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LNKS 23 - 2 of 2

From: sudarshan madabushi (
Date: Fri Jul 09 1999 - 12:29:46 PDT

(continued from immediately preceding post#23 - 1 of 2)

Sankara, with the feigned innocence of a monastic apprentice, carried on 
querying the "chAruvAka".

"Sire, but you know well that in this wretched world, to desire a thing is 
one and to sate it is another matter. There is the cost of satiation that 
must not be forgotten. It takes a lot of money these days to buy "ghee". 
It's not cheap commodity. So what does the man to whom quaffing down "ghee" 
has become the ruling passion of life… what is the poor fellow to do if he 
finds he cannot afford "ghee"?"

"RNam kritvA!" retorted the unflappable "chAruvAka". "Let such a man as you 
describe him to be… let him go about borrowing money any which way and by 
any means he can… and from any quarter in the world… but "ghritam" or "ghee" 
he must obtain and consume to his heart's content!"

This was the "chAruvAka" way of saying, "The end justifies the means… any 

"Sire, but is it not imprudent," Sankara continued, "for a man to borrow 
money? Debt ("Rnam") enslaves one's soul to another. Surely you know that, 
don't you? And how can an enslaved soul be free to pursue the ends of 
existence?" asked Sankara.

"Debt may be the bane of the soul in your matrix of Vedic values, O Sankara… 
but it is not so in the lofty manifesto of our "chAruvAka-darsanam"", was 
the laconic reply of the anti-Vedantin.

Sankara next tried a slightly different line of questioning.

"Sire, are you saying that in the lofty scheme of your wondrous "darsana" 
there is no such a thing as "soul"?

"Bhasmee-bhutasya dehasya!" was the emphatic reply of the "chAruvAka".  
"What is this thing called "soul" you Vedantins are so fond of talking 
about?" he counter-queried the bhagavatpAdA. "It is nothing but a fanciful 
figment of overwrought Vedic imaginations! For us "chAruvakA-s" the soul and 
the body are one and the same. When the body lives and breathes, the "soul" 
that you speak of lives and breathes too. When the body dies and turns to 
ashes, your "soul" turns to ashes with it."

"Sire, in that case, does the soul enliven the body or the body enliven the 
soul? Which enlivens what?" asked Sankara.

"Pah!" exclaimed the anti-Vedantin, "What kind of ridiculous questions you 
Vedantins pose! Tell me this, O Sankara! When you munch "tAmboolam" (betel) 
your mouth and tongue turn scarlet in colour, don't they? Now, I ask you, 
what makes your mouth go red? Is it the betel-leaves? The areca nut? The 
scented lime-paste? Or is it the warm flesh of your salivating tongue? Eh? 
Which amongst them makes your mouth go red? Can you tell me?"

The "chAruvAka" paused a moment to let his dramatic question hang in the air 
for effect. Then he answered it himself, "The answer obviously is: none of 
the them individually can cause redness in your mouth; but all three… 
betel-leaf, nut and lime… when chewed together as "tAmboolam" in the mouth 
will certainly redden your tongue, isn't it? Likewise, neither body nor soul 
(if there is such a thing at all) can singly constitute the material Cause 
for the Effect of Life. But when "body" as one element and "soul" as 
another, cohere… they "enliven" each other to form a third element called 
"Life". As long as the constituent elements remain coherent, the resultant 
element of "Life" too is sustained. When the constituents dissipate on death 
and devolve to their elemental ante-state, the phenomenon of "Life" too 
simply ceases to be.

"And that's all there really is to Life and earthly Existence, O Sankara! 
But you Vedantins will never leave it all at that! You have to concoct all 
your complex and fanciful metaphysics about the "jiva", the "brahmham" and 
the "sarIra" or "body"… Your Vedanta, O Sankara, if it amounts to anything 
at all, is nothing indeed but a conspiracy against the common man! You and 
your entourage, after all, have to somehow make a livelihood, right?"

Sankara was amazed at the ingenious arguments of the anti-Vedantin! Crude 
ideas whose "sound and fury otherwise signified nothing" were very nearly 
made to seem like philosophy of the highest order!

"If, as you say, there is no purpose to earthly existence other than seeking 
its temporal pleasures, then, I suppose, there is nothing like "svargA" 
(paradise) or "naraka" (perdition) in the "chAruvAka-darsana"? There is no 
system of moral reward and punishment? There is no ethical system under 
which man must account for his deeds?"

To this the anti-Vedantin replied, "punarAgamanam kutaha- ?".

"O Sankara, we do have "svargA" and "naraka" in our system. But it is not 
along the ridiculous lines of your "karma" theory where the so-called "soul" 
of man casts off one body after another in a cycle of birth and death… 
journeying relentlessly, back and forth, from this world to the ones beyond… 
and along the way liquidating its outstanding account of sin and virtue… Oh, 
no, we don't subscribe to that humbug you Vedantins have invented and now 

"What then is your idea of "svarga" and "naraka", heaven and hell?" asked 

"Heaven and Hell, O Sankara, reside on this very earth. One does not have to 
look into the empty skies for them. If a man should find ample means in this 
world to satisfy his every desire for pleasure, that verily is the Heavenly 
state. And if he but suffer deprivation of the means to indulge and fulfil 
his passions… there indeed is the state of Hell", replied the "chAruvAka".

"Sire," Sankara bhagavatpAdA finally asked, "do you have the concept of 
"mokshA"… eternal liberation… in your "darsana"?

"Of course", replied the "chAruvAka", "In our system of thought we consider 
Death to be "mOkshA"… "Bhasmee-bhutasya dehasya"… Death grants us the 
eternal liberation you speak of "!

**********           *************           ************

In Sankara's times corruption and bankruptcy, in thought and morals, had 
seeped so deeply into the society of India that masses of men actually 
believed in the system of "chAruvAka-darsana" --- by far the most classic 
example of the fungus of "anti-Veda" then destroying the eternal Tree of 
Vedic Knowledge at its very roots.

We will continue in the next post.

adiyEn dAsAnu-dAsan,

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