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Definitions, . Quotes . - . Chapters .


object:2.03 - Karmayogin A Commentary on the Isha Upanishad
book class:Isha Upanishad
author class:Sri Aurobindo
class:chapter


The Karmayogin
A Commentary on the
Isha Upanishad

NOTE
Sri Aurobindo modified the structure of The Karmayogin: A
Commentary on the Isha Upanishad while he was working on
it. He began with a two-tier division: "Chapters" and sections.
Later he introduced a superior division, the "Part", and began
calling the lowest-level divisions "Chapters". The intermediate divisions, earlier called "Chapters", became known as
"Books". The numbering of these divisions is neither consistent nor complete. The table on the opposite page shows the
structure as marked by Sri Aurobindo in the manuscript and
printed in the text and, italicised and within square brackets,
how it would be if the final three-tier division were applied
consistently throughout.
In the right margin are indicated the places where the
discussions of the first six verses begin. The other twelve verses
were not discussed.

[Part I] [No title]
[Book I ] Chapter I. The Law of Renunciation.
[Chapter] I. God All and God Everywhere
[Start verse 1]
[Chapter] II. Isha, the Lord.
[Chapter] III. Isha and His Universe.
[Chapter] IV. God in Man and in all Creatures
[Chapter] V. Selflessness, the Basic Rule of Karma-Yoga
[Chapter] VI. The Philosophical Justification of Altruism
[Chapter] VII. The Meaning of Renunciation
[Book II ] Chapter II. Salvation through Works
[Chapter] I
[No title]
[Start verse 2]
[Chapter] II. Vairagya.
[Chapter] III. One Road and not Three.
[Chapter] IV. The denial of salvation by works
[Chapter] V. Mukti and the Jivanmukta.
[Chapter] VI. Suicide and the other World.
[Start verse 3]
[Chapter] VII. Retrospect
Part II Karmayoga; the Ideal
[Book III ] Chapter IV. The Eternal in His Universe
I. Eternal Truth the Basis of Ethics / I / The Root of Ethical Ideals
Chapter I.
Brahman.
[Start verse 4]
Chapter II. Spiritual Evolution in Brahman
Chapter III. Psychical evolution - downward to matter
Chapter IV. Psychical Evolution - Upward to Self.
[No Chapters V or VI ]
[Chapter] VII. Elemental Evolution.
[Chapter] VIII. Matariswan and the Waters.
[Chapter] IX. Spirit and Matter
[Chapter] X. [No title]
[Chapter] XI. [No title]
[Chapter] XII. [No title]
[Start verse 5]
Book [IV ] III.
[No title]
Chapter I.
[No title]
[Start verse 6]
[Chapter] II. Ethics in primitive society.
Chapter III. Social Evolution.
Chapter IV. The place of Religion in ethics.

Chapter I.

The Law of Renunciation.
I. God All and God Everywhere
GURU
Salutation to the Eternal who is without place, time, cause
or limit. Salutation to Him who rules the Universe, the Lord of
the Illusion, the Master of manifold life. Salutation to the Self in
me, who is the Self in all creatures. Brahman, Isha, Atman, under
whatever aspect He manifests Himself or manifests not, to Him
the One and Only Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, salutation.
The Upanishad begins; -
"With the Lord all this must be clothed (as with a garment),
even all that is world in this moving universe; abandon the world
that thou mayest enjoy it, neither covet any man's possessions."
The Upanishad first sets forth the universality of the
Supreme Being; whatever we see, hear or are in any way sensible
of, we must feel the presence of the Lord surrounding it. This
tree that I am sitting under, I must not consider as only so many
leaves, bark, pith, sap and roots encased in earth and air; I
must realise that it is a manifestation in the Supreme who is
the only reality. This voice that I am uttering, vibrates in the
atmosphere of the Divine Reality; only because it vibrates there,
is it capable of sound, articulation and meaning. No action I
do or watch others do, but the Lord is there surrounding and
upholding it; otherwise it could not be done. Whatever I see, I
am seeing God; whatever I hear, I am hearing God; whatever
I do, it is the Energy of God which is governing my actions.
This is the first thing the Karmayogin has to realise and until he
has set his mind on the realisation, Karmayoga is impossible.
The Lord is everywhere; the Lord surrounds everything with
dv, svEmEt. This Karma that
His presence; the Lord is all. vAs;
I do, I do it in the Lord; this subjective I who act, exist only in

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the Lord; this objective he, she, it to whom the action is done,
exists only in the Lord. It is the omnipresent universality of the
Supreme, that has first to be realized. When the Yogin has had
spiritual experience of this universality, then only is he fit for
Karmayoga; for not till then can he sink the constant feeling
of I and thou and he in a single higher and wider Existence;
not till then can he escape from apparent self to true Self, and
without such escape Karmayoga cannot really begin. To clothe
all things with the Supreme, to be conscious of Him in all you
say, do, think, feel or are sensible of, - this experience is the
beginning of Karmayoga. The transformation of this experience
into the habitual condition of the soul, is the consummation of
Karmayoga; for it leads straight to the knowledge of Brahman
and the ecstasy of union with Him, Karma melting into and
becoming one with Jnana and Bhakti. Karma, Bhakti, Jnana,
- Action, Love, Knowledge, are the three paths which lead out
of phenomenal existence to the eternal reality, and where the
three meet & become one, is the end of the great journey, that
highest home of Vishnu towards which it is the one object of
the Upanishad to turn and guide us. The Isha Upanishad is the
Scripture of the Karmayogin; of the three paths it teaches the
way of Action, and therefore begins with this first indispensable
condition of all Godward action, to see all things, creatures,
causes, effects, changes & evolutions as so many transitory
phenomena enveloped with the presence of the Supreme Being
and existing in Him and by Him only. Not I but He, for He
is my real self and what I call I is only so much covering and
semblance, - this is Vedanta; the first feeling of this truth is the
beginning of Jnana, the beginning of Bhakti, the beginning of
Karma. so_h\. He is the true & only I.
II. Isha, the Lord.
Let us now look closely into the language of the Scripture, for in
the Upanishad every word is of infinite importance and is chosen
in preference to others for some profound and significant reason.
Isha is the first word of the Upanishad; it is with the Lord that

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we must clothe all things in this Universe, it is the Lord whose
presence, will, energy we must realize in whatever we see, feel,
do or think. It is in other words the Supreme Being not in His
aspect as the actionless, unknowable Parabrahman, transcendental and beyond realization by senses, mind or speech; it is
not even Sacchidananda, that absolute self-centred Existence,
Consciousness, Bliss with whom the Jnanayogin seeks to unite
himself in Samadhi; it is the Eternal in His aspect as Ruler of the
Universe, He who keeps the wheel of phenomena turning and
guides its motions as the mechanician controls his machine. The
Karmamargin aims at living disillusionized, but yet using the
illusions of Maya as the materials of his Yoga; he seeks to free
himself from phenomena while yet living among phenomena;
it is therefore Isha, Maheshwara, the Lord of the Illusion, the
Master of multiple phenomenal life whom he must seek and
in whom he must lose his lower self. Since he works through
actions, it is the Master of actions whom he must worship with
the flowers and incense of a selfless life.
Is there then a difference between Parabrahman and Isha?
Are there two Supreme Beings and not one? No difference,
really; the distinction is one of appearance, of semblance.
Parabrahman, the absolute, transcendental, eternal reality is
unknowable to human reason; That which is above reason
in man can reach Parabrahman and experience Parabrahman,
because It is Parabrahman, but this is in the state of Samadhi
and from the state of Samadhi the human understanding can
bring back no record intelligible to the reason or explicable
in terms of speech. Parabrahman in His Essence is therefore
realizable but not intelligible; He can be experienced, He cannot
be explained or understood. Still Parabrahman presents to the
understanding two semblances or aspects by which He can
be relatively though not absolutely known. These two aspects
correspond to the two powers inherent in Parabrahman as
the Knower of Himself, the powers of Vidya and Avidya, the
power to know and the power not to know, the faculty of
Knowledge and the faculty of Illusion. Parabrahman can know
Himself as He really is; this is Vidya. He can also imagine

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Himself as He is not; this is Avidya. In the first aspect He is
Sacchidananda, absolute Existence, Consciousness and Bliss;
He exists to Himself alone, because there is no other existence
but Himself; He is conscious of His own existence only, because
there is no other existence to be conscious of; He is the bliss
of His own self-conscious existence, because there is nothing
outside or other than Him to give Him external bliss. That is the
eternal reality, that is His aspect to Vidya or true Knowledge.
But there is also the eternal unreality, His aspect to Avidya
or False Knowledge. Then He is a great Will, Shakti or Force
pouring itself out in a million forms and names and keeping
for ever in motion the eternal wheel of phenomenal Evolution,
which He guides and governs. He is then Isha, the Lord or Ruler.
To use a human parallel, Shakespeare pouring himself out in a
hundred names and forms, Desdemona, Othello, Iago, Viola,
Rosalind, Macbeth, Hamlet, Lear, Cymbeline is using his power
of Avidya to become the lord and ruler of a wonderful imaginary
world. Shakespeare putting aside his works and returning to his
own single & sufficient existence is using his power of Vidya
to recover his own constant single reality. But there is one
Shakespeare and not two. Now the Karmamargin has to deal
with this great multifold phenomenal universe and when he
seeks to feel the presence of the Eternal round every single thing
it contains, it must necessarily be not in His unconditioned,
unphenomenal aspect of Sacchidananda but in His conditioned,
phenomenal aspect as Isha, Lord of the Universe. As Isha the
Karmayogin may worship Him in various sub-aspects. Isha is a
double being as Purusha-Prakriti; Purusha, the great male ocean
of spiritual force which sets Prakriti to produce and watches
her workings, and Prakriti, the mighty female energy which
produces and works unweariedly for the pleasure of Purusha.
He is the triple Being, Prajna, Hiranyagarbha, Virat; Prajna,
Lord of Sleep-Life, the intelligent force which lives and wakes in
what would otherwise seem inert and inanimate existence or the
mere blind play of mechanical forces; Hiranyagarbha, the Lord
of Dream-Life who takes from this ocean of subconsciously
intelligent spiritual being those conscious psychic forces which

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177

He materializes or encases in various forms of gross living
matter; and Virat, Lord of Waking-Life, who governs, preserves
and maintains the sensible creation which Hiranyagarbha has
shaped. He is triple again as Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu; Shiva, the
destroyer, the Yogin, the Lord of brute or inert life; the Master
of Samadhi, the Refuge of the outcast & of those who have no
refuge; Brahma, the Creator, who puts forth life and stays not his
hand for a moment; Vishnu, the Preserver & Saviour, the Master
of Power & Love and Life and Light and Sweetness. With all
these aspects of Isha, the Lord, Hindu worship has associated
names & forms and in these names and forms He shows Himself
to His worshippers. The Jnanayogin loves to worship Him as
Shiva, the Master of utter Samadhi; to the Bhakta He appears
in whatever form appeals most to the spiritual emotions of His
devotee. But the Karmayogin should devote himself to those
forms of the Supreme Lord in which His mighty Shakti, His
Will to live and create has expressed itself in its highest, purest
and most inspiring and energetic virility; for Karma is merely
Shakti in motion and the Karmayogin must be a pure conductor
of divine energy, a selfless hero and creator in the world. Isha
Himself in His Avatars, Buddha, Rama, Srikrishna, has given us
the highest types of this selfless divine energy and it is therefore
to these mighty spirits, God-in-man, that the Karmayogin may
well direct his worship. Or he may worship Isha in His Shakti,
in the form of Durga-Kali, the most powerful realisation of
His cosmic energy which the human mind has yet envisaged. If
he is able to dispense with forms, he may worship the idea of
Isha Himself, the Almighty Lord, whom the Hindu adores as
Hari, the Christian as God, the Mahomedan as Allah. Even the
atheist, if he recognizes a mighty Power at work in all life and
existence and yields up his self and actions to the will and ends
of that Power, or if he recognizes in men the godhead he refuses
to recognize in the Universe and devotes himself to the selfless
service of his kind, has set his foot on the path of Karmayoga
and cannot fail to reach the Lord whom he denies. It is of no
importance that the Karmayogin should recognize a particular
name or form as the greater Self to win whom he must lose his

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smaller self; but it is of importance & essential that he should
recognize the existence of a Power inside and outside himself to
the law of whose Will and Workings he can sacrifice the self-will
and self-worship of the natural man. Whatever name he gives
to this Power or whether he gives it a name or not, it is Isha,
the Lord, whose presence he must feel around every object and
movement in the Universe.
III. Isha and His Universe.
Next let us take note of the word vA-y\. All this Universe must
be clothed with Isha; we must draw the feeling of His presence
round every object in the Universe and envelop it with Isha, as
a robe is drawn round and envelops the wearer. For the Lord
is greater than His universe. This tree is not the Lord, it is
in the Lord. We must avoid the materialistic Pantheism which
identifies the visible Universe with the Supreme Being. It is true
that He is both the final and material Cause of the universe,
and in one sense He is His Universe and His Universe is He, just
as Shakespeare's creations are really Shakespeare himself, woven
by him out of his own store of psychic material; and yet it would
be obviously a mistake to identify, say, Iago with Shakespeare.
This tree is evolved out of original ether, ether pervades it and
surrounds it, but the tree cannot be described as ether, nor ether
as the tree; so, going deeper down, we find it is evolved out of
the existence of the Lord who pervades it and surrounds it with
His presence; but the tree is not the Lord, nor the Lord the tree.
The Hindu is no idolater; he does not worship stocks or stones,
the tree as tree or the stone as stone or the idol as a material
thing, but he worships the presence of the Lord which fills &
surrounds the tree, stone or idol, and of which the tree, stone or
idol is merely a manifestation or seeming receptacle. We say for
the convenience of language and mental realization that God is
in His creature, but really it is the creature who is in God, n (vh\
t
q; t
 mEy. "I am not in them, they are in Me."
We find European scholars when they are confronted with
the metaphors of the Sruti, always stumbling into a blunder

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which we must carefully avoid if we wish to understand our
Scriptures. Their reason, hard, logical and inflexible, insists on
fixing the metaphor to its literal sense and having thus done
violence to the spirit of the Upanishad, they triumphantly point
to the resultant incoherence and inconsistency of our revealed
writings and cry out, "These are the guesses, sometimes sublime, generally infantile, of humanity in its childhood." But the
metaphors of the Sruti are merely helps to a clearer understanding; you are intended to take their spirit and not insist on the
letter. They are conveniences for the hand in climbing, not supports on which you are to hang your whole weight. Here is a
metaphor vA-y\, clothe, as with a garment. But the garment is
different from the wearer, & limited in the space it occupies: is
the Lord then different from His creation and limited in His being? That would be the letter; the spirit is different. The presence
of the Lord who is infinite, must be thought of as surrounding
each object and not confined to the limits of the object, - this
and no more is the force of vA-y\. When we see the tree, we do
not say, "This is the Lord", but we say "Here is the Lord". The
tree exists only in Him & by Him; He is in it and around it, even
as the ether is.
All this, says the Sruti, is to be thought of as surrounded
by the presence of the Lord, svEmd\, all this that is present to
our senses, all in fact that we call the Universe. But to avoid
misunderstanding the Upanishad goes on to point out that it is
not only the Universe as a whole, but each thing that is in the
Universe which we must feel to be encompassed with the divine
Presence, yE(k\c jg(yA\ jgt^. everything and anything that is
moving thing in Her who moves. Jagati, she that moves, in the
ancient Sanscrit, was a word applied to the whole Universe;
afterwards it meant rather this moving earth,1 that part of the
cosmos with which we human beings are mainly concerned and
the neuter jagat, that which moves, came to be the ordinary
expression for world or universe. But why is the universe called
1 The ancient Rishis knew that the earth moves,
moves, but seems to be still".

clA pLvF E-TrA BAEt,

"The earth

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"she that moves"? Because it is the result of the working of
Prakriti, the visible form of Prakriti, the great female material
energy of the Lord, and the essence of Prakriti is motion; for by
motion she creates this material world. Indeed all object matter
is only a form, that is to say a visible, audible or in some way
sensible result of motion. Every material object is what it is here
called, jagat, a world of infinite motion; even the stone, even
the clod. Our senses tell us that the material world is the only
reality, the only steadfast thing of whose rule and order we can
be sure and by which we can abide; but our senses are in error
and the Upanishad warns us against their false evidence. The
material world is a transitory and changing whirl of motion on
the surface of Brahman, the great ocean of spiritual existence,
who alone is, in His depths, eternal, real and steadfast. It is
He who as the Lord gives order, rule and abidingness to the
infinite motion we call the Universe; and if we wish to be in
touch with reality, we must train our souls to become aware of
His presence sustaining, pervading and surrounding this moving
Prakriti and every objective form to which her varying rates of
vibration have given rise. Thus placed in constant touch with
reality, the Karmayogin will escape from the false shows and
illusions of Prakriti; Karma or action which also is merely her
motion, energy at work, will not master him and drive him as a
storm drives a ship, but he will rather be the master of action,
both his own and that of others. For it is only by understanding
practically the reality of a thing and its law of working that one
can become its master and make use of it for his own purposes.
IV. God in Man and in all Creatures.
But when the Karmayogin has seen the Lord surrounding all
things with His presence and all things existing only as transitory manifestations, idols or images in this divine Reality, what
follows? It follows that just as this tree or that mountain exists
only as an image or manifestation in the divine Reality, so also
all creatures, men included, are merely images or manifestations
in the same divine Reality. In other words what is real, living,

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181

eternal in you and me, is not our body, nor our vitality & its
desires, nor our mind, nor our reason and understanding, but
just the divine presence which pervades me and you as much as
it pervades the tree and the mountain. And it is not the body,
vitality, mind, reason or understanding which constitutes the
presence of the Lord within us; for my body differs from yours,
my vitality differs from yours, my mind differs from yours, my
reason and understanding differ from yours; they differ even
from themselves according to time and circumstances; but the
Lord is one and unchanging. There must therefore be something
deeper hidden within us than any of these things, something
which is alone real, living and eternal. This something is called
in the Vedanta the Self; it is Brahman or the Lord within each of
his creatures. The Self is in the microcosm what Sacchidananda
is in the macrocosm; it is the great pure luminous existence, selfconscious and self-blissful, which acts not, neither desires, but
watches the infinite play of Prakriti in the life of the creature
It informs. And just as by the power of Avidya Sacchidananda
takes the semblance of a mighty Will or Force, Isha, creating
endless multiplicity and governing, guiding and rejoicing in the
interplay of worlds, so by the same power this Self or Witness
in Man takes the semblance of a sublime Will creating for itself
action and inaction, pleasure & pain, joy & sorrow, victory
& defeat, guiding, governing & rejoicing in the activity of the
apparent creature it informs, but unaffected and unbound by
his works. This Will, which the Vedanta calls Ananda or Bliss
and not will, must not be confused with mere volition or desire,
for volition belongs to the outer & apparent man and not to
the inner and real. This Self is in me, it is also in you and
every other being and in all it is the same Self, only the Will or
Shakti manifests in different degrees, with a different intensity
and manner of working and so with different qualities & actions
in each separate creature. Hence the appearance of diversity and
divisibility in what is really One and indivisible.
This divisibility of the Indivisible is one of those profound
paradoxes of Vedantic thought which increasing Knowledge will
show to be deep and far-reaching truths. It used to be implicitly

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believed that human personality was a single and indivisible
thing; yet recently a school of psychologists has grown up who
consider man as a bundle of various personalities rather than
a single, homogeneous and indivisible consciousness. For it has
been found that a single man can divide himself or be divided
into several personalities, each living its own life and unconscious of the other, while yet again another personality may
emerge in him which is conscious of the others and yet separate
from all of them. This is true; nevertheless, the man all through
remains one and the same, not only in body but in his psychical
existence; for there is a deeper substratum in him which underlies
all these divided personalities and is wider than all of them put
together. The truth is that the waking personality is only the
apparent man, not the real. Personality is the creation of memory, for memory is its basis and pedestal. If the pedestal, then,
be divided and put apart, the superstructure also must be in the
same act divided and put apart. But the waking memory is only
a part, a selection of a wider latent memory which has faithfully
recorded all that happens not in the man's present life only, but in
all his past. The personality which corresponds with this latent
unerring memory is the true personality of the man; it is his soul,
one infinite and indivisible, and its apparent divisions are merely
the result of Avidya, false knowledge, due to defective action of
the waking memory. So the apparent division of the divine Self
into many human selves, of the indivisible Paramatman into
many Jivatmans, is simply the result of Avidya due to the action
of the Maya or self-imposed illusion of Isha, the great Force who
has willed that the One by this force of Maya should become
phenomenally manifold. In reality, there is no division and the
Self in me is the same as the Self in you and the same as the
Self up yonder in the Sun. The unity of spiritual existence is the
basis of all true religion and true morality. We know indeed that
as God is not contained in His universe, but the universe is in
Him, so also God is not contained within a man. When the Sruti
says elsewhere that the Purusha lies hidden in the heart of our
being and is no larger than the size of a man's thumb, it simply
means that to the mind of man under the dominion of Avidya

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his body, vitality, mind, reason bulk so largely, the Spirit seems
a small and indistinguishable thing indeed inside so many and
bulky sheaths and coverings. But in reality, it is body, vitality,
mind & reason forming the apparent man that are small and
trifling and it is the Spirit or real man that is large, grandiose &
mighty. The apparent man exists in & by the real, not the real in
the apparent; the body is in the soul, not the soul in the body. Yet
for the convenience of language and our finite understanding we
are compelled to say that the soul is in the body and that God
is within the man; for that is how it naturally presents itself to
us who use the mental standpoint and the language of a finite
intelligence. The Lord, from our standpoint, is within all His
creatures and He is the real self of all His creatures. My self
and yourself are not really two but one. This is the second truth
proceeding logically from the first, on which the Karmayogin
has to lay fast hold.
V. Selflessness, the Basic Rule of Karma-Yoga
From the fundamental truth of one divine Reality pervading
and surrounding all phenomenal objects and from its implied
corollary, the identity of my Self with your Self, the Upanishad deduces a principle of action which holds good for all
Karmayogins. "Abandon the world that thou mayst enjoy it,
neither covet any man's possession." He that would save his
soul, must first lose it. He who would enjoy the world, must first
abandon it. Thus from an intellectual paradox the Upanishad
proceeds to a moral paradox, and yet both are profound and
accurate statements of fact. At first the reason revolts against an
assertion so self-contradictory. If I put my food away from me,
how can I enjoy it? If I throw away the sovereign in my hand,
another may have the joy of it but how can I? I, Devadatta,
am told to enjoy the world, yes, all that is in the world; yet
I find that I have little enough to enjoy while my neighbour
Harischandra has untold wealth. If I am to enjoy the world,
how shall I proceed to my object? Not surely by abandoning
the little I have, but by keeping fast hold on it and adding to

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it the much that Harischandra has. So would argue the natural
man, rationally enough from his point of view, but so would
not argue the Karmayogin. He will covet no man's possession,
because he knows such terms as possession, mine, thine, to be
false and illusory in the light of the secret tremendous truth he
has got hold of, that there is nothing in this world real, desirable
and worth calling by the name of bliss except Brahman, the
eternal reality of things. Self-gratification and the possession of
wealth and its enjoyments are transitory, illusory and attended
with inevitable trouble and pain, but the enjoyment of one's
identity with Brahman and the possession of Brahman are pure
and undisturbed bliss. The more I possess of Him, the wider
and nearer perfection will be my enjoyment. Brahman then is
the only wealth the Karmayogin will covet. But how can we
possess Brahman? By surrounding all things in the world with
Him, by realizing Him in all things. If I am wealthy, the Lord
is there in my wealth, but if I am poor, the Lord is there too in
my poverty; because of His presence I can enjoy my poverty as
much as I did my wealth. For it is not the wealth and the poverty
which matter or are real, but only the feeling of the presence of
the Lord in all things. That is one way in which I can enjoy the
world by abandoning it; for the world is Brahman, the world
is the Lord, and to him who has experience of it, all things are
bliss, all things are enjoyment. What ground then is there left
for coveting another man's possessions? Harischandra possesses
merely so much gold, estates, houses, Government paper; but I,
Devadatta, in my cottage, possess the Lord of the Universe and
am the master & enjoyer of the whole world. It is I who am rich
and not Harischandra. That is the fulfilment of his discipline for
the Karmayogin.
But let us go down many steps lower. I have not yet ascended
the ladder, but am still climbing. I have not yet acquired the
habitual consciousness of the presence of the Lord surrounding
all things as the only reality for whose sake alone transitory phenomena are precious or desirable. How in this imperfect stage
of development can the Karmayogin escape from covetousness
and the desire for other men's possessions? By realising more &

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more the supreme bliss of a selfless habit of mind and selfless
work. This is the way to his goal; this is his ladder. Unselfishness
is usually imagined as the abnegation of self, a painful duty, a
"mortification", something negative, irksome and arduous. That
is a Western attitude, not Hindu; the European temperament is
dominated by the body and the vital impulses; it undertakes
altruism as a duty, a law imposed from outside, a standard of
conduct and discipline; it is, in this light, something contrary
to man's nature, something against which the whole man is
disposed to rebel. That is not the right way to look at it. Unselfishness is not something outside the nature, but in the nature,
not negative but positive, not a self-mortification and abnegation
but a self-enlargement and self-fulfilment; not a law of duty but
a law of self-development, not painful, but pleasurable. It is in
the nature, only latent, and has to be evolved from inside, not
tacked on from outside. The lion's whelp in the fable who was
brought up among sheep, shrank from flesh when it was placed
before him, but once he had eaten of it, the lion's instincts awoke
and the habits of the sheep had no more delight for him. So it is
with man. Selflessness is his true nature, but the gratification of
the body and the vital impulses has become his habit, his second
or false nature, because he has been accustomed to identify his
body & vital impulses with himself. He, a lion, has been brought
up to think himself a sheep; he, a god, has been trained to be
an animal. But let him once get the taste of his true food, and
the divinity in him awakes; the habits of the animal can please
him no longer and he hungers after selflessness and selfless work
as a lion hungers after his natural food. Only the feeling has to
be evolved as a fulfilment of his nature, not painfully worked
up to as a contravention of his nature. The man who regards
selflessness as a duty, has not yet learned the alphabet of true
altruism; it is the man who feels it as a delight and a natural craving, who has taken the right way to learn. The Hindu outlook
here is the true outlook. The Hindu does not call the man who
has risen above the gratification of desire a selfless man; he calls
him aA(mvAn^, the selfful man; that man is anA(mvAn^, that man
has not found himself who still clings to the gratification of his

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body & vital impulses. Read that great drama of self-sacrifice,
the Nagananda, and you will feel how different is the Hindu
outlook from the Western; there self-sacrifice is not a painful
and terrible struggle but a glorious outpouring of the nature, a
passionate delight. "It is only human nature," we say indulgently
of any act of selfishness. But that is an error and thrice an error. It
is not human nature, but animal nature; human nature is divine
& selfless and the average selfish man is selfish not because of
his humanity, but because his humanity is as yet undeveloped &
imperfect. Christ, Buddha, these are the perfect men; Tom, Dick
& Harry are merely animals slowly shaping into men.
VI. The Philosophical Justification of Altruism
The philosophical justification for this outlook is provided for
in the fundamental position of Vedanta. so_h\, I am He; Thou
too art He; there is therefore no I and Thou, but only He. Brahman, Isha is my true self, the real Devadatta; Brahman, Isha
is the true self of my neighbour, the real Harischandra. There
is therefore really no Devadatta, no Harischandra, but my Self
in the mental and bodily case called Devadatta and my Self
in the mental and bodily case called Harischandra. If therefore
Harischandra enjoys untold riches, it is I who am enjoying them;
for Harischandra is my Self, - not my body in which I am imprisoned or my desires by which my body is made miserable, but
my true self, the Purusha or real Man within me, who is the witness and enjoyer of all this sweet, bitter, tender, grand, beautiful,
terrible, pleasant, horrible and wholly wonderful and enjoyable
drama of the world which Prakriti enacts for his delectation.
Once I experience this truth, I can take as much pleasure in the
riches of Harischandra as if I myself were enjoying them; for I
can thenceforth go out of my own self and so enter into the self
of Harischandra, that his pleasure becomes my own. To do that
I have simply to break down the illusory barrier of associations
which confines my sense of self to my own body, mind & vitality.
That this can be done, is a common experience of humanity, to
which the name of love is given. Human evolution rises through

