4. Object of Knowledge (Prameya) | Śrī Vaishnavism

4. Object of Knowledge (Prameya)

Matter (Prakṛti)

After the treatment of Pramāṇa (or Means of knowledge), Prameya or Object of knowledge will be treated. Prameya (literally) means what is well (pro), measured (meya).

It (Object) is twofold:

(1) Dravya or Substance, and
(2) A-dravya or Non-Substance.

Substance is the Upādāna or Substrate, Base or Receptacle;
and the Receptacle is the Abode of States or Modes (Avasthāśraya).

How, it may be asked, is this 2-fold division: Substance and Non-Substance to be maintained,

when other schools enumerate a 6-fold division: - Dravya or Substance, Guṇa or Quality, Karma or action, Sāmānya or Genus etc.?

We reply:

To consider Karma or Action (for example), as comprised of Ut-kṣepaṇa or Throwing up, Apa-kṣepaṇa or Throwing down, Ākuñcana or Contraction, Prasāraṇa or Expansion, and Gamana or Movement, is cumbrous, for it is reducible to the simple proposition:

Action (or Energy) is what is inherent with motion.” And this may be shown as caused by conjunction (Saṁyoga).

As to Sāmānya, Genus or Generality, such (a category) is redundant by the fact that the form (of any substance) is itself the class (Jāti).

One Samavāya or Inhesion (or Co-inherence), admitted in another Inhesion, leads to infinite regress. Hence it is resolvable into conjunction (or quality of two things conjoined).

It is also cumbrous to admit (another Category): Viśeṣa or Particularity, in order to account for such differences of attributes as those of Atomicity (Aṇutva) and Infinitude (Vibhutva), characterising (respectively) Soul (Jīva) and God (Īśvara).

Hence, as distinct (Categories), Action (Karma), Generality (Sāmānya), Particularity (Viśeṣa) and Inhesion (Samavāya) are not admitted,

the twofold Division: Substance (Dravya), and Non-Substance (A-dravya), answers well.

By this, it is also refuted that Abhāva (Non-existence) is a seventh Category; for Non-existence always implies its correlative, Existence (Bhāva).

Prāg-abhāva or antecedent Non-existence is previous condition;
Dhvaṁsa or (following) destruction is the after-condition.

Atyaṅta-abhāva or Absolute Non-existence, and Anyonya-abhāva or Mutual Non-existence, (simply) refer to particular features in a Substance (Dharmī). Hence the inclusion of this (category, viz., Abhāva) under (Pratyakṣa or) Perception.

It was said that Dravya (Substance) is the Upādāna (or Abode of States: Avasthāśraya).

The general definition also holds good that Substance is the Abode of Attributes (Guṇa- āśraya).

The Substances (then) are Six: -

(1) Prakṛti or Matter,
(2) Kāla or Time,
(3) Sudda-sattva or Pure Matter,
(4) Dharma-bhūta -Jñāna or attributive consciousness,
(5) Jīva or Soul, and
(6) Īśvara or God.

These (Six Substances) are divisible into 2 classes:

(1) Jaḍa or Inert, and
(2) A-jaḍa or non-inert (i.e., Self-luminous).

The nature of the “Inert” is described as that which is devoid of Non-mixed Matter.  And this is of two kinds:

(1) Prakṛti or (objective) Matter, and
(2) Kāla or Time.

Prakṛti or (Objective or Mixed) Matter is the Abode of the Three Guṇas or Properties viz., Sattva (Light), Rājas (Motive) and Tamas (Dark).

It is Nitya or Eternal, called by such names as Akṣara or the Imperishable, Avidya or the Nescient, Māyā or the Illusory etc.

By reason of oddness produced in it (Matter) by the will of God (Bhagavān), it acquires a kinetic (Kāryonmukha) state, which is called Avyakta or Unmanifest.

From this, Mahān or “Great” is produced. Mahān is in a threefold state, characterised by Sattva, Rājas and Tamas.

From Mahat, Ahaṁkāra or the “Egotism” is generated. This also is in three divisions:

Sāttvic Ahaṁkāra, Rājasa Ahaṁkāra and Tāmasa Ahaṁkāra.

These are otherwise also named as Vaikārika, Taijasa and Bhūtādi (respectively).

