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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Prabhakara did not consider the self to be self luminous


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style="text-align: justify;">but by causing such an appearance that the self-luminous cit seems so to behave that we seem to think that it is not or it does not shine (_nasti na prakas'ate iti vyavahara@h_) or rather there is no appearance of its shining or luminosity. To say that Brahman is hidden by the ajnana means nothing more than this, that it is such {_tadyogyata_) that the ajnana can so relate itself with it that it appears to be hidden as in the state of deep sleep and other states of ajnana-consciousness in experience. Ajnana is thus considered to have both its locus and object in the pure cit. It is opposed to the states of consciousness, for these at once dispel it. The action of this ajn@ana is thus on the light of the reality which it obstructs for us, so long as the obstruction is not dissolved by the states of consciousness. This obstruction of the cit is not only with regard to its character as pure limitless consciousness but also with regard to its character as pure and infinite bliss; so it is that though we do not experience the indefinite in our pleasurable feelings, yet its presence as obstructing the pure cit is indicated by the fact that the full infinite bliss constituting the essence of Brahman is obstructed; and as a result of that there is only an incomplete manifestation of the bliss in our phenomenal experiences of pleasure. The ajnana is one, but it seems to obstruct the pure cit in various aspects or modes, with regard to which it may be said that
the ajnana has many states as constituting the individual experiences of the indefinite with reference to the diverse individual objects of experience. These states of ajnana are technically called tulajnana or avasthajnana. Any state of consciousness (v@rttijnana) removes a manifestation of the ajnana as tulajnana and reveals itself as the knowledge of an object.

The most important action of this ajnana as obstructing the pure cit, and as creating an illusory phenomenon is demonstrated in the notion of the ego or aha@mkara. This notion of aha@mkara is a union of the true self, the pure consciousness and other associations, such as the body, the continued past experiences, etc.; it is the self-luminous characterless Brahman that is found obstructed in the notion of the ego as the repository of a thousand limitations, characters, and associations. This illusory creation of the notion of the ego runs on from beginningless time, each set of previous false impositions determining the succeeding set of impositions and so on. This blending of the unreal associations held up in the mind (_anta@hkara@na_) with the real, the false with

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the true, that is at the root of illusion. It is the anta@hkara@na taken as the self-luminous self that reflects itself in the cit as the notion of the ego. Just as when we say that the iron ball (red hot) burns, there are two entities of the ball and the fire fused into one, so, here also when I say "I perceive", there are two distinct elements of the self, as consciousness and the mind or antahkarana fused into one. The part or aspect associated with sorrow, materiality, and changefulness represents the anta@hkara@na, whereas that which appears as the unchangeable perceiving consciousness is the self. Thus the notion of ego contains two parts, one real and other unreal.

We remember that this is distinctly that which Prabhakara sought to repudiate. Prabhakara did not consider the self to be self-luminous, and held that such is the threefold nature of thought (_tripu@ti_), that it at once reveals the knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the self. He further said, that the analogy of the red-hot iron ball did not hold, for the iron ball and the fire are separately experienced, but the self and the anta@hkara@na are never separately experienced, and we can never say that these two are really different, and only have an illusory appearance of a seeming unity. Perception (_anubhava_) is like a light which illuminates both the object and the self, and like it does not require the assistance of anything else for the fulfilment of its purpose. But the Vedanta objects to this saying that according to Prabhakara's supposition, it is impossible to discover any relation between the self and the knowledge. If knowledge can be regarded as revealing itself, the self may as well be held to be self-luminous; the self and the knowledge are indeed one and the same. Kumarila thinks this thought (_anubhava_), to be a movement, Nyaya and Prabhakara as a quality of the self [Footnote ref 1]. But if it was a movement like other movements, it could not affect itself as illumination. If it were a substance and atomic in size, it would only manifest a small portion of a thing, if all pervasive, then it would illuminate everything, if of medium size, it would depend on its parts for its own


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