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Pujya Dr. K.C. Varadachari - Volume -4




The first sentence of the criticism runs thus “No theory of creation is ever likely to be true; for it implies transcendent causes. The category of causality has scope only within the empirical. A transcendent cause is really no cause.” Thus creation is not; transcendent causes are not; and since the empirical being is not, there can be no causes either there.


Creation-theories are humanizations of the truth, a story and not truth. Our truth is, there was only Being and anything that appeared (why, the Absolute knows! at some place) was illusory. God made truth or was truth and man made error .This in short is the theory of Prof. Malkani. Now why did man appear? illusorily to whom? to himself(?) or to Brahman the ever undeludable? Whose is this story or this humanisation, and for whom is this story of creation or illusory appearance? The whole self confident assertion of No Cause, Transcendent Cause, Story, Appearance is itself no better than stories of an intellectual dialectic and as such the reactions of the human intellect to the evanescent Reality in an opposite direction. Two persons can play at the same game of rejecting the human and criticizing the intellect.


Prof. Malkani concedes that Sri Aurobindo’s theory of creation is not like the old story of mechanical creation as the potter does his pots. Indeed he holds that the Brahman becomes the world and thus the world is not a magician’s illusory projection as in mayavada. Then he draws out a series of thirteen items of the process of evolution from out of Brahman the saccidananda, through a first movement into the Supermind out of its primal poise which exhibits the immanent or implicit multiplicity in Saccidananda. But this supermind exhibits just one and not all the possibilities of the Saccidananda though it is aware of all of them. Prof. Malkani considers that this is fraught with difficulty. The infinite possibilities in the Saccidananda cannot be present at the same time; he contends that if these are implicit nothing new is created, and straightaway proceeds to say that no real putting forth can occur (italics mine). Certainly on the same count Maya is a real putting forth of appearance, for surely a new thing is real; the entire structure of the Mayavada collapses by this admission, which he brought into the criticism of a theory which holds that Brahman really creates and creating means only manifesting one of many infinite possibilities in this particular creative period, and in this there is nothing unreal. The real is both the possible in the Absolute Divine as well as the actual in terrestrial evolution.


The second complaint made by Prof. Malkani refers to the arbitrariness of choice in  choosing to create this particular possibility rather than any other possibility. And he states that ‘Sri Aurobindo’s idealism is not based upon the truth of existence but the arbitrariness of the limiting idea–let there be such and such a thing.’ This is criticism of a kind that has been used against Leibnitz too for his stating that the present one is the best of all possible worlds, a contention which he upheld by the theory of divine beneficence. If  Freedom be the essence of reality, then the manifestation of this Freedom is what makes the choice possible and it cannot be held that freedom is arbitrary. There is at least a beneficence at work in the universe, whereas the theory of Mayavada is a mockery of the Absolute Brahman, and as for the truth of existence, it is indeed as real as the actual act in Prof. Malkani’s way of argument when he defends a position of utter inconsequence to reality which he straightaway dismisses or cancels with his magic arbitrariness of maya. The protest against the impossibility of reconciling being with freedom of force is again his difficulty and it is not for one who knows how to act and live or exist or plan or evolve into the higher rungs, or for the matter of that for the Real Idea of the Artist (even the most humble) which proceeds to actualize itself limited only by itself and not by the arbitratriness of Prof. Malkani’s wish to create without thought a delusion or illusion in order to gratify his own licence in logic.


