teachings of mystics, even if psychoanalysts have not enjoyed any mystical experiences themselves. See Dadoun (1976: 942) for a helpful discussion of Rolland’s critique of Freud’s positivism. For the original French passage, see VV 98 note 1. Phillips discusses Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy in Chapter 6 of this handbook. For the original French phrase, see VV 86. For the original French, see VV 118. Rolland’s account of the “Force Divine” is quite vague, so it is not entirely clear what he means by it. In general terms, however, it is clear that the phrase refers to the single Divine Reality that unites everyone and everything in the universe. For a similar claim, see Saarinen (2012: 941). See also Saarinen (2012: 941). Parsons (1999) refers to “mystical psychoanalysis” on pp. 58, 63, 65, 134, 140, 146, 162, 163, 165, and 167. Parsons makes this mistake elsewhere in the book as well. He refers, for instance, to Rolland’s “promotion of a mystical psychoanalysis characterized as the universal science-religion of the future” (Parsons 1999: 163). Parsons (2003: 81). A referee asks whether it might be more accurate to claim that “Rolland’s non-psychoanalytic mystical legacy complements rather than supplants his other, adaptive-transformative psychoanalytic legacy.” To clarify my position, I would agree with Parsons that Rolland’s criticisms of Freudian psychoanalytic approaches to mysticism did pave the way for later adaptivetransformative critiques of Freudian reductionism. However, contrary to Parsons, I do not think there is any convincing evidence that Rolland actually advocated adaptive-transformative psychoanalytic approaches to mysticism. Therefore, I stand by my claim that Rolland’s true heirs are not adaptive-transformative psychoanalysts but mystics who have criticized psychoanalytic methods. However, it should be noted that Sri Aurobindo sometimes made critical remarks about Rolland in his letters to disciples. For instance, he remarks that Rolland mistakenly “takes his emotional intellectuality for spirituality” (CWSA 28: 324). Nonetheless, Sri Aurobindo’s skepticism about Rolland’s credentials as a mystic does not rule out the possibility that Sri Aurobindo was influenced by Rolland’s criticisms of psychoanalysis. Letter dated June 1, 1936. Cited in Werman (1977: 230). See also CWSA 35: 9, where Sri Aurobindo claims that the “forced connection with sex” in psychoanalytic theory is “quite groundless.” Sri Aurobindo provides a detailed account of the nature of the superconscient in The Life Divine (CWSA 21–2) and The Synthesis of Yoga (CWSA 23–4). Akhilananda remarks, “The writings of Romain Rolland, Professor Hocking, and others prove that the dynamic ideas of Sri Ramakrishna have a direct influence on the world” (Akhilananda 1948: 7). “Indissociation” is the term used by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget to refer to the failure of young children to differentiate themselves from their environments. See Colman (2003: 357). “Primitive autism” is a type of autism in which the subject displays “primitive means of relating to the environment, such as smelling and mouthing” (Siegel et al. 1986: 286). See, for instance, Goleman (1975), Engler (1986), Baer (2003), Witkiewitz et al. (2005), and Garland, Froeliger, and Howard (2013).

References Akhilananda, Swami (1948), Hindu Psychology: Its Meaning for the West, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Aurobindo, Sri ([1936] 1981), Bases of Yoga, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Baer, Ruth A. (2003), “Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention: A Conceptual and Empirical Review,” Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 10.2, 125–43. Colman, Andrew (2003), Oxford Dictionary of Psychology, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dadoun, Roger (1976), “Rolland, Freud, et la Sensation Océanique,” Revue d’Histoire littéraire de la France 76.6, 936–46. Engler, John H. (1986), “Therapeutic Aims in Psychotherapy and Meditation,” in Ken Wilber, Jack Engler, and Daniel P. Brown, eds., Transformations of Consciousness, London: Shambhala, 17–51. Erikson, Erik ([1958] 1962), Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History, New York: Norton. Fisher, David (1976), “Sigmund Freud and Romain Rolland: The Terrestrial Animal and His Great Oceanic Friend,” American Imago 33, 1–59.

Fisher, David (1982), “Reading Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents,” in Dominick LaCapra and Stephen Kaplan, eds., Modern European Intellectual History: Reappraisals and New Perspectives, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 251–79. Freud, Sigmund (1930), Das Unbehagen in der Kultur, Wien: Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag. Freud, Sigmund ([1930] 1961), Civilization and Its Discontents, in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 21, trans. and ed. James Strachey, London: Hogarth Press, 59–145. Garland, Eric L., Brett Froeliger, and Matthew O. Howard (2013), “Mindfulness Training Targets Neurocognitive Mechanisms of Addiction at the Attention-Appraisal-Emotion Interface,” Frontiers in Psychiatry 4, Goleman, Daniel (1975), “Meditation and Consciousness: An Asian Approach to Mental Health,” American Journal of Psychotherapy 30.1, 41–54. Kovel, Joel ([1976] 1983), A Complete Guide to Therapy, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Kripal, Jeffrey (1995) Kali’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Masson, Jeffrey (1980), The Oceanic Feeling, Dordrecht: D. Reidel. Meissner, W.W. (2005), “On Putting a Cloud in a Bottle: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Mysticism,” Psychoanalytic Quarterly 74, 507–59. Müller, Max (1898), Ramakrishna: His Life and Sayings, London: Longmans. Parsons, William (1999), The Enigma of the Oceanic Feeling: Revisioning the Psychoanalytic Theory of Mysticism, New York: Oxford University Press. Parsons, William (2003), “‘Let Him Rejoice in the Roseate Light!’: Teaching Psychoanalysis and Mysticism,” in Diane JontePace, ed., Teaching Freud, New York: Oxford University Press, 79–99. Plotinus (1984), Enneads, vol. 4, trans. A.H. Armstrong, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Saarinen, Jussi (2012), “The Oceanic State: A Conceptual Elucidation in Terms of Modern Contact,” International Journal of Psychoanalysis 93, 939–61. Saradananda, Swami (1920), Sri Ramakrishna: The Great Master, 2 vols., trans. Swami Jagadananda, Mylapore, Madras: Ramakrishna Math. Siegel, Bryna, T.F. Anders, R.D. Ciaranello, B. Bienenstock, and H.C. Kraemer (1986), “Empirically Derived Subclassification of the Autistic Syndrome,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 16.3, 275–93. Sil, Narasingha (1991), Rāmakṛṣṇa Paramahaṃsa: A Psychological Profile, Leiden: E.J. Brill. Simmonds, Janette Graetz (2006), “The Oceanic Feeling and a Sea Change: Historical Challenges to Reductionist Attitudes to Religion and Spirit From Within Psychoanalysis,” Psychoanalytic Psychology 23.1, 128–42. Vermorel, Henri and Madeleine Vermorel (1993), Sigmund Freud et Romain Rolland Correspondance 1923–1936, Paris: Presses Universitaries de France. Werman, David (1977), “Sigmund Freud and Romain Rolland,” International Review of Psychoanalysis 4, 225–42. Werman, David (1986), “On the Nature of the Oceanic Experience,” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 34, 123–39. Wilber, Ken (1998), The Essential Ken Wilber: An Introductory Reader, Boston: Shambhala. Witkiewitz, Katie, Marlatt, Alan G., and Walker, Denise (2005). “Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders,” Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy 19.3, 211–28.

Part Three Key Themes, Concepts, and Debates in Vedānta

8 Making Space for God: Karma, Freedom, and Devotion in the Brahmasūtra Commentaries of Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Baladeva

Andrew J. Nicholson Of the Vedānta school’s three foundational source texts (prasthāna-traya)—the Upaniṣads, Bhagavad-Gītā, and the Brahmasūtra—it is the third and most recent of these texts that is also the most ambiguous in meaning. This is not surprising, since the Brahmasūtra stands out from the other two sources by its aphoristic format. Like the Yogasūtra, Nyāyasūtra, and other ancient sūtra texts, the Brahmasūtra itself is so terse as to be almost meaningless without some type of commentary; in some cases, a sūtra can be just one or two words.1 The Upaniṣads and Bhagavad-Gītā, by contrast, are generally written in verse or (in some early Upaniṣads) prose that is syntactically complete. As varied as their possible interpretations may be, they can be read as stand-alone texts, without reference to the Sanskrit commentarial tradition. In this chapter I will pay special attention to the Brahmasūtra (abbreviated BS), along with three commentaries on that text, by the Advaita (Nondualist) Vedāntin Śaṅkara (eighth century CE), the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita (Qualified Nondualist) Vedānta philosopher Rāmānuja (eleventh century CE), and Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa (eighteenth century CE) of the Acintyabhedābheda (Paradoxical Difference and Non-Difference) school. In particular, I will examine the various ways that these commentators understand BS 2.1.32–7, an important section that explores divine freedom, karmic justice, and human suffering.2 Among the diverse perspectives of Vedāntic commentators on the BS, there is general agreement that the aphoristic text teaches the existence of a personal God. The commentators designate this God by terms such as “Lord” (īśvara), “Highest Lord” (parameśvara), “Creator” (sraṣṭ;ṛ), and “Master” (prabhu). Commentarial accounts vary on a variety of issues concerning this God. Unlike the Bhagavad-Gītā, the Brahmasūtra itself never describes the personal God as engaging in a loving, reciprocal relationship with his creatures, or suggests that the means to the highest state of Brahman can be attained through devotion (bhakti). The path described in the third and fourth adhyāyas of the Brahmasūtra is a textually oriented “meditation” (upāsanā), which as described by the sūtras and their early commentators, does not have the strongly affective dimension of later bhakti worship.3 The project of the premodern and early modern Vedāntic commentators was one of harmonization of the three central source texts of Vedānta, playing down what at times seem to be central differences between the Upaniṣads, Bhagavad-Gītā, and Brahmasūtra. For

Rāmānuja and later Vaiṣṇava philosophers, Purāṇas such as the Viṣṇu Purāṇa and Bhāgavata Purāṇa were also enormously important in shaping the ideas expressed in commentaries. However, modern historians of philosophy do not share this interpretive project of harmonization and have instead emphasized points of apparent disagreement between these many texts. For instance, Hajime Nakamura (1983: 496) noted in his in-depth analysis of the original Brahmasūtra that there appears to be an enormous gulf between the disengaged, limited personal God presented in Brahmasūtra 2.1.32–7 and the God of rapturous grace presented by Vedāntic sects in the second millennium CE: the attempt to use the law of Karma to solve the problem of individual sufferings in a Brahman-created world is a special point of the philosophy of Brahma-sūtra. At the same time the Highest God was not an absolutely free personal god, because he is dependent upon external factors for world creation. Since he merely allocates the karmic effect appropriate to the individual self, his function was that of an automaton. He is a stern god and not a god of grace; he is a god who makes possible individual action, bondage, and liberation and is the basis of all things, but merely acts as a mechanism and does not positively encourage either good or bad acts on the part of individual selves. This god merely abides (sthiti) without doing anything in particular (1.3.7), for the spiritual liberation of individual self is dependent upon the religious discipline and practice of the individual. The burning bhakti worship of later Hindu sects is not seen in the Brahma-sūtra. While the commentators all agree that Brahmasūtra 2.1.32–7 teach some sort of personal being who has creative agency in the world, there is disagreement among them on the question of who precisely this personal being is and what his relation is to individuals in the world. The three commentators I focus on here represent three different schools of Vedānta: the Nondualist (Advaita) school of Śaṅkara, Qualified Nondualist (Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita) school of Rāmānuja, and the Paradoxical Difference and Non-Difference (Acintyabhedābheda) school of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa.4 Each thinker makes reference to a personal God and to bhakti, but in distinctively different ways. Śaṅkara argues that as knowledge alone is the means to liberation from the cycle of rebirth, devotion to a personal God can at best function as a preparation for the path of knowledge. Rāmānuja and Baladeva, by contrast, embrace the path of bhakti and understand it to be superior to knowledge as a means to liberation. They continually and emphatically critique the Advaita Vedānta system, and especially its understanding of this personal God as existing only at the level of conventional reality (vyāvahārika-sat), not ultimate reality (pāramārthika-sat). However, Baladeva goes beyond Rāmānuja in emphatically centering his interpretation of the Brahmasūtra on the relationship between an absolute, loving personal God and His ecstatic devotee.

8.1 Play (Līlā) and Motivated Action Given the well-known differences between the doctrines of BS commentators from the Advaita, Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita, and Acintyabhedābheda traditions of Vedānta, it is remarkable how

often diverse thinkers agree about the basic meaning of a given sūtra. One such example is the general agreement among commentators on the Brahmasūtra’s sequence of arguments at 2.1.32 to 2.1.35, where the text responds to and rejects the objections of an anti-theistic interlocutor.5 The anti-theist pūrvapakṣin first suggests that God (īśvara) cannot be the cause of the world, insofar as He lacks any reason to create. Second, the pūrvapakṣin says that if God did indeed create the world, then He must be cruel, on account of the sufferings that beings in the world experience. The Vedānta commentators had an answer to both of these objections to God’s existence. However, these answers come at a cost. In particular, the commentators’ response to the charge of cruelty leads the sūtras and some of their commentators to paint a picture of a God who appears to be different from the sort of being presented in influential and beloved works such as the Mahābhārata and the Purāṇas. Commentators on BS 2.1.32 present it as the anti-theistic argument of an opponent to the Vedānta school: “[He is] not [the creator] because of not having a motive.”6 Anti-theists, such as Sāṃkhyas and Mīmāṃsakas of premodern India, point out that in everyday life a creator always creates out of need. The potter creates a pot, for instance, because she needs a receptacle for holding water; or perhaps she creates these beautiful ceramic objects in order to make money to feed and clothe her family. She has a motive (prayojana). God is not like a normal person, as He is by definition eternally and completely fulfilled (paripūrṇa). It would seem, therefore, that He could have no motive to create. Why doesn’t God simply exist in a quiescent, blissful state? Without a need, why do anything at all? At BS 2.1.33, the famous answer to this problem is that God’s creation is play (līlā): “But [creation is] just play, as [we see] in the world.”7 As Rāmānuja explains, The motive of Brahman, whose every desire is fulfilled and who is absolutely complete, to create the world full of all sorts of sentient and insentient beings who undergo change due to His volition, is simply play. We see in the world a great king who is strong and heroic and who rules the earth with its seven continents—he engages in activities such as a ball game. His motive is nothing other than play. In just that way Brahman, whose volition alone accounts for the creation, preservation, and destruction of the world, has nothing but play as His motive. This point is not grounds for an objection.8 Here the sūtra and its subsequent commentators anthropomorphize Brahman. Rāmānuja goes beyond anthropomorphism to regimorphism: he likens Brahman’s play to the game of a world-conquering king whose wants and needs have already been completely fulfilled. The most common epithet among Vedānta philosophers to characterize Brahman as a personal being is “īśvara.” This word is derived from the Sanskrit verbal root √īś, meaning “to own” or “to have mastery” (Monier-Williams 1995: 171). By implication, īśvara is a lord, a sovereign, or more generally someone with extraordinary power.9 The importance of comparing Brahman to a human lord in the philosophical context of BS 2.1.33 is evident since, by the demands of traditional Indian logic, each syllogism must include an example. In this case, to establish that there is such a thing as a form of creative activity that is not motivated by a want or lack, we require in the third step of the five-step

syllogism a worldly example (dṛṣṭ;ānta) of a self-fulfilled being engaged in creative action.10 One such argument could be: 1. There exists creative activity among beings whose wants have been completely fulfilled. 2. Because some activity arises out of play. 3. As in the case of a great king playing a game with balls. 4. This is such a case. 5. Therefore it is so.

The importance of the dṛṣṭ;ānta in the syllogism raises real problems for theologians in India who seek to reason about a unique being, or a being who is free from attributes.11 Without such an example, making an inference is not possible. However, because Rāmānuja believes he has established that some creative activity arises as an expression of fullness or joy, not out of a need or a lack, he suggests that his rejoinder to the anti-theist of sutra 2.1.32 is “not objectionable” (niravadya). Baladeva, representing the Acintyabhedābheda school of Vedānta approximately seven hundred years after Rāmānuja, was in full agreement with him about the persuasiveness of BS’s teaching of a personal creator God. However, Baladeva rejects the example (dṛṣṭ;ānta) provided by Rāmānuja here, as well as the example provided by Śaṅkara in his commentary. In his commentary Baladeva writes: The Advaitins explain the words “as we see in ordinary life” by the well-known example of respiration that goes on even in deep sleep, and which is altogether involuntary and motiveless. This analogy, however, is open to the objection that the Lord is subject to deep sleep and loses consciousness, as man does. The example given by the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitins is that of a king who amuses himself without any motive, at the game of balls. This analogy, however, is open to the objection that playing at a game of balls is not altogether motiveless, for the king gets some pleasure by playing.12 According to Baladeva, what is wrong with deriving pleasure from play? One possibility is that such a king needs pleasure to ward off boredom.13 Paradoxically, human beings whose goals have been achieved often experience a certain kind of suffering. God does not require a diversion to pass the time or to find relief from His stressful job the way that certain rulers sometimes do, for instance, by repeatedly striking a ball with a club. The Advaitins’ example, on the other hand, is problematic because it suggests that God’s creation could be not only motiveless but also entirely unconscious.14 Respiration does not require any conscious attention to happen, and in fact, attention to respiration is the exception, not the rule. This would point not to an intelligent creator, but to an impersonal process, such as the transformation of seed into sprout or milk into curd (two examples often mentioned by the atheistic Sāṃkhya school). We require an example of an activity that is autotelic—that is, free of a goal outside of the activity itself—yet intelligent in a way that respiration caused by the autonomic nervous system is not. In Baladeva’s judgment, neither of these examples suffices. As an alternative, Baladeva suggests another example from everyday life that is both autotelic and intelligent:

Though all-full and desiring nothing, yet the motive which prompts the Lord towards the creation of this wonderful world is mere play (līlā) only, and has no object beneficial to him in view. As in ordinary life, men full of cheerfulness, when awakening from sound sleep, begin to dance about without any object, but from mere exuberance of spirit, such is the case with the Lord. This līlā or the play of the Lord is natural to Him, because He is full of self-bliss.15 Remarkably, in Indian art and literature, the Highest Deity is often depicted as a dancer, and His or Her creation as a dance. Besides the cultural or artistic reasons for this portrayal, we see here that there are also strong philosophical reasons to think of divine creation as play (līlā), and further, to think of play in terms of dance. Although it is not a normal expression to say that a person is “playing dance” (in comparison to “playing football” or “playing music”), spontaneous dance may be one of a few purely autotelic activities that intelligent agents consciously engage in. Baladeva points out that the king’s play is not genuinely autotelic, as he gets something out of this activity—namely, pleasure or diversion from the tedium of being an all-powerful king. This criticism of the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitin’s example is an ancient mirror of debates among contemporary analytic philosophers on the concept of play. Is play in fact autotelic? In a recent article, Stephen Schmid (2011: 154–8) rejects the idea that autotelicity is a necessary condition for the activity known as “playing a game”: it is exceptionally difficult to think of any game or sport activity which involves the intentions of the agent to be separable from “some further purpose” … it seems that participation in games and sports for anything other than random reasons would disqualify that activity as play. In fact, it seems that even the alleged play of a dog would not be purely autotelic since such canine activities play a role in training and establishing social behaviors and, thus, serve “some further purpose.” Very few play activities, if any, appear to meet the criterion of autotelicity, of having no end outside of themselves. Obviously, this criterion means that professional football players cannot be said to truly “play” their sport because it is their source of income. But even amateur high school athletes have reasons for playing, such as earning bragging rights or amassing social capital, that go beyond the confines of the game itself. While human beings often do engage in play activities for the love of the game itself, that love is almost always on closer analysis a mixture of extrinsic and intrinsic motivations. Among the few conscious creative activities that might be considered autotelic are those done spontaneously, whimsically, and privately, such as doing a jig upon waking, or singing in the shower.16 For Baladeva, these activities are expressions of fullness (characterized as “exuberance,” “joy,” or “excess of energy”), not indicative of a deficiency in the agent and a desire to achieve some further purpose.17 This is yet another reminder of how unlike God human beings are. It is also a reminder of just how hard it is to satisfy the condition of providing a worldly example (dṛṣṭ;ānta) for a syllogism whose purpose is to establish the nature of īśvara, the sole instrumental cause of the universe. There is yet another important metaphor commonly employed to make sense of God’s play

in Hindu traditions. Like the English term “play,” “līlā” in Sanskrit and vernacular languages can refer to a theatrical performance, and the famous Rām-Līlā (“Play of Rāma”) and RāsLīlā (“Circle Play [of Kṛṣṇa]”) performances reenact the important episodes of each divine incarnation’s life on earth, with children and young adults often playing the characters. Especially in the texts of the Śaiva nondual philosophical tradition, it is this type of “play” that is often invoked. As Isabelle Ratié (2017: 451) explains, māyā is rather defined by the Śaiva nondualists as a crucial aspect of the ultimate reality —that is, the freedom of consciousness, since it is nothing but the ability of consciousness to play: cosmic creation, while being perfectly real insofar as it is a manifestation of the only reality (namely the dynamism of consciousness), is ultimately a game in which consciousness acts as if it were split into a variety of objects and subjects, just as children, while playing, remain aware that they are not really what they pretend to be. In spite of the apparent commonalities of the Śaiva nondual and nondual (Advaita) Vedānta philosophies, none of the Advaita commentators I am aware of use the examples of a child’s make-believe or the theatrical play of an actor to explain the term “līlā” as it is employed in BS 2.1.33. Instead, Śaṅkara mentions a king’s play and the automatic process of inhalation and exhalation. In his commentary on BS 2.1.32–7, the nondualist Śaṅkara operates at the level of conventional truth, following the original realist orientation of the Brahmasūtra itself.18 In these sections he refrains from pulling back the veil to reveal that īśvara and all of the individuals who undergo transmigration are, from the highest standpoint, all just Brahman, a pure and eternally unchanging unitary consciousness. He follows the same basic script as Rāmānuja, Baladeva, and other realist commentators who seek to show the possibility of an absolute personal God creating the world free from any motive beyond the creative act itself, despite the suffering that individual beings experience as they proceed through a sequence of rebirths in various bodies, high and low. In other sections of his commentary on the Brahmasūtra, however, Śaṅkara reveals that īśvara’s cause-effect relation to the world is ultimately a fiction.19

8.2 Beginninglessness and the Problem of Suffering Following the anti-theist’s argument at BS 2.1.32 about God’s apparent lack of motivation to create, and BS 2.1.33’s response that God’s activity is just play (līlā), the anti-theist takes up a new line of attack. Sāṃkhya and Buddhist philosophers, among others, argued that the world cannot have been created by a compassionate God for the sake of others since all of transmigratory existence is characterized by suffering (duḥkha).20 Given the widespread acceptance of this fact in ancient India by most philosophers, including Vedāntins, how could we ever accept this world to have been created by a loving God? Suffering (duḥkha) should not exist in a world created by an omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate being. Yet suffering does exist. As Rāmānuja presents the opponent’s argument,

We may admit that due to his paradoxical powers, the Highest Person can create the world with its various sentient and insentient beings though He is different from all of them, and in spite of His being unitary and partless prior to creation. However, if He were the creator He would be guilty of partiality since beings have high, middle, and low births; they consist of gods, humans, animals, and immobile beings. Furthermore, because beings experience the most horrible suffering, He would be guilty of cruelty.21 Suffering (duḥkha) is a central problem, arguably the central problem, of the ancient philosophical schools in India. The fact of suffering is the first noble truth of Buddhism. Similarly, in the first verse of the Sāṃkhya-kārikā, Īśvarakṛṣṇa asserts that the cessation of suffering is the goal of its philosophical analysis: “due to the affliction of threefold suffering (duḥkha-traya), the inquiry into its removal [begins].”22 These schools were concerned not just with an accurate depiction of the true nature of things, but beyond this with prescribing a way of life that would allow its followers to escape the painful cycle of rebirth (punarjanma) and re-death (punarmṛtyu). The opponent at BS 2.1.34 seems to have abandoned the previous objection and conceded that it is possible to conceive of a perfectly fulfilled God as having created the world. But how can we accept that God created this world? When we look around we see that some beings are millionaires, others paupers. Why wouldn’t God reward all beings equally, instead of arbitrarily picking winners and losers? Foundational texts such as the Bhagavad-Gītā portray a God who is full of love for His creation. In that case, why should any being ever experience suffering, let alone the most horrible (atighora) varieties of suffering associated with illness, war, and famine that were a daily reality for many people in first-millennium India? Like the problem of evil presented by philosophers in Enlightenment Europe, the problem of suffering presents a challenge to theistic traditions that describe the creator God as benevolent and fair, not cruel (nirghṛṇa) and partial (viṣama).23 The response to this challenging argument is presented concisely, beginning at BS 2.1.34: “[There is] no partiality or cruelty [in Brahman], due to dependence [on karma]; for [scripture] shows it to be so.”24 As Śaṅkara explains in his commentary, It does not logically follow that the Lord (īśvara) is guilty of partiality and cruelty. Why? It is because of His dependence (sāpekṣatva). If īśvara alone, without any dependence, produced this unequal world, then He would be guilty of partiality and cruelty. However, as creator He is not independent (nirāpekṣa). He is dependent (sāpekṣa) as He produces the created world. On what is He dependent? We say that He is dependent on merit (dharma) and demerit (adharma). Hence the world is unequal because of the merit and demerit of the beings who are created. It is not īśvara’s fault.25 Perhaps Śaṅkara’s words are surprising, but he is following the Brahmasūtra on ascribing “accountability” or “dependence” (sāpekṣatva) to God. This is troubling because it seems to go against one of the central characteristics of the highest God, that His will is absolute. The juxtaposition of BS 2.1.33 with 2.1.34 seems almost designed to create cognitive dissonance. On the one hand God’s creation is play. Play is normally characterized as being free and

spontaneous—and the point of the sūtra is to argue that God is not constrained by any motive outside of the game of creation itself.26 Yet in the subsequent sutra, we are told that this creation is dependent on the prior actions of individuals. It is this that had led Nakamura (1983: 496) to characterize the God of BS as an “automaton … and not a god of grace.” B.K. Matilal, perhaps the twentieth century’s most influential interpreter of classical Indian philosophy, portrays Śaṅkara’s commentary on BS 2.1.34 as a theodicy that attempts to solve the problem of evil by giving up the idea of an all-powerful being. Though benevolent and omniscient, this God is causally dependent (sāpekṣa), and hence not omnipotent: The sāpekṣatva ‘dependence’ thesis which BS 2.1.34 underlines and which Śaṅkara amplifies as God’s dependence upon the Karma of the creatures, seriously delimits, i.e. restricts God’s omnipotence, which will not be shared by any of the Biblical religions, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam … We may note here that although Fate is called Daiva (“of gods”) sometimes in the popular literature of India, it is also recognized there that God cannot often control it or stop its operation. Thus, God is said to be more powerful than all of us but still he is not omnipotent. (Matilal 1992: 368–9, 373) For Matilal, this view of a non-omnipotent God is not just a quirk of Śaṅkara. It is, rather, a thread running throughout Indian religions, from the elite to the popular. This alleged lack of omnipotence of Hindu gods is also central to Matilal’s reading of the Mahābhārata. He makes the argument that Kṛṣṇa’s questionable behavior in the great war of the Mahābhārata is vindicated by the fact that, as He was not omnipotent, He could not by His own power stop the tragic events described in that work (Matilal 2002: 100). Yet throughout the Mahābhārata and Purāṇas, the God called Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu is frequently called “all-doer” (sarvakartṛ) or “possessing all powers” (sarvaśakti). Matilal’s reading, then, suggests that such passages should not be taken literally. Although God is an extraordinarily powerful being, He is nonetheless dependent on other forces beyond His control. A related strategy available to Advaitins to deal with the cognitive dissonance of the free, playful God at BS 2.1.33 and the constrained, dependent God at BS 2.1.34 is to note that Śaṅkara ultimately considers the īśvara of BS and the Kṛṣṇa of the Mahābhārata to be unreal. Although he refrains from making the point here, his system depends on a two-tiered hierarchy of truths, ultimate (pāramārthika) and conventional (vyāvahārika). Advaitins may therefore be willing, or even logically compelled, to discard notions of īśvara’s freedom, caught up as He is in a web of conventional relationships between beings. On this reading, it is important to realize that the freedom of Brahman itself is distinct from the freedom of a personal God (īśvara). In an earlier part of his commentary, during his refutation of a “difference and non-difference” (bhedābheda) interpretation of Vedānta at BS 2.1.14, Śaṅkara points out that īśvara is enmeshed in a web of causal relations: [Opponent:] Brahman is manifold (anekātmaka). As a tree has multiple branches, so Brahman has multiple powers. Hence oneness (ekatva) and multiplicity (nānātva) are both true. The tree is one, but multiple with regard to its branches. The sea is one, but multiple with regard to its waves and its foam. The clay is one, but multiple with regard

to pots and plates made of clay … [Śaṅkara’s response:] This is incorrect because the Upaniṣad’s statement “as clay they are true” merely asserts that the cause is true, while the statement “having its origin in speech” (vācārambhaṇa) asserts that all of the effects are false … Īśvara’s being Lord (īśvaratva), His omniscience, and His omnipotence are such only with regard to the limiting conditions whose nature is ignorance (avidyā). In ultimate truth (paramārthataḥ) the Self’s true nature free of all limiting conditions is revealed by knowledge, and the conventions of being Lord, of having a Lord, of omniscience, etc., do not apply to the Self.27 To understand this passage, it helps to recall the literal meaning of the term “Lord” (īśvara) itself, which derives from a verbal root meaning “to own” or “to have mastery of” (MonierWilliams 1995: 171). Ownership and mastery are relational concepts, yet the Advaita Vedāntin claims that at the highest level of analysis there are no relations, just pure undifferentiated consciousness. There is ultimately nothing for the Lord (īśvara) to own or master. Without his subjects and his land, the lord ceases to be a lord. Therefore the highest Brahman must out of necessity be free from “lordliness” (īśvaratva). Only “Brahman without qualities” (nirguṇa Brahman) is truly independent, not “Brahman with qualities” (saguṇa Brahman). The distinction between a higher and lower Brahman in Advaita Vedānta is rejected by Vedāntic realists such as Rāmānuja, who attacks Advaita Vedānta forcefully and repeatedly in his Brahmasūtra commentary. Therefore, one might expect Rāmānuja to go further than Śaṅkara by directly addressing the apparent discrepancy between the personal God’s playful freedom (svātantrya) and His karmic dependence (sāpekṣatva), and affirming that independence is fundamental to God’s true nature while His dependence is not. However, Rāmānuja does not do so. Instead, he elaborates on the nature of īśvara’s dependence by citing authoritative texts that explore His relation to other causal forces. Rāmānuja cites the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad and the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, one a revealed text (śruti), the other a traditional text (sṃṛti): Revealed and traditional texts teach that the union of bodies—divine, human, animal, etc.—with individual selves depends on the [previous] actions of those selves. For instance, “one who performs good acts becomes good; one who performs wicked acts becomes wicked. By a virtuous act, one becomes virtuous. By a wicked act, one becomes wicked” (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4.4.5). In the same way the blessed one Parāśara also declares that the cause of the diversity of gods, men, animals, etc. is the previous actions of the individual selves undergoing the process of creation: “He is just the instrumental (nimitta) cause in the creation of new beings, for the primary (pradhāna) cause truly consists of the powers of those who are to be created. O greatest of ascetics, besides the instrumental [cause] nothing more is required. By its own power the being is led into existence” (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 1.4.51–52). “Its own power” means that by its own [previous] action it is led into existence.28

