Notes on the Bhagavad Gita — T. Subba Row

Section I

Before proceeding with the subject, I think it necessary to make a few preliminary remarks. All of you know that our Society is established upon a cosmopolitan basis. We are not wedded to any particular creed or to any particular system of religious philosophy. We consider ourselves as mere enquirers. Every great system of philosophy is brought before us for the purpose of investigation. At the present time we are not at all agreed upon any particular philosophy which could be preached as the philosophy of our Society. This is no doubt a very safe position to take at the commencement. But from all this it does not follow that we are to be enquirers and enquirers only. We shall, no doubt, be able to find out the fundamental principles of all philosophy and base upon them a system which is likely to satisfy our wants and aspirations. You will kindly bear this in mind, and not take my views as the views of the Society, or as the views of any other authority higher than myself. I shall simply put them forward for what they are worth. They are the results of my own investigations into various systems of philosophy and no higher authority is alleged for them. It is only with this view that I mean to put forward the few remarks I have to make.

You will remember that I gave an introductory lecture last time when we met here and pointed out to you the fundamental notions which ought to be borne in mind in trying to understand the Bhagavad Gita. I need not recapitulate all that I then said; it will be simply necessary to remind you that Krishna was intended to represent the Logos, which I shall hereafter explain at length; and that Arjuna, who was called Nara, was intended to represent the human monad.

The Bhagavad Gita, as it at present stands, is essentially practical in its character and teachings, like the discourses of all religious teachers who have appeared on the scene of the world to give a few practical directions to mankind for their spiritual guidance. Just as the sayings of Christ, the discourses of Buddha, and the preachings of various other philosophers which have come down to us, are essentially didactic in character and practical in their tone, so is the Bhagavad Gita. But these teachings will not be understood — indeed, in course of time, they are even likely to be misunderstood — unless their basis is constantly kept in view. The Bhagavad Gita starts from certain premises, which are not explained at length, — they are simply alluded to here and there, and quoted for the purpose of enforcing the doctrine, or as authorities, and Krishna does not go into the details of the philosophy which is their foundation. Still there is a philosophical basis beneath his teachings, and unless that basis is carefully surveyed, we cannot understand the practical applications of the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, or even test them in the only way in which they can be tested.

Before proceeding further, I find it absolutely necessary to preface my discourse with an introductory lecture, giving the outlines of this system of philosophy which I have said is the basis of the practical teaching of Krishna. This philosophy I cannot gather or deduce from the Bhagavad Gita itself; but I can show that the premises with which it starts are therein indicated with sufficient clearness.

This is a very vast subject, a considerable part of which I cannot at all touch; but I shall lay down a few fundamental principles which are more or less to be considered as axiomatic in their character — you may call them postulates for the time being — so many as are absolutely necessary for the purpose of understanding the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita. I shall not attempt to prove every philosophical principle I am about to lay down in the same manner in which a modern scientist attempts to prove all the laws he has gathered from an examination of nature.

In the case of a good many of these principles, inductive reasoning and experiment are out of the question; it will be next to impossible to test them in the ordinary course of life or in the ways available to the generality of mankind. But, nevertheless, these principles do rest upon very high authority. When carefully explained, they will be found to be the basis of every system of philosophy which human intellect has ever constructed, and furthermore, will also be found, — I venture to promise — to be perfectly consistent with all that has been found out by man in the field of science; at any rate they give us a working hypothesis — a hypothesis which we may safely adopt at the commencement of our labours, for the time being. This hypothesis may be altered if you are quite certain that any new facts necessitate its alteration, but at any rate it is a working hypothesis which seems to explain all the facts which it is necessary for us to understand before we proceed upon a study of the gigantic and complicated machinery of nature.

Now to proceed with this hypothesis. First of all, I have to point out to you that any system of practical instruction for spiritual guidance will have to be judged, first with reference to the nature and condition of man and the capabilities that are locked up in him; secondly, with reference to the cosmos and the forces to which man is subject and the circumstances under which he has to progress.

