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The Ehtics Of The Upanishads - Pt. 2

( Originally Published 1922 )



So far we have hardly even touched the ethical problem of the Upanishads. To it we must turn now. The most important question that faces us at this stage of our inquiry is as to the ethical character of the ideal that is held up to man. Is this state of deliverance a state that has ethical worth? It will be impossible to consider this question fully until we have discussed the steps through which one arrives at the stage at which deliverance becomes possible, but certain points have already become clear to us. It is obvious that in a certain sense. ethical categories are inapplicable. He who has attained moksha is beyond good and evil. Good and evil exist only for him who is in the state of avidya ; he who has been delivered from ignorance is delivered from that immersion in the finite which that ignorance involves.

As water does not cling to a lotus leaf, so no evil deed clings to one who knows it .l

He therefore that knows it, after having become quiet, subdued, satisfied, patient, and collected, sees self in Self, sees all as Self. Evil does not overcome him, he overcomes all evil. Evil does not burn him, he burns all evil. Free from evil, free from spots, free from doubts, he becomes a (true) Brahmana ; this is the Brahma-world, O King, thus spoke Yajnavalkya.

Clearly there is room here for the greatest self-deception, and there are traces of such self-deception in various parts of the Upanishads. If he who has attained deliverance be beyond good and evil, then good and evil may be regarded as indifferent to him, and if, they be indifferent they may be practised without blame. This is the line of argument that seems to have sometimes been taken. It is similar to that sometimes taken by Antinomians in the Christian Church. If a man be saved he is free from sin ; he is lifted up into a relationship with God that removes him beyond the possibility of sinning. So acts, which performed by the unregenerate, would be sinful,may be performed by him without incurring guilt. The reply to both is the same葉hat he who is really delivered will have `died to sin in a different sense from that in which the Antinomian understands the situation. He will no longer follow after evil, for evil actions will have ceased to have any attraction for him.

Yet this Antinomian tendency is found in the Upanishads, sometimes in extreme form. It comes out in passages like this :

He who knows me thus, by no deed of his is his life harmed, not by the murder of his mother, not by the murder of his father, not by theft, not by the killing of a Brahman. If he is going to commit a sin, the bloom does not depart from his face.

Or more striking still:

He (in that state) is the highest person. He moves about there laughing (or eating), playing, and rejoicing (in his mind), be it with women, carriages, or relatives, never minding that body into which he was born .l

While such statements as these are in one aspect simply exaggerations of the idea that for him who has found deliverance all morality is transcended, we doubtless see in them also a reflection of the eschatological conceptions of older writings in which heaven is conceived very sensually. Even in its highest flights of thought, the Indian mind at this time found it diffrcult to shake off those sensual elements that had come to find a place in its conception of the highest good. On the other hand, the highest good of the Upanishads is at its best a state of being in which all ethical distinctions are transcended.

The ethical side of the teaching of the Upanishads comes out rather in relation to the preparation that is supposed to be necessary before the individual is in a position to be able to attain deliverance. It belongs therefore to a lower stage of experience. In this the attitude of the Upanishads is paralleled by that of some other schools of thought. Aristotle put speculative wisdom above practical wisdom, and if he gave more space to the discussion of the forms in which practical wisdom should manifest itself, that was simply due to his recognition that in these the mass of humanity must inevitably express themselves. The Stoics made an even more sharp division between the life that was lived in line with the highest ideal and the lower life of the ordinary man. The ideal was realized in the life of the passionless sage, and all who had not yet attained to this stage of passionlessness were involved in sin, and all sin was equal in guilt. This conception was not followed out with absolutely rigorous logic. Common sense came in and prevented the ordinary, everyday life of ordinary men from thus being denuded of all ethical significance. But it is interesting to note that here there is expressed in theory, a separation between the ideal as attained, and everyday life which is comparable to that drawn in the Upanishads. Practically, of course, it does not work out. The Stoic has to find a place for the lower goods which he would fain ignore as unworthy of the thought of the sage, and the writers of the Upanishads to whom the sole reality is Brahman are compelled nevertheless to recognize the significance of the life lived by men who have not attained deliverance, and to lay down rules for its conduct. This is all the more necessary on account of the fact that it is recognized generally, though by no means in all the Upanishads, that deliverance is attainable only as the outcome of a process. It may not be attained by any one at any stage of life. No doubt all lower manifestations of human life are in the end valueless. Study, sacrifice, morality, austerity, knowledge itself 預ll these ultimately count for nothing, but there is a sense in which they constitute a ladder on which one climbs to the height at which the highest good becomes attainable. So it is of importance that we should study the discipline that is thus demanded of him who would find deliverance.

