Part VIII - Some Objections
With the background of Parts 1 - 7, we are now ready
to address some specific objections and answers provided
in VP. Some of the questions and answers may appear
to be irrelevant but we will go through them for completeness.
Q: Consciousness has no beginning. How can one say
that knowledge, which has been equated to consciousness
alone, can have a beginning?
A: It is not consciousness itself but consciousness
reflected in the vRRitti that has a beginning. Since
the vRRitti has a beginning, therefore its reflection
must have, too. The limited reflected consciousness
is figuratively called ‘knowledge arising in the
Without going into details about vivaraNa versus bhAmatI
schools, in terms of who says what, we note that all
knowledge takes place in the mind only. Consciousness
reflected in the mind is called chidAbhAsa, which is
also called ego. Knowledge of an object is represented
by a thought or vRRitti and the thought is illumined
by consciousness as it rises. Since an object is limited,
the vRRitti is also limited. Illumination and the reflection
of the vRRitti make me conscious of the vRRitti and
thus conscious of the object. This is figuratively called
knowledge - but it is ‘knowledge of’ rather
than pure knowledge itself. Pure knowledge has no beginning
and therefore no end, as has already been established
by saying that knowledge is continuous. We have also
made the distinction between pure knowledge and knowledge
of an object at the beginning of this analysis.
Q: Mind is considered as having no parts. If a vRRitti
or mental state, which is limited, arises in the mind,
the mind will have to be considered as having parts.
This violates the first statement.
A: Yes, because the first statement that mind has no
parts is not correct, since it is a substance and a
substance has a beginning according to sRRiShTi prakaraNa.
The reflected consciousness is considered as attributive
knowledge (‘knowledge of’), which is a mental
state. There are other mental states such as desire,
resolve, doubt, faith, want of faith, steadiness, unsteadiness,
shame, intelligence, fear – all these constitute
the mind says the Shruti (Br. I-5-3). All of the above
are called ‘mental states’ and are considered
to be attributes of the mind.
Q: If desire, etc are attributes of the mind, this
contradicts the statements that we normally make, such
as 'I want, I know, I am afraid’ etc, about experiences
that are attributed not to the mind but to the self
that I am. I do not say that the mind wants or the mind
knows or the mind is afraid. I always say that ‘I’ want,
etc. How can these experiences of the self be explained,
if you argue that they are attributes of the mind?
A: If we consider a red hot iron ball, we say that
the iron ball is burning. But burning is not a property
of iron ball. The iron ball just remains as a black
,wrought iron ball. The red hotness is not a property
of the iron ball. When it is put in a fire, it becomes
red hot. The iron ball provides a locus for fire. Because
of its association, the properties of the fire are being
superimposed on the iron ball, and we falsely make a
statement that the 'iron ball is burning'. Similarly,
the self that I am is the substratum on which mental
moods are superimposed. The moods belong to the mind
not to the self. The self is always free from these
changing moods. We use expressions such as ‘I
am happy’, ‘I am miserable’ etc, due
to false identification of myself with the mind and
Hence, ‘I am happy’ or ‘I am miserable’ are
only modifications of the mind and they do not belong
to the self that I am. Due to this false identification,
I take myself to be happy or miserable etc. The false
identification arises because I do not know who I am.
Hence, ignorance of myself is the root cause of the
problem of this superimposition.
Q: If the mind is a sense organ, it must be imperceptible.
However, you say the moods of the minds are seen. How
can the mind see the mind, if it is a sense organ?
Note: Here the question perhaps is raised from a bhAmatI
standpoint, in which the mind is also considered to
be one of the sense organs. Sense organs cannot perceive
themselves; i.e. eyes cannot see the eyes, tongue cannot
taste itself. We need a mirror to see the eyes. The
question therefore has the implied assumption that the
mind is also a sense organ. Interestingly, the Kenopanishad
says in pointing to the Self: it is the eye of the eye,
ear of the ear, etc. A man who has been born blind says ‘I
cannot see, I am blind’. To him, a Vedantin might
ask: Can you see that you are blind? The blind man can
answer 'Yes, I can see that I cannot see'. With what
eye can he see that his eyes cannot see? That is the ‘eye
of the eye’.
A: There is nothing to prove that mind is one of the
sense organs. Hence the question is not valid.
Q: The proof comes from the B. Gita Ch.15-7. The second
part of the shloka is: manaH ShaTAnIdriyANi prakRRitishAni
karShati – From prakRRiti, (the five) sense organs
and the sixth, the mind, are gathered or attracted by
A: That is not a proof that mind is the sixth sense
organ. It states that five indriya-s and the sixth one,
the mind, together are attracted by the jIva. Mind is
separated from the indriya-s and is not included with
it. [VP provides several example where counting is done
in a group which includes other categories as well.
Similarly, in the above shloka, the mind is counted
as the sixth but not as the sixth sense organ. Hence,
mind does not belong to the category of sense organs.
Look at the following statement: 'He taught Vedas and
Mahabharata as the fifth' - where Mahabharata is also
counted, not as part of the Vedas since we know there
are only four Vedas, but as something significant that
is countable in the list of things that were taught.]
It might be argued that if mind is not considered as
one of the sense organs, then the cognition of happiness
will not be direct and immediate in the mind. If one
makes such an argument, then that argument is also not
correct. Immediacy does not necessarily rest on the
mind being considered as a sense organ. If mind is considered
as a sense organ, and if that is the necessary and sufficient
requirement for immediacy, then even inference (logical
deduction), which is mediate, will become immediate
(involving no deduction). However, we know that it is
not the case. Sometimes one has to think deeply, perhaps
for several hours, in order to arrive at the inferential
knowledge. Hence, the requirement that the mind has
to be a sense organ for immediacy of mental moods of
happiness, etc, is not necessary. In addition, if we
push this argument further, we would have to say that,
in order for God to know everything instantaneously,
we would have to provide him also with some sense organs
to facilitate that immediate knowledge. Hence, mind
is not considered as the sixth sense organ. Mind can
have a sixth sense (i.e. information not fed by the
five sense organs) which could be intuitive knowledge
but here the discussion only pertains to the mind being
categorized as one of the sense organs and not mind
having a sixth sensibility. Next we will discuss internal
perceptions in contrast to perceptions of external objects.
Proceed to the next