by Swami Krishnananda
This second chapter and also the following one, the third, have two different purposes. The second chapter analyses the nature of universal intelligence as distinguishable from the five elements which constitute the whole universe – earth, water, fire, air, ether. Towards that end, we are moving through this long introduction commencing with the definition of Ultimate Existence as Pure Being: One alone, without a second – Being, and not non-being. From this, certain controversial ideas arise which the author also takes into consideration, especially in relation to those doctrines which consider non-existence as the beginning of things, and not Existence as the beginning of things.
Nothingness is the original condition of all things. Shunyata is the Sanskrit word for it. Nil, zero, vacuum, nothingness is the original state of things. All the world will be reduced to a vacuum when dissolution takes place, or when the effects are resolved into their causes. The idea behind this is that the world is as much a vacuum as its cause is. The Madhyamika doctrine, which is a section of Buddhist philosophy, emphasises this aspect of the original nothingness of all things and, incidentally, also the nothingness of everything that is apparently visible to the eyes. This question is taken up by the author of the Panchadasi, with which we proceed.
Itaṁ sarvaṁ purā sṛṣṭer-edam-evā-dvitīyakam, sad-ev-āsīn-nāma-rūpe, nāstām-ity-āruṇer-vacaḥ (19). Aruni, which is the name of Uddalaka, the teacher of Svetaketu in the sixth chapter of the Chhandogya Upanishad, says that in the beginning, all this was Existence, pure and simple: One alone, without a second. Sad-ev-āsīn: Existence alone was. Nāma-rūpe, nāstām: The names and the forms of the world did not exist. The whole world of perception is constituted of name, form and action. Inasmuch as names and forms could not be there in the origin of things because names and forms were created later on in terms of the manifestation of space and time – names and forms cannot be there unless there is space and time; and in Pure Existence, space-time cannot be there – therefore, it is concluded that there were no names and no forms whatsoever, no categorisation into particulars in the original state of Being, which was One alone, without a second. It has no internal differentiation, external variety or any kind of contact with anything.
There are different kinds of variety or separateness which all will be denied in the nature of the Ultimate Being. We know there are things called difference in this world. A branch of a tree is different from another branch of a tree. Within the tree itself, there is internal difference. One branch is not like another branch; one twig is not like another twig. Even one leaf is not like another leaf. There is also internal difference in our body. The hand is different from the legs. The legs are different from the nose, and so on. This difference that is observed within the body of a single entity is called svagata bheda. Svagata means internal variety, as is the case with the differences we see among the branches of a tree.
Vṛkṣasya svagato bhedaḥ patra puṣpa phalādi-bhiḥ, vṛkṣān tarāt sajātīyo vijātīyaś-śilāditaḥ (20). A leaf is different from a flower. A flower is different from a fruit, etc., in the tree. This is a difference that is internal to the organism of the tree. But one tree is different from another tree. This is not internal difference, but external difference. Hands may be different from the feet of the same person, but one person is different from another person. This is called vijatiya bheda, external differentiation. Svagata bheda is internal differentiation, as among the limbs of a body; vijatiya bheda is differentiation between contraries, totally different things, as between one tree and another tree, though of the same species. One person is different from another person, notwithstanding the fact that all persons are of the same species.
But there can be difference of variety in species also. A tree is different from a stone. Here, difference is among the species itself. Firstly it was svagata bheda, internal differentiation within oneself. Secondly it is external differentiation among the same species. Thirdly, it is differentiation among different species, like tree and stone. So there are three kinds of difference which we can imagine in our minds.
But none of these differences can apply to Pure Existence. Pure Being is indivisible in its nature. The indivisibility of its character prevents any kind of internal differentiation within itself. It has no limbs. We cannot say that one part of Existence is different from another part of Existence as one limb is different from another limb of the body. So internal differentiation is not possible in Existence.
External differentiation also is not possible, such as itself being different from another of its own species, because there is no species equal to Existence. It is unique by itself. Hence, the external type of differentiation also does not apply. The third variety, which is the difference of variety in species, also does not apply to Pure Being because while there can be a stone outside the tree, there cannot be anything outside the Pure Being – externality not there being. The three kinds of difference are denied in Pure Being; thus the three kinds of difference are negatived in Pure Being.
