Bhagavagd Gita - Session 41- Track 4106

Now, add to this, the statement that according to Sankhya, Purushas are many; there is not one Purusha: there is plurality of Purushas. Each one us is a Purusha. And each one of them is ultimate.

So, according to Sankhya, not only are two principles ultimate, Purusha and Prakriti, but each Purusha is ultimate. So, Sankhya is at once ‘Dualist’ and ‘Pluralist’: Dualist because it maintains that Purusha and Prakriti are the two ultimate principles; and it is Pluralist because, it maintains that each Purusha is different from the other. And the proof of this, (according to Sankhya), is that when one Purusha is liberated, all are not liberated at the same time. Therefore there must be many Purushas: that is Sankhya’s great argument.

Question: As many Prakritis then?

No, according to Sankhya, Prakriti is only one.

Question: Is it not a contradiction?

There is a deeper contradiction. Not only this, there is a deeper contradiction actually; we shall come to that.

Now, according to Shankara, if there are many Purushas, all are existent, again there must be all equal in the existence, so there must be only one existence, so, Purushas can’t be many. Therefore, according to Shankara, there is only one Purusha, which he calls ‘Brahman’: there is only one Brahman.

Question: These many Purushas are at different levels of consciousness?

Yes, that is the argument of Sankhya. Unless there are different Purushas, they can’t be at different levels. The whole idea of level itself is tied up with the idea of many Purushas. According to Shankara the whole idea of being at different levels (and all that) cannot be. There is only one status of consciousness in immobility, and that alone exists for ever. And ‘for ever’ does not mean any time movement; time movement means this is a movement, and movement means moving from what ‘is’ to what ‘is not’; what ‘is not’ does not exist!

Then the question is: what is all this that we see all around? We do see all movement. So, his answer is: it cannot be. Therefore it still seems to be, it can only by ‘illusion’. And illusion is what? That which presents itself ‘what-it-is-not’: this is the meaning of illusion; that which presents itself as ‘what-it-is-not’. So, when the ‘immobile’ presents itself as ‘mobile’: that is illusion.

Question: But how the immobile ‘presents itself’, because the presenting is an act of mobility?

This is the next step of the argument.

Question: Contradiction to Shankara?

What is this ‘presentation’, presentation to whom? So, his answer to this question is that ‘presentation’ itself is an illusion; that sense of presentation, that ‘immobile’ presenting itself as ‘mobility’ is itself an illusion: it even does not happen.

Comment: So, we are actually not seeing anything; there is no ‘seeing’.

You…’who’ are you?

Comment: There is no ‘you’.

That’s right.

So, there is only a Brahman, only the Brahman which is immobile. Now, that is Shankara’s position. ,

Now, this also is very unsatisfactory, as you can see very clearly. If you ask the question: if this statement is true, ‘there is only one immobile Brahman’, there’ll be nothing else, no phenomenon, no movement, then it is in full contrast to, not only the movement that we see all over the world, which you can’t rub out, but it is in contrast to the deepest urge in human being to be liberated.

We all have an urge to be liberated, but if Shankara premises is correct, each one of us is an illusion, is illusionary trying to be liberated from a world which itself is an illusion. So, you have to concluded, there is none bound, none seeking liberation and therefore it is a mockery of all our effort.

Now, Shankara to be consistent with himself would say: ‘Yes, it is so.’ This whole chimera which is there, there is none seeking liberation, although you might say: ‘Yes, but I am in bondage, I want to come out of it!’ but that is also an illusion. So, his argument would be only this: that you should come out of that illusion.

Question: But then there is no ‘you’?

So, if this answer is obtained, that ‘you’ should not therefore be deluding ‘yourself’ that ‘you’ are deluded. Then you are left in a contradiction: you are still asking me to be disillusioned from the illusion from which I am suffering, (which I am not really suffering). I am suffering from illusion; I ought not to be suffering and I am not suffering. Therefore to whom are you advising, to whom this exhortation and if there is liberation at all, then there must be somebody who is liberated. Brahman cannot be liberated from itself! It is always in a state of liberation! Then who gains?

So, ultimately his argument would turn into a kind of sophistry: sophistry is a statement in which words are played upon and you mix up the argument by shifting one ground to the other, without appearing to have shifted but which in fact is shifting. This is the limitation of this whole argument.