The Vaiśeṣika system, one of the six Hindu darśanas (worldviews or schools of philosophy), is not known for its cosmogony. It is known as an ancient Indian system of atomism. The cosmogony it has is the manifestation and dissolution of the four great elements (mahā-bhūta) that form the world (earth, water, fire, and air), and these are made up of ultimate atoms (paramāṇu). Here we find one of its most interesting teachings. Its ultimate atoms, which are apparently not atoms of physical matter, do not dissolve when the cosmos dissolves, but rather remain in a dissociated state. Such an idea has recently been brought to the attention of some modern scientists when the present Dalai Lama spoke of it at the Mind-Life Conferences. In these dialogues, he presented a Buddhist view of cosmogony, including empty ultimate atoms that remain when the cosmos goes out of manifestation.1 This idea comes from the Buddhist Kālacakra system, without cognizance of its parallel and possible origin in the more ancient Vaiśeṣika system. Such an idea is apparently also found in the allegedly even more ancient “Book of Dzyan,” according to a phrase from a commentary on it brought out by H. P. Blavatsky in 1888. She writes of “MOTION, which, during the periods of Rest ‘pulsates and thrills through every slumbering atom’ (Commentary on Dzyan)” (The Secret Doctrine, vol. 1, p. 116).
The idea of eternal ultimate atoms, which remain in existence even when the cosmos goes out of existence, does not present a problem for the Vaiśeṣika system. This is because the Vaiśeṣika system is regarded as pluralistic, so there can more than one thing or category of things that is eternal. Thus, besides eternal ultimate atoms, the Vaiśeṣika system also teaches eternal selves or souls (ātman), etc. The idea of eternal ultimate atoms also does not present a problem for Jainism, in which it is also found. The Jaina teaching on these atoms is similar to that of Vaiśeṣika, although according to Jainism the cosmos never goes out of manifestation. Jainism, too, is regarded as pluralistic. The idea of eternal ultimate atoms does, however, present a problem for the Buddhist Kālacakra and for Theosophy, neither of which are regarded as pluralistic systems. While early or southern Buddhism is regarded as pluralistic, Kālacakra is part of Mahāyāna or northern Buddhism, which is not. Early Buddhism, like Vaiśeṣika Hinduism and like Jainism, teaches the existence of ultimate atoms; but unlike in Vaiśeṣika and in Jainism, the ultimate atoms in early Buddhism are not eternal. They do not remain when the cosmos dissolves. The non-eternal aspect of this idea was acceptable to the Mahāyāna Buddhist schools, but these schools specifically refuted the early Buddhist atomism on the basis of its plurality. Likewise, the non-dual Advaita Vedānta school of Hinduism specifically refuted the Vaiśeṣika atomism on the basis of its plurality.
Like Advaita Vedānta, Theosophy is non-dualistic. This was stated in unmistakable terms by Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine (vol. 1, p. 120): “The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature—from Star to mineral Atom, from the highest Dhyāni-Chohan to the smallest infusoria, in the fullest acceptation of the term, and whether applied to the spiritual, intellectual, or physical worlds—this is the one fundamental law in Occult Science.” We therefore do not expect to find a commentary on the Book of Dzyan speaking of “slumbering atoms” during the period of rest of the cosmos. Is this phrase merely metaphorical, just poetic license? Apparently not. Seven years before Blavatsky published this extract from a commentary on the Book of Dzyan, her teacher, the Mahatma Morya, explained this idea to A. O. Hume in the so-called “Cosmological Notes” (published as Appendix II in The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, 1925, pp. 376-386). He was asked, “And is cosmic matter non-molecular?” His reply surprisingly spoke of the seventh principle, equivalent to the non-dual ātman taught in Advaita Vedānta, as molecular:
“Cosmic matter can no more be non-molecular than organised matter. 7th principle is molecular as well as the first one, but the former differentiates from the latter, not only by its molecules getting wider apart and becoming more attenuated, but also by losing its polarity. Try to understand and realise this idea and the rest will become easy.” (pp. 379-380)
The Mahatma Morya then explained this with reference to eternal ultimate atoms, which remain in existence even when the cosmos goes out of existence:
“The night of the solar system, the pralaya of the Hindus, the Maha bar do or great night of mind of the Tibetans, involves the disintegration of all form and the return of that portion of the universe occupied by that system, to its passive unmanifested condition, space pervaded by atoms in motion. Everything else passes away for the time, but matter which these ultimate atoms represent (though at times objective, at times potential or subjective, now organised, now unorganised) is eternal and indestructible, and motion is the imperishable life (conscious or unconscious as the case may be) of matter. Even therefore during the night of mind, when all other forces are paralysed, when Chyang—omniscience, and Chyang mi shi kon—ignorance, both sleep, and everything else rests, this latent unconscious life unceasingly maintains the molecules in which it is inherent in blind resultless and purposeless motion inter se [“among themselves”].” (p. 384)
This unusual idea, of eternal ultimate atoms remaining when the cosmos goes out of manifestation, was preserved in the Vaiśeṣika system. I say “preserved” because the early Vaiśeṣika commentaries known to have once existed, such as the Vaiśeṣika-Kaṭandī, the Ātreya-bhāṣya, the Rāvaṇa-bhāṣya, the Bhāradvāja-vṛtti, etc., are all lost.2 Even the primary Vaiśeṣika-sūtras themselves, by Kaṇāda, had not been preserved intact, and their original readings were only recovered when two intermediate-age commentaries were discovered and published in 1957 and 1961.3 The Vaiśeṣika-sūtras, as now extant, do not include cosmogony. The Vaiśeṣika account of cosmogony is found in the Padārtha-dharma-saṃgraha, written by Praśastapāda, so also called the Praśastapāda-bhāṣya, the “Commentary by Praśastapāda.” It is not, however, a direct commentary on the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras, but rather is a compendium (saṃgraha) of the Vaiśeṣika teachings. This compendium became the most influential work on Vaiśeṣika, overshadowing even the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras. It is early enough that it certainly preserved a number of teachings from the older and now lost Vaiśeṣika commentaries. The cosmogony account is apparently one of these, since it and its idea of ultimate atoms remaining during dissolution is cited in the Buddhist Abhidharma-kośa-bhāṣya (chapter 3, verse 100) from about the fourth century C.E. But it also includes a very influential teaching that, according to the Yukti-dīpikā (a hitherto lost Sāṃkhya commentary that was discovered and published in 1938), is an innovation.
