Maya-Shakti (The Psycho-Physical Aspect of the Universe)

From: "jagbir singh" <adishakti_org@...>
Date: Fri Jan 27, 2006 2:50 pm
Subject: Maya-Shakti (The Psycho-Physical Aspect of the Universe)

> —- In, "jagbir singh"
<adishakti_org@y...> wrote:
> >
> >
> > Dear Semira,
> >
> > Definitely and without question the Divine Message will triumph
> > over the organization itself. In future more and more people
> > will embrace its central message of evolving into the eternal
> > spirit that all religions, holy scriptures and prophets have
> > since time immemorial upheld. The Divine Message is a spiritual
> > sanctuary, a beacon of hope, joy, peace of eternal life to all
> > humans. The Shakti/Holy Spirit/Ruh/Aykaa Mayee is the Divine
> > Feminine that gives Self-realization/Birth of Spirit/Baptism of
> > Allah/Opens Dasam Dwar for humanity to enter the Sahasrara/
> > Kingdom of God/Niche of lights/Inner Sanctuary within where
> > Brahman/God Almighty/Allah/ Waheguru resides as THE LIGHT.
> > Semira, not only the current Sahaja Yoga organisation but all
> > religious organizations as well have merely been intended as
> > temporary vehicles and starting points for the Divine Message.
> >
> > jagbir
> >
> >
> > —- In, "jagbir singh"
<adishakti_org@y...> wrote:
> By the way things are moving the Adi Shakti will eventually
> triumph. All we need to do as Her bhaktas is to stand our ground
> and not yield an inch because Truth always triumphs. Years of
> silence from religious regimes is the sure sign that the Devi and
> Her Divine Message to all humanity cannot be challenged, and will
> eventually be victorious in Her battle against the evil forces.
> All we need to do is to fearlessly announce the Truth. Shanti,
> Shanti, Shanti.

Maya-Shakti (The Psycho-Physical Aspect of the Universe)

Spirit, Mind and Matter are ultimately one, the two latter being the
twin aspects of the Fundamental Substance or Brahman and Its Power
or Shakti. Spirit is the substance of mind-matter, the Reality (in
the sense of the lasting changelessness) out of which, by Its Power,
all Appearance is fashioned not by the individual mind and senses
but by the cosmic mind and senses of which they are but a part. What
It creates It perceives. In the last chapter I dealt with the Spirit
or Consciousness (Cit) aspect: in this I consider the mind-matter
aspect in which Consciousness veils itself in apparent
unconsciousness. These twin principles are called Purusha, Brahman,
Shiva on the one hand and Prakriti, Maya, and Maya-Shakti on the
other by the Samkhya Mayavada Vedanta and Shaktivada of the Shakta
Agama respectively. The latter Shastra, however, alone treats them
as aspects of the one Substance in the manner here described and
thus most aptly in this respect accommodates itself to the doctrine
of Western scientific monism. So, Professor Haeckel points out in
conformity with Shakta Advaitavada that Spirit and Matter are not
two distinct entities but two forms or aspects of one single Entity
or fundamental Substance. According to him, the One Entity with dual
aspect is the sole Reality which presents itself to view as the
infinitely varied and wondrous picture of the universe. Whatever be
the case transcendentally in what the Buddhist Tantra aptly
calls "The Void" (Shunyata. In Tibetan sTongpa-nyid) which is
not "nothing" as some have supposed, but That which is like nothing
known to us; the ultimate formless (Arupa) Reality as contrasted
with appearance (sNang-va-dang) or form (Rupa) of which the
Praj—aparamita-hridaya-garbha says only "neti neti" can be affirmed,-
- in this universe immaterial Spirit is just as unthinkable as
spiritless matter. The two are inseparately combined in every atom
which, itself and its forces, possess the elements of vitality,
growth and intelligence in all their developments. In the four Atmas
which are contemplated in the Citkunda in the Muladhara Cakra, Atma
pranarupi represents the vital aspect, J—anatma the Intelligence
aspect, and Antaratma is that spark of the Paramatma which inheres
in all bodies, and which when spread (Vyapta) appears as the Bhuta
or five forms of sensible matter which go to the making of the gross
body. These are all aspects of the one Paramatma (J—anarnava Tantra,
Ch. XXI, Vv. 1—9).

The Vedanta recognizes four states of experience, Jagrat, Svapna,
Sushupti and Turiya. These, as my friend Professor Pramathanatha
Mukhyopadhyaya has, in his radical clear-thinking way, pointed out,
may be regarded from two stand-points. We may, with Shamkara, from
the standpoint of Siddhi alone, regard the last only, that is
transcendental or pure experience (Nirvishesha-j—ana), as the real
Fact or Experience: or we may, with the Shakta Agama, looking at the
matter from the standpoint of both Sadhana (that is practical
experience) and Siddhi (or transcendental experience), regard not
only the supreme experience as alone real, but the whole of
experience without any reservation whatever—the whole concrete
Fact of Being and Becoming—and call it the Real. This is the view
of the Shaiva-Shakta who says that the world is Shiva's Experience
and Shiva's Experience can never be unreal. The question turns upon
the definition of "Real". Shamkara's conception of that term is
that, That to which it is applied must be absolutely changeless in
all the "three times". It is That which absolutely continues through
and underlies all the changes of experience; being that which is
given in all the four states, Jagrat and the rest. It is That which
can never be contradicted (Vadhita) in all the three tenses of time
and the four states of Experience. This is the Ether of
Consciousness (Cidakasha) and none of Its modes. Our ordinary
experience, it is claimed, as well as Supreme non-polar Nirvikalpa
Samadhi proves this unchanging aspect of the ultimate Substance, as
the changeless principle of all our modes of changing experience,
which according to this definition are unreal. Thus Shamkara's Real
= Being = Sat-Cit-Ananda: Unreal = Becoming = Vivartta = Jagat-
Prapa—ca or universe. According to this view, there are three levels
or planes of being (Satta), namely transcendental (Paramarthika),
empirical (Vyavaharika) and illusory (Pratibhasika). The Real
(Satya) is that which is given in all the three planes (Paramarthika
Satya): the empirical (Vyavaharika Satya) is that which is given in
the second and third planes but not in the first. It is worldly or
dual experience, and not undual experience of Samadhi or Videha-
Mukti which latter, however, underlies all states of experience,
being the Ether of Consciousness Itself. The last (Pratibhasika
Satya) is given or obtains only in the last plane, being only such
reality as can be attributed to illusion such as "the rope-snake". A
higher plane contradicts a lower: the third is contradicted by the
second, the second by the first, and the first by nothing at all.
Thus there is a process of gradual elimination from changing to
changeless consciousness. Real change or Parinama is said by the
Vedanta Paribhasha to exist when the effect or phenomenon and its
ground (Upadana or material cause) belong to the same level or plane
of existence; as in the case of clay and pot, milk and curd, which
both belong to the Vyavaharika plane; milk being the Upadana and
curd the effect or change appertaining it (Parinamo hi upadana-sama-
sattaka-karya pattih). When, however, the effect's level of
existence is different from (Vishama) and therefore cannot be
equaled to that of its material cause or Upadana; when, for
instance, one belongs to the Vyavaharika experience and the other to
the Pratibhasika, there is Nivartta (Vivartto hi upadana-vishama-
sattaka-karyapattih). Thus, in the case of the "rope-snake," the
Satta of the rope is Vyavaharika, whilst that of the Rajju-sarpa is
only Pratibhasika. For the same reason, the rope, and the whole
Jagat-prapa—ca (universe) for the matter of that, is a Vivartta in
relation to the Supreme Experience of pure Cit. On its own plane or
level of Satta, every phenomenon may be a Parinama, but in relation
to a higher level by which it becomes Vadhita, it is only a Vivartta.

The Shakta Agama differs in its presentment as follows. The Fact or
Concrete Experience presents two aspects—what professor
Mukhyopadhyaya has aptly called in his work the "Patent Wonder" —
the Ether and the Stress—the quiescent background of Cit and the
sprouting and evolving Shakti. Agama takes this whole (Shiva-Shakti)
embracing all the aspects as its real. If one aspect be taken apart
from the others, we are landed in the unreal. Therefore, in the
Shakta Agama, all is real; whether the transcendent real of'
Shamkara (Turiya), or the empirical real waking (Jagrat, dreaming
(Svapna) or dreamless sleep (Sushupti). If it is conceded that Real
= Changelessness, then the last three states are not real. But this
definition of Reality is not adopted. It is again conceded that the
Supreme Substance (Paravastu) is alone real, in the sense of
changeless, for the worlds come and go. But the Agama says with the
Samkhya, that a thing is not unreal because it changes. The
Substance has two aspects, in one of which It is changeless, and in
the other of which It changes. It is the same Substance in both its
Prakasha and Vimarsha aspects. Shamkara limits Reality to the
Prakasha aspect alone. Agama extends it to both Prakasha and
Vimarsha; for these are aspects of the one. As explained later, this
divergence of views turns upon the definition of Maya given by
Shamkara, and of Maya-Shakti given by the Agama. The Maya of
Shamkara is a mysterious Shakti of Ishvara, by which Vivartta is
sought to be explained and which has two manifestations, viz.,
Veiling (Avarana) and moving, changing and projecting (Vikshepa)
power. Ishvara is Brahman reflected in Maya; a mystery which is
separate, and yet not separate, from Brahman in Its Ishvara aspect.
The Shakta Maya-Shakti is an aspect of Shiva or Brahman Itself.