Being known as Vaikārika or the Modifying, the Sāttvic Ahaṁkāra aided by the Taijasa, named Rājasa Ahaṁkāra, engenders the 11 Iṅdriyas or Senses.

The definition of Sense is that which has for its material basis the Sāttvic Ahaṁkāra. The Sense is twofold, the Jñānendriya or Knowledge-sense, and Karmendriya or Action-sense.

The Knowledge-sense is that by which knowledge is transmitted. It is 6-fold:

(1) Manas or mind,
(2) hearing,
(3) seeing,
(4) smelling
(5) tasting and
(6) touch.

The Mind is that which causes memory (smṛti) etc. This resides in the region of the heart. It is variously called by the terms Buddhi or Intelligence, Ahaṁkāra or the ‘Egotism’, Citta or Recollection etc. And it is the Cause of Bondage (Bandha) and Deliverance (Moksha).

Of the (other) Five:

hearing etc., that which has the power of apprehending sound only, is the Sense of Hearing, which resides in the cavity of the Ear - the Eye in the case of serpents etc.

That which has the power of apprehending colour only, is the Sense of Seeing which resides in the Eye.

That which has the power of apprehending Odour only, is the Sense of Smelling which resides in the nasal extremity - the trunk in the elephant etc.

That which has the power of apprehending Taste only, is the Sense of Tasting which resides at the tip of the tongue.

That which has the power of apprehending Touch only, is the Sense of Touch which resides all over the body. Touch, not (keenly) felt in nails, teeth, hair etc., is accounted for by degrees of the low vitality of those places.

The description of the Senses of Hearing etc., as Elemental (Bhautika) is figurative by virtue of the Elements affording them gratification. Of these (senses) some function by (mediate) association, and some by (immediate) contact with objects. So states old tradition.

The facility to act - any one out of them such as speaking etc., - characterises generally the Karmendriya or Action-Sense. This (Action- Sense) is established in a fivefold manner:

(1) Speaking,
(2) Grasping,
(3) Moving,
(4) Evacuating and
(5) Generating.

That which enables articulation of letters is the Sense of Speaking. This abides in 8 places, viz., heart, throat, tip of tongue, palate, teeth, lip, nose and head., In the case of mutes etc., the defect of Destiny (or merit) accounts for its absence.

That which enables manual work is the Sense of Grasping. This resides at the finger-tips of the human etc., species.

That which enables to move is the Sense of Moving. This resides in the feet of human and other species. In the case of serpents and birds etc., it resides in the breast, wings etc.

That which enables evacuation etc., is the Sense of Evacuation. This resides in the several organs (Pāyu) set apart (for the purpose).

That which causes a specific joy is the Sense of Generation. This resides in the organ of generation (Upastha) etc.

These Senses are minute. These accompany the Soul (Jīva) in its migrations to other bodies and other worlds etc.

In the state of emancipation (mukti), they cannot accompany to the immaterial regions; hence their abidance here till the Period of Dissolution; or they are re-appropriated by others who stand in need of them.

That the Senses of Action perish with the death of the body is an opinion contrary to Bhāshya etc.; hence inadmissible.

The opposite schools are also controverted, therefore, which maintain a male sense, a female sense, a single sense: the sense of Touch only etc.

From the Tamasā Ahaṁkāra, called Bhūtādi fostered by Rājasa Ahaṁkāra, spring the

(1) 5 Subtle Elements (Tanmātras), Sound etc., and
(2) 5 Elements (Bhūtas), Ether etc.

The Subtle Elements are the Subtle Substances immediately connected with the (gross) Elements; and they are the base (of the latter). Elements are the Substrata in which the objective Sound etc., inhere

The Subtle Elements are five: -

(1) Sound-Subtle Element,
(2) Touch-Subtle Element,
(3) Colour-Subtle Element,
(4) Taste- Subtle Element,
(5) Odour-Subtle Element

The Elements are also five: -

(1) Ether,
(2) Air,
(3) Fire,
(4) Water,
(5) Earth.

The Sound-Subtle Element is the compound substance intervenient to Tamasā Ahaṁkāra and Ether (Ākāśa), like the modification between milk and curds. From this (Subtle Element) springs Ether.

The properties of Ether are defined in such terms as: -

(1) Imperceptible to touch, is the Substrate for the quality Sound,
(2) Affording gratification to the Organ of hearing (Ear),
(3) Affording room (extension).

