Sitanath Tattvabhushan.

The philosophy of Brahmaism, expounded with reference to its history : lectures delivered before the Theological Society, Calcutta, in 1906-1907 online

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Online LibrarySitanath TattvabhushanThe philosophy of Brahmaism, expounded with reference to its history : lectures delivered before the Theological Society, Calcutta, in 1906-1907 → online text (page 10 of 23)
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causes is only in so far as it is assimilated to Physical
Science, only inasmuch as it tries to show that
the growth and reproduction of organisms can be
explained by principles employed in the latter. But
organic phenomena refuse to be explained by mecha-
nical principles. The unity of an organism, the
relation of its parts as means and ends to one
another, its power of sustaining and reproducing itself,
na which, on mechanical principles, are
accidents. Such principles fail to show that an or-
ganism is a necessity. Inorganic nature, as it is, may
;own to be the necessary result of the fundamental
ter and motion. But this necessity breaks
n in the case of organic nature. These laws fail to
hy organisms are what they are and not
otherwise. So far as they are concerned, therefore,
organism- uiv mere accidents, or in other words, they
plicable by mechanical laws and demand a
.nlanation. If one or two organism-;
mil th< re in Nature, they might be set
down as accidental effects of mechanical laws. But
litute a realm by themselves, arising with
incy and regularity as steady at least as the
-, of physical sequence, they clearly defy the
powei of these laws to explain them. The constant
, regular rise of the most complex and intricate

I, in which their complexity is co-ordi:
,nity, in which 1 bole ;ui<l

; , in which ; ,


or members are related as means and ends to one
another, can be explained only by purpose. Exclude
purpose from its explanation, and the whole affair
wears the aspect of an accident. But the very
essence of accident is irregularity. When some-
thing happens with an invariable constancy, it passes
out of the category of accidents, and its constancy
demands a rational explanation. In the case of
organic phenomena, this rational explanation cannot
be anything but purpose. The very nature of
organism, as already described, makes mere mechanic-
al explanation unsatisfactory and irrational. As
mere phenomena, mere events in time, all pheno-
mena, including human actions, are subject to the
laws of universal causation. But so far as the
actions of human beings are related to one another,
they demand a higher determination, a higher
explanation than th.e mechanical, the merely physic-
al. They require further to be ascribed to purpose
and free-will. Similar is the case with the pheno-
mena of organic nature. Their very nature proves a
higher determination than that by merely physical
causes. They have to be traced to the designing
will of a Being above Nature. The proof in the
latter case is not a bit less strong than in the former.
If we know the minds of our fellow-beings by
examining the nature of their actions, not less surely
do we know mind in nature by the same method.
You will find this point clearly put and dwelt on at
some length in Babu Nagendranath Chaturji's Dhar-
majijndsd, pt. I, where you will also find numerous


illustrations of design in Nature. Dr. James Mar-
tineau's Study of Religion is also a very helpful
book on the Design Argument. I content myself
with a brief statement of the argument in the way
I conceive to be the best and pointing out its place
in the system of Theistic Evidences. I think that,
from the standpoint of science, it is organic
nature that directly calls for the teleological
principle as its only rational explanation ; and I have,
therefore, exhibited it as the real basis of the biologic-
al sciences. But we have now to see that even
according to the scientific method this principle is
applicable to inorganic matter also. In a broad
sense, the whole world is an organism, its various
pans related to one another as means and ends arid
all serving the purposes of life and mind. The
teleological nature of what we call inorganic matter
becomes evident if we see its relation to organic
bejngs. Air in itself, for instance, may seem to be
purposeless, to be explicable by mere chemical laws ;
but chemistry fails to explain it when we contem-
plate its relation to life and living beings. Is the
relation of air to the lungs and the vital functions of
animals merely fortuitous? Can any mechanical
laws even remotely explain this relation ? Does any
conceivable explanation satisfy Reason except the
the relation to design '? The same
irk applies to the relation of light to the eye, of
sound to the ear, of food and drink to the digestive
organs, in fact to the relation of inorganic nature
Ma > organic beings. Is this relation, with


the various ends of organic beings systematically
served by it, accidental, purposeless ? If it cannot
be explained by the laws of matter and motion
with which the physical sciences deal, it must be
either accidental or purposive ; and as the first of these
suppositions is excluded by the constant and sys-
tematic nature of the relation in question, the only
rational explanation of it is that it is due to the will
of a conscious, intending Being of transcendent
power and wisdom to whom Nature, both organic
and inorganic, is subject.

