Sāṁkhya Karika with Vācaspati Miṣra Commentaries |Part 6
Ahaṁkāra is self-assertion. The ego centricity, involved in self-assertions as observed in ideas which are well-thought of and reasoned and take such forms as ‘I am entitled to this,’ ‘verily, I am competent to do this,’ ‘all these objects of sense are for my sake only,’ ‘there is none else other than me who is entitled for this,’ ‘hence I am,’ etc. are the unique operations of this ahaṁkāra, depending upon which the Buddhi determines like ‘this should be done by me. ’ It’s different products are mentioned: from that proceeds a two-fold evolution. The two forms of this evolution are stated; the set of eleven consisting of the sense organs, and the five-fold Primary elements. Eva in the text has the force of emphasising that only these two sets of evolution proceed from the I-Principle and nothing else.
Objection: Let it be so; Now, the I-Principle and the rest are of uniform nature; how can two different kinds of evolution viz, the insentient (elements) and the illuminative (sense) which are of mutually contradictory nature, proceed from such a cause?
This is answered in the following verse:
From the Vaikṛta I-Principle abounding in sattva attribute having properties of buoyancy and illumination, proceed the set of eleven sense organs. From the Bhūtādi I-Principle abounding in Tāmasa attribute, the set of Primary elements proceed. How so? Because the set of five Primary elements abound in Tamas attribute. The I-Principle, though one and uniform, evolves products of diverse kinds according as it is either dominated or suppressed by one or other of the three guṇas."
Objection: If all the products are evolved by the action of Sattva and Tamas attributes only, then, what good is Rajas, which serves no useful purpose?
Answer: From the Taijasa, both of these evolve, i.e. from the I-Principle abounding in Rajoguṇa proceed both the sets of eleven and five. Just because the Rajas attribute does not produce exclusively any separate product it cannot be said that the Rajas attribute serves no useful purpose inasmuch as it energises both Sattva and Tamas attributes which, by themselves, are absolutely inert and as such incapable of performing any function, and thus Rajas becomes instrumental in the evolution of both the sets of products by the Sattva and Tamas attributes (of the I-Principle) by exciting Sattva and Tamas to perform their own activities.
In order to describe the set of eleven, predominated by the Sattva attribute, the author in the following verse describes the ten external sense-organs:
Organ-ness (indriyatvam) is to have for its substratum (i.e. as its constituent adjunct (upādānakatvam) the I-Principle abounding in Sattva attribute, and it is of two kinds: organs of knowledge, and organs of action. Both of these organs are called iṅdriyas inasmuch as they serve as the indicators of the Spirit. They are known by their respective names such as Eye etc. Of these, the organ or the instrument through which colour is perceived is the Eye, that which perceives sound is the Ear, that which perceives odour is the Nose, that which perceives taste is the Tongue, and that which perceives touch is the Skin. The function of the organs of speech and the rest are spoken of later on (in Karika 28).
The eleventh sense organ is next described:
Among the eleven sense-organs, the Mind possesses the characteristics of both, i.e. it is an organ of knowledge, and also is an organ of action inasmuch as sensory organs like the Eye and the rest and the motor organs like the Speech and the rest operate on their respective objects only when the Mind cooperates with them. (That is to say, cognition or action is possible only when the mind is operative in conjunction with the organ and receives the impression). Next the author states the special definition of the Mind: it is the deliberating principle; that is to say, the mind appears in the form of deliberation. As for example, when a certain object is vaguely apprehended by a sense organ merely as this is something, a doubt arises as to whether it be this or it be that. The mind correctly cognises it as it is this and not that by discerning the properties as belonging to the thing apprehended.
Thus has it been described by an ancient text:
Sammugdhaṁ Vastumātraṁ hi Prāggṛhṇaṅti avikalpitam |
Tat sāmānyaviśeṣābhyāṁ kalpayaṅti manīśiṇaḥ ||
Asti hi ālocanam jñānam Prathamaṁ nirvikalpakam |
Bālamūkādi vijñāna sadṛśaṁ Śuddha vastujāmiti ||
Tataḥ param punarvastu dharmairjādibhir yayā |
buddhyā' vasiyate sā hipratyakṣatvena saṁmatā ||
— ‘At first, one apprehends an object in a vague way merely as a thing; then the intelligent people cognise it as belonging to a certain genus and as possessing certain specific properties.
‘Also, (says another writer): First one has a simple and indeterminate apprehension of a thing before him, like the idea in the mind of a boy, a dumb person and the like. After this, the thing is cognised as possessing certain properties and as belonging to a certain genus etc. The cognition that apprehends all this is also accepted as sense perception.’ This operation characterised by the faculty of deliberation belongs to the mind and it serves to distinguish the mind from all similar and dissimilar classes of things.
Objection: Let it be so; but Mahat and Ahaṁkāra, having distinct operations of their own, are not classed as sense organs. Hence, the mind too should not be classed as a sense organ inasmuch as it too has a distinct operation of its own.