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love and towards love. This truth is instinctively recognised
by all the great religions, even when they cannot provide any
philosophical justification for a tenet to which they nevertheless
attach the highest importance. The one law of Christianity which
replaces all the commandments is to love one's neighbour as
oneself, the moral ideal of Buddhism is selfless benevolence &
beneficence to others; the moral ideal of Hinduism is the perfect
sage whose delight and occupation is the good of all creatures
(svB
tEhtrt,). It is always the same great ideal expressed with
varying emphasis. But love in the sense which religion attaches
to the word, depends on the realization of oneself in others.
If, as Sankhya and Christian theology say, there are millions of
different Purushas, if the real man in me is different and separate
from the real man in another, one in kind but not in essence, there
can be no feeling of identity; there can only be mental or material
contact. From material contact nothing but animal feelings of
passion & hatred can arise; from mental contact repulsion is as
likely to arise as attraction. A separate individual Self will live its
own life, pursue its own gratification or its own salvation; it can
have no ground, no impulse to love another as itself, because
it cannot feel that the other is itself. The Vedanta provides in
the realisation of a single Self and the illusory character of all
division the only real explanation of this higher or spiritual
love. Altruism in the light of this one profound revealing truth
becomes natural, right and inevitable. It is natural because I am
not really preferring another to myself, but my wider truer self
to my narrower false self, God who is in all to my single mind
and body, myself in Devadatta and Harischandra to myself in
Devadatta alone. It is right because by embracing in my range of
feelings the enjoyment of Harischandra in addition to my own
I shall make my knowledge of the universality of Brahman an
experience, and not merely an intellectual conception or assent;
for experience and not intellectual conception is true knowledge.
It is inevitable because that is my way of evolution. As I have
risen from the animal to the man, so must I rise from the man
to the God; but the basis of godhead is the realisation of oneself
in all things. The true aim and end of evolution is the wider and

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wider realisation of the universal Brahman. Towards that goal
we progress, with whatever tardiness, with whatever lapses, yet
inevitably, from the falsehood of matter to the truth of spirit. We
leave behind, first, the low animal stage of indolence, brutishness, ignorance, wrath, lust, greed and beast violence, or as we
call it in our philosophy the tamasic condition and rise to various human activity and energy, the rajasic condition; from that
again we must rise to the sattwic condition of divine equipoise,
clarity of mind, purity of soul, high selflessness, pity, love for
all creatures, truth, candour, tranquillity. Even this divine height
is not the highest; we must leave it behind and climb up to the
peak of all things where sits the bright and passionless Lord
of all, lighting up with a single ray of His splendour a million
universes. On that breathless summit we shall experience the
identity of our Self not only with the Self of others, but with the
All-Self who is the Lord and who is Brahman. In Brahman our
evolution finds its vast end and repose.
VII. The Meaning of Renunciation
The Karmayogin therefore will abandon the world that he may
enjoy; he will not seek, as Alexander did, to possess the whole
world with a material lordship, but, as Gods do, to possess
it in his soul. He will lose himself in his own limited being,
that he may find himself illimitably in the being of others. The
abandonment of the world means nothing less than this, that
we give up our own petty personal joy and pleasure to bathe
up to the eyes in the joy of others; and the joys of one man
may be as great as you please, the united joys of a hundred must
needs be greater. By renouncing enjoyment you can increase your
enjoyment a hundredfold. That was ever the privilege of the true
lover. If you are [a] true lover of a woman, it is her joys far more
than your own that make your happiness; if you are a true lover
of your friends, their prosperity and radiant faces will give you
a delight which you could never have found in your own small
and bounded pleasures; if you are a true lover of your nation,
the joy, glory and wealth of all its millions will be yours; if you

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are a true lover of mankind, all the joys of the countless millions
of the earth will flow like an ocean of nectar through your soul.
You will say that their sorrows too will be yours. But is not
the privilege of sharing the sorrows of those you love a more
precious thing than your own happiness? Count too the other
happinesses which that partnership in sorrow can bring to you.
If you have power, - and Yoga always brings some power with
it, - you may have the unsurpassable joy of solacing or turning
into bliss the sorrow of your friend or lover, or the sufferings
and degradation of the nation for which you sacrifice yourself
or the woes of the humanity in whom you are trying to realize
God. Even the mere continuous patient resolute effort to do
this is a joy unspeakable; even defeat in such a cause is a stern
pleasure that strengthens you for new and invincible endeavour.
And if you have not the power to relieve or the means to carry
on the struggle, there is still left you the joy of suffering or dying
for others. "Greater love than this has no man, that he should
die for his friend." Yes, but that greatest love of all means also
the greatest joy of all. "It is a sweet and noble thing to die
for one's country." How many a patriot in his last moments
has felt that this was no empty poetical moralising, but the
feeble understatement of a wonderful and inexpressible reality.
They say that Christ suffered on the cross! The body suffered,
doubtless, but did Christ suffer or did he not rather feel the joy
of godhead in his soul? The agony of Gethsemane was not the
agony of the coming crucifixion, the cup which he prayed might
be taken from his lips, was not the cup of physical suffering,
but the bitter cup of the sins of mankind which he had been
sent to drink. If it were not so, we should have to say that this
Jesus was not the Christ, not the Son of God, not the avatar
who dared to say "I and my Father are one", but a poor weak
human being who under the illusion of Maya mistook his body
for himself. Always remember that it is not the weak in spirit to
whom the Eternal gives himself wholly; it is the strong heroic
soul that reaches God. Others can only touch his shadow from
n l
afar. nAymA(mA blhFn
The abandonment of the world which is demanded of the

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Karmayogin is not necessarily a physical abandonment. You
are not asked to give up your house and wealth, your wife,
your children, your friends. What you have to give up is your
selfish desire for them and your habit of regarding them as your
possessions and chattels who are yours merely in order to give
you pleasure. You are not asked to throw away the objects of
your desire, but to give them up in your heart. It is the desire
you have to part with and not the objects of the desire. The
abandonment demanded of you is therefore a spiritual abandonment; the power to enjoy your material possessions in such
spirit of detachment that you will not be overjoyed by gain, nor
cast down by loss, is the test of its reality, - not the mere flight
from their presence, which is simply a flight from temptation.
The Karmayogin has to remain in the world & conquer it; he is
not allowed to flee from the scene of conflict and shun the battle.
His part in life is the part of the hero, - the one quality he must
possess, is the lionlike courage that will dare to meet its spiritual
enemies in their own country and citadel and tread them down
under its heel. A spiritual abandonment then, - for the body
only matters as the case of the spirit; it is the spirit on which the
Karmayogin must concentrate his effort. To purify the body is
well, only because it makes it easier to purify the spirit; in itself
it is of no importance; but if the soul is pure, the body cannot be
touched by uncleanness. If the spirit itself is not stained by desire,
the material enjoyment of the objects of desire cannot stain it.
For if my spirit does not lust after new wealth or cling to the
wealth I have, then my use of riches must necessarily be selfless
and without blame; and having parted with them in spirit and
given them into the treasury of God, I can then truly enjoy their
possession. That enjoyment is clear, deep and calm; fate cannot
break it, robbers cannot take it away, enemies cannot overwhelm
it. All other joy of possession is chequered and broken with fear,
sorrow, trouble and passion, - the passion for its increase, the
trouble of keeping it unimpaired, the sorrow for its diminution,
the fear of its utter loss. Passionless enjoyment alone is pure
& unmixed delight. If indeed you choose to abandon riches
physically as well as in spirit, that too is well, provided you

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take care that you are not cherishing the thought of them in
your mind. There is another curious law of which many who
follow the path of spiritual renunciation, have had experience.
It is this that such renunciation is often followed by a singular
tendency for wealth to seek him who has ceased to seek wealth.
A strong capable will bent on money-making, will doubtless
win its desire, but at least as often wealth, fame and success flee
from the man who longs after them and come to him who has
conquered his longing. Their lover perishes without winning
them or reaches them through deep mire of sin or a hell of
difficulty or over mountains of toil, while the man who has
turned his back on them, finds them crowding to lay themselves
at his feet. He may then either enjoy or reject them. The latter
is a great path and has been the chosen way of innumerable
saintly sages. But the Karmayogin may enjoy them, not for his
personal pleasure certainly, not for his false self, since that sort
of enjoyment he has abandoned in his heart, but God in them
and them for God. As a king merely touching the nazzerana
passes it on to the public treasury, so shall the Karmayogin,
merely touching the wealth that comes to him, pour it out for
those around him, for the poor, for the worker, for his country,
for humanity because he sees Brahman in all these. Glory, if it
comes to him, he will veil in many folds of quiet and unobtrusive
humility and use the influence it gives not for his own purposes
but to help men more effectively in their needs or to lead them
upward to the divine. Such a man will quickly rise above joy and
sorrow, success and failure, victory and defeat; for in sorrow as
in joy he will feel himself to be near God. That nearness will
deepen into continual companionship and by companionship he
will grow ever liker God in his spiritual image until he reaches
the last summit of complete identity when man, the God who
has forgotten his godhead, remembers utterly and becomes the
Eternal. Selflessness then is the real & only law of renunciation;
in the love of one's wider self in others, it has its rise; by the
feeling of the divine presence in all earthly objects, it becomes
rooted & unshakeable; the realization of the Brahman is its
completion and goal.

Chapter II

Salvation through Works
I
The law of spiritual abandonment in preference to mere physical abandonment, is the solution enounced by Srikrishna, the
greatest of all teachers, for a deep and vexed problem which
has troubled the Hindu consciousness from ancient times. There
are, as we know, three means of salvation; salvation by knowledge, the central position in Buddhism; salvation by faith &
love, the central position in Christianity; salvation by faith &
works, the central position in Mahomedanism. In Hinduism,
the Sanatandharma, all these three paths are equally accepted.
But in all three the peculiar and central religious experience of
Hinduism, - the reality & eternity of the Self, the transience &
unreality of all else, - is insisted upon as the guiding principle
& indispensable idea. This is the bridge which carries you over
to immortality; this is the gate of salvation. The Jnanamargin
envisages only one reality, the Brahman, and by turning away
from all that is phenomenal and seeking the One reality in himself, enters into the being of the Eternal. The Bhakta envisages
only two realities, God & himself, and by the ecstatic union
of himself with God through love and adoration, enters into
the pure and unmixed presence of the Eternal. The Karmamargin envisages three realities which are one; the Eternal in Itself,
pure and without a second, the Eternal as a transcendent Will
or Force manifesting Himself phenomenally but not really in
cosmic work & the Eternal in the Jivatman, manifesting Himself similarly in individual work in a finite body; and he too,
by abandoning desire and laying his works upon God, attains
likeness to the Eternal and through that gate enters into identity
with the Eternal. In one thing all these agree, the transience &
unreality of phenomenal existence. But if phenomenal existence
is unreal, of what use is it to remain in the world? Let us abandon

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house and wealth and wife and friends and children; let us flee
from them to the solitude of mountain & forest and escape as
soon as possible by knowledge & meditation from the world
of phenomena. Such was the cry that arose in India before and
after the days of Buddha, when the power of the Jnanamarga
was the strongest on the Hindu consciousness. The language of
the Bhakta is not very different; "Let us leave the things of the
world," he cries, "let us forget all else and think and speak only
of the name of Hari." Both have insisted that works and the
world are a snare & a bondage from which it is best to flee.
The Karmayogin alone has set himself against the current and
tried to stand in the midmost of the cosmic stir, in the very surge
and flux of phenomena without being washed away in the tide.
Few, he has said, who remain in the world, can be above the
world and live in communion with the Eternal; but few also
who flee to the mountains, really attain Him, and few of those
who spend their days in crying Lord, Lord, are accepted by Him
to whom they cry. It is always the many who are called, the few
who are chosen. And if Janak could remain in the world and
be ever with God in the full luxury, power & splendour of the
life of a great king, if Rama & Srikrishna lived in the world
and did the works of the world, yet were God, who shall say
that salvation cannot be attained in the midst of actions, nay,
even through the instrumentality of actions? To this dispute the
answer of Srikrishna is the one solution. To abandon desire in
the spirit is the one thing needful; if one fail to do this, it is
vain for him to practise Yoga in mountain or forest solitude,
it is vain to sing the name of Hari and cry Lord, Lord, from
morn to night, it is vain to hope for safety by "doing one's duty
in the world". The man unpurified of desire, whatever way he
follows, will not find salvation. But if he can purify his spirit of
desire, then whether on solitary mountain and in tiger-haunted
forest, or in Brindavun the beautiful, or in the king's court, the
trader's shop or the hut of the peasant, salvation is already in
his grasp. For the condition of salvation is to leave the lower
unreal self and turn to the real Self; and the stain & brand of
the lower self is desire. Get rid of desire and the doors of the

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Eternal stand wide open for your soul to enter in. The way of
the Sannyasin who leaves the world and devotes all himself to
Jnana or Bhakti, is a good way, and there is none better; but
the way of the Tyagin who lives among sense-objects and in the
whirl of action without cherishing the first or yielding to the
rush of the second, is the right way for the Karmayogin. This is
what the Upanishad with great emphasis proceeds to establish
as the second rule of conduct for the Karmamargin.
"Do, verily, thy deeds in this world and wish to live thy
hundred years, for thus to thee and there is no other way than
this, action cleaveth not to a man."
A hundred years is the full span of a man's natural life when
he observes all the laws of his nature and keeps his body and
mind pure by the use of pure food, by pure ways of living, by
purity of thought and by self-restraint in the satisfaction of his
desires. The term is ordinarily diminished by heedlessness, sin,
contamination or the effects of our past action in other lives;
it may, on the other hand, be increased to hundreds of years
by Yoga. But the Karmayogin will neither desire to increase
his term of life nor to diminish it. To increase his term of life
would show a desire for and clinging to phenomenal existence
quite inconsistent with that abandonment of desire which we
have seen to be the fundamental law of Karmayoga. A few
great Yogis have prolonged their lives without personal desire
merely to help the world by their presence or example. These
are exceptional cases which the ordinary Karmamargin need not
keep in view. On the other hand we must not turn our backs
on life; we must not fling it from us untimely or even long for
an early release from our body, but willingly fill out our term
and even be most ready to prolong it to the full period of man's
ordinary existence so that we may go on doing our deeds in this
world. Mark the emphasis laid on the word k;vn^ "doing" by
adding to it the particle ev, the force of which is to exclude any
other action, state, person or thing than the one expressed by the
word to which it is attached. Verily we must do our deeds in this
world and not avoid doing them. There is no need to flee to the
mountains in order to find God. He is not a hill-man or a serpent

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that we should seek for Him only in cave & on summit; nor a
deer or tiger that the forest only can harbour Him. He is here,
in you and around you; He is in these men and women whom
you see daily, with whom you talk & pass your life. In the roar
of the city you can find Him and in the quiet of the village, He
is there. You may go to the mountains for a while, if the din of
life deafens you & you wish to seek solitude to meditate; for to
the Karmayogin also Jnana is necessary and solitude is the nurse
of knowledge. You may sit by the Ganges or the Narmada near
some quiet temple or in some sacred asram to adore the Lord;
for to the Karmayogin also bhakti is necessary, and places like
these which are saturated with the bhakti of great saints and
impassioned God-lovers best feed and strengthen the impulse
of adoration in the soul. But if Karmayoga be your path, you
must come back and live again in the stir of the world. In no
case flee to solitude and inaction as a coward and weakling,
- not in the hope of finding God, but because you think you
can by this means escape from the miseries and misfortunes of
your life which you are too weak to face. It is not the weak
and the coward who can climb up to God, but the strong and
brave alone. Every individual Jivatman must become the perfect
Kshatriya before he can become the Brahmin. For there is a
caste of the soul which is truer and deeper than that of the body.
Through four soul-stages a man must pass before he can be
perfect; first, as a Sudra, by service and obedience to tame the
brute in his being; then, as a Vaishya to satisfy within the law
of morality the lower man in him and evolve the higher man
by getting the first taste of delight in well-doing to others than
himself and his; then, as the Kshatriya, to be trained in those first
qualities without which the pursuit of the Eternal is impossible,
courage, strength, unconquerable tenacity and self-devotion to
a great task; last, as the Brahmin, so to purify body & mind
and nature that he may see the Eternal reflected in himself as
in an unsoiled mirror. Having once seen God, man can have no
farther object in life than to reach and possess Him. Now the
Karmayogin is a soul that is already firmly established in the
Kshatriya stage and is rising from it through an easily-attained

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Brahminhood straight & swift to God. If he loses hold of his
courage & heroism, he loses his footing on the very standingground from which he is to heighten himself in his spiritual
stature until his hand can reach up to and touch the Eternal. Let
his footing be lost, & what can he do but fall?
II. Vairagya.
Disgust with the world, the shrinking from the phenomenal life
and the desire to escape from it to the Eternal, is called, in
our terminology, vairagya. Vairagya is the turning of the soul
to its salvation; but we must be on our guard against the false
shows and imitations of it to which our minds are subject. "I
am continually battered with the siege of sorrows & miseries;
I cannot cope with the world; let me therefore get away from
the world, put on the saffron robe and be at peace from anxiety
and grief"; that is not the language of real vairagya. Just as you
recognize a genuine article from the imitation by its trademark,
so there is a mark by which you recognize the true Sannyasin.
Not weariness of the phenomenal world by itself, but this worldweariness accompanied by a thirst for the Eternal, that is the real
vairagya. The thirst for the Eternal is the trademark; look for
it always and see that it is the real trademark, not an imperfect
& fraudulent reproduction. The saffron robe nowadays covers
a great deal of selfishness, a great deal of idleness, a great deal
of hypocrisy. It is not the robe which is the trademark, but the
longing for the Eternal. Nor is it the talk and the outward action
which is the trademark, for that may be a mere imitation. Look
in the eyes, watch the slighter, less observed habits, wait for a
light on the face; then you will find the trademark. Apply the
same test to yourself. When you think you have vairagya, ask
yourself, "Is this mere weariness & disgust, a weak fainting of
the soul, or can I detect in it even in a slight degree an awakening
of the Self and a desire for that which is not transient but eternal,
not bound to sin and chequered with sorrow, but pure and free?"
If after severe self-examination, you can detect this desire in
yourself, know that your salvation has begun.

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There are many kinds of vairagya, some true, some false.
There is one vairagya, deep, intense & energetic, when the strong
man having tasted the sweets of the world finds that there is in
them no permanent and abiding sweetness; they are not the true
and immortal joy which his true and immortal self demands, so
he turns from them to something in his being which is deeper
and holier, the joy of the inexhaustible and imperishable spirit
within. Then there is the vairagya, false or transient, of the
hypocrite or weakling, who has lusted and panted and thirsted
for the world's sweets, but has been pushed and hustled from the
board by Fate or by stronger men than himself, and seeks in the
outward life of the Sannyasin a slothful and thornless road to
honour and ease and the satisfaction of greed, or else would use
Yoga and Sannyas as the drunkard uses his bottle or the slave of
opium his pill or his daily draught. Not for such ignoble purpose
were these great things meant by the Rishis who disclosed them
to the world. Beware of such weakness. ?l
{Ny\ mA -m gm, pAT
n
{tvy;ppt
. Truly is such base weakness unworthy of one who
is no other than Brahman, the Eternal, the Creator, Protector
and Destroyer of worlds. But on the other hand there is a true
vairagya of sorrow and disappointment; sometimes men have
tried in their ignorance for ignoble things and failed, not from
weakness but because these things were not in their nature, were
unfit for them and below their true greatness and high destiny.
The sorrow and disappointment were necessary to open their
eyes to their true selves; then they seek solitude, meditation &
Samadhi, not as a dram to drown their sorrow and yet unsated
longing, but because their yearning is no longer for unworthy
things but for the love of God or the knowledge of the Eternal.
Sometimes great spirits enter the way of the Sannyasin, because
in the solitude alone with the Eternal they can best develop
their divine strength (Brahmatej) to use it for divine purposes.
Once attained they pour it in a stream of divine knowledge
or divine love over the world; such were Shankaracharya and
Ramakrishna. Sometimes it is the sorrows & miseries of the
world that find them in ease & felicity and drive them out, as
Buddha & Christ were driven out, to seek light for the ignorant

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and help for sufferers in the depths of their own being. True
Sannyasins are the greatest of all workers, because they have the
most unalloyed & inexhaustible strength and are the mightiest
in God to do the works of God.
Whatever be the precise nature of the vairagya or its immediate & exciting cause, if the thirst for the Eternal mingle
in it, know that it is real vairagya and the necessary impulse
towards your salvation. You must pass through this stage if
you are to reach the Eternal at all. For if you do not get weary
of the phenomenal, your mind cannot turn to the Eternal; the
attraction of the phenomenal, keeps your eyes turned downward
& not upward, outward & not inward. Welcome therefore the
first inrush of vairagya into your life, but remember it is a first
stage on the road, not the goal. Swami Bhaskarananda was
driven into Sannyas by a keen & overmastering disgust of life
in the world, but when he had attained mukti, the state of his
mind so changed that if his wife had been living, he would have
lived with her in the world as one in the world; an idea shocking
to priestly & learned orthodoxy, but natural to the Jivanmukta.
Sri Ramakrishna, when he had attained identity with the Lord,
could not indeed return to the world as a householder or bear
the touch of worldly things, - for he was the incarnation of
utter Bhakti, - but he took as much delight in the Eternal
manifested in phenomena & especially in man as in the pure
actionless Brahman with whom he became one in Samadhi. The
Karmamargin must pass through the condition of Vairagya, but
he will not abide in it. Or to speak more accurately he will retain
the spiritual element in it and reject the physical. The spiritual
element of vairagya is the turning away from the selfish desire
for phenomenal objects and actions; the physical element is the
fear of and shrinking from the objects & actions themselves. The
retention of the spiritual element is necessary to all Yogins; the
retention of the physical element, though often a sign of great
physical purity and saintliness, is not essential to salvation.
Do not be shaken by the high authority of many who say
that to leave the world is necessary to the seeker after Brahman and that salvation cannot come by works. For we have

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a greater authority than any to set against them, the teaching
of Srikrishna himself. He tells Sanjay in the Mahabharata that
as between the gospel of action and the gospel of inaction, it
is the former that is to his mind and the latter strikes him as
the idle talk of a weakling. So too, in the Gita, while laying
stress on Jnana & Bhakti, he will by no means banish Karma
nor relegate it to an inferior place; the most significant portion
of the Gita is its eulogy of Karmayoga and inspired exposition
of its nature & principles. Jnana, of course, is indispensable;
Jnana is first & best. Works without knowledge will not save a
man but only plunge him deeper & deeper into bondage. The
Upanishad, before it speaks of the necessity of works, takes care
first to insist that you must realise the presence of the Lord
enveloping this universe & each object that it contains. When
you have got this Jnana that all is the One Brahman and your
actions are but the dramatic illusions unrolled by Prakriti for
the delight of the Purusha, you will then be able to do works
without desire or illusion, abandoning the world that you may
enjoy it, as the Upanishad tells you, or as Sri Krishna advises,
giving up all hankering for the fruits of your work. You will
devote all your actions to the Lord; not to the lower false self,
which feels pleasure & pain in the results of your actions, but
to the Brahman in you which works loks\g}hAT, for the keeping together of the peoples, so that instead of the uninstructed
multitudes being bewildered and led astray by your inactivity,
the world may be rather helped, strengthened and maintained
by the godlike character of your works. And your works must
be godlike if they are done without desire or attachment to their
fruits. For this is how God works. The world is His lila, His
play & sport, not a purposeful stir and struggle out of which
He is to gain something and be benefited. The great empire in
which you glory & think it is to be eternal, is to Him no more
than the house of sand which a child has built in his play. He
has made it and He will break it, and, one day, it will be as if it
had never been. The very Sun and its glorious wheeling planets
are but momentary toys in His hands. Once they were not, now
they are, a day will come & they will no longer be. Yet while

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He works on these things, He works like the boy when he is
building his castle of sand, as if the work were to be permanent
and for all time.

n c mA\ tAEn kmAEZ EnbEt Dny.
udAsFnvdAsFnms\ t
q; kms;
"And yet these actions bind Me not, Dhanunjoy, for I sit as one
unconcerned and I have no attachment to these My works."
Actions performed after renunciation, actions devoted to God,
these only do not cling to a man nor bind him in their invisible
chains, but rather fall from him as water from the wings of a
swan. They cannot bind him because he is free from the woven
net of causality. Cause and effect exist only in the idea of duality
which has its root in Avidya; the Yogin when he has renounced
desire and experienced unity, rises above Avidya & her children,
and bondage has no farther meaning for him. This is the goal of
the Karmayogin as of all Yoga, but the path for him is through
spiritual Vairagya, the renunciation of desire, not through physical separation from the objects of desire. This the Upanishad
emphasizes in the second line of the verse. "Thus to thee; and
there is no other way than this, action clingeth not to a man."
ev\ (vEy nAyT
to_E-t n km El=yt
 nr
. This is conclusive and
beyond appeal.
III. One Road and not Three.
"There is no other way than this." By this expression it is not intended that Karmayoga is the only path of salvation for all men,
but that the renunciation of desire is essential to salvation; every
Yogin, be he Jnani, Bhakta, or Karmi, must devote whatever
work he may be doing to the Eternal. To the Karmayogin indeed
this path is the only possible way; for it is the swabhava or nature
of a man which decides the way he shall take. If a born Jnani
becomes the disciple of a great Bhakta, however submissively
he may accept his Master's teachings, however largely he may
infuse his Jnana with Bhakti, yet eventually it is the way of Jnana
he must take and no other. For that is his swabhava or nature, his

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dharma or the law of his being. If the Brahmin predominates in
him, he will be drawn into Jnana; if the Kshatriya, into works; if
the Sudra or Vaisya, the child or woman, to Bhakti. If he is born
saint or avatar, he will harmonize all three, but still with one
predominant over the others and striking the main note of his
life and teaching. It is always the predominance of one or other,
not its unmixed control, which decides the path; for as with the
Karmayogin, the devotion of works to God brings inevitably the
love of God, and love gives knowledge, so it is with the Bhakta;
the love of God will of itself direct all his works to God and
bring him straight to knowledge. So it is even with the Jnani;
the knowledge of the Brahman means delight in Him, and that
is Bhakti; and this love & knowledge cannot let him live to
himself but will make him live to Brahman, and that is divine
Karma. The three paths are really one, but the Jnani takes the
right hand, the Bhakta the left hand and the Karmayogin walks
in the middle; while on the way each prefers his own choice as
best and thinks the others inferior, but when they reach the goal,
they find that none was inferior or superior, but it was one road
they were following which only seemed to be three.
The Jnani & Bhakta shrink from the idea of Karma as a
means of salvation. Unillumined Karma is such a stumbling
block in the path of the seeker that they can hardly regard even
illumined & desireless Karma as anything but a subordinate discipline whose only value is to prepare a man for Bhakti or Jnan.
They will not easily concede that karma can be by itself a direct
and sufficient road to Brahman. So Shankaracharya disparages
karma, and Shankaracharya's is an authority which no man can
dare to belittle. Nevertheless even the greatest are conditioned by
their nature, by the times they work in and by the kind of work
they have come to do. In the age that Shankara lived in, it was
right that Jnana should be exalted at the expense of works. The
great living force with which he had to deal, was not the heresies
of later Buddhism, Buddhism decayed and senescent, but the triumphant Karmakanda which made the faithful performance of
Vedic ceremonies the one path and heaven the highest goal. In his
continual anxiety to prove that these ceremonies could not be the

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path, he bent the bow as far as he could in the other direction and
left the impression that works could not be the path to salvation
at all. Had he laid stress on Karma as one of the ways to salvation, the people would not have understood him; they would
have thought that they had one more authority for their belief in
rites and ceremonies as all-sufficient for salvation. These things
must be remembered when we find Shankara and Ramanuja and
Madhwa differing so widely from each other in their interpretation of the Upanishad. It was necessary that the Scripture should
be interpreted by Shankara wholly in the light of Adwaita, the
Monistic conception of the Eternal, so that the Monistic idea
might receive its definite and consummate philosophical expression; for a similar reason it was necessary that Madhwa should
interpret them wholly in the light of the Dwaita or dualistic
conception and that Ramanuja should find a reconciliation in
Visishtadwaita, a modified Monism. All these conceptions of
the Eternal have their own truth and their own usefulness to the
soul in its effort to reach Him. But the Upanishad is not concerned only with the ultimate reality of the Brahman to Himself,
but also with His reality in His universe and His reality to the
Jivatman or individual self. It is therefore sometimes Adwaitic,
sometimes Dwaitic, sometimes Visishtadwaitic, and we should
have the courage now to leave the paths which the mighty dead
have trod out for us, discharge from our mind all preconceived
philosophies and ask only, "What does the Upanishad actually
say?" Never mind whether the interpretation arrived at seems to
be self-contradictory to the logician or incoherent to the metaphysical reasoner; it will be enough if it is true in the experience
of the seeker after God. For the Eternal is infinite and cannot be
cabined within the narrow limits of a logical formula.
IV. The denial of salvation by works
What is it, after all, to which the denial of salvation by works
amounts, when looked at not from the standpoint of logic only
but of actual spiritual experience? Some people when they talk
of Karma or works, think only of rites and ceremonies, Vedic,

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Puranic or Tantric. That kind of works, certainly, do not bring
us to salvation. They may give success & great joy, power and
splendour in this world. Or they may lead to enjoyment after
death in Paradise; but Paradise is not salvation; it is a temporary
joyous condition of the soul, the pleasure of which ceases when
the cause is exhausted. Or these rites may lead to the conscious
possession and use of occult powers, latent in ordinary men, by
which you may help or harm others; but the possession of occult
powers cannot be an assistance, it is indeed often a hindrance to
salvation. Or rites and ceremonies may purify and prepare the
mind and fit it for starting on one of the paths to salvation. This
indeed is their only helpfulness for the true aim of our existence.
They are no more than an infant or preparatory class in the
school of Brahmavidya.
It is evident again that works done with desire, works done
without knowledge and not devoted to God, cannot lead to
salvation, but only to continued bondage. Works prompted by
desire, lead only to the fulfilment of desire; nor do they disappear
in that consummation. For all work that we do, has, besides its
effect on ourselves, infinite effects on others and on the general
course of phenomena; these in their turn become causes and
produce fresh effects; so the ripple continues widening till we
lose sight of it in the distance of futurity. For all the effects of
our action we are responsible and by each new thing we do, we
are entering into so many debts which we must discharge before
we can be released from the obligation of phenomenal existence.
Existence in phenomena may be imaged as a debtor's prison in
which the soul is detained by a million creditors not one of whom
will forgive one farthing of his claims. But those claims we can
never discharge; each sum we get to pay off our old creditors,
we can only procure by entering into fresh debts which put us
at the mercy of new and equally implacable claimants. Nature,
the great judge and gaoler, is ever giving fresh decrees against
us, for her law is inexorable and will not admit of remission or
indulgence. We can obtain our release only by escaping from her
jurisdiction into the divine sanctuary where the slave of Nature,
by his very entry, becomes free and her master.

