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



Prof. G.R. Malkani undertakes to justify Mayavada as part and parcel of Advaita in the Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 18 (p.221) and in this connection, he states that his justification of this doctrine was prompted by his reading of the Life Divine, of Sri Aurobindo. Obviously his first complaint is that all those who attacked Mayavada accused it without taking into consideration its birth and growth under the shadowing wings of Advaita or Monism.


He pleads that a system must satisfy the following criteria in order to satisfy him. The first condition is that it must be grounded in and justified by our experience so that there is nothing in it that transcends our experience. He naively adds ‘ after all we can only interpret this experience and not speculate about things that fall outside our experience.’ (p. 222). Let me first of all point out what he really means by this test. First and foremost, he rules out any experience that transcends his present experience, his limited conscience, if we may so call this overweaning vanity of ignorance parading as experience. Secondly, he speaks of being grounded in and justified by our experience as almost purely an experiential affair, though, to be sure, this justification is to be sought and the grounding is to be discovered by his very corruptive rationality or conceptualization. Thirdly, no one denies the right of Prof Malkani to pat himself on his back with his being so very less speculative than others who have at least the wisdom to admit their limits.


The second test is not serious and indeed is welcome. No system must have ‘internal incoherence or instability’. Now even here the second term very much recalls a metaphysical reference to toppling from a table when placed in unstable position. We shall show that Mayavada itself is a very unstable thing, and its coherence with Reality is intolerably difficult, not to speak of its being simply unacceptable and intolerable.


The third criterion is that no problem should be left unsolved. Now the fundamental truth of Mayavada rests on inexplicability of any problem, and there is nothing for it to solve, for all is a mighty mysterious illusion. What problems can remain before this grand disaster? Unanswered they ever will remain.

The fourth and the last criterion is ‘There must be nothing hypothetical about its truth; for a philosophical truth cannot be verified. It must be absolutely certain and self-evidently true. This is only possible when the certainty is both rational and intuitive’ (p.222). This last is a very fine sample of the kind of argumentation that pervades the thesis of Prof. G.R. Malkani. First let me start with the last sentence. The certainty of the system must be both rational and intuitive. Now is it the rational or the intuitive experience that falls within our competence? Further are rational and intuitive apprehensions of reality mutually contradictory or complementary? Does not the evidence of reason contradict the evidence of intuition? If they are complementary or supplementary, then, is not the figment of  Mayavada, a construction, a conceptual construction, itself negated? The world as objective is stated to be a conceptual fiction-an illusion: What is the experience that brought it about? Is not our experience itself of the sensory level or intuitive level and not of the rational level. If philosophy is of the rational level which contradicts the evidence of the senses and intuition, is not a system conceptually erected on what might be called coherency of concepts a ghost-frame work? Is not philosophy then itself impossible even as the mayavada that has been brought into existence by such a philosophy is impossible? Is there any possibility of self-evidence to intuition? If intuition has to legislate for reason how can the learned professor seek the help of something that he states to be akin to delusion or mysticism? At least Sri Sankara was more aware of the need for the super-rational intuitive as the final arbiter of philosophical intuition than the pseudo-attempts made to reconcile the relational savikalpaka-jnana, and the unrelational aparoksa-jnana, which made one directly aware of Reality as the entire One indivisible experience, super-sensory, super-discriminatory. The self-evidence of Reality is the direct exhibition of its totality in intuition, which includes a powerful annihilation of all differences of subject and object and revels in Supreme Spiritual subjectivity of Oneness, Plurality as separate existences ceases on its attainment.


Having thus shown that Prof. Malkani’s four axioms of Advaita are open to serious internal incoherence, I shall then see what are his justifications.


First, Prof. Malkani takes up the question of our knowledge of the external world. He sees that the prima facie refutation of Mayavada consists in pointing out that since all is Brahman without external or internal difference, the very fact of the existence of something called the world or its explanation the Maya is a secondary fact that impugns the sovereign unity of the One Brahman.


