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Life Divine Chapter I & II (Dec 1996) - Track 205

Let us revise now. You will remember that we started the IInd Chapter by stating the basic proposition. It was as follows: If the ultimate aim is to unite divinity and Matter then logically there must be connection between divinity and matter in fundamental principle. If fundamentally Matter and Divine are totally different from each other then the whole proposition of bringing divinity into matter is beside the point, irrelevant, impossible. So if we propose that Divinity and Matter can be united then we must suppose that logically there is a fundamental connection between the two. What kind of connection? Sri Aurobindo says that that connection cannot be short of identity. They must have some kind of identity between the two, only then Matter can be divinised because any connection basically implies a point where the two are identical. This is the first proposition otherwise matter cannot be divinised. The second point that Sri Aurobindo makes is that as we see it now between the Divinity and Matter there is a big gulf. So the second thing we have to show is that this gulf consists of many terms, these terms are in ascending series and this connecting link therefore could show us how the Matter can become the Divine in gradual series of development. So Sri Aurobindo says second thing we have to show is that between Matter and the Divine there is life, there is mind, there is supermind to attain to the Supreme Divine. So we have to show that Matter is life, life is mind, mind is supermind, supermind is divine. While stating this proposition Sri Aurobindo examines all those theories where something of this kind is proposed but not fully. Something of this kind is even denied so that we see where the problem lies and where the solution lies. It is in that context that Sri Aurobindo speaks of two systems of Indian philosophy, one is the philosophy of Sankhya and the other is the system of Shankara. In Sankhya philosophy there is a statement that all that can be considered to be spiritual is totally different from all that is called material – that is the philosophy of Sankhya that spiritual can never be material, material can never be spiritual; no connecting point. Therefore according to that philosophy the only solution is to come out from Matter and that is our salvation; so that is one statement of philosophy. The second statement is that of Shankara. Where it is said that spirit is real, matter is real but not fully real. It says the Matter is at a certain stage real but at a higher level it turns out to be unreal and therefore ultimately it is unreal. So according to Shankara the two cannot be united. If Spirit and Matter both were real then connection could be possible but Shankara's philosophy has two steps in the first it says Matter is to some extent real; in the second step he says ultimately it is unreal. As I told you last time three levels of experience so when you come to the third level of experience you find the world is unreal, the Matter is unreal. In this second example there is only one thing that is real and that is Spirit is real. So the question of divinising Matter does not arise. Now in both the philosophies therefore the divinisation of Matter is impossible. In the Sankhya philosophy Matter is real, Spirit is real but the two are totally different so they cannot be united. In Shankara Spirit is real and Matter is to some extent real in the first stage of statement in the second stage he says that that reality of matter is ultimately illusory therefore it is unreal therefore the conclusion is matter cannot be divinised in both the philosophies. Now having stated this we have to examine both these positions in a greater detail. So let us now examine in detail first the Sankhya thought.

As I told you in India there are six systems of philosophies which all of them are derived from the Veda. There are two other philosophies which are independent and not derived from the Veda according to their claim. One is Buddhism another is Jainism in India; practised quite widely in Western India and there is also a good following itself in Delhi for example. You might have seen some monks wearing pure white cloth and having their face with a bandage over it. It's a path of spiritual discipline – Jainism and there is a philosophy of Jainism. There were 24 gurus the last one of whom is known as Mahavira and the teachings of Mahavira are called Jainism. So this is another system of philosophy the last one of them is the first one is Jains supposed to be Parshvanatha ending with Mahavira, 24 of them in all. They lived in India they do not believe in God at all. They believe in the soul but not in God so it is without any ulterior root. It is self–existent by itself, plurality of individuals. In Buddhism there is no soul, no God, in Jainism there is no God but there are souls. In Hinduism there is God, there is soul, and there is the world but with varying kind of statements. All the three are theistic philosophies. They are called theistic, – Islam, Christianity and certain portions of Hinduism are all called theistic philosophies. Now let us come back to Sankhya philosophy.  