This discipline may be said to be summed up in the doctrine of the four asramas. This doctrine as we find it in the Upanishads is not fully formed as we have found it to have been by the time when dharma was systematized, but the elements that constitute the life lived in the asramas are all recognized. The course of life laid down for the Brahman by this doctrine when fully developed was (1) the life of a Brahmachari spent in Vedic study in the house of his Guru, - (2) that of a Grihastha or householder, living with his wife and begetting children, and performing a great variety of worldly duties, (3) that of the Vanaprastha, living in the forest and practising austerities, and (4) that of the Sannyasi or Parivrajaka, who, casting away everything, wanders about a homeless beggar. It is not until we come to the late Upanishads that we find these four asramas recognized as definite stages in the life of the Brahman who would find deliverance, but in the great Upanishads the essential features that characterize life in these different asramas are recognized. In the Brihadaranyaka U., for example, the elements that enter into the life lived in the asramas are mentioned though they are not represented as belonging to distinct stages :

Brahmanas seek to know him by the study of the Veda, by sacrifice, by gifts, by penance, by fasting, and he who knows him becomes a Muni.

In the Chhandogya Upanishad it would seem that the four stages are recognized, though not according to their order in time or with that definiteness that enables us to recognize them as identical with the asramas.

There are three branches of the law. Sacrifice, study, and charity are the first.

Austerity is the second, and to dwell as a Brahmachari in the house of a tutor, always mortifying the body in the house of a tutor, is the third. All these obtain the worlds of the blessed; but the Brahmasarizstha alone (he who is firmly grounded in Brahman) obtains immortality?

Here we seem to have three of the asramas, or rather modes of life which are the basis of the asramas, fairly clearly indicated, a fourth mode being added which perhaps corresponds to the asrama of the sannyasi.

There is another passage in the same Upanishad in which there is evidence that the different asramas were beginning to be recognized. There it is stated that the way to the attainment of the world of Brahman is by learning the Veda from a family of teachers in the leisure left from the duties to be per-formed for the Guru, then settling in his own house, keeping up the memory of what he has learnt, and begetting virtuous sons, and (probably as a third stage) concentrating all his senses on the Self, never giving pain to any creature except at the tirthas. In this case the third and fourth stages would be merged in one. In the Chhandogya, the householder who practises sacrifices and good works is contrasted with the householder who knows the doctrine of the five fires, and the forest-dweller who follows faith and austerities, the former going by the way of the Fathers and the latter by the way of the Devas. Again in the Brihadaranyaka the oblations and sacrifices of the householder and the penance of the anchorite are works that will have an end. But he who knows the Akshara, he is a Brahman. A careful study of the relevant passages will probably lead one to adopt Deussens conclusion that in the earlier Upanishads only three stages are recognized葉hose of the student, the householder, and the anchorite葉hose who know the Atman being ` exalted above the Asramas. The first Upanishad in which the four stages are mentioned in their proper order is the late Jabala.

It would seem that the tendency is to regard these stages in the life of the individual as important as a preparation for the attainment of emancipation. Certainly they are not universally regarded as essential. This is indicated by the following passage :

Knowing this the people of old did not wish for offspring. What shall we do with offspring, they said, we who have this Self and this world (of Brahman)?

Again it is indicated that saving knowledge may be possessed even by the householder, and Nachiketas obtained Brahman while still a boy. Again, Max Muller was of opinion that the doctrine of the ホsa Upanishad was that works (the stages of student and householder) were necessary as a preparatory discipline before one could become a sannyasi as against the doctrine held by many that they were unnecessary.