Nor again is the third objection valid, that awareness is already reality and there need be no actuality aware of the actual creative activity of the artist or sculptor, and it also betrays a lack of insight into the delight of creativity. He makes much of the distinction between the possibility and the known, and says, that possibilities are conceived and not known, and thus betrays the misunderstanding into which he had fallen of not taking into account the nature of the Saccidananda and the Supermind which perceive all possibilities and do not infer them or conceptualise them and thus do not hypostatize essences into existence, to use the convenient distinction that George Santayana has made. The reality of the planes or levels in the Created or manifested Brahman gives the clue to the distinction between the possibilities in the Supermind and Saccidanada which permits one possibility to work out itself in all the planes; this possibility may be only in freedom and the individual many too in freedom work out this Real-Idea which works its way spontaneous from within them and does not appear as the command of a deity or arbitrary fiat of the Divine. The spiritual society or Nature or being does not tolerate arbitrary fiat and exacts freedom for each and all as the condition of a self-revelation that shall culminate in the Delight that is Evolution into the Divine. It is because it works under and within each one of the Divine multiplicity that there is freedom to err or sin or ascend or descend and each in a way contributes towards the divine delight, for each is indeed superconsciously moving towards the Divine Manifestation on all levels. It cannot be stated that Sri Aurobindo is contradicting himself when he states that ‘world is a maya because it is not the essential truth of infinite existence, but only a creation of self-conscious being… The world is not the essential truth of That, but phenomenal truth of its free multiplicity and infinite superficial mutability and not truth of its fundamental and immutable unity” (p. 256); for Sri Aurobindo is merely pointing out what is clearly understood in any evolutionary theory or value question, that the multiplicity is the phenomenal status of the Oneness and the world is a phenomenal status of the real and is a real phenomenon. It certainly does not mean that the cosmos does not represent the real truth of being; it represents it truly and eternally as much as the Oneness; only there are two forms of the self-same Brahman. The supreme mystery of the Divine Nature consists in the supreme relationship of togetherness or inseparable oneness of the world and Deity, souls and Gods, and this may be expressed as the relationship of sarira-sariri or eternal oneness in eternal multiplicity. Lila is the essential delight in sarira or multiplicity of the sariri of the Eternal oneness, and the primacy of sariri or Oneness is always there in creation as well as prior to creation, aloka or loka.


The fourth objection then is against the view that the world is conscious Birth of That which is beyond mind into forms of itself; for Prof. Malkani contends that “while it is to a certain extent intelligible” to accept that God’s thought is constitutive of reality. “it is not intelligible how that which is already true in God comes further to birth in the forms of a mental, vital and material cosmos,” either the latter is non-existent in God in which case their creation would be pure conception or if they are already in some sense existent in Him, where is the scope for creation at all?” His own solution is to say that the world was never created at all or that it is a conceptual figment.


All the arguments of Prof. Malkani can be referred to the principle of vivarta-vada, a species of asatkarya-vada, which says that things appear otherwise. The learned writer does not see the mote in his own eye while he challenges the beam in others when he writes (and we are forced to remark, unkindly to be sure) naively ‘But what do we mean by manifestation? We can only mean making appear.’ The question will naturally arise  making appear to whom? “It cannot be God.” Why not, we rejoin, for it is precisely the will and knowledge of the Divine to manifest to Himself for His own Delight that which is possible to Him and in Him. The whole difficulty for the learned critic consists in this impossibility of self delight and self-willing, for to him all these in his system mean limitation, error and do not exist. For whom is Maya, we ask, in a system that cannot explain appearance of the world, unreal or real? The whole criticism smacks of inability to comprehend the difference between the unmanifest and the manifestation to be not a difference in reality,for both are equally real, but the moreness in the one or transcendence in the one and the immanence of the transcendence in the effect. Sat-karya-vada means in Samkya and Visistadvaita and Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy nothing more than what it affirms, the reality of the cause as well as that of the effect; the effect is the exhibition, revealment of that which was in subtle state in the cause. The suksma becomes sthula. There is nothing absolutely new and birth is merely the statement of the emergence to our limited and even planal vision of that which is in the bosom of infinity of the Divine. Every birth is a passage from one plane to another and this is what is stated to be the truth about initiation, conversion or avatar-phenomena. It is a figure that represents the stage at which the soul has arrived in the process of ascent or descent into actuality that is the phenomenal jagrat, waking consciousness. The next charge of parinama-vada affecting the very nature of the Divine is equally full of flaw; for, though the effect is a change of cause into effect-nature, this change does not affect the  Saccidanda and Oneness-nature of  God at any time. Sri Ramanuja got over this problem by holding that the sarira or cidacid-visista-Brahman and not Brahman changed from the causal to the effect state; and the objection that one part cannot undergo change whilst the other remained changeless, is groundless for the change is shown to be not affecting thereby  the main sariri or Brahman; in Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy we can see that, as already stated, the parinama is of the self-extension of the Divine which does not affect the self-concentration in Himself; the multiplicity is not opposed to oneness and the parinama affecting the many is supported by the saccidananda and oneness of the Brahman. Prof. Malkani’s argument proceeding through disjunction of either or–that is, “either it is created by God through an act of His will or God is the ground and reality of world–essentially misses the principle of the System, and this either-or business is a device of the intellectual logic that is incapable of precisely seeing what alternatives are real alternatives, as Sri Ramanuja has so splendidly shewn in the opening lines of the Mahasiddhanta. And it is the essential trouble of Advaita Vedanta to have placed the world neither in God nor outside Him but in His illusion; and it bespeaks lack of ordinary humour to speak of placing the world somewhere neither outside nor inside Brahman. The mystical insight is amazingly beyond the grasp of the critic’s mind.


