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Bhaskara Teachings On Vedanta

Bhaskara (996 – 1061 AD) held the view of difference with non-difference (bheda – abheda) as the Ultimate truth, both being real. Brahman is the ultimate reality. It is both the material and efficient cause of the world. As the material cause, it enters into the world as an effect in its own modification, just as gold is modified as many ornaments. Thus Brahman is both cause and the effect, these being but its real forms. Bhaskara, however, says that the causal form of Brahman is its own nature while the world-effect is just adventitious and impermanent. All the same, both these forms are real. Impermanence is not the criterion for unreality. The world is real, different from the cause in form and yet non-different from it in substance. This is the rule in any and every cause-effect relationship.

Brahman for all the world-creation, is yet the same and unchanged. For what changes are its powers, not itself. It is like the sun which radiates its rays and collects them back.

The world transformation is twofold – 1 into intelligent selves and 2. Material objects. The world exists for enjoyment of selves, which as selves in bondage are different from Brahman and which in release become one with and non-different from Brahman.

Brahman has the attributes of existence, consciousness and bliss, along with omniscience, etc. A substance must have qualities. This does not militate against Brahman’s unity. In other words, Brahman is not mere consciousness. It is an active knower.

Each self is a separate entity. It is a knower and performer of acts. But when it forgets its source, viz., Brahman, acts as if it were independently real, it is caught in the cycle of births and deaths. This is the part that ignorance (avidya) plays in the system of Bhaskara. But this is a real predicament brought about by real elements and got over through by real endeavor by a real self to go back to a real Brahman. That is to say, ignorance is not removed but only conquered and set aside. In release, the self is one with Brahman.

In Bhaskara’s system, there is no place for jivanmukti or liberation while being alive in the current body. Release entails the fall of the body. Release may be immediate or gradual. The former results from meditation on the Suprem and the latter results from meditation on Hiranyagarbha which is of a lower ontological status than Brahman.

Release is again possible only by a combination of works and knowledge. Here knowledge means one’s knowing the natural identity with Brahman and the adventitious character of body, mind, etc. This knowledge leads to meditation, which in its turn brings about release.