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But the works of the Karmayogin are works done with
knowledge and without desire. These certainly cannot prevent
release or lead to fresh debt and fresh bondage. For bondage
is the result of desire and ignorance and disappears with desire
and ignorance. Desire & ignorance are indeed the boundaries
of Nature's jurisdiction and once we have left them behind, we
have passed out of her kingdom; we have taken sanctuary from
her pursuit and are freemen released from the action of her laws.
To deny the innocence of works without desire would be to deny
reason, to deny Sruti, to deny facts. For Janaka and others did
works, Srikrishna did works, but none will say that either the
avatar or the jivanmukta were bound by his works; for their
karma was done with knowledge and without desire. Works
without desire, then, cannot prevent salvation or lead to fresh
bondage.
It may be argued, however, that if they do not prevent salvation, neither do they help towards salvation. The works of
the Bhakta or Jnani do not bind him because he has attained
the Eternal and by the strength of that attainment becomes free
from desire and ignorance; but works done before attainment
can be nothing but means of bondage; only the pursuit of Godknowledge and the worship & adoration of God, to which
the name of works does not properly apply, are free from responsibility. But this reasoning too is not consistent with divine
teaching, with experience or with reason. For divine teaching
distinctly tells us that works done after abandonment of the
world and devoted to God only, do lead to salvation. We know
also that a single action done without desire and devoted to the
Lord, gives us strength for fresh actions of the same kind, and
the persistent repetition of such works must form the habit of
desirelessness & self-devotion to Him, which then become our
nature and atmosphere. We have already seen that desirelessness
necessarily takes us outside the jurisdiction of Nature, and when
we are outside the jurisdiction of Nature, where can we be if not
in the presence of the Eternal? Nor can self-devotion to the Lord
be reasonably said not to lead to the Lord; for where else can it
lead? It is clear therefore that works without desire not only do

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not prevent salvation but are a mighty help towards salvation.
It may still be argued that works without desire help only
because they lead to devotion and knowledge and there their
function ceases; they bring the soul to a certain stage but do not
carry it direct to God. It is therefore devotion and knowledge,
bhakti and jnana, which alone bring us to God. As soon as either
of these takes him by the hand, karma must leave him, just as
rites & ceremonies must leave him, and its function is therefore
not essentially higher than that of rites & ceremonies. But if this
were good reasoning, the Karmayogin might equally well say
that Bhakti leads to knowledge and the devotion of one's works
to the Lord; therefore knowledge and works without desire bring
a man to the Eternal and bhakti is only a preliminary means;
or that jnana leads to adoration of the Eternal and devotion
of all one does to him, therefore bhakti and works without
desire alone bring the soul direct to God and jnana is only a
preliminary means. Or if it is said that works must cease at a
certain stage while Bhakti and Jnana do not cease, this too is
inconsistent with experience. For Janaka and others did works
after they attained the Eternal and while they were in the body,
did not cease from works. It cannot even be said that works
though they need not necessarily cease after the attainment of
the Eternal, yet need not continue. Particular works need not
continue; rites & ceremonies need not continue; the life of the
householder need not continue. But work continues so long as
the body gross or subtle continues; for both the gross body
and the subtle body, both the physical case & the soul-case are
always part of Prakriti, and whatever is Prakriti, must do work.
The Gita says this plainly

n Eh kE("ZmEp jAt; Et(ykmkt^.
kAyt
 !vf, km sv, kEtj
{g;Z
{,
"For no man verily remaineth even for a moment without doing
works, for all are helplessly made to do work by the moods to
"t
 -v-yA,
which Nature has given birth." And again sdf\ c
kt
#AnvAnEp. "Even the Jnani moveth & doeth after the semblance of his own nature; for created things follow after their

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nature and what can forcing it do?" A man works according to
his nature and cannot help doing work; but he can choose to
what he shall direct his works, whether to his lower self or his
higher, whether to desire or to God. The man who leaves the
world behind him and sits on a mountaintop or in an asram,
has not therefore got rid of works. If nothing else he has to
maintain his body, to eat, to walk, to move his limbs, to sit
in asan and meditate; all this is work. And not only his body
works; his mind is far more active than his body. If he is not
released from desire, his work will bind him and bear fruit in
relation to himself and others. Even if he is released from desire,
his body & mind are not free from Karma until he is able to get
rid of them finally, and that will not be till his prarabdha karma
has worked itself out and the debts he has written against his
name are wiped off. Even the greatest Yogi by his mere bodily
presence in the world, is pouring out a stream of spiritual force
on all sides; this action does not bind him, it is true, yet it is work
and work which exercises a stupendous influence on others. He
is svB
tEhtrt,, busy doing good to all creatures by his very
nature, even though he does not lift a finger or move a step. He
too with regard to his body, gross & subtle, is avf,, he must
let the gunas, the moods of Nature, work. He may control that
work, for he is no longer the slave of Prakriti, but he cannot
stop it except by finally leaving his body & mind through Yoga
with the Eternal. Work therefore does not cease any more than
Bhakti or Jnana.
Shankara indeed says that when we have got Jnana, we
necessarily cease to do works, for Jnana makes us one with the
Eternal who is actionless aktA. Yet Janaka knew the Eternal
and did works; Sri Krishna was the Eternal and did works. For
Brahman the Eternal, is both ktA and aktA; He works and He
does not work. As Sacchidananda, He is above works, but He is
also above knowledge and above devotion. When the Jivatman
becomes Sacchidananda, devotion is lost in Ananda or absolute
bliss, knowledge is lost in Chit or absolute Consciousness, works
are lost in Sat or absolute Existence. But as Isha or Shakti, He
does works by which He is not bound and the Jivatman also

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when he is made one with Isha or Shakti continues to do works
without being bound.
Works therefore do not cease in the body, nor do they cease
after we have left the body except by union with the actionless Sacchidananda or laya in the Unknowable Brahman, where
Jnana and Bhakti also are swallowed up in unfathomable being.
Even of the Unknowable Parabrahman too it cannot be said that
It is actionless; It is neither ktA nor aktA. It is neti, neti, not
this, not that, unexplicable and inexpressible in terms of speech
and mind. We need not therefore fear that works without desire
will not lead us straight to the Eternal; we need not think that
we must give up works in order that we may develop the love
of God or attain the knowledge of God.
V. Mukti and the Jivanmukta.
The ideal of the Karmayogin is the Jivanmukta, the self who
has attained salvation but instead of immediately passing out
of phenomenal existence, remains in it, free from its bondage.
There are three kinds of salvation which are relative & partial;
salokya or constant companionship with the Lord, sadrishya, or
permanent resemblance to Him in one's nature & actions, and
sayujya or constant union of the individual self with the Eternal.
It is supposed by some schools that entire salvation consists in
laya or absorption into the Eternal, in other words entire selfremoval from phenomena and entrance into the utter being of
the unconditioned and unknowable Parabrahman. Such laya is
not possible in the body, but can only begin, adehanipatat, as
soon as the Self throws away all its bodies and reenters into its
absolute existence. It is not indeed the mere mechanical change
of death that brings about this result, but the will of the Self
to throw aside all its bodies and never returning to them pass
rather out of that state of consciousness in the Eternal in which
He looks upon Himself as a Will or Force. This, however, is an
extreme attitude. Complete self-identification with the Eternal,
such as we find in the Jivanmukta, is complete mukti; for the
Jivanmukta can at will withdraw himself in Samadhi into the

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being of Sacchidananda, who is actionless and turned away from
phenomena; and can at will look again towards phenomena,
dealing with them as their Lord who puts them to work without
being touched by their stir and motion. For the Jivanmukta
laya, absorption into the Unknowable, can be accomplished at
his will; but he does not will it.
The reason for his not willing this utter departure brings us
to the very essence of Mukti. Why do men hanker after complete absorption into the unphenomenal? why do they flee from
Karma and dread lest it should interfere with their salvation?
Because they feel that phenomenal life and works are a bondage
and they desire to be free and not bound. This state of mind can
only last so long as the seeker is the mumukshu, the self desirous
of freedom, but when he is actually mukta, the free self, the terror
of Maya and her works cannot abide with him. Mukti, which we
have to render in English by salvation, means really release. But
release from what bondage, salvation from what tyranny? From
the bondage of Maya, from the tyranny of Avidya which will
have us believe that we are finite, mortal and bound, who are
not finite, but infinite, not mortal, but deathless & immutable,
not bound, but always free. The moment you have realised that
Avidya is illusion and there is nothing but the Eternal, and never
was anything but the Eternal and never will be anything but the
Eternal, the moment you have not merely intellectually grasped
the idea but come to have habitual experience of the fact, from
that moment you will know that you are not bound, never were
bound and never will be bound. Avidya consists precisely in
this that the Jivatman thinks there is something else than the
Eternal which can throw him into bondage and that he himself
is something else than the Eternal and can be bound. When
the Jivatman shakes off these illusory impressions of Avidya, he
realises that there is nothing but Brahman the Eternal who is in
His very nature nityamukta, from ever and forever free. He can
therefore have no fear of Karma nor shrink from it lest it should
bind him, for he knows that the feeling of bondage is itself an
illusion. He will be ready not only to do his deeds in this world
and live out his hundred years, but to be reborn as Srikrishna

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himself has promised to be reborn again and again and as other
avatars have promised to be reborn. For however often he may
enter into phenomenal life, he has no farther terror of Maya and
her bondage. Once free, always free.
Even if he does not will to be reborn, he will be careful not
to leave the world of phenomena until his prarabdha karma is
worked out. There are certain debts standing against his name
in the ledger of Nature and these he will first absolve. Of course
the Jivanmukta is not legally bound by his debts to Nature, for
all the promissory notes he has executed in her name have been
burned up in the fire of Mukti. He is now free and lord, the
master of Prakriti, not its slave. But the Prakriti attached to this
Jivatman has created, while in the illusion of bondage, causes
which must be allowed to work out their effects; otherwise the
chain of causation is snapped and a disturbance is brought about
in the economy of Nature. u(sFd
y;Erm
 lokA,. In order therefore
to maintain the law of the world unimpaired, the Jivanmukta
remains amid works like a prisoner on parole, not bound by the
fetters of Prakriti, but detained by his own will until the time
appointed for his captivity shall have elapsed.
The Jivanmukta is the ideal of the Karmayogin and though
he may not reach his ideal in this life or the next, still he must
always strive to model himself upon it. Do therefore your deeds
in this world and wish to live your hundred years. You should be
willing to live your allotted term of life not for the sake of long
living, but because the real you in the body is Brahman who by
the force of His own Shakti is playing for Himself and by Himself
this dramatic lila of creation, preservation and destruction. He is
Isha, the Lord, Creator, Preserver and Destroyer; and you also in
the field of your own Prakriti are the lord, creator, preserver and
destroyer. You are He; only for your own amusement you have
imagined yourself limited to a particular body for the purposes
of the play, just as an actor imagines himself to be Dushyanta,
Rama or Ravana. The actor has lost himself in the play and for
a moment thinks that he is what he is acting; he has forgotten
that he is really not Dushyanta or Rama, but Devadatta who has
played & will yet play a hundred parts besides. When he shakes

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off this illusion and remembers that he is Devadatta, he does not
therefore walk off the stage and by refusing to act, break up the
play, but goes on playing his best till the proper time comes for
him to leave the stage. The object of this phenomenal world is
creation and it is our business, while we are in the body, to create.
Only, so long as we forget our true Self, we create like servants
under the compulsion of Prakriti and are slaves and bound by
her actions which we falsely imagine to be our own. But when
we know and experience our true Self, then we are masters of
Prakriti and not bound by her creations. Our Self becomes the
Sakshi, the silent spectator of the actions of our Nature which
she models in the way she thinks would best please it. So are we
at once spectator and actor; and yet because we know the whole
to be merely an illusion of apparent actions, because we know
that Rama is not really killing Ravana, nor Ravana being killed,
for Ravana lives as much after the supposed death as before, so
are we neither spectator nor actor, but the Self only and all we
see nothing but visions of the Self. The Karmamargin therefore
will not try or wish to abandon actions while he is in this world,
but only the desire for their fruits; neither will he try or wish
to leave his life in this world before its appointed end. The man
who violently breaks the thread of his life before it is spun out,
will obtain a result the very opposite to what he desires. The
Karmamargin aims at being a Jivanmukta, he will not cherish
within himself the spirit of the suicide.
VI. Suicide and the other World.
In the early days of spiritualism in America, there were many
who were so charmed by the glowing description of the other
world published by spiritualists that they committed suicide in
order to reach it. It would almost seem as if in the old days
when the pursuit of the Eternal dominated the mind of the
race and disgust of the transitory was common, there were
many who rather than live out their hundred years preferred a
self-willed exit from the world of phenomena. To these the Upanishad addresses a solemn warning. "Godless verily are those

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worlds and with blind gloom enveloped, thither they depart
when they have passed away, whatso folk are slayers of self."
One has to be peculiarly careful in rendering the exact words of
the Upanishad, because Shankara gives a quite unexpected and
out-of-the-way interpretation of the verse. He does not accept
aA(mhno, self-slayers, in the sense of suicides, the natural and
ordinary meaning, but understands it to signify slayers of the
eternal Self within them. Since this is a startlingly unnatural
& paradoxical sense, for the Self neither slays nor is slain, he
farther interprets his interpretation in a figurative sense. To kill
the Self means merely to cast the Self under the delusion of
ignorance which leads to birth and rebirth; the Self is in a way
killed because it is made to disappear into the darkness of Maya.
Farther lokA, has always the sense of worlds as in golok b}$lok
;lok but Shankara forces it to mean births, for example birth
as a man, birth as a beast, birth as a God. Then there is a third
and equally violent departure from the common & understood
use of words; as;yA or aAs;rA would mean ordinarily Asuric
of the Daityas in opposition to Daivic of the Devas; Shankara
takes aAs;rA as Rajasic and applicable to birth in the form of
men, beasts and even of gods in opposition to {
dv which is pure
Sattwic and applicable only to Parabrahman. He thus gets the
verse to mean, "Rajasic verily are those births and enveloped
with blind darkness to which those depart when they pass away,
whoso are slayers of the Self." All those who put themselves
under the yoke of Ignorance, lose hold of their true Self and are
born as men, beasts or gods, instead of returning to the pure
existence of Parabrahman.
The objections to this interpretation are many and fatal.
The rendering of aA(mhno substitutes a strained and unparalleled
interpretation for the common and straightforward sense of the
word. The word lok, cannot mean a particular kind of birth but
either a world or the people in the world; and in these senses it
is always used both in the Sruti and elsewhere. We say -vglok,
;lok, m(ylok, ihlok, prlok; we do not say kFVlok, pf;lok,
pE"lok. We say indeed mn;%ylok, but it means the world of men
& never birth as a man. The word as;yA may very well mean

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Rajasic but not in the way Shankara applies to it; for as;yA lokA
cannot signify the births of beasts, men, gods as opposed to the
divine birth of Parabrahman, who is above birth and above
condition. Moreover, Daivic and Asuric are always opposed
terms referring to the gods and Titans, precisely as Titanic and
Olympian are opposed terms in English. For instance in the Gita

moGAfA moGkmAZo moG#AnA Evc
ts,.
rA"sFmAs;rF\ c
{v kEt\ moEhnF\ E&tA,
mhA(mAn-t; mA\ pAT {
dvF\ kEtmAE&tA,.
Bj(ynymnso #A(vA B
tAEdm&yym^
In this passage Asuric and Rakshasic nature are rajasic nature
as of the Titans and tamasic nature as of the Rakshasa; daivic
nature implies sattwic nature as of the Gods. Such is always
the sense wherever the terms are opposed in Sanscrit literature.
It may be urged, in addition, that the expression y
k
 loses its
strong limiting force if it is applied to all beings but the very
few who have found salvation. There are other flaws besides
the straining of word-senses. The verse as rendered by Shankara
does not logically develop from what went before and the fault
of incoherence is imported into the Upanishad which, if taken in
its straightforward sense, we rather find to be strictly logical in
its structure and very orderly in the development of its thought.
On the other hand, the plain rendering of the words of the
Upanishad in their received and ordinary sense gives a simple
and clear meaning which is both highly appropriate in itself
and develops naturally from what has gone before. Shankara's
rendering involves so many and considerable faults, that even
his authority cannot oblige us to accept it. We will therefore take
the verse in its plain sense: it is a warning to those who imagine
that by the self-willed shortening of their days upon earth they
can escape from the obligation of phenomenal existence.
The Asuric or godless worlds to which the suicide is condemned, are the worlds of deep darkness & suffering at the
other pole from the worlds of the gods, the world of light and
joy which is the reward of virtuous deeds. Patala under the
earth, Hell under Patala, these are Asuric worlds: Swarga on

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213

the mountaintops of existence in the bright sunshine is a world
of the gods. All this is of course mythology and metaphor, but
the Asuric worlds are a reality; they are the worlds of gloom
and suffering in the nether depths of our own being. A world is
not a place with hills, trees and stones, but a condition of the
Jivatman, all the rest being only circumstances and details of a
dream. The Sruti speaks of the spirit's loka in the next world,
am;E%mn^ lok
 lok,, where the word is used in its essential meaning
of the spirit's state or condition and again in its figurative meaning of the world corresponding to its condition. The apparent
surroundings, the sum of sensible images & appearances into
which the spirit under the influence of Illusion materializes its
mental state, makes the world in which it lives. Martyaloka is
not essentially this Earth we men live in, for there may be other
abodes of mortal beings, but the condition of mortality in the
gross body; Swargaloka is the condition of bliss in the subtle
body; Narak, Hell, the condition of misery in the subtle body;
Brahmalok the condition of abiding with God in the causal
body. Just as the Jivatman like a dreamer sees the Earth and all
it contains when it is in the condition of mortality and regards
itself as in a particular region with hills, trees, rivers, plains, so
when it is in a condition of complete tamas in the subtle body,
it believes itself to be in a place surrounded by thick darkness, a
place of misery unspeakable. This world of darkness is imaged
as under the earth on the side turned away from the sun; because
earth is our mortal condition and this world is a state lower than
our mortal condition; it is a world of thick darkness because the
light created by the splendour of the Eternal in the consciousness
of the Jivatman is entirely eclipsed with the extreme thickening
of the veil of Maya which intercepts from us the full glory of His
lustre. Hell, Patal, Earth, Paradise, the Lunar & Solar Worlds,
Golok, Brahmalok, - these are all imagery and dreams, since
they are all in the Jivatman itself and exist outside it only as
pictures & figures: still while we are dreamers, let us speak in
the language and think the thoughts of dream.
This then is the Asuric world. When a man dies in great
pain or in great grief or in fierce agitation of mind and his last

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thoughts are full of fear, rage, pain or horror, then the Jivatman
in the Sukshmasharir is unable to shake off these impressions
from his mind for years, perhaps for centuries. So it is with the
suicide; he sinks into this condition because of the feelings of
disgust, impatience and pain or rage & fear which govern his
last moments; for suicide is not the passionless & divine departure at his appointed time of the Yogin centred in samadhi,
but a passionate and disgustful departure; and where there is
disturbance or bitterness of the soul in its departure, there can
be no tranquillity & sweetness in the state to which it departs.
This is the law of death; death is a moment of intense concentration when the departing spirit gathers up the impressions of
its mortal life as a host gathers provender for its journey, and
whatever impressions are dominant at the moment, govern its
condition afterwards.

y\ y\ vAEp -mrBAv\ (yj(yt
 kl
vrm^.
t\ tm
v
{Et kOt
y sdA t(AvBAEvt,
"Or indeed whatever (collective) impressions of mind one remembering leaveth his body at the last, to that state and no other
it goeth, O son of Kunti, and is continually under the impress
of those impressions." Hence the importance, even apart from
Mukti, of living a clean and noble life and dying a calm and
strong death. For if the ideas and impressions then uppermost
are such as to associate the self with this gross body and the
vital functions or the base, vile & low desires of the mind, then
the soul remains long in a tamasic condition of darkness and
suffering which we call Patala or in its acute forms Hell. If the
ideas and impressions uppermost are such as to associate the self
with the higher desires of the mind, then the soul passes quickly
to a rajasic condition of light & pleasure which we call Swarga,
Behesta or Paradise and from which it will return to the state of
mortality in the body. If the ideas and impressions uppermost
are such as to associate the self with the higher understanding
and bliss of the Self, the soul passes quickly to a condition of
highest bliss which we call variously Kailas, Vaikuntha, Goloka
or Brahmaloka, from which it does not return in this aeon of the

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215

universe. But if we have learned to identify for ever the self with
the Self, then before death we become the Eternal and after death
we shall not be other. There are three states of Maya, tamasic
illusion, rajasic illusion, sattwic illusion, and each in succession
we must surmount before we reach utterly that which is no
illusion but the one eternal truth and, leaving our body in the
state of Samadhi, rise into the unrevealed & imperishable bliss
of which the Lord has said, "That is my highest seat of all."
VII. Retrospect
The Isha Upanishad logically falls into four portions, the first of
which is comprised in the three verses we have already explained.
It lays down for us those first principles of Karmayoga which
must govern the mental state and actions of the Karmamargin
in his upward progress to his ideal. In the next five verses we
shall find the Upanishad enunciating the final goal of the Karmamargin and the ideal state of his mind and emotional part when
his Yoga is perfected and he becomes a Yogin in very truth, the
Siddha or perfected man and no longer the Sadhak or seeker
after perfection.
While he is still a seeker, his mind must be governed by
the idea of the Eternal as the mighty Lord and Ruler who pervades and encompasses the Universe. He must see him in all and
around all, informing each object and encompassing it. On all
that he sees, he must throw the halo of that presence; around all
creatures and things, he must perceive the nimbus and the light.
His mind being thus governed by the idea of the divine
omnipresence, he must not and cannot covet or desire, for possessing the Lord, what is it that he does not possess? what is it
he needs to covet or desire? He cannot wish to injure or deprive
others of their wealth, for who are others? are they other than
himself? The Karmamargin must strive to abandon desire and
make selflessness the law of his life and action. Seeing God in
others, he will naturally love them and seek to serve them. By
abnegation of desire he will find the sublime satisfaction the
divinity in him demands and by the abandonment of the world

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in spirit, he will enjoy the whole world as his kingdom with
a deep untroubled delight instead of embracing a few limited
possessions with a chequered and transient pleasure.
Whatever others may do, the Karmamargin must not remove himself from the field of action and give up work in the
world; he is not called upon to abandon the objects of enjoyment, but to possess them with a heart purified of longing and
passion. In this spirit he must do his work in this world and
not flee from the struggle. Neither must he shrink from life as a
bondage. He must realise that there is no bondage to him who
is full of God, for God is free and not bound. He must therefore
be ready to live out his life and work out his work calmly and
without desire, seeking only through his life and actions to get
nearer to Him who is the Lord of life and Master of all actions.
Least of all will he allow disgust of life and work so to
master him as to make him seek release by shortening his days
upon earth. For the suicide does not escape from phenomenal
being in this world but passes into a far darker & more terrible
prison of Maya than any that earthly existence can devise for
the soul.
If his nature can expand to the greatness of this discipline,
if his eyes can avail never to lose sight of God, if he can envisage
the godhead in his fellowmen, if he can empty his soul of its
lust & longing, if he can feel all the glory & joy & beauty of
the world passionlessly & disinterestedly as his own, if he can
do his works in the world however humble or however mighty
not for himself but for God in man and God in the world, if
he can slay the sense of egoism in his works and feel them to
be not his own but the Lord's, if he can put from him alike
the coward's shrinking from death and the coward's longing for
death, suffering neither the lust of long life nor impatience of its
vanities & vexations, but live out his full term bravely, modestly,
selflessly and greatly, then indeed he becomes the Karmayogin
who lives ever close to the eternal & almighty Presence, moving
freely in the courts of God, admitted hourly to His presence and
growing always liker & liker in his spiritual image to the purity,
majesty, might and beauty of the Lord. To love God in His world

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217

and approach God in himself is the discipline of the Karmayogin;
to embrace all created things in his heart and divinely become
God in his spirit, is his goal and ideal.

Part II

Karmayoga; the Ideal

Chapter IV

The Eternal in His Universe
an
jd
k\ mnso jvFyo n
{n
vA aA=n;vpv mq t^.
tAvto_yAn(y
Et EtE-mpo mAtErvA dDAEt
I. ETERNAL TRUTH THE BASIS OF ETHICS
"There is the One and It moveth not, yet is It swifter than
thought, the Gods could not overtake It as It moved in front.
While It standeth still, It outstrippeth others as they run. In It
Matariswan ordereth the waters."
I
The Root of Ethical Ideals
Everything that has phenomenal existence, takes its stand on
the Eternal and has reality only as a reflection in the pure
mirror of His infinite existence. This is no less true of the affections of mind and heart and the formations of thought than
of the affections of matter and the formations of the physical
ether-stuff out of which this material Universe is made. Every
ethical ideal and every religious ideal must therefore depend
for its truth and permanence on its philosophical foundation;
in other words, on the closeness of its fundamental idea to the
ultimate truth of the Eternal. If the ideal implies a reading of
the Eternal which is only distantly true and confuses Him with

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His physical or psychical manifestations in this world, then it
is a relatively false and impermanent ideal. Of all the ancient
nations the Hindus, for this reason only, attained to the highest
idea and noblest practice of morality. The Greeks confused the
Eternal with His physical manifestations and realised Him in
them on the side of beauty; beauty therefore was the only law of
morality which governed their civilization. Ethics in their eyes
was a matter of taste, balance and proportion; it hinged on
the avoidance of excess in any direction, of excessive virtue no
less than of excessive vice. The fine development of personality
under the inspiration of music and through the graceful play
of intellect was the essential characteristic of their education;
justice, in the sense of a fine balance between one's obligations
to oneself and one's obligations to others, the ideal of their
polity; decorum, the basis of their public morality; the sense of
proportion the one law of restraint in their private ethics. Their
idea of deity was confined to the beautiful and brilliant rabble
of their Olympus. Hence the charm and versatility of Greek
civilisation; hence also its impermanence as a separate culture.
The Romans also confused the Eternal with His manifestations
in physical Nature, but they read Him on the side not of beauty
but of force governed by law; the stern and orderly restraint
which governs the Universe, was the feature in Nature's economy
which ruled their thought. Jupiter was to them the Governor &
great Legislator whose decrees were binding on all; the very
meaning of the word religion which they have left to the European world was "binding back" and indicated as the essence of
religion restraint and tying down to things fixed and decreed.
Their ethics were full of a lofty strength & sternness. Discipline
stood as the keystone of their system; discipline of the actions
created an inelastic faithfulness to domestic & public duties;
discipline of the animal impulses an orderly courage and a cold,
hard purity; discipline of the mind a conservative practical type
of intellect very favourable to the creation of a powerful and
well ordered State but not to the development of a manysided
civilization. Their type too, though more long lived than the
Greek, could not last, because of the imperfection of the ideal

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on which it was based.1 The Chinese seem to have envisaged
the Eternal in a higher aspect than these Mediterranean races;
they found Him not in the manifested physical Universe itself,
but in its origination and arrangement out of the primal material from which it arose. Heaven, Akasha or the Eternal in the
element of Ether, creates in the womb of Earth or formal Matter
which is the final element developed out of Ether, this arranged
and orderly Universe, - He is therefore the Father, Originator,
Disposer and Arranger. Veneration for parents and those who
stand in the place of parents became the governing idea of their
ethics; orderly disposition, the nice care of ceremony, manners,
duties the law of their daily life; origination and organization
the main characteristics of their intellectual activity. The permanence and unconquerable vitality of their civilization is due to
their having seized on an interpretation of the Eternal which,
though not His ultimate truth to humanity, is at least close to
that truth and a large aspect of it. It is really Himself in his
relation to the Universe, but not the whole of Himself. But the
ancient Aryans of India raised the veil completely and saw Him
as the Universal Transcendent Self of all things who is at the
same time the particular present Self in each. They reached His
singleness aloof from phenomena, they saw Him in every one
of His million manifestations in phenomena. God in Himself,
God in man, God in Nature were the "ideas" which their life
expressed. Their civilisation was therefore more manysided and
complete and their ethical and intellectual ideals more perfect
and permanent than those of any other nation. They had in
1 The following passage was written in the top margin of the manuscript page. Its
place of insertion was not marked:
Beauty is not the ultimate truth of the Eternal but only a partial manifestation of
Him in phenomena which is externalised for our enjoyment and possession but not set
before us as our standard or aim, and the soul which makes beauty its only end is soon
cloyed & sated and fails for want of nourishment and of the growth which is impossible
without an ever widening & progressive activity. Power & Law are not the ultimate
truth of the Eternal, but manifestations of Himself in phenomena which are set within
us to develop and around us to condition our works, but this also is not set before us as
our standard or aim. The soul which follows Power as its whole end must in the long
run lose measure and perish from hardness and egoism and that which sees nothing but
Law wither for dryness or fossilise from the cessation of individual expansion.