Unless these two points are sufficiently investigated, it will be hardly possible for us to ascertain the highest goal that man is capable of reaching; and unless there is a definite aim or a goal to reach, or an ideal towards which man has to progress, it will be almost impossible to say whether any particular instruction is likely to conduce to the welfare of mankind or not. Now I say these instructions can only be understood by examining the nature of the cosmos, the nature of man, and the goal towards which all evolutionary progress is tending.

Before I proceed further, let me tell you that I do not mean to adopt the sevenfold classification of man that has up to this time been adopted in Theosophical writings generally. Just as I would classify the principles in man, I would classify the principles in the solar system and in the cosmos. There is a certain amount of similarity and the law of correspondence — as it is called by some writers — whatever may be the reason, — is the law which obtains in a good many of the phenomena of nature, and very often by knowing what happens in the case of the microcosm, we are enabled to infer what takes place in that of the macrocosm. Now as regards the number of principles and their relation between themselves, this sevenfold classification which I do not mean to adopt, seems to me to be a very unscientific and misleading one. No doubt the number seven seems to play an important part in the cosmos, though it is neither a power nor a spiritual force; but it by no means necessarily follows that in every case we must adopt that number. What an amount of confusion has this seven-fold classification given rise to! These seven principles, as generally enumerated, do not correspond to any natural lines of cleavage, so to speak, in the constitution of man. Taking the seven principles in the order in which they are generally given, the physical body is separated from the so-called life-principle; the latter from what is called linga sarira (very often confounded with sukshma sarira). Thus the physical body is divided into three principles. Now here we may make any number of divisions; if you please, you may as well enumerate nerve-force, blood, and bones, as so many distinct parts, and make the number of divisions as large as sixteen or thirty-five. But still the physical body does not constitute a separate entity apart from the life principle, nor the life principle apart from the physical body, and so with the linga sarira. Again, in the so-called "astral body," the fourth principle when separated from the fifth soon disintegrates, and the so-called fourth principle is almost lifeless unless combined with the fifth. This system of division does not give us any distinct principles which have something like independent existence. And what is more, this sevenfold classification is almost conspicuous by its absence in many of our Hindu books. At any rate a considerable portion of it is almost unintelligible to Hindu minds; and so it is better to adopt the time-honored classification of four principles, for the simple reason that it divides man into so many entities as are capable of having separate existences, and that these four principles are associated with four upadhis (1) which are further associated in their turn with four distinct states of consciousness. And so for all practical purposes — for the purpose of explaining the doctrines of religious philosophy — I have found it far more convenient to adhere to the fourfold classification than to adopt the septenary one and multiply principles in a manner more likely to introduce confusion than to throw light upon the subject. I shall therefore adopt the four-fold classification, and when I adopt it in the case of man, I shall also adopt it in the case of the solar system, and also in the case of the principles that are to be found in the cosmos. By cosmos I mean not the solar system only, but the whole of the cosmos.

In enumerating these principles I shall proceed in the order of evolution, which seems to be the most convenient one.

I shall point out what position each of these principles occupies in the evolution of nature, and in passing from the First Cause to the organized human being of the present day, I shall give you the basis of the four-fold classification that I have promised to adopt.

The first principle, or rather the first postulate, which I have to lay down is the existence of what is called Parabrahmam. Of course there is hardly a system of philosophy which has ever denied the existence of the First Cause. Even the so-called atheists have never denied it. Various creeds have adopted various theories as to the nature of this First Cause. All sectarian disputes and differences have arisen, not from a difference of opinion as to the existence of the First Cause, but from the differences of the attributes that man's intellect has constantly tried to impose upon it. Is it possible to know anything of the First Cause? No doubt it is possible to know something about it. It is possible to know all about its manifestations, though it is next to impossible for human knowledge to penetrate into its inmost essence and say what it really is in itself. All religious philosophers are agreed that this First Cause is omnipresent and eternal. Further, it is subject to periods of activity and passivity. When cosmic pralaya comes, it is inactive, and when evolution commences, it becomes active.

