* Read before the XXVI International Congress of Orientalists, in New Delhi January, 1964.
IF THE CONTROVERSY between the Vaibhaa.sika and Sautraantika schools of Buddhism regarding the nature of reality is taken into consideration, the position of the Maadhyamika school will be more easily understood. The Vaibhaa.sika theory of the reality of all the elements of past and future was criticized by the Sautraantikas on the ground that what we really know is only in the present. This view was made possible by the development of the original theory of impermanence into that of momentariness.The momentariness of an object, in its turn, depends upon a peculiar criterion of reality called efficiency (arthakriyaa-kaaritva). The efficiency of an object ensures it reality, but in that respect it must change. So, a real object was conceived as constantly changing. Taking their hint from the Saa^mkhya, the Buddhists believed in natural, mechanical change; unlike the Nyaaya-Vai`se.sika, they rejected the notion of an efficient cause in the form of a supernatural, metaphysical reality called God. But, as it would have been against common notion to believe in the total change of the face of an object, they believed in the change of the components of an object. Thus they were led to believe in the double character of a thing. Strictly speaking, a thing is constantly changing in its component elements or atoms; in other words, by its nature it is evanescent, but apparently it remains unchanged for a considerable period of time. Thus a thing-in-itself (svalak.sa.na), a thing in its specific form, is momentary; but a thing-in-general (saamaanyalak.sa.na), a thing in its generic form, appears to be permanent. Granting this distinction between appearance and reality, and accepting reality as efficient and thus momentary, it can be concluded consistently that reality is given only in the present, not in the past or the future.
Efficacious reality, self-changing as it is, follows a law of its own. A harmony between momentary reality and apparent permanence was to be explained; otherwise, a composite thing, being nothing over and above its component elements, would become entirely unrecognizable due to its novelty every moment. The identity of a composite thing was therefore supposed to be rooted in an unbroken series of similar though discrete particular momentary realities (k.sa.na-sa^mtaana). Thus the original Buddhist law of Dependent Origination was resorted to in order to keep the stream of momentary particulars going on uninterruptedly. The preceding moment was not supposed to be the cause of the succeeding one in the Saa^mkhya sense of the real, natural transformation of a cause into an effect (satkaarya-vaada=pari.naama); had that been the case, the change would have been nugatory. It was also not like the efficient cause (k.rtimat) of the Nyaaya-Vai`se.sika, which out of the material cause creates something entirely new (asat-kaarya-vaada=aarambha-vaada)--for in that case similarity between cause and effect would not be explained. The Naiyaayikas themselves admit the effect to be nothing but the consequent of its prior absence. In the theory of their contemporary idealist colleagues, the Vij~naanavaadins (Yogaacaaras), they saw a danger of eternalism (`saa`svata-vaada)--for, according to the latter, the realities of the universe are simply appearances in the storehouse consciousness (aalayauij~naana). The old formula explanation of causality, viz., "This being, that arises" (asmin sati ida^m bhavati),cannot explain simultaneously existing elements--for in that formula each particular element is supposed to follow a preceding particular. Thus causality was conceived by the Sautraantikas as "appearance of such realities as are by their very nature evanescent, in co-ordination with other realities." Here appearance does not mean total absence of reality as in the case of idealistic systems of philosophy. It means that the very momentary existence of a naturally evanescent entity enables it to be efficacious and thus real. Strange though it may seem, for them reality consists in appearance; in the absence of its appearance a thing is unreal (uccheda). This appearance is not of something (Satkaarya), nor is it out Of nothing (asatkaarya); it is because of the force (sa^mskaara) of co-ordinating realities. Thus realities make other realities appear; they do not create one, nor do they produce one. In this lies their efficacy.
Such a reality forms the basic core of perception, but cannot be directly apprehended because of its momentary character. Therefore, it can be inferred only from its impact on the mind of the perceiver (efficacy). But its existence cannot be denied because in that case a veridical perception could not be distinguished from illusory perception.[4a] Veridical perception itself results when various factors, including the object, which is nothing but an appearing momentary reality, co-ordinate. But, as the perception of an evanescent reality is not possible, it is contended that the object of perception is a composite thing which is comparatively permanent and hence not real in itself. What we perceive is therefore not the real-in-itself but the real in-general (saamaanya-lak.sa.na). This is really the incapacity of our mind, which is not able to penetrate beneath the hard shell of generality. But this generality itself should not be taken as something entirely non-existent because, after all, it derives its existence from evanescent reality. But it is not located in the real particular; it is a creation of our own mind (kalpanaa), through which the real object (ida^m) is perceived. When we perceive a jar, e.g., there is a concept of jar (paratantra=depending upon the other i.e., other than the real object, viz., mind) which itself refers to the real external object, the object existing independent of any mind perceiving it (svatantra). In a judgment like "This is a flower," "this" stands for the real momentary object, but is not known as such; "flower" stands for the concept but depends upon "this" for its reference. All knowledge is therefore ultimately the knowledge of "this," the real momentary element (ida^m-pratyayataa), but apparently it has a tinge of concepts (savikalpa). The "this" part of it is real (ida^m-satya); the conceptual part is make-believe. We have to sift the husk from the grain in order to be emancipated from the powerful impact of concepts.
Thus this theory rules out the possibility of knowing the real but accepts its existence on the strength of its impact on our mind. From our experience, now of a flower, now of a man, a horse, etc., etc., we are compelled to believe in its particularity, but its generic character is relegated to the position of nescience because what we know is necessarily manifold, and efficacy lies in a particular, not in the universal. Thus reality is manifold, free from concepts (nirvikalpa), in itself a directly unknowable something (ida^m-maatra). Monism is condemned as a wrong view (mithyaa-d.r.s.ti=Kalpanaa). The Maadhyamikas had to defend their own view against Braahma.nical systems, the Saa^mkhya and the Nyaaya-Vai`se.sika, on the one hand, and against
the Vaibhaa.sikas and the Sautraantikas, on the other.
They came with a new interpretation of the teachings of the Master which they thought was
not properly presented by any Buddhist school of philosophy. In their zeal to preserve the
sanctity of the concept of Middle Path (madhyamaa pratipad) of the Buddha, they came
forward with a novel interpretation of the theory of causality popularly called the theory
of Dependent Origination (pratiityasamutpaada). Their interpretation completely changed
the picture of the Buddha's teachings and presented a landmark in the history of Indian
While criticizing the Braahma.nical view of soul as something over and above the five elements (skandhas) composing it, Candrakiirti, the illustrious commentator on Naagaarjuna, says that, although the Braahma.nas tell us about something which is supposed to be beyond these composing elements, the description of this entity, called soul, does not depend upon the direct knowledge of the soul. The soul is not directly known, and the Braahma.nas admit its unknowability. This criticism means that what the soul is in-itself is never found, but the Braahma.nas take pleasure in describing it as existent, blissful, etc. This description of soul cannot refer to soul-in-itself; the Braahma.nas would never agree that the description really stands for the conglomeration of five elements, as they are afraid that in that case the cherished soul will be reduced to evanescent reality. Hence, in reality, their soul is nothing but a name (naama-maatraka). Thus, in the opinion of the Maadhyamikas, such a view of soul is even worse than the Sautraantika view, which presents the description of soul as directly referring to its generic character (saamaanyalak.sa.na), thereby meaning that there is an evanescent reality (sva-lak.sa.na) at the root. Therefore, for the Braahma.nas, the soul would be a purely imaginary entity having no existence. Thus, the Maadhyamikas think that there can be a description in the Russellian sense which need not involve the actuality of referent. A description without any reference is a fabrication of words
(prapa~nca). It is like the expression "a barren woman's daughter" (vandhyaaduhit.r). Such a description of a girl would not attract even highly passionate people.
