REVIEWS OF BOOKS
TRANSLATED FROM THE SANSKRIT,
AND COMMENTED BY RAPHAEL
Prabuddha Bharata or Awakened India
Vol. 96 N. 1 March 1991
Self and Non-Self: The Drg-drsya-viveka attributed to Sankara.
Translated from the Sanskrit with a commentary by Raphael. Published by Kegan Paul International Limited, P. O. Box 256, London WC IB 3SW, England; 1990. pp. 98.
The book under review is an English translation of the Italian version of Drg-drsya-viveka, attributed to Sri Sankaracarya. It was published in Italian by Asram Vidya in 1977 with a translation and commentary by Raphael, the founder of the Asram Vidya Order. The present book has been translated into English by Kay McCarthy and has a foreword by A. J. Alston.
An enquiry of the Self, transcending the barriers of Non-self by discrimination, and realizing the non-dual Consciousness within and without is the central theme of Advaita Vedanta. The Drg-drsya-viveka is a short treatise of forty-six Sanskrit verses which analyses the illusory perceptions of names and forms in the states of dreams and waking as well. In effect, it reveals the real nature of the perceiver as infinite consciousness Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. The commentator has given the scientific explanation of the meaning which helps the reader to discriminate and separate the observer (drk) from the observed objects (drsya).
The self the Atman is by its own nature pure and perfect, but on account of intrinsic power of Maya, the self is deluded and is identified with the world of names and forms which are themselves illusory. The commentator explains the nature of jiva in terms of scientific concepts such as electronic particle and atomic nucleus, and proceeds further with the text, how Jiva attains the higher states of samadhi and knows its real nature in the highest realization, viz. Nirvikalpa Samadhi, transcending the realm of mind and intellect. The true Jiva (Atman), an observer (drk), recognizes its identity with Brahman, and is real as the witness without being identified with the world of phenomena, whether objective or subjective. (p. 61)
The scholarly commentary, ranging in its reference from Western savants such as Plotinus, St. Augustine, Pascal and Sir James Jeans, to Indian scholars and sages such as Svami Nikhilananda, Svami Siddhesvarananda, gives us insights into depths of discrimination which enable us to recognize the essential name of our true being. He also draws on the definitive texts such as the Mandukya and the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad as well as Sankaracaryas Vivekacudamani.
As regards the authorship of the Sanskrit book the translator has taken the views of Svami Nikhilananda from his book Drg-Drsya-Viveka published by Sri Ramakrishna Asrama Mysore. The transliteration of the Sanskrit text and the elaborate bibliographical appendix at the end inspire the reader to know more about the Vedanta. This work contrary to the jacket though, is not the first translation into English of Drg-Drsya-Viveka.
The book is a valuable addition to the Vedanta literature available in English and will surely awaken enquiry and discrimination in the mind of many readers.
R.K. Math, Hyderabad
Tattvaloka The Splendour of Truth
Vol. XIV N. 1 April-May 1991
Self and Non-Self: The Drgdrsyaviveka attributed to Sankara.
Translated from the Sanskrit with a commentary by Raphael, of Asram Vidya Order. Published in 1990 by Kegan Paul International Ltd., London and New York, Pages 98. Distributed by John Wiley and Sons Ltd., Southern Cross Trading Estate, 1 Oldlands Way, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, P.O. 22, 9SA, England.
The Drgdrsyaviveka which consists of only 46 slokas, has always been considered as an excellent compendium for students of Advaita philosophy. About its authorship there is no unanimity. The commentator Anandajnana attributes it to Sankara. Some claim it to be the work of Vidyaranya who wrote the vedantic treatise Panchadasi. Some attribute it to Bharati Tirtha. Bharati Tirtha, the predecessor of Vidyaranya, was the 11th head of the monastery of Srngeri, one of the spiritual centres founded by Adi Sankara.
Drgdrsyaviveka is a rational and discriminative method by which one separates the observer (Drg) from the object (Drsya), the Self from the non-Self. It is the art of distinguishing the real from the unreal; the phenomenon from the noumenon; the parade of fleeting appearances from the substratum, the Brahman. It is a process of distinction between the subject and the object, and recognition of the fact that the spectacle is subject to continual changes and is a mirage of names and forms emerging from the homogeneous and indivisible substratum.
In his introduction the author writes:
«If we take a piece of clay and make a jar from it, and if this jar one day becomes aware of itself, it will say: I am a jar.
«If we break down the jar and re-knead the clay and make a statue, and if one day the statue becomes conscious of itself, it will say: I am a statue.
«If we break down the statue and re-knead what gave origin to the jar and to the statue and make a pyramid of it, and if this becomes aware of itself, it will say: I am a pyramid.
«But if the jar, the statue and the pyramid, as spatio-temporal constructions qualified by certain forms, could really become aware of their primordial and existential unconscious substratum, each would say: I am formless, homogeneous clay that takes form now as a jar, now as a statue, now as a pyramid.
«Beyond every formal-structural modification, beyond all ego-form-quality, the substratum that is pure Existence (Sat) lives eternally». There is no separate existence of an object, except in the mind of the Perceiver. The mind with its modifications is perceived by the Perceiver-Spectator who cannot be the object of perception. All forms will disappear when the Perceiver is known. At this level the Spectator is mute and lives in silence. The maunavakhya of Sri Daksinamurti is pointer to this state of ineffable blessedness.
Self and Non-self is published with full English commentary and the transliterated Sanskrit text. Raphael, in rendering his commentary, is faithful to the Vedanta tradition. Among the topics covered in the text are: (1) Three states of consciousness, waking, dream and deep sleep, besides the fourth, the Turiya, the ultimate state; (2) The jiva; (3) The two powers of Maya: the projective and the veiling powers; (4) The various types of Karma, such as Samcita (stored up in the past), Agami (built up during ones present life), Prarabdha (that already matured and impossible to neutralise); (5) The four Vedic mantras: Tat tvam asi (That Thou Art), Ayam Atma Brahma (This Atman is Brahman), Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman), Prajnanam Brahma (Pure Consciousness is Brahman).
