Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona
vol.XII 12:3, 1931.04. p. 205-215

p.205 The problem of knowledge pre-supposes a subject that knows and an object that is known and the method by which the subject or the knower acquires knowledge of the object as well as the knowledge which is the resultant of the former three. Vatsyayana aptly remarks," He who is led to an action out of any desire to accept or to reject a thing is the cogniser (pramatr). The object that is cognised is the cognisable (prameya ), The knowledge of the object is the cognition (pramiti). And the apparatus whereby an object is cognised is the instrument of cognition (pramana) . With these four, pramatr, prameya, pramiti, and pramana the circuit of the cognition of an object completes itself.(1)" If any of these four were wanting there could be no cognition. One is a cogniser only in relation to what is cognised as well as the cognition (pramiti or prama). Again, the cognisable has come to be what it is only because it becomes the object of ------------------------ 1. yasyepsajihasaprayuktasya pravrttih sa pramata sa yenartham praminoti tat pramanam yo'rthah pramiyate tat prameyam yadarthavijnanam sa pramitih catasrsu caivamvidhasv arthatattvam parisamapyate. Vatsyayana: Introduction to his Bhasga on the Nyayasutra. Vacaspati echoes the same note in the Bhamati on the Sankarabhasya of the Vedantasutra. 2. 2. 28. p. 206 cognition. There must be also some pramana, some apparatus of correct cognition without which the pramatr and the prameya would remain strangely apart and be never related. So also pramiti is necessary in quest of which the three, pramatr, prameya and pramana co-operate and function together. Thus these four pramatr, prameya, pramana, and pramiti are relative and interdependent. Now all the schools of Brahmanic philosophy have posited some permanent entity, i.e. soul as the cogniser to which cognition is variously related. The Buddhists have, however, denied the existence of any such permanent entity. The aggregates of rupa, somjna, samskara, vedana and vijnana,- the first corresponding to what we call material elements and all the rest to mental elements - are the stuff of which an individual is made. Cognition which is not subservient to any intelligent being, is referred to the samjna skandha or the vijnana skandha according as it is determinate (savikalpa) or indeterminate ( nirvikalpa).(1) The place of the transcendental atman is taken by vijnana. It is the continuity of cognition (santana ) which holds together, unifies and synthesizes the fleeting moments of cognition and seems to give us the notion, though erroneous, of a subject or a knower acquiring knowledge both presentative (nirvikalpa or svalaksana and representative (savikalpa or samanyalaksana). This is in general the Buddhist view on the nature of the pramatr or the subject.(2) But there are some notable points of difference among -------------------- 1. rupavijnanam rasavijnanam ityadi nirvikalpakam visistajnanam vijnanaskandhah samjnanamittodgrahanatmakah pratyayah samjnaskandhah tetra samjna gaurityadika gotvadikam ca tatpratipattinimittam tayorudgrahana yojana. tadatmakah pratyayo namajatyadiyojanatmakam savikalpam jnanam samjnaskandhah. Nyayavarttikatatparyaparisuddhi (Bib. Ind. ) pp. 213-214. Again savikalpam vijnanam samjnaskandhah nirvikalpakam jnanam vijnanaskandhah. Saddarsanasamuccaya (Bib. Indica), p. 26. 2. For a detailed exposition of the Buddhist therory of soul or rather not-soul ( nairatmya ) the following may be consulted. (a) Stcherbatsky Soul theory of the Buddhist. (b) Rhys Davids : Soul ( Buddhist), Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. (a) Keith: Buddhist Philosophy, Chapter IV. (d) Stcherbatsky :Central Conception of Buddhism. p. 207 the various schools. It would therefore be better if we discuss the problem of cognition with reference to each of the four different schools of later Buddhism, which was responsible for the growth and development of Buddhist logic. Buddhism in the beginning though branching out into, as many as eighteen schools, settled itself later to four principal ones viz. Vaibhasika, Sautrantika, Yogacara and Madhyamika. Whetherr these schools arose one after another or side by side is a question which cannot be easily answered. So without entering into this moot point, we shall begin with the Vaibhasika - a procedure which, though it may not be chronologically true, can be supported from the standpoint of the evolution of thought. The Vaibhasikas share with the general Buddhist schools the doctrines of soullessness and the skandhas. Vijnana is the pramatr. And the prameyas