A second type of description refers to the generic character of an object (saamaanya=vikalpa=imagined) as belonging to a reality-in-itself (svalak.sa.na=ida^m-pratyaya=this). Here a distinction may be made between the case where this generic character actually refers to the reality-in-itself and the case where it merely appears to refer to it. The former may be called the case where description is accompanied by demonstration (vikalpa), and the latter is mere description without any real demonstration (vikalpa-maatra), In both cases reference is involved; whether it is actual or only supposed makes all the difference. Veridical perception differs from illusory perception only on this ground. In Maadhyamika terminology, in the former case the "truth of 'this' " is taken in correlation with the description (ida^m-satyaabhinive`sa), whereas in the latter case there is only the "awareness of 'this"' (ida^mpratyaya-maatra) without an actual correlation. Apart from this metaphysical analysis, the two cases are alike from the point of view of the knowledge- situation (pratiiti=pratyaya). In knowledge we cannot tell veridical perception from illusory perception. This is the case with the knowledge of ordinary human beings (p.rthag-jana). An object is known in co-ordination with the generic concept and evanescent efficacious reality (upaadaaya-praj~napyamaana), and such knowledge is couched in language (vikalpa+prapa~nca).
Thus far the realists, like the Sautraantikas, would prefer to be with the Maadhyamikas. But the Maadhyamikas leave their predecessors behind at this point.
We have seen that for both the Maadhyamikas and the Sautraantikas knowledge refers to something external. In the phenomenological sense all knowledge is intentional. This is true of illusory cognition also. But for the Sautraantikas the external is something in co-ordination with which (pratiiya=pratyaya) knowledge arises, and this is a necessary presupposition by which they distinguish veridical perception from illusory cognition. There is not only intentionality, there is also a real sense-datum. But the Maadhyamikas cast a doubt upon the reality of "this," i.e,, the co-ordinating character (pratyaya) of the intended reality. The "this" is said to be the object of knowledge because it is efficacious in the appearance of veridical perception. Hence, in spite of the fact that it is not known in itself, its existence cannot be denied, The Maadhyamikas do not subscribe to this view of knowledge, They say that an efficacious reality is nor a necessary condition or co-ordinating factor for perception, because perception takes place even when there is admittedly no such reality present, e.g., the perception of a double moon, Perception simply entails a concept referring to something external. This something external need not be actual, Thus, from this point of view we have veridical perception on a par with illusory perception. So far as knowledge is concerned, in both the cases there is an awareness of "this" (ida^mpratyaya), but we cannot at the same time hold the truth of actual existence of "this" (ida^m-satya). That is the reason why Candrakiirti condemns the view of "truth of this" as childish,
But, then, how distinguish between a veridical perception and an illusory one? For the Maadhyamikas, this question does not arise. The Sautraantikas think that knowledge depends upon things other than the knowledge itself; they co-ordinate to make it appear. The so-called real is known as "the other" (anya). This otherness is either superfluous, if it is supposed to refer to something which is already different from knowledge, or impossible, if it actually does not refer to the other. The supposed reality at the root of
veridical perception cannot be proved; hence, knowledge operating only with concepts will have to be explained in terms of concepts. The supposed reality in itself does not contribute to our knowledge. The concept of it alone will explain knowledge. Thus, illusory cognition is as much conceptual as non-illusory cognition. In the absence of any effective tool at our disposal to institute a distinction, we have to take them as of one kind.
Inasmuch as we cannot go beyond the concepts and penetrate into the nature of reality in itself, it would be absurd to assert the existence of reality merely on the strength of our knowledge. That is a mere supposition. But, it may be urged, if reality does not contribute to knowledge, how is it that when an object is placed before us we perceive it; when it is removed we cease to perceive it? Had knowledge been purely conceptual, perception or non-perception would have depended on the will of the perceiver. To explain this phenomenon the famous twelve-linked formula of Dependent Origination is pressed into service, with a different interpretation, of course. We need not say that reality actively co-ordinates, because activity itself is a concept. We can assert only that the concepts inter se are relative to each other. Go-ordination is replaced by relativity (saapek.sataa).
The metaphysicians are wont to jump from concepts to actual things of which these concepts are supposed to be replicas. If there is a concept of the other, then they think that there must be an actual other. Similarly, if two things are conceived as co-ordinating, a metaphysician would think, without the least hesitation, that there are two such actual things. The Maadhyamikas chide such metaphysicians by saying that co-ordination of things is not at all possible and relativity itself leaves an actual reality, if there be any, untouched. Go-ordinating factors must be different from the supposed thing to result from their co-ordination. Go-ordination presupposes difference, on the one hand, among co-ordinating factors, and, on the other hand, between co-ordinating factors and their result. But the fact is that these factors themselves, being momentary, cannot co-ordinate, and, even if their co-ordina-
tion is accepted, they cannot be said to be in a relation of causation to something which is yet to be produced. Relationship can be assumed to exist only between two things existing simultaneously. In knowledge we assume that there is an object (aalambana) which is responsible for it. But can we show the relationship between an object and its knowledge? The Maadhyamikas give a negative answer to this, saying that what we ate aware of is only a concept of an object; this concept is based upon another concept of relation. The concept of relation, in its turn, depends upon two things that are related. In order to prove actual relation between two things we refer to the concept of relation and say that had there been no relation the concept of relation would never have arisen. But the Maadhyamikas would pay the realists back in their own coin, because, for them, if there had been no concept of relation, actual relation itself would never have been assumed. Therefore, we can say with justification that the concepts are responsible for the notion of actually existing things, but we cannot say the converse because except concepts we have no other means to ascertain the actual state of affairs. Thus, the notion of causality for the Maadhyamikas is not rooted in actual co-ordination of factors. It means only dependence of one concept upon another (hetupratyayaapek.sa) 
This dependence is not to be conceived in a metaphysical sense. It is purely an epistemic relativity. Having proved the impossibility of actual relationships among things, the Maadhyamikas propose to show that it is a concept that makes other concepts appear. An example of this type of dependence, very often repeated in their texts, is that of big and small (diirgha and hrasva). It is clear that in itself a thing is neither big nor small; it is only when we come to compare two things that in relation to one the other is big or small as the case may be. Thus the concept of bigness arises because there is a concept of smallness and vice versa. Similarly, the entire furniture of our knowledge is nothing but a great fabrication of mutually dependent concepts. But, in that case, we have to explain the origin of primary concepts. For the realists there is no difficulty: these concepts would arise in co-ordination with actual realities. But the Maadhyamikas, who intend to oust metaphysics from the realm of philosophy, cannot agree to this. They would say
that so-called basic concepts are in no way better than other concepts. Candrakiirti makes a distinction between general relativity (ana^ngii-k.rta-arthavi`se.sa) and specific relativity (a^ngii-k.rta-artha-vi'se.sa). Relativity as a basic tendency of mind may be compared to a field which is given to the mind to play in. Within this relativity-field our mind encounters other things, but, conditioned as it is by the relativity-field, it takes those specific objects in the light of relativity. To say that this relativity is associated with mind without any beginning is to assert indirectly that it cannot go beyond its field. Mind is confined to the field of relativity; only concepts and not things can be legitimately relative; hence, mind cannot know the thing-in-itself. The Sautraantikas think that, although the realities cannot be directly known, they are many, momentary, and efficacious. This view is rejected since to say that reality is many involves the concept that relation, momentariness, and efficacy are not possible without the concept of causation. The very logic which rejects oneness of reality (viz., in knowledge only the manifold is given, and thus monism is fictitious) compels us to disown plurality also, since not the manifold real but only the concept of relation is given to play with. Thus reality-in-itself is neither one nor many.
