CHAPTER 2 SECTION 1
Thibaut following the commentators of the medieval times interprets the opening statement of this section as, If it be objected that (from the doctrine expounded hitherto) there would result the fault of there being no room for (certain) Smrtis; we do not admit that objection, because (from the rejection of our doctrine) there would result the fault of want of room for other Smrtis.
Some scholars feared that if Badarayanas stand in the previous chapter was upheld it would result in the rejection of a smrti like the Manusmrti as the latter would be found to be faulty. According to the doctrine followed by Badarayana, all members of the earliest society were equally inert and ignorant and none of them was able to assert his separate identity. They were all involved in a struggle for existence and as agricultural economy had not yet come into existence they could not get even food.
There was no community, not even family was there. There were no social relations. But some human beings experienced mutation in their genes and the three innate traits, tamas, rajas and sattva came into focus. It was the age when Rta or laws based on natural traits, svabhava, prevailed.
Variations in human life and vocations and social relations and social status came into force and there was a natural trend for social ascent along with the trend for social stability and social security that called for reification of social roles and social statuses.
The next stage witnessed protection of both these natural trends through adherence to the laws based on perpetuation of positions secured through personal endeavour and protection of property. These laws were tuned to the principle that right is might. These laws virtually negated the earlier laws based on Rta that recommended surrender of the weak to the mighty and created two social strata, the rulers and the ruled.
The laws based on Satya enthroned the gentle and the pious in the highest position in the socio-political hierarchy and permitted every one the right to ascend to this high level of sattva.
The new social laws based on dharma advocated the rise and submission of all social classes to this highest class of free intellectuals while protecting the interests of all the ranks. The highest class of impartial jurists would replace the mighty as the final social authority.
And its head, Brahma, would be the free individual representing all the free men of the larger universal society but would have arisen from its lowest ranks whose members were concerned with ensuring their own bare subsistence, anna or food. The Brahma would be also a Vaisvanara. This doctrine did not adopt the concept of the jivatma being a reflection of the paramatma and the ultimate merger of the former in the latter.
Badarayana was presenting the guidelines for the composition and exposition of the messages known as Upanishads rather than defending any particular statement of any of the Upanishads. He took into account the existence of several social codes which all claimed to be records of the Vedic social codes as remembered and recalled by his contemporaries. These did not all have the same objective. As the commentator points out, Kapila-Smrti, for instance, was not concerned with things to be done, but was composed with exclusive reference to perfect knowledge as the means of final release.
In other words, while most of the social codes like Manusmrti dealt with social, economic and political affairs, relations and duties and were tuned to Karma-yoga, some dealt with the process of acquisition of perfect knowledge, that is, Jnana-Yoga which one was to pursue if he wanted to be freed from social bonds and obtain, salvation, moksha. The commentator however overlooked that the Smrtis that dealt with the dialectical systems were of immense use to the jurists. Kapila was an expounder of the dialectical system, Samkhya.
Badarayana was of the view that all social codes were faulty. None of the Smrtis (Dharmasastras), which claimed to be inspired by the Srutis (Vedas), was perfect for none of them had adopted a holistic approach. They did not deal with the theme of an impartial judiciary headed by a true representative of the entire human society who had risen from its lowest ranks and had a thorough acquaintance with the ways of all its ranks and sectors and does not pursue any personal goal.
To the extent, the extant hymns of the Srutis and the Smrtis failed to deal with this aspect of emergence of a social guide par excellence they were faulty and needed to be re-examined and redrafted if necessary. (smrti anavakasa doshaprasanga iti ca ena anyasmrti anavakasa doshaprasangat 2-1-1) The presumption that the Smrtis being posterior to the Vedas were all based on the principles accepted by the Vedas is unwarranted.
Thibaut translates the next formula (2-1-2 as, And on account of the non-perception of the others (.e. the effects of the pradhana, according to the Samkhya system). Badarayana holds that his concept of the perfect intellectual and the highest judicial authority is the ultimate level that a free man who is not bound to social groups and bodies and can be the representative of the entire humanity as Vaisvanara, can reach is not traceable in either earlier works then available or in the other new codes which are faulty as they do not adopt a holistic approach. (itaresha ca anupalbdhe 2-1-2 )
According to Thibaut, in the next formula, the teacher holds that thereby the Yoga (Smrti) is refuted. Though there are no precedents traceable in the extant works to the schemata by which every one who exerts in the prescribed way will rise to the highest level and be competent to occupy the position of the highest judicial authority, the suggestions made by Badarayana and his school are not to be treated as being not in accordance with the Srutis and the earlier Brahma code. They are to be examined on the basis of new rational concepts and methods. (yetena yoga prayukta 2-1-3) Badarayana, like Krshna, was associated with the school of yoga rather than with Kapilas school of samkhya.
The commentator translates the next formula (2-1-4) as, (Brahman can) not (be the cause of the world) on account of the difference of character of that (viz. the world); and its being such (i.e. different from Brahman we learn) from Scripture. According to the commentator of the medieval times the objections against the doctrine of Brahma being the efficient and the material cause of this world have been refuted and that Badarayana then proceeded to refute those based on reasoning.
