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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

The world subsists in the atman through maya


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here that Gau@dapada the teacher of S'a@nkara's teacher Govinda worked out a system with the help of the maya doctrine. The Upani@sads are permeated with the spirit of an earnest enquiry after absolute truth. They do not pay any attention towards explaining the world-appearance or enquiring into its relations with absolute truth. Gau@dapada asserts clearly and probably for the first time among Hindu thinkers, that the world does not exist in reality, that it is maya, and not reality. When the highest truth is realized maya is not removed, for it is not a thing, but the whole world-illusion is dissolved into its own airy nothing never to recur again. It was Gau@dapada who compared the world-appearance with dream appearances, and held that objects seen in the waking world are unreal, because they are capable of being seen like objects seen in a dream, which are false and unreal. The atman says Gau@dapada is at once the cognizer and the cognized, the world subsists in the atman through maya. As atman alone is real and all duality an illusion, it necessarily follows that all experience is also illusory. S'a@nkara expounded this doctrine in his elaborate commentaries on the Upani@sads and the Brahma-sutra, but he seems to me to have done little more than making explicit the doctrine of maya. Some of his followers however examined and thought over the concept of maya and brought out in bold relief its character as the indefinable thereby substantially contributing to the development
of the Vedanta philosophy.

Vedanta theory of Perception and Inference [Footnote ref 1].

Prama@na is the means that leads to right knowledge. If memory is intended to be excluded from the definition then

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[Footnote 1: Dharmarajadhvarindra and his son Ramak@r@s@na worked out a complete scheme of the theory of Vedantic perception and inference. This is in complete agreement with the general Vedanta metaphysics. The early Vedantists were more interested in demonstrating the illusory nature of the world of appearance, and did not work out a logical theory. It may be incidentally mentioned that in the theory of inference as worked out by Dharmarajadhvarindra he was largely indebted to the Mimam@sa school of thought. In recognizing arthapatti, upamana s'abda and anupalabdhi also Dharmarajadhvarindra accepted the Mimam@sa view. The Vedantins, previous to Dharmarajadhvarindra, had also tacitly followed the Mimam@sa in these matters.]

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prama@na is to be defined as the means that leads to such right knowledge as has not already been acquired. Right knowledge (_prama_) in Vedanta is the knowledge of an object which has not been found contradicted (_abadhitarthavi@sayajnanatva_). Except when specially expressed otherwise, prama is generally considered as being excludent of memory and applies to previously unacquired (_anadhigata_) and uncontradicted knowledge. Objections are sometimes raised that when we are looking at a thing for a few minutes, the perception of the thing in all the successive moments after the first refers to the image of the thing acquired in the previous moments. To this the reply is that the Vedanta considers that so long as a different mental state does not arise, any mental state is not to be considered as momentary but as remaining ever the same. So long as we continue to perceive one thing there is no reason to suppose that there has been a series of mental states. So there is no question as to the knowledge of the succeeding moments being referred to the knowledge of the preceding moments, for so long as any mental state has any one thing for its object it is to be considered as having remained unchanged all through the series of moments. There is of course this difference between the same percept of a previous and a later moment following in succession, that fresh elements of time are being perceived as prior and later, though the content of the mental state so far as the object is concerned remains unchanged. This time element is perceived by the senses though the content of the mental state may remain undisturbed. When I see the same book for two seconds, my mental state representing the book is not changed every second, and hence there can be no _such supposition_ that I am having separate mental states in succession each of which is a repetition of the previous one, for so long as the general content of the mental state remains the same there is no reason for supposing that there has been any change in the mental state. The mental state thus remains the same so long as the content is not changed, but though it remains the same it can note the change in the time elements as extraneous


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