It (Ether) is characterised by Sound only. It is perceptible according to the familiar saying: “Sky is blue”. It has colour and parts by reason of the 5-fold Process (Pañcī- karaṇa-Prakriyā). By this (reasoning), the opinion that Ether is non-generate is disproved.

A distinct (Category such as) Direction (Dik) needs no creation, inasmuch as such Direction as East etc., is derivable from the associations of the motions of the sun with the sky (Ākāśa). The creation of Direction is to be understood like the creation of Sky etc.

From Ether springs the Touch-Subtle Element. This Touch-Subtle Element is the compound Substance occupying the intermediate state between Ether and Air. From it Air springs.

The properties of Air are defined in such terms as: -

(1)  Perceptible everywhere to touch, absent of colour,
(2)  The Substance perceptible to the Sense of Touch as we possess it,
(3) Neither warm nor cold to touch, absent of colour.

This Air is diverse. It receives the designation of cold, warm, fragrant etc., by virtue of its (Air’s) contact with water, heat, flower etc., (respectively). It is helpful to the Sense of Touch by its rendering it gratification. Its characteristics are Sound and Touch. And in its function of supporting the body, it is called Prāṇa or Life (Vital Air).

This (Prāṇa or Life) is fivefold:

(1) Prāṇa
(2) Apāna,
(3) Vyāna,
(4) Udāna and
(5) Samāna.

Prāṇa (resides) in the heart, Apāna in the anus, Vyāna pervades the body, Udāna (is) in the throat, and Samāna in the regions of the navel.

This law holds in the case of the Movables (Jaṅgama). In the case of the Immovables (Sthāvara), the Life-association is slender. The contention that Air is proved by Inference is confuted by the fact that it is perceptible to Touch.

The Colour-Subtle-Element is the compounded substance intervenient to Air and Fire. From that springs Fire.

The definition of Fire is

(1)  Warmth to touch,
(2)  Lustrous colouredness.

It causes outside, maturing etc., by means of Fire and Sun, and inside, as fire in the stomach, is designated as Vaiśvānara: Except in the case of owls etc., all ocular knowledge is aided by means of light.

This (Fire-Element) is fourfold:

(1) Bhauma (terrestrial),
(2) Divya (celestial),
(3) Audarya (bodily),
(4) Ākaraja  (mineral).

That which is in the earthy fuel is Bhauma (terrestrial) - the flame etc.

That which is of water only is Divya (celestial)- - the Sun etc.

That which is in earth and water combined is Audarya (bodily), - the stomach-fire etc.

Fuel- less fire is Ākaraja (mineral) - gold etc. The absence of warmth in the touch of gold (etc.,) is due to its association with other substances.

There is also a general classification as

(1) Effulgence (Prabhā) and
(2) the Effulgent (Prabhāvān).

Effulgence is a Fire-species which is subject to contraction or expansion of radiance caused by the presence or absence of environment (respectively).

This Effulgence is connate with the Effulgent, and disappears with its disappearance.

It is of the substance, as also of the quality and made up of parts. Hence the contention for its purely qualitative character is refuted. Characterised by Effulgence is the Effulgent.

That this (Fire-Element) is fourfold has already been explained. It is possessed of the qualities of Sound, Touch and Colour.

The Taste-Subtle-Element is the compounded Substance intervenient to Fire and Water. From that springs Water. Its definition is given in such terms as:

(1)  Coldness to touch,
(2)  Odourless and Tasteful.

Its nature being white, sweet and cold, the differences of Colour, Taste, and Touch are adventitious qualities ensuing on contact with extrinsic circumstances.

This (Water) is manifold as of the ocean, the river ete. It is characterised by Sound, Touch, Colour and Taste. By it, is sprinkling, lumping etc., (done).

The Odour-Subtle-Element is the compounded Substance which is intervenient to Water and Earth. Form it springs Earth. Its definition is given in such terms as: -

(1)  All-odorous,
(2)  Odorous, and neither warm nor cold to touch.

It is redolent, sweet, dark-coloured, and neither warm nor cold to touch. Its modifications bring about all kinds of Colour, Odour and Taste.

Its use is displayed by its affording gratification to mind and nose.
Its modifications assume the character of mud, stone, food, herbs etc.
It is characterised by the qualities: Sound, Touch, Colour, Taste and Odour.

