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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

It must be considered as real and not illusory


Objective phenomena as such

have reality as their basis, whereas the expression of illumination of them as states of knowledge is made through the _cit_ being manifested through the mental mould or states. Without the v@rtti there is no illuminating knowledge. Phenomenal creations are there in the world moving about as shadowy forms on the unchangeable basis of one cit or reality, but this basis, this light of reality, can only manifest these forms when the veil of nescience covering them is temporarily removed by their coming in touch with a mental mould or mind-modification (_v@rtti_). It is sometimes said that since all illumination of knowledge must be through the mental states there is no other entity of pure consciousness apart from what is manifested through the states. This Vedanta does not admit, for it holds that it is necessary that before the operation of the mental states can begin to interpret reality, reality must already be there and this reality is nothing but pure consciousness. Had there been no reality apart from the manifesting states of knowledge, the validity of knowledge would also cease; so it has to be admitted that there is the one eternal self-luminous reality untouched by the characteristics of the mental states, which are material and suffer origination and destruction. It is this self-luminous consciousness that seems to assume diverse forms in connection with diverse kinds of associations or limitations (_upadhi_). It manifests _ajnana_ (nescience) and hence does not by itself
remove the ajnana, except when it is reflected through any specific kind of v@rtti. There is of course no difference, no inner and outer varieties between the reality, the pure consciousness which is the essence, the basis and the ground of all phenomenal appearances of the objective world, and the consciousness that manifests itself through the mental states. There is only one identical pure consciousness or reality, which is at once the basis of the phenomena as well, is their interpreter by a reflection through the mental states or v@rttis.

The phenomena or objects called the drs'ya can only be determined in their various forms and manifestations but not as to their ultimate reality; there is no existence as an entity of any relation such as sa@myoga (contact) or samavaya (inherence)

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between them and the pure consciousness called the d@rk; for the truth is this, that the d@rk (perceiver) and the d@rs'ya (perceived) have one identical reality; the forms of phenomena are but illusory creations on it.

It is sometimes objected that in the ordinary psychological illusion such as "this is silver," the knowledge of "this" as a thing is only of a general and indefinite nature, for it is perceived as a thing but its special characteristics as a conch-shell are not noticed, and thus the illusion is possible. But in Brahman or pure consciousness there are neither definite nor indefinite characteristics of any kind, and hence it cannot be the ground of any illusion as the piece of conch-shell perceived indefinitely as a mere "this" can be. The answer of Vedanta is that when the Brahman stands as the ground (_adhi@s@thana_) of the world-appearance its characteristic as sat or real only is manifested, whereas its special character as pure and infinite bliss is never noticed; or rather it may be said that the illusion of world-appearance is possible because the Brahman in its true and correct nature is never revealed to us in our objective consciousness; when I say "the jug is," the "isness," or "being," does not shine in its purity, but only as a characteristic of the jug-form, and this is the root of the illusion. In all our experiences only the aspect of Brahman as real shines forth in association with the manifold objects, and therefore the Brahman in its true nature being unknown the illusion is made possible. It is again objected that since the world-appearance can serve all practical purposes, it must be considered as real and not illusory. But the Vedanta points out that even by illusory perceptions practical effects are seen to take place; the illusory perception of a snake in a rope causes all the fear that a real snake could do; even in dreams we feel happy and sad, and dreams may be so bad as to affect or incapacitate the actual physical functions and organs of a man. So it is that the past impressions imbedded in us continuing from beginningless time are sufficient to account for our illusory notions, just as the impressions produced in actual waking life account for the dream creations. According to the good or bad deeds that a man has done in previous lives and according to the impressions or potencies (_sa@mskara_) of his past lives each man has a particular kind of world-experience for himself and the impressions of one cannot affect the formation of the illusory experience of the other. But


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