Relativity-field is interpreted as the general law of causality, which is expressed in the formula "this being, that arises," which means that given a concept it will lead to another concept. The causal formula of the Master--pratiitya-samutpaada-therefore shows that reality is not born, nor does it die. It is neither momentary nor efficacious. Naagaarjuna discusses this relativity-field in the first chapter of his famous book and various particular concepts, such as motion, conjunction, time, space, emancipation, and soul that arise as a result of this relativity, in subsequent chapters. He invariably comes to the conclusion that all these are mere concepts rooted in their mutual dependence, and hence they cannot describe the real-in-itself. The task of philosophy is to show that reality conceived within the relativity-field is conceptual, and hence it has no essence of its own, i.e., it is not what it would be in itself (svabhaava-`suunya).
The question as to what is the cause of the relativistic tendency of the mind itself cannot be answered because that involves a state beyond the relativity-field, and our mind cannot venture in that realm. An unanswerable question is no question. Similarly, the question whether this relativity-field
is relative also cannot be finally answered because any
answer to this would presuppose relativity. Thus, the most consistent position of a
philosopher should be to take his experience as a play of interdependent concepts which,
having no connection with reality, are empty. Within the field of relativity emptiness
means devoid of content (nairaatmya), and not of existence
(abhaava). The concepts prevail powerfully upon and obscure the vision of the mind, and hence they are there but are not to be confused with reality (sa^mv.rti-satya).
But the concepts are pregnant with intentionality. Actually a concept refers to another concept (pratiitya=sa^mv.rti-satya) , but, if a concept is taken as referring to reality (as realists in general do), it is delusion. That is called a wrong notion (mithyaa-d.r.s.ti). Notion (d.r.s.ti) and truth (satya) should be carefully distinguished. To think that the existence of a concept means the existence of a thing is a notion which is utterly false; to think that a concept exists because there are other concepts is a truth. Th, former has its repercussions in the form of bondage; the latter has no repercussions in the sense that bondage, being a relative concept, has a contentless existence.
It is possible to have a wrong notion about truth. If it is propounded that the concepts are empty existences, it may be taken by some deluded person to mean that these concepts exist. For such persons relativity means existence (bhaava). This is a confusion worse confounded. These people first deny what is truth (sa^mv,rti-satya) and then proceed to accept what is not so. One who says that there are realities first denies that there are relative concepts (a truth) and then forms a notion that these concepts must be real in themselves because they exist. He takes relativity as an indication of the existence of concepts. Naagaarjuna thinks that those people who reduce the relative truth of concepts to a mere notion are incurable (taan-asaadhyan-babha.sire) . Hence, relativity should not be made a notion, just as eternalism is a notion.
Truth as relativity is accepted by common people, who have no philosophical axe of their own to grind. One concept leads to another concept. Causality presupposes the concept of a cause and an effect, motion depends upon a mover, space depends upon the concept of something occupying it, time assumes changing objects, soul depends upon the concept of various mental activities, and even liberation depends upon the concept of prior bondage and subsequent release of a person. We are not justified to go beyond these concepts and assume reality, just as we are asked to avoid the mis-
conception about the real existence of concepts. What we know are mere concepts, and they are not realities in the sense in which we talk of such realities. It would be absurd to maintain the existence of realities, but it would be more so to maintain their non-existence. We are conceptually undecided about there being realities, and thus the Maadhyamikas are exonerated from the charge of agnosticism. Thus, any statement should always be construed in the sense that the meaning of it refers either to concepts or to words or to both together, but never to a state of material reality. In modern philosophical terminology, we should have either conceptual mode or formal mode of speech, but not the material mode of speech. The formal mode of speech differs from the conceptual mode insofar as the first one depends purely upon the habit of speech and does not arouse any concept in its hearer. For example, "A flower in the sky is fragrant" does not give any sense because it is rooted only in the language-habit of a person, i.e., on the model of a significant sentence any other sentence can be framed. This is what is called a "language fabrication" (prapa~nca) by the Maadhyamikas. Significant sentences, on the other hand, give us an idea of the state of affairs. These statements are significant on two counts: first, they are framed strictly in accordance with rules of a particular language--in this respect they are analogous to the previous example (prapa~nca); and, second, they are capable of arousing some concept in the minds of hearers and thus can continue the chain of concepts. They are therefore not only the fabrications of language but also of mind (citta-pracaara-kalpanaa).[24a] Unlike the Grammarians, the Maadhyamikas do not believe in the inseparability of concepts from language.
But the realm of reality is a prohibited area; concepts unable to reach at the realities simply create an illusion of reality in the mind of a person. We have shown in detail that this external reference is due to the intentionality of concepts. If concepts cannot give us a glimpse of realities, how can we expect the language to describe it? Reality therefore eludes both our concepts and language. It is without the pale of the fabrications of language and. concepts (ni.sprapa~nca and nirvikalpa).
Some interpreters of this system have committed the same mistake which is emphatically being avoided by this school. They think that, although the Maadhyamikas deny speech and thought to reality, they still maintain from a "higher standpoint" an existent real in the form of the Cosmic Body of the Buddha (dharma-kaaya), which is described as "without a second" (advaya). In actuality this all seems to be a mere fabrication of mind.
Let us examine here the concept of a "higher standpoint" (paramaartha). Naagaarjuna talks of this standpoint, and his commentator explains it at great length. The entire empirical life is governed by the concepts of description, the described, knowledge, the known, etc. These are, rightly speaking, without any foundation in reality. But they themselves, being relative, present a phase of truth. We cannot penetrate the sheath of concepts because, since it is itself smoky in nature, it only causes our fall to fathomless depth. They are relative among themselves but never because of something relational. This is the right view about concepts (samyak-s.r.s.ti). Similarly, there is nothing higher than these concepts, because, again, the concepts themselves, being relative, cannot lead to the pinnacle of absolute truth. Even if that higher truth be there, it would be relative, since it would be achieved through relative concepts. Therefore, it is difficult to agree with that interpretation which ascribes to the Maadhyamikas an Absolute.
But Naagaarjuna says that truth is twofold: the truth about relatives and the truth in itself.[28a] It is absurd to say, as many have, that the phrase "lokasa^mv.rti-satya" (empirical truth) means relative truth. Truth, rightly speaking, can never be relative. Truth about relatives is not the same thing as relative truth. That concepts are relative is a truth about relatives but it itself is absolute. Had this not been the case, it would have been impossible to distinguish between the Jaina theory of relative truth (anekaanta-vaada) and this concept of the Maadhyamikas. Thus, when truth is conceived in itself without reference to relative concepts, it is the absolute truth. We have seen that all concepts are governed by the law of relativity. Wherever that law
is applicable, we find relativity. But, what about this relativity itself? It is well known even to a casual reader of the Maadhyamika Kaarikaas that for this school the law of relativity itself is everything, and Naagaarjuna salutes the Master because he proclaimed this as truth. Hence, to think that the Maadhyamikas believe in some Brahman-like Absolute seems to read too much between the lines.
