Category Archives: MYTHOLOGY

Limits of Linguistic Representation: Wittgenstein and the Unrepresentable that shows forth

Luwig_Wittgenstein_right corner__and his_Family
The paper seeks reexamination of the received critical heritage about Wittgenstein that treats him as a positivist or unquestionably derives inspiration for positivism from him or sees him as a philosopher of language instead of the translinguistic unrepresentable transcendence. It also questions the influential reading of Wittgenstein scholars who argue that he supports only foundationless view of religion and language game is best metaphor for characterizing his religious views. I argue for the centrality of the mystical or transcendence in understanding the whole corpus of Wittgenstein, especially the Tractatus and his ethics. Questioning the approach that writes off a few scattered mystical utterances here and there in Wittgenstein the paper, building on Russell  Neili’s arguments, argues for shift in the paradigm of approaching Wittgenstein by keeping subservient the “positivist” in him  and foreground the broader head of mystic in him. A proper understanding of mysticism is all that we need to have in order to appreciate the mystic Wittgenstein’s transcendence of logic and language in both life and thought and foreground him as a philosopher of transcendence and not merely a philosopher of language. Mysticism is the key to Wittgenstein though most Wittgenstein scholars have failed to put in proper perspective the primacy of the mystical and ignored this vital element that alone explains certain ambiguities and difficulties in traditional Wittgenstein exegeses. Far from being antimetaphysical positivist Wittgenstein is to be read as a mystic in the tradition of great mystical thinkers and can be compared with Simone Weil and other significant mystical thinkers of the recent past. His dialectic of transcendence has significant resemblances with transtheistic mystical philosophies such as that of Buddhism and Taoism. Arguing for continuity of his religious views from Tractatus onwards, the paper seeks to rectify problems resulting from emphasizing later Wittgenstein for deriving a philosophy of religion that has been perpetuating noncognitivist, fideist interpretations of him while failing to properly place ethical and aesthetic in his fundamentally mystical approach to religion and culture.

Wittgenstein’s philosophical reflections are in large part, however indirectly, readings between the lines of the story of the soul in the Western metaphysical tradition.
Fergusson Kerr in Theology after Wittgenstein p.166
I am not a religious man but I cannot help seeing every problem from a religious point of view.
My thoughts are one hundred percent Hebraic.

Linguistic Representations and Dialogue with the Mystical

What do linguistic representations aim at? Mirroring reality? Or they constitute an autonomous play that gives us no insights into the most important foundation for culture? The dream or motivation has often been access to reality however imperfect that may be. Strangely there now seems to be increasing consensus over the thesis that language and reality are two different things and the latter is either opaque for the former or far too rich a thing to be captured in the net of the former. From Nagarjuna to Wittgenstein and Derrida many thinkers have denied language and thought access to reality. The question is what do mystics say about this problem? Could the path ahead for philosophers dealing with linguistic representations be opening for a cross disciplinary study with mystical philosophers or philosophers of mysticism? My contention in this paper is that it should be so. Particularly focusing on Wittgenstein it is argued that the royal road to reality is not through language and thought but modes of perception that bypass them. The most important point is that what matters at the end of the day is ethics and answer to fundamental existential questions, the problems that Culture and Value embodies and for these questions we need to explore other languages than the one ordinarily known. This language is the language of the Self. Wittgenstein fundamentally preoccupied himself with this problem though this concern has been largely sidelined by Wittgenstein scholars and those working on philosophy of language. The present paper pleads for a dialogue with this ignored Wittgenstein to contemplate the possibility for breaking fresh ground in tackling the nagging problems in the debate on language and reality.

There is hardly any difference in early and late Wittgenstein’s on the question of the mystical and the ethical. He remained Tractarian till the end in his mystical viewpoint. He did abandon parts of the Tractatus later but there was no evolution – and in fact could not by the very logic of mystical experience that converts its subjects for good. The mystics solve – for themselves at least – all important problems – intellectual and existential. In fact experiencing God dissolves all problems. For logical positivists what mattered most was what is in Tractatus but for Wittgenstein himself what mattered most was what was not in there, the unsaid part. That was not in the Tractatus because language could not handle that. That something is neither linguistic nor representable in any other way. However that shows itself and thus need not be spoken of or represented. Wittgenstein’s most decisive move was thus away from linguistic representations and the most important job for the philosopher was to delimit what can be represented and thus related to what only shows itself. Ethics and aesthetics and the mystical all belong to this second category. Man does not live by bread of facts (science, instrumental rationality) alone but needs supernatural manna embodied in ethical/aesthetical/mystical. It is ironic that what mattered most to him has not been given due attention by his successors. All his endeavor was to save the intelligence from the bewitchment of language. He was all for transcendence so that man becomes himself and lives truly, joyfully. In his search for happy life, life lived sub species aeternatatis  he paid great attention  to working of language, how language fails to represent reality and leads us astray by creating problems that are not there. It is how men lived that interested him rather than their speculative exercises. This alone solves the riddles of life. Language has no answers and answers can only be found when we step outside language.
As Wittgenstein was more interested in what cannot be linguistically represented his conclusions are radical. The most important things can’t be talked about. Ethics, religion and aesthetics are transcendental. The very fact that things exist is mystical or linguistically and conceptually unrepresentable. We can only gaze at it and get lost in wonder. We can dissolve into this primordial mystery, love and celebrate it. Wittgenstein lived almost like a saint. He is the most mystical of the greatest philosophers of the modern Western history. He tried to show exit to philosophy. He found no problems once we let intelligence operate naturally and it shatters linguistic cobwebs. He fought against pervasive bewitchment of intelligence by language.
However he also realized all pervasiveness of language and how it constructs the world for us. It hardly needs to be argued that we have nothing but linguistic representations even when we seek to talk about transcendence. Man, as has been observed in the classical ages, is a speaking animal. Language is a house of Being. In language the divine and the human meet. Prophets and saints too have spoken. Even the Buddha, the Prophet of silence, spoke even if it is about the impossibility of speech in matters transcendental. Man is condemned to speak and even speak to God and receive the speech of God in turn as scriptures narrate. Scriptures are all filled with linguistic representations of that which though ideally resists getting represented nevertheless is largely accessible though not quite adequately through language. Masses don’t know silence and even saints can’t afford it for too long. Man lives in dialogue, I and Thou dialogue. The absolute stillness is superhuman and for most humans synonymous with death. It is not given for man to conceptually know Truth or represent the divine. But nevertheless he has no other window to higher worlds. Language though imperfect is normally indispensable for humans. Later Wittgenstein is all about appreciating how divine suffuses and expresses in religious language, how ordinary use of language is steeped in transcendental world.

We must not confuse two senses of the term transcendental in Witttgenstein. Logic too is transcendental and we can only show rather than speak about/represent the correspondence between two pictures. To ‘say’ the correspondence between language and reality would require an intermediate language which in turn will require the same ad infinitum., but then that language would also require the same. This kind of transcendence has logical or intellectual function only and did interest Wittgenstein but what mattered for him both personally and as a philosopher is transcendence in ethical/aesthetic/mystical experiences, in the primordial encounter with the world and finding that things exist. The present paper is about this transcendence. As there can be no propositions about what is not in the world or is transcendental we shall have to focus more on life and experiences of the transcendent than on analysis of some theses regarding language or language games to make our point.

Wittgenstein’s Mysticism

Wittgenstein’s protests against being misunderstood notwithstanding, a great industry propounding a version of him he would strongly resent, has been flourishing. What he considered more important has been relegated to background. There is great agreement between scholars on almost everything except that mattered most to him. His motive for doing philosophy and living philosophy have been absent amongst his admirers, not to speak of detractors. His life has not been taken seriously as an aid in clarifying his basic theses and commitments. He has been read as philosopher of language though for him transcendence is more central for culture and value realization.

The mystical in Wittgenstein has not been duly noticed and if noticed  not quite well understood. His religious thought has been misunderstood and not read in continuation with his fundamentally mystical outlook. All kinds of theories have been put forward for accounting for his scattered mystical statements and observations on religion. The mystical is central for Wittgenstein and his philosophy and he has stated it in his Tractatus, Notebooks,“Lecture on Ethics” and in fact most of his writings develop this theme in novel ways, in so subtle a manner that few can notice. His attitude towards religion, often understood in connection with the thesis of language game, is to be put in proper context by foregrounding the empirical mystical foundation that he gives to religion. Wittgenstein scholars have not generally succeeded in integrating his mysticism with his view of religion, culture and aesthetics. Mysticism is in the background of many a theses of later Wittgenstein as well and not just the Tractatus. Even Philosophical Investigations’ central arguments that foreground illusoriness of the self, critique mentalistic picture of the soul, dissolve subject object duality and plunge headlong into the world which is all there us, alert us of dangers in asserting or making propositions on anything that transcends language.
Wittgenstein deserves a comparison with great mystical thinkers. If we understand that God is what is and is missed when we attempt to think or imagine or make images of Him or attempt to comprehend the Mystery we can understand Wittgenstein. According to mysticism God is the case. The only thing is we don’t see. We verbalize and babble and create theologies and metaphysics. Wittgenstein is a metaphysician in the same way Buddha is or Krishnamurti is. God is above speech. The Absolute has never been defiled by speech. But by metaphysics is here meant living or breathing the noumenal world, dissolving into it and not speculating about it with conceptual schemes. Metaphysics as the knowledge of the supraphenomenal reality is the soul of all traditional cultures or “epistemologies.” Man is made for the Absolute, to die in It and thus to eternally live. Certainty is the requirement of intelligence and man is not absurdity. If man fails to access the most certain, the indubitable, the absolutely safe in Wittgenstein’s terms, he has failed as a man. God is the greatest certainty – the greatest and most palpable of the present facts in Whitehead’s words –and a philosophy or epistemology that doesn’t account for this does not deserve to be called a philosophy. It is failure and betrayal of philosophy and of man and his intelligence if the  real is not knowable though of course not conceptually knowable.  Modern philosophy that is largely ignorant of God can’t qualify as a genuine philosophy, as Indians or great traditional philosophers from other traditions understood philosophy as darsana, as seeing or vision.
Wittgenstein had mystic experiences of both the ecstatic and nature-mystical kind. Seeing creation as wondrous is what Einstein correctly defined as religious or mystical attitude. God is attention without distraction as Simone Weil would say. He is the Mystery at the heart of everything. For Wittgenstein God is approached in all these ways and doubting our experience of wonder, of mystery, of eternity, of the ethical or unconditional goodness or his urge for it is absurd. Indeed God is the case and only the fools say in their hearts there is no God. Nasr has remarked that if it were possible to teach (traditional) metaphysics to everyone there would be no atheists around. Modern man has failed to understand what traditions meant by God. God is Reality for traditions and it is absurd to ask is there a reality. Only mystics can, however, say this so genuinely and Wittgenstein is a mystics. As ethics or aesthetics is transcendental and yet quite human and real concerns and constitute the grounds of all that we value most  so is religion understood as living/talking God (to be distinguished from talking about God or mere propsitional belief statement) so characteristic of human endowment that it is absurd to question it. In fact, as the Quran says, no question or doubt can be entertained regarding God. God is love, superabundant joy, beauty that kills, sweetness of every sweat thing, green in the leaves and red in the golden rays and  mystery that surrounds us.

This is not pantheism which is a heresy for traditions but our experience of God out of the world, so to speak, -and of course we also need to note that samsara is nirvana and this very garden is the Garden of Eden for the seeing or who know. Debating about God is height of folly like debating about pleasures of love by enunchs. Against this folly Wittgenstein asserted what normal men have always taken to be the case that God is reality or Reality and only saints truly live life. Wittgenstein was a saint though not of the order of great Western saints like Eckhart. Saints don’t talk about God but talk God, live God, breathe God and share the great joy that God is with lesser mortals. The real question for traditional philosophies is how we become Godlike (theosis) or prepare for death in life (which is the same thing or means for it) or live and move and have our being in God. All else is vanity.

Wittgenstein stood for this primordial heritage of man and that is why was misunderstood by most of his friends and foes like. Needless to remark that he didn’t consider Western civilization that refused to fully countenance the reality of the sacred as something of a monstrosity and like Gandhi a laughable “interesting” idea He complained of Russell, the paragon of modern rationality or philosophy – to have fatally misunderstood him. In fact what he considered most important has been dismissed by many a modern thinker as folly. God (understood mystically or more precisely metaphysically) is the meaning of life for all religions including transtheistic one as for Wittgenstein. I wish to argue the point that Wittgenstein is to be read alongside great traditional philosophers that saw the Good above everything, had little use for fashionable pursuits of today, considered ethics as first philosophy and metaphysical discoveries as fruits or realizations of real ethical life, were centred on God rather than man and saw quintessentially human in living up to the divine image in him, in transcending himself. There is nothing new or original in Wittgenstein’s mysticism as in fact there can’t be anything new in matters transcendental. One can refer to many mystics while explicating central statements of him. So far we have read – with few exceptions– Wittgenstein as a philosopher or failed to appreciate how mysticism informs/grounds his philosophy.
Wittgenstein is not only a philosopher of mysticism but a mystic, a practical mystic of great standing. All his work was dedicated to the “glory of God” as he once said to his friend Dury (Rhees, 1984: 168) – an expression quite unexpected from modern profane philosophers. He didn’t like philosophizing as a speculative/analytical  exercise, as an academic pursuit as is the case now in modern academies or universities but something that Plato would appreciate or other ancient traditional philosophers would prescribe as a way of life and nothing short of preparation of death. That he wanted his legacy to c of changed attitude towards ethics is hardly surprising.  “I am by no means sure that I should prefer a continuation of my work by others to a change in the way people live which would make all those questions superfluous.”(Wittgenstein, CV: 61). Philosophy, as pursued by his contemporaries or today, is a disease of modern form of life that needs cure. And that cure is ultimately provided by seeing the futility of the game called philosophy.

For ancients it was ethics and a vision and had little to do with language or concepts.  It was, most probably, his deep conviction borne from experience regarding sacrality of the world and thus the truth of the supernatural/eternal that made him loath modern civilization that had banished the sacred. It is in light of mysticism that we can understand his  unconventional attitude towards secular carriers or vocations, his renunciation of his property, his austerity in life and manners, his casual attitude towards dress, his independence in thought and action, his nostalgia for peasant life in Russia, his alienation from his times that he characterized as dark ages and many puzzles in his biography. His view of philosophy’s aim, his attempt at transcending it for getting the vision of the things as they really are, his rejection of the claims of conceptual analysis or linguistic analysis as explaining reality, his rejection of classical dualisms that have bedeviled Cartesian and post-Cartesian thought, his plea for convergence of the ethical and the aesthetic, his view that ethics is transcendental, his rejection of doing science and mathematics as the ideals of philosophizing endeavor, his critique of psychologism and rationalistic attempts at building a metaphysics and our addiction to use metaphysical notions in ordinary discourse at rational plane are all threads in the fabric of mystical tapestry that has so subtly woven. He rejected theological representations as many others before have done but he never rejected the symbolizandum.

He said there is no theoretical content in religious doctrines. This is, in a way, easily understandable. God is not a thing, an entity, a being among other being or existence. “God is not” as Eckhart would put it. God is Nothing as Buddhism would put it. God is all that there is as Sufism and Taoist mysticism see it. Samsara and nirvana are really one.
There can be no doubt about the mystical in Wittgenstein. Amongst the most loved books of him are included William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience and Tolstoy’s The Gospel in Brief, Augustine’s Confessions, Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov in which Father Zossima figures, and writings of George Fox and Plato. He claimed that Vienna circle people didn’t understand Tractatus and that few will understand it and in fact his learned commentators still mostly miss its kernel, its last pages and especially the closing proposition. His only public lecture is through and through a mystical piece. His only published book during his life time is an attempt to delineate the sacred realm and prevent its debasement by speculative metaphysics and exoteric theology. His notebooks are marked by the mystical passion. His Culture and Value criticizes modern Western civilization on precisely religious-mystical grounds. His Philosophical Grammar, Blue Book and Philosophical Investigations have mysticism in the background and in fact pave way for it. The most important questions of life that science or logical positivism or any reductionist philosophy miss need, according to him, to be treated mystically. His respect for religion as a form of life – though this belongs to the exoteric part of his work – and his refusal to take cudgels on behalf of theologians are explainable through the thesis of the mystical that he values above everything.
If we don’t comprehend such typical mystical statements as “Samsara and nirvana are one,” “God is what is,” “ I see nothing but God everywhere,” “God is the Hidden and the Manifest” “ God is our ultimate concern,” “Eternity is the present moment,” “Don’t prat about God; God is not,” “God is neither good nor true,” “God is the sweetness of all sweat things,” “ God is Beauty and Truth,” “ God is the real Doer,” “It is God that sees and listens rather than we,” “God is the knownest of the Known,” “No doubt can be entertained regarding God,” “God is the Light of the World,” “God is the Totality, the Whole,” “God is the most immediate of the present facts and unattainable quest” we can’t comprehend mysticism of Wittgenstein. He saw everything from mystical (what he wrongly called religious) point of view. His metaphysics of experience is built on the foundations provided by mystical attitude towards life and the world. The central doctrines and conceptions of religion or theology are understood in light of mystical interpretation that informs Wittgenstein.
Review of works on the mystical in Wittgenstein
The problem with most of the works done on this theme is that they have not been done by the students of mysticism but philosophy and that too a very hostile antimetaphysicalantimystical philosophy. How deeply ironic it is that Wittgenstein would be understood as supporter of the manifesto of logical positivism that banished as nonsense everything which concerned Wittgenstein the most. Science for Wittgenstein has not and could not even touch the problem of life, the problem of meaning, the problem of transcendence. His critique of psychologism meant saying good bye to one of the most fashionable reductionist approaches to spiritual reality. His denial of self was negation of everything for which secular humanism and modern individualism stands. His characterization of scientific-technological civilization as dark ages places him squarely with other great religious critics of Enlightenment thought. For him modern positivist civilization lacked culture and therefore was cursed. He lamented that Russell, Carnap and many others who were so close to him didn’t really understand him and those who claimed to be his followers didn’t make spiritual endeavour share the spiritual vacation that moved him. He was every inch a mystic and no doubt should be entertained regarding this. Both Russell and Carnap accused him of mysticism and in fact none of the Wittgenstein scholars or biographers has denied the element of mystical in him but none has been able to see how mysticism is the key to his whole thought not excluding the latter Wittgenstein. Logic is a tool for paving the way to the supralogical or transcendental. In fact mystical is the case for him and needs no arguments. The unrepresentable shows forth. It is there to be contemplated, breathed and enjoyed. God is everywhere and nowhere. Man is not. He lives and moves and has his being in God. My purpose here is to make some general remarks on the centrality of the mystical in Wittgenstein and thus help to put in perspective the critical writings on his religion besides clarifying why it should matter in any discussion of him. I shall particularly focus on his Notebooks (1914-16) to argue my case though I shall not ignore the Tractatus which has been much though still inadequately and often not quite rightly commented upon from this perspective.
Amongst those who have sympathetically written on his mysticism Russell Neili should count as the most important and balanced. Atkinson reads him as a pantheist as if Wittgenstein had not placed transcendence outside the world in so clear terms. Malcolm and some other critics who have written on his view of religion as a language game have missed the mystical core of his religiosity – his metaphysics of experience – to recall Pradhan’s title of his very useful book – I believe it is Indians who can better comment on Wittgenstein because the metaphysics that he affirms – metaphysics as suprarational intuitive or intellectual instead of speculative rational affair – belongs to India especially. (Indians have no difficulty in understanding Buddha as a mystic and Buddhism as a great metaphysic even if Buddha refused to answer 14 metaphysical questions). Brian McGuiness has made a useful small study and there are valuable insights in Kerr’s Theology after Wittgenstein. Mark Lazenby in The Early Wittgenstein on Religion pays attention to the mystical in him and rightly points out that McGuinness’s view that Wittgenstein is a nature mystic in the Tractatus is not correct and instead argues that he is actually a theistic mystic. He notes that there are two worlds in Tractatus, namely the factual and the spiritual and points out that realizing this is in order to understand how there can be value inside the world. Lazenby develops this position by arguing that the factual world is the everyday one which logic characterizes and that value lies outside this world. The mystic looks back upon this world after transcending it and once it has been transcended there is nothing to say and hence silence ensues. Engleman, Dury and other acquaintances of Wittgenstein have also pointed out the profundity of his mystical outlook. In fact logical positivist camp soon discovered that he is not amongst them. Wittgenstein’s differences with Russell and positivist friends are largely attributable to his mystical-ethical convictions. Many papers have been written to argue the point that Wittgenstein had mystical convictions but very few studies have been able to convincingly link his life and work and interpret him consistently on mystical lines. He has been approached more from theological/religious than from mystic-metaphysical viewpoint. The present paper seeks to fill the gap.
K.C Pandey’s edited collection Perspectives on the Unsayable shows a glimpse of confusion on Wittgenstein’s fundamental contributions to the debate on religion or transcendence. There are disagreements over the nature of his religiosity, cognitive status of religious claims, central metaphysical notions such as the self in relation to God, the meaning of the unsayable etc. Wittgenstein has been approached as a philosopher and not as a mystic and this contributes to confusions. So far few scholars specializing in mysticism have written on Wittgenstein and this has complicated problems. Wittgenstein is a mystic and a metaphysician of a different order – he does metaphysics as many traditional philosopher-sages have been doing it. It is nonrational route for doing metaphysics that he takes. I think the best guide to understanding traditional non-rational metaphysics is the trinity of perennialistmetaphyiscians Rene Guenon, AnandaCoomaraswamy and FrithjofSchuon. For Wittgenstein – to refute his postmodernist appropriations that argue he is a prisoner of language and textuality – what can’t be said is the case. The world is not explained by science or philosophy or anything that employs language.
In a remarkable book Wittgenstein and the Mystical: Philosophy as an Ascetic Practice  Fredrick Sontag sets ten themes that run throughout Wittgenstein’s work. The “themes” dominated Wittgenstein’s life and, Sontag argues, provide a way to understand Wittgenstein’s work. The themes are, as his reviewer puts it, : (1) Philosophy as an ascetic practice; (2) The philosopher as existentialist/pragmatist; (3) The monk’s isolated search for forgiveness; (4) The penitent’s search for forgiveness; (5) The struggle with God as an unknown object; (6) Philosophy as a “religious” way of life; (7) Philosophy as a life of courage; (8) Serious philosophical pursuit has an affinity to mysticism; (9) Language has a mystical quality; (10) Insight can be imparted only to one who is serious and dedicated.
The Mystical in Wittgenstein’s texts
I focus here particularly though not exclusively on Notebooks (1914-16) and then subsume those observations and comment on them from mystical viewpoint. Some statements from Tractaus are too well known and commented to need quoting here. Almost all the statements on religion, ethics and aesthetics in the Notebooks need to be kept in focus for appreciating our reading. Here only a few statements can be quoted or alluded to while commentary proceeds.
Ethics is transcendental.
The work of art is the object seen sub species aeternitatis and the good life is the world seen sub species aeternitatis. This is the connection between art and ethics.
The urge towards mystical comes after non-realization of our wishes by science. We feel that even with all possible scientific questions answered our problem is still not touched at all.
It is true: Man is the microcosmos.
There is no such thing as the act of the will. Will is the attitude of the subject to the world.
World in itself is neither good nor evil.
Everything is perfect.
Objects I can only name.
Where in the world is the metaphysical subject to be found?
There is no riddle.
How things stand is God.
…my will is world will.
There can and must be mentioned of I in a non-physcological sense in philosophy.
Skepticism is not irrefutable, but obvious nonsense if it tries to doubt where no question can be asked
For doubts can only exist where a question exists; a question can only exist where an answer exists, and this can only exist where something can be said.