Self and Non-self is well written and elegantly produced. Parallels have been drawn with Western savants, such as Plotinus and St. Augustine. An impressive bibliography adds considerably to the usefulness of this short treatise. It should be particularly welcome to any practising Asparsin (one beyond pairs of opposites) who wishes to devote his time to solitude and prayer.
M. V. B. S. Sarma
The Mountain Path
Self and Non-Self: The Drg drsya-viveka:
Publishers: Kegan Paul International, London WC1 3SW, pp. 98.
The above under review is an extensive commentary by Raphael on the forty-six sutras of Drg-drsya-viveka attributed to Sankara, a work which is an essential introduction to Advaita Vedanta. In fact the first sutra in itself forms the introduction to the problem, the process of resolution, and the last word in Advaita. Self and Non-Self examines a fundamental philosophical problem, that of subject and object. Drg-drsya-viveka is the rational and discriminative method of separating the observer drk, from the object drsya, the self from the non-self, the spectator from the spectacle.
Raphaels commentary remains faithful to tradition and will be of use in various ways to students and scholars of Vedanta at different stages. The parallels drawn in the commentary with Plotinus, St. Angustine and other Western thinkers add to the value of this book. Scholars will welcome this book with its profuse Bibliography based on the work of Prof. Mario Piantelli.
Prof. K. S. Ramakrishna Rao
Bulletin of Saos
Vol. 54 N. 1 1991
Self and Non-Self: The Drg-drsya-viveka attributed to Sankara by Raphael
Kegan Paul International, London and New York, 1990. 98 pp.
The Drg-drsya-viveka is a short treatise speaking of the fundamental teachings of Sankara, the great philosopher of ancient India. The principal doctrine is of the need for discrimination (viveka) between the Seer or Self or subject (drs) and the seen or non-Self or object (drsya), and the realization that the Seer is real, and the seen ultimately unreal. This is liberation.
First, it is established that the Seer observes all the multiplicity of creation. The Seer is in reality consciousness. Identification with the seen makes it seen real. This identification is powered by maya (illusion). Three states of ignorance are experienced, that of waking, dreaming and deep sleep. The individual soul (jiva), believing himself separate, experiences the variety of creation. Through a form of contemplative practice (samadhi), and by memory of the great statements from the Vedantic scriptures the jiva realizes its unity with the Self.
Raphael represents a group within the Asram Vidya Order, and has both translated the Sanskrit verses of Drg-drsya-viveka as well as written a commentary on them with an introduction. His translation, while not literal, is true to the Sanskrit. Often Raphael is forced to rephrase significantly simply because the Sanskrit is composed in very terse verses. The commentary, as Raphael stresses, is for the spiritual aspirant rather than the scholar. Although mostly technically correct, Raphael does not dwell on scholastic problem. He frankly faces the question of authenticity, conceding he is unsure of the name of the author, but says this is not important.
Raphael writes for the layman of the scientific age, expressing points of Vedantic philosophy in terms of modern science. He likens upadhi, or limiting adjuncts to the electrons which, depending on their number, change the chemical properties of the substance, while the atom which represents the Self, always remains the same. Apart from citing other texts of Advaita Vedanta, Raphael further makes the Western reader at home by quoting Plotinus and St. Augustine, showing the close parallels. He quotes Enneads 6, 9, 11 on page 65. Now, as they were not two, but the seer himself was a sole thing with the object seen, whoever becomes thus, when fused with him....
St. Augustine, speaking of the one Reality, is quoted on page 47: It really is because It is unchanging (De Natura Boni, 19).
These quotations are refreshing in varying the tone of the commentary.
Raphaels commentary is effective in the way it meets the reader where he is, and explains the doctrine starting from this point. This makes the discussion relevant to the reader rather than abstract:
We consider the waking state to be real, and the dreaming state, as well as any other possible subtle subjective state, to be illusory because we identify with the reference frame of the waking state (p. 60).
The commentary also acts as a small introductory manual of Advaita Vedanta, covering many topics. Six types of samadhi are formalized in a diagram. Also enumerated and explained are the three types of karma: samcita, etc., the four states: waking, etc., with their macrocosmic virat, etc., and microcosmic vaisvanara, etc., equivalents, the four great sentences: aham brahmasmi, etc., the seventeen elements of the antahkarana, etc. But much more than a pedantic list, Raphael commentary is skilful in showing the poignancy of even the most stock Vedantic analogy:
There is an indefinite number of jar-form, but only one clay. We can concentrate upon the jar-form and identify with it to such a degree as to allow it to condition our entire existence (p. 45).
Raphaels translation and commentary is a valuable contribution to our understanding of Advaita Vedanta.
Adyar Library & Research Centre - India
Self and Non-Self: The Drg-drsya-viveka attributed to Sankara
by Raphael .
Kegan Paul International, London and New York, 1990 Pages 98.
The Drg-drsya-viveka of Sankaracarya is a popular exposition of the Advaita Vedanta in 46 verses. Raphael has given a lucid translation of the text and an extensive commentary. It is intended for readers with a general interest in philosophy, as well as for Indian specialists. The work examines the distinction between the self and the non-self, between subject and object. Raphael is the Founder of the Asram Vidya Order. The book was originally published in 1977 in Italian, and the present English translation is by Kay McCarthy. The Sanskrit text is appended in Roman transliteration. A bibliography has also been appended. We welcome this popular edition of a text introducing the basic principles of the Advaita philosophy.
K. K. Raja