We now come to the third and last group of the
sciences, the mental and moral. The abstraction on
which the inductive sciences, as at present conceived,
are based, is nowhere so patent as in this final group.
The science of mind, as at present taught, takes for
granted, if only as a supposition, that the individual
mind can be known and made the subject matter of
science apart from the Infinite Mind. To many
writers on Psychology, this supposition is unfortu-
nately not a mere supposition, but a dogma, an agnos-
tic creed which they undertake to defend with elabo-
rate arguments. To many others, it is a convenient
plea for avoiding discussions, more or less theological
or metaphysical, in which they feel no interest and on
which they do not like to pronounce any judgment.
Yet, the truth is that these writers, almost at every
turn in their treatment of their science, make state-
ments and admissions which are nothing but disguised
confessions of faith in the Infinite Mind. In my


fourth lecture, I have already shown, by an analysis
of knowledge, that we cannot know the subject or
the object, the individual or the universal soul, in
abstraction from each other, and that, in every act of
knowing, the concrete reality known is a subject-
object, a spirit which has both a finite and an infinite
aspect, and which is both our own self and the self of
the universe. On the present occasion, I shall parti-
cularly draw your attention to what may be called the
very fundamental assumption on which Empirical
hology is based, the assumption, namely, that
there is a sub-conscious region in which mental
facts, sensations, ideas, judgments, etc., exist when
-ent from our consciousness, the con-
sciou sness of individuals. You will see that Psycholo-
gy cannot do without this assumption. In the indivi-
dual, knowledge shines only intermittently. Every
moment we have command ($ only a very small
jstock of ideas. The rest of our ideas, those even
which we have already acquired, remain behind,
in the background of our consciousness, from
which they come to light and in which they dis-
appear again and again. Our mental life resembles
a basin erected round a perpetual spring, a basin
in which the water rises and collects awhile,
and from which it again disappears, repeating this
process continually. It resembles such a l>;isin rather
than a canvas on which images are permanently
painted and are ahvuys visible. In profound, dream-
ymi know, our conscious life becomes a
perfect blank ; even self-consciousness, the basis of all


other forms of consciousness, being suspended. Now,
here is the difficulty of Psychology as a mere empiric-
al science, as a science of mere phenomena and their
laws. Other sciences professedly treat of their objects
without any reference to the relation which they may
have to the mind. Not so Psychology. Its very
object is consciousness. It professes to deal only
with conscious phenomena and the laws of their
combination and association. And yet these pheno-
mena are found to be only fitful visitants of the field
which Psychology traverses the field of individual
consciousness. Ever and anon they disappear from
this field and enter a region of which this science, as
at present conceived, professes to know nothing. A
region beyond consciousness is, indeed, a perfect blank
to the science of consciousness. Conscious pheno-
mena, when they cease to be conscious, are, indeed,
nothing to mental S9ience properly so called, and the
modern science of the mind, if it were consistent,
would be speechless about conscious phenomena as
soon as they left the region of individual consciousness.
But in that case it would cease to be a science, and
so, naturally enough, it does not like to commit
suicide in this fashion. Hence it lives, and lives at
the cost of consistency with itself. It speaks of
conscious phenomena becoming unconscious, existing
in a region of sub-consciousness, and emerging from
it again as self-same conscious phenomena. But
this is so much pure nonsense, seeming to be sense,
because it is continually spoken by thinkers and
writers who can think clearly and write cleverly on