The fact that Wittgenstein had personal mystical experience is well attested. His description of being absolutely safe and seeing creation as a miracle are so compelling that we hardly need to entertain any second opinion about the mystical in him or his encounter with the mystical. The cognizance of the fact that there is a world is enough to make one dance with ecstasy and wonder. Wonder is the beginning and end of human wisdom.
According to him philosophy is not one of the natural sciences. He made the aim of philosophy more a vision than any things else (Pradhan:237). He aims was to get “vision of things as they are and therefore he aimed transcending philosophy itself. Philosophy could be transcended only after it has given us the correct vision of the world. As we have said earlier, this vision consists in man’s knowledge of the world, or in other words, in the metaphysic.” Although metaphysical interpretation of Wittgenstein’s thought has been disputed we can still say that he does argue for a new way of looking at the world which involves a kind of transcendence quite similar to the one advocated by mystics. After enlightenment the world continues to be the same but we have one foot above the ground as famous Zen anecdote recounts. This is the whole burden of a remarkable work titled Wittgenstein: A Way of Seeing. To quote only one statement from Philosophical Investigations “What you have discovered is a new way of looking at things. As if you had invented a new way of painting; or again a new metre or a new kind of song” (401). Wittgenstein is a metaphysician in a special sense. He is a philosopher of transcendence. This point may need a clarification.
Metaphysics as conceived by its greatest masters across traditions from Nagarjuna to Sankara to Lao Tzu to Eckhart and IbnArabi consists in a vision that transforms our ordinary perception or attitude regarding the world. It is not necessarily a vision of beyond in the sense that involves moving out of oneself and talking of an abstraction or higher world ontologically distinguishable from the world we all know. It always presupposes samsara-nirvana or world-heaven equivalence. The immediate is the ultimate and path is the goal as Zen tradition would put it. God is the green in the trees and the red in the sunrays. Transcendence could well be construed as true being of beings as Heidegger would tell us or mystery of things or depth dimension of things. Everything is within according to all traditions.There is no other in absolute sense. All are one. IbnArabi’s words “you are everything, in everything, and from everything” express the vision of all great mystical thinkers. Thus all the higher worlds are part of the Self or consciousness. Ken Wilber has been emphasizing this point especially in almost all his writings. things.

To be open to revelations of transcendence is simply to keep the sense of wonder alive. Philosophy begins in wonder and mysticism makes this wonder a permanent state. The highest stage in the path is the stage of wonder or getting lost as IbnArabi says. Nietzsche was right to emphasize loyalty to this earth. In fact father Zosima in Dostovesky’s mystical work The Brothers Karamazarovsees every garden as the Garden of Eden. He says: “We don’t understand that life is a paradise [at present], for we have only to wish to understand this and it will immediately appear before us in all its beauty.”Rabbi Herschel has made the same point in different terms “Just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy.”
The quarrel between transcendentalists and antitranscendentalists of almost all hues is largely verbal quibble. Platonic ideal world is not a separate world, an abstraction. But the world ordinarily thought to be world is also not the whole world but a mental construction. Blake sees eternity in an hour or infinity in a grain of sand. In fact for the mystics everything is, as it is infinite. Eternity is not an abstraction or some new realm as opposed to time but present moment. To live in eternity is to live in the present, to live moment by moment. What characterizes a philosopher of transcendence is he continues to find a depth in the world, something that excites wonder, something that invites our response and even love. Wittgenstein lucidly made this point in these words:

Some philosophers (or whatever you like to call them) suffer from what maybe called “loss of problems.” Then everything seems quite simple to them,no deep problems seem to exist any more, the world becomes broad and flatand loses all depth, and what they write becomes immeasurably shallowand trivial. Russell and H. G. Wells suffer from this (Z, 456).

His remark about Ayer after listening to his debate with Father Copleston  that ‘he has a point but he is shallow’ underscores the same sensibility. His remark that “The I, the I is what is deeply mysterious”(p. 80 of his dairy) is in line with this viewpoint. Though he granted that only strictly scientific statements are meaningful but  he cautioned against positivists that natural science could never touch what was really important in human life, the mystical.
That would have to be contemplated in silence. For “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent/’ as the last proposition of the Tractatusdeclared. We can understand his famous statement “I am not areligious man but I cannot help seeing every problem from a religious point of view”in this light. In fact religions don’t aim at even vision but advocate a discipline that makes us open or vulnerable to reality, to richness of being, to thingliness of things as Heidegger would have it, to essences of things that get expressed through things when looked at rather than thought. Wittgenstein would recommend looking instead of thinking. Transcendence of thinking is what contemplation/meditation is all about. It appears to me that Wittgenstein says nothing because nothing needs to be said. He advocates no position or privilges no point of view because this can’t be done. All his endeavor, like the mystics and prophets, is to emphasize that we need to see with open eyes, unburdened by memories or anxieties of thought. We need to see through God’s eyes. And that consists in nonegoistic vision and this makes it possible to assert that “How things stand is God.”
Wittgenstein gave great attention to language in order to show that what constitutes us and what we value most is delimited from what could be expressed in language, from profane textual domain. The Tractatus’s design was expressly determined by this consideration. For him the metaphysical self that constitutes us transcends the world, the urges that move us point beyond the world, experiences that we most cherish are of the world beyond the ordinarily familiar world, our ethical and aesthetic dimension is anchored outside the world.

For him both the willing subjects and the knowing subjects are one and both are outside of the world, and are the source of our language and world-cognition. However, as in mystical traditions, transcendence is not consummated; it remains an unfulfilled quest. It is movement, perpetual movement and not reaching anywhere. It is the limit that can never be reached. Absolute is inexhaustibly rich. Man must perpetually travel. Experiences are open ended and self is perpetually creative. Our search for transcendence, like our need to engage with philosophy is, as Pradhan has noted, “merely an ideal never to be fulfilled, because the metaphysics of experience as unfolded through our subjectivity has to be constantly guarded against unclarity and confusion through language itself. Therefore, philosophy can never ultimately be transcended, since transcendence of language itself is a continuing activity which is performed by philosophy” (Pradhan, 237). It means one can never stop worshipping or glorifying God and travel on the plane of servitude or perfect his surrender or state of innocence or vulnerability to reality. Mystics, as true philosophers (as traditionally understood activity) are always striving to remove the veils of language and thought in order to reach the still centre of existence that transcends language and thought. Wittgenstein is quite clear on the point that Conceptual analysis can teach nothing about reality. Nor resolve the puzzle of how we should understand the world and how we should live. He leaves all questions open and thus paves way for alternative approaches that bypass conceptual analysis and science for understanding or living the great mystery of life.

As Paul Johnson notes: “The conclusion of a Wittergenstein investigation still have all great questions open. As far as the Inner is concerned, in one sense it will always remain as mysterious as life itself” (Johnson: 239). This is precisely mystical attitude towards mystery of life. No question is answered. Only our plane of seeing life shifts and dissolves the ordinary sense of questions. We consent to unlearn. The learned ignorance. “The mystic is an extraordinarily ordinary person” He is a non-knower, non-caner. “The human need for account for the world and our place in it will not disappear, because traditional metaphysics has been shown to be flawed… accepting these points doesn’t involve embracing relativism and is close to a moral argument. (Pradhan, 239). It means the mystic, the artist, the poet, the scientist, shall ever be busy and man needs to be humble. Let Reality speak to him. Let him learn to be receptive. Imposing conceptual structures is violence. We need to learn to be still so that God speaks to us in silence. This opening up, surrender of self, emptying out and polishing our receptivity is what is the crux of Vedanta as Som Raj Gupta has argued in his largely ignored but superb work Word Speaks to the Faustian Man (1991). In fact all religious and mystical traditions are agreed on this point.
Wittgenstein’s statement that ‘God is the meaning of life’ is quintessentially mystical and best understood in light of mystical writings. Underhill’s explication of the meaning of life in mysticism is best commentary on this statement. One can’t be more God intoxicated to equate the most significant thing in life with God. Wittgenstein’s statement that man is a microcosmos is comprehensible only in mystical worldview. He also observed that “As a thing among things each thing is equally insignificant. As a world each one equally significant” (7-10-16) which reminds of Blake’s seeing the heaven in a grain of sand. Mystics have never doubted the significance of the meanest flower or blade of grass seeing everything as the face of the Absolute, as participating in everything.
Wittgenstein famously remarked that the riddle doesn’t exist and the solution of the problem of life is seen in the disappearance of the problem of life. For mystics God is the Light of the world. The question is how to live and that dissolves the problem or riddle. Life is not a riddle to be solved but a mystery to be lived, dissolved in. Riddle exists for those who want to conceptually approach life that resists all logic. The problem of meaning of life is the problem of how to live, how to live so that life stops being problematic.  For him good life is world seen in certain way rather than in a way of behaving. For him there is no value in the world (6.41). It is impossible for to be there proposition of ethics (6.42). The problem of how to live becomes for him not  some epistemological inquiry  the problem of how to  look at that world, the problem of how to find the right spirit in it.
Wittgenstein assigns key importance to art, on the ground that art alone can express the meaning of life. Only the artist can teach the things that matter most in life. For him art is the solution. Compare this with Coomaraswamy or Schuon on art and aesthetics and we get the full import of the statement.
Wittgenstein has categorically stated the error of moderns for believing that laws of science explain nature. The world is suffused in mystery that is divine. The very fact that there is a world is incomprehensible and metaphysical. God has been conceived as mystery, as given, as something that is – ‘what is’ in Augustine’s and Krishnamurti’s phrase. Who can afford to deny the “gratuitous” universe? Philosophy begins and ends in wonder explaining nothing and demanding our opening up towards the transcendent miracle of existence. Modern man’s key problem in engaging positively or creatively with religion/mysticism arises from felt absence/hiddenness of God in contemporary experience.  But taken as synonymous with Reality the complaint seems to lose all warrant. God is the only Experiencer, Knower and Actor.


For IbnArabi, the great Sufi metaphysician, we don’t see but God sees and we don’t hear but God listens. God is immanent in every experience. As he says:
If we gaze, it is upon Him; if we use our intelligence, it is towards Him; if we reflect, it is upon Him; if we know it is Him. For it is He who is revealed in every face, sought in every sign, worshipped in every object of worship, and pursued in the invisible and the visible. The whole world prays to Him, prostrates itself before Him and glorifies His praise; tongues speak of Him, hearts are enraptured by love for Him, minds are bewildered in Him (Futûhât, III: 449-50).
For Wittgenstein these lines of IbnArabi would be perfectly comprehensible given his notion of metaphysical subject and its role in constituting experience, his view of the world as my world. Here I propose to compare Wittgenstein and IbnArabi by keeping IbnArabi’s explication in the background while applying the same for understanding Wittgenstein. Agnosticism and skepticisms of various orientations in the contemporary world have a point if understood as the declaration of impossibility of conceptually knowing the Reality, Transcendent Principle, the Ground of existence, the whole Truth, the Mystery. However these are often presented in cruder versions that deny men any knowledge of the supraphenomenal or the very existence of the sacred for which Wittgenstein and IbnArabiwill have zero tolerance. The Pure Absolute or Essence (Dhat) in its fundamental aspect – and thus Meaning/Truth/ Presence/ Identity/ Reality per se – is beyond the human quest and all attempts to reach It, track it, pinpoint It, catch It in the net of language or realm of the finite or time, to conceptualize It, to imagine It, to speak about It, to affirm anything of It are doomed. Before the Ipseity or Dhat one can only be bewildered according to Ibn ‘Arabî and Wittgenstein. The world is ultimately a Mystery, a Mystery of Mysteries and no rational or scientific approach could finally and completely demystify it. The world being ultimately a mystery that resists being demystified by means of conceptual intellect is what transcendence implies as Stace has explained in his Time and Eternity (1952). There is no humanely discoverable ultimate truth. All representations of the Real are provisional. Godhead/ Absolute/ Zat-uz-Zat is opaque, deep deep darkness, impenetrable, the absolutely inscrutable unknowable Other. Gnosis consists in knowing that God can’t be known as Abu Bakr is quoted time and again by IbnArabi. As the world is not-He and man ever a worshipper of his Lord or conditioned by his belief – a notion subsumable under the concept of form of life in Wittgenstein, and nothing is ever repeated as God’s theophanies change ceaselessly imply that the world will never cease to be an object of wonder and fascination and Beauty never cease to be worshipped and act as an efficient net through which God catches most of his servants as Plato also noted.
Rationalization, familiarization, demystification and descaralization of the world that ultimately make it inhuman, alienating and absurd and disrespectful towards the Big Other  can’t happen in the Akbarian/Wittgensteinian perspective that sees the mysterious, sacred divine face in everything. Western philosophy, as Heidegger pointed out, is oblivious to the ground of being. It is not open to the sacred mystery of Being. It is not the philosopher but the poet who can show the track of the holy, to the sacred mystery of Being. Nothing in the world of known can express the Divine Darkness. All quests end in wonder. In the last analysis man knows nothing to its depth by means of senses, language and reason. Other modes of knowledge such as intellectual intuition give us another kind of knowledge that instead of making things comprehensible dissolves the knowing subject in the object preserving the ultimate mystery of things in the process. If to comprehend means to have discursive conceptual knowledge we comprehend nothing ultimately. All our explanations, analyses stop at a certain point. Things are as they are. There is something instead of nothing. Being or wajudis in the last analysis a miracle or a scandal to reason. Why should there be a knowing subject and why should our universe be comprehensible are perhaps unanswerable. Man knows but little and this applies to everything from God to quarks. God is incomparable, transcendent. Symbols are all we know. We can only name things and that is all but things escape us as Wittgenstein would say. God alone knows or is Knowledge. The knowledge of reality given to mystics and prophets is of a different order. God remains inscrutable and the sacred inapproachable. Man’s prerogative is to contemplate and dissolve in the mystery of being. Though being is aware of itself this awareness has no analyzable or knowable structure.
We are here and there is no cure for it. But, more precisely, we are not. Only God is. Only the play of divine names is and man happens to be a locus of their action rather than some independent subject or agency. The cloak of mystery can’t be removed from the universe. All human knowledge is progressive unveiling of the ultimate impenetrability of the veil that disguises Reality. Essences are not discursively known.  Existence is a mystery and its grandeur and sublimity defy our reason and its categories. Rereading of Kantian sublime by such writers as Derrida or Lyotard is based on increasingly felt inability of reason to contain the brutal power of imagination. We can’t conceptualize or represent in language the infinity which human beings do encounter. The highest station is that of bewilderment according to IbnArabi and Wittgenstein . All this implies that dogmatisms are unwarranted.  Exoteric theologies need to be on guard and take Wittgenstein seriously as Kerr has also argued in Theology after Wittgenstein.
It is God and not the name of God that religions seek. Exoteric theologies may not distinguish between the Truth and the descriptions or representations of Truth. Nothing can capture the Reality in rational propositional framework. Even ethical propositions are not possible for Wittgenstein. This means we can only know our inability to know God and will good on our own and this means humility in the face of the Great Mystery that God is. This vetoes all self righteous fundamentalist ideologies. Jaina doctrine of syadvada is a corollary of the fundamental mystery and transcendence of the First Principle, the Absolute. This rules out all totalistic or totalitarian claims. Ideological conflicts are based on one’s exclusive claim to have access to truth and denying one’s fallibility. Religions by relegating truth to transcendent realm  and its access to transcendent intellect (which is in us but not ours) veto all quarrels about accessibility to it of any worldly ideology and self-centric person. Secular philosophies that require no moral purification on the part of the philosopher are barred from entering the doors of the great King or Truth.
The essential ethics of Wittgenstein like that of IbnArabi is constituted by such virtues as disinterest, self-denial, charity and love which form the ethical core of all religious/mystical traditions. God is experienced by everyone who sincerely cultivates these virtues. (Post)Modernity has essentially no argument against these values and indeed affirms them. Ibn ‘Arabî has nothing to argue for and against – he only invites us to experience things afresh, to be open to the Real which alone is really experienced in every experience. Wittgenstein’s endeavour is similar in his invitation to transcend language and thought in order to see what is, to see things sub species aeternitatis, to see solution in aesthetics, to live rather than think the mystery that life is. God is not a hypothesis that one needs to prove or could question – He is the ground of every perception, every imagination, every conception or thought, every experience. As Wittgenstein puts it there is no answer as there is no question where nothing can be said.
Wittgenstein is not himself a philosopher in the modern sense of the term which sees reason as the chief if not the only tool for understanding or approaching reality. His view of modern philosophers could not but be largely negative. For projecting IbnArabi or Wittgenstein as a philosopher we need to refer to perennialist conception of philosopher and philosophy. His denunciation of rationalism and much of what today passes for intellectuality aligns him to  perennialist critics of modern thought. It is not a prerogative of ratio or mental faculty of reason but of nous, the supraindividual universal faculty of intellect. For Wittgenstein knowing and willing subjects are one and man is knowledge, so to speak. Instead of conceptualizing we can see and in order to pave way for that direct seeing he removes the traps and cobwebs that language builds. Philosophy should not be a mere theoretical rational inquiry, a conceptual analysis or analysis of language as an end in itself but a realization, intellection or noetic vision that transcends subject-object duality and demands something like ethical discipline that Plato argued for. Philosophy as an abstract philosophical discourse based on rationalistic scientific method and its methodically obtained “truths” is what Ibn ‘Arabî and Wittgenstein  often critique. Philosophy for Wittgenstein is not a method to discover truth but a sort of shock therapy to prepare us for receiving truth, to make us innocent or children again. It is a sort of death to the linguistically/conceptually constructed self. Philosophy implies for all of the ancients a moral conformity to wisdom: only he is wise, sophos, who lives wisely as Schuon notes (8:136). Living happily is living wisely. Living in such a way that problem disappears and there is no more sorrow and one partakes of eternity by living in the present is what  Wittgenstein is all about. Philosophy in the traditional Orphic-Pythagorean sense is wisdom and love combined in a moral and intellectual purification in order to reach the “likeness to god.”( Uzdavinys, 2005). It is contemplation of Beauty and Good. This is attainable by gnosis. By philosophizing ancients meant “both noetic activity and spiritual practice.” Wittgensteinian conception is remarkably similar.
In IbnArabi’s understanding the Real alone is and there is no distance between us and It. We are already there in the lap of God – we have never been really away and cannot be away from It. God has never been missed. We have forgotten or fallen asleep but this doesn’t alter the fact that God is our very being, our inmost reality. Man is inwardly God and outwardly a creature according to Ibn ‘Arabî. The world is God’s visible face. The real, the obvious, that which is always with us, has been always with us, will always be with us, is God. God is the world. God is how things are as Wittgenstein would put it. But this doesn’t make him a pantheist as he has categorically stated also that God is outside the world, the world constructed by language, by a self that sees it as the other.

God is the Isness of things. He is the Meaning of everything as Wittgenstein said. God constitutes all pervasive Environment (al-Muhitin the Quranic parlance) in which normal man lives, moves and has his being.
Realizing that everything is perfect this very moment or, in Buddhist (Nagarjunian) terminology, that samsara is nirvana is realizing God. Wittgenstein’s transcendence of good/evil binary and pleading for a vision of perfect harmony between the self and the “alien will” called God and seeing everything as unalterably perfect makes the same point. Such notions as  “Ground of being” “ depth of life” “mystery of things or existence” which many moderns have advocated as substitute metaphors for what used to be conventionally called God and most often pictured with a human face by anthropomorphic idolatrous imagination seem to be given some representation in this fundamentally Unitarian view of God as Totality, as Reality.
God is not an epistemological problem at all that our mind/reason can investigate. He is a percept rather than a concept for Ibn ‘Arabî and Wittgenstein. In more poetic terms He is a song to be sung rather than an abstract Being, a Being among other beings but a Being of beings. God is “the knownest of the known” and so close that we only need to open our eyes, to cleanse the doors of perception to see how. Belief in God is not a proposition for Ibn ‘Arabî and Wittgenstein but a matter of tasting, experiencing the divine (or the revelations of sheer Being), which, to him, presents itself in all experiences every moment and for everyone – in fact God is the Hearing and the Seeing as is often reiterated in the Quranic verse – and not just to a select few in the so-called religious experience which is a Jamesian construct uncritically accepted by many modern philosophers of religion. All the roads lead to His abode as they proceed from it. God is the name of ‘that which is.’ He is not something within isness, he himself is that which is.
Knowing oneself after denying the illusory desiring ego one comes to subsist in God. All beliefs and disbeliefs are in the realm of duality and need to be transcended. IbnArabi’s and Wittgenstein’s  Unitarian Metaphysics is transtheistic and transcends both theism and atheism. This Unitarianism leads to the realization that the world is ultimately none other than the Absolute and thus finding everything perfect this very moment or seeing eternity here and now.  Wittgen
Modern man’s problems are primarily with a constricted dualistic theological view of God and static absolutes of idealistic philosophies. Ibn ‘Arabî’s and Wittgenstein’s conception of divinity is not vulnerable to these standard critiques of theistic and idealistic philosophical pictures. Most empiricist-positivist-postmodernist critiques look beside the point and based on faulty construction of religious experience. Modern philosophy of religion seems to have gloriously misunderstood the central experience of religion if Akbarian exposition is accepted. It is not a subject that sees something which constitutes the essence of religious experience or mystical vision for Wittgenstein or IbnArabi. It is more a discovery or insight into things as they are, an attitude, a way of seeing the world rather than a particular or extraordinary experience.
Wittgenstein, like traditional philosopher-sages, is more concerned about certainties “seen” or “lived” by the immanent Intellect, as did the best of Greeks than about building rational speculative metaphysics.  Cracks, crises and emasculations of the discipline of philosophy in the modern West could have been avoided if the West had not opted for Latin Averrorism and Cartesian rationalism and consequent dualisms and irresolvable problems that still haunt its epistemology and other areas like ontology.
Wittgenstein, like IbnArabi, provides a possible exit point from the choking morass of skeptical thought currents which otherwise doom us to abysmal ignorance regarding our most important questions in life including possibility of certain knowledge and knowledge of good life or good action.
“The final end and ultimate return of the gnostics … is that the Real is identical with them, while they don’t exist” said IbnArabi. Wittgenstein arrives at similar conclusions through a different route. It is through the metaphysical realization that one realizes that the Self withdraws from the “servant-Lord” polarity and resides in its own transpersonal being. The subject-object dichotomy is transcended by virtue of pure intellect or Spirit, which is identical with the divine Essence” (Qaisar, 2002:133). Once the soul or nafs has withered away in the experience of fana, the self-identity of mystic realization is transformed into the Self-identity of metaphysical realization. In the metaphysical perspective the reality of the ‘I’ doesn’t belong to man or nafsbut to the Spirit which is the divine spark at the center of man’s being identical with the unmanifest consciousness or Divine Essence. The crucial distinction between soul and Spirit is necessary to understand the Akbarian-Wittgensteinian metaphysical conception of religious experience. This distinction is largely forgotten by most philosophical critics of religious experience. Numerous misunderstandings and debates of theological vs. mystical debate in religions and meaning of such notions as soul/spirit, God/man, could be resolved if we keep these key points in mind. A fruitful dialogue with critics of religion and mysticism and in fact with secular thought in general is possible if we keep in mind ingenious interpretations put forward of many exponents of nondualism in the contemporary world.