Let us look at these stages in turn. The first is that of Vedic study, which was the chief business of the brahmzacheiri. The boy was sent to the house of a teacher, probably as a rule at the age of twelve. He approached him bearing fuel as a symbol of his willingness to serve him. The teacher received him and laid upon him various duties. The brahmachdri might be sent out to beg, he tended the teachers fires, and one case is mentioned where he was sent by the Guru to tend his cows. It would seem that all this discipline was intended by the Guru to test the worthiness of the pupil to receive instruction. The nature of the instruction given seems to have varied greatly. Svetaketu, we are told, studied ` all the Vedas 1 during his twelve years apprenticeship, and we gather that `all means Yajus, and Saman. It would seem that the committing to memory of the Vedas and hearing the explanations of them given by the Guru were the essential parts of the pupils intellectual training. These explanations would vary with the Gurus own capacity and point of view, and with the estimate he formed of the capacity and worth of his pupil. In some cases the instruction must have been of a very superficial order, puffing up instead of edifying the pupil. Those who showed special promise would be taken into the deeper questions that the Guru had studied. Satyakama allowed his other pupils to depart when they had learnt the sacred books, but Upakosala was detained for further instruction when he should be fit for it. It is characteristic of the Indian Guru that he imparts the highest instruction very reluctantly and as a profound secret, only to those whom he considers fit to receive it.

Take my hand, my friend. We two alone shall know of this : let this question of ours not be discussed in public.

Again :

A father may therefore tell that doctrine of Brahman to his eldest son, or to a worthy pupil. But no one should tell it to anybody else, even if he gave him the whole sea-girt earth full of treasure, for this doctrine is worth more than that, yea, it is worth more

In addition to the Vedic study which he had to undertake, the student was given instruction and had to undergo discipline the purpose of which was to fit him ethically for the duties of life. The mortification of the body was part of this discipline. Further, there were the duties that had to be performed in the service of the Guru, which have been already referred to. It was in the leisure left from these duties that the Vedas were to be studied. The period of studentship was one of hard work, in subjection to the Guru, to whom he owed the highest honour. The sum of his ethical counsel to his pupil is probably contained in the Taittiriya Upanishad, in the passage in which the Guru in dismissing his pupil declares to him the true purport of the Veda. The advice is given with a view to the pupils entrance upon the responsibilities of a householder, but one or two of the points are of interest as bearing upon the relation of the pupil to the Guru. In his conduct he should follow the example of the Guru, and in case of doubt regarding sacred acts and regarding conduct he should conduct himself as Brahmans who possess good judgement conduct themselves in the same matter.

The. period of studentship was not such a definite one as this brief sketch might seem to indicate. A student might remain in the house of the Guru for an indefinite period, and we read of men at all periods of life coming to teachers with fuel in their hands seeking instruction. Even the god Indra is said to have come thus as a pupil to Prajapati. The teacher again was not in all cases a Brahman belonging to a family of teachers. So important is the part played by kings and Kshatriyas generally in the exposition of the ideas which are expressed in the Upanishads, that some have maintained that the Upanishads represented at first a movement among the Kshatriyas against the ritualistic lines on which the thought of the Brahmans moved. Again, a father might play the part of Guru to his son, as did the father of Svetaketu when the latter returned from his course of study with his mind swollen with empty knowledge. The important point to observe is that while there was great variety in the form that studentship took, the need of a teacher seems to have been universally recognized. This comes out in the following quotation :

For I have heard from men like you, Sir, that only knowledge which is learnt from a teacher leads to real good.

So, regarding the knowledge of the Atman it is said : Unless it be taught by another, there is no way to it.