The concept, Brahman, indicates the stage when one realizes that he is different from the social and physical environment around him. The first man from whom the entire human species and culture and civilization emerged might have been such a Brahman who was aware of his identity as a person with special talents, as Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (I-iv) indicates.
This awareness (aham brahma asmi) should have led to the emergence of the universal society with diversities caused by the release of its innate tendencies, which have been classified as tamas, rajas and sattva. The concept, Brahma, indicates that there is no internal contradiction between the concept of non-differentiation in the beginning when man had first realized that he was different from the rest of nature or prakrti and the concept of non-differentiation at the end when he has reached the highest position as the judge who looks at all with non-involvement and non-attachment. This has been interpreted by the commentators of the medieval and later times as Brahma at the stage of creation and Brahma at the stage of final dissolution. (na vilakshanatva adasya tathatvam ca sabdat 2-1-4)
Thibaut translates the next formula (2-1-5) as, But (there takes place) denotation of the superintending (deities), on account of the difference and the connexion. The teacher points out that the respectable authority is referred to where there is a special note distinguishing that personage and there is a connection with his function is pointed out. In other words, the terms, Agni, Varuna, Soma etc. referred to the incumbents to those posts. They are not to be viewed as fire, rain, moon etc. The commentators are aware that it is irrational to interpret that rain spoke when it was a reference to the official who held a particular position that was designated as Varuna who spoke or gave a direction. These officials were not deities. (abhimani vyapadesa tu visesha anugatibhyam 2-1-5)
The commentator says that this cryptic statement (2-1-6) But it is seen implies that the teacher was rejecting the suggestion that this world could not have originated from the high intellectual authority, Brahman, on account of the difference of its character is not founded on an absolutely true tenet. For, it is seen that non-intelligent matter can emerge from what is an intelligent personage and from non-intelligent matter intelligent things can emerge.
In other words, persons, purushas, with dynamism and sedateness may emerge even in an otherwise uneducated inert mass society, prakrti, and among the intelligent and ordinarily dynamic persons some may become despondent and remain inactive. The Vedic chronicles provide instances of both occurrences. In other words, purusha emerges from what is essentially prakrti that has no self-volition and prakrti is created by purusha. One is the cause of the other, according to the school of dialectics. (drshyate tu 2-1-6)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (2-1-7) as, If (it is said that the effect is non-existent before its origination), we do not allow that because it is a mere negation (without an object). The teacher points out to the detractor that the argument of the latter that attainment of the status of the highest intellectual, Brahma, cannot be conceived as the objective behind the entire schemata of creation of diverse social groups, sectors and ranks and recognition of the rights and duties of every individual to develop his talents and improve his knowledge to the maximum extent possible. It is negation for the sake of negation.
The interpretation that the Almighty was in existence before all things were created by Him and that He expected the men whom He had created to ultimately become one with Him is not accepted by the schools of rationalism. They argue that purpose is identical with the final effect and not with the first cause.
Badarayana expected his disciples to be rigorously rational and note that the first man who realized that he was not a part of the socio-physical environment and identified himself as Brahma (as the teacher of the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad noted) was distinct from the intellectual who had freed himself from all social bonds including personal likes and dislikes and is a detached person, a Brahma, an intellectual par excellence. His rationalism was not a mere negation of conventional beliefs. (asat iti ca ena pratishedha matratvat 2-1-7)
Thibaut translates the next statement (2-1-8) as, On account of such consequences at the time of re-absorption (the doctrine maintained hitherto) is objectionable. According to the commentators of the medieval and later times, Badarayana is faced with the issue of granting validity to the concept of re-absorption in Brahma, the Ultimate, of all men created in the beginning by Him and who have developed several infirmities.
It does not provide satisfaction of the mind and balanced thinking through clearing the doubts raised in the mind to argue that man was perfect in the remote past and there were no divisions or inequality in mankind when the race came into existence (or was created by God) but became a victim of undesirable passions and that mankind became diversified and full of inequality and inequity and would somehow be released from these and become an egalitarian and ideal society on following the new Brahma code. (apitau tadvat prasangat asamanjasam 2-1-8)
Thibaut translates the next epigram (2-1-9) as, Not so; as there are parallel instances. Badarayana told his followers that there was nothing objectionable in the social system that they proposed to bring into existence. There were similar attempts in the past too when the objective of restoring the primal equality of all human beings and ensuring the unrestrained growth of the natural talents of every individual was kept in mind by sages. (na tu drshtanta bhavat 2-1-9)
The commentator interprets the next statement (2-1-10) as, And because the objections (raised by the Samkhya against the Vedanta doctrine) apply to his view also. Badarayana was introducing the concept of social and cultural ascent of individuals to the highest level, that is the cadre of impartial, independent and unattached body of judiciary, Brahma, as based on the concept that all men were born free as Brahma uninfluenced by their socio-physical environment. But social, cultural, economic and political influences that sprang up during the course of the march of human civilisation resulted in the loss of that freedom.