are the sense-data of colour, sound, odour, taste and touch (rupa-sabda-gandha-rasa-sprastavya). Corresponding to these five prameyas there are five senses, sense of vision, sense of audition, sense of smelling, sense of taste and sense of touch (caksu-srotra-ghrana-jihva-kayendriyani) which apprehend the prameyas or the sensibles. The Vaibhasikas admit the reality of external things though they acknowledge them to be momentary. They do not, like the Yogacaras, the Buddhist idealists, hold that the external objective world is only a manifestation of internal consciousness (vijnanaparinama). According to them "our knowledge or awareness of things not mental is no creation but only discovery.(1) Had it not been for perception no determination of vyapti or the invariable concomitance between the probans and probandum would be possible, as it follows from repeated observations of the probans and probandum associated together. In the absence of the perceptibility of the external world no concomitance can be determined and hence no inferential knowledge.(2) ---------------- 1. Radhakrishnan; "Indian Philosophy " vol. I, p. 614. 2. vijneyanumeyatvavade pratyaksikasya kasyacid apyarthasyabhavena vyaptisamvedanasthanabhavenanu- manapravrtyanupapattih sakalalokanubhavavirodhasca. Sarvadarsanasamgraha, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona City, 1924, Bauddha-darsana, p. 43. p. 208 Cognition, however, according to the Vaibhasikas is devoid of any form belonging to subject cognised. Cognition is coexistent with the object and has for its origin the same conditions as the object itself. If the cognition and the object be thus mutually related, the former becomes pramana with reference to the latter.(1) Jayanta in his Nyayamanjari develops the doctrine which he has introduced there as a purvapaksa. Cognition and object are but two co-existent momentary entities, as they are originated by kindred cause-complex (tulyasamagryadhina). Cognition in any particular moment is due to the cognition of the previous moment as its material cause (upadana-karana) together with the object of the previous moment as the auxiliary cause (sahakarikarana). Again, the object at any particular moment is due to the object of the previous moment as the material cause together with the cognition of the previous moment as its auxiliary cause. Thus both cognition and object depend on a kindred cause-complex (samagri) and the cognition which rightly corresponds to the object is the pramana of that object. In spite of the fact that every thing cognition as well as object, is of a momentary character, human life and its activities have been rendered possible only on the continuity of cognition and object in the above process.(2) Cognition being of the nature of illumination is regarded as the knower or the subject (grahaka). The object being of the nature of insentience is regarded as the knowable (grahya).(3) Then comes the Sautrantika school of Buddhist philosophy. Like the Vaibhasikas they do not recognise the perceptibility of the ---------------------- 1. nirakarabodho' rthasahabhavy ekasamagryadhinastatrarthe pramanam. Saddarsanasamuccaya (B.I., P. 26 ). 2. ksanabhangisu padarthesu sahakaryupadanakaranapeksaksanantara santatijananena ca lokayatramudvahatsu jnanajanmani jnanam upadanakaranam arthah sahakari karanam arthajanmani cartha upadanakaranam jnanam sahakarikaranam iti jnanam ca jnanarthajanyam arthascarthajnanajanyo bhavatityevam ekasamagryadhinataya tam artham avyabhicarato jnanasya tatra pramanyam iti. Nyayamanjari, p. 15. 3. jnanam prakasasvabhavam iti grahakam artho jadatmeti grahyam iti. ibid p. 16. p. 209 external objects. According to them the world of matter is not directly apprehended; nevertheless it has a real existence of its own. Objects can be cognised by inference. Cognition assumes the form of the object which itself cannot be intuited. So the object is to be inferred from the form it imprints on our cognition. Consciousness is, as it were, the mirror in which the external realities are reflected.(1) The Yogacara or Vijnanavada is another school of Buddhist philosophy which does not admit the reality of external things. The reality of the objective world, according to this school, is an illusion. It is nothing more than a creation of the mind. The objective world is merely the transformation of our consciousness (vijnanaparinama) . An itinerant ascetic, an amorous person and a dog, all catch sight of a woman, but they have three different notions. The ascetic looks upon her as a mere carcass, the voluptuary takes her to be an object of amorous delight while the dog takes her to be something eatable.