The Vaiśeṣika system in association with its sister Nyāya system jointly became known in India as proponents and upholders of the God idea. This is despite the fact that the term īśvara, “God,” is not found in the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras, and that it is only once mentioned in the Nyāya-sūtras along with other possible causes of the world that are there rejected in favor of karma. The absence of the teaching of God in the Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika source texts provides evidence that the God idea is in fact an invention or innovation (upajñam), as the Yukti-dīpikā says (see: “God’s Arrival in India,” pp. 22-26). Its first known occurrence in the Vaiśeṣika system is in the Padārtha-dharma-saṃgraha by Praśastapāda, the very text that is our source for the Vaiśeṣika account of cosmogony. So we will see God playing a role in this cosmogony account. An attentive reading will show that God can be omitted from this account without any loss of coherence in the account. Cosmogony can occur on the basis of adṛṣṭa alone, the automatically acting “unseen” force produced by karma, without any help from God.
Indeed, the great Advaita Vedanta teacher Śaṅkarācārya summarizes the very same Vaiśeṣika account of cosmogony, but without God, in his Brahma-sūtra-bhāṣya (2.2.11 to 2.2.17). In fact, one of the main reasons given by Śaṅkarācārya for refuting the Vaiśeṣika account of ultimate atoms as the cause of the world is that it contradicts the Vedic scriptures that teach God as the cause of the world (īśvara-kāraṇa-śruti-viruddhatvāt). In the early Vaiśeṣika account summarized by Śaṅkarācārya, the characteristic Vaiśeṣika teaching of adṛṣṭa is alone the unseen force that impels the ultimate atoms, and this had to be refuted by Śaṅkarācārya who believed in a conscious, thinking God as the cause of the world. Later Vaiśeṣika agreed with Śaṅkarācārya on God as the cause of the world, but not the early Vaiśeṣika text that Śaṅkarācārya drew upon. According to two sub-commentaries on Śaṅkarācārya’s text (the Prakaṭārtha-vivaraṇa by Anubhūtisvarūpa and the Ratna-prabhā by Govindānanda), Śaṅkarācārya drew his Vaiśeṣika account from the Rāvaṇa-bhāṣya, one of the now lost early Vaiśeṣika commentaries.4 From the above we may conclude that: (1) the early Vaiśeṣika system did include cosmogony; and (2) the early Vaiśeṣika cosmogony did not include God.
The Vaiśeṣika cosmogony account as we now have it, including God, here follows. The Padārtha-dharma-saṃgraha that it comes from is of unknown date, but is estimated to be from around the middle of the first millennium C.E. This text was translated into English by Gaṅgānātha Jhā and published serially, 1903-1915, and his translation of its cosmogony account is given here with slight modifications.5 Gaṅgānātha Jhā, 1871-1941, was one of the foremost translators of Sanskrit darśana texts into English, and his translations of this difficult material are widely respected. I fully share this respect for them. He worked at a time when translations were not as literal as has now become expected. I have made no attempt to modify this aspect of his translation. He had to pioneer the translation choices for many technical terms. It is here that I have made my few modifications. These are: (1) changing his translation of mahā-bhūta from “ultimate Material Substances” that he used in some places, or “gross elements” that he used in other places, to the more literal “great elements”; (2) changing his translation of aṇu in its first occurrence from “material atom” to just “atom,” as he also used thereafter; (3) changing his translation of paramāṇu (parama aṇu) from just “atom” to “ultimate atom” (he did not distinguish aṇu from paramāṇu, but translated them both as “atom”—they are usually used synonymously in the Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika texts). I have also changed his frequent capitalization of common nouns, such as Earth, Water, Fire and Air, to lower case. Lastly, I have inserted a number of Sanskrit terms in brackets, and have added one footnoted clarification in brackets.
The Sanskrit text is given from the 1895 edition of the Praśastapāda-bhāṣya prepared by Vindhyeśvarīprasāda Dvivedin, pp. 48-49, which is the one used by Gaṅgānātha Jhā for his 1903-1915 translation. I have compared it with the 1971 edition by Jitendra S. Jetly (Kiraṇāvalī, pp. 60-64), with the 1983-1984 edition by Gaurinath Sastri (Vyomavatī, vol. 1, pp. 95-96), and with the 1991 edition by J. S. Jetly and Vasant G. Parikh (Nyāyakandalī, pp. 134-139). The few variant readings do not change the meaning, and I have therefore not cited them.
ihedānīṃ caturṇāṃ mahā-bhūtānāṃ sṛṣṭi-saṃhāra-vidhir ucyate |
“We are now going to describe the process of the creation and destruction of the four great elements [mahā-bhūta].”
brāhmeṇa mānena varṣa-śatānte vartamānasya brahmaṇo ‘pavarga-kāle saṃsāra-khinnānāṃ sarva-prāṇināṃ niśi viśrāmārthaṃ sakala-bhuvana-pater maheśvarasya saṃjihīrṣā-sama-kālaṃ śarīrendriya-mahābhūtopanibandhakānāṃ sarvātmagatānām adṛṣṭānāṃ vṛtti-nirodhe sati maheśvarecchātmāṇu-saṃyogaja-karmabhyaḥ śarīrendriya-kāraṇāṇu-vibhāgebhyas tat-saṃyoga-nivṛttau teṣām ā-paramāṇv-anto vināśaḥ |
“When a hundred years, by the measure of Brahmā are at an end, there comes the time for the deliverance of the Brahmā existing at that time; and then, for the sake of the resting at night, of all living beings wearied by their ‘wanderings,’ there arises in the mind of the Supreme Lord [maheśvara], the Ruler of all worlds, a desire to reabsorb (all creation); and simultaneously with this desire, there comes about a cessation of the operations of the unseen potential tendencies [adṛṣṭa] of all souls [ātman] that are the causes of their bodies, sense-organs and great elements [mahā-bhūta]. Then out of the Supreme Lord’s desire [icchā] and from the conjunction [saṃyoga] of the souls [ātman] and the atoms [aṇu], there come about certain disruptions [vibhāga, “disjunction”] of the atoms constituting the bodies and sense-organs. These disruptions destroy the combinations [saṃyoga, “conjunction”] of those atoms; and this brings about the destruction of all things [bodies and sense-organs]6 down to the ultimate atoms [paramāṇu].”