They have to regain that freedom according to the new Brahma code, which hailed the earlier Brahma code that struck down every one of the provisions of the codes based on Rta and Satya and later those provisions of the codes based on Dharma, which denied the right of the individual not to be a part of the iniquitous society.
Badarayana alleges that his critics were not aware that they themselves were unable to explain how man changed and how inequity crept in when all were born equal and the concept of mutation was not in tune with the postulate that every cause has an inevitable effect and that the present is the effect of the past and the present will be the cause of the future and hence it is only the features of the present ill-organized society that are to be attended to and not those of the early society which many assume was perfect or the dream world that the idealists seek to bring into existence. It is not sound to introduce the concept of a divergence in the approaches of Samkhya and Vedanta. The critic was unable to disprove the claim of Badarayana as the former took his stand on a defective postulate. (svapaksha doshat ca 2-1-10)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (2-1-11) as, If it be said that in consequence of the ill-foundedness of reasoning, we must frame our conclusions otherwise, (we reply that) thus also there would result non-release. The commentator interprets that in matters of Scripture mere reasoning is not to be relied on, for as the thoughts of man are altogether unfettered, reasoning which disregards the holy texts and rests on individual or personal opinion has no proper foundation.
Some critics of Badarayana did not depend on logic to come to the right conclusions and suggested that there were other systems of inquiry that should be pursued. But Badarayana who wanted to be rigorously rational noticed that they too did not help to resolve the fallacies and free the thinker from getting entangled in the never-ending cause-effect-cause cycle.
The commentator arrives at the conclusion that as different schools of thought and logical systems do not help one to resolve the contradictions and get all doubts cleared, the intelligent Brahman is to be considered as the cause and substance of the world as stated by the Scripture (Sruti and Smrti) and as reasoning has to be subordinate to Scripture.
This stand does not accord with what Badarayana meant. He was not a blind upholder of all that was passed on as inviolable Scripture. Badarayana and his critics were engaged in discussing the validity of certain concepts and theorems that were essentially sociological in nature rather than theological. Hence the word, scripture is not to be used here. (tarka apratishttanat api anyatha anumeyam iti ca et evam api avimoksha prasanga 2-1-11)
Thibaut translates the next formula (2-1-12) as, Thereby those (theories) also which are not accepted by competent persons are explained. Badarayana points out to his students that the above formulas explain also why the arguments not accepted by the competent authorities are rejected. This formula does not state which approaches or points of view he held to be objectionable. Most of the schools of thought that the commentators of the medieval times grappled with were post-Vedic in origin and were considered by the orthodox to be nihilistic or heretic. (etena sishta aparigraha api vyakhyata 2-1-12)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (2-1-13) as, If it be said that from the circumstance of (the objects of enjoyment) passing over into the enjoyer (and vice versa) there would result non-distinction (of the two), we reply that (such distinction) may exist (nevertheless), as ordinary experience shows. Man enjoys certain aspects of his socio-physical environment some of which has been created by him. These aspects enjoyed by him go to form his personality. In other words society and its culture and civilisation have been created by man. They are a product of mans endeavour. At the same time his character and personality are moulded by this social and cultural environment. The principle of cause-effect-cause has to be viewed from this angle. Man and society cannot be viewed as separate entities.
Badarayana implies that the talk of man withdrawing or escaping from social relations and bonds is not rational. Every social world, loka, treats its individual member as having been its inalienable unit from the very beginning and as a contributor to its orientations and as a product of its culture and civilisation. He has no identity apart from its. (bhoktrapatte avibhagascetsya lokavat 2-1-13)
According to Thibaut, Badarayana notices that the non-difference of them (i.e. of cause and effect), results from such terms as origin and the like. (2-1-14) The absence of the difference between the cause and the effect, that is, the individual as the product of the society and the society as the resultant of the efforts of the individuals, is indicated by the terms, like beginning or source or origin used in different contexts. The elaborate discussions engaged in by commentators over the implications and application of this formula, are unnecessary.
Badarayana pointed out that he was not trying to establish that all men and all beings and even all inanimate objects are created by Brahma or that all these are imbued with the divinity and trait of eternity that the concept, Brahma, is endowed with or that all these ultimately lose their individual identities as they merge in Brahma. (tat ananyatvam arambhana sabdadibhya 2-1-14)
Thibaut translates the next epigram (2-1-15) as And because only on the existence (of the cause the effect) is observed. Badarayana notes that the individual who contributes to the formation of his social world, loka, and is influenced by that social world acquires for himself and for that social world a distinct attitude or bhava and this orientation and resultant characteristic, svabhava, is reified by constant association with that social world. He cannot function as a discrete individual independent of that social world. (bhave ca upalabdhe 2-1-15)
Thibaut translates the next epigram (2-1-16) as And on account of that, which is posterior (i.e. the effect) being that which is. The essential trait of the product of the actions, that is, the nature and calibre of the social cadre to which one has contributed all his service is reflected ultimately in the character of that contributor. The explanation that as the cause i.e. Brahman, is in all time neither more nor less than that which is, so the effect also, viz. the world, is in all time only that which is, that is does not change, fails to bring out the meaning of this pithy statement.
