II-2 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 5

Topic 5 - Refutation of the Bauddha Idealists

Sutra 2,2.28

नाभावः, उपलब्धेः ॥ २८ ॥

nābhāvaḥ, upalabdheḥ || 28 ||

na—not; abhāvaḥ—non-existence; upalabdheḥ—on account of their being experienced.

28. Non-existence (of things external) is not (true), on account of their being experienced.

Here now come forward the Yogācāras, who hold that cognitions (ideas) only are real. There is no reasonable ground, they say, for the view that the manifoldness of ideas is due to the manifoldness of things, since ideas themselves--no less than the things assumed by others--have their distinct forms, and hence are manifold. And this manifold nature of ideas is sufficiently explained by so-called vāsanā. Vāsanā means a flow of ideas (states of consciousness--pratyaya) of different character. We observe, e. g., that a cognition which has the form of a jar (i.e. the idea of a jar) gives rise to the cognition of the two halves of a jar, and is itself preceded and produced by the cognition of a jar, and this again by a similar cognition, and so on; this is what we call a stream or flow of ideas.--But how, then, is it that internal cognitions have the forms of external things, mustard-grains, mountains, and so on?--Even if real things are admitted, the Yogācāra replies, their becoming objects of thought and speech depends altogether on the light of knowledge, for otherwise it would follow that there is no difference between the objects known by oneself and those known by others. And that cognitions thus shining forth to consciousness have forms (distinctive characteristics) must be admitted; for if they were without form they could not shine forth. Now we are conscious only of one such form, viz. that of the cognition; that this form at the same time appears to us as something external (i.e. as the form of an outward thing) is due to error. From the general law that we are conscious of ideas and things together only, it follows that the thing is not something different from the idea.

As, moreover, the fact of one idea specially representing one particular thing only, whether it be a jar or a piece of cloth or anything else, requires for its explanation an equality in character of the idea and the thing, those also who hold the existence of external things must needs assume that the idea has a form similar to that of the thing; and as this suffices for rendering possible practical thought and intercourse, there is nothing authorising us to assume the existence of things in addition to the ideas. Hence cognitions only constitute reality; external things do not exist.

To this the Sūtra replies, 'Not non-existence, on account of consciousness.' The non-existence of things, apart from ideas, cannot be maintained, because we are conscious of cognitions as what renders the knowing subject capable of thought and intercourse with regard to particular things. For the consciousness of all men taking part in worldly life expresses itself in forms such as 'I know the jar.' Knowledge of this kind, as everybody's consciousness will testify, presents itself directly as belonging to a knowing subject and referring to an object; those therefore who attempt to prove, on the basis of this very knowledge, that Reality is constituted by mere knowledge, are fit subjects for general derision. This point has already been set forth in detail in our refutation of those crypto-Bauddhas who take shelter under a pretended Vedic theory.--To maintain, as the Yogācāras do, that the general rule of idea and thing presenting themselves together proves the non-difference of the thing from the idea, implies a self-contradiction; for 'going together' can only be where there are different things. To hold that it is a general rule that of the idea--the essential nature of which is to make the thing to which it refers capable of entering into common thought and intercourse--we are always conscious together with the thing, and then to prove therefrom that the thing is not different from the idea, is a laughable proceeding indeed. And as, according to you, cognitions perish absolutely, and do not possess any permanently persisting aspect, it is rather difficult to prove that such cognitions form a series in which each member colours or affects the next one (vāsanā); for how is the earlier cognition, which has absolutely perished, to affect the later one, which has not yet arisen? We conclude therefore that the manifoldness of cognitions is due solely to the manifoldness of things. We are directly conscious of cognitions (ideas) as rendering the things to which they refer capable of being dealt with by ordinary thought and speech, and the specific character of each cognition thus depends on the relation which connects it with a particular thing. This relation is of the nature of conjunction (saṁyoga), since knowledge(cognition)also is a substance. Just as light (prabha), although a substance, stands to the lamp in the relation of an attribute (guṇa), so knowledge stands in the relation of an attribute to the Self, but, viewed in itself, it is a substance.--From all this it follows that external things are not non-existent.

The next Sūtra refutes the opinion of those who attempt to prove the baselessness of the cognitions of the waking state by comparing them to the cognitions of a dreaming person.

Sutra 2,2.29

वैधर्म्याच्च न स्वप्नादिवत् ॥ २९ ॥

vaidharmyācca na svapnādivat || 29 ||

vaidharmyāt—Owing to the difference of nature; ca—and; na—is not; svapnādivat—like dreams etc.