tathā pṛthivy-udaka-jvalana-pavanānām api mahā-bhūtānām anenaiva krameṇottarasminn uttarasmin sati pūrvasya pūrvasya vināśaḥ |
“Then there comes about a successive destruction or reabsorption of the great elements [mahā-bhūta], earth, water, fire, and air, one after the other.”
tataḥ pravibhaktāḥ paramāṇavo ‘vatiṣṭhante dharmādharma-saṃskārānuviddhā ātmānas tāvantam eva kālam |
“After this, the ultimate atoms [paramāṇu] remain by themselves in their isolated [pravibhakta] condition; and simultaneously with these there remain the souls [ātman] permeated with the potencies [saṃskāra] of their past virtues [dharma] and vices [adharma].”
tataḥ punaḥ prāṇināṃ bhoga-bhūtaye maheśvara-sisṛkṣānantaraṃ sarvātmagata-vṛtti-labdhādṛṣṭāpekṣebhyas tat-saṃyogebhyaḥ pavana-paramāṇuṣu karmotpattau teṣāṃ paras-para-saṃyogebhyo dvyaṇukādi-prakrameṇa mahān vāyuḥ samutpanno nabhasi dodhūyamānas tiṣṭhati |
“Then again, for the sake of the experiences to be gained by living beings, there arising in the mind of the Supreme Lord a desire for creation, there are produced, in the ultimate atoms [paramāṇu] of air, certain actions or motions [karma], due to their conjunctions [saṃyoga] under the influence of the unseen potential tendencies [adṛṣṭa] that begin to operate in all souls. These motions bringing about the mutual contact [saṃyoga] of the air ultimate atoms, there appears, through the dyad [dvyaṇuka], triad, etc., finally the ‘great air,’ [mahān vāyuḥ, i.e., mahā-vāyu] which exists vibrating in the sky.”
tad-anantaraṃ tasminn eva vāyāv āpyebhyaḥ paramāṇubhyas tenaiva krameṇa mahān salila-nidhir utpannaḥ poplūyamānas tiṣṭhati |
“After this, in this great air, there appears, in the same order, out of the ultimate atoms of water, the great reservoir [nidhi] of water, which remains there surging.”
tad-anantaraṃ tasminn eva pārthivebhyaḥ paramāṇubhyo mahā-pṛthivī saṃhatāvatiṣṭhate |
“In this reservoir of water, there appears, out of the earth ultimate atoms, the great earth which rests there in its solid form.”
tad-anantaraṃ tasminn eva mahodadhau taijasebhyo ‘ṇubhyo dvyaṇukādi-prakrameṇotpanno mahāṃs tejo-rāśiḥ kena-cid anabhibhūtatvād dedīpyamānas tiṣṭhati |
“Then, in the same water reservoir, there appears, in the same order, out of the fire atoms, the great mass of fire; and not being suppressed by anything else, it stands shining radiantly.”
evaṃ samutpanneṣu caturṣu mahā-bhūteṣu maheśvarasyābhidhyāna-mātrāt taijasebhyo ‘ṇubhyaḥ pārthiva-paramāṇu-sahitebhyo mahad aṇḍam ārabhyate | tasmiṃś catur-vadana-kamalaṃ sarva-loka-pitāmahaṃ brahmāṇaṃ sakala-bhuvana-sahitam utpādya prajā-sarge viniyuṅkte | sa ca maheśvareṇa viniyukto brahmātiśaya-jñāna-vairāgyaiśvarya-sampannaḥ prāṇināṃ karma-vipākaṃ viditvā karmānurūpa-jñāna-bhogāyuṣaḥ sutān prajāpatīn mānasān manu-deva-rṣi-pitṛ-gaṇān mukha-bāhūru-pādataś caturo varṇān anyāni coccāvacāni bhūtāni ca sṛṣṭvāśayānurūpair dharma-jñāna-vairāgyaiśvaryaiḥ saṃyojayatīti ||
“The four great elements having thus been brought into existence, there is produced, from the mere thought (mental picturing) [abhidhyāna] of the Supreme Lord, the great egg, from out of the fire atoms mixed up with the ultimate atoms of earth; and in this egg having produced all the worlds and the Four-faced Brahmā, the Grand-father of all creatures, the Supreme Lord assigns to him the duty of producing the various creatures. Being thus engaged by the Supreme Lord, Brahmā, endowed with extreme degrees of knowledge, dispassion and power, having recognised the ripeness for fruition of the karmic tendencies of the living beings, creates, out of his mind, his sons, the Prajāpatis, as also the Manus and the several groups of the gods, ṛshis, and pitṛs,—and out of his mouth, arms, thighs, and feet, the four castes, and the other living beings of all grades high and low,—all these having their knowledge and experience ordained in accordance with their previous deeds; and then he connects them with virtue, knowledge, dispassion, and powers, according to their respective impressional potencies [āśaya].”
As we see in the Vaiśeṣika cosmogony account given by Praśastapāda, the dissolution of the great elements follows the expected sequence: First earth dissolves, then water dissolves, then fire dissolves, and then air dissolves. The manifestation of the great elements, however, does not follow the expected sequence: First comes air, as expected. But then comes water, not fire. After water comes earth. Then comes fire. This is quite unusual. Then from fire together with earth comes the great egg, the cosmic egg in which all the worlds and all their creatures appear. Most unusual, though, is that the ultimate atoms remain after the dissolution of the cosmos:
“After this, the ultimate atoms [paramāṇu] remain by themselves in their isolated [pravibhakta] condition; . . .” When it says that the ultimate atoms remain in their “isolated” condition, this means disjoined or dissociated. That is, these ultimate atoms are no longer conjoined in pairs to produce dyads, nor are these dyads conjoined to produce triads. It is only the triads that produce the actual manifested elements: earth, water, fire, and air. So what is the nature of the ultimate atoms? The ultimate atoms are regularly described in the texts with two adjectives. They are eternal (nitya), so they can never be destroyed, even when the cosmos is dissolved; and they are without parts (niravayava). As a corollary to being without parts, they are described as having no magnitude (mahattva), in the sense of size. This differentiates them from the atoms or atomic particles known in modern science. As explained by Jagadisha Chandra Chatterji (The Hindu Realism, being An Introduction to the Metaphysics of the Nyâya-Vaisheṣhika System of Philosophy, 1912):
“Paramāṇus have been translated as atoms, which is most misleading. For atoms as conceived by Western chemistry are things with some magnitude, while Paramāṇus are absolutely without any magnitude whatever and non-spatial.” (p. 19).
