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Categories in Vedanta

by Swami Sivananda


The Prakriyas or the different categories in the philosophy of Vedanta are the fundamental rudimentary principles with which its ethics and metaphysics are built up. They take into account both the Unmanifest and the Manifest, Brahman, Maya, Isva­ra, Jiva and the universe. The nature of the Reality, the characteristics of the phenomenal appearance and the constitution of the individual selves are the main themes of Vedantic discussion.

Sri Sankaracharya says that one must possess the fourfold qualification of Sadhana before entering into the study of Tattva-Bodha or the Knowledge of the Vedantic Categories and the Nature of the At­man. Sincere aspirants who have an ardent aspi­ration, faith, perseverance and purity of conscience will find a way of self-transformation through this Knowledge. A thorough understanding of these different categories is necessary before starting to study the actual philosophy of the Advaita Vedanta which abounds with severe logic and penetrating reasoning over the eternal verities of existence.

Categories in Vedanta

There are twenty-four Tattvas or Principles of the manifestation of Mula Prakriti:

The five Tanmatras or rudimentary principles of the elements: Sabda (sound), Sparsa (touch), Rupa (form or colour), Rasa (taste), Gandha (smell).

The five Jnana-Indriyas or organs of perception: Srotra (ear), Tvak (skin), Chakshus (eye), Jihva (tongue), Ghrana (nose).

The five Karma-Indriyas or organs of action: Vak (speech), Pani (hand), Pada (foot), Upastha (genital), Payu (anus).
The five Pranas or vital forces: Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, Samana.

The fourfold Antahkarana or the internal organs: Manas (mind), Buddhi (intellect), Chitta (memory or subconscious), Ahamkara (ego­ism).

2. There are three Sariras or bodies: Sthula-Sarira (gross physical body), Sukshma or Linga-Sarira (subtle body), Karana-Sarira (causal body).

3. There are five Kosas or sheaths covering the Jiva: Annamaya (food sheath), Pranamaya (vital sheath), Manomaya (mental sheath), Vijnanamaya (intellectual sheath), Anandamaya (bliss-sheath).

4. There are six Bhava-Vikaras or modifica­tions of the body: Asti (existence), Jayate (birth), Vardhate (growth), Viparinamate (change), Apa­kshiyate (decay), Vinasyati (death).

5. There are five gross elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether (sky).

6. There are five Upa-pranas or subsidiary vital airs: Naga, Kurma, Krikara, Devadatta, Dhananjaya.

7. There are six Urmis or waves (of the ocean of Samsara): Soka (grief), Moha (delusion), Kshut (hunger), Pipasa (thirst), Jara (decay or old age), Mrityu (death).

8. There are six Vairies or enemies: Kama (passion), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (infatuation or delusion), Mada (pride), Matsarya (jealousy).

9. Maya is twofold: Vidya (knowledge), Avi­dya (ignorance).

10. Vidya or knowledge is twofold: Para (higher), Apara (lower).

11. Avasthas or states of consciousness are three: Jagrat (waking), Svapna (dreaming), Su­shupti (deep sleep).

12. Saktis are two: Avarana (veil), Vikshepa distraction).

13. Jnana-Bhumikas or degrees of knowledge are seven: Subhechha, Vicharana, Tanumanasi, Sat­tvapatti, Asamsakti, Padartha-Abhavana, Turiya.

14. Ajnana-Bhumikas or degrees of ignorance are seven: Aija-Jagrat, Jagrat, Maha-Jagrat, Jagrat-Svapna, Svapna, Svapna-Jagrat, Sushupti.

15. Sadhana is fourfold: Viveka (discrimina­tion), Vairagya (dispassion), Shat-Sampad (six vir­tues), Mumukshutva (desire for liberation).

16. The six virtues (Shat-Sampad) are: i. Sama (tranquillity of mind), ii. Dama (self-restraint or control of the senses), iii. Uparati (cessation from worldly activity), iv. Titiksha (forbearance or pow­er of endurance), v. Sraddha (faith in God, Guru, Scripture and Self), vi. Samadhana (concentration or one-pointedness of mind).

17. The nature of Atman or Brahman is three­fold: Sat (Existence), Chit (Consciousness), Ananda (Bliss).

18. The Granthis or knots of the heart are three: Avidya (ignorance), Kama (desire), Karma (action).

19. The defects of the Jiva are three: Mala (impurity), Vikshepa (distraction), Avarana (veil of ignorance).

20. The Vrittis or modes of the mind are two: Vishayakara-Vritti (objective psychosis), Brahma­kara-Vritti (Infinite psychosis).

21. Gunas or qualities of Prakriti are three: Sattva (light and purity), Rajas (activity and pas­sion), Tamas (darkness and inertia).

22. The Puris or cities constituting the subtle body are eight: Jnana-Indriyas, Karma-Indriyas, Pranas, Antahkarana, Tanmatras, Avidya, Kama, Karma.