If we are to consider a few remarks about such truth in itself found in the works of this school, our misconception would be reduced to a minimum. It is said that those who do not know the distinction between truth in itself and truth about relatives do not know the reality underlying the Buddha's teachings (tattva). Here the author uses the word "truth" (satya) to mean an instrument for the realization of reality (tattva). Reality, on the other hand, is said to be self-realizable, quiescent, not fabricated by the fabrications of speech and mind (prapa~ncair-aprapa~ncittam and nirvikalpa), and without distinction (anaanaartha). So long as we operate with concepts we are not dealing with reality. But, when concepts cease to appear relatively, speech and mind stop fabricating. As a result, all the inflictions arising out of attachment to these concepts cease to bother a person. This state is not achieved by means of others' preachings. Candrakiirti beautifully illustrates this point by an example. A man with defective eyes perceives queer things like hair floating in the air, etc. If a man with normal eyesight tells him about the unreality of these apparent objects to him, he will refuse to believe him. He may think of these objects as unreal but not as non-existent. But when his eyes are cured he ceases to perceive their existence. Similarly, a person, although convinced about the unreality of concepts, continues to be led away by their intentionality. He has to stop even the flow of relative concepts to get at the real. This he has to do by himself. What he gets when this whirlwind of relative concepts is over is the real, but he will then be incompetent to
speak about it to the world at large. Truth about the relativity of concepts is to be told to the world (loka-sa^mv.rti-satya) because the concepts are still there, but the truth in itself can never be told since concepts do not contribute to it. But, as it is entirely against the accepted canon of logic to maintain a truth and yet refuse to say it, it has been found convenient to state it negatively. Truth is negation of concepts.
But reality should not be confused with truth. Only a proposition can be true or false. Thus truth-value belongs to a statement, not to a fact. Negation or affirmation is only a mode in which propositions are stated; hence, only a proposition can be negative or positive. There is no negative truth as such, because such a thing is not distinct from falsity. A proposition is positive or negative; it is either true or false. Truth in itself is always positive. Reality is distinct from propositions, because it can neither be affirmed nor denied; it is neither true nor false. It is not the same thing as truth, because it is the view that we take of it. Hence, when we find a distinction instituted between two truths, the lower and the higher, it means only a less correct and a more correct view of reality. And, of course, the view is not the same thing as the real.
That the concepts are relative is a truth, but a less correct one, which assumes relativity as the standard. A and B are conceived as relatives because of the standard of relativity. But to ask whether relativity is relative is an absurd question because there cannot be another relativity for this relativity to be made relative. It is an absolute standard of reference in the case of all things, concepts included, other than itself. But it is equally obvious that, in the absence of anything relative, relativity itself loses its significance. Either believe in relativity or in the Absolute. One cannot believe in both together. In the Advaita Vedaanta the effort is made to reconcile the difference between the empirically real and the absolutely real by introducing the principle of cosmic illusion (maayaa), but whether that illusion itself is illusory or not can never be adequately explained--since, if it is not illusory, then it does in no way differ from the Absolute, but, if it is illusory, we require another illusion to make it illusory. In the Maadhyamika system such an anomalous position does not arise because, unlike Advaita Vedaanta, it is an out-and-out anti-metaphysical system. Relativity applied to concepts is an effective tool, but when devoid of concepts it devours itself.[34a] Thus relativity conceived in itself would be the end of relativity. Thus, it is said to be the consummation
of the cessation of all notions, concepts, and ideas. The word "`suunyataa" used by this school is very significant in this connection. It does not mean a vacuous reality but only vacuity of thought. But to say that such is the case is a truth--in fact, the truth that the most perfect wisdom can conceive of (praj~naa-paaramitaa).
But the question still remains unanswered: Can there be a truth without reality? If there is nothing which this truth-statement purports to assert, it is false. Thus, it may be urged, and in fact has been urged, that since there is a truth asserted therefore there must be a reality. But such an interpretation of the Maadhyamikas goes entirely against the spirit of the school. Had the Maadhyamikas ever maintained that at the empirical level concepts and realities are inextricably mixed up, as the Advaitins assert (satya-an.rte mithunii-k.rtya), then it would have been proper to say that, once they have denied reality to concepts, whatever remains undeniable (pratyak) is real for them. But the case is just the opposite. Since for them relative concepts are, though existents, devoid of the touch of reality, when their existence disappears nothing remains as their substratum to shine in its own light. For the Advaitins, negation is used with the ultimate aim of implicit affirmation. "Not-A" implies something other than A. Bur, for the Maadhyamikas, negation is used simply to affirm the negation itself: "Nor-A" means simply the absence of A. If the absence of a table is. a fact and "table is absent" is a truth, it is equally justified to maintain with the Maadhyamikas that "the concepts are non-existent" is a truth because of the fact that the concepts are not to be found. This is not only a matter of emphasis on the negative approach (ni.sedha-mukha); this is the very essence of the philosophical vision of the Maadhyamikas. But, if contrary to all usage, we want to call a negative fact reality or the Absolute, we are free to do so. Words, says Candrakiirti, like a policeman with a chain and a baton in hand, do not compel us to use them in one way and not the other. Thus relativity of concepts is a truth about the relative concepts, but cessation of all concepts is a truth about relativity itself. Just as no reality is involved in the relativity of concepts, no reality or Absolute is involved in the cessation of concepts.
This denial of concepts does not amount to denial of reality, nor does it
imply an affirmation of some Absolute. If there were any ultimate reality it could not be touched by our affirmations or denials. Nirvaa.na, the final goal of a Buddhist, is to be viewed in this light. The soul, being merely a conceptual idea, is denied, and hence nothing conceivable can attain this state; nor can this state be described, because, having been discovered after the cessation of all concepts, it remains beyond concepts. The truth about Nirvaa.na can be couched in negative language. Even questions like whether Nirvaa.na is the same as the real can best be answered by comparing two negative concepts and not by identifying them. Naagaarjuna says that the nature of reality is like Nirvaa.na (Nirvaa.na^m iva-dharmataa). Reality is like Nirvaa.na only in the sense that each of them is conceived by negating all concepts (ni.sedhena-saamyam) fabricated by our mind and language. It is like saying that X1 is not a, b, c ... n, X2 is also not a, b, c ... n, therefore X1 and X2 are similar. But to say that they are identical presupposes some common positive factor the presence of which warrants identity of the two. On the negative side, the world and Nirvaa.na are identical because the world in itself is unaffected by transitory and relative concepts and so is Nirvaa.na, but on the positive side nothing can be stated because Nirvaa.na and reality are not known to share certain common characteristics.
The state of Nirvaa.na is not an achievement; it is a revelation. The famous controversy over the relative worth of action and knowledge in the Advaita Vedaanta and the final decision that knowledge is not an action but simple revelation are perhaps a logical corollary of identification of liberation and the world, and accords well with the ideal of bodhisattva and a jiivanmukta. A result to be achieved is contingent upon the act done to achieve it and thus is relative. Nirvaa.na, on the other hand, is simply the cessation of all relatives and therefore cannot be said to depend upon the act. When the relatives cease to exist, it is revealed and this is not made or unmade, known or unknown.