Love of the World and Discovering God as Unutterable Joy

For Wittgenstein happy life is life divine and the great moral prerogative. It comes by loving the world, byamorfati. It comes from transcending the principle of ego which judges from self-centric perspective. Jesus said “judge not.” For Wittgenstein joy accompanies this surrender of vanity of the self in the All Embracing Divine Environment or “alien” Cosmic Will. He defined God as the Other, the Great Other that dictates terms, that constrains one, that embodies principle of Necessity.
One is reminded of many writings and especially the following from Augustine’s commentary on Psalm 32 in one of his sermons.
As the harvest, in the vineyard, wherever men must labour hard, they begin with songs whose words express their joy. But when their joy brims over and words are not enough, they abandon even this coherence and give themselves up to the sheer sound of singing. What is this jubilation, this exultant song; It is the melody that means out hearts are bursting with feelings words cannot express. An to whom does this Jubliation most belong? Surely to God, who is unutterable.  And does not unutterable mean what cannot be uttered? If words will not come and you may not remain silent, what else can you do but let the melody soar? (Qtd.In Kerr, 1986:167).

In mystical perspective God is joy and awareness of God is joy and thus awareness of reality in which all association with the self is put aside. If it is possible to access Reality or God nihilism is overcome. Weil has an ingenious argument to show that awareness of reality is joy and despair or sadness is a loss of contact with reality. This is her expression of old mystical /metaphysical viewpoint which identifies God as ananda, bliss. Simone Weil expresses the identity of joy with the awareness of reality. Since beauty is manifest appearance, the striking sign of reality, joy can only be a feeling, an awareness of reality. Weil describes sadness as a loss of contact with reality. Through sadness we cannot fulfill our vacation – to understate misery of our condition and to accept our reduction to what we truly are: nothing.  The memory of the revelation of reality through joy keeps us from plunging into despair, and the joy felt in our nothingness can be inscribed in our sensibility only by suffering. “Joy and pain are equally precious gifts both of which must be savoured fully, and each in its purity…” ( Weil, 1951: 132).
Simone Weil best captures the essence of many ideas that Wittgenstein only briefly touches. I think her observations allow us to make sense of Wittgenstein’s many observations from a mystical perspective. I reproduce some of her observations to put Wittgenstein in perspective and make him comprehensible.
Wittgenstein maintained that God is the Meaning of life and one must love the world unconditionally to appropriate this meaning. Weil is at her best in showing how one creates the meaning in life by renouncing all personal meanings, by complete acceptance of submission to the order of the world. One loves the order of the world by renouncing all personal interests. This is, in practice, close to Spinoza’s view of love of God by renouncing every vestige of personal interest. Freedom lies in recognizing our utter dependence on Totality, on God and in fact giving up sense of illusory autonomy or freedom that we associate with a separate individuality. We are not asked to do something against which our heart or head rebels but just shifting the perception in accordance with the nature of things.  One is just asked to accept or recognize the obvious fact that there is the order called necessity, which exists prior to us and which is there for reasons not necessarily understandable in human terms. Reality is there that transcends all our estimates, evaluations, desires and constitutes the given and man has no choice but to accept it by renouncing that which would have led him to rebellion – the sense of individuality and freedom outside God. “Where there is complete, authentic, and unconditioned consent to necessity, there is the fullness of love of God” (Weil, 1956: 267). Other texts identify the supernatural faculty in us as consent. For Weil that consent is always consent to the good, and, as such, it is the good itself. Faith is itself this faculty of submission or consent according to her. Absurdism rejects this notion of consent as a species of bad faith. Affirming the principle of autonomy and freedom in man independent of God it can’t but reject consent and consequently suffer alienation, angst and all those things with which absurdist literature is suffused.
All traditions emphasize remembrance of God. Modern mystics such as Krishnamurti translate it as attention or choiceless awareness. Weil has a similar understanding. Attention bridges division of subject and object, knower and known. Attention consists in suspending thought, in making it available, enmity, penetrable by the object….Thought must be empty, waiting, not searching for anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object which will penetrate there (Weil, 1951: 92-3). For her God is attention without distraction. It is living as a witness, a detached subject or awareness that watches every moment, that lives in the present by transcending thinking which distracts one from the given, the present. Living beyond the mind, in what has been called as the space of no-mind where time doesn’t enter and thus neither fear nor hope nor any need of consolation. God is what is in Krishnamurti’s phrase and to live in God is to be aware of what is without judgment, without condemnation, disinterestedly. Wittgenstein pleaded for seeing without the conceptual glasses, seeing things as they are after transcending philosophy. He meant something similar. Contemplation is a means of transcending confusions created by use or misuse of language.
Giving up the centre of one’s own value system is harder, but when we succeed, the very sensibility changes and we become capable of a new way of seeing. We are able to “empty ourselves of little false divinity, deny oneself, to renounce being at the centre of the world, to discern all the points of the world as being centers in the same title and the veritable centre as being outside the world.” Wittgenstein was all for this ascesis, this transformation in attitude and not correcting one’s views by updating our knowledge of history or science. By saying that God is outside the world or aesthetics is transcendental he meant adopting the divine perspective of seeing things from outside the world. This necessitates transcendence of individuality and human way of seeing and judging. When we are no longer centers we can’t condemn anything and can justify the world.
Weil argues that one shouldn’t desire particular things or pray for particular things because that is slavery.  Her argument practically converges with the formula of amorfati and loving everything as if there is eternal recurrence. This alone ensures unconditional love. Total renunciation is demanded for loving the order of the world or affirming everything unconditionally. To quote her:

Nothing can be produced unless the conditions for its production are brought together.
Such and such a thing calls for such and such a condition. But if one thinks: everything can be produced, given the conditions, and everything is equivalent…
If one desires a particular thing one becomes enslaved to the series of conditions. But if one desires the series itself, the satisfaction of this desire is unconditioned.
That is why the one and only liberation is love of the order of the world.
Christ on the cross, the greatest harm inflicted on the greatest good [can anything be more absurd and more revolting]: if one loves that, one loves the order of the world (Weil, 1970:143-144).

Nietzsche suggests a similar way of overcoming nihilism. Affirming the order of the world, praying for nothing, or letting one consent to the order of the world, freedom from the self that seeks consolation and this or that thing – these are the strategies common to Weil and Wittgenstein and in fact is the mystical position. Eckhart teaches the same thing.
Man has only two choices – to affirm his will, his autonomy or to affirm divine or cosmic will and his creatureliness, his nothingness. The first choice pits him against God and against cosmos and leads him to wail and despair for that which is thwarted, which is not honored in the scheme of things. When one renounces free will and thus choice between good and evil one no longer wishes good against evil to be done to him. Everything is justified because both good and evil are really one. (This relative understanding of good and evil is to be distinguished from that supreme value which Plato calls Good which stands above all relative distinctions.) Camus finds Christianity based on great injustice as an innocent lamb was sacrificed. Weil leaves no scope for any such reading.  We too are asked to consent to die, to be crucified, to love God in utter desolation of the Spirit when He seems absent as He was when the Christ cried.
Wittgenstein wanted us to see things from God’s perspective or sub species aeterneti. Weil asks for adapting the perspective of God or the non-perspective of supraindividual faculty of intellect (nuous as distinct from ratio or discursive reason). For attaining this perspective one has to die first. One starts from the Absolute and from the perspective of the Absolute man, his free will, his dreams, his autonomy is an anomaly, a state of disequilibrium.  If individual is engulfed in the Absolute as critics of perennialists point out or as existentialists argue against monists, it is something for which nothing can be done. If we are concerned with truth and not sentimentalism there is no escape from the tragic fact that individual or ego doesn’t count in the face of the Absolute. Are we after truth as such or truth as it appears to our subjective predispositions, to our heart? God is Truth and man may be in need of consolation though truth need not be necessarily consoling. From perennialist/Weil’s perspective the need for consolation is a weakness and a species of bad faith. This also explains Wittgenstein’s critique of conventional prayer as petition.We need to be iron-willed, capable of facing utter solitude or Void (Neant). It is only the strong man, the superman, who can unconditionally affirm and love fate – a fatalist in this higher sense is a man of strong character – or consent to eternal recurrence. Weil thus advocates the perspective of God in contrast to man-centric perspectives that individualist subjectivist thought currents advocate. This appropriates Keatsian negative capability, Nietzsche’s perspectivism and Jainism’s syadvadaas all these imply openness to infinitely nuanced and multidimensional character of reality or truth.
Meaning of Providence
Wittgenstein observed in Tractatus. “How things in the world are a matter of complete indifference what is higher.  God does not revel him self in the world.” He rejected conception of prayer as petition. He, however, attempted to make sense of religious person’s trust in God and religious language that express care of God. Weil explains this difficult problem in her own characteristic way. We need to note that nothing is gratuitous and nothing is meaningless and nothing is out of God’s control, care and mercy in God-centric view though nothing is respectful of human egoism which wants things according to the self’s desire. Not a sparrow falls except by the writ of providence. There is no role for chance. God is equally present everywhere, in all circumstances. Even rain drops fall in a measured quantity and angel accompanies every drop. This is the conviction of all religions, even those who have no personal God to look into the affairs of the world. However these statements are best understood by those who are familiar with the strange language of God. One can approach such statements not as cognitive verifiable statements that positivist or empiricist could handle but only by being within a “form of life” and mastering the rules and conventions of the particular game. Despite the fact that God is “absent’’ for Weil there is providence, the mystery of which is not decipherable to the uninitiated, to those profane inquirers who refuse to be annihilated in God and insist on seeing things outside God. The following account is irrefutable on its own terms by outsiders.
All the events of life, whatever they may be, without exception, are by conventions or signs of God. God establishes a conventional language with his friends. Every event in life is a word of this language. These words are all synonymous but, as happens in beautiful languages, each of them has its completely specific nuance, each of them is untranslatable. The meaning common to all these words is: I love you.
A man drinks a glass of water. The water is God’s “I love you.” He is two days in the desert without finding anything to drink. The dryness in his throat is God’s “I love you” … Those who are beginning to learn this language think that only some of its words mean “I love you.” Those who know the language know that it has only one meaning (Weil, 1970:128-129).
There is no providence that pertains to our created nature which itself is a result of injustice because by definition it tends to be autonomous and in opposition to the whole, the totality that the term God designates. What transcends the world is indeed indifferent towards the concerns of the world as Wittgenstein would say. To be born is indeed sin according to both Christian and Eastern traditions because it involves separation from the ground and thus a kind of fall. (Redemption consists in, according to Weil, consenting to return to God what is His, i.e. our very being or existence. Metaphysically our being is a non-being and God alone is truly real and the illusory dream of separate existence must be given up and this constitutes salvation.) Providence has, as in Beckett, only a negative meaning, of ensuring decreation so that the dust returns to dust and the uncreated Spirit comes to its own glory. Because creation is abandonment it necessarily implies subjection to necessity and thus, in a sense, absence of providence in the usually accepted sense of the term.

God abandons our whole entire being – flesh, blood, sensibility, intelligence, love – to the pitiless necessity of matter and the cruelty of the devil, except for the eternal and supernatural part of the soul.
The Creation is abandonment. In creating what is other than Himself, God necessarily abandoned it. He only keeps under His care the part of Creation which is Himself – the uncreated part of every creature. That is the Life, the Light, the Word…” (Weil, 1970: 103).

God himself can’t prevent what has happened from having happened. What better proof that the creation is an abdication? What greater abdication of God than is represented by time?
We are  abandoned in time. God is not in time.
God emptied himself of his divinity and filled us with a false divinity. Let us empty ourselves of it. This act is the purpose of the act by which we were created
At this very moment God, by  his creative will, is maintaining me in existence, in order that I may renounce it (Weil, 1970:140).

One doesn’t ask of providence to take care of this and that because if one loves the order of the world one transcends it with all its misery. Love is transcendence. It is we who are asked to redeem or justify ourselves in relation to the Totality. Love of the world takes all its pain. Love, in the final analysis, is the one thing needful that solves all problems. Here Rumi comes to mind who says love cures all ills. As Weil says: “It is sufficient if we consent to this order of things.” Faith is precisely this demand for loving the world which God has made and found good. Faith is trust in the order of things. It is gratitude towards Existence. It is self effacement before the whole, the Totality, the Tao. It is renunciation of all claims to a separate selfhood over and against the Whole.
Meaning of time and Eternity
Weil has a time tested mystical mechanism of ending of time called decreation. Decreation, according to Weil, means the “end of time.” There is an eternal and hidden part of soul which has the reservoir of energy “beyond time.” Through it one lives beyond time. Nihilism is overcome by those prepared to live it to hilt by annihilating oneself, by eliminating the seeking self which lives in time and rising above the mind which lives in past and future and never beyond time, in the moment. Cultivating the faculty of undistracted attention and intelligence one breaks through the prison of time. Weil is convinced as is Beckett that there is a timeless dimension which is our home.
The entire life of the self is directed towards the future because its substratum is supplementary energy, “produced” only by motives whose ends are in the future (or in the past) (Weil, 1956: 184). One should live in the present breaking the ties with the future and the past. Here Heidegger comes to mind who sees life as project into future. Being reduced to the present moment also implies a sinless state, since sin is essentially a claim to mastery over the future, the refusal of future love or suffering, or the refusal to repent of an evil act committed in the past: “If we contemplate ourselves at a specific moment – the present moment, cut off from past and future – we are innocent… Isolating a moment in this way implies forgiveness. But this isolation is detachment” (Weil, 1956: 216).
Remarks on his Ethics and Suffering
In 1939 Wittgenstein said,
The fat that life is problematic shows the shape of your life does not fit into life’s mould. So you must change the way you live and, once your life does fit into the mould, what is problematic will disappear.
Or shouldn’t I say rather: a man who lives rightly won’t experience the problem as sorrow, so for him it will not be a problem but a joy rather; in other words for him it will be a bright halo around his life, not a dubious background  (CV:27).

This is the crux of mystical theodicy. This is what Buddha said in a different way. Eliminate desire and you will be in peace. Wittgenstein said this quite clearly and wondered what for are amenities. He was the monk in the true sense.
‘Ethics,’ Wittgenstein says, has nothing to do with punishment and reward in the ordinary sense (TLP,6.422) and he adds that “the ethical consequences must lie in the action itself. If we assume that it is a person’s actions and the way those actions are performed that create a life, then the ethical desert of those actions is simply that life itself, and since life and the world are said to be one, the ethical reward is nothing else but the fact with which the world looks back at you. To complete the account let us remember that the face that looks back at our is your own: it is tempting to speculate that your ethical reward is no more nor no less than the discovery of your own character.” From Lao Tzu to IbnArabi and Eckhart mystical ethics and its eschatological significance has been almost similarly understood. For mystics like IbnArabi people choose their stations in the other world. God only unveils their reality. People judge themselves in the light of the Absolute. Choosing to live inside the cocoon of limiting self amounts to obstructing Divine Mercy or choosing separation from the Real. Prayer establishes the dialogue between the self and transcendence. Refusing to pray – which is, for IbnArabi, simply gratitude to Existence for the gift of life – amounts to condemning oneself to self referring and self enclosed windowless subjective space. Hell is self love and nothing burns there but self will as one Christian mystic has said.
Modern world is largely convinced that ethics is relative and everything is permissible. There is no ontological foundation for ethics. There are some isolated thinkers who challenge dominant model but in almost all spheres of secular life there are no imperatives like those bequeathed by religions. In contrast Wittgenstein’s  ethics, like mystical ethics, is grounded in ontology. Noble character traits are not merely extraneous qualities that have no bearing upon our mode of existence. They define our mode of existence and the extent to which we participate in the fullness of the Light of Being. He accepted and further developed by including aesthetics also in it Moore’s definition of ethics as a discovery of the Good or Divinity. Ethics, he said, is transcendental. The moral law within is not biological or cultural product. It is the voice of God. Values are from the transcendental world. His disagreements with Plato come to end here. Ethical commandments have to be observed if man desires felicity. Modern wishy washy do goodism or absolutization of ethical relativism or ethics complicit with Capitalism and other power centric ideologies are not compatible with Wittgensteinian theomorphic ethics. Capitalism and State Capitalism disguised as Marxism have little room for attributes of beauty. There is no warrant for ignoring the Scale of the Law interiorized in conscience which provides the norm. Antinomianism which has been popularized by certain libertine Gurus has no place here. Men with all their limitation and imperfections can’t claim to be infinitely beyond this world and thus beyond good and evil which we encounter at every stage of existence. Man must always separate divine viewpoint which is corollary of his incomparability from his own human, all-too-human viewpoint which is a corollary of divine similarity as IbnArabi would insist.

However all this should not be construed to imply that he countenances moralism which is typical modern heresy. The deadly criticism of Nietzsche on morality doesn’t apply to his view of ethics. Wittgenstein read Gospels in Brief by Tolstoy and then read Anti-Christ of Nietzsche and could not be moved an inch from his commitment to Tolstoy’s Christian ethical universe. Postmodern probematization of ethics and modern scientific discoveries implicating relativism of morals can’t problematize Akbarian- Wittgensteinian position as he too, like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, speaks from the high mountains of the Spirit which transcends all actions, good or evil. Wittgenstein emphasizes that man is not an agent of action. He can’t will to do good. This is explainable by reference to God as the Only Doer or what Taoism calls wuweiwei, actionless action. Evil action in ordinary parlance is possible only when man is under the dominion of ego or lower self and Wittgenstein’s demand for possibility of ethics is transcendence of this principle of egoism.
It is religion taken as a metanarrative, a system, an ideology explaining things, as privileging of the otherworld or eternity at the cost of this world and time here-now and privileging of soul over body, elaborate creedal formulae coached in terms of propositions privileging the religious as distinct from or opposite to the secular, as unqualified belief in the representation of Reality and their absolutist exclusivism that IbnArabi and Wittgenstein plead for transcending by virtue of their Unitarianism that puts the Real at the centre while questioning absolutization of all conceptions and theorizations of It. The world is one. And It must be affirmed in toto. Language and thought divide the One of experience and integrity of unitary subject and the world.  The Real is the essence of everything and no dualistic apprehension or categorical framework can capture it. It is the totality of all existents, a metaphysical whole that can’t be reduced to an object of knowledge by a subject that is thought to be separate from the object. All this implies that meaning closure, epistemic chauvinism, totalistic thought and consequent war on the basis of a particular conception or delimitation of the Reality/ Truth are unwarranted. Truth rather than discourse about Truth which is the prerogative of exoteric theology and rational philosophy is what the gnostic comes to realize and as it is the One and All it necessarily follows that the knower transcends all particular beliefs and views. Living Truth, dissolving in Truth rather than talking about it and fighting for it is the way to end all conflicts that arise from dualistic theological and rationalistic philosophical approaches.
For Wittgenstein religion gives one new eyes so that everything looks different and redeemed by and  suffused with love. God is wherever love is, beauty is, blessedness is and grace is. In fact God is these things and not an abstraction or object. This solves the important problems of theology as well without making it pantheism either. Seen with the eyes of love, trust and faith everything appears God. God is not the name of a person or entity but the very thingness of a thing, the beauty of beauty, the goodness in the good. As Weil puts it: “God ‘not as I love, but as emerald is green. He is ‘I love.’ And I too, if I were in the state of perfection, would love as emerald is green. I would be an impersonal person (like God)” (Weil, 1970: 129). God speaks these words through all of us who love and more effectively through those who love so intensely and selflessly as to become love. What differentiates a bhakti mystic or Sufi from ordinary mortals or nonmystics is their capacity to love and it is this love which redeems them. All positive experiences – aesthetic, moral, cognitive – are bridges to God-realization.
Representation or Practice of the Self
Wittgenstein is concerned, above all, with t he happy life and that he links with transcendence of desiring or willing self. His problem is ethical and existential and his proposed solution too is on these planes that have little to do with language or representation business. His solution involves contemplating, looking, wondering, loving rather than thinking or questioning. He is struggling with/against language rather than doing business with it. His object (ethical/aesthetical/religious or mystical) is not in the world, is untouched by scientific discoveries or any speculative exercise. His concern is metaphysical and metaphysical is what he calls mysterious, mystical, outside the world, supernatural. He was interested in speaking without words – “conveying thoughts by themselves without words” (CV:15). He thought, with Goethe, that we need to learn from contemplation of untrammeled nature rather than laboratory experiement and hypothesis that distort the truth (CV:11). Like Heidegger he found the richness of being to which poets rather than philosophers point out the key to salvation.
Wittgenstein was supremely religious man and it is because he is religious in every important sense of term (rather than only in a trivial sense as G. H. von Wright claims) that he said he is not a religious man. Humility is the supreme virtue of a religious man. He had not only respect for religion (including even its rituals) but moulded his life by its dictates. One of the things Christianity says, Wittgenstein thinks, is that all sound doctrines are of no avail. One must change one’s life (or the direction of one’s life). According to him Christianity didn’t talk about what has happened or will happen to man but what happens daily to him, every moment (CV: 28). Existentialist theology and demythologization movement have been emphasizing this point as have been mystics in all climes. For all religions the greatest obstacle in one’s journey to God or beatitude is pride/ego and Wittgenstein was supremely concerned about this thing all his life and many of his biographical details can be understood in this light only.
His remarks about symbolic significance of rituals and how they embody our search for the sacred in Culture and Value and elsewhere show how profound his religious sensibility is. His dismissal of Frazer and defence of ‘primitives’ at many points against moderns show what kind of a man he was. His critique of modernity and European civilization is fundamentally on religious grounds. He found in it loss of respect for mystery, the idea of progress, lack of culture and direction or purpose, and the cult of the ugly in its art objectionable. All his beloved writers and philosophers have been religious/mystical.  God was his ultimate concern as shown by exemplary moral life he lived and his wish to have been able to dedicate all his work to the glory of God. His biographer, Brian McGuiness reports that before doing any action, he prayed like this: “God be with me!”, “The spirit be with me.”  Sin and thus hell were terribly real for him. He thought about sin as seriously if not more as about logic as his reply to Russell to the question regarding what he was thinking about when he came to meet him during night. Explanations, reasons, justifications come to an end in religious thinking for Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein, like the mystics before and after him, did not favour a cosmological conception of a Deity. For mystics theology is in fact autology.He was, like Spinoza, God intoxicated and standard reading of him as fideist or noncognitivist is far off the mark. His considering himself wretched and in need of infinite help and never ceasing to scrutinize the desires, vanity and all that religion cautions against shows how seriously he took religion and what grounds it.
Wittgenstein’s stand on different aspects of ethics is the following. Ethics deals with absolute value; value judgments that we often use can be reduced to facts. We can re-formulated them as hypothetical judgments of if …then form and make them to be statements of facts. Paradoxically, Wittgenstein states that we can experience value. An experience, is an event, and hence ought to be factual. It seems strange that Wittgenstein maintains that values are absolute and transcendental and yet we can experience them. Ethical values cannot be spoken or discussed about since they are transcendental
There are explicit statements of Wittgenstein that militate against any kind of fideist interpretation, extreme or moderate versions of it. For him God is the case. How things are is the mystical. These imply Wittgenstein can’t be framed in either ethical or conventional religious frameworks. He is fundamentally a mystic who has made metaphysical claims in the sense metaphysics is understood by perennialists. He has made cognitive claims of mysticism though not of religion. What better argument for cognitivity or knowledge claimand against fidiestic interpretations than his assertion that the mystical shows forth?
Wittgenstein scholars have not paid due attention to the distinction between the religious/theological and the mystical and confounded the two in approaching him resulting in quite divergent interpretations. I have foregrounded the mystical in him which grounds his religiosity and thus gives us a heremenutical tool to make sense of his different observations on religion. I argue that he is an absolutist and we should not approach him from the lens of Philosophical Investigations and then attempt to show that religion is a language game, a foundationless discourse making no cognitive or knowledge claims and a matter of faith. If Sankara or Eckhart or Augustine are absolutists Wittgenstein oo is an absolutist for whom God/eternity is absolute certainty, the first principle and is experienced rather than merely believed
The Unrepresentable shows forth
In a letter from the Russian front date 9 April 1917, to his friend Paul Engelmann, who had sent him a poem by the early nineteenth century poet Johann Ludwig Uhlan, Wittgenstein wrote.