This passage from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Rāmānuja’s second citation, addresses the philosophical problem at hand and makes a distinction regarding the precise nature of God’s causal relation to the world. In contrast to the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad, the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, composed in approximately the fourth century CE, is an emphatically monotheistic text, portraying Viṣṇu as the absolute God who manifests as other gods, such as Brahmā, the god of creation. It may therefore be surprising that in this text too God’s causal agency is qualified in the verse Rāmānuja cites: Viṣṇu is not the “primary” (pradhāna) cause.29 However, this formulation is hardly unusual. According to Indian theists, God does not create out of nothing. In contrast to the Christian concept of creatio ex nihilo, theologians in India generally maintained that for an intelligent deity to create, there must also be some sort of primordial stuff for that deity to shape and form.30 In the famous metaphor of the creation of a pot, the potter is in some sense dependent on the clay. No matter the potter’s skill, without the clay there can be no pot. It is in this sense that Rāmānuja invokes the passage from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa to elucidate BS 2.1.34, and by implication to defend God against the accusations of arbitrariness and cruelty. The stuff out of which God manifests beings’ new embodiments is their prior actions, known in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa as latent “powers” (śaktis) of individual selves. Implicit in BS 2.1.34 and Viṣṇu Purāṇa 1.4.51 is a dualistic position that accepts the reality of multiple causal factors that bring into being causal results. But there are other passages in sacred texts that suggest that a single creator can be both instrumental and material cause of the world. In another section of the revealed text Rāmānuja cited above, the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad, the creator is famously described as being like a spider: As a spider sends forth its thread, and as tiny sparks spring forth from a fire, so indeed do all the vital functions, all the worlds, and all beings spring from this Self. Its hidden name is “the Real behind the real,” for the real consists of the vital functions, and the Self is the Real behind the vital functions.31 The disagreements within authoritative texts on whether causes are ultimately one or many are mirrored by disagreements within Vedānta schools on this question. The Dvaita (dualist) Vedāntin Madhva argues that causes are multiple. Baladeva disputes this position, and argues forcefully that instrumental and material causes are ultimately one, not many. Following Jīva Gosvāmin, Baladeva cites the spider analogy to suggest that this universe and all beings within it are real, and have their ultimate source in a loving, highest God creating from out of Himself. On this point, Baladeva is closer to Rāmānuja than either to Śaṅkara (who argues that from the ultimate standpoint, neither īśvara nor individuated beings are real) or to Madhva (whose doctrine of pañcabheda asserts that the difference between the instrumental cause and the material cause is real and beginningless).32 Rāmānuja does not attempt to resolve this apparent discrepancy between multiple and unitary causality in this section of his commentary on BS. Baladeva, however, going further than any previous commentator on this section, endeavors to show that the Highest God is a free and loving God, not the demiurge or automaton that the logic of BS 2.1.34 appears to demand.

8.3 Divine Love and Freedom in Baladeva’s Govinda-bhāṣya Neither Śaṅkara nor Rāmānuja addresses the apparent discrepancy between the free, spontaneous God of BS 2.1.33 and the God whose activities are subordinate to or dependent (sāpekṣa) on karma, as 2.1.34 seems to suggest. The first commentary on BS to acknowledge this discrepancy explicitly as a problem and suggest a solution appears to have been Baladeva’s Govinda-bhāṣya (eighteenth century CE).33 The title of this work itself lays out the basic project of Baladeva’s commentary: to harmonize the teachings of the Brahmasūtra with a theology centered around the ecstatic devotion to Kṛṣṇa (or Govinda), the playful, loving cowherd depicted as Highest God in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. His theology is informed by many different sources, but especially Jīva Gosvāmin’s formulation of the Acintyabhedābheda school of Vedānta.34 Baladeva follows the commentators who came before him, and the language of the Brahmasūtra, in explaining the term “dependence” (sāpekṣatva): “In Brahman the creator there is no flaw of partiality or cruelty. It is because of the creator’s dependence, i.e., dependence on karma.” Baladeva follows this with a quote from the Kauṣītaki Upaniṣad that complicates the question of His dependence: “He makes the one whom He wants to lead up from these worlds to perform a good action, and the one whom He wants to lead down from these worlds to perform a bad action.”35 This juxtaposition is striking. In spite of his “dependence,” Baladeva suggests, it is not God’s agency that is determined by another. Rather, God is the agent and the individual human is the one whose actions are ultimately determined by another. But on what basis does God decide whom “He wants to lead up” or “wants to lead down”? That is on the basis of the individual’s prior acts. Baladeva attempts to balance the idea of accountability to karma with God’s role as instrumental cause when he interprets the Kauṣītaki passage as saying, “this indicates that divine or demonic states of the individual selves are caused by the Lord, but he takes into account (parāmṛṣati) the good or bad karma of those selves.”36 BS 2.1.35 follows the previous sūtra’s statement of God’s “dependence” with an objection that because there was no distinction of the karma of beings prior to creation, God could have chosen to make the situations of all beings the same, and create a blissful world where none suffer. The sūtra also offers a Vedāntic response to this objection: “this is not the case, due to beginninglessness.” As we saw from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa’s discussion of God’s creation, the idea of creatio ex nihilo was not a position seriously entertained by Vedānta philosophers or the authors of the Upaniṣads, epics, and Purāṇas. Like Aristotle and other ancient Greek philosophers, many Indian philosophers adopted the position that the universe had no beginning.37 It follows from this, according to BS 2.1.35, that there could have been no time before which individual beings were already acting and creating karmic fruits. This temporal factor, combined with God’s dependence on prior karma, absolves God of partiality (vaiṣamya) and cruelty (nairghṛṇya). In support of this position, Baladeva cites a smṛti verse that says that “Viṣṇu causes people to do good or bad actions in accordance with their previous karma. There is no logical contradiction, since karma is beginningless.”38 Following this defense of beginninglessness, Baladeva’s commentary explicitly confronts the question of whether his “dependence” (sāpekṣatva) on karma logically implies that God

is unfree. It is here that Baladeva finally broaches a topic that Śaṅkara and Rāmānuja did not. Baladeva is a realist who takes the personal God to be the highest reality. He rejects any suggestion that the Brahmasūtra describes God as being unfree: The Lord’s dependence on karma does not mean that He lacks freedom (svātantrya). In verses such as “Substance, karma, and time … ” traditional texts show that the existence of karma, and so forth, depends on Him. And if you suggest this is a case of the maxim “Dawn at the Toll-house,” we reply that He causes action just following the natures of the beginningless individual selves. He does not make anyone act contrary to their nature. Hence we say that the Lord is not unfair.39 “Dependence” on karma is not an absolute dependence that makes God a mere auxiliary cause to the absolute cause, known as karma. The verse Baladeva refers to here is from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the focal text of his Acintyabhedābheda tradition. According to Bhāgavata Purāṇa 2.5.14, “In reality there is nothing other than and distinct from Vāsudeva, o Brahmin—not substance, karma, time, essence, or the individual self.”40 Due to the dominion of Vāsudeva (also known as Kṛṣṇa) over all of these aspects of reality, it makes no sense to portray Him as a subordinate cause. He is, in fact, the foundation of karma itself. The subcommentary on Baladeva’s commentary called the Sūkṣma-ṭ;īkā says that God willingly and freely acts in accord with karma when He creates, which makes sense considering that He himself is the ultimate source of karma.41 On this interpretation, the “dependence” (sāpekṣatva) of God on karma is of a very weak sort. God is in fact free to act without regard for the being’s previous karma, but He chooses not to. In the second half of the quote above, Baladeva references the popular maxim (nyāya) known as “Dawn at the Toll-house.” This is a parable about merchants who, in order to evade a toll, attempt to sneak by the toll-house under cover of darkness. However, at dawn they realize that their circuitous route has led them back where they started, and they are still forced to pay the toll. This point from an imagined interlocutor is that in spite of Baladeva’s best efforts, by admitting that karma is in fact an aspect of God Himself, and that God’s dependence on karma is a matter of choice, He is still subject to the charges of partiality and cruelty. Baladeva counters this with reference to the beginningless essential nature (svabhāva) of each individual self—it is this that God follows, and not arbitrary or cruel whims. Whether or not we are convinced by Baladeva’s attempt to absolve God of unfairness, Baladeva adopts a view shared by many other devotionally oriented thinkers in India: due to His absolute freedom and omnipotence, God can act preferentially in cutting off bad karmic consequences for His devotees. Specifically, Baladeva claims elsewhere in his commentary on the Brahmasūtra that God can suspend the activity of prārabdha-karma, the type of actions that have already begun to produce karmic results.42 God does this as an act of grace toward His devotees, cutting off the link between cause and effect that governs the normal processes of karma. This understanding of God’s power over prārabdha-karma, not present in the earliest commentaries on the Brahmasūtra, was a feature of early modern thought in the Acintyabhedābheda and Śuddhādvaita Vedānta traditions, both devotionally oriented

schools of Vedāntic realism.43 After this commentary on BS 2.1.35, Baladeva makes a remarkable departure from precedent, attempting to balance God’s justice with God’s special relationship with His devotees as described in the Bhagavad-Gītā and Bhāgavata Purāṇa. The words of BS 2.1.36 could, out of context, mean almost anything: “It is acceptable, and it is seen in sacred texts.”44 For the commentators prior to Baladeva, the “it” functioning as subject of the sūtra is the “beginninglessness” of karma mentioned in sūtra 2.1.35. The sixteenth-century Bhedābheda Vedāntin Vijñānabhikṣu, for instance, follows tradition when he glosses “it is acceptable” as “the beginninglessness of karma, and so forth, ‘is acceptable’ by means of argumentation … and furthermore it ‘is seen’ in revealed and traditional texts.”45 This interpretation is seemingly natural as it follows directly from the previous sūtra, a theodicy based on the beginninglessness of karma. “Due to beginninglessness,” God is not culpable, since karma, and the individual selves, had no beginning in time prior to which God could have assigned them to states full of happiness and free of suffering. However, Baladeva’s understanding of BS 2.1.36 is that it is the “partiality” (vaiṣamya) of God that the text considers acceptable: The Lord, who is tender toward His devotees, does indeed have “partiality,” or favoritism (pakṣapāta), toward them. However, such partiality is acceptable. He protects them since it is His natural power to bestow grace on beings depending on their devotion. This does not contradict declarations of His flawlessness. In fact, this partiality has been praised as a virtue; the śruti text declares, “this is the jewel among the heap of qualities.” Without such partiality toward His devotees, all His other qualities would not have been attractive, and would not have motivated beings.46 This is a remarkable reversal, since BS 2.1.34 explicitly rejects God’s partiality, as Baladeva acknowledged. Yet according to him, there is one kind of partiality that is a virtue, not a vice: the favoritism of God toward those who love Him. Furthermore, God is not only dependent on the previous karmas of individual beings. He is also, according to Baladeva, dependent (sāpekṣa) upon the devotion of worshippers. Bestowing grace upon them is His “natural power.”47 Therefore, for Baladeva, “partiality” is not arbitrary, but rather natural to God, no less than His justice in following the demands of karma is a natural attribute. The literal meaning of the final sūtra in this section of the Brahmasūtra is “because it is acceptable that all attributes are present.” For Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and other commentators, this is an uncontroversial statement of the creative power of Brahman, the absolute reality. The majority of commentators read this to mean “because it is acceptable that all attributes [required for the creation of the world] are present [in Brahman].”48 Baladeva, however, following from his discussion of God’s partiality prior to this sūtra, takes the opportunity to suggest that it is not just all qualities proper for the creation of the world that exist in Brahman. He asserts that Brahman has all qualities, even those that would contradict one another if found in a normal being. Among these contradictions is God’s both following the dictates of karma and responding preferentially to His devotees:

Since it has been proven that the Lord of all, whose nature is paradoxical, possesses all contradictory and noncontradictory attributes, the wise consider even His favoritism toward His devotees to be a virtue. For example, He is by His very nature knowledge, yet He possesses knowledge; He is dark-hued, yet He is without form or color; He is just, yet He shows favor to His devotees. Besides His contradictory characteristics, the Supreme One also has noncontradictory characteristics: He is patient, kind, and so forth … Hence it is established that although Hari is not unfair, he is kindhearted toward his devotees.49 This, Baladeva’s final word at the end of this important section of the Brahmasūtra, reiterates the central theological doctrine of his Acintyabhedābheda school. God’s nature is, when examined through the lens of human reason, “paradoxical” (acintya). Alessandro Graheli (2007: 184) observes that Acintyabhedābheda thinkers “do not negate conceivability altogether, rather they deny the possibility of conceivability by means of humanly instruments of knowledge, i.e. perception and inference … In short, acintyabhedābheda is the mind-boggling coexistence of two contradictory qualities in the person of God. This doctrine stands as an axiomatic key of interpretation of most tenets in Gauḍīya religion.”50

8.4 Limiting Divine Power or Human Reason? Skepticism about non-scriptural means for knowing ultimate reality abounds across the different subschools of Vedānta, not just Acintyabhedābheda. A repeated argument of Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta school, for instance, is that perceptual knowledge is inferior to scriptural knowledge, and that our sense organs constantly trick us into seeing multiplicity instead of oneness. Just as a person with double vision needs medicine to fix her eye disease, the statements of nondualism contained in the Upaniṣads are the cure of our misapprehension of the true nondual nature of the existent (sat). Rāmānuja insists, contrary to other theists such as the Naiyāyikas, that God’s existence cannot be proven by human reason, but only by revelation.51 The Acintyabhedābheda school is the apotheosis of this tendency in Vedānta toward skepticism about the human capacity to know God. While Rāmānuja and many other theistic commentators on BS 2.1.32–7 are silent on the apparent incommensurability of God’s justice and God’s grace, Baladeva revels in this paradox. He calls special attention to it by departing from the received interpretations of BS 2.1.36 and 2.1.37. Instead of beginninglessness, it is God’s partiality that “is acceptable,” and is actually an occasion to rejoice, not to lament. God does not just possess all qualities logically necessary for creation. Rather, He possesses all qualities whatsoever, defying the dictates of reason (anumāna) and perception (pratyakṣa). Baladeva’s attitudes may call to mind those of certain Western thinkers such as Kierkegaard, who stress the suprarational, affective, and even absurd aspects of the relationship between the human and the divine.52 Taking a long view of the intellectual arc of Brahmasūtra commentaries stretching from the eighth to the seventeenth centuries, it appears that no commentator addresses the discrepancy between the freedom (svātantrya) of God in His creative play and His dependence (sāpekṣatva) on karma. Perhaps Śaṅkara, who understood God’s freedom to be

conventionally real but ultimately false, saw no great need to address this problem. But beginning with the realist Vedāntin Bhāskara, up through influential commentaries by Rāmānuja, Vallabha, Madhva, and Vijñānabhikṣu, it is remarkable that none chose to address this problem prior to Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa in the early modern period. Baladeva’s commentary represents a break from earlier traditions in numerous ways. One of these is his willingness to put bhakti decisively and emphatically at the center of the Brahmasūtra, even in places where earlier Vaiṣṇavas such as Rāmānuja did not. Baladeva does not just take up and defend the reality of God’s absolute freedom in light of His apparent dependence on karma. He also reads against the literal meaning of the text, creating a space for a devotional and perhaps even antinomian path to God. While conditionally accepting the rejection of God’s partiality at BSB 2.1.34, he goes on to argue for a certain kind of partiality of God toward His devotees as praiseworthy, not blameworthy. Perhaps this reversal of commentarial tradition could even be evidence of a distinctively “modern” attitude that earlier Vedāntins did not share.53 Nineteenth- and twentieth-century readers of this section of the Brahmasūtra tended to adopt one of two general strategies to resolve the aporia of a God who is both dependent (sāpekṣa) on karma and absolutely free. The first is to state outright that the īśvara presented in the Brahmasūtra is limited.54 Nakamura characterizes this as the position of the author(s) of the Brahmasūtra itself: īśvara is a subordinate cause, unfree and fully under the sway of prior karmic causes. Matilal similarly ascribes the position to Śaṅkara that God is not omnipotent, even making the broader claim that the Indian traditions of theism in general, unlike the Abrahamic traditions, are willing to limit God’s power in significant ways. If true, this would suggest that Kṛṣṇa in the Mahābhārata is no more accountable for the general suffering of beings than Zeus or Odin might be in the Greek and Norse pantheons. All three gods are extraordinarily powerful, yet limited in important ways. If īśvara is limited, it is worth asking why He was introduced into the Brahmasūtra at all. As atheist Sāṃkhya philosophers point out, with karma as a primary cause, it is unnecessary to posit the existence of God. It is quite possible to construct a systematic reading of the Upaniṣads that presents the impersonal principle called Brahman as the unitary source of creation, without the philosophical complications of introducing a demiurge or majestic personal god into its cosmogony as a subordinate cause. Yet all extant commentaries on the Brahmasūtra make reference to a personal God.55 An approach among some modern religious thinkers, including A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896–1977) and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–86), has been to follow the same path as Baladeva in emphatically affirming the omnipotence of the God of Vedānta.56 Baladeva rejects the idea that God could be limited in any meaningful way, and points to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa’s depiction of Kṛṣṇa to argue that as karma is an aspect of the highest personal God, it makes no sense to describe Him as dependent on it. Baladeva futher argues that not only is God not subordinate to karma, but He is also the only causal agent. All other agents, including individual human beings, should properly be understood as instruments through which God exercises His will. Baladeva’s theological determinism is conjoined with a form of skeptical theism shared with other thinkers in the Vedānta tradition

of Acintyabhedābheda. He employs this to make sense of what Nakamura considered impossible for the God of the Brahmasūtra: offering preferential treatment toward those who have entered into a loving relationship with Him. To this end, Baladeva reiterates his Vedāntic subschool’s understanding of the inadequacy of human faculties of perception (pratyakṣa) and inference (anumāna) in the face of God’s superhuman, paradoxical reality. God’s creation may appear to us as unjust, and indeed God may at times suspend the normal workings of karma for individuals whom He prefers. Baladeva’s understanding, however, is fully in keeping with depictions of the loving God described in the epics and Purāṇas. If those depictions offend human reason, the defect is not in God, but in the human capacity to understand the truth expressed in these texts. Skeptical theism has been adopted as a philosophical position by many figures in Western and Asian religious traditions to counter the argument from evil against God’s existence. One thinker who showed such tendencies was Sri Ramakrishna, the nineteenth-century Bengali saint and mystic. In the words of Sri Ramakrishna, Can we ever understand God’s ways? I too think of God sometimes as good and sometimes as bad. She has kept us deluded by her Mahāmāyā. Sometimes She wakes us up and sometimes She keeps us unconscious … One is aware of pleasure and pain, birth and death, disease and grief, as long as one is identified with the body … After the death of the body, perhaps God carries one to a better place. It is like the birth of a child after the pain of delivery. Attaining knowledge of the Ātman, one looks on pleasure and pain, birth and death, as a dream. How little we understand! Can a one-seer pot hold ten seers of milk?57 While Sri Ramakrishna’s characterization of the Absolute Being as a female and the emphasis on Her delusory power (māyā) are not found in Baladeva’s Acintyabhedābheda Vedānta, in his characterization of human understanding as like “a one-seer pot” Sri Ramakrishna shares Baladeva’s skepticism about humans’ cognitive abilities to understand God. These two thinkers also share a strong theological determinism that leads them to deny that human agency is real. The skeptical theist response to the problem of suffering presented by Baladeva and Sri Ramakrishna is an internally consistent way of dealing with the problem of suffering as presented by traditional atheists in India. It is such a strong position, however, that it leads to other conclusions that some critics have suggested are problematic or even dangerous. Most versions of skeptical theism are implicitly or explicitly based on a consequentialist ethical position: much in our world may seem flawed, but were humans given a God’s-eye view to see all the causal ramifications of all occurrences, we would see a higher logic at work. In this we are in a situation analogous to that of a small child who cannot understand why his father takes him to the doctor’s office to inflict the suffering of a vaccine on him, not comprehending that the father is inflicting a small amount of suffering in the present in order to avoid much greater future suffering.58 Following this line of reasoning to its full implications, however, may lead to a form of extreme moral skepticism that few people, religious or otherwise, would be comfortable

with. Confronted with apparent evil or suffering, including war, famine, torture, or genocide, the skeptical theist says that there is a greater plan beyond our grasp. This may lead to ethical quietism or paralysis in the face of the limitations of human reason. At the very least, it suggests that we will often need to reexamine our normal ethical intuitions. In the words of Stephen Maitzen (2013: 451), There is … a type of belief we can expect theists to possess and nontheists to lack that also undermines the moral obligation to intervene in cases of horrific evil: the belief that someone exists who can make this suffering turn out for the sufferer’s best even if I do not intervene. Given the badness of severe suffering, why do we not feel obligated to prevent children from ever undergoing painful rabies vaccinations? Because we are confident that sometimes severe suffering will turn out for the sufferer’s best. Suppose we believe, as many theists do, that someone exists who can always make suffering turn out for the sufferer’s best … We ought, I submit, to feel less obligated to prevent and relieve suffering than we would if we did not believe in such a potential guarantor of a good outcome … [O]ne might counter that God makes us witness current or imminent suffering because God wants us to reduce or prevent it, but skeptical theism denies us any confidence in drawing that conclusion. To put it in Indian ethical terminology, the combination of consequentialism and skepticism about human knowledge can lead to a rejection of humans’ ability to differentiate dharma from adharma. One such example of radical moral skepticism appears in the parable of the hunter Balāka, a didactic story Kṛṣṇa tells to Arjuna in the Karṇa Parvan of the Mahābhārata. Balāka kills a blind and helpless creature while it is drinking at a watering hole, in normal circumstances a clear violation of his dharma as a hunter. Balāka nonetheless earns heaven for reasons he could not have himself foreseen: “As soon as that blind creature had been killed, a shower of flowers fell from the sky … that creature had endured austerity and earned a boon to annihilate all living things, so Svayambhū had made it blind. After killing that creature … Balāka then went to heaven.” Kṛṣṇa concludes, “in this, dharma is very difficult to understand.”59 There is some variety of consequentialism at work here, as in other passages from the Mahābharata.60 But the passage goes well beyond other teachings to suggest that a finite human intelligence can never be wholly aware of the full merit contained in an apparently blameworthy act, or the full demerit contained in an apparently praiseworthy act. Only a god or omniscient sage who possesses full knowledge of all past and future karmic causes and conditions can be certain of a given action’s moral significance. This is troubling for those of us who, unlike Kṛṣṇa, are not omniscient. Perhaps the implication is that normal humans should put our faith in divine injunctions rather than follow our own limited powers of reason. But often human reason is required to interpret God’s ambiguous commands: for instance, Jews have historically insisted that God demands his followers circumcise themselves and abstain from eating shellfish, while Christians understand such commands to have been superseded.61 The situation becomes even more complicated in Hinduism, where there is not just one God issuing commands and one holy book, but many divine beings and

holy texts, often issuing directions that appear to be mutually contradictory.62 For the majority of worshippers who, unlike Arjuna, do not have a divine friend present to work them through the full consequences of their actions, they will have to rely on their own faculties of ethical reasoning to determine which divine command is relevant to their specific situation. Such conundrums resulting from moral skepticism, however, take us well beyond the Brahmasūtra.63 There is little hint in the text itself or in its earliest commentaries of a skeptical theist or bhakti-oriented position on the nature of God, as Hajime Nakamura has noted. Bimal Matilal’s understanding of the Brahmasūtra and Śaṅkara’s commentary as presenting a powerful though non-omnipotent īśvara is therefore a reasonable interpretation. Yet there is strong evidence throughout the Purāṇas and epics of another conception of God, an omnipotent personal God whom the Bhāgavata Purāṇa describes as encompassing “substance, karma, time, essence, and the individual self.”64 Furthermore, the philosophies of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa and Sri Ramakrishna are evidence contradicting Matilal’s claim that “in India … the attribute of omnipotence was never seriously emphasized” (2002: 100). In the vast ocean of Indian philosophical traditions, it can be dangerous to suggest that any particular view or tendency is never found.65 Use of the term īśvara to denote a nonomnipotent God is a characteristic of some texts, including the Brahmasūtra and Yogasūtra.66 Faced with the choice between Śaṅkara diminishing God’s power or Baladeva diminishing the human ability to reason about God and world, most contemporary philosophers would follow Matilal in rejecting a position such as Baladeva’s that casts doubt on the power of human reason to understand God and dharma. However, many committed devotees will side with Baladeva in emphasizing God’s love in spite of the apparent logical contradiction between God’s partiality and the impersonal system of karmic justice.