The teacher would draw attention to the approach of the society of the later Vedic period which was regulated by the code based on the concept of truth, the reality of the existence of a common trait among all individuals and commitment to abide by the methods prescribed for developing ones personality (that is, spirituality) and not to follow the mirage of material goals. (satvat ca avarasya 2-1-16)
The commentator interprets the next formula (2-1-17) as, If it be said that on account of being denoted as that which is not (the effect does) not (exist before it is actually produced), (we reply) not so, (because the term that which is not denotes) another quality (merely; as it appears) from the complementary sentence.
What is truth exists. In other words what was in existence before one was born and will survive his death is that truth. Some would call it, soul (atma). What is not truth does not exist. This is what the thinkers explain. But Badarayana does not concede this stand too for matter too is immortal, never ceases to be. Some followers of the code based on Satya rejected the suggestion that it was contrary to the provisions of the earlier code based on Rta, the right of the individual to pursue his own aptitude, svabhava. Some others condemned the Puritanism advocated by the followers of the rigorous code of Satya as anrta. It was not so.
The code based on Satya was an alternative to the one based on Rta but it did not suppress the natural tendencies. By the end of the Vedic era, the code based on Dharma came to the fore. It called for adherence to certain common accepted basic values. Some followers of the code based on Satya refused to accept the code based on Dharma.
Badarayana would point out that there was no difference between Dharma and Satya and that Dharma should not be treated as honouring the impermanent and unreal and hence undesirable material goals unlike the code based on Satya, which emphasized ethics and higher values of like pursuit of Brahman. Dharma is different from asat which is pursuit of the false. This is brought out in the phrase that is not part of the main clause. (asat vyapadesat na iti ca et na dharma antarena vakhyseshat 2-1-17)
Thibaut translates the next epigram (2-1-18) as, From reasoning and from another Vedic passage. The phrase is united with and is logically a part of the main pronouncement, he explains. There is no necessity to treat the term, sabda as Word and as referring to the Vedic utterance in this or any other context. Badarayana would like his students to note that no phrase could stand aloof from the main sentence and the passage of which that sentence was a part and convey a notion that is different from that of that sentence and passage. Nothing beyond this direction is to be read. (Yukte sabdantarat ca 2-1-18)
The teacher instructed his students to read the passage as a whole and note its implications for the entire society and for all times and not leave out any passage as applicable only to a particular piece of cloth that is not connected with or irrelevant to the rest of the cloth. Badarayana adopted a holistic approach and took into account the needs and desires and ways of life of every section of the larger society and would make the code reflect all sections and would be applicable to all of them and not only to the main body of the society. He would not leave any section, small or large, in the interior or on the periphery or far off from the centre to hang alone unconnected with the main body. (patavat ca 2-1-19) Thibaut translates this phrase as And like a piece of cloth.
Thibaut translates the next epigram (2-1-20) as, And as in the case of the different vital airs. The teacher was drawing attention to the neglected and isolated sections of the larger society who were at the bare subsistence level and leading a life of misery and destitution. They, referred to as pranis, were just like other living beings and had no social or cultural or economic system regulating their conduct and meeting their requirements.
Badarayana was referring to not only such people at the lowest level of the society but also to those on the social periphery who were not part of the organized economic society and were leading the lives of discrete individuals, bhutas. There were individuals, naras, who functioned independent of their clans and communities and were distinct from the organized commonalty, manushyas.
At the higher levels of the society there were individuals who did not feel that they had any obligations to the society and lived in their ivory towers as free intellectuals or in their fortified towers as powerful and awe-inspiring chieftains. None of these different sections are left out of social control by this new code. (yatha ca pranadi 2-1-20)
Thibaut translates the next formula (2-1-21) as, On account of the other (i.e. the individual soul) being designated (as non-different from Brahman) there would attach (to Brahman) various faults, as, for instance, not doing what is beneficial. Badarayana had to take into account other schools of thought, which did not advocate the concept of a fully integrated society. The descriptions given of a composite and federal society with no common code have been indicted as being associated with widely faulty structural and functional systems.
The concept of Brahman either as the early isolated individual or as the highest intellectual or as the common man imbued with natural divinity does not feature here. It is not sound to introduce the concepts of jivatma and paramatma. (itara vyapadesat dhitakaranadi doshaprasakti 2-1-21)
The commentator translates the next formula (2-1-22) as But the separate (Brahman, i.e. the Brahman separate from the individual souls is the creator; the existence of which separate Brahman we learn) from the declaration of difference.