“For there is no reason to suppose that the ultimate parts must be things of some magnitude, however minute—of some length, breadth and thickness. . . . On the contrary, if there is any violation of principles, and arbitrariness, even inconsistency, anywhere, it is to be found, not in the idea of Paramāṇus, but in the view which regards the ultimate constituents of the sensible and discrete things as particles with magnitude. Such particles are a violation of a principle, inasmuch as they, being of limited magnitude, are yet considered unbreakable into simple parts; while all other sensible things having also limited magnitude are recognised as produced and capable of being broken up into simpler components. . . . Finally, if the ultimate constituents of sensible things were composed of solid, hard and extended particles with magnitude, however small, then Âkâsha or Ether could not really be all-pervading as we shall see it must be. For all these reasons, we must conclude that the ultimate factors of the discrete things of sense-perception are of the measure of pure points, without any magnitude whatever, that is, without any length, breadth or thickness. They are in other words Paramāṇus. As they are without any magnitude whatever, the Paramāṇus, as such, can never be perceived by the senses. They are, therefore, super-sensible or transcendental (Atîndriya). They are super-sensible, not in the sense that, while they are too small to be perceived by the unassisted senses, or with the aid of any instruments which have been so far invented, they could be perceived by the senses if we had, let us say, ideally perfect instruments to aid us in our sense-observation. They are super-sensible, rather, in the sense, that they can never be perceived by the senses, not even with the aid of the most perfect instruments imaginable. That is to say, they lie altogether beyond the range of the senses and are transcendental.” (pp. 31-33).
“The Paramāṇus are like pure points.” (p. 47).
In other words, the ultimate atoms taught in Vaiśeṣika are apparently not atoms of physical matter. When we are obliged to use terms such as “atoms” and “matter,” we must recognize that they may mean one thing in physics, and another thing in metaphysics. Vaiśeṣika, with its nine classes of ultimate realities (dravya, “substance”) that along with ultimate atoms include selves (ātman) and minds (manas),7 is essentially metaphysics. Its ultimate atoms, being altogether beyond the range of the senses (atīndriya), are said to be accessible only to the mind (Chatterji, op. cit., pp. 33, 159). So when modern writers call them indivisible, based on being without parts (niravayava), this does not mean that they are units of physical matter so tiny that they can no longer be divided. As pointed out by Chatterji (op. cit., p. 24):
“Unlike many, if not most, schools of Realism in the West, there is no Hindu system of realistic thought, which has ever held that the essential basis of the sensible world is a something or somethings which must have magnitude and extension. . . . it is possible to be a thorough-going realist and yet maintain, as the Hindu Realists of all shades have always maintained, that the ultimate constituents of sensible things are indeed real, self-subsisting, and independent of all percipients, but they are not solid, hard particles with any magnitude, however small.”
The Vaiśeṣika ultimate atoms, then, are like metaphysical or mathematical points. Indeed, the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika explanation of how things with no magnitude can produce things with some magnitude, given by Chatterji (op. cit., pp. 29-30), is based on geometry. Two separate points, having no magnitude and being imperceptible, can result in a geometrical line, still remaining imperceptible. Three or more lines, here forming a prism shape rather than a triangle, can result in something that is perceptible. Thus can something without magnitude produce something with magnitude. The points correspond to the Vaiśeṣika ultimate atoms (paramāṇu), two of which form a dyad. The lines correspond to the dyads (dvyaṇuka), three or more of which form a triad. The prism shape corresponds to the triads (tryaṇuka or trasareṇu), which form the great elements: earth, water, fire, and air.
The Theosophical explanation of how things with no magnitude can produce things with some magnitude pertains to its teaching of the various planes of existence. As evolution proceeds, things existing on higher planes become more dense and manifest on lower planes. Thus, the ultimate atoms referred to in Theosophy exist on higher planes and proliferate onto lower planes, and this is how manifestation occurs. This explanation fits in with the Hindu metaphysical systems, and may well be what is meant by the Vaiśeṣika teaching. It is noteworthy that the ultimate atoms are specifically referred to in Theosophy as “mathematical points,” and we will return to this below.
We also see in the Vaiśeṣika cosmogony account that motion (karma, “action”),8 which figures so prominently in the Dzyan Commentary’s statement about the slumbering atoms, is brought in only for the re-manifestation of the cosmos. Does motion exist during dissolution (pralaya), as it does in the Theosophical Mahatma Morya’s description given in the Cosmological Notes? Once again, we may be limited by what is preserved in the Vaiśeṣika sources that are still extant. Neither the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras nor the Padārtha-dharma-saṃgraha speak of this. However, a later Nyāya treatise by Udayana does speak of this, the Nyāya-kusumāñjali. Rather ironically, it is this treatise that laid out proofs for the existence of God, and firmly established the joint Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika system as staunch proponents of the God idea from that time forward. According to a sub-commentary by Padmanābha-miśra on another work by Udayana (the Kiraṇāvalī commentary on the Padārtha-dharma-saṃgraha), Udayana still had access to the Rāvaṇa-bhāṣya, the same now lost early Vaiśeṣika commentary that was apparently used by the Advaita Vedānta teacher Śaṅkarācārya.9 As noted above, the earlier Vaiśeṣika that Śaṅkarācārya refutes is not the later theistic Vaiśeṣika, as is taught by Udayana. Yet Udayana does preserve in his Nyāya-kusumāñjali the otherwise unknown Vaiśeṣika teaching of the motion of the ultimate atoms during dissolution (pralaya), possibly from the lost Rāvaṇa-bhāṣya.