Thus there results a dualism worse indeed in some respects that the original dualism of Spirit and World. He answers, ‘we never know the world at all, all the time we have been knowing only Brahman alone.’ We merely conceive it. Reality is what we know but the world we only conceive. Lest we should ask the question as to what difference is there between knowing and conceiving, he answers that knowing is absolutely immediate to consciousness or coincides with it, whereas conception is that which is outside consciousness and distinct from it. He proceeds to point out that consciousness alone, can be utterly coincident with itself and therefore reality is consciousness. The thesis so established firstly seeks to make ‘knowing’ some thing of immediate intuition; but this goes further and makes out that Reality is not known at all, for nothing as such remains. Of course mentists are not baffled by this non-existence of Reality other than their consciousness. The primary question is firstly why conceptualizing? Secondly, why Outside Consciousness? Even if conceptualizing cannot stand by itself, and therefore must have a consciousness to support it and can only stand as a Self, how did it ever arrive at that outsideness and objectivity? These things are not answered, and Prof Malkani quietly says, “there is nothing forced about this view”. Surely what else but forced is a view which forces concepts to be outside the self or consciousness, though this equation of consciousness as self itself is something of a mystery unexplained in the exposition: “The author however leads us to quite a different topic in order to prove that conceptions or perceptions never fall apart from the self (p.225).


Having found that conceptions and perceptions do not fall apart from the self if we sufficiently go back in time in our experience, he concludes the world never existed because the truth is that there is no self and no conception. Indeed there are no knowings.


Silence is the Truth. If after so much laborious argumentation this mouse came into existence (or non-existence?) why deny the charge leveled against them that they are nihilists or ajativadins? And why try to prove this with the help of a repertory of useless dialectics? Prof. Malkani again says that ‘a dualism to us need not be a dualism in reality’ feeling perhaps certain qualms of conscience at having to give up his job any way of being a philosopher. And uncertainly he seeks to bridge the gulf between the human and the Real standpoints, with the hope, - anent the first axiom of his system-building criteria-that the Real is something that falls within his experience,  though he himself, to be sure, is a conceptualization of some reality which he conceptually professes to understand, and ill. The truth is grasped by Prof. Malkani when he writes, “No amount of juggling with thought can succeed in eliminating all dualism” (225 p.). Do we forget that the fourth axiom stated that when we feel uncomfortable with reason that distinguishes and discriminates and analyses we should have recourse to intuition to support and save not reality, but us, from utter damnation? Unfortunately the problem of the many to be reconciled in unity or oneness refuses to be solved as he wishes. Damn it: let us like Canute say: “It shall not be”. That satisfies our conceit – the conceit of Reality; the soul of man has become the Superman, the One, without a second!


Then, having prefaced this wonderful Reality-exposition, as above, Prof. Malkani finds that Maya must have a reason! There is something contained in the concept of Maya that came to explain of existence of duality or manyness. “The opposition between Brahman and the cosmos of our experience has to be resolved; and it is resolved through the concept in question. But does this concept successfully achieve this result?” asks Prof. Malkani (p.227). or does it refute itself or does it add to his griefs?*


The whole contention of even advaitically-minded schools of philosophy is that Mayavada is not a satisfactory instrument for the purposes for which it was devised, and therefore the advaita can exist without the acceptance or even through a refutation of it. Firstly let us see what are its benefits.


(i)                  We contend that the world is not made at all. It is simply a product[1] of illusion. Maya is the name for this illusion, the illusion of Brahman appearing as the world. It is ultimate irrationality.

(ii)                Either the world is real to us or the Brahman but never the two simultaneously. The illusory never is.

(iii)               Maya can be a power in a general sense in which an illusion is a power. But Maya has not created or produced the illusion. We cannot say there is illusion because there is Maya.


* Life Divine   Vol. 1, p. 261.

1 The distinction between making and producing is a rather knotty one and is hidden under the cloak of these two synonyms which mean the same activity.

Then follow these questions: “Can we not explain this illusion in some way? Can we not go beyond it?” to which he answers, “We contend that we cannot.”


However he contends also in the same breath that we can go beyond illusory appearance. Then follow a series of propositions which hinge round this getting out of the illusory appearance, which are all due to the ultimate irrationality (p.229), which he straight away equates with the avarna and vikshepa, avidya, upadhi etc., all those entities which make diversity possible. And with quiet resignation is uttered the words, “Beyond this we cannot go” (p.229,230).