I shall tell you in detail about Sankhya Philosophy so that this proposition where Soul and Matter, Spirit and Matter are shown to be incompatible with each other. According to Sankhya Philosophy this whole world that we see can be explained in terms of one original source which they called material energy, material activity, in Sanskrit it is called Prakriti. This entire movement which we see as a world is a huge formation of energy. The world is nothing but a kind of energy in motion to start with it is not in motion then by some kind of disturbance motion takes place, which we call creation but according to this it is simply bringing out what is contained in Matter, in this energy, in this material energy. And by various movements of expansion and contraction this whole universe becomes manifest and if you examine this very clearly you'll find that five big manifestations are first ether, then air, then fire, then liquid and then the earth. These are the five great manifestations and everything that is in the world is basically these five elements but first they are in their subtle form. In subtle form these five are called the sense of hearing, the sense of sight, the sense of smell, the sense of taste and the sense of touch. These are the five senses or you might call the five basic elements or vibrations which are the most subtle forms of these five great gross forms. You can equate therefore ether equal to hearing, you cannot hear if there is no ether, you cannot see if there is no fire, you cannot taste if there is no water, you cannot touch if there is no earth, so all our senses basically are related to these five big elements. These five big elements are called in Sanskrit pancha mahabhutas; pancha means five, mahabhutas, maha means great, bhutas means becomings – pancha mahabhutas and these subtle things are called tanmatras that is Sanskrit word – tanmatras, very subtle sensations, which are the cause of sensations and behind these there are also five sources of action. These five are the causes of the sense of sensations but there are also other five which are the senses of action. Behind this you find a still subtler element which is called the mind–sense, in Sanskrit it is called manas, there is mind–sense that is to say – a sense which co–ordinates all the senses. If you may look at this book but your mind is elsewhere then if you look at the book, you won’t have sensation of the book. Why, because the real sense is not the eye but is the mind. So behind these five senses of action and five senses of sensation is the mind but it is the mind which co–ordinates the senses. Behind the mind there is a still deeper thing and that is the ego–sense, it is called ahambhava in Sanskrit and behind the ego–sense is the discriminating intellect, the intellect which can discriminate one from the other which is called the buddhi. This Buddhi is the most fundamental manifestation of Prakriti. When the Prakriti begins to vibrate first is Buddhi, then is the sense of ego, then the mind sense, then the five senses of organs of sensations, the tanmatras, they are not sense organs but they are fundamentals of the senses, – five senses of action or the fundamentals of the senses of action and then the five big manifestations pancha mahabhutas.

Now this Sankhya Philosophy says that all the things in the world whatever you see can be explained in terms of this entire statement, nothing in this world escapes from this scheme, you take up anything in the world and you say this is either earth or water or fire or it is air or it is ether or it is five senses, – five senses of action, or it is mind sense, or it is ego sense, or it is Buddhi, or it is intelligence, intellect; all this can be explained in terms of this but there is one thing which still remains to be explained; which does not come under this whole scheme that is the experience of consciousness. All this is material but consciousness cannot be explained by all this and yet we do have experience of consciousness. So the Sankhya philosophers ask the question from where does the consciousness arise so they were obliged to posit consciousness as something different from all this and said that consciousness is originally self–existent, not derived from anything else, consciousness is not derived from the material energy or from Prakriti,; consciousness is not even from Buddhi. Even Buddhi according to Sankhya is material in character, consciousness is something quite different impossible to connect one with the other. It is because of the presence of consciousness in proximity with Buddhi and manas and ahambhava that they seem to be conscious. If Buddhi, if intellect seems to be conscious it is because of the proximity of consciousness with the material energy, proximity but not one derived from the other there is a gulf between the two but because of the nearness, it is a closeness that gives the impression that this is conscious. Actually consciousness belongs here only but because this is nearby this proximity gives the sense that this is also conscious. Now this entire statement, I will give you one passage to read in The Life Divine, so that you have some text by which you will be able to analyse and concentrate upon it. Now if you open chapter number X, have you got it? So let us read all that I told you about Sankhya is stated here in these first three four paragraphs. So I shall read to you these three four paragraphs.

According to Sankhya there are only two principles which can explain the totality of everything, one is the principle called Prakriti which is nothing but energy which at beginning is at rest and with original disturbance it begins to manifest and all the things of the world begin to roll out of it, evolve out of it. But since these things whatever is brought out of this energy is purely material this cannot explain the phenomenon of consciousness therefore the Sankhya maintains that independent of matter, apart from matter, beside matter there is another principle, – principle of consciousness. This principle of consciousness is called the soul in Sanskrit that word is called Purusha. So according to Sankhya there are only two principles of existence, one is Prakriti and another is Purusha. The whole world can be explained in terms of these two. According to Sankhya therefore there is no God, no creator but there is only this soul and Prakriti; Purusha and Prakriti. But Purusha is not one entity there are many Purushas, each one of these individuals, you, me, everybody has got one Purusha, each one of us is one Purusha.  So according to Sankhya there is multiplicity of Purushas on one hand and one Prakriti which is universal. Purusha is each individual, Prakriti is universal but there is only one Prakriti.