Udayana in his Nyāya-kusumāñjali predictably brings in God in his brief statement regarding the motion of the ultimate atoms during dissolution (pralaya). Although the Theosophical Mahatmas do not accept the existence of God (see Mahatma letter #10), students of Theosophy will be pleasantly surprised by Udayana’s statement. For Udayana likens this motion during pralaya to the breathing of God, very much like The Secret Doctrine’s poetic description of the absolute abstract motion that exists even during pralaya as the “Great Breath” (vol. 1, p. 14). The Book of Dzyan speaks of this (Stanza 2, verse 2): “. . . Where was silence? Where the ears to sense it? No, there was neither silence nor sound; naught save ceaseless, eternal breath, which knows itself not.” So if we look at the one existing complete English translation of the Nyāya-kusumāñjali, students of Theosophy will be happy to read, regarding the motion that exists during pralaya: “This motion is often described as God’s inhalation and exhalation.”10 If we look at the Sanskrit, however, we find that this “translation” is an embellished paraphrase, which the unsuspecting reader who must rely on these so-called translations would never know. Udayana says only that this motion is “breathed out by God,” īśvara-niḥśvasita, nothing more. This is nonetheless enough to bring in the image of the breath in relation to the motion that exists during pralaya.
Udayana’s statement is given below, followed by my fairly literal translation. I have been much helped in this by an accurate translation of the first two chapters of the Nyāyakusumāñjali made by C. Kunhan Raja, alias Swami Ravi Tirtha.11 I have made a more literal translation of this statement only because we need to know what Udayana says about this motion as precisely as possible. Udayana’s Nyāya-kusumāñjali is a very terse work that presupposes full familiarity with the philosophical ideas prevalent among the learned in his time. Much of what Udayana took for granted in his readers is spelled out in the very helpful commentary on it by Varadarāja, the Kusumāñjali-Bodhanī, which has also been of much use to me. Udayana is giving the reason for rejecting the opponent’s statement that the Nyāya position cannot be correct, so it is actually one long “because” sentence. I have omitted the “because,” coming from the ablative ending on the final word, anuvṛtteḥ, and have broken his one sentence into two sentences at the suffix -vat, “like,” on the word anuvṛtti, “continuity,” in its first occurrence. Three technical terms, requiring explanation, have been given in parentheses in the translation. Two are explained below, and the third, pracaya, in a note.12 Udayana follows this statement by answering the question of how long pralaya lasts. The Sanskrit text is given from the 1957 edition of the Nyāyakusumāñjali published in the Kashi Sanskrit Series, no. 30, pp. 304-305.
śarīra-saṃkṣobha-śrama-janita-nidrāṇāṃ prāṇinām āyuḥ-paripāka-krama-sampādanaika-prayojana-śvāsa-santānā’nuvṛttivan mahābhūta-saṃplava-saṃkṣobha-labdha-saṃskārāṇāṃ paramāṇūnāṃ manda-tara-tamā”di-bhāvena kālāvacchedaika-prayojanasya pracayākhya-saṃyoga-paryantasya karma-santānasyeśvara-niḥśvasitasyā’nuvṛtteḥ |
“For living beings in whom sleep has arisen from fatigue and the impact (saṃkṣobha) on the body, the continuity of the series of breaths has the sole purpose of accomplishing the stages of the maturing of life. Like this, for the ultimate atoms in which impulses (saṃskāra) have been acquired from the impact of the disintegration of the great elements, the continuity of the series of motions breathed out by God has the sole purpose of demarcating time, as being slow, slower, slowest, etc., culminating in the conjunction called grouping (pracaya).”
Just as God can be omitted from the Vaiśeṣika cosmogony account given by Praśastapāda without any loss of coherence, so God can be omitted from the account of the motion of ultimate atoms during dissolution (pralaya) given by Udayana without any loss of coherence. The Vaiśeṣika teaching of adṛṣṭa, the automatically acting “unseen” force produced by karma, is quite enough to explain how cosmogony occurs, without any need for God. Here, too, God is not necessary for the motion of the ultimate atoms during pralaya, which motion is explained as being due to their saṃskāras. The saṃskāras are karmic “imprints” or “impressions” that become “conditioning forces” (as Bhikkhu Dhammajoti well translates this word in Buddhist texts), leading to “tendencies” (as Anantalal Thakur translates it in Vaiśeṣika texts). Ganganatha Jha translated this word as “potencies” in the Vaiśeṣika cosmogony account given above. I have used “impulses” here. The ultimate atoms acquire these saṃskāras from the saṃkṣobha, “impact,” that occurs when the great elements disintegrate into their component ultimate atoms at the time of the dissolution of the cosmos. About this, Umesha Mishra explains that “before an object is destroyed a kind of shock (saṅkṣobha) is given to that object and then the object is destroyed” (Conception of Matter according to Nyāya-Vaiçeṣika, 1936, p. 197). Similarly, Sadananda Bhaduri says about this: “It is only as the result of a violent shaking or impact that a body is dissolved” (Studies in Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika Metaphysics, 1946, p. 147). The term saṃkṣobha is glossed in the Kusumāñjali-Bodhanī commentary by Varadarāja as abhighāta, which means “striking, impact.” So due to this impact (saṃkṣobha) at the time of the disintegration of the great elements, the ultimate atoms acquire saṃskāras, “impulses,” which result in a continuous series of motions that last throughout the time of the dissolution (pralaya) of the cosmos. The idea that God breathed out these motions is not necessary to the Vaiśeṣika system.
In the Theosophical system, the motion that is symbolically called the “Great Breath” is not the breath of God, but rather is the breath of the one existence, which is the one element, also called space. Blavatsky writes: “Its one absolute attribute, which is ITSELF, eternal, ceaseless Motion, is called in esoteric parlance the ‘Great Breath,’ which is the perpetual motion of the universe, in the sense of limitless, ever-present SPACE” (The Secret Doctrine, vol. 1, p. 2). She explains further (vol. 1, p. 55): “The ‘Breath’ of the One Existence is used in its application only to the spiritual aspect of Cosmogony by Archaic esotericism; otherwise, it is replaced by its equivalent in the material plane—Motion. The One Eternal Element, or element-containing Vehicle, is Space, dimensionless in every sense; co-existent with which are—endless duration, primordial (hence indestructible) matter, and motion—absolute ‘perpetual motion’ which is the ‘breath’ of the ‘One’ Element. This breath, as seen, can never cease, not even during the Pralayic eternities.”