Then he begins begging the question that has been at issue, how and why did the individual superimpose the quality of self-hood upon the non-self, why should there be illusion in the ever infinite consciousness, the so called asraya and vishaya of itself? To this question alone was an answer demanded, and it is evaded by saying that it is a mystery or fundamental irrationality. ‘Beyond that we cannot go’.


No one denied that the reality behind everything is Brahman, the support of all things is in Him, and by Him are all kept in their appointed places. By denying the individual soul or the reality of the world we have not untied the knot nor ‘dissolved’ it by any means (p.231). The learned professor has debunked it..


The imputation of ignorance to all the pramanas does not avail. The precise process or manner of the deepening of the self in each or the ‘perception’ (very uncomfortable word that for an advaitin to use) of the self within which cancels the world and ourselves certainly presupposes the two-fold knowledge of present ignorance and the truth, simultaneously, even if this simultaneity be only for a moment. Indeed Advaita has found it necessary in actual practice to accept the period of simultaneous experience of illusion and reality to be considerable-as witnessed to by its postulation of badhitanuvritti.


The problems of error as fact, error as ajnana, and that illusion is not nothing but that is really resolves into its ground, are then discussed, and not always happily, because the confusion reigns in the mind of Prof. Malkani that knowledge is not awareness, that knowledge is relational and

infected with error, a position which we shall have to remember as inconsistent with his thesis, that knowledge or knowing is immediate absolutely (p.223). Finally with a gusto declares Prof. Malkani: ‘Maya! There is no Maya and no problem of Maya’! (p.238).


It is a thin defence but the best possible under the circumstances perhaps; it could have been done better, if only he were loyal to Sankara who at least did not make reason an ultimate arbiter, though he shewed that reason could only demolish and it is intuition that could grant. Advaita monistics is intellectual, incurably intellectual; and an inverted intellectuality pervades it; for it makes the real world a conceptual creation, and the primal cause which it has discovered as the truth of its intuition, the transcendent, it makes into an unattainable unknowable substrate, and as such also a conceptual entity. Maya is the concretizing force it has recourse to, but this, true to its main purpose, it makes into an element of complete and utter irrationality or unintelligibility, since, for Prof. Malkani, it does not explain illusion; it explains not itself, and it can be of no help to Brahman, the sole existent; it cannot explain emergence. It had never been and therefore why talk about it?


Then, that is, after having to his own satisfaction established the non-existence and non-problem of Maya, having after all thought that Maya yet is something to be talked about, he proceeds to answer the objections raised against this non-existent problem. We may well remark that it is he who found a convenient inexplicable peg to hang his brand of advaita, not we, and he cannot get away with its argumentation about its ‘unlimited’ or penultimate existence or reality. We have every right to ask whether the reality that is awareness is an existence or not, is it or is it not. No recourse to two standpoints in reference to the same thing is available, for its self-contradiction is patent on the face of it. He now begins answering objections.


The first objectionn “If Brahman is the only reality why speak of Maya at all? But if we have to admit the principle of Maya in order to explain out present experience, there will always be some form of ultimate dualism. Maya will have some relation to Brahman.” (p.238)


Prof. Malkani begins with the preface that thought can start with some kind of dualism, and admits otherwise it has no scope. He speaks immediately about planes. Are there planes in Brahman or in us and if in us or in anything else why are they? He says that it is the fault of philosophizing itself. Of course no body expects one to jump over one’s own shadow. Naively comes the sentence: “Maya (the problem) is the end of all problems” – rather we do not see any end to it. But no sooner he says this than he recovers his philosophical judgment and remarks “Maya is an entity which is real only in the absence of discriminating thought”. Well may one exclaim, where are we going to? Thought is essentially dualistic; yet only without thought can we see that maya is an end of all problems; and now maya is refuted by thought. Thought indeed walks in three paces to suit the logical incoherency of the three planes* . But  then what can be coherent in this world? The second criterion (that of coherency) is crashing on us and is being swallowed up by the fastest running river in the ravine. “Surely the concept of maya is liquidating itself and all dualism.” The naivity is all the more true to type, constant throughout, “And there is no forced logic about it.” “the maya stands fully revealed to thought in its true nature when it is described as “anirvachaniya”.


