THEOSOPHY, Vol. 20, No. 1, November, 1931
(Pages 19-25; Size: 20K)
(Number 45 of a 59-part series)



AS this is an age of logic and induction when analysis of beliefs and ideas is the natural method of approach to any subject, those Hindu systems of thought which utilize it are most popular among western scholars. More than any other, the six schools of Indian philosophy, as they are popularly called, are specially favoured by western investigators because they come closest to western ways of reasoning. The Vedas are mystical, the Puranas are folk-lore, even the six limbs of the Vedas offer but unproven statements -- such is the general opinion. On the other hand, the six philosophical schools argue and explain propositions and something can be made of them -- so say the philologist-philosophers. Hence their popularity.

It must, however, be pointed out that in spite of all the treatises written and lectures delivered on the six schools their soul has eluded the grasp of most of the western savants as of most of their Indian compeers. This is to be expected in the absence of the Theosophical Key which the Esoteric Philosophy provides.

H. P. Blavatsky calls these six schools six Demonstrations. They are like the six cardinal points; each of them presents but one view of truth; not one of them in itself is complete; even the six taken together are not complete; for there is still a seventh darshana known to genuine Chelas of the Masters or Rishis (see H.P.B.'s Glossary -- "Occult Sciences") which in Hindu terminology is Guhya or Gupta Vidya, i.e., the Esoteric Demonstration.

Each of these six schools demonstrates completely the whole of the world-process from one particular angle of vision. The same universe, the same world-process, the same panorama is looked at from one side and then another. Just as a building can be examined from the north and the east and the south and the west, then from above and then from the foundations below, and yet its real worth cannot be perceived unless one enters the building and looks at it from within, so also a philosophical proposition cannot fully and truly be demonstrated unless the seventh step of examination is taken.

Now, why is it that the seventh point of view is not presented, the seventh Demonstration is not made? Neither perverse reticence, nor even spiritual consideration of any kind whatever is responsible. The simple fact is that the seventh viewpoint may be likened to a kind of fourth-dimensional vision. No microscope, no telescope can uncover the fourth dimension; where observation fails, there mathematics steps in and can demonstrate the concept of the fourth dimension. It would be as absurd to refuse to listen to a mathematician because he can not by means of a microscope demonstrate to a man the fourth dimension of space as to say that because the esoteric is invisible to our mental perception therefore it does not exist. The scientist must turn mathematician; so also the ordinary intellectual enquirer must put away his familiar instruments of analysis, logic and inference and adopt a new mode of approach. Just as there are connecting links which bind, say the physicist to the mathematician, so also there are natural bridges which join the six schools of philosophy to their common but hidden spiritual soul, the Esoteric Science.

H.P.B. says that these six demonstrations "have all a starting point in common, and maintain that ex nihilo nihil fit" (Glossary under "Mimansa").

All exoteric philosophies are concerned with the universe of Spirit-Matter, Purusha-Prakriti. Of the six viewpoints three are from the side of matter and the other three from the side of spirit. They are therefore interlaced. The seventh deals with that which links spirit to matter, and which also transcends both of them. Fohat, says The Secret Doctrine, is "at present unknown to Western speculation" (Secret Doctrine, I, 16). It is called Daivi-prakriti, the Light in and through which Krishna, the Unborn, takes name and form. The highest mystery of human consciousness, as also the grand and sacred mystery of Avataras or Incarnations, is hidden in this Light, which the Gita describes as Krishna's superior nature (viii-5); again Krishna refers to it when He says, "I am born through my own maya, the mystic power of self-ideation, the eternal thought in the eternal mind." The viewpoint or demonstration presented by this Light can only be acquired by first gathering the knowledge offered by the six schools; then, leaving the methods employed for that gathering, the seeker turns within and employs the only method recommended, that of self-energization, self-purification, and self-discipline. To speak of this seventh Demonstration falls outside of the scope of our article.

Turning then to the six exoteric Demonstrations, the first thing to note is that no single one of them will be found sufficient and that the thread binding them must be seen, especially because it is this thread which helps us to approach the shadowy traces of the seventh to be found in them.

The six Demonstrations are:

1. Vaisheshika, demonstrated by Rishi Kanada.
2. Nyaya, demonstrated by Rishi Gautama.
3. Purva Mimansa, demonstrated by Rishi Jaimini.
4. Sankhya, demonstrated by Rishi Kapila.
5. Yoga, demonstrated by Rishi Patanjali.
6. Vedanta, demonstrated by Rishi Badarayana.

The first three seem to present materialistic outlooks; really they examine the universe from the point of view of matter. The remaining three, however, deal primarily with the consciousness aspect. But each of them is regarded as an explanation of the world-process and as showing part of the way to the Emancipation from that world-process. If the student misses the synthetic viewpoint he will err, as so many others have done, and see one school as antagonistic to one or all of the others. Thus to take but an example -- Vedanta-Sutras show the fallacies of the Vaisheshika system, not to overthrow but to supplement that system. In that connection we must also bear in mind that these six Demonstrations are age-old; they have passed through a long evolution; what is extant now is not the unaltered and unadulterated facts originally presented. Interpolation and withdrawal in no small measure have left their marks in each system. It is one of the tasks of the votary of the Second Object of our Theosophical Movement to remove the grain from the chaff and to show the unity underlying them, to show that they are but parts and phases of one whole.