But even the real reason for this activity and passivity is unintelligible to our minds. It is not matter or anything like matter. It is not even consciousness, because all that we know of consciousness is with reference to a definite organism. What consciousness is or will be when entirely separated from upadhi is a thing utterly inconceivable to us, not only to us but to any other intelligence which has the notion of self or ego in it, or which has a distinct individualized existence. Again it is not even atma. The word atma is used in various senses in our books. It is constantly associated with the idea of self. But Parabrahmam is not so associated; so it is not ego, it is not non-ego, nor is it consciousness — or to use a phraseology adopted by our old philosophers, it is not gnatha, not gnanam and not gnayam. Of course every entity in this cosmos must come under one or the other of these three headings. But Parabrahmam does not come under any one of them. Nevertheless, it seems to be the one source of which gnatha, gnanam, and gnayam are the manifestations or modes of existence. There are a few other aspects which it is necessary for me to bring to your notice, because those aspects are noticed in the Bhagavad Gita.

In the case of every objective consciousness, we know that what we call matter or non-ego is after all a mere bundle of attributes. But whether we arrive at our conclusion by logical inference, or whether we derive it from innate consciousness, we always suppose that there is an entity, — the real essence of the thing upon which all these attributes are placed, — which bears these attributes, as it were, the essence itself being unknown to us.

All Vedantic writers of old have formulated the principle that Parabrahmam is the one essence of almost everything in the cosmos. When our old writers said "Sarvam khalvidambrahma," they did not mean that all those attributes which we associate with the idea of non-ego should be considered as Brahmam, nor did they mean that Brahmam should be looked upon as the upadana karanam in the same way that earth and water are the upadana karanam of this pillar. They simply meant that the real thing in the bundle of attributes that our consciousness takes note of, the essence which seems to be the bottom and the foundation of all phenomena is Parabrahmam, which, though not itself an object of knowledge, is yet capable of supporting and giving rise to every kind of object and every kind of existence which becomes an object of knowledge.

Now this Parabrahmam which exists before all things in the cosmos is the one essence from which starts into existence a centre of energy, which I shall for the present call the Logos.

This Logos may be called in the language of old writers either Eswara or Pratyagatma or Sabda Brahmam. It is called the Verbum or the Word by the Christians, and it is the divine Christos who is eternally in the bosom of his father. It is called Avalokiteswara by the Buddhists; at any rate, Avalokiteswara in one sense is the Logos in general, though no doubt in the Chinese doctrine there are also other ideas with which it is associated. In almost every doctrine they have formulated the existence of a centre of spiritual energy which is unborn and eternal, and which exists in a latent condition in the bosom of Parabrahmam at the time of pralaya, and starts as a centre of conscious energy at the time of cosmic activity. It is the first gnatha or the ego in the cosmos, and every other ego and every other self, as I shall hereafter point out, is but its reflection or manifestation. In its inmost nature it is not unknowable as Parabrahmam, but it is an object of the highest knowledge that man is capable of acquiring. It is the one great mystery in the cosmos, with reference to which all the initiations and all the systems of philosophy have been devised. What it really is in its inmost nature will not be a subject for consideration in my lecture, but there are some stand-points from which we have to look at it to understand the teachings in the Bhagavad Gita.

The few propositions that I am going to lay down with reference to this principle are these. It is not material or physical in its constitution, and it is not objective; it is not different in substance, as it were, or in essence, from Parabrahmam, and yet at the same time it is different from it in having an individualized existence. It exists in a latent condition in the bosom of Parabrahmam, at the time of pralaya just, for instance, as the sense of ego is latent at the time of sushupti or sleep. It is often described in our books as satchidanandam, and by this epithet you must understand that it is sat, and that it is chit and anandam.