Starting from these premises we must assume a real nexus between the
universe and its ultimate cause. The creation is real, and not Maya
in Shamkara's sense of Maya, but is the operation of and is Shakti
Herself. The cause being thus real, the effect or universe is real
though it changes and passes away. Even when it is dissolved, it is
merged in Shakti who is real; withdrawn into Her as the Samkhyan
tortoise or Prakriti withdraws its limbs (Vikriti) into itself. The
universe either is as unmanifested Shakti, which is the perfect
formless universe of Bliss, or exists as manifested Shakti, the
limited and imperfect worlds of form. The assumption of such nexus
necessarily involves that what is in the effect is in the cause
potentially. Of course, the follower of Shamkara will say that if
creation is the becoming patent or actual of what is latent or
potential in Shiva, then Shiva is not really Nishkala. A truly
Nira—jana Brahman cannot admit potential differentiation within
Itself (Svagata-bheda.) Again, potentiality is unmeaning in relation
to the absolute and infinite Being, for it pertains to relation and
finite existence. If it is suggested that Brahman passes from one
condition in which Maya lies as a seed in it, to another in which
Maya manifests Herself, we are involved in the doctrine of an
Absolute in the making. It is illogical to affirm that whilst
Brahman in one aspect does not change, It in another aspect, that is
as Shakti, does truly change. All such objections have alogical
foundation and it is for this reason that Shamkara says that all
change (Srishti, Sthiti, Laya) are only apparent, being but a
Kalpana or imagination.

But an answer is given to these objections. The Shakta will say that
the one Brahman Shiva has two aspects in one of which, as Shakti, It
changes and in the other of which, as Shiva, It does not. Reality is
constituted of both these aspects. It is true that the doctrine of
aspects does not solve the problem. Creation is ultimately
inscrutable. It is, however, he urges, better to hold both the
reality of the Brahman and the world leaving spiritual experience to
synthesize them, than to neglect one at the cost of the other. For
this, it is argued, is what Shamkara does. His solution is obtained
at the cost of a denial of true reality to the world which all our
worldly experience affirms; and this solution is supported by the
illogical statement that Maya is not real and is yet not unreal, not
partly real and partly unreal. This also, flies in the face of the
logical principle of contradiction. Both theories, therefore, it may
be said in different ways, run counter to logic. All theories
ultimately do. The matter is admittedly alogical, that is beyond
logic, for it is beyond the mind and its logical forms of thinking.
Practically, therefore, it is said to be better to base our theory
on our experience of the reality of the world, frankly leaving it to
spiritual experience to solve a problem for which all logic, owing
to the very constitution of the mind, fails. The ultimate proof of
authority is Spiritual Experience either recorded in Veda or
realized in Samadhi.

As I have already said in my chapter on the spirit-aspect of the One
Substance, all occultism, whether of East or West, posits the
principle that there is nothing in any one state or plane which is
not in some way, actual or potential, in another state or plane. The
Western Hermetic maxim, "as above so below," is stated in the
Visvasara Tantra in the form, "what is here is there. What is not
here is nowhere" (Yad ihasti tad anyatra yan nehasti na tat kvacit);
and in the northern Shaiva Scripture in the form, "that which
appears without only so appears because it exists
within", "Vartamanava-bhasanam bhavanam avabhasanam antahsthitavatam
eva ghatate bahiratmana". For these reasons man is rightly called a
microcosm (Kshudrabrahmanda; hominem quasi minorem quendam mundum.
Firm. Maternus Math. III init.) So Caraka says that the course of
production, growth, decay and destruction of the universe and of man
are the same. But these statements do not mean that what exists on
one plane exists in that form or way on another plane. It is obvious
that if it did, the planes would be the same and not different. It
means that the same thing exists on one plane and on all other
levels of being or planes, according either to the form of that
plane, if it be what is called an intermediate causal body
(Karanavantara-sharira) or ultimately as mere formless potentiality.
According to Shamkara all such argument is itself Maya. And it may
be so to those who have realized true consciousness (Citsvarupa)
which is beyond all causality. The Tantra Shastra is, however, a
practical and Sadhana Shastra. It takes the world to be real and
then applies, so far as it may, to the question of its origin, the
logic of the mind which forms a part of it. It says that it is true
that there is a Supreme or Perfect Experience which is beyond all
worlds (Shakti Vishvottirna), but there is also a worldly or
(relatively to the Supreme) imperfect (in the sense of limited) and
partly sorrowful experience. Because the one exists, it does not
follow that the other does not: though mere logic cannot construct
an unassailable monism. It is the one Shiva who is Bliss itself, and
who is in the form of the world (Vishvatmaka) which is Happiness-
Unhappiness. Shiva is both changeless as Shiva and changeful as
Shakti. How the One can be both is a mystery. To say, however, with
Shamkara that it is Maya, and in truth Brahman does not change, is
not to explain, in an ultimate sense, the problem but to eliminate
some other possible cause and to give to what remains a name. Maya
by itself does not explain the ultimate. What can? It is only a term
which is given to the wondrous power of the Creatrix by which what
seems impossible to us becomes possible to Her. This is recognized
as it must be, by Shamkara who says that Maya is unexplainable
(Anirvacaniya) as of course it is. To "explain" the Creator, one
would have to be Creator Himself and then in such case there would
be no need of any explanation. Looking, however, at the matter from
our own practical standpoint, which is that which concerns us, we
are drawn by the fore-going considerations to the conclusion that,
what we call "matter," is, in some form, in the cause which
according to the doctrine here described, produces it. But matter as
experienced by us is not there; for the Supreme is Spirit only. And
yet in some sense it is there, or it would not be here at all. It is
there as the Supreme Shakti which is Being-Consciousness-Bliss
(Cidrupini, Anandamayi) who contains within Herself the potentiality
of all worlds to be projected by Her Shakti. It is there as
unmanifested Consciousness Power (Cidrupini Shakti). It here exists
as the mixed conscious-unconsciousness (in the sense of the limited
consciousness) of the psychical and material universe. If the
ultimate Reality be one, there is thus one Almighty Substance which
is both Spirit (Shiva-Shakti Svarupa) and force-mind-matter (Shiva-
Shakti-Vishvatmaka). Spirit and Mind-Matter are thus in the end one.

This ultimate Supreme Substance (Paravastu) is Power or Shakti,
which is again, of dual aspect as Cit-Shakti which represents the
spiritual, and Maya-Shakti which represents the material and mental
aspects. The two, however, exist in inseparable connection
(Avinabhava-sambandha); as inseparable to use a simile of the
Shastra as the winds of heaven from the Ether in which they blow.
Shakti, who is in Herself (Svarupa) Consciousness, appears as the
Life-force, as subtle Mind, and as gross Matter. See sections in my
World as Power dealing in detail with Life (Prana-Shakti), Mind
(Manasi-Shakti) and Matter (Bhuta-Shakti). As all is Shakti and as
Shakti-svarupa is Being-Consciousness-Bliss, there is, and can be,
nothing absolutely unconscious. For Shakti-svarupa is unchanging
Being-Consciousness beyond all worlds (Cidrupini Vishvottirna), the
unchanging principle of experience in such worlds; and appears as
the limited psychical universe and as the apparently unconscious
material forms which are the content of man's Experience
(Vishvatmika). The whole universe is Shakti under various forms.
Therefore it is seen as commingled Spirit-Mind-Matter.

According to Shaiva-Shakta doctrine, Shiva and Shakti are one. Shiva
represents the static aspect of the Supreme substance, and Shakti
its kinetic aspect: the term being derived from the root "Sak" which
denotes capacity of action or power. According to Shamkara, Brahman
has two aspects, in one of which as Ishvara, it is associated with
Maya and seems to change, and in the other dissociated from Maya
(Parabrahman). In the Agama, the one Shiva is both the changeless
Parashiva and Parashakti and really changing Shiva-Shakti or
universe. As Shiva is one with Himself, He is never associated with
anything but Himself. As, however, the Supreme He is undisplayed
(Shiva-Shakti Svarupa) and as Shiva-Shakti He is manifest in the
form of the universe of mind and matter (Vishvarupa).

Before the manifestation of the universe there was Mahasatta or
Grand-being. Then also there was Shiva-Shakti, for there is no time
when Shakti is not; though She is sometimes manifest and sometimes
not. Power is Power both to Be and to Become. But then Shakti is not
manifest and is in its own true nature (Svarupa); that is, Being,
Feeling-Consciousness-Bliss (Cinmayi, Anandamayi). As Shiva is
consciousness (Cit) and Bliss or Love (Ananda), She is then simply
Bliss and Love. Then when moved to create, the Great Power or Megale
Dunamis of the Gnostics issues from the depths of Being and becomes
Mind and Matter whilst remaining what She ever was: the Being (Sat)
which is the foundation of manifested life and the Spirit which
sustains and enlightens it. This primal Power (Adya Shakti), as
object of worship, is the Great Mother (Magna-Mater) of all natural
things (Natura Naturans) and nature itself (Natura Naturata). In
herself (Svarupa) She is not a person in man's sense of the term,
but She is ever and incessantly personalizing; assuming the multiple
masks (Persona) which are the varied forms of mind-matter. As
therefore manifest, She is all Personalities and as the collectivity
thereof the Supreme Person (Parahanta). But in Her own ground from
which, clad in form, She emerges and personalizes, She is beyond all
form, and therefore beyond all personality known to us. She works in
and as all things; now greatly veiling Her consciousness-bliss in
gross matter, now by gradual stages more fully revealing Herself in
the forms of the one universal Life which She is.

Let us now first examine Her most gross manifestation, that is,
sensible matter (Bhuta), then Her more subtle aspect as the Life-
force and Mind, and lastly Her Supreme Shakti aspect as
Consciousness. I here deal with the subject in a general way having
treated of it in greater detail in the book just now cited (World as

The physical human body is composed of certain compounds of which
the chief are water, gelatin, fat, phosphate of lime, albumen and
fibrin, and, of these, water constitutes some two-thirds of the
total weight. These compounds, again, are composed of simpler non-
metallic elements of which the chief are oxygen (to the extent of
about two-thirds), hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium and
phosphorus. So about two-thirds of the body is water and this is
H2O. Substantially then our gross body is water. But when we get to
these simpler elements, have we got to the root of the matter P No.
It was formerly thought that matter was composed of certain elements
beyond which it was not possible to go, and that these elements and
their atoms were indestructible. These notions have been reversed by
modern science. Though the alleged indestructibility of the elements
and their atoms is still said by some to present the character of
a "practical truth," well-known recent discoveries and experiments
go to re-establish the ancient doctrine of a single primordial
substance to which these various forms of matter may be reduced,
with the resultant of the possible and hitherto derided
transmutation of one element into another; since each is but one of
the many plural manifestations of the same underlying unity. The so-
called elements are varied forms of this one substance which
themselves combine to form the various compounds. The variety of our
experience is due to permutation and combination of the atoms of the
matter into which the primordial energy materializes. We thus find
that owing to the variety of atomic combinations of H N O C there
are differences in the compounds. It is curious to note in passing
how apparently slight variations in the quantity and distribution of
the atoms produce very varying substances. Thus gluten which is a
nutrient food, and quinine and strychnine which are in varying
degree poisons, are each compounds of C H N O. Strychnine, a
powerful poison, is C21H22N2O2 and quinine is C20H24N2O2. N and 0
are the same in both and there is a difference of one part only of C
and 2 of H. But neither these compounds nor the so-called elements
of which they are composed are permanent things. Scientific matter
is now found to be only a relatively stable form of cosmic energy.
All matter dissociates and passes into the energy of which it is a
materialized form and again it issues from it.