Notes Examples of the sūtras’ extreme brevity include BS 2.3.2, “But it is” (asti tu), and BS 2.3.11, “Water” (āpaḥ). In spite of the obvious challenges, scholars of Vedānta have attempted to reconstruct the basic doctrines of the Brahmasūtra based on a systematic comparison of similarities and differences between early commentaries on the text. Notable examples include Ghate (1926), Nakamura (1983), and Uskokov (2018). The consensus among these scholars is that the text presented a type of realist Bhedābheda (difference and identity) doctrine. However, later commentaries by Bhedābhedavādins such as Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa and Vijñānabhikṣu contain innovations that went far beyond the type of early Bhedābheda presented in the Brahmasūtra. Other valuable examinations of the philosophical and theological issues raised in BS 2.1.32–7 and the commentaries by Śaṅkara and Rāmānuja include Herman (1976: 264–86), Clooney (1989), Matilal (1992), Bilimoria (2013: 288–94), and Maharaj (2018: 241–80). To the best of my knowledge there are no English-language works exploring how Baladeva’s interpretation deals with the aporias from Śaṅkara’s and Rāmānuja’s commentaries on these sūtras. This is one of the main projects of this chapter. Bhagavad-Gītā 14.26–7, among other verses, describes the path of bhakti which leads to the highest state of Brahman: “One who serves me with bhakti-yoga, unwavering, transcends the guṇas and is prepared to become Brahman. For I am the foundation of Brahman, immortal and unchanging, of eternal dharma, and of absolute bliss.” The Brahmasūtra, by contrast, presents a path described as vidyā (“knowledge”) and glossed with terms such as upāsanā, dhyāna, and bhāvanā by early commentators. Uskokov (2018: 188–209) describes this upāsanā as a type of meditative exercise based on the Chāndogya, Bṛhadāraṇyaka, and Taittirīya Upaniṣads. Rāmānuja and later bhakti-oriented commentators do understand upāsanā explictly in terms of bhakti, but such interpretations of the practice-oriented sections such as BS 4.1.1–12 are beyond the scope of this chapter. On the meaning of upāsanā in early Vedānta, see also Nakamura (2004: 734–55).

I follow Graheli (2007) in using the translation “Paradoxical Difference and Non-Difference” rather than the more literal “Inconceivable Difference and Non-Difference” in the name of this school of Vedānta. For more on this topic, see Gupta’s Chapter 4 in this volume. While the interlocutor is not identified in the text, it presents arguments against God’s existence that were familiar from the Pūrva Mīmāṃsā and Sāṃkhya schools. Both of these schools predated Vedānta. na prayojanavattvāt (BS 2.1.32, in Karmarkar 1962: 639). lokavat tu līlākaivalyam (BS 2.1.33, in Karmarkar 1962: 640). Arthur Herman has argued that in fact the Brahmasūtra’s entire line of argument based on “play” misses a central point: “God is not responsible for the purposes in līlā, for supposedly there are none, but He is surely responsible for the act that brings līlā into existence … The Vedāntists have mistaken the description of līlā for a justification of līlā” (Herman 1976: 268–9). avāptasamastakāmasya paripūrṇasya svasaṃkalpavikāryavividhacidacinmiśrajagatsarge līlaiva kevalā prayojanam. lokavat. yathā loke saptadvīpāṃ medinīm adhitiṣṭ;hataḥ saṃpūrṇaśauryavīryaparākamasyāpi mahārājasya kevalalīlaikaprayojanāḥ kandukādyārambhā dṛśyate tathaiva parasyāpi brahmaṇaḥ svasaṃkalpamātrāvakḷptajagajjanmasthitidhvaṃsāder līlaiva prayojanam iti niravadyam (commentary on BS 2.1.33, in Karmarkar 1962: 640). In the medieval period in India, the epithet īśvara (Lord) or maheśvara (Great Lord) was often applied not only to the god Śiva, but also to yogis who acquired supernormal powers through their one-pointed meditation on him. However, in many philosophical works, such as early commentaries on the Yogasūtra, there is no implication that Śiva is the god meant by the term “Īśvara” (see Nicholson 2010: 12–20.) The model provided by the Nyāya school for the five-step syllogism establishes that there is fire on a hill: (1) There is fire on the hill; (2) Because there is smoke; (3) As in a kitchen; (4) This is such a case; (5) Therefore it is so (see Matilal 1998: 4– 7). The latter point is especially an issue in critiques of the Advaita Vedānta system, as Advaita claims that the ultimate truth about Brahman is that it is without qualities (nirguṇa). Other schools of Vedānta point out that nirguṇa Brahman could neither be the object of perception (pratyakṣa), nor could it be established by logical reasoning (anumāna). This is S.C. Vasu’s rendering, with minor edits, of Baladeva’s terse dismissal of previous Advaita and Viśiṣṭ;ādvaita commentaries on this sūtra (Vasu 1912: 267). ucchravāsapraśvāsadṛṣṭ;ānte ’pi suṣuptyādau tadāpatteḥ. rājadṛṣṭ;āntas tu tattat kṛīḍāsambhūtasya sukhasya phalatvān nopāttaḥ (Dasa 1965: 110). I thank students in a philosophy seminar at Stony Brook University for this suggestion, which is not explicitly stated in any Sanskrit commentary I am aware of. ṅkara’s example of respiration during deep sleep as a type of līlā is in his commentary on BS 2.1.33: “or just as inhalation, exhalation, and so forth occur without any aim outside of themselves, just following their own nature.” yathā cocchvāsapraśvāsādayo ’nabhisaṃdhāya bāhyaṃ kiṃcitprayojanaṃ svabhāvād eva sambhavanti (Yogīndrānanda 1995: 610). Translation by S.C. Vasu (Vasu 1912: 266). paripūrṇasyāpi vicitrasṛṣṭ;au pravṛttir līlaiva kevalā na tu svaphalānusandhipūrvikā. atra dṛṣṭ;ānto loketi. ṣaṣṭ;hyantātvatiḥ. lokasya sukhonmattasya sukhodrekāt phalanirapekṣā nṛtyādilīlā dṛṣyate tatheśvarasya. tasmāt svarūpānandasvābhāvikyeva līlā (Dasa 1965: 110). The specific detail mentioned by Vasu of the dancer having just woken from a deep sleep comes from the subcommentary on Baladeva’s work called Sūkṣma-Ṭīkā. On the question of the authorship of this subcommentary, and whether it is Baladeva’s own autocommentary, see Dasgupta (1922: vol. 4, 438–9). On some interpretations, even these activities, to the extent that it is physically pleasurable to dance or sing, might not be considered autotelic. This points to ambiguities in the definition of the word “autotelic” used by Bernard Suits and other philosophers (see Schmid 2011: 155–8). Suits develops a theory of “lusory attitude” which he claims allows the definition of game-playing to apply to professionals no less than to amateurs (see Suits 2014: 154–60), but does claim that some types of human activity are autotelic. Baladeva also cites a potentially unflattering verse from the Nārāyaṇa Saṃhitā that suggests that Viṣṇu’s creative activity is “like the dancing of a drunkard” (yathā mattasya nartanam). Baladeva insists that this simply means that God’s creation is autotelic, not that it is unconscious or disordered (Dasa 1965: 110). On the realism of the Brahmasūtra, see Nicholson (2010: 26–8) and Nakamura (1983: 500). Lance Nelson (2007: 314) remarks that for Śaṅkara, “from the point of view of liberation he [īśvara] is dependent on the world, just as the space limited by pots and jars is, for its existence as such, dependent on those vessels … This kind of thinking … [seems] to remove Deity from the sphere of final truth in a way that a true theist could not tolerate. Advaitic theism emerges as, so to say, a kind of transtheism.” According to Aniruddha’s commentary on Sāṃkhya-Sūtra 5.2, “we know from experience that all activity is either selfinterested or for the sake of another. But Īśvara has no self-interested motives. Suppose his activity were for the sake of

others. Then it would be impossible that the created world, which consists of suffering (duḥkkha), could be ascribed to him, since he is compassionate” (my translation from Garbe 1888: 180). yady api paramapuruṣasya sakaletaracidacidvastuvilakṣaṇasya acintyaśaktiyogāt, prāksṛṣṭ;er ekasya niravayavasyāpi vicitracidacinmiśrajagatsṛṣṭ;iḥ saṃbhāvyeta, tathāpi devatiryaṅmanuśyasthāvarātmanā, utkṛṣṭ;amadhyamāpakṛṣṭ;asṛṣṭ;yā pakṣapātaḥ prasajyeta. atighoraduḥkhayogakaraṇāt nairghṛṇyaṃ cāvarjanīyam iti (commentary on BS 2.1.34, in Karmarkar 1962: 640). See Sāṃkhya Kārikā 1 in Larson (1998: 255). “Threefold” refers to the Sāṃkhya division of suffering into three kinds: (1) originating from oneself (ādhyātmika), (2) originating from other beings in the human and animal worlds (ādhibhautika), and (3) originating from the gods and other superhuman forces (ādhidaivika). Though David Hume ([1779] 1998: 63) attributed to Epicurus an argument against the existence of God from the existence of evil in the world, this was probably not Epicurus’s actual view. There were arguments against God’s existence on the basis of evil in the premodern West, but they were not as pervasive as the arguments on the basis of suffering advanced by atheists in classical India. On Epicurus and classical European atheism, see Whitmarsh (2016: 109–10, 173–85). Contemporary philosophers distinguish the logical problem of evil from the evidential problem of evil, a distinction not made in these ancient debates (see Maharaj 2018: 241–2). vaiṣamyanairghṛṇye na sāpekṣatvāt tathā hi darśayati (BS 2.1.34, in Karmarkar 1962: 640). vaiṣamyanairghṛṇye neśvarasya prasajyete. kasmāt. sāpekṣatvāt. yadi hi nirapekṣaḥ kevala īśvaro viṣamāṃ sṛṣṭ;iṃ nirmimīte syātām etau doṣau vaiṣamyaṃ nairghṛṇyaṃ ca. na tu nirapekṣasya nirmātṛtvam asti. sāpekṣo hīśvaro viṣamāṃ sṛṣṭ;iṃ nirmimīte. kim apekṣata iti cet. dharmādharmāvapekṣata iti vadāmaḥ. ataḥ sṛjyamānaprāṇidharmādharmāpekṣā viṣamā sṛṣṭ;ir iti nāyam īśvarasyāparādhaḥ (Śaṅkara’s commentary on BS 2.1.34, in Yogīndrānanda 1995: 612–13). One way to address this problem is to suggest that as a player in a game, God willingly takes on arbitrary rules that limit His actions within that game. This calls to mind Bernard Suits’s definition of playing a game: “the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles” (Suits 2014: 43). But in that case, why would a compassionate God choose a game that involves enormous suffering? Wouldn’t another game with less horrible rules be preferable? nanv anekātmakaṃ brahma yathā vṛkṣo ’nekaśākha evam anekaśaktipravṛttiyuktaṃ brahma. ata ekatvaṃ nānātvaṃ cobhayam api satyam eva. yathā vṛkṣa ity anekatvaṃ śākhā iti nānātvam. yathāca samudrātmanaikatvaṃ phenataraṅgādyātmanā nānātvam. yathāca mṛdātmanaikatvaṃ ghaṭ;aśarāvādyātmanā nānātvam … naivaṃ syāt. mṛttikety eva satyam iti prakṛtimātrasya dṛṣṭ;ānte satyatvāvadhāraṇāt. vācārambhaṇaśabdena ca vikārajātasyānṛtatvābhidhānāt … avidyātmakopādhiparicchedāpekṣam eveśvarasyeśvaratvaṃ sarvajñatvaṃ sarvaśaktitvaṃ ca na paramārthato vidyayāpāstasarvopādhisvarūpa ātmanīśitrīśitavyasarvajñatvādivyavahāra upapadyate. (Śaṅkara’s commentary on BS 2.1.14, in Yogīndrānanda 1995: 572–3). devādīnāṃ kṣetrajñānāṃ devādiśarīrayogaṃ tattatkarmasāpekṣaṃ darśayanti hi śrutismṛtayaḥ sādhukārī sādhurbhavati pāpakārī pāpo bhavati puṇyaḥ puṇyena karmaṇā pāpaḥ pāpena karmaṇā tathā bhagavatā parāśareṇāpi devādivaicitryahetuḥ sṛjyamānānāṃ kṣetrajñānāṃ pracīnakarmaśaktir evety uktam nimittamātram evāsau sṛjyānāṃ sargakarmaṇi. pradhānakāraṇībhūtā yato vai sṛjyaśaktayaḥ. nimittamātraṃ muktvaikaṃ nānyat kiṃcid apekṣyate. nīyate tapatāṃ śreṣṭ;ha svaśaktyā vastu vastutām. iti svaśaktyā svakarmaṇaiva devādivastutā prātir iti. (Rāmānuja’s commentary on BS 2.1.34, in Karmarkar 1962: 641). The term pradhāna is commonly used in Sāṃkhya to refer to prakṛti in its “primary” or “primordial” state—it is the material (upādāna) cause out of which the world is formed. In the Purāṇas these Sāṃkhya concepts are often adapted to fit into a larger theistic cosmology. While the position that God requires a material cause was almost unanimous, there may been exceptions. For instance, the Śaiva nondual philosopher Utpaladeva wrote, “The Lord … must manifest externally the totality of objects … without a material cause” (Ratié 2010: 460). sa yathorṇanābhis tantunoccared yathāgneḥ kṣudrā viṣphuliṅgā vyuccaranty evam evāsmād ātmanaḥ sarve prāṇāḥ sarve lokāḥ sarve devāḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni vyuccaranti. tasyopaniṣat satyasya satyam iti. prāṇā vai satyaṃ teṣām eṣa satyam (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 2.1.20, translated in Olivelle 1998: 63–5). The spider metaphor also occurs at Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.7 and in numerous Purāṇas (e.g., Bhāgavata Purāṇa 2.9.28). For the significance of the spider metaphor in Baladeva’s thought, see Okita (2014: 200–4). David Hume knew, and mocked, this theological metaphor from India (Hume [1779] 1998: 48). See Okita (2014: 131–2). Francis X. Clooney attributes to Vācaspati Miśra, author of the Bhāmatī subcommentary (ninth century CE) on Śaṅkara’s Brahmasūtra-bhāṣya, an argument that “when a great king chooses to reward or punish subjects based on their behavior, this restraint on his exercise of power does not diminish him” (Clooney 1989: 536). However, careful attention to the passage in question suggests that Vācaspati addresses a slightly different problem. He is concerned not with God’s freedom,

but specifically with whether God can be accused of being unjust simply for punishing some people according to their prior behavior. Vācaspati also seems to suggest that God is not unjust in giving preference to those who are devoted to Him. Like other commentators, Vācaspati uses the analogy of a king: “A worldly lord is propitiated by acts of devotion originating from extraordinary faith, consisting of praise in the form of gifts, service, prostrations, salutations, and praise. Pleased, he gives rewards to the one who properly honors him. On the other hand, when opposed, he gives that which is undesirable to the person opposing him with offenses. This is well-accepted.” laukikaś ceśvaro dānaparicaraṇapraṇāmāñjalikaraṇastutimayībhir atiśraddhāgarbhābhir bhaktibhir ārādhitaḥ prasannaḥ svānurūpam ārādhakāya phalaṃ prayacchati virodhataś cāpakriyābhir virodhakāyāhitām ity api suprasiddham (Vācaspati’s commentary on 3.2.41, in Yogīndrānanda 1995: 970). For more on Baladeva’s influences, see Okita (2014: 59–60) and Buchta (2016: 32–3). Okita argues that despite Baladeva’s debts to Madhva, he is ultimately closer to the philosophy of Jīva Gosvāmin. a eva sādhukarma kārayati taṃ yamebhyo lokebhya unninīṣate. eṣa evāsādhu karma kārayati yam adho ninīyate (Kauṣītaki Up. 3.8; Olivelle 1998: 354). This is cited in Baladeva’s commentary on BSB 2.1.3, although Baladeva attributes this quote to the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (Dasa 1965: 111). Surendranath Dasgupta, summarizing Baladeva’s position on human agency, states that the “jīvas too have no independence in themselves; they are created by God, by His mere will, and having created the world and the jīvas He entered into them and remained as their inner controller … The spontaneous desire and will that is found in man is also an expression of God’s will operating through man; thus man is as much subject to necessity as the world, and there is no freedom in man” (Dasgupta 1922: vol. 4, 444). Baladeva’s understanding of God as the only true cause has affinities with Nicolas Malebranche’s “occasionalism.” etrajñānāṃ devādibhāvaprāptim īśvaranimittāṃ darśayantī madhye karma parāmṛśatīty arthaḥ (Dasa 1965: 111). David Buchta has helped me make sense of this ungrammatical passage in Baladeva’s commentary. On the theme of beginninglessness in Indian and Greek philosophy, see Nicholson (2017: 609–13). ṇyapāpādikaṃ viṣṇuḥ kārayet pūrvakarmaṇā. anāditvāt karmaṇaś ca na virodhaḥ kathaṃ cana (Dasa 1965: 111). Baladeva’s quote here is of questionable provenance. He likely took the quote from Madhva, who in his commentary on BS 2.1.16 cites this verse and identifies it as from the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa. However, this quote does not appear in any known edition or manuscript of that text, and may have been manufactured by Madhva himself (see Mesquita 2007: 58). I am grateful to Johannes Bronkhorst (private communication) for pointing this out. na ca karmasāpekṣatveneśvarasyāsvātantryam. dravyaṃ karma ca kālaś cetyādinā karmādisattāyās tadadhīnatvasmaraṇāt. ca ghaṭ;ṭ;akuḍyāṃ prabhātam iti vācyam anādijīvasvabhāvānusāreṇa hi karma kārayati svabhāvam anyathā kartuṃ samartho ’pi kasyāpi na karotīty aviṣamo bhaṇyate (Dasa 1965: 111). dravyaṃ karma ca kālaś ca svabhāvo jīva eva ca. vāsudevāt paro brahman na cānyo ’rtho ’sti tattvataḥ (Goswami 2006: 104). This is my translation of Bhāgavata Purāṇa verse 2.5.14. See Vasu (1912: 269–70) for a translation of the Sūkṣma-Ṭīkā on this section. The argument presented in this subcommentary for God’s freedom in spite of his “dependence” on karma is remarkably similar to the position Clooney (1989: 536) imputes to Vācaspati Miśra. On the different types of karma (prārabdha, saṃcita, and anāgata) see Nicholson (2010: 114). These arguments are in Baladeva’s commentary on Brahmasūtra 4.1.13–19. On the Gauḍīya and Puṣṭ;imārga arguments for God’s ability to cut off prārabdha-karma, see Buchta (2016). As Buchta notes, these arguments were not present in the two earliest commentaries on the Brahmasūtra by Śaṅkara and Bhāskara (Buchta 2016: 30). The earlier position that prārabdhakarma cannot be avoided is often based on an interpretation of Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.14.2: “There is a delay here for me here only until I am freed; but then I will arrive” (Olivelle 1998: 257). upapadyate cāpy upalabhyate (Yogīndrānanda 1995: 615). karmādīnām anāditvaṃ yuktyā ’py upapadyate … tathā upalabhyate ca śrutiśmṛtibhyaḥ … (Vijñānabhikṣu’s commenrary on BS 2.1.36 in Tripāṭ;hī 1979: 162). bhaktavatsalasyāsya prabhos tatpakṣapāto vaiṣamyaṃ eva tad upapadyate sidhyati. tadrakṣaṇādeḥ svarūpaśaktivṛttibhūtabhaktisāpekṣatvāt. na ca nirdoṣatāvādivākyavyākopaḥ. tadrūpasya vaiṣamyasya guṇatvena stūyamānatvāt. “guṇavṛndamaṇḍanam idam” ity api śrutir āha. yadvinā sarve guṇāḥ janebhyo ’rocamānāḥ pravartakā na syuḥ (Dasa 1965: 112). On the concept of “natural power” (svarūpaśakti) in Baladeva’s thought, see Okita (2014: 89–90). Rāmānuja, for instance, offers only one sentence in his commentary on this sūtra: pradhānaparamāṇvādīnāṃ kāraṇatve yaddharmavaikalyam ukta vakṣyamāṇaṃ ca tasya sarvasya dharmajātasya kāraṇatvopapādino brahmaṇy upapatteś ca brahmaiva jagatkāraṇam iti sthitam (Karmakar 1962: 643). avicintyasvarūpe sarveśvare sarveṣāṃ viruddhānām aviruddhānāṃ ca dharmāṇām upapatteḥ siddheś ca bhaktapakṣapāto “pi guṇaḥ sujñair āstheya eva. yathā jñānātmako jñānavān syāmaś caivam aviṣamo bhaktapreyānityādayo mitho viruddhāḥ kṣāntyārjavādayo ”viruddhāś ca parasminn eva santi … tathā cāviṣamo ’pi harir bhaktasuhṛd iti siddham (Dasa

1965: 112–13). Also see Chapter 4 in this volume by Gupta, on the Acintyabhedābheda thinker Jīva Gosvāmin. In his commentary on 2.1.34, Rāmānuja also employs the term acintya (“paradoxical” or “inconceivable”) to describe God’s powers: “We may admit that due to His inconceivable powers, the Highest Person can create the world with its various sentient and insentient beings” (my translation from Karmarkar 1962: 640). Here the more literal translation, “inconceivable,” may be preferable, as Rāmānuja uses this term in a slightly different sense than Baladeva does. It is worth noting that the affective states of the worshipper often emphasized by Kierkegaard (fear, trembling, and so forth) are quite different from those that characterize most Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava worship. For one discussion that contrasts the idea in Kierkegaard of God’s unknowability with the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava idea of access to God through bhakti, see Sardella (2016: 96–8). Jonardon Ganeri, for instance, has argued that a newly critical and modern attitude toward textual authority began with the Navya-Naiyāyika Raghunātha Śiromaṇi in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century (Ganeri 2011: 150ff.). If this is correct, we need to reexamine the works of Vedāntins in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to confirm that there was a new type of commentarial independence prior to Baladeva. This is arguably the strategy Clooney employs when he reads Vācaspati Miśra as affirming that God could act against the dictates of karma, though He chooses not to do so; though He is theoretically free, in practice God’s actions are limited (Clooney 1989: 536). Compare this to Baladeva’s position that God does at times act against the rules of karma, erasing the prārabdha-karma of his devotees. On the Sāṃkhya argument portraying īśvara as causally superfluous, see Nicholson (2017: 602ff.). One possibility as to why the Brahmasūtra introduces īśvara in spite of this alleged superfluity is the frequent references to a god or gods throughout authoritative texts such as the Upaniṣads and Mahābhārata, which preceded the Brahmasūtra. Positing īśvara could have therefore been culturally important, though he is only a “nominal” (pāribhāṣika) sovereign of the world. Scriptural references to God’s omnipotence can then be read as arthavādas, nonliteral statements often used to encourage worship or ritual action. When Sri Ramakrishna was asked, “Can God violate law?” he replied, “What do you mean? She is the Lord. She can do everything. She who has made the law can also change it” (translated in Maharaj 2018: 263). This is translated from the Kathāmṛta, a Bengali collection of Sri Ramakrishna’s sayings and actions, in Maharaj (2018: 252– 3). On the connection between consequentialism and skeptical theism, see McBrayer (2019). I borrow the vaccination example from Maitzen (2013: 450). evaṃ dharmaḥ sudurvidaḥ (Bowles 2008: 169–70). This story comes before the story of Kauśika, another parable with a consequentialist message: a foolish sage with a narrow understanding of dharma takes a vow of truth-telling. When murderous bandits ask him which way their potential victims went, he tells the truth. For this act Kauśika eventually ends up in a “miserable hell” (Bowles 2008: 171) Among the passages interpreted as consequentialist are Bhagavad-Gītā 3.20 and 3.25, which reference the “welfare of the world” (lokasaṃgraha). See Sreekumar (2012: 299–313). See Maitzen (2013: 452). Yogasūtra 2.31 and its premodern commentaries, for instance, declare nonviolence (ahiṃsā) to be a universal requirement “not exempted by one’s class, place, time, or circumstance” (jātideśakālasamayānavacchinna; translated in Bryant 2009: 248). Compare this with passages in the Mahābhārata (e.g., Mbh. 12.98.13–30) that glorify the warrior (śūra) who kills on the battlefield. His killing is “the sacrifice of battle” (yuddhayajña, Mbh. 12.99.13), and after death he attains Indra’s heaven. The Brahmasūtra was composed in light of the Mīmāṃsā school, whose central concern was the systematic interpretation of Vedic injunctions. The Mīmāṃsakas were neither skeptical about humans’ abilities to understand ritual/ethical injunctions nor were they generally theists. On the ways in which Mīmāṃsā ritual theory acts as a foundation for theories of liberation in the Brahmasūtra, see Uskokov (2018: 1–144). Referring to Bhāgavata Purāṇa verse 2.5.14, as cited by Baladeva: dravyaṃ karma ca kālaś ca svabhāvo jīva eva ca. vāsudevāt paro brahman na cānyo ’rtho ’sti tattvataḥ (Goswami 2006: 104). Even the concept of creatio ex nihilo, sometimes described as unique to Christianity, can arguably be found in the Śaiva nondual tradition (see note 30). On the “weak” theism of Patañjali’s Yogasūtra, see Nicholson (2017: 604–9).