Tadejati tadu naijati taddure tadvantike.


Tadantarasya sarvasya tadu sarvasyasya bahyatah.


No more this and this has been throughout stated in ever so many ways in the Upanisads. Further, pray what is the meaning of the statement in the same Upanisad which speaks of the establishment of things in their true forms from sempiternal years:


Yathotathyato arthan vyadadat sasvatibhyah samabhyah


Thus the essential reality of the universe is granted by the mystical insight and our ordinary understanding even does not belie it and no argument or testimony upholds the doctrine of vivarta-vada or asatkaryavada or mayavada in the sense understood by theorists.


The other questions about the nature of the Supermind and the Saccidananda are questions that labour under the first cloud of misunderstanding about the nature of poise, understanding, creativity, reality and possibility, and these are explained by Sri Aurobindo himself in his Life Divine so completely that no further explanation can and need be given. But one question under (10) calls for a remark: “For if the delight of being is logically prior and if it is also full and complete, then there is no scope for the delight of becoming “ (p. 263); the delight of being may be full and complete and this does not imply anything more than this that there is complete purnatva in its perfection; and the delight of becoming  is a variation of the purnatva in the enjoyment of its multiplicity-possibilities. The whole fact is a mysterious movement of the Divine and we can only quote the scriptural statement.


Purnamadah purnamidam purnat purnamudacyate-


Sri Ramanuja’s theory however does not involve this explanation because of his acceptance of the redemption of the Individual souls as one of the greatest concerns of the Divine Lord which makes His assumption of creativity as a redemptive act. The true philosophy of reality cannot but be a philosophy of the Divine – a philosophy of Religion. Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy of Divine Life shows the supreme creative manifestation of the Process as an ascent of the souls, the eternal multiplicity of His nature, moving through the planes which have been fashioned by His descent for this delight in Becoming of matter, life, mind, overmind, supermind and others till finally they realise in the Supermind the delight of the many gathered up in the events of an ascent which now registers happiness and delight in every movement and action as the instruments of the Divine One superconsciously known by them. The pains and pleasures, the avoided reactions or the avidly searched for responses or objects equally reveal the supreme ecstasy in which both are perceived as the interweaving of the delights. The contention that knowledge, this knowledge alone, can put an end to all our present suffering is correct, but this knowledge is not the Advaitic’s recoil-knowledge, nor are the sufferings surmounted in the manner he wishes but in the transvaluation of these and an ability to respond from delight to all the stimuli of the Divine Universe; for, then, in that supermind plane man is face to face with the Divine Universe.