Modern Western Science and Philosophy have thus removed many
difficulties which were formerly thought to be objections to the
ancient Indian doctrine on the subject here dealt with. It has, in
the first place. dispelled the gross notions which were hitherto
generally entertained as to the nature of "matter." According to the
notions of quite recent science, "matter" was defined to be that
which has mass, weight and inertia. It must be now admitted that the
two latter qualities no longer stand the test of examination, since,
putting aside our ignorance as to the nature of weight, this quality
varies, if we conceive matter to be placed under conditions which
admittedly affect it; and the belief in inertia is due to
superficial observation, it being now generally conceded that the
final elements of matter are in a state of spontaneous and perpetual
motion. In fact, the most general phenomenon of the universe is
vibration, to which the human body as all else is subject. Various
vibrations affect differently each organ of sensation. When of
certain quality and number, they denote to the skin the degree of
external temperature; others incite the eye to see different colors;
others again enable the ear to hear defined sounds.
Moreover "inertia", which is alleged to be a distinguishing quality
of "matter," is said to be the possession of electricity, which is
considered not to be "material". What, then, is that to which we
attribute "mass" P In the first place, it is now admitted
that "matter," even with the addition of all possible forces, is
insufficient to explain many phenomena, such as those of light; and
it has, accordingly, come to be for some an article of scientific
faith that there is a substance called "Ether": a medium which,
filling the universe, transports by its vibrations the radiations of
light, heat, electricity, and perhaps action from a distance, such
as the attraction exercised between heavenly bodies. It is said,
however, that this Ether is not "matter," but differs profoundly
from it, and that it is only our infirmity of knowledge which
obliges us, in our attempted descriptions of it, to borrow
comparisons from "matter," in its ordinary physical sense, which
alone is known by our senses. But if we assume the existence of
Ether, we know that "material" bodies immersed in it can change
their places therein. In fact, to use an Indian expression, the
characteristic property of the vibrations of the Akasha Tattva is to
make the space in which the other Tattvas and their derivatives
exist. With "Matter" and Ether as their materials, Western
purely "scientific" theories have sought to construct the world. The
scientific atom which Du Bois Raymond described as an exceedingly
useful fiction—"ausserst nutzliche fiction"—is no longer
considered the ultimate indestructible element, but is held to be,
in fact, a kind of miniature solar system, formed by a central group
or nucleus charged with positive electricity, around which very much
smaller elements, called electrons or corpuscles, charged with
negative electricity, gravitate in closed orbits. These vibrate in
the etheric medium in which they and the positively charged nucleus
exist, constituting by their energy, and not by their mass, the
unity of the atom. But what, again, is the constitution of
this "nucleus" and the electrons revolving around it? There is no
scientific certainty that any part of either is due to the presence
of "matter". On the contrary, if a hypothetical corpuscle consisting
solely of an electric charge without material mass is made the
subject of mathematical analysis, the logical inference is that the
electron is free of "matter", and is merely an electric charge
moving in the Ether; and though the extent of our knowledge
regarding the positive nucleus which constitutes the remainder of
the atom is small, an eminent mathematician and physicist has
expressed the opinion that, if there is no "matter" in the negative
charges, the positive charges must also be free from it. Thus, in
the words of the author upon whose lucid analysis I have drawn,
(Houllevigue's Evolution of Science) the atom has been
dematerialized, if one may say so, and with it the molecules and the
entire universe. "Matter" (in the scientific sense) disappears, and
we and all that surround us are physically, according to these
views, mere disturbed regions of the ether determined by moving
electric charges—a logical if impressive conclusion, because it
is by increasing their knowledge of "matter" that physicists have
been led to doubt its reality. But the question, as he points out,
does not remain there. For if the speculations of Helmholtz be
adopted, there is nothing absurd in imaging that two possible
directions of rotation of a vortex formed within, and consisting of,
ether correspond to the positive and negative electric charges said
to be attached to the final elements of matter. If that be so, then
the trinity of matter, ether, and electricity, out of which science
has hitherto attempted to construct the world, is reduced to a
single element, the ether (which is not scientific "matter") in a
state of motion, and which is the basis of the physical universe.
The old duality of force and matter disappears, these being held to
be differing forms of the same thing. Matter is a relatively stable
form of energy into which, on disturbance of its equilibrium, it
disappears; for all forms of matter dissociate. The ultimate basis
is that energy called in Indian philosophy Prakriti, Maya or Shakti.

Herbert Spencer, the Philosopher of Modern Science, carries the
investigation farther, holding that the universe, whether physical
or psychical, whether within or without us, is a play of Force,
which, in the case of Matter, we experience as object, and that the
notion that the ultimate realities are the supposed atoms of matter,
to the properties and combinations of which the complex universe is
due, is not true. Mind, Life and Matter are each varying aspects of
the one cosmic process from the First Cause. Mind as such is as much
a "material" organ as the brain and outer sense organs, though they
are differing forms of force.

Both mind and matter derive from what Herbert Spencer calls the
Primal Energy (Adya Shakti), and Haeckel the fundamental Spirit-
Matter Substance. Professor Fitz Edward Hall described the Samkhya
philosophy as being "with all its folly and fanaticism little better
than a chaotic impertinence". It has doubtless its weaknesses like
all other systems. Wherein, however, consists its "fanaticism," I do
not know. As for "impertinence," it is neither more nor less so than
any other form of Western endeavor to solve the riddle of life. As
regards its leading concept, "Prakriti," the Professor said that it
was a notion for which the European languages were unable to supply
a name; a failure, he added, which was "nowise to their discredit".
The implication of this sarcastic statement is that it was not to
the discredit of Western languages that they had no name for so
foolish a notion. He wrote before the revolution of ideas in science
to which I have referred, and with that marked antagonism to things
Indian which has been and to some extent still is so common a
feature of the more ordinary type of the professional orientalist.

The notion of Prakriti is not absurd. The doctrine of a Primordial
Substance was held by some of the greatest minds in the past and has
support from the most modern developments of Science. Both now
concur to reject what the great Sir William Jones called the "vulgar
notion of material substance" (Opera I. 36). Many people were wont,
as some still are, to laugh at the idea of Maya. Was not matter
solid, permanent and real enough? But according to science what are
we (as physical beings) at base P The answer is, infinitely tenuous
formless energy which materializes into relatively stable, yet
essentially transitory, forms. According to the apt expression of
the Shakta Shastra, Shakti, as She creates, becomes Ghanibhuta, that
is, massive or thickened; just as milk becomes curd. The process by
which the subtle becomes gradually more and more gross continues
until it develops into what has been called the "crust" of solid
matter (Parthiva bhuta). This whilst it lasts is tangible enough.
But it will not last for ever, and in some radio-active substances
dissociates before our eyes. Where does it go, according to Shakta
doctrine, but to that Mother-Power from whose womb it came; who
exists as all forms, gross and subtle, and is the formless
Consciousness Itself. The poet's inspiration led Shakespeare to
say, "We are such stuff as dreams are made of." It is a wonderful
saying from a Vedantic standpoint, for centuries before him
Advaitavada had said, "Yes, dreams; for the Lord is Himself the
Great World-dreamer slumbering in causal sleep as Ishvara, dreaming
as Hiranyagarbha the universe experienced by Him as the Virat or
totality of all Jivas, on waking." Scientific revision of the notion
of "matter" helps the Vedantic standpoint, by dispelling gross and
vulgar notions upon the subject; by establishing its impermanence in
its form as scientific matter; by positing a subtler physical
substance which is not ponderable matter; by destroying the old
duality of Matter and Force; and by these and other conclusions
leading to the acceptance of one Primal Energy or Shakti which
transforms itself into that relatively stable state which is
perceived by the senses as gross "matter." As, however, science
deals with matter only objectively, that is, from a dualistic
standpoint, it does not (whatever hypotheses any particular
scientist may maintain) resolve the essential problem which is
stated in the world Maya. That problem is, "How can the apparent
duality be a real unity? How can we bridge the gulf between the
object and the Self which perceives it? Into whatever tenuous energy
the material world is resolved, we are still left in the region of
duality of Spirit, Mind and Matter. The position is not advanced
beyond that taken by Samkhya. The answer to the problem stated is
that Shakti which is the origin of, and is in, all things has the
power to veil Itself so that whilst in truth it is only seeing
itself as object, it does not, as the created Jiva, perceive this
but takes things to be outside and different from the Self. For this
reason Maya is called, in the Shastra, Bhedabuddhi or the sense of
difference. This is the natural characteristic of man's experience.

Herbert Spencer, the Philosopher of Modern Science, carrying the
investigation beyond physical matter, holds, as I have already said,
that the universe, whether physical or psychical, whether as mind or
matter, is a play of Force; Mind, Life and Matter being each varying
aspects of the one cosmic process from the First Cause. This, again,
is an Indian notion. For, the affirmation that "scientific matter"
is an appearance produced by the play of Cosmic Force, and that mind
is itself a product of the same play is what both Samkhya and
Mayavada Vedanta hold. Both these systems teach that mind,
considered in itself, is, like matter, an unconscious thing, and
that both it and matter ultimately issue from the same single
Principle which the former calls Prakriti and the latter Maya.
Consciousness and Unconsciousness are in the universe inseparate,
whatever be the degree of manifestation or veiling of Consciousness.
For the purpose of analysis, Mind in itself—that is, considered
hypothetically as dissociated from Consciousness, which, in fact, is
never the case, (though Consciousness exists apart from the Mind) —
is a force-process like the physical brain. Consciousness (Cit) is
not to be identified with mind (Antahkarana) which is the organ of
expression of mind. Consciousness is not a mere manifestation of
material mind. Consciousness must not be identified with its mental
modes; an identification which leads to the difficulties in which
western metaphysics has so often found itself. It is the ultimate
Reality in which all modes whether subjective or objective exist.