Having finished his studentship, the young man normally entered upon the second stage of life, that of the grihastha, or householder. ` Do not cut off the line of children, is one of the injunctions given by the Guru to the departing brahmachari. This was the most important motive to the entrance upon the second stage葉he continuance of ones line. In the Satapatha Brahmana it is said that man owes debts葉o the gods, sacrifices, to the seers, study of the Vedas, to the Manes, offspring, and to man, hospitality ; and there persists to the present day belief in the supreme importance of having a son to survive one and perform those ceremonies that are due to the Manes. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad the world of men is distinguished from that of the Fathers and that of the Devas, and it is said that this world can be gained by a son only, not by any other work . When a father dies, if there is anything done amiss by the father, of all that the son delivers him, and therefore he is called Putra, son. By help of his son the father stands firm in this world (the world of men).

The householder must also continue his Vedic studies, and he must perform sacrifices. The latter duty will require somewhat closer attention. It is not easy at all points to determine what was the attitude of the composers of the Upanishads to sacrifice. In places it seems to be disparaged, but probably in general the feeling was that sacrificial ideas and practices were so firmly rooted in Indian thought and life that it was hopeless to attempt to eradicate them. We have always to remember in studying the Upanishads that, while they teach as the highest doctrine the way of complete and final emancipation, they nevertheless recognize lower stages of attainment and attach worth to the means by which these are reached. It is characteristic of the Hindu mind all down through history that it has been willing to compromise, and, indeed, in its recognition of the position of the ` weaker brother it has sometimes tended to do less than justice to the stronger brother. The value of the sacrifice is limited, but still it has its value. They are fools who consider sacrifice and good works as the best, but through them the lower world of the fathers is attained, and so far they are good. So sacrifice is frequently mentioned as one of the essential duties of the householder without any qualification, the implication being that the sacrifices as they were laid down in the Brahmanas were approved. But, on the other hand, we sometimes find the sacrifices treated allegorically. The worshipper no longer, as in the Brahmanas, climbs up to heaven as on a ladder on the steps of the ritual, but the various aspects of the ritual are allegorized, sometimes ethically. There is a very striking passage in the Chhandogya Upanishad in which the sacrifice is thus allegorized. The diksha or initiatory rite is here stated to consist in fasting and abstention from pleasure, and the gifts to the priests in penance, liberality, righteousness, kindness, and truthfulness? Again we have such a passage as this :

Understanding performs the sacrifice, it performs all sacred acts.

So sacrifice was recognized, probably as a concession to the less enlightened. The more enlightened, if they recognized it at all, would give to it such an allegorical interpretation.

The householder must practise, along with sacrifice, certain more strictly ethical virtues. The Chhandogya Upanishad (V, 10, 3) speaks generally of works of public utility and alms, but elsewhere there are more detailed lists of ethical virtues and vices.

A man who steals gold, who drinks spirits, who dishonours his Gurus bed, who kills a Brahman, these four fall, and as a fifth he who associates with them.

A king boasts that in his kingdom there is no thief, no miser, no drunkard, no man without an altar in his house, no ignorant person, no adulterer, much less an adulteress. The duty of hospitality is inculcated :

Let him never turn away (a stranger) from his house, that is the rule.

Among other ethical qualities mentioned are right-dealing, self-restraint and tranquillity, while pride is condemned. In the later Maitrayana Upanishad there are given lists of evils that are the results of the qualities of lamas (darkness), and ` rajas (passion). The results of the former are : bewilderment, fear, grief, sleep, sloth, carelessness, decay, sorrow, hunger, thirst, niggardliness, wrath, infidelity, ignorance,- envy, cruelty, folly, shamelessness, meanness, pride, changeability. And the results of the latter are : inward thirst, fondness, passion, covetousness, unkindness, love, hatred, deceit, jealousy, vain restlessness, fickleness, unstableness, emulation, greed, patronising of friends, family pride, aversion to disagreeable objects, devotion to agreeable objects, whispering, prodigality. These qualities are connected with philosophical conceptions foreign to the earlier Upanishads, but we may take it that the evils named were regarded as such by the composers of the Upanishads generally.