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9 Vedāntic Approaches to Religious Diversity: Grounding the Many Divinities in the Unity of Brahman

Ankur Barua A basic theme that runs through the Vedāntic constructions of worldviews through systematizations of scriptural materials is that the indivisible divine reality, Brahman, persists as the immutable ground of all empirical reality. The Vedāntic doctrinal systems can diverge, often sharply, over key metaphysical, epistemological, and soteriological questions such as the relation between the transcendental foundation and the empirical structures of the world (saṃsāra), the interrelation between empirical modes of knowing and scriptural foundations, and the shape of the human self which is liberated beyond the cycles of reincarnation. While in premodern Vedāntic schools, these themes relating to the “One and the Many” were often applied to the question of how to subsume doctrinal rivals within one’s own exegetical universe, some influential figures associated with Hindu modernity have creatively reworked these classical materials to articulate their distinctive visions of the transcendental significance of the religious traditions of humanity. Our exploration of several Vedāntic perspectives on the diversity of religious traditions, and the spiritual significance of this diversity, will proceed through three stages. First, an analysis of aspects of the Vedāntic systems of foundational figures such as Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and others, and broader traditions such as Vaiṣṇavism and Śaivism, indicates a range of exegetical-conceptual tools through which they sought to encompass rival standpoints from within the perspective of their own conceptual-exegetical system. Second, we will highlight some continuations of these hermeneutical strategies of encompassment in medieval Vedāntic commentators, and some prominent figures associated with the bhakti devotional strands. Third, we will study modernist reconfigurations of these themes in figures such as Swami Vivekananda, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and others, who draw on some of the classical materials to speak of Hinduism, conceived through Vedāntic prisms, variously as the quintessence of human spirituality, as an embodiment of universal moral values, or as a pointer to the transcendental source of all religions. We begin with some methodological remarks relating to the key terms in this essay: “religious diversity,” “Hindu” or “Hinduism,” and “Vedānta.” First, a significant amount of scholarly discussion has been devoted in recent decades to the question as to whether the Indic systems we are discussing are properly characterized as “religious” or whether they are instead to be regarded primarily as sociopolitical constructs which emerged, over roughly the last one hundred years, through the alien prisms of Western secular categories, systems of

imperial governance, and Christian soteriological doctrines (Frykenberg 1989: 29). The category of “religion” is said to be structured by specific Western presuppositions such as a Christian emphasis on creedal formulation, belief, faith, scriptural revelation, dogmatic orthodoxy, and so on, and the European enlightenment separation of a “public” domain from religious concerns which are located in a “private” sphere of interiority (King 2010). Similarly, the terms “Hindu” and “Hinduism” too are often claimed to be modular constructs which have emerged through the superimposition of Western modes of classification on extremely varied arrays of thought systems, ways of living, ritual practices, social structures, and cultural subjectivities. Without revisiting these debates here, we will work with the terms which the figures we discuss themselves have employed. Thus for premodern writers such as Śaṅkara, Tulsīdās, and others, we use classifications such as tradition, monastic community, viewpoint, form of spiritual practice, pathway (sampradāya, maṭ;ha, mata, sādhana, panth), and so on. Whether, and to what extent, these categorizations can be characterized as “religion” or as “Hindu” is a debate into which we do not enter. On the other hand, with modern thinkers such as Vivekananda, Radhakrishnan, and others, we are on firmer ground since the terms “religion” as well as “Hindu” and “Hinduism” frequently occur in their own writings. Crucially for our purposes, this distinctive conceptual shift from Śaṅkara to, say, Radhakrishnan points to the emergence, in the sociopolitical contexts of colonial modernity, of prominent “Hindu” styles of systematic reflection on the significance of religious diversity. The commentaries of Śaṅkara and Rāmānuja do not engage with Christianity as a prima facie viewpoint (pūrvapakṣa), though Christian communities have existed in parts of southern India since the third century of the common era; nor is Islamic thought taken up for systematic discussion by medieval theologians, commentators, and poets such as Jīva Gosvāmī, Madhusūdana Sarasvatī, Tulsīdās, and others who lived within spheres of Islamic influence. Generally speaking, for these premodern figures, the land of Bhārata is privileged as the place where ritual and soteriological efficacy is focally centred, as it is the domain where the “twice-born” members of the upper castes can negotiate their life-projects out of the cycle of rebirths. The purity of the Vedic way of life has to be protected against the foreigners (mlecchas) who are not part of Vedic social structure and do not speak Sanskrit. Therefore, commentators such as Vācaspati regarded the adoption of Buddhism by the mlecchas as a point in its disfavor, for such teachings cannot be accepted as having any authoritative status (Halbfass 1990: 189). However, from around the time of Rammohun Roy (1772–1833) onward, a range of thinkers began to consciously articulate Vedāntic visions of situating “religions” such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam within worldviews derived from Hindu scriptural materials and their classical commentators. While these hermeneutical strategies of placing the religious streams of European origins within Vedāntic worlds are often characterized as “Neo-Vedānta,” suggesting some sort of an abrupt rupture with tradition, our discussion will indicate that they are, in fact, broadly continuous with different modes of classical and medieval Vedāntic engagements with rival sampradāyas of exegeses, doctrines, and experiences. Third, while in a strict traditional sense, the term “Vedāntic” itself, as applied to a teacher (ācārya), lineage, or community, is associated with commentarial literatures on the Upaniṣads, the Bhagavad-Gītā, and the Brahmasūtra, in a broader sense of the term, we can refer to as “Vedāntic” the vernacularized works of poets

such as Tulsīdās where these literatures have become embodied in a rich array of local narratives, imageries, and practices, and also the modernized reconfigurations of thinkeractivists such as Vivekananda where these literatures have been creatively appropriated from a range of contemporary socioreligious perspectives. With these definitional notes in place, we highlight in subsequent sections the theme that the diverse range of Vedāntic approaches to “religious diversity” (RD) operate with three key hermeneutic modalities of situating a competing standpoint Y with respect to one’s own standpoint X (where X and Y can be a traditional constellation such as a sampradāya or a system which is regarded as a “religion”): RD1: Where Y represents an ontological schema, ritual practice, and soteriological telos which are not grounded in or derived from a Vedic source, Y is to be rejected unequivocally. RD2: The doctrinal formulations, ritual practices, and spiritual techniques of Y can be accepted as provisional and partial, and yet as valuable, pointers to the fullness of liberation as taught by X. While Y in itself is not utterly erroneous, specific aspects of Y have to be “sublated”—that is, rejected, revised, and reformulated—in the light of X so that its spiritual momentum can direct the aspirant toward the unlimited completeness of X. RD3: The key teachings of Y and X can somehow coexist within the divine totality that indwells both and also transcends both. The divine totality, the infinitude of which is beyond human comprehension, is the transcendental focus in which various modes of human spiritual striving are incorporated, even if such interrelation between Y and X is not comprehensible to finite human intellects. These three standpoints can be regarded as broadly analogous to Alan Race’s well-known threefold typology of exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism, even if they might not neatly map on to them (Race 1983). For an initial example of how formulations of RD2 have shaped Vedāntic reflections on “religious diversity,” from the times of Śaṅkara to our own, consider the traditional debate over whether Brahman conceptualized as transpersonal (nirguṇa) encompasses Brahman conceptualized as supereminently personal (saguṇa), or vice versa. According to the traditions of Advaita Vedānta, devotion (bhakti) to a personal deity conceived as ontologically distinct from the finite self (ātman) is a form of spiritual ignorance (avidyā); however, such devotion can be spiritually efficacious to the extent that it can stabilize the flickering mind and direct it toward a singular unity. That is, provided that the ontologies of doctrinal rivals such as Vaiṣṇava Vedānta are reconfigured, so that the supremely personal deity Viṣṇu is understood as nondual with the finite self, devotion too can be a preparatory stage on the spiritual ascent within Advaita systems. T.M.P. Mahadevan (1977: 124) states the point clearly: “Advaita … is the culmination of all religious sects and philosophical schools. It is the common end of all philosophical endeavour and religious practice.” Conversely, proponents of Vaiṣṇava Vedānta can, and indeed have, turned the dialectical tables around by arguing that some form of Advaitic preparation can lead to, in

fact, the supremely personal Lord. A key aspect of these debates relates to whether knowledge (jñāna) or devotional love (bhakti) is the most spiritually efficacious means to liberation. The sixteenth-century Vaiṣṇava theologian Jīva Gosvāmī argues in his Tattvasandarbha (46) that knowledge, in fact, depends on bhakti (Elkman 1986: 144). Reflecting the views of Jīva, Swami Prabhupada (1896–1977), the founder of ISKCON, lays out a scheme which is, to use our classification, informed by RD2: “A directly Kṛṣṇa conscious person is the topmost transcendentalist because such a devotee knows what is meant by Brahman or Paramātmā. His knowledge of the Absolute Truth is perfect, whereas the impersonalist [Advaitin] and the meditative yogī are imperfectly Kṛṣṇa conscious” (Prabhupada 1972: 318). Therefore, the worshipper who is “engaged in pure devotional service” to the supreme Lord is already in the state of unity with the absolute (brahmabhūta), which for the Advaitin is the highest goal (Prabhupada 1972: 822). In other words, the rival forms of doctrinal understanding, ritual practice, and spiritual training are to be situated at preparatory stages on a graduated ascent to liberation. A key thesis of this essay is that these internal Vedāntic exegetical manoeuvres have been extended by defenders of various types of Vedāntic systems to “religious diversity” on contemporary global landscapes. Thus a thinker developing Advaita motifs can argue that all forms of personal theism (Vaiṣṇavism, Śaivism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) are preparatory for the realization of the transpersonal absolute. For instance, from a broadly Advaitic perspective, Swami Vivekananda uses the concept of dvaita—which he says is the “first stage” in an individual’s religious progress—to refer not only to the classical Vedāntic system of Madhva but also to Christianity and Islam (Vivekananda 1972: vol. 5, 81–2). A member of, say, a Vaiṣṇava sampradāya can, in turn, use this template to claim that all modes of spiritual striving are purificatory devices which ultimately lead, through the cultivation of unalloyed devotional love, to the supreme Lord of all perfections.

9.1 The Hierarchical Encompassment of the Other For the premodern Vedāntic traditions, the “religious diversity” they grapple with is with respect to non-Vedic soteriological systems, such as Buddhism and Jainism, or alternative doctrinal formulations within Vedic folds. Figures such as Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and others developed distinctive orientations toward the diversity of mata or sampradāya—the nonVedic systems are often sharply rejected (RD1) because they are not rooted in Vedic truth, while the competing Vedāntic streams are partially accepted (RD2) on the grounds that they too contain spiritual resources which can guide aspirants toward the ultimate end (Daniel 2000: 22–58). The conceptual lens through which they viewed the rival systems of philosophical thought, ritual training, and contemplative practice was their distinctive exegetical formulations of the Upaniṣads, the Bhagavad-Gītā, and the Brahmasūtra. These “triple foundations” are themselves seemingly composed of multiple doctrinal claims about the way the world is, so that distinctive forms of Vedāntic exegeses emerged, each claiming to encompass comprehensively these scriptural texts within its synoptic vision. For instance, the Bhagavad-Gītā contains certain verses which seemingly strike monist or nondualist notes, while others suggest an ontological distinction between the human person and the

divine reality. A key theme which shapes the conceptual engagements of Śaṅkara (c. 800 CE) with systems which affirm metaphysical dualism or pluralism is the notion of the two standpoints of truth. We find Śaṅkara working with these two standpoints when in his commentary on the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (Madhavananda 1950: 317), he responds to the argument that there would be no practices of teaching and learning about Brahman if Brahman is the sole reality. Śaṅkara replies that if the objector is suggesting that on the realization that Brahman is the only reality, instruction and learning will cease, such is also his view. However, if teaching is regarded as useless even before an individual’s Brahman-realization, such a claim should be rejected because it contradicts the assumption that instruction about Brahman guides aspirants to the final goal. From this empirical stance, acts of devotional worship (upāsanāni) can be seen as leading to different results such as gradual emancipation (kramamukti) or worldly success (karmasamṛddhi), where these distinct acts are ultimately directed at the highest Self (Brahmasūtra-bhāṣya [BSB] I, 1, 11; Thibaut 1890: vol. 1, 62). Śaṅkara’s attitude to ritual action and devotional practice remains a subject of intense scholarly dispute, which is informed partly by the accent one places on the “continuity” or the “discontinuity” between the two standpoints. On the one hand, given that all empirical reality is metaphysically nondual (advaita) with the transpersonal Brahman, devotional love directed at a finite deity is somehow subsumed into the practice of self-realization. On the other hand, the worship in itself of gods or goddesses is subject to conditions of empirical finitude, and should be seen as a pedagogical tool or soteriological device orienting individuals toward the ultimate goal. Śaṅkara’s point that devotional acts (bhakti) are invested with some measure of soteriological efficacy because they can lead to Advaitic self-realization is vital for our purposes, as it indicates that he does not view the notion of a personal divine (īśvara) merely in terms of a subordinate step on a ladder toward the nondual summit of the nirguṇa reality. While there is a sense in which we may speak, from an empirical standpoint, of an individual progressing from a “lower” stage of object-oriented bhakti to the “highest” ineffable state of jñāna, the empirical value of the former is not simply cast away but is sublated by the transcendental perfection of the latter. Thus, J.G. Suthren Hirst argues that for Śaṅkara, Nārāyaṇa is the highest Self, and the inner controller of all beings who, in his avatāric role as Kṛṣṇa, the teacher, takes the initiative to instruct human beings about their nonduality with the Self. Therefore, she criticises as one-sided the views of scholars who have regarded the relations between the Lord and the transpersonal Brahman as one of subordinationism such that the former is either a compromise to popular devotion or an appendage that can be discarded through right knowledge (1993: 140). Several scholars such as Paul Hacker have noted in this connection that Śaṅkara uses the concept of the personal Lord in contexts where one would have expected to find the concept of the highest Self (paraṃ brahma), and vice versa. For instance, in Brahmasūtra-bhāṣya 1.2.1, Śaṅkara refers to paraṃ brahma as the cause of the world (jagatkāraṇam), even though causal powers are usually attributed by him to the personal Lord (Halbfass 1995: 91). He seems to have been aware that those who are struggling to apprehend the nondual Brahman need to cultivate conceptual meditation based on homologies between the inner and the outer (upāsanas), even though these processes in themselves are not equivalent to final liberation (Dalal 2016, Chapter 1 in this volume).

Therefore, Śaṅkara can defend the practice of meditating on Brahman as the Self as more minute than a grain of sand, on the grounds that because the all-pervasive (sarvagata) Brahman is present everywhere, it is possible to meditate on Brahman as circumscribed by a specific location. The Lord (īśvara) who is present everywhere is gracious (prasīdati) to those who devoutly contemplate on the Lord as present in the heart (BSB I, 2, 7; Thibaut 1890: vol. 1, 114). Śaṅkara’s key exegetical moves can be summarized as follows—personal theism, which is grounded in Vedic sources, is soteriologically preparatory and significant if its styles of meditative worship are relocated in the context of metaphysical nonduality between the embodied self and the transpersonal divine which is beyond all descriptions, qualities, and features. That is, devotional love is soteriologically efficacious to the extent that it is a spiritual technique which is geared toward Brahman provided that, following RD2, its metaphysical underpinnings of duality are reformulated in the register of nonduality between the devotee and the divine. For instance, commenting on the Bhagavad-Gītā at VIII.22, Śaṅkara writes that the Highest Person is to be obtained through exclusive devotion (bhakti), which is redefined in terms of knowledge which has for its object the true Self (ātman) (Sastry 1897: 233–4). Again, provided that the notion of transformation of the manifestations (vyūhas) of the divine reality is removed, Śaṅkara even says that he does not reject the Bhāgavata doctrine that individuals should worship the Lord at temples, and cultivate singleminded devotion (BSB II, 2, 42; Thibaut 1890: vol. 1, 440–1). Therefore, it is more accurate, we suggest, to see bhakti as “hierarchically encompassed” by jñāna than to claim that it is simply negated on the ascent to the Advaitic summit. However, systems that do not accept the Vedas as the only reliable source of knowledge regarding the ultimate reality are to be more decisively rejected, for without such scriptural guidance human reasoning (tarka) is insufficient for liberation. Thus, articulating RD1, Śaṅkara reserves some particularly harsh words for the Buddha who he says was perhaps full of hatred for people and propounded contradictory doctrines so that these would confuse them (BSB II, 2, 32; Thibaut 1890: vol. 1, 428). This anti-Buddhist vehemence is captured in a hagiographical narrative which narrates that when the gods approached Śiva and told him that the land had become filled with the followers of the Buddha, Śiva replied that he would be born in the form of Śaṅkara to reestablish the dharmic path and to vanquish the followers of the mistaken views (duṣṭ;ācāravināśāya) (Swami Tapasyananda 1986: 4–5). At the same time, Śaṅkara can on occasion speak favorably of non-Vedic practices such as yogic meditation as ways of cultivating mental purification, provided the ontological dualisms of Sāṃkhya and Yoga are rejected (Rukmani 1993: 401). Thus, arguing against the Sāṁkhya view that nonconscious nature (pradhāna) evolves into the phenomenal world, Śaṅkara states that the omnipresent Lord, fictitiously endowed with the power of māyā, produces the world of name and form (BSB II, 2, 1–II, 2, 2; Thibaut 1890: vol. 1, 363–9). Again, commenting on the BhagavadGītā at V.26, Samkara states that karmayoga, when performed with an attitude of complete devotion to the Lord, gradually leads to liberation, first by the purification of the mind, then by the attainment of knowledge, and then by the renunciation of actions (sattvaśuddhijñānaprāptisarvakarmasaṃnyāsakrameṇa) (Sastry 1897: 177). Śaṅkara’s engagements with Vedic traditions and systems of non-Vedic provenance are

paralleled in the exegetical endeavors of his archrival, Rāmānuja (1017–1137), who argues that the Advaita teaching of undifferentiated Brahman as the ultimate foundation is contrary to reality and can only strengthen empirical bondage (Thibaut 1904: 145). For Rāmānuja, the Advaitic teachings have been: devised by men who are destitute of those particular qualities which cause individuals to be chosen by the Supreme Person [Viṣṇu–Nārāyaṇa] revealed in the Upanishads; whose intellects are darkened by the impression of beginningless evil; and who thus have no insight into the nature of words and sentences, into the real purport conveyed by them, and into the procedure of sound argumentation. (Thibaut 1904: 39) Further, with respect to non-Vedic systems, Rāmānuja argues that what is rejected in the Sāṃkhya system and the Yoga system is not their basic teachings, but specific views which deny that Brahman is the inner self of the world and the substantial cause of the world respectively (Thibaut 1904: 530–1). Piḷḷan, a twelfth-century disciple of Rāmānuja, provides a classic exemplification of RD2 in his answer to the question as to why the supreme Lord Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa leads some individuals to take refuge in the lesser gods: If everyone were to get liberated, then this earth, where people who do good or evil deeds can experience the fruits of their karma, would cease to function. To ensure the continuation of the world, the omnipotent supreme Lord himself graciously brought it about that you who have done evil deeds … will, as a result of your demerit, resort to other gods and go through births and deaths. (Carman and Narayanan 1989: 208) Therefore, gnosis (jñāna) and devotion (bhakti) are not two hermetically sealed concepts, such that a “gnostic” Śaṅkara indicates the former and a “devotional” Rāmānuja invokes the latter as the means to liberation; rather, both Śaṅkara and Rāmānuja interweave them, via RD2, into their divergent visions of the ultimate goal. Given the conceptual fluidity of jñāna and bhakti, we can see how a latter-day Advaitin, Madhusūdana Sarasvatī (c. 1600 CE), could have written the Bhaktirasāyana and his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gītā, the Gūḍhārthadīpikā, for two distinct audiences. According to L.E. Nelson (1988: 85), Madhusūdana composed the first to recommend Advaitic standpoints to devotees who are outside the Śaṅkara lineages, and the second to recommend devotion to fellow ascetics within the Śaṅkara lineages. Thus whereas in the former text, devotion is set out as an independent path that leads to liberation and as the highest goal of life (paramapuruṣārtha), in the latter text devotion is ultimately subordinated to knowledge which is attained through scriptural meditation. These conceptual negotiations of the boundaries across sampradāyas became a delicate matter some centuries later as Jīva engaged with the commentarial work of Śrīdhara Svāmī, who was an ascetic of the Advaitic Purī order, and for whom Caitanya seems to have had the highest regard (De 1961: 20). R.M. Gupta (2007: 80) argues that on occasions when Śrīdhara’s Advaitically inflected readings cannot be easily accommodated into Caitanya Vaiṣṇava horizons, Jīva reads the Advaita themes through the prism of difference and non-difference (bhedābheda) and arrives at the same conclusion as Śrīdhara. Jīva argues that Śrīdhara is a great Vaiṣṇava whose writings are mixed with the teachings of

Advaita so that an appreciation of the greatness of the Lord (bhagavān) can be awakened in the Advaitins. Therefore, his own commentary on the Bhāgavata Purāṇa will be written in accordance with Śrīdhara’s views only when these conform to the strict Vaiṣṇava standpoint (śuddhavaiṣṇavasiddhāntānugatā) (Elkman 1986: 118). These strategies of Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, and Jīva—which involve variations on RD2—can be labelled modes of “hierarchical encompassment,” where the rival Vedāntic standpoint is subsumed into one’s own by hierarchically assigning to it a provisional stage on the spectrum of spiritual progress. Thus J. Gonda (1970: 95) notes that often Hindu thinkers are “even inclined to include and completely to incorporate a foreign system into their own, declaring it to represent the next best doctrine, reinterpreting its mythology, symbolism and metaphysics, and accepting its god as a servant or manifestation of their Highest Being.” A standard Vaiṣṇava way of dealing with Buddhism was to argue in this manner that Viṣṇu Himself became incarnate as the Buddha in order to delude the demons into not following the Vedic path and thereby lead them astray (Long 2013: 49). As Vaiṣṇavites and Śaivites began to generate polemical literature directed against each other, they often employed the mode of RD2 to position either Viṣṇu or Śiva as the penultimate god who is reconfigured as a devotee of their own supreme divinity. Thus, according to the Śrī Vaiṣṇava theologian Veṅkaṭ;anātha, Nārāyaṇa alone is the ultimate reality, and not other deities such as Brahmā and Śiva who can be seen from the Upaniṣadic texts to be finite selves who are subject to the karmic cycle (Clooney and Nicholson 2001: 100). From a Śaivite standpoint, the late eleventh-century theologian Somaśambhu turns the tables on Vaiṣṇavites by claiming that the worshippers of Viṣṇu will be reborn in hell unless they undergo a ritual transformation to Śaivism (Nicholson 2010: 3). The Civañāṇacittiyār, a fourteenth-century Śaiva Siddhānta text of Aruḷananti, which attacks Vaiṣṇavism for its belief in the avatāras of the Lord, on the grounds that such descents would immerse the Lord in empirical defects, presents a finegrained series of doctrinal positions in order of decreasing error in the following manner: (1) the materialists (Lokāyatas), (2) the nontheistic schools such as the Buddhists and the Jainas, (3) the Mīmāṃsā ritual theory, (4) the grammarian view that Brahman is the word, (5) nondualists such as Śaṅkara, (6) thinkers such as Bhāskara who see the world as real and notreal, (7) dualists such as Sāṃkhya thinkers, and (8) devotees of Nārāyaṇa (Clooney and Nicholson 2001: 114–15).However, once again, the polemical responses to non-Vedic systems, along the lines of RD1, were more direct. According to tradition, Appar, who was a respected Digambar Jain monk, became a Śaivite after a miraculous healing on singing a hymn of praise to Śiva at a temple. Appar composed several hymns repenting his time as a Jain and dedicating himself wholeheartedly to Śiva: O god who pierced the delusion that afflicted me when I joined the Jains and became a wicked monk! O bright flame, celestial being who stands as the pure path, bull among the immortals, honey who dwells in Tiruvaiyāṟu! I wander as your servant,

worshipping and singing your feet. (Peterson 1989: 286)

9.2 The Reciprocal Entanglement of Dualities As we move toward the second millennium, some of the Vedāntic traditions begin to develop forms of RD3, where the seeming oppositions between devotion to Viṣṇu and devotion to Śiva, nirguṇa Brahman and saguṇa Brahman, and jñāna and bhakti are recalibrated and presented as deeply interrelated. While some of the Purāṇas, which are specifically composed from either Vaiṣṇava or Śaiva standpoints, articulate modes of RD2, others can occasionally strike more irenic notes (Rocher 1986: 21–2). The Varāha-Purāṇa (70.26–7) declares at one place that those who are learned in the three Vedas and adept in sacrifices have declared that people who make distinctions (bheda) between Viṣṇu, Brahmā, and Rudra are sinful and wicked and fall downward (pāpakārī duṣṭ;ātmā durgatiṃ samavāpnuyāt) (Sastri 1893: 119). The Kurma-Purāṇa (I.26.15–16) presents Kṛṣṇa as saying that even if people who worship Him with single-minded devotion revile Śiva, they go to ten thousand hells. Therefore, His devotees should avoid censuring (nindā) Śiva, in action, thought, or speech (Gupta 1971: 244). These interweavings between Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava motifs have also characterized the socioreligious history of the Daśanāmī order, a group of ten Hindu monastic lineages supposedly founded by Śaṅkara. The order is often regarded as Śaivite, and the monks wear Śaivite marks on their foreheads and arms; however, in greeting one another they use the Vaiṣṇava mantra “Oṃ Namo Nārāyaṇāya.” W.H. Dazey explains this overlap by suggesting that though in medieval centuries the order came to be regarded as Śaivite through the absorption of Śaivite ascetics, it retains various types of Vaiṣṇavite themes and practices (Dazey 1993: 148). More famously, while certain verses in the second, third, and eleventh cantos of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa speak of meditative absorption into Brahman, the tenth canto develops the vocabulary of ecstatic love (prema) for the Lord and the torment of separation (viraha) from the Lord. The text weaves together both these forms of devotion in, according to D.P. Sheridan, a “vision of non-dualism with qualities (saviśeṣādvaita),” where one form emphasizes the relative nothingness of the devotee in face of the Lord and the other the devotional involvement of the Lord with his devotees (Sheridan 1986: 116–17). The distinctions between nirguṇa Brahman and saguṇa Brahman become particularly fuzzy in the writings of some of the bhakti poets. According to C. Vaudeville (1999: 250), the Jñāneśvarī (c. 1290 CE), Jñānadeva’s commentary on the Bhagavad-Gītā, presents a hybrid form of Vaiṣṇava-Śaiva devotion, where the question is left open as to whose divine name—Viṣṇu or Śiva—is to be taken in meditative remembrance (smaraṇa). The divisions of medieval poetsaints into two groups—Rāma or Kṛṣṇa bhaktas and holy figures (sants) from nirguṇī perspectives—obscure certain crisscrossing overlaps across the groups, and we should rather regard these influential poets as ranging over a spectrum and not clustered around specific doctrinal groups (Hawley 1984: 124). Such intersections are especially clear in the case of Tulsīdās, who is often presented as an artist whose great skill lay in the harmonization (samanvaya) of various divides, such as jñāna and bhakti, nirguṇa and saguṇa conceptions of the deity, and so on (Pathak 1964: 112). While Rāma in the Rāmacaritamānasa of Tulsīdās is not simply an avatāra of Viṣṇu, but is the supreme Godhead, and is thus presented in several

verses as superior to Śiva and Brahmā, Rāma is also depicted in other verses as possessing a devotional attitude to Śiva whom he reverentially worships. According to R. Bharadwaj (1979: 31–2), in fact, Tulsīdās does not regard Rāma, the son of Daśaratha, as metaphysically lower than nirguṇa Brahman, because while the concepts of saguṇa and nirguṇa are contradictory from our human perspectives, they “supplement each other as necessary qualifications” of divine perfection, which transcends finite logical constraints. At the same time, we should not overlook the continuance of modes of RD2 which were employed for the reinforcement of strong boundary lines across the divides of sampradāyas. The polemic force of the critiques of rival Vedāntic systems developed by the south Indian Mādhva theologian Vyāsatīrtha was felt all the way in northern Varanasi, prompting Madhusūdana Sarasvatī famously to attempt a systematic refutation of his Nyāyāmṛta (Stoker 2016: 2–4). The religious landscape of early modern south India was characterized by a range of devotional groups, such as Śaiva, Vaiṣṇava, Mādhva, Smārta, and others, whose public theologians defended their particular worldview as the culmination of Hindu orthodoxy. From this period, Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava theologians from different communities were, according to E. Fisher, “thoroughly preoccupied not with unity but with difference— with advocating the truth of one Hindu community above all others” (2017: 48). The motif of RD2 continues to shape the writings of medieval doxographers such as Mādhava and Madhusūdana Sarasvatī who sought to encompass a wide range of philosophical views by assigning them different ranks in a hierarchical scheme, at whose pinnacle they placed Advaita Vedānta. For instance, Mādhava placed a series of philosophical-theological systems in such a manner that the truth of each succeeding item on the list negated and corrected, that is to say “sublated,” the deficiencies of the former. The hedonists (Cārvākas) are defeated by the Buddhists, who are overturned by the Jains, who are refuted by the various devotional systems of Vaiṣṇavism and Śaivism, till one arrives at the penultimate stage of Yoga, the truth of which is most fully realized in Advaita Vedānta (Nicholson 2010: 160).

9.3 The Harmonization of World Religions A recurring theme in several contemporary presentations of Hinduism by modern Vedāntic Hindu writers is that it possesses a harmonizing quality, and it brings together the diverse religious experiences of humanity into a synthetic whole. As we will see, figures such as Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Swami Vivekananda, and others reconfigured the patterns of RD1, RD2, and RD3 in somewhat distinctive ways to argue that forms of Vedāntic Hinduism provide the spiritual essence which informs different modes of human religious striving. Their modernized forms of Vedāntic wisdom, which present the transcendental goal of Brahman pointed to by the scriptures such as the Upaniṣads as realizable across cultural, national, or ethnic boundaries, are characterized by a “catholic” acceptance of religious diversity. Our discussion in previous sections has indicated that there is no one Vedāntic standpoint on the diversity of doctrinal viewpoints, devotional practices, and ritual systems— thus, while Advaitins, Śaivas, and Vaiṣṇavas all work with forms of RD1 and RD2 in polemic contests, several Purāṇas and some bhakti streams can also elaborate forms of RD3. Several modern Vedāntic thinkers who rework these classical and premodern moves, as they

seek to view the diversity of the “world religions” through the prisms of Vedāntic scriptural texts, were associated in different ways with the Brahmo Samaj, founded by Rammohun Roy in 1828. In the late 1840s, Debendranath Tagore and Rajnarain Bose collaborated to produce a Brahmo holy book, called Brāhma Dharmaḥ, with quotations from the Upaniṣads, the Mahābhārata, the Manusmṛti, and so on. After Keshub Chandra Sen broke away from them to form the Brahmo Samaj of India in 1866, he compiled a new collection of texts from religious scriptures across the world. The Sanskrit epigram of the book read: The wide universe is the holy temple of God; the pure heart is the land of pilgrimage; truth is imperishable scripture. (Hatcher 1999: 110–11)

The declaration that Sen read out at the consecration of the temple of the new organization in August 1869 is effectively an elaboration of this epigram: “No created being or object that has been or may hereafter be worshipped by any sect shall be ridiculed or condemned in the course of the Divine Service to be conducted here … No sect shall be vilified, ridiculed or hated” (Pankratz 1987: 30). Sen’s quest for a new synthesis of the world’s religions led him toward a “Church Universal” which: recognises in all prophets and saints a harmony, in all scriptures a unity and through all dispensations a continuity, which abjures all that separates and divides, always magnifies unity and peace, which harmonizes reason and faith, yoga and bhakti, asceticism and social duty in their highest forms and which shall make of all nations and sects one kingdom and one family in the fullness of time. (cited in Halbfass 1990: 225) More tersely, Sen declared, “Gentleman, trifle not with unity because in the logic of synthesis is the world’s salvation” (cited in Kopf 1979: 275). This logic was dramatically exemplified in 1881, when he performed the sacramental rite of the Eucharist by replacing bread and wine with rice and water, and took his followers to the Hooghly river where, after asking them to imagine they were in the River Jordan eighteen centuries ago, he offered a prayer to Varuṇa, as an aspect of the divine force that pervades everything. This spiritual unity, modelled along the lines of what we have termed RD3, was to be realized in his “New Dispensation” which would bring together all the saints and the prophets of the different religious traditions of the world: “The Lord Jesus is my will, Socrates my head, Chaitanya my heart, the Hindu rishi my soul” (Kopf 1979: 276). While the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj was, in turn, composed of Brahmos who had moved away from Sen’s organization, its declaration at its new temple in January 1881 struck similar chords of universality: “The catholicity of Brahmoism shall also be preserved here … In the sermons, discourses, and prayers used in this Hall, no scripture or sect, or founder of a sect, shall ever be ridiculed, reviled, or spoken of contemptuously” (Pankratz 1987: 32).