The Poem by Uhlan is really magnificent. And this is how it is: if only you do not try to utter what is unutterable then nothing gets lost. But the unutterable will be – unutterably-  contained in what has been uttered! (Qtd.In Kerr, 1986: 166).

Though one can’t clearly state what he means similar things in the writings of mystics that emphasize how God speaks when we become silent and how everything is lighted up by God and God is meaning of everything, how transcendence and immanence or samsara and nirvana are ultimately linked and even one. The unrepresentable shows forth and the gnostic sees nothing but That which is also the Light of the world, the light that is neither of the sea nor of the land but light that lights everything.
Though we should guard against the identification of the inexpressible and the mystical it is nevertheless clear that the really mystical for Wittgenstein transcends the world but can be accessed in ethical life rooted in transcendence and mystical and aesthetic experiences and concretely lived in religious forms and rituals. If the Unrepresentable were not accessible there would be no meaning for Wittgenstein’s taking cudgels on its behalf and judging modern intellectual thought currents from religio-mystical viewpoint.

Wittgenstein rejects all the important modernist myths such as that of progress and criticizes reductionism in anthropology and psychologism to pave way for faith. He judges modernity in the light of faith. It means how cognitive an affair religion is for him. He takes Frazer and his like to task for rationalistic interpretation of traditional ritual. He pointed out that many religious practices are not generated by any views that one could censure or verify. He saw university educated intelligentsia of the west carriers of moral and spiritual corruption that had thrusted human civilization into a new dark age.
For Wittgenstein “Symbolism of Catholicism are wonderful beyond words. But any attempt to make it into a philosophical system is offensive. All religions are wonderful, even those of the most primitive tribes.” (Qtd in Kerr, 1986). Nothing of this sort could come out from an agnostic. Like mystics he rejects literalism and believes in symbolism. He seems to appreciate the transcendental unity of religions by emphasizing mystical core at the heart of them. Religion for him is deed and not theory. This was so for Buddha also and in fact mystics have seen religion as transformative therapeutic towards a good life. Like mystics he underscored nonanthropomorphic character of belief.  God for him is not a thing, a being, a superbing, an existence.
No doubt can be entertained regarding Wittgenstein’s commitment to religion even if he didn’t deem himself pure enough to be called a religious man. He looked at every problem from religious point of view. He liked to call himself as ‘a truth seeker,’ and he had found it though one can’t claim that he had reached the peaks that advanced mystics have access to. “It strikes me  that religious belief could only be something like a passionate commitment to a system of reference, hence though it is belief and assessing life. It is passionately seizing hold of this interpretation.” If religion is a method of assessing life, it is in a way cognitive. If one takes it seriously it means one takes it to be truth of a certain kind. For Wittgenstein religion was a matter of life and death. He was not a phenomenologist observing it with a detachment of a scientist. He plunged passionately into God and found the treasure. He meant business when he talked about religion or philosophy. He had faith and learnt wisdom in the end, the wisdom of an Oriental sage who cultivates detachment.  For him it is wisdom that he finds nowhere in his contemporary professors of philosophy doing sort of a work as appears in Mind that really counts. To conclude there is a path that bypasses language and thought for accessing that which really matters, for realization of what has been eternal quest for values. Wittgenstein has outlined this path that needs to be kept in mind while we ponder on the limits and approaches to linguistic representations. No confusion needs to be entertained in understanding Wittgenstein’ essentially religious/mystical outlook. He was not a great mystic but a great mystical philosopher. He had very few intense mystical experiences.

He often behaved in a way that is not expected from a mystic. Contemplating committing suicide, extreme agitated mind at times, sense of gloom that obsessed him are not the mark of a great mystic. He didn’t take himself to be a saint but had the saintly ideal of moral purity to which he tried to conform. However if religion or mysticism are centred on deeds or practice we can’t but see him as a great soul who renounced wealth, fame, amenities and other guises that self love takes. He did find for himself the truth he sought and for him indeed philosophy has been love of wisdom. He has more wisdom than faith which is passionless and that is a sign of maturity of religion. His fundamental stance can be expressed in few sentences that express a worldview that is hundred percent Hebraic and hundred percent mystical.

I conclude by quoting and commenting on these few sentences.
The problem of life is “seen in the disappearance of the problem.” This means that the answer is not known, but seen and need not be known as the problem doesn’t demand an answer as it disappears. In fact the question can’t be asked. Vanishing of the problem is only found through a way of knowing other than language. “To believe in God means to understand the question about the meaning of life” (NB:74).To believe in God means to understand that there is more than facts (NB:74).  For him to pray is to think about the meaning of life. Further explaining the meaning of mystical prayer he says that “I can’t bend the happenings of the world to my will; I am completely powerless. I can only make myself independent of the world.”It is impossible to know God through what can be said. What one knows about God is that this world exists. To be outside the world means to be outside what can be put into words. “I am my world”(TLP:5.63). Atkinson beautifully explains it:
The separation between the thinker and the thought, or the eye and the object of sight, occurs in language, not in the event itself. Thus the idea of the personal self or subject in terms of  a thinker of the thought among others. The subject is not a thing in the world and the thought one has of it does not correspond to a fact (Atkinson, 2009: 133).
The difference between seeing the object together with and in space and time is a matter of seeing the world from either the outside or the inside. From the outside it is to see the world like one’s eye in its visual field (NB:73). To see the object sub species aeternitatis from the outside is to see it from outside the world and language. Being outside language there is nothing that can be said about an object. Wittgenstein states that there are things that can’t be put into words. These things show themselves. They are the mystical. (TLP: 6.522) These things “don’t point to another world outside the world, but show themselves as the mystical.” The metaphysical interpretation of the Tractatus has been forcefully criticized by a host of scholars including Atkinson. The mystical is what one finds immediately in reality. What “can’t beput into words shows itself as the world that is and what shows itself must be coordinated with the solipsistic self in the moment of experience. This moment, I have argued, is to fell the world as a limited whole” (Atkinson, 2009: 69).

We need not advocate metaphysical interpretation and can remain contended with the fact that there is something that science can’t handle, there is a joy of the spirit available to a happy man who has consented to be nothing, the world is full of beauty, there are no problems and man’s hunger for higher things can be quenched. It hardly matters where we precisely locate transcendence that gives meaning to life and grounds ethics and aesthetics – beyond the world or immanently within its depths. Interpretations, theological and metaphysical ultimately can differ but what matters is what Wittgenstein achieves. He achieves the similar end that religions and mysticisms across traditions have sought. He gets the riddle dissolved and puts thoughts or philosophy to peace and that is the end of philosophical/mystical quest.

Atkinson, James R., The Mystical in Wittgenstein’s Early Writings, Routledge, London, 2009.
Johnson, Paul, Rethinking the inner, Rutledge, London, 1993,
Ibn ‘Arabî , 1972–91, al-Futûhât al-makkiyya, 14 volumes, O. Yahia (ed.), al-Hay’at al-Misriyyat al-‘Âmmali’l-Kitâb, Cairo. (Quotes and translations are mostly from Chittick and Chodkiewicz.)
Lazenby, Mark, The Early Wittgenstein on Religion, Continuum, 2006,
Kerr, Fergus, Theology after Wittgenstein, Balckwell, 1989,
McGuiness, Brian, “Mysticism of the Tractatus,”Philosophical Review, 75, 1966
Neili, Russel, From Mysticism to Ordinary Language Philosophy:A Study of Viennese Positivism and the Thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein, SUNY, New York, 1987
Pradhan, R.C., Wittgenstein and the Metaphysics of Experience
Qaisar, Shahzad, Iqbal and KhawjaGhulamFarid on Experiencing God, Iqbal Academy, Lahore 2002.
Sontag, Fredrick, Wittgenstein and the Mystical: Philosophy as an Ascetic Practice, Oxford University Press, 2000.
Weil, Simone, 1970, First and Last Notebooks, tr. Richard Reese, Oxford University Press, New York. (Here in the text referred to as F).
……. ………..Waiting on God, 1951, tr. Emma Caruford, Putnam, New York, 1951 (referred as WG).
……………..  The Notebooks of Simone Weil, 1956, tr. Arthur F. Mills, 2 volumes, Putnam (referred as N).
Wittgenstein, Ludwig,  Notebooks, 1914-16, 2nd Edition Ed. Wright and Ascombe.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Culture and Value, G.H. von Wright (ed.), P. Winch (trans.), Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1980.
Wittgenstein, Ludwig,TractatusLogico-Philosophicus,D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness (trans.), New York: Humanities Press, 1961.


Courtesy of : Muhammad Maroof Shah







The Art of The Sunga Empire

Plaque with the goddess Durga and attendants, Shunga period, 1st century B.C., Chandraketugarh, West Bengal, India, Terracotta (1990.281)


The Sunga Empire (or Shunga Empire) is a Magadha  dynasty that controlled North-central and Eastern India  as well as parts of the northwest (now Pakistan) from around 185 to 73 B.C.E.  It was established after the fall of the Indian Mauryan empire. The capital of the Sungas was Pataliputra. Later kings such as Bhagabhadra also held court at Vidisa, modern Besnagar in Eastern Malwa. The Sunga Empire is noted for its numerous wars with both foreign and indigenous powers although several kings patronized Buddhism. The Mathura school of art and the works of Patanjali colored North India during this empire. It was replaced by the Kanva dynasty.

The beginning of larger, centralized polities in India was largely in response to Alexander the Great’s invasion of 326. Following the Mauryan Empire, the task of protecting India from invasion and of securing stable governance fell to the Sunga dynasty for the next century. War is said to have characterized this period although the Sungas also engaged in diplomacy. Significant religious developments took place. Patanjali’s synthesis of the tradition of Yoga became the foundation of one of the Hindu “darshans” (schools of thought) and continues to enrich the lives of people all over the world. The Bhagavad Gita composed around about 150-100 B.C.E. is one of the most popular of all Hindu scriptures. Buddhists would later move out of India, as rulers began to identify more closely with Hinduism but early Sunga support may have enabled Buddhism to thrive long enough for the monks to complete their journey to more receptive areas. The Sunga Empire played an important role in patronizing Indian culture at a time when some of the most important developments in Hindu thought were taking place. The richness of India’s spiritual tradition, from which the whole world has gained insight, owes much to this period

Around 185 B.C., Pushyamitra Shunga, the principal military officer of the last Mauryan king, assassinated his ruler and assumed control. Because the Shungas were the successors to the Mauryans, the period following Mauryan rule  is often called the Shunga period. However, except at the beginning, Shunga was not as extensive as the earlier realm but coexisted with other polities throughout the subcontinent. The period saw a flowering of the visual arts, including small terracotta images, larger stone sculptures, and architectural monuments such as the chaitya hall at Bhaja, the stupa at Bharhut, and the renowned Great Stupa at Sanchi. Under Shunga patronage, the core of the Great Stupa, thought to date from the era of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka (r. ca. 273–232 B.C.), was enlarged to its present diameter of 120 feet, covered with a stone casing, topped with a balcony and umbrella, and encircled with a stone railing. Four famous gateways, each about thirty-five feet high, were carved during the first half of the first century A.D. Decorated with images of auspicious fertility spirits, known as yakshas and yakshis, the gateways also feature narratives depicting moments from the past lives and final existence of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. Motifs such as wheels, thrones, and footprints are used to symbolize the Buddha, who is not represented in human form until later.











060_C80-FShunga dynasty comb heading


A Shunga punch-marked bronze double karshapana coin, c.150-75 CE, from a mint west of Malwa






A punch-marked silver coin from the Shunga period, with sun, elephant, crown punches












Shree Rudram

The Shata Rudriya forms a part of the Yajurveda.It is extolled as the death defying hymn to the Diety Rudra .This deity is a Vedic Deity and as much symbolises nature as it symbolises the Godhead contained within it.
Having said this it also signifies the Almighty who bestows breath and takes away life.It symbolises the indivisible Tattwa which runs through Life,Death and the Afterlife.
Extolled in the Vedas as the foremost of all Vedic Chants one must remember that in the Nrisimha Upanishat some of the words are changed to signify Nrisimha.

Srirudram, also known as Rudraprasna, is a hymn devoted to lord Shiva. It is part of the Yajur Veda and one of the greatest of the Vedic hymns. Sri Rudram is in two parts. The first part, chapter 16 of the Yajurveda, is known as Namakam because of the repeated use of the word “Namo” in it. The second part, chapter 18 of the Yajurveda, is known as chamakam because of the repeated use of the words “Chame”.
Rudram is divided into 11 sections called Anuvakas. In the first Anuvaka, Rudra is asked to turn away his Ghora rupa (fierce appearance) and to please keep his and his followers’ weapons at bay. Having been pacified, Rudra is requested to destroy the sins of those for whom it is being chanted.
Apart from being a hymn devoted Lord Shiva, Srirudram also contains may hidden secrets in coded format. For example the verses contain coded instructions for preparing various ayurvedic medicines.
This first Anuvaka is chanted to destroy all sins, obtain leadership and divine benevolence, protection from famine, freedom from fear, obtain food, and protect cows, for absence from untimely fear of death, of tigers, thieves, from monsters, devils, demons. It is also chanted as a shield (kavaca) for virulent fever, to cure diseases, fetal disorders, absolution from evils stars and bad karma, for the fulfilment of ones desires, sumptuous rainfall, family protection, blessings with good children, fulfillment of all material desires and the destruction of enemies.
In the second Anuvaka, Rudra is prayed to as one who pervades the earth and as the green foliage and heritage of medicinal herbs. He is asked to loosen the bonds of samsara (illusion). This Anuvaka is chanted for the destruction of enemies, possession of wealth, getting kingdom (getting Job) and possession of intelligence.
In the third Anuvaka Rudra is described as the Lord of thieves who exists in everything. He is Sarvatma; the self of all. In this context, we who are unenlightened have stolen the immortal status of the Self and replaced it with our own limited conception of ego. And in turn it is Rudra who will come and steal our ignorance from us, restoring us to our natural status of enlightenment. This Anuvaka is also chanted for the cure of diseases.
In the fourth Anuvaka, Rudra is described as the creator and worker of all kinds. He is the cause of both the significant and minor. This Anuvaka is chanted for the cure of tuberculosis, diabetics and leprosy.

In the fifth Anuvaka Rudra’s existence in running waters is praised and his five activities are described (creation of the universe, preservation of it, destruction at the time of Pralaya, bondage in ignorance and the release of moksha).
In the sixth Anuvaka Rudra is identified with time (Kalarupa). He is described as the source of the different worlds, Shrutis (Vedas) and its essence in Vedanta. The fifth and sixth Anuvakas are chanted for the expansion of one’s own assets, victory against enemies, blessings for a son with the stature of Rudra, avoidance of a miscarriage and easy childbirth, averting difficult astrology and protection of one’s own son.

In the seventh Anuvaka his all-pervading presence in waters, rains, clouds, storms and its various forms are described. This Anuvaka is chanted for the increase of intelligence, improvement of health, wealth, progeny, clothes, cows, sons, education, lands, longevity and obtaining liberation.
In the eighth Anuvaka Rudra is described as He who illumines other Gods and confers powers on them. He is seen as ever present in holy rivers and He who can absolve all sins. This Anuvaka is chanted for the destruction of enemies and possession of ones own kingdom (lands).
In the ninth Anuvaka the strength and power his attendants is celebrated because they illumine the gods and the world and control the forces of the universe. This Anuvaka is chanted for obtaining gold, a good wife, a job, and the blessings of a son who will be devoted to Lord Shiva.
In the tenth Anuvaka Rudra is again asked to shed his fury and shower benevolence by his displaying his Pinaka bow without arrows and to gracefully appear with his tiger skin on his body with pleasing countenance ready to shower boons upon his devotees. This Anuvaka is chanted for possession of wealth, cure of diseases, removal of fear, getting rid of the enmity of powerful people, absence of fear from all living beings, having the vision of Bhairava (Shiva in his most fearful aspect), absence from dangers and fears, blessings and the absolution of sins.
In the eleventh Anuvaka Rudra’s accomplishments are profusely praised and his benevolence is invoked with unconditional salutations. This Anuvaka is chanted for blessings of one’s progeny, the enhancement of longevity, visiting of sacred places, and acquiring knowledge of past, present and future.

After praying and identifying Rudra with everything in the Namakam, the Chamakam is recited, in which the devotee identifies himself with Lord Shiva and asks him to give him everything!!
These excellent prayer is intended for the bulk of the people and every thing to be cherished in the world is included in this ascend to the state of Jnani to attain Moksha i.e. eternal happiness. Chamakam assures granting of what all you ask in a full-throated manner unabashed. The creator makes no distinction between the things of the world and the other world. Both belong to him and desire born out of Virtue is really manifestation of divinity and Dharma.

Chamakam furnishes completely the ideal of human happiness and defines in the highest degree the desires and do not delimit to be asked or to be granted.
In the first Anuvaka prayer is made to keep fit in the human being his vitalities internal and sensory organs and mind hale and healthy, a long and peaceful and happy old age.
The Second Anuvaka prominence and leadership, common sense, intellectual acumen, capability to face trying circumstances, Spiritual elevation, worldly splendour and enjoyments.
The third develops innate urge of God and meditative flights and spiritual ecstasy, service to Divinity and humanity and a condition where the world wants him and he wants the world for upliftment.

The fourth assures of courtesy, fitness of the body and the best food for the body, cosy and comfort.

The fifth asks for the Nava ratnas, the precious stones and all the animals to sub-serve his interest and the qualified materials best in their form for his rituals.

The sixth emphasizes the importance of Indra as a co-sharer in the offerings to the other Gods. Thus makes him big to get the major obtainers of Havis among all Gods and his special honour and supremacy.

The Seventh lists the various instruments necessary for some and sacrifices in the “Homa Kunda”, the site of offerings to the fire God with Svahakara.

The ninth is the prime prayer consists of all the contents of four Vedas.
The tenth invokes all the biological species to co-operate in his daily wealth and also for the sacrificial fire. It also involves higher spiritual elevations, and makes it as Jnana Yajna.
The Eleventh Anuvaka brings out the long list of benedictions asked for in the odd divine number and even human numbering. Chamakam roots are firmly implanted in the worldly desires ultimately leading to the divine fulfillment. It is prayed that the Divine is immortal, infinite and is the cause of earth and heaven, space and time, reborn after the end of every thing and is the presiding deity.
Chamakam Namakam caiva purusa suktam tathaiva ca |
Nityam trayam prayunjano Brahmaloke mahiyate ||
He who ever recites Namakam and Chamakam along with Purusa suktam daily will be honoured in Brahmaloka.

יוֹרֶה – The “Malkosh” – Last Rains

Hebrew Square Book Iraq 1st half of   11th  c

The “Malkosh” – Last Rains

Rabbi Uzi Kalchaim zt”l

יוֹרֶה Yoreh

Dedicated to the memory of
R’ Meir b”r Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld zt”l

1. The “Yoreh” and the “Malkosh”
2. Three Explanations
3. Man, Land, and Rain

The “Yoreh” and the “Malkosh”

In our previous discussion, we focused on the various meanings of the word “yoreh,” the first rains. This time we shall discuss the “malkosh,” the last rains, in light of the explanations given by our sages in the Talmud. It is appropriate to discuss the malkosh at this point, just after the yoreh, because the two are always mentioned together, in one breath, and it would appear that we can learn something from their proximity.