certain things, but who lack the deepest and the

truest insight into things of the mind. The fact is,

if you consider your individuality to be the only

thing you know, and think that you know nothing

of a universal, ever-waking, all-knowing Mind in

which your individuality is contained, then, to be

consistent, you ought to say, as soon as a mental

fact passes out of your individual consciousness, that

it has entirely ceased to be, and that it is impossible

for it to revive or re-appear. When, for instance, you

forget this lecture hall, you should say that the idea

p- -fishes once for all and any recurrence or return is

impossible for it. In losing it, you lose, as it were, a

part of yourself, a part of your conscious life, for it is

; with or constructed by your self-conscious-

As your individual consciousness exhausts

your mental life, you cannot imagine your lost

idea as hidden in a corner^ of your mind for

Awhile and coming back to light again. The only

con-is!< Dt course of thinking for you, then, is to

D you forget your idea, that it is

lost irrecoverably. Wlvi:r\vr ideas may enter your

mii ;>e only fresh, new ideas,

belonging to a different period of time and, therefore,

nni: nt pin noniuna. But you know

i cannot keep up this consistency. After

" of a few moments or after a few hours;'

nf the hall re-appears to your mind,

\v surely that it is the same idea that

: 11 i nd before. You find that it is suf-

1, {>ervad-<l or constructed through and through


with your self the self that knew it before and
persists till now, that it is the lost part of your self
that is come back. But it could not come back
unless it existed during the time that it was absent
from your individual consciousness. And in what
other form could it exist than in a conscious form
as an idea ? An idea existing unthought of is as
plain a contradiction in terms as any can be. You
are, therefore, forced to admit that your individuality
your conscious life moment after moment is not
sufficient in itself, is not self-subsistent, but that your
ideas, your whole conscious life, must be contained in
a Mind which indeed is essentially one with what
you call your individual mind, but which is higher
than your individuality, for it never forgets any thing
and never sleeps. Now, it has always seemed to me
rather strange, ladies and gentlemen, that this plain
fact, namely, that fhe individual mind is not self-
sustained, but lives, moves and has its being in th
Universal Mind a truth which was so plain to the
risliis of the Upanisliads thousands of years ago,
should be so obscure and incomprehensible to modern
psychologists of the West. I rejoice to see, however,
that the great American psychologist, Professor
James, has recognised this truth so far, in
his recent lectures on Varieties of Lieligious Ex-
perience, as to admit the existence of a very large and
sleepless mind behind every individual mind. He
seems yet incapable of feeling his way to the doctrine
of an indivisible infinite Mind as the support of all
finite minds, though he speaks of this doctrine with


great respect. I cannot but entertain the hope that
Psychology, in the near future, will see its true
nature as a science and be again, as it once was,
the hand-maid of Theology.

Now, the relation of Psychology to Theology is
a very large subject, and what I have said is, as it
were, only a drop from the ocean. But the time
allotted to me is over, and I must stop here. I must
forego the pleasure of speaking, on the present oc-
casion, of the religious implications of the social and
ethical sciences, specially as I must deal, at some
length, with the basis of ethics and the nature of
ethical judgments in speaking of the moral perfec-
tions of God. May the Holy Spirit be with us in the
arduous task still before us and lead us to the truth
as it is in him !


Relation of Brahmaism to Monism
and Dualism

Relation of Brahtnaism to Monism and Dualism

You have heard in my first lecture that Brah-

maisin, as taught by Raja Rammohan Bay, was

Vedantic Monism of the Sankarite type. I have

also told you that Maharshi Devendranath Thakur,

though a sincere admirer of the Upanishads, did not

derive his Theism from them, but was, both 'before

and after his study of the Upanishculs, an Intui-

tionist Dualist of the type of the Scotch philosophers,

so far as his philosophy was concerned. We have

also seen, from a hurried sketch of the stages of

thought through which Brahrnanauda Kesavchandra

ed, that originally an Intuitionist Dualist of the

as the Maharshi, lie developed in his

nto something like a modified Vedantist.

