Brahma, Iswara and Maya
Theosophist, January, 1880
Article selection by N. Naraina Moorty | Note by H.P.B.
Advertising to the article “Brahma, Iswara and Maya,” by Pramada Dasa Mittra published in the Theosophist of October, the following observations cannot fail to suggest themselves to a true Vedantist.
The science of Vedanta is enveloped in the Brahma Sastras (aphorisms) of which Badarayana is the author. There are many commentaries upon these sutras. . . .
Pramada Dasa Mittra appears to refute certain statements made by Mr. Gough while explaining his own position in Vedanta Philosophy. These refutations are no doubt quite in accordance with the Doctrine of Sankara as expounded in his Bhashya. But Pramada Dasa Mittra will do the learned world a valuable service if he will but solve the problems hereinafter set forth.
Whether (Moksha) beautitude or salvation is or is not the (Purushartha) end, which a human being should aspire to? . . . If it be the end aspired, who is the aspirer? For whose sake does he aspire? What sort of thing is the object aspired? . . . Is the being who is the aspirer essentially Brahma or any other? If he is in reality Brahma, what has he to aspire for? If not, will he newly become Brahma? Can one thing become another? . . .
Then is what is called “illusion” not identical with ignorance? How could a being who is not ignorant be yet possessed of that ignorance known by the name of “illusion”? If that ignorance is denied to Brahma, where else is it? In Avidya only, they might say. By what could Avidya be divested of its ignorance? . . . Where does that knowledge arise? . . . What benefit does it expect from its attempt to divest itself of ignorance? . . . [etc., etc., etc.]
Before, therefore, the Theosophists extend their researches to one and all of the above specified Bhashyas, and discover by which of them these mighty problems are clearly solved, it is too premature to up hold the doctrine laid down by Pramada Dasa Mittra.
Note by the Editor: The Theosophists not having as yet studied all these Bhashyas, have no intention to uphold any particular sectarian school. They leave this to the pandits, for whose especial benefit, among others, this journal was founded. A great American quarterly—the North American Review—adopts the plan of submitting some famous contributor’s manuscript to one or more equally famous writers of very antagonistic views, and then printing all of the criticisms together. By this wise device, the reader of the magazine is able to see what can be said of a given subject from every point of view. We will do likewise; and, as a beginning, here is Professor Pramada Dasa Mittra’s criticism upon his critic, after reading the above. “Du choc des opinions jaillit la verité,”—said a great French philosopher.
[Here followed a reply by Pramada Dasa Mittra.]