It has consciousness and an individuality of its own. I may as well say that it is the only personal God, perhaps, that exists in the cosmos. But not to cause any misunderstanding I must also state that such centres of energy are almost innumerable in the bosom of Parabrahmam. It must not be supposed that this Logos is but a single centre of energy which is manifested by Parabrahmam. There are innumerable others. Their number is almost infinite. Perhaps even in this centre of energy called the Logos there may be differences; that is to say, Parabrahmam can manifest itself as a Logos not only in one particular, definite form, but in various forms. At any rate, whatever may be the variations of form that may exist, it is unnecessary to go minutely into that subject for the purpose of understanding the Bhagavad Gita. The Logos is here considered from the standpoint of the Logos in the abstract, and not from that of any particular Logos, in giving all those instructions to Arjuna which are of a general application. The other aspects of the Logos will be better understood if I point out to you the nature of the other principles that start into existence subsequent to the existence of this Logos or Verbum.

Of course, this is the first manifestation of Parabrahmam, the first ego that appears in the cosmos, the beginning of all creation and the end of all evolution. It is the one source of all energy in the cosmos, and the basis of all branches of knowledge, and what is more, it is, as it were, the tree of life, because the chaitanyam which animates the whole cosmos springs from it. When once this ego starts into existence as a conscious being having objective consciousness of its own, we shall have to see what the result of this objective consciousness will be with reference to the one absolute and unconditioned existence from which it starts into manifested existence. From its objective standpoint, Parabrahmam appears to it as Mulaprakriti. Please bear this in mind and try to understand my words, for here is the root of the whole difficulty about Purusha and Prakriti felt by the various writers on Vedantic philosophy. Of course this Mulaprakriti is material to it, as any material object is material to us. This Mulaprakriti is no more Parabrahmam than the bundle of attributes of this pillar is the pillar itself; Parabrahmam is an unconditioned and absolute reality, and Mulaprakriti is a sort of veil thrown over it. Parabrahmam by itself cannot be seen as it is. It is seen by the Logos with a veil thrown over it, and that veil is the mighty expanse of cosmic matter. It is the basis of all material manifestations in the cosmos.

Again, Parabrahmam, after having appeared on the one hand as the ego, and on the other as Mulaprakriti, acts as the one energy through the Logos. I shall explain to you what I mean by this acting through the Logos by a simile. Of course you must not stretch it very far; it is intended simply to help you to form some kind of conception of the Logos. For instance, the sun may be compared with the Logos; light and heat radiate from it; but its heat and energy exist in some unknown condition in space, and are diffused throughout space as visible light and heat through its instrumentality. Such is the view taken of the sun by the ancient philosophers. In the same manner Parabrahmam radiates from the Logos, and manifests itself as the light and energy of the Logos. Now we see the first manifestation of Parabrahmam is a Trinity, the highest Trinity that we are capable of understanding. It consists of Mulaprakriti, Eswara or the Logos, and the conscious energy of the Logos, which is its power and light; and here we have the three principles upon which the whole cosmos seems to be based. First, we have matter; secondly, we have force — at any rate, the foundation of all the forces in the cosmos; and thirdly, we have the ego or the one root of self, of which every other kind of self is but a manifestation or a reflection. You must bear in mind that there is a clear line of distinction drawn between Mulaprakriti, (which is, as it were, the veil thrown over Parabrahmam from the objective point of view of the Logos) and this energy which is radiated from it. Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, as I shall hereafter point out, draws a clear line of distinction between the two; and the importance of the distinction will be seen when you take note of the various misconceptions to which a confusion of the two has given rise in various systems of philosophy. Now bear in mind that this Mulaprakriti which is the veil of Parabrahmam is called Avyaktam in Sankhya philosophy. It is also called Kutastha in the Bhagavad Gita, simply because it is undifferentiated; even the literal meaning of this word conveys more or less the idea that it is undifferentiated as contrasted with differentiated matter. This light from the Logos is called Daiviprakriti in the Bhagavad Gita; it is the Gnostic Sophia and the Holy Ghost of the Christians. It is a mistake to suppose that Krishna, when considered as a Logos, is a manifestation of that Avyaktam, as is generally believed by a certain school of philosophers. He is on the other hand Parabrahmam manifested; and the Holy Ghost in its first origin emanates through the Christos. The reason why it is called the mother of the Christos is this. When Christos manifests himself in man as his Saviour it is from the womb, as it were, of this divine light that he is born. So it is only when the Logos is manifested in man that he becomes the child of this light of the Logos — this maya; — but in the course of cosmic manifestation this Daiviprakriti, instead of being the mother of the Logos, should, strictly speaking, be called the daughter of the Logos. To make this clearer, I may point out that this light is symbolized as Gayatri. You know Gayatri is not Prakriti. It is considered as the light of the Logos, and in order to convey to our minds a definite image, it is represented as the light of the sun. But the sun from which it springs is not the physical sun that we see, but the central sun of the light of wisdom, hence we do not use in our sandhyavandanam any symbol representing the physical sun. This light is further called the mahachaitanyam of the whole cosmos. It is the life of the whole of nature. It will be observed that what manifests itself as light, as consciousness, and as force, is just one and the same energy. All the various kinds of forces that we know of, all the various modes of consciousness with which we are acquainted, and life manifested in every kind of organism, are but the manifestations of one and the same power, that power being the one that springs from the Logos originally. It will have to be surveyed in all these aspects, because the part that it really plays in the cosmos is one of considerable importance.