9.3.1 Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda The theme of the transcendental unity of the world’s religions shapes various aspects of the

thought of Swami Vivekananda, who was for a while a member of the Brahmo Samaj. As a disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–86) who experimented with theistic and nontheistic forms of mysticism as alternative approaches to the supreme reality, Vivekananda sometimes speaks of the harmony that his master achieved between the teachings of the followers of Śaṅkara, on the one hand, and of theists such as Rāmānuja, on the other hand. Ramakrishna used various homely metaphors, such as the water being called by different names by different people, an ascent to the top of a house by means of a ladder or a staircase or a rope, a mother who feeds her children with different preparations to suit each of them, and so on to emphasize the point that different religions have been produced by the divine to suit different aspirants, times, and countries (Smith 1991: 74–5). Chiding human beings for fighting over religious affiliations, Ramakrishna argued, “I see people who talk about religion constantly quarrelling with one another. Hindus, Mussalmāns, Brāhmos, Śāktas, Vaishnavas, Śaivas, all quarrelling with one another. They haven’t the intelligence to understand that He who is called Krishna is also Śiva and the Primal Śakti, and that it is He, again, who is called Jesus and Allah” (Nikhilananda 2007: 423). Ramakrishna does not suggest that the approach of the Advaitin “gnostic” (jñānī) is superior to that of the theistic devotee (bhakti): the state that both may arrive at is that of the seer (vijñānī) who knows “that the Reality which is nirguṇa, without attributes, is also saguṇa, with attributes” (Nikhilananda 2007: 104). Though Ramakrishna is sometimes presented as having moved through theistic experiences to the apex of Advaitic absorption, the reminiscences recorded in the Śrīśrīrāmakṛṣnakathāmṛta reveal instead an array of Vaiṣṇava, Tāntric, and Vedāntic experiences without any clear-cut hierarchical organization among them (Matchett 1981). Ramakrishna’s conception of the ultimate reality as encapsulating both impersonal and personal aspects, and harmonizing seemingly conflicting religious traditions, so that both theistic and nontheistic pathways are directed to the common goal of the realization of the divine, is a quintessential instance of the mode we have presented as RD3 (also see Long, Chapter 5 in this volume). There are diverse spiritually efficacious routes to the divine which is limitless, and each religious route captures a real aspect of the divine (Maharaj 2017). Consequently, although Ramakrishna did not believe in a universal religion which should be adopted by everyone, he was a “religious universalist” who believed that human beings could be liberated through their distinctive religious traditions (Sharma 1998: 42). Swami Vivekananda strikes the notes of his guru when he urges us to gather nectar from many flowers in the manner of bees which are not restricted to only one; therefore, he expressed a wish for “twenty million more” sects which would provide individuals with a wider field for choice in the religious domain (Vivekananda 1972: vol. 1, 325). In his famous words at the World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893, Swami Vivekananda stated that he was “proud to belong to a religion that has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance … [and] proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth” (1972: vol. 1, 3). All the historical religions are multiple expressions of the “great universal truth,” which forms the essence or the substance underlying them (1972: vol. 2, 365). The nonessentials, which constitute the differences across religions, pertain only to “secondary details” such as doctrines, rituals, and modes of worship (1972: vol. 1, 124). Given the variations of human subjectivities and inclinations, it

is but proper that there are numerous religious ways, since, as Ramakrishna taught, “The more the number of paths, the more the chance for every one of us to know the truth” (1972: vol. 8, 79). The recognition of the validity of diverse religious streams implies that it does not matter “whether one approaches the destination in a carriage with four horses, in an electric car, or rolling on the ground. The goal is the same” (1972: vol. 1, 468). However, a careful reading of his various statements on the theme of “religious diversity” in his Complete Works indicates a gradualist scheme where the dvaita of Madhva, the viśiṣṭ;ādvaita of Rāmānuja, and the advaita of Śaṅkara are arranged on an ascending scale, so that individuals who start with the first point could ultimately culminate in the third point: “This is … my mission in life, to show that the Vedāntic schools are not contradictory, that they all necessitate each other, all fulfil each other, until the goal, the Advaita, the Tat Tvam Asi, is reached” (1972: vol. 3, 324). The religious streams which have not arrived at the apex, “even at their best” are “but kindergartens of religion” and “the rudiments of religion” (1972: vol. 8, 140). He could therefore employ modes of RD2 to place Advaitic wisdom at a higher standing with respect to the devotionalism of the theistic “masses,” in passages such as these: “Devotion as taught by Nārada, he [Ramakrishna] used to preach to the masses, those who were incapable of any higher training. He used generally to teach dualism. As a rule, he never taught Advaitism. But he taught it to me. I had been a dualist before” (1972: vol. 7, 414). From this Advaitic standpoint, he spoke of the personal deity “as the same Absolute seen through Maya” (1972: vol. 5, 300). He claimed that most of the world’s religious people are dualists, for they are unable to approach the formless ultimate without relying on concrete images. These religious forms have not attained the heights of Advaita and are “parts equally struggling to attain to the whole” (1972: vol. 2, 141). From the standpoint of this whole, one can claim that “Advaitism is the last word of religion and thought and the only position from which one can look upon all religions and sects with love” (1972: vol. 6, 415). Thus, when Swami Vivekananda argues that the religions of the world “are not contradictory; they are supplementary” (1972: vol. 2, 365), it turns out that these religions are “supplementary” to the higher-order truth of forms of Advaita Vedānta, which, because it lies at the apex of human religious expressions, is able to encompass the lower truths. The “universal religion” he speaks of is comprehensive in its breadth: “All the ideals of religion that already exist in the world can be immediately included, and we can patiently wait for all the ideals that are to come in the future to be taken in the same fashion, embraced in the infinite arms of the religion of the Vedānta” (1972: vol. 3, 252). Therefore, reading the proclamation of Christ “I and my Father are one” through an Advaitic lens, Vivekananda argued: To the masses who could not conceive of anything higher than a Personal God, he said, “Pray to your Father in heaven.” To others who could grasp a higher idea, he said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” but to his disciples to whom he revealed himself more fully, he proclaimed the highest truth, “I and my Father are One.” (1972: vol. 2, 143) Vivekananda believed that what separates Christ from us is not that he is God and we are not (for all are essentially nondual with the transpersonal ultimate) but that he has realized his

inner divinity to the highest level of perfection. All individuals have the potentiality of becoming perfect manifestations of the “eternal Christ,” and the historical individual called Jesus of Nazareth was only one token of this type. This is how Vivekananda puts it: “The Atman is pure intelligence … But the intelligence we see around us is always imperfect. When intelligence is perfect, we get the Incarnation—the Christ” (1972: vol. 6, 128). While these quotations indicate the presence of RD2 in some of Vivekananda’s reflections on religious diversity, it has also been argued that this RD2 itself is located within the wider environs of RD3, thus bringing Vivekananda’s standpoint nearer to that of his guru (1972: vol. 1, xv). According to this reading, the Advaita which he places at the summit of the religious quest is not the classical archetype of Śaṅkara but an infinitely expansive plenitude which includes both Advaitic self-knowledge and devotional practice. A hierarchical positioning of the penultimate truths of the religious traditions with respect to the higherorder truth of Advaita appears prominently in the writings of some figures of the Ramakrishna Mission who have argued that “theistic religion does find and must find its consummation and final satisfaction in the trance of nirvikalpa samādhi in which all personality, human or divine, vanishes. In this light, those Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu traditions that are based upon the conception of a personal Deity are seen as being of positive but preparatory value” (Neevel 1976: 96). Once again, however, other monks of the Ramakrishna Mission affirm standpoints which are formulations of RD3 and thus nearer to Ramakrishna’s position regarding the equal soteriological efficacy of both Advaitic selfrealization and devotional worship (Tapasyananda 1990: xxxi).

9.3.2 Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Radhakrishnan too adopts the conceptual strategy of “hierarchical encompassment,” which he applies not only to the internal variety of the Hindu traditions but also to the external diversity of world religions, so that the latter are oriented to the Advaitic transpersonal ultimate. He argues that just as the author of the Brahmasūtra (c. 400 CE) tried to harmonize the divergent doctrines of his time, Hindus today have to perform the same harmonizing (samanvaya) in the “present state” of knowledge (Radhakrishnan 1960: 249). For Radhakrishnan, there are two broad categories of “religion”—first, the “monistic” religions which emphasize the immanence of the spirit in the realm of phenomenal reality, and second, the “theistic” religions which regard the spirit as the other with whom one can enter into a communion but cannot become assimilated (Radhakrishnan 1932: 100–7). These differences are legitimized by the fact that they are partly a product of an individual’s temperament, her location in a finite cultural environment and her daily experiences, and out of this crucible there emerge different religions with distinct emphases. The sages of the Upaniṣads repeatedly affirm the transience and the unreality of the world; the Buddha’s way of liberation is grounded in his acute realization of the suffering that is built into existence; the Hebrew prophets and Muhammad were, in their own ways, struck by the majesty of a supreme God of righteousness; Protestant Christians regard God as the loving Father everwilling to welcome them even when they have, like prodigal children, strayed away from Him; and the Catholic Christians and the Śākta Hindus view God as the compassionate and

loving Mother. Therefore, Radhakrishnan emphasizes at several places in his writings that the different religions of the world, with the specific impulses and values that they embody, should come together in mutual friendship so that they are regarded “not as incompatibles but as complementaries, and so indispensable to each other for the realization of the common end” (Radhakrishnan 1927: 60). A repeated theme in his writings is that we should not confuse our vision of the truth, which is developed from within specific sociohistorical matrices, with the fullness of truth, and thus claim that the rest of the world is steeped in spiritual darkness (Minor 1981: 315). At the same time, what he looks forward to is not a “featureless unity of religions” in a world whose religious peoples are rapidly coming close in bonds of sympathy and warmth but a rich harmony which will preserve the integrity of each (Radhakrishnan 1967: 133–4). In this context, Hinduism is marked by its “catholic” vision that accepts the different ideas of the supreme and recognizes that different human beings have attained different stages of spiritual perfection, and consequently seek the ultimate in different ways and in different directions: “By accepting the significance of the different intuitions of reality and the different scriptures of the peoples living in India … Hinduism has come to be a tapestry of the most variegated tissues and almost endless diversity of hues” (Radhakrishnan 1927: 20). Nevertheless, though the historical religions should maintain their distinctiveness and reach out to one another in bonds of fellowship, Radhakrishnan insists, employing a form of RD2, that those that are based on the theistic conception of the Absolute as a personal God who is the creator and sustainer of the universe emerge from minds that are not perfectly enlightened. The personal God is the Absolute as it is conceived by human beings, and in this limitation the Absolute appears as supreme wisdom, love, and goodness (Radhakrishnan 1932: 344–5). Consequently, Radhakrishnan affirms that there is a graduated scale of the religious experiences of humanity, with theistic notions at a lower level than the transpersonal or the monistic: “The assumption of a personal God as the ground of being and creator of the universe is the first stage of the obscuring and restriction of the vision which immediately perceives the great illumination of Reality” (Radhakrishnan 1967: 122). Therefore, all views of the one reality are not at epistemic parity, and he outlines a scale starting from animistic notions and going up to the Advaita Vedānta conception of the absolute: “The worshippers of the Absolute are the highest in rank; second to them are the worshippers of the personal God; then come the worshippers of the incarnations like Rāma, Kṛṣṇa, Buddha; below them are those who worship ancestors, deities and sages, and lowest of all are the worshippers of the petty forces and spirits” (Radhakrishnan 1927: 32). This metaphysical gradation is based on Radhakrishnan’s understanding of “Religion” as the attempt to remake oneself through the harmonizing and integration of the inner conflicts between one’s dim consciousness of the essential unity with ultimate reality and one’s awareness of the possibility of nonbeing (Radhakrishnan 1967: 106). For him, “Religion” is not the acceptance of doctrinal abstractions or performance of ritual ceremonies, but a direct insight into the nature of reality or an experience (anubhava) of reality (Radhakrishnan 1927: 15). Every historical religion is imperfect and cannot claim to be absolute, but all these religious forms are expressions of a common core which he referred to with various names such as “the essence of religion,” “the life of the spirit,” or Advaita Vedānta. In this

reconstruction of Śaṅkara’s classical Vedānta, Radhakrishnan argues that human beings are currently mired in their ignorance which leads them to “superimpose” on the essential unity of the spirit the multiplicity of the phenomenal world, and in order to be liberated from this delusive misidentification they need to develop gradually spiritual insight (darśana) into the nature of reality as fundamentally one. As one begins to restrain the centrifugal tendencies of one’s life and draws them in around the self which seeks a living contact with the Absolute, one begins to enjoy a spiritual experience where the subject and the object are not clearly differentiated, and which is characterized by reality, awareness, and freedom (Radhakrishnan 1932: 91–2). Following Śaṅkara, Radhakrishnan emphasizes that the content of this experience is a that which ultimately remains transcendent and sovereign beyond the grasp of finite minds, and the products of their creative imagination such as myths and metaphors (Radhakrishnan 1932: 100). Therefore, while Radhakrishnan’s argument that the different religious paths of the world are valid and are suitable for the psychological dispositions of different individuals might sound relativistic, it is backed by the fully realist claim that the goal of these endeavors—the transpersonal ultimate—is the timeless nondual Self which is independent of all human beliefs and linguistic constructions. Some forms of relativism claim that each conceptual scheme delimits a possible “world” which is not compatible with another “world” delimited by other schemes, and further that a statement such as “it is true that p” should be read as elliptical for “it is true, within conceptual scheme C, that p” (Baghramian 2004: 4). Radhakrishnan’s rejection of this form of strong relativism is clear in his statement that: Hinduism does not mistake tolerance for indifference. It affirms that while all revelations refer to reality, they are not equally true to it … While the lesser forms are tolerated in the interests of those who cannot suddenly transcend them, there is all through an insistence on the larger idea and purer worship. Hinduism does not believe in forcing up the pace of development. (Radhakrishnan 1927: 49) Therefore, his view that India “realized from the cloudy heights of contemplation that the spiritual landscape at the hill-top is the same, though the pathways from the valley are different” (Radhakrishnan 1979: 98) should not be read along relativist lines. To ensure that the different religious traditions are oriented toward the same goal, Radhakrishnan needs a vantage point above the welter of particular traditions; for him, this is the Advaitic realization of the nonduality of the finite human self with the transpersonal ultimate. In his famous words, “The [Advaita] Vedānta is not a religion, but religion itself in its most universal and deepest significance” (Radhakrishnan 1927: 23). The spiritual “experience” intimated by Advaita, of the realization of one’s nonduality with the transcendent reality, lies at the core of all the religious traditions of the world, across the phenomenal bounds of culture, nation, and history.

9.3.3 Vaiṣṇava Variations The strands of RD2 we occasionally discern in Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan also shape

contemporary Vaiṣṇava readings of religious diversity—though here the apex of the religious quest is the personal Lord, Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura (1838–1914), who tried to develop a universalist version of Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism in the late nineteenth century in Bengal, stated the point stridently: “The heart which is penetrated by the fault of māyāvāda [Advaita] becomes hard as a thunderbolt by degraded sophistry … There is nothing as contrary to bhakti as māyāvāda” (Valpey 2006: 90). He sought to restore a pure (śuddha) form of Vaiṣṇavism by removing certain excrescences which, according to him, had led the Bengali urban middle classes (bhadralok) to reject Vaiṣṇavism completely. He argued that certain sampradāyas which he considered to be non-Vaiṣṇava, such as the Bāuls, Neḍās, Sahajiyās, and others, were harming pure Vaiṣṇavas by using the label of “Vaiṣṇava” for themselves (Fuller 2003: 191–2). These attempts to retrieve a pure Vaiṣṇavism internally within Hindu universes were extended to religious diversity on a global scale (RD2), by working with the traditional Caitanya Vedānta scheme of five types of rasa: śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya, and mādhurya. The śānta-rasa is seen in the ancient sages who renounced Vedic sacrifice and became detached from the world; the dāsya-rasa in devotees of Rāma such as Hanumān and figures such as Moses in western Asia; and the sakhya-rasa in figures such as Uddhava and Arjuna, and also in the Prophet Muhammad in Arabia. There are many forms of vātsalya, and one form which is mixed with opulence (aiśvarya) appeared in Jesus Christ. However, mādhurya shone brightly for the first time in the land of Vraja (Ṭhākura 1880: 76–7). Bhaktivinoda’s son and disciple, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī (1874–1937), undertook the unprecedented task of spreading Caitanya Vedānta beyond the shores of India on the grounds that the “Lord [Kṛṣṇa] desires His word to be preached to all living beings” (Sardella 2013: 140). Indeed, as F. Sardella notes, Bhaktisiddhānta attempted a “deterritorialization” of Hindu motifs by delinking them from their classical territorial locations in the Indian subcontinent (Bhārata-varṣa), and sent his disciples to England to spread Bengal Vaiṣṇavism and to set up transnational communities of devotees (Sardella 2013: 178). The forms of “hierarchical encompassment” which structure these moves can also be found in the view of Bhaktisiddhānta’s disciple, Swami Prabhupada, that Jesus is not only an authentic representative of God, but is, in fact, the son of Kṛṣṇa, so that Christians, even when they do not have explicit knowledge of Kṛṣṇa, are by spiritual nature eternal servants of Kṛṣṇa (Gelberg 1989: 152). Just as Advaitins point toward the ineffable ultimate reality which transcends the theological formulations associated with the historical religions, for Prabhupada too the cultivation of devotional love is not simply a religious movement: “The religion of the Bhagavad-gītā is not Hindu religion or Christian religion … It is the essence of religion … To accept Kṛṣṇa as our Lord … this is bhakti, or real religion” (Baird 1987: 122–3).

9.4 Gradualist Soteriologies Various modern Vedāntins have backed up the strategies of RD2 and RD3 with the doctrine of karma and reincarnation by sketching cosmic landscapes where individuals in different religious traditions, or within the wider Hindu universes, are located at different points of a spiritual trajectory on a pilgrimage toward the ultimate reality. The notion that individuals at

different stages of spiritual maturity are qualified or eligible for varying modes of worship (adhikāra-bheda) has often been invoked to situate the worship of images on a developmental continuum. Thus, Vivekananda argues that all the religions “from the lowest fetishism to the highest absolutism” are different attempts of human beings to apprehend the infinite, and each subsequent level marks a state of progress (1972: vol. 1, 331–2). The preceding stages are not completely erroneous but contain elements of truth: “You must remember that humanity travels not from error to truth but from truth to truth; it may be, if you like it better, from lower truth to higher truth, but never from error to truth” (1972: vol. 4, 147). The theme appears in Radhakrishnan when, referring to the Hindu practice of worshipping the deity in the favorite form of an iṣṭ;a-devatā, he writes, “Suppose a Christian approaches a Hindu teacher for spiritual guidance, he would not ask his Christian pupil to discard his allegiance to Christ but would tell him that his idea of Christ was not adequate, and would lead him to a knowledge of the real Christ, the incorporate Supreme” (Radhakrishnan 1927: 46). An American tourist, who was Christian and who wished to become a Hindu, received a similar response from Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Swami of the Sringeri monastery: “It is no freak that you were born a Christian. God ordained it that way because, by the saṃskāra acquired through your actions (karma) in previous births, your soul has taken a pattern which will find its richest fulfilment in the Christian way of life. Therefore your salvation lies there and not in some other religion” (Sharma 2011: 126). The underlying Advaitic claim here is that deep spiritual truths are accommodated to the different stages of religious development of different human beings, who cannot move at once from concrete images of the divine to the formless divine (Sarasvati 1988: 59–60). Through their location within different religious streams, they can gradually ascend to the same absolute toward which they are ultimately pointed. As V. Raghavan (cited in Singer 1972: 83) puts it, According to one’s stage of evolution and background, one can choose one’s deity and continue the worship until, rising rung by rung, one reaches the highest where all forms dissolve into the one formless. Because of this free choice of approach, Hinduism has developed a philosophy of co-existence with other religions and has always been tolerant and hospitable to other faiths like Islam and Christianity. While for Swami B.H. Bon Maharaj, a Caitanya Vaiṣṇava theologian, the absolute knowledge of divinity refers not to the Advaitic nondual reality but to the worship of Kṛṣṇa, he too accepts the gradualist outline of the journey toward spiritual perfection: “One has got to go through many births … in religions of partial or relative truths before one is born with the requisite intellectual and moral eligibility [adhikāra] to practise [Hinduism]” (Young 1981: 148). These formulations highlight the point that the saved versus unsaved distinction, which is sometimes starkly elaborated within the Abrahamic faiths, is by and large nonexistent in Advaitic and theistic Hinduism because of the belief that the ultimate end can be attained across multiple lives; hence, “the cruciality of taking a stand here and now in this life is much less” in Hinduism than in other religions (Chatterjee 1984: 59–60). Consequently, the reason why Hinduism has traditionally not been a “missionary” faith is because according to the doctrine of karma and rebirth, the birth of an individual as a

Christian, a Hindu, or a Muslim is not an accident but a consequence of prior choices in previous births; they must therefore work out their liberation within their specific religious life-worlds (Sharma 1979).The emphasis on an inner moral transformation within one’s own religious tradition is characteristic also of Gandhi’s view of the religions of the world as many rivers leading to the same ocean or many branches from the same root, which was shaped by the Jain notion of anekāntavāda or the many-sidedness of reality, and the syādvāda principle which states that all views are partial and correct only from a specific perspective. Gandhi noted that these Jain views fitted his personal experience that people are right from their specific points of view and had taught him “to judge a Mussalman from his own standpoint and a Christian from his” (Quoted in Pyarelal 1965: vol. 1, 277). In 1928, Gandhi therefore told the Federation of International Fellowships that after long study and experience he had arrived at the conclusion that all religions are true, all have some errors, and that all are almost as dear to him as his own Hinduism (Larson 1997: 195). The evolving concepts of the historical religions are responses to the one changeless divinity, and are embodied in the imperfect media of scriptures (Gandhi 1970: vol. 25, 86). There are no irreconcilable differences across the religions, for if one were to probe carefully beneath the surface, one would find the master key of truth and nonviolence in them. The supreme religious achievement is to be measured in terms not of scriptures, rituals, or dogmas, which are imperfect human creations, but of a complete mastery over the outer and the inner senses which is outlined in the second chapter of the Bhagavad-Gītā (Jordens 1987). Given the Jaina, Vaiṣṇava, and Advaitic influences on Gandhi’s thought, one can discern elements of RD2 and RD3 in his viewpoints regarding religious diversity. Therefore, he could write to Reverend B.W. Tucker in 1928, “I do not want you to become a Hindu. But I do want you to become a better Christian by absorbing all that may be good in Hinduism and that you may not find in the same measure or not at all in the Christian teaching” (Gandhi 1970: vol. 37, 224). The modes of engaging with “religious diversity” which we have been tracing over the longue durée of Vedāntic Hindu systems were often developed against the backdrop of dense sociopolitical contexts. V. Stoker has underlined some of the complex dynamics between, on the one hand, selective royal patronage by the Vijayanagara court of specific religious institutions, and, on the other hand, the responses of monastic communities (maṭ;has) through patterns of polemical texts and institutional expansion. The Vijayanagara patronage influenced intersectarian rivalry, and also led communities that did not receive such assistance to model themselves on the patterns of the Brahmin Vedānta monasteries (maṭ;ha) which were supported by the sovereign. Thus royal patronage “encouraged the replication of a certain type of religious organization, the very nature of which formalised Hindu sectarianism” (Stoker 2016: 8). For another instance of the royal enforcement of doctrinal orthodoxy, we can turn to the case of Jaisingh II (r. 1699–1743), who sent out, sometime in the 1730s, a decree that those organizations that sought state approval should produce a document demonstrating their orthodoxy according to Vaiṣṇavism in terms of lineage and doctrine (Hawley 2015: 200). A century later, Ramsingh II, the ruler of Jaipur, declared himself a Śaiva in 1862 and took a series of measures against the Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas. He set up a religious assembly (Dharma-sabhā) to investigate their religious practices, made it

obligatory for them to use the Śaiva triple horizontal mark on the forehead, and confiscated the temples of monastic authorities who refused to comply with his orders (Clémentin-Ojha 2001). Finally, the modes of RD1, RD2, and RD3 were reworked in late colonial India partly by way of active response to, and intense contestation of, Christian missionary critiques of aspects of traditional Hindu systems of belief and practice. Thus, in the mid-1880s, the religious landscape of the Punjab was marked by various attempts of the Arya Samaj to initiate proselytization through preachers (upadeshak) who would combat Christian and Muslim preachers with the Samaj “Bible,” the Satyarth Prakash of Dayananda Saraswati. Some militant members of the Samaj, drawing on this text, sought to preach (prachār) the Vedic views of the Samaj and refute untrue faiths (ved mat mandan, asat mat khandan) (Jones 1976: 120–35).

9.5 Conclusion Our discussion has highlighted the point that a varied group of modern Hindu thinkers, ranging from Swami Vivekananda, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and others, reworked certain premodern templates of situating competing Vedāntic sampradāyas within one’s own Vedāntic perspective, and extended their ambit to the major religious streams of the world. The diversity of their responses highlights the point that statements such as “all religions are equally true” should not be put forward as the Vedāntic standpoint on religious diversity, for even if figures such as Vivekananda, Radhakrishnan, and others regard the different religious streams as valid responses, by their adherents, to the ultimate reality, they do not claim that the conceptual contents of these worldviews are identical. The catholicity and the universalism of their visions of religious diversity are a dynamic intermixture of RD2 and RD3 which is configured from the specific vantage point of modernized forms of Vedānta—Advaita or devotional strands—so that they argue that these religions are approaching, with varying degrees of truth, the plenitude of Vedāntic truth. This combination is discernible in Radhakrishnan’s argument that the “Hindu attitude” to religion is ultimately a quest for the realization of the spirit within the depths of one’s being, and accessory elements such as symbols, creeds, or dogmas only have an instrumental value to the extent that they help the aspirant in this personal search (Radhakrishnan 1940: 316–17). True religion lies not in the exoteric paraphernalia of religious institutions but in the inner life of the metaphysically infinite spirit which underlies them, and through active participation in their concrete contexts, individuals can gradually move across lifetimes to the apex of Advaita. Vivekananda highlights this mode of gradualist progress when he argues that while dvaita, viśisṭ;ādvaita, and advaita are integral parts of Hindu spirituality, the Vedic scripture begins with “dualism, goes through a qualified monism and ends in perfect monism” (1972: vol. 2, 252). More concretely, he lays out a spectrum with “Vedanta philosophy” at the apex, followed by the “agnosticism” of the Buddhists, the “atheism” of the Jains, and “low ideas of idolatry” at the bottom (1972: vol. 1, 6). From these perspectives, they view the figure of Christ not in the senses in which he is received within Chalcedonian orthodoxy—as the Son of God—but as a pointer to the ontological possibility of the realization of one’s nonduality (advaita) with the supreme spirit. Nevertheless, Christians can, and indeed should, continue

to worship Christ within their own religious contexts, for such worship is, as both Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan argue, a purificatory means to the realization of the allencompassing Advaitic Absolute. These engagements indicate both the “exclusivist” and the “inclusivist” dimensions of their employment of RD1, RD2, and RD3—Christian truth is spiritually efficacious not on its own terms but through its soteriological reorientation toward the nondual ultimate indicated by Advaita (Mannumel 1991: 4). The simultaneous presence of these dimensions reflects an age-old traditional Vedāntic debate over whether Advaitic claims are genuinely “inclusive” or explicitly “exclusive.” Just as the “war to end all wars” itself remains a bellicose domain until the promised reign of eternal peace is actually established, modernized forms of Advaita which are often presented as the “religion to transcend all religions” too are shaped by an intriguing paradox. To the extent that Advaita is penultimately a complex of sociohistorical institutions comprising teachers, texts, and traditions, Advaita’s claim can appear to some as embodying a “patronizing mentality” which assigns to religious traditions differential locations on a graded continuum that is configured according to its own metaphysical presuppositions (Schmidt-Leukel 2017: 70). However, for the proponents of this exegetical-philosophical move, by working from within the differentiated world of names and forms, Advaita uniquely purifies them, elevates them, and orients them ultimately to that which is the ineffable truth beyond all descriptions. Thus, after noting that Śaṅkara critiques the logical defects and inconsistencies in the rival Vedāntic systems, Mahadevan argues that “he does so not in the spirit of a partisan, but with a view to making them whole … The function of criticism performed by Advaita teachers should be viewed, not as destructive, but as a constructive help” (1977: 126). However, precisely this claim that Advaita “sublates” personal theism, not by rejecting it but by purifying it of its flaws, is often criticized by its theistic opponents such as P.N. Srinivasachari as a form of conceptual paternalism: If, as the Advaitins generally say, Śaṅkara came to establish religions and not to eliminate them finally, then it is not clear whether his attitude to religions was one of compromise, condescension or synthetic understanding … The view that there is a Vedāntic ladder from Dvaita to Viśisṭ;ādvaita and finally to Advaita as the highest stage savours of the spirit of condescension arising from the sense of superiority complex. (Srinivasachari 1943: xlii) In fact, he argues that it is viśisṭ;ādvaita which is “a synoptic philosophy par excellence” as it can solve the everlasting problems of humanity and provide a basis of East–West understanding (1943: l). The Vedāntic reflections on religious diversity are, then, ultimately diverse, and at times conflicting, attempts at harmonization. If classical Vedāntic exegetes sought to harmonize scriptural data, sensory evidence, and rational capacities, modern Vedāntic thinkers add to this conceptual task the historical presence of different religious streams, and seek to weave worldviews in which the multiple divinities are rooted in the unitary Brahman. These reflections should not be reduced to the slogan “all religions are saying the same thing,” for they suggest that some religious traditions are in need of modification, alteration, and

revision on the journey toward the final summit. At the same time, through different variations on RD2 and RD3, they usually resist a Manichaean bifurcation of humanity into two neatly demarcated groups—one indwelling domains of pure salvific light, and the other languishing perennially in infernal darkness. Some of them highlight the interplay of diverse forms of spiritual practice on the journey toward the ineffable Absolute which encompasses both personal and impersonal aspects. Some others speak of the spiritual perfection of individuals toward the summit of a modernized pattern of classical Advaita or a Vedāntic theistic configuration.