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full measure the sense of filial duty, the careful regulation of
ceremony, manners and duties, the characteristics of origination
and organization which distinguished the Chinese. They had in
full measure the Roman discipline, courage, purity, faithfulness
to duty, careful conservatism; but these elements of character
& culture which in the Roman were hard, cold, narrow and
without any touch of the spirit in man or the sense of his divine
individuality, the Hindus warmed & softened with emotional &
spiritual meaning and made broad and elastic by accepting the
supreme importance of the soul's individual life as overriding
and governing the firm organization of morals and society. They
were not purely devoted to the worship and culture of beauty
like the Greeks and their art was not perfect, yet they had the
sense of beauty & art in a greater degree than any other ancient
people; unlike the Greeks they had a perfect sense of spiritual
beauty and were therefore able to realise the delight & glory
of Nature hundreds of years before the sense of it developed
in Europe. On the ethical side they had a finer justice than the
Greeks, a more noble public decorum, a keener sense of ethical
& social balance, but they would not limit the infinite capacities
of the soul; they gave play therefore to personal individuality but
restrained and ordered its merely lawless ebullitions by the law
of the type (caste). In addition to these various elements which
they shared with one civilization or another they possessed a
higher spiritual ideal which governed & overrode the mere ethics
(mores or customary morality) which the other nations had developed. Humanity, pity, chivalry, unselfishness, philanthropy,
love of and self-sacrifice for all living things, the sense of the
divinity in man, the Christian virtues, the modern virtues were
fully developed in India at a time when in all the rest of the world
they were either non-existent or existent only in the most feeble
beginnings. And they were developed, because the Aryan Rishis
had been able to discover the truth of the Eternal and give to
the nation the vision of the Eternal in all things and the feeling
of His presence in themselves and in all around them. They had
discovered the truth that morality is not for its own sake, nor for
the sake of society, but a preparation and purification of the soul

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by which the limited human self must become fit to raise itself
out of the dark pit of bodily, mental and emotional selfishness
into the clear heaven of universal love and benevolence and
enlarge itself until it came into conscious contact, entered into
and became one with the Supreme and Sempiternal Self. Some
hold the aim of morality to be a placing of oneself in harmony
with the eternal laws that govern the Universe, others hold it to
be the fulfilment under self-rule and guidance of man's nature,
others a natural evolution of man in the direction of his highest
faculties. The Hindus perceived that it was all these at once but
they discovered that the law with which the soul must put itself
in relation was the law of the Eternal Self, that man's nature
must seek its fulfilment in that which is permanent & eternal
in the Universe and that it is to which his evolution moves.
They discovered that his higher self was the Self of his Universe
and that by a certain manner of action, by a certain spirit in
action, man escaped from his limitations and realised his higher
Self. This way of Works is Karmayoga and Karmayoga therefore
depends on the Hindu conception of Brahman, the Transcendent
Self and its relations to the Universe. From this all Hindu ethics
proceeds.2
Chapter I. Brahman.
The first four verses of the Upanishad have given the general
principle of Karmayoga; the next four provide its philosophical justification and of these four the first two express in a
few phrases the Vedantic philosophy of God and Cosmos as a
necessary preliminary to the formation of a true and permanent
ethical ideal.
The close dependence of ethical ideals on the fundamental
philosophy of the Eternal and Real to which they go back, is a
law which the ancient Yogins had well understood. Therefore
the Upanishad when it has to set forth an ethical rule or ethical
2 The last six sentences of this paragraph, beginning "They had discovered the truth",
were written separately. They seem to have been intended for insertion here. - Ed.

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223

ideal or intellectual attitude towards life, takes care to preface
it with that aspect of the Eternal Reality on which its value
and truth depend. The first principles of Karmayoga arise from
the realization of the Eternal as a great and divine Presence
which pervades and surrounds all things, so that it is impossible
to direct one's thought, speech or actions to thing or person
without directing them to Him. With the declaration of the
Eternal as the Universal and Omnipresent Lord the Upanishad
must, therefore, begin. Now it is about to take a step farther
& set forth the ideal of the Karmayogin and the consummation
of his yoga. It preludes the new train of thought by identifying
Isha the Lord with Parabrahman the Eternal and Transcendent
Reality. Not only does He surround and sustain as the supreme
Will by which and in which alone all things exist, but He is
really the immutable and secret Self in all things which is ultimately Parabrahman. This Isha whose Energy vibrates through
the worlds, is really the motionless and ineffable Tranquillity
towards which the Yogins & the sages strive.
"There is One and It unmoving is swifter than thought;
the gods could not reach It moving in front; standing still It
passes others as they run; 'tis in This that Matariswan setteth
the waters. It moves, It moveth not; It is far, the same It is near;
It is within everyone, the same It is also outside everyone."
There is only One existence, one Reality in apparent multiplicity. The unimaginable Presence which is manifest in the
infinite variety of the Universe, is alone and alone Is. The variety
of things is in fact merely the variety of forms which the play
or energy of the Will only seems, by its rapidity of motion, to
create; so when the blades of an electric fan go whirling with
full velocity, round & round, there seem to be not four blades or
two, but a whole score; so, also, when Shiva in His mood begins
His wild dance and tosses His arms abroad, He seems to have
not two arms but a million. It is the motion of the play of Will, it
is the velocity of His Energy vibrating on the surface of His own
existence which seems to create multiplicity. All creation is motion, all activity is motion. All this apparently stable universe is
really in a state of multifold motion; everything is whirling with

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inconceivable rapidity in its own orbit, and even thought which
is the swiftest thing we know, cannot keep pace with the velocity
of the cosmic stir. And all this motion, all this ever evolving
cosmos and universe is Brahman the Eternal. The Gods in their
swiftest movements, the lords of the mind & senses cannot reach
Him, for He rushes far in front. The eye, the ear, the mind, nothing material can reach or conceive the inconceivable creative activity of this Will which is Brahman. We try to follow Him pouring as light through the solar system and lo! while you are striving He is whirling universes into being far beyond reach of eye or
telescope, far beyond the farthest flights of thought itself. tmnso
jvFyo. Material senses quail before the thought of the wondrous
stir and stupendous unimaginable activity that the existence of
the Universe implies. And yet all the time He does not really
move. All the time He who outstrips all others, is not running
but standing. It is the others, the forms and things His Energy has
evolved, who are running and because He outstrips them, they
think that He too moves. While we are toiling after Him, He is all
the time here, at our side, before us, behind us, with us, in us, His
presence pervading us like the ether, clothing us like a garment.
"Standing still, He outstrips others as they run." It is our mind &
senses that are running and this universal motion is the result of
the Avidya to which they are subject; for Avidya by persuading
us to imagine ourselves limited, creates the conditions of Time,
Space & Causality and confines us in them as in a prisoning wall
beyond which our thoughts cannot escape. Brahman in all His
creative activity is really standing still in His own being outside
and inside Time & Space. He is at the same time in the Sun and
here, because neither here nor the Sun are outside Himself; He
has not therefore to move any more than a man has to move
in order to pass from one thought to another. But we in order
to realise His creative activity have to follow Him from the Sun
to the Earth and from the Earth to the Sun; and this motion of
our limited consciousness, this sensitory impression of a space
covered and a time spent, we cannot dissociate from Brahman
and must needs attribute the limitations of our own thought to
Him; just as a man in a railway-train has a sensitory impression

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225

that everything is rushing past him and the train is still. The stir
of the Cosmos is really the stir of our own minds, and yet even
that is a mere phenomenon. What we call mind is simply one
play of the Will sporting with the idea of multiplicity which is, in
form, the idea of motion. The Purusha, the Real Man in us and
in the world, is really unmoving; He is the motionless and silent
spectator of a drama of which He himself is the stage, the theatre,
the scenery, the actors and the acting. He is the poet Shakespeare
watching Desdemona and Othello, Hamlet and the murderous
Uncle, Rosalind and Jacques and Viola, and all the other hundred multiplicities of himself acting and talking and rejoicing
and suffering, all himself and yet not himself, who sits there a
silent witness, their Creator who has no part in their actions, and
yet without Him not one of them could exist. This is the mystery
of the world and its paradox and yet its plain and easy truth.
But what really is this Will which as Purusha watches the
motion and the drama and as Prakriti is the motion and the
drama? It is the One motionless, unconditioned, inexpressible
Parabrahman of whom, being beyond mark and feature, the
Upanishad speaks always as It, while of Isha, the Lord, it speaks
as He; for Isha as Purusha is the male or spiritual presence which
generates forms in Prakriti the female or material Energy. The
spiritual entity does not work, but merely is and has a result; it
is the material Energy, the manifestation of Spirit, which works
or ceases from work. Eventually however Spirit and Matter are
merely aspects of each other & of something which is behind
both; that something is the motionless, actionless It. This which
without moving is swifter than thought, is It; this which mind
& senses cannot reach, for it moves far in front, is It; this
which stands still & yet outstrips others as they run is It. Will,
Energy, Isha, the play of Prakriti for Purusha, are all merely
the manifestation of that unmanifested It. What we envisage
as the manifested Brahman is, in His reality to Himself, the
unmanifest Parabrahman. It is only in His reality to us that
He is the manifested Brahman. And according as a man comes
nearer to the truth of Him or loses himself in Him, so will be
his spiritual condition. While we think of Him as Isha, the one

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in innumerable aspects, the idea of difference remains though it
can be subordinated to the idea of Oneness; that is the beginning
of Yoga. When we realize Isha as one with Parabrahman, the
idea of Oneness has sway & rules; that is the culmination of
Yoga. When we realize Parabrahman Itself, that is the cessation
of Yoga; for we depart utterly from Oneness & difference and no
longer envisage the world of phenomena at all; that is Nirvana.
Chapter II. Spiritual Evolution in Brahman
It is in this infinitely motionless, yet infinitely moving Brahman
that Matariswan or Prana, the great Breath of things, the mighty
principle of Life, disposes forms and solidities rescuing them
out of the undifferentiated state from which the world arose.
To understand these two verses it is necessary to grasp clearly
the ideas of creation & evolution which the Upanishads seek to
formulate. What in Europe is called creation, the Aryan sages
preferred to call srishti, projection of a part from the whole,
the selection, liberation and development of something that is
latent and potentially exists. Creation means the bringing into
existence of something which does not already exist; srishti the
manifestation of something which is hidden and unmanifest.
The action of Prakriti proceeds upon the principle of selection
leading naturally to development; she selects the limited out of
the unlimited, the particular out of the general, the small portion
out of the larger stock. This limited, particular & fractional
having by the very nature of limitation a swabhav, an ownbeing or as it is called in English a nature, which differentiates
it from others of its kind, develops under the law of its nature;
that is its swadharma, its own law & religion of being, and
every separate & particular existence, whether inanimate thing
or animal or man or community or nation must follow & develop itself under the law of its nature and act according to its
own dharma. It cannot follow a nature or accept a dharma alien
to itself except on peril of deterioration, decay and death. This
nature is determined by the balance in its composition of the
three gunas or essential qualities of Prakriti, passivity, activity

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227

and equipoise, which reveal themselves under different shapes
in the animate as well as the inanimate, in the mind as well as
in the body. In matter they appear as passive reception, reaction
and retention, in human soul as the brutal animal, the active,
creative man and the calm, clear-souled god. It must always be
remembered that Prakriti is no other than Avidya, the great Illusion. She is that impalpable indeterminable source of subtle and
gross matter, Matter in the abstract, the idea of difference and
duality, the impression of Time, Space and Causality. The limited
is limited not in reality, but by walls of Avidya which shut it in
and give it an impression of existence separate from that of the
illimitable, just as a room is shut off from the rest of the house by
walls and has its separate existence and its separate nature small
or large, close or airy, coloured white or coloured blue. Break
down the walls and the separate existence and separate nature
disappear; the very idea of a room is lost and there is nothing
left but the house. The sense of limitation and the consequent
impulse towards development & self-enlargement immediately
create desire which takes the form of hunger and so of a reaching
after other existences for the satisfaction of hunger; and from
desire & the contact with other existences there arise the two
opposite forces of attraction and repulsion which on the moral
plane are called liking and dislike, love and hatred. Thus [the] necessity of absorbing mental and aesthetic food for the material of
one's works; this too is hunger. The instinct of self-enlargement
shows itself in the physical craving for the absorption of other
existences to strengthen oneself, in the emotional yearning to
other beings, in the intellectual eagerness to absorb the minds of
others and the aesthetic desire to possess or enjoy the beauty of
things & persons, in the spiritual passion of love & beneficence,
and all other activity which means the drawing of the self of
others into one's own self and pouring out of oneself on others.
Desire is thus the first principle of things. Under the force of
attraction and repulsion hunger begins to differentiate itself &
develop the various senses in order the better to master its food
and to feel & know the other existences which repel or attract it.
So out of the primal consciousness of Will dealing with matter

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is developed form and organism, vitality, receptive mind, discriminating mind, Egoism. Out of this one method of Prakriti,
selection, liberation and development, the whole evolution of the
phenomenal world arises. Creation therefore is not a making
of something where nothing existed, but a selection and new
formation out of existing material; not a sudden increase, but
a continual rearrangement and substitution; not an arbitrary
manufacture, but an orderly development.
The idea of creation as a selection and development from
preexisting material which is common to the Upanishads & the
Sankhya philosophy, is also the fundamental idea of the modern
theory of Evolution. The theory of Evolution is foreshadowed
in the Veda, but nowhere clearly formulated. In the Aitareya
Upanishad we find a luminous hint of the evolution of various
animal forms until in the course of differentiation by selection
the body of man was developed as a perfect temple for the gods
and a satisfactory instrument for sensational, intellectual and
spiritual evolution. When the Swetaswatara sums up the process
of creation in the pregnant formula "One seed developed into
many forms", it is simply crystallizing the one general idea on
which the whole of Indian thought takes its stand and to which
the whole tendency of modern science returns. The opening of
the Brihadaranyakopanishad powerfully foreshadows the theory that hunger & the struggle for life (ashanaya mrityu) are the
principle agents in life-development. But it was not in this aspect
of the law of creation that the old Hindu thought interested
itself. Modern Science has made it its business to investigate and
master the forces and laws of working of the physical world; it
has sought to know how man as a reasoning animal developed
into what he is, how he is affected in detail by the laws of
external nature and what is the rule of his thought and action in
things physical & psycho-physical whether as an individual or
in masses. Outside the limits of this inquiry it has been sceptical
or indifferent. Hindu thought, on the contrary, has made it its
business to investigate the possibilities of man's escape from the
animal and physical condition, from his subjection to the laws
of external nature and from his apparent limitations as a mere

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creature of surroundings & sensational impact from outside. Its
province has been the psychical and spiritual world. It has not
concerned itself minutely with man's physical sheath, but rather
with what is vital & elemental in the matter of which he is made,
the law of the workings of the breath and the elemental forces
within him, the relation of the various parts of his psychical
anatomy to each other, and the law of his thought and action as
a spiritual being having one side of itself turned to phenomena
and this transient life in society and the world, the other to the
single and eternal verity of things.
Speculating and experimenting on these psychical and spiritual relations, the ancient Rishis arrived at what they believed
to be the fundamental laws respectively of spiritual, psychical
and elemental evolution. Spiritually, the beginning of all things
is the Turiya Atman, spirit in its fourth or transcendental state,
intellectually unknowable and indefinable, infinite, indivisible,
immutable and supra-conscious. This Turiya Atman may be imaged as the infinite ocean of spirit which evolves in itself spiritual
manifestations and workings by that process of limitation or selection on which all creation or manifestation depends. By this
Turiya Atman there is conceived or there is selected out of its
infinite capacity a state of spirit less unknowable and therefore
less indefinable, in which the conceptions of finity and division
preexist in a potential state and in which consciousness is selfgathered and as yet inoperative. This state of Spirit is called
variously Avyakta, the unmanifestation, or the seed-condition
or the condition of absolute Sleep, because as yet phenomena
and activity are not manifest but preexist gathered-together and
undeveloped, just as all the infinite potentialities of organic life
upon earth preexist gathered-together and undeveloped in the
protoplasm; just as leaf and twig, trunk and branches, sap and
pith and bark, root and flower and fruit preexist, gatheredtogether and undeveloped in the seed. The State of Sleep may be
envisaged as Eternal Will and Wisdom on the brink of creation,
with the predestined evolution of a million universes, the development of sun & star and nebula and the shining constellations
and the wheeling orbits of satellite and planet, the formation of

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metals and the life of trees, the motions and actions of fish and
bird and beast and the infinite spiritual, mental and physical stir
& activities of man already pre-ordained, pre-arranged and preexistent, before Time was or Space existed or Causality began.
Spirit in this state of Sleep is called Prajna, the Wise One or
He who knows and orders things beforehand. The next state
of Spirit, evolved out of Prajna, is the pure psychical or Dream
State in which Spirit is in a condition of ceaseless psychical activity imagining, willing, selecting out of the matter which Prajna
provides, and creating thought-forms to clothe the abundant
variety of its multitudinous imaginations. The Dream-State is
the psychical condition of Spirit and operates in a world of subtle matter finer and more elastic than gross physical matter and
therefore not subject to the heavy restrictions and slow processes
with which the latter is burdened. For this reason while physical
workings are fixed, slow and confined by walls within walls,
thought, psychical manifestation and other operations in subtle
matter are in comparison volatile, rapid and free, reacting more
elastically against the pressure of Time, Condition and Space.
This State of Dream may be envisaged as Eternal Will and Energy
in the process of creation with the whole activity of the Universe
teeming and fructuating within it; it is that psychical matrix out
of which physical form and life are evolved and to which in
sleep it partially returns so that it may recuperate and drink in
a fresh store of psychical energy to support the heavy strain of
physical processes in gross matter. Spirit in the middle or DreamState is called Taijasa or Hiranyagarbha, the Shining Embryon.
It is Taijasa, Energy of Light, and Hiranya the Shining because
in psychical matter luminous energy is the chief characteristic,
colour and light predominating over fluid or solid form. It is
Garbha, Embryon, because out of psychical matter physical life
and form are selected and evolved into the final or Waking State
in which Spirit manifests itself as physically visible, audible &
sensible form and life, and arrives at last at an appearance of
firm stability & solidity in gross matter. Spirit in the Waking
State is called Vaisvanor, the Universal Male, He who informs
and supports all forms of energy in this physical universe; for

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it is a root idea of Hindu philosophy that Spirit is the Male
which casts its seed into Matter and Matter the female Energy
which receives the seed and with it creates and operates. Spirit
and Matter are not different entities, but simply the positive
and negative poles in the creative operation of the All-Self or
Universal which evolves in Itself and out of Itself the endless
procession of things.
All things in the Universe are of one texture & substance and
subject to a single law; existence is a fundamental unity under
a superficial diversity. Each part of the Universe is therefore a
little Universe in itself repeating under different conditions and in
different forms the nature and operations of the wider Cosmos.
Every individual man must be in little what the Cosmos is in
large. Like the Cosmos therefore each individual man has been
created by the evolution of Spirit from its pure essence through
the three states of Sleep, Dream and Waking. But this evolution
has been a downward evolution; he has descended spiritually
from pure Spirit into physical matter, from self-existent, selfknowing, self-delighting God into the reasoning animal. In other
words each new condition of Spirit, as it evolved, has overlaid
and obscured its predecessor. In the physical condition, which is
the ultimate term of the downward evolution, man realizes himself as a body moving among and affected by other bodies and
he readily understands, masters and employs physical organs,
physical processes and physical forces, but he finds it difficult to
understand, master or employ psychical organs, psychical processes and psychical forces, - so difficult that he has come to be
sceptical of the existence of the psychical and doubt whether he
is a soul at all, whether he is not merely an animal body with an
exceptional brain-evolution. In his present state any evolution of
the psychical force within is attended with extraordinary disturbances of the physical instruments; such as the development of
delusions, hallucinations, eccentricities, mania and disease side
by side with the development of genius or exceptional mental
& spiritual powers in family or individual. Man has not yet
discovered his soul; his main energies have been directed towards
realizing and mastering the physical world in which he moves.

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It is indeed, as some are beginning dimly to perceive, the soul
within him which has all along been using the body for its own
ends on the physical plane, but the soul has been working from
behind the veil, unrealized and unseen. The Waking-State has
overlaid and obscured the Dream-State. When he has mastered,
as in the course of his evolution he must master, the psychical
world within him, man will find that there is another & deeper
self which is overlaid and obscured by the psychical, - the Sleepworld within or as it is called, the causal self. At present, even
when he admits the existence of the soul, he sees nothing beyond
his psychical self and speaks of soul and spirit as if they were
identical. In reality, there are three spirit-states, spirit, soul and
body, the sleep-state, the dream-state and the waking-state. Body
has overlaid and obscured soul, soul overlays & obscures spirit,
spirit in its turn obscures & overlays the pure self from which
& towards which the circle of evolution moves.
Creation, then, has been a downward evolution which has
for its object to create a body fit for an upward evolution into
the region of pure spirit. It is in this direction that the future
of human evolution lies. When man has mastered the physical world and its forces, when the earth is his and the fullness
thereof, he must turn his efforts towards mastering the world
within himself. Instead of allowing the soul to use the body for
its own ends, he must learn to master both soul and body and
use them consciously for the purposes of the spirit, that Eternal
Will & Wisdom which at present operates in secrecy, veiled
with darkness within darkness and seeming even to be blind and
hidden from itself. In the end he will be master of spirit, soul and
body, a Jivanmukta using them at will for cosmic purposes or
transcending them to feel his identity with the Self who is pure
and absolute existence, consciousness and bliss.
Chapter III. Psychical evolution - downward to matter
In their enquiry into the spiritual nature of man the ancient
thinkers and Yogins discovered that he has not only three spiritual states but three bodies or cases of matter corresponding

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to the spiritual states. This was in accordance with the nature
of phenomenal existence as determined by their inquiries. Spirit
and matter, the inner inspiring presence and outward acting
substance-energy, are the two necessary terms of this existence.
When phenomena are transcended we come to a Self independent of Spirit or Matter; but the moment Self descends into
phenomenal existence, it must necessarily create for itself a form
or body and a medium in which it manifests and through which
it acts. Directly, therefore, the pure transcendent Self evolves
one aspect of itself as a definable spiritual condition, it must in
the nature of things evolve also a form or body and a medium
through and in which Spirit in that condition can manifest itself.
Matter, in other words, evolves coevally and coincidently with
Spirit. As soon as the Sleep-State appears, Spirit surrounds itself
with matter in that most refined & least palpable condition, to
which the name of causal matter may be given, - the material
seed state, single and elemental in its nature, from which the material universe is evolved. With the evolution of the Dream-State
matter also evolves from the causal into the subtle, a condition
compound, divisible and capable of definite form but too fine
to be perceived by ordinary physical senses. It is only when the
Waking-State is evolved that matter concentrates into that gross
physical condition which is all that Science has hitherto been
able to analyse and investigate.
In man also as in the larger Cosmos each spiritual State
lives in and uses its corresponding medium of matter and out
of that matter shapes for itself its own body or material case.
He has therefore a causal body for his Sleep-State or causal
self, a subtle body for his Dream-State or psychical self and
a gross body for his Waking-State or physical self. When he
dies, what happens is simply the disintegration of the physical
body and the return of the Waking into the Dream-State from
which it was originally projected. Death, in the ordinary view,
is a delivery from matter; body is destroyed and only spirit or
soul remains: but this view is rejected by Hindu philosophy as
an error resulting from confused and inadequate knowledge of
man's psychical nature. The Waking-State having disappeared

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into the Dream-State and no longer existing, the physical body
must necessarily disintegrate since it has no longer a soul to
support it and keep naturally together the gross material atoms
out of which it is constructed. But because the physical body
is destroyed or dropped off, it does not follow that no body is
left. Man goes on existing after death in his Dream-State and
moves & acts with his subtle body; it is this dream-state in the
subtle body to which the name soul or spirit is popularly given.
Even the disintegration of the subtle body and the return of the
Dream-State into the Sleep-State from which it was projected,
would not imply a release from all restrictions of matter; for the
causal body would still remain. It is only when the Sleep-State is
also transcended, that phenomenal existence with its necessary
duality of Spirit-Matter is left behind and transcended. Then
spirit & body are both dissolved into pure and transcendent
self-existence.
In examining and analysing these spiritual conditions in
their respective bodies the Rishis arrived at a theory of psychical
evolution contained within and dependent on the spiritual evolution already described. The basis of psychical as of spiritual
existence is the pure Self called the Paramatman or Supreme Self
when it manifests in the Cosmos and the Jivatman or individual
Self when it manifests in man. The Self first manifests as Will or
as the Rishis preferred to call it Ananda, Bliss, Delight. Ananda
is the pure delight of existence and activity and may be identified
in one of its aspects with the European Will-to-live, but it has
a double tendency, the Will to be phenomenally and the Will to
be transcendentally, the Will to live and the Will to cease from
phenomenal life. It is also the Will to know and the Will to
enjoy and in each aspect the double tendency is repeated. The
Will to know eternal reality is balanced by the Will to know
phenomenal diversity; the Will to absolute delight by the Will
to phenomenal delight. Will must be clearly distinguished from
volition which is only one of the operations of Will acting in
phenomena. The impacts from external things upon the mind
result in sensations and the reactions of the Will upon these sensations when conveyed to it, take the form of desires. Volition is

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simply the impulse of the Will operating through the intelligence
to satisfy or curb the desires created in the medium between itself
and the mind. But the Will itself is antecedent to mind and intelligence and all the operations of body, mind and intelligence are
ultimately operations of material energy ordained by the Will.
Self manifesting as Will or Bliss is, spiritually, the Sleep-State
and operates absolutely & directly in the Causal body as the
creative force behind Nature, but indirectly & under limitations
in the subtle & gross bodies as the cause of all thought, action
and feeling.
The next evolutionary form of Will, put forth by itself from
itself as an instrument or operative force in the creation of the
worlds, is Buddhi or Supra-intelligence, an energy which is above
mind and reason and acts independently of any cerebral organ.
It is Will acting through the Supra-intelligence that guides the
growth of the tree and the formation of the animal and gives to
all things in the Universe the appearance of careful and abundant
workmanship and orderly arrangement from which the idea of
an Almighty Artificer full of fecund and infinite imaginations
has naturally grown up in the human mind; but from the point
of view of the Vedanta Will and Supra-Intelligence are not attributes of an anthropomorphic Deity endowed with a colossal
brain but aspects of a spiritual presence manifesting itself cosmically in phenomenal existence. Will, through Buddhi, creating
and operating on phenomena in subtle matter evolves Mind,
which by reception of external impacts & impressions evolves
sensation; by reaction to impressions received, evolves desire
and activity; by retention of impressions with their reactions,
evolves memory; by coordination of impressions & reactions
memorized, evolves the sense of individuality; by individual arrangement of impressions and reactions with the aid of memory
evolves understanding; and by the action of supra-intelligence
on developed mind evolves reason. Mind & Supra-intelligence
with reason as an intermediate link are, spiritually, the DreamState and operate absolutely and directly in the subtle body but
indirectly, under limitations and as a governing and directing
force in the gross body.

