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Life Divine Chapter I & II (Dec 1996) - Track 202

Spirit which is material, vital, mental, supramental, cosmic, individual, transcendental – is a comprehensive reality so that is the theory of integralism. So we have materialism, vitalism, idealism, acosmic spirit it is also called illusionism – illusionism or theory of acosmic spirit and integralism. There is also a theory called Nihilism, which says that there is really nothing, all these are creations which are temporary and you can arrive at a state where no formation can take place, no bubbling of becoming; reality is in the form of Nihil it does nothing, it is emptiness – theory of emptiness in Sanskrit it is called the theory of Shunya. Shunya means zero. The Ultimate Reality if at all you want to call it reality is zero, non–existence. Now there have been powerful all these philosophies have been powerful philosophies throughout the history of the world. Some have held one view, some have the other view and there is a tremendous debate going on even today therefore Sri Aurobindo has taken into account the entire debate of all these major trends of thought. In due course we shall have to deal with all of them. At present I am not burdening your mind with each one of them. We shall gradually deal with each one of them but immediately I shall burden your mind only with two or three small things.

There is a philosophy in India which is very powerful and that is the acosmic spirit, the theory of illusionism. Although in India all these philosophies have been developed, today people believe that illusionism is the philosophy of India which is not true but it is certainly true that this philosophy has become very dominant during the last thousand years. For the last thousand years and a little more this philosophy has become very dominant in India which says the world is a an illusion that illusion is because of ignorance that ignorance is inexplicable, how it came into existence, why it came into existence is a inexplicable but somehow it is there but even that is illusion. Even the existence of illusion is itself illusion and when you cut out ignorance for which means are available then you will realise that only acosmic spirit exists. A spirit in which there is complete silence without any movement whatsoever from where no movement is possible, not only there is no movement but in which no movement is possible even; is not even conceivable such a silence is obtained. This is the argument, − it is blissful, it is conscious, it is blissful, it is conscious and there is a real experience of being but no possibility of movement. In Sanskrit it is described as Satchidananda, Sad means being, chit means consciousness, ananda means bliss. This philosophy is attributed basically to Shankara, one of the greatest philosophers of India, his name was Shankara, Shankaracharya. He lived only for 32 years at a young age he passed away but during those 32 years he wrote important works on philosophy and taught this philosophy, argued and vanquished his opponents philosophically in big debates; established four important seats of learning in the whole of India by travelling when there was no vehicle of the kind that we have got now, travelling by foot all over India and establish his philosophy that even today it is still regarded as dominant philosophy of India. It is called the philosophy of illusionism or is also called the philosophy of Advaita, Advaita means philosophy of oneness. The one reality, the spiritual reality in the realisation of which the whole world seems to vanish as an illusion this is the main substance later on when we shall deal with this philosophy we shall speak about it at length. At present I am giving you the bare outline or even less than an outline but just the first words that could be spoken of this philosophy. Intellectually this philosophy was argued so powerfully by him that all those with whom he discussed this philosophy were vanquished that is how his philosophy became very dominant and it has remained dominant for so many thousand, more than thousand years.

Now this philosophy of Shankara had a background. What was that background that background starts with Veda, followed by Upanishads, followed by Gita, followed by Vedanta Sutra. There was in the history of India a great philosopher called Badarayana. In his time he summarised Veda, Upanishad and the Gita and formulated the summary in the form of short aphorisms, short sentences, essence of three. This is called Vedanta Sutra; Badarayana wrote this Vedanta Sutra and Shankaracharya made a commentary on this Vedanta Sutra. He explained the Sutra written by Badarayana therefore Shankara’s philosophy is also called Advaita Vedanta or Vedanta Mayavada, maya is the theory of illusion, – Vedanta Mayavada and in his book of commentary he refuted all the other philosophies which were prevalent at that time. What were those philosophies which were prevalent in his time? The following – there was a philosophy of materialism in his time, there was a philosophy of Buddhism, there was a philosophy of Jainism, there was a philosophy of Nyaya, philosophy of Vaisheshika, philosophy of Sankhya, philosophy of Yoga, philosophy of Pūrva–Mīmānsā these philosophies were at that time holding the field. There were different schools of thought, so Shankara refuted all of them and said whatever truth is there in them is contained in his Vedanta. So he propounded Vedanta as the correct philosophy denying the validity of all the other philosophies.

I was telling you about philosophy of Shankara and I told you that in his commentary on Brahma sutra he expounded his philosophy and he refuted all the rival philosophies which were existing at that time. Let me tell you positively what he propounded for his own philosophy.  There is one very short sentence which summarises his philosophy: Brahman alone is real the world is a lie. In Sanskrit it is called: ‘Brahman satyam jagat mithya’ Brahma satyam, satyam means the truth, real, jagat the world, mithya is an illusion. He pointed out that when you transcend your present way of living by a great spiritual effort you become awakened then you discover a complete stillness of consciousness, a complete silence and there is nothing else than that silence. In that state of consciousness what we call the world which is a world of movement, activity, all hustle and bustle; it will be found to be an illusion. Actually since that world will not be existing at all you will not even need to pronounce it to be an illusion, it will not be there at all so the question about whether it real or unreal will not even arise. This experience there will only be stillness, not only serenity but a complete silence, complete motionlessness.