Does the puruSa will? (was: Re: A text dealing with Ayurveda)

Ferenc Ruzsa f_ruzsa at ISIS.ELTE.HU
Tue May 4 21:55:00 UTC 1999

[In reply to Paolo Magnone]

Dear Paolo,

I fully agree with your important remark:
> First of all, we should carefully distinguish between the theoretical
> and historico-philological import of  the discussion. On the
> theoretical side, we may regard a certain statement as unwarranted
> or inconsistent, which must not in any way hinder our recognition,
> whether or not such statement has been made, on the historico-
> philological side.
At the same time I do accept as a principle of analysis, that whenever we
have two competing interpretations - philologically both possible - the more
coherent and plausible one is to be preferred.

> we may have misgivings about the notion of a purpose without an
> intelligent subject entertaining it. Still the interpretation of SK 21 is
> not as plain as that.
I do have misgivings about the notion of a purpose *of an intelligent
subject* not willing it. The puruSa is conscious; it has purposes; therefore
(I think) he wills. SK 21 is controversial, but it is perfectly clear that
the purpose is the purpose of the puruSa only and not of the pradhAna; cf.
e.g. puruSArtha eva hetur (31); svArtha iva parArtha ArambhaH(56);
tasyArtham apArthakaM carati (60).

> the puruSa is described as impartial, neutral, inactive and even
> impassive. This being granted, I cannot envisage any more space
> for volition as I understand it.
A judge [ in Sanskrit, draSTR :-) ] may be impartial, neutral and even
impassive and at the same time he may want the criminal to be punished.

> adhyavasAya is akin to vyavasAya as used in BhG 2.41 with the
> meaning of "resolution"
I disagree: the context is significantly different. Here the buddhi *can* be
vyavasAyAtmikA, and can be its *opposite*; in the SK it *is* adhyavasAya.
Larson's suggestion (buddhi = will) is a bit surprising after his clear
analysis of buddhi as involved in the last stage of the process of
perception. It is only natural that he later changed his mind - in the
Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies he translates SK 23: "Intellect is
characterized by reflective discerning".
 As from SK 5 (prativiSayAdhyavasAyo dRSTaM) it is clear that adhyavasAya is
essential to experience/perception, something like conceptualization /
understanding / categorizing / grasping would seem more appropriate than
resolution / will, as no volition is needed for perception.

> it is hardly possible to pursue a discussion such as this through this
I am disappointed. (In Hungary there are no one to discuss such matters
with.) What is the forum you would suggest?

Yours, Ferenc

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