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10 Nondual Philosophies in Dialogue: The World and Embodied Liberation in Advaita Vedānta and Pratyabhijñā

Klara Hedling In both classical Advaita Vedānta and the Pratyabhijñā system of the nondual Śaivism of Kashmir, we find an articulation of the doctrine of jīvanmukti, the idea that one can be liberated while living in the body and in the world. The doctrine of jīvanmukti in both these traditions implies that one can attain a state of complete freedom while alive and thus presents an alternative to the doctrine that liberation is only possible after death (videhamukti). While numerous scholars have already discussed the concept of jīvanmukti in Advaita Vedānta,1 far fewer scholars have discussed in detail the doctrine of jīvanmukti in nondual Śaivism.2 Moreover, as far as I am aware, no scholar has systematically compared the doctrines of jīvanmukti in these two traditions, especially in relation to their respective metaphysical underpinnings. This is what I hope to do in this chapter. One of my central aims is to assess whether the metaphysical doctrines of classical Advaita Vedānta and the Pratyabhijñā system are compatible with the doctrine of jīvanmukti. In order to elucidate the relationship between the world and embodied liberation, the first two sections examine how the ontological status of the world is conceived in Advaita Vedānta and Pratyabhijñā respectively. The third and fourth sections then discuss the doctrine of jīvanmukti in these two nondual traditions, critically examining the respective grounds on which it is justified and considering the doctrine in light of the implications of Sections 10.1 and 10.2. I will argue that since Advaita Vedānta holds that the world is ultimately unreal, Advaita Vedāntins have difficulty upholding the logical possibility of jīvanmukti. In consequence, they move toward an ideal of complete liberation that can only take place after death (videhamukti). Pratyabhijñā philosophers, on the other hand, consider the world to be a real manifestation of Śiva and, thus, have the metaphysical framework to affirm jīvanmukti as a logical possibility. At the same time, there remains some ambiguity within the Pratyabhijñā tradition concerning whether jīvanmukti is the highest goal.

10.1 The World as an Illusory Appearance in Classical Advaita Vedānta In Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta, the nondual attributeless (nirguṇa) Brahman is the ultimate reality. Since Brahman alone exists, a central concern of Advaita Vedāntins is to explain the

ontological status of the world and its relationship to Brahman. To explain this relationship, classical Advaita Vedāntins make a distinction between absolute (pāramārthika) and empirical (vyāvahārika) levels of reality. From the absolute standpoint, all that exists is the nondual nirguṇa Brahman. However, from the empirical standpoint, the personal God (īśvara or saguṇa Brahman), individual souls (jīvas), and the world (jagat) are all provisionally real —that is, so long as one has not attained the liberative knowledge of nondual Brahman (BSB3 2.1.22, 349). This dual-standpoint ontology enables Śaṅkara and his followers to explain the relationship between Brahman and the world in two stages. From the empirical standpoint, classical Advaita Vedāntins uphold satkāryavāda, the doctrine that the effect preexists in its cause, and they accordingly take īśvara to be the material and the efficient cause of the world. From the absolute standpoint, however, they uphold vivartavāda, the doctrine that the world is an unreal appearance of Brahman. For reasons we will discuss, nirguṇa Brahman cannot be the cause of the world and, therefore, to explain the metaphysical problem of creation, Advaita Vedāntins shift to the empirical standpoint, from which Brahman appears as the cause of the world. It is, therefore, only from the empirical standpoint that we find an attempt to deduce the world from Brahman. According to satkāryavāda, Brahman is the material and efficient cause of the world, so the world is nondifferent (ananya) from Brahman and, therefore, could never exist independently of Brahman. Śaṅkara writes, “The effect is the universe, diversified as space etc., and the cause is the supreme Brahman. In reality it is known that the effect has non-difference from, i.e., non-existence in isolation from, that cause” (BSB 2.1.14, 326). Śaṅkara uses the analogy of clay to illustrate the idea that everything is essentially Brahman: “When a lump of clay is known as nothing but clay in reality, all things made of clay, for instance, pot, plate, jar, etc., become known, since they are non-different as clay” (BSB 2.1.14, 327). As pots, plates, or jars are modifications of clay and cannot exist independently of clay, so the world of name and form (nāmarūpa) has no independent existence apart from Brahman. Śaṅkara supports this view by appealing to several passages in the Upaniṣads which state that Brahman is the cause of the world. In his commentary on the Brahmasūtra, Śaṅkara also rejects the opposite doctrine of asatkārya, which denies that the effect is preexistent in its cause (BSB 2.1.18, 339). According to Śaṅkara, the effect exists or inheres in the cause, just as curd is latent in milk, since only milk has a “special potency” (śakti) for producing curd (BSB 2.1.18, 339). Just as curd can be produced by milk alone and not by any other substance, so the world must be the preexisting effect that somehow inheres in Brahman. In assuming a potency (śakti) within the cause, Śaṅkara seems to be suggesting that there exists a power or a potentiality within Brahman that produces the effect. He writes, “Therefore, the potency must be the very essence of the cause, and the effect must be involved in the very core of the potency” (BSB 2.1.18, 340). However, if Brahman is ultimately the nondual changeless reality beyond all qualities and attributions, how can Brahman really be either a material or an efficient cause of anything? The way out of this problem for Śaṅkara is to argue that it is only from the empirical standpoint that Brahman is the cause of the world: “And yet the Vedic statement of creation does not relate to any reality, for it must not be forgotten that such a text is valid within the range of activities concerned with name and form called up by ignorance, and it is meant for

propounding the fact that everything has Brahman as its Self” (BSB 2.1.33, 361).4 Śaṅkara, therefore, argues that Brahman only appears to undergo a transformation, while in fact no real change takes place (BSB 2.1.27, 356). This leads Śaṅkara and his followers to uphold vivartavāda, the doctrine that from the absolute standpoint, the world is an unreal appearance or illusory manifestation (vivarta) of Brahman. Returning to the analogy of clay, Śaṅkara writes, “But speaking from the standpoint of the basic substance, no modification exists as such [apart from the clay]. It has existence only in name and it is unreal (anṛta). As clay alone it is real (satya)” (BSB 2.1.14, 327). It is only from the empirical standpoint that things like pots appear to be modifications since in reality clay alone exists. From the absolute standpoint, only the material cause is real while its modifications are unreal. For Śaṅkara, then, nirguṇa Brahman alone exists from the absolute standpoint (BSB 2.1.14, 328). Śaṅkara appeals to the concept of adhyāsa (superimposition) in order to explain the unreal appearance of the world. The concept of adhyāsa is closely connected to the concepts of avidyā (ignorance) and māyā (often translated as “illusion”5). According to Śaṅkara, the world appears to be real due to the erroneous superimposition of the world on Brahman. This superimposition is best illustrated by the rope-snake analogy (BSB 2.1.9, 318). According to this analogy, we mistakenly perceive a coiled rope as a snake, because we superimpose a remembered snake onto the rope and thereby fail to perceive its true nature. The rope-snake analogy shows that the phenomenal world similarly appears to be real because of superimposition. According to Śaṅkara, the cause of this superimposition is beginningless ignorance (avidyā) (BSB 2.1.27, 356). The doctrine of adhyāsa provides an explanation of how Brahman appears as the world due to ignorance. The idea that the world is falsely superimposed on Brahman also entails that from the absolute standpoint, the world of names and forms does not exist. The doctrine of vivarta allows classical Advaita Vedāntins to maintain that from the perspective of Brahman, there is no change at all; all diversity and change are merely illusory appearances. As Śaṅkara states, “For a thing does not become multiformed just because aspects are imagined on it through ignorance … In Its real aspect Brahman remains unchanged and beyond all phenomenal actions” (BSB 2.1.27, 356). The Advaita Vedāntins, as we have seen, use the rope-snake analogy to illustrate this idea. The rope never actually transformed into a snake even when it appeared to be a snake. Similarly, no change took place when the real nature of the rope was known, since the rope never assumed the form of a snake in the first place. The point here is that the rope is not affected at all by either the appearance or the disappearance of the snake. As Śaṅkara explains, Brahman is completely unaffected by the unreal appearance of the world: “As a magician himself is not affected at any time—past, present, or future—by the magic conjured up by himself, it being unreal, so also the Supreme Self is not affected by this world which is a delusion” (BSB 2.1.9, 318). The distinction between empirical and ultimate standpoints has implications for how the world should be understood in terms of reality or unreality. In fact, Śaṅkara tells us that it is only when the knowledge of Brahman is attained that the unreality of the world is realized (BSB 2.1.14, 332). Ultimately, there cannot be any real relationship between Brahman and the world, since from the absolute standpoint, there is nothing but the nondual and unchanging Brahman, and hence satkāryavāda is false. The highest Brahman—nirguṇa

Brahman—cannot be the material and efficient cause of the world, since Śaṅkara tells us that all modifications and diversity within Brahman are ultimately unreal (BSB 2.1.14, 332). When Advaita Vedāntins speak of creation and of Brahman as the cause of the world, they do so only from the empirical standpoint. For Śaṅkara, the individual self (jīva), creation (sṛṣṭ;i), and the Creator God (īśvara) are, ultimately, unreal products of ignorance which are eradicated upon the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman (brahmajñāna) (BSB 2.1.22, 349). From the absolute standpoint, then, Śaṅkara follows his predecessor Gauḍapāda in upholding the doctrine of non-origination (ajātavāda), according to which there is no creation at all, since nirguṇa Brahman alone exists.6 Therefore, according to classical Advaita Vedānta, the relationship between Brahman and the world is most accurately explained not by satkāryavāda but by vivartavāda: the world is nothing but an unreal appearance of Brahman.

10.2 The World as a Real Manifestation of Śiva in Pratyabhijñā The Trika system and its exegesis, i.e., the Pratyabhijñā,7 is sometimes what scholars mean when they refer to “Kaśmīri Śaivism.”8 The Pratyabhijñā system is so called because it conceives the main goal of life as the spontaneous “recognition” (pratyabhijñā) of one’s true nature as Śiva. The Pratyabhijñā school is generally considered to have been founded by Somānanda (c. ninth to tenth centuries), who authored Śivadṛṣṭ;i (Vision of Śiva). Utpaladeva (c. tenth century CE), a disciple of Somānanda, wrote Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā (Stanzas on the Recognition of the Lord; hereafter ĪPK)—which gives the school its name—and his own commentary on this work (Vivṛti).9 Utpaladeva’s disciple’s disciple was Abhinavagupta (c. 975–1025), who wrote two commentaries on Utpaladeva’s work— Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī (hereafter ĪPV) and Īśvarapratyabhijñāvivṛtivimarśinī—as well as his magnum opus the Tantrāloka (Light on the Tantras, hereafter TĀ10) and many other works. Kṣemarāja, a disciple of Abhinavagupta, wrote among other works the Pratyabhijñāhṛdaya (The Heart of Recognition), a digest of Utpaladeva’s Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā which summarizes the core teachings of Pratyabhijñā. To understand the world in Pratyabhijñā, we first need some understanding of the Pratyabhijñā conception of the ultimate reality as Śiva. According to Pratyabhijñā, Śiva is absolutely free and independent (svatantra) Consciousness endowed with light (prakāśa) and reflective awareness (vimarśa). Due to these two inherent aspects of prakāśa and vimarśa, Consciousness is both beyond the universe (viśvottīrṇa) and immanent in the universe (viśvamaya). The immanent aspect is attributed to Śiva’s power (śakti), the vibrant and dynamic power of Consciousness, which is of the nature of absolute freedom (svātantrya). This freedom of Consciousness refers to Śiva’s absolute sovereignty or freedom of will (icchā) that translates itself into knowledge (jñāna) and action (kriyā). In classical Advaita Vedānta, ultimate reality or Brahman is prakāśa but not vimarśa, while in Pratyabhijñā, ultimate reality is both prakāśa and vimarśa. According to Kṣemarāja, if ultimate reality is without reflective awareness (vimarśa), it would be powerless and inert (PPV 9).11 In Pratyabhijñā, vimarśa is also known as śakti (power, energy) and is inseparable from the light

of Consciousness; Śiva is, therefore, traditionally called śaktimat, the possessor of powers. We should recall that when Śaṅkara refers to śakti as a potency or power within Brahman, he only does so from the empirical standpoint and thus ultimately denies the reality of śakti. Classical Advaita Vedāntins hold that from the absolute standpoint, nirguṇa Brahman can never bring about creation or production by itself, since it is intrinsically inactive. In contrast, the Pratyabhijñā affirms that pure Consciousness is vimarśa as well; therefore, it is able to ascribe both activity and causality to Śiva. Utpaladeva writes, “Therefore causality, agency, action are nothing but the will of Him who wishes to appear in the form of the universe, in the various manifestations of jar, cloth and so on” (ĪPK12 2.4.21, 187).13 In Pratyabhijñā, prakāśa is the pure light of Consciousness, the unchanging ground of being of all phenomena. Without this light of Consciousness, nothing can ever appear, just as nothing becomes visible without physical light. Unlike physical light, however, the light of Śiva not only reveals all things but is also their very source of being (Dyczkowski 1987: 60). Since this light shines everywhere, there can never be anything outside of it, and thus, everything that exists lies within the light of Consciousness. Since only Consciousness can be the real cause of manifestation, there can be no other cause of the world, such as the māyā of Advaita Vedānta or the prakṛti (primordial Nature) of Sāṃkhya. The light of Consciousness is endowed with reflective awareness (vimarśa), which is the power of Consciousness to know and understand itself (Dyczkowski 1987: 69). According to the Pratyabhijñā, if reflective awareness was absent from Śiva, then prakāśa would not be able to manifest and it would remain a pure, unmanifested light, and this is inconceivable. The vimarśa is the intrinsic nature (svabhāva) of Śiva and distinguishes Consciousness from inert or insentient matter (jaḍa). Utpaladeva writes in the ĪPK, “The essential nature of light is reflective awareness (vimarśa); otherwise light, though ‘coloured’ by objects, would be similar to an insentient reality, such as crystal and so on” (ĪPK 1.5.11, 118).14 Unlike an inert object such as a crystal that passively reflects itself without being aware of its reflections, Consciousness is always conscious of the reflections within itself (Ratié 2010: 465). Equipped with an understanding of the nature of ultimate reality in Pratyabhijñā, we can now examine the nature of the world. The Pratyabhijñā understanding of the world developed, in part, as a response to what the Pratyabhijñā philosophers considered to be the flaws and inconsistencies of other Indian philosophical traditions, including Advaita Vedānta. For instance, we find in Pratyabhijñā texts a critique of the Advaita Vedāntic theory of avidyā or māyā 15 as the ultimate cause of the phenomenal world. Abhinavagupta criticizes the Advaita Vedāntic doctrine that avidyā (ignorance) is “inexplicable” (anirvacanīya) and responsible for the manifestation of multiple entities distinct from Consciousness (Ratié 2011: 566). In the ĪPV, Abhinavagupta writes: If you say that the “sentient” (cidrūpa) is really one and that this duality is all due to the trouble of māyā or avidyā, then you cannot explain “To whom does this avidyā belong?” It cannot be the characteristic of Brahman, because He is simply pure Consciousness: and in reality there is no other limited soul etc. to whom this may belong. But if you say “this avidyā is inexplicable,” we cannot understand as to whom it is so. (ĪPV16 vol. III 2.4.20, 186)17

Abhinavagupta’s critique essentially comes down to this point: if all that exists is the nondual and pure Brahman, then where does avidyā come from? In classical Advaita Vedānta, all perceived duality is due to the workings of avidyā, which is said to be without beginning; hence, there is no real explanation of the experience of duality. Accordingly, avidyā becomes utterly inexplicable (anirvacanīya): since there is nothing but Brahman, avidyā can belong neither to Brahman nor to anything else. Abhinavagupta argues that the experience of duality and diversity remains incomprehensible only if Consciousness is conceived as a static and passive being. Once we accept the dynamism of Consciousness, which is nothing but the power of the Lord (śakti) manifesting itself in a variety of ways, the diverse phenomena become perfectly explicable (nirvācya) (Ratié 2011: 566). Another critique of the Advaita Vedāntic doctrine of avidyā or māyā as the cause of the phenomenal world is found in Yogarāja’s commentary on Abhinavagupta’s Paramārthasāra (hereafter PS18). Yogarāja rejects the view of the Advaita Vedāntic brahmavādin,19 who holds that Brahman “devoid of all activity” (śānta/niṣkriya) is the sole reality and, therefore, considers avidyā or māyā to be distinct from Brahman (PSV 15, 128).20 For Yogarāja, the nondualism of classical Advaita Vedānta contradicts itself if it is forced into the conclusion that the effect (i.e., the world) is different from the cause (i.e., Brahman), since it would thereby collapse into a dualism. While Advaita Vedāntins affirm that Brahman alone exists and that there is nothing apart from Brahman, they also admit that the appearance of diversity is due to an illusory principle of manifestation (Bansat-Boudon 2011: 128). But then it seems as if Advaita Vedāntins grant some degree of independent existence to māyā. Hence, māyā becomes a mystery and cannot belong to Brahman. By contrast, Pratyabhijñā considers māyā to be a power (śakti) integral to Śiva and holds that the freedom of Consciousness is responsible for the manifestation of duality. For Pratyabhijñā, only a philosophy that takes Śiva to be the sole cause and the universe to be non-separate from Him can remain strictly nondual. According to Pratyabhijñā, the entire manifested reality is nothing but ābhāsa (literally “shining” or “reflection”).21 In order to explain the nature of the manifestations, Abhinavagupta frequently likens the appearance of the world to a reflection in a mirror: As, in the orb of a mirror, objects such as cities or villages, themselves various though not different [from the mirror], appear both as different from each other and from the mirror itself, so appears this world [in the mirror of the Lord’s Consciousness], differentiated both internally and vis-à-vis that Consciousness, athough it is not different from Consciousness most pure, the supreme Bhairava. (PS 12–13, 112)22 The reflections in a mirror merely appear to be different from the mirror itself, when in reality they are non-different from it. Likewise, the manifestations of Śiva appear to be separate from Śiva, but ultimately they are non-different from Him. However, the analogy of the mirror is not a perfect one, since there are two points of difference between a mirror and its reflections on the one hand, and Śiva and His manifestations on the other. First, the reflections in a mirror depend on an external light, whereas the manifestations of Śiva do not depend on any external light but are themselves expressions of the light of Consciousness.

Second, the mirror, being an inert object, is nonconscious and, therefore, not aware of its own reflections. Śiva, being endowed with self-awareness, is always aware of Himself and His manifestations. Further, the analogy of the mirror shows how Consciousness can manifest a multiplicity of forms while maintaining intact its essential nature of oneness (Ratié 2013: 393). In order to manifest Himself as the world, Śiva conceals His true nature and assumes a limited knowledge and form. The Pratyabhijñā does not maintain that appearances are illusory and thus rejects the classical Advaita Vedāntic doctrine of vivarta. Rather, all appearances are real manifestations, since everything that manifests is of the nature of Śiva. The Pratyabhijñā employs a number of metaphors and analogies to illustrate its account of creation. One such analogy for the relationship between Śiva and the world is found in Abhinavagupta’s PS: “Just as juice, skimmed froth, granular sugar, brown sugar, candy, etc., are in essence nothing but sugar cane, so are all forms only different states of the supreme Self, Śaṃbhu” (PS 26, 151).23 Notice the similarity between the Pratyabhijñā ābhāsavāda and satkāryavāda, the doctrine that the effect preexists in its cause, which Śaṅkara and his followers only accept from the empirical standpoint.24 In fact, according to Ratié, Utpaladeva essentially adopted the Sāṃkhyan satkāryavāda (2014: 128). However, whereas the Sāṃkhya system employs this theory to prove that insentient matter (pradhāna) is the material cause of everything in the world, Utpaladeva appeals to satkāryavāda in order to establish the sole agency of Consciousness. Unlike classical Advaita Vedānta, Pratyabhijñā fully affirms that Śiva is the material and efficient cause of the world (satkāryavāda). The ābhāsavāda of the Pratyabhijñā holds that the world is Śiva in the same sense that a reflection in a mirror “is” the mirror itself. According to the ĪPK, “The objects that are manifested in the present can be manifested as external only if they reside within” (ĪPK 1.5.1, 111).25 The world is contained in Consciousness and, during creation, is projected outwardly, just as a reflection appears to be external to the mirror in which it appears.26 The world—which, prior to its projection, exists as a potentiality or a seed in Divine Consciousness—never loses its essential identity with Śiva and always coexists with Consciousness. Thus, creation should not be regarded as something entirely new but merely as a manifestation of that which already exists within and identically with Consciousness. However, creation is still regarded as a real process, since even though there is no ontological novelty, there is still a generation of new forms and beings once the play of creation and manifestation has begun. Since Śiva has absolute free will, He requires no material medium or external instrument in order to bring the whole universe into being. It is Śiva Himself who flashes forth in the form of the universe. There is no succession of cause and effect; rather, creation is described as the spontaneous manifestation of the free will of Śiva. For this reason, Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta often liken Śiva, in His role as Creator, to a yogin who is capable of creating a variety of objects through his mere will without depending on any external cause (Ratié 2010: 461). With respect to the explanation of the world in Pratyabhijñā, one might ask why Śiva desires to manifest Himself and to bring the limited experience of the universe into being. The Pratyabhijñā, like Vedāntic traditions, regards creation as a play (krīḍā) or self-amusement of

the Lord (TĀ vol. I 1.101, 143–4). It is the nature of Śiva to manifest Himself as finite, reveling in the play of concealing and revealing His essential nature. He willingly assumes a limited form and, in the process, “forgets.”27 His essential nature and appears to become a bound being. Through this process of manifesting Himself as various objects and assuming different and limited forms, Śiva eventually realizes His true nature and returns to Himself, even though—somewhat paradoxically—He never actually loses His essential nature. According to Pratyabhijñā, this is the only possible explanation of the relationship between Śiva and the world. Hence, while Advaita Vedāntins maintain that the world is empirically real but ultimately unreal, Pratyabhijñā philosophers take the world to be fully real. In the next two sections, we will see how the differing ontologies of the world in Advaita Vedānta and Pratyabhijñā result in different conceptions of, and attitudes toward, embodied liberation.

10.3 The Problem of Jīvanmukti in Advaita Vedānta The doctrine of jīvanmukti plays a prominent role in the philosophical tradition of Advaita Vedānta. There are two main reasons why classical Advaita Vedāntins affirm the possibility of jīvanmukti. First, they point to the fact that there are numerous indications of embodied liberation in the Upaniṣads, Bhagavad-Gītā, and Brahmasūtra.28 Second, as A.C. Das (1954: 119) has pointed out, Advaita Vedāntins cannot claim to have a lineage of enlightened teachers unless they accept the possibility of jīvanmukti. Śaṅkara himself asserts in his commentary on Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.14.2 that if the body necessarily falls upon the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman, then there cannot be anyone to teach the true nature of Brahman (Nelson 1996: 25). At the same time, however, the basic principles of Advaita Vedāntic metaphysics make it difficult—if not impossible—to affirm the possibility of jīvanmukti. According to classical Advaita Vedānta, the impersonal (nirguṇa) nondual Brahman is the sole reality, and this entire world of names and forms is ultimately unreal. Liberation, for Advaita Vedāntins, amounts to the knowledge of Brahman, which entails the total eradication of ignorance. This metaphysical framework, as we will see, leads to a logical problem in affirming the possibility of jīvanmukti, since there seems to be a contradiction between denying the ultimate reality of the world and accepting the possibility of a fully liberated embodied being. In this section, I will discuss briefly how Śaṅkara and postŚaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins understood the concept of jīvanmukti, frequently drawing upon Lance Nelson’s (1996) very illuminating and thorough treatment of the issue. Interestingly, as Nelson (1996: 21) has pointed out, Śaṅkara explicitly uses the term jīvanmukta only once in his entire corpus—namely, in his commentary on Bhagavad-Gītā 6.27, where he writes, “Having become Brahman, he is liberated while living” (brahmabhūtaṃ jīvanmuktam). However, there are numerous places in Śaṅkara’s work where he does not use the term jīvanmukta but nonetheless clearly refers to the state of embodied liberation. Śaṅkara’s commentary on the Brahmasūtra serves as a terminus a quo for later discussions of jīvanmukti within the Advaita Vedāntic tradition. Śaṅkara relies on the idea of prārabdha karman, i.e., karman which has already begun to yield results, to explain how jīvanmukti is possible. Commenting on Brahmasūtra 4.1.15, he remarks that one’s prārabdhakarman remains even after the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman.29 For

Śaṅkara, the existence of prārabdhakarman accounts for the continued existence of the body even after knowing Brahman. Once one’s prārabdhakarman is exhausted, bodily existence ceases. In support of this assertion, Śaṅkara provides the analogy of an archer who does not have control over the arrows that have already been discharged. Like a discharged arrow, prārabdhakarman runs its course until its force is exhausted. However, this explanation of embodied liberation stands in tension with Śaṅkara’s fundamental doctrine that knowledge destroys all ignorance. Take, for instance, this passage from his commentary on Brahmasūtra: Like the idea of the rope removing the ideas of snake etc … the knowledge of the unity of the individual self with Brahman … results in the removal of the idea of an individual soul bound up with the body, which is a creation of beginningless ignorance. When this notion that the embodied soul is the real Self is removed, all those activities become sublated which are based on that assumption, which are created by ignorance. (BSB 2.1.14, 328; translation modified) For Śaṅkara, knowledge and ignorance are mutually exclusive, as is evident from the ropesnake analogy. When the real nature of the rope is known, the illusion of a snake is removed. Similarly, once one attains the knowledge of Brahman, ignorance and all its results— including one’s own physical body as well as the entire world-illusion—must vanish. Hence, from a metaphysical standpoint, the Advaita Vedāntic understanding of liberative knowledge seems to be logically incompatible with the possibility of jīvanmukti. In his commentary on Brahmasūtra, Śaṅkara claims that ignorance, which is responsible for prārabdhakarman and the continued bodily existence of the jīvanmukta, remains for some time as a result of residual impressions (saṃskāra). He writes, “This false ignorance, even when sublated, continues for a while owing to past tendencies (saṃskāra) like the continuance of the vision of the two moons” (BSB 4.1.15, 840).30 Just as a person suffering from an eye disease continues to see two moons for some time even after the defect in his eye is removed, the jīvanmukta continues to live in the body and to perceive the false appearances of the world even after attaining the knowledge of Brahman.Puzzlingly, however, Śaṅkara also cites with approval Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.14.2: “He lingers so long only as he is not freed from the body; then he becomes free” (BSB 4.1.15, 840). According to Śaṅkara, this scriptural statement indicates that “liberation is put off till the death of the body” (BSB 4.1.15, 840). Here, then, it appears that Śaṅkara is privileging videhamukti (liberation after death) over jīvanmukti: the jīvanmukta is not fully liberated after all, since full-blown liberation occurs only after death. As Nelson (1996: 28) points out, there are several other passages where Śaṅkara seems to privilege disembodied, postmortem liberation over the state of jīvanmukti. Thus, Śaṅkara fails to give a fully coherent and consistent account of jīvanmukti, and it remains unclear whether he understands jīvanmukti as complete liberation while in the body. How did post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins attempt to justify the doctrine of jīvanmukti? The theory of prārabdha karman set the stage for how jīvanmukti was conceptualized and defended by Advaita Vedāntins after Śaṅkara. It would, however, be wrong to assume that

Śaṅkara’s justification of jīvanmukti was accepted uncritically or wholesale. Instead, a rich tradition of new metaphysical insights and counterarguments emerged in the attempts by post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins to defend embodied liberation. In these debates, a central issue is what causes prārabdha karman in the absence of ignorance. One of the main strategies for defending jīvanmukti was to argue that although knowledge and ignorance are mutually exclusive, knowledge and the effects of ignorance are not. As we have seen, Śaṅkara had already suggested that it is only an impression of ignorance, rather than ignorance itself, that causes the jīvanmukta’s continued embodied existence. Post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins employed various strategies for trying to get around the contradiction of knowing Brahman while still experiencing the effects of ignorance. They addressed this contradiction by following Śaṅkara in invoking the concept of prārabdha karman. Some post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins claimed that the cause of prārabdhakarman is a “latent impression” (saṃskāra) of ignorance, while others claimed that the cause of prārabdhakarman is a “residuum” (śeṣa) or “remnant” (leśa) of ignorance (Nelson 1996: 31– 4). Maṇḍana Miśra (c. eighth century CE), for instance, followed Śaṅkara in arguing that jīvanmukti is possible due to the lingering of an impression (saṃskāra) of ignorance.31 Appealing to the rope-snake analogy, he claimed that there is a persisting effect, i.e., trembling or fear, following the realization that the rope is not a snake (BrSi 3.53, 408). In the Naiṣkarmyasiddhi, Sureśvara (c. eighth century CE) appealed to the same analogy of the trembling that persists after the false idea of the snake has been removed, arguing that the effects of ignorance (moha-kārya) persist in the jivanmukta even after the removal of ignorance itself (NS 4.60, 211). Vimuktātman (c. tenth century CE), however, argued that a “remnant” or “residuum” (leśa or śeṣa) of ignorance is responsible for prārabdhakarman (IS 1.9, 54–5). Madhusūdana Sarasvatī (c. sixteenth century CE) explained jīvanmukti by appealing to the concepts of both an impression (saṃskāra) and a residuum (leśa) of ignorance (AS 4, 890). Madhusūdana distinguished two aspects or powers (śaktis) of ignorance: projective power (vikṣepaśakti) and concealing power (āvaraṇaśakti). For Madhusūdana, the knowledge of Brahman only removes the concealing power of ignorance but not all three aspects of the projective power. It is the third aspect of the projective power that constitutes the residuum (leśa) of ignorance which supports the functioning of prārabdha karman in the jīvanmukta (AS 4, 890–2). The main problem for Śaṅkara and the post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins was to explain how the world, which is a product of ignorance, can remain after liberation.32 The fundamental premise of classical Advaita Vedānta is that all phenomenal experience, including the experience of the world and the body-mind apparatus associated with the jīva (individual self), is due to ignorance (avidyā). If so, it appears that Advaita Vedāntins are forced to conclude that when one attains the knowledge of Brahman, all ignorance is eradicated and, hence, the phenomenal world and the body-mind apparatus must disappear simultaneously with ignorance. Liberation would then entail the annulment of physical existence, and embodied liberation would be impossible (Nelson 1996: 20). At the metaphysical level, the Advaita Vedāntic commitment to the mutual exclusivity of knowledge and ignorance seems to be incompatible with the claim that an impression or remnant of ignorance remains in the jīvanmukta.