The assertion that mind is in itself unconscious may seem a strange
statement to a Western reader who, if he does not identify mind and
consciousness, at any rate, regards the latter as an attribute or
function of mind. The point, however, is of such fundamental
importance for the understanding of Indian doctrine that it may be
further developed.

According to the Lokayata School of Indian Materialism, mind was
considered to be the result of the chemical combination of the four
forms of material substance, earth, water, fire and air, in organic
forms. According to the Purva-Mimamsa and the Nyaya-Vaisheshika, the
Self or Atma is in itself and that is by nature (Svabhavatah),
unconscious (Jada, Acidrupa): for Atma is said to be unconscious
(Acetana) in dreamless sleep (Sushupti); and consciousness arises as
a produced thing, by association of the Atma with the mind, senses
and body. The reader is referred to Pandit Chandra Kanta
Tarkalamkara's Bengali Lectures on Hindu Philosophy. At p. 105 he
cites Prabhakara Mimamsaka-carya, saying that Vaisheshika-Nyaya
supports the view. Sacetanashcittayogat todyogena vina jadah. "Atma
is conscious by union with knowledge (J—ana) which comes to it by
association with mind and body. Without it, it is unconscious."
Atma, according to this Darshana, is that in which (Ashraya) J—ana
inheres. Kumarila Bhatta says Atma is partly Prakasha and partly
Aprakasha, (luminous and non-luminous) like a fire-fly. But this is
denied, as Atma is Niramsha (part-less). Knowledge thus arises from
the association of mind (Manas) with Atma, the senses (Indriya) with
Manas, and the senses with objects, that, is, worldly (Laukika)
knowledge, which is the true—that is, non-illusive —
apprehension of objects. J—ana in the spiritual Vedantic sense of
Mayavada is Paramatma, or pure Consciousness realized. The former
J—ana, in that it arises without effort on the presentation of the
objects is not action (Kriya), and differs from the forms of mental
action (Manasi Kriya), such as will (Iccha), contemplation and the
like. Atma manasa samyujyate, mana indriyena, indriyam arthena, tato
bhavati j—anam. Both these theories are refuted by Samkhya and
Advaitavada Vedanta (as interpreted by Shamkara, to which unless
otherwise stated I refer) which affirm that the very nature of Atma
is Consciousness (Cit), and all else, whether mind or matter, is
unconscious, though the former appears not to be so. The Jiva mind
is not itself conscious, but reflects consciousness, and therefore
appears to be conscious. Consciousness as such is eternal and
immutable; Mind is a creation and changeable. Consciousness as such
is unconditional. In the mind of the Jiva, Consciousness appears to
be conditioned by that Maya-Shakti which produces mind, and of which
Shakti, mind is a particular manifestation. Mind, however, is not
the resultant of the operation of the Bhuta—that is, of gross
natural forces or motions—but is, in Samhya and in Shakta monism,
an evolution which is logically prior to them.

The mode of exposition in which Consciousness is treated as being in
itself something apart from, though associated with, mind, is
profound; because, while it recognizes the intermingling of Spirit
and Matter in the embodied being (Jiva), it yet at the same time
clearly distinguishes them. It thus avoids the imputation of change
to Spirit (Atma). The latter is ever in Its own true nature
immutable. Mind is ever changing, subject to sensations, forming
ideas, making resolves, and so forth. Spirit in Itself is neither
affected nor acts. Manifold change takes place, through motion and
vibration in the unconscious Prakriti and Maya. Mind is one of the
results of such motion, as matter is another. Each of them is a form
of specific transformation of the one Principle whence
unconsciousness, whether real or apparent, arises. That, however,
mind appears to be conscious, the Mayavada Vedanta and Samkhya
admit. This is called Cidabhasa—that is, the appearance of
something as Cit (Consciousness) which is not really Cit. This
appearance of Consciousness is due to the reflection of Cit upon it.
A piece of polished steel which lies in the sunshine may appear to
be self-luminous, when it is merely reflecting the sun, which is the
source of the light it appears to give out. Cit as such is immutable
and never evolves. What do evolve are the various forms of natural
forces produced by Prakriti or Maya. These two are, however,
conceived as being in association in such a way that the result of
such association is produced without Cit being really affected at
all. The classical illustration of the mode and effect of such
association is given in the Samkhyan aphorism, "Just like the jewel
and the flower"—Kusumavacca manih (Samkhya-Pravacana-Sutra, II,
35)—that is, when a scarlet hibiscus flower is placed in
contiguity to a crystal, the latter appears to be red, though it
still in fact retains its pure transparency, as is seen when the
flower is removed. On the other hand, the flower as reflected in the
crystal takes on a shining, transparent aspect which its opaque
surface does not really possess. In the same way Consciousness
appears to be conditioned by the force of unconsciousness in the
Jiva, but is really not so. "Changeless Cit-Shakti does not move
towards anything, yet seems to do so" (Samkhya-pravacana-Sutra).
And, on the other hand, Mind as one of such unconscious forces takes
on the semblance of Consciousness, though this is borrowed from Cit
and is not its own natural quality. This association of Unconscious
Force with Consciousness has a two-fold result, both obscuring and
revealing. It obscures, in so far as, and so long as it is in
operation, it prevents the realization of pure Consciousness (Cit).
When mind is absorbed pure Consciousness shines forth. In this
sense, this Power or Maya is spoken of as a Veil. In another sense,
it reveals—that is, it manifests—the world, which does not
exist except through the instrumentality of Maya which the world is.
Prakriti and Maya produce both Mind and Matter; on the former of
which Consciousness is reflected (Cidabhasa). The human mind, then,
appears to be conscious, but of its own nature and inherent quality
is not so. The objective world of matter is, or appears to be, an
unconscious reality. These alternatives are necessary, because, in
Samkhya, unconsciousness is a reality; in Vedanta, an appearance. In
the Shakta Tantra, apparent unconsciousness is an aspect (Avidya
Shakti) of Conscious Shakti. Consciousness is according to Advaita
Vedanta, the true existence of both, illumining the one, hidden in
the other.

The internal instrument (Antahkarana) or Mind is one only, but is
given different names—Buddhi, Ahamkara, Manas—to denote the
diversity of its functions. From the second of these issue the
senses (Indriya) and their objects, the sensibles (Mahabhuta), or
gross matter with the super-sensibles (Tanmatra) as its intermediate
cause. All these proceed from Prakriti and Maya.

Therefore, according to these systems, Consciousness is Cit, and
Mind or Antahkarana is a transformation of Prakriti and Maya
respectively. In itself, Mind is an unconscious specialized organ
developed out of the Primordial Energy, Mulaprakriti or Maya. It is
thus, not in itself, consciousness but a special manifestation of
conscious existence, borrowing its consciousness from the Cit which
is reflected on it. Shakta doctrine states the same matter in a
different form. Consciousness at rest is Cit-Svarupa. Consciousness
in movement is Cit-Shakti associated with Maya-Shakti. The Shiva-
Shakti Svarupa is consciousness (Cit, Cidrupini). There is no
independent Prakriti as Samkhya holds, nor an unconscious Maya which
is not Brahman and yet not separate from Brahman, as Shamkara
teaches. What there is, is Maya-Shakti; that is Consciousness
(Shakti is in itself such) veiling, as The Mother, Herself to
herself as Her creation, the Jiva. There is no need then for
Cidabhasa. For mind is consciousness veiling itself in the forms or
limitation of apparent unconsciousness.

This is an attractive exposition of the matter because in the
universe consciousness and unconsciousness are mingled, and the
abolition of unconscious Maya satisfies the desire for unity. In all
these cases, however, mind and matter represent either the real or
apparent unconscious aspect of things. If man's consciousness is, or
appears to be, limited, such limitation must be due to some
principle without, or attached to, or inherent in consciousness;
which in some sense or other must ex hypothesi be really, or
apparently different from the consciousness, which it seems to
affect or actually affects. In all these systems, mind and matter
equally derive from a common finitizing principle which actually or
apparently limits the Infinite Consciousness. In all three, there
is, beyond manifestation, Consciousness or Cit, which in
manifestation appears as a parallelism of mind and matter; the
substratum of which from a monistic standpoint is Cit.

Herbert Spencer, however, as many other Western Philosophers do,
differs from the Vedanta in holding that the noumenon of these
phenomena is not Consciousness, for the latter is by them considered
to be by its very nature conditioned and concrete. This noumenon is
therefore declared to be unknown and unknowable. But Force as such
is blind, and can only act as it has been predetermined. We discover
consciousness in the universe. The cause must, therefore, it is
argued, be Consciousness. It is but reasonable to hold that, if the
first cause be of the nature of either Consciousness or Matter, and
not of both, it must be of the nature of the former, and not of the
latter. An unconscious object may wall be conceived to modify
Consciousness, but not to produce Consciousness out of its Self.
According to Indian Realism, the Paramanus are the material
(Upadana) cause (Karana), and Ishvara the instrumental (Nimitta)
cause, for He makes them combine. According to Vedanta, Matter is
really nothing but a determined modification of knowledge in the
Ishvara Consciousness, itself unaffected by such determination.
Ishvara is thus both the material and instrumental cause. A thing
can only dissolve into its own cause. The agency (Kartritva) of
Ishvara is in Mayavada attributed (Aupadika) only.