(2) Thus with reference to one and the same body of a woman, diverse judgments arise according to the pre-conception and the mental inclination of the different observers. Similarly, the diversity of judgment on our part of the empirical world is due to the individual susceptibilities of the subject. Consciousness is indivisible and unitary in its nature. To the people of perverse intellect it appears as divided into a perceptible object, a percepient subject as well as perceptive knowledge.(3) ------------------------------ 1. According to Prof. Stcherbatsky the Brahmanic account of the Sautrantika theory of cognition, viz. bahyarthanumeyatvavada (the theory that the external objective world is not directly intuited but cognised inferentially ) is due to some confasion between the Sautrantika and the Yogacara doctrines. (Stcherbatsky-Central Conception of Buddhism, p. 63 f. n. 5 ). He also observes that with regard to the process of cognition there is not much difference between the Vaibhasika and the Sautrantika schools. 2. parivrat kamkasunam ekasyam pramadatanau. kunapah kamini bhaksyam iti tisro vikalpanah. Sarvadarsanasamgraha. p. 30. 3. avibhago hi budhyatma viparyasitadarsanaih. grahyagrahakasamvittivedavan iva laksyate. Sarvadarsanasamgraha. p. 33. p. 210 According to them there are two kinds of consciousness (vijnana): one is the alaya vijnana and the other pravrtti vijnana. Alaya vijnana is the continuous store-consciousness which is identified with the notion of the self (ahamaspadam). And the manifold vijnanas or awarenesses we experience in our common life viz. knowledge of red, blue etc., are cases of pravrtti vijnana. Alaya vijnana is not in itself of a steady and permanent nature but it appears to be so owing to the continuity (santana) of the basic consciousness at each moment, just like the water of a river in which no one current of water is the same as the other. One Brahmanic writer says, alayavijnana is the cogniser, pramatr and the five aggregates of rupa, vedana, vijnana, samjna and samskara are the prameyas which undergo changes every moment.(1) The entire world (of sense perception ) involving as it is does, the tripartite division of a knower, knowable and knowledge is impressed as it were in the current of a continued succession of consciousnesses in the shape of notion of a self.(2) "The Alaya-vijnana is a series of continuous consciousness. It is, to use the modern psychological term, a stream of consciousness. It is always running and changing. It is the sole substratum of the transmigration in samsara. The Alaya-vijnana of the Buddhist has for its counterpart in the Atman of the orthodox Hindu system of Philosophy with this difference that the Atman is immutable, while Alaya vijnana is continuously changing."(3) Vacaspati also suggests if alayavijnana be regarded as a permanent entity it is in other words the soul.(4) ------------------ 1. ksane ksane praliyamanam utpadyamanam calayavijnanam pramata. rupavedanasamjnasamskarakhya pancaskandhi ksane ksane pranikarmanusarens viliyamanotpadyamana ca svabhavena suranaranarakarupena parinatim uparatim ca yanti prameyam. Sarvamatasamgraha, Trivandrum Sanskrit Series, p.19. 2. grahyagrahakagrhanatmakam sarvam idam jagad ahamityalayavijnanasamtane nityanimagnam. ibid.p.20. 3. Sogen: System of Buddhistic thought; Calcutta University, pp.210-211. 4. tad yadyekam sthiram asthiyetatatonamantarena atmaiva. Bhamati on the Vedantasutra, s.2.2.18. p. 211 The Tattvsaratnavall of Advayavajra( G.O. Series) refers to two schools of Yogacaras, one advocating sakaravada (i. e. cognition has some form in which it appears to represent an external object ) and the other nirakaravada (i. e. cognition has no form whatsoever).(1) The first scool argues: If cognition has the form of a blue (object) or the like, why one should admit external things? If again, cognition has no form of a blue (object) or the like, how one can admit external things? In the first case cognition itself serves the purposes of external things and in the second case in the absence of any form in a cognition, external things, if any, cannot be established as there is no other means of cognising objects except through cognition which must have some form.(2) The second school says:-There is no external reality as has been supposed by ignorant people. Consciousness under the influence of vasana appears as external entities. All appearances are mere illusions (maya). Cognition is devoid of any form but has a self-illuminating nature. In reality, mind is free from any imprint of a supposed external object and is like the sky clear and infinite.