It is somewhat candid to say that Sri Aurobindo’s theory is after all Vedantic, and the only quarrel between the Mayavada and his theory consists in the interpretation of the world and the real nature of Sachchinanda; this is certainly a vast difference.


Prof. Malkani has of course taken great pains to answer the questions raised by Sri Aurobindo’s theory, and this is in one respect due to the present writer of this criticism having drawn pointed attention in the Philosophical Quarterly 1942 to the importance of Sri Aurobindo to modern philosophical re-construction of Vedanta. Prof. Malkani has thus rendered service to Vedanta in general, though, frankly speaking, he has not been able to show any advantage to the Spiritual life by his defence of an Abstract Absolute that can bear no reality and expunge all evolution, growth, progress, perfection in the name of Supreme Intuition, which is not proved by any mystic without equivocation.


It is indeed true that Mayavada has a great exponent in the Maharsi Sri Ramana of Tiruvannamalai; and he holds that the world is maya, a conceptual construction, and the reality that has to be known is the self, the self that appears as all things, illusorily. The question of spiritual value is implicit in this. Know the self, what you are and who you are; then you can say which is and which is not. The real for you is the central fact as to who you are who suffer and struggle. In this sense, then, the urgency, the poignancy and therefore the reality or rather actuality of pain and confusion, this infinite tossing of the soul in griefs and rounds of frustrations, cause one and should indeed cause one to address to oneself the fundamental question about the nature of the self or who? Sri Ramanuja clearly initiates this catharsis in his Yoga called Mahayoga. But it is precisely this Mahayoga that has to culminate in the Purnayoga. It is in this sense that Advaita of Mayavada gives a grand schooling to thinkers and students of Yoga-albeit negative.


This negative attitude is an impermanent status; and though this negative status described as nirvana and moksa are sought to be explained as not merely negative but positively as bliss by certain modern interpreters of Buddhistic thought, it is what it denotes but negatively. The passage from the impersonal of nirvana to the suprapersonal is the passage that entails the depths of the Ananda. It is not certainly denied that the negative has not charm and even a kind of deep delight not comparable to the human and as different from it as anything, being a revolution in the very structure of experience; but deeper and finer and richer is the Superpersonal Divine which manifests the Divine to the illumined vision, no longer under the throes of recoil and passed beyond the impersonal universal. As a modern Russian writer has stated: “There can be no greater error than to interpret mystical experience in terms of monistic metaphysics. Monism postulates rationalization, a mental process rather than experience.” “The idiom of mysticism is founded on love rather than precepts.”  “Mystical experience is a triumph over creatureliness–an achievement which cannot be adequately described in terms of theological concepts. Thus theology interprets this as pantheism, whereas it is nothing of the sort, but something dynamic and inexpressible.” (Spirit and Reality: N. Berdyaev). It is thus clear that when Sri Aurobindo affirms the supreme possibility of Divine immanence in the human which entails a restoration of the human  now transfigured into a divine-nature, the mystery of real universal indwellingness in the terrestrial human personality is explained. There is no impossibility in the Divine Evolution as it is the logical outcome of the Creative History of the Divine which has so far levelled up the microcosm to the human level. In Sri Aurobindo’s Philosophy its authentic realisation is affirmed as the core of New Spirituality.


To live on you past cultural capital is to end in bankruptcy and pauperism. The past has to be used always as mobile and current capital for some larger profit, acquisition and development, and to gain we must spend, we must part with something in order to grow and live more richly,–that is the universal law of our existence. Otherwise the life within will stagnate and perish.

Though the Spirit is eternal in its essence and in the fundamental principles of harmony immutable, its actual rhythm of its self expression in form is ever mutable; immutable in being and the powers of its being, but richly mutable in life, that is the very nature of the spirit’s manifested existence.


                                                (From Sri Aurobindo’s “Is India Civilised”).