The Vedanta, therefore, in its Shakta presentment says, that the
Noumenon is knowable and known, for it is the inner Self, which is
not an unconscious principle but Being-Consciousness, which, as
above explained, is not conditioned or concrete, but is the absolute
Self-identity. Nothing can be more intimately known than the Self.
The objective side of knowledge is conditioned because of the nature
of its organs which, whether mental or material, are conditioned.
Sensation, perception, conception, intuition are but different modes
in which the one Consciousness manifests itself, the differences
being determined by the variety of condition and form of the
different organs of knowledge through which consciousness manifests.
There is thus a great difference between the Agnostic and the
Vedantist. The former, as for instance Herbert Spencer, says that
the Absolute cannot be known because nothing can be predicated of
it. Whereas the Vedantin when he says, that It cannot be known (in
the ordinary sense) means that this is because It is knowledge
itself. Our ordinary experience does not know a consciousness of
pure being without difference. But, though it cannot be pictured, it
may be apprehended. It cannot be thought because it is Pure
Knowledge itself. It is that state which is realized only in Samadhi
but is apprehended indirectly as the Unity which underlies and
sustains all forms of changing finite experience.

What, lastly, is Life? The underlying substance is Being-in-itself.
Life is a manifestation of such Being. If by Life we understand life
in form, then the ultimate substance is not that; for it is
formless. But in a supreme sense it is Life; for it is Eternal Life
whence all life in form proceeds. It is not dead Being. If it were
It could not produce Life. The Great Mother is Life; both the life
of Her children and the Life of their lives. Nor does She produce
what is without life or potency of life. What is in the cause is in
the effect. Some Western Scientists have spoken of the "Origin of
Life," and have sought to find it. It is a futile quest, for Life as
such has no origin though life in form has. We cannot discover the
beginnings of that which is essentially eternal. The question is
vitiated by the false assumption that there is anything dead in the
sense that it is wholly devoid of Life or potency of Life. There is
no such thing. The whole world is a living manifestation of the
source of all life which is Absolute Being. It is sometimes made a
reproach against Hinduism that it knows not a "living God". What is
meant I cannot say. For it is certain that it does not worship
a "dead God," whatever such may be. Perhaps by "living" is
meant "Personal". If so, the charge is again ill-founded. Ishvara
and Ishvari are Rulers in whom all personalities and personality
itself are. But in their ground they are beyond all manifestation,
that is limitation which personality, as we understand it, involves.
Man, the animal and the plant alone, it is true, exhibit certain
phenomena which are commonly called vital. What exhibits such
phenomena, we have commonly called "living". But it does not follow
that what does not exhibit the phenomena which belong to our
definition of life is itself altogether "dead". We may have to
revise our definition, as in fact we are commencing to do. Until
recently it was commonly assumed that matter was of two kinds:
inorganic or "dead," and organic or "living". The mineral
was "dead," the vegetable, animal and man were endowed with "life".
But these living forms are compounded of so-called "dead" matter.
How then, is it possible that there is life in the organic kingdom
the parts of which are ultimately compounded of "dead" matter? This
necessarily started the futile quest for the "origin of life". Life
can only come from life: not from death. The greatest errors arise
from the making of false partitions in nature which do not exist. We
make these imaginary partitions and then vainly attempt to surmount
them. There are no absolute partitions or gulfs. All is continuous,
even if we cannot at present establish in each case the connection.
That there should be such gulfs is unthinkable to any one who has
even in small degree grasped the notion of the unity of things.
There is a complete connected chain in the hierarchy of existence,
from the lowest forms of apparently inert (but now held to be
moving) matter, through the vegetable, animal, human worlds; and
then through such Devatas as are super-human intelligences up to the
Brahman. From the latter to a blade of grass (says the Shastra) all
are one.

Western scientific notions have, however, in recent years undergone
a radical evolution as regards the underlying unity of substance,
destructive of the hitherto accepted notions of the discontinuity of
matter and its organization. The division of nature into the animal,
vegetable and mineral kingdoms is still regarded as of practical
use; but it is now recognized that no such clear line of demarcation
exists between them as has hitherto been supposed in the West.
Between each of nature's types there are said to be innumerable
transitions. The notion of inert, "dead" matter, the result of
superficial observation, has given way upon the revelation of the
activities at work under this apparent inertia—forces which
endow "brute substance" with many of the characteristics of living
beings. It is no longer possible to dogmatically affirm where the
inorganic kingdom ends and "life" begins. It must be rather asserted
that many phenomena, hitherto considered characteristic of "life,"
belong to "inert matter," composed of molecules and atoms,
as "animated matter" is of cells and micellae. It has been found
that so-called "inert matter," possesses an extraordinary power of
organization, and is not only capable of apparently imitating the
forms of "living" matter, but presents in a certain degree the same
functions and properties.

Sentiency is a characteristic of all forms of Existence.
Physiologists measure the sensibility of a being by the degree of
excitement necessary to produce in it a reaction. Of this it has
been said (Le Bon Evolution of Matter, 250), "This sensibility of
matter, so contrary to what popular observation seems to indicate,
is becoming more and more familiar to physicists. This is why such
an expression as the "life of matter," utterly meaningless twenty-
five years ago has come into common use. The study of mere matter
yields ever-increasing proofs that it has properties which were
formerly deemed the exclusive appanage of living beings." Life
exists throughout, but manifests in various ways. The arbitrary
division which has been drawn between "dead" and "living" matter has
no existence in fact, and speculations as to the origin of "life"
are vitiated by the assumption that there is anything which exists
without it, however much its presence may be veiled from us. Western
science would thus appear to be moving to the conclusion that there
is no "dead" matter, but that life exists everywhere, not merely in
that in which, as in "organic matter," it is to us plainly and
clearly expressed, but also in the ultimate "inorganic" atoms of
which it is composed—atoms which, in fact, have their
organizations as have the beings which they go to build— and that
all, to the minutest particle, is vibrating with unending Energy
(Tejas). (See Author's World as Power). Manifested life is Prana, a
form of Kriya Shakti in, and evolved from, the Linga Sharira, itself
born of Prakriti. Prana or the vital principle has been well defined
(Hindu Realism, by J. C. Chatterji) to be, "the special relation of
the Atma with a certain form of matter which, by this relation, the
Atma organizes and builds up as a means of having experience." This
special relation constitutes the individual Prana in the individual
body. Just as in the West, "life" is a term commonly used of
organized body only, so also is the term Prana used in the East. It
is the technical name given to the phenomena, called "vital,"
exhibited by such bodies, the source of which is the Brahman Itself.
The individual Prana is limited to the particular body which it
vitalizes and is a manifestation in all breathing creatures (Prani),
of the creative and sustaining activity of the Brahman. All beings
exist so long as the Prana is in the body. It is as the Kaushitaki
Upanishad says, "the life duration of all". The cosmic all-pervading
Prana is the collectivity of all Pranas and is the Brahman as the
source of the individual Prana. On the physical plane, Prana
manifests as breath through inspiration, "Sa" or Shakti and
expiration, "Ha" or Shiva. So the Niruttara Tantra (Chapter IV)
says: "By Hamkara it goes out and by Sakara it comes in again. A
Jiva always recites the Supreme Mantra Hamsa."

Hang-karena bahir yati sah-karena vishet punah

Hangesti paramam mantram jivo japati sarvada.

Breathing is itself the Ajapa Mantra. Prana is thus Shakti as the
universally pervading source of life, organizing itself as matter
into what we call living forms. When the Prana goes, the organism
which it holds together disintegrates. Nevertheless each of the
atoms which remain has a life of its own, existing as such
separately from the life of the organized body of which they formed
a part; just as each of the cells of the living body has a life of
its own. The gross outer body is heterogeneous (Paricchinna) or made
up of distinct or well-defined parts. But the Pranamaya Self which
lies within the Annamaya Self is a homogeneous undivided whole
(Sadharana) permeating the whole physical body (Sarvapindavyapin).
It is not cut off into distinct regions (Asadharana) as is the Pinda
or mircrocosmic physical body. Unlike the latter it has no
specialized organs each discharging a specific function. It is a
homogeneous unity (Sadharana), present in every part of the body
which it ensouls as its inner vital Self. Vayu, as universal vital
activity, on entry into each body, manifests itself in ten different
ways. It is the one Prana, though different names are given
according to its functions, of which the five chief are
Appropriation (Prana), Rejection (Apana), Assimilation (Samana),
Distribution (Vyana), and that vital function (Udana) which is
connected with self-expression in speech. Prana in its general sense
represents the involuntary reflex action of the organism; just as
the Indriyas are one aspect of its voluntary activity. Breathing is
a manifestation of the Cosmic Rhythm to which the whole universe
moves and according to which it appears and disappears. The life of
Brahma is the duration of the outgoing breath (Nisvasa) of Kala.

The Samkhya rejecting the Lokayata notion that Vayu is a mere
biomechanical force or mechanical motion resulting from such a Vayu,
holds, on the principle of the economy of categories, that life is a
resultant of the various concurrent activities of other principles
or forces in the organism. This, again, the Vedantists deny, holding
that it is a separate, independent principle and material form
assumed through Maya by the one Consciousness. In either case, it is
an unconscious force, since everything which is not the Atma or
Purusha, is, according to Mayavada and Samkhya, unconscious, or, in
Western parlance, material (Jada).