The Maadhyamika system prefers to use the word "advaya" but the Advaita Vedaanta has a fascination for the word "advaita." These words are very significant insofar as they bring out the essential differences in these two systems. The word "advaita" means free from duality (avidyamaana^m dvaita^m
yasmin) and thus describes indirectly (ta.tastha-lak.sa.na) the Brahman, to which duality cannot be ascribed. "Advaya" does not mean the denial of duality but of two, because the Maadhyamikas do not make a distinction between a concept and the real object of which it is a concept, but for a Vedaantin there is such a distinction. Thus by denying two objects they even deny one because the concept "one" is dependent upon the concept "two." If we are permitted to see in the Maadhyamikas a philosophy of numbers, we can say that they take delight in the concept of zero. It is against the background of zero that the concept one can arise. To say that a number is not one means it is two or more, but to say that it is not two may mean either that it is one or more than two. In order to avoid this ambiguity they introduce the term "`suunya," or zero. A number which is not two (advaya) and zero (`suunya) is obviously zero without any reference to a positive number. The Vedaantins describe the real as one only (ekam eva), which means without a second (advitiiyam). Numerically speaking, they do not recognize zero as something significant. Zero itself stands between the absence of numbers and positive numbers from one up to infinity. Thus the word "advaya" read with the word "`suunya" means complete absence of numerable objects or the number concept. But what this `suunya is in itself cannot be answered. Any attempt to answer this question will land us in relativity. One thing is certain,
that it is not nothing. Had that been the case, the relative concepts would never have arisen.
The Maadhyamika system is called dialectical Absolutism by its modern interpreters. Dialectic understood in the Hegelian sense is a synthetic thought-process, but the Maadhyamika would be the last person to subscribe to any synthetic approach. They are out-and-out analysts; they profess the analysis of concepts. Adept as they are in bringing out an element of contradiction in every concept, they do not move upward to some synthetic unity, either in the Kantian or in the Hegelian sense. They operate upon the concepts and leave the wound gaping without making any attempt at bandaging or balming it. They simply show that the concepts are self-contradictory but never attempt to remove the contradiction. Contradiction is the very core of the truth about relative concepts. If this contradiction is somehow removed, even relative concepts cease to be, and that would be a state of utter nothingness, which is to be avoided. Let there be no illusion about the existence of uncontradictory concepts, because that would be a mere nothing. The Maadhyamikas show contradiction because they feel that in this way they would accord some reality to concepts. Is it not a fact that what is dependently originated alone is real (pratiitya-samutpanna)? This purpose cannot be achieved by synthesis. But is it possible to call an analytic system dialectical? The Maadhyamikas have no thesis of their own to prove. But every dialectician has to prove a thesis--the summation of thought-process, e.g., the Idea (Platonic), the Absolute (Hegelian or Bradleyan). `Sa^mkara gets the credit
for evolving a new technique of dialectic insofar as his Absolute is not achieved by means of upward thought-movement, the thesis for him, being indubitable, is not to be proved(aatman is said to be pratyak). Hence, according to him, the only function left for the dialectic is to show a correlation between the accomplished (siddha-Brahman) and what is found in itself a baseless appearance. A complete identity between "that" (tat) and "thou" (tvam) is instituted by the dialectic. "Tvam" is not brought up to the level of "tat," nor is "tat" forced down to the level of "tvam." They are on the same plane; only, "tvam" is shown not to exist as "tvam." His dialectic therefore works for the elimination of relation, internal as well as external. For Hegel and his fellow dialecticians, relation is the very core of the Absolute, as it is for Raamaanuja. For `Sa^mkara, this same relation is the root of appearance. For the former, if relation is removed a thing is reduced to naught; for the latter, removal of relation means uncovering the veil of reality. `Sa^mkara's Brahman would be a nugatory concept for Hegel, and Hegel's Absolute would be a mass of appearances for a `Sa^mkarite. Thus, dialectic functions for Sa^mkara only on the plane of appearance, clearing undergrowths and over-growths, and it ultimately results in the purification of thought. So what is achieved is negative; Brahman does not depend upon any process of thought.
Naagaarjuna's analysis seems to be the original on which `Sa^mkara has
modelled his dialectic. When the former shows every concept to be self-contradictory and leaves it there, the latter seeks to synthesize self-contradictory concepts with the Absolute. In `Sa^mkara we find an unwarranted jump, and it is invariably the trait of all metaphysical systems, from concepts to reality. In this respect the Yogaacaaras are more cautious and faithful to their basic standpoint in as far as they deny an external world. Analysis of concepts and their self-contradictory character do not warrant the self-contradictory character of objects as well. The objective reality stands unaffected by the contradiction in concepts. The Maadhyamikas think that concepts are contradictory and say nothing about realities. The Yogaacaaras, taking their clue from the contradiction of concepts exhibited by the Maadhyamikas, believe in the non-existence of objects. They argue that, if the concepts are contradictory and unreal, how can there be real objects corresponding to these concepts? Thus, the consciousness which is aware of this contradiction alone is real. There is a real, not that it is warranted by contradictory concepts, but because it is presupposed by contradiction itself.
`Sa^mkara's position is different from these two systems. He agreed with Yogaacaara idealism so far as the presupposition of contradictions, i.e., consciousness (aatman), is concerned. But he found it difficult to agree with them on the unreality of the objective world. He thought that if concepts are contradictory their contradiction must be judged from the standard of something non-contradictory. How can we brand a concept contradictory unless we have a scale which itself is free from contradiction. This scale should not be another concept because it would be ex hypothesi contradictory. Hence, it must be a unique real. With reference to this real, concepts are contradictory, but the real behind them is asserted at every step. On the objective side, too, there is a real which is correlated to the subjective counterpart, the aatman. The Brahman is a subject-object correlation. Hence, `Sa^mkara's philosophy is a synthesis of empiricism and rationalism, realism and conceptualism. The Maadhyamikas refuse to venture into the realm of metaphysics. They think that contradiction does not presuppose a consciousness, because such a consciousness (uij~naana or aatman) would not be separated from the concept of it. Similarly, the standard of contradiction should not be sought somewhere outside the pale of concepts, because we cannot go beyond concepts. Hence, contradiction should be taken as a fact about concepts and should nor be explained in terms of something non-contradictory. When every concept, without exception, is shown to be contradictory, the very concept of contradiction
itself is contradicted. Thus, ultimately there is no contradiction, because there is nothing to be contradicted (avivaada^m-nibodhata) . There is no Absolute, because negation of contradiction does not mean some affirmative principle. There is no nihilism, because concepts have never been associated with reality, and thus, if they cease to be, reality will continue to exist in its own right. But such a reality, being conceptually zero, will not be one or many. It is neither Absolute nor a jumble of discrete particulars. Therefore, just as the Maadhyamika system is not called pluralism, similarly it should not be designated as Absolutism. Metaphysical epithets like Absolutism, realism, idealism, empiricism, etc., should not be used for this, because it is not a metaphysical system. It would also be wrong to say that the school has any logical view of its own in the form of dialectic--since it has nothing to establish or nothing to achieve. Accepting for argument's sake the logic of the opponent, all that this school does is demonstrate by that very logic that his results are not free from contradiction. Is it, then, justified to say that the Maadhyamikas have any form of dialectic of their own? Thus, it is neither Absolutist nor dialectical. It should therefore be called, if a name is necessary, an analytical philosophy, where analysis is confined only to concepts and language. It is not factual analysis. Again, here analysis should not be understood in the sense of exhibiting the components of a whole; rather,
this analysis shows that the so-called whole (concept) is pregnant with contradictions, and this is not a whole at all. It is an analytic system but with a negative function. There is no one word to express this idea, and, therefore, it should either be called "analytic zeroism" (zero is not the same thing as void) or, better, be given no name at all.