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So far spirit and soul only have been evolved; the evolution of the Will has not manifested itself in physical forms.
But in Mind Will has evolved a grand primal sense by which
it is able to put itself into conscious relations with external
objects; before the development of mind it has been operating
by methods of self-contained consciousness through the supraintelligence. Mind is in a way the one true and real sense; it is
Mind that sees, Mind that hears, Mind that smells, Mind that
feels, Mind that acts; but for the purposes of varied experience
Mind evolves from itself ten potencies, five potencies of knowledge, sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste by which the Will
receives impressions of external objects and five potencies of
action, grasp, locomotion, utterance, emission and ecstasy, by
which it reacts on what it receives; and for each of these potencies
it evolves an instrument of potency or sense-organ, making up
the ten indriyas with the Mind, which is alone self-acting and
introspective, as the eleventh. So far however the Mind acts with
rapidity and directness under the comparatively light restrictions
of subtle matter in the Dream State; it is a psychical sense, an
instrument of the soul for knowing and dealing with life in the
psychical world of subtle matter. Only in the physical evolution
of gross matter do the sense-organs receive their consummate
development and become of supreme importance; for Will in
the Waking State acts mainly through them and not directly
through the Mind. Soul-evolution precedes physical evolution.
This theory directly contradicts those conclusions of modern
Science which make soul an evolution of physical life and activities, not an all-important and enduring evolution, but merely
their temporary efflorescence and dependent on them for its
existence. Arguing from the facts of physical evolution which
alone it has studied and excluding all possibilities outside this
limit, Science is justified in coming to this conclusion, and, as a
logical corollary, it is justified in denying the immortality of the
soul. For if psychical activities are merely a later and temporary
operation of physical life and dependent on the physical for
their own continuance, it follows that when physical life ceases
with the arrest of bodily operations by the mysterious agency

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of death, human personality which is a psychical activity must
also come to an end. When the body dies, the soul dies also;
it can no more outlast the body than the flower can outlast
the plant on which it grows or a house survive the destruction
of its foundations. Body is the stem, soul the flower; body the
foundation, soul a light and temporary superstructure. To all this
Hindu thought gives a direct denial. It claims to have discovered
means of investigating psychical life as thoroughly as Science can
investigate physical nature and in the light of its investigations it
declares that soul exists before body and outlasts it. It is physical
life that is an evolution from psychical, and no more than a
later and temporary operation of psychical activities. Body is
the flower, soul the stem; soul is the foundation, body the fragile
and transient superstructure.
For the purposes of physical evolution Will evolves a new
aspect of itself which is called Prana or vital energy. Prana
exists in the physical state also, but there it is simple, undifferentiated, gathered up in mind and not acting as a separate
agent. Prana in gross matter is an all-pervading energy which
subsists wherever there is physical existence and is the principle
agent in maintaining existence and furthering its activities. It is
present in what seems inert and inanimate no less than in what
is manifestly endowed with life. It lives concealed in the metal
and the sod, it begins to emerge in the plant, it reveals itself
in the animal. Prana is the agent of Will in all physical evolution. It is the mainspring of every hunger-impulse and presides
over every process of alimentation. It creates life, it fills it with
vital needs, desires, longings; it spurs it to the satisfaction of
its needs & desires; and it evolves the means and superintends
and conducts the processes of that satisfaction. In the course of
evolution it reveals itself with an ever-rounding fulness, vibrates
with an ever swifter and more complex energy, differentiates
and enriches its activity with a more splendid opulence until the
crescendo reaches its highest note in man. In this, the noblest
type of physical evolution, Prana manifests itself in five distinct
vital powers, to which the names, Prana, Samana, Vyana, Apana
and Udana have been given by the ancient writers. Prana, the

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vital force par excellence has its seat in the upper part of the
body and conducts all mental operations, the indrawing and the
outdrawing of the breath and the induction of food. Samana,
seated centrally in the body, balances, equalizes and harmonizes
the vital operations and is the agent for the assimilation of food.
Vyana pervades the whole body; on it depends the circulation
of the blood and the distribution of the essential part of the
food eaten and digested throughout the body. Apana, situated
in the lower part of the trunk, presides over the lower functions, especially over the emission of such parts of the food as
are rejected by the body and over procreation, it is intimately
connected with the processes of decay and death. Udana is the
vital power which connects bodily life with the spiritual element
in man. As in the purely vital operations, so also in the motional
and volitional Prana is still the great agent of Will, and conducts
such operations of Mind also as depend on the sense-organs for
their instruments. Prana is the regent of the body, ministering
to the Mind and through that great intermediary executing the
behests of the concealed sovereign of existence, the Will.
As Prana is the first term in the physical evolution of the Self,
so Anna, Food or gross visible matter is the second term. "I am
food that devours the eater of food" says the Taittiriya Upanishad, and no formula could express more pregnantly and tersely
the fundamental law of all phenomenal activity especially on the
physical plane. The fundamental principle of vitality is hunger
and all gross matter forms the food with which Prana satisfies
this, its root-impulse. Hence the universality of the struggle for
life. This hungry Prana first needs to build up a body in which it
can subsist and in order to do so, it devours external substances
so as to provide itself with the requisite material. This body once
found it is continually eating up by the ceaselessness of its vital
activity and has to repair its own ravages by continually drawing
in external substances to form fresh material for an ever-wasting
and ever-renewing frame. Unable to preserve its body for ever
under the exhausting stress of its own activity, it has to procreate
fresh forms which will continue vital activity and for the purpose
concentrates itself in a part of its material which it throws out of

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itself to lead a similar but independent life even after the parent
form decays. To satisfy its hunger it is ever evolving fresh means
and new potencies for mastery & seizure of its food. Dissatisfied
with the poor sustenance a stationary existence can supply, it
develops the power & evolves various means of locomotion. To
perceive its food more & more thoroughly & rapidly it develops the five senses and evolves the organs of perception through
which they can act. To deal successfully with the food perceived,
it develops the five potencies of action and evolves the active
organs which enable them to work. As a centre of all this sensational and actional activity it evolves the central mind-organ in
the brain and as channels of communication between the central
& the outer organs it develops a great nerve-system centred in
seven plexuses, through which it moves with a ceaseless stir and
activity, satisfying hunger, satisfying lust, satisfying desire. At
the base of all is the impulse of Life to survive, to prolong itself
for the purposes of the Will-to-live of which it is the creature
and the servant. Prana & Anna, Vitality and physical form are,
spiritually, the Waking-State and operate entirely in gross matter,
- the last term of that downward evolution which is the descent
of Spirit from the original purity of absolute existence into the
impurity and multiplicity of matter.
Chapter IV. Psychical Evolution - Upward to Self.
In this downward psychical evolution, as in the downward spiritual evolution, each succeeding and newly-evolved state of the
original Self obscures and overlays that which preceded it, until
the last state of the Self appears to be an inert brute and inanimate condition of gross physical matter devoid of life, mental
consciousness or spiritual possibilities. From this state of inert
and lifeless matter the upward evolution starts and, as in our
spiritual evolution the course set down for us is to recover from
a firm footing in the Waking State mastery over the obscured and
latent Dream and Sleep States and so return into the presence of
that pure and unimaginable Self from whom the process of our
evolution began, so in our psychical evolution we have to recover

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out of the inertia of gross physical materiality Life, Mind, SupraIntelligence, Will until we know our infinite and eternal Self who
is one with the Supreme Self of the Universe.
With inanimate matter the world began, says evolutionary
Science; but in inanimate matter there is no evidence of life
or mind or spirit, no apparent possibility of the evolution of
animate conscious existence. Into this inanimate world at some
unknown period, by some unknown means, perhaps from some
unknown source, a mysterious thing called Life entered or began
to stir and all this mighty evolution we have discovered became
in a moment possible. Grant one infinitesimal seed of life and
everything else becomes possible, but life itself we cannot explain nor can we discover as yet how it came originally into
being. We can only suppose that life is some chemical process
or develops from some chemical process we shall ultimately
discover. Even what life is, has not been satisfactorily settled.
The term is sometimes rigidly confined to animal life, - surely
a crude and unscientific limitation, since the peculiarities of animal life, - consciousness and organic growth -, exist quite as
evidently in the highest forms of plant-life as in the animalcule
or the jelly-fish. Or if we confine life to organic growth, we do
so arbitrarily, for recent discoveries have shown the beginning
of one element of vital activity, the one which forms the very
basis of consciousness, viz. reception of & reaction to outward
impressions and the phenomena of vigour and exhaustion, in a
substance so apparently inanimate as metal. So obscure is the
whole subject that many are inclined to regard life as a divine
mystery, breathed by God into the world or introduced, as if it
were a sort of psychical meteoric dust, from some other planet.
Upanishadic philosophy accounts for the appearance of Life in
a more calm and rational manner. Life, it would say, is in a
sense a divine mystery but no more and no less so than the existence of inanimate matter. God did not breathe it from outside
into an inert and created body, neither did it drift hither from
some mystic and superior planet. Nor did it come into sudden
being by some fortuitous chemical process which marked off
suddenly all existences into two rigidly distinct classes, animate

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and inanimate, organic and inorganic. All such ideas are, when
carefully examined, irrational and inconsistent with the unity
and harmonious development of the world under fixed and invariable laws. Life is evolved naturally and not mysteriously out
of matter itself, because it is already latent and preexistent in
matter. Prana is involved in anna, matter cannot exist without
latent life, and the first step in evolution is the liberation of the
latent life out of the heavy obscuration of matter in its grossest and densest forms. This evolution is effected by the three
gunas, the triple principle of reception, retention and reaction
to outward impacts; as fresh forms of matter are evolved in
which the power of retaining impacts received in the shape of
impressions becomes more and more declared, consciousness
slowly and laboriously develops; as the power of reacting on
external objects becomes more pronounced and varied, organic
life-growth begins its marvellous career; and the two, helping
and enriching each other, evolve complete, well-organized and
richly-endowed Life.
Prana receives its perfect development in animal life and
when man, the highest term of animal life, has been reached,
there is no farther need for its development. The true evolution of Man therefore lies not in the farther development of
vitality, but in the complete & triumphant liberation of mind
out of the overlaying obscuration of the vital energies. Just as
Prana is involved in Anna and has to be evolved out of it, so
Mind is involved in Prana and has to be evolved out of it. The
moment Life begins to liberate itself from the obscuration of
gross matter, the first step has been taken towards the evolution
of Mind. We see the gradual development of Mind in animal
evolution; the highest animal forms below man seem to possess
not only memory and individuality, but a considerable degree
of understanding and even the rudiments of reason. In man
the development is much more rapid and triumphant, but it
is by no means, as yet, complete or perfect. Prana still to an
immense extent obscures Mind, the gross body dominates the
subtle. Mind is dominated by the instruments which Prana has
created for it; the body, the nerve-system, the sense-organs, the

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brain hamper and hinder its operations even more than they help
them; for the Mind is bound within the narrow circle of their
activity and limited by their deficiencies. The continual stir of
the vital energies in the brain and throughout the whole system,
disturb the Mind, the continual siege of external impressions
distract it, the insistent urgency of the senses towards the external world impede the turning of the energies inward; calm and
purity, concentration and introspection are rendered so difficult
that the majority of men do not attempt them or only compass
them spasmodically and imperfectly. Any powerful and unusual
development of mind, in its intellectual and spiritual tendencies,
is apt to be resented by the vital part of man and to impair or
seriously disturb his vital energies and physical health. Along
with the intellectual development of the race, there has been a
marked deterioration of vital vigour & soundness and of the
bodily organs. Moral and spiritual development is continually
at war with the needs of our physical life, our hungers, desires,
lusts, longings and the insistent urgency of the instincts of selfpreservation and self-gratification. It is therefore towards the
conquest and control of Prana and the free development of
Mind that the energies of Man ought in future to be directed. He
must arrive at some arrangement of his social and individual life
which, while satisfying the legitimate demands of his body and
his vital impulses, will admit of the extreme and unhampered
perfection of his intellectual, moral and spiritual being. He must
discover and practise some method of maintaining the harmony
and soundness of the vital and bodily instruments and processes
without for a moment allowing the care for them to restrict the
widest possible range, the most bold and powerful exercise and
the most intense and fiery energisms of which the higher principle in his being is capable. He must learn how to transcend the
limitations and errors of the physical senses and train his mind
to act even in the physical body with the rapidity, directness and
unlimited range proper to a psychical organ whose function is
to operate in subtle as well as in gross matter. To see where the
physical eye is blind, to hear where the physical ear is deaf, to
feel where the physical sense is callous, to understand thoughts

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unexpressed, are legitimate functions of the mind; but they must
be exercised, not as a rare power or in moments of supreme
excitation, but as a regular and consciously willed operation, the
processes of which have been mastered and known. Reason, at
present fallible, imperfect and enslaved to desire and prejudice,
must be trained into its highest possibilities of clarity, sanity and
calm energy. The Mind must be tranquillised and purified by
control of the senses and the five Pranas, and trained to turn itself wholly inward, excluding at will all outward impressions, so
that Man may become master of the inner world no less than of
the outer, a conscious soul using the body and no longer a body
governed by a self-concealing and self-guiding psychical entity.
We think we have done wonders in the way of mental evolution;
in reality we have made no more than a feeble beginning. The
infinite possibilities of that evolution still lie unexplored in front.
As Mind is involved in Prana, so is Supra-Intelligence involved and latent in all the operations of Mind. With the evolution of the Mind, some rudimentary beginnings have been
unconsciously made towards the liberation of this higher &
far grander force. As the mental development foreshadowed
above proceeds to its goal, man will begin to evolve and realize himself as a mighty and infinite Intelligence, not limited
by sense-perception or the laborious and clumsy processes of
the reason, but capable of intuitive and infinite perception. And
when the evolution of Mind is complete and the evolution of
Supra-Intelligence proceeds, the liberation of the Will involved
in its operations will lead man to the highest evolution of all
when he realizes himself as a potent and scient Will, master
of creation and not its slave, whose infinite delight in its own
existence is lifted far beyond the thraldom of pain and pleasure
and uses them with as unalloyed a pleasure as the poet when
he weaves joy and sorrow, delight and pain and love and fear
and horror into one perfect and pleasurable masterpiece or the
painter when he mixes his colours and blends light and shade
to create a wedded harmony of form and hue. This state of
unfettered Will and infinite Delight once realized, he cannot fail
to know his real Self, absolute and calm, omnipotent and pure,

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the eternal Brahman in whom this evolution has its root and
resting-place.
VII. Elemental Evolution.
The evolution of the cosmos has not only spiritual and psychical
aspects; it has also from the moment of its inception a material
element. Spirit exists from the beginning and was before any
beginning, infinite and sempiternal; but Matter also is an eternal entity. In the Parabrahman, the absolute inconceivable Self,
Spirit and Matter are one and undifferentiated, but the moment
evolution begins Spirit and Matter manifest equally and coevally.
We have seen that the first spiritual evolution from the pure selfexistent Atman is Prajna of the Sleep-State, Eternal Wisdom, a
supporting spiritual presence which contains in itself the whole
course of cosmic evolution even as a single seed contains in itself
the complete banyan-tree with all its gigantic progeny. We have
seen that corresponding to this Eternal Wisdom, there is a first
psychic evolution, Ananda or Will, an inspiring psychical force
in man & the cosmos which makes all the workings of Nature
possible. Spirit however, even when operating as Will, is not a
working force in the sense that it itself carries on the operations
of Nature; it is an inspiring, impelling force, whose function is to
set in motion a powerful material energy of the Self; and it is this
material energy which under the inspiration of Will and at the
bidding of Prajna sets about the evolution of the Cosmos. Self in
its dealings with the Cosmos is a dual entity, underlying spiritual
presence and superficially active material energy, or as they are
called in the terminology of the Sankhya philosophy, Purusha
and Prakriti; - Purusha, that which lies concealed in the Vast of
universal existence, Prakriti, active or operative energy thrown
forward from the concealed spiritual source. The whole of Evolution spiritual, psychical, material, is the result of Purusha and
Prakriti acting upon each other; the three evolutions are really
one, coincident and coeval, because throughout it is one Reality
that is manifesting and not three. It is Self manifesting as spirit,
Self manifesting as soul, Self manifesting as matter or body. The

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three manifestations are coincident in Time and Space and each
condition of phenomena is a triple state with Spirit and Matter
for its extreme terms and Soul for its middle. In the evolution
of the spirit-states Purusha determines itself so as to inform and
support the progressive manifestations of Self as soul and body;
in the evolution of the psychic states Prakriti worked on by
Purusha creates for the manifestations of Self as spirit psychic
sheaths or coverings which will at the same time inform and
support the manifestations of Self as matter; in the evolution of
the causal, subtle and gross bodies Prakriti shapes itself so as
to create the material out of which the psychical coverings of
Self as spirit may be made and the medium in which the Self as
soul may operate. The three evolutions are dependent on each
other, and that it is really one entity and not three which is
evolving, is shown by the fact that while in the first stage of the
downward evolution and the last of the upward Matter seems
so refined as to appear identical with Spirit, in the last of the
downward and first of the upward Spirit seems so densified as
to appear identical with Matter. This possibility of evolution
from and involution into each other would not be conceivable
if they were not in essence one entity; and we may legitimately
deduce from the oneness of such diverse phenomena that they
are no more than phenomena, merely apparent changes in one
unchanging reality.
In the first stage of evolution Matter appears as an aspect or
shadow of Spirit, and like Spirit it is infinite, unanalysable, undifferentiated. Just as Spirit then has only three positive attributes,
infinite and undefinable existence, consciousness and bliss, so
original Matter has only three positive attributes, infinite and
undefinable Time, Space and Causality - or, as Hindu thought
phrases it, Condition. For the essence of Condition being change
from one state to another, and each change standing in the relation of cause or origin to the one that follows it, Condition
and Causality become convertible terms. From this indefinable
noumenal condition of Prakriti the Self forms for its uses matter
in its most refined and simple form, undifferentiated and undeveloped, but pregnant with the whole of material evolution. The

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causal state is called by the Sankhyas Pradhana, the first state or
arrangement of matter and its essential principle. The relation
of Spirit and Matter in this causal or seed-state is admirably
expressed in the Puranic image of Vishnu, the eternal Purusha,
asleep on the waveless causal ocean with the endless coils of
the snake Ananta, the Infinite, for his couch. The sea of causal
matter is then motionless and it is only when Vishnu awakes, the
snake Ananta stirs and the first ever widening ripples are created
on the surface of the waters that the actual evolution of matter
has begun. The first ripple or vibration in causal matter creates
a new & exceedingly fine and pervasive condition of matter
called akasha or ether; more complex motion evolves out of
ether a somewhat intenser condition which is called Vayu, Air;
and so by ever more complex motion with increasing intensity
of condition for result, yet three other matter-states are successively developed, Agni or Fire, Apah or Water and Prithivi or
Earth. These are the five tanmatras or subtle elements of Sankhya
philosophy by the combination of which subtle forms in subtle
matter are built.
Here it is necessary to enter a caution against possible misunderstandings to which the peculiar nomenclature used by the
Rishis & the common rendering of tanmatra & bhuta by the
English word elements may very easily give rise. When we speak
of elements in English in a scientific sense, we always imply
elemental substances, those substances which when analysed
by chemical processes, cannot be resolved into substances simpler than themselves. But when Hindu philosophy speaks of
the five elements, it is not dealing with substances at all but
with elemental states or conditions of matter, which are not
perceptible or analysable by chemical inquiry but underlie substances and forms as basic principles of material formation. The
old thinkers accepted the atomic theory of the formation of
objects and substances but they did not care to carry the theory
farther and inquire by what particular combinations of atoms
this or that substance came into being or by what variations
and developments in detail bodies animate or inanimate came
to be what they are. This did not seem to them to be an inquiry

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of the first importance; they were content with laying down
some main principles of material evolution and there they left
the matter. But they were anxious to resolve not substances into
their original atoms but matter into its original condition and
so discover its ultimate relations to the psychical and spiritual
life of man. They saw that perpetual motion involving perpetual
change was the fundamental characteristic of matter and that
each new motion was attended by a new condition which stood
to the immediately preceding condition in the relation of effect
to cause or at least of a new birth to the matrix in which it had
been enembryoed. Behind the solid condition of matter, they
found a condition less dense which was at the basis of all fluid
forms; behind the fluid condition, another still less dense which
was at the basis of all igneous or luminous forms; behind the
igneous, yet another and finer which was at the basis of all aerial
or gaseous forms; and last of all one finest and most pervasive
condition of all which they called Akash or Ether. Ether was,
they found, the primary substance out of which all this visible
Universe is evolved and beyond ether they were unable to go
without matter losing all the characteristics associated with it in
the physical world and lapsing into a quite different substance
of which the forms and motions were much more vague, subtle,
elastic and volatile than any of which the physical world is
aware. This new world of matter they called subtle matter and
analysed the subtle as they had analysed the gross until by a
similar procession from denser to subtler they came to a finest
condition of all which they described as subtle ether. Out of
this subtle ether a whole world of subtle forms and energies
are evolved which constitute psychical existence. Beyond subtle
ether matter lost its subtle characteristics and lapsed into a new
kind which they could not analyse but which seemed to be the
matrix out of which all material evolution proceeded. This they
termed causal matter.
In the course of this analysis they could not help perceiving
that consciousness in each world of matter assumed a different
form and acted in a different way corresponding to the characteristics of the matter in which it moved. In its operations in

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gross matter the forms it assumed were more firm, solid and
durable but at the same time more slow, difficult and hampered,
just as are the motions and acts of a man in his waking state as
compared with what he does in his dreams. In its operations in
subtle matter the forms consciousness assumed were freer and
more rapid, but more volatile, elastic & swiftly mutable, as are
the motions and acts of a man in a dreaming state compared to
the activities of his waking condition. To consciousness acting on
gross matter they gave therefore the name of the Waking State,
to consciousness acting on subtle matter the name of the Dream
State. In causal matter they found that consciousness took the
shape merely of the pure sense of blissful existence; they could
discover no other distinguishing sensation. This therefore they
called the Sleep State. They farther discovered that the various
faculties and functions of man belonged properly some to one,
some to another of the three states of consciousness and its
corresponding state of matter. His vital and physical functions
operated only in gross matter, and they determined accordingly
that his physical life was the result of consciousness working in
the Waking State on gross matter. His mental and intuitional processes were found to operate freely and perfectly in subtle matter,
but in gross matter with a hampered and imperfect activity; they
considered therefore that man's mental life belonged properly to
the Dream State and only worked indirectly and under serious
limitations in the Waking State. They determined accordingly
that mental life must be the result of Consciousness working
in the Dream State on subtle matter. There remained the fundamental energy of consciousness, Will-to-be or shaping Delight of
existence: this, they perceived, was free and pure in causal matter, but worked if consciously, yet through a medium and under
limitations in subtle matter, in hampered & half effectual fashion
when the subtle self acted through the gross and sub-consciously
only in gross matter. They considered therefore that man's causal
faculty or spiritual life belonged properly to the Sleep State and
worked indirectly and through less & less easy mediums in the
Dream and Waking States; and accordingly determined that it
must be the result of Consciousness working in the Sleep State

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on causal matter. The whole of creation amounted therefore to a
natural outcome from the mutual relations of Spirit and Matter;
these two they regarded as two terms - call them forces, energies, substances, or what you will, - of phenomenal existence;
and psychical life only as one result of their interaction. They
refused however to accept any dualism in their cosmogony and,
as has been pointed out, regarded Spirit and Matter as essentially
one and their difference as no more than an apparent duality in
one real entity. This one entity is not analysable or intellectually
knowable, yet it is alone the real, immutable and sempiternal
Self of things.
It will be clear even from this brief and condensed statement
of the Vedic analysis of existence that the elements of the Upanishad are not the elementary substances of modern chemistry but
five general states of matter to which all its actual or substantial
manifestations belong. It will also be clear that the names of
the five elements have a conventional, not a literal value, but it
may be as well to indicate why these particular names have been
chosen. The first and original state of subtle matter is the pure
ethereal of which the main characteristics are extreme tenuity
and pervasiveness and the one sensible property, sound. Sound,
according to the Vedic inquirers, is the first evolved property of
material substance; it precedes form and has the power both to
create it and to destroy it. Looking around them in the physical
universe for a substance with these characteristics they found it
in Akash or Vyom (sky), implying not our terrestrial atmosphere
but that which is both beyond it and pervades it, - the fine
pervasive connecting substance in which, as it were, the whole
universe floats. They therefore gave this name, Akash, to the
ethereal condition of matter.
The next matter-condition evolved from Ether and moving
in it, was the pure aerial or gaseous. Here to pervasiveness was
added a new potency of sensible and varied motion bringing
with it, as increased complexity of motion necessarily must do,
increased differentiation and complexity of substance. All the
variety and evolutions of gaseous matter with their peculiar
activities, functions and combinations have this second state or

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power of matter as their substratum; it is the basis also of that
universal Prana or vital energy, starting from action, retention
and reaction and culminating in organized consciousness, which
we have seen to be so all-important an agent in the Vedic theory
of the Cosmos. In this second power of matter a new property
of material substance is evolved, touch or contact, which was
not fully developed in pure ether owing to its extreme tenuity
and primary simplicity of substance. Seeking for a physical substance gaseous in nature, sensible by sound and contact, but
without form and characterized chiefly by varied motion and
an imperfect pervasiveness, the Rishis found it in Vayu, Wind
or Air. Vayu, therefore, is the conventional term for the second
condition of matter.
Evolved out of the pure gaseous state and moving in it is
the third or pure igneous condition of matter, which is also
called Tejah, light and heat energy. In the igneous stage pervasiveness becomes still less subtle, sensible motion no longer
the paramount characteristic, but energy, especially formative
energy, attains full development and creation and destruction,
formation and new-formation are at last in readiness. In addition to sound and contact matter has now evolved a third
property, form, which could not be developed in pure Air owing
to its insufficient density and the elusive vagueness and volatility
of gaseous manifestations. The third power of matter is at the
basis of all phenomena of light and heat and Prana by its aid so
develops that birth and growth now become possible; for light
and heat are the necessary condition of animate life-development
and in their absence we have the phenomenon of death or inert
and inanimate existence: when the energy of light and heat departs from a man, says the Upanishad, then it is that Prana,
the vital energy, retires into mind, his subtle or psychical part,
and withdraws from the physical frame. The physical substance
which seemed to the Rishis to typify the igneous state was fire;
for it is sensible by sound, contact and form and, less pervasive
than air, is distinguished by the utmost energy of light and heat.
Fire therefore is the conventional or symbolic name of the third
power of matter.

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Next upon the igneous state follows the liquid or fluid, less
pervasive, less freely motional or energetic, and distinguishingly
marked by a kind of compromise between fixity and volatility.
In this state matter evolves a fourth property, taste. The liquid
state is the substratum of all fluid forms and activities, and in
its comparative fixity life-development finds its first possibility
of a sufficiently stable medium. All life is gathered out of "the
waters" and depends on the fluid principle within it for its very
sustenance. Water as the most typical fluid, half-volatile, halffixed, perceptible by sound, contact, form and taste, has given a
symbolical name to the fourth condition of matter.
The solid state is the last to develop in this progression from
tenuity to density, for in this state pervasiveness reaches its lowest expression and fixity predominates. It is the substratum of all
solid forms and bodies and the last necessity for the development
of life; for it provides life with a fixed form or body in which
it can endure and work itself out and which it can develop into
organism. The last new property of matter evolved in the solid
state is odour; and since earth is the typical solid substance,
containing all the five properties sound, contact, form, taste and
smell, Earth is the conventional name selected for the fifth and
final power of matter.
These five elemental states are only to be found in their purity and with their characteristic qualities distinct and unblended
in the world of subtle matter. The five elemental states of gross
matter are impure; they are formed out of subtle matter by the
combination of the five subtle elements in certain fixed proportions, that one being given the characteristic name of ether, air,
fire, water or earth in which the subtle ethereal, gaseous, igneous,
fluid or solid element prevails overwhelmingly over the others.
Even the last and subtlest condition to which gross matter can be
reduced is not a final term; when realised into its constituents, the
last term of gross matter disintegrates and matter reaches a stage
at which many of the most urgent and inexorable laws of physics
no longer operate. It is at this point where chemical analysis and
reasoning can no longer follow Nature into her recesses that
the Hindu system of Yoga by getting behind the five Pranas or

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gross vital breaths through which Life manifests in gross physical
matter, is able to take up the pursuit and investigate the secrets
of psychic existence in a subtler and freer world.
VIII. Matariswan and the Waters.
We are now in a position to consider what may [be] the precise
meaning of the Upanishad when it says that in It Matariswan
ordereth the waters. Shankara takes apah in a somewhat unusual and peculiar sense and interprets, "Air orders or arranges
actions"; in other words, all the activity in the Cosmos is dependent upon the aerial or gaseous element in matter which
enters into and supports all objects and, as Prana, differentiates
and determines their proper functions. Prana, as we have seen,
is the great vital energy breathing and circulating through all
existence whose activity is the principal instrument of Will in the
evolution of the Universe and whose mediation is necessary for
all the operations of mind and body in gross matter. In psychic
life also Prana is inherent in mind and supports those activities
of subtle matter which are necessary for psychic existence. The
intimate connection between Prana and vital activity may be
best illustrated in its most obvious and fundamental function in
the living organism, the regulation of breathing. So important is
this function that Breath and Prana are generally identified; the
usual signification of the word Prana is, indeed, breath and the
five differentiated vital energies supporting the human frame are
called the five breaths. So important is it, that even the searching
analysis of modern science has not been able to get behind it,
and it is held as an incontrovertible fact that the maintenance of
respiration is necessary to the maintenance of life. In reality, this
is not so. Ordinarily, of course, the regular inhalation of oxygen
into the system and exhalation of corrupted breath out of it, is so
necessary to the body that an abrupt interruption of the process,
if continued for two minutes will result in death by suffocation.
But this is merely due to a persistent vital habit of the body. It
needs only a careful training in the regulation of the breath to
master this habit and make respiration subservient to the will.