The concept of existence of an intrinsic difference between man and man is to be condemned it has been directed in the new code. Badarayana had rejected the other schools by the term, tu, as they talked of a loose-knit composite society with no common factor among its different sections and strata and with individuals pursuing diverse goals often at tandem and sometimes mutually antagonistic. He rejects them as they indicate differences on which act deserves indictment according to the new Brahma code. The concepts of Brahma the creator and Brahma the individual soul and Brahma the Absolute are not to be entertained or introduced in this discussion. (adhikam tu bheda nirdesat 2-1-22)
Thibaut translates the next phrase (2-1-23) as, And because the case is analogous to that of stones etc. (the objections raised) cannot be established. The objections against the assumption of a common intrinsic trait in all human beings cannot stand reason even as the same matter is present in stones, metals etc. irrespective of their worth and importance. (asmadivat ca tad anupapatti 2-1-23) Badarayana asked his students to accept the stand that there was something that was common to all living beings.
Thibaut interprets the statement (2-1-24) as, If you object on the ground of the observation of the employment (of instruments, we say), no; because as milk (transforms itself, so Brahman does). The teacher notices that some objected to treating all beings as being imbued with a common intrinsic trait as it was seen that some objects were instruments and some were users of those instruments. The latter were beneficiaries. In other words the commoners and workers whose labour is used by the rich and the employers cannot be treated as having the same traits as the latter.
Badarayana rejects this objection citing the case of how milk is yielded by the cow but is drunk by the calf or by man and not by that cow itself. The common factor in this relationship is the milk. Similarly there is a common feature in the relationship between the worker and the master, namely, selfless service. The new code brought the benefactor and the beneficiary together. The commentators have failed to bring out the intent of this formula. (upasamhara darsanat na iti ca na kshira vaddhi 2-1-24)
Thibaut translates the next statement (2-1-25) as And (the case of the Brahman is) like that of gods and other beings in ordinary experience. The teacher in the previous formula set at rest the doubts raised about how the employer and the employee could be deemed to have common traits. Now he explains that the social cadres belonging to the commonalty have the same traits as the nobles (devas) and other cadres. In other words irrespective of social status all have the same innate trait in them.
This has been present since the beginning when human beings formed themselves into small social groups to guard themselves against the unknown enemies in their environment. It has not ceased to exist only because the new economic, social and power relations have led to the formation of different and even antagonistic social cadres and ranks. The new Brahma code stresses the existence of a natural equality despite these differences. (devadivat api loke 2-1-25)
Thibaut translates the next formula (2-1-26) as, Either the consequence of the entire (Brahman undergoing change) has to be accepted, or else a violation of the texts declaring Brahman to be without parts. The students wonder whether the presence of a common innate trait among all human beings irrespective of the differences in their social, economic, cultural and power statuses can lead to a holistic society. As men are attached to diverse and wide objects and social groups that have been products of their creation rather than to the concept of a totalitarian (part-less) society (which concept too is covered by the Brahma code) some may wonder that the utterances in the earlier code might have been violated.
The earlier code, Brahma, spoke of an integrated society and union of units without uniformity and a central federal authority that would guard the autonomy of the units. The new Brahma code envisages a holistic (not totalitarian) society all members of which are striving in the same manner for achieving a common goal, the Brahman, the status of the unattached and impartial intellectual who lives for others and has no personal goals of his own. Badarayana counsels that this should not be treated as a repudiation of the earlier Brahma code. (krtsna prasakti niravavayasva sabdakopo va 2-1-26)
Thibaut translates the epigram (2-1-27) as, But (this is not so) on account of scriptural passages, and on account of (Brahman) resting on Scripture (only). It is inane to explain it as that what is heard has its origin in the sound produced.
This cryptic statement does not deal with the concept, Brahma, the creator and the Absolute that was in existence before creation or emergence of the first man and the later diversities in human conduct that took place and whose influence pervades the entire society and which is the highest level that man is capable of attaining through detachment from all social bodies including his self.
The chronicles that are known as the Vedic anthology have come down by oral tradition, uttered and heard. They are not merely events remembered and referred to for guidance on what the precedents are with respect to valid social practices. They are directives pronounced, heard and obeyed. Badarayana would not concede the argument that the new code is not rooted in tradition. (srute tu sabda mulatvat 2-1-27)
The commentator interprets the next formula (2-1-28) as For thus it is in the (individual) Self also, and various (creations exist in gods etc). What was originally told might have not been heard in identical ways by different members of the audience. So the hymns may not all present what was taught by the first teacher in the same manner. Similarly the individuals who are members of a social body are not all alike in their innate talents and aptitudes or in the social outlooks and orientations they have developed. Diversities and mutations have taken place down the ages. There are social and cultural practices not common to all and are strange to many and are practised only by some groups and discrete individuals. The student has to note that the teacher does not advocate social uniformity though he asserts that there is something common in all including the odd individuals. (atmani ca evam vicitra ca hi 2-1-28)
The commentator translates the phrase (2-1-29) as, And because the objection (raised against our view) lies against his (the opponents) view likewise. The teacher rejects the suggestion that his view that there is some factor that is common to all individuals and all social groups is incorrect or imperfect. He notes that his critic too was wrong when he argued that men are not all born equal and have been subject to social diversities that have been present since the most ancient times and that they may never become all equal. Badarayana has not denied that diversities have existed in the past and that they would exist though he has called for a holistic society. But the diversities too do not remain of the same type for all times. (svapaksha doshat ca 2-1-29)
Thibaut translates the statement (2-1-30) as, And (the highest divinity is) endowed with all (powers) because that is seen (from Scripture). The above cryptic formula does not refer to God or the Almighty, or the all-powerful divinity or to the Srutis or to the Sastras (Smrtis).