1. Candrakiirti, Madhyamaka-v.rtti (hereafter MV), on Naagaarjuna,Madhyamaka-kaarikaa (hereafter MK), Louis de La Vallee-Poussin, ed. (St. Petersbourgh: The Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1903- 1913), p. 444.
2. Cp. Dharmakiirti, Nyaaya-bindu (hereafter NB), I.
3. Annam Bha.t.ta, Tarka-sa^mgraha (hereafter TS), 39.
4. MV, p. 5, quotes the view of some other philosophers about pratiitya-samutpaada"...prati prati ityaanaam vinaa`sinaam samutpada iti var.nayanti." La Vallee-Poussin and Th. Stcherbatsky identify this with the view of the Sautraantikas. See MV, p. 5, note 10, and Th. Stcherbatsky, The Conception of Buddhist Nirvaa.na (Leningrad: Publishing Office of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR; 1927), p. 86, note 1. Cp. Abhidharma-ko.sa-bhaa.sya of Vasabandhu (in press), III. 28.
4a. See note 2, above.
5. MV, pp. 344-345.
6. A true proposition contains a particular as a constituent. A proposition like "I saw a unicorn," though significant, is false, because unicorn is not a constituent. "I shall say an object is 'known by description' when we know that it is 'the so-and-so,' i.e., when we know that there is one object, and no more, having a certain property: and it will generally be implied that we do not have knowledge of the same object by acquaintance," says Russell in Mysticism and Logic (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1925), p. 214.
He elucidates this point further by saying, "Suppose we say: 'The round square does not exist.' It seems plain that this is a true proposition, yet we cannot regard it as denying the existence of a certain object called 'the round square'.... Thus in all such cases, the proposition must be capable of being to analysed that what was the grammatical subject shall have disappeared." Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead, Principia Mathematica, Introduction (2nd ed., Cambridge: The University Press, 1925), chap. III, p. 66. See also Russell's Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (London: G. Allen & Unwin Ltd.; New York: The Macmillan Co., 1960), chap. XVI; B. Russell, "On Denoting," Mind, Vol. XIV, No. 56 (October, 1905), 479-483; B. Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (London, New York; Oxford University Press, 1959), chap. V. For philosophical implications of this theory see B. Blanshard, Reason and Analysis, Paul Carus Foundation Lectures, 12th Series (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Co., 1962), pp. 323 ff.
7. Cp. `sabda-j~naanaanupaatii vastu-`suunyo vikalpa.h. Pata~njali, Yoga-suutra (hereafter YS), I. 9.
8. MV, p. 360.
9. Candrakiirti seems to make a distinction between ida^m-pratyaya and ida^m-pratyaya-maatra. Some Buddhist opponents of the Maadhyamika system (Sautraantika?) correlate idampratyayataa with "ultimate truth" -- paramar.sigaditam ida^m-pratyayataa-pratiitya-samutpaada-lak.sa.na^m paramaartha-satyam (MV, p 159). But Candrakiirti thinks of all the so-called cases of causation as ida^m-pratyayataa-maatra whereby he means something utterly unreal (MV, p. 189). A common man thinks what is ida^m-pratyayaa-maatra to be something ultimately real (MV, p. 172). This distinction between ida^m-pratyayataa and ida^mpratyayataa-maatra corresponds to that of Russell between "Constituent of a proposition" and "incomplete symbol." See L. S. Stebbing, A Modern Introduction to Logic (New York: Crowell, 1930), PP* 152-158. For the Maadhyamikas, every symbol, including demonstratives, is an incomplete symbol, and we know "by description only."
10. The word "praj~napti" is explained in Abhidharmako.sa-vyaakhyaa (hereafter Abhidh, k.v.) (236d) as follows: "praj~napti^m anupatita iti yathaa samj~naa samj~naa yathaa vyavahaaras tathaa 'nugata ity arthah." (See MV, p. 137, note 3.) A statement attributed to the Master is quoted by Candrakiirti thus: baalo bhik.savo `srutavaan p.rthagjanaa.h praj~naptim anupatita.h cak.su.saa ruupaa.ni d.r.s.tvaa saumanasya-sthaaniyaanya-bhinivi`sate (MV,p.137). In MK,XXIV.18,Naagaarjuna equates praj~napti with the Middle Path.There, "upaadaaya praj~napti" means "a description without any constituent," which does not necessarily entail actual causation. (See MV, p. 504.) But the realists, who interpret causation as an actual production from co-ordinating factors, would interpret it as a description rooted in acquaintance, i.e., as having a real constituent. Prapa~nca for the Maadhyamikas is a verbal description -- prapa~nco hi vaak prapa~ncayatyarthaan iti k.rtvaa (MV, p. 373); the Sautraantikas would like to interpret prapa~nca as directly coming from the concepts (naama-jaati-kalpanaa) , yet rooted in realities (svalak.sa.na). See Abhidh., k.v., nimittodgraha.naatmiketi (samj~naa). Nimitta^m vastuno 'vasthaavi`seso niilatvaadi tasyodgraha.na^m pariccheda.h (MV, p. 63, note 3.) Candrakiirti says, "vikalpa.h cittapracaara.h" (MV, p. 374), whereby he means to say chat the Sautraantika conception of vikalpa, viz., as associated with svalak.sa.na, is not accepted in the Maadhyamika system.
11. Vij~napti (intention) is of two kinds, according to the Sautraantikas. Viprayuktaa vij~napti (MV, p. 444), i.e., intention without any object, is empty, whereas aviprayuktaa uij~napti, or simply vij~napti, is an intention with some object--tad hi parasmaad aadiiyate (MV, p. 309, note 3).
12. MV, p. 173.
13. Ibid., pp. 254-255.
14. Mind functions and creates concepts--that is what is perhaps meant by Candrakiirti when he says "vikalpa`s cittapracaara.h" (MV, p. 374). It is interesting to note that Candrakiirti criticizes Di^nnaaga's definition of perception, viz., kalpanaapo.dham, by saying, "kalpanaapo.dhasyaiva ca j~naanasya pratyak`satvaa 'bhyupagamaat, tena ca lokasya `sa^mvyavahaaraabhaavaat, laukikasya ca pramaa.na-prameya-vyavahaarasya vyaakhyaatum i.s.tatvaat, vyarthaiva pratyak.sa-pramaa.na-kalpanaa samjaayate (MV, p. 74). It is implied in this criticism that perception, and for that matter any pramaa.na, depends upon kalpanaa or concept which=vikalpa. Therefore, he says that perception is determined with reference to intentional knowledge (ata.h Pratyak.sa^m vyavasthaapyate tadvi.saye.na j~naanena saha) (MV, p. 75). I prefer to read "tadvi.sayi.naa" instead of "tadvisaye.na" as it is found in the Tibetan version, i.e., de.i.yul.can.gi. This being the case, it follows that illusory perception of double moon, etc., is also as good 1 perception as any veridical perception (dvicandraadiinaam tvataimirika-j~naanaapek.sayaa apratyak.satvam, taimirikaadyapek.sayaa pratyak.satvam eva)
15. For a detailed discussion of causality, see MV, pp. 78-85; 250--258.
16. anaalambana evaaya^m san dharma upadi`syate (athaa'naalambane dharme kuta aalambanam puma.h) (MK, I. 8).
