Bahupurushavada (बहुपुरुषवादः)

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Bahupurushavada (Samskrit : बहुपुरुषवादः) one of the important concepts, propounded in the Darshana shastras, literally means the theory about बहुपुरुष । many people. The siddhanta involving the number and nature of Purusha (called variously as the Knower, Spectator, Supreme Being, Brahman, Ultimate Reality) is one of the widely discussed topics with each darshana having its own standpoint on it.

परिचयः || Introduction

Each of the shad darshanas while agreeing on the fundamental concepts of atma, karma and moksha, differ from each other in some siddhantas, which make them unique. Among such differences each darshana proposes its stance on the belief of Singularity or Plurality of the supreme being. While vedantins advocate that the Brahman is One (manifesting itself), samkhyavadins lay down the Bahupurushavada explaining the plurality of Purusha.[1][2] The present topic briefly explains the different darshanas that advocate bahupurushavada directly or indirectly.

बहुपुरुषवादः ॥ Pluralistic View

Samkhya and Yoga darshanas are strongly Pluralistic in their approach about the Ultimate Reality which is called as Purusha (पुरुषः).

साङ्ख्यम् ॥ Samkhya Darshana

पुरुषबहुत्वं व्यवस्थातः । सांख्यसूत्र-६.४५ । (प्रघानस्यसृष्ट्युपरमनिमित्तादि निरूपणं)

नाद्वैतमात्मनो लिङ्गात् तद्भेदप्रतीतेः । सांख्यसूत्र-५.६१ । (आत्माद्वैत निरासः)

नानात्मापि प्रत्यक्षबाधात् । सांख्यसूत्र-५.६२ । (आत्माद्वैत निरासः)

नोभाभ्यां तेनैव । सांख्यसूत्र-५.६३ । (आत्माद्वैत निरासः)

अन्यपरत्वमविवेकानां तत्र । सांख्यसूत्र-५.६४ । (आत्माद्वैतनिरासः)

नात्माविद्या नोभयं जगदुपादानकारणं निस्सङ्गत्वात् । सांख्यसूत्र-५.६५ । (आत्माद्वैतनिरासः)

नैकस्यानन्दचिद्रूपत्वे द्वयोर्भेदात् । सांख्यसूत्र-५.६६ । (आत्माद्वैतनिरासः)

दुःखनिवृत्तेर्गौणः । सांख्यसूत्र-५.६७ । (आत्माद्वैतनिरासः)

विमुक्तिप्रशंसा मन्दानां । सांख्यसूत्र-५.६८ । (आत्माद्वैतनिरासः) (Samkhya Sutras)

जननमरणकरणानां प्रतिनियमादयुगपत्प्रवृत्तेश्च । पुरुषबहुत्वं सिद्धं त्रैगुण्यविपर्ययाच्चैव ॥ १८ ॥ (Samk. Kari. 18)[3]

jananamaraṇakaraṇānāṁ pratiniyamādayugapatpravr̥tteśca । puruṣabahutvaṁ siddhaṁ traiguṇyaviparyayāccaiva ॥ 18 ॥ (Samk. Kari. 18)

According to Tattvakaumudi commentary for Samkhya Karikas (Page 84 of reference [2]) पुरुषबहुत्वं सिद्धं । Plurality of Purusha is established by the following three reasons in the 18th Karika:

  1. जननमरणकरणानां प्रतिनियमाद् । Because there is definite adjustment of birth, death and the organs (tanmatras etc). If Purusha is One and the same in all bodies, then with the birth of one, all would be born; on the death of one, all would be dead; if one becomes blind all would be blind, so that there would be no adjustment.
  2. अयुगपत्प्रवृत्तिः । Due to the non-simultaneity of activity (with different individuals). If the Purusha is One, the Self being the same, the activity of one man would lead to similar activity in all other men.
  3. त्रैगुण्यविपर्ययात् । Due to the diversity or differentiation caused by the three Gunas (Satva, Rajas, Tamas). The distribution of Gunas varies in different groups of beings - Satva predominates in deities and saints, Rajas in men and tamas in others such as beasts. This diversity of entities cannot be explained if Purusha is one.

योगः ॥ Yoga Darshana

Yoga darshana does not explicitly discuss about the manifestation of Purusha in all beings (as seen in Samkhya) but discreetly points to plurality of Purusha, through the usage of the terms in plural tense as seen in the following sutras of Patanjali maharshi.

क्लेशकर्मविपाकाशयैरपरामृष्टः पुरुषविशेष ईश्वरः ॥२४॥ kleśakarmavipākāśayairaparāmr̥ṣṭaḥ puruṣaviśeṣa īśvaraḥ ॥24॥(Yoga. Vyas. Bhas. 1.24)[4]

Vyasabhasyam to Patanjali sutras clearly explains the plurality through the usage of केवलिनः (plural for केवली) or मुक्त पुरुषाः । Mukta Purushas (person free from bondage, a jivanmukta). कैवल्यं प्राप्तास्तर्हि सन्ति च बहवः केवलिनः। Many are those केवली । Kevali-s or mukta purushas who attained Kaivalya or Mukti (कैवल्य को प्राप्त किए हुए अनेक 'केवली' अर्थात मुक्त पुरुष हैं).

