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- The Tattva-Muktavali - 1/5 -


by Pūr.nānanda Chakravartin




[New Series, Volume XV]

[London, Trübner and Company]


{Scanned and edited by Christopher M. Weimer, April 2002}

ART. IV.--__The Tattva-muktavālī of Gau.da-pūr.nānanda-chakra- vartin__. Edited and Translated by Prof. E. B. COWELL.

The following poem was written by a native of Bengal, named Pūr.nānanda Chakravartin. Nothing is known as to his date; if the work were identical with the poem of the same name mentioned in the account of the Rāmānuja system in Mādhava's Sarvadaršanasa.mgraha, it would be, of course, older than the fourteenth century, but this is very uncertain; I should be inclined to assign it to a later date. The chief interest of the poem consists in its being a vigorous attack on the Vedānta system by a follower of the Pūr.naprajńa school, which was founded by Madhva (or Ānandatīrtha) in the thirteenth century in the South of India. Some account of his system (which in many respects agrees with that of Rāmānuja) is given in Wilson's "Hindu Sects;" [Footnote: Works, vol. i. pp. 139-150. See also Prof. Monier Williams, J.R.A.S. Vol. XIV. N.S. p. 304.] but the fullest account is to be found in the fifth chapter of the Sarvadaršanasa.mgraha. Both the Rāmānujas and the Pūr.naprajńas hold in opposition to the Vedānta [Footnote: As the different systems are arranged in the Sarva D. S. according to the irrespective relation to the Vedānta, we can easily understand why Mādhava there places these two systems so low down in the scale, and only just above the atheistic schools of the Chārvākas, Buddhists, and Jainas.] that individual souls are distinct from Brahman; but they differ as to the sense in which they are thus distinct. The former maintain that "unity" and "plurality" are equally true from different points of view; the latter hold that the relation between the individual soul and Brahman is that of a master and a servant, and consequently that they are absolutely separate. It need not surprise us, therefore, to see that, although Rāmānuja is praised in the fifty-third sloka of this poem as "the foremost of the learned," some of his tenets are attacked in the eightieth.

The Sanskrit text of this poem was published in the Benares Pa.n.dit for Sept. 1871, by Pa.n.dit Vechārāma Šarman. An edition, with a Bengali translation, was also published some years ago in Calcutta, by Jagadānanda Goswāmin; [Footnote: No date is given.] but the text is so full of false readings of every kind, and the translation in consequence goes so often astray, that I have not found much help from it. I have collated the text in the Benares Pa.n.dit (A.) with a MS. (B.) sent to me by my friend, Pa.n.dit Mahešachandra Nyāyaratna, the Principal of the Calcutta Sanskrit College. He has also sent me the readings in certain passages from two MSS. in the Calcutta Sanskrit College Library (C.D.); and I have to thank him for his help in explaining some obscure allusions.

The poem itself seems to me an interesting contribution to the history of Hindu philosophical controversy, [Footnote: Dr. Banerjea has quoted and translated several stanzas in his 'Dialogues on Hindu Philosophy.'] and so I have subjoined a literal English translation. I would venture to remind my readers of the words of the manager in the prologue of the Mālavikāgnimitra, "Every old poem is not good because it is old, nor is every modern poem to be blamed simply because it is modern."


1. Victorious is the garland-wearing foster-son of Nanda,--the protector of his devotees,--the destroyer of the cruel king,-- dark-blue like the delicate tamāla blossoms,--formidable with his many outspread rays,--mighty with all his attendant powers, [Footnote: The Bengali translation explains these as the internal powers (__antara"ngā__) Hlādinī, etc., and the external (__bahira"ngā__) Prahvā, etc.]--and having his forehead radiant like the moon.

2. This follower of the Purā.nas, who holds by his own belief, reads to his heart's content the Purā.na in the morning, and he listens devotedly with profound meditation, his whole mind intent on the meaning of the book.

3. Having abandoned the doctrine of the oneness of the individual and the Supreme Soul, he establishes by argument their mutual difference; having used Šruti and Šm.riti as a manifold proof, he employs Inference in many ways in the controversy.

4. This individual soul must be different from Brahman because it is always circumscribed,--many are the similar arguments which are to be acknowledged in the course of our reasonings.