Let us now turn to a brief examination of these six Demonstrations:

I. Vaisheshika. The object of knowledge is Padarthas -- Predicates of existing things. They are seven in number: (1) Dravya -- Substance (metaphysically) which "is not destroyed either by its effect or by its cause," -- uncaused and eternal. Of these there are nine -- five are atomic substances and four are pervasive; the former are earth, water, fire, air and manas, and the latter are time, space, akasha, and atma. Of these nine eternal and ultimate substances Atma is the most important, for by it all others are cognized. Thus arises an endless number of souls. (2) The second predicate is Guna or Gunatvam -- Qualitativeness; there are 24 qualities enumerated of which five belong to all substances, viz., number, dimension, individuality, conjunction and disjunction. (3) Karma or better Karmatvam -- Activity is five-fold and is described in terms of Motion: throwing up, throwing down, contracting, expanding and going. Cause-effect is examined under this category in a most interesting way. (4) The fourth predicate is Samanya, i.e., the unifying common basis, the relation of a thing to its genus, sometimes translated as Generality or Generalness. (5) Visesha is the opposite of the fourth and is called Particularity or what constitutes an entity or individuality; from this category the school derives its name and title. (6) Samvaya or Inherence, through which it is said of cause and effect that the one abides in the other and Karma and Karta, deed and doer in each other. (7) Lastly, Abhava -- Non-existence, referring to the condition of a thing before its creation or manifestation and after its destruction and dissolution. The knowledge of these Predicates results ultimately in emancipation, for the universe comes into existence mechanically because of them, runs mechanically because of them, and dissolves mechanically because of them. Learn the mechanics of the universe and you are freeing yourself from the tyranny of that great machine.

II. Nyaya. To learn of the mechanics of the universe one must seek knowledge. The essence of knowledge lies in the proofs of cosmic ultimates, to obtain which one must learn about sixteen categories -- (1) Pramana -- Proofs, (2) Prameya -- Objects of proof, (3) Samsaya -- Doubt, (4) Prayojana -- Purpose, (5) Drishtanta -- Example, (6) Siddhanta -- Proven knowledge, (7) Avayava -- Premises, (8) Tarka -- Logical reasoning, (9) Nirnaya -- Conclusion, (10) Vada -- Discussion, (11) Jalpa -- Wrangling, (12) Vitanda -- Caviling, (13) Hetvabhasa -- Fallacies, (14) Chhala -- Quibbles, (15) Jati -- Futile analogies, and (16) Nigrahasthana -- Unfitness for arguing, which is always to be regarded as an occasion for rebuke. An enquirer to turn student must first acquaint himself with these, to save his own time and that of those from whom he is learning.

Of these the first two are the most important and we shall have space to examine only these.

The ways of gaining proofs are four and they bring right knowledge about twelve things. We have to prove to ourselves the correct value of (1) Atma -- the Self, (2) Sharira -- Body, (3) Indriya -- Senses, (4) Artha -- Objects of sense, (5) Buddhi -- Intuition, (6) Manas -- Mind, (7) Pravriti -- Going forth, (8) Dosha -- Fault, (9) Pretya-bhava -- Change of existing nature or Transmigration, (10) Phala -- Fruit thereof, i.e., Karma, (11) Dukh -- Suffering, (12) Apavarga -- Emancipation therefrom.

By what means can these proofs be obtained? By (1) Pratyaksha -- Perception, (2) Anuman -- Inference, (3) Upamuna -- Comparison, and (4) Shabda -- Word, i.e., Recorded Knowledge.

Perception implies use of the senses which is to be aided by Inference, a mental process, in which the law of analogy or correspondence or comparison should be used, and in seeking this comparison the Record of Seers and Sages should be utilized. Shabda -- Word, is described as the instructive assertion of a reliable person, i.e., One who Knows.

III. Purva Mimamsa is also called Karma-Mimamsa. It is the record of interpretation which must be examined and studied prior to turning to the spirit-defining schools which flower in Uttara Mimamsa, generally called Vedanta, end of knowledge. It is called Karma-Mimamsa because this record explains the method of rituals and the meaning of material events, etc. The Sutras of Jaimini enquire into and expound Dharma -- Law and Duty of ordinary life. As Dharma cannot be fathomed by mere perception and inference, the use advocated by the previous school of applying the law of correspondence and of the study of the Record should be adopted. Therefore these Jaimini-Sutras deal with Adhikaranas or Topics of which there are nearly a thousand. For each topic a Vedic text is offered about which there is doubt. Then follows the setting down of the prima facie view and its refutation. The whole process yields the final proven view or Siddhanta. These are the five limbs of every topic. For living the ordinary life intelligently, not by fanciful thinking or isolated personal reasoning, this school provided a substantial basis. This brings us to the highest view of material life -- world life according to religious injunctions, which must be followed intelligently and must not be merely believed in.

