Saturday, 29 May 2010

Satkaryavada

Satkaryavada

The effect already exists in the cause for the following reasons: what is nonexistent cannot he produced; for producing a thing, a specific material cause is resorted to; everything is not produced by everything; a specific material cause capable of producing a specific product alone produces that effect; there is such a thing as a particular cause for a particular effect.


The unevolved exists as the primordial cause because the diverse evolutes are all attended by limitations, because common features subsist through all of them (arguing inheritance from a common cause), because the evolved has come into being as the result of the potentiality of a cause, because the distinction of cause and effect apply to the entire world without exception.

As all aggregates imply one different from themselves whom they subserve, as that for whom they are intended should differ from their own nature, namely, being composed of three dispositions, etc., as objects imply an enjoyer, and as there is seen through evolution a striving for liberation, there exists the spirit.

( The Sankhya Karikas of Ishvarakrishna 309/310/311 Sources of Indian Tradition)

This is the very point which Sankara adduces against them - " so on the absence of any logical ground for acquiring the tendency to act, the insentient(Pradhana) is not to to be the cause of the universe". (Brahma Sutra Bhasya II.ii.2)

Although Shankara did not agree with the creation theory of the Sankhya, 14 centuries after them he still retained some of their metaphysical ideas. Satkarvavada would be the chief one but there is also the idea that the Self has no action and the intellect no consciousness.

“Hence, as a result of union with the spirit, the evolved though non—sentient, yet appears to be sentient; and on its part, the spirit too, though the dispositions of matter alone act, appears to act but is really indifferent. It is for the sake of enlightenment of the spirit and the eventual withdrawal from primordial matter (i.e. liberation of the spirit from matter) that the two come together, even as the lame and the blind come together for mutual benefit; creation proceeds from this union.”(pg.311 Sources op.cit)


Shankara would hold that consciousness is always there beginingless, and that creation is itself beginingless and therefore he would reject the idea of consciousness as being a latecomer which gives an aim to the evolute.

Satkaryavada he found useful as a tool against the Buddhist doctrine of Annica (momentariness). The vital bridge of being would be broken by it and anything could spring from anything.

“For the non—existent there is no coming into existence, for the existent there is no lapsing into non—existence. the division between them is observed by those who see the underlying nature of things”. (from B.G. II.16)


Here the theory of satkaryvada gets the Vedanta seal of approval so it must be taken to be a central theory and a prime point of disputation in the maze of metaphysical box, impenetrable and beautifully tended, of six entrances or darsanas which would be regarded as astika and others spurned as nastika, unorthodox.

Opposed to the satkaryvadins are the asatkaryvadins who do not believe that the effect pre—exists in the cause. This they say would lead back to an inert pradhana or prakriti. Our bodies would be our selves and everything would be its own cause.(svahhavavada) The material cause essentially is not the only condition for the production of an effect. If that were so the only way of ensuring that a given effect did not arise would be by ensuring that its material cause never arose. Anyone who has ever made yoghurt will know that the bacteria need cosseting.

The purusas are brought in by Ishvarakrishna as a deus ex machina to get him out of this difficulty and also to satisfy the many Vedantic injunctions about the Self. They and their avidya supply the necessary motive power for the progress of evolution. How do these Selves affect nature? (Karl PotterPresuppositions of India’s Philosophies pg.108)[i] sees in the answer of the sankhyas the beginning of an epistemological approach to a cosmic maintenance problem. These selves by confusing themselves with material reality cause the process of evolution. In that case it takes viveka to set aside that confusion and achieve moksha.

If the selves are immaterial how then do they get together with the material prakriti? The answer to this is that their confusion is beginingless. How do things get confused which have no basis for similarity? Shankara would answer that there is no general rule that only things which are similar are confused. The self is taken to he fair or black. It is also the case that in the adhyasa which takes place the intellect which is ‘next’ to the self comes to be regarded as the self.

Ajnana and avidya are the Advaitin’s way of expressing this cosmic ignorance. ‘Adhyasa’ lit.setting upon, is the mechanism. Vivartavada which is the illusory appearance of the one stuff under many guises all of which are unreal by comparison with the underlying substratum, has a monistic tone in contrast to the cosmic dualism of the beginingless purusha/prakriti dyad. Tad eva Brahman.

The Buddhists are of course devout asatkaryavadins. Annica is central to the primitive doctrine. Whether as some hold the universe is mental or yet material they are alike in holding it to be momentary. The metaphor they use for expressing the apparency of unity is the ‘circle of fire’ , the alatacakra. ‘There are no souls or selves only patterns of momentary occurrences.’ (Potter, pg.119: “If the effect pre-exists in the cause why doesn’t it come into existence as soon as the cause does?”

The Self does not change in either Advaita or Sankhya but in the latter there is a gulf between the world of spirit and that of matter. Shankara would have a more unified relationship between the world and the Self, so therefore the logical need to have non—discrimination occur in prakriti would be unnecessary. Prakriti has evolved into this world which includes the body, mind and senses. Purusha is a passive witness of all this. Mental activity which is material does not affect the witness (saksin) in any way.

The gamut is run from totally inert prakriti which is called pradhana by Shankara to nature as we know it with man and his mind set over against it. ((pg.150/I K.P.)) Why does the Sankhya system not succumb to the pressure to merge Purusha and Prakriti or to go with either one or the other, as there is no plausible account of how they came to be yoked together in the first instance.

What causes the evolution to commence? What removes the upadhis? What is it that operates directly on the core prakriti? If it’s purusha then there is contact between the two which is death to the aloof saksin. The upadhis are limiting negative factors such as time and place ie. proper time and place. The purusha does not do anything to remove these inhibiting factors; the proper time and place simply arrives. What is interesting is that Ishvarakrishna was an atheist and yet the goal of his system was liberation.

In the classification of Karl Potter Shankara is almost a leap philosopher in that he would go beyond the pairs of opposites or conceptual thought, in order to realize unity. He accepts satkaryvada without at the same time accepting pradhana. He takes from Sankhya the instrument of insight as a way to vault over the toils of prakriti.

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