5. "Might we not say that a jar and a web could be called identical because both are cognizable?" [Footnote: There is a favourite Naiyāyik example of a __kevalānvayi__ middle term, "a jar is nameable because it is cognizable as a web is."] But we cannot say so in regard to these two things in question, for Brahman alone is that which cannot be cognized.

6. The sentence "Thou art That" (__tat tvam asi__) which is understood in its primary meaning as referring to the object of the Veda, [Footnote: Or __vedavishaye__ may perhaps simply mean __vede__, cf. šl. 112.]--the author thus explains its meaning, as he knows his own doctrine, and has fixed his mind on the system of Duality; since the word 'that' (__tat__) is here indeclinable and implies a difference, and the word 'thou' (__tvam__) means that which is to be differentiated, the sign of the genitive case has been elided; [Footnote: The author here explains the sentence __tat tvam asi__, as really meaning __tasya tvam asi__ "thou art Its."] "thou only," such is not the meaning of the sentence [Footnote: In "Thou art that," 'thou' and 'that' would refer to the same subject (__sāmānādhikara.nya__)].

7. He is all-knowing, all-seeing, Himself the three worlds, in whose belly thou art thyself contained,--He causes at once by a movement of the brow the creation, preservation, and absorption of all beings! Thou art ignorant, and only seest relatively, He is the adorable, the one Witness of all worlds; thou art changing, He is One; thou art all dull and stained, not such is He.

8. As for the text "I am Brahman," you must take the nominative case as only used there for the genitive by the licence of an inspired speaker. How, if it were otherwise, would there be a genitive in the illustration, [Footnote: This is often used as an illustration in Vedānta works, as __e.g.__ B.rihad Āra.ny. Up. ii. 1. 20, "as the spider proceeds with his web, as the little sparks proceed from fire, so from this Soul proceed all vital airs, all worlds, all gods, all beings."] as in the sentence "as the sparks of the fire"?

9. The poets call a lad fire (from his hot temper), the face the orb of a full moon, the eye a blue lotus, the bosom mount Meru, and the hand a young shoot; by a confusion of the superimposed appearance we may thus have the idea of identity where there is still a real difference; and so too must we deal with those words of Šruti "I am Brahman." [Footnote: This is another suggested method of interpreting the words "I am Brahman." It may be only a common case of "qualified superimponent indication," as "the man of the Panjāb is an ox" (cf. Kāvya Prakāša, ii. 10-12). Cf. the definition of upachāra in the Sāhitya __upachāro hi nāmātyanta.m višakalitayoh šād.rišyātišayamahimnā bhedapratītisthaganamātram__].

10. As there are many waves in the sea, so are we many individual souls in Brahman; the wave can never become the sea; how then wilt thou, the individual soul, become Brahman?

11. In the depths of all Šāstras the two things are both recognized, knowledge and ignorance; so too virtue and vice; and thus also science, and next to it closely clinging behind, but other than it, appears false science; thus everywhere there are opposite pairs, and similar is the notorious pair, Brahman and the soul. How can these two have oneness? Let the good answer with an upright mind.

12. Thou, O Soul, art the reflection of the Supreme Being, who possesses the power of illusion and is the substratum of all, while He, the adorable, shines forth as Himself the original; the one moon in the sky is seen manifold in water and the like; therefore there is a difference between thee and Brahman as between the reflection and its original.

13. Yonder Brahman is described by the words of the sacred texts as not to be known, nor to be reasoned about, and as devoid of all desire; but thou art within the range of speech and of thought; how shall there be oneness of thee and Brahman?

14. Thou art verily bereft of thy understanding, O individual Soul, by the darkness of this doctrine of Māyā, while thou constantly proclaimest like a madman "I am Brahman"; where is thy sovereignty, where thy empire, where thy omniscience? There is as vast a difference between Brahman and thee as between mount Meru and a mustard-seed!

15. Thou art a finite soul, He is indeed all-pervading; thou standest only on one spot, while He is everywhere always; thou, being of a moment, art happy and unhappy; He is happy at all times; how canst thou say "I am He"? Fie! art thou not ashamed?

The Tattva-Muktavali - 1/5

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