According to the Theosophical teachings, the breath of the one element is its life. The one existence may therefore be called the one element or the one life, and is equivalent to living matter or living substance. The breath of the one element is the same as the perpetual motion of matter, and this motion is its inherent life. The Mahatma K.H. makes this clear (Mahatma letter #10): “When we speak of our One Life we also say that it penetrates, nay is the essence of every atom of matter; and that therefore it not only has correspondence with matter but has all its properties likewise, etc.—hence is material, is matter itself. . . . Rejecting with contempt the theistic theory we reject as much the automaton theory, teaching that states of consciousness are produced by the marshalling of the molecules of the brain; . . . we believe in . . . the pulsations of inert matter—its life. . . . In other words we believe in MATTER alone, in matter as visible nature and matter in its invisibility as the invisible omnipresent omnipotent Proteus with its unceasing motion which is its life, . . .”
It follows that every atom is alive, and each atom is a life. Blavatsky explains: “The Second idea to hold fast to is that THERE IS NO DEAD MATTER. Every last atom is alive. It cannot be otherwise since every atom is itself fundamentally Absolute Being. Therefore there is no such thing as ‘spaces’ of Ether, or Akasha, or call it what you like, in which angels and elementals disport themselves like trout in water. That’s the common idea. The true idea shows every atom of substance no matter of what plane to be in itself a LIFE.”13
This life remains, even when the cosmos goes out of manifestation, and it is this that keeps the eternal ultimate atoms in motion during pralaya, like in sleep. This is because, as the Mahatma Morya said in the “Cosmological Notes,” quoted above, motion is the imperishable life of matter. At that time there is only “space pervaded by atoms in motion. Everything else passes away for the time, but matter which these ultimate atoms represent . . . is eternal and indestructible, . . .” (p. 384). The remainder of this quotation had been re-stated earlier in the “Cosmological Notes”: “Motion . . . is the imperishable life (conscious or unconscious as the case may be) of matter, even during the pralaya, or night of mind. When Chyang or omniscience, and Chyang-mi-shi-khon—ignorance, both sleep, this latent unconscious life still maintains the matter it animates in sleepless unceasing motion.” (p. 377).
It is here that the Vaiśeṣika teachings as we now have them differ from the Theosophical teachings. Vaiśeṣika does not teach that the ultimate atoms are alive; their motion is therefore not inherent in them. In Theosophy, motion is the inherent life of the ultimate atoms. This difference between the two teachings is, of course, hardly surprising. The distinctive teaching of eternal ultimate atoms has defined the Vaiśeṣika system to such an extent that Vaiśeṣika has come to be known as a system of atomism. By contrast, Theosophy is not at all known as a system of atomism, or even as teaching atomism, because of its teaching of the one existence. Indeed, Theosophy has the maxim: “It is on the doctrine of the illusive nature of matter, and the infinite divisibility of the atom, that the whole science of Occultism is built.” (The Secret Doctrine, vol. 1, p. 520). Vaiśeṣika, on the other hand, has been known in the West for teaching eternal ultimate atoms that are indivisible, although the Sanskrit term for this in fact means “without parts” (niravayava) rather than “indivisible.” Just as we had to determine what kind of atoms are without parts in Vaiśeṣika, so we must determine what kind of atoms are infinitely divisible in Theosophy, along with what kind of matter is illusive. For we have just been reading about matter that is eternal and atoms that are eternal.
The Theosophical teaching on the eternal ultimate atoms was considerably clarified in 2010, with the publication of the lost “Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge,” discovered in 1995 by Daniel Caldwell.14 It was clarified thanks to Blavatsky being persistently questioned about the atoms that she spoke of too briefly in The Secret Doctrine. In her replies, Blavatsky called the atoms taught in Theosophy “mathematical points” more than a dozen times, just like Chatterji called the atoms taught in Vaiśeṣika “pure points.” Just like the Mahatma Morya surprisingly spoke of the seventh or highest principle as being molecular, i.e., atomic, Blavatsky several times defined the atom as the seventh principle of a molecule, existing on the seventh or highest plane. This true atom, then, is not physical, not the atom of modern science, as she said many times. Each molecule, appearing as a single atom, is composed of an infinity of finer molecules; and these comprise the six lower principles of the true atom, being the infinitely divisible manifested atoms. Some of these statements had appeared already in the Transactions that were published in 1890 and 1891. But in the newly published Transactions there are more of these statements, leading to greater clarification of the Theosophical teaching on the eternal ultimate atoms that remain even during pralaya. It will be worthwhile to quote some of these statements.
The following quotations, when they occur in both the 1890-1891 and 2010 versions, are given from the earlier published Transactions, as reprinted in the Blavatsky Collected Writings, volume 10. Blavatsky had a chance to edit the earlier version. For these quotations, references to the 2010 unedited and often differing version are also included in parentheses.
“Thus the Egg, on whatever plane you speak of, means the ever-existing undifferentiated matter which strictly is not matter at all, but, as we call it, the Atoms. Matter is destructible in form while the Atoms are absolutely indestructible, being the quintessence of Substances. And here, I mean by ‘atoms’ the primordial divine Units, not the ‘atoms’ of modern Science.” (p. 353; cp. 2010 ed., p. 137)
“Question. Is the Radiant Essence, Milky Way, or world-stuff, resolvable into atoms or is it non-atomic?
Answer. In its precosmic state it is of course non-atomic if by atoms you mean molecules; for the hypothetical atom, a mere mathematical point, is not material or application [applicable?] to matter, nor even to substance. The real atom does not exist on the material plane. The definition of a point as having position, must not, in Occultism, be taken in the ordinary sense of location; as the real atom is beyond space and time. The word molecular is really applicable to our globe and its plane, only: once inside of it, even on the other globes of our planetary chain, matter is in quite another condition, and non-molecular. The atom is in its eternal state invisible even to the eye of an Archangel; and becomes visible to the latter only periodically, during the life cycle. The particle, or molecule, is not, but exists periodically, and is therefore regarded as an illusion.” (p. 370; cp. 2010 ed., pp. 210-211)
“An atom is simply a mathematical point with regard to matter. It is what we call in occultism a mathematical point.” (2010 ed., p. 210)
“Question. But what is an atom, in fact?
