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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

There is no permanent entity as perceiver or knower


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style="text-align: justify;"> The Yogacaras or idealistic Buddhists take their cue from the above-mentioned Sautrantika Buddhists, and say that since we can come into touch with knowledge and knowledge alone, what is the use of admitting an external world of objects as the data of sensation determining our knowledge? You say that sensations are copies of the external world, but why should you say that they copy, and not that they alone exist? We never come into touch with objects in themselves; these can only be grasped by us simultaneously with knowledge of them, they must therefore be the same as knowledge (_sahopalambhaniyamat abhedo nilataddhiyo@h_); for it is in and through knowledge that external objects can appear to us, and without knowledge we are not in touch with the so-called external objects. So it is knowledge which is self-apparent in itself, that projects itself in such a manner as to appear as referring to other external objects. We all acknowledge that in dreams there are no external objects, but even there we have knowledge. The question why then if there are no external objects, there should be so much diversity in the forms of knowledge, is not better solved by the assumption of an external world; for in such an assumption, the external objects have to be admitted as possessing the infinitely diverse powers of diversely affecting and determining our knowledge; that being so, it may rather be said that in the beginningless series of flowing knowledge, preceding
knowledge-moments by virtue of their inherent specific qualities determine the succeeding knowledge-moments. Thus knowledge alone exists; the projection of an external word is an illusion of knowledge brought about by beginningless potencies of desire (_vasana_) associated with it. The preceding knowledge determines the succeeding one and that another and so on. Knowledge, pleasure, pain, etc. are not qualities requiring a permanent entity as soul in which they may inhere, but are the various forms in which knowledge appears. Even the cognition, "I perceive a blue thing," is but a form of knowledge, and this is often erroneously interpreted as referring to a permanent knower. Though the cognitions are all passing and momentary, yet so long as the series continues to be the same, as in the case of one person, say Devadatta, the phenomena of memory, recognition, etc. can happen in the succeeding moments, for these are evidently illusory cognitions, so far as they refer to the permanence of the objects

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believed to have been perceived before, for things or knowledge-moments, whatever they may be, are destroyed the next moment after their birth. There is no permanent entity as perceiver or knower, but the knowledge-moments are at once the knowledge, the knower and the known. This thoroughgoing idealism brushes off all references to an objective field of experience, interprets the verdict of knowledge as involving a knower and the known as mere illusory appearance, and considers the flow of knowledge as a self-determining series in successive objective forms as the only truth. The Hindu schools of thought, Nyaya, Sa@mkhya, and the Mima@msa, accept the duality of soul and matter, and attempt to explain the relation between the two. With the Hindu writers it was not the practical utility of knowledge that was the only important thing, but the nature of knowledge and the manner in which it came into being were also enquired after and considered important.

Prama@na is defined by Nyaya as the collocation of instruments by which unerring and indubitable knowledge comes into being. The collocation of instruments which brings about definite knowledge consists partly of consciousness (_bodha_) and partly of material factors (_bodhabodhasvabhava_). Thus in perception the proper contact of the visual sense with the object (e.g. jug) first brings about a non-intelligent, non-apprehensible indeterminate consciousness (nirvikalpa) as the jugness (gha@tatva) and this later on combining with the remaining other collocations of sense-contact etc. produces the determinate consciousness: this is a jug. The existence of this indeterminate state of consciousness as a factor in bringing about the determinate consciousness, cannot of course be perceived, but its existence can be inferred from the fact that if the perceiver were not already in possession of the qualifying factor (_vis'e@sanajnana_ as jugness) he could not have comprehended the qualified object (_vis'i@s@tabuddhi_} the jug (i.e. the object which possesses jugness). In inference (_anuma@na_) knowledge of the li@nga takes part, and in upamana the sight of similarity with other material conglomerations. In the case of the Buddhists knowledge itself was regarded as prama@na; even by those who admitted the existence of the objective world, right knowledge was called prama@na, because it was of the same form as the external objects it represented, and it was by the form of the knowledge (e.g. blue) that we could apprehend that the


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