When a man had fulfilled his duties as a householder he might enter upon the third stage of life葉hat of the vanaprastha or anchorite. Yajnavalkya, for example, is said to have abandoned the life of a householder and to have gone into the forest. This was not yet by any means a well-defined stage of life. The form that it should take was not laid down with any definiteness. It was fairly generally, though by no means universally, recognized that tapas, austerity, was of value as a means towards the attainment of the knowledge of the Atman. It would seem that throughout the Upanishads tapas, which might be practised at any stage, takes the place. of what later came to be the third asrama. The householder and the student are mentioned as alike practising tapas. Again, in so far as a distinct stage of life in which the individual withdraws to the forest seems to be recognized, the precise function of it as a stage does not appear with perfect clearness. It is not clearly marked off from what came to be recognized as the fourth asrama. The experience referred to by Yajnavalkya in the following passage has as close affinities with the fourth as with the third asrama :

When Brahmans know that Self and have risen above the desire for sons, wealth, and worlds, they wander about as mendicants.

Here there seems to be no distinct intermediate stage between that of householder and that of sannyasi. On the other hand, there are cases recorded that correspond more closely to the idea of the anchorite, who went to the forest and practised austerities as a preparation for the attainment of the knowledge of the Self. Wishing for the world of Brahman, it is said, mendicants leave their homes. King Brihadratha performed the highest penance with uplifted arms in the forest, and yet did not know the Self. It is generally taught that the practice of austerities in itself leads only to the world of the fathers, and there seems to have been difference of opinion, at any rate in the later Upanishads, as to whether tapas had any value as a means to the knowledge of the Self. But to this subject of tapas we shall return later.

In the later Upanishads the life of the sannyasi is dealt with in great detail, but in the classical Upanishads, as has been said, this stage is not clearly separated from the third. It became recognized in later times as a form of life in which the individual cast off all ties of family and caste and became a homeless wanderer, and it was entered upon as the last stage in the process leading to the knowledge of the Self. In the older Upanishads this was the state rather of him who had attained this knowledge葉he Brahmasakstha, or Muni.

It will now be necessary for us to turn back and try to gather together and to find the rationale of the ethical ideas contained in the material with which we have been dealing. The Upanishads are not a text-book of ethics. It has become clear to us that in their ethical as well as in their metaphysical speculations they present us with a wealth of ideas often far from consistent with each other. In our consideration of these ideas it is well that we should bear in mind the fact that in morality practice is older than theory. Morality was not invented by moral philosophers, and opinion is greatly divided as to the extent to which it has been influenced by them. Moral philosophers have always had before them in their speculations, as a fact that cannot be ignored, the moral life lived about them. This actual moral life and the vaguely understood ideals that underlie it they may criticize at many points ; they may even, as Plato did in the Republic, propose to replace it by a new social order, or they may propose such a radical alteration of moral values as Nietzsche has proposed, but in any case the new will inevitably bear marks of the influence of the old. The philosophers of India were familiar with a system of morality, if system it can be called, of very variegated texture, and if they failed to supply in its place a system in any way perfect, it was more their misfortune than their blame. They did not set out primarily to justify or reform the morality of their time ; their purpose was of a different kind ; and if the stubborn material of which morality is built did not yield to them as we may think it ought to have done, and if they were constrained to fit it into their greater structure as it could be fitted in, we must remember the limitations under which they wrought.

These thinkers were, most of them, possessed of one dominating conception葉hat of the identity of the Self and Brahman. The beginner in the study of the Upanishads may wonder why this idea did not dominate everything, but the fact remains that there were other ideas, often conflicting no doubt, yet stubborn, that demanded a place alongside this idea. As metaphysicians these thinkers might be convinced of the sole reality of the Atman, and in the light of this grand conception all else might be regarded as illusion耀tudy, sacrifice, and penance, as well as the ordinary duties of everyday morality. In the highest flights of their thought and imagination they might realize and fearlessly declare this. Yet the practical life lived about them, and the intellectual conceptions by which it was justified, continually obtruded themselves upon them ; and if they often admitted these conceptions to a place to which logic did not entitle them, we have to remember that even the philosophers of the Upanishads were human. It is well, then, that we should consider in the first place the influence of the dominating conception of the Upanishads upon ethical thought, and then the ways in which other conceptions crossed it.