The whole argument is a sample of the incoherency of the structure of thought raised by the learned professor. An omnibus-howl that there is no problem; incomprehensibility is something that stands revealed, acceptance of Ignorance of true nature is understanding; - these are all of a piece with the attitude that does not see that the whole approach to the problem of Unity. Multiplicity has misfired, and this cussedness pervades the entire thesis so efficiently carried out in its presentation as in its defence.


The second objection: “The world cannot be all an illusion. The illusory is never really known to us but merely conceived. The world is not merely conceived by us. It shows the reign of law and order. It has real objectivity…” The objection is a consequence of the first, for it attacks the maya-concept from the side of the effect – the world.


Prof. Malkani admits that “Thus we have to admit that the illusory is just like any real object” (p.240), and proceeds to make both the illusory objects and the ‘so-called real’ objects conceptual or rather a ‘construct of thought’. He airily propounds that every thing about the world could ultimately be traced to thought. But is it not the thought that taught him to discriminate?


* Life Divine 1.  " Nowhere in the Upanishads is it actually laid down that the three-fold status is a condition of illusion or the creation of an unreality ;  it is constantly affirmed that all this that is, - this universe we are now supposing to have been constructed by Maya, - is the Brahman, the Reality."

Changing the front he may explain that thought has two modalities (i) constructive or creative and (ii) discriminative analysis. He holds that once we separate the one from the other, we shall arrive at a stage when we shall have no objectivity. And as we shall have no objectivity, neither is there a place for subjectivity. Prof. Malkani however wants to make out that illusion, imagination and conception are different; but having reduced everything to what we are not capable of ever knowing, he assumes that perception, conception and imagination are all of the same kind (p. 241).

But he contends also that there is a difference between conception and imagination, using the so-well-known but well-exploded myth of free-association in the one case, and controlled-association in the other. This resort has already been so thoroughly ruined by the Psycho-analytic school which shows that free-association is in fact an association or re-intergrative process that takes place under the guidance of the Unconscious and repressed subliminal consciousness, that we may well call our conceptualizing more free than that; but then, even this is impossible for the control exercised by the unconscious or the subliminal consciousness is of the universal instincts, the most universal and racial, and as such it is spurious subjectivity that pervades the free-association process. It appears then that the specific conceptualization that takes place when I conceive a chair and not a table, the control is of the object and not of the subject and there is no choice left for Prof. Malkani to call it by any other name.

 Prof. Malkani here  diverts himself by describing the illusory as consciously perceived and not consciously imagined. The rub then is consciousness, and not either objectivity or imagination or perception, and as for that consciousness surely there can be no imputation that it is doing havoc. But precisely the whole complaint of Mayavada is against this Consciousness, this Absolute Consciousness, that does all this tricky business of appearing illusorily in imagination, in perception and in conception too. This truth is, as Sri Aurobindo has stated, and there are weighty authorities and testimonies of Sri Ramanuja, Sri Bhaskara, Sri Madhva, Sri Krishna Chaitanya and a whole host of mystics who point out that there is absolutely no meaning in holding that the ‘created’, ‘manifested’, ‘exhibited’, is less real than the Uncreate, Unborn, Unmanifest, Unexhibited or Uncreatable, Unmanifestable, Unexhibitable, which however does appear, does exhibit itself to itself, so to speak. The vivarta-vada is an expedient in a refutation of Buddhism;

it is futile as an explanation of Vedic and Upanishadic Intuition. The whole doctrine of unreality of the three states of waking dreaming and sleeping propounded by Mayavada under the distinguished auspices of the Karika-kara-Gaudapada, is alien to the structure of  spiritual experience and whatever experience is at the back of the value theories of Mayavada, it is a sheer disservice to the Reality of the Supreme Consciousness, Being-Bliss.

 The reply to the third objection (c) (p.241) complains, in one word, that the refuter of the Mayavada has unfortunately a notion and the objector here holds, that there are real individuals, real knowledge and real liberation. True, these have absolutely no place in Advaita Mayavada indeed there is no place therein for anything, not even for Sachchidananda. Having argued however that much may be said in favour of the common-sense position seeking a real liberation for a real individual, he holds that freedom is not ‘change of a quality for another quality on the part of a self-identical entity’ (p.241); for he holds that freedom is not equivalent to changing of one quality, that of being bound, to one of freedom, for here there is no modification but a dropping of limitation. Change here is certainly not the word to be employed except as a general term. The whole difficulty for Prof. Malkani is that he starts with a very wrong use of the word ‘real’ and refuses to see that it is leading him and his like to the cul de sac of perfect darkness: witness his impervious sentence. “A real bondage could not disappear through right knowledge, but a false bondage must” (p.243) and perhaps students of Mayavada will recall the analogy of fire dying out alone with that which burns in it applied to the right knowledge itself; for you will remember that real individuals, real knowledge, and real liberation are unacceptable to Advaita. For blatant logic without relevance this piece is hard to beat. But then we are in such a world and the freedom granted to the individual is, in the Grace of the Divine, to be a kamacari.

 The accusing fingers of many thinkers who are also mystics, and not any intellectual bourgeoisie, are raised against the advaitic view that He is Brahman and point out that the upasana of Aham-brahmasmi is itself capable of being misdirected towards the exaltation of egoism as in the case of the mythical heroes. And the mystical finger raised against the school of Advaita Mayavada cannot be rebutted unless there is the acceptance of humility by the one who achieving salvation of cancellation of his existence sees not others as even waiting to be liberated or cancelled, though he (?) continues his high spiritual cancellation-business remaining out of the world. Sri Aurobindo as a Seer-mystic lays his unerring finger on this which Prof. Malkani with his own brand of self-justified consciousness(?) speaks of as a private grievance (p.244). Further Prof. Malkani betrays his lack of understanding of the metaphysical theory of Sri Aurobindo when he says that the individual is ‘a phenomenal existence’ and a creation of the Lord! (footnote to page 244).

 Then comes the reply to the objector who really works out a reductio ad absurdum by saying “If indivisible consciousness is the only reality then the world is not and never existed, can never have been conceived.” “for do we not first conceive it and then deny it?” Now comes Prof. Malkani with his reply; no doubt we have to accept at the level of thought – the terms of duality and multiplicity, - (quite a convenient excuse for thinking in terms of that). Then with as much dogmatism he asserts that  ‘a unity which accommodates multiplicity can only be, as we have shown, a spurious unity’ – the showing as we point out at once is a mere affirmation, not sanctioned by logic, by experience, not even by integral experience. This is sheer non-sense; for the whole problem of any metaphysics is to discover the unity, that unity which shall not cancel but uphold the multiplicity and make experience possible. Abolishing is a child’s act of solution and canceling; sublating and other terms are but veils of this process of a mentality which is unable to stand up to a critical exposition of integrity of Reality. The fact is, it needs a painstaking effort to understand the secret of unity, Identity is the first-look solution and a false solution. And ‘after all we can only realise a real unity when we can go with the aid of thought beyond thought and its dualities,’ is a statement of despair when one never makes up his mind to go to that bleak height but goes on rather towards excellent suppers at professorial concerts. And Prof Malkani’s ways of thinking, having been seen for what they are, cannot through any effort on his part but involve his thinking his position to be reductio ad asburdum. But the problem of the one and the many is crucial, and has other repercussions on the very structure of society and ethics and these are all debunked by the sweeping phrase, Hitlerian as people will admit, ‘ Cancel’, which is another way of saying ‘put them in the bucket’ like puppies. And we know they cannot survive, even the stoutest of them.


The last objection is against the existence of Maya: Maya is, the duality therefore is, but we can, from what has gone before, conclude that the explanation will be swift and surely given Maya never is, never was, never will be. But he allows that the whole business is irrational, and we must of course recognize it. After all, that is what philosophy is out to make known, our limits and possibilities. Surely no one underrated the dimensions of the task undertaken to make irrationality  respectable and even honourable. No doubt, the Mayavadin has taken all this trouble not for nothing but to make thought irrational and cancel it if possible in a super-irrational which swallows up all the appearance, for that is the meaning of sublation (p.237) – a swallowing up by the ground leaving no residue either positive or negative – though what exactly this second alternative means, I leave the reader to discover. Force of habit, you know, in dialectics!


We have arrived at intuition – an intuition that succeeds to the throne where intellect has failed (p.247). This is a grand quack-business. The magic wand has after all come and lifted us up, our problems, our freedoms as well as our bondages have all disappeared. You know Intuition – it is Omnivorous.

 Unfortunately there are intuitionists, revelationists, enjoyers of God, in his absolute Transcendence as His supreme wonderful immanence, who  having simultaneously seen and moved and had their being in all the Supreme Vastness, Bliss and Reality, hold that a superficial attraction, a false attraction alone has been presented by Mayavada; an attraction to the Divine so that they may for a while withdraw their own identifications with the world in order to perceive the Divine relationships. Or even when there is to be had indeed a fundamental physical  identity realised by the individual soul, it is not the essence of the search; for God alone is realized as the most perfectly absorbing Reality, and the completest immanence in Him is seen to be the finale or rather the most complete realization of the union, this being the purpose of the search with which the soul started on its struggle after liberation. Complete surrender gives the fullest immanence of oneself in the Divine in every respect, including the loss of this egocentricism that has marked it out as separate and self. It then perceives what it should ever know that as in the absorption and this total unification which permits the soul to be able to say ‘I am not; Thou alone art ’ or rather ‘ I am thou ’ to use the most pregnant usage of the Upanishads, for ‘I no longer am or can be divested of Thee’ and ‘Thou art all that is I,’, so also it knows that the vastness infinity of the Divine had always held it to itself and in itself in an inseparable relationship a fundamental mystic and wonderful unity which alone the individual soul did not become aware of and therefore fell into the avidya; even this avidya is for the purpose of the Divine Essence to enjoy Himself, in an extensity and separation that is not separation in essence, in the externally in separably related souls (aprthaksiddha-sambandha).

 It is equally true that the panthesism that is sought to be arrived at by certain thinkers is not the whole truth about the reality; and monism can never be considered to be anything but an intellectual version of the deeper unity or integral Organicistic Personality of the Divine. So truly have certain advaitic thinkers themselves realized the fruitlessness of the reasonings and so completely have western thinkers and philosophers exhibited with their thorough-going consistency the goal of monism, whether it is the Haeckelian, Hegelian, Bergsonian or Machian kinds, to be the outcome of the intellectual attempt to discover the  uniformities of nature, that it is a noteworthy development when we see them claiming that their monism is of the intuitional order. The seven refutations of the Mayavada made by Sri Ramanuja give classical examples of its shifty logic and inspired inconsistency and they have yet to be answered fully. Nor are the objections raised by Prof. Malkani all that can be stated against the school, for the orthodox have many more objections*


*  Sri Ramanuja refutes advaita notion of the Absolute as Consciousness as suffering from very serious faults; he shows that consciousness as substance is faulty, for in fact it is but the function of a self and may be called a substance because it changes not because it is changeless. It is not something that subsists as substrata of all states for as pointed out it is but the activity or function of a knower; it is not eternal either because it is an interim activity as our experience itself points out that we cognized, we did not cognize etc.; our contraction or limitation of consciousness or intelligence is due to Karma that is beginningless and this limitation does not affect or infect the knowing self; further it is inconceivable that this consciousness as anubhuti should be capable of being deflected or segmented by different avidya or mayas; for if it were so and if this anubhuti be indeed the reality which becomes knowers, known objects and knowings, then avidya would overwhelm all uniformly. But this cuts at the root of the theory of Uniform Reality. This is not the teaching of the Scriptures (of course Prof. Malkani has not had recourse to scriptures in his article and has treated it from the standpoint of the modern western-philosophers). The whole theory of Nescience or Avidya is unprovable, by which we mean a wholesale universal nescience, Sri Venkatanatha refutes the Advaita in the following manner:

“Since it is said that all that is other than Brahman is illusion, there is no testimony at all by which to intimate that thing. Nor could the transcendental Brahman prove any of these. Even if the testimony of the phenomenal consciousness is accepted, soon after the phenomena have ceased to appear as true, there can be no adherence to one’s own tenets, as they are said to become false and are identical with dream evidence. Further they themselves have surrendered the validity of testimonies as something not belonging to the transcendent being…. And because of the illusoriness of both the unqualifiedness (of Brahman itself) and the world illusoriness, the knowledge of other systems, the knowledge of the world  etc., thereby becoming true, these (other and opposed views) would become valid knowledge!” Further he writes “To this thinker who affirms that through the false the truth is gained, (we have to say that) not one of the examples he brings forward helps or harmonises with his doctrine.” (paramatabhanga: Ch. XI, my trans. ISVOL.1)

 That whole chapter should be read for a thorough going refutation. Thus it can be seen that the whole procedure of Mayavada has been to go the way of nihilism, and nothing can prevent one from going that way once we abandon the criteria we have. The sorriest plight is that of Prof. Malkani who started with the four-point programme of being loyal to human experience, and has straightway disloyally sought to refute every human reality and standard and has finally ended by saying that Ignorance never was, Maya never was, World never was, Reality never was or is or will be. As Sri Ramanuja stated, in every respect Mayavada is an unacceptable doctrine.

 Bhaskara, an earlier commentator on the Vedanta Sutras, has severely criticized Sankara’s theory. “In seeking to extablish the stability of the absolute the Mayavadin cuts at the root of knowledge” by his theory vivartavada, and this certainly goes against the scriptural texts which teach sad-vidya and sat-karya-vada; false judgement cannot lead to real knowledge, and there is no sublation of one state of the self by the other, and it culminates in that inexplicable nescience, called sarva-anirvaaniyatva. Nor can the practice of upasanas and the resort to intuition have any place in the system of identity. The two-standpoint theory is a fertile source of self-delusion. Students who would  like to know more about the orthodox way of refutation should read Prof. P.N. Srinivasacharya’s work on the Bhedabheda Philosophy (p.57-73). He calls these refutations as anitcipations of Sri Ramanjua’s Saptavidha-anupapatti

Madhva defends the difference theory against the Advaita theory and shows even as Sri Ramanuja does that there is  no cognition by any pramana of the undifferenced; and the identity texts must be interpreted in consonance with the Dvaita, the difference-view. Sri Ramanuja alone grants that both the texts-advaitic and dvaitic- must take into consideration the texts which are mediating (ghataka-srutis), which in one sense form the key to the whole science of textual criticism.

 Prof. Malkani wishes to point out that Sri Aurobindo accepts indeed Maya and whether he calls the same daivi or apara maya, one of these answeres to the maya of the advaita. The word Maya is derived by Sri Aurobindo from the root ma, measure, and higher maya is that which ‘ exhibits’ the ‘vast illimitable truth of infinite existence’ whilst the lower is delusive, separative and of the ignorance. Sri Aurobindo also accepts two levels of evolution, the evolution  in the Ignorance and the evolution in the knowledge; the material, vital and mental evolution are of the Ignorance. What is precisely the status of this Ignorance, since ‘Self-Ignorance is the root of all perversity of our existence?’ No advaita can accept the view, says Prof. Malkani, that reality, the most absolute, can ever suffer from self-ignorance not to speak of Ignorance. Now this cannot be explained by the theory of lapse into ignorance of the most perfect Consciousness-Force: he even holds that ‘falling away from Self-knowledge and Self-illumination into the lowest strata of inconscience can never be a play or lila which would fill the heart of reality or sachchidananda with joy’ (p.248). It can not be that error or rather falling into error is a way to truth (p.248 footnote). Nor is evil inevitable. And triumphantly, says Prof. Malkani, once we admit or accept error as colouring our view of the cosmos or of the things as they are in themselves, we must simply go all the way with Advaitism and admit no explanation of the world except in terms of maya or the power of illusion.” (p.249)


The above statements of Prof. Malkani betray a complete lack of intuition into fundamentals of spiritual life. We have already referred to his definitions of reality or the real, his conception of maya, his conception of knowing and conceiving and imagining, and his complete confidence that nothing really can be and nothing has been and we are ever as we were. The advaitic technique suffers from a vague identification of reality with permanence, illusion with knowing and a confusion between intellect and intuition which is facilitated by a surreptitious hypostatizing of intellectual monism into an intuitive realization or awareness. The truths of spiritual life reveal the grades of ascent of the consciousness, and as Sri Ramanuja pointed out eight centuries ago the technique of Advaita is to deny every evidence and finally hold that all evidences point to their own destruction and to the awareness of Reality. A psychological somersault is the need. The advaitin cannot explain the wherefore of this illusion, while the realists at least realise the actual fact of untruth and seek to get over it and find in the blaze of the illumination that all the untruths have indeed been real and really revealing the wonderful beneficence and even reality of the ascent to Divine nature. True it is that there are several stand-points: the stand-point of the human reveals the maya working out the passion of the manyness or

multiplicity of souls each seeking an individual ascent into the Divine mansion and it may appear technically as that of the ignorance since it operates diffusively; but this is an ignorance which is implicit or veiled knowledge in the depths and appears to the   Supreme Transcendent or the Supermind not as an ignorance but as the puissance of the Self-illumined operating of the extremest limit of the multiplicity which it gathers in the Divine evolution into the Unity of these in the higher. The language of dimensions is essentially symbolic and yet true of the mystical life, and none who is a mystic can miss these terms in literature. Rightly thus Sri Aurobindo has said “For this ignorance is still in reality a knowledge seeking for itself behind the original mask of Inconscience and missing and finding; its results are the true consequence of the lapse,–in a way, even the right working of the recovery from the lapse” – this sentence is nothing more than what I have stated, that the implicit multiplicity in its creative urge of expansion affirms at once on one side the multiplicity as separately working out a harmony or an affirmation through the many individualized personalities, affirming egoism, mind, vital movement, material distension etc., while all through the secret unity, in the depths, sustains and leads and projects these upward and organizes in its own freedom the essential ecstacy of the perfections of the Divine. Sin, error ignorance are the inevitable representations of the figures of these movements on the surface, real and poignant to the individual souls, but in the final culmination of their ascent into the Supermind these can be seen as the real, essential and necessary steps of its ascent in these integral processes or integrating processes. The secret of the system of Sri Aurobindo lies in this essential dictum: the Divine Oneness seeks the self-delight in terms of the eternal and implicit multiplicity of its nature in each and in all simultaneously or successively in space-time nexus.


Mayavada cannot bear this large formulation of the Nature of Brahman, being absorbed by the Oneness, staticism, permanence as statically construed and not dynamically possible without lapse into imperfection or unconsciousness. Sri Aurobindo shews that the two, Oneness and multiplicity, Change and Permanence, Transcendence and Immanence, are all sat-cit-ananda, and the Anandatva, chaitanyatva, and satyatva are characteristic of both types of Self-existence, only they are expressed in terms of the typal formulation and both are at every point capable of being perceived as co-existent. That is to say, to the seer-vision there is visible change in Permanence, as permanence is seen in change; oneness in multiplicity as well as multiplicity in oneness: transcendence in nature or immanence as well as immanence in the transcendence: the stress being different. In the creative Process what we perceive are the dynamic, multiplicity, change, immanence which express the permanent, oneness, transcendence, in terms of process in a space-time. It is in this sense the Supreme is supremely wonderful mystery and the sachchidananda requires and has its dynamic formulation in the Supermind-consciousness; in this sense too we can speak of dual-governance, dampatya, of the Divine in diunity as Siva and Sakti, Vishnu-Laksmi; it is this that is the essentially mystic reality which derealises nothing that is or was or will be but uplifts all and integrates all in the supreme ecstasy of an integral experience. Thus the final criticism of Prof. Malkani that Sri Aurobindo colours his scheme with error and that therefore he must walk into the mayavadic parlour is disposed of as merely a rhetorical  pose needing summary rejection.

 Prof. Malkani does not raise the value questions to which idealists usually resort having made no success with logic; and that saves our trouble a lot. In a universe wherein everything has no value, and all, values are cancelled summarily by closing one’s eyes to the problems, there happens not sublation of  the values nor yet the transvaluation of all values but the values do not exist at all, the only value being the hypostatized intellectual Absolute raised to the status of a mystical Reality by thinking so hard that it has passed to the level of intuition (or is it hallucination?).

[1]1] The distinction between making and producing is a rather knotty one and is hidden under the cloak of these two synonyms which mean the same activity.

* Life Divine I. “Nowhere in the Upanishads is it actually laid down that the three-fold status is a condition of illusion or the creation of an unreality; it is constantly affirmed that all this that is – this universe we are now supposing to have been constructed by Maya – is the Brahman, the Reality.”