In the ears of the sages, the word “malkosh” has a negative ring. The Talmud asks, “Perhaps [it is termed] ‘malkosh,’ because it razes the houses to the ground and it shatters the trees and brings up the crickets?” (Taanit 6a).

To refute such an idea, the sages note the proximity of the malkosh to the yoreh and explain that just as first rains are a blessing so too are latter rains. To substantiate this conclusion, the sages invoke the verse “For He gives you the former rain [yoreh] in just measure and He causes to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain, at the first” (Joel 2:23). Thanks to its closeness to the yoreh, the malkosh is considered a positive phenomenon.

We might explain the negative view of the malkosh as stemming from the fact that the word “malkosh” comes from the root “lamed-kof-shin,” which indicates tardiness. Things that arrive late appear to be deficient. The yoreh, on the other hand, elicits our eager anticipation. The furrows of the field thirst for it, the reservoirs long for it, and its benefit is apparent to all. The malkosh, though, comes after almost all the rains have fallen, when we are already tired of rain and anxious for spring’s arrival.

The Talmud states, “Our Rabbis have taught: Former rain [falls] in Marcheshvan and latter rain in Nisan” (Taanit 6a), and according to the Midrash, “there is the former rain in Kislev, the latter rain in Nisan and other rain in the middle” (Vayikra Rabbah 35:12).

Because the malkosh comes after all of the rains, it appears unimportant. Therefore, when our sages sought to express disappointment resulting from tardiness, they used the verb form of malkosh – “hilkish,” meaning to delay something: “Did I tell you that I would bring you goodness and then delay it?” (Bamidbar Rabbah 1:2), and “Did I say I would bring you into the land and then delay you?” (ibid. 23:10).



MalkoshThe Malkosh


Three Explanations

We have noted that the proximity of the yoreh to the malkosh benefits the latter – “the rain, the former rain and the latter rain, at the first” (Joel 2:22). They both bring a blessing.

This allows us to understand the Talmudic adage regarding the elevated status of the malkosh: “R’ Nehilai ben Idi said in the name of Shmuel: [‘Latter rain’ is termed] ‘malkosh’ because it is a thing that removes the stiff-neckedness of Israel.” Here the sages see the word malkosh as being a combination of two words – “mal,” to remove, and “kosh,” stiffness, stiff-neckedness.

Rashi explains that when the malkosh does not fall, the Jewish people repent, fast, and give charity. Similarly, “When Israel sins and does evil, the rain stops. Then they call upon a sage and he inspires them, softening their hearts to repent” (Jerusalem Talmud 1:1)

The students of Rabbi Yishmael offer a different explanation. According to them, the malkosh is “something that fills the stalks with grain.” Here, too, “malkosh” is seen as a compound of two words – “maleh,” to fill, and “kash,” stalk.

When it comes to this stage, the completion of the grain stalk, the last rains have an advantage over the first rains. After the first rains foster the seeds and cause them to grow into stalks, the malkosh comes and fills the stalks with grain. The energy of the first rains is invested entirely in turning the seed into a plant that will grow and develop, and now the malkosh comes to complete the job.

The Talmud brings a third explanation of the malkosh – “[It is] something that falls both upon the ears and upon the stalks.” This is not a description of what the malkosh brings about, as in the previous definitions, but a description of the malkosh itself. In contrast to the yoreh, which falls upon the dry and cracked earth, the malkosh rains down on fields filled with grain stalks. These are not the same desolate fields of early winter; the malkosh falls “upon the ears and upon the stalks.”

The yoreh represents the winter’s beginning and comes at a time when the fields are eager for rain. The malkosh comes at the end of the rainy season. It marks the completion of a growth process and represents the joy of fulfillment.

Man, Land, and Rain
Why do our sages see the word “yoreh” as containing a single root (“yod-resh-heh” – teaching or shooting), but the world malkosh as a compound of two words? Perhaps because the yoreh is first, while the malkosh is second, final. In order to underscore its secondary nature, they explain “malkosh” as being composed of two words. Though they are familiar with the root “lamed-kof-shin,” meaning late, and even make reference to it, as discussed, they nonetheless wish to emphasize that there are primary rains and there are secondary rains.

Interestingly, the three explanations for the yoreh given by the sages parallel those of the malkosh.

The first relates to man, and what the rain teaches him. The yoreh warns us to seal up our roofs and bring in the cows. The malkosh removes the obstinacy from our hearts and accustoms us to humbling ourselves before God.

The second relates to the effect of rain upon earth. The yoreh saturates the furrows and saturates down to the depths, preparing the seeds for growth. The malkosh – at the end of this process – “fills the stalks with grain.” The barren fields are now full of produce and the malkosh comes to complete the growth process.

The third relates to the rain itself, its manner of falling. The yoreh falls gently. It falls in places that need rain, and it does not cause damage. In this manner it accomplishes its purpose. The malkosh, on the other hand, falls upon the ears and the stalks, yet it does not break them or wash them away. It represents the final stage of the winter rains.

We have seen, then, that our sages’ explanation of the role of rain takes three different directions, and together they form the triangular bond – man, land, and rain. Recall the words of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai: “This teaches you that if there is no land there is no rain, and if there is no rain there is no land, and if both of these are absent, there is no man” (Bereshit Rabba 13:3).

Man’s existence hinges upon land and rain, but these two elements, without man, lack benefit and direction. The sages therefore teach, “Were it not for man, there would be no covenant with earth to bring rain upon it” (ibid. 8).

(courtesy of of yeshiva )

A brief treatise on Hinduism



A guide to various aspects of Indian religious thought
and inter-religious understanding and religious tolerance.
“Its chief mark consists in concentration on the spiritual aspect,
belief in the intimate relationship of philosophy and life,
the inseparability of theory and practice and the insistence
on intuition coexisting with the acceptance of authority.”

An Introduction

It has been pointed out by Dr. Arnold J. Toynbee, in A Study of History, that the principal civilisations of the world lay different degrees of emphasis on specific lines of activity. Hellenic civilisation, for instance, displays a manifest tendency towards a prominently aesthetic outlook on life as a whole. Indian civilisation, on the other hand, shows an equally manifest tendency towards a predominantly religious outlook. Dr. Toynbee’s remark sums up what has been observed by many other scholars. Indeed, the study of Hinduism has to be, in a large measure, a study of the general Hindu outlook on life.

Receptivity and all-comprehensiveness, it has been aptly stated, are the main characteristics of Hinduism. Since it has had no difficulty in bringing diverse faiths within its ever-widening fold, it has something to offer to almost all minds. Monier-Williams in his notable work Brahmanism and Hinduism dwelt on This aspect about a hundred years ago. The strength of Hinduism, he emphasized, lies in its infinite adaptability to the infinite diversity of human character and human tendencies. It has its highly spiritual and abstract side suited to the philosopher; its practical and concrete side congenial to the man of the world; its aesthetic and ceremonial side attuned to the man of the poetic feeling and imagination; and its quiescent contemplative aspect that has its appeal for the man of peace and the lover of seclusion. The Hindus, according to him, were Spinozists more than 2,000 years before the advent of Spinoza, Darwinians many centuries before Darwin. and Evolutionists many centuries before the doctrine of Evolution was accepted by scientists of the present age.

No civilisation anywhere in the world, with the probable exception of China, has been as continuous as that of India. While the civilisations of Egypt, Babylon and Assyria have disappeared, in India the ideas emanating from the Vedic times continue to be a living force.

European scholars of Sanskrit like Sir William Jones noted similarities in the languages, terminology and substances of Indian scriptures with those of Greece and Rome. Even a superficial study convinced them that, while the language of the Vedas is a great critical instrument in the construction of the science of philology, the Vedic hymns constitute a compilation of most Indo-European myths in their primitive form. Max Muller went so far as to say that the Vedas are the real theogony of the Aryan races, Homer and Hesiod having given a distorted picture of the original image.

The excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro and those in Saurashtra have disclosed the existence of a highly evolved culture long before the Aryan immigration, perhaps dating back to 3000 B.C. or later. Among the remains discovered are a three-faced prototype of Siva seated in a yogic posture, representations of the Linga, and a horned goddess associated with the pipal tree. These symbols, evolved by a very ancient civilisation, were assimilated by the Aryan immigrants in slow stages-their earliest literary work, the .Rg-Veda, almost overlooks these aspects. The Vedic Aryans, it has been suggested, partly assimilated and partly destroyed the earlier culture.
Vedic Aryans and Zoroastrianism

It seems clear from the hymns of the .Rg-Veda and the Persian Gathas and Avesta that the Vedic Aryans and the Zoroastrians had a common origin. The languages in which Zoroaster preached and the Rsis sang their hymns are almost identical, and Vedic meters are re-produced in the Avesta. Evidently, the two groups of Aryans separated after a violent quarrel, so that several deities of one group – Indra or Jindra, Sarva and Nasatya – were transformed in the other into evil spirits. It is, however, to be noticed that Mitra, Aryama, Vayu and Vrtraghna are divine in both the systems. A period of unity was probably followed by civil war, as envisaged in the fight between Asuras and Devas.

The Vedic Aryans were warlike, while the Avesta reflects an abhorrence of war. In the period when the ancestors of the Iranians and the Hindus had lived together, Asura had been a term of honour; and the Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda was Asura Mahat, the great Asura. The .Rg-Yeda (III-55-11 & 15) cites several Asura qualities of the Divinities. Varuna, Mitra and several other gods were called Asuras. Later, when differences were accentuated between the two communities, Asura became equivalent to a spirit of evil and Sura came to signify a good spirit.

The undivided Indo-Iranians must have passed a long time in their Central Asian home. The Indo-Iranian culture and religion have been reconstructed, at least in part, by comparing the Vedas with the Avesta. Before the occupation of Iranian high lands by tribes from the Indo-Iranian original home, the plateau was the seat of a culture that was probably matriarchal, and the people worshipped snake-gods in the manner of India’s primitive non-Aryans. It is likely that the pre-Aryan cultures of North- western India and Iran were alike in origin and spirit.

This ancient cultural link between pre-Aryan Iran and pre- Aryan India, instead of getting strengthened by Aryan migration into the two countries, as could be normally expected, was to all appearances completely severed. Also, there is nothing to show that the Vedic Aryans of India maintained an active cultural relation with their brethren in Iran.

In the earliest days, while the Aryans of India must have been connected with the Aryans of Iran as friends or as foes, actual historical contact cannot be asserted with any degree of probability. The two peoples turned their backs upon each other, as it were, and developed their distinctive civilisations apparently without the least mutual influence, although in language, culture and religion their similarity in the earliest period had been little short of identity. When, later in history, under the Achaemenids, Greeks, Bactrians and Sakas, the Iranians and the Indians were forced to meet as citizens of the same empire, they met as complete strangers, not as cousins or as scions from the same stock. The earliest literary productions of the Aryan settlers in India were the Rg-Veda, Sama Veda (consisting of chants), Yajur Veda and the Atharva Veda (a composite religious and magical compilation) The Vedas comprise Mantras (hymns ), Brahmanas (ritual and ceremonies), Aranyakas (forest speculations) and the philosophical Upanisads. In the context of This commonly accepted interpretation of the Vedas, it may be recalled that European Orientalists have too often considered them mainly from the theological, anthropological and sociological points of view. A study of the material in its religious aspect is difficult, since even the great commentary of Sayana is in terms of the ideas of his own age. On the presumption that the Vedas originated in primitive times, the Rg-Veda hymns were regarded as the outpourings of a child-like nature worship. John Dowson in his Hindu Classical Dictionary observed: “The Aryan settlers were a pastoral and agricultural people, and they were keenly alive to those influences which affected their prosperity and comfort. They knew the effects of heat and cold, rain and drought, upon their crops and herds, and they marked the influence of warmth and cold, sunshine and rain, wind and storm, upon their own personal comfort. They invested these benign and evil influences with a personality; and behind the fire, the sun, the cloud, and the other powers of nature, they saw beings who directed them in their beneficent and evil operations. To these imaginary beings they addressed their praises, and to them they put up their prayers for temporal blessings. They observed also the movements of the sun and moon, the constant succession of day and night, the intervening periods of morn and eve, and to these also they gave personalities, which they invested with poetical clothing and attributes. Thus observant of nature in its various changes and operations, alive to its influences upon themselves, and perceptive of its beauties, they formed for themselves deities in whose glory and honour they exerted their poetic faculty.”;

But on a careful analysis of the Vedas it would be apparent that the Vedic view is more subtle and deeper in concept. The One Being whom the sages call by many names (Ekam-sat) is referred to in the neuter gender, signifying divine existence and not a divine individual. The monotheistic God stands in relation to man as a father and a patriarch, while in a Rg-Veda hymn to Agni he is called “my father, my kinsman, my brother and my friend”. Monotheism, it has been aptly stated “contemplates the Divine in heaven and polytheism contemplates the Divine in the universe. Polytheism believes in the assembly of gods, each possessing a character of his own. Max Muller coined the word henotheism for indicating the tendency of the Vedic seers to magnify the importance of the particular deity they are praising in a hymn at the expense of the other gods. This has been described as “opportunist monotheism”. One deity is identified with another or different deities are identified with one divine entity, indifferently described as Ekam (one) and Tat Sat (the reality).

Vedic concepts

Apart from these concepts. there are two basic ideas underlying the Vedas – Satya (truth) and Rta (eternal order); and every god or goddess exemplifies and represents these two ideas.As Abinash Chandra Bose says in his Ca11 of the Vedas, Vedic theism is based on moral values which (also in the case of Buddhism) may be upheld in a non-theistic way. In India it is not the atheist who is denounced but the person who repudiates Dharma, moral law. The Rg-Veda (X-85-1) states that the earth is sustained not by the will of God but by truth, and of This truth God is the supreme exponent, revealing Himself through Rta or eternal order. Examining the Vedic hymns as a whole, one discovers a doctrine, not of oneness, but of one divine substance pervading all. It is stated that the One Being is contemplated by the sages in many forms: Ekam santam bahudha kalpayanti (Rg-Veda, X-114-5). It may also be observed that the Vedic ritual or Yajna is a uniform ceremonial; whatever deity is worshipped, the ritual is the same.

The universality of the Vedas is not often realised. The Rg Veda asserts that God is the God of Dasa as well as of Arya – “Lord God is he to whom both Arya and Dasa belong”. (Rg Veda, Vlll-51-9). There is a special prayer for the forgiveness of sins against the foreigner (Rg-Veda, V-35-7). According to the Atharva Veda, God is of the foreigner (Videsya) no less than of our own land (Samdesya). There are mantras which extend This principle to all living beings (sarvani bhutani) ( Yajur Veda, 36-18) so that we come to a grand conception of universal peace and serenity – the harmony with Nature (sarvam santhi) (Yajur Veda, 36-17).
Many schools of thought

Panini is one of the world’s earliest as well as the greatest of scientific grammarians. The consensus of opinion fixed his date not later than the 5th century B.C. At that period Yajna or sacrifice and the worship of various deities were current and popular, and theistic devotion to particular divinities, generally expressed by the term Bhakti, had become prevalent. Panini refers to Vasudev as the object of devotion, and Paramatma Devata Visesa, a form of the One Supreme Divinity. The doctrine which assumed great importance later – that custom has the force of law – is also exemplified by the twofold meaning, in Panini’s Astadhyayi, attached to Dharma. Dharma is not only equivalent to Rta, primordial law, but also denotes custom (acara) as in the later Dharma Sutras.

Already in Panini’s days different schools of thought had arisen, both theistic and non-theistic. A non-theistic doctrine, which is described in Buddhist philosophy as the doctrine of non-causation and also as the doctrine of Yadrccha- (fortuitous accident), was current in Panini’s time. That all existence was the result of chance was the doctrine of the Ahetuvadins. The Svetasvatara Upanisad which advocates the doctrine of the supreme spirit refers to other varieties of thought like those of the advocates of Svabhava or materialistic philosophy. Orthodox thought was later developed in the Samkhya philosophy and attained its climax in the Vedanta Sutras. Panini refers to Parasara Sutra, one of the earliest of the Vedanta treatises, and also to the atheistic school, known later as the Lokayata. There is mention also of Nihsreyasa which, in the Upanisads, denoted supreme bliss as also of Nirvana , possibly associated with Buddhism. From all these examples it is clear that, in the times of the Buddha and Panini, practically all the varieties of speculation which have flourished in India had already evolved. .

Philosophical discourses and pursuits were at first specially developed by the Ksatriyas, but they soon became the prerogatives of the Brahmins. The Chandogya and Kausitaki Upanisads illustrate these successive stages. A solution of the ultimate problems of life is outlined in the early Upanisads, and it takes the form of Monism, absolute (according to Sankaracarya) or modified (according to Ramanuja). Filled with zeal for This doctrine of the Unity or Interdependence of all life, a social order was founded. Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy in his Dance of Siva says that the great Epics represented the desired social order as having actually existed in the golden past; they put into the mouths of their heroes not only the philosophy but the theory of its application in practice. This is evident, above all, in the long discourse of the dying Bhisma in the Santiparva of the Mahabharata. “The heroes themselves they made ideal types of character for the guidance of all subsequent generations; for the education of India has been accomplished deliberately through hero-worship. In the Dharmashastra of Manu and the Arthashastra of Chanakya – perhaps the most remarkable sociological documents the world possesses -they set forth the picture of the ideal society, defined from the stand point of law. By these and other means they accomplished what has not yet been effected in any other country, in making religious philosophy the essential and intelligible basis of popular culture and national polity”.

What, then, is This view of life ? The inseparable unity of the material and spiritual world is made the foundation of Indian culture and that determines the whole character of Indian social ideals. Later Hindu thought is founded on the rhythmic nature of the world process, including evolution and involution, birth, death and rebirth, srsti and samhara. Every individual life – mineral, vegetable, animal, human- has a beginning and an end; This creation and destruction, appearance and disappearance, are of the essence of the world process and equally originate in the past, present and future. According to This view, then, every individual ego (jivatman) or separate expression of the general will to life (icchatrsna), must be regarded as having reached a certain stage of its own cycle. This is also true of the collective life of a nation, a planet or a cosmic system. It is further considered that the turning- point of This curve is reached in man, and hence the immeasurable value which Hindus (and Buddhists) attach to birth in human form. Before the turning-point is reached – to use the language of Christian theology – the natural man prevails; after it, the regener man. To sum up, Indian philosophic thought developed in several stages. The Vedic period is generally placed between 2500 B.C. and 600 B.C. As already indicated, the four Vedas, the Bramanas, Aranyakas, and Upanisads are creations of the early sages.
The Upanisads

The Upanisads are diverse in character and outlook. They recognize intuition rather than reason as a path to ultimate truth. They also represent a strong reaction against the merely ritual and sacrificial duties on which stress had been laid earlier. The Upanisads are supposed to be 108 or more in number. Twelve of them are generally recognized as the principal units. The Isa Upanisad begins with the statement that whatever exists in This world is enveloped by the Supreme. It is by renunciation and absence of possessiveness that the soul is saved. In the Kena Upaniad, the Goddess Uma Haimavati in the form of Supreme Knowledge expounds the doctrine of the Brahman or Supreme Entity. The Katha Upanisad embodies the aspiration of Naciketas, who declined his father’s offer of property and went into exile, making his way to the region of Yama,the God of Death. Naciketas, in his dialogue with Yama, declines all the worldly possessions and dignities offered by Yama and asserts that all enjoyments are transient and the boon he asks for is the secret of immortality. In This Upanisad occurs the famous saying “The knowledge of the Supreme is not gained by argument but by the teaching of one who possesses intuition”

In the Mundaka Upanisad occurs the verse which is the germ of the Bhagavad-Gita . People who perform actions and are attached to the world are pursuing a futile path, and This Upanisad accordingly declares: “Let the wise man, having examined the world and perceived the motives and the results of actions, realize that as from a blazing fire sparks proceed, living souls originate from the indestructible Brahman and return to Him. All doubts disappear and the attachment to work subsides when the Supreme Being is cognized.”

These basic doctrines are further expounded in the Taitiriya Upanisad, which contains This famous verse repeated in other Upanisads: “””May we both (teacher and disciple) be protected; may we both obtain sustenance; !et both of us at the same time apply (our) energies (for the acquirement of knowledge); may our reading be illustrious; may there be no hatred (amongst us). Peace, peace, peace . In the more recent Svetasvatara Upanisad is found a summary of the main Upanisadic doctrines, and the idea of devotion to a personal God is also developed. The Chandogya Upanisad, one of the earliest, states that the main doctrines of the Upanisads, were first expounded by the Kshatriyas and not by the Brahmins. Later, as is evident from the Kausitaki Upanisad, the Brahmins took up the intensive study of philosophy. The contrast which is often drawn between Brahminism and Hinduism is therefore not based on a right appraisal of the facts.
The Epics

The period of the Epics succeeded the period of the Upanisads. In the Ramayana and the Mahabharat, philosophical doctrines were presented in the form of stories and parables. In these poems of the heroic age recounting the qualities and exploits of exalted individuals theVedic gods are no longer supreme. Some have disappeared altogether. Indra retains a place of some dignity; but Brahma, Siva and Visnu have risen to pre-eminence. Even of these three, the first becomes subordinate. Visnu and Siva become the out- standing entities and are alternately elevated to supreme dignity and very often their ultimate oneness is proclaimed. Visnu in the Vedas was the friend and companion of Indra and strode over the universe in three paces; in the Epics he often becomes the great deity of destruction as well as of renovation. Each of these two gods in his turn contends with and subdues the other; now one, now the other, receives the homage of his rival, a d each in turn is lauded and honoured as the greatest of gods.
The Avatars

The Avatars, incarnations of Visnu, assume a prominent place in the Epics, and more so in the Puranas. The first three, Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise) and Varaha (boar) have a cosmic character and are foreshadowed in the hymns of the vedas. The fourth incarnation, Nrsimha (man-lion), seems to belong to a later age, when the worship of Visnu had become established. The fifth, Vamana (dwarf), whose three strides deprived the Asuras of the domination of heaven and earth, is in character anterior to the fourth Avatara and the three strides are attributed to Visnu in the Vedic text as Urukrama. The sixth, seventh and eighth, Parasurama. Ramcandra and Krsna, are mortal heroes whose exploits are celebrated in these poems so fervently as to raise the heroes to the rank of gods. The ninth Avatara, the Buddha, is the deification of a great teacher. The tenth, Kalki, is yet to come; he resembles the manifestation referred to in the Biblical Revelation.