If we apply Shakta principles, then Prana is a name of the general
Shakti displaying itself in the organization of matter and the vital
phenomena which bodies, when organized, exhibit. Manifest Shakti is
vitality, which is a limited concrete display in forms of Her own
formless Being or Sat. All Shakti is J—ana, Iccha, Kriya, and in its
form as Prakriti, the Gunas Sattva, Rajas, Tamas. She desires,
impelled by Her nature (Iccha), to build up forms; sees how it
should be done (J—ana); and then does it (Kriya). The most Tamasic
form of Kriya is the apparently mechanical energy displayed in
material bodies. But this is itself the product of Her Activity and
not the cause of it. Ultimately then Prana, like everything else, is
consciousness which, as Shakti, limits Itself in form which it first
creates and sustains; then builds up into other more elaborate forms
and again sustains until their life-period is run. All creation and
maintenance is a limiting power, with the appearance of
unconsciousness, in so far as, and to the degree that, it confines
the boundless Being-Consciousness-Bliss; yet that Power is nothing
but Consciousness negating and limiting itself. The Great Mother
(Sri Mata) limits Her infinite being in and as the universe and
maintains it. In so far as the form and its life is a limited thing,
it is apparently unconscious, for consciousness is thereby limited.
At each moment there is creation, but we call the first appearance
creation (Srishti), and its continuance, through the agency of
Prana, maintenance (Sthiti). But both that which is apparently
limited and that whose operation has that effect is Being-
Consciousness. Prana Vayu is the self-begotten but limited
manifestation of the eternal Life. It is called Vayu (Va— to move)
because it courses throughout the whole universe. Invisible in
itself yet its operations are manifest. For it determines the birth,
growth, and decay of all animated organisms and as such receives the
homage of all created Being. For it is the Pranarupi Atma, the Prana

For those by whom inorganic matter was considered to be "dead" or
lifeless, it followed that it could have no Feeling-Consciousness,
since the latter was deemed to be an attribute of life. Further,
consciousness was denied because it was, and is indeed now, commonly
assumed that every conscious experience pre-supposes a subject,
conscious of being such, attending to an object. As Professor P.
Mukhyopadhyaya (Approaches to Truth) has well pointed out,
consciousness was identified with intelligence or understanding —
that is with directed consciousness; so that where no direction or
form is discernible, Western thinkers have been apt to imagine that
consciousness as such has also ceased. To their pragmatic eye
consciousness is always particular having a particular direction and

According, however, to Indian views, there are three states of
consciousness: (1) a supramental supreme consciousness dissociated
from mind. This is the Paramatma Cit which is the basis of all
existence, whether organic or inorganic, and of thought; of which
the Shruti says, "know that which does not think by the mind and by
which the mind itself is thought." These are then two main
manifested states of consciousness: (2) consciousness associated
with mind in organic matter working through its vehicles of mind and
matter; (3) consciousness associated with and almost entirely veiled
by inorganic gross matter (Bhuta) only; such as the muffled
consciousness, evidenced by its response to external stimuli, as
shown in the experiments with which Sir Jagadish Bose's name is
associated. Where are we to draw the lowest limit of sensation; and
if a limit be assigned, why there? As Dr. Ernst Mach has pointed out
(Analysis of Sensations, 243) the question is natural enough if we
start from the commonly current physical conception. It is, of
course, not asserted that inorganic matter is conscious to itself in
the way that the higher organized life is. The response, however,
which it makes to stimuli is evidence that consciousness is there,
though it lies heavily veiled in and imprisoned by it. Inorganic
matter displays it in the form of that seed or rudiment of sentiency
which enlarging into the simple pulses of feeling of the lowest
degrees of organized life, at length emerges in the developed self-
conscious sensations of human life. Owing to imperfect scientific
knowledge, the first of these aspects was not in antiquity capable
of physical proof in the same way or to the same extent, as Modern
Science with its delicate instruments have made possible. Starting,
however, from the revealed and intuitionally held truth that all was
Brahman, the conclusion necessarily followed. All Bhuta is composed
of the three Gunas or factors of Prakriti or the psycho-physical
potentials. It is the Sattva or Principle of Presentation of
Consciousness in gross matter (almost entirely suppressed by Tamas
or the Principle of Veiling of Consciousness though it be) which
manifests the phenomena of sensibility observed in matter. In short,
nature, it has been well said, knows no sharp boundaries or yawning
gulfs, though we may ignore the subtle connecting links between
things. There is no break in continuity. Being and Consciousness are
co-extensive. Consciousness is not limited to those centers in the
Ether of consciousness which are called organized bodies. But just
as life is differently expressed in the mineral and in man, so is
Consciousness which many have been apt to think exists in the
developed animal and even in man only.

Consciousness (Cit-Shakti) exists in all the hierarchy of Being, and
is, in fact, Being. It is, however, in all bodies veiled by its
power or Maya-Shakti which is composed of the three Gunas. In
inorganic matter, owing to the predominance of Tamas, Consciousness
is so greatly veiled and the life force is so restrained that we get
the appearance of insensibility, inertia and mere mechanical energy.
In organized bodies, the action of Tamas is gradually lessened, so
that the members of the universal hierarchy become more and more
Sattvik as they ascend in the scale of evolution. Consciousness
itself does not change. It remains the same throughout. What does
change is, its wrappings, unconscious or apparently so, as they may
alternatively be called. This wrapping is Maya and Prakriti with
their Gunas. The figure of "wrapping" is apt to illustrate the
presentment of Samkhya and Mayavada. From the Shakta aspect we may
compare the process to one in which it is assumed that in one aspect
there is an unchanging light, in another it is either turned up or
turned down as the case may be. In gross matter the light is so
turned down that it is not ordinarily perceptible and even delicate
scientific experiment may give rise to contending assertions. When
the veiling by Tamas is lessened in organic life, and the Jiva is
thus less bound in matter, the same Consciousness (for there is no
other) which previously manifested as, what seems to us, a mere
mechanical reaction, manifests in its freer environment in that
sensation which we associate with consciousness as popularly
understood. Shakti, who ever negates Herself as Maya-Shakti, more
and more reveals Herself as Cit-Shakti. There is thus a progressive
release of Consciousness from the bonds of matter, until it attains
complete freedom or liberation (Moksha) when the Atma is Itself
(Atma Svarupi) or Pure Consciousness. At this point, the same
Shakti, who had operated as Maya, is Herself Consciousness

According to the Hindu books, plants have a sort of dormant
Consciousness, and are capable of pleasure and pain. Cakrapani says
in the Bhanumati that the Consciousness of plants is a kind of
stupefied, darkened, or comatose Consciousness. Udayana also says
that plants have a dormant Consciousness which is very dull. The
differences between plant and animal life have always been regarded
by the Hindus as being one not of kind, but of degree. And this
principle may be applied throughout. Life and Consciousness is not a
product of evolution. The latter merely manifests it. Manu speaks of
plants as being creatures enveloped by darkness caused by past deeds
having, however, an internal Consciousness and a capacity for
pleasure and pain. And, in the Mahabharata, Bhrigu says to
Bharadhvaja that plants possess the various senses, for they are
affected by heat, sounds, vision (whereby, for instance, the creeper
pursues its path to the light), odors and the water which they
taste. I may refer also to such stories as that of the
Yamalarjunavriksha of the Srimad Bhagavata mentioned in Professor
Brajendra Nath Seal's learned work, The Positive Sciences of the
Ancient Hindus, and Professor S. N. Das Gupta's scholarly paper on
Parinama to which I am indebted for these instances.

Man is said to have passed through all the lower states of
Consciousness and is capable of reaching the highest through Yoga.
The Jiva attains birth as man after having been, it is said, born 84
lakhs (84,000,000) of times as plants (Vrikshadi), aquatic animals
(Jalayoni), insects and the like (Krimi), birds (Pakshi), beasts
(Pashvadi), and monkeys (Vanar). He then is born 2 lakhs of times
(2,000,000) in the inferior species of humanity, and then gradually
attains a better and better birth until he is liberated from all the
bonds of matter. The exact number of each kind of birth is in 20, 9,
11, 10, 30 and 4 lakhs, respectively—84 lakhs. As pointed out by
Mahamahopadhyaya Chandrakanta Tarkalankara Lectures on "Hindu
Philosophy" (5th year, p. 227, Lecture VII), pre-appearance in
monkey form is not a Western theory only. The Consciousness which
manifests in him is not altogether a new creation, but an unfolding
of that which has ever existed in the elements of which he is
composed, and in the Vegetable and Animal through which prior to his
human birth he has passed. In him, however, matter is so re-arranged
and organized as to permit of the fullest rnanifestation which has
hitherto existed of the underlying Cit. Man's is the birth
so "difficult of attainment" (Durlabha). This is an oft-repeated
statement of Shastra in order that he should avail himself of the
opportunities which Evolution has brought him. If he does not, he
falls back, and may do so without limit, into gross matter again,
passing intermediately through the Hells of suffering. Western
writers in general, describe such a descent as unscientific. How,
they ask, can a man's Consciousness reside in an animal or plant'?
The correct answer (whatever be popular belief) is that it does not.
When man sinks again into an animal he ceases to be a man. He does
not continue to be both man and animal. His consciousness is an
animal consciousness and not a human consciousness. It is a,
childish view which regards such a case as being the imprisonment of
a man in an animal body. If he can go up he can also go down. The
soul or subtle body is not a fixed but an evolving thing. Only
Spirit (Cit) is eternal and unchanged. In man, the revealing
constituent of Prakriti Shakti (Sattvaguna) commences to more fully
develop, and his consciousness is fully aware of the objective world
and his own Ego, and displays itself in all those functions of it
which are called his faculties. We here reach the world of ideas,
but these are a superstructure on consciousness and not its
foundation or basis. Man's consciousness is still, however, veiled
by Maya-Shakti. With the greater predominance of Sattvaguna in man,
consciousness becomes more and more divine, until he is altogether
freed of the bonds of Maya, and the Jiva Consciousness expands into
the pure Brahman Consciousness. Thus life and Consciousness exist
throughout. All is living. All is Consciousness. In the world of
gross matter they seem to disappear, being almost suppressed by the
veil of Maya-Sakti's Tamoguna. As however ascent is made, they are
less and less veiled, and True Consciousness is at length realized
in Samadhi and Moksha. Cit-Shakti and Maya-Shakti exist inseparable
throughout the whole universe. There is therefore according to the
principles of the Shakta Shastra not a particle of matter which is
without life and consciousness variously displaced or concealed
though they be. Manifest Maya-Shakti is the universe in which Cit-
Shakti is the changeless Spirit. Unmanifest Maya-Shakti is
Consciousness (Cidrupini). There are many persons who think that
they have disposed of a doctrine when they have given it an
opprobrious, or what they think to be an opprobrious, name. And so
they dub all this "Animism," which the reader of Census Reports
associates with primitive and savage tribes. There are some people
who are frightened by names. It is not names but facts which should
touch us. Certainly "Animism" is in some respects an incorrect and
childlike way of putting the matter. It is, however, an imperfect
presentment of a central truth which has been held by some of the
profoundest thinkers in the world, even in an age in which we are
apt to think to be superior to all others. Primitive man in his
simplicity made the discovery of several such truths. And so it has
been well said that the simple savage and the child who regard all
existence as akin to their own, living and feeling like himself,
have, notwithstanding their errors, more truly felt the pulse of
being, than the civilized man of culture. How essentially stupid
some of the latter can be needs no proof. For the process of
civilization being one of abstraction, they are less removed from
the concrete fact than he is. Hence their errors which seem the more
contorted due to the mass of useless verbiage in which they are
expressed. And yet, as extremes meet, so having passed through our
present condition, we may regain the truths perceived by the simple,
not only through formal worship but by that which consists of the
pursuit of all knowledge and science, when once the husk of all
material thinking is cast aside. For him, who sees the Mother in all
things, all scientific research is wonder and worship. So Gratry
said that the calculus of Newton and Leibnitz was a supralogical
procedure, and that geometric induction is essentially a process of
prayer, by which he evidently meant an appeal from the finite mind
to the Infinite, for light on finite concerns. The seeker looks upon
not mere mechanical movements of so-called "dead" matter, but the
wondrous play of Her Whose form all matter is. As She thus reveals
Herself She induces in him a passionate exaltation and that sense of
security which is only gained as approach is made to the Central
Heart of things. For, as the Upanishad says, "He only fears who sees
duality". Some day may be, when one who unites in himself the
scientific ardor of the West and the all-embracing religious feeling
of India will create another and a modern Candi, with its multiple
salutations to the sovereign World-Mother (Namastasyai namo namah).
Such an one, seeing the changing marvels of Her world-play, will
exclaim with the Yoginihridaya Tantra, "I salute Her the Samvid Kala
who shines in the form of Space, Time and all Objects therein."