29. And owing to the difference of nature (in consciousness between the waking and the dream state, the experience of the waking state) is not like dreams etc.

Owing to the different nature of dream-cognitions, it cannot be said that, like them, the cognitions of the waking state also have no things to correspond to them. For dream-cognitions are originated by organs impaired by certain defects, such as drowsiness, and are moreover sublated by the cognitions of the waking state; while the cognitions of the waking state are of a contrary nature. There is thus no equality between the two sets.--Moreover, if all cognitions are empty of real content, you are unable to prove what you wish to prove since your inferential cognition also is devoid of true content. If, on the other hand, it be held to have a real content, then it follows that no cognition is devoid of such content; for all of them are alike cognitions, just like the inferential cognition.

Sutra 2,2.30

न भावः, उनुपलब्धेः ॥ ३० ॥

na bhāvaḥ, anupalabdheḥ || 30 ||

na—Is not; bhāvaḥ—existence; anupalabdheḥ—because (external things) are not experienced.

30. The existence (of Saṁskāras) is not (possible according to the Bauddhas), because (external things) are not experienced.

The existence of mere cognitions devoid of corresponding things is not possible, because such are nowhere perceived. For we nowhere perceive cognitions not inherent in a cognising subject and not referring to objects. That even dream-cognitions are not devoid of real matter we have explained in the discussion of the different khyātis.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'perception.'

 Sutra 2,2.31

क्षणिकत्वाच्च ॥ ३१ ॥

Kṣaṇikatvācca || 31 ||

Kṣaṇikatvāt—On account of the momentariness; ca—and.

31. And on account of the momentariness (of the ego-consciousness it cannot be the abode of the Saṁskāras).

Sutra 2,2.32

सर्वथानुपपत्तेश्च ॥ ३२ ॥

sarvathānupapatteśca || 32 ||

sarvathā—In every way; nupapatteḥ—being illogical; ca—and.

32. And (as the Bauddha system is) illogical in every way (it cannot be accepted).

Here now come forward the Mādhyamikas who teach that there is nothing but a universal Void. This theory of a universal Nothing is the real purport of Sugata's doctrine; the theories of the momentariness of all existence, etc., which imply the acknowledgment of the reality of things, were set forth by him merely as suiting the limited intellectual capacities of his pupils.--Neither cognitions nor external objects have real existence; the Void (the 'Nothing') only constitutes Reality, and final Release means passing over into Non-being. This is the real view of Buddha, and its truth is proved by the following considerations. As the Nothing is not to be proved by any argument, it is self-proved. For a cause has to be assigned for that only which is. But what is does not originate either from that which is or that which is not. We never observe that which is to originate from Being; for things such as jars, and so on, do not originate as long as the lump of clay, etc., is non-destroyed. Nor can Being originate from Non-being; for if the jar were supposed to originate from Non-being, i.e. that non-being which results from the destruction of the lump of clay, it would itself be of the nature of Non-being. Similarly it can be shown that nothing can originate either from itself or from anything else. For the former hypothesis would imply the vicious procedure of the explanation presupposing the thing to be explained; and moreover no motive can be assigned for a thing originating from itself. And on the hypothesis of things originating from other things, it would follow that anything might originate from anything, for all things alike are other things. And as thus there is no origination there is also no destruction. Hence the Nothing constitutes Reality: origination, destruction, Being, Non-being, and so on, are mere illusions (bhrānti). Nor must it be said that as even an illusion cannot take place without a substrate we must assume something real to serve as a substrate; for in the same way as an illusion may arise even when the defect, the abode of the defect, and the knowing subject are unreal, it also may arise even when the substrate of the illusion is unreal. Hence the Nothing is the only reality.--To this the Sūtra replies, 'And on account of its being in everyway unproved'--the theory of general Nothingness which you hold cannot stand. Do you hold that everything is being or non-being, or anything else? On none of these views the Nothingness maintained by you can be established. For the terms being and non-being and the ideas expressed by them are generally understood to refer to particular states of actually existing things only. If therefore you declare 'everything is nothing,' your declaration is equivalent to the declaration, 'everything is being,' for your statement also can only mean that everything that exists is capable of abiding in a certain condition (which you call 'Nothing'). The absolute Nothingness you have in mind cannot thus be established in any way. Moreover, he who tries to establish the tenet of universal Nothingness can attempt this in so far only as,--through some means of knowledge, he has come to know Nothingness, and he must therefore acknowledge the truth of that means. For if it were not true it would follow that everything is real. The view of general Nothingness is thus altogether incapable of proof.

--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'unprovedness in every way.'