(3) Though the above view of the Yogacara school is true from the metaphysical and transcendental standpoint, they have tentatively subscribed to the ordinary notions of subject and object, without which every day life becomes an absurdity.(4) While the Yogacaras refuse to admit any extramental reality and explain every thing in terms of vijnana or cognition, the Madhyamikas go one step further and discard vijnana also. To them both mind and matter are equally appearances and not reality which is rather inexpressible sand hence sunya-in the sense that --------------------- 1. yogacarasca dvidhah sakaranirakarabhedena. Advayavajrasamgraha, p. 18. 2. dhiyo niladirupatve bahyo'rthah kimnibandhanah dhiyo'niladirupatve bahyo'rthah kimnibandhanah. ibid. p. 18. This karika has been attributed to Dharmakirtti. 3. bahgo na vidyate hyartho yatha balairvikalpyate vasanaluthitam cittam arthabhasam pravartate. yavad abhasate yacca tan mayaiva bhasate tattato hi nirabhasah suddhantanabhonibhah. ibid, p. 18. 4. vastuto vedyavedakakaravidhuraya api buddher vyavahartrparijnananurodhena vibhinnagrahyagrahakakararupavattaya etc. Sarvadarsanasamgraha, pp. 32-33 p. 212 all attributes have been abstracted from it. Their creed is that reality is neither existence nor non-existence, nor the combination nor the negation of both. But the conclusions of an uncompromisingly rigorous logic cannot have any effect on ordinary minds which are yet to be trained to enable them to form a correct notion of reality (tattva) by means of a graduated course of instruction. So the Madhyamika teachers have introduced two kinds of truth--samvrti and paramartha, so that the ordinary people may learn to argue for themselves and choose the right one. Of the two-fold truth samvrtti and paramartha, the latter which is the real and highest truth transcends intellect (buddhi), while the former belongs to the region of intellect. Samvrti is the relative truth referrable to our every day life and experiences. It is called samvrti on account of the fact of its veiling on all sides the real nature of things.(1) It is characterised by the notion of name and nameable, cognition and cognisable and the like. It has been said that Buddha's teachings are with reference to these two kinds of truth, viz. samvrti and paramartha. Those who do not understand the difference between these two truths, shall not understand the spirit of the profound teaching of Buddha. Candrakirti observes in connection with the above that without admitting the concerns of the work-a-day world, which are characterised by the notion of names and namables and of knowledge and knowables, ultimate truth cannot be discussed.(2) So also Nagarjuna says, ultimate truth cannot be set forth without referring to the practical concerns of life and without realising ultimate truth there can be no nirvana.(3) -------------------- 1. samantadvaranam samvrtih ajnanam hi samantat sarvapadarthatattvavacchadanat samvrtirityuccyate sa cayam abhidhanabhidheyajnanajneyadilaksanah. Prasannapada on the Madhyamikakarika ( Bib. Buddhica), p. 492. 2. ye'nayor na vijananti vibhagam satyayordvayoh te tattvam navijananti gambhiram buddhasasane. kimtu laukikam vyavaharam anabhyupagamya bhidhanabhidheyajnanajneyadilaksanam asakya eva paramartho desayitum. Ibid. p. 494. 3. vyavaharam anasritya paramartho na desyate paramarthamanagamya nirvanam nadhigamyate. M. K. 24.10. p. 213 Now samvrti has been divided into two classes for practical purposes: (a) tathyasamvrti and (b) mithyasamvrti. The cognition of a blue as blue by means of some sense organ, viz. eyes, is a case of tathyasamvrti. But hallucinations, a mirage and the like which are due to some defect either in the sense-organ or the sensing itself, are cases of mithyasamvriti.(1) In terms of Nyaya, the former are pramana and the latter are apramana. But in the transcendental stage both tathyasamvrti and mithyasamvrti are equally wrong, as it would seem to a saint (arya).(2) We may refer in passing to the Yogasutra where we read that yoga demands the suppression of all mental states right or wrong.(3) There pramana (correct knowledge) along with viparyaya (incorrect knowledge ) is one of the several vrttis to be got rid of in yoga. The Madhyamika position also reminds one of Samkara's observation which is strikingly similar to it.(4) In his introduction ----------------------- 1. sa ca samvrtirdvividha lokata eva. tathyasamvrtir mithya samvrti sceti. tatha hi kimcit pratityajatam niladikam vasturupam adosavadindriyair upalabdham lokata eva satyam. mayamaricipratibimbadisu pratitya samupajatam api dosavadindriyopalabdham yathasvam tirthikasiddhantaparikalpitam ca lokata eva mithya. Bodhicaryavatarapanjika. p. 353. 