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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Prabhakara ignored this difference


Prabhakara

rejected the Sa@mkhya conception of a dual element in consciousness as involving a transcendent intelligence (_cit_) and a material part, the buddhi; but it regarded consciousness as an unique thing which by itself in one flash represented both the knower and the known. The validity of knowledge did not depend upon its faithfulness in reproducing or indicating (_pradars'akatva_) external objects, but upon the force that all direct apprehension (_anubhuti_) has of prompting us to action in the external world; knowledge is thus a complete and independent unit in all its self-revealing aspects. But what the knowledge was in itself apart from its self-revealing character Prabhakara did not enquire.

Kumarila declared that jnana (knowledge) was a movement brought about by the activity of the self which resulted in producing consciousness (_jnatata_) of objective things. Jnana itself cannot be perceived, but can only be inferred as the movement necessary for producing the jnatata or consciousness of things. Movement with Kumarila was not a mere atomic vibration, but was a non-sensuous transcendent operation of which vibration

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[Footnote 1: Sa@mkhya considered nirvikalpa as the dim knowledge of the first moment of consciousness, which, when it became clear at the next moment, was called savikalpa.]

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was sometimes the result. Jnana was a movement and not the result of causal operation as Nyaya supposed. Nyaya would not also admit any movement on the part of the self, but it would hold that when the self is possessed of certain qualities, such as desire, etc., it becomes an instrument for the accomplishment of a physical movement. Kumarila accords the same self-validity to knowledge that Prabhakara gives. Later knowledge by experience is not endowed with any special quality which should decide as to the validity of the knowledge of the previous movement. For what is called sa@mvadi or later testimony of experience is but later knowledge and nothing more [Footnote ref 1]. The self is not revealed in the knowledge of external objects, but we can know it by a mental perception of self-consciousness. It is the movement of this self in presence of certain collocating circumstances leading to cognition of things that is called jnana [Footnote ref 2]. Here Kumarila distinguishes knowledge as movement from knowledge as objective consciousness. Knowledge as movement was beyond sense perception and could only be inferred.

The idealistic tendency of Vijnanavada Buddhism, Sa@mkhya, and Mima@msa was manifest in its attempt at establishing the unique character of knowledge as being that with which alone we are in touch. But Vijnanavada denied the external world, and thereby did violence to the testimony of knowledge. Sa@mkhya admitted the external world but created a gulf between the content of knowledge and pure intelligence; Prabhakara ignored this difference, and was satisfied with the introspective assertion that knowledge was such a unique thing that it revealed with itself, the knower and the known, Kumarila however admitted a transcendent element of movement as being the cause of our objective consciousness, but regarded this as being separate from self. But the question remained unsolved as to why, in spite of the unique character of knowledge, knowledge could relate itself to the world of objects, how far the world of external objects or of knowledge could be regarded as absolutely true. Hitherto judgments were only relative, either referring to one's being prompted to the objective world, to the faithfulness of the representation of objects, the suitability of fulfilling our requirements, or to verification by later


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