It has already been indicated that while emancipation is conceived to be attained through knowledge, and while this knowledge is apt to be regarded after the manner of a purely intellectual intuition, it is probably more accurate to interpret it as an activity, or perhaps better a passivity, of the whole being. Any one might apprehend intellectually the idea that the Self is Brahman, but such a purely intellectual apprehension would not involve emancipation. For this, belief of some kind would be necessary, and belief is not a barely intellectual act, but one that involves also feeling and volition. If this be so it is clear that to attain emancipation something more is necessary than merely hearing the dogma enunciated, ` Thou art that, more even than the understanding of the whole philosophy of which this statement is the highest expression. In particular it is essential that there should be some preliminary education of the will. And the education of the will would differ essentially from that which has been common in the West, at any rate in regard to the kind of direction which should be given to the will. The Christian believes in a Kingdom of Heaven, of which the kingdoms of this world are in their measure reflections, and the qualities that fit one for citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven fit one in this measure for citizenship in an earthly kingdom. The morality of the West has been profoundly influenced by some such conception as this. In the light of the doctrine of the Atman, on the other hand, social morality has no such eternal significance. The will has to be directed with a view to the attainment of a certain end, but the end is external to the means, and when it is attained the means have no longer any significance. This is a fundamental distinction between the point of view of Christianity and the Upanishads. The Christian believes that in ethical experience he is in touch with that which is essentially real, while the writers of the Upanishads believed that so far as morality was necessary at all, it was necessary only as a step on which one might climb to something higher, over which one might climb to reality, but which in itself belonged to the sphere of the Unreal. The attainment of Brahman was believed to be possible not for him whose will was directed in accordance with the highest social ideals, but by him whose will was turned away from all this.

The end is knowledge of the identity of the Atman and Brahman, or realization of this identity, mediated through belief, as it may perhaps be more accurately put. What ethical presuppositions or ethical preparation does such a belief involve? We may pass over some of the more elementary and fundamental duties which are frequently insisted on, such as truthfulness, abstention from murder, theft, and the like. Whether these duties are recognized in practice or not it is hard to conceive any system of morality that denies their importance. The more flagrant breaches of these duties are not only sins but crimes. But there are other points in the morality of the Upanishads that are more distinctive and instructive. As a positive hindrance to the attainment of the end there is sensuality. Human nature is prone to seek its good in those things that bring pleasure or minister to comfort, and it is a familiar psychological fact that immersion in the pleasures of sense renders understanding of and belief in the value of spiritual ideas difficult. In a very special manner do they operate as hindrances to the attainment of the end as it is conceived in the Upanishads. For whatever helps to strengthen belief in the existence of the individual self as an independent being, and in the reality of the phenomenal world stands in manifest contradiction to the great principle in which the end is expressed. Let us look at some of the passages in which this thought is set forth.

The good and the pleasant approach man ; the wise goes round about them and distinguishes them. Yea, the wise prefers the good to the pleasant, but the fool chooses the pleasant through greed and avarice.

Fools dwelling in darkness, wise in their own conceit, and puffed up with vain knowledge, go round and round, staggering to and fro, like blind men led by the blind.

The Hereafter never rises before the eyes of the careless child, deluded by the delusion of wealth. This is the world, he thinks, `there is no other ;葉hus he falls again and again under my (i.e. Deaths) sway.

Another aspect of the case is put, when Sanatkumara pours scorn on worldly men who call cows and horses, elephants and gold, slaves, wives, fields, and houses greatness . For, he says, there is no bliss in anything finite .

Not only are pleasure and the things that minister to pleasure hindrances to the attainment of the end, but everything that breaks in on the calm of the soul, entangling it with the world, is likewise evil hunger, thirst, sorrow, and passion. Similarly pride is a hindrance to the highest knowledge.

You are worthy of Brahman, O Gautama, because you are not led away by pride. Come hither, I shall make you know clearly.

All appetites and passions, by whatever name we designate the various expressions of the feeling side of our nature, all must be restrained. In the Katha Upanishad there is a figure remarkable because of its close likeness in some points to Platos figure in the Phaedrus :

Know the Self to be sitting in the chariot, the body to be the chariot, the intellect (buddhi) the charioteer, and the mind the reins. The senses they call the horses, the objects of the senses their roads.