The system of religious thought propounded in the Vedas and the Epics and especially in the Bhagavad-Gita (a part of the Mahabharata) survived the Buddhist impact which led to a renunciation of much ritual and metaphysics on the part of a sizable proportion of the population. Buddhism was absorbed into the parent religion within a few centuries and Hinduism, as the Vedic religion had come to be called, adopted the theory of the Avataras or incarnations according to which the Buddha himself was accepted as Avatara. Jainism also became, in essence, a doctrinal modification and adaptation of the Vedic religion.

Dr. Toynbee has noted, in response to an ever more insistent craving in Indic souls to apprehend the unity of God, the myriad divinities gradually dissolved and colesced into one or other of the two mighty figutre of Siva and Vishnu. he adds that this stage on the road towards the apprehension of the unity of god was attained at least 1,500 years ago.
Buddhist Influence

We now come to the greatest contribution made by the Buddha to Indian thought and world culture. Dr. Radhakrishnan, in his edition of ‘Dhammapada” (which embodies Buddhist teachings), has stated that, judged by intellectual integrity, moral earnestness and spiritual insight, the Buddha is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in history. The same scholar pointed out that, altough ther were different streams of thought operating on men’s minds in the 6th century B.C. philosophic thought was agreed at that time on certain fundamentals. Life does not begin at birth or end at death; it is a link in an infinite series of lives. each of which is conditioned and determined by acta done in previous existences. Relief from the round of births, resulting in life in eternity is the goal, indicated by such terms as Moksa(deliverance) and Nirvana(union with the Brahman). The means of attainment are prayer and worship; ritual and sacrifice; and Vidya(realization by knowledge).

Even though the Buddha accepted the doctrines of Karma and rebirth and the non-reality of the empirical universe, he declined to speculate on Moksa and on the doctrine of the Atman and Paramatman . He laid stress on the supremacy of the ethical aspect, and his outlook was definitely practical and empirical. In fact, the Buddha did not tolerate any doctrines which, he thought, diverted the mind from the central problem of suffering, the cause of suffering and its removal, and the urgency of the moral task.

. He rejected the doctrine of the Vedanta that the ego is permanent and unchanging. At the same time, he did not countenance the view that, at death, it is destroyed. As Dr. Radhakrishnan says, the Buddha came to the conclusion that interest in the super- natural diverts attention and energy from the ethical values and the exploration of actual conditions: Karma builds the world and Dharma is an organic part of all existence.

The Bhagavad-Gita

Every variety of Hindu philosophy has its source in the Upanisads, the Brahma Sutras of Badarayana of Vyasa and the Bhagavad-Gita which forms a part of the Mahabharata. It was as a reaction to the tendencies exhibited by Buddhism and Jainism that the orthodox schools of Indian philosophy had their origin and the Bhagavad-Gita is their epitome.

This work contains the essence of Indian teaching about the duties of life as well as spiritual obligations. Everyone has his allotted duties of various kinds. Sin arises not from the nature of the work itself but from the disposition with which the work is performed. When it is performed without attachment to the result, it cannot tarnish the soul and impede its quest. True Yoga consists in the acquisition of experience and the passage through life in harmony with the ultimate laws of equanimity, non-attachment to the fruits of action, and faith in the pervasiveness of the Supreme Spirit. Absorption in that Spirit can be attained along several paths; and no path is to be preferred cxclusively and none to be disdained. These doctrines have been interpreted as marking a Protestant movement which lays stress on the personality of God and His accessibility to devotion. While following the Hindu ideal of the Asramas, the Gita emphasizes the importance of knowledge, charity, penance and worship, and does not decry life as evil:

“Nor indeed can embodied beings completely relinquish action; verily, he who relinquisheth the fruit of action, he is said to be a true relinquisher.”



The Dharma Sastras

Later, treatises on ethical and social philosophy known as the Dharma Sastras were compiled, They deal systematically with the proper conduct of life and describe social , ethical and religious obligations. The Sutras, of which the Brahma Sutra is the chief, are brief aphorisms or maxims. They contain interpretations of philosophic systems and refutations of opposing beliefs. It is remarkable that all philosophical systems in India are known as Darsanas, literally meaning calling insights or points of view. In the well known Sarvadar sanasangraha compiled by Madhavacarya, a great successor of Sankaracarya , the Carvaka or atheistic school, Buddhism, Jaini sm, the Vaisnava philosophy of Ramanuja and Madhva, the Saiva system and several other doctrinal variants, are all described as Darsanas and as legitimate developments of Hindu thought: There are Sutras dealing with the Logical Realism of Nyaya, the Atomistic Pluralism of Vaisesika, the Evolutionism of Samkhya, the tech nique of Mind-control or Yoga, the ritualistic philosophy of Purva-Mimamsa and the metaphysics of Vedanta which attained its climax in the work of Sankara.

The Puranas

The Puranas cover the intermediate period between thc Vedic and the Classical epochs. Cast in the form of parables and narratives, they became the scripture for the common people. Apart from their religious and often sectarian significance, they furnish a picture of social, political and cultural life and comprise an astonishingly varied repertory of folklore and information regarding diverse topics including philosophy, ethics, legal institutions, popular festivals,and several arts; they deal even with subjects like grammar, prosody, rhetoric, archery and care of horses and elephants; many of them also describe places of pilgrimage. At one time their historical value was discounted; but it is now being gradually appreciated.

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Fusion with non-Aryans

The Aryans marched en masse, guided by a leader who was often a poet, and came into contact with the Dasas and the Dasyus. The point to be noted is the speedy fusion of the Aryans with the non-Aryans. The process had three phases: ( I ) The elevation of non-Aryans and aboriginals by intermarriages with Aryans. (2) The incorporation of non-Aryans into Aryan society in various other ways. (3) Social reactions by which forms of 1ife and modes of thought of the two groups under went a kind of osmosis, intensified by the Buddhist protestant reformation.

The Aitareya Brahmana gives an example of the manner in which progressive leaders of the Aryans facilitated the assimilation of other communities. A Rsi was performing a sacrifice on the banks of the Sarasvati; and to this sacrifice was admitted one Kesava Ailusa, a Sudra, whose learning is stated to have put all the Brahmins to shame. The Vajasaneyi Samhita condemned intercommunal marriage, but it is narrated in that work (ch. 23, 30 and 31) that a Sudra was the lover of an Arya woman. By the time of the Mahabharata such great personages as Vyas and Vidura were described as the offspring of the connection of the Aryans with other groups. The story of Santanu and Satyavati, the vow of Bhisma as well as the story of Ambika and Ambalika and the birth of Vidura, also illustrate the above process.

Again, in the Mahabharata, it is narrated that Bhima married Hidimbi, a non-Aryan woman, and Arjuna married a Naga girl, Ulupi. A new class of Aryans called Utkrsta came into existence, and was admitted to the privileges of sacrifice. By the time of the Satapathabrahmaa Sudras became incorporated in the polity – a notable instance being the Nisadas. lt is a curious fact (vide Panini’s Grammar, ch. VI, 62, 58) that there were non-Aryan Brahmins as well.

Parasara, one of the great sages of India, married Satyavati, a fisher girl, who became the mother of Vyasa, the compiler of the Mahabharata and the Puranas. Such intermarriages or unions were frequent all through Indian history. Emperor Candragupta Maurya who belonged to a lower caste, married Kumara Devi of the Licchavi clan, who was either a Brahmin or a Ksatriya, and she was the grandmother of Asoka.

It should be remembered that the groups which crystallized later into the Indian castes were initially not based on any gradation of superiority, the difference being functional rather than racial or communal. These groups, moreover, had their analogues in the Avesta, and the Iranian names do not suggest the idea of colour or superiority. Co-operation of all the classes was needed for administration, and a passage in the Mahbharata indicates that the King’s Council included representatives of all classes of the people.

The current rigidity of the rules relating to intermarriage as also interdining among the Indian castes is a comparatively recent innovation. These lines found in severl Puranas are significant: “The great sage Vasistha was born of a divine courtesan, but by austerity and penance he made himself recognized as a Brahmin. The transforming process was attained by self-imrovement.” Another passage says, “Vyas was by birth a fisherman, Parasar was born in a dog-eating tribe, Many non-Dvijas have in the past attained Brahmanhood by their merit.” The Bhagavad-Gita affirms: “Castes developed according to the differentiation of Guna and Karma”, i.e., disposition or temperament and inherited instincts or aptitudes.

Both among the Old Iranians and the Aryans of India the original caste system of three classes based on the practical distritution of functions was in existence. The Iranians, however, did not develop another class as the Hindus did – the Sudra. Clearly, the three Hindu caste divisions were not unalterably rigid. The definition of the word Dvija, twice-born, makes the position clear. Dvija is a person who has certain basic qualities: “lf a man ‘s activities be derived from his jati or birth, from his, occupation, from study and knowledge, and if all these are found combined, then he is to be called a Dvija, and not otherwise”.
Cultural synthesis

In their great trek to India the colonizing groups of Aryans encountered races who professed a firm belief in the doctrine of transmigration. It has indeed been suggested that this doctrine of metempsychosis itself, the cult of serpent worship, the worship of Ganesa, of Uma or Durga, of Skanda or Subrahmanya (the hunter-god) were all adopted by the Aryans from earlier settlers in India. Even the incarnation of Krsna, it has been said, was an adaptation from an aboriginal deity; his life is an instance of the mingling of the Aryans and the Yadavas. In any case, it seems clear that there was a good measure of synthesis of the thoughts and beliefs of the Aryan and pre-Aryan races.

There are widespread traditions of the southern migration of the Vedic sage, Agastya, the reputed author of several hymns of the Rg-Veda. His asrama was located south of the Vindhyas; and he is said to have introduced the Vedic religion and literature in the South in his capacity as a uniifying factor between the Sanskritic and Dravidian tongues and ideals. When the Aryan colonisers in the wake of Agastya penetrated to the South, they found an advanced civilisation. The Ramayana describes Madurai as adorned with golden jewels. The grammarian Katyayana mentions the Pandyas and the Colas. Asoka’s Buddhist missions were sent to the Pandya and Cola countries as far as Tamrapani river in the Tirunelveli District. An extensive commercial and cultural inter course grew up between the Aryans and the Dravidians, as also between the Dravidians and countries to the east and west of India.

The close contact between the Aryan and Dravidian elements continued all through history and manifested itself in every aspect of life. There is strong ground for the supposition that the importance of Siva, Sakti and Skanda was due largely to Dravidian influence, since the cult of An (Siva), Amma (Sakti) and Anil (Muruga or Skanda) was a cardinal belief from the beginning of Dravidian history.

These facts illustrate the composite character of Hindu civilisation. The Sama Veda spoke at length of the Vratyastoma (a particular sacrifice or ritual) by which non-Aryan Vratyas were admitted into Aryan society. The equalization of castes and communities was, of course, brought to a head by Gautama Buddha, though he was no opponent of the Brahminical civilisation. Both he and Mahavira, the expounder of Jainism, while admitting that the Brahmin ideal is the right one, led a crusade against certain aspects of Brahmin culture. Hindu civilisation itself adapted for its use many ideals and precepts of Buddhism and Jainism. For instance, among many communities, offerings of rice and ghee took the place of animal sacrifice – a compromise with the Vedic ritualism. The early Aryans had, of course, been meat-eaters, but probably under the influence of Buddhist and Jain ideas many groups of Brahmins as well as non-Brahmins became vegetarian.
Vaisnavism in the South

At a later period arose the fully organized Bhakti movement leading to Vaisnavism and Saivism. The ancient Vaisnava mystics and saints in the South were known as Alvars, and the Vaisnavism teachers as Acaryas. They had a powerful exponent of these views in Ramanuja, who attacked the Advaita interpretation of the Upanisads and gave recognition to three ultimate realities, God, Soul and Matter, the last two being dependent on the first.

As early as the 2nd century B. C. the renowned Besnagar Column had been erected by a Greek named Heliodorous, who had been converted to the Bhagavata or Vaisnava faith of which the Pancaratra doctrines then formed an integral part; its scriptures were Satvata Samhita, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavata and Visnu Puranas. The origin of the Pancaratra doctrines which form the basis of Srivaisnava culture has been traced further back to the well known Purusasukta of the Rg-Veda. The Satapatha Brahmana refers to the Pancaratra sacrifices performed by the primeval Narayana, the idea of Nara and Narayana (Primordial man and the deity Visnu) being an integral part of ancient Indian thought. There are more than a dozen Vaisnava Upanisads. It was in the period from the 10th century up to the 17th that many Vaisnava works were produccd. The Vaisnavas regard the Pancaratra literature as almost equal to the Vedas.

The Vaisnava Samhitas and other works insist on knowledge of and devotion to, the supreme Godhead rather than on Vedic studies or sacrifices. It is worthy of note that in the Bhagavata Purana (11th Skanda) the A!vars were prefigured or adverted to; several great devotees of Visnu, the Purana states, would appear on the banks of the Tamraparni, Krtamala (Vaigai), Payasvin ( Palar), Kaveri (Cauvery), and Mahanadi (Periyar).

The Alvars lived between the 5th and the 12th centuries. The first group included Saroyogin or Poygaiyal var, Bhatayogin or Bhutattalvar, Mahadyogin or Peyalvr and Bhaktisara or Tirumalisai-Piran. Nammalvar or Satakopa, who came in the next group, was perhaps the greatest of the Alvars. Others in this group included Madhurakaviyalvar, Kulasekhara Perumal, Visnucitta (or Periyalvar) and Andal, his adopted daughter. In the last of the groups were Bhaktanghrirenu (Tondaradippodiyal- var), Yogivahana (Tiruppanalvar) and Parakala (Tirumangaiyalvar). The Divya Prabhandha constitutes the collection of the Alvars’ compositions in the Tamil language.
The advent of Sankara

The next important milestone is the advent of Sankara. In his short but marvellously active life, he travelled all through the country, refuting atheistic and materialistic systems of thought, wrote commentaries on the Upanisads, on the Brahma Sutra and on the Gita. He interpreted these scriptures and built up his thesis with wonderful clarity and depth of exposition. He remoulded Indian thought and destroyed many dogmas. His great capacity for deep feeling and emotional expression was combined with relentless logic. Sankara’s contribution to philosophy is his blending of the doctrines of Karma and Maya, which culminated in a logical exposition of the idea of non-dualism. The entire universe consisting of Namarupa, names and forms, is but an appearance; Brahman, infinite consciousness, is the sole reality. Its attainment and the annihilation of the great illusion of the universe called Maya, by a process of realization, were the objects of Sankara’s quest. He revivifid the doctrines of the Upanisads and, in Dr. Radhakrishnan’s words, he was not a mere dreaming idealist but a practical visionary. His Advaita doctrine is still a living force in India. Sankaracarya established several mathas in India to propagate the Vedantic or Advaita doctrine and the succesive heads of these mathas as well as later scholars like Madhusudana Sarasvati and the great polymath Appayya Diksita have produced important treatises, elucidating the Vedanta as propoundd by Sankaracarya.

Sankara’s outlook was based strictly on philosophical thought and logic; but even he has, in numerous compositions, dcscribed the supreme entity in a personal aspect as saviour, helper, friend and guide. He wrote poems dedicated to Nrsimha, Sri Krsrna, Laksmi, and Annapurna, and there is his celebrated lyrical homage to Parvati or Durga – the Saundaryalahari.

Sankara was followed by Ramanuja, Madhva and others who called themselves commentators but were indeed creators of new systems. Ramanuja’s philosophy was termed qualified monism and Madhva’s was a dualistic system. The three major forms of Vedanta developed respectively by Sankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva are distinct philosophies, although each professes to have stemmed from the same three sources – the Upanisads, the Brahma Sutra and the Gita.

Ramanuja, of course, was concerned much more with the personal aspect. His teachings may be regarded as a reaction against the tendency to view religion on the intellectual rather than the emotional plane. He assimilated many beliefs of the Dravidian civilisation and helped to encourage and promote temple worship and public festivals. Born early in the 11th century, Ramanuja was deeply influenced by the Tamil saints and Alvars – their ideas coloured his interpretation of thc Upanisads and the Brahma Sutra. He put forward a theistic view of the Vedas as against the rigid Advaita point of view of Sankara. Basing his thoughts on Bodhayana and the theistic Upanisads, the Mahabharata (including the Bhagavad-Gita), Visnu Purana as well as the compositions of the Alvars and Acaryas, Ramanuja produced a number of works culminating in the Sribhasya . He proclaimed the doctrine of salvation through Bhakti or faith. His earlier followers came to be known as Vadagala is. About two centuries later the Tengalais appeared; they, unlike thc Vadagalais, did not concentrate on Sanskrit scriptures and traditions and regarded Tamil scriptures as equally canonical.

There were several points of difference between Ramanuja and early Vaisnava teachers like Nadamuni and Yamunacarya. One was the importance attached to Swami Krpa, Grace of God. According to one school, this is spontaneous, not depending on any effort or merit of the devotee. The other school asserts that Grace also depends on the devotee’s virtuous action. The religious approach of Ramanuja was mainly based on self-surrender, which must result in universal charity and sympathy, and friendliness even to an enemy. He insisted that the performance of scriptural duties alone was not enough for salvation. Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga, according to the Ramanuja school, only purify the mind in preparation for Bhakti Yoga or devotion. Ramanuja’s Saranagati Gadya is a notable contribution to the gospel of self-surrender, but it does not rule out caste functions and duties, and the doctrine of Karma.

Vedanta Desika, the greatest successor of Ramanuja, and a strong opponent of Sankara’s Advaita doctrine, wrote a very controversial work, Satadusani. Pillai Lokacarya, the famous exponent of the Tengalai school, advocated passive surrender (Praptti) in preference to active faith (Bhakti), and the guidance of a spiritual preceptor, Manavala Maha Muni is the chief Saint of the Tengalais. This school built up a remarkable Tamil literature to which it ascribed an importance equal to that of the Vedas – it was called the Tamil Tirumurai or the Tamil Veda. In essence, however, there was no fundamental doctrinal divergence belween the two sects. Differences in certain features such as caste marks on the forehead and temple ceremonials and usage became accentuated in later years.
Successors of Ramanuja

As the ideas of Ramanuja spread through India, men like Madhvacarya, Vallabhacarya, Caitanya, Ramananda, Kabir and Nanak came under their spell. Ramanuja and his followers opposed the doctrine of Maya and the interpretation of the world as purely phenomenal or illusory. They emphasized the distinction between thc individual soul and the supreme Godhead and based their philosophy on man’s conviction of sin, his responsibility for sin and the importance of grace emanating from thc divine. In other words, they believed that salvation comes not specially through Jnana (knowledge) or karma (action), but through Bhakti (faith) and Prasada (grace). The Bhagavata doctrine of complete resignation to God was one of the articles of their faith. God was viewed alterlnately as father, mother, child, teacher and friend, and even as the beloved. Ramanuja declared that caste had nothing to do with the soul’s quality; some of the Alvars were in fact non-Brahmins. Ramanuja is said to have admitted even Harijans to the temple at Melkote. One of his later followers, Ramananda, who lived in the 13th century, not only protested against caste distinctions but enjoined that no man should ask any devotee about his caste or sect: whoever worships God is God’s own.

Later followers of Ramanuja included a number of scholars who sustained his philosophic system through the centuries. While accepting the set rituals of initiation and worship, they admitted Jains, Buddhists, Sudras and Harijans into their fold. A celebrated successor of Ramanuja was Nimbarka, who lived about the same time as Madhvacarya. According to his philosophy, which is a type of Bhedabhedavada, that is, the theory of the Absolute as Unity-in- difference, Brahman or the Absolute has transformed itself into the world of matter and spirit. As the Life-force, Prana manifests itself in the various cognitive sense functions, and yet keeps its own independence, integrity and difference, so the Brahman also manifests itself through the numberless spirits and matter, without losing itself in them. As the spider spins its web out of itself and yet remains independent of the wcb, so the Brahman splits itself up into numberless spirits and matter but retains its fullness and purity.

The reaction against Sankara’s Advaitism reached its climax in Madhvacarya’s dualistic philosophy. It resembles Ramanuja’s doctrine to some extent but stands for unqualified dualism. Madhva, also known as Purnapranjna and Anandatirtha, was born near Udipi in South Kanara in the 12th century. He draws a clear distinction between God and the individual soul, God and matter, individual soul and matter, one soul and another and one variety ot matter and another. Large groups in India follow this doctrine which bases itself on the feeling of absolutc dependence on God and love for Him.

Madhvacarya attacked Sankara vehemently on the ground that his philosophy was a disguised variety of Buddhism. It is well known that Sankara was strongly influenced by Gaudapada, who had great regard for the Buddhist philosophy, and it is unquestionable that, while Sankara was opposed to Buddhist thought in general, he was perhaps unconsciously influenced by some of its tenets. Madhva, on the other hand, objected to Advaita: it seemed to him presumptuous for the individual soul to claim identity with Brahman. According to his doctrine, Visnu is the only supreme being; and Bhakti is the primary essential for liberation. Among his great disciples was Purandaradasa, reputed as a social reformer and one of the creators of the Karnataka system of music. Vadiraja, a renowned writer, was another Madhva philosopher.
Vaisnavism in the North

One of the most influential Vaisnava cults was founded by Vallabhacarya, a Telugu Brahmin who lived in the 15th century. He migrated to the North and in his numerous works in the North he gave an interpretation of the Vedanta differing from that of Ramanuja, as also of Sankara. He called his doctrine Suddha Advaita, pure non- dualism. The world is real, and not an illusion. God is Nimitta- Karana, the causative being. Discarding the Maya theory Vallabhacarya asserts that God cannot be described by negatives but only by his holy and gracious attributes, and is personified in Krsna He is not only karta, creator, but also Bhokta, enjoyer. Though he has no need to assume a bodily form, he often does so to please his devotees. Regarding Bhakti as the chief means of salvation and superior to Jnana, (knowledge) Vallabha opposed all kinds of asceticism. The body is the temple of God, he said. The famous Upanisadic precept Tatvamasi was by an ingenious interpretation, modified by Vallabha as Atatvamasi, “That thou art not”. Vallabhacarya’s doctrines were fully interpreted and expounded by his son Vitthala.

Later, in Northern India, there arose the Caitanya movement. Nimbarka had already elevated Radha, the consort of Krsna, to the highest position. Jayadeva, the author of Gita-Govinda, and other poets like Vidyapati, Umapati and Candidas, adopted the Radha-Krsna cult. Caitanya, the great Vaisnava teacher of the 15th century transformed the Vaisnava faith and extended his influcnce in most parts of Northern India. He accepted converts from Islam, the foremost among them being Haridas, Rupa and Sanatana. Salvation, according to his doctrine, consists in the eternal experience of God’s love. Caitanya exercised great influence over later Indian thought.