tly, you have .seen how, in the latest phase of the

of the Sa.'llrtran Bnihina Samaj, there

appeared a species of Monistic Theism allied

both to Vedantism and the Absolute Idealism of

po Now, these facts connected with the

doctrinal history of the I'.nihma Samaj will convince

. if any doubt were at all possible, that Br<ih-

niaisni. as a doctrine, is historically connected with

phical Monism and philosophical Dual-

! that a ^-rics of lectures on the Philosophy

in cannot ignore its relation to er


of these doctrines. There is a tendency in certain
quarters in the Brahma Samaj to ignore the relation
of Brahmaism to Monism. There are some who go
so far as to deny that Rammohan Ray was a Yedan-
tist on the ground that he taught the necessity of
worshipping God, as if Yedantism did not teach
the worship of God. There are others who say that
whatever may have been the views of Raja
Rammohan Ray, and whatever the teachings of the
Vedanta may be, Brahmaism has, since the Rnja's
time, become dualistic and has no essential relation
to Monism. Now, it will be found, that those w r ho
say so are men who have never sought any
philosophical foundation for their faith in God, who
have received blindly and uncritically the belief that
has come down to them from tht-ir ancestors or
imbibed it from the religious atmosphere in w r hich
they live and move. At the best, they have found
confirmations of their belief only in the current
Natural Theology of the day, built on evidences of
design in Nature, and perhaps in the uncritical
experiences of their ethical and spiritual life. For
such believers it may, indeed, be difficult to see
what relation Brahmaism may possibly have
with Monism, in what sense the Creator and
the created, the Worshipped and the worshipper
may be one. The thought of such oneness
may even seem impious to them and positively repel
them. But very different is the case with one who
dives deep into the evidences of the Divine existence
and perfections. For him who has, from the very


beginning of his faith, thought of the human and the
Divine soul as mutually exclusive, it may be difficult
to see their hidden unity, but for him to whom every
evidence of the Divine existence reveals the finite
and the Infinite as essentially related, to whom no
revelation of God is separable from a revelation of
his own innermost self, to such a one, I say, Monism,
in some form or other, is not merely a theory or
hyp- .-thesis which may or may not be true, but a
stern, inexorable fact which has to be reconciled, by
a process of philosophical thinking, with the Dualism
implied in spiritual and practical life. People
wonder how a Monist like Sankara, to whom there is
only one Being without a second, should be blind to
the differences which are so patent to common sense.
On the other hand, to those who have attained to the
standpoint from which Sankara looks at the Divine
unity, it appears difficult to see in what sense these
differences themselves may be (rue, consistently with
the unity and infinitude of God. You will see, then,
that the apparently conflicting claims of Monism
and Dualism are worth the study of every thoughtful

ud that if Brahmaism is to be the creed not
only of the uncritical believer, contented with the

i consolations of unthinking and unquestion-
i. but also of the philosophical thinker,

iom none of the difficulties and intricacies
of religious thought aro hidden, it must show,
if it can, how unity and difference are reconciled
in tin relation of God to the world and to the human



Let us see, then, how far and in what way this
reconciliation can be effected. Those who have
followed the discussion in my fourth lecture must have
seen how very remote true Theism is from popular
Dualism, the doctrine that regards Nature, Mind and
God as three separate entities cognizable by three
distinct faculties of the mind. We have seen that
in every act of perception we know matter and mind
correlated as subject and object, and that the mind
thus known is kn< /n b t,h as subjective and objec-
tive, that is, both in the body and in objects external
to the body. We have also seen that a mere finite
mind could not know either itself or the world, but
that in knowing the limitations of space and time the
self knows itself to be above them. We cannot now
resume the discussion which led us to these conclu-
sions, but must take them for granted and make ther.a
the starting points of that into which we are to laur-ch
to-day. The self of the world and what we call our own
self are, as we saw, essentially the same. The very
condition of our knowing Nature is, we see, that she
must reveal herself in correlation with ourself, as
comprehended within the sphere of our own con-
sciousness. The Universal Self can be truly known
by us only when it manifests itself as our own self.
What is popularly called the knowledge of God is
merely so much inference, good or vbad, or mere
belief, implicitly and uncritically received. Really
to know Nature is, therefore, to know her as one
with God, and really to know one's self is to know
it as one with the Supreme Self. But is not this so