Some scholars, however, have defended the logical coherence of the Advaita Vedāntic doctrine of jīvanmukti by arguing that liberation does not entail disembodiment.33 Kim Skoog (1996), for instance, argues that the Advaitin can coherently hold that there can be a certain type of bondage, i.e., prārabdha karman, which is unaffected by the liberative knowledge of Brahman. According to Skoog (1996: 72–3), “karma, as a type of bondage, is particularly significant because it is not ignorance per se (for example, desire, superimposition, fear, delusion, grief), but a product of ignorance.” Thus, Skoog makes an argument similar to that of post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins, who distinguished ignorance itself from the effects of ignorance and argued that liberative knowledge is consistent with the latter but not the former. However, as I discussed in the previous paragraph, this standard line of argument fails to explain how it is logically possible for an effect of ignorance to remain in the absence of ignorance itself. Moreover, Skoog’s argument appears to rest on the assumption that Śaṅkara and most Advaita Vedāntins “do not view the world as completely unreal, but rather ascribe to the world a degree of reality and a sense of autonomous existence independent of one person’s ignorance or liberation” (1996: 73). Hence, Skoog’s defense of the logical coherence of the Advaita Vedāntic doctrine of jīvanmukti presupposes a more realist interpretation of Advaita Vedānta. This line of reasoning, however, is unconvincing since, as we have seen in Section 10.1, classical Advaita Vedāntins ultimately accept vivartavāda and, therefore, only accord some degree of reality to the world from the empirical standpoint of ignorance. Contrary to Skoog, then, I believe there are deep philosophical reasons why classical Advaita Vedāntins had so much difficulty accommodating the possibility of embodied liberation within their world-denying metaphysical framework. Indeed, in the face of these difficulties, most post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins tended to accept a scaled-back notion of jīvanmukti as a state in which one is almost liberated, but not fully liberated until the fall of the body. This is unsurprising, since as we have seen, there are times when Śaṅkara himself seemed to suggest that the jīvanmukta is not fully liberated and that one has to wait until death to attain final liberation. Tellingly, Maṇḍana, although he supported the idea of jīvanmukti, conceded that a jīvanmukta might not be a fully liberated or perfected being (siddha) but rather merely an advanced aspirant (sādhaka). Maṇḍana writes in the Brahmasiddhi: The Gītā refers to an aspirant at a particular stage, not to a perfected person … the “man of stable insight” (sthitaprajñā) may thus also be explained as one who knows the Self and pays no attention to the body, which is but a mere shadow or appearance (chāyāmātra). This is “liberation while living” (jīvanmukti). (BrSi 3.53, 408) It seems that for Maṇḍana, then, jīvanmukti is not the highest goal, but rather merely a penultimate stage on the way toward the complete liberation that occurs after the death of the body. Similarly, the Advaita Vedāntin Sarvajñātman (c. eleventh century CE) admitted that fully liberated teachers cannot exist and argued, accordingly, that scriptural passages that seemed to uphold the ideal of full liberation while living should not be interpreted literally (SŚ 2.225, 227, 233). Like some of his predecessors, Madhusūdana was skeptical about the

completeness of the state of jīvanmukti. Accordingly, he defined jīvanmukti as “mere liberation” (muktimātra) and distinguished it from supreme liberation (paramamukti), which he understood as a state in which all duality is extinguished (AS 4, 885). Thus, many postŚaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins seemed to admit finally that jīvanmukti is not the final liberation and, hence, either implicitly or explicitly endorsed videhamukti, the doctrine that complete liberation is attainable only after death.

10.4 The Idea and Ideal of Jīvanmukti in Pratyabhijñā Pratyabhijñā philosophers, like classical Advaita Vedāntins, also sought to justify the doctrine of jīvanmukti from within their metaphysical framework. The dualist Śaiva Siddhānta34 tradition, which preceded the nondual Śaiva tradition, rejected the possibility of jīvanmukti and held that liberation is possible only after the death of the body (videhamukti). In contrast, many thinkers within the nondual Śaiva tradition—to which the Pratyabhijñā system belongs—affirmed jīvanmukti not only as a logical possibility but also as the highest goal. According to Pratyabhijñā, the highest goal is the attainment of “Śiva-Consciousness,” a state in which the whole world appears as the Self or Ś iva, and this state seems to be perfectly compatible with—if not to entail—jīvanmukti. As we will see, however, there are also certain aspects of Pratyabhijñā doctrine that stand in apparent tension with the view that jīvanmukti is the highest goal. In order to understand the Pratyabhijñā doctrine of jīvanmukti, we first have to consider what constitutes bondage and liberation in this tradition.35 This will require us to introduce a few core doctrines and technical terms of the Pratyabhijñā. The Pratyabhijñā system holds that we are all essentially free but are covered by a veil of ignorance that makes us unable to recognize our own freedom. In order to regain our lost freedom, we must remove our ignorance through the recognition of our real Self. In the Pratyabhijñā system, ignorance (ajñāna) of one’s essential nature is the only cause of bondage, and liberation means knowing or recognizing one’s Śiva-nature (śivatva). Bondage and liberation, like most concepts in this system, are explained and defined in terms of the doctrine of freedom of Consciousness (svātantryavāda). Metaphysically speaking, there is neither bondage nor liberation, but rather, in the words of Bansat-Boudon, only “a freedom that plays at hiding itself” (2011: 33). The only way to explain bondage in this system is to conceive it as a play of Ś iva to obscure and conceal His own essential nature. Central to this understanding is the idea that Consciousness freely chooses to be bound and is playfully deceived by its own fiction (Ratié 2010: 464). In the TĀ, Abhinavagupta distinguishes two kinds of ignorance: intellectual ignorance (bauddha-ajñāna) and spiritual ignorance (pauruṣa-ajñāna) (TĀ vol. I 1.36, 73). In contrast to intellectual ignorance, spiritual ignorance does not depend on our mental constructs (vikalpas). Rather, spiritual ignorance is brought about by the contraction of Consciousness, effected by Śiva Himself to obscure His essential nature (TĀ vol. I 1.37–8, 73,76). This contraction of Consciousness—caused by māyā, the principle of differentiation —results in a limited or individualized Consciousness (puruṣa)36 with limited knowledge and agency. The limiting conditions that veil the essential nature of the Self are called “impurities” (malas). The doctrine of impurities originally appears in the dualist Śaiva

Siddhānta,37 which regards them as physical substances (dravyas) covering the real nature of the Self (Torella 2017: 183). The bound soul (sakala) is veiled by three kinds of impurities: impurity of individuality (āṇavamala), impurity of differentiation (māyīyamala), and impurity of action (kārmamala). Spiritual ignorance is more specifically caused by āṇavamala and is the origin of the two other impurities, māyīyamala and kārmamala. The spiritual ignorance is understood as a constitutional kind of ignorance since it causes a sense of limitation and separateness from Consciousness, which makes the limited self think of itself as imperfect and incomplete. In the Pratyabhijñā, the cause of all impurity is ignorance, so knowledge is the necessary and sufficient condition for liberation. In contrast to Śaiva Siddhāntins, Pratyabhijñā thinkers conceive impurities not as real physical substances but as erroneous attitudes of the individual subject.38 Abhinavagupta, for instance, reinterprets the impurities as forms of ignorance—a view he supports by appealing to a passage from the Mālinīvijayottaratantra, the authoritative text of the Trika, which states that impurity is, in fact, only ignorance (TĀ vol. I 1.23, 54–5).39 Intellectual ignorance, despite being based on a more fundamental kind of ignorance, is given primacy by Abhinavagupta, since removing this ignorance is the decisive factor in bringing about liberation in this life. Intellectual ignorance exists as long as one identifies with the mind-body apparatus, but once this false identification comes to an end, jīvanmukti becomes possible, and this is the goal for which one should strive (TĀ vol. I 1.44, 81).40 Therefore, for Abhinavagupta and the nondual Śaivites, jīvanmukti is possible, since it is insight into reality that liberates, and this knowledge can—indeed, perhaps must— be gained while living in the body. For Abhinavagupta and the nondual Śaivites, the ultimate cause of liberation and, indeed, embodied liberation is, however, brought about through an act of divine grace (anugraha) by Śiva, which removes impurity through the bestowal of knowledge. This process is technically called the “descent of power” (śaktipāta), a doctrine also found in the earlier Siddhānta system.41 Abhinavagupta writes, “This is called ‘Grace,’ the fifth and the last act of the Supreme Power, which leads to the attainment of the highest human goal. For, Perfect Freedom is due to that alone” (ĪPV 1.1.1, 4).42 Abhinavagupta’s understanding of jīvanmukti is also intimately connected to the four means of, or ways to, liberation (upāyas): the “non-means” (anupāya), “the means of Śambhu” (śāṃobhavopāya), “the means of śakti” (śāktopāya), and “the individual means” (āṇavopāya).43 The upāyas are ordered according to the varying degrees of intensity of divine grace bestowed on the aspirant (Padoux 2017: 129). According to Abhinavagupta, the upāyas correspond to the various kinds of samāveśa (“penetration,” “immersion,” or “absorption”) taught in the Mālinīvijayottaratantra (TĀ vol. I 1.167, 202).44 Depending on the intensity of grace, liberation occurs either instantly or gradually. Thus, either liberation is obtained through the more direct and effortless means (śāmbhava), or one begins from the lowest method (āṇava), which gradually leads to the one above it (śākta), until the highest of the three methods is reached (śāmbhava). Higher than all three is the anupāya, in which no means at all are applied. The view that liberation can be either a direct or a gradual process is an interesting innovation of Pratyabhijñā philosophy and contrasts sharply with the understanding of liberation in Advaita Vedānta, according to which

knowledge and ignorance are mutually exclusive. The aspirant of the anupāya is described as having a spontaneous, yet firm, awareness of his Ś iva-nature (śivatva). As anupāya results in immediate permanent realization without the need of any means, it is not really an upāya. Despite the apparent hierarchy of upāyas, they all lead to the same goal of samāveśa—that is, immersion in Ś iva. Having considered some of the doctrines that appear in the doctrinal justification of jīvanmukti in the Pratyabhijñā, we will now see how the understanding of the world in Pratyabhijñā relates to the concept of jīvanmukti. In the Pratyabhijñā, there is no tension between its ontological conception of the world and the idea of embodied liberation. The description of the embodied liberated state is fundamentally different from that of Advaita Vedānta. Since Pratyabhijñā philosophers take the world to be a real manifestation of Consciousness, they have the metaphysical framework to fully affirm jīvanmukti; hence, they do not face the ontological difficulties with which Śaṅkara and the post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins grappled. As we have seen, liberation in classical Advaita Vedānta means the total eradication of ignorance and the realization that the world, which is itself a product of ignorance, is unreal. Therefore, in classical Advaita Vedānta, the very notion of jīvanmukti, liberation while still in the body and in the world, appears to be a contradiction. By contrast, the goal of liberative recognition in Pratyabhijñā does not entail that the world disappears from one’s view or that it is seen to be unreal. Rather, the world is transfigured into the divine manifestation of one’s own Self, which is identical to Śiva. Utpaladeva describes the nature of this recognition in his ĪPK: “He who, having all as his essence, thus knows: ‘All this multiform deployment is mine,’ he even in the flow of mental constructs, attains the state of Maheśa” (ĪPK 4.12, 217).45 Utpaladeva describes a state of unity-consciousness in which one realizes one’s identity with the universe and sees it as being absolutely non-different from one’s Self. Utpaladeva also points to the liberated person’s change of perception: the entire creation is now seen as a reflection of one’s essential being, although the senses and mind remain active. In the Pratyabhijñā system, unlike in Advaita Vedānta, sensory and bodily awareness are not seen as obstacles to liberation. Rather, Pratyabhijñā thinkers emphasize that all is Śiva and that Consciousness operates through the senses and in the body.46 Hence, the Pratyabhijñā understanding of liberation contrasts sharply with the classical Advaita Vedāntic conception of liberation, which is the realization of oneself as nirguṇa Brahman, the impersonal and static Brahman. In the Pratyabhijñā, liberation is understood as an intense empowerment that involves becoming aware of one’s own divinity and recognizing one’s own inherent power.47 Liberation in this system involves a recognition of oneself as the creator of the universe. As Sanderson (1992 : 290) points out, in the nondual Śaiva system, one is not merely like Śiva ( śivatulya, śivasamāya), as in the dualist Śaiva Siddhānta; rather, one is Śiva in every respect, including as the efficient and the material cause of everything.48 According to Abhinavagupta, once the knowledge has grown firm that the world is only an expression of the power of freedom (svātantryaśakti) of Consciousness, one achieves liberation while living: Therefore, even this determinate creation is nothing but my own glory, known as the “power of freedom.” This Consciousness having grown firm, he becomes liberated in

his very lifetime, though his Vikalpas [mental constructs] may not have been destroyed. (ĪPV vol. III 4.12, 227)49 The Pratyabhijñā conception of liberation is closely related to the Spanda tradition.50 In the Spandakārikā, the jīvanmukta is someone who has attained “Mastery over the Wheel of Energies” (cakreśvaratvasiddhi) (Dyczkowski 1987: 189). The jīvanmukta, who is fully identified with Śiva, rules and controls the cosmic cycles of the powers (śaktis) that create and dissolve everything, just as Śiva Himself does. Ś iva, whose essential nature is knowledge and activity, eternally performs the fivefold acts (pañcakṛtya) of creation (sṛṣṭ;i), maintenance (sthiti), withdrawal (saṃhāra), concealment (vilaya), and grace (anugraha) (PHr opening verses, 1). When these five acts are performed on a cosmic scale, Śiva projects the world out of Himself, maintains it, and then reabsorbs it back again within Himself. Recognition means knowing that one is the Lord of all the energies, the very energies which bind one so long as one’s essential nature remains unknown (Dyczkowski, 1992: 36). According to the Pratyabhijñāhṛdaya, those who are aware of the fivefold act that takes place at the individual level and know themselves to be the author of the five acts are transformed into universal Consciousness (citi) (PHr 13, 32).51 Clearly, then, there are major differences in the conceptions of embodied liberation in Pratyabhijñā and Advaita Vedānta. The two systems share, however, the view that liberation is essentially a blissful state (Bansat-Boudon 2013: 321). However, in Advaita Vedānta, unlike in the Pratyabhijñā, this blissful state does not derive from the experience of oneness with the world. Kṣemarāja stresses that recognition is ultimately an experience of unity and joy, and again, that one has this awareness even while being in the world and while the senses and the body are still perceived (PHr 16, 36).52 This description of the ideal state is clearly at odds with the introvertive contemplative attitude of the liberated Advaita Vedāntin, who looks upon the world as unreal (mithyā). The implication is that in Pratyabhijñā, the liberated being does not need to renounce or shun the world; rather, one can be liberated and still experience the highest bliss in this very life. According to Muller-Ortega (1996: 195), the primary characteristic of jīvanmukti in Pratyabhijñā is “not a Sāṃkhya-like introvertive kaivalya, but an extrovertive and open-eyed samādhi, the nature of which is clarified by the term ekarasa—the blissful and unitary vision of the all-pervasiveness of Śiva, the unitary structure of unbounded Consciousness.” Thus, Pratyabhijñā philosophers unambiguously accept the logical possibility of jīvanmukti, since it is fully compatible with their ontological framework. Indeed, some Pratyabhijñā formulations of liberation seem even to entail jīvanmukti, since liberation involves recognizing not only one’s true nature as Śiva but also the world as a glorious manifestation of Śiva. In classical Advaita Vedānta, difficulties in justifying the state of jīvanmukti led Śaṅkara and the post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins to veer close to the opposite doctrine of videhamukti. By contrast, the Pratyabhijñā notion of jīvanmukti, in many ways, was developed in explicit opposition to the ideal of videhamukti upheld by the earlier Śaiva Siddhāntins. According to Bansat-Boudon (2013: 308), a main feature of the Pratyabhijñā is “its privileging the acquisition of jīvanmukti, even to the point of denigrating the older notion of ‘liberation at death.’” She continues, “In this system, the only true emancipation, the only freedom to which one should aspire, is emancipation in this

life.” In contrast to the Śaiva Siddhānta, Pratyabhijñā introduces the new goal of jīvanmukti, complete freedom while alive, even touting it as a superior soteriological goal, since it promises emancipation before death. Utpaladeva writes in the ĪPK, “Thus this new, easy path has been explained by me as the great master expounded it in the Śivadṛṣṭ;i. Thus he who, putting his feet on it, brings to light in the self the nature of the creator of the universe whose essence is the nature of Śiva, and is uninterruptedly absorbed in it, attains perfection” (ĪPK 4.16, 218).53 That Utpaladeva thinks his new path (mārga ) leads to embodied liberation is evident in his own Vṛtti to this verse, where he writes, “He who by applying himself intensely to this enters into the nature of Śiva, becomes in this very life a liberated soul” (ĪPKV 4.16, 218).54 Jayaratha (c. thirteenth century CE), in his commentary on Abhinavagupta’s Tantrāloka, claims that the very objective of the Tantrāloka—and, by extension, of the entire Tantric tradition—is the attainment of liberation in this life (TĀV vol. XII 37.32–3, 402–3). Moreover, by privileging jīvanmukti as a higher goal than videhamukti, Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta aimed to establish the superiority of Pratyabhijñā over other systems and to demonstrate the radical sufficiency of knowledge in granting liberation. At the same time, however, certain aspects of the Pratyabhijñā system stand in apparent tension with the view that jīvanmukti is the highest goal. In the TĀ (chapter 13) and the Tantrasāra (chapter 11), Abhinavagupta refers to nine types of recipients of grace based on the classification of śaktipāta found in Mālinīvijayottaratantra. Only the second and third types of śaktipāta result in jīvanmukti, while all the remaining weaker types of śaktipāta lead either to liberation after death or to liberation in a future life (Wallis 2014: 286). The most direct way to liberation is bestowed upon the aspirants (sādhakas) who have the deepest desire for freedom (mumukṣutva), while aspirants who have a greater appetite for worldly enjoyment (bhoga) and powers (siddhis) receive a less intense śaktipāta. For the latter aspirants, the path to realizing one’s identity with Śiva is, therefore, longer and more arduous. The strongest kind of śaktipāta, the “accelerated intense” (utkṛṣṭ;atīvra) descent of power, is so intense that it results in immediate liberation, which entails the death of one’s physical body (TS 11.7, 120).55 As numerous scholars have noted, this śaktipāta schema indicates that not everyone has the capacity to attain jīvanmukti and that the aspirant who attains union with Ś iva through anupāya, which is the highest of all methods, bypasses the state of jīvanmukti.56 The key interpretive question is how to reconcile the prevailing Pratyabhijñā view that jīvanmukti is the highest goal with the fact that the most elevated aspirant of the anupāya is incapable of attaining this state. In other words, how is it that Pratyabhijñā, which introduces the new goal of jīvanmukti, nonetheless emphasizes Self-realization through anupāya, which entails the immediate fall of the body? Does this suggest that a videhamukti ideal is in play even in the Pratyabhijñā? Debabrata Sen Sharma is one of the few scholars who has directly addressed these questions. According to Sen Sharma (1983), the śaktipāta scheme suggests that jīvanmukti should not be regarded as the highest goal in Pratyabhijñā. Accordingly, he writes, “the destruction of the body-apparatus is said to be essential for the perfect Realization of the Essence, the Śivatva” (Sen Sharma 1983: 170). He further suggests that it

is only when the jīvanmukta is disassociated from his physical body that he becomes Śiva Himself (Sen Sharma 1983: 172–3). Interestingly, Sen Sharma’s interpretation of Pratyabhijñā has affinities with the post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntic view that jīvanmukti is only a partial liberation and that complete liberation is only possible after death. Indeed, Sen Sharma (1983: 173) explicitly characterizes the final stage of liberation as “videha-mukti.” I believe Sen Sharma might be too quick to infer from the śaktipāta scheme that the highest soteriological goal in Pratyabhijñā is videhamukti rather than jīvanmukti. In the remainder of this chapter, I will begin to sketch a somewhat more nuanced interpretation of the status of jīvanmukti in Pratyabhijñā. First of all, it is worth noting that not all thinkers within the tradition of Pratyabhijñā hold exactly the same views on jīvanmukti. Indeed, some Pratyabhijñā philosophers seem to suggest that jīvanmukti is not the highest goal. Surprisingly, even Kṣemarāja, who frequently refers to the state of jīvanmukti and defends the doctrine in his works, claims, in his commentary on the Śivasūtra,57 that although the jīvanmukta becomes like Śiva, it is not until the yogin leaves his body that he becomes fully identified with Śiva (ŚSV 3.26, 186).58 Similarly, Yogarāja, in his commentary on Abhinavagupta’s PS, asserts that “complete” (pūrṇa) liberation is attainable only after death (PSV 61, 232).59 Yogarāja and Kṣemarāja seem to imply that jīvanmukti is not the highest goal after all, thereby veering close to the post-Śaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins Maṇḍana and Madhusūdana, who held that the jīvanmukta was only partially, but not fully, liberated. Commenting on another verse in the PS, Yogarāja characterizes final liberation as a state of transcendent Isolation (kaivalya) that is “beyond the Fourth” (turyātīta), and he claims that this state can only be attained after bodily death (PSV 83, 273).60 It seems rather odd to find terms like kaivalya in these texts, since the term usually connotes a state of complete transcendence and detachment from the world and the senses. Moreover, it is precisely this kaivalya-oriented conception of liberation—found in Sāṃkhya and the Śaiva Siddhānta—that Pratyabhijñā thinkers explicitly criticized. As Bansat-Boudon (2011: 43–4) rightly observes, Yogarāja seems to align jīvanmukti with the “fourth state” (turya) and videhamukti with the state “beyond the fourth” (turyātīta). In his commentary on PS 86, Yogarāja writes: “the [mind of the] knower of the Self (jñānī), while living (jīvann eva), is formed by the Fourth; and he transcends even that Fourth, once his body no longer exists” (PSV 86, 282).61 Thus, in claiming that there are degrees of liberation and that the highest state of liberation is attainable only after death, Yogarāja comes close to many Advaita Vedāntins, who understood jīvanmukti as a penultimate stage toward final and complete liberation. Hence, I agree with Sen Sharma that at least one Pratyabhijñā thinker—namely, Yogarāja—did not consider jīvanmukti to be the highest goal. However, I believe Sen Sharma is mistaken in thinking that Yogarāja’s position on jīvanmukti represents “the” Pratyabhijñā tradition as a whole. To begin to make my case, I suggest that we examine the following interesting passage from Abhinavagupta’s ĪPV: [He] is called liberated, because he is free from the bondage of rebirth, even when his body still exists. But when the body is destroyed, he is pure Śiva; and, therefore, then there can be no talk of liberation, because there is absence of both bondage and

liberation. But in consideration of the previous stage or in comparison with other subjects he is, for practical purposes, spoken of as liberated, Śiva. (ĪPV 3.2.3, 204)62 In this passage, Abhinavagupta conceives liberation as freedom from the bondage of rebirth, which seems to be fully compatible with physical embodiment. Indeed, he seems to claim here that liberation is, in fact, only possible while in the physical body. His reasoning is as follows. Once the jīvanmukta has left the body and merged with Śiva, it no longer makes sense to speak of liberation at all, since liberation implies prior bondage and Ś iva was never bound in the first place. This passage may also help explain why the aspirant of the anupāya does not enjoy jīvanmukti, since at the level of anupāya, there is neither bondage nor liberation. As Torella (2013: xxxviii) points out, one cannot speak of jīvanmukti with respect to anupāya since at this transcendent level of reality, means and goal coincide and there is nothing from which to be liberated (see TĀ vol. II 3.272–3, 248–9).63 Therefore, jīvanmukti is only possible through the lower upāyas: śāmbhava, śākta, and aṇava. In fact, Torella (2013: xxxviii) suggests that although the Pratyabhijñā is often associated with anupāya, Abhinavagupta aligns jīvanmukti not with anupāya but with śāmbhava. Torella further argues that the central teaching of Pratyabhijñā is śāmbhavopāya, which includes both immanent (turya) and transcendental (turyātīta) experiences. However, all means ultimately lead to anupāya, since anupāya represents the direct and unmediated awareness that Conciousness has of itself and, as such, is the only “means” that fully corresponds to reality (Dyczkowski 1987: 175).