As far as we have gone we have arrived at, firstly, Parabrahmam; secondly, Eswara; thirdly, the light manifested through Eswara, which is called Daiviprakriti in the Bhagavad Gita, and lastly that Mulaprakriti which seems to be, as I have said, a veil thrown over Parabrahmam. Now creation or evolution is commenced by the intellectual energy of the Logos. The universe in its infinite details and with its wonderful laws does not spring into existence by mere chance, nor does it spring into existence merely on account of the potentialities locked up in Mulaprakriti. It comes into existence mainly through the instrumentality of the one source of energy and power existing in the cosmos, which we have named the Logos, and which is the one existing representative of the power and wisdom of Parabrahmam. Matter acquires all its attributes and all its powers which, in course of time, give such wonderful results in the course of evolution, by the action of this light that emanates from the Logos upon Mulaprakriti. From our standpoint, it will be very difficult to conceive what kind of matter that may be which has none of those tendencies which are commonly associated with all kinds of matter, and which only acquires all the various properties manifested by it on receiving, as it were, this light and energy from the Logos. This light of the Logos is the link, so to speak, between objective matter and the subjective thought of Eswara. It is called in several Buddhist books fohat. It is the one instrument with which the Logos works.

What springs up in the Logos at first is simply an image, a conception of what it is to be in the cosmos. This light or energy catches the image and impresses it upon the cosmic matter which is already manifested. Thus spring into existence all the manifested solar systems. Of course the four principles we have enumerated are eternal, and are common to the whole cosmos. There is not a place in the whole cosmos where these four energies are absent; and these are the elements of the four-fold classification that I have adopted in dealing with the principles of the mighty cosmos itself.

Conceive this manifested solar system in all its principles and in its totality to constitute the sthula sarira of the whole cosmos. Look on this light which emanates from the Logos as corresponding to the sukshma sarira of the cosmos. Conceive further that this Logos which is the one germ from which the whole cosmos springs, — which contains the image of the universe, — stands in the position of the karana sarira of the cosmos, existing as it does before the cosmos comes into existence. And lastly conceive that Parabrahmam bears the same relation to the Logos as our atma does to our karana sarira.

These, it must be remembered, are the four general principles of the infinite cosmos, not of the solar system. These principles must not be confounded with those enumerated in dealing with the meaning of Pranava in Vedantic Philosophy and the Upanishads. In one sense Pranava represents the macrocosm and in another sense the microcosm. From one point of view Pranava is also intended to mean the infinite cosmos itself, but it is not in that light that it is generally explained in our Vedantic books, and it will not be necessary for me to explain this aspect of Pranava. With reference to this subject I may however allude to one other point, which explains the reason why Eswara is called Verbum or Logos; why in fact it is called Sabda Brahmam. The explanation I am going to give you will appear thoroughly mystical. But if mystical it has a tremendous significance when properly understood. Our old writers said that Vach is of four kinds. These are called para, pasyanti, madhyama, vaikhari. This statement you will find in the Rig Veda itself and in several of the Upanishads. Vaikhari Vach is what we utter. Every kind of vaikhari Vach exists in its madhyama, further in its pasyanti, and ultimately in its para form. The reason why this Pranava is called Vach is this, that these four principles of the great cosmos correspond to these four forms of Vach. Now the whole manifested solar system exists in its sukshma form in this light or energy of the Logos, because its image is caught up and transferred to cosmic matter, and again the whole cosmos must necessarily exist in the one source of energy from which this light emanates. The whole cosmos in its objective form is vaikhari Vach, the light of the Logos is the madhyama form, and the Logos itself the pasyanti form, and Parabrahmam the para aspect of that Vach. It is by the light of this explanation that we must try to understand certain statements made by various philosophers to the effect that the manifested cosmos is the Verbum manifested as cosmos.

These four principles bear the same relationship to one another as do these four conditions or manifestations of Vach.

I shall now proceed to an examination of the principles that constitute the solar system itself. Here I find it useful to refer to the explanations generally given with reference to Pranava and the meaning of its matras. Pranava is intended to represent man and also the manifested cosmos, the four principles in the one corresponding to the four in the other. The four principles in the manifested cosmos may be enumerated in this order. First, Vishwanara. Now this Vishwanara is not to be looked upon as merely the manifested objective world, but as the one physical basis from which the whole objective world starts into existence. Beyond this and next to this is what is called Hiranyagarbha. This again is not to be confounded with the astral world, but must be looked upon as the basis of the astral world, bearing the same relationship to the astral world as Vishwanara bears to the objective world. Next to this there is what is now and then called Eswara; but as this word is likely to mislead, I shall not call it Eswara, but by another name, also sanctioned by usage — Sutratma. And beyond these three it is generally stated there is Parabrahmam. As regards this fourth principle differences of opinion have sprung up, and from these differences any amount of difficulty has arisen. For this principle, we ought to have, as we have for the cosmos, some principle or entity out of which the other three principles start into existence and which exist in it and by reason of it. If such be the case, no doubt we ought to accept the Avyaktam of the Sankhyas as this fourth principle. This Avyaktam is the Mulaprakriti which I have already explained as the veil of Parabrahmam considered from the objective standpoint of the Logos, and this is the view adopted by the majority of the Sankhyas. Into the details of the evolution of the solar system itself, it is not necessary for me to enter. You may gather some idea as to the way in which the various elements start into existence from these three principles into which Mulaprakriti is differentiated, by examining the lecture delivered by Professor Crookes a short time ago upon the so-called elements of modern chemistry. This lecture will at least give you some idea of the way in which the so-called elements spring from Vishwanara, the most objective of these three principles, which seems to stand in the place of the protyle mentioned in that lecture. Except in a few particulars, this lecture seems to give the outlines of the theory of physical evolution on the plane of Vishwanara and is, as far as I know, the nearest approach made by modern investigators to the real occult theory on the subject.

These principles, in themselves, are so far beyond our common experience as to become objects of merely theoretical conception and inference rather than objects of practical knowledge. Of course if it is so difficult for us to understand these different principles as they exist in nature, it will be still more difficult for us to form any definite idea as to their basis. But at any rate the evolution and the work of differentiation of these principles is a matter which appertains more properly to the science of physics, than to the science of spiritual ethics, and the fundamental principles that I have laid down will suffice for our present purpose. You must conceive, without my going through the whole process of evolution, that out of these three principles, having as their one foundation Mulaprakriti, the whole manifested solar system with all the various objects in it has started into being. Bear in mind also that the one energy which works out the whole process of evolution is that light of the Logos which is diffused through all these principles and all their manifestations. It is the one light that starts with a certain definite impulse communicated by the intellectual energy of the Logos and works out the whole programme from the commencement to the end of evolution. If we begin our examination from the lowest organisms, it will be seen that this one life is, as it were, undifferentiated. Now when we take, for instance, the mineral kingdom, or all those objects in the cosmos which we cannot strictly speaking call living organisms, we find this light undifferentiated. In the course of time when we reach plant life it becomes differentiated to a considerable extent, and organisms are formed which tend more and more towards differentiation. And when we reach animal life, we find that the differentiation is more complete, and this light moreover manifests itself as consciousness. It must not be supposed that consciousness is a sort of independent entity created by this light; it is a mode or a manifestation of the light itself, which is life. By the time we reach man, this light becomes differentiated and forms that centre or ego that gives rise to all the mental and physical progress that we see in the process of cosmic evolution. This differentiation results in the first instance from the environment of particular organisms. The various actions evoked in a given organism and those which it evokes in other organisms or in its surroundings, and the actions which it generates in itself at that stage, can hardly be called Karma; still its life and actions may perhaps have a certain effect in determining the future manifestations of that life-energy which is acting in it. By the time we reach man, this one light becomes differentiated into certain monads, and hence individuality is fixed.

As individuality is rendered more and more definite, and becomes more and more differentiated from other individualities by man's own surroundings, and the intellectual and moral impulses he generates and the effect of his own Karma, the principles of which he is composed become more defined. There are four principles in man. First, there is the physical body, about which we need not go into details, as they appertain more to the field of enquiry of the physiologist than to that of the religious investigator. No doubt certain branches of physiology do become matters of considerable importance in dealing with certain subjects connected with Yoga Philosophy; but we need not discuss those questions at present.

Next there is the sukshma sarira. This bears to the physical body the same relationship which the astral world bears to the objective plane of the solar system. It is sometimes called kama-rupa in our theosophical dissertations. This unfortunate expression has given rise also to a misconception that the principle called kama represents this astral body itself, and is transformed into it. But it is not so. It is composed of elements of quite a different nature. Its senses are not so differentiated and localized as in the physical body, and, being composed of finer materials, its powers of action and thought are considerably greater than those found in the physical organism. Karana sarira can only be conceived as a centre of pragna — a centre of force or energy into which the third principle (or sutratma) of the cosmos was differentiated by reason of the same impulse which has brought about the differentiation of all these cosmic principles. And now the question is, what is it that completes this trinity and makes it a quaternary? (2) Of course this light of the Logos. As I have already said, it is a sort of light that permeates every kind of organism, and so in this trinity it is manifested in every one of the upadhis as the real jiva or the ego of man. Now in order to enable you to have a clear conception of the matter, I shall express my ideas in figurative language. Suppose, for instance, we compare the Logos itself to the sun. Suppose I take a clear mirror in my hand, catch a reflection of the sun, make the rays reflect from the surface of the mirror — say upon a polished metallic plate — and make the rays which are reflected in their turn from the plate fall upon a wall. Now we have three images, one being clearer than the other, and one being more resplendent than the other. I can compare the clear mirror to karana sarira, the metallic plate to the astral body, and the wall to the physical body. In each case a definite bimbam is formed, and that bimbam or reflected image is for the time being considered as the self. The bimbam formed on the astral body gives rise to the idea of self in it when considered apart from the physical body; the bimbam formed in the karana sarira gives rise to the most prominent form of individuality that man possesses. You will further see that these various bimbams are not of the same lustre. The lustre of this bimbam you may compare to man's knowledge, and it grows feebler and feebler as the reflection is transferred from a clear upadhi to one less clear, and so on till you get to the physical body. Our knowledge depends mainly on the condition of the upadhi, and you will also observe that just as the image of the sun on a clear surface of water may be disturbed and rendered invisible by the motion of the water itself, so by a man's passions and emotions he may render the image of his true self disturbed and distorted in its appearance, and even make the image so indistinct as to be altogether unable to perceive its light.