Answer. An atom may be compared to (and is for the Occultist) the seventh principle of a body or rather of a molecule. The physical or chemical molecule is composed of an infinity of finer molecules and these in their turn of innumerable and still finer molecules. Take for instance a molecule of iron and so resolve it that it becomes non-molecular; it is then, at once transformed into one of its seven principles, viz., its astral body; the seventh of these is the atom. The analogy between a molecule of iron, before it is broken up, and this same molecule after resolution, is the same as that between a physical body before and after death. The principles remain minus the body. Of course this is occult alchemy, not modern chemistry.” (pp. 370-371; cp. 2010 ed., pp. 211-213)
“Brahmâ is called an atom, because we have to imagine it as a mathematical point, which, however, can be extended into absoluteness. Nota bene, it is the divine germ and not the atom of the chemists.” (p. 385; cp. 2010 ed., p. 277)
“It is the infinitesimally small and totallic Brahmā. It may be the unknown limited quantity, a latent atom during Pralaya, active during the life cycles, but one which has neither circumference or plane, only limitless expansion.” (2010 ed., p. 277)
“Mr. A. Keightley: Question 6. Are the atoms—in the occult sense of the term—eternal and indestructible, like the Monads of Leibniz, or are they dissolved during Pralaya?
Mme. Blavatsky: Now look at this question, if you please. This proves that the atoms are in your conceptions somethings, when there is no such thing in this world as atoms, except as mathematical points, as I say. The atoms, whether representing the Monads of Leibniz or the eternal and indestructible mathematical points of substance which our occult doctrine teaches, can neither be dissolved during Pralaya nor reform during Manvantara. The atoms do not exist as appreciable quantities of matter on any plane. They are mathematical points of unknown quantity here. And whatever they are or may be on the seventh plane, each is and must be logically an absolute universe in itself, reflecting other universes and yet it is not matter and it is not spirit. . . . The atom is and is not. The atom is the mathematical point, the potentiality in space; and there is not, I suppose, a space in this world that is not an atom.” (2010 ed., p. 347-348)
“Atoms confined to our world system are not what they are in space, or mathematical points. These latter are certainly metaphysical abstractions, and can only be considered in such terms; but what we know as atoms on this plane are gradations of substance, very attenuated. This will be easily understood by those who think over the occult axiom which tells us that spirit is matter, and matter spirit, and both one.” (2010 ed., p. 366)
“Mr. B. Keightley: That question of atoms is consistently cropping up in The Secret Doctrine.
Mme. Blavatsky: It does. And I had the honor of telling you what I meant by atoms, that I used them in that sense of cosmogenesis. I said they were geometrical and mathematical points.” (2010 ed., pp. 398-399)
Vaiśeṣika is an ancient system, and only remnants of its teachings have been preserved. The teaching on ultimate atoms is given only very briefly in its primary text, the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras (4.1.1-7, Thakur edition).15 More is given in the primary text of its sister system, the Nyāya-sūtras (4.2.16-25). Some more was preserved in the Padārtha-dharma-saṃgraha by Praśastapāda, including an account of cosmogony. In what has been preserved in this compendium we have the unusual teaching that the eternal ultimate atoms remain in existence even when the cosmos goes out of manifestation. This teaching is also found in Theosophy. It is found elsewhere only in the Buddhist Kālacakra system. Even though Jainism also teaches eternal ultimate atoms, according to Jainism the cosmos never goes out of manifestation. The ultimate atoms taught in early Buddhism are not eternal, so they do not remain during the dissolution of the cosmos. The teaching that eternal ultimate atoms remain during pralaya has been little studied in Vaiśeṣika, and it has been little studied in Theosophy. Yet it is an essential part of the Vaiśeṣika cosmogony, necessary for the ultimate atoms to be eternal, and it is an essential part of the cosmogony given in the Book of Dzyan. Blavatsky summarizes what stanza 3 of the Book of Dzyan teaches, at the same time indicating how the one existence and the many eternal ultimate atoms or mathematical points need not be contradictory (The Secret Doctrine, vol. 1, p. 21):
“Stanza III. describes the Re-awakening of the Universe to life after Pralaya. It depicts the emergence of the ‘Monads’ from their state of absorption within the ONE; the earliest and highest stage in the formation of ‘Worlds,’ the term Monad being one which may apply equally to the vastest Solar System or the tiniest atom.”
This stanza of the Book of Dzyan concludes with the following verse:
“Then Svabhāva sends Fohat to harden the atoms. Each is a part of the web. Reflecting the ‘Self-Existent Lord’ like a mirror, each becomes in turn a world.”
1. The phrase “empty ultimate atom” translates the original Sanskrit śūnya-paramāṇu. Its Tibetan translation is stong pa rdul phra rab. This Tibetan term, or a close variant, was used by the Dalai Lama in his dialogues and translated as “space particle” or “empty particle” in his books: Consciousness at the Crossroads, 1999, pp. 49, 51; The New Physics and Cosmology, 2004, pp. 85, 87-88, 94, 96, 183, 209; and The Universe in a Single Atom, 2005, pp. 85-90.
2. See: “The Problems of the Vaiśeṣika system and the lost Vaiśeṣika literature,” by Anantalal Thakur, pp. 9-17 in his “Introduction” to Vaiśeṣikasūtra of Kaṇāda, with the Commentary of Candrānanda, edited by Muni Jambuvijayaji, Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1961, posted here with the Sanskrit texts. We do not know if the Vaiśeṣika-Kaṭandī is the Ātreya-bhāṣya.
3. These two are: Vaiśeṣikadarśana of Kaṇāda, with an Anonymous Commentary, edited by Anantalal Thakur, Darbhanga: Mithila Institute, 1957; and Vaiśeṣikasūtra of Kaṇāda, with the Commentary of Candrānanda, edited by Muni Jambuvijayaji, Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1961.
4. See: “Rāvaṇa-bhāṣya,” by S. Kuppuswami Sastri, Journal of Oriental Research, Madras, vol. 3, 1929, pp. 1-5, attached.
5. Padārthadharmasangraha of Praçastapāda, with the Nyāyakandalī of Çrīdhara, translated by Ganganatha Jha, serialized in The Pandit, 1903-1915; reprint, Benares, 1916; photographic reprint as: Padārthadharmasaṅgraha of Praśastapāda, with the Nyāyakandalī of Śrīdhara, translated by Gaṅgānātha Jhā, Varanasi, 1982, pp. 108-111.