23. Karmas are three: Sanchita, Prarabdha, Agami.

24. The nature of a thing is fivefold: Asti, Bhati, Priya, Nama, Rupa.

25. Bhedas or differences are three: Svagata, Svajatiya, Vijatiya.

26. Lakshanas or definitions of the nature of Brahman are two: Svarupalakshana, Tatasthalak­shana.

27. Dhatus or constituents of the body are seven: Rasa (chyle), Asra (blood), Mamsa (flesh), Medas (fat), Asthi (bone), Majja (marrow), Sukla (semen).

28. There are four states of the Jnanis: Brahmavid, Brahmavidvara, Brahmavidvariyan, Brahma­vidvarishtha.

29. Anubandhas or matters of discussion (themes) in Vedanta are four: Adhikari (fit aspi­rant), Vishaya (subject), Sambandha (connection), Prayojana (fruit or result).

30. Lingas or signs of a perfect exposition or a text are six: Upakrama-Upasamhara-Ekavakyata (unity of thought in the beginning as well as in the end), Abhyasa (reiteration or repetition), Apurvata (novelty or uncommon nature of the proof), Phala (fruit of the teaching), Arthavada (eulogy, praise or persuasive expression), Upapatti (illustration). Some say that Yukti or reason is the seventh sign. el­ing of impossibility), Viparitabhavana (perverted or wrong thinking).

32. Malas or impurities of the mind are thir­teen: Raga, Dvesha, Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada, Maatsarya, Irshya, Asuya, Dambha, Darpa, Ahamkara.

33. Klesas or worldly afflictions are five: Avidya. (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Raga (love), Dvesha (hatred), Abhinivesa (clinging to body and earthly life).

34. Taapas or sufferings are three: Adhidai­vika, Adhibhautika, Adhyatmika.

35. Pramanas or proofs of knowledge are six: Pratyaksha (perception), Anumana (inference), Upa­mana (comparison), Agama (scripture), Arthapatti (presumption), Anupalabdhi (non-apprehension).

36. Minds are two: Asuddha (impure), Suddha (Pure).

37. Meditations are two: Saguna, Nirguna.

38. Muktas are two: Jivanmukta, Videhamukta.

39. Muktis are two: Krama-Mukti, Sadyo-Mukti.

40. Samadhis are two: Savikalpa, Nirvikalpa.

41. Jnana is twofold: Paroksha (indirect), Aparoksha (direct).

42. Prakriti is twofold: Para, Apara.

44. Prasthanas or the regulated texts of Ve­danta are three: Upanishads (Sruti), Brahmasu­tras (Nyaya), Bhagavad-Gita (Smriti).

45. Eshanas or desires are three: Daraishana (desire for wife), Putraishana (desire for son), Vit­taishana (desire for wealth).

46. Species of beings are four: Jarayuja (born of womb), Andaja (born of egg), Svedaja (born of sweat), Udbhijja (born of earth).

47. The sentinels to the door of salvation are four: Santi (peace), Santosha (contentment), Vi­chara (enquiry or ratiocination), Satsanga (company of the wise).

48. States of the mind are five: Kshipta (distracted), Mudha (dull), Vikshipta (slightly distrac­ted), Ekagra (concentrated), Niruddha (inhibited).

49. Gates of the body are nine: Ears, eyes, mouth, nose, navel, genital, anus.

50. Avarana-Sakti is twofold: Asattva-Avara­na, Abhana-Avarana.

51. Vikshepa-Sakti is threefold: Kriyasakti, Ichhasakti, Jnanasakti.

52. Satta or existence is of three varieties: Paramarthika (absolutely real), Vyavaharika (pheno­menal), Pratibhasika (apparent or illusory).

53. Knowledge is of two varieties: Svarupa­jnana (knowledge of the essential nature), Vritti­jnana (psychological or intellectual knowledge).

54. Obstacles to Samadhi are four: Laya (tor­pidity), Vikshepa (distraction), Kashaya (attach­ment), Rasavada (egoistic enjoyment).

55. The nature of the cosmic (Samashti) per­son (Isvara) is threefold: Virat, Hiranyagarbha, Isvara.

56. The nature of the individual (Vyasmi) per­son (Jiva) is threefold: Visva, Taijasa, Prajna.

57. Cognition is effected through two factors: Vritti-Vyapti, Phala-Vyapti.

58. The meaning of the ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ Maha­vakya is twofold: Vachyartha (literal meaning), Lakshyartha (indicative meaning).

59. Vedantic enquiry is practised through the methods of: Anvaya-Vyatireka, Atadvyavritti, Neti-neti doctrine, Adhyaropa-Apavada, Nyayas (illustra­tions), etc.

60. The meaning of the great dictum ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ is ascertained through the considerations of Jahadajahallak-shana, Bhagatyagalakshana, Samana­dhikaranya, Viseshana- viseshyabhava, Lakshyalaksha­nasamhandha.

61. The important Vadas in Vedanta are: Vi­vartavada, Parinamavada, Ajatavada, Drishti-Srishtivada, Avachhedavada, Ekajivavada, Anekajivavada, Abhasavada, Satkaryavada.

62. Vedantic contemplation is four-fold; Sra­vana, Manana, Nididhyasana, Sakshatkara.

Om Santi Santi Santih!

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