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Anyone who has for a long time practised this art of breathregulation or Pranayam can suspend inhalation and exhalation
for many minutes and some not only for minutes but for hours
together without injury to the system or the suspension of bodily
life; for internal respiration and the continuance of the vital
activities within the body still maintain the functions necessary
to life. Even the internal respiration may be stopped and the
vital activities entirely suspended without subjecting the body
to the process of death and disintegration. The body may be
kept intact for days, months and years while all the functions of
breath and vitality are suspended, until the Will in its psychical
sheaths chooses to resume its interrupted communications with
the world of gross matter and recommence physical life at the
precise point at which it was discontinued. And this is possible because Prana, the vital energy, instead of being allowed to
circulate through the system under the necessary conditions of
organic physical activity, can be gathered up into the mind-organ
and from there in its simple undifferentiated form support and
hold together the physical case.
But if respiration is not necessary to the maintenance of
life, it certainly is necessary to the maintenance of activity.
The first condition of Pranayam is the suspension of conscious
physical activity and the perfect stillness of the body, which is
the primary object of the various asans or rigidly set positions
of the body assumed by the Yogin as a necessary preliminary
in the practice of his science. In the first stages of Yoga the
sub-conscious activity of the body due to the life of the cells,
continues; in the later stages when internal respiration and vital
activities are suspended, even this ceases, and the life of the
body becomes like that of the stone or any other inert object. It
is held together and exists by the presence of Prana in its primary
state, the only connection of Will with the physical frame being
the will to subsist physically. This is the first outstanding fact
of Yoga which proves that Prana is the basis of all physical
activity; the partial or complete quiescence of Prana brings with
it the partial or complete quiescence of physical activity, the
resumption of its functions by Prana is inevitably attended by

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the resumption of physical activity. The second outstanding fact
is the peculiar effect of Pranayam and Yoga on mental activity.
The first condition of Yogic exercises is, as has been said, the
stillness of the body, which implies the suspension of the five
indriyas or potencies of action, grasp, locomotion, utterance,
emission and physical ecstasy. It is a significant fact that the
habit of suspending these indriyas is attended by an extraordinary activity of the five indriyas of knowledge, sight, hearing,
smell, touch and taste, and an immense heightening of mental
power and energy. In its higher stages this increase of power
intensifies into clairvoyance, clairaudience, the power of reading other minds and knowing actions distant in space and time,
conscious telepathy and other psychical powers. The reason for
this development is to be found in the habit of gathering Prana
or vitality into the mind-organ. Ordinarily the psychical life
is overlaid and hampered by the physical life, the activity of
Prana in the physical body. As soon as this activity becomes
even partially quiescent, the gross physical obstruction of Anna
and Prana is rarefied and mind becomes more self-luminous,
shining out through the clouds that concealed it; vital energy
is not only placed mainly at the service of the mind as in the
concentration of the poet and the thinker, but is so much subtilised by the effect of Pranayam that the mind can operate far
more vigorously and rapidly than in ordinary conditions. For
mind operates freely and naturally in subtle matter only and the
subtler the matter, the freer the workings of the mind. At an
intenser stage of Yogic exercise all the vital functions are stilled
and Prana entirely withdrawn from bodily functions into mind
which can then retire into the subtle world and operate with perfect freedom and detachment from physical matter. Here again
we see that just as Prana, differentiated and working physically,
was the basis of all physical activity, so Prana, intermediate and
working psycho-physically, is at the basis of all mental activity,
and Prana, pure and working psychically is at the basis of all
psychical activity.
The third outstanding fact of Yoga is that while in its earlier processes it stimulates mental activity, in its later stages it

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overpasses mental activity. At first the mind drawn inward from
active reactions to external impacts, is able to perfect its passive
reactions or powers of reception and its internal reactions or
powers of retention and combination. Next it is drawn inward
from external phenomena altogether and becomes aware of the
internal processes and finally succeeds in concentrating entirely
within itself. This is followed by the entire quieting of the subtle
or psychical indriyas or sense-potencies followed by the entire
quiescence of the mind itself. The reception of psychical impacts
and the vibrations of subtle thought-matter are suspended; mind
concentrates on a single thought and finally thought itself is surmounted and the Supra-Intelligence is potent, free and active. It
is at this stage that Yoga develops powers which are so unlimited as to appear like omnipotence. The true Yogin, however,
does not linger in this stage which is still within the confines
of psychical existence, but withdraws the Will beyond SupraIntelligence entirely into itself. The moment the Will passes out
of subtle matter, activity ceases. Will has then three courses
open to it; either to realize itself as the eternal Sakshi or witness
and behold the vision of the Universe as a phenomenon within
itself which it sees but does not enact; or to disappear into the
Sunya Brahman, Supreme Nothingness, the great Void of unconscious mere-existence with which the Parabrahman is veiled;
or to return into the Self and, liberated from even the vision of
phenomena, exist in its own infinity of pure consciousness and
supreme bliss. If we follow Prana through this process of Yogic
liberation, we shall find that Prana ends where activity ceases.
For Prana is a material entity arising out of the aerial state of
subtle matter and as soon as that state is overpassed, Prana is
impossible. Throughout there is this close identification of Prana
with activity. It may well be said, therefore, that Matariswan is
that which arranges actions.
Matariswan is the philosophical expression for Vayu, the
aerial principle. It means that which moves in the mother or
matrix and the word implies the three main characteristics of the
aerial element. It is evolved directly out of ether, the common
matrix, which is therefore its own mother and ultimately the

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mother of all elements, forces, substances, objects; its predominant characteristic is motion, and this characteristic of motion
operates in the matrix, ether. Moving in ether, developing, combining, it creates the substances out of which sun and nebula and
planet are made; it evolves fire and water and atmosphere, earth,
stone and metal, plant, fish, bird and beast. Moving in ether,
acting and functioning through its energy Prana, it determines
the nature, motions, powers, activities of all those infinite forms
which it has created. By the combinations & operations of this
aerial element the sun is built up, fire is struck forth, clouds are
formed, a molten globe cools and solidifies into earth. By the
energy of the aerial element the sun gives light and heat, fire
burns, clouds give rain, earth revolves. Not only all animate,
but all inanimate existence owes its life and various activity to
Matariswan and its energy Prana.
But it owes not only its life and activity, but the very materials out of which it is made. Here lies the insufficiency of
Shankara's interpretation. The word apah naturally and usually
signifies "waters", and it is a law of interpretation not lightly to
be set aside that when the natural and usual meaning of a word
gives a satisfactory or even a possible and not unsuitable sense,
it should be preferred to an artificial and unusual meaning. In
this case "waters" may have two meanings one of which gives
a sense possible and not unsuitable, the other a sense even more
satisfactory than Shankara's interpretation. By waters may be
indicated the various fluid forms which are evolved by the fluid
element, and, involved in the solid, sustain organic life; for the
word apah is commonly used to indicate the fourth element of
matter. Prana, the vital energy, may be said so to dispose these
"waters" as to originate, sustain and develop all solidities and all
forms of organic life. But this would be a narrow interpretation
out of harmony with the vast sweep and significance of this verse
which sums up the Supreme Entity in its aspects as the stable
substratum of cosmic existence, the mighty sum of cosmic motion and energy and the infinite continent of cosmic energy. It is
better therefore to take apah in the sense of the original ocean of
cosmic matter, a figure which is so common as to have become a

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commonplace of Hindu thought. In It, in Brahman, Matariswan,
the aerial element took and disposed the infinite supply of causal
matter so as to provide the substance, evolve the forms and
coordinate the activities of this vast and complex Universe.
IX. Spirit and Matter
But Matariswan does not conduct these numberless cosmic operations vast and minute by virtue of its own intrinsic and
unborrowed power. Otherwise we might well ask, If there is
a material substance which provides all the wherewithal necessary for the evolution of this Universe and a material energy
by whose existence all the operations implied in its evolution
can be explained, then the whole Universe can be understood
as a development out of eternal Matter with its two properties
substance and energy, and no second term of existence other
than Matter need be brought in to account for the evolution
of Consciousness. But the Upanishad emphatically negatives the
material origination of things by stating that it is in Brahman, the
Supreme Entity, that Matariswan orders the waters. By this, as
Shankara points out, it is meant that only so long as the Supreme
Self is there, can the activity of Matariswan be conceived as
possible. As ether, the matrix, is the continent and condition of
Matariswan and his works, so is Brahman the continent and
condition of ether and its evolution. Matariswan is born out of
ether and works in ether, but ether is itself only an intermediate
evolution; in reality, Matariswan is born out of Brahman the
Self and works in Brahman the Self.
The materialistic theory of cosmic origins has a great superficial plausibility of its own and it is popular with scientists
because analytical Science knows thoroughly the evolutions of
matter and does not know thoroughly the evolutions of soul
and spirit; it is therefore inevitably led to explain what it knows
imperfectly or not at all by what it does know and understand.
The materialistic tendency is immensely assisted by the universal
interdependence of Spirit, Soul and Matter. Every spiritual and
psychical activity involves a material operation and this Science

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has clearly seen. It is natural therefore for the Scientist to argue
that the material operation is the cause of the spiritual and
psychical activity, nay, that the material operation is the activity
and spirit and soul do not exist, but are essentially matter. It is
equally true that every material operation involves a spiritual
and psychical activity, but this Science has not yet seen. When
therefore idealistic philosophies argue in precisely the opposite
sense and urge that the spiritual activity is the cause of the
material operation, nay that the activity is the material operation and matter does not exist but is essentially spirit, it is
natural for Science to brush aside the argument as metaphysical,
mystical and irrational. I argue from the firm basis of well-tested
certainties, thinks the Scientist, my opponent from mere ideas
the truth of which cannot be demonstrated by definite evidence
or actual experiment.
All Hindu philosophies, however, not only the Vedantic,
but Sankhya and Buddhism agree in rejecting the materialistic
reading of the Universe and oppose to the well-tested certainties
of Science certainties as well-tested of their own. Hindu thought
has its own analysis of the Universe arrived at by processes and
experiments in which its faith is as assured and unshakeable as
the confidence of the Scientist in his modern methods of analysis
and observation. To a certain extent Hindu philosophy goes
hand in hand with the materialistic. Prakriti or Nature, an original energy manifesting in substance is the origin, the material
and the agent of evolution. This original energy is not Prana, the
vital energy, for Prana is not original but a later evolution, arising
out of the aerial condition of matter and subsequent in time to
the ethereal; there must therefore have been a previous energy
which evolved ether out of causal matter. To this original Matter
Sankhya gives the name of Prakriti, while Vedanta & Buddhism,
admitting the term Prakriti, prefer to call it Maya. But Prakriti
is not in itself sufficient to explain the origin of the universe;
another force is required which will account for the activity of
Prakriti in Pradhana or original substance. This force is Purusha
or Spirit. It is the presence of Purusha and Prakriti together,
says Sankhya, that can alone account for cosmic evolution.

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Vedanta agrees and emphasizes what Sankhya briefly assumes,
- that Purusha & Prakriti are themselves merely aspects, obverse and reverse sides, of a single Supreme entity or Self of
Things. Buddhism, still more trenchant, does away with the
reality of Purusha and Prakriti altogether and regards Cosmic
Evolution as a cosmic illusion.
The necessity for positing another force than Prakriti arises
from the very nature of Prakriti and its operations. The fundamental characteristic of Prakriti as soon as it manifests is eternal motion, - motion without beginning, without end, without
limit, without cessation or respite. Its cosmic stir is like an
eternally troubled ocean, a ceaseless rush, foam and clamour
of perpetual restlessness, infinite activity. And the rapidity, the
variability, the unimaginably complex coincidence and simultaneousness of different rates and forms of motion in the same material, in the same limits of space and time, are such as to baffle
realization. We can only realize it in sections by picking the web
of Nature to pieces and regarding as separable and self-sufficient
what are really simultaneous and coincident motions. The first
result of this infinite complexity of motion is an infinite mutability. Wherever we turn our eyes, there is something evolving and
developing, something decaying and disintegrating. Nothing at
this moment is precisely what it was the moment before; every
ripple in the sea of Time means a disturbance however small in
the coincident sea of Space, a change however infinitesimal in
the condition of the largest or most apparently stable parts of
Nature as well as of the minutest or most volatile. Causality,
infinite and without beginning or end, cannot cease from its
perpetuity of persistent action, its infinite progression of effects
which are the causes of other effects, causes which are the effects
of other causes; it is an endless chain, moving through Space &
Time, working in Substance, forged by an eternal and indefinable
Energy. And this eternal motion and mutability means inevitably
an infinite multiplicity. Every inch of Space is thronged with an
infinite variety of animate and inanimate existences, countless in
number, multitudinous in kind, myriadly various in motion and
action. An infinite multiplicity of motions make up the world

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creating endless variety of substance, form, function; an infinite
multiplicity of change is the condition of its activity. Remove this
eternal motion, eternal mutability, eternal multiplicity from the
idea of Prakriti and we arrive at something we cannot recognize,
an inactive energy, an immaterial substance. Without motion,
Time, Space, Causality, as things in themselves, cease to be. We
are face to face with blank void and nothingness - or else, since
this is unimaginable and impossible, we must suppose something which cannot cease to be, an absolute Infinity undivided
by Space or Time, an absolute Immutability unconditioned by
cause and effect, an absolute Stillness unaffected by the illusive
mobilities of Energy, an absolute Spirit ultimately real behind
the phenomenon of substance.
If we do not accept this transcendental reality, we must
suppose that an eternal Prakriti with eternal motion, mutability,
multiplicity as its characteristics is the Alpha & Omega of existence. But a consideration of the Universe does not justify our
resting secure in that hypothesis. In this eternal motion there is
something perpetually stable, in this eternal mutability a sum
and reality which is immutable; in this eternal multiplicity an
initial, persistent and final Unity. Eternal motion in itself would
lead to nothing but eternal chaos and confusion. We know that
the Cosmos is made up of an infinite number of motions simultaneously occupying the same Space and simultaneously existent
in the same substance; but the result is not clash or confusion,
but harmony. In other words, the condition of this unending motion is an eternal stability. Everywhere we see variety of motion
resulting in a harmonious balance, in the orbits of the revolving
planets round the moving sun woven into one solar system we
have a striking instance out of myriads of this law which governs
every object and every organism. There is therefore not only the
mobile Prakriti, but something else which is eternally stable.
Eternal mutability, likewise, can lead to nothing but eternal
unrest and disorder. What is it that imposes an unchanging law
of persistence and orderly development on this mass of infinitely
shifting, unquiet and impermanent parts and combines into one
harmony this confused strife of changing and interchanging

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phenomena? In its details the universe is restlessly mutable,
momentarily changing, in its broad masses it is more fixed and
permanent, in its sum it is immutable. The class is less mutable
and impermanent than the man, the community than the class,
the race than the community, mankind than the race; and so
it is with all existences. The parts change, the whole persists.
And it is well known that while matter goes through infinite
changes of form, its sum never changes; unincreasing it develops,
undiminishing it disintegrates. But not only is the sum of things
immutable, the laws of their development are immutable; phenomena vary but the law governing them remains the same, and
for this reason that the nature of things is immutable. Whatever
the variety of forms, the thing in itself preserves its characteristics and remains unchanged. Electricity works in various shapes
and in many activities, but it is always electricity preserving
its true characteristics whatever work it may do or whatever
body it may wear and always working and changing under the
fixed laws of its being which cannot change. Electricity again is
only one form and function of the igneous element which takes
many forms, but in all of them preserves its true characteristics
and its own law of work. We see therefore that the parts are
impermanent, the whole permanent; forms of things change, the
reality is immutable. The condition of this unending mutability
and impermanence is an eternal immutability and permanence.
There is therefore not only this mutable Prakriti, but something
else which is eternally immutable.
The apparent multiplicity of the Universe is equally deceptive. For the very condition of this infinite multiplicity, is a
persistent Unity which precedes it and towards which it moves.
There are many substances, but they are all evolutions from
one substance; one seed disposes itself in many forms. There
are many laws governing the workings of that substance in its
evolution but they resolve themselves into one law to which all
existence is subject. As substances and forms develop, there seem
to be many things with many natures, but they go back into one
thing with one nature. There are many forms of electricity, but
all resolve themselves into the one substance electricity; there

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are many forms of the igneous element, of which electricity is
one, but they all resolve themselves into one igneous element;
there are many elements besides the igneous, but they all resolve
themselves into one causal and universal substance. This is the
bottom fact of the universe; all complexities and varieties resolve themselves into a precedent simplicity, and all simplicities
into an original Unity. There is therefore not only this evermultiplying Prakriti, but something else which is eternally One.
In this mobile, mutable, multitudinous Prakriti, there is then a
persistent element which is stable, immutable and one. We have
arrived again at that One infinitely Immutable, Immobile Sum
and Reality of Things which is Parabrahman.
Materialistic Analysis insists however that the eternal unity,
immutability and immobility supporting and making possible
the eternal multiplicity, mutability and motion are themselves
characteristics of Eternal Matter. They are the two opposing
lines of force whose action and reaction preserve the equibalance of cosmic existence, but the eternal reality in which they
act is not spiritual but material. For material energy working in
material substance is quite enough to explain all the evolutions
of Nature and these in themselves make Eternal Matter. Hindu
thought, however, has always been unable to accept this conclusion because its analysis of cosmic existence has convinced it that
substance and energy are not things in themselves, but merely
phenomena. Substance increases with density until it reaches its
highest expression in solid physical matter; but as it is analysed
and resolved nearer and nearer to its origin, its density becomes
less and less, its tenuity increases, it becomes more and more
unsubstantial, until, on the farther brink of causal matter, it
disappears into something which is not substance. Moreover,
when examined it appears that substance is really another term
for energy; the conditions of density and tenuity which constitute
material substance, correspond with the conditions of motional
intensity and vagueness which constitute material energy. As,
therefore, matter is resolved nearer and nearer to its origins,
energy like substance becomes less and less intense, its vagueness increases until it comes to a standstill or rather dissipates in

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something which is not energy. The conclusion is irresistible that
substance and energy are merely a single phenomenon with a
double aspect, and that in the origin of things this phenomenon,
to which we may give the name of Matter, does not exist. The
question remains, into what do substance and energy disappear?
out of what were they born? We are confronted again with the
necessity of choosing between the unimaginable impossibility of
blank void and nothingness, for which we have no warrant in
reason or experience, or the One, Immutable, Immobile, Infinite
and Eternal Reality which is Parabrahman. This Supreme Entity
is not matter, we have seen. But it may be argued that it cannot
be certainly called Spirit, since it is so absolute an entity as to be
indefinable except by negatives. Vedanta concedes this caution,
asserting only that Parabrahman is not a negative entity, but an
eternal and positive Reality, defined by negatives simply because
it is not expressible to the finite intellect, and containing in itself
the unity of Spirit and Matter, which is neither material nor
spiritual.
One argument remains open to material Analysis. Granted
Parabrahman as the reality of things, yet phenomenal existence
itself is purely material and there is no need to call in the assistance of any other and different entity. For material energy
in material substance is sufficient to explain all phenomena.
Hindu thought holds however that it is not sufficient to explain
the ultimate phenomena of Consciousness. At the beginning of
material evolution matter is in itself inanimate, consciousness,
to all appearance, non-existent. How and whence, then, did
it appear? By the interaction of the three gunas inherent in
Prakriti, reception, reaction, retention. But the interaction of the
three gunas did not create Consciousness, they only liberated it
from the dense obscuration of gross matter. For if consciousness
were not involved in Matter, it could never be evolved from
it. For if it be evolved from matter as an entirely new birth,
it must be either some already existent material substance in a
new form - say, some kind of gas or electricity, or it must be a
new substance formed by the union of two or more substances,
just as water is formed out of hydrogen and oxygen. No such

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gas or electricity has been discovered, no such new substance
exists. Indeed the evolution of a mighty, reasoning, aspiring,
conquering, irrepressible Consciousness, capable of something
like omnipotence and omniscience, out of mere material gases
and chemical substance is a paradox so hardy, so colossally
and impossibly audacious that mankind has rightly refused to
accept it even when advanced with the prestige of Science and
her triumphant analysis and the almost irresistible authority of
her ablest exponents to support the absurdity. Christian theology
was inconsistent enough when it degraded man to the dust as
a worm and clod, yet declared him capable of divinity by the
easy process of belief in an irrational dogma; but the materialistic paradox, which lodges no hidden angel in the flesh, is
even more startling, more naked, more inexorably irrational.
Man, says materialistic Science, is an utterly insignificant unit
in the universe; the infinitesimal creature of a day, he lives his
short span of life and is then decomposed into the gases out of
which he was made. He derives his mind, body and moral nature
from his brother the chimpanzee and his father the gorilla. In
his organism he is merely a mass of animalculae which belong
individually to the lowest stage of animal life; but by combining
into a republic with the cells of the brain as a sort of despotic
senate or council, these undeveloped forms of life have been able
to master the world. What has not this republic of animalculae,
this Rome of protoplasms, been able to effect? It has analysed
the elements; it has weighed the suns and measured the orbits of
the stars; it has written the dramas of Shakespeare, the epics of
Valmekie and Homer and Vyasa, the philosophies of Kant and
Shankara; it has harnessed the forces of Nature to do its bidding;
it has understood existence and grasped the conception of infinity. There is something fascinatingly romantic and interesting in
the conception and it is not surprising that the human intellect
should have been captured for a while by its cheerful audacity.
But how long can unreason prevail? Even if we regard man as
a limited being and take what the race has done for the utmost
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is too great to be overlooked. It was inevitable that the religions
formerly crushed down and almost smothered by the discoveries
of Science, - even those creeds most philosophically insufficient
and crude, - should be raising their heads and showing an unexpected vitality. Science prevailed for a time over religion by
exposing the irrationalities and prejudices which had overgrown
and incrusted spiritual truth. But when it sought to replace them
by a more astounding irrationality than any religion had been
guilty of and began to contract its own hard crust of dogmas and
prejudices, it exposed itself to an inevitable reaction. Mankind
for a time believed because it was incredible at the bidding of
theologians who ruled reason out of court; the experiment is not
likely to be repeated for long on the authority of scientists who
profess to make reason their judge.
If it be still contended that, however paradoxical, consciousness is the result of impressions and vibrations in the brain, or
that consciousness is merely a material energy manifested at a
particular intensity of ethereal vibration, like light or sound, the
answer is that consciousness operates more powerfully when
the brain is quiescent and unimpressed from without and survives cellular decomposition, and that when energy is quiescent
and ether dissolved into its origin, consciousness abides. To the
Hindu mind this is an insuperable obstacle to the acceptance of
the material origin of consciousness. From its long acquaintance
with Yoga and the results of Yoga, it has learned that conscious
Will in the human body can not only override the laws of gross
physical matter and come appreciably nearer, within its sphere,
to omnipotence and omniscience, but that this conscious Will
can impose absolute quietude on and detach itself from the animalcule republic which is erroneously supposed to originate and
contain it and that it does, as a habitual law of Nature, survive
the disintegration of the body. These two facts are fatal to the
materialistic theory and, so long as the practice of Yoga subsists
in India, the Hindu mind will never accept materialism. For
they show that, although undeniably consciousness is evolved
out of gross matter, it can only be because it was involved into
gross matter by a previous downward evolution; it is not being

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created, it is being merely liberated from its prison. Neither can
consciousness be taken as a function of subtle matter; for just
as it can exist apart from and survives the disintegration of
its gross body, so also it can exist apart from and survives the
disintegration of its subtle body. Before subtle matter evolves,
consciousness preexists in causal matter; and after subtle matter dissolves, consciousness survives in causal matter. And since
matter at the stage of causality neither functions, nor evolves,
consciousness is not a function or evolution of causal matter,
but other and different from it. It is clear therefore that from the
first appearance of matter, consciousness operates coevally with
it, but is not dependent on it for its origin.
X.
Original consciousness, as distinct from Matter, is termed Spirit.
Spirit must never be confused with the apparent manifestations
of it, which are merely the action and reaction of Matter and
Spirit on each other. The characteristics of true Spirit can be
determined by distinguishing what is essential, characteristic and
permanent in consciousness throughout all its stages from what
is merely condition, form or function of consciousness affected
by the medium in which it is working. There are three such
characteristics which appear rudimentarily the moment consciousness itself appears and seem more and more pronounced as
liberated Spirit develops to its highest self-expression. The first
of the trio is the impulse of existence, the will to preserve self, to
survive and be, not merely temporarily but unendingly. Showing
itself at first physically in the instinct of self-preservation and
the instinct of self-reproduction, it develops psychically in the
desire to outlast death and become "immortal" by whatever
way, by a book, a song, a picture, a statue, a discovery, an
invention, an immortal act or remembered career no less than by
psychical persistence of personality after the death of the body,
and it culminates spiritually in the Will to surmount both death
and life and persist eternally and transcendentally. The second
characteristic of consciousness is the capacity of knowledge or

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awareness, the Will to know. Showing itself at first physically in
sensation and response to external objects, it develops psychically in personality with memory, its basis, and understanding,
reason and intuition, its superstructure, and culminates spiritually in self-knowledge and the awareness of one's own eternal
and unabridged reality. The third characteristic of consciousness
is the emotion of pleasure in existence, primarily in one's own,
sympathetically in all existence, the Will to enjoy. This is the
most powerful and fundamental of emotions, - so powerful
as to persistently outlast all the pain and struggle which the
hampered existence of Spirit in Matter brings to the personality.
Showing itself physically at first in mere sense-pleasure and the
clinging to life, it develops psychically in the emotions of love
and joy, and culminates spiritually in the delight of our psychical personality in contact with or entering into the impersonal
existence of our real and infinite Self. These three characteristics
constitute the conception of Spirit, which by throwing its willto-be, its power of awareness and its delight in existence into the
medium of Matter sets evolution going. This is what Sankhya
philosophy means when it says that Purusha imparts activity
to Prakriti by its mere presence or propinquity without thereby
becoming itself active. Spirit remains what it essentially is, pure
existence, consciousness and delight; it is Prakriti that vibrating
to the touch of this conscious delight in existence, begins to act,
to move, change and evolve. The limitations of consciousness,
the phenomena of consciousness are merely phenomenal results
of the vibrations of Prakriti in Consciousness and not changes
in Spirit itself. Purusha is the eternally immutable, immobile and
singly real condition of Universal Evolution; Prakriti in action
is its eternal motion, mutability, multiplicity.
Sankhya does not go beyond this conclusion which it finds
sufficient for its purposes; it considers Purusha and Prakriti to be
both ultimate eternal entities in the Supreme Reality and their
propinquity a satisfactory explanation of the Universe. Vedic
philosophy, going deeper, was driven both by philosophical reasoning and the ultimate experience of Yoga to the conception
of the one Supreme Entity transcending the distinction between

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Spirit and Matter, Purusha and Prakriti, which are merely its
noumenal self-expressions. Nor could Vedanta be satisfied with
mere propinquity as a sufficient explanation of the manner in
which immutability, stability and unity continually interpenetrate, surround and govern the infinite motion, mutability and
multiplicity of Matter, still less of the manner in which Purusha
identifies itself with the merely phenomenal changes of consciousness. But if Spirit informs, conditions and governs Matter,
just as energy informs, conditions and governs substance, it
would be possible for it to impress its own nature on the motions
of Prakriti at every point of its evolutions without itself moving
and acting. And if Spirit and Matter are not entirely different
and separate entities but various expressions of a single supreme
Ens, Matter a noumenon of apparent self phenomenally evolving
as substance and energy, Spirit, a sense of Its real self supporting and therefore pervading and conditioning phenomena, it is
then not only possible but inevitable that Spirit should be so
constantly and closely aware of the perpetual activity of Matter
as to attribute that activity to itself. In this interpretation of the
Universe Vedanta consummated its analysis.
Time, Space, Condition reposing in the sense of actual Infinity and Immutability, - this is Prakriti, Origin-of-Matter working in Spirit; and all philosophic analysis of existence must
inevitably culminate in this noumenon; for without it the Universe as it is, cannot be conceived; it is the very condition of
thought and knowledge; it is the ultimate fact of cosmic existence. The triune noumenon of Time, Space, Condition or, in one
word, Prakriti, immediately generates the noumenon of motion
characterized by change and relation of parts and we have at
once motion, mutability, multiplicity operating in the Infinite
and Immutable. The triune noumenon of motion, mutability,
multiplicity or, in one word, Energy generates the noumenon
of substance moving, changing, relatively shifting in the Infinity
and Immutability of Spirit. The noumenon of energy-substance
constitutes Pradhana, original matter, and nothing farther is
needed for the evolution of the cosmos. Prakriti with its evolution Pradhana is the material cause of the Universe; the presence