2. etattad ubhayam api samyagdrsamaryanam mrsa paramarthadasayam samvrtisatyalikatvat. Compare the Vedantic division of truth into paramarthika, vyavaharika and pratibhasika: the first corresponds to the Buddhist paramartha and the last two to tathyasamvrti and mithyasamvrti respectively. 3. yogascittavrttinirodhah......Yogasutra, p. 1. 2. (vrttayah) pramanaviparyayavikalpanidrasmrtayah Yogasutra, 1, 6. 4. tam etam avidyakhyam atmanatmanoritaretaradhyasam puraskrty sarve pramanaprameyavyavahara laukika vaidikasca pravrttah sarvani ca sastrani vidhipratisedha- moksaparani. katham punar avidyavadvisayani- pratyaksadini pramanani sastraniceti. ucyate dehendriyadisvahammamabhimanarahitasya pramatrtvanupa- pattau pramanapravrttyanupapatter na hindriya- nyanupadaya pratyaksadivyavarah sambhavati na p. 214 to the commentary on the Brahmasutras, Samkara says: "The mutual superimposition of the Self and the non-self, which is termed Nescience, is the pre-supposition on which there base all the practical distinctions-those made in ordinary life as well as those laid down by the Veda - between means of knowledge, objects of knowledge( and knowing persons ), and all scriptural texts, whether they are concerned with injunctions and prohibitions (of meritorious and non-meritorious actions ) or with final release. But how can the means of right knowledge such as perception, inference, etc., and scriptural texts have for their object that which is dependent on Nescience? Because, we reply, the means of right knowledge cannot operate unless there be a knowing personality, and because the existence of the latter depends on the erroneous notion that the body, the senses and so on, are identical with, or belong to, the self of the knowing person. For without the employment of the senses, perception and the other means of right knowledge cannot operate. And without a basis (i. e. the body) the senses cannot act. Nor does any body act by means of a body on which the nature of the self is not superimposed. Nor can in the absence of all that, the self which in its own nature is free from all contact, become a knowing agent. And if there is no knowing agent, the means of right knowledge cannot operate (as said above ). Hence perception and other means of right knowledge, and the Vedic texts have for their object that which is dependent upon Nescience."(1) Samkara goes on arguing as above and proves on the analogy of men with animals that it is out of Nescience that men betake themselves to the notion of the means and objects of knowledge. --------------------- cadhisthanamantarenendriyanam vyaparah sambhavati. na canadhyastatmabhavena dehena kascid vyapriyate na caitasmin sarvasminu asatyasangasyatmanah pramatrtvam upapadyate. na ca pramatrtvam antarena- pramanapravrttirasti tasmad avidyavad visayanyeva pratyaksadini pramanani sastrani ceti. Samkara Bhasya on the Vedantasutras; Anandasrama Editoin, 1890, pp. 12-14 1. The Vedantasutras with Samkara Bhasya (S.B.E.) vol. XXXIV, pp. 6-7. p. 215 So the view that pramana has no place in the transcendental vision of the reality, is shared equally by some of the Buddhist and Brahmanic philosophers. From the views of the four Buddhist schools, as sketched above, it would appear that the first two admit the reality of an external objective world which enters into our cognition, but the last two do not admit such a reality. The objective world is, as they would say, invested with reality by a mere figment of imagination. This view of reality although true from philosophical standpoint cannot accord with our everyday life. So they have admitted tentatively a relative truth to fit in with the practical concerns of life. It is from this aspect of truth in our everyday experience that logical discussions are possible. Logic or Nyaya is consistent with realism. The Brahmanic Nyaya system is out and out realistic, as well as the Jainn Nyaya. The Buddhist schools of Vijnanavadin and of Madhyamika, as we have seen, have obviated the difficulties in the way of logical speculations by their realistic concessions. The logical texts of the Buddhists we know of, all belong to Mahayana and were written by Madhyamika and Vijnanavadin authors. The Madhyamika and the pre-Dinnaga Yogacara writers on logic mostly reverted to Gautama's principles. Though Yogacara or Vijnanavadin (idealists ) in their metaphysical theories, Dinnaga and Dharmakirtti have for the purposes of logic taken up the Sautrantika position which represents the transition stage between Hinayana and Mahayana. The Buddhist logicians that flourished later on mostly adopted their principles.