It is the means of support. Darkness is included in Earth, for it is its quality, or a particular state of it. Hence the opinion that it is merely the absence of light and not a substance etc., is rebutted.

Consequent on the 5-fold Process (Pañcī-karaṇa-Prakriyā), all the qualities (Sound etc.,) are to be found in all the Elements.

God (Bhagavān) creates the Elements by the 5-fold Process, divides each Element into two portions, and reserving one portion, divides the other portion into four parts. He distributes these four parts, one for each of the other four Elements.

When this is done with regard to all the (Five) Elements, each Element retains its own moiety, the other moiety being compounded of the parts of the other Elements.

By reason of its own component (moiety) being greater, and of the other components being smaller, it is designated by the terms: Earth etc.

The teaching of the 3-fold Process in the Vedas means by implication the 5-fold Process.

Others posit a 7-fold Process by combining the Elements with (the principles) Mahat and Ahaṁkāra.

Of these (Principles of Matter), 24 in number, the 5 Elements, Prakṛti (Primal Matter), Mahat and Ahaṁkāra, organise the Body (Śarīra).

The 11 Senses, enumerated separately - a set for each Soul (Purusha) -  possess each body, like gems set in a jewel.

One definition of Body is thus-wise given:

It is a Substance in inseparable relation with the Soul, to which it is bound as the Sustained (Ādheya), Ordained (Vidheya) and Disposed (Śeṣa).

Each of these: Sustained, Ordained and Disposed may be considered also as a 3-fold distinctive definition.

A neutral (taṭastha) definition is that it is a Substance distinct from God (Īśvara) and His knowledge (Jñāna). Hence, the definitions attempted by others are discarded, such as: -

(1) The abode of action is Body,
(2) The abode of Senses is Body,
(3) The house of enjoyment is Body,
(4) The aggregate of the limbs: head, hands, feet etc., is Body; etc.

The Body is twofold: Eternal and Non- Eternal.

The Eternal is the Body of God (Īśvara) the pure Abode etc., of the Three- Propertied Substance, Time and Soul; and the natural Body assuming the shapes of the Garuḍa, Ādi-Śeṣa, etc.: of the Eternal-celestials (Nitya-Sūrīs).

The Non-Eternal is twofold:

1. Non-Karma-made and
2. Karma-made (Karma- kṛta).

The First constitutes the forms of God (Īśvara), Mahat etc., and likewise forms assumed at will by Ananta, Garuda Etc., (Nitya-Sūrīs), the Freed (Mukta) and God.

The Karma- made (body) is also twofold:

(1) will-prompted Karma-made, and
(2) exclusively Karma-made.

The former is as in the case of great souls like Saubhari.

For others, the other. Again there is a twofold general classification:

(1) Immovable and
(2) Movable.

The Immovable are the rocks, trees, shrubs etc.

The Movable is fourfold: -

(1) Celestial (Deva),
(2) Human (Manuṣya),
(3) Animal (Tiryaka) and
(4) Hellish (Nāraka).

A division also is based upon the modes of birth:

(1) seed-born,
(2) sweat-born,
(3) egg-born (oviparous) and
(4) womb-born (viviparous).

Bodies born by no mode also exist.

Thus the Mundane Egg (Brahmāṇḍa) is generated by the 5-fold Process.

The creation prior to that of the Egg is the General (Samaṣṭi) Creation, and after it is the Special (Vyaṣṭi) creation.

Creation or birth, of Mahat etc., means a change of state simply, as may be illustrated by the palm-leaf changing into the ear-ring, or as (is evident) in such expression as: army, forest, etc.

The distinctions made in practice between Cause and Effect is consequent on a particular relation which holds between an antecedent and a following state.

Naming as a new category (tattva) is contingent on the abandonment of a previous, and assumption of an after, mutation. This (process of naming) is continued down to (the category) Earth.

In this manner, the 24 Categorical Divisions (of Prakṛti) consisting of

- Primal Matter,
- Mahat,
- Ahaṁkāra,
- the 11 Senses,
- the 5 Subtle Elements and
- the 5 (Gross) Elements,

have been described.

Hence those Non-Vedics (Bāhyas) and Pāśupatas (Śaivas) who predicate a greater or a lesser number of Categories are disregarded, as well as those who plead for the atomic theory (of the Universe).