Deshakalapadarthatma yad yad vastu yatha yatha,

Tattadrupena ya bhati tam shraye samvidam kalam

This is, however, not mere Nature-worship as it is generally
understood in the West, or the worship of Force as Keshub Chunder
Sen took the Shakta doctrine to be. All things exist in the Supreme
who in Itself infinitely transcends all finite forms. It is the
worship of God as The Mother-Creatrix who manifests in the form of
all things which are, as it were, but an atom of dust on the Feet of
Her who is Infinite Being (Sat), Experience (Cit), Love (Ananda) and
Power (Shakti). As Philibert Commerson said: "La vie d'un
naturaliste est, je L'ose dire, une adoration presque perpétuelle."

I have in my paper Shakti and Maya (here reprinted from the Indian
Philosophical Review, 1918, No. 2) contrasted the three different
concepts of the Primal Energy as Prakriti, Maya and Shakti of
Samkhya, Vedanta and the Agama respectively. I will not, therefore,
repeat myself but will only summarize conclusions here. In the first
place, there are features common to all three concepts. Hitherto,
greater pains have been taken to show the differences between the
Darshanas than to co-ordinate them systematically, by regarding
their points of agreement or as regard apparent disagreement, their
viewpoint. It has been said that Truth cannot be found in such a
country as India, in which, there are six systems of philosophy
disputing with one another, and where even in one system alone,
there is a conflict between Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita and Advaita. One
might suppose from such a criticism that all in Europe were of one
mind, or that al least the Christian Community was agreed, instead
of being split up, as it is, into hundreds of sects. An American
humorist observed with truth that there was a good deal of human
nature in man everywhere.

Of course there is difference which, as the Radd-ul-Muhtar says, is
also the gift of God. This is not to deny that Truth is only one. It
is merely to recognize that whilst Truth is one, the nature and
capacities of those who seek it, or claim to possess it, vary. To
use a common metaphor, the same white light which passes through
varicolored glass takes on its various colors. All cannot apprehend
the truth to the same extent or in the same way. Hence the sensible
Indian doctrine of competency or Adhikara. In the Christian Gospel
it is also said, "Throw not your pearls before swine lest they
trample upon them and then rend you." What can be given to any man
is only what he can receive.

The Six Philosophies represent differing standards according to the
manner and to the extent to which the one Truth may be apprehended.
Each standard goes a step beyond the last, sharing, however, with it
certain notions in common. As regards the present matter, all these
systems start with the fact that there is Spirit and Mind, Matter,
Consciousness and Unconsciousness, apparent or real. Samkhya,
Vedanta and the Shakta Agama called the first Purusha, Brahman,
Shiva; and the second Prakriti, Maya, Shakti respectively. All agree
that it is from the association together of these two Principles
that the universe arises and that such association is the universe.
All, again, agree that one Principle, namely, the first, is
infinite, formless consciousness, and the second is a finitizing
principle which makes forms. Thirdly, all regard this last as a
veiling principle, that is, one which veils consciousness; and hold
that it is eternal, all-pervading, existing now as seed (Mula-
prakriti, Avyakta) and now as fruit (Vikriti), composed of the Gunas
Sattva, Rajas and Tamas (Principles of presentation of
Consciousness, Action, and Veiling of Consciousness respectively);
unperceivable except through its effects. In all, it is the Natural
Principle, the material cause of the material universe.

The word Prakriti has been said to be derived from the root "Kri,"
and the affix "Ktin," which is added to express Bhava or the
abstract idea, and sometimes the Karma or object of the action,
corresponding with the Greek affix Sis. Ktin inflected in the
nominative becomes tis. Prakriti, therefore, has been said to
correspond with Phusis (Nature) of the Greeks. In all three systems,
therefore, it is, as the "natural," contrasted with the "spiritual"
aspect of things.

The first main point of difference is between Samkhya, on the one
hand, and the Advaita Vedanta, whether as interpreted by Shamkara or
taught by the Shaiva-Shakta Tantra on the other. Classical Samkhya
is a dualistic system, whereas the other two are non-dualistic. The
classical Samkhya posits a plurality of Atmans representing the
formless consciousness, with one unconscious Prakriti which is
formative activity. Prakriti is thus a real independent principle.
Vedantic monism does not altogether discard these two principles,
but says that they cannot exist as two independent Realities. There
is only one Brahman. The two categories of Samkhya, Purusha and
Prakriti are reduced to one Reality, the Brahman; otherwise the
Vakya, "All this is verily Brahman" (Sarvam khalvidam Brahma), is

But how is this effected? It is on this point that Mayavada of
Shamkara and the Advaita of Shaiva-Shakta Agama differ. Both systems
agree that Brahman has two aspects in one of which It is
transcendent and in another creative and immanent. According to
Shamkara, Brahman is in one aspect Ishvara associated with, and in
another one dissociated from Maya which, in his system, occupies the
place of the Samkhyan Prakriti, to which it is (save as to reality
and independence) similar. What is Maya P It is not a real
independent Principle like the Samkhyan Prakriti. Then is it Brahman
or not'? According to Shamkara, it is an unthinkable, alogical,
unexplainable (Anirvacantia) mystery. It is an eternal falsity
(Mithyabhuta sanatani), owing what false appearance of reality it
possesses to the Brahman, with which in one aspect it is associated.
It is not real for there is only one such. It cannot, however, be
said to be unreal for it is the cause of and is empirical
experience. It is something which is neither real (Sat) nor unreal
(Asat), nor partly real and partly unreal (Sadasat), and which
though not forming part of Brahman, and therefore not Brahman, is
yet, though not a second reality, inseparably associated and
sheltering with (Maya Brahmashrita) Brahman in Its Ishvara aspect.
Like the Samkhyan Prakriti, Maya (whatever it be) is in the nature
of an unconscious principle. The universe appears by the reflection
of consciousness (Purusha, Brahman) on unconsciousness (Prakriti,
Maya). In this way the unconscious is made to appear conscious. This
is Cidabhasa.

Maya is illusive and so is Shamkara's definition of it. Further,
though Maya is not a second reality, but a mysterious something of
which neither reality nor unreality can be affirmed, the fact of
positing it at all in this form gives to Shamkara's doctrine a tinge
of dualism from which the Shakta doctrine is free. For, it is to be
noted that notwithstanding that Maya is a falsity, it is not,
according to Shamkara, a mere negation or want of something
(Abhava), but a positive entity (Bhavarupam aj—anam), that is in the
nature of a Power which veils (Acchadaka) consciousness, as Prakriti
does in the case of Purusha. Shamkara's system, on the other hand,
has this advantage from a monistic standpoint, that whilst he, like
the Shakta, posits the doctrine of aspects saying that in one aspect
the Brahman is associated with Maya (Ishvara), and in another it is
not (Parabrahman; yet in neither aspect does his Brahman change.
Whereas, according to Shakta doctrine, Shiva does, in one aspect,
that is as Shakti, change.

Whilst then Shamkara's teaching is consistent with the
changelessness of Brahman, he is not so successful in establishing
the saying,. "All this is Brahman". The position is reversed as
regards Shaiva-Shakta Darshana which puts forth its doctrine of Maya-
Shakti with greater simplicity. Shakta doctrine takes the
saying, "All this is Brahman" (the realization of which, as the
Mahanirvana Tantra states, is the aim and end of Kulacara) in its
literal sense. "This" is the universe. Then the universe is Brahman.
But Brahman is Consciousness. Then the universe is really That. But
in what way P Shamkara says that what we sense with our senses is
Maya, which is practically something, but in a real sense nothing;
which yet appears to be something because it is associated with the
Brahman which alone is Real. Its appearance of independent reality
is thus borrowed and is in this sense said to be "illusory". When,
therefore, we say, "All this is Brahman"—according to Shamkara,
this means that what is at the back of that which we see is Brahman;
the rest or appearance is Maya. Again, according to Shamkara, man is
spirit (Atma) vestured in the Mayik falsities of mind and matter.
He, accordingly, can then only establish the unity of Ishvara and
Jiva by eliminating from the first Maya, and from the second Avidya;
when Brahman is left as a common denominator. The Shakta, however,
eliminates nothing. For him, in the strictest sense, "All is
Brahman." For him, man's Spirit (Atma) is Shiva. His mind and body
are Shakti. But Shiva and Shakti are one. Paramatma is Shiva-Shakti
in undistinguishable union. Jivatma is Shiva-Shakti in that state in
which the Self is distinguished from the not-Self. Man, therefore,
according to the Shakta Tantra, is not Spirit seemingly clothed by a
non-Brahman falsity, but Spirit covering Itself with its own power
or Maya-Shakti. All is Shakti whether as Cit-Shakti or Maya-Shakti.
When, therefore, the Shakta Tantric says, "All this is Brahman," he
means it literally. "This," here means Brahman as Shakti, as Maya-
Shakti, and Cit-Shakti.