Tathā sad-vastuno bheda trayaṁ prāptaṁ nivāryate, aikyā vadhāraṇa dvaita prati ṣedhai stribhiḥ kramāt (21). We have refuted the possibility of there being any kind of difference within or without Pure Existence. Why? Aikyā vadhāraṇa dvaita prati ṣedhai stribhiḥ kramāt: One, alone, without a second. These three terms, ekam, eva, advaita, deny three kinds of difference. ‘One alone’, ekam, refutes the possibility of internal variety. ‘Alone’ refutes the possibility of external differentiation. Advaita, ‘secondless’, refutes the third possibility, which is difference from another species. The one sentence refutes three kinds of difference. Aikyā vadhāraṇa dvaita: “One alone without a second.” Thus is the instruction of the great Sage Uddalaka to his disciple Svetaketu, as we have it elaborately described in the sixth chapter of the Chhandogya Upanishad.
Sato nāva yavāś śaṅkyās tadaṁśasyā nirūpaṇāt, nāmarūe na tasyāṁśau tayo radyā pyanud bhavāt (22). We should not even dream that there can be limbs inside Existence because even limbs must exist and, therefore, there cannot be a differentiation in Existence itself, as if there are parts of Existence. We cannot doubt that perhaps there are varieties or differentiations within Pure Existence – tadaṁśasyā nirūpaṇāt – because we cannot conceive fraction, divisibility, part, segmentation, in indivisibility.
Nāmarūe na tasyāṁśau: Name and form, the variety of creation, cannot be regarded as part of Existence because they did not exist prior to creation. Tayo radyā pyanud bhavāt: They have not started; they have not even originated to be. Therefore, names and forms which constitute the substance of this world cannot be associated with this Universal Existence in any manner whatsoever and should not make us feel that perhaps the names and the forms and the variety of this creation may introduce a kind of difference. Such a thing is not possible.
Nāmarūpo dvhava syaiva sṛṣṭi tvāt sṛsṭitaḥ purā, na tayo rudbhavas tasmāt niraṁśaṁ sad yathā viyat (23). Creation is nothing but the manifestation of name and form. When designation, epithet, and concretised presentations of forms arise, we begin to feel that creation has started. And creation is nothing but variety, which is essentially form and designation. But such a thing could not be there prior to creation. Hence, we should not associate the differentiating characters of name and form with Existence, which was there even prior to the commencement of creation. Na tayo rudbhavas: There was no origin of names and forms then. Therefore, what do we conclude?
Niraṁśaṁ sad yathā viyat: As space is divisionless and it is homogeneously spread out, so Pure Existence is homogeneous and undivided in its nature – niraṁśaṁ: without any kind of part within itself.
Sadantaraṁ sajātīyaṁ na vailakṣaṇya varjanāt, nāma rūpo pādhi bhedaṁ vinā naiva sato bhidā (24). If there is some Existence second to that Existence – another Existence different from the Existence we are considering – then we can say that there is variety in the same species. But such a thing is not possible, as we have already noted – na vailakṣaṇya varjanāt – because specification of Existence as constituting something other than itself is not possible. There cannot be any kind of difference of one Existence from another Existence since two Existences cannot be there, because even the difference imagined between two Existences so-called has to be existing. The imagined difference between two Existences should be existing; therefore, Existence is uniform.
Nāma rūpo pādhi bhedaṁ vinā naiva sato bhidā. The differentiations that we are thinking of in our mind are only in terms of name and form. We are repeating it again and again. Because of the fact that names and forms could not be there prior to creation, no difference of any kind can be imagined in Pure Existence.
Vijātīya masattattu no khalva stīti gamyate, nāsyātaḥ prati yogitvaṁ vijātīyāt bhidā kutaḥ (25). Anything that is other than Existence is non-existence; therefore, it is a non-entity. We cannot imagine that something can be there outside Existence, because that which is imagined to be outside Existence is other than Existence, equivalent to non-existence. So we should not bother about anything external to Existence as it is only affirming non-entity, which has no sense at all.
Nāsyātaḥ prati yogitvaṁ: There is no opposition to Pure Existence. Contrary to Existence, nothing can be; opposed to Existence, nothing can be; and second to Existence, nothing can be. Vijātīyāt bhidā kutaḥ: What to talk of the difference between Existence and something other than Existence? That is, three types of difference are denied here in respect of Pure Being.