This is answered: it is a sense organ. Why? because it has properties in common with the other sense organs. Homogeneity is to have for its constituent cause the I-Principle abounding in sattva attribute. Here, indriya should not be interpreted in the sense of its being a characteristic of Indra (Spirit), because, in that case both Mahat and I-Principle also would have to be classed under the senses inasmuch as they too possess the above characteristic. Therefore, its being the indicator of the Spirit should be taken only as occurring from the derivation of the term indriya and not from its operational character.
Question: How is it that a set of eleven sense-organs proceeds from a single I-Principle abounding in Sattva attribute?
Answer: Its multifariousness and also its external diversities are due to peculiar modifications of the Attributes. The diversity of a product is due to the diversity in the auxiliary unseen force that brings about the experiences of sound and other objects. The diversity in the unseen force is also a modification of the Attribute. The statement in the text bāhyabhedāḥ - external diversities, is added for the purpose of illustration, that is to say, the multifariousness of the mind is just like the diverse external forms, (all owing to the diverse modifications of the attributes).
Having thus described the nature of the eleven sense organs, the specific functions of the first ten sense organs are being described:
The function of the organs of knowledge is said to be mere observation. A simple apprehension of the objects is observation. Speaking, handling, walking, excretion and gratification are the functions of the five organs of action. The organ located in the throat, palate etc is speech and speaking is its function. The functions of other organs are clear.
The functions of the three internal organs are now described:
The term svālakṣaṇyaṁ means those having their own distinct special characteristics and they are the Mahat, the Great Principle, ahaṁkāra, the I-Principle and the manas, the mind. The distinct characteristics are their natures too. They are the properties which serve as the distinguishing mark of each internal organ. They also denote their respective functions; they are: determination is of the Will (Buddhi), ego-centricity of the I-Principle (ahaṁkāra) and observation of the mind (Manas).
Function is of two kinds: common and specific. This is stated: they are peculiar to each. The vital airs are five beginning with Prāṇa. They form the common functions of the internal organs. These five vital airs are the very life of the three internal organs since the latter exist when they exist and cease to exist when they are absent. Of the five vital airs, the Prana is located at the tip of the nose, the heart, the navel, feet and the thumb; Apāna is located in the nape of the neck, the back, the feet, the anus, the generative organ and the sides; Samāna, in the heart, the navel and all the joints; Udāna, in the heart, the throat, the palate, the head, and between the eye-brows; Vyāna is located in the skin. These are the five Vital Airs.
The author next describes the order of functions, both successive and simultaneous, of the four-fold organs (the three internal organs and the external organs):
Dṛṣṭe - simultaneous with the perceptible objects: For example, when one sees in darkness, by means of the flash of lightning, a tiger facing him, then all the four, viz observation (by the eyes), consideration (by the mind) identification with the self (by the I-Principle) and determination (by the Buddhi) take place simultaneously, and he runs away from that place at once. Again successively. This is as when a man sees vaguely in dim light a certain thing; then, applying his mind intently, he observes that he is a very cruel robber with his bow stretched to his ear and arrows aimed at him; then his ahaṁkāra makes himself conscious that he (the robber) is approaching him; lastly, his will (Buddhi) determines that he should run away from that place. But with regard to unseen things, the three internal organs, viz, Mind, will, and the I-Principle, operate without the help of the external organs - this is pointed out by the text in the statement: the functions of the three are preceded by that. That is to say, the simultaneous as well as the successive functions of the three internal organs are preceded by perception of some object. Verily the cognition arising from inference, valid Testimony and Remembrance is preceded by a knowledge of sense perception and not otherwise.
As in the case of perceptible things, so also is with regard to imperceptible things.
Objection: The functions of either the set of four or the set of three, cannot be depending on themselves alone; for, in that case, the organs being everlasting, their functions too would be everlasting; on the other hand, if they are mere adventitious (i.e. transient), then their functions too would be adventitious which again would cause an admixture of the functions, there being nothing to regulate them.
This is answered in the following verse:
Karaṇāni (sense organs) must to be supplied to the above verse as the subject of the verse.
When a number of men wielding lances, sticks, bows and swords etc., having determined beforehand as to their respective roles, engage themselves in overpowering a common enemy, they proceed to act only on knowing each other’s impulse, and while acting the lance-wielder uses only lance and not stick etc.; similarly, the stick-wielder uses only the stick and not weapons like lance etc. In the same manner, each of the organs operates only by the reason of the impulse to action by the other organ. This impulse being the cause of functions of the organs, there cannot arise any admixture of functions (as the impulse acts as the regulating motive power).
Objection: But the lancers etc. are sentient beings. It is, therefore, quite appropriate to say that they act having comprehended each others’ impulse. Whereas, the organs are insentient; as such, they can never motivate others to act. Consequently, the organs can be motivated to act only by a controller who is cognisant of the nature, capacity and uses of the organs.