Shiva as Parabrahman is Shiva-Shakti in that state when Shakti is
not operating and in which She is Herself, that is, pure
consciousness (Cidrupini). Shiva as Ishvara is Shiva-Shakti in that
state in which Shiva, associated with Maya-Shakti, is the source of
movement and change; Shiva-Shakti as Jiva is the state produced by
such action which is subject to Maya, from which Ishvara, the Mayin
is free. The creative Shakti is therefore changeless Cit-Shakti and
changing Maya-Shakti. Yet the One Shakti must never be conceived as
existing apart from, or without the other, for they are only twin
aspects of the fundamental Substance (Paravastu). Vimarsha-Shakti
(See Kamakalavilasa, 3rd Edition, 1961, Verses 1-4) as Maya-Shakti
produces the forms in which Spirit as Cit-Shakti inheres and which
it illuminates (Prakasha). But Maya-Shakti is not unconscious. How
can it be; for it is Shakti and one with Cit-Shakti. All Shakti is
and must be Consciousness. There is no unconscious Maya which is not
Brahman and yet not separate from Brahman. Brahman alone is and
exists, whether as Cit or as manifestation of Maya. All is
Consciousness, as the so-called "New Thought" of the West also

But surely, it will be said, there is an unconscious element in
things. How is this accounted for if there be no unconscious Maya?
It is conscious Shakti veiling Herself and so appearing as limited
consciousness. In other words, whilst Shamkara says mind and matter
are in themselves unconscious but appear to be conscious through
Cidabhasa, the Shakta Agama reverses the position, and says that
they are in themselves, that is in their ground, conscious, for they
are at base Cit; but they yet appear to be unconscious, or more
strictly limited consciousness, by the veiling power of
Consciousness Itself as Maya-Shakti. This being so, there is no need
for Cidabhasa which assumes, as it were, two things, the Brahman,
and unconscious Maya in which the former reflects itself. Though
some of the Shastras do speak of a reflection, Pratibimba is between
Shiva and Shakti. Brahman is Maya-Shakti in that aspect in which it
negates itself, for it is the function of Shakti to negate
(Nishedhavyapararupa shaktih), as it is said by Yoga-Raja or Yoga-
Muni (as he is also called) in his commentary on Abhinava Gupta's
Paramarthasara. In the Shakta Tantras, it is a common saying of
Shiva to Devi, "There is no difference between Me and Thee." Whilst
Shamkara's Ishvara is associated with the unconscious Maya, the
Shaiva Shakta's Ishvara is never associated with anything but
Himself, that is as Maya-Shakti.

Whether this doctrine be accepted as the final solution of things or
not, it is both great and powerful. It is great because the whole
world is seen in glory according to the strictest monism as the
manifestation of Him and Her. The mind is not distracted and kept
from the realization of unity, by the notion of any unconscious Maya
which is not Brahman nor yet separate from It. Next, this doctrine
accommodates itself to Western scientific monism, so far as the
latter goes, adding to it however a religious and metaphysical
basis; infusing it with the spirit of devotion. It is powerful
because its standpoint is the 'here' and 'now,' and not the
transcendental Siddhi standpoint of which most men know nothing and
cannot, outside Samadhi, realize. It assumes the reality of the
world which to us is real. It allows the mind to work in its natural
channel. It does not ask it to deny what goes against the grain of
its constitution to deny. It is, again, powerful because we stand
firmly planted on a basis which is real and natural to us. From the
practical viewpoint, it does not ask man to eschew and flee from the
world in the spirit of asceticism; a course repugnant to a large
number of modern minds, not only because mere asceticism often
involves what it thinks to be a futile self-denial; but because that
mind is waking to the truth that all is one; that if so, to deny the
world is in a sense to deny an aspect of That which is both Being
and Becoming. It thinks also that whilst some natures are naturally
ascetic, to attempt ascetic treatment in the case of most is to
contort the natural being, and to intensify the very evils which
asceticism seeks to avoid. Not one man in many thousands has true
Vairagya or detachment from the world. Most are thoroughly even
glued to it. Again, there are many minds which are puzzled and
confused by Mayavada; and which, therefore, falsely interpret it,—
may be to their harm. These men, Mayavada, or rather their
misunderstanding of it, weakens or destroys. Their grip on
themselves and the world is in any case enfeebled. They become
intellectual and moral derelicts who are neither on the path of
power nor of renunciation, and who have neither the strength to
follow worldly life, nor to truly abandon it. It is not necessary,
however, to renounce when all is seen to be Her. And, when all is so
seen, then the spiritual illumination which transfuses all thoughts
and acts makes them noble and pure. It is impossible for a man, who
in whatever sense truly sees God in all things, to err. If he does
so, it is because his vision is not fully strong and pure; and to
this extent scope is afforded to error. But given perfect spiritual
eyesight then all "this" is pure. For, as the Greeks profoundly
said, "panta kathara tois katharois," "To the pure all things are

The Shakta doctrine is thus one which has not only grandeur but is
greatly pragmatic and of excelling worth. It has always been to me a
surprise that its value should not have been rightly appreciated. I
can only suppose that its neglect is due to the fact that is the
doctrine of the Shakta Tantras. That fact has been enough to warrant
its rejection, or at least a refusal to examine it. Like all
practical doctrines, it is also intensely positive. There are none
of those negations which weaken and which annoy those who, as the
vital Western mind does, feel themselves to be strong and living in
an atmosphere of might and power. For power is a glorious thing.
What is wanted is only the sense that all Power is of God and is
God, and that Bhava or feeling which interprets all thoughts and
acts and their objects in terms of the Divine, and which sees God in
and as all things. Those who truly do so will exercise power not
only without wrong, but with that compassion (Karuna) for all beings
which is so beautiful a feature of the Buddha of northern and
Tantrik Buddhism. For in them Shakti Herself has descended. This is
Shaktipata, as it is technically called in the Tantra Shastra; the
descent of Shakti which Western theology calls the grace of God. But
grace is truly not some exterior thing, though we may pictorially
think of it as 'streaming' from above below. Atma neither comes nor
goes. To be in grace is that state in which man commences to realize
himself as Shiva-Shakti. His power is, to use a Western
phrase, "converted". It is turned from the husk of mere outwardness
and of limited self-seeking, to that inner Reality which is the
great Self which, at base, he (in this doctrine) is.

The principles of Shakta doctrine, which will vary according to
race, are a regenerating doctrine, giving strength where there is
weakness, and, where strength exists, directing it to right
ends. "Shivo' ham," "I am Shiva," "Sha' ham," "I am She (the Devi),"
the Tantras say. The Western may call It by some other name. Some
call It this and some that, as the Veda says. "I am He," "I am
She," "I am It," matters not to the Shakta so long as man identifies
himself with the 'Oversoul,' and thus harmonizes himself with its
Being, with Dharmic actions (as it manifests in the world) and
therefore necessarily with Its true ends. In its complete form the
Shakta doctrine is monistic. But to those to whom monism makes no
appeal, the Shakta will say that by adopting its spirit, so far as
the forms of their belief and worship allow, they will experience a
reflection of the joy and strength of those who truly live because
they worship Her who is Eternal life—The Mother who is seated on
the couch of Shivas (Mahapreta), in the Isle of Gems (Manidvipa), in
the "Ocean of Nectar," which is all Being-Consciousness and Bliss.

This is the pearl which those who have churned the ocean of Tantra
discover. That pearl is there in an Indian shell. There is a
beautiful nacre on the inner shell which is The Mother of Pearl.
Outside, the shell is naturally rough and coarse, and bears the
accretions of weed and parasite and of things of all kinds which
exist, good or bad as we call them, in the ocean of existence
(Samsara). The Scripture leads man to remove these accretions, and
to pass within through the crust, gross, though not on that account
only, bad; for there is a gross (Sthula) and subtle (Sukshma) aspect
of worship. Finally it leads man to seek to see The Mother of Pearl
and lastly the Pearl which, enclosed therein, shines with the
brilliant yet soft light which is that of the Moon-Cit (Cicchandra)

Maya-Shakti (The Psycho-Physical Aspect of the Universe)

by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe), [1918]
Chapter 1: Indian Religion As Bharata Dharma
Chapter 2: Shakti: The World as Power

Chapter 3: What Are the Tantras and Their Significance?

Chapter 4: Tantra Shastra and Veda

Chapter 5: The Tantras and Religion of the Shaktas

Chapter 6: Shakti and Shakta

Chapter 7: Is Shakti Force?
Chapter 8: Cinacara (Vashishtha and Buddha)

Chapter 9: The Tantra Shastras in China

Chapter 10: A Tibetan Tantra

Chapter 11: Shakti in Taoism

Chapter 12: Alleged Conflict of Shastras

Chapter 13: Sarvanandanatha

Chapter 14: Cit-Shakti (The Consciousness Aspect of the Universe)

Chapter 15: Maya-Shakti (The Psycho-Physical Aspect of the Universe)

Chapter 16: Matter and Consciousness

Chapter 17: Shakti and Maya

Chapter 18: Shakta Advaitavada

Chapter 19: Creation as Explained in the Non-dualist Tantras

Chapter 20: The Indian Magna Mater

Chapter 21: Hindu Ritual

Chapter 22: Vedanta and Tantra Shastra

Chapter 23: The Psychology of Hindu Religious Ritual

Chapter 24: Shakti as Mantra (Mantramayi Shakti)

Chapter 25: Varnamala (The Garland of Letters)

Chapter 26: Shakta Sadhana (The Ordinary Ritual)

Chapter 27: The Pa—catattva (The Secret Ritual)

Chapter 28: Matam Rutra (The Right and Wrong Interpretation)

Chapter 29: Kundalini Shakta (Yoga)

Chapter 30: Conclusions



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