Badarayana only points out that the Vedic hymns deal with all types of social groups and individuals, outlooks and practices. This has called for a holistic approach overcoming the limitations imposed by the existence of variations among these. The Upanishadic school envisaged Brahma as the highest judicial authority and as superior to the head of the political executive and to the chief of the people, Prajapati, and the heads of the house of nobles, the council of scholars, the chief of the army and the administration and the head of the civil administration. He could overrule their orders and if necessary could take over all their powers. (sarva upeta ca tat darsanat 2-1-30)
Thibaut interprets the next formula as, If it be said that (Brahman is devoid of powers) on account of the absence of organs, (we reply that) this has been explained (before). (2-1-31) The detractor notices that the independent intellectual who was not attached to any social body and has no personal interests whatsoever and could hence be totally impartial in his pronouncement of verdicts on the conduct of these officials and on civil or personal disputes could not however enforce his verdict as he did not have an executive machinery under him.
Badarayana replies that he has already explained how this high official, Brahma, could influence all the ranks and sectors of the larger society by virtue of his being Vaisvanara, the free man who rose from the lowest level of the society and was acquainted with all its ranks and sectors and was its spokesman and representative. As Vaisvanara was also Brahma he could wield all powers. The new social constitution had thus created an independent intellectual authority who represented the entire society, visva. The explanation that this multiform world of effects is possible to Brahman, because, although one only, it is endowed with various powers fails to bring out the meaning of this cryptogram. (vikaranatvat na iti ca itat uktam 2-1-31)
Thibaut reads the epigram (2-1-32) as, (Brahman is) not (the creator of the world), on account of (beings engaging in any action) having a motive. Some raise the objection that the high intellectual, Brahma, could not have been the founder of the early humanity and the regulator of the diverse activities of its different members and sectors as that would mean Brahma, the impartial and unattached jurist had certain objectives in his view and required these members and social sectors to be tools in the fulfilment of those objectives.
According to these detractors, Brahma should be one who had not only no personal objective but also no social objective however noble and elevated it may be. [Commitment to a social objective means entertaining a specific ideology. A Brahmavadi was an ideologue while a jurist, Brahma, was impartial and could not be attached to any ideology.] The detractors were not referring to the great soul, Paramatma, but to the social constitution, Brahma. (na prayojanavatvat 2-1-32)
The commentator translates the next phrase (2-1-33) as, But (Brahmans creative activity) is mere sport, such as we see in ordinary life. If there was no deliberate purpose behind this high intellectual authority (Brahma, the head of the independent judiciary and interpreter of the constitution) forming diverse social sectors and strata and assigning individuals to them and requiring them to function in prescribed ways it would mean that he was but playing with the social worlds (lokas like agro-pastoral commonalty, urban patriciate and the frontier industrial society, prthvi, divam and antariksham).
The student hence wants to know from Badarayana what specific purpose lay behind raising the impartial but powerless judiciary to the highest position. There has to be a public purpose and not a personal satisfaction and delight in enforcing this constitution, Brahma. (lokavat tu leela kaivalyam) (2-1-33)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (2-1-34) as, Inequality (of dispensation) and cruelty (the Lord can) not (be reproached with), on account of his regarding (merit and demerit); for so (Scripture) declares. The commentators of the later times were required to explain why there was inequality and inhumanity if God had as Brahma created all the beings. Was He liable to be reproached for these trends and for treating both virtue and vice on par? Such interpretation of this statement is irrational and unwarranted.
The intellectual, who was elevated to the highest position in the judiciary, which itself was superior to the executive of the state and the chief of the people, was required to uphold the social constitution, Brahma. This constitution recognized that not all men were born equal and that there was bound to be diversity and inequality in the talents of men and consequently inequality in achievements and status.
The three distinct innate traits, inertness, submissiveness and ignorance (tamas), dynamism, aggressiveness and greed (rajas) and sedateness, wisdom and gentleness (sattva) were bound to result in the creation of a social system that was iniquitous (vaishamya) and even inhuman (nairghrnya), Badarayana conceded. The social constitution, Brahma, of the Vedic times, honoured the principles of Rta, laws of nature and Svabhava, the right of the individual to pursue activities in tune with his personal aptitude.