This is answered: The purpose of the Spirit is the sole motive; by nothing else is an organ made to act. The sole motive of the organs is to fulfil the purpose of the Puruṣa in the form of bringing about the experience of unfulfilled enjoyment, and emancipation to the Puruṣa. Consequently, there is no need to postulate an intelligent controller cognisant of the nature of the organs etc. This has further been elucidated in the verse ‘Just as the secretion of milk is for the sake of the nourishment of the calf etc. (Karika 57).
It has been declared in the verse that by none else whatsoever is an organ made to act. Now, in the following verse, the organs are being clarified.
The sense organs are eleven. Will and the I-Principle are the other two organs; thus, taken together, the organs are thirteen. An organ is a special kind of active agent. This agency cannot be there unless it has the capacity to function. Hence, the functions of the organs are next stated: Performing the functions of seizing etc. The organs of action such as the Speech etc. perform the function of seizing; that is, they pervade and apprehend their respective objects by their operations over them, while the Will, the I-Principle, and the Mind, sustain them by their respective functions in the form of the Vital Airs; and the organs of knowledge illumine their respective objects.
The functions such as seizing, sustaining etc. must have their objects; hence, they are being named and classified: And its objects etc. The objects of the thirteen kinds of organs are tenfold, in the form of the apprehended, sustained and illumined. To seize is to pervade: the organs of action pervade over speech, seizing locomotion, excretion and gratification respectively. And, they each being celestial and non-celestial, seizing is ten-fold. Similarly, the object to be sustained by the three internal organs through their functions in the form of the Vital Airs etc. is the body which is an aggregate of the five elementary substances such as the earth etc. The earth is an aggregate of five elements of sound etc. Each of these five elements being celestial and non-celestial, it becomes ten-fold; hence, the objects to be sustained also become ten-fold. In a similar way, the organs of knowledge too pervade their respective objects, viz, sound, touch, form, taste and odour. They also being celestial and non-celestial, are tenfold, and hence, the objects to be illumined by them also become ten-fold.
A further sub-division of the thirteen organs is made:
The internal organs are three, viz, Will (buddhi), I-Principle (ahaṁkāra) and Mind (Manas). They are known as internal organ as they are located inside the body. The external organs are ten; they are known as the objects of the internal three organs inasmuch as they are the channels through which the internal organs operate in apprehending, self-identifying and determining objects. Here, organs of Buddhi and the rest function by apprehending things, and the organs of action function by their respective operation on the objects. The specific differences between the external and the internal organs are next declared: The externals act at the present time and the internal organs at all the three times. The term present time suggests also time immediately preceding and immediately following; because of this, speech also becomes an object of the present. The internal organs function at all points of time, as found in the examples: (a) It had rained because the river has become full with water (indicates the past)', there is fire in the mountain because there is smoke (indicates the present)', it would rain provided no obstacles are there, because, we see ants carrying eggs (indicates the future). Here, following the events, the internal organs apprehend, become self- conscious, and determine (the occurrences at all the three points of time).
According to the Vaiśeṣikas, Time is one indivisible thing and as such it does not admit of conventional divisions such as present, past etc. This conventional division of time as past, present etc. is owing to adventitious conditions. The teachers of Sānkhya, however, hold that the very same adventitious conditions as past, present etc. may be considered as the basis for the conventional notions of future, present and past. Therefore, there is no need for postulating another intervening entity as Time.
Now the Author discusses about the objects of the external organs, operating at the present time.
Of the ten external organs, the five organs of knowledge have, for their objects, both the specific and non-specific. The specific objects are the gross sound and the rest (touch, colour, taste and odour) in their calm, turbulent and deluding forms (śāṅta, ghora, and mūḍha), abiding in the form of earth and the rest (i.e. Water, Air, Fire and Ākāśa). The non-specific are the subtle forms of sound and the rest, in the form of Primary elements (Tanmātras). The particle mātra in Tanmātra serves to eliminate gross forms of the elements. Those alone are the organs of knowledge which have for its objects both the gross and subtle things. For example, the great sages and ascetics perceive both the subtle elements of sound (śabda Tanmātra) and also the gross form of sound; but ordinary people like ourselves are capable of perceiving only the gross form of sound; similarly, the tactile organ of these ascetics is capable of perceiving both the gross and the subtle touch, whereas our tactile organ perceives objects of gross touch only. Similarly, the eye and other organs of those ascetics can perceive colour and the rest in their subtle as also gross forms, while our organs can perceive their gross forms only.
Among the organs of action, speech has sound as its object, because, the organ of speech is the cause of the gross sound. But it cannot produce the Primary element of sound which is the evolute of the I-Principle, inasmuch as Speech also is an evolute of the I-Principle (i.e. both the organ of speech and the primary element of sound are the direct evolutes of Ahaṁkāra). The rest of the organs of action such as the Anus, the Generative organ, the Hand and Feet have, for their objects, the Jar and such other things which can be manipulated by hand etc. as they are of the nature of five elements of sound, colour, touch, taste and odour.
Among the thirteen organs, some are principal ones; some are subordinate ones; the reason for the same is being stated: