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The Vedanta Sutras, commentary by Sankaracharya (SBE34), tr. by George Thibaut [1890] at

p. 363



1. That which is inferred (by the Sânkhyas, viz. the pradhâna) cannot be the cause (of the world), on account of the orderly arrangement (of the world) being impossible (on that hypothesis).

Although it is the object of this system to define the true meaning of the Vedânta-texts and not, like the science of Logic, to establish or refute some tenet by mere ratiocination, still it is incumbent on thorough students of the Vedânta to refute the Sânkhya and other systems which are obstacles in the way of perfect knowledge. For this purpose a new chapter is begun. (Nor must it be said that the refutation of the other systems ought to have preceded the establishment of the Vedânta position; for) as the determination of the sense of the Vedânta-passages directly subserves perfect knowledge, we have at first, by means of such a determination, established our own position, since this is a task more important than the refutation of the views entertained by others.

Here an opponent might come forward and say that we are indeed entitled to establish our own position, so as to define perfect knowledge which is the means of release to those desirous of it, but that no use is apparent of a refutation of other opinions, a proceeding productive of nothing but hate and anger.--There is a use, we reply. For there is some danger of men of inferior intelligence looking upon the Sânkhya and similar systems as requisite for perfect knowledge, because those systems have a weighty appearance, have been adopted by authoritative persons, and profess to lead to perfect knowledge. Such people might therefore think that those systems with their abstruse arguments

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were propounded by omniscient sages, and might on that account have faith in them. For this reason we must endeavour to demonstrate their intrinsic worthlessness.

But, it might be said, the Sânkhya and similar systems have already been impugned in several Sûtras of the first adhyâya (I, 1, 5, 18; I, 4, 28); why, then, controvert them again?--The task--we reply--which we are now about to undertake differs from what we have already accomplished. As the Sânkhyas and other philosophers also quote, in order to establish their own positions, the Vedânta-passages and interpret them in such a manner as to make them agree with their own systems, we have hitherto endeavoured to show that their interpretations are altogether fallacious. Now, however, we are going to refute their arguments in an independent manner, without any reference to the Vedânta-texts.

The Sânkhyas, to make a beginning with them, argue as follows.--Just as jars, dishes, and other products which possess the common quality of consisting of clay are seen to have for their cause clay in general; so we must suppose that all the outward and inward (i.e. inanimate and animate) effects which are endowed with the characteristics of pleasure, pain, and dulness  1 have for their causes pleasure, pain, and dulness in general. Pleasure, pain, and dulness in their generality together constitute the threefold pradhâna. This pradhâna which is non-intelligent evolves itself spontaneously into multiform modifications  2, in order thus to effect the purposes (i.e. enjoyment, release, and so on) of the intelligent soul.--The existence of the pradhâna is to be inferred from other circumstances also, such as the limitation of all effects and the like  3.

Against this doctrine we argue as follows.--If you Sânkhyas base your theory on parallel instances merely, we point

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out that a non-intelligent thing which, without being guided by an intelligent being, spontaneously produces effects capable of subserving the purposes of some particular person is nowhere observed in the world. We rather observe that houses, palaces, couches, pleasure-grounds, and the like--things which according to circumstances are conducive to the obtainment of pleasure or the avoidance of pain--are made by workmen endowed with intelligence. Now look at this entire world which appears, on the one hand, as external (i. e. inanimate) in the form of earth and the other elements enabling (the souls) to enjoy the fruits of their various actions, and, on the other hand, as animate, in the form of bodies which belong to the different classes of beings, possess a definite arrangement of organs, and are therefore capable of constituting the abodes of fruition; look, we say, at this world, of which the most ingenious workmen cannot even form a conception in their minds, and then say if a non-intelligent principle like the pradhâna is able to fashion it! Other non-intelligent things such as stones and clods of earth are certainly not seen to possess analogous powers. We rather must assume that just as clay and similar substances are seen to fashion themselves into various forms, if worked upon by potters and the like, so the pradhâna also (when modifying itself into its effects) is ruled by some intelligent principle. When endeavouring to determine the nature of the primal cause (of the world), there is no need for us to take our stand on those attributes only which form part of the nature of material causes such as clay, &c., and not on those also which belong to extraneous agents such as potters, &c.  1 Nor (if remembering this latter point) do we enter into conflict with any means of right knowledge; we, on the contrary, are in direct agreement with Scripture which teaches that an intelligent

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cause exists.--For the reason detailed in the above, i.e. on account of the impossibility of the 'orderly arrangement' (of the world), a non-intelligent cause of the world is not to be inferred.--The word 'and' (in the Sutra) adds other reasons on account of which the pradhâna cannot be inferred, viz. 'on account of the non-possibility of endowment,' &c. For it cannot be maintained 1 that all outward and inward effects are 'endowed' with the nature of pleasure, pain, and dulness, because pleasure, &c. are known as inward (mental) states, while sound, &c. (i. e. the sense-objects) are known as being of a different nature (i. e. as outward things), and moreover as being the operative causes of pleasure, &c. 2 And, further, although the sense-object such as sound and so on is one, yet we observe that owing to the difference of the mental impressions (produced by it) differences exist in the effects it produces, one person being affected by it pleasantly, another painfully, and so on 3.--(Turning to the next Sânkhya argument which infers the existence of the pradhâna from the limitation of all effects), we remark that he who concludes that all inward and outward effects depend on a conjunction of several things, because they are limited (a conclusion based on the observation that some limited effects such as roof and sprout, &c. depend on the conjunction of several things), is driven to the conclusion that the three constituents of the pradhâna, viz. Goodness, Passion, and Darkness, likewise depend on the conjunction of several

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antecedents 1; for they also are limited 2.--Further 3, it is impossible to use the relation of cause and effect as a reason for assuming that all effects whatever have a non-intelligent principle for their antecedent; for we have shown already that that relation exists in the case of couches and chairs also, over whose production intelligence presides.


364:1 The characteristics of Goodness, Passion, and Darkness, the three constituent elements (guna) of the pradhâna. Sâ. Kâ. 12, 13.

364:2 Viz. the great principle (mahat), ahankâra, &c. Sâ. Kâ. 3.

364:3 The arguments here referred to are enumerated in the Sâ. Kâ. 15; Sâ. Sûtras I, 129 ff.

365:1 If we attempt to infer the nature of the universal cause from its effects on the ground of parallel instances, as, for instance, that of an earthen jar whose material cause is clay, we must remember that the jar has sprung from clay not without the co-operation of an intelligent being, viz. the potter.

366:1 As had been asserted above for the purpose of inferring therefrom, according to the principle of the equality of cause and effect, the existence of the three constituents of the pradhâna.

366:2 And a thing cannot consist of that of which it is the cause.

366:3 Which differences cannot be reconciled with the Sânkhya hypothesis of the object itself consisting of either pleasure or pain, &c.--'If things consisted in themselves of pleasure, pain, &c., then sandal ointment (which is cooling, and on that account pleasant in summer) would be pleasant in winter also; for sandal never is anything but sandal.--And as thistles never are anything but thistles they ought, on the Sânkhya hypothesis, to be eaten with enjoyment not only by camels but by men also.' Bhâ.

367:1 Samsargapûrvakatvaprasanga iti gunânâm samsrishtânekavastuprakritikatvaprasaktir ity arthah. Ân. Gi.

367:2 For they limit one another.

367:3 To proceed to the argument 'from the separateness of cause and effect' (Sâ. Kâ. 15).

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