This constitution however cannot be accused of having created an unjust and cruel society. The supreme judge, Brahma, had to be impartial and unattached to any social body or cultural approach or system of values. This too is not to be interpreted as failure to distinguish between good and bad and as failure to reward the pious and punish the guilty. Concepts must be presented in a rational way, Badarayana pointed out. (vaishamya nairghrnya na sa apekshatvat tatha hi darsayati 2-1-34)
Thibaut interprets the next statement as, If it be objected that it (viz. the Lords having regard to merit and demerit) is impossible on account of the non-distinction (of merit and demerit, previous to the first creation), we refute the objection on the ground of (the world) being without a beginning. (2-2-35)
The teacher was required to explain how diverse social duties (karma) came to be envisaged and brought into force if Brahma was the first social constitution that introduced the concept of diversity in innate aptitudes (gunas and svabhavas) and correlated them with those diverse duties and actions. Was the society already iniquitous when the new division of labour was effected or was it an egalitarian order which was upset by the then newly introduced social constitution that failed to reward merit and punish fault?
Badarayana refutes this suggestion on the ground that it implied that there was no society before the system of duties in tune with personal aptitudes was introduced. In other words, he rejected the view that there were only discrete individuals who were engaged in a struggle for survival against the threats posed by invisible and even imagined enemies and who were afraid of one another.
The postulate of the existence of a primal anarchy (that is, an anarchist society) that had no social distinctions and no social, economic and political classes and preceded the new four classes system is unacceptable to Badarayana. No social system has preceded the social constitution (Brahma), which he has put forth. He was not merely asserting that life was in existence even before this world full of inequality was created. [No clause in the social constitution was adopted without debate.] (na karma avibhagat iti ca ena anaditvat 2-1-35)
Thibaut translates the statement (2-1-36) as, (The beginningless-ness of the world) recommends itself to reason and is seen (from Scripture). There is no need to use the term, Scripture, and imply that the holy books have asserted that the universe has always been in existence and that there was no God, the Creator.
The conclusion that there was no social system prior to the outlining of the social constitution, Brahma, that recognized the existence of diversity in human talents and aptitudes and directed that social duties should be in tune with these aptitudes, is what we arrive at through a perusal of the texts of the extant Vedic hymns. This conclusion stands to reason, according to Badarayana. (upapatye ca api upalabhyate ca 2-1-36)
Thibaut translates the next epigram (2-1-37) as, And because all the qualities (required in the cause of the world) are present (in Brahman). This is imprecise. Badarayana says that all the social orientations, rights and duties, privileges and responsibilities, dharmas, prescribed in the new social constitution (Brahma) for the different classes formed on the basis of the innate traits and aptitudes of its members emerge as being rational. Such rules and regulations of the past social codes, which were in tune with the provisions of the new dharmasastra were to be followed, he implied. (sarvadharma upapatte ca 2-1-37)
CHAPTER 2 SECTION 2
Thibaut translates the opening statement of this section as, That which is inferred (by the Samkhyas, viz. the pradhana) cannot be the cause (of the world), on account of the orderly arrangement (of the world) being impossible (on that hypothesis). There is no need to bring into picture the Samkhya system of dialectics and its concept of the primordial or pradhana.
The earliest stage of civilization could not have been a planned and systematic one and the earliest society could not have visualized the development of a systematic civilization. Whatever has developed down the ages could not have been the direct result of the latent forces present in the early social groups. Neither the men of that remote past could have visualized what should be the features of an ideal society or of a future, imperfect but advanced, social order. What they could have visualized too cannot be inferred by us of later generations. This was the rational and realistic stand that the students of Badarayana were expected to take. (racana anupapatte ca na anumanam 2-2-1)
Thibaut interprets the next epigram (2-2-2) as, And on account of (the impossibility of) activity. Badarayana also ruled out the possibility of the people of the ancient times having been consciously engaged in economic activities of a type that would have led to gradual development of a social order that despite its diversities had a common goal and objective. (pravrtte ca 2-2-2)
The commentator interprets the next formula as, If it be said (that the pradhana moves) like milk or water, (we reply that) there also (the motion is due to intelligence). (2-2-3) Some members of the audience argued that there had to be a natural trend even as water or milk would flow from a higher level to a lower one even if it were not consciously impelled to so flow. In other words every cause naturally leads to a particular result. Badarayana holds that even in these cases there is a definite direction given by the planner. There can be no unplanned social progress. (payombuvat ca ittatra api 2-2-3)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (2-2-4) as,And because (the pradhana), on account of nothing existing beyond it, stands in no relation, (it cannot be active). The primal cause that impelled the formation of a social system and its functioning and course of dynamics and development full of variety and inequality bordering iniquity must have been a trait that was intrinsically a conglomeration of diverse traits. It could not have been a single undivided and indivisible primordial that had the purpose of taking all to a single noble goal. There could not have been such a perfect and blameless primordial preceding the primal cause that actually set in motion the varied aspects of social dynamics. In other words the social system whose operation we notice could not have been envisaged by an earlier idealistic and egalitarian constitution.