The cult of Sakti or the mother aspect of Godhead had its roots in the Vedas. The Rg-Veda describes Sakti as the embodiment of power and the upholder of the universe. Sakti is represented as the sister of Krsna and the wife of Siva. She is worshipped as Devi, who is one with Brahman. The literature of Saktism, called the Tantra, gives a high place to women and reacts strongly against caste distinctions. According to the doctrines of the Sakta cult (embodied in 77 Agamas), Siva or the supreme entity is impersonal and beyond activity. Sankara in his Saundarya1ahari declares: “Siva is able to function when united with Sakti; otherwise he is inert.” he Sakta cult and philosophy has had great influence in Bengal and Assam, as well as in Malabar.

A variant of the Saivite philosophy, which developed in Kashmir, is known as the Pratyabhijna system. Here, as Dr. Radhakrishnan says, Siva is the subject as well as the object, the experiencer as well as the experienced. “As the consciousness on which all this resultant world is established,whence it issues, is free in its nature, it cannot be restricted anywhere. As it moves in the differentiated states of waking, sleeping, etc., identifying itself with them, it never falls from its true nature as the knower.” In theeme Godhead rather than on Vedic studies or sacrifices. It is worthy of note that in the Bhagavata Purana (11th Skanda) the A!vars were prefigured or adverted to; several great devotees of Visnu, the Purana states, would appear on the banks of the Tamraparni, Krtamala (Vaigai), Payasvin ( Palar), Kaveri (Cauvery), and Mahanadi (Periyar).

The Alvars lived between the 5th and the 12th centuries. The first group included Saroyogin or Poygaiyal var, Bhatayogin or Bhutattalvar, Mahadyogin or Peya is the unchanging consciousness and Sakti its changing power, appearing as mind and matter.
Cultural fusions in the South

Early Indian history cannot be viewed in its true perspective unless the institutions of the South receive adequate treatment. The unity of India transcends the diversities of blood, fusions in colour, language, dress, manners and sects. It is seen in the fusion of Brahminical ideas and institutions with Dravidian cults. This unity, however, has been limited by the later developments of the caste system in a manner different from the original conception which was functional in character and elastic in scope.

A typical South Indian village almost invariably has a temple dedicated to Ayyanar or Hariharaputra or Hanuman or Anjaneya, or Ganesa. On many hill-tops there are shrines dedicated to the Devi (Candi) or Kartikeya also named Subrahmanya. These exemplify the tolerant and assimilative outlook of the Aryans. In the context mention has already been made of the Vratyastoma (a particular sacrifice or ritual) by means of which masses of non-Aryans (Vratyas) were admitted into the Aryan society.

According to South lndian tradition, Tamil as first developed by the sage Agastya, to whom a grammar, a treatise on philosophy and many other works are ascribed. The oldest Tamil grammar now extant, the Tolkappiynm, is said to have been the work of one of his disciples. The Saivite and Vaisnavite revival due to the Brahmins in Southern India, since the 8th century, brought about a counter- movement among the Jains. Early Buddhism in Northern India adopted the Prakrit or vernacular speech for its religious treatises. On the same analogy, Buddhism and Jainism in the South created works in the dialects of the people. The Dravidian Buddhists and Jains created a Tamil literature which was anti-Brahmanical in sentiment ; and covered the period between the 9th and 13th centuries.

The Kural of Tiruvalluvar, *dating not later than the 10th century A.D. is said to have been the work of a poet belonging to one of the depressed classes. It enforces thc Samkhya philosophy in 1,330 poetical aphorisms based on three subjects: wealth, pleasure and virtue. To the sister of its author, the poetess Avvaiyar, are ascribed many compositions of the highest moral tone, and they have enjoyed perennial popularity in Southern India. The Jain period of Tamil literature includes works on ethics. In the same period a celebrated adaptation of the Ramayana was composed in Tamil by Kambar. This is a Tamil paraphrase rather than a literal translation of the ancient Sanskrit Epic.

* Tirukural should have been written before 100B.C I suppose. I could not understand how come tiruvalluvar and kambar could be contemporary thinkers. There is no mention of valluavr’s life around 500 to 1200 A.D.
suggested by Shri Senthil

Between this period and the 16th century, two encyclopaedic collections of Tamil hymns, deeply religious in spirit, were gradually formed. One collection was the work of Saivite devotees and their disciples who sought to uproot Jainism. Vaisnavite apostles of the same period were equally prolific in Tamil religious songs. Their Book of Four Thousand Psalms, Nalayira Prabandham, constitutes a hymnology dating from the 12th century.

Saivite sects The development of Vaishnavism saw a parallel development of the Saiva theism. A distinctive philosophy of Saiva Siddhanta was evolved about the 11th century. The Saiva Agamas were based on the Vedic concept of Rudra. A large number of inspired writers in the Tamil country were headed by Manikkavasagar. All their works have been collected and are venerated by the South Indian Saivites. The first part of this collection, Tevaram, contains the hymns of Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar. The second part mainly comprises Manikkavasagar’s Tiruvasakam. Sixty three Saiva saints are recognized and their lives are recounted in the Periya Puranam Sekkilar.

Dr. Pope, the well known Tamil grammarian, has stated that Saiva Siddhanta is one of the most influential and intrinsically valuable of the religious writings in India. The Saiva Siddhanta recognizes three entities: God, thc Soul or the aggregate of souls, and Bondage (Pati, Pasu and Pasa). The expression Bondage denotes the aggregate of the elements which fetter the soul and hold it back from union with God. In one of its aspects it is Malam, the taint clinging to the soul. In another aspect it is Maya, the material cause of the world. The peculiarity of the Saiva Siddhanta doctrine which calls itself Suddhadvaita is its difference from the Vedanta Monism. God pervades and energizes all souls and, nevertheless, stands apart. This concept of the absolute is clear from the Tamil word for God, Kadavul, meaning that which transcends (kada) all things and is yet the heart (ul) of all things. When the absolute becomes manifest, it is as Force (Sakti) of which the universe is the product. The Dvaita system, on the other hand, insists on a radical pluralism, and at the same time on the complete dependence of the souls and the world on God.

One of the important Saivite sects known as Virasaiva was founded by a Brahmin named Basava, who was for some time the minister of a ruler in Kalyan. The Basava Purana outlines Basava’s life. This as also Basava’s own writings in Kannada, describes the fundamentals of a doctrine based on rigid monotheism, Siva being regarded as the supreme, limitless and transcendent entity. Brahmana is the identity of “being”, “bliss” and consciousness, and devoid of any form of differentiation. It is limitless and beyond all ways of knowledge. It is self-luminous and absolutely without any barrier of knowledge, passion or power. It is in Him that the whole world of the conscious and the unconscious remains, in a potential form untraceable by our senses, and it is from Him that the whole world becomes expressed or manifest of itself, without the operation of any other instrument.

The Virasaivas, often called Lingayats, are distinguished by the Sivalinga and rudraksa on their person and they smear their bodies with ashes. They are strict vegetarians and abstain from drink. The Virasaiva doctrine has four schools, but the differences are of a minor kind. All believe in the efficacy of a Guru or preceptor. All assert the reality of the Universe and unity with Siva, the only ultimate reality. The Virasaiva doctrine is prevalent in Mysore and in the southern regions of Maharashtra.
Great movements of reform

Side by side with these philosophical systems, a large body of devotional literature in the spoken languages of India has been developed. This was due to the advent of great reformers-Ramananda, Kabir, Nanak, Mirabai, Vallabhacarya, Caitanya, Tulasidasa, and Tukaram. Ramananda and his Muslim disciple Kabir emphasized the belief in a supreme deity and recognized no caste distinctions, although they accepted the doctrines of Karma and Samsara. Nanak founded the religion of the Sikhs. He was under the influence of Islam as well as of Hinduism and, like Kabir, he believed in Karma and Samsara, Maya and Moksa. He laid great stress on a personal God and a society of disciples not bound by caste or race restrictions. The militant character of Sikhism was a later development due to Aurangzeb’s intolerance and persecution.

The great saints of Maharashtra and Bengal created a wonderful literature of Bhakti based on the worship of Rama or of Krsna. Vallabhacarya, in particular, attacked Sankara’s Advaita doctrine. He preached that by God’s grace alone can man obtain release. Caitanya, a contemporary of Vallabha, and his followers called Goswamis, were itinerant preachers whose sincerity of religious experience brought about a reformation in Bengal. The common features in Bhakti cults have been pointed out by D. S. Sarma in his Renaissance of Hinduism:

1. Belief in one supreme God of Love and Grace.

2. Belief in the individuality of every soul, which is nevertheless part of the Divine Soul.

3. Belief in salvation through Bhakti.

4. The exaltation of Bhakti above Jnana and Karma; and, also above, the performance of rites and ceremonies.

5. Extreme reverence paid to the Guru.

6. The doctrine of the Holy Name.

7. Initiation through a mantra and a sacramental meal.

8. The institution of sectarian orders of Sannyasins.

9. The relaxing of the rules of caste, sometimes even ignoring all caste distinctions.

10. Religious teaching through the vernaculars. It was out of these Bhakti cults that the Sikh group transformed itself into a military brotherhood. Bhakti cults gave rise to such works as the Ramayana by Tulasidasa, the , Abhanga of Tukaram and the poems of devotees like Ramprasad of Bengal and Tayumanavar of South India and passionate outpouring of Mira Bai. All these helped to popularize the spirit of devotion and resulted in a great religious revival in many parts of India.
Renaissance in Hinduism

In the 18th century religion suffered a serious decline mainly because the impact of a completely different civilisation. English education destroyed the isolation of India and brought about an active ferment. Many Indians of the time became either sceptics who leaned towards Christianity, or reactionaries who sought to preserve at any cost the ancient forms and institutions. Fortunately, at this time, enlightened Europeans like Sir William Jones, Sir Charles Wilkins, Colebrooke, Monier-Williams and Max Muller revealed by comment and by translation the treasures of ancient Indian wisdom. Their work was later supplemented by art lovers and art critics, who revealed the secrets of sacred and secular art-forms and concepts.

As an outcome of these influences and counter-influences, there arose a series of movements which have been rightly described as a renaissance of Hindu life and thought. Raja Ramamohun Roy was the most outstanding pioneer of these movements. He struck a note of universalism in tune with the spirit of the Upanisads. Born in Bengal in 1772, he studied Persian, Arabic and English. In 1803 he published a book in Persian, with a preface in Arabic, entitled Tuhfat-ul- Muwahhidin. It carried a protest against idolatory and sought to establish a universal religion based on the idea of the unity of Godhead. He started a controversy with the Christian missionaries and published a book in which he tried to separate the moral teachings of Jesus from the miracles described in the Gospels. Rammohun Roy, along with David Hare, stressed the necessity of education in India on modern lines, in opposition to those who objected to English education and insisted on a return to the past. He repeatedly declared that he had no intention of breaking away from the ancestral religion, and wished to see it restored to its original purity. In order to carry out his ideas he founded the Brahmo Samaj on the basis of theism. The Trust Deed of the Samaj laid down that “no graven image, statue or sculpture carving, painting, picture, portrait or the likeness of anything shall be admitted within the building.”
The Brahmo Samaj

Debendranath Tagore, the next great leader of the Samaj, formulated the Brahmopadesa, comprising tenets from the Upanisads and Tantras. His successor, Keshub Chandra Sen, sought to incorporate Christian ideals into the Brahmo Samaj movement. He began the compilation of a scripture including passages from the Holy Books of many religions – Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Christian, Muslim etc. Then he went to England in 1870, he was welcomed by many Christian organizations. As the result of secessions in the Brahmo Samaj, three institutions arose: The Adi Brahmo Samaj; the New Dispensation of Keshub Chandra Sen; and the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj founded by dissenters from the Keshub Church. The Sadharan Samaj, led by Shivanath Sastri and Ananda Mohun Bose, gave a rational, monistic interpretation of the Upanisads, admitting the essential unity of the universal self and the individual self. The following doctrines, as noted in Renaissance of Hinduism are common to all these varieties and offshoots of the Brahmo Samaj:

1. They have no faith in any scripture as an authority.

2. They have no faith in Avatars.

3. They denounce polytheism and idol-worship.

4. They are against caste restrictions.

5. They make faith in the doctrines of Karma and Rebirth optional. Another offshoot of the Brahmo Samaj, the Prarthana Samaj was founded by Justice Ranade in Bombay. Its programme included disapproval of caste, recognition of widow marriage, and the encouragement of women’s education. Dr. Atmaram Pandurang, Pandita Rama Bai, S. P. Kelkar and S. P. Pandit were the principal exponents of this Samaj.
The Arya Samaj

As a reaction against the influences typified by Raja Ramamohun Roy and Justice Ranade, the Arya Samaj was founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. It attacked the Brahmo Samaj for its pro-European and pro-Christian attitude. A great Sanskrit scholar and a believer in the doctrines of Karma and Rebirth, Swami Dayanand sought to revive the Vedic ideals and laid stress on Brahmacarya and Sannyasa. He believed implicitly in the ancient scriptures, disavowing Puranic Hinduism in favour of Vedic Hinduism. The Puranic texts, he said, had no Vedic sanction. Holding the Vedas alone as authoritative, he stated that God and the human soul are two distinct entities, different in nature and attributes, though they are inseparable from each other as the pervader and the pervaded. The doctrine of Karma and Samsara is of course accepted by the Arya Samaj. One of its main activities is Suddhi, a purification ceremony, by which non-Hindus are converted to Hinduism. The depressed classes and Harijans are entitled to be invested with the sacred thread and are given equal status with other Hindus. The Arya Samaj also reclaimed many Hindus who had been converted to Islam and Christianity. Sanghatan, organization of the Hindus for self-defence, is one of the main principles of the Arya Samaj, and it has played its part as the church militant in the Hindu fold.
The Theosophical Society

The Theosophical Society, founded in 1875 by Col. Olcott and Madame Blavatsky, co-operated with the Arya Samaj and tried fora time to organize lndian life on national lines and check the activities of Christian missionaries. Col. Olcott and Madame Blavatsky went later to Ceylon, declared themselves Buddhists, and took part in a movement for the revival of Buddhism. Dr. Annie Besant joined the Society after a period of militant agnosticism, side by side with notable social service, and political work amongst the Fabians in England. She became the head of the Theosophical Society in 1891. Claiming that she had been a Hindu in her former birth, Annie Besant worked throughout her life for the regeneration and activization of Hindu thought and Hindu life. She published a translation of the Bhagavad-Gita along with Dr. Bhagvan Das and popularized Hindu ideals in her numerous publications and marvellously eloquent speaches. A defender of many orthodox ideals, she turned later to social reform, which included the partial modification of the caste system. . One of thc main principles of Theosophy is the belief in a brotherhood of great teachers of the past who are supposed to be living still, watching over and guiding the evolution of humanity. The Theosophical Society under Dr. Besant’s guidance spread the fundamental principles of the Hindu religion – Karma, Reincarnation, Yoga and spiritual evolution.
Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda

Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, a great devotee and mystic, had a broad outlook of universalism. After accepting the discipline of Yoga and Tantric Sadhana, he underwent the discipline of the Vaisnava, the Christian and the Islamic ways of life. To rouse the religious feelings of the wordly-minded and re-affirm the ancient truths of Hinduism by an appeal to experience, he trained a devoted band of followers, the most outstanding of whom was Narendranath, Swami Vivekananda. Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings were neither new nor heterodox. As Swami Vivekananda said on one occasion, Ramakrishna brought old truths to light. He was an embodiment of the past religious thought of India. Like other great religious teachers of the world, he projected his ideas through parables or images. Questioned, for instance, on the problem of evil, Sri Ramakrishna said:” Evil exists in God as poison in a serpent. What is poison to us is not poison to the serpent. Evil is evil only from the point of view of man.” In other words, from the absolute standpoint, there is no evil, but from the relative standpoint evil is a terrible reality. Ramakrishna preached that realization is the essence of religion – and that all religions are paths leading to the same goal. He deprecated metaphysical subtleties and insisted on deep devotion – it was, he said, through his intense devotion to the image of the Divine Mother in Dakshineswar that realization had come to him. Swami Vivekananda said:” If men like Sankara, Caitanya and Ramakrishna found image worship helpful, there is no sense in declining it.”

Ramakrishna’s religion and the movement he founded by gathering around him a band of devoted workers were essentially practical. This aspect was expounded and universalized by Swami Vivekananda. Under the inspiration of Ramakrishna, he changed from scepticism to religious realization and travelled all over the world, preaching the essence of the truths of Hinduism. He dedicated himself to the service of India and particularly to the service of those who were starving, depressed, or beyond the social pale. The work for the uplift of the Indian masses was for him as important as meditation or Yoga.

At the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Swami Vivekananda struck a note of universal toleration based on the Hindu belief that all religions lead to the same God. He also declared in Chicago that the religion of the Hindus is centred on self-realizalion; idols, temples, churches and books are aids and nothing more. Swami Vivekananda strengthened the Ramakrishna organization by founding monasteries and centres of Hindu teaching in India and abroad. He reinterpreted Hinduism and stated that the abstract Advaita must become living. All through his life and especially during his travels abroad, he insisted that the essential features of Hinduism are its universality, its impersonality, its rationality, catholicity and optimism. Above all, its authority is not affected by the historicity of any particular man. Swami Vivekananda told his countrymen that they had become weak and miserable because they did not bring their Vedanta out of the books into life itself. His great contribution to Hinduism lay in applying the Hindu creed to the elevation of the masses and abolishing India’s isolation from the world, culturally, spiritually, and in many aspects of social life. He founded a great and worldwide organization, the Ramakrishna Mission, which has worked for the spiritual welfare and multiform amelioration of the living conditions of the people of India and other countries.
Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, one of the latest exponents and interpreters of Hinduism, has described ancient Indian philosophy as follows: “an ingrained and dominant spirituality, an inexhaustible vital creativeness and gusto of life, and, mediating between them, a powerful, penetrating and scrupulous intelligence, combined with the rational ethical and aesthetic mind at a high intensity of action, created the harmony of the ancient Indian culture.” Sri Aurobindo gave new interpretations of the Vedas and the Vedanta, and in his Essay on the Gita he expounded what he called ‘the integral view of life.” His great work, TheLife Divine, is a summing up of his philosophy of ‘the Descent of the Divine into Matter.” The importance of Sri Aurobindo’s mission lies not only in his restatements of old ideals but also in his atternpt to explain the true methods of Yoga as apart from mere asceticism and illusionism.
Mahatma Gandhi

In the popularization of ancient Hindu ideals, Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi have played significant parts. Tagore has made a suggestive interpretation of the Vedic religion and the substance of the Upanisads. The teachings of Mahatma Gandhi have led to vast social changes and to the uplift of the backward and depressed classes. He has stated that his whole religion is based on a surrender to the will of God, the spirit of renunciation as embodied in the Isa Upanisad, the Gita and the ideals of practical service. He has given a new interpretation to the doctrine of non-violence which is as old as Hinduism, and tried to adapt it by means of satyagraha to political and moral issues.

Mahatma Gandhi worked for the uplift of the depressed and backward classes and for the creation of national entity. Speaking in Travancore on the Temple Entry Proclamation enacted there in 1936, he said: “These temples are the visible symbols of God’s power and authority. They are, therefore, truly called the houses of God, .the houses of prayer. We go there in a prayerful mood and perform, first thing in thc morning after ablution, the act of dedication and surrender. Scoffers and sceptics may say that all these are figments of the imagination, that we are imagining God in the images we see. I will say to these scoffers that it is so. I am not ashamed of confessing that imagination is a powerful factor in life. Now you can easily understand that, in the presence of God, the Ruler of the Universe, who pervades everything, even those whom we have called the lowest of the low, all are equal.” A recent example of transcendental spiritual experience manifested in life is Shri Ramana Maharishi, who passed away in 1950. A man of powerful personality, he taught as much by his silence as by his sermons. He had a directness of approach and a universality of outlook, which were products of true enlightenment.
The spirit of tolerance

It may be noted that the comprehensive tolerance of Hinduism is exemplified remarkably in such instances as the following. In the temple of *Dharmasthala in South Kerala the chief personage is a Jain – he is regarded as a hereditary oracle whose arbitration is sought by members of all Hindu and even Muslim communities. The temple itself has the Sivalinga as well as the Salagrama, or symbol of Visnu, the officiating priest being a Vaisnavite. In the shrine at Udipi the worship of Siva and Visnu alike is offered and the heads of the Udipi Math, although staunch Vaisnavites, are under the obligation to attend to two Siva shrines, in addition to officiating as the chief priests of the Krsna temple. It is believed that a person belonging to the Harijan community received special divine favour and attained union with God in the temple precincts. The tradition of Chidambaram is similar- the Paraya saint, Nandan, who was refused admission by the Brahmin priests, became the object of divine favour and attained communion with God. In the temple of Jagannath at Puri, caste distinctions have been discarded. In Travancore there is a forest temple dedicated to Ayyappa or Hariharaputra – here, too, no caste distinctions are observed. Hindus, and even Muslims and Christians, perform vows in this shrine with belief in the efficacy of the god’s protective help. It may be noted in this context that the usual invocation of Ayyappa, namely, Saranam Ayyappa, is reminiscent of the Buddhist prayer.

*Dharmasthala’ is not in south Kerala, as it has been mentioned in the text. It is in Karnataka, in Dakshina Kannada Distrit.
suggested by Shri Harihareswara

The Spirit of Indian philosophy has been described in these words: “Its chief mark consists in concentration on the spiritual aspect, belief in the intimate relationship of philosophy and life, the inseparability of theory and practice and the insistence on intuition coexisting with the acceptance of authority.” Finally, it is the synthetic vision of Indian philosophy which has made possible the intellectual and religious tolerance so pronounced in Indian thought throughout the ages. Recent squabbles between religious communities, born of political factionalism, are alien to the basic Indian mind and are indeed antagonistic to its unique genius for adaptability and tolerance.

by Dr. C.P.Ramaswami Aiyar, Dr. Nalinaksha Dutt,
Prof. A.R.Wadia, Prof. M.Mujeeb,
Dr.Dharm Pal and Fr. Jerome D’Souza, S.J.

Copyright © 1995-2003, Prakash Arumugam





Rudra is one of the most significant Vedic gods. There are a number of hymns in the Rig Veda about Rudra, and three of them are solely dedicated to him. Rudra is the supreme Warrior, the divine Fighter, the God of Power. He is terrible according to the human view: he is dynamic according to the divine view. In the popular understanding of Indian mythology, Rudra is the Storm-God or Thunder-God. It is said that he creates thunder with his arm and uses lightening bolts from the sky. He is also said to use the bow and arrow. Rudra is closely associated with the Maruts, the Divine Sons, who are also connected with the natural forces and the heavens. In Indian mythology, Rudra wears a golden necklace and is adorned with costly celestial garments. His lips are said to be beautiful, and his hair is always braided.