The Primordial Matter etc., constitute the Objects (Bhogya), Instruments (Bhog-opa-karaṇa) and the Habitat (Bhoga-sthāna) of enjoyment for both God (Īśvara) and Soul (Jīva).

The Objects are the group of things, of sound etc.

The Instruments are those of the Eye etc.

The Habitat consists of the Mundane Egg (Brahmāṇḍa), composed of the 14 Spheres.

The Mundane Egg (Brahmāṇḍa) is likened to a wood-apple, a result of the 5-fold Elements and of Prārabdha (or the sum of the Karmic forces set going by the countless souls whose destiny is linked with this particular Egg or System of world-process).

(The description of it is) thus: -

Bhū is like the lotus. The Meru is like the pericarp.

To the South of Meru are (situate) the Varṣas: Bhārata, Kimpuruṣa, and Hari.
To the North are the Varṣas: Ramyaka, Hiraṇyaka and Meru.
To the East is the Varṣā Bhadrāśva.
To the West is the Varṣā Ketumāla.
In the Centre is the Īlāvrita.

Composed of these Nine Varṣas is the Jambū-Dvīpa, a lac of yojanas in extent, enclosed by the Salt-Sea of equal extent.

This Sea is begirt by the Plakṣa-Dvīpa of double that extent composed of 7 Varṣas. This is (enclosed) by the Sugarcane-juice Sea (Ikṣu).

This Sea by the Śalmalī-Dvīpa. This again by the Liquor-Sea.
This by the Kuśa-Dvīpa. This by the Ghee-Sea.
This by the Krauñca-Dvīpa. This by the Curds-Sea.
This again by the Śāka-Dvīpa. This again by the Milk-Sea.

This is surrounded by the annular Puṣkara- Dvīpa, made up of two Varṣas and containing the mountain Mānasottara. This by Pure- Water-Sea.

Each following Dvīpa is to be considered as double (in extent of the preceding).

The Plakṣa etc., Dvīpas contain Seven Varṣas.

This of the Seven Varṣas is encircled by the Land of Gold, double its extent.

The Land of Gold, by the Mountain Lokāloka.

This Mountain by Tamas (Darkness?). Tamas by Uterine Waters.

Then the (spherical) Egg-Shell.

Located below Bhū as thus (described), are the Seven Lokas or Realms named:

(1) Atala,
(2) Vitala,
(3) Sutala,
(4) Talātala,
(5) Mahātala,
(6) Rasātala,
(7) Pāṭala.

Below (these) are the Underworlds (Nārakas). They are Raurava and others, together being 21, - regions (allotted) for the sufferings of the sinful.

Beyond is (again) Uterine waters enclosed by egg-shell.

A lac of yojanas beyond Bhū is the Sun- Sphere. This is Bhuvar-Loka.
Beyond, is the Moon-Sphere. Beyond, the Star-Sphere.
Beyond, the Mercury-and Venus-Spheres.
Beyond, the Mars-, Jupiter-, Saturn-, and the Seven-Ṛishi-Spheres.
Beyond (comes) the Dhruva-Loka (North Pole).

All this (i. e., from the Sun-Sphere up) is the (Svar-Loka).

Beyond 14 lacs (of yojanas), the Mahar-loka is a crore of yojanas in extent
Double that is Jana- loka. Quadruple that is Tapo-loka.
Beyond is Satya-Loka, ten crores in extent.
Beyond (again come) Tamas, Uterine Waters and the Egg-shell.

Thus the extent of Bhū is stated to be 50 crores of yojanas, in breadth and depth.

The assertion that its extent is 100 crores of yojanas is because of the differences in measure-standards.

The Mundane Egg- Shell is a crore of yojanas in extent. Ten times this is the environment round the Egg (=a Worlds’ System).

Eggs of this description without number are like water-bubbles, simultaneously projected by God (Īśvara).

God’s creation up to the four-faced Brahma is immediate, thence-forward mediate.

Such is the division. For enlargement (of this topic), the Gem of Purāṇas (i.e. Vishnu-Purāṇa) may be consulted.

Thus Matter (Prakṛti) has been treated.

Thus ends Chapter 4.
The Treatment of Matter (Prakṛti) in the
“Light of the School of Rāmānuja”.