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

29. And because the objection (raised against our view) lies against his (the opponent's) view likewise.

Those also who maintain that the world has sprung from the pradhâna implicitly teach that something not made up of parts, unlimited, devoid of sound and other qualities--viz. the pradhâna--is the cause of an effect--viz. the world--which is made up of parts, is limited and is characterised by the named qualities. Hence it follows from that doctrine also either that the pradhâna as not consisting of parts has to undergo a change in its entirety, or else that the view of its not consisting of parts has to be abandoned.--But--it might be pleaded in favour of the Sânkhyas--they do not maintain their pradhâna to be without parts; for they define it as the state of equilibrium of the three gunas, Goodness, Passion, and Darkness, so that the pradhâna forms a whole containing the three gunas as its parts.--We reply that such a partiteness as is here proposed does not remove the objection in hand because still each of the three qualities is declared to be in itself without parts 1. And each guna by itself assisted merely by the two other gunas constitutes the material cause of that part of the world which resembles it in its nature 2.--So that the objection lies against the Sânkhya

p. 354

view likewise.--Well, then, as the reasoning (on which the doctrine of the impartiteness of the pradhâna rests) is not absolutely safe, let us assume that the pradhâna consists of parts.--If you do that, we reply, it follows that the pradhâna cannot be eternal, and so on.--Let it then be said that the various powers of the pradhâna to which the variety of its effects is pointing are its parts.--Well, we reply, those various powers are admitted by us also who see the cause of the world in Brahman.

The same objections lie against the doctrine of the world having originated from atoms. For on that doctrine one atom when combining with another must, as it is not made up of parts, enter into the combination with its whole extent, and as thus no increase of bulk takes place we do not get beyond the first atom  1 If, on the other hand, you maintain that the atom enters into the combination with a part only, you offend against the assumption of the atoms having no parts.

As therefore all views are equally obnoxious to the objections raised, the latter cannot be urged against any one view in particular, and the advocate of Brahman has consequently cleared his doctrine.


353:1 So that if it undergoes modifications it must either change in its entirety, or else--against the assumption--consist of parts.

353:2 The last clause precludes the justificatory remark that the stated difficulties can be avoided if we assume the three gunas in combination only to undergo modification; if this were so the inequality of the different effects could not be accounted for.

354:1 As an atom has no parts it cannot enter into partial contact with another, and the only way in which the two can combine is entire interpenetration; in consequence of which the compound of two atoms would not occupy more space than one atom.

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