The explanation given by the commentator that the three gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas) given by the Samkhya system formed the pradhana, the primal cause, when they were in equipoise and that beyond it there existed no external principle which could either impel the pradhana to activity or restrain it from activity is in tune with the above note. The commentator notes, The soul (purusha) is indifferent, neither moves to nor restrains from action. As therefore the pradhana stands in no relation, it is impossible to see why it should sometimes modify itself into the great principle, mahat, and sometimes not. This note fails to bring out the intent of the formula. It leads to the unnecessary and unsound dragging in of the concept of illusion (maya) and those of omniscience and omnipotence of God to explain the formula. (vyati eka anavasthite ca anapekshatvat 2-2-4)
Thibaut interprets the next formula (2-2-5) as, Nor (can it be said that the pradhana modifies itself simultaneously) like grass, etc. (which turn into milk); for (milk) does not exist elsewhere (but in the female animal). Minor organisms and objects of nature are seen to undergo mutation without any external cause forcing them to do so. Even a minor initial and internal twitch would have led to major mutations in the social structure and relations. This conclusion becomes necessary, as we do not have evidence of their having existed or any event having occurred to bring about a major social change. (anyatra abhavat ca na trnadivat 2-2-5)
According to Thibaut who followed the commentators of the medieval times, Badarayana then (2-2-6) argued, Even if we admit (the Samkhya position refuted in what precedes, it is invalidated by other objections) on account of the absence of a purpose (on the part of the pradhana).
The primal cause whether it is an undifferentiated state or one full of diversities has to be activated by a force that is not part of that social system and must have been acting on it. That is, there should have been two divergent primal causes, one stagnant and the other active. In case no other such second impelling force is present there could have been no purpose entertained in the beginning.
In other words, all the later actions and happenings must have been the product of the diverse interactions within the society that has been unstable since the times it was in the formative stage. The inference drawn by modern commentators who have kept in view Christian theology while interpreting the thoughts of the ancient medieval thinkers of India that it is impossible to maintain that the pradhana enters on its activity for the purposes of the soul, is far from the theme of these formulas. The stand that the course of social dynamics had a high purpose does not arise as a corollary to any major theorem advanced by Badarayana. (abhi upagamepi artha abhavat 2-2-6)
According to Thibaut, Badarayana further argued, And if you say (that the soul may move the pradhana) as the (lame) man (moves the blind one) or as the magnet (moves the iron), thus also (the difficulty is not overcome). (2-2-7) The difficulty of explaining how an initially static social system which had no innate dynamism and purpose could have become a highly diversified and developed one may be sought to be overcome by the picture of a blind man being guided by a lame man whom the former carries on his shoulders or by the picture of a large piece of iron being moved by a small magnetic piece. The implication is that a visionary cannot take forward a large social group that has no internal dynamism or perception of a purpose, unless he is also a strong leader, purusha. (purushasmavat iti ca it tathapi 2-2-7)
The commentator translates the next phrase (2-2-8) as, And again, (the pradhana cannot be active) because the relation of principal (and subordinate matter) is impossible (between the three gunas). The teacher notices the postulate that social development and progress despite the presence of diversity needs the emergence of a social leader, purusha, who is not personally handicapped and if he is handicapped is assisted by someone though the latter may not be able to stand on his own legs.
Badarayana must have been keenly aware of the shortcomings in the social polity of his times that were retarding social progress. He pointed out that there might not be perfection in the organs of the polity and in the relations among them. How could there then be social progress, his students wondered. The existence of social diversity because of the unregulated innate traits, gunas, precluded the possibility of emergence of leaders with integrated personality. (angitva anupapatte ca 2-2-8)
According to Thibaut, Badarayana further argued (2-2-9), And although another inference be made, (the objections remain in force) on account of (pradhana) being devoid of the power of intelligence. The teacher says that it may be inferred otherwise that the chief impelling power does not know what it has to do. In other words though there are dynamic persons, purushas, at the head of the inert commonalty, prakrti, they are equally ignorant about where they have to lead the commoners who are noted for tamas, inertness and ignorance. The leaders may have dynamism, rajas, but lack the power of knowledge. Rajas and sattva, dynamism and wisdom and sobriety born of knowledge are not to be disconnected in operation if leadership is to contribute to social progress and development. (anyatha anumitau ca jna sakti viyogat 2-2-9)
According to Thibaut the next phrase (2-2-10) reads as And moreover (the Samkhya doctrine) was objectionable also on account of the contradictions. The interpretation that in this formula Badarayana was condemning Samkhya as an irrational system full of contradictions is not sound. The claim that the postulate of the existence of two primordial forces, dynamic purusha and inert prakrti, of which neither was anterior to the other and that of these purusha provided the force and prakrti was impelled to go ahead, undergo alterations as directed is not upheld by Badarayana. The contradictions brought out in the previous formulae leave the dialectician confounded and thrown off intellectual and emotional balance. (vipratishedhat ca asamanjasam 2-2-10)
[The entire disputation (2-2-11 to 45) engaged in by commentators of the medieval times with different schools of philosophical thought like Vaisesikas, Bauddhas, Jainas and Pasupatas is skipped by us as they do not appear to have been the concern of Badarayana and his deuteragonists. The scholars of the later medieval times who criticised these schools tried to establish that the Upanishadic sages were interested in establishing that the human soul (jivatma) was not different from the divine soul (paramatma) or the Omniscient, Brahman.]