Sri Aurobindo's - 'The Life Divine' - The Human Aspiration - Chapter I

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 703

So one day we should study Sanskrit also, but in the mean time we can learn at least few words in Sanskrit. We have a big programme of ten years for which you are already booked. In ten years we will do quite a lot. We begin with these small words, Nyaya, Sankhya, Upanishad, Vedanta, but they are very important words.

Nyaya actually means justice. The word justice is very much connected with the word judgment. Justice is contained in judgment. When you make a judgment there must be justice in it. That is to say whatever you say must be true. Judgment by its very nature must be true. It is because sometime people misuse judgment that there may be a wrong judgment. This flower is red – is a judgment. This flower and this redness, both are attributed to each other. It is a judgment.

How to make a true judgment is a long study. We had said at one time that logic is a study of the conditions in which thought is true, thought is valid. Logic is a study of those judgments which express true thoughts, valid thoughts. We have spoken of the law of identity, the law of contradiction, the law of excluded middle, and law of sufficient reason.

Nyaya basically means justice. Justice concerns itself with judgment. Judgment is concerned with logic, and logic itself is a wide subject in which you study the conditions in which thought is valid and the conditions in which the judgment which contains thought is expressed. The study of this, which is a very vast study, is called in India Nyaya. It is a very big school of thought. There is a long, long history of this tradition, of Nyaya. Just as Nyaya is one of the systems of Indian philosophy; similarly there are five other systems. Apart from Nyaya, there are five other systems in the same category. And one of the other five is called Sankhya. And the third among these three is Vedanta. Now at least you know three schools of Indian philosophy which are all derived from the Veda. Nyaya, Sankhya and Vedanta. There are three others, but I will not burden you with their names because all these names become difficult when you don't know Sanskrit. At present I will deal only with these three names, because they are connected with the sentence we have to understand.

Sri Aurobindo speaks here of the Vedantic solution. This Vedantic solution is best understoodwhen you understand something of Nyaya and something of Sankhya.

Both these theories of Nyaya and Sankhya pertain to the idea of the Cause. You remember, we are concerning ourselves with the question of explanation and Cause is a concept which is directly connected with explanation. You remember Sri Aurobindo says "evolution is merely a word, it only state the phenomenon without explaining it." So we are trying to understand the word. Therefore we went into the question of causal explanation and teleological explanation. And today, we went into a greater depth by referring to Aristotle who spoke of Material cause, Formal cause, Efficient cause and the Final cause. Nyaya speaks of the same subject, Sankhya speaks also of the same subject and Vedanta also speaks of the same subject. Unless we have a comprehensive idea, this sentence will not be properly understood. That is the reason why I am taking you on an excursion into Indian philosophy.

The question is: when anything is produced how do you explain why it is produced, how it is produced? According to Sankhya the effect is produced from the cause because effect was already present in the cause. It is a very simple statement. Nothing can be produced out of nothing. This is the negative way of stating it. If something is produced, it can't have been produced out of nothing. If Life is produced out of Matter then Life must be present in Matter. The effect must be present in the cause. This is the theory of Sankhya. If anybody asks a question: what is the cause, why has it come about, what is the effect? Then you must give such an answer, if it is to be satisfying, it will show that the effect was present in the cause. Why is it that you cannot produce oil out of stone but you can produce oil out of groundnut, out of the peanuts? Why, because oil is present in the peanut, if it was not there it could not have come out. It must be present, effect must be present in the cause. So if Life comes out of Matter then Life must be present in Matter. If it was not there how could you have brought it out? If Mind has come out of Life, Mind must be present in Life otherwise how could it come out? This is the theory of Sankhya.

There is an opposite theory of Nyaya which says that the effect is not present in the cause. It is just the opposite of the Sankhya theory. If it was present already, it would be manifested. It would be there already. If it is already there it must be visible. If the threads of cotton are a cause of the cloth then why don't we wear only the threads, because the cloth is already present. If Sankhya theory was right, then we would all be wearing threads not clothes because the cloth would be already present. This is the argument of Nyaya.

There are Sanskrit words used for these two theories. The theory of Sankhya is called satkaryavada. In Sanskrit vada means theory, karya means effect and sat means existence. Satkaryavada means a theory according to which effect exists in the cause. Therefore the theory of Sankhya is called the theory of satkaryavada.

The Nyaya theory is called asatkaryavada. According to which the effect does not exist in the cause. Vedantic theory examines both these theories and prefers satkaryavada. After examining the two, it shows its agreement with Sankhya. But it also goes one step further. It says effect is not only in the cause but effect is basically, essentially, identical with the cause, and the difference between cause and effect is only in the form. This is the Vedantic theory.

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