IV. Sankhya. The Philosophy of Numbers or the Numerical Demonstration. Much of the original philosophy is reported to be lost to the public world and what is extant is a system of analytical metaphysics. It discourses on twenty-five Tatvas -- Forces of Nature in various degrees. Like the very first, the Vaisheshika School, this also is called the "atomistic school" and not without good reason; for in this Demonstration the point of view is of the Spirit, while in the first it was of Matter. It explains Nature by the interaction of twenty-four elements with Purusha (Spirit) modified by three Gunas; it teaches the eternity of Pradhana, primordial homogeneous matter, or the self-transformation of nature and the eternity of the human egos.

This school teaches the permanent prevention of the three-fold pain as the supreme purpose of life. The Purusha or Spirit is free from all association, is not bound by Karma, or by time, or by space; it seems so bound, but this is only verbal, not real, and it resides in human ideation; and the notion of bondage arises in Buddhi through A-viveka -- Non-discrimination. The Purusha is felt by us to be bound because of His seeming indifference as a spectator of all the changes taking place in Prakriti, i.e., Buddhi, etc.; the bondage is but the reflection on Him or It of the impurities seen in matter. These three kinds of pain, spiritual, mental and bodily, produce three kinds of bondage, and therefore there are three ways of release, from Karma, from existence in form, and from repose in one's own Self. The whole process of the Sankhya is to seek for the Number One -- the One Purusha, who is at the core of every individual. The original treatise to be studied is Tattva-Samasa, a work of greater value even than Sankhya-Pravachana-Suttra.

V. Yoga of Patanjali is very well known to students of Theosophy. It carries on the thread of the Sankhya. Having found the Purusha behind the 24 tattvas the human spiritual Being must seek and find the union (Yoga) with the universal aspect. Much confusion exists and discussion takes place as to whether there are many Purushas or one Purusha. The Sankhya stops at the human spiritual individuality face to face with dangers and possibilities and Patanjali's Yoga-Sutras continue the line of further advance, showing how man can become Super-Man, i.e., a Universal Potency. Such a Jivan-Mukta or Master is called Dharma-Megha, Cloud of Dharma. Just as rain comes from clouds so do Law, Virtue, Instruction descend from the Mahatma. Also, just as the cloud makes the vision of the sun possible for ordinary sight by standing between the sun and the eye, so also does the Jivan-Mukta, the great Guru, enable his disciple to catch a glimpse of the Universal Self -- the Spiritual Universe, boundless and timeless.

VI. Vedanta -- Summation of Knowledge. Just as the first two Demonstrations lead to their practice in Purva Mimamsa, so the Sankhya and the Yoga Demonstrations produce the practical code which earnest souls desiring to know the Truth may study so that practice and realization may result. That is why it is called Uttara Mimamsa. The reputed author of Vedanta-Sutras, Badarayana, is known as Vyasa. H.P.B. says that "there were many Vyasas in Aryavarata" and adds that "the Puranas mention only twenty-eight Vyasas, who at various ages descended to the earth to promulgate Vedic truths -- but there were many more."

In more recent centuries three principal schools of Vedanta have arisen. They are the well-known Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita and Advaita. Their equally well-known exponents are, respectively, Madhva, Ramanaja and Shankara.

The Dvaita School emphasizes the distinction between the Human-Spirit-Being and the Universal Self and shows the distinction between the spiritual and the carnal natures in man.

The Vishishtadvaita emphasizes the union between the Human-Spirit-Being and the Universal Self provided the former purifying himself of his carnal nature becomes a vehicle of that Supreme Self. It hints at the continuity of the Human-Spirit-Being in some state in unison with the Supreme Self.

The Advaita emphasizes the absolute identity of the Human-Spirit-Being and the Universal Self. Man in his innate Nature is the Indivisible Whole -- all else being part and parcel of Himself in His ultimate aspect.

. . . . .

Not articles but volumes will have to be written to reveal in their pristine grandeur the Landmarks of Ancient India. Here are indicated but a very few sign-posts, each of which takes the active seeker on a different road of the Great Journey. For immemorial ages, yuga after yuga, on the mountain ridges and in the forests on the plains, India's sons have struggled with the fogs of ignorance and the upas trees of superstition, gaining the vision splendid of which one here has sung, another there has spoken for the guidance of the weary-footed pilgrim of this Age of Darkness. If we humbly bow in devotion to the Ancient Seers and Sages we too may succeed in fully understanding the Mission of the Mighty Ones who have never ceased speaking the Word, the latest from whose ranks was our own teacher -- H. P. Blavatsky.

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(1) Isis Unveiled, II, p. 30.
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