निरतिशयं तत्र सर्वज्ञत्वबीजम् ॥२५॥ niratiśayaṁ tatra sarvajñatvabījam ॥25॥ (Yoga. Vyas. Bhas. 1.25)[4]

Vyasabhashyam explanation of the sutra 25 : ज्ञानधर्मोपदेशेन कल्पप्रलयमहाप्रलयेषु संसारिणः पुरुषानुद्धरिष्यामीति । By imparting jnana and dharma I (Ishvara) will elevate the संसारिणः पुरुषान् । beings (Purushas) engaged in worldly activities, at the time of Pralaya (kalpa and mahapralaya). (ज्ञान और धर्म के उपदेश के द्वारा कल्प प्रलय और महा प्रलय में संसारी पुरुषों का उद्धार करूं।)

स पूर्वेषामपि गुरुः कालेनानवच्छेदात॥२६॥ sa pūrveṣāmapi guruḥ kālenānavacchedāta॥26॥ (Yoga. Vyas. Bhas. 1.26)[4]

Further explanation is given as स एष पूर्वेषामपि गुरुः । He (Ishvara) is the preceptor of all gurus as He is eternal and undeterred by the progress of time.(वह ईश्वर पूर्व सभी गुरुओं का गुरु है काल के प्रवाह में विच्छिन्न न होने से।)

न्यायः ॥ Nyaya Darshana

आत्मशरीरेन्द्रियार्थबुद्धिमनःप्रवृत्तिदोषप्रेत्यभावफलदुःखापवर्गाः तु प्रमेयम्।। (Nyay. Dars. 1.1.9)[5]

According to the Vatsayana's Bhasyam of Gautama Nyayasutras, one of the qualities of Atma is that it is Bhokta (भोक्ता). It should be noted that Bhoktrutva bhava is explained only when atleast two entities (dvaita) exists. Thus Nyaya siddhanta also accepts Bahupurushavada indirectly

तत्राऽऽत्मा सर्वस्य द्रष्टा, सर्वस्य भोक्ता, सर्वज्ञः, सर्वानुभवकः । तस्य भोगाऽऽयतनं शरीरम् । भोगसाधनानीन्द्रियाणि । [6]

The substratum (base) of Atma is Sharira (body) and because there are many bodies it can be considered that Atmas are also many in number.

वैशषिकम् ॥ Vaiseshika Darshana

Prashastapada bhasyam, a valuable text explaining Kanada Maharshi's Vaiseshika sutras, while defining the qualities of Atma mentions

तस्य गुणाः बुद्धिसुखदुःखेच्छाद्वेषप्रयत्नधर्माधर्मसंस्कारसंख्यापरिमाणपृथक्त्वसंयोगविभागाः। [7]

The qualities of the Self are : Intelligence (बुद्धिः), Pleasure (सुखम्), Suffering (दुःखम्), Desire (इच्छा), Aversion (द्वेषः), Effort (प्रयत्नः), Virtue (धर्मः), Vice (अधर्मः), Samskara, Number (संख्या), Dimension (परिमाण), Separateness (पृथक्त्वम्), Samyoga (संयोग । Conjunction) and Vibhaga (विभागः । Disjunction).

Manyness or Plurality of Atma is indicated by the mention of Number (संख्या), Dimension (परिमाण), Separateness (पृथक्त्वम् separateness due to delineation, restriction), Samyoga (संयोग । Conjunction) and Vibhaga (विभागः । Disjunction).[8]

वेदान्तः ॥ Vedanta Darshana (Uttara Mimamsa)

जगदुव्यापारवर्जम् प्रकरणात् असन्निहितत्वाच्च ॥ jagaduvyāpāravarjam prakaraṇāt asannihikatvācca (4.4.17)[9][10]

The muktatma (released atma) attains all Ishvariya powers except the power of creation, maintenance of srishti and pralaya (जगदुव्यापारः) on account of Isvara being the subject matter of all texts where creation etc are described and the muktatma not being mentioned in that connection.

References

  1. Jha, Ganganatha. (1896) Tattva-Kaumudi (Sankhya) of Vachaspati Mishra (English Translation with the Sanskrit Text) Bombay: Theosophical Publication
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jha, Ganganatha (1965) The Tattva-Kaumudi, Vachaspati Mishra's Commentary on the Samkhya Karika. Poona : Oriental Book Agency
  3. Samkhya Karikas
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Patanjali Yoga Darshana With Vyasa Bhashya (Samadhi Pada 1)
  5. Nyaya Sutras by Gautama Maharshi (Adhyaya 1 Prathamabhaga)
  6. Pt. Ashubodha Vidya Bhushan and Nityabodha Vidyaratna. (Reprint in 2000) Nyaya Darshana with Vatsayana Bhasyam and Vritti of Viswanatha. Delhi, Chaukhambha Sanskrit Prasthan.
  7. Prashasthapada Bhashya (Page 70)
  8. Pt. Ganganath Jha. (1916) The Padartha Dharmasangraha of Prashastapada with the Nyayakandali of Sridhara. Benares : E. J. Lazarus and Co.
  9. Brahmasutras (Adhyaya 4)
  10. Brahma Sutras with Bhashyas (Adhyaya 4 Pada 4)