17. hetu-pratyayaapek.so bhaavaanaam utpaada.h pratiitya-samutpaadaartha.h (MV, P. s).
18. yasmaad yatpratiitya yad bhavati tasmaat tad anyan na bhavati saapek.satvaad biijaa^nkuravat hrasvadiirghavacceti (MV, p. 252).
19. praaptyarthas tuanangiik.rtaartha-vi`sese' pi pratiitya-`sabde sa^mbhavati praapya sambhava.h pratityasamutpaada iti. angiik.rtaartha-vi`se.se 'pi sa^mbhavati. cak.su.h pratiitya cak.su.h praapya cak.su.h prek.syeti vyaakhyaanaat
20. Ibid., p. 58.
21. MK, XXVII. 26. This is to be contrasted with MV, p. 591.
22. MK, XIII. 8; MV, P. 247.
23. na ca vayam abhaavaartha^m `suunyataartha^m vyaacak.sumahe kin tarhi pratiitya-samutpaadaartham (MV,p. 499).
24. te ca vikalpaa anaadimat-sa^msaaraabhyastaaj j~naana-j~neya-vaacya-vaacaka-kart.r-karma-kaara.na-kriyaa- gha.tapa.ta-muku.ta-ratha-ruupa-vedanaa-strii-puru.sa-laabhaa 'laabha-sukha-du.hkha-ya`so-ya`so-nindaa- pra`sa^msaadilak.sa-.naad vicitraat prapa~ncaad upajaayante (MV, p. 350); also (MV, p. 373).
24a. See note 10 above.
25. apara-pratyayam `saantam prapa~ncair aprapa~ncitam (nirvikalpam anartham etat tattvasya lak.sa.nam) (MK, XVIII.9).
Here "tattva" is to be clearly distinguished from "satya.
26. Cp. "In full accordance with the idea of a monistic universe it is now asserted that there is not a shade of difference between the Absolute and the phenomenal, between Nirvaa.na and sa^msaara. The universe viewed Is a whole is the Absolute, viewed as a process it is the phenomenal." Th. Stcherbatsky, BN, p. 48. Again, see "There is no reason to single out the Maadhyamika Is specially nihilistic. If anything, his is a very consistent form of absolutism." T. R. V. Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism (2nd ed., London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1960), p. 234.
27. MK, XXIV. 8, and MV on it.
28. MV, P. 493. It is wrong to translate "Nirvaa.na" by "Absolute" because "nirvaa.nam api maayopama^m svapnopama^m vadaami ki^m punar anyad dharmam. Yadi nirvaa.naad apyanya.h ka`scid dharmo vi`sistatara.h syaat tam apy aha^m maayopama^m svapnopamam iti vadeyam." This statement of the A.s.tasaahasrikaa Praj~naapaaramlitaa (Calcutta, 1932), p. 40, clearly states Nirvaa.na also to be a mere concept.
28a. See note 27 above.
29. MK, I. 1-2.
30. Our cognition of empirical objects is true when those objects are viewed in the light of relative concepts. It is a truth that every concept is relative; this I call the loka-samv.rti-satya of the Maadhyamika. But it is utterly false that the concepts are absolute, unrelated entities; for that matter, our notion of an absolute objective reality is relegated to the position of falsity; it is not even samv.rti. In contrast to this is a truth about this truth itself. It is true not only that the concepts are relative but also that relativity, too, thrives upon these concepts. This second truth about relativity itself is the paramaartha-satya of the Maadhyamikas. See MK, XII. 8 and MV on the same. When relativity of concepts is fully realized, the relativity itself ceases to operate because there is nothing to be operated upon. This state would be the ideal state, or Nirvaa.na. Hence, paramaartha is cessation of concepts where relativity consumes itself. This is the truth, the real nature of things, tathataa, the Supreme Doctrine of the Middle Path proclaimed by the master, the Perfect Wisdom--praj~aaPaarmitaa--and the mother of all the enlightened ones.
31. MK, XXIV. 9.
32. Ibid., XVIII. 9.
33. Mv, 373.
34. Ibid., p. 374.
34a. See note 30 above.
35. MK, XVIII. 7.
36. "Absolutism is committed to the doctrine of two truths; for, it makes the distinction between the thing as it is, unrelatedly, absolutely, and how it appears in relation to the percipients who look at it through views and standpoints." Murti, op. cit., p. 243.
37. `Sa^mkara-bhaa.sya on Brahma-suutra, I. 1, Introduction.
38. Naagaarjuna, Vigrahavyaavarttani, 64 (hereafter VV).
40. niv.rttam abhidhaatavya^m niv.rtte cittagocare (anutpannaaniruddhaa hi nirvaa.nam iva dharmataa) (MK, XVIII. 7).
41. MK, XXX. 19-20, and MV, p. 536. Also see MK, XXV. 22-23 and MV on it.
42. kathan tarhi sa^msaara iti ced ucyate-aatmaatmiiyaasadgraaha-grastaanaam baala-p.rthag-janaanaam asatsvaruupaa api bhaavaa.h satyata.h pratibhaasante (MV, p. 523). This alone can be said to be the positive aspect of the world. For the positive aspect of Nirvaa.na, see Mk, XXV. 4-6.
43. tadaa tat tattvam anadhi-gamana-yogena svayam adhigacchanti (MV, p. 373).
44. astitva-naastitva-dvaya-vaada-niraasena tu vayam nirvaa.na-pura-gaaminam advaya-patha^m vidyotaydmahe (MV, p. 329).
45. How number has been treated as a motif for the explanation of cosmic process is evidenced by early Greek philosophy. Parmenides, following Xenophanes, declared Being as one, complete and definitive. The Pythagoreans thought that the permanent Being was to be found in numbers, Plate designated his Idea of the Good as the One and attempted to derive from it the duality of infinite and measure (see A. Trendelenburg, Platonis de Ideis et Numeris Doctrina-ex Aristotele Illustrata[Lipsiae,1826]). Plotinus thinks that of the "First," which is exalted above all finite determinations and oppositions, nothing can be predicated in the strict sense. "It is only in an improper sense, in its relation to the world, that it can be designated as the infinite One, as the Good, as the highest Power or Force."--Dr. W. Windelband, A History of Philosophy, J. H. Tufts, trans. (2nd ed. rev. and enl. Now York: The Macmillan Co., 1960), p. 245. In the philosophy of the Renaissance, numbers played a very important part. "The book of nature is written in numbers; the harmony of things is that of the number-system" (ibid., p. 372). Coming down to modern philosophy, the same problem of reality was viewed in terms of monism, dualism, and pluralism. Descartes' mind and matter, Spinoza's one Substance, Leibniz' plurality of monads, and, finally, Hegel's one Absolute show the way in which numbers play a part in the determination of philosophical concepts. Modern logicians like Frege and Russell give a new orientation to number-concept (see B. Russell, An Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy). In India, the controversy about the number of ultimate reality dates back to the .Rgveda. Reality is one but described as many (ekam sad vipraa bohudhaa vadanti--I.164.46), the episode of the twin birds (1.164.20), and the Naasadiiya Suukta (RV, X.129), which perhaps thinks in terms of void or zero, give a glimpse of the numerical thinking of the ancient seers. The Upani.sads abound in discussions about the one and the many. Has the name "Saa^mkhya" anything to do with numbers? Except the two Miimaa^msaas, all other systems of orthodox Indian philosophy proceed with the enumeration of various categories, viz., 24 or 25 categories of the Saa^mkhya-Yoga, six categories of the Vai`se.sika, 16 categories of the Nyaaya. The Uttara Miimaa^msaa school discusses the relation between the one (Brahman) and the many (jiiva-jagat). That early Buddhism was fond of categorization and counting is evidenced in the Abhidhamma philosophy. The term "`suunya," preferred by the Maadhyamikas to designate their concept of reality, therefore assumes importance.