He who has no understanding and whose mind (the reins) is never firmly held, his senses (horses) are unmanageable, like vicious horses of a charioteer.

But he who has understanding and whose mind is always firmly held, his senses are under control, like good horses of a charioteer.

This figure is used in connexion with philosophical terminology different from that used in the earlier Upanishads, but the main idea of the passage is characteristic of the classical Upanishads generally. Other passages of similar import are the following :

He who has not first turned away from his wickedness, who is not tranquil and subdued, or whose mind is not at rest, he can never obtain the Self (even) by knowledge .

and

He therefore that knows it, after having become quiet, subdued, satisfied, patient, and collected, sees self in Self, sees all as Self.

So far the teaching of the Upanishads about morality is consistent with their conception of the end to be attained. There is no place for ` the world in this philosophy, and the lower elements in human nature are not to be tamed in order that they may be harnessed to work that is conceived as properly belonging to them, but they are to be destroyed as evil. The teaching of the Upanishads regarding austerity does not seem at first sight to take us far from the same line of thought. For the subduing of the passions, ascetic practices or practices of an allied kind have been followed by many under the influence of the higher religions. But the history of tapas in India shows that the motive to it was not always the subduing of the passions. We have found that in the earlier history of Indian religion tapas was praised without reference to its ethical value. The practice of certain forms of self-mortification and the self-infliction of pain are practices common to primitive religions, and the motive has been the acquisition of powers, generally of a magical kind. It is to motives such as this rather than to ethical motives that the first appearance of the idea of tapas is to be attributed. It is unscientific to condemn any principle or practice merely on the ground of its history. But in the Upanishads, while tapas is, no doubt, practised as a means to the subduing of the passions, it still bears in many places, if not in most, marks of its history. What we may call the ethical motive to tapas is apparent in the case of Yajnavalkya when he departed into the forest, and doubtless in many other instances the motive is at least partly ethical. But it would seem that much more commonly the old idea of tapas, as a means to the attainment of power, is dominant. We see this, for example, in the well-known passage in the Chhandogya Upanishad, where it is related that Upakosala practised austerities until the sacrificial fires were moved to teach him.

The teaching of the Upanishads on tapas is, indeed, confusing. In places it is reduced to a mere figure. In one place the highest penance is said to consist in sickness, the funeral procession, and the funeral pyre, the idea evidently being that sufferings deliberately undertaken are of less value than the inevitable experiences of life and death. Again, in some places where the virtue of asceticism is recognized it is held that it leads only to a finite reward :

Whosoever, O Gargi, without knowing that Akshara (the imperishable) offers oblations in this world, sacrifices and performs penance for a thousand years, his work will have an end.

Again, especially in the later of the classical Upanishads, we find greater claims made for tapas. Bhrigu was taught by his father to seek to know Brahman through tapas, and having performed tapas he understood one truth after another till he recognized bliss as Brahman) In the Svetasvatara Upanishad it is said that the Self is to be sought through truthfulness and penance, and that the roots of the Self are self-knowledge and penance." In the Prasna Upanishad the way to the Self is said to be through ` penance, abstinence, faith, and knowledge ,while in the Mundaka Upanishad it is said that those who practise penance and faith in the forest, tranquil, wise, and living on alms, depart free from passion through the sun to where that immortal Person dwells whose nature is imperishable Perhaps all that we are justified in saying regarding tapas in the classical Upanishads is that while at times it seems to be practised as a means of gaining control over the passions, at other times it is regarded as a means for the acquisition of supernatural power : while there is also to be seen a tendency to regard it as having no value at all.