You will further see that this idea of self is a delusive one. Almost every great writer on Vedantic philosophy, as also both Buddha and Sankaracharya, have distinctly alleged that it is a delusive idea. You must not suppose that these great men said that the idea of self was delusive for the same reason which led John Stuart Mill to suppose that the idea of self is manufactured from a concatenation or series of mental states. It is not a manufactured idea, as it were, not a secondary idea which has arisen from any series of mental states. It is said to be delusive, as I have been trying to explain, because the real self is the Logos itself, and what is generally considered as the ego is but its reflection. If you say, however, that a reflected image cannot act as an individual being, I have simply to remind you that my simile cannot be carried very far. We find that each distinct image can form a separate centre. You will see in what difficulty it will land us if you deny this, and hold the self to be a separate entity in itself. If so, while I am in my objective state of consciousness, my ego is something existing as a real entity in the physical body itself. How is it possible to transfer the same to the astral body? Then, again, it has also to be transferred to the karana sarira. We shall find a still greater difficulty in transferring this entity to the Logos itself, and you may depend upon it that unless a man's individuality or ego can be transferred to the Logos immortality is only a name. In certain peculiar cases it will be very difficult to account for a large number of phenomena on the basis that this self is some kind of centre of energy or some existing monad transferred from upadhi to upadhi.

In the opinion of the Vedantists, and, as I shall hereafter point out, in the opinion of Krishna also, man is a quaternary. He has first the physical body or sthula sarira, secondly the astral body or sukshma sarira, thirdly the seat of his higher individuality, the karana sarira, and fourthly and lastly, his atma. There is no doubt a difference of opinion as to the exact nature of the fourth principle as I have already said, which has given rise to various misconceptions. Now, for instance, according to some followers of the Sankhya philosophy, at any rate those who are called nireswara sankhyas, man has these three principles, with their Avyaktam to complete the quaternary. This Avyaktam is Mulaprakriti, or rather Parabrahmam manifested in Mulaprakriti as its upadhi. In this view Parabrahmam is really the fourth principle, the highest principle in man; and the other three principles simply exist in it and by reason of it. That is to say, this Avyaktam is the one principle which is the root of all self, which becomes differentiated in the course of evolution, or rather which appears to be differentiated in the various organisms, which subsists in every kind of upadhi, and which is the real spiritual entity which a man has to reach.

Now let us see what will happen according to this hypothesis. The Logos is entirely shut out; it is not taken notice of at all; and that is the reason why these people have been called nireswara sankhyas (not because they have denied the existence of Parabrahmam, for this they did not — but) because they have not taken notice of the Logos, and its light — the two most important entities in nature, — in classifying the principles of man.


1. In the edition published by Tookaram Tatya the following footnote was added on page 5:

Four Upadhis including the Ego — the reflected image of the Logos in Karana Sarira — as the vehicle of the Light of the Logos. This is sometimes called Samanya Sarira in Hindu books. But strictly speaking there are only three Upadhis. (return to text)

2. In the edition published by Tookaram Tatya the following footnote was added on page 18:

The reflected image of the Logos formed by the action of this light or Karana Sarira may be considered as the 4th principle in man and it has been so considered by certain philosophers. But in reality the real entity is the light itself and not the reflected image. (return to text)

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