The Buddhi in Early Epic Adhyātma Discourse (the Dialog of Manu and Bṛhaspati)

The Buddhi in Early Epic Adhyātma Discourse (the Dialog of Manu and Bṛhaspati) This paper pursues precise information on the use of the Sanskrit word buddhi, “the intellect,” in the context of epic adhyātma discourse. The term buddhi makes its debut in this genre of discourse in texts of the Mahābhārata’s Mokṣadharmaparvan before going on to become a central term of classical Sāṃkhya philosophy. This paper examines closely the presence and role of the “intellect” (usually “buddhi,” but other words are used as well) in the argument of the Manubṛhaspatisaṃvāda, a text that is unusually rich in its theorizing and description of the intellect. But this text is not primarily about the intellect, even if that organ plays a prominent role in the three main phases of the text’s teaching (its basic psychology, its arguments to persuade its audience of the reality of the super-sensuous soul, and its soteriological method). The Manu-Bṛhaspati is a major, deliberately constructed body of teaching on ethics, ontology, and psychology, and what it says regarding the buddhi is embedded in those teachings, usually, but not always, incidentally. This paper tries to grasp those teachings in their particular idiom and present Manu’s teachings on the buddhi in the natural progression and settings of the overall argument. A number of points comparing the buddhi in this text to the adhyātma text-pair of MBh 12.187/239–41 are made and a striking contrast between Manu’s buddhi and the ‘saving buddhis’ of the early Mokṣadharma is discussed briefly. The main points regarding the buddhi in Manu’s teachings turn out to be: First, and most importantly, the buddhi has the ability not only to see and “resolve” current sensory experience coming from the senses and the mind, but to store those sensations (memory) and re-arrange and re-interpret them outside of ‘real time’ (imagination). This ‘trans-temporal depth’ of the buddhi may be the reason for the second major fact about it, that the buddhi is the locus in a person from which that person’s residual energy from past deeds (karma) operates; the buddhi transmits that energy and its qualitative differentiations into the mind (manas) and the senses, entities that derive from it and operate “below” it. Third, the buddhi’s ability to select and arrange past perceptions and imagine not previously observed arrangements among them is the source of its fatefully erroneous substitution of the immediately present, phenomenal self of experience for the transcendent true Self. Fourth, the buddhi’s ability to imagine and re-interpret experience makes it the principal faculty for determining the truth of things that are not immediately apparent to the senses. Establishing the existence of the transcendent soul is the most important such truth, for that serves as the foundation for one’s eventually coming to see the true Self. Fifth, the buddhi works with the main perceptual organ, the mind (manas), to clarify and then neutralize the operation of the senses, allowing yoga meditation to go forward. In the course of yoga meditation, when the buddhi is emptied of karma energy, the buddhi becomes “tantamount to the manas” and the ultimate reality is “seen, as if it were a streak of gold on a touchstone,” undoing the buddhi’s fateful error. Sixth, a point stressed in several places in the text, is that the entire embodied soul, which is basically led by the buddhi, is tremendously energetic in its rush down to the (separately created) physical reality (in constituting a body and interacting with the sensed objects of the physical world). It is not clear whether some of this energy is part of the original emanation of the principle of the embodied soul (“jñāna”, “Consciousness,” in the Manu-Bṛhaspati) from the Absolute, but it is clear that some of it is the energy of karma stored in the “intellect.” http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Indian Philosophy Springer Journals

The Buddhi in Early Epic Adhyātma Discourse (the Dialog of Manu and Bṛhaspati)

Loading next page...
 
/lp/springer_journal/the-buddhi-in-early-epic-adhy-tma-discourse-the-dialog-of-manu-and-b-uYe5ghl6Yf
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Subject
Philosophy; Non-Western Philosophy; Philosophy of Religion; Religious Studies, general
ISSN
0022-1791
eISSN
1573-0395
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10781-017-9323-5
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper pursues precise information on the use of the Sanskrit word buddhi, “the intellect,” in the context of epic adhyātma discourse. The term buddhi makes its debut in this genre of discourse in texts of the Mahābhārata’s Mokṣadharmaparvan before going on to become a central term of classical Sāṃkhya philosophy. This paper examines closely the presence and role of the “intellect” (usually “buddhi,” but other words are used as well) in the argument of the Manubṛhaspatisaṃvāda, a text that is unusually rich in its theorizing and description of the intellect. But this text is not primarily about the intellect, even if that organ plays a prominent role in the three main phases of the text’s teaching (its basic psychology, its arguments to persuade its audience of the reality of the super-sensuous soul, and its soteriological method). The Manu-Bṛhaspati is a major, deliberately constructed body of teaching on ethics, ontology, and psychology, and what it says regarding the buddhi is embedded in those teachings, usually, but not always, incidentally. This paper tries to grasp those teachings in their particular idiom and present Manu’s teachings on the buddhi in the natural progression and settings of the overall argument. A number of points comparing the buddhi in this text to the adhyātma text-pair of MBh 12.187/239–41 are made and a striking contrast between Manu’s buddhi and the ‘saving buddhis’ of the early Mokṣadharma is discussed briefly. The main points regarding the buddhi in Manu’s teachings turn out to be: First, and most importantly, the buddhi has the ability not only to see and “resolve” current sensory experience coming from the senses and the mind, but to store those sensations (memory) and re-arrange and re-interpret them outside of ‘real time’ (imagination). This ‘trans-temporal depth’ of the buddhi may be the reason for the second major fact about it, that the buddhi is the locus in a person from which that person’s residual energy from past deeds (karma) operates; the buddhi transmits that energy and its qualitative differentiations into the mind (manas) and the senses, entities that derive from it and operate “below” it. Third, the buddhi’s ability to select and arrange past perceptions and imagine not previously observed arrangements among them is the source of its fatefully erroneous substitution of the immediately present, phenomenal self of experience for the transcendent true Self. Fourth, the buddhi’s ability to imagine and re-interpret experience makes it the principal faculty for determining the truth of things that are not immediately apparent to the senses. Establishing the existence of the transcendent soul is the most important such truth, for that serves as the foundation for one’s eventually coming to see the true Self. Fifth, the buddhi works with the main perceptual organ, the mind (manas), to clarify and then neutralize the operation of the senses, allowing yoga meditation to go forward. In the course of yoga meditation, when the buddhi is emptied of karma energy, the buddhi becomes “tantamount to the manas” and the ultimate reality is “seen, as if it were a streak of gold on a touchstone,” undoing the buddhi’s fateful error. Sixth, a point stressed in several places in the text, is that the entire embodied soul, which is basically led by the buddhi, is tremendously energetic in its rush down to the (separately created) physical reality (in constituting a body and interacting with the sensed objects of the physical world). It is not clear whether some of this energy is part of the original emanation of the principle of the embodied soul (“jñāna”, “Consciousness,” in the Manu-Bṛhaspati) from the Absolute, but it is clear that some of it is the energy of karma stored in the “intellect.”

Journal

Journal of Indian PhilosophySpringer Journals

Published: Aug 17, 2017

References

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off