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of Spirit containing, supporting and pervading Prakriti and its
evolutions is the efficient cause of the Universe.
Noumenon leads naturally to phenomenon. Consciousness
and Existence in the Eternal Self being one, every noumenon of
Consciousness must translate itself into an Existence of which
the Consciousness is aware. The conception of Time, Space,
Condition creates the appearance of Time, Space, Condition by
that fundamental power of Consciousness which shows itself
physically as formation, psychically as imagination and spiritually as Avidya, the power of conceiving what is Not-Self. The
conception of motion creates the appearance of energy at work.
The conception of motion-intensity as substance creates the appearance of matter worked upon. All Matter is phenomenal; all
evolution the result of Avidya. Spirit is not phenomenal, but owing to its continual immanency in matter, attributes phenomenal
existence to itself, so creating the phenomenon of soul or spirit
working in matter. Thus Cosmos originates.
It will be seen that in this explanation of the Universe Spirit
is taken as nearer to the Supreme Reality of things than Matter;
it is not absolutely the real Self of things, but it is the noumenon
or sense of the real Self persisting throughout all the obscurations of Avidya. This view is triply necessitated by the truths of
elemental, psychical & spiritual evolution. When we consider
the relations of Spirit to elemental matter, we see that as the
obscuration of Matter thickens, Spirit becomes more and more
concealed until, in gross inanimate matter, it is utterly covered
in; but as the obscuration of Matter lessens, Spirit is more and
more liberated until in the origin of things Matter seems a mere
appearance in the reality of Spirit. It is therefore through Spirit
and not through Matter that we are likely to get nearest to the
Supreme Reality. So too, when we study our psychical evolution
and follow Consciousness in its progressive liberation until it
becomes Will in causal matter, we find it characterized in this last
stage by the Will to be, the Will to know, the Will to enjoy; and
when we get behind will and matter to our pure unconditioned
Self, we still envisage Consciousness as pure existence, awareness
and bliss. But our pure unconditioned Self is, we have seen, the

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Reality of Things unaffected by Prakriti or its phenomena. We
may therefore safely conclude that so far as the Supreme Reality
can be positively envisaged by us in its purity, it is envisaged
as existence, awareness, bliss, - in terms of Spirit and not of
Matter. Lastly, when we analyse the evolution of Purusha in its
three States, we find that it consists in the reflection of Prakriti as
if by the Spirit. Spirit follows Prakriti through her three stages of
material evolution, informing and sustaining them and mirrors
their changes in itself as the changes of the sky may be mirrored
in a clear and motionless pool; but the changes of the sky are
not changes in the water. Purusha is immutable, immobile and
One, just as the Supreme Reality is immutable, immobile and
One. Purusha or Spirit is therefore the noumenon of the true
Self, Prakriti the noumenon of not-Self or apparent Self. It is in
this true Self of Parabrahman that the evolutions of apparent
Self take place. In It Matariswan ordereth the waters.
XI.
Long and difficult to follow as has been this account of the
Nature of Things according to Vedic philosophy, it was necessary so that we might understand minutely and comprehensively
the meaning of these two verses, which in the second chapter
of this book we could only adumbrate. The verses describe
Parabrahman in Its truth with respect to the Cosmos, not in
the absolute reality which is Its truth in Itself, but at the same
time they indicate that it is the absolute and real Self of things
which manifests in the Cosmos and not any Other, for there
is no Other. It is anejad Ekam, the One who moveth not. The
root ejri, as Shankara points out, means to shake or vibrate,
and the reference is obviously to those vibrations of Prakriti on
the tranquil surface of Self which are the beginning and cause of
matter and its evolutions. But the Self does not vibrate and is not
affected by the vibrations of Prakriti, even when It is supporting
the cosmos and seems to be moving in it. Throughout it remains
the One and is not broken up into multiplicity; even when by its
immanence in many forms it seems to be many. These opening

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words of the first verse identify the One Immutable Immobile
Infinity called Self or Spirit in the Cosmos with the Supreme
Entity, Parabrahman.
This Supreme Entity which, as Self or Spirit, is immobile
and one, is yet, without moving, swifter than thought. Swiftness
implies motion; but the motion of Spirit in Cosmos is the illusory
motion we see in the landscape as it whirls swiftly past the quiet
watcher in the railway-carriage. The individual Self in Man is
the watcher in the train, the train is Prakriti, the landscape the
Universal Self in the Cosmos. The watcher is not moving, the
landscape is not moving; it is the train which is moving and
carries the sitter with it. In this second phrase of the verse the
Parabrahman is identified with the Supreme Will in the Cosmos which without lifting a finger or stirring a foot creates and
encompasses the Universe. This Supreme Will is simply Self or
Spirit envisaging itself as the immanent Cause and Director of
cosmical evolution in matter. The Will does not move but causes
and conditions the infinitely complex cosmic motions; the Will
does not act, but causes and determines actions; the Will does not
divide or multiply itself, but plays with the multiplicity of cosmic
forms and energies and impresses or mirrors itself in each. Being
essentially the Self, it is, like the Self, One and Immobile, but as
seen in the moving Cosmos, pervading, informing and governing
it, It is, even in its motionlessness, swifter than thought.
The Gods could not reach It going in front. In the terminology of the Upanishads the Gods are the Potencies of the
Universe which govern the Mind and the Senses in the microcosm Man and the Elements and their manifestations in the
macrocosm Universe. Brahman, the One, precedes all these multiple potencies. It existed before they came into being and is
therefore beyond their grasp. The rapid and stupendous effects
of Will, omnipotent and omniscient, are such that the Mind,
Sight, Hearing, all the senses together cannot comprehend their
origination; limited and finite, they cannot grasp that which
transcends limit. To the finite intelligence reasoning within prescribed limits it appears that there is no Will in action; all that
happens and becomes is the inevitable working of material cause

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and effect, or of the Elements combining and working on each
other. But Will is the cause of Causation and the disposer of
Effect; Will preceded and dictated the workings of the Elements
and arranged their combinations beforehand. This is He that
from years sempiternal hath ordered perfectly all things. But the
mind and senses cannot come near to and apprehend the nature
of the Will or realize the how of its workings, because the mind
and the senses can only understand what is done through their
instrumentality or within the elemental medium to which they
are limited and confined. They can analyse the physical forces of
Nature and formulate the laws under which they work; they can
dissect thought and sentiment and classify the mental functions
and the laws of reasoning. But Brahman, the Will, they cannot
reach and analyse; for He does not work through them, nor
does He act in phenomena. He has arranged the motions of
Prakriti beforehand, from years sempiternal; He has mapped
out the law of those motions before ever they began to stir; and
He now abides concealed in them, not acting but simply by His
presence necessitating that the Law shall be observed and His
dispositions followed. Will creates effects, outside Time, Space
and Condition in a way the Mind cannot comprehend, by Iccha
or Wish, in other words, by Itself. Will by Will necessitates phenomena in Itself, atmanyatmana. But when Prakriti translates
Will into phenomena in the terms of Time, Space, Causality,
she does it under limitations and by limited instruments. The
preordainment was immediate, unhindered and perfect, but the
carrying out seems to be slow, imperfect and the result of ceaseless effort and struggle, a web of failures, incomplete realizations
and transient successes, a maze of forces acting and reacting on
each other, helping, hindering and repulsing and always with a
partial and mechanical or only half-intelligent action. Somehow
a result is worked out, progress is made, but nowhere is there any
finality or completeness, nowhere the repose of consummation.
This incompleteness is an illusion created by the nature of finite
Consciousness. The Mind and the Senses, through whom we
become aware of the workings of the Universe, are themselves
limited and imperfect; functioning only under limits and with

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effort they cannot envisage the work accomplished except in
parts and with a restricted, disturbed and broken vision. To see
life steadily and see it whole is only permitted to a Perfect and
Infinite Consciousness standing outside Time, Space and Conditions. To such a divine Vision the working out of preordainment
may present itself as a perfect, immediate and unhindered consummation. God said, "Let there be Light" and, straightway,
there was Light; and when the Light came into being, God saw
that it was good. But to the imperfect finite consciousness, Light
seems in its inception to have come into being by a slow material
evolution completed by a fortuitous shock of forces; in its operation to be lavished with a prodigal wastefulness since only a
small part is used for the purposes of life; in its presentation to be
conveyed to a blinking and limited vision, hampered by obstacles
and chequered with darkness. Limitation, imperfection, progression and retrogression are inseparable from phenomenal work,
phenomenal intelligence, phenomenal pleasure and satisfaction.
To Brahman the Will who measures all Time in a moment, covers
all Space with one stride, embraces the whole chain of causation
in one glance, there is no limitation, imperfection, progression
or retrogression. He looks upon his work as a whole and sees
that it is good. But the Gods cannot reach to His completeness,
even though they toil after it; for ever He outruns their pursuit,
moving far in front.
Brahman, standing still, overtakes and passes the others as
they run. While the Mind and Senses pressing onward through
Time, look before and after and see sections of the past and dim
apparitions of the future from the standpoint of their moment
in the present, the Will from its position beyond the beginning
of the past speeds beyond them into the future and to the end
of things. It has in that moment apprehended, decided and accomplished in Itself all that is to be and leaves the mind and
senses to toil after It and work out the preordained ideas and
forms left impressed on the mould of that future which to It
already exists. It does this standing still, because to the Will
Past, Present and Future are but one moment and It lives in all
of them simultaneously; they do not contain Brahman but are

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contained in Him. The Mind and senses hasten through Space,
measuring the distance between star and star; but the Will passes
them, traverses Space from one end to the other, knows it as
a Whole and creates in Itself all its forms present, past and
future; it leaves the Mind and senses to gather slowly, toilfully
and by parts the single comprehensive knowledge It acquired
without any process and to experience under the law of Time
the immediately complete Universe It has perfected without any
labour. It does this also standing still, for to Brahman here and
there do not exist; all is here, since He is not in Space, but Space
is in Him. While the Mind and senses run in the winding &
twisted line of causation, the Will from the beginning of the
chain passes them and has in a moment formed and surveyed
it to its very end; It leaves them to count out the chain link by
link by the imperfect aid of reason, piecing what is past to what
is to come, and to trace out by the slow and endless process of
work generating work and life generating life the complete and
single Evolution which is already a predestined and therefore an
accomplished fact. This too It does standing still; for to Brahman
there is no succession of cause and effect, since cause and effect
exist simultaneously in the Will; cause does not precede Him
nor effect follow, but are both embraced in the single and mere
existence of Himself as Will.
In It Matariswan ordereth the waters. We have here Brahman in a third relation to Cosmos. Brahman is the stable and
immutable Unity which is immanent in the Cosmos as its real
self of existence, awareness and bliss and which supports all
phenomenal objects and forces as their omnipresent substratum
of reality. Secondly, Brahman, this immobile Unity, is also, as
Will, that which stands still and is yet swifter than mind and the
potencies of mind; for Will, the Ordainer, Disposer and Cause,
traverses all Time, Space and Causation, without motion, by the
mere fact of being. Lastly, Brahman, this Self and Omnipresent
Lord of things, is also that which contains all evolution and
determines every object and force evolved by Prana out of original matter. Brahman is Vaisvanor, the Waking Self, in whom
is contained and by whom exists all this evolution of physical

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world; Brahman is Taijasa, the Dream Self, in whom is contained
and by whom exists all the psychical evolution from which the
physical draws its material; Brahman is Prajna, the Sleep Self, in
whom all evolution psychical & physical is for ever self-existent
and preordained; Brahman is the Turiya Atman in whom and
by whom Prajna-Taijasa-Vaisvanor are. He pervades the Cosmos and contains the Cosmos, as ether pervades the earth and
contains the earth, and not only the Cosmos as a whole but
every particular object and force in the Cosmos. This tree is
pervaded and surrounded by the Divine Presence, - not, be it
clearly understood, by a part of It but by Brahman one and
indivisible. The presence of God is as complete in one small
flower as in the whole measureless Universe. So also the Spirit in
man is not a fragment of Deity, but the Eternal Himself in His
imminuable majesty. The Self in me is not merely a brother to the
Self in you or of one kind with it but is completely and utterly
yourself; for there is no you or I, but One Eternal Immutable
in many names and forms, One Reality in many transient and
perishable frames.
XII.
It moves, It moveth not; It is far, the same It is near; It is within
all this, the same It is outside all.
This second verse only brings out more emphatically what
is implied in the first or presents the same truth from a slightly
different standpoint. Brahman moves or vibrates, and Brahman
does not move or vibrate. As the One Immutable and Immobile,
He does not move, but He moves as mobile and multiple Prakriti.
When it is said that Brahman is One and Unmoving, it is not
meant that the mobile and multiple element in the Universe
is other than Brahman; the Gods who cannot reach Brahman,
whom He precedes and outstrips, are yet appearances of Himself; Matariswan and the Waters, whom He contains, are also
of His substance. Purusha alone is not Brahman, Prakriti also
is Brahman; for He is not only the efficient cause of His Cosmos, but its material Cause as well. It is true that the motion

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and multiplicity of Prakriti are phenomenal and superficial, the
stability and immutability of Purusha fundamental and real;
but the phenomenal has a truth and existence of its own and
is not utterly unreal. To take the suggestive human parallel,
Shakespeare in himself is one and immutable, in his creations
he is mutable and many; the personages of his dramas and their
words and actions are not Shakespeare in the ultimate truth of
himself, yet they are not other than Shakespeare; for they live
in him, by him and are of his substance. It is easy to say they
are unreal, but they have a reality of their own; they are true
psychical images and live as phenomena in the consciousness of
Shakespeare though not as separate and independent entities.
So also the multiple Cosmos has a true phenomenal existence
and reality in the Brahman, though no separate existence as
independent entities. The tree and the river are not real as tree
and river, but they are real as images, eidolons of the Brahman.
In Himself He is calm, quiescent and unmoved, in them He
moves and energises.
It is far and It is at the same time near. Physically near
and far; the Sun and the distant constellations and Orion and
Aldebaran and Lyra and whatever utmost star glitters on the
outermost mesh of this network of suns and systems, all that
is Brahman; and equally this earth which is our dwelling-place,
and this country which is our mother and nurse, and this village
or city in which we live and do business, and this house which
shelters us, and these trees and tanks which were part of our
childhood, and the faces we familiarly know and the voices we
daily hear, all in which we habitually live and move, all this
is Brahman. Emotionally & mentally near and far; for our love
and our hatred, and what we love and hate, things forgotten and
things remembered, things we cherish until death and things
we put from us with loathing, friend and enemy, injurer and
injured, our work and the daily web of our fears and hopes and
longings, this is Brahman; and that which is so far from us that
it cannot stir a single emotion or create a ripple of sensation in
the mind, whether because it is remote in the distance of Time
or hidden in the distance of Space or lost to the blindness of

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indifference, that too is Brahman. Intellectually near and far;
for the unknown and the little known, that which is too vast
or too small for us to perceive, or which our most powerful
instruments cannot bring near to us or our keenest reasonings
analyse or our widest comprehension embrace, that is Brahman;
all we daily perceive and note, the myriad forms that Science
analyses, the delight of the eye and ear and taste and smell and
touch, this is Brahman; and the subjective world in ourselves
which is nearest to us of all, thought and memory and sensation and feeling, volitions and aspirations and desires, these
too are Brahman. Spiritually near and far; for the Omniscient
and Omnipotent Cause and Ruler who creates universes with
the indrawing of its breath and destroys universes with its outthrowing, beside whom we feel ourselves to be too vile and
weak and feeble to partake even infinitesimally of His divine
nature, that is Brahman; the ineffable and unimaginable Spirit
whom our senses cannot perceive, nor our minds comprehend,
nor our reason touch, that is Brahman; and our own Self who
eternally enthroned in the cavern-heart of our being, smiles at
our pleasures and pains, mighty in our strength, as mighty in
our weakness, pure in our virtues, unstained by our sins, no less
omniscient and omnipotent than Isha, no less calm, immutable
and ineffable than the Supreme Being, - this our Self too is
Brahman. The Karmayogin who has realised it, must hold all
existence divine, all life a sacrament, all thought and action a
self-dedication to the Eternal.
It is within all this, It too is without all. Brahman is within
the whole Universe; every object however inanimate, every form
of life however vile, is brim-full with the presence of God. The
heathen who worships stocks and stones has come nearer to
the truth of things, than the enlightened professor of "rational"
religion, who declares God to be omnipresent and yet in the
next breath pronounces the objects in which He is present to be
void of anything that can command religious reverence. There
is no error in "idolatry"; the error is in the mind of the idolater
who worships the stone as stone and the stock as stock, thinking
that is God, and forgets or does not realise that it is the Divine

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Presence in them which is alone worship-worthy. The stock or
the stone is not God, for it is only an eidolon, a symbol of His
presence; but the worship of it as a symbol is not superstitious
or degrading; it is true and ennobling. Every ceremony which
reminds us of the presence of the Eternal in the transient, is,
if performed with a religious mind, a spiritual help and assists
in the purification of consciousness from the obscuration of
the senses. To the ordinary intelligence, however, the idea of
Brahman's omnipresence, if pushed home, becomes a stumblingblock. How can that which is inert, senseless and helpless be full
of that which is divine and almighty? Is it not a sacrilege to
see Him in what is vile and repulsive? Is it not a blasphemy to
envisage Him in the vicious and the criminal? Hence the popular
Manicheanism which pervades every religion; hence the persistent idea of a twofold creative power, God and devil, Ormuzd
and Ahriman, Allah and Iblis, the one responsible for all that
is good, the other for all that is evil. This kind of spiritual and
intellectual weakness loves to see God in everything good and
pleasant and beautiful, but ignores Him in what is evil, ugly or
displeasing. But it is an imperfect religion which thus yields to the
domination of the mind and senses and allows them to determine
what is or is not God. Good is a mask and evil is a mask; both
are eidola, valid for the purposes of life in phenomena, but when
we seek that which is beyond phenomena, we must resolutely
remove the mask and see only the face of God behind it. To the
Karmayogin there should be nothing common or unclean. There
is nothing from which he has the right to shrink; there is none
whom he can dare to loathe. For God is within us all; as the
Self pure, calm and eternal, and as the Antaryamin or Watcher
within, the Knower with all thought, action and existence for
His field of observation, the Will behind every movement, every
emotion, every deed, the Enjoyer whose presence makes the pain
and pleasure of the world. Mind, Life and all our subjective
consciousness and the elements of our personal existence and
activity, depend on His presence for the motive-force of their
existence. And He is not only within us, but within all that is.
What we value within ourselves, we must not belittle in others;

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what we cherish within ourselves, we must not hurt in others;
what we love in ourselves, we must not hate in others. For
that which is within us, is the Divine Presence, and that which
is in others, is the same Divine Presence. To remember this is
worth all the moral teachings and ethical doctrines in the world.
Vedanta has been declared by those who have not chosen to
understand it, a non-moral or even immoral philosophy. But the
central truth of Vedanta enfolds in a single phrase all the highest
ethics of the world. Courage, magnanimity, purity, justice, charity, mercy, beneficence, loving kindness, forgiveness, tolerance,
all the highest demands that the most exalted ethical teacher
can make on humanity are contained in that single doctrine;
and find in it their one adequate philosophical justification and
sole natural basis.
That is not only within all this, It is also outside all. We
have already seen that Brahman is outside all in the sense of
containing the Universe and not only pervading but surrounding
every object with His presence. He is also outside in the sense
that He is apart from it and other than it. He is not confined
in Time, Space and Condition, but is quite above and outside
Time, Space and Condition: Cosmos is within Him only as the
shadow of a cloud is in the water; He is in Cosmos only as the
water is in the shadow and causes and contains the shadow;
but He is not the Cosmos in His nature or in His substance
any more than the water is in nature or substance the shadow.
The Cosmos exists in Him phenomenally and as a transient appearance, just as the shadow exists phenomenally in the water
and after a time passes away. But there is this difference that
the appearance in the water is the shadow of something else
cast from outside, but the Cosmos is a shadow or eidolon of
Himself created by Brahman in His own being. The materialistic Pantheism so natural to the sense-dominated intelligence
of the West, is not Vedanta. God is not in nature or substance
His Universe; but the Universe is He phenomenally and as a
manifestation. Spirit-Matter is Brahman, but Brahman is not
Spirit-Matter. This distinction must be carefully kept in mind
or the doctrine of entire identity between Brahman and the Self

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of Things, may lead to disastrously false conclusions. The truth
that Brahman is in all this, must be carefully balanced by the
truth that Brahman is outside it all.
Yet to the Karmayogin the negative side of this dual truth
is only necessary as a safeguard against error and confusion; it
is the positive side which must be his inspiration. In its light
the whole world becomes a holy place and all cause of fear or
grief or hatred disappear, all reason for selfishness, grasping,
greed and lust are eliminated, all excuses for ignoble desire or
ignoble action are taken away. In their stead he receives the
mightiest stimulus to self-purification and self-knowledge, which
will lead him to the liberation of the divine in himself, to that
subdual of the bodily and vital impulses which disciplines the
body into the triune strength of purity, abstemiousness and quietude; to courage, magnanimity, justice, truth, the four elements
of strength; and mercy, charity, love, beneficence, the four elements of sweetness, making that harmony of perfect sweetness
& strength which is perfect character, to a mind, pure of passion
and disturbance and prepared against the delusions of sense and
the limitations of intellect, such a mind as is alone capable of
self-knowledge. In this disciplined body, a perfect heart and a
pure mind he will have erected a fitting temple for the Eternal
within him in which he can offer the worship of works to the
Lord and of selflessness to the Self. For by that worship he will
become himself the Lord and find release from phenomenal life
into the undisturbed tranquillity of the Spirit. The dictum, Theos
ouk estin alla gignetai, God is not but is becoming, has been used
to express the imperfect evolution of the cosmos but is better
applied to the present spiritual progress of humanity. In the race
the progress is still rudimentary, but each man has that within
him which is empowered to fulfil his evolution and even in this
life become no longer an animal, or a mind, a heart, an intellect,
but the supreme and highest of all things - Himself.

Book III.
Chapter I.
"But he who sees all creatures in his very Self and the Self in
all creatures, thereafter shrinketh not away in loathing. He who
discerneth, in whom all creatures have become Himself, how
shall he be deluded, whence shall he have sorrow in whose eyes
all are one?"
In these two stanzas the Upanishad formulates the ethical
ideal of the Karmayogin. It has set forth as its interpretation of
life the universality of the Brahman as the sole reality and true
self of things; all things exist only in Him and He abides in all
as the Self. Every creature is His eidolon or manifestation and
every body His temple and dwelling-place. From Him all things
began, in Him they develop and mature themselves, to Him
they must in their nature strive to return. The mutual relations
of all beings to each other may be summed up in the single
phrase, "One Self in all creatures, all creatures in one Self"; for
He is both within all and contains all. But this Self exists in
each creature not partially or fragmentarily but in Its indivisible
completeness. Therefore the Self in one creature is precisely the
same as the Self in another, not merely kin by origin as in the
Christian theology, not merely of the same kind and nature as
in the Sankhya teaching, but absolutely identical. The sense of
personal separation in space and substance and difference in
nature has been illusorily brought about by the play of Prakriti,
the noumenon of false self, on the one eternal Reality, creating
an illusion of multiplicity and mutability. Self identifies itself
with the phenomena of the evolved universe; habitually feeling
the play of the three gunas, the principles of material reception,
reaction and retention, on the body, the vital impulses, the mind,
the intellect, the supra-intelligence it mistakes the continuity of
conscious impressions for the real self, forgetting that these are
merely aspects of consciousness in relation to matter and not
the true and eternal reality of consciousness. But the end of

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evolution is to liberate the permanent from the impermanent,
the spiritual from the material, the Self from its bondage to
the three gunas and the false conceptions which that bondage
creates. This liberation or release must therefore be the final
aim of religion and ethics, otherwise religion and ethics will be
out of harmony with the truth of things and therefore false or
imperfect. Religion and ethics must train the individual self in
a man to discover its universality, to see himself in all creatures
and all creatures in himself, and the ideal or ethically perfect
man is the one who has attained to this vision and observes
it habitually in his thoughts and actions as the one law of his
life.
In order to realize this vision, it has been found by experience that a man must attain freedom from the lower impulses
which identify the body and the vital impulses with self; he
must practise cleanliness and purity in mind, body and speech,
- abstinence from gross gratifications and freedom from the
domination of passions and desires; indifference to cold, heat,
hunger, thirst, fatigue and other affections from external influences. In other words he must be completely master of his
own body. The Christian virtue of purity, the Pagan virtue of
endurance, lie therefore at the very root of Vedantic morality.
To see oneself in others is impossible without completely
identifying oneself with others; a perfect sympathy is essential
and perfect sympathy brings with it perfect love, perfect charity
and forgiveness, perfect pity for sin and suffering, perfect tolerance, a universal benevolence with its counterpart in action
universal beneficence. The Jivanmukta, the Rishi, the sage must
be, by their very nature, sarvabhutahitarata; men who make it
their business and pleasure to do good to all creatures, not only
all men, but all creatures, - the widest possible ideal of universal
charity and beneficence. To do as one would be done by, to love
your enemies and those who hate you, to return good for evil are
the first ethical inferences from the Vedantic teaching; they were
fully expressed in their highest and noblest form by Buddhism
five hundred years before they received a passionately emotional
and lyrical phrasing in Judaea and were put widely into practice

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in India more than two thousand years before Christian Europe
took even slightly to heart what it had so long been professing
with its lips. And not only perfect love and beneficence, but
perfect justice with its necessary counterpart in action, honest
dealing and faithful discharge of duty are the natural outcome
of the Vedantic teaching. For if we see ourself in others, we
shall not only be willing but delighted to yield them all that
is due to them and must shrink from wronging or doing hurt
to them as naturally as we would shrink from doing hurt to
ourselves. The debts we owe to parents, family, friends, the caste,
the community, the nation we shall discharge not as an irksome
obligation, but as a personal pleasure. The Christian virtue of
charity, the Pagan virtue of justice are the very sap and life of
Vedantic morality.
Seeing the Self in all creatures, implies seeing the Lord everywhere. The ideal man of Vedanta will accept pain as readily
as pleasure, hatred, wrong, insult and injustice as composedly as
love, honour and kindness, death as courageously as life. For in
all things he will see the mighty Will which governs the Universe
and which wills not only his own good and pleasure and success,
but the good and pleasure and success of others equally with his
own; which decrees that his own good and the good of others
shall be worked out not only by his victories and joys, but by his
defeats and sufferings. He will not be terrified by the menace of
misfortune or the blows dealt him by man or nature, nor even
by his own sins and failures, but walk straight forward in the
implicit faith that the Supreme Will is guiding his steps aright
and that even his stumblings are necessary in order to reach the
goal. If his Yoga is perfect, his faith and resignation will also
be perfectly calm and strong; for he will then fully realize that
the Supreme Will is his own Will. Whatever happens to me, it
is I that am its cause and true doer and not my friend or enemy
who is merely the agent of my own Karma. But the faith and
resignation of the Karmayogin will not be a passive and weak
submission. If he sees God in his sufferings and overthrow, he
will also see God in his resistance to injustice and evil, a resistance dictated not by selfishness and passion, but undertaken

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for the sake of right and truth and the maintenance of that
moral order on which the stability of life and the happiness
of the peoples depend. And his resistance like all his actions
will be marked by a perfect fearlessness, a godlike courage. For
when a man sees God in all things and himself in all beings,
it is impossible for him to fear. What is it that can cause him
terror? Not danger or defeat, not death or torture, not hatred or
ingratitude, not the worse death of humiliation and the fiercer
torture of shame and disgrace. Not the apparent wrath of God
Himself; for what is God but his own self in the Cosmos? There
is nothing that he can fear. The Christian virtue of faith and
resignation, the Pagan virtue of courage are the strong stem and
support of Vedic morality.
The ignorant censure of Vedanta as an immoral doctrine
because it confuses the limits between good and evil or rejects
the one necessary motive to action and virtue, proceeds from
unwillingness or inability to understand the fine truth and harmony of its teachings. Vedanta does indeed teach that virtue and
vice, good and evil are relative terms, things phenomenal and
not real; it does ask the seeker to recognize the Supreme Will in
what is evil no less than in what is good; but it also shows how
the progression of the soul rises out of the evil into the good and
out of the good into that which is higher than good and evil.
Vedanta does reject the lower self of desire as a motive to action
and virtue, but it replaces it by the far more powerful stimulus of
selflessness which is only the rising to our higher and truer Self.
It does declare phenomenal life to be an illusion and a bondage,
but it lays down the practice of courage, strength, purity, truth
and beneficence as the first step towards liberation from that
bondage, and it demands a far higher standard of perfection in
these qualities than any other creed or system of ethics. What to
many moralists is the highest effort of feeble human nature is to
Vedanta only the first imperfect manifestation of the divine self
in humanity. Vedanta embraces, harmonizes and yet overtops
and exceeds all other moralities; as Vedic religion is the eternal
and universal religion, so is Vedic ethics the eternal and universal
morality. Esha dharmah sanatanah.