Rudra is the lord of terror, but, at the same time, he is the Lord of Compassion. We can also say that Rudra is Shivam Shantam. Shantam is the Lord of Peace, the Lord who embodies Peace, and Shivam is the god who embodies the auspicious qualities. According to tradition, this god, Rudra, has no time to spend with the dead. He deals only with the living, the striving, the aspiring. As Christ said of his Father, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living,” so, too, this is Rudra.

Human desire makes us feel that ignorance is our lot. Divine aspiration makes us feel that God-realisation is our birthright. Human ignorance is within us and without. With his dynamic, divine energy it is Rudra who frees us from this ignorance and inwardly compels us to march towards the Light, the Light of the Beyond. He does this more powerfully, perhaps, than any of the other gods. He can work in and through us most convincingly when we bring our own heart-elevating and soul-illumining emotions to the fore.

When we invoke the cosmic gods, it happens that sometimes insincerity looms large in our prayer. To some extent the cosmic gods are indulgent of our imperfections. But this particular god, Rudra, is never, never indulgent of human weakness. When an insincere seeker makes others feel that he is a true seeker, Rudra destroys his insincerity. Again, if somebody is sincere in his spiritual life but shows false modesty by claiming that he does not practise spirituality, at that time Rudra comes and destroys that person’s false modesty with a divine jolt or inner blow. Many people worship God in order to achieve something, in order to fulfil their aspiration. They pray to God for Peace or Joy or Power. But people in India who know Rudra’s tremendous power pray to him not to hurt them or destroy them. Earthbound people feel that when Rudra is invoked, the moment his divine force touches their petty human weaknesses they will be destroyed. Actually, Rudra enters into our aspiring hearts with his dynamic valour not to destroy us but to transform our ignorance. Whenever there is aspiring energy, Rudra is present to offer his indomitable strength to his human devotees.

Rudra marshals the human race to march toward its divine perfection. It is Rudra’s divine necessity that impels him to do this work.

You all know that India has been a victim to the caste system. The caste system was begun with great purity and simplicity in the Vedic age. As it was handed down through the ages, it became more and more undivine and unjust until today it is only a pathetic mockery of its original glory and truth. We learn about the original caste divisions in the Rig Veda. The Brahmin is from the highest caste; he is the priest and scholar and is conversant with Vedic philosophy. The Kshatriya is the warrior. He has indomitable princely qualities. The word ‘Kshatriya’ was not mentioned in the Vedas; rather the word ‘Rajanya’ was used, meaning the prince with kingly qualities. The Vaishya is the merchant and trader, while the Sudra is the labourer and the servitor. Agni, the Fire-God, is from the Brahmin caste, Indra and Varuna are Kshatriya gods. Rudra and the Maruts are Vaishya gods and Pushan is a Sudra god.

The caste system has its advantages, but through its abuse, India has created a deplorable situation for herself. According to my own inner understanding, the caste system should be considered a boon from a certain point of view. Each caste can be seen as a part of the body of society. In our physical body, each limb has a specific function, a unique capacity of its own. Similarly, each limb of the body of society has a special role. The Brahmin has spiritual and mental development; he is the teacher of the family. The Kshatriya is the protector and the administrator of justice in the family. The Vaishya will look after the financial and material needs of the family. And finally, the Sudra will serve the family. If the four brothers work jointly, then there will be abundant peace, joy and harmony in the family. But if they are at daggers drawn, naturally there will be endless quarrels and misunderstandings. If the eldest brother feels that it is beneath his dignity to waste his time talking to his Sudra brother who is ignorant of Vedic knowledge, then the harmony will be destroyed. If the Kshatriya brother asks himself why he should offer his capacity and valour for his Brahmin brother who perhaps may be living a secluded life in the forest, then naturally he will go his own way and dissension will result.

On the spiritual plane, these four divisions signify the various planes of spiritual capacity, the inner rungs of spiritual height. These spiritual planes correspond in their own way with the levels of human capacity called, on our earthly plane, castes. Not all the gods are equally great or high. The gods also have their relative positions in the divine hierarchy. Each deity has his own permanent place. But needless to say, a cosmic god, even if he is of the Sudra class, is infinitely higher than a Brahmin human being.

In the Rig Veda, we have a significant hymn which mentions that the Mouth of God is the Brahmin-or, let us say, that the Brahmin has come directly from the Mouth of God. The same hymn says that the Kshatriya comes from the Arms of God, the Vaishya comes from the Thigh and the Sudra comes from the Feet.

We all know the significant Gayatri Mantra. But I wish to say there is another Gayatri Mantra: the Rudra Gayatri. It is not as important as the real Gayatri, which is offered to the Sun-God, but it is still very significant. It runs thus: “We meditate on Rudra to give us the supreme Knowledge. We meditate on Rudra to energise our life and to stimulate our mind.” This is the prayer that we offer to Rudra. He who wants to be a chosen instrument of God must cry for Rudra, for it is he who will free. us from imperfection, bondage and limitation.

The world is for the brave; and those who are brave are already chosen by the divine aspect of Rudra. Spirituality in its purest sense is the acceptance of life. If we want to transform the world, first we have to accept it. When we face the world, what we see initially is imperfection, and our immediate reaction is a feeling of despondency. But the real divine warrior feels that he is indomitable-a perfect match for the darkness of the world-for he knows that Rudra is constantly inspiring him and aspiring in him and for him.

Rudra does not want even an iota of an undivine force to remain within us. Compassion he has in boundless measure, but his compassion he uses only in the form of Light. Where there is Light, Compassion reigns. Again, where there is Compassion, there also is Light. Rudra’s Compassion is the Compassion of oneness. Rudra feels that if he is perfect, then his human children must also become perfect. He feels that we can all be perfect, for in our soul’s nature we are already perfect.

We are all seekers of the infinite Truth. We have to adore Rudra, the indomitable, not out of teeming fear or excruciating pain, but out of love, out of selfless devotion and surrender. Rudra wants to establish the Kingdom of Truth and Perfection here on earth. He strives to establish the Kingdom of Truth in a world of falsehood, the Kingdom of Perfection in a world of imperfection.

(Courtesy Dance of Cosmic gods)

Rudra Mala Temple at Desar near Sonipur                                   Rudra Mala Temple at Desar near Sonipur


On Rudra from the Scriptures

Siva is the third person of the Hindu Triad. As Brahmā was Creator, Vishnu Preserver, in order to
complete the system, as all things are subject to decay, a Destroyer was necessary; and destruction is regarded as the peculiar work of Siva. This seems scarcely in harmony with the form by which he is usually represented. It must be remembered, however, that, according to the teaching of Hinduism, death is not death in the sense of passing into non-existence, but simply a change into a new form of life. He who destroys, therefore, causes beings to assume new phases of existence—the Destroyer is really a re-Creator; hence the name Siva, the Bright or Happy One, is given to him, which would not have been the case had he been regarded as the destroyer in the ordinary meaning of that term.

In the later Hinduism, as taught in the Epics and Purānas, Siva plays a most important part, several books having been written for the purpose of celebrating his praise; yet his name as that of a god does not occur in the Vedas. In order, therefore, to gain greater reverence for him amongst men, he is declared to be the Rudra of the Vedras. In some passages in the Vedras, Rudra is identified with Agni; yet “the distinctive epithets applied to him in the Rig-Veda appear sufficiently to prove that he was generally discriminated from Agni by his early worshippers.” *

Between the texts from the Brāhmanas relative to Rudra, and the earliest descriptions of the same deity which we discover in the Epic poems, a wide chasm intervenes, which, as far as I am aware, no genuine ancient materials exist for bridging over. The Rudra of the Mahābhārata is not indeed very different in his general character from the god of the same name who is portrayed in the Satarudriya, but in the later literature his importance is immensely increased, his attributes are

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more clearly defined, and the conceptions entertained of his person are rendered more distinct by the addition of various additional features and illustrated by numerous legends. Instead of remaining a subordinate deity, as he was in the Vedic Age, Rudra has thrown Agni, Vāyu, Surya, Mitra, and Varuna completely into the shade; and although Indra still occupies a prominent place in the Epic legends, he bas sunk down into a subordinate position, and is quite unable to compete in power and dignity with Rudra, who, together with Vishnu, now engrosses the almost exclusive worship of the Brāhmanical world.” *

In the following texts from the Vedas, † referring to Rudra, will be seen the germs of some of the legends found in the later books concerning Siva:—”What can we utter to Rudra, the intelligent, the strong, the most bountiful, which shall be most pleasant to his heart, that so Aditi may bring Rudra’s healing to our cattle, and men, and kine, and children? We seek from Rudra, the lord of songs, the lord of sacrifices, who possesses healing remedies, his auspicious favour; from him who is brilliant as the sun, who shines like gold, who is the best and most bountiful of the gods.” “We invoke with obeisance the ruddy boar of the sky, with spirally braided hair, a brilliant form.” “Far be from us thy cow-slaying and man-slaying weapon.” In the same hymn Rudra is called the father of the Maruts or Storm-gods; to explain which the commentator introduces a legend of a later date which is found in the account of the Maruts. ‡ In another hymn Rudra is thus addressed: “Thou fitly holdest arrows and a bow; fitly thou [wearest] a glorious necklace of every form [of beauty].”

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[paragraph continues] The name Siva may have been connected with Rudra from a verse in the Vajasaneyi recension of the white “Yajur Veda,” wherein Rudra is thus addressed: “Thou art gracious (Siva) by name.” * Other epithets, which are afterwards extended into legends, are seen in a prayer in the same Veda: “Shine upon us, dweller in the mountain, with that blessed body of thine which is auspicious.” † ” May he who glides away, blue-necked and red-coloured, be gracious unto us.” “Reverence to the blue-necked, to the thousand-eyed, to the bountiful, and to the lord of spirits, and to the lord of thieves.”

In the following account of Rudra’s birth, he is identified with Agni:—”The lord of beings was a householder, and Ushas (The Dawn) was his wife. A boy was born (to them) in a year. The boy wept. Prajāpati said to him, ‘Boy, why dost thou weep, since thou hast been born after toil and austerity?” The boy said, ‘My evil has not been taken away, and a name has not been given to me. Give me a name.’ Prajāpati said, ‘Thou art Rudra.’ Inasmuch as he gave him that name, Agni became his form, for Rudra is Agni. He was Rudra because he wept (from rud, to weep).” ‡ This account of the birth of Rudra agrees with that of the Vishnu and Mārkandeya Purānas, and to some extent with that of others.

It is impossible to give a connected account of the life of this deity. His career was not clearly defined like an Avatāra of Vishnu, of which we have a history of his birth, life, and death. Though he often appeared on earth in human form, and frequently dwelt at his favourite city, Benares, his heavenly home was at Kailāsa on the Himalayas. All that can be done is to

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give a few out of the many legends found in the sacred books in which his character and works are described. From these we may learn something of the idea of the age in which they were written respecting Siva.

Rudra, according to the Rāmāyana, married Umā, the daughter of Daksha, who reappears in various stages of the life of Siva as Pārvati, Durgā, Kāli, etc. Fearing that the children of such parents would be dangerous to live with, the gods entreated Siva and Umā to live a life of chastity: to this they consented. The request, however, came too late to prevent the birth of Kartikeya. Umā declared that the wives of the other gods should also be childless. Rudra took a prominent position at the churning of the ocean; he drank the poison, as nectar, that was produced before the amrita, which caused his neck to become dark-coloured—hence one of his names is Nilkanta, “the blue-necked.”

As Umā was sitting with her husband in their home on Mount Kailasa, seeing the gods driving by in their chariots, she was told that they were proceeding, at her father’s invitation, to take part in a great sacrifice he was about to make. As Siva had offended him, Daksha had not invited him. The “Bhāgavata Purāna” * gives the cause of this slight upon Siva: “On one occasion the gods and Rishis were assembled at a sacrifice celebrated by the Prajāpatis. On Daksha’s entrance, all rose to salute him excepting his father Brahmā and Mahādeva (Siva). Daksha, after making his obeisance to Brahmā, sat down by his command, but was offended at the treatment he received from Siva. Seeing him previously seated, Daksha did not brook this want of respect; but looking at him obliquely with his eyes, as if consuming him, thus spake: ‘Hear me, ye Brāhman

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[paragraph continues] Rishis, with the gods and the Agnis, while I, neither from ignorance nor passion, describe what is the practice of virtuous persons. But this shameless being (Siva) detracts from the reputation of the guardians of the world—he by whom, stubborn as he is, the course pursued by the good is transgressed. He assumed the position of my disciple, inasmuch as, like a virtuous person, in the face of Brāhmans and of fire, he took the hand of my daughter who resembled Savitri. This monkey-eyed [god], after having taken the hand of [my] fawn-eyed [daughter], has not even by word shown suitable respect to me, whom he ought to have risen and saluted. Though unwilling, I yet gave my daughter to this impure and proud abolisher of rites and demolisher of barriers, like the word of a Veda to a Sudra. He roams about in dreadful cemeteries, attended by hosts of ghosts and sprites, like a madman, naked, with dishevelled hair, wearing a garland of dead men’s [skulls] and ornaments of human bones, pretending to be Siva (auspicious), but in reality Asiva (inauspicious), insane, beloved by the insane, the lord of Bhutas (spirits), beings whose nature is essentially darkness. To this wicked-hearted lord of the infuriate, whose purity has perished, I have, alas! given my virtuous daughter, at the instigation of Brahmā.’ Having thus reviled Siva, who did not oppose him, Daksha, having touched water, incensed, began to curse him: ‘Let this Bhava (Siva), lowest of the gods, never at the worship of the gods receive any portion along with the gods Indra, Upendra (Vishnu), and others.’

“Daksha then left the assembly. After his departure a follower of Mahādeva pronounced a curse upon him, and the Brāhmans who sympathized with him: ‘Let Daksha, brutal, be excessively devoted to women, and

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have speedily the head of a goat. Let this stupid being continue to exist in this world in ceremonial ignorance!’ Upon this, Bhrigu (a brother of Daksha, and a Rishi) launched a counter-curse upon the followers of Siva: ‘Let those who practise the rites of Bhava be heretics and opponents of the true scriptures. Having lost their purity, deluded in understanding, wearing matted hair and ashes and bones, let them undergo the initiation of Siva, in which spirituous liquors are the deity.’ Hearing this imprecation, Siva and his followers left the assembly, while Daksha and the other Prajāpatis * celebrated for a thousand years the sacrifice in which Vishnu was the object of veneration.”

The enmity thus commenced between Siva and Daksha continued; and in consequence, at the great sacrifice made when his father-in-law was appointed chief of the Prajāpatis, Siva was not invited. Umā was greatly grieved, as her husband told her, “The former practice of the gods has been that in all sacrifices no portion should be divided to me. By custom, established by the earliest arrangement, the gods lawfully allot me no share in the sacrifice.” According to the Mahābhārata, he then sets off for the assembly and with his attendants puts an end to the sacrifice, which, taking the form of a deer, is followed by Siva into the sky. A drop of perspiration falls from his forehead, from which a fire proceeds, out of which issues a dreadful being Jvara (Fever), which burns up the other things prepared for the sacrifice, and even puts to flight the gods. Brahmā, now appears to Siva, promises that the gods shall henceforth give him a share in the sacrifices, and proposes that Jvara shall be allowed to range over the earth.

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The Bhāgavata * gives a more lengthy and somewhat different account of the termination of Daksha’s ceremony. Sati (Umā) was most anxious to attend it. Though her husband tries to dissuade her, she “disregards his warning and goes; but, being slighted by her father, reproaches him for his hostility to her husband, and threatens to abandon her corporeal frame by which she was connected with her parent. She then voluntarily gives up the ghost. Seeing this, Siva’s attendants, who had followed, rush on Daksha to slay him.” This, however, is prevented, and Siva’s followers are put to flight. When Siva heard of his wife’s death, he was greatly angered, and “from a lock of his hair a gigantic demon arose (named Virabhadra), whom he commanded to destroy Daksha and his sacrifice.” This was accomplished. He plucked out Bhrigu’s beard, tore out Bhaga’s eyes, knocked out Pushan’s teeth, and cut off Daksha’s head. In their distress, the gods are advised to propitiate Siva. For this purpose they resort to Kailāsa, where they see Siva “carrying the linga desired by devotees, ashes, a staff, a tuft of hair, an antelope’s skin, and a digit of the moon, his body shining like an evening cloud.” Siva in part relents, and allows Daksha to have a goat’s head: the sacrifice is completed, and Vishnu gives an address in which he shows that he is the supreme deity, and that the troubles of his worshippers arise from imagining themselves to be different from him. Daksha himself worships Siva, and Umā, who had voluntarily given up herself to the flames, and thus become a Sati, †

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was re-born as Pārvati, being then the daughter of Himavat, the god of the Himālayas and Menā.

Siva adopted the garb, and lived the life of an ascetic. Though generally worshipped under the form of the linga, he “is represented in human form, living in the Himālayas along with Pārvati, sometimes in the act of trampling on or destroying demons, wearing round his black neck a serpent, and a necklace of skulls, and furnished with a whole apparatus of external emblems, such as a white bull on which he rides, a trident, tiger’s skin, elephant’s skin, rattle, noose, etc. He has three eyes, one being in his forehead, in allusion either to the three Vedas, or time past, present and future. He has a crescent on his forehead, the moon having been given to him as his share of the products of the churning of the ocean. Again, Mahādeva, or the great deity Siva, is sometimes connected with humanity in another personification very different from that just noted, viz. that of an austere ascetic, with matted hair, living in a forest and teaching men by his own example, first, the power to be obtained by penance (tapas), mortification of the body and suppression of the passions; and, secondly, the great virtue of abstract meditation, as leading to the loftiest spiritual knowledge, and ultimately to union, or actual identification with the great spirit of the universe.” *

The following legend from the “Vāmana Purāna,” † describes the ordinary life of Siva as an ascetic. Devi (Pārvati), oppressed with violent heat, thus addressed her lord: “O Isha! the heat increases in violence; hast thou no house to which we might repair, and there abide, protected from the wind, the heat, the cold?”

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[paragraph continues] Sankara replied: “I am, O lovely one, without a shelter, a constant wanderer in forests.” Having thus spoken, Sankara with Sati remained during the hot season under the shade of trees, and when it was passed, the rainy season with its dark clouds succeeded. On beholding which, Sati said to Siva, “Heart-agitating winds do blow, O Maheshwara, and rushing torrents roar; let me entreat thee to build a house on Kailāsa, where I may abide with thee in comfort.” Siva replied, “O my beloved, I have no riches for the erection of a house, nor am I possessor of aught else than an elephant’s skin for a garment, and serpents for my ornaments.” The soul of Siva, having heard these harsh words, seemingly true, but devoid of truth, was alarmed, and looking on the ground with bashfulness and anger said, “Then say, O Sambhu, how can we pass in comfort the rainy season under the shade of trees?” Siva replied, “With our bodies covered with a cloud, O lovely one, shall the rainy season pass without any rain falling on thy tender frame.” Having thus spoken, Siva stopped a cloud, and with the daughter of Daksha, fixed his abode within it, and hence has he since been celebrated in heaven under the name of Jimula-Kitu (he whose banner is a cloud). When the rains were over, they took up their abode in Mount Mandara.

The home life of Siva and his spouse does not appear to have been of the happiest. As they could each bestow gifts upon their worshippers, it sometimes happened that the one wanted to bless those whom the other wished to curse. In the Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata * is an account of a dispute between them in connection with the struggle between Rāma and Rāvana. In the earlier part of the contest, Rāma being unable

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to overthrow his enemy because of the assistance afforded him by Siva, the gods whom Rāvana had oppressed went, with Rāma at their head, to ask him to withdraw his help. Siva consented to accompany them on the seventh day of the conflict to witness the destruction of their foe. Durgā (Pārvati) severely reproached her husband, asking how he could witness the destruction of his own worshipper, a worshipper who had stood praying to him in the most sultry weather surrounded by four fires; who had continued his devotions in the chilling cold, standing in water; and had persevered in his applications, standing on his head, amid torrents of rain. She then poured forth a torrent of abuse, calling him a withered old man, who smoked intoxicating herbs, lived in cemeteries and covered himself with ashes, and asked if he thought she would accompany him on such an errand. Siva now gets angry, and reminds his wife that she was only a woman and therefore could know nothing; and further that she does not act like a woman, because she too wandered about from place to place, engaged in war, was a drunkard, spent her time in the company of degraded beings, killed giants, drank their blood and hung their skulls around her neck. Durgā became so enraged at these reproaches, that the gods were frightened. They entreated Rāma to join them in supplication to her, or Rāvana would never be destroyed. He did so; she then became propitious and consented to the destruction of the demon. Durgā is represented in the Sivopākhyana as being exceedingly jealous because her husband, in his begging excursions, visited the quarters of the town inhabited by women of ill-fame, and in the Rāmāyana is an account of a terrible quarrel between them because Parasurāma beat her sons Kartikeya and Ganesa.

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In the “Vāmana Purāna” * is a legend explaining why Siva adopted the dress and habits of a religious mendicant. Formerly, when all things had been destroyed, and naught remained but one vast ocean, that lord who is incomprehensible (Brahmā) reposed in slumber for a thousand years. When the night had passed, desirous of creating the three worlds, the skilled in the Vedas, investing himself with the quality of impurity, assumed a corporeal form with five heads (Brahmā). Then also was produced from the quality of darkness another form with three eyes, and twisted locks, and bearing a rosary and a trident. Brahmā next created Ahankara (consciousness of individual existence), which immediately pervaded the nature of both gods; and under its influence Rudra said to Brahmā, “Say, O lord? how earnest thou hither, and by whom wert thou created?” Brahmā asks in return, “And where have you come from?” The result is a terrible quarrel, in which Siva, inflamed with anger, cut off the fifth head of Brahmā, which had uttered the boastful words. But when Siva tried to throw the head to the ground it would not fall, but remained in his hand. Brahmā then created a giant to slay Siva in his weakened state, which was caused by the sin of injuring Brahmā, the father of Brāhmans. To escape from him Siva fled to Benares. The peculiar sanctity of Benares arises from the fact that it was there Siva became absolved from his great sin, and was freed from the dissevered head of Brahmā, which, as a penance, he was doomed to carry with him wherever he went. It was his attempts to get free from the sin of Brāhmanicide that made Siva a wandering mendicant.

Exerpt of  Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic, by W.J. Wilkins, [1900)