6. Gaṅgānātha Jhā’s “of all things” translates the pronoun teṣām, “of these/those,” where he has supplied the unstated “all things” as the referent for the pronoun. There are three main commentaries on the Padārtha-dharma-saṃgraha. All three commentaries supply the “bodies and sense-organs” as the referent for the pronoun: teṣāṃ śarīrendriyānām (Vyomavatī by Vyomaśiva, edited by Gaurinath Sastri, 1983, p. 97, line 27; Nyāyakandalī by Śrīdhara, edited by Vindhyeśvarīprasāda Dvivedin, 1895, p. 51, line 13; edited by J. S. Jetly and Vasant G. Parikh, 1991, p. 136, line 12; Kiraṇāvalī by Udayana, edited by Narendra Chandra Vedantatirtha (fasc. 4), 1956, p. 315, line 2; edited by Jitendra S. Jetly, 1971, p. 62, line 10). They are here listed in chronological order: Vyomavatī, Nyāyakandalī, and Kiraṇāvalī.
7. The nine classes of ultimate realities, called dravya, which is usually translated as “substances,” are: (1-4) the ultimate atoms (paramāṇu) of earth, water, fire, and air; (5) ākāśa, which in Vaiśeṣika is not the fifth element, but rather is space as the medium in which things exist; (6) kāla, time; (7) dik, literally “direction,” as in north and south, so refers to space as the directions of space, and has sometimes been translated as relative position; (8) ātman, selves or souls (9) manas, minds.
8. The word for motion used in Vaiśeṣika is karma, “action,” as may be seen, for example, in its usage in Vaiśeṣika-sūtra 1.1.6 (or 1.1.7 in earlier editions), translated by Anantalal Thakur as: “Throwing upwards, throwing downwards, contracting, expanding and moving are the (five) actions.” (See note 15 below for his Sanskrit edition and translation.) Therefore many writers on Vaiśeṣika translate karma as “motion.”
9. Udayana in his Kiraṇāvalī commentary on the Padārtha-dharma-saṃgraha refers to the very extensive (ativistara) commentary on the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras that he apparently had access to (Kiraṇāvalī, ed. Śiva Chandra Sārvvabhouma, fasc. 1-3, Bibliotheca Indica, work no. 200, Calcutta, 1911-1912, p. 34). Padmanābha-miśra in his Kiraṇāvalī-Bhāskara sub-commentary says that this very extensive commentary was written by Rāvaṇa (ed. Gopi Nath Kaviraj, Benares, 1920, p. 12: rāvaṇa-praṇīta); i.e., it is the lost Rāvaṇa-bhāṣya. (Reference: Anantalal Thakur, “Introduction” to Vaiśeṣikasūtra of Kaṇāda, with the Commentary of Candrānanda, p. 13, repeated in Origin and Development of the Vaiśeṣika System, p. 166.)
10. Nyāyakusumāñjali of Udayanācārya, translated by N. S. Dravid, Vol. 1, New Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 1996, p. 202. The full statement in this translation, actually an embellished paraphrase, is: “(The proper explanation of the re-emergence of the creative process is this): During sleep which is induced by fatigue in the living body the process of exhalation and inhalation—whose sole object is the gradual dissipation of the span of life of the body—goes on (as long as the body is destined to live). Likewise the motion of the atoms (which are the ultimate constituents of the universe) generated by the impact of the disintegrating process on the four major elements of the universe, has as its sole object the determination of the duration of annihilation. The atomic motion taking place during annihilation is of the nonproductive kind and it increases or decreases accordingly as the annihilation-process is near or far from its end. This motion is often described as God’s inhalation and exhalation.”
The translation of the Kusumāñjali made by E. B. Cowell and published in 1864 is of Udayana’s verses only, along with a commentary by Hari Dasa Bhattacharya. It does not include Udayana’s extensive prose portions that make up most of his book.
11. The Nyāyakusumāñjali of Udayanācārya, translated by Swami Ravi Tirtha, Vol. 1, Books 1 and 2, Adyar Library, 1946, pp. 99-100, paragraph 176. The full statement in this more accurate translation is: “If it be so said, it is not so; for there is continuity for the breathing of God in the form of a succession of activity of ultimate atoms, of the nature of lesser and still lesser intensity, which end with the contact designated pracaya (i.e. mere coming together without creating volume) and whose sole purpose is to demarcate time, (of ultimate atoms) which have obtained a residue from the agitation of the break up of the great elements (i.e., the five elements), (just) like the continuity of the succession of breaths, whose sole purpose is to secure the process of the fruition of life for the living beings who have obtained sleep derived from the fatigue of some agitation of the body.”
This book is quite rare, so I have scanned it and posted it here with the Sanskrit texts. Swami Ravi Tirtha is a pseudonym for C. Kunhan Raja, as noted by George Chemparathy (An Indian Rational Theology: Introduction to Udayana’s Nyāyakusumāñjali, 1972, p. 190).
12. The term pracaya, “grouping,” is defined by Candrānanda in his commentary on Vaiśeṣika-sūtra 7.1.16 as a “loose conjunction”: praśithilaḥ saṃyogaḥ pracayaḥ. The same gloss is given by Praśastapāda in his Padārtha-dharma-saṃgraha, where it is further explained: 1895 edition (Praśastapāda-bhāṣya), pp. 130 ff.; 1971 edition with Kiraṇāvalī commentary, pp. 136 ff.; 1983-1984 edition with Vyomavatī commentary, vol. 2, pp. 50 ff.; 1991 edition with Nyāyakandalī commentary, pp. 327 ff.; G. Jha translation, pp. 284 ff.
13. “The ‘Secret Doctrine’ and Its Study” (notes of personal teachings given by H. P. Blavatsky to Robert Bowen), cited from An Invitation to The Secret Doctrine, 1994, p. 4.
14. The Secret Doctrine Commentaries: The Unpublished 1889 Instructions, by H. P. Blavatsky, transcribed and edited by Michael Gomes, The Hague: I.S.I.S. Foundation, 2010. These have also been published in April, 2014, as The Secret Doctrine Dialogues, Los Angeles: The Theosophy Company (not yet seen by me).
15. The Sanskrit edition and English translation of the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras prepared by Anantalal Thakur is by far the most definitive edition and translation available today. It is based primarily on the readings found in the anonymous commentary that he published in 1957 and found in the text as commented on by Candrānanda that was published in 1961 (see note 3 above). It was published in Origin and Development of the Vaiśeṣika System, 2003, pp. 24-121. It completely supersedes the editions and translations of the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras as commented on by Śaṅkara-miśra that had long been the standard.