The Idea of the World in the East (II)

This review by Julius Evola of “The Science of Peace” and “The Science of the Sacred Word” by Bhagavan Das originally appeared in Bilychnis, volume XXVI, September, 1925. This is part two of two parts. The third part will deal with the idea of the world in the West.

Pratyagatma

Pratyagatma, would be the I or Brahman understood in his immanent aspect so that it is determined by its opposite or not-I. It is that which stays fixed and one within every variation, the universal, the point without extension, and the eternal required through the possibility of the experience of everything that is spatially multiple and temporal. From its relation to the not-I, which is essential to it, it nevertheless takes in three determinations:

1)       Jnana = knowledge, as the moment according to which it places for itself and against itself or represents the not-I, the “this”

2)       Kriya = action, as the moment according to which it is affirmed in the not-I

3)       Ichchhd = will or desire according to which the possibility required by the preceding moments, of self-identification of disidentification from the not-I

Mulaprakriti

Mulaprakriti, matter or not-I. As opposed to the I, which is the universal, it would be pure, dispersed particularity. Nevertheless, in as much as it is also tied to the I, it reflects in itself its characters, i.e., infinity, immobility, and eternity, however as that false infinity, immobility, and eternity that is characteristic to the infinite number of particulars, to the eternal of the “always finite” and the “always changeable”. The way that Bhagavan Das deduces the becoming of nature is interesting. If one could take the not-I in its totality, it would be possible to conceive its negation in a single simultaneous act; but the character of the not-I is instead particularity. Now the particular does not have a contradictory that negates it suddenly, but rather a contrary that negates it successively. More clearly: being can be negated suddenly by non-being; but heat has instead is negation in the cold that follows it. So the “I am not this” of the supreme synthesis, the reflection in mulaprakriti, has the meaning of “I am not this, but this other; not this other, but still this other” and so on, in a succession and an indefinite recurrence of opposites that negate each other, the one after the other, in a current through eternal revulsion and eternal craving. Such is the truth of nature, the eternal wheel of beings and rebirths. The unlimitedness of the world as becoming is therefore only a self-reflection, onto the many things, of the unlimitedness of Brahman—the transcendent One without limitation.

Mayashakti

Mayashakti, which is the demiurgic power from which creation and destruction proceeds and from which the various relationships between I and not-I are determined and governed. Under a first aspect is pravritti, i.e., the direction by which knowledge pushes itself in a certain way beyond itself and, identifying itself, associating itself with a particular material, becomes conscious of a such and such determined finite being. Under a second aspect is nivritti, that through which the I reconverges, detaches itself from particularity, negates it, and little by little elevates itself in every higher degrees of synthetic consciousness and of universality, reflected by the hierarchy of the beings of nature approaching man, to whom in his turn the way of the yogis and rishis is destined up to the limit of the brahmanjanis, or “those who know” Brahman.

Conclusion

Here we cannot even sketch the ample and complex developments given by Bhagavan Das to this conception; on the basis of the ternary rhythm contained in AUM transposed on various “octaves”, he has the means of giving deductively not only the general lines of a logic, of a music, of an anthropology, of a theory of knowledge, but also of the rituals, symbols, of traditional mythology, thus reaching a true system of Indian knowledge. We pause only on one point. The I in itself, contains and negates in a single act the totality contradicted by the infinite particulars of infinite oppositions. This synthesis therefore is obscured at the level of finite existence, which instead experiences a particular or group of particulars at the same time: these are for them the real and the actual, the rest are pushed back into the past and into the future, as virtual, whose unity (i.e., that total synthesis described above) is nevertheless ideally presupposed by him, in the sense that it makes those universal concepts possible, which is needed in order to be orientated an organize his own finite experience. Now this problem arises: how can one conceive the coexistence of the finite I (jiva) in whom only a part of possible experience is actual, with that “I” in which all is actual (Brahman)?

Bhagavan Das’ answer is that whatever is virtual for a single particular consciousness, is on the other hand actual for other consciousnesses, and is explained with a rather nice image. Let us suppose a gallery of paintings immersed in the darkness, and a person with a lamp capable of illuminating only one of them at a time; this person will pass from painting to painting, excluding thereby the rest of them, relegating them into a past or a future. Let us now assume as many persons as paintings: for each one of them the same could be said, however the opposition of an actual and a virtual; but in their wholeness they will succeed in entirely illuminating the gallery that they walk though freely substituting themselves ecah one with the other. Such is the relationship of pratyagatma or universal consciousness with the consciousness of the individuals; a pure brainwave pulling itself from the infinite process with which infinite individualities, by identifying and disidentifying themselves, experience, and transcend step by step, they pose and negate the infinite multiplicity characteristic of the non-I.

Even by this fleeting review, the interest that the works here mentioned should generate is obvious. These works should therefore not be missing from the library of all those who turn to the East not out of extrinsic curiosity or a craving for exoticism, but through a true interest; and that therefore they desire to have the spirit and the concept of traditional wisdom, not erudite and philological representations, discourses, and disquisitions about them, as unfortunately is the case of the great number of the publications of our orientalists which, to tell the truth, too often resemble eyeglasses without eyes.

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