46. Number zero is often used to indicate absence of quantity. "We can define all the natural numbers if we know what we mean by '0' and 'successor'" (Russell, An Introduction to Mathematical Pbilosopby, p. 20). Thus, number 1 can be defined as the successor of O. But 0 itself is nor the successor of any number. All the natural numbers, therefore, proceed from 0 (ibid., pp. 24, 25). A number is defined as a number of terms in a class; number 0 is the number of terms in a class which has no member. Since a class is not identical with its member, "0 is the class whose only member is the null-class" (Ibid., p. 23). In this light "`suunya" will mean a class having no member; and "ekam" will mean a class having one member. "Ekam" can be explained in terms of "`suunyam," and thus would be inferior to the latter. "`Suunyam advayam" is a higher philosophy than that of "ekam advaitam." But we are emphatically asked not to take `suunyaa as a notion or concept (d.r.s.ti), because that, being a class (jaati = saamaanya = kalpanaa), is in no way better than other class-concepts.
47. Zeno is said to be the father of dialectical method, who thereby sought to defend the Parmenidean Being against change and plurality. The object of the Sophists being transformation of rhetoric from a traditional art to 1 science, they made themselves the mouthpiece of all the unbridled tendencies which undermined social, ethical, and spiritual ideals of life. Dialectic was, in this case, a dangerous weapon, placed in a wrong hand. socrates, utilizing the sophistry of the Sophists and employing dialectical method skillfully, found the essence of knowledge. For Plate, Ideas and their relations to one another are to be found by means of subordination and co-ordination of concepts, which he called dialectic. Aristotle's dialectic searches out the starting points for deduction and the highest principles of explanation. Identity, difference, and union of that which has been distinguished are the three momenta of the dialectical process, according to Proclus. For Abelard, dialectic has no longer the task which Anselm, following Augustine, prescribed, viz., making the content of faith comprehensible for the intellect; he pressed this into the service of critically deciding doubtful cases.
Kant, in his Transcendental Dialectic, employs this method to find out the unconditioned ideas for the totality of all phenomena of the inner sense (soul), of all data of the outer sense (the world), and of all the conditioned in general (God). Dialectical method, for Hegel, helps "to determine the essential nature of particular phenomena by the significance which they have as members or links in the self-unfolding of spirit" (Windleband, op. cit., p. 611). This review of employment of the dialectical method unmistakenly shows that (1) dialectic is a synthetic process and (2) aims at proving a thesis. But the Maadhyamikas think that the synthesis of concepts would result in another concept, which they seek to avoid. In the absence of any synthetic aim, the purpose of dialectic would be merely negative. Hence, Naagaarjuna says, "yadi kaacana pratij~naa syaan me tata eva me bhaved do.sa.h naasti ca mama pratij~naa tasmaan naivaa' sti me do.sa.h (VV, p. 29). The distinction between dialectical and analytical methods is rooted in synthesis and analysis, respectively. The Maadhyamikas analyze a concept to determine whether it contains some real element, and ultimately come to conclude that it has none. Thus, instead of going upward to some synthetic unity or the Infinite, they come down to the root, the `suunya. In Kantian terminology, no synthetic judgment 2 priori is ever possible--for the Maadhyamikas.
48. The Vedaantic conception of dialectic is well explained in the `Sriimad Bhaagavata, as follows:
sa vai na devaasura-martya-tirya^n
na strii na .san.dho na pumaan na jantu.h
naa' ya^m gu.na.h karma na san na caa' san
ni.sedha-`se.so jayataad a`se.sa.h. (VIII, iv. 214.)
Dialectic simply helps in eliminating misconceptions; whatever remains thus uneliminated would be the One, i.e., without a second. Thus `Sa^mkara's Brahman is not achieved by means of a dialectical process; it is simply re-discovered. Hence, dialectic has a value only at the empirical level; transcendentally, it is also a science rooted in ignorance or avidyaa--tasmaad avidyaa-vad-vi.sayaa.ni eva pratyak.saadiini pramaa.naani `saastraa.ni ca (SB, I.i.l, Introduction). At another place (SB, II.i.1I), `Sa^mkara paraphrases Bhartrhari, the Grammarian (cp. Vaakyapadiya, I.34), to the same effect.
49. SB, II.ii.28.
50. Aarya-ratna-kuu.ta-suutra, quoted in MV, p. 338, reads: tena hyaayu.smanta.h sangaasyaamo na vivadi.sydma.h avivaadapavamo hi `srama.nadharma.h,The Samaadhiraaja also says, vivaada-praaptyaa na duhkha^m pra`samyate. avivaada-praaptya ca dukham nirudhyate (MV, p. 136). Gau.dapaada, too, maintains the undisputability of this position (see his Kaarikaa, V. 2). This avivaada is due to the fact that there is absolutely nothing contradicted even from the so-called higher standpoint (VV, p. 30).
51. yasmaad astitva~n ca naastitua~n. cobhayam etat prati.siddham tasmaan na yuktam bhaavaabhaava-dar`sanam tattvam ityaa`sthaatum (MV, p. 270).
52. "Zero-conceptuality" should be contrasted with "unitary-conceptuality" of the Advaita Vedaanta. In the Advaita, the aatman is accepted on the strength of indubitable experience, and everything other than aatman is shown to be mere appearance, because every such object conceived by us displays doubt. Thus, we start from the one, aatman, proceed to examine the many, and in this process invariably find only the one and never the many. Thus, the one also becomes the Infinite (ananta). The Real is the One and therefore the Infinite. We may take any point in this Infinite; it. will always Point to the Infinite as its substratum. The individual is resolved in the Universal, the Infinite, and the One. Concepts always point to the unitary concept of aatman. In contrast to this, the Maadhyamikas think that any point in the infinite series is a determination with reference to its preceding point, which in its turn depends upon its own preceding point, and so on until at last the indubitable ground is achieved. Contrary to the Vedaantins, this indubitable ground is not the One, because the One itself depends upon its predecessor, the zero. Instead of going forward to the Infinite, the Maadhyamikas prefer to come backward to the root. If there is n one, there is the possibility of the Infinite because One is the threshold of infinity. If there is only a zero the possibility of infinite altogether vanishes. .If any link in the twelve-linked circle of causation (pratiitya-samutpaada) is broken the entire circle ceases to be operative, because the root of it, the zero, is discovered. This origination is rooted in zero, proceeds from it, ends in it, and itself is nothing but an extension of zero. This zero is not infinite, nor is it finite, whereas the Absolute is always infinite and never finite.