much unalloyed Pantheism or Monism ; and if this
is Brahrnaism, is it not identified with the Absolute
Monism of Sankaracharya '? I must confess that
rational and philosophical Brahmaism is very differ-
ent from popular Brahmaism, though there is an
essential unity between them, and that if popular
Dualistic Brahmaism had any exclusive right to the
name it tears, philosophical Brahmaism had better
take a different name. But the history of the
Brahma Samaj shows that neither the one nor the
other has an exclusive right to the name. If
Dualistic Brahmaisrn has been and is still believed
i>y far the largest number of members of the
hma Samaj, as could not but be the case, seeing
that philosophical speculation is confined to only a
even in the most refined societies, the Monistic
form of Br.ihmaism more correctly represents, on
the other hand, the views of. the founder of the
:uaj and those of whom he called himself
. <:r, those rishix and dchdry<ts who first used
rahman ' and 'Brahma' and gave
peculiar connotations. However, the
that the Theism presented in the discussion
the Theism at which we arrive by an
of our experience, our knowledge of matter,
:uid space, is not an Absolute Monism,
id.-ntifi ' in all essential points, with the
I SankaniciKirya and his followers. Let us
:ie to close quarters and see what the analysis
of kn< <liscloses, whether it testifies to a

ract Infinite for which the Absolute


Monist stands, or a concrete Infinite in which
Nature and finite souls have a distinct though
subordinate place. In my fourth lecture, in which
such an analysis was undertaken, I was specially
concerned in showing that Nature and mind bear
immediate testimony to an Infinite, Eternal and
Omniscient Being. That man and Nature exist
in correlation in unity and difference with the
Infinite, was indeed implied in all that I said,
for this is as much a disclosure of the analysis of
knowledge as the existence of the Infinite itself.
Let me now accentuate the finite aspect of Reality,
an aspect that was necessarily left without emphasis
in that lecture. This can be done with reference to
any piece of knowledge whatever, for instance, our
knowledge of the note-book in my hand. The deeper
truths of religion need not be sought in out of the
way places, in the .heights of mountains or in the
depths of the sea. They lie scattered about us and t
may be seen anywhere, if there is only an eye to see
them. What do we know, then, in knowing this
book ? As we have already seen, we know it in in-
dissoluble relation to a self which is both in our
bodies and in the book. The knowledge of the book
is the revelation of a self which is objective in the
sense that it is in the object, or rather the object is
in it, comprehended in the sphere of ifti consciousness,
and subjective in the sense that it is what we call
our own self. This self is, we have also seen,
above space and time. In distinguishing this
book from other objects, in knowing the limitations


of space, it shows itself to be unspatial, above space
limitations. In knowing the distinction of events,
for instance, the appearance of this book to our
senses, and its disappearance from them, it shows
itself to be above time, without beginning and with-
out end. We have also seen that to the universal,
objective Self, there is no appearance and disappear-
ance of objects, as there is in its manifestation as
our individual self, for really there are no mere objects,
objects always existing in indissoluble relation to
the original Self, which is, therefore, necessarily all-
knowing. Now, is the system thus briefly sketched
absolutely monistic? It indeed seems to be so inas-
much as it allows neither Nature nor the individual
soul any independent existence. If the denial
of independent existence to Man and Nature
is Monism, pure and simple, Monism is the only
em possible, and Dualism has no place in
correct religious thought. But the fact is that
though Man and Nature are denied any independent
: in the system set forth above, they are not
od a real and distinct place therein. Returning
to the book in my hand, we must see that, though
analysis of our knowledge of it discloses its
indissoluble relation to the self which is at once
our own self and the- self of the world, that analysis
does no; . means merge the existence of the

object in the self. In knowing the object, the self
sees b>th its unity with and difference from it.
The obj 1, inseparable from the subject,

but it is al-o distinct from it. The object is in space


and is limited : the self is above space, and is un-
limited. In other words, the object is both qualita-
tively and quantitatively exclusive of other objects : it
is white and, therefore, different from objects not
white ; it is small and different from large objects ; it is
here and excludes those that are there. The self does
not admit of these distinctions, but includes all in its
all-comprehending grasp, remaining indivisible and
undifferenced all the same. Again, objects undergo
innumerable changes. This book may go through

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Online LibrarySitanath TattvabhushanThe philosophy of Brahmaism, expounded with reference to its history : lectures delivered before the Theological Society, Calcutta, in 1906-1907 → online text (page 10 of 23)