10.5 Concluding Remarks Classical Advaita Vedāntins, as we have seen, failed to provide a coherent account of jīvanmukti, since their world-denying metaphysical framework seems to preclude the very possibility of embodied liberation. By contrast, Pratyabhijñā thinkers more convincingly established the logical possibility of jīvanmukti on the basis of their world-affirming metaphysics. Nonetheless, while all Pratyabhijñā philosophers seemed to agree that jīvanmukti is a logical possibility, they sometimes differed on the question of whether it is also the highest goal. Even in the Pratyabhijñā tradition, as in Advaita Vedānta, there is some ambivalence concerning the completeness of the state of jīvanmukti. Moreover, at least for Abhinavagupta, it is clear that jīvanmukti is not a universal goal for everyone but only for a few select aspirants. As we have seen, Yogarāja’s understanding of jīvanmukti—and at times even Kṣemarāja’s—comes close to the Advaita Vedāntic view of jīvanmukti as a partial liberation. Sen Sharma (1983), in his interpretation of the Pratyabhijñā doctrine of jīvanmukti, seems to follow Yogarāja in holding that full-blown liberation only occurs after the death of the body. A full understanding of jīvanmukti in Pratyabhijñā must await further research, since we would need to examine a much broader range of primary texts within the Pratyabhijñā tradition before arriving at any definitive conclusions. I hope to have shown here that any adequate account of jīvanmukti in Pratyabhijñā must directly address an important paradox. On the one hand, a number of Pratyabhijñā thinkers consider jīvanmukti to be the ultimate goal—indeed, one which sets it apart from what they

take to be the inferior goals of other systems. On the other hand, they also hold that the highest anupāya aspirant bypasses the state of jīvanmukti altogether. Scholars have not yet sufficiently explored the implications of this paradox for understanding the status of jīvanmukti in Pratyabhijñā. In order to investigate this issue properly, we would need to examine in detail how different Pratyabhijñā philosophers understood the śaktipāta schema and its relation to the doctrine of jīvanmukti. In this chapter, I have only begun to tackle this problem and dealt with some of the Pratyabhijñā texts and translations that are currently available. Hopefully, with the increasing number of scholars in recent years working on manuscripts and first translations of the vast textual corpus of the nondual Śaivism of Kashmir, we will soon be able to have a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of the status of jīvanmukti in Pratyabhijñā.

Abbreviations of Sanskrit Primary Texts and English Translations AS

Sarasvatī, Madhusūdana (1937), Advaitasiddhi. Advaitasiddhi of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī, ed. A.K. Sāstrī, Bombay: Nirnaya Sagar Press. BrSi Miśra, Maṇḍana (1998), Brahmasiddhi. “Brahmasiddhi,” trans. A.W. Thrasher, in K.H. Potter, ed., Encyclopedia of the Indian Philosophies: Advaita Vedānta up to Śaṃkara and His Pupils, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 347–419. BSB Śaṅkarācārya (1965), Brahmasūtrabhāṣya. Brahmasūtrabhāṣya of Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, trans. S. Gambhirananda, Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama. BSBh Śaṅkarācārya (1938), Brahmasūtrabhāṣya. The Brahmasūtra Śānkara Bhāṣya: With the Commentaries Bhāmatī, Kalpataru and Parimala, 2nd edn., ed. B.S. Śāstrācārya, Bombay: Nirṇaya Sāgar Press. ĪPK Utpaladeva (2013), Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā. The Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā of Utpaladeva with the Author’s Vṛtti: Critical Edition and Annoted Translation, trans. R. Torella, New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ĪPKV Utpaladeva (2013), Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikāvṛtti. The Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā of Utpaladeva with the Author’s Vṛtti: Critical Edition and Annotated Translation, trans. R. Torella, New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ĪPV Abhinavagupta (1986), Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī. Īśvara-pratyabhijñā-vimarśinī of Abhinavagupta: Doctrine of Divine Recognition, trans. K.C. Pandey, 3 vols., Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. IS Vimuktātman (1933), Iṣṭ;asiddhi. Iṣṭ;a-Siddhi of Vimuktātman with Extracts from the Vivaraṇa of Jñānottama, trans. K.C. Pandey, Baroda: Oriental Insitute. NS Sureśvarācārya (1965), Naiṣkarmyasiddhi. Naiṣkarmyasiddhi of Śrī Sureśvarācārya, trans. S.S. Raghavachar, Mysore, University of Mysore. PHr Kṣemarāja (1911), Pratyabhijñāhṛdaya. The Pratyabhijñā Hṛdaya Being a Summary of the Doctrines of the Advaita Shaiva Philosophy of Kashmir by Kshemarāja, ed. J.C. Chatterji, Bombay: Nirnaya Sagar Press.

PPV Kṣemarāja (1996), Parāpraveśikā. Parāpraveśikā, ed. N. Guruṭ;ū, Kaśmīra: Īśvara Āśrama Ṭrasṭ;a. PS Abhinavagupta (2011), Paramārthasāra. An Introduction to Tantric Philosophy: The Paramārthasāra of Abhinavagupta with the Commentary of Yogarāja, trans. BansatBoudon and K.D. Tripathi, London: Routledge. PSV Yogarāja (2011), Paramārthasārasaṃgrahavivṛti. An Introduction to Tantric Philosophy: The Paramārthasāra of Abhinavagupta with the Commentary of Yogarāja, trans. L. Bansat-Boudon and K.D. Tripathi, London: Routledge. SŚ Sarvajñātman (1985), Saṃkṣepaśārīraka. Saṃkṣepaśārīraka of Sarvajñātman, trans. N. Veezhinathan, Madras: University of Madras. ŚSV Kṣemarāja (1979), Śivasūtravimarśinī. Śiva Sūtras: The Yoga of Supreme Identity, trans. J. Singh, Delhi: Motilal Banarasidas Publishers. TĀ Abhinavagupta (1918–38), Tantrāloka. The Tantrāloka of Abhinava Gupta with Commentary by Rājānaka Jayaratha, 12 vols., Srinagar: Research Department, Jammu and Kashmir State. TĀV Jayaratha (1918–38), Tantrālokaviveka. The Tantrāloka of Abhinava Gupta with Commentary by Rājānaka Jayaratha, ed. M.K. Shāstrī, 12 vols. Srinagar: Research Department, Jammu and Kashmir State. TS Abhinavagupta (1918), Tantrasāra. The Tantrasāra of Abhinava Gupta, ed. M.K. Shāstrī, Bombay: Nirnaya Sagar Press. VBT Author unknown (1918), Vijñānabhairavatantra. Vijñāna-bhairava: with Commentary Partly by Kṣemarāja and Partly by Shivopādhyāya [Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies 8], ed. M.K. Shāstrī, Bombay: Tattva-Vivechaka Press.

Notes I am very grateful to Ayon Maharaj for his invaluable support and guidance, and to Mark Dyczkowski for sharing his deep insights and knowledge of the Śaiva traditions in meetings and over the phone. I am also grateful to Palash Ghorai for helping me to identify some passages in Śaṅkara’s Brahmasūtra-bhāṣya, and to Joseph Milillo for pointing me to an illuminating passage from Abhinavagupta’s Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī. Finally, my deepest gratitude to Nishant Upadhyay for his continuous encouragement and support. For previous research on the doctrine of jīvanmukti in classical Advaita, see especially Nelson (1996), as well as Das (1954), Malkani (1955), and Fort (1998). For a discussion of jīvanmukti in the nondual Śaivism of Kashmir, see Sen Sharma (1983), Muller-Ortega (1996), and BansatBoundon (2013). Whenever I cite BSB I refer to the English translation of Śaṅkara’s Brahmasūtra-bhāṣya by Gambhirananda (1965). BSBh 2.1.33: na ceyaṃ paramārthaviṣayā sṛṣṭ;iśrutiḥ; avidyākalpitanāmarūpavyavahāragocaratvāt. For a detailed discussion of māyā in classical Advaita, see Hacker (1995: 78–85). See Gauḍapāda’s articulation of ajātavāda in Māṇḍūkya-Kārikā 2.32. The Pratyabhijñā lineage grew out of the Trika system of the nondual traditions of Tantric Śaivism (Wallis 2014: 93). The Trika tradition centers on the worship of three goddesses: the benevolent Parā, and her fierce manifestations Parāparā and Aparā. The scriptures of the Trika include, among others, the Siddhayogeśvarīmatatantra (its earliest text dated to the seventh century), Mālinīvijayottara, Tantrasadbhāva, Parātrīśikā, and Vijñānabhairavatantra (Wallis 2014: 86–7). The term “Kashmir Śaivism” is misleading since there were several traditions of Śaivism present in Kashmir and in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, some Śaiva traditions—including Śaiva Siddhānta—were actually dualist in orientation. For readers interested in the detailed history of the traditions and literature of Śaivism, see Sanderson (1988,

2009, 2012). Unfortunately, Utpaladeva’s Vivṛti on his own Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā has been lost, although fragments of this text have recently been discovered. See Torella (2014) and Ratié (2017a). Abhinavagupta’s TĀ claims to be a gloss or commentary on the Trika system, and particularly the Mālinīvijayottaratantra (MVT). According to Abhinavagupta, the MVT is the root text of the Trika and contains the purest form or essence of the Trika (Sanderson 1992: 292). The TĀ, however, actually presents an amalgam of Śaiva doctrine and praxis that is not drawn excusively from the Trika. The Trika tradition was closely assocaiated with, and greatly influenced by, the third main development of Śaivism, the Kulamārga (or Kaula) (Sanderson 2012: 61). As a result of this influence, Abhinavagupta’s interpretation of the Trika is more accurately represented as Kaula-Trika. PPV: yadi nirvimarśaḥ syāt anīśvaro jaḍaś ca prasajyeta. Hereafter, when I cite ĪPK and ĪPKV, I refer to Torella’s (2013) critical edition and annotated translation of the Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā with Utpaladeva’s Vṛtti. ĪPK 2.4.21: itthaṃ tathā ghaṭ;apaṭ;ādyābhāsajagadātmanā | tiṣṭ;hāsor evam icchaiva hetutā kartṛtā kriyā || ĪPK 1.5.11: svabhāvam avabhāsasya vimarśaṃ vidur anyathā | prakāśo ’rthoparakto ’pi sphaṭ;ikādijaḍopamaḥ || In the Pratyabhijñā, the term māyā denotes the principle of limitation that is attributed to the power (śakti) of Consciousness. Māyā obscures the true nature of Śiva through the contraction of Consciousness and thereby creates duality and differentiation. When I cite ĪPV I am referring to the three-volume edition of Pandey (1986) where he provides the original Sanskrit text along with an English translation. ĪPV 2.4.20: cidrūpasyaikatvaṃ yadi vāstavaṃ bhedaḥ punar ayam avidyopaplavāt, ity ucyate tadā kasyāyam avidyopaplavaḥ, iti na saṃgacchate brahmaṇo hi vidyaikarūpasya kathamavidyārūpatā, na cānyaḥ kaścit asti vastuto jīvādiryasyāvidyā bhavet, anirvācyeyamavidyā, iti cet, kasya anirvācyā, iti na vidmaḥ. Hereafter, when I refer to PS and PSV, I am relying on the critical edition and English translation of Abhinavagupta’s Paramārthasāra and Yogarāja’s Paramārthasārasaṃgrahavivṛti by Bansat-Boudon and Tripathi (2011). In his commentary on kārikā 15, when Yogarāja refers to “brahmavādin,” he likely has in mind primarily Śaṅkara’s Advaita. For details see Bansat-Boudon (2011: 128 note 526, 155 note 668). PSV 15: mīyate paricchidyate dharāntaḥ pramātṛprameyaprapañco yayā sā māyā viśvamohakatayā vā māyā. eṣā devasya krīḍāśīlasya saṃbandhinīti kṛtvā devī na punar brahmavādinām iva vyatiriktā kācin māyopapadyata iti. Ābhāsavāda is also known as the pratibimbavāda (“doctrine of reflection”). PS 12–13: darpaṇabimbe yadvan nagaragrāmādi citram avibhāgi | bhāti vibhāgenaiva ca parasparaṃ darpaṇād api ca || vimalatamaparamabhairavabodhāt tadvad vibhāgaśūnyam api | anyonyaṃ ca tato ’pi ca vibhaktam ābhāti jagad etat || PS 26: rasaphāṇitaśarkarikāguḍakhaṇḍādyā yathekṣurasa eva | tadvad avasthābhedāḥ sarve paramātmanaḥ śaṃbhoḥ || Flood (1993: 67) argues that Kṣemarāja rejects both pariṇāma and vivarta causation theories, held by Sāṃkhya and Advaita Vedānta respectively. Kṣemarāja does, however, in Flood’s view, incorporate both these theories into his formulation of ābhāsavāda. ĪPK 1.5.1: vartamānāvabhāsānāṃ bhāvānām avabhāsanam | antaḥsthitavatām eva ghaṭ;ate bahirātmanā || For further reading on the mirror analogy and the nondual Śaiva theory of reflection, see Lawrence (2005), Kaul (2016), and Ratié (2017b). I am not claiming here that Śiva actually forgets His essential nature. See, for instance, Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 3.8.10 and 4.4.14, Kena Upaniṣad 2.5, Kaṭ;ha Upaniṣad 2.3.14, Aitareya Upaniṣad 2.1.5–6, Brahmasūtra 3.4.51, and Bhagavad-Gītā 5.23 and 5.28. See Nelson (1996: 21–2) for detailed references. ṅkara distinguishes two kinds of past karman: saṃcita (accumulated) karman, i.e., karman which has not yet begun to bear fruit, and prārabdha (commenced) karman. While knowledge of Brahman destroys the saṃcitakarma, the prārabdhakarman remains. BSBh 4.1.15: bādhitam api tu mithyājñānaṃ … saṃskāravaśāt kaṃcit kālam anuvartata eva. Maṇḍana denies that the jīvanmukta is subject to prārabdhakarman, arguing that this idea is in direct conflict with scriptures affirming that knowledge destroys all karman. Instead, Maṇḍana suggests that saṃskāras of both ignorance and prārabdhakarman allow for the continued existence of the body even after liberation. For details, see Nelson (1996: 32). Rāmānuja (c. eleventh century CE) rejects the Advaita Vedāntic doctrine of jīvanmukti for this very reason. His critique of the doctrine of jīvanmukti directly targets Śaṅkara’s theory of prārabdhakarman along with the further arguments of the postŚaṅkara Advaita Vedāntins. In his commentary on Brahmasūtra 1.1.4, Rāmānuja argues that the jīvanmukta’s knowledge of Brahman is inconsistent with ignorance and its effects, and hence, that jīvanmukti is impossible. For more details see Framarin (2009). See, for instance, Malkani (1955) and Skoog (1996). The Śaiva Siddhānta (“The Definitive Doctrine of Śaivism”) holds that there are three eternally distinct principles: pati (the

Lord/Śiva), paśu (the bound soul), and pāśa (bondage) (Wallis 2014: 78). The Saiddhāntikas (the followers of the Śaiva Siddhānta) believe that the world is the cause of bondage, attributing it to māyā, which is distinct from Śiva. In this system, liberation is regarded as union with Śiva, but since it is a dualistic system, liberated souls remain distinct from Śiva (Torella 2017: 183). For further reading on the conception of liberation in the nondual Śaivism of Kashmir, see Rastogi (2010). In the Śaiva Siddhānta, puruṣa is understood as the contraction of universal Consciousness, or individualized consciousness, and is thus different from the Sāṃkhyan puruṣa. For a discussion of the concept of impurity (mala) in Śaiva Siddhānta, see Acharya (2014). The Saiddhāntikas thought that only initiation (dīkṣā) could remove the āṇavamala and thereby gurantee liberation. Since they considered the impurities to be real substances, liberation could only be accomplished through ritual action (kriyā), which removed the impurities (Sanderson 1988: 691). However, liberation was not immediately effective and would only be fully achieved after the initiate was separated from his body at death (Sanderson 2012: 20). For this reason, the Śaiva Siddhāntins denied that liberation could be achieved prior to death and thereby rejected the possibility of jīvanmukti. TĀ 1.23: malam ajñānaṃ icchanti saṁsārāṅkurakāraṇam | iti proktaṃ tathā ca śrīmālinīvijayottare || TĀ 1.44: bauddhajñānena tu yadā bauddham ajñānajṛmbhitam | vilīyate tadā jīvanmuktiḥ karatale sthitā || According to the Saiddhāntikas, liberation takes place through the descent of power (śaktipāta) that makes the aspirant seek a guru for initiation (dīkṣā), which is the only way the self can free itself from its bondages. However, for nondual Śaivites, it is knowledge that liberates and, therefore, initiation is not always required. For a more detailed discussion on śaktipāta, see Wallis (2014) and Ferrario (2015). For more information on dīkṣā, see Takashima (1992). ĪPV 1.1.1: eṣa ca anugrahalakṣaṇo ’ntyaḥ pañcamaḥ pārameśvaraḥ kṛtyaviśeṣaḥ parapuruṣārthaprāpakaḥ, tannibandhanatvāt paramārthamokṣasya. These are all discussed by Abhinavagupta in the TĀ (Chapters 2–5), where Abhinavagupta devotes one chapter to each upāya. Note that the MVT only mentions śāṃbhavopāya, śāktopāya, and āṇavopāya. The anupāya or “non-means” appears to be the invention of Abhinavagupta. ĪPK 4.12: sarvo mamāyaṃ vibhava ity evaṃ parijānataḥ | viśvātmano vikalpānāṃ prasare ’pi maheśatā || This view is also evident in tantras such as the Vijñānabhairavatantra, a Trika text that stresses a dynamic engagement with the external world as a means of realizing one’s essential nature. In this text, we also find a reference to jīvanmukti (VBT 141–2, 128). According to Dyczkowski (1987: 9), the notion of liberation as an intense empowerment largely derives from the Kaula tradition (particularly from the Krama system), which influenced the Pratyabhijñā school. According to the Saiddhāntikas, Śiva is only the efficient cause of the universe, while māyā is its beginningless material cause (as in Advaita Vedānta). ĪPV 4.12: ato vikalpasṛṣṭ;ir api mama svātantryalakṣaṇo vibhavaḥ, ity evaṃ vimarśe dṛḍhībhūte saty aparikṣīṇavikalpo ’pi jīvann eva muktaḥ. The Spanda school is named after one of its foundational texts, the Spandakārikā (Stanzas on Vibration). This school emphasized the goal of becoming aware of spanda, the vibration or pulsation of Consciousness. For more details, see Dyczkowski (1992). PHr 13: tatparijñāne cittam eva antarmukhībhāvena | cetanapadād adhyārohāt citiḥ || PHr 16: cidānandalābhe dehādiṣu cetyamāneṣv api | cidaikātmyapratipattidārḍhyaṃ jīvanmuktiḥ || ĪPK 4.16: iti prakaṭ;ito mayā sughaṭ;a eṣa mārgo navo mahāgurubhir ucyate sma śivadṛṣṭ;iśāstre yathā. tad atra nidadhat padaṃ bhuvanakartṛtām ātmano vibhāvya śivatāmayīm aniśam āviśan siddhyati. ĪPKV 4.16: etatpariṣīlanena śivatāveśāj jīvann eva mukto bhavati. TS 11.7: tatra utkṛṣṭ;atīvrāt tadaiva dehapāte parameśatā. See, for instance, Sen Sharma (1983: 169–70), Bansat-Boudon (2011: 37), and Wallis (2014: 117). Sen Sharma (1983: 170) cites Chapter 11 of TS in support of his interpretation that the yogin of anupāya does not attain the state of jīvanmukti. Note that the MVT does not mention death as a consequence of śaktipāta and it therefore seems to be Abhinavagupta who adds the idea that the body falls away as a result of the highest descent of power. ṣemarāja is here commenting on verse 3.26 of the Śivasūtra, “He becomes like Śiva” (śivatulyo jāyate). ŚSV 3.26: turyapariśīlanaprakarṣāt prāptaturyātītapadaḥ paripūrṇasvacchandacidānandaghanena śivena bhagavatā tulyo dehakalāyā avigalanāt tatsamo jāyate. PSV 61: … kiṃ tu dehapātāt pūrṇo mokṣa iti. PSV 83: kaivalyaṃ yāti kalevaraparikṣayāt pradhānādikāryakāraṇavargebhyo ’nyāṃ cidānandaikaghanāṃ turyātītarūpāṃ kevalatāṃ yātīti yāvat. PSV 86: jñānī jīvann eva turīyarūpo dehābhāvāt turyātītarūpa iti. ĪPV 3.2.3: yasya rūpam, sa punarjanmabandhavirahāt dehe ’pi sthite mukta iti vyapadeśayogyaḥ. patite tu śiva ekaghanaḥ iti

kaḥ kuto muktaḥ. bhūtapūrvagatyā tu pramātrantarāpekṣayā muktaḥ śivaḥ, – iti vyavahāraḥ. TĀ 3.272–3: ita eva prabhṛty eṣā jīvanmuktir vicāryate | yatra sūtraṇayāpīyam upāyopeyakalpanā || prāktane tv āhnike kācidbhedasya kalanāpi no | tenānupāye tasmin ko mucyate vā kathaṃ kutaḥ ||

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Sanderson, Alexis (1992), “The Doctrine of Mālinīvijayottaratantra,” in T. Goudriaan, ed., Ritual and Speculation in Early Tantrism: Studies in Honour of André Padoux, Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 281–311. Sanderson, Alexis (2009), “The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period,” in S. Einoo, ed., Genesis and Development of Tantrism, Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, 41–301. Sanderson, Alexis (2012), “The Śaiva Literature,” Journal of Indological Studies 24.25, 1–113. Sen Sharma, Debabrata (1983), The Philosophy of Sādhanā with Special Reference to Trika Philosophy of Kāśmīra, Delhi: Natraja Publishing House. Skoog, Kim (1996), “Is the Jīvanmukti state possible? Rāmānuja’s Perspective,” in A.O. Fort and P. Mumme, eds., Living Liberation in Hindu Thought, Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 63–90. Takashima, Jun (1992), “Diksa in the Tantraloka,” Tōyō-bunka kenkyūjo kiyō [The Memoirs of the Institute of Oriental Culture] 119, 45–84. Torella, Raffaele (2013), The Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā of Utpaladeva with the Author’s Vṛtti: Critical Edition and Annotated Translation, New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Torella, Raffaele (2014), “Utpaladeva’s Lost Vivṛti on the Īśvarapratyabhijñā-kārikā,” Journal of Indian Philosophy 42, 115– 26. Torella, Raffaele (2017), “Śaiva Non-Dualism,” in J. Tuske, ed., Indian Epistemology and Metaphysics, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 183–205. Wallis, Christopher (2014), “To Enter, To Be Entered, To Merge: The Role of Religious Experience in the Traditions of Tantric Shaivism,” PhD dissertation, University of California at Berkeley.

Part Four Hermeneutic Investigations

11 Seeing Oneness Everywhere: Sri Aurobindo’s MysticoImmanent Interpretation of the Īśā Upaniṣad

Ayon Maharaj Three times God laughed at Shankara, first, when he returned to burn the corpse of his mother, again when he commented on the Isha Upanishad and the third time when he stormed about India preaching inaction. — Sri Aurobindo (SABCL 17: 115)1 Since the work of such pioneers as George Thibaut (1890: ix–cxxviii), Max Müller (1900), Paul Deussen ([1897] 1921), and Robert Ernest Hume (1921), numerous scholars have brought the modern historico-philological method to bear on the three scriptural “pillars” of Vedānta (the prasthānatrayī)—namely, the Upaniṣads, the Bhagavad-Gītā, and the Brahmasūtra. Among the three pillars, the Gītā has received by far the most attention.2 Nonetheless, recent scholars have also begun to examine the Upaniṣads in depth, as Signe Cohen (2018a)’s major new edited volume on the Upaniṣads attests. The Īśā Upaniṣad, one of the oldest of all the metrical Upaniṣads, has attracted the attention of both traditional commentators and modern scholars.3 Consisting of a mere eighteen verses, the Īśā Upaniṣad is notable for a variety of reasons, including its paradoxical language, its emphasis on God’s immanence in the world, and its affirmation of life and action. This Upaniṣad taxed the interpretive ingenuity of the famed eighth-century Advaitin Śaṅkara, who tried to show that it actually propounds the unreality of the world and enjoins the renunciation of works for advanced spiritual aspirants. Other commentators such as the Dvaitin Madhva (c. 1238–1317) and the Viśiṣṭ;ādvaitin Veṅkaṭ;anātha (c. 1269–1370; also known as “Vedānta Deśika”) interpreted the Īśā Upaniṣad from their own respective philosophical standpoints. However, as many modern scholars have pointed out, all of these traditional commentators were guilty, to varying degrees, of eisegesis, reading their own views into the text instead of trying to understand the text on its own terms.4 Rejecting such an eisegetic approach, scholars such as Paul Thieme (1965), Arvind Sharma and Katherine K. Young (1990), Richard Jones (1981), and Cohen (2018b) have attempted to determine the original meaning of the Īśā Upaniṣad through careful philological and historical research.5 Curiously, the vast majority of scholars have ignored Sri Aurobindo’s detailed commentary on the Īśā Upaniṣad

(IU), in spite of the fact that it is one of the earliest and most important attempts to interpret the Upaniṣad in a comprehensive and non-eisegetic manner. Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950), a Bengali philosopher-mystic who was raised and educated in England, is well known for the spiritual tradition of “Integral Yoga” he inaugurated and for his voluminous writings on spiritual philosophy, Indian thought and culture, and the ancient Indian scriptures.6 He wrote full-scale commentaries on the Vedas, the Bhagavad-Gītā, and the Īśā and Kena Upaniṣads, and he also translated numerous other Upaniṣads. Sri Aurobindo’s interpretation of the Īśā Upaniṣad, I will argue here, is both hermeneutically sophisticated and highly original and insightful. Section 11.1 delineates the key hermeneutic principles employed by Sri Aurobindo to interpret the Īśā Upaniṣad. Militating against the reductive view that he simply read his own mystical experiences into the Īśā Upaniṣad, I show that he consciously strove to avoid eisegesis by adopting what I call a “hermeneutics of mystical immanence.” For Sri Aurobindo, the key to achieving interpretive immanence is to recognize that the Īśā Upaniṣad is not a philosophical treatise but an inspired poem grounded in spiritual experience. Accordingly, his interpretive approach to the Īśā Upaniṣad combines a sensitivity to its mystico-spiritual dimension with close attention to historical, philological, and textual considerations, such as the Upaniṣad’s Vedic context, its architectonic structure, and the etymological meaning of many of its key terms. Section 11.2 examines Sri Aurobindo’s interpretation of the Īśā Upaniṣad in the context of both traditional commentators and modern scholars. According to Sri Aurobindo, the fundamental principle of the Īśā Upaniṣad is the reconciliation of opposites. This principle, he argues, holds the key to understanding many of the cryptic and apparently contradictory statements in the Īśā Upaniṣad, the interrelation of the individual verses, and the thought structure of the Upaniṣad as a whole. I make the case that Sri Aurobindo’s distinctive reading of the Īśā Upaniṣad in the light of this principle provides new ways of resolving numerous interpretive puzzles and difficulties that have preoccupied commentators for centuries. Section 11.3 draws on the hermeneutic insights of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Francis X. Clooney to set into relief what is most distinctive about Sri Aurobindo’s approach to the Īśā Upaniṣad. Sri Aurobindo, I argue, combines a traditional commitment to the transformative power of scripture with a historico-philological method favored by recent scholars. On this basis, I claim that Sri Aurobindo’s unduly neglected commentary on the Īśā Upaniṣad deserves a prominent place in contemporary scholarly discussions.

11.1 Sri Aurobindo’s Hermeneutics of Mystical Immanence Before examining Sri Aurobindo’s interpretation of the Īśā Upaniṣad, we need to identify the fundamental hermeneutic principles governing his interpretation. Fortunately, Sri Aurobindo himself hinted at, and sometimes even explicitly formulated, these hermeneutic principles in various writings. For present purposes, I will focus on his unpublished essay “The Interpretation of Scripture” (1912; CWSA 12: 33–7), his chapter on the Upaniṣads in A Defence of Indian Culture (first ed., 1921; CWSA 20: 329–41), and his published commentary on the Īśā Upaniṣad itself (1924; CWSA 17: 3–91).7

In “The Interpretation of Scripture,” Sri Aurobindo specifies three “standards of truth” for interpreting scriptural texts accurately: the known, the knower, and knowledge. He elaborates the first standard as follows: The known is the text itself that we seek to interpret. We must be sure we have the right word, not an emendation to suit the exigency of some individual or sectarian opinion; the right etymology and shade of meaning, not one that is traditional or forced to serve the ends of a commentator; the right spirit in the sense, not an imported or too narrow or too e