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II. Ethics in primitive society.
Every system of ethics must have a sanction to validate its scheme
of morals and an aim which will provide man the stimulus he
needs, if he is to surmount his anti-ethical instincts and either
subdue them or eradicate. Man is not a purely ethical being;
he has immoral and nonmoral impulses which are primarily
stronger than his ethical tendencies. To check the former, to
liberate, strengthen and train the latter is the first object of all
practical ethics religious or non-religious. The first requisite to
this end is a true knowledge of human nature and its psychology;
for if an ethical system is psychologically untrue, if it is seriously
mistaken in its view of human nature or fails to discern and reach
his highest and noblest instincts, it will either be ineffective or
possibly even do as much harm as good to the moral growth of
humanity. But even a psychologically sound morality will not
command general assent in practice unless there is a sanction
behind it which the reason or the prejudices of mankind will
accept as sufficiently strong to make a necessity of obedience.
Armed with such a sanction it will influence the thoughts and
the thoughts the actions of the race, but even then it will be only
a repressive and disciplinary influence; to be an active stimulus
or powerful moral lever it must be able to set in our front an aim
which will enlist strong natural forces on the side of virtue or an
ideal which will appeal to instincts deepseated and persistent in
universal humanity.
In its origin it is more than probable that morality was a
social growth and limited to communal habits and communal
necessities. The aim set before the individual was the continued
privilege of abiding in the community and enjoying all-important
advantages of security, assistance and social life which membership of the community could alone provide. The sanction was
again a communal sanction; the custom-code of the tribe or
community commanded assent and obedience precisely because
it was the tribe and community that commanded and could
enforce them with severe social punishments, death, ostracism,
excommunication. This origin of ethics from the customs of the

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tribe, themselves originating from the fundamental necessities
of self-preservation, is warranted by the facts of sociology as
rendered by modern investigation. It agrees also with the view
of nature and evolution held by the Vedic inquirers. For if we
consider the history of communities and nations so far as we
know them, we shall find that it consists so far in a progression from the society to the individual in society, from a basis
of tamas to an outgrowth of rajas in the tamasic basis; while
sattwa perfected in a few individuals, is, as a social force, not
yet emancipated.
We have seen that Prakriti or nature in all its operations
works through three inherent gunas or qualities which repeat
themselves in all stages and forms of her multifold activity; they
are present as much in psychic and spiritual evolution as in
the physical; and so all-important are they that all activity of
any kind whatsoever, all life mental, vital, physical are said to
be merely the natural operation of the three gunas interacting
upon each other. These three gunas are called in the Sankhya
terminology sattwa, rajas, tamas; comprehension, activity, passivity, or as they manifest in physical substance, retention, active
reaction and passive reception. None of these gunas can exist
or act by themselves; the activity of each involves the activity
of the other two; but according as one or the other predominates, an action, a state of things, a substance, a character, is
called tamasic, rajasic, or sattwic. In the early stages of upward
evolution tamas predominates, in the medial rajas, in the final
sattwa. In the early evolution of man it is inevitable, therefore,
that the obscuration of tamas should be very heavy and that
the characteristic of passive receptivity to outside surroundings
should be markedly predominant. Early man is active only under the pressure of hunger, or when moved by the primitive
impulses of sense and vitality and the needs of self-preservation.
His senses are keen and his power of activity great because
keen senses and a strong, hardy, agile body are necessary to
self-preservation; but in the absence of necessity or stimulus he
is profoundly indolent, even inert. His sensibility, physical or
mental, is small, for sensibility depends on and increases with

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rajas, the power of reaction and this power is in the savage
comparatively undeveloped. His emotional reactions are also
weak and primitive; in their predominantly physical character
and in the helpless spontaneousness of their response to impressions they reveal the domination of tamasic passivity. The
centres of individuality, a characteristically sattwo-rajasic function, are too weak as yet to control, regulate and rationalize the
response. Hence the emotional nature shows itself on one side
in a childishly unruly gratification of the pleasure of pleasant
impressions, - the savage is easily mastered by gluttony and
drunkenness but also capable of childlike worship and doglike
fidelity when brought into close contact with a higher nature;
on the other it is manifested in a brutally violent response to
unpleasant impressions. Anger is the primitive reaction to an
unpleasant impact which is not unfamiliar, fear the primitive
reaction to an unpleasant impact which is new and surprising.
The savage is therefore prone to childish terror in presence of
the unknown, to ferocious anger and vindictive cruelty when his
hatred is aroused by injury or the presence of what, though not
unfamiliar in form, is alien and therefore hateful in its features.
The habit of self-indulgence in anger by an organization of great
passivity and low physical and mental sensibility creates the
characteristic of a quiet unimpassioned cruelty, - the savage is,
as a rule, calmly cruel. The Red-Indian's stoicism, impassivity,
immobility, quiet endurance of pain are merely the inertia of
the tamasic mind and body systematized and become part of
his tribal morality. But the height of passivity is reached in his
intellectual organization of which the only strong reaction is
the primitive mental response to outside impressions, curiosity.
This curiosity is different from the desire to know, for it consists
in a childish amused wonder and a desire merely to repeat the
experience, not to learn from it. Such curiosity is at the root
of the practice of torture; for the primitive mind finds a neverfailing delight in the physical response evoked by intense and
violent pain. This pleasure in crude physical, moral, aesthetic
or intellectual reactions because of their raw intensity and violence is a sure sign of the undeveloped tamasic mind and is still

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common enough in the most civilized communities. Originality
and independence of mind and character spring from a strong
rajasic development and are therefore unknown to the savage
who is the creature and slave of his environments. By far the most
powerful and insistent of these environments is the community
in which he lives and which is necessary to him at every turn
for his security and his self-gratification. His passive mentality
therefore not only accepts but welcomes rigid control by the
community; it receives the hereditary custom-law of the tribe as
an inviolable natural law, and has too weak an individuality to
react against it or to desire change and progress. The primitive
community is therefore stationary; the individual exists in it not
as an individual, but as an undetachable fragment of the whole.
The social organization, even at its best, is in type and level on
a par with that of the beehive and the ant-hill.
The tamasic state of society reaches its highest development
when the community, entirely outgrowing the attractions of the
nomadic instinct, settles down to a fixed habitation for centuries
and adds to its original reason for existence, - communal selfpreservation, - the more fruitful impulse towards communal
accumulation. It has then the necessary condition for progress
from the tamasic stage to the sub-tamasic in which the individual first begins to emerge although he is still subordinated to
the community and lives chiefly for the general advantage, not
for his own. The settled state of society and the expansion of
the community which a more prosperous and stable life brings
with it, involve an increasing complexity of the social organization. Specialization of function becomes pronounced, for the
larger needs of the community demand an increasing division of
labour. Rank and private property begin to emerge; inequality
has begun. The more various activities, the more varied experience, the less primitive range of desires and the need of a wider
knowledge of things and men create a greater mental alertness
and increased mental differentiation. This in its turn means the
growth of individuality. Personality, we have seen, has memory
for its basis and is determined by memory; individuality or difference of personality is originally created by difference in the

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nature and range of the impressions experienced and retained by
the mind, which naturally results in different habits of emotional
and mental reaction. The fundamental self in all men is the same,
the action of external Prakriti in its broad masses is the same
all over the world; therefore human personality is necessarily
the same in its general nature wherever we meet it. Difference
in personality arises purely from difference in the range of mental and emotional experience; from the different distribution
of various kinds of experience, and from differently developed
habits or ways of reaction to impressions received. For character
is nothing but habit; and habit is nothing but an operation of
memory. The mind remembers that it received this particular
impact before and reacted on it in this particular way and it
repeats the familiar experience. The repetition becomes a habit
of the mind ingrained in the personality and so a permanent
characteristic. Difference of experience thus creates difference of
personality, and difference of experience depends on difference
in life, pursuits, occupations. So long as life is bounded by the
desires of alimentation, self-preservation and self-reproduction,
there can be no real individuality within the species, for the processes required and the experiences involved in these functions
are practically the same for each member of the species. Even
the gratification of primitive sensuous desires does not involve
anything more than minute and unnoticeable differences. Hence
one savage very much resembles any other savage just as one
animal of a species very much resembles another of the same
species, and one savage community differs from another only as
one animal sub-species differs from a kindred sub-species. It is
only when desires and needs multiply, that difference of life and
occupation can bring difference of experience and develop individuality. The increasing complexity of the community means
the growth of individuality and the liberation of rajas in the
human psychology.
Rajas is the principle of activity and increases with the intensity and rapidity of the reactions of Will upon external things;
it is not content like tamas with passively receiving impressions
and obeying its environments, but seizes on the impressions and

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strives ever to turn them to the service of individual personality,
to master its environments and use them for its own enjoyment.
Everything which it experiences, it utilizes for the pleasure and
pain of the individuality. The rajasic man is the creator, the
worker, the man of industry, enterprise, invention, originality,
the lover of novelty, progress and reform. The growth of rajas
therefore necessarily meant the inception of a great problem for
society. In the tamasic and sub-tamasic states man develops the
all-important faculty of conservatism, reverence for the past,
fidelity to the communal inheritance, subordination of the interests and passions of the particular, be it class or individual, to
the stability and safety of the whole. But here was a new element
likely to disturb and upset the old state of things. The rajasic
individuality was not likely to accept the traditional sanction,
the communal aim as a satisfying aim and a binding sanction.
The more and more he developed, the more and more strongly it
would crave for the satisfaction of its expanding individual desires, ideas, activities with less and less regard to the paramount
importance of social stability. How should society deal with this
element? From that single difficulty arose the whole sociological
problem involving difficulties of ethics, legislation and politics
which after so many thousands of years mankind has not solved
to its permanent satisfaction.
Chapter III. Social Evolution.
In the early stages of the sub-tamasic state the question was not
so acute, for differentiation in the society was not at first very
complex; it proceeded upon broad lines, and as soon as it took
definite form, usually as a result of intermixture with alien elements, it developed classes or castes, the priest, the warrior, the
people, - merchant, tiller or artisan - and the thrall or servant.
Character developed at first more on these broad lines than by
individual irregularities, in types rather than in persons; for each
kind of life, each broad line of pursuits and occupations would
naturally mean the same general range of experience and the
same habits of reaction to external impressions and so evolve

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broad developments of character falling into caste-types, within
whose general predominance personal idiosyncrasy would be
at first comparatively ill-developed and of minor importance.
The priest-type would develop favourably in the direction of
purity, learning, intellectual ability and acuteness, unfavourably
in the direction of jealous exclusiveness, spiritual and intellectual pride, a tendency to trade on the general ignorance. The
warrior type would evolve courage, honour, governing power
as its qualities, arrogance, violence and ruthless ambition as
its defects. The earning class would develop on the one side
honesty, industry and enterprise, on the other desire of gain.
Obedience and fidelity would be the virtues of the thrall. Society
accommodating itself to the altered circumstances modified its
single and rigid social morality and admitted the validity of the
newly-formed habits of mind and action as within the caste to
which it properly belonged. Thus arose the ethical phenomenon
of caste morality. Outside the limits of the caste ethics the general
social code remained in full force. As the life of the individual in
the community expanded in extent and became more varied and
complex in content, the social custom-code also became more
complex in its details and wider in its comprehensiveness, in its
attempt to pursue him into every detail of his life and control not
only his broad lines of life but his particular actions, allowing
no distinction between private and public life. Its nature had not
changed; it was as rigid and inexorable in its demands, as intolerant of individual originality and independence; its sanctions
were unaltered, the ancestral tradition of the community and
the fear of social punishments, death, ostracism, excommunication or other penalties which if less drastic were yet sufficiently
formidable. The object to be fulfilled was still predominantly
the same, the satisfaction of communal demands as the price of
communal privileges.
In this attempt society could not permanently succeed and
had either to abandon it or to call in the aid of other forces
and stronger sanctions. The community grew into the nation;
social divisions became more intricately complex, the priest-class
breaking up into schools, the warriors into clans, the people into

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guilds and professions; the organization was growing too vast
in size, too intricate in detail. Class began to push its individual
claims against class, individuals began to question the old sanctions or doubt the sacredness of tradition. In small villages the
old tyranny of society might be possible, in great towns it must
necessarily become increasingly lax and ineffective. Above all,
as the individual's mental life became enriched and vigorous,
society found itself baffled by an insurmountable difficulty; it
could control his outward acts by its rigour, but it could not
ultimately control his mental and spiritual life, yet this inner
life psychical and spiritual tended irresistibly to master and
mould outer physical actions. No sanction by which society
could enforce its decrees, is of any ultimate utility against the
victorious advance of the individual life pressing forward in
its irresistible demand for progress and freedom. Society may
command the homage of conformance in speech and act to its
fixed and conventional ideals; it may control a man's bodily
organs; it has no jurisdiction over his heart and mind or only
so much as he chooses to allow it. But speech and act cannot
long remain divorced from the heart and mind without affecting
the soundness of society itself by a dry rot of hypocrisy and
falseness; the end of which is either the decay and death of the
community or a purifying revolt. Society can save itself only by
conceding within limits the claim for individual freedom; outside
those limits it must persuade or compel him to conformity by
influencing his mind and heart, not by direct coercion of his
words and acts.
In the later stages of the subtamasic social period we find
that society has to a less or greater extent contracted its demands on the individual. Over his inner life and a certain part
of his conduct, it exercises no other coercive influence than that
of social disapproval expressed but not enacted; over another
part of his conduct it exercises the right of enacting that disapproval in the shape of ostracism or excommunication; but that
part of his life which most strongly concerns the community, it
still insists on regulating by the infliction or menace of social
penalties more or less severe. Social disapproval unenacted is,

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however, an ineffective control over mind and spirit. Society
therefore, by no means content to leave the inner life of the
individual free from the demands of its moral code, since any
such abdication of its rule would lead, it instinctively felt, to
moral anarchy, sought to dominate the individual intellect and
imagination by the more radical process of education. Its view of
life and its unwritten code of customs, manners, traditions had
always been naturally accepted as sacrosanct, now the individual
was consciously habituated and trained from his childhood to
retain this impression of venerable and inviolable sanctity. Social
morality was no longer unwritten but gathered into codes and
systems of life associated either with the names of the primitive
makers of the nation or with the deified or half-deified historic
individuals who first harmonised and perfected its traditionary
ideals and routine of life and expressed the consciousness of
the race in their political or ethico-legal systems. Such were Lycurgus, Confucius, Menes, Manu. For in those days individual
greatness and perfection commanded a sacred reverence from
the individual consciousness, because in each man it was to this
greatness and perfection that individuality impelled to achieve
its complete emancipation was painfully striving forward. Thus
in the subtamasic state even at its highest development the social code retained its sacrosanct character in the new form of
a consciously cherished and worshipped national tradition; and
the repositories of that tradition became the dominant class of
the community, whether an oligarchy as in Sparta and early
republican Rome or a theocracy as in Egypt. For in order to
control not only the heart and imagination but the deepest self
in the individual society called in the aid of a spiritual force
rapidly growing in its midst, the power of religion. In some
communities, it strove even to give the religious sanction to all
its own ideas, traditions, demands, sanctions.
In the older races and nations Mongolian, Dravidic, Mediterranean the subtamasic stage of social culture was of long duration and has left its impress in the only civilizations which have
survived unbroken from that period, the Indian and Chinese. In
the younger races, Aryan and Semitic, the development of the

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individual was far more rapid and urgent and left no time for
the peculiarities of the later subtamasic period to crystallize and
endure. Their evolution passed quickly into the rajaso-tamasic
or even into the rajasic stage. In the rajasic state the individual
forces himself into predominance and gets that emancipation
and free play for his personality which his evolution demands,
while the society degenerates into a mere frame for a mass
of individuals. Social morality, once so rigid and compelling,
dissolves into a loose bundle of superstitions and prejudices;
tradition is broken into pieces by the desire for progress &
novelty and free play of mind. The individual is governed in
his conduct not by social sanctions or religious obligations and
ideals, but by his personal idiosyncrasy and the stress of his own
ideas, desires, passions, capacities and ambitions, which clamantly demand satisfaction. Individual originality being given
free rein, there is an immense outburst of genius, talent, origination, invention or of splendid personal force and activity.
Periods such as the revolutionary epoch in France when the
rajasic element gets free play and communities like the Ionian
democracies of which Athens was the head and type, are not
only the most interesting from their fascinating abundance of
stir, passion, incident, brilliance of varied personality, but also
among the most fruitful and useful to humanity. In such periods,
in the brief history of such communities the work of centuries
is done in a few years or in a few decades and future ages
are fertilized from the seeds of a single epoch. But the history
of rajasic communities is necessarily brief, the course of rajasic
periods is soon run. Rajas has in itself no principle of endurance;
if it is to work steadily and enduringly, it must either be weighted
down by a heavy load of tamas or sustained and uplifted by a
great strength of sattwa. But sattwa as a social force has not
yet liberated itself; it operates on society through a chosen and
select few and is only rudimentary as yet in the many. For the
preservation of a people tamas is absolutely necessary; a mass of
blind conservatism, intolerance of innovations, prejudice, superstition, even gross stupidity are elements essential to the safety
of society. The Athenian thinkers themselves dimly realized this,

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hence their dislike to the mobile spirit of old democracy and
their instinctive preference for the Spartan constitution in spite
of its rigid, unprogressive and unintellectual character. They felt
the transience and insecurity of the splendid and brilliant life
of Athens. Politically the predominance of the individual was
dangerous to the state and the evil might be checked but could
not be mended by occasional resort to ostracism; the excessively
free and varied play of intellect turned out a corrodent which too
rapidly ate away the old beliefs and left the people without any
fixed beliefs at all; the old prejudices, predilections, superstitions
were exposed to too rapid a tide of progress: for a time they
acted as some feeble check on the individual, but when the merciless questioning of Socrates and his followers crumbled them
to pieces, nothing was left for society to live by. Reason, justice
and enlightened virtue which Socrates and his successors offered
as a substitute, could not take their place because the world was
not, nor is it yet sattwic enough for society to subsist entirely or
mainly by the strength of reason, justice and enlightenment. The
history of Athens may be summed up from the Vedic standpoint
as rajas too rapidly developed destroying tamas and in its turn
leading to a too rapid development of sattwa; till by an excess
of the critical and judging faculty of sattwa, the creative activity
of rajas was decomposed and came to an end. As a result the
Athenian social organism lost its vitality, fell a prey to stronger
organisms and perished.
Those communities have a better chance of survival which
linger in the rajaso-tamasic stage. For that is a social period when
the claims of the individual are being constantly balanced and
adjusted in a manner which strongly resembles the replacement
in the physical organism of waste tissue by sound, bad blood
by good, corrupted breath by fresh inhalations; the individual is
given legitimate scope, but those irreducible demands of society
which are necessary to its conservation, are thoroughly enforced;
progress is constantly made, but the past and its traditions are,
as far as is consistent with progress, jealously preserved and
cherished. England with its rapid alternations of progress safeguarded by conservatism and conservatism vivified by progress

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is an excellent example of the rajaso-tamasic community. The
English race is preeminently rajaso-tamasic; tamasic by its irrational clinging to what it possesses not because it is inherently
good or satisfying but simply because it is there, because it is
part of its past and its national traditions; tamasic by its habit of
changing not in obedience to any inner voice of ethical aspiration
or sense of intellectual fitness but in answer to the pressure of
environment; but rajasic by the open field it gives to individual
character and energy, rajasic by its reliance on the conflicts and
final balance of passions and interests as the main agents of
progress and conservation political and social. Japan with her
periods of splendid and magnificently fruitful progress and activity when she is absorbing new thoughts and new knowledge,
followed by periods of calm and beautiful conservation in which
she thoroughly assimilates what she has absorbed and suits it to
her system, - Japan with the unlimited energy and personality
of her individuals finely subservient to the life of the nation is
an instance of a fundamentally rajaso-tamasic nation which has
acquired by its assimilation of Indian and Chinese civilisation
the immortalizing strength of sattwa.
Sattwa is present indeed in all communities as a natural
force, for without it nothing could exist; but as a conscious
governing strength, it exists only in India and China. Sattwa
is physically the principle of retention which instead of merely
reacting to impressions retains them as part of its inner life;
it is therefore the natural force which most helps consciousness to develop. As rajogune is the basic principle of desire, so
sattwagune is the basic principle of knowledge. It is sattwa that
forms memory and evolves judgment. Morally it shows itself as
selfless sympathy, intellectually as disinterested enlightenment
and dispassionate wisdom, spiritually as a calm self-possessing
peacefulness as far removed from the dull tamasic inertia as
from the restless turbidity of rajas. The growth of sattwa in
a community will show itself by the growing predominance
of these characteristics. The community will be more peaceful
and unaggressive than the ordinary rajasic race or nation, it
will present a more calm and unbroken record of culture and

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enlightenment, it will record its life-history not in wars and
invasions, not in conquests and defeats, not by the measure of
the births and deaths of kings and the downfall of dynasties
but by spiritual and intellectual evolutions and revolutions. The
history of tamasic nations is a record of material impacts thrown
out from the organism or suffered by it; its life is measured by
the duration of dynasties or outward forms of government. The
history of rajasic nations is a bundle of biographies; the individual predominates. The history of sattwic nations would be the
story of the universal human self in its advance to knowledge
and godhead. Most of all, the sattwic leaven will show itself in
an attempt to order society not to suit material requirements
or in obedience to outward environments or under the pressure
of inward passions and interests, but in accordance with a high
spiritual and intellectual ideal applied to life. And until sattwa
is fully evolved, the community will try to preserve all the useful
forces and institutions gathered by the past social evolution,
neither destroying them nor leaving them intact, but harmonising and humanising them by the infusion of a higher ideal and
vivifying them from time to time by a fresh review in the light
of new experience and wider knowledge. The sattwic nation
will avoid the dead conservatism of tamasic communities, it will
avoid the restless progress of rajasic nations; it will endeavour to
arrive at a living and healthy stability, high, calm and peaceful,
in which man may pursue undisturbed his nobler destiny.
The true sattwic community in which life shall be naturally
regulated by calm wisdom, enlightenment and universal sympathy, exists only as an Utopia or in the Aryan tradition of
the Sattwayuga, the Golden Age. We have not evolved even the
rajaso-sattwic community in which the licentious play of individual activity and originality will be restrained not by the heavy
brake of tamasic indolence, ignorance and prejudice, but by the
patient and tolerant control and guidance of the spirit of true
science, sympathy and wisdom. The farthest advance made by
human evolution is the sub-rajaso-tamasic stage in which sattwa
partially evolved tries to dominate its companions. Of this kind
of community China, India and more recently Japan are the only

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known instances. In China the tamasic element is very strong; the
passionate conservatism of the race, the aggregativeness of the
Chinese character which seems unable to live to itself and needs a
guild, an organization or some sort of collective existence to support it, the low physical and emotional sensibility which permits
the survival of a barbarous and senselessly cruel system of punishment, are striking evidences of prevalent tamas. The rajasic
element is weaker but evident enough in the religious, intellectual
and, in one sense, political liberty allowed to the individual and
in the union of Mongolian industry and inventiveness with the
democratic individualism which allows every man the chance his
individual capacity and energy deserve. Sattwa finds its place in
the high place immemorially assigned to wisdom, learning and
culture and in the noble and perfect Buddhist-Confucian system
of ethics and ideal of life which regulates Chinese politics, society and individual life. In India on the other hand, as we shall
perceive, we have an unique and remarkable instance of sattwic,
rajasic, tamasic influences acting upon the community in almost
equal degrees and working at high pressure side by side; tamasic
constraint and conservatism governs the arrangement of daily
life, rajasic liberty, progress and originality brilliantly abound in
the affairs of the mind and spirit, a high sattwic ideal and spirit
dominate the national temperament, humanise and vivify all its
life, social polity, institutions and return almost periodically, a
fresh wave of life and strength, to save the community when it
appears doomed to decay and oblivion.
Fromsattwa springs the characteristic indestructibility which
Chinese and Indian society, alone of historic civilizations, have
evinced under the pressure of the ages and the shocks of repeated, even incessant national disaster. Sattwa is the principle
of conservation. The passive tamasic organism perishes by decay of its unrepaired tissues or disintegrates under the shock
of outward forces against which it has not sufficient elasticity
to react. The restless rajasic organism dies by exhaustion of its
too rapidly expended vitality and vigour. But sattwic spirit in
the rajaso-tamasic body is the nectar of the gods which makes
for immortality. China and India have suffered much for their

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premature evolution of the sattwic element; they have repeatedly undergone defeat and subjugation by the more restless and
aggressive communities of the world, while Japan by keeping
its rajasic energy intact has victoriously repelled the aggressor.
At present both these great countries are under temporary obscuration, they seem to be overweighted with tamas and passing
through a process of disintegration and decay. In India especially
long continuation of foreign subjection, a condition abhorred by
Nature and accursed by Heaven, has brought about disastrous
deterioration. Conquering Europe on the other hand, for the first
time flooded with sattwa as a distinct social influence by the liberating outburst of the French Revolution, has moved forward.
The sattwic impulse of the 18t.h. century, though sorely abused
and pressed into the service of rajasic selfishness and tamasic
materialism, has yet been so powerful an agent to humanize and
illuminate that it has given the world's lead to the European. But
these two great Oriental civilizations are not likely to perish;
always they have conquered their conquerors, asserted their free
individuality and resumed their just place in the forefront of the
nations, nor is the future likely to differ materially from the past.
So long as the sattwic ideal is not renounced, it is always there to
renew itself in extremity and to save. Preeminently sattwic is the
Universal Self in man which if realized and held fast to, answers
unfailingly the call for help and incarnating in its full season
brings with it light, strength and healing. "For the deliverance
of the good and the destruction of evil doers, for the restoration
of righteousness I am born from age to age."
Chapter IV. The place of Religion in ethics.
If the view of human development as set forth in the last two
chapters is correct, we shall have to part with several notions
long cherished by humanity. One of these is the pristine perfection of man and his degradation from his perfect state by
falling into the domination of sin; God made man perfect but
man by his own fault brought sin and death into the world. This
Semitic tradition passed from Judaism into Christianity and less

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prominently into Mahomedanism became for a long time part
and parcel of the fixed beliefs of half humanity. Yet it is doubtful
whether the original legend which enshrined and prolonged this
tradition, quite bears the interpretation which has been put on
it. If rightly understood, it supports rather than conflicts with
the theory of trigunic development. The legend does not state
that man was unfailingly virtuous by choice, but that he was
innocent because he did not yet know good and evil. Innocence
of this kind is possible only in the primitive state of man and
the description of man as naked and unashamed shows that it
is precisely the primitive state of society before arts and civilization were developed, to which the legend alludes. Man was then
innocent, because being unable to distinguish between good and
evil he could not choose evil of free choice and therefore had
no sense of sin and no more responsibility for his actions than
the pure animal. His fall from the state of innocence was the
result of the growth of rajasic individuality in his mind which
led him to assert his own will and desires and disobey the law
imposed on him by an external Power. In this first stage of
his evolution he is not guided by a law within himself, but by
prohibitions which his environment imposes on him without
his either understanding or caring to understand the reason for
their imposition. Certain things are forbidden to him, and it is as
much a necessity for him to refrain from them as to refrain from
putting his hand in the fire lest he should be burned; all others
are allowed to him and he does them freely without questioning
whether, apart from their legality, they are bad or good. Sin
comes by disobedience and disobedience by the assertion of an
inner standard as against the external standard hitherto obeyed;
but it is still a standard not of right and wrong, but of licit
and illicit. "What I desire, what my individual nature demands,
should be allowed me", reasons the rajasic man; the struggle
is between an external negation and an internal assertion, not
between two conflicting internal assertions. But once the former
begins, the latter must in time follow; the physical conflict must
create its psychical counterpart. From the opposition of punished and unpunished evolves the opposition of licit and illicit;

The Karmayogin

301

from the opposition of licit and illicit evolves the opposition
of right and wrong. Originally the sanction which punishes or
spares, allows or disallows, approves or disapproves, is external
and social; society is the individual's judge. Finally, in the higher
stage of evolution, the sanction is internal and individual; the
individual is his own judge. The indulgence of individual desire
in disobedience to a general law is the origin of sin.
With the rejection of this theory of an originally perfect
humanity, the tradition of an infallible inner conscience which
reflects a divinely-ordained canon of absolute right and wrong
must be also rejected. If morality is a growth, the moral sense is
also a growth and conscience is nothing more than activity of the
moral sense, the individual as judge of his own actions. If conscience be a divine and infallible judge, it must be the same in all
men; but we know perfectly well that it is not. The conscience of
the Red Indian finds nothing immoral in murder and torture; the
conscience of the modern civilised man vehemently condemns
them. Even in the same man conscience is an uncertain and
capricious quantity changing and deciding inconsistently under
the influence of time, place and circumstances. The conscience
of one age or country varies from the conscience of another age
or country. It is therefore contrary to all experience to assert the
divinity or infallibility of conscience. A man must be guided
ordinarily by his moral sense, not because it is infallible or
perfect, but because moral growth depends upon development
from within and to this end the independent use of the "inner
monitor", when once evolved, is the first necessity.


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