It has been remarked already that there is no logical place for social morality in a system of thought, the dominating conception of which is that of the identity of the self and Brahman. This is in some measure recognized in the predominantly negative character of many of the duties which are most highly esteemed. The highest life is one in which social life with all its ties and interests is renounced, and among the highest virtues are those qualities that mark a loosening of the hold that these ties have on the individual. Yet we have to face the fact that the state of the grihastha is one that is considered honourable ; frequently even it is spoken of as essential in the life of him who would attain saving knowledge. This becomes all the more remarkable when we consider that the great end of the grihasthas being is the begetting of a son. It might seem that, if the highest good be deliverance from samsara,, then the bringing into the world of beings who should be involved in the circle of samsara would be above all things to be condemned. This difficulty does not seem to have been raised in this acute form ; but if it had been raised the reply would probably have been that in begetting children one is not starting new beings on the round of samsara, but providing bodies for beings who are already on it. But in any case the fact remains that the recognition of the duty of perpetuating the race is based upon a conception which stands in no direct relation to the fundamental conception of the Upanishads, but rather stands in contradiction to it, viz. the conception of the existence of the departed in the world of the fathers. These two conceptions of the destiny of the departed預s living on in a world apart from this, and as reincarnated in this world預ppear side by side in the Upanishads, and there seems to be no consciousness of any contra-diction. The contradiction has persisted in Hindu thought and practice in spite of all attempts to explain it away. Considered psychologically, the recognition of the place of the grihastha is a concession to the facts of human nature. What-ever life may be to the philosopher, to the average man it is good, and no philosophy will persuade him that the natural life lived in the family is something to be eschewed. There were ardent youths like Upakosala whose whole being was devoted to the attainment of the knowledge of the Self, but the thinkers of the Upanishads were forced frankly to recognize that for the normal man the attitude of mind that made saving knowledge as they regarded it possible, would be attainable only after the first freshness of life had gone. They believed that at the best the life lived in the world was a lower life, leading to no abiding good. Through it the higher stage might be reached but in itself it had no value in relation to the higher stage.

Knowing this (the Self) the people of old did not wish for offspring. What shall we do with offspring, they said, we who have this Self and this world (of Brahman). . . . For desire for sons is desire for wealth, and desire for wealth is desire for worlds. Both these are desires only. He is the Self to be described by No, No.

And so they accepted the traditional justification of the householders duties, contradictory though it was to their central doctrine.

The case is similar with the ethical duties of liberality and hospitality, frequently enjoined in the Upanishads, as we found them to be in the Law Books. The ground for the duty of liberality is to be found in the obligation recognized as early as the Rig Veda, of bestowing liberal gifts on the sacrificing priests. There we found an element that contributed to the doctrine of karma in the idea of ishtapurta. Gifts to the priests are still recognized in the Upanishads as essential in connexion with the sacrifice, and are put on the same plane as the sacrifice itself as part of the householders duty. It was probably, partly at least, as an extension of this duty of giving to the priests that liberality and kindness to others in general came to be praised. This is suggested by the passage quoted above in which the sacrifice is treated allegorically, where it is said :

Penance, liberality, righteousness, kindness, truthfulness, these form his Dakshinas.

The rise of a mendicant class subsisting on alms would also contribute to the development of the virtues of liberality and kindness, for the recognition of the duty of withdrawing from the world and subsisting on alms implies a corresponding duty of satisfying the needs of the mendicant. So alms-giving figures prominently as a virtue.

The ground for the duty of hospitality is probably different. We found that it too was recognized in the Rig Veda, and it is probable that it is to be traced back, as has been said in the last chapter, to the idea common among primitive peoples that the stranger has certain powers over one for good or evil, and that failure to entertain him hospitably may lead to his bringing bad luck to a household. There are few traces of such an idea in the Upanishads, but it is possible that we find it lingering in such a passage as this :

Let him never turn away (a stranger) from his house, that is the rule. Therefore a man should by all means acquire much food, for (good) people say (to the stranger) : ` There is food ready for him. If he gives food amply, food is given to him amply. If he gives food fairly, food is given to him fairly. If he gives food meanly, food is given to him meanly.

So there is recognized in the Upanishads in these various ways the duty of kindness towards others, the duty of liberality, hospitality, and alms-giving, each of these virtues having a different root. All this doubtless helped on very greatly to a recognition